Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Perfect Storm

Friday morning Benson was acting "off".  I wouldn't say that he was unhappy but he awoke several times throughout the night and took a poor nap.  He was also being a little needy and wanting held.  When I picked him up, he just rested his head on my chest and didn't move.  A couple hours later we noticed a little tooth breaking through the gums.  The guy simply needed his mamma.  All day long!
Ignore the unkempt subject in the photo...remember the 'awoke several times at night' part?
Another few hours elapsed and Adam, who had the day off, began working on the brakes of the van.  One of the bolts was overly tight and when he really pushed down on the lever, his hand slipped smashing 2 fingers and x-rays show a possible break of the thumb.  He's basically a one-handed man right now but as the swelling is decreasing we are becoming more hopeful that it will heal quickly.  That being said, he's trying to milk it with the whole "I can't change a diaper" bit.

The next morning while doing Mariah's hair I discover the dreaded fear of all fears...LICE.  This is obviously where the storm completely collapses in.  I spent the next 4 HOURS pulling bugs and nits out and by lunch I'd completely lost my appetite. (It didn't help that I had googled images of lice and saw the worst case scenarios).  The poor girl had about 30 little scabs on her head and told me she just thought she had a lot of mosquito bites.  Mariah was having a melt down that there were bugs in her hair and suddenly everything was chaos.  Upon checking Clayton, we found more lice.  It seriously made my skin crawl to see all those bugs.  I wasn't even going to deal with him so we pulled out the clippers and gave both Clay and Zach a buzz.  That was easy.  So easy that we decided to do the same with Mariah.  No, we didn't buzz her hair, but I did get the scissors and started chopping.  Less tangles and less hair to sort made for a happier everyone.  Plus, she's been asking to have it shorter for months now.
You may have heard on the news the last little bit that lice are mutating and become immune to the over the counter shampoos.  In 90% of all cases, the shampoo is not killing all the bugs.  Great!  This may be a long process and we only made it 4 weeks into kindergarten!  How many times are we going to have to deal with this???  I'm so happy I only have one girl and a bald husband!

Saturday I spent the entire day doing laundry, boiling brushes, disinfecting couches, freezing hair bows etc. etc. etc.  I feel like there's no way I can get the house clean enough.  She keeps wanting to cuddle and I don't want to be near her!  Luckily, the aforementioned bald husband makes her feel wanted.  In order to go to school she had to be cleared by the nurse.  The nurse checked her under a magnifying glass and we got the go ahead when they didn't find anything.  That being said, we know we aren't out of the woods and suddenly I can't stop itching!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bye Bye Summer

With the summer drawing to an end, so is our care free, uninterrupted schedule.  With Mariah in kindergarten and Zach in joy school, then adding in dance for one and sports class for the other, suddenly we have a lot more on our "to do list". Sometimes, this is a good thing and other days I miss the lazy mornings.  One way it is definitely good is it means our hot hot temperatures should be dropping soon which means we can be back at the park instead of coming up with ways to entertain ourselves.  That being said, my kids are quite good at coming up with their own creative play...but it seems to involve a lot more messing up my house than the park.  However, in the words of Zach and Mariah "kids make messes, that's just what we do". Ain't that the truth.  Baking cookies before children usually didn't include flour explosions.  That's what I get for letting the "help".
Nor did pre-kids life include playing in the rain and then running all through the house without thinking to towel off first or to not jump in the sand box and play while you were soaking wet and come back inside without batting an eye.  But there was RAIN IN PHOENIX and that's the important part!

I laugh all the time when I see the play that they come up with.  Like using socks to play ice hockey with golf clubs and teething rings.
And making sure to never leave anyone out of the fun.
It doesn't take long to learn, the easiest way to keep the house clean is to not be in it!  Getting out for activities seems to keep us all happier...except for Benson who is growing out of the nap in his car seat stage making this a whole lot more complicated.
Superhero day at the libray
Dress like a cow at Chick Fil A (how's that for a sorry costume)
And of course Kids Club--until he realized that Dewper wasn't going to be there that day--Cue super sad face!
We even had the opportunity to meet Aunt Tammy at the airport while she had a 2.5 hour lay-over in Phoenix.  Since we get to see her so little, it was a great treat.
Obviously the best option in the Valley of the Sun is simply the pool.  I bit the bullet and decided to enroll Mariah and Zach in private swim lessons catered specifically to their level.  Going to the pool with 4 non-swimmers was anything but relaxing.  It's been worth it because now Mariah can swim pretty decent and Zach has great water safety skills.  Zach cried the first several lessons but I think it's safe to say that he's now a little fish...as long as he has his goggles. 
 
 Mariah even jumped off the diving board and loved it
Spending so much time in the sun is clearly exhausting.  Or maybe it's waking up at 5:30 every. single. morning???  Whichever one, falling asleep mid bite means it's probably an early bed time night.  Can I get a hallelujah?!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

We Have A School Girl!!!

Our school district is starting a modified school year for the first time.   This means that we start school early, while it's still too hot to be outside, but then we get 2 weeks for fall, winter, and spring breaks.  What all that means is that on July 27th Mariah started school!!!  
The week before school I told Mariah she could pick what we were going to do each day for fun.  Her first request was of course to have a party.  This girl looooves to plan parties!  We invited a couple of her friends over to have a "Welcome to Kindergarten" party.  I set up a simple photo booth for their "first day of kindergarten" pictures.  
We also did a fish craft since they are 'o FISH ally' in kindergarten and then we made little pencils out of Rolo's and Hershey kisses for them to take home.  
Another request was to head to the Children's Museum of Phoenix.  I told Mariah that when she finished reading 100 books I would take her someplace fun so we set up a chart and started reading FOREVER AGO.  Turns out one hundred books for a 5 year old is a lot.  However, she was motivated to finish before school and she did it.  I had never been to this museum (Mariah went with a group a year ago) and it is darling.  I only wish it wasn't quite so far so we could get season passes.  My favorite was the castle they got to paint.
I have to post the next few pictures to illustrate why we are going to miss having Mariah around so much.  She takes such good care of her brothers.  Such. Good. Care.
Here she is pulling Clayton through the car wash on the double tricycle.
 Playing with the brothers at the grocery store.
 Escorting Zach through the noodle maze. 
They truly adore her and are going to be lost without their best play buddy for 8 hours a day (there is no option for half day kinder)
With the last weeks 'bucket list' behind us, she was ready for school.  A few days before I had to take her to have an assessment done by her new teacher, Mrs. Arnold.  After the test the comment made was "Wow, she's more than ready".  I've always known the girl was a smarty pants but hearing the teacher validate that made me a little too proud.  I laughed when the teacher asked her to count as high as she could...
Mariah: 1, 2, 3, .... 34, 35, [sigh] I can count to one hundred 
Teacher: I've gotta hear it
Mariah: [sigh again] 36, 37, ... [countinues flawlessly], 97, 98, 99, [long pause], 99 [pause]
Teacher: What comes after 99?
Mariah: I can't remember
Teacher: 100
Mariah: Awwww!  100!  [giggles] I remember now!

When Monday finally came Mariah was awake, dressed, teeth brushed and backpack on before I even got out of bed.  When I asked how long she had been up she said she had watched 3 shows on TV already.  It was only 6:30 so you do the math!  I think she was a bit anxious.  After snapping a few pictures we were on our way. 

When we got to class it was clear Mariah didn't need us.  She didn't need her hand held, she didn't need a hug goodbye, she didn't need me to pick her up after school (after all riding the bus with no booster seat was the most exciting part!)  She was ready to do this all on her own.  I think we were just about the first parents to leave the classroom.  It was clear our job was done.  
And that was that.  Suddenly it was just me and the boys and it seemed like a much bigger deal than I thought it would be.  It seemed so permanent.  So life changing.  So official.  It was a long day.  My ears were the only ones left to listen to Zach who never stopped talking and never left my side.  I was the only one to give Clayton a hug at nap time as he cried for "Riah" not knowing why his routine was distrupted.  I think he disappointingly said "Riah at school" no less than a dozen times.  And grocery shopping with 3 kids wasn't any easier than 4. 
Finally 3:20 came. She had a wonderful first day.  Two kids from the ward are in her class and one who lives down the street.  Her reaction was "I hope it gets harder" because apparently she didn't learn anything new.  But the bus, oh the bus was awesome!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Saying Bye to the Brazillians

Stacey and her family are moving to Brazil for two years on a work assignment.  Before they leave, they decided to make one last trip to Utah to see family and friends.  It was a no brainer that we would coordinate our schedules so that we could be there at the same time.  I wasn't about to miss the party!  I love Arizona.  I'm a sunshine kinda person through and through.  That being said, there is one thing I really, really miss about Utah.  Not only do I have family there but I have A LOT of family there!  My mom coordinated a get together with both her and my dad's sides of the family.  My Grandma Aston was smart enough to gather everyone together for a family photo with my dad's side.  This is Utah.  This is what I miss.  I sure am lucky.
The Aston girl cousins
Seeing family makes the long drive worth it.  Even when that long drive is made much longer with a flat tire on the way up.  That would have been unfortunate enough but of course the flat tire had to come while the spare was buried underneath the most packed car we have had yet to date since we had camping equipment and an extra child this go around.  That would have been unfortunate enough as well but life can only get more exciting with more hiccups, like finding that the spare tire has extremely low tire pressure.  What's a family gotta do but cross their fingers, pray, and drive 40 mph on the tire until we could get air.  Phew, we made it and filled the spare up.  Unfortunate enough?  Nope!  I guess we were a little too packed because the spare popped!  Apparently the first tire was a better option so we put it back on.  Luckily, Adam is very quick at changing tires.  But unfortunately, not fast enough!  He took a little too long leaving plenty of time for crickets to jump in the car and send my children into the freak out of their lives!!!  With original tire back in place and the crickets dead we set on our way again.  This time at 30mph and tire shredding and flying off with quite the ruckus along the way.  I've never been so relieved to see Provo.  I'm still shocked we made it on a bad tire!  I could have done without the 3 HOUR HOLD UP but since we knew we were about due for new tires anyway we decided we might as well chalk this one up as a good story and memorable experience.  Actually, when the spare popped, neither of us could stop laughing at how awful our situation just may turn out to be.  Laughing because otherwise we might cry!
Since we got to Provo so much later than planned we decided to stay the night at Derek's house.  The spontaneous sleepover made it all worth it for the kids.  Especially since Mariah got to stay up until the next day (aka 12:00 am)!  We then were able to attend Brad Prescott's (Adam's old boss while at BYU) Annual Patriotic Celebration for the Fourth of July.  It set a wonderful mood for the holiday and helped us remember our freedoms.
We also met up with our niece, Priscilla, from the Cuppett side for some breakfast and to shower her with gifts as she is expecting a bundle soon.  Mariah is disappointed that there will be another boy baby in the family!
We finished the day with some fireworks.  
Ironically enough, Benson may have enjoyed the show more than anyone.  He was GLUED the entire time.  And just look at those cheeks. Oh my word!
 
One thing on my bucket list was to spend my 32nd birthday (Ahhhh!) at Lagoon since they have a new roller coaster to top all roller coasters.   I wanted to die as it climbed the hill to the 130 degree drop.  Kelsy was so scared she blacked out.  But is was awesome! 
I think Mariah almost died on The Bat as well when she succumbed to peer pressure and decided to give it a try.  She made me hold her hand the whole ride.  Then she went on it again, and again, and again.  
Zach was more of dare devil than expected too.  He loved every ride he tried and went down small water slides by himself.  That may not seem like much of a feat to some people but if you know Zach, it was a huge step in the right direction.
Zach told Kelsy and Stacey, "it's okay, I'll take care of the babies".  He was proud to be the big boy!
Clayton was, well, expressionless.  I'll take it over unhappy though!
Next up was camping.  Again.  If you want to know how that went, read my blog post from July two years ago about camping in Utah.  It was basically the same story, same place, same (but different) newborn, same rain, :)  I'm finding it hard to believe people who say there is a drought. 
Hine was an idol to the little cousins on her ukelele
If you want to know how the trip went after camping, you can read the blog from July one year ago.  Same story...sort of...this time only 5 family members had the squirts and were puking instead of 20.   Luckily the 5 didn't include anyone that I was in charge of cleaning up after.  Ha!
Because of sicknesses, some people left camping early and didn't join us for the water park fun at the rec center.  Gratefully, they agreed to take Clayton with them so that we could relax more.  This place was awesome.  Zach probably went around the lazy river 100 times, no exaggeration, and we couldn't get Mariah off the big slides.  That is until she realized Adam was a floating pile of fun.  I think he loved having 4 kids hang on him and want thrown around.  Wouldn't you?
The there was Boondocks, visiting more cousins, catching bugs, kayaking, chickens, movies at the theater, homemade ice cream, birthday dinners with the great grandparents and "better toys than our house".  No wonder my kids cried when they left. 
Jaron tickling Benson
With so much fun we just may have to make our next stop somewhere in Bazil!  Boa sorte a la familia Sears!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Bryce Canyon

It was time for another trip to Utah.  In order to break up the drive a bit we decided to stop at Bryce Canyon and camp for a night.  We got to spend the night in a Tipi of all things.  I'm not sure who thought it was cooler, the kids or the parents.  However, if you look closely at Clayton's face you would probably vote for kids...that is until bedtime came... Question: How many people can fit on one air mattress?  Answer: FIVE!  It was a horrific night with cold, scared kids, minus Mariah.  There have only been a couple of times in my life I couldn't wait for morning to come.  Everyone of those times just may have happened while I was camping!  Why do we do this to ourselves???  My excuse is the kids but I secretly love it if I can get some rest. 
As we began the drive into Bryce Canyon, Mariah gasped at how beautiful it was.  Then we got to our first lookout and Zach asked "Is that a painting or is it real?"  He could hardly believe that such a scene existed.  Adam explained that it was God's paintbrush and yes, it is quite spectacular!  I didn't think they would be as impressed with the beauty as they would have fun hiking and camping but if you've ever been to Bryce, you probably wouldn't find it surprising that even young children can be awestruck.  Pictures simply don't to it justice. 
For kids, camping = Disneyland.  They loved finding pine cones, watching squirrels, sitting by the fire, and eating junk :)  They loved it all, minus the sleeping part.  I had to snag a picture of Benson all bundled up because it never happens in Phoenix.
 Clayton was in seventh heaven with those marshmallows
He wasn't in heaven when he couldn't get out of the Tipi and I left him there without helping until I could first grab a quick picture.  Worth it!
Once we were up from our sleep laying in the tent for 8 hours, we set out to do a hike before getting back in the car.  We tried to pick the easiest hike that still had a decent payoff.  We decided on Queen's Garden which made Mariah happy because it involved a queen.  Where did this girl come from?!  Mariah and Zach did great on the 2 mile hike.  They loved finding pictures in the rocks and they loved all the attention they got from other hikers commenting on how impressed they were.  Mostly because the adults were huffing and puffing with the steep incline, but kids are energizer bunnies.  Zach said on the way back that he was getting tired but that he can "do hard things".  Love his good attitude!
Standing in a tunnel but we all just look like dots :)
Mariah wanted to either pose for or take by herself a billion pictures!
Upon leaving Mariah said she just had to have a souvenir to remember this place!  Adam said that was a great idea and to go find a rock or a pine cone.  Mariah replied "you mean something you don't have to buy!"  Yep, exactly!  It was a perfect (and inexpensive) stop and one I hope they will remember for a long time. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Play Time

We had several visitors and with that always comes the opportunity to get out and P-L-A-Y!  As I mentioned, both our parents and my sister came to stay for Benson's blessing.  My dad's birthday was just a few days before they arrived so for his "gift" we treated everybody to a round at Top Golf that was just built.  Top Golf is a 'driving range meets bowling' kind of idea.  There are all sorts of games and challenges where each player gets 10 balls and you aim for different targets throughout the game.  Much more fun than a regular driving range...unless you have a bunch of little kids wanting turns...which we did. 
When Nana and Pappy come to visit it means three things; a trip to Shar's for cooking classes, 'Pappy Popcorn', and a lot of time on the piano. 
Ava wasn't feeling well but she loved feeding popcorn to her new BFF
I love this picture because it's just cute, and because we have one so similar of Mariah
 I love how much they love listening to their Grandpa play and that he includes them.
 A few weeks after the blessing, Adam's sister and family came to visit as they are scoping out the area for a potential move to Phoenix.  Fingers crossed!!!  Heidi visiting = girl time.  The woman is starved for more girls in her life.  It's a good thing her prayers were finally answered and she will get her own daughter in just another month!
We also tried a new restaurant while they were here called San Tan Flats.  It's a country feel with live music, dancing and fire pits for roasting marshmallows at each table.  A super fun ambiance.
Our ward also had a Fathers/Sons camp out a couple weeks ago.  Of course the first words out of Zach's mouth when they arrived were "There are pine cones everywhere!"  He came home with a whole grocery bag full.  He also found him a little "broom" and swept the tent with it for quite awhile (the broom is pictured below)
 
Adam packed individual flashlights for the boys.  They were a mega hit.  I still don't understand why kids don't care that it's shining right in their eyes.  ??? 
When they got home Zach had to tell me about all of the sugar dad let them have.  Pine cones and sugar...Heaven! They had a ball and apparently slept great.  Mariah and I enjoyed girl time with our friends, painting nails, going out to eat, and watching movies.  A pretty good weekend for everyone.

With the visitors gone and our house projects done, we had our first family outing with just the 6 of us in a while.  Adam won tickets to the Musical Instrument Museum.  It was Family Day, so they had crafts and story time etc in addition to the regular museum stuff.  It was a lot of fun but without the family day it would have been a huge BORE!  I'm not a fan of museums.  I would have been in and out of that place in 10 minutes if it weren't for the other activities.
The kids loved the headsets you wore as you walked around for an audio tour
One of the activities was face painting.  We opted to do arm painting instead hoping it would be less messy and get smeared less.  We were wrong but they loved it nonetheless.
My favorite may have been the photo booth.  Zach and Clay still don't get it and that's the best part.  I also had to laugh how Adam looks the exact same in each shot.  Um, they take four pictures for a reason!
Now today is Monday and it's going to be a pretty boring day...Off I go, the toilets need a scrubbin'.