Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Take Me Home, Country Road

We just got back from a two week trip to Utah.  In other words, hunker down for a post full of pictures and journaling.  Just know that no matter how long this post gets, it is much much shorter than the 13 hour drive with cranky kids that it takes to get to Utah and NOTHING beats that misery!

The big event that took place during our visit was that we got to meet Nixon Talmage Call at 3 weeks old.  Mariah was so so excited and loved her snuggles.  I'm not even 100% sure Zach ever looked at the baby.  Kids can be such opposites.
Since all my family would be in town, Kelsy and Tally decided to bless Nixon so we could be there.  I'm sure hosting and feeding a crowd as well as having her house wrecked at 3 weeks postpartum wasn't Kelsy's first choice of activities but I am grateful I didn't miss the event.  P.S. She's already skinnier than me if you must know but don't worry, I'm over it.
For the 4th of July, we attended the Kaysville parade that the kids love for all the free candy.  Of course Utah had record highs so we got our sweat on but what's the Fourth without a parade?
I explained to the boys as the flag was passing that they should take off their hats and place them on their hearts.  Then throughout the entire parade, whenever Clay saw a flag he took his hat off again.  Kinda melted my heart.  Later that day we had a BBQ and burned money (aka fireworks) and Rob's family was able to join as well.  Mariah even got to have her first sleep over at Chloe's and you can't even believe how excited she was about it.  Makes me wish we lived closer.
Next up was my race.  Bragging moment coming up...6 months ago I joined a gym for the first time since having kids.  I'd only casually been working out and hadn't pushed myself in a long time.  The first week of heading back to the gym, I jumped on a treadmill and was shocked at how slow I'd become. I hadn't run with a clock in 7 years and it was ugly.  Over the last 6 months I worked HARD to take off minutes as well as add distance.  I set a goal to do a 10K in under an hour (9:30 miles).  A lofty goal at the time.  Long story short, I shattered that goal in the Farmington Festival Days race by just over 2.5 minutes.  It felt so good-- even though it's a pretty slow 10K for most runners.  Unfortunately, I pushed myself a little too hard and felt sick the rest of the day.  The hills nearly killed me since Gilbert is so flat and low elevation.
Air Punch incoming
Oh and that race was run at the ripe old age of 34--the day after my birthday!  I just get better with age!  I had a wonderful birthday where my grandparents treated my ENTIRE family to dinner at Maddox.  It's a nicer restaurant than my kids are behaved for but nothing beats their rolls with raspberry butter.  In fact, I probably could have shaved another 15 seconds off my race time without that delicious and large meal in my belly hours before :)

You will have to try to zoom in on this letter.  For my birthday I told Adam all I wanted was to go shopping at Called to Surf, my new favorite store selling modest, yet trendy clothing.  He created this cute spoof off of a mission call for "Called to Serve" with some cash for my gift.  He seriously is the best gift-giver which usually just leaves me feeling really lame around his birthday and holidays because I'm terrible at reciprocating.

A trip to Utah isn't complete without a stop in Provo (especially since that's where the clothing store is).  The kids needed new BYU attire and I needed a picture with Cosmo.
While in the bookstore, Benson found a copy of the Book of Mormon.  He was so excited and just had to sit down and "read".  Please don't change buddy.
We also hit the rec center for Mele's 8th birthday, which is Mariah's favorite place in the entire state.  No pictures of the water activities but Benson and Clayton loved those big slides.  I couldn't get over Benson's giggles as he rode on my lap.  We finished the party off with Derek's famous ribs.  I think Clay enjoyed them.
Our funnest adventure had to have been Lagoon.  The high for the day was 105 degrees (in Utah?!) but it did keep crowds down and my kids tolerate heat.  In fact while we were getting snow cones one day Clay was wondering why there was grass stuck to a lady's knee.  I said she must be sweating and he said "Is it hot right now?!"  Only an Arizonan.
If you've ever questioned whether or not Adam is a good dad, just look at this picture.  Pure joy on everyone's face including the big kid sitting in the back.
I didn't get a good picture of Clayton at Lagoon but he may be my only child that's a dare devil.  He went on everything he was tall enough for and loved it.

Most of the other activities we enjoyed were simpler.  My parents gave us their tickets to the PGA Tour at Oakridge Country Club that included a lunch.  It was a fun afternoon out with my sisters while my parents watched a lot of overly tired kids all by themselves.
My cousin Natalie joined us and we took a fun tour of Mrs. Cavanaugh's Chocolate Factory and then ate enough sugar to last us a week (although a few hours was what really happened.  What's vacation without yummy food and sweets?)
My dad has always been a little crazy but when he volunteered to take the kids "camping" in the backyard, I feared he had lost it!  I think he agreed it was a bad idea when we was up nearly every hour with a kid needing to use the bathroom and then for good with Clayton at 5:30 ready to go to the park.  However, it built memories and was one of the kids highlights.
On our first day the kids went out to meet the new chickens.  Benson got spooked and while he said prayers that night he requested that 'the door to the chickens doesn't get open again!'  Within a few days, he'd warmed up and the little boys loved chasing them around the yard.  The chickens may have learned to hate people this last week.
Grandma Great was a trooper and stayed at the house, despite the noise, so we would have plenty of time to visit.  Her and Clay bonded.  She did puzzle after puzzle with him.
But let's be honest, the real bonding came because she let him play on her tablet.  Which backfired since he's the first one up each day and woke her to start his games ;/  Clayton: Where's Sister Davis? (sister from church)  Me: Her name is Grandma Great...several minutes later when I told him he couldn't play games, Clayton: Sister Sumsion is in charge of the tablet! (who is the other Great Grandma. This one is Grandma Aston.  Poor kid is just a little confused.  Sister/Grandma/Sumsion/Aston/Davis, who knows!)
I love this picture. Next time Grandma needs to have more than one bag of candy for all those baby birds.  Grandma also hosted an "Itty Bitty Super Duper" party for the kids while we went to breakfast and Zach hasn't stopped talking about it!
But I may love this one even more.  So grateful that my kids have so many people to love.
It was dress like a cow day and who doesn't love free food.  Little did I know how upset 2 of my littlest cows would be about dressing up.  And how much crazier free places are with frugal Utahans that have a bazillion kids.  And how the next day I would be eating at Chick Fil A again with my childhood girlfriends.  Yes, this wasn't worth it.
As much as two weeks seemed like a long time away, the very next day all my kids were wanting to go back and were complaining about being bored!  They missed their cousins and sleepovers and non-stop play.  That being said, they also missed their routine and down time and bedrooms while we were away so until our next adventure we will be grateful for our home sweet home.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summer Time

For the last day of school we picked Mariah up at the bus and headed straight to SeaLife Aquarium with friends.  I was surprised how much the kids loved it.  Makes me think a trip to SeaWorld may need to be in our future.  It was a fun kick off to summer.

This has been our best summer yet as far as weather goes.  All that's going to end this weekend with 116 degree highs but mornings at the park were pleasant surprises so we will take it.  That being said, we still spend most of our time swimming.  The kids made a lot of progress with their lessons this year.  Especially Zach who may have actually overcome his fear of the water!!!  I even did a Parent Tot class so that Benson didn't have to watch from the sidelines but that means there are no pictures since I was in the water.  I did however, manage to catch a picture of the new shades I picked up for them since Zach has such sensitive eyes in the sun.  Heart throbs!

On one of our cooler nights Zach decided he was ready to try to ride a two-wheeler so we gave it a go.  Off he went!  That turned out to be a whole lot easier than the first time I tried to teach a kid to ride a bike.  No tears involved.  He still hasn't figured out how to start and stop on his own but with a little practice that will come pretty quick.  Click on the link to see the video
Adam was at Girls Camp so Mariah was my cameraman.  It's not the greatest video ever but it was fun to show Dad when he got home.

The open house for the temple in Tucson is going on so we made the 1 hour 40 minute drive to go see it.  It's a smaller temple and not overly elaborate (nothing is compared to Gilbert) but pretty nonetheless.  In fact, because it wasn't crowded it made for a very calm and peaceful experience that I hope made an impact on the kids.  Even Benson said he felt "good" in the temple.  However, what he couldn't stop talking about was the bus ride since there wasn't sufficient parking on the temple grounds.  He was the happiest little guy on that bus.  "I like it mommy, I like the bus.  It's Mariah's bus.  No buckle..." I think that last phrase was the true key.  He was free with no 5-point harness car seat!!!
The other kids, well they were just happy to wear the white shoe coverings around...and get dinner and ice cream afterwords.  We may have eaten at the best Mexican restaurant I've ever been too called El Charros.  Excellent!!!
While we are on the topic of spiritual things.  Benson is the cutest ever.  Lately he carries around a copy of the Book of Mormon every where he goes.  I mean everywhere.  He wants to sleep with it, eat with it, and ride in the car with it.  A couple of times he has sat on the couch for literally 30 minutes flipping through the pages and saying that he's "reading".  He loves to find the picture of Jesus and says "Book of Mormon stories nice".  That's what he calls it, his "Book of Mormon stories" like the song.  He never sees us read the real Book of Mormon since we read the kids version as a family and an online version for personal studies.  Could it be that the book carries a special spirit even by just holding it?  I like to think so.  Heaven help me to not ruin these perfect children.
Photo bomber in this one :)
Summer has just begun but we also only have 6 weeks left.  The kids have created a bucket list and now that swim lessons are over our schedule is totally free so it's time we get busy!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Reason to Celebrate!

Summer vacation is just days away and that also means that all of our activities are winding down.  These kiddos make me so proud with all the things they are learning and achieving.
First on the list is Mariah.  Her artwork was chosen to be displayed at the High School for a big event being held there.  Only five 1st graders were chosen.  This is her depiction of the book "Giraffes Can't Dance".  She says that her giraffe is "break dancing" and her art teacher commented that he laughs at all of Mariah's work because somewhere there is a princess crown.
She also received a reading award (she reads at a high 4th grade level) as well as the classroom award of integrity.  Adam and I both laughed and rolled our eyes a little on that award because lately we've been struggling with her honesty.  Either our lectures and consequences of writing "I will not lie" 50 times are sinking in at school and not at home, or she's just pulled the cover over her teachers eyes.  Either way, I'm pleased that she's included help with a new goal in her personal prayers to not lie until her baptism.  Ha ha.  Hopefully that means she will not lie after it as well :)
She had her first piano recital and did AMAZING.  We are cautiously optimistic with her love of the piano.  I know we are only 5 months into this but I never have to fight her to practice.  She is self motivated and wants to do well.  Her recital piece was a simplified version of "Angles We Have Heard on High".  Yes, a Christmas song in May.  It's her favorite so she didn't care.  After 1 week of practicing it, she had it down so she started adding in "fancier" things on her own.  She literally made up her notes to add and they sounded good.  It's almost like she wrote her own arrangement!  She also asked her teacher if she could sing along as she played.  LOL.  This girl does love the arts!
She also had her dance recital and no longer gets too stage freight.  In fact, you could even catch her smiling a couple of times.  She does however, still get very embarrassed with all the attention she receives afterwards and even asked us to stop bringing flowers because they embarrass her.  Who knew?  And that smile is totally fake but the annoying little brother is totally natural.
Then of course we had our last (blazing hot) soccer game.  Mariah loved soccer.  No surprise there, she loves everything.  But don't be deceived.  What she really loved was playing defense which means standing at the back of the field and being the cheerleader on the team.  She's not the most aggressive player but she did help motivate others.
Perhaps, the biggest reason we have to celebrate Mariah is that this happened last night!  She did the dishes and I did not!!!  Life is oh so good!
Zach finished preschool and his next stop is all day kindergarten!!!  He is beyond ready.  So ready that I think we could skip it and go straight to first grade (except that he only weighs 37 pounds and all his pants literally fall off his waist).
He was so excited for his preschool graduation.  He couldn't wait to show us what he learned with Miss Stacy and for the ice cream party afterwards.
 He also finished up soccer.  Zach did not like practices but he did like the games.  He's a lot more aggressive on the field than the other two siblings who played this season.  It was a little frustrating for him this time because he was the youngest on the team so competition was stiff but he kept at it and he had the best coach!
Clayton on the other had did not like practices or games.  I'm not sure if he was just too young or if it's not his thing but I'm not going to give up on him quite yet.  It was an exhausting endeavor to convince him twice a week to get ready for something he didn't enjoy.  It didn't help that practice was by a park that he couldn't play at.  Once at the games, he seemed to be fine playing and every.single.time. he kicked the ball he would then turn to me and give me a thumbs up.  All in all, soccer with 3 kids was crazy busy and we are excited for a break from all the activities!
The metal and snacks made it all worth it
Clayton has his very last day of joy school tomorrow and next year will do preschool with Zach's same teacher.  He loved joy school so so much.  He loves friends and looked forward to it each week.  That makes two of us!  My four hours with only 1 kid were so productive!  On my last day to teach we had a water party in the back yard.  I guess I can't call it teaching because there was zero instruction.
Favorite picture of the day.  Benson loved that sprinkler, especially when I pulled the slide by it.  I signed him up for Mommy and Me swim lessons this summer because he will not be a happy camper if he has to watch everyone swim from the side lines.
And look at my picks from the grow boxes.  Our third gardening season and we may finally be getting the hang of this.  Oh, and next year we will plant only one zucchini plant.  That stuff produces like rabbits!
The highlight of all celebrations was Mother's Day.  If only it happened more frequently.  Adam knows how to pamper me and the kids all made me little gifts at school.  Mariah also constructed my favorite place with me, her, and grandma at the beach drinking pina coladas and sitting on lounge chairs.  Too bad it's not real life.
Adam wins though by surprising me with a plane ticket home for my parents mission homecoming.  I then surprised my parents when I showed up at their doorstep.  My mom of course was teary eyed and my dad of course was out golfing.  You didn't need a crystal ball to predict either of those.  It was so much fun to relax for the weekend childless, as well as to hear their reports in church.  It was such a great and uplifting meeting and the luncheon was full of family and friends.  I took no pictures (insert angry face) but I do have one of the banner we made over spring break if that counts.

Bring on the summer heat!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Clayton's 4th Birthday Fiesta

When I asked Clayton what he wanted to do for his birthday party this year his #1 request was a pinata.  All kids are the same I tell ya.  Hitting something with a bat and having it rain candy is heaven in every way.  I figured if that's what he wanted we could do a Cinco de Mayo party the weekend before his birthday.  They ended up scheduling the Father and Sons Camp Out for the 5th of May but by then my party planning was already underway so we switched dates to the 6th and called it a fiesta instead.  The invites may have been my favorite part.  I made these mini pinatas out of toilet paper rolls and you pulled the string hanging out the bottom to release the candy and information for the party.  Could you get any more adorable?
Clayton only wanted to invite 5 friends...and NO GIRLS... so we decided it would be intimate enough that we could have the entire family come for dinner and fun.  Plus, the ward Easter party wasn't a great turn out and Adam was in charge of the food.  It was a Mexican dinner so we came home with A LOT of extra taco fixings.  Nothing easier than a taco bar for the fiesta! I had to add a little of my own party flair with this super simple cake I made.  I'll brag on myself and say it's awesome!  We even served it with fried ice cream.  Delish!
That's about all I can take credit for.  We had a scout day camp that I helped at as part of my church calling and it was a western theme.  Afterwards, they were going to throw away all the decorations so I figured Mexico is in the desert, why not?  I brought it home for quick and easy party favors and decor.  I made a photo booth out of the backdrop and cactus pool noodles.  Clay hates to dress up and refused to get even one picture but it was still a big statement piece and the other kids had fun.
They also had a bunch of these pool noodle horses in lots of different colors for the rodeo we did at Day Camp. I wasn't very good at pulling out my camera during much of the party and didn't get one with all Clayton's friends but each kid got a horse to take home as a party favor.
For some activities, the kids made maracas and Sugar Skull masks (that I copied from the kids menu at I said, no credit for this party!)
And of course, you have to play pin the tail on the donkey at a Mexican party.  Clay was cracking me up.  He had NO CLUE which direction was which and would walk the wrong way every time.
Then the long awaited breaking of the pinata.
I wish I would have taken a video of him opening all his presents at the party.  His reactions were so cute and genuine.  There was no doubt that we loved and was grateful for every gift he received.  It's always a little concerning at parties that the birthday child will act disappointed or say something unkind about a gift.  Not his time!  We did film him opening his present on his actual birthday that we got him.  Let's just say that time we didn't get the reaction we were hoping for.  In other words, we got no reaction whatsoever from the kid.  Rest assured he LOVES his new scooter and can't ride it enough.  I knew we would but he certainly didn't seem too interested when he first laid eyes on it!
Clay's other request was to go to Kids Club for his birthday because you get a free ice cream and they sing to you on stage. When it came time, he got too shy so big brother Zach, went up with him.  This is a typical "nervous" picture of Clayton.  Each time he is feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed, or shy, he sticks his tongue in his cheek. Makes me laugh.
A few things about this 4 year old.  He gave his first talk in Primary and ROCKED it with confidence, he has no idea what "tomorrow" means so everything is counted in "how many more sleeps", he LOVES LOVES LOVES video games and we may have our hands full with that little addiction as he gets older :/ His other favorite activity has to be board and card games.  Clayton is still an early riser who almost never sleeps til 6:00 am but luckily he has learned how to self entertain until someone else wakes up.  He loves people, especially those older than him.  He puppy dogs around any big kid he can find and even takes to many adults/grandparents.  That may be my very favorite quality about him. He doesn't care what you look like, he is willing to be your friend...that is unless you are a girl...wants nothing to do with them already...if you ask me it's a win win and we hope neither of those things change for quite some time.

Happy Birthday Clay Man!