Fancy Navajo Nation Rez Tour

In June, Alana and I drove back home to be tourists in our homeland. We started in Holbrook with a stop at the Wigwam Motel and on to Gallup, New Mexico. We walked around downtown and had lunch at El Rancho. They make the best hamburgers! We also browsed the famous flea market, where I bought some juicy cherries and a cool mauve Navajo Nation seal t-shirt from Can’t Fail Designs. We spent the night at my inlaws in St. Micheals, where I cooked for Alana! I made her potatoes and turkey spam. I would’ve made some tortillas but they were out of Blue Bird. Whaaaat?!

The next day we headed out to Canyon de Chelly to hike down the White House trail. Boy, was it a tough trail. lol Yeah, right Jen! I saw that Cheii climb that hill like nothing! So, true! Yaadiilah! Anyhoo, I saw these two wild horses running by. I fumbled with my camera and got lucky with a capture. After the hike we stopped at the hotel and restaurant and spun the giant wheel of “What’s Your Clan” Turns out Salt clan is a sub-clan of another clan. What da what? Salt is my second clan. Red Running Into the Water People is my first clan. Whoop-whoop! That evening we drove to Red Valley and spent the night at my folk’s place. Mom cooked up a yummy meal. Afterwards we sat on the porch and had a sweet watermelon. We found out that Alana is my maternal grandma! Cute! I was driving Miss Daisy and didn’t even know it. Haha!

The next day we drove West to Monument Valley. We made a stop at Hubbell Trading Post first. Whoop-whoop! Yes, I’m related by marriage. We had fun there playing, “Trader”. It was suppose to be for kids but it was too cute to resist.

We arrived at Monument Valley. It was my first time driving around in the park! My poor “Blue Mush” aka my Mercedes got Rez’d out big time! It was so warm out. I was so glad I packed an ice chest filled with cold ice coffee from Starbucks and chilled cherries. Ahhh! Afterwards we checked out Goulding’s Trading Post and Motel. We did the $2.00 tour of the movie museum. So many movies created there, especially with John Wayne. We saw his house where he stayed while he filmed. I wondered if there were any little Navajo John Waynes running round here. Haha! I’m I sharing too much?!?! Anyhoo, next we Googled Forrest Gump Point. It was about 15 minutes north, so we booked it. Found it and took some fun photos there. “I’m tired. I think I’ll go home now.” -Forrest Gump.

The next day we woke up in Page, Arizona. First on the itinerary was to hike down to Antelope Canyon. I was a tiny bit nervous. I get claustrophobic in tight spaces. But it was fine. You can see the sky the entire time. We had a kid tour guide who kept giving us scary factoids along the way. “One time there was a mountain lion in here!”, “Oh, that one time…lots of people drowned in here.” and “Oh, if you Navajo, you’re not suppose to be in canyons! But you’re okay we had it blessed.” Haha, crazy kid! He called us, “The Shiprock Gurls” haha! Later that day we cruised Page like we owned it. We met all sorts of people. Alana has the hook ups I tell ya! We had lunch at the Bird House. The BEST fried chicken ever! We dipped our toes in Lake Powell. That evening we drove out to Horseshoe Bend. It’s $10 to enter and park. I finally shot in soft light! It was so difficult to shoot in harsh light when you travel, but of course, I just rolled with it.

It was time to go home! We got up early. Checked out. I left my favorite pillow at the hotel by the way. We gas’d up and back on the road. We stopped in Hidden Springs to visit my paternal auntie but she was at sheep camp in Coopermine! Onward to Cameron Trading Post. We had lunch there. I had the Navajo Tacos. Delicious! We shopped around and checked out the hotel’s garden. Very pretty. Lots of flowers.

We hopped back in “Blue Mush” ready to head home when she wouldn’t start! My car battery died! Ugh…Luckily a nice man with a Ford truck came to our rescue and gave my car a jump. We made it home safely!

Graduation Speech For My Son

Ethan, Class of 2019!

Ethan, Class of 2019!

Hello and thank you for joining us in celebrating our son’s graduation from high school. Ethan will be attending Arizona State in August where he’ll be studying Biological Sciences. We are so thrilled and excited for this special season in our life. Ethan is our one and only baby and we can’t believe the big day has arrived… high school graduation. 

First, I want to thank our parents. They have been our biggest supporters during our parenting years with Ethan. Thanks to them we always had enough diapers for Ethan. There were a lot of Coscto trips! Clothes, toys, books, you name it. Thank you for taking care of him when we had to work. It was very important to me for Ethan to have a close relationship with his grandparents. I was close to Shimasani and Shinalí. I wanted that for Ethan as well. Thank you for teaching him to be kind, to have fun and to be responsible. Thank for always praying for him. Thank for loving him. Ethan is blessed to have and know both sets of grandparents. Between the both of them they have 95 years of marriage. So, if you want any relationship advice they are your people. 

Next, I want to thank my siblings. Jaci, Matt, and my brother-in-law, Ty. Thank you for making Ethan laugh and smile. He adores all of you. And looks up to you. Thank you Sis for driving down the night Ethan was born. And making him his first handmade soft baby books. We read them almost every night. And for all your help with the party decorations. Thank you Ty for giving Ethan his first pair of Vans and for getting him into Spartan races. Thank you for challenging Ethan to push himself physically and mentally. Thank you to Matt for introducing SpongeBob to Ethan. I enjoyed hearing your laughs together. You guys have the same exact laugh! I love it! 

Thank you to all our aunties, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. Thank you for showing him kinship. I normally say its just the 3 of us, but actually we are part of a huge loving family. 

I want to thank my husband, my best friend...Orlando. Thank you for being such an amazing father to our son. Thank you for teaching him love, kindness and hard work. I know we raised a wonderful son who loves and cares deeply. Parenting  doesn’t end for us, it just changes…a lot.  We were parents of an adorable little boy...who talked a lot and was crazy for Legos. Now, we are parents of a wonderful young man. I love you so much and I’m ready to go on our next level of parenthood with you. Empty Nesters.  I’ll be a lot of FUN! 😉

To my one and only baby. Ethan. Son, I’m so blessed beyond measure to be your Mama. I thank God for you.  I’m so proud you are graduating from high school. Wow! It went by so fast. The days were long, but the years were short. 

You are taking the next steps in life, where you are free to choose where you go and when to go. Who you spend time with. You are free to explore, to learn and to make mistakes. You are free to make your own choices, (of course we will have our two cents ready for you). I’m so excited for you son! I’m not worried too much because you are wise beyond your years. You have always been a “Cheii”. You kept us in check. You made sure we got home safely. You made sure we wore our seat belts. You track us on your iPhone. You give the best hugs. You have a big heart. And that makes you perfect for the medical field. 

Remember to pray. Keep working hard. Only you can make it happen. No one else. People-parents measure success in a lot of different ways. The type of school you attend, jobs you hold, cars you drive, or how big your hogan is. But for us it’s simple…it’s about being happy. Let that be your guide. Do things that bring you happiness, joy and love. Don’t go with conventional standards. Be brave enough to switch it up.  And no matter what you decide, we will be here for you…always. 

God chose us to be your Mama and Dada. And maybe you did too. You know how we say you were filling out paper work in heaven. God works in mysterious ways. Please remember we are here for you…to guide and encourage you. We are here to love you no matter what. You will always have our attention and our support. We will always believe in you. We are your #1 fans. You make us so proud son. I love you so much, shiyazhi. Congratulations!!! You are gonna be an awesome Sun Devil. ASU! ASU! ASU!

My favorite photo! Blurry but the moment was captured perfectly!!!

My favorite photo! Blurry but the moment was captured perfectly!!!

Learning To Let Go

After spending the day at ASU with Ethan for Sun Devil Day for all incoming college freshman…

Today was about learning how…how to let go. I haven’t been doing that too well lately. I’ve been gripping on tight, white knuckles and all. You see, our one and only baby, child, son is leaving the nest. Ethan is graduating high school in May and three days after his 18th birthday, he will be moving into his new home at ASU. I can’t believe that day is fast approaching. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the whole idea. It’s going so incredibly fast!

As, I try to catch my breath, I’m preparing for my new as a parent. Where I no longer call the shots. Instead, I’m there to only listen, encourage, and love. That’s tough for me, especially when all I wanna do is protect my kiddo and make all the decisions for him. But, I know I have to let go and let his possibilities expand. I never understood this part of parenting until now. I finally know what my parents went through.

Back when I was preparing to leave for college, Dad stood in my doorway and asked, “Why don’t you leave some of your stuff up? Don’t take everything down.” As I was rolling up my horse poster, all I could think of was, “Why? I’m outta here for good.” And for that I apologize Dad! I didn’t realize how tough it must’ve been for you and Mama. Until now, (deep sigh).

I know it’s only a thirty minute drive to campus, and I can visit. But, it's not about the distance. It’s about the next level. The next phase in life for us. This one kinda stings, but it’s a good sting!

Note to all graduating Seniors: be kind and have patience with your parents and hug your parents often, especially your Mama! Thanks!

Note to parents: Time to level up! Hang in there and be cool about it all. Cry in your closets if you have to. Like I do! Haha!


Jen :D