We’re BACK!!……wait, did I forget to tell you we LEFT TOWN?!?!

We decided a few weeks ago to use up some flyer miles and take a quick trip to AZ…….and visit my old hometown.  My brother’s oldest kid is a senior in high school and we have been promising him for years that we’d come watch him play football. So, we packed everyone up (put Halloween costumes on hold……ack!!), and decided to fly to AZ with the kiddos.  They had never been there and it had been 8 years since Steve and I had been there.


I didn’t bring my big camera…..so I have a bunch of grainy pictures that I took with my phone to share.  But no biggee……grainy memories are still memories! :) 


And if you check in on my Instagram now and then……you’ve already seen most of these.  But, good grief, I love that Instagram thing.  It’s super quick, I can keep up with old and new friends, and it’s just easy peasy.  And, well, where else can I share what’s really happening in the crazy Johnston household?!! ;)


(So, almost all the pictures below are taken from Instagram.  And ALL are taken with my cell phone.)



Anyway, from the time we told these monkeys about our trip, they were so giggly excited about the whole thing.  They kept asking all morning last Wednesday, when we were going to leave…….and finally, we were all packed up and ready to go! :)

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Everything was an adventure for these guys at the airport.  The walking sidewalks, the conveyer belts carrying away their luggage, the security personnel who they thought were policemen, the loud announcements overhead, the dozens of mini stores with rows of candy and magazines, etc.  They walked around with eyes wide open, trying to soak it all in. 


And finally, it was our turn to load the plane.

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However, they never announced for families to board first…..so by the time we got on the plane, all seats were full.  Well, except for random single seats, scattered all throughout the plane.  I asked the flight attendant at the back what we should do, since we were a family of 5 and one of us needed to at least sit with 2 kids.  She looked around and said, “well, there are still plenty of single seats on the plane“.  Uhhhhh……really?  I asked her why this flight never asked for families with small children to board first……so that we could have avoided this.  She said they haven’t pre-boarded families in years.  Huh.  Well.  Hmmmm.  So, I said, “well, shall I just find random strangers to babysit each of my 3 kids??”  She laughed nervously and started looking around and noticed that there were 2 seats across the aisle from each other and offered that as an option.  Oh, okay.  Again……there are only 2 adults and 3 small kids.  We needed 3 seats together and then 2 seats together……..at least.  (I was just shocked she didn’t hop on the loud speaker and ask the other passengers if anyone was willing to shuffle around so that small children could sit with their parents.  I have heard that announcement so many times in my years of flying.)  Finally, a man stood up and offered his seat and there was an empty seat next to him.  So, Chloe and I sat there…….and Elli sat across the aisle from us.  Steve and Connor found a row several rows ahead, where another passenger offered their seat with an empty one next to it.  Okay……whew.  Bless those passengers hearts for noticing the situation and taking care of it.  Because the flight attendant acted as if this was the first time she had ever seen a parent with small children ride on her flight.  So weird. 


But that sweet lady next to Elli was an angel.  She chatted with her, asked her about school, talked to her about Halloween, etc.  She helped Elli to feel completely comfortable and relaxed (because Elli about started to cry when she saw that she had to sit alone, without any time to prep her for it…..sweet girl!)  And after some time of chatting, coloring, reading, etc…….she snuggled right in and closed those tired eyes for a while.

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The kids LOVED everything about the plane…..and were sad when the flight ended.  However, the next adventure was the hotel…..even though they have slept in one of those many times.  But they love it because it’s like having a giant family sleep-over! 


The next morning, while everyone was getting ready to see some friends while still in Phoenix (and before heading down south 3 hours, to where I grew up), a certain little someone got caught red-handed.  And may or may not have had to sit in a little time-out.  Can you see what the offense was, that caused the time-out??  (Yep, crayon.)

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Don’t worry, she didn’t have to sit there long.  And certainly cheered right up when we said she could watch some cartoons with Connor and Elli, while Steve and I finished getting ready.


While in Phoenix (and before heading to our football weekend further south), we stopped and visited these 2 sweet friends of mine, Nikki and Elisa.  Oh these girls!  We all went to high school together and were able to laugh about some crazy memories and meet each others’ kids, etc.  Such a perfect afternoon with old friends!  (And thanks Elisa, for letting me steal your picture from your Instagram account.)  Thanks again for such a fun visit, you two!!

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Then, we headed down to Sierra Vista, AZ (where I was born and didn’t leave until I went to college)…….and watched my nephew play in his Senior year Homecoming Football Game. (They won…..53-0…..you rocked that field Chandler!)  Again, the memories were unreal while we were here.  The people, the sounds, the band playing the old school fight song, the cheerleaders and their same cheers.  It was crazy to be 32 years old, with my own 3 kids and husband, sitting up in the stands of my old high school.  But truly……it was so much fun! :)





The next day, we watched my brother coach my 11 year old nephew’s city league football team, on their Saturday afternoon game.  I’d have to say, my brother is a stinkin’ cool coach!  And gets those boys all sorts of pumped up to play!)





And here is that little Eagles football kid himself.  Sweet Brady, thanks for letting my kiddos hang on you after the game.  You were one tough little dude out there.  (And thanks for hanging out with us in the stands, cousin Bailey!)





The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and chatting with my brother and his family…….and getting caught up on our old town.  The weather is still super warm in AZ, so we spent one evening roasting marshmallows over a fire in the backyard.  But while doing so, their dog kept sneaking in “hugs” around my kids’ legs.  Elli and Connor would find him wrapped around their legs and would shout, “Hey, look!  Jax is hugging me again!!!”  Uhhhh….that’s not quite what he was doing.

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Before we headed out of town, and back up to Phoenix, we drove out to the area where my old house was.  15 minutes from town……..and on dirt roads.  These 2 cross roads is right where our old house sat.

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And here’s the old homestead.  My parents sold it about 10 years ago, after owning it for, I don’t know……30 years or so.  (My mom will probably call me and correct me about that after she reads this.  HA!)  It looks so different and everything seems either overgrown or dead.  But so many memories revolve around this house.  I just wish the current owners didn’t pull out my favorite tree.  Ha! 


My parents built this house in the 70’s and purchased 10 acres along with it.  My dad was an engineer and my mom a teacher……but my dad loved to work the ground.  So we had to work right alongside him.  (They didn’t have 7 kids just for fun.  They had one for each day of the week, to do the dishes.  Ha!)  But I learned a lot about raising Christmas trees, caring for fruit trees, laying concrete, removing shrubs, mowing lawns, taking care of goats, and on and on.  And you know, I wouldn’t give up those years for anything. 

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One last stop before we headed out of town……my childhood best friends’ house.  After the chores were done at my house, I came over here to play.  Almost any free day I had.  (Or she would come to my house!)  We played in these fields, swam in her pool, climbed her windmill, rode her riding lawn mower down the dirt roads, built forts, formed clubs, argued about who would be the president of mentioned club, played beauty salon, harassed the neighborhood, etc.  (Caryn……we need to have a reunion at this house before your parents sell it.  Because mine is already gone!)

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Visiting Sierra Vista was good for my heart.  It was so nice to let my memories resurface…..and enjoy them! 

And it was also so nice to see family again!  (Thanks again Jordan and Lori!)

. . . . .



Before flying home, we spent an evening with some old friends who we knew in undergrad, while living in Idaho.  These friends now live in Phoenix and let us pal around with them with hardly any notice.  It was so good to pick up where we left off, and laugh and laugh and LAUGH with them!  Thanks Cori and Eric!  You know we are going house hunting for you here in Colorado, so you better sell your Phoenix home ASAP! :)

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(This picture was stolen from Cori’s Instagram account!  Thanks lady!)




What was equally sweet, was that our kids ran around with each other, like they had been friends just as long! :)

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(This pic was stolen from Cori’s Instagram too.  I know, I know…..stealing in no bueno! ;) )




Sadly, our 6 days sped by way too quickly and it was time to head back home. 


So glad we decided to take this last minute trip.  Especially since we haven’t taken time off as a family in a LONG time.  (Summer vacations?  What are those??)  This trip was so good for the soul!

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(Just as an FYI…..I asked about pre-boarding on the way home and they said of course we could.  And there were no problems.  He said they must have forgotten to announce it and that the woman who told me they no longer did that must have been crazy.  Huh?  Weird.)




 Thanks for reading along (if you  made it down this far…ha!)


If you want to keep up with Instagram (like the photos above that I took from my Instagram account)……join on in!!  Lots of fun is going on around there.


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. . . . .



Currently, I have 2 loads of laundry washed and another few more to go……..and sadly, a house to clean up after we left in a whirlwind.  (Anyone else love to scrub their house before leaving on a trip so that you return to a calm house??  Yeah, me too.  But that didn’t happen this time. Boo.)


But that will only take a few hours…..because I have more Halloween costumes to finish up and share.  My kids’ real costumes will be shared at the start of next week. Can’t wait! :)


I do have a few other things to share this week (including a really fun giveaway).  So check back tomorrow.  And the next day! :)


Talk to you soon!



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39 Responses to “We’re BACK!!……wait, did I forget to tell you we LEFT TOWN?!?!”
  1. 1
    Jackie says:

    When I took my son on a trip to TX, the ariline announced for families with young children to board first so it’s kind of weird that that didn’t happen with you. Also, if you do fly with an airline that does that make sure to read the fine print about what they consider young children. For Delta it’s kids under the age of 2. I also find it odd that fliers weren’t assigned seats when they were purchased so you could get the seats you needed. Looks like everyone had a great time. So fun!

    • 1.1
      Ashley says:

      Turns out, the lady who told me they didn’t pre-board, didn’t know what she was talking about. Because on the way home, it turned out fine. :)

  2. 2
    Marin D says:

    We flew to Oregon a few years back and I was highly disappointed that they boarded all of the business people (that paid the extra cash to be first) and “A” passengers before families. I did NOT feel bad when I bumped them with my car seats that I had to drag along with me. And do NOT give me dirty looks. If you gave us a chance to get on first, you would not have to deal with this nonsense. I am sorry you had to deal with that. This is why I don’t fly. It’s just a hassle. We only travel to places we can drive because it is just less stressful for me. My poor kids. Hehe!

    • 2.1
      Ashley says:

      Ha……I agree! It would also make loading so much faster to get all the families and all their gear onto the plane. It just doesn’t make any sense.

      • 2.1.1
        Marin D says:

        I know! And we had huge car seats because my girls were only 3 and 5 so they were still in the “convertible” size seats. And we had to take them because we were renting a car when we got there. You can’t trust the airlines with something like that either and I was not losing or having my $300 car seats damaged by them so they went on the plane with us. Plus they were FAA approved and it was easier belting them into that than a regular seat belt. My husband has to travel to Chandler, AZ for a few weeks starting next week and we were thinking about meeting him down there (we’re in Las Vegas). He mentioned maybe just flying us down since he’d have a rental car and I said, nah, I would rather drive it. LOL. Ah, the joys of parenthood. Glad you all had fun though!

  3. 3
    DJ says:

    The Hubs and I just returned from an international trip and on every one of those flights there was a preboarding call for families. Thank goodness for those kind souls that offered seats. Maybe different airlines just do things differently. So glad to hear you got some time away, especially to spend with family and friends. Love your site. Thanks for sharing your adventure!

  4. 4
    NaDell says:

    Didn’t you have seats picked out when you bought tickets? I’m confused. The boarding passes always say which seat you are supposed to sit in…

    • 4.1
      Ashley says:

      Not all airlines do that. Some just put you in a boarding group. So everyone in your group gets to board and fight over seats. Sounds fun, right?? ;)

  5. 5
    Mindy says:

    That is unheard of to not have them announce families with kids first, and for that flight attendant to do nothing about it! Terrible!

    • 5.1
      Ashley says:

      I agree…..it was just really odd. But come to find out, the lady that told me they no longer do pre-boarding didn’t know what she was talking about and the ride home went tons smoother!

  6. 6
    Joy says:

    My family and I just returned from a trip to Disneyland and at least on our flight we had assigned seats – but before we knew it they were announcing general boarding. i fly ALL THE TIME for work and they always let families go first. My daughter was unfortunately sick so it was a bit hard getting her, our luggage and stroller all on to the place, but it wasn’t a huge deal, we only have 1 kid and like I said, our seats were already set – but it still was odd.

    • 6.1
      Ashley says:

      I agree. It just makes it easier on everyone to get families and kids (and elderly, wheelchairs, etc.) on board first and get them out of the way. And then let everyone board after that. Oh well… the way home worked out much better!!

  7. 7
    Tish says:

    Where in Phoenix did you find the big gummy bear and Nerds? PS. I never knew you were from AZ. That is totally cool and another reason why I like your blog. I’m also a AZ native and still live in AZ.

    • 7.1
      Ashley says:

      Oh gosh, I can’t even remember where we were! It was a shopping area in west phoenix near a large stadium of some sort. haha! The title of the store had the word “sweet” in it. I just can’t remember though. Sorry about that! But they had super-seized candy of all different types. Pretty cool! :)

      And yes, AZ is my roots!

  8. 8
    Megan says:

    Looks like you flew Southwest. Their policy is that if you have an “A” boarding pass and children then you board with the other “A’s.” If you have a “B” or “C” boarding pass then you board after the “A’s” but before the “B’s.” I don’t know why they changed it. I at least wish they let those with children 2 and under board first since the only diaper changing table is in the bathroom at the front of the airplane and you’re not allowed to line up for the front bathroom. The only people that get to board before the “A’s” are those with wheelchairs, canes, or need physical assistance getting to their seat. I’m glad that it all worked out for you anyway.

    • 8.1
      Ashley says:

      Well, come to find out, the lady was wrong and they let us board right after A on the way home. Whew!

      And yeah, the bathroom situation is a mess! Ha!

  9. 9
    Regina W says:

    I find it interesting that all these people have had family pre-boarding on their flights. We’ve flown 6-8 times with two young children in the past 12 months and not once has there been family pre-boarding. We’ve also flown on several of the flights where you didn’t pick your seats out ahead of time and when we checked in at the front desk, the attendants would go ahead and assign us seats since we had kids. We fly the discount airlines, though, so that may explain the lack of pre-boarding and what-not.

  10. 10
    Michelle W says:

    I didn’t know you were from Sierra Vista, what a small world! My husband went to Buena, but he’s a few years younger than you. I totally just found you in his old yearbooks, lol :)

    • 10.1
      Ashley says:

      Ha…….that’s CRAZY!!!! What year was that yearbook? I’m sure that photo was a pretty one! ;)

      And how random that he went to Buena! It was crazy going back to visit…..but so fun to remember all those years back! :)

      • 10.1.1
        Michelle W says:

        Beautiful, of course :) I found you in ’98 and ’99, he graduated in ’01.

      • 10.1.2
        Michelle W says:

        I texted him your yearbook picture, and he said “I think I knew her, she was a good girl, smarty-pants type.” Sound about right?

  11. 11
    Christine says:

    Sounds like a fun time! Next time you want to get away with the family, check out our tips for family travel: http://www.MaggieAndSheepie.com

    Also, we were assigned seats recently on an international flight scattered throughout the plane. I suggested to my hubby that we should leave it that way and I could take the nap I’ve been meaning to for the last 6 years while we had so many hours of free babysitting! HaHa! (Don’t worry, we got the seats changed.)

  12. 12
    Chel says:

    Ashley, the photos were lovely even if they were a bit ‘grainy’ for you but they looked good to me. The lawns at your old home and your friend’s home look like some of the lawns here in Australia in areas that are in drought so I guess it is pretty dry there too.

    I love your blog and get so many ideas for my little granddaughters. Thanks so much.

    • 12.1
      Ashley says:

      Ha……yeah, AZ is super dry desert. Which was always crazy that we had a green lawn and all those Christmas Trees and Fruit trees that we watered. We were like a little oasis in the middle of the desert….because most of our neighbors just had rocks for landscaping. :)

  13. 13
    Sandy says:

    I didn’t know you were from AZ – I live in Hereford! Hubby and I moved here 2 years ago from Tucson, we love it here. Did you notice that SV now has a Hobby Lobby and a Jo-Anns?? We are moving up in the world.. ha ha :)

    Seems like every time I fly I hear announcements for families with young children to board first, and I always fly discount airlines like Southwest. Glad at least on the way home you were able to sit together.

    • 13.1
      Ashley says:

      NO WAY!!!! We drove out to Hereford and went to Ricardo’s for dinner while we were there. SO much has changed in the past few years. And YES, we were totally joking about the Hobby Lobby and Joanns and how SV is now in the big leagues!! ;) I love it when people actually know what I’m talking about……..so hooray for you for living in SV!!! :)

  14. 14
    gina says:

    Where are Chloe’s brown boots from – I love them!

    • 14.1
      Ashley says:

      I bought them at Target last year. I bought them a size too big and they still fit…..but not for long. I have been looking everywhere for something similar, but can’t find any anywhere. Boo. :)

  15. 15
    Kristina Noall says:

    You came to Phoenix without coming to see me in Gilbert?! *sniff* I see how it is! ;) We just visited my husband’s family in SV for the first time recently, too. A few weeks’ difference, and maybe we would have seen each other at church! :)

    • 15.1
      Ashley says:

      Ha……dang it!!!

      And yeah, were you at the new church building over off of….hmmmmm, can’t remember the road now?? Because that’s where we were. But that would have been super crazy to have actually met you there. Okay, next time I’ll send you our itinerary! ;)


      • 15.1.1
        Kristina Noall says:

        Lol, I don’t remember the street name either, but it was brand-spankin’ new. I might have a been a little star-struck if I’d seen you, though, because you’re definitely a sewing/crafting celebrity to me! Hehe :)

  16. 16
    Kelley says:

    We fly to Germany every year to see my husband’s family (he’s German), and Lufthansa (love them) has early boarding for families with little kids, while their crummy partner United stopped it this year or last year, because I asked, when it didn’t happen. I had to leave early this year with my youngest (18 months) and was frustrated to find that I would be struggling with a little wiggler while everyone else was trying to stuff themselves on the plane too. It was the start of a very long 8 hours.

    Basically, some airlines still have this convenience for families with young children, while other don’t. Since 9/11, I have noticed that more and more of the niceties are disappearing from the big American commercial airlines. Jet Blue was still nice the last time I flew with them, and I have found most of the major European airlines are still fantastic when it comes to service.

    Glad you had a good trip. I missed your posts. (I check everyday at lunch.)

  17. 17
    Caryn says:

    Loved seeing these pics Ashley!! We really should have a reunion there. That would be hilarious. Also guess who my parents’ realtor is???? K.D. Preble. Ha!!!! I love that your nephew plays football for Buena how crazy!! This actually made me miss SV a little! Xo

  18. 18
    Andrea says:

    I sat right behind you at church on Sunday. When I walked in the chapel, I thought your husband and kids looked vaguely familiar (from seeing their pics on your blog) and then realized who they were when you sat by them. Love your blog, by the way!

  19. 19
    Sydney says:

    My in-laws dog Rudy looks exactly like that dog and “hugs” my kids all of the time too. That’s what my kids think he’s doing too. I wonder why they do that??? Looks like a fun trip!

  20. 20
    cucicucicoo says:

    That is really bizarre about not preboarding families and acting so weird about it. I’ve never seen that happen before! Sounds like a lovely trip besides that. :) Lisa

  21. 21
    Mary Simmons says:

    Ashley, I’ve been following your posts for some time now; love your halloween costumes. That was my favorite part of my kids growing up — making them costumes, and now I am making my grandaughters’ costumes as well. I see you grew up in Sierra Vista, my uncle Vince was the high school principal there for some years. I’m an Arizona girl as well, so I guess we have that and sewing in common!

    Love your blog, keep up the good work!

  22. 22
    Megan W. says:

    I’ve been meaning to comment on this post since I first read it, but I was on my phone and it’s so hard to type coherently on that thing!

    What a fun trip! I totally remember your house from going to I think your brother’s wedding reception. I remember I wore a French braid and someone commented that I had curly hair. I didn’t even know because my mom always did something to it.

    I seriously can’t believe that Buena actually won a football game, let alone homecoming! They were losers all 4 years I was there.

    I’m glad that even with the travel nightmare that everything was fun. :)