Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mommy Wow...I'm a Big Kid Now!

The biggest news in our household this month is that we are down to 1 kid in diapers!!!!  Can I get a WOOT WOOT!?  Clayton did not want to give up his diapers but we prepped him saying when we got back from California over spring break he was going to say "bye bye to diapers".  Talking about it for weeks geared him up so when we got home we headed to the dollar store and picked out a basket of prizes and his favorite treat.  Monday he had 6 accidents (all on the wood floors or outside), Tuesday he had 2 accidents and Wednesday he was accident free!  I thought we had it licked.  Is it possible he could be potty trained in just over 24 hours?!  He would even come in from outside playing to say he needed to go to the bathroom.  It was miraculous!  However, #2 was a little more intimidating and the novelty of #1 wore off a little as well so by the weekend we had experienced several accidents again.  All that being said, Clay has been accident free for over 2 weeks and I only had to scrub carpet 1 time!  The worst was the poop in the underwear at the park.  Those undies just went in the garbage if you know what I mean :/  When all is said and done, I think he's been my easiest yet.  Way to go Clayton!!!

Unfortunately, He's not the only one who has become acquainted with the toilet in this house.  I found this picture on my phone...I wasn't the one who took the picture...which means his hands never got washed after the splashing was over.
I did take this picture though.  We can't keep the kid out of the bathroom but I also can't get the others to remember to close the door.
Clay isn't the only one becoming a big kid around here.  At the age of 12+ months we finally have a baby that pulls to his feet.  It opens up a whole new world including the fun of being able to climb the stairs!  We went to a find train museum for Zach's joy shcool field trip and had one happy camper who was able to STAND and see all the action.

Zach has started his first team sports and is loving tee ball.  I got a great hit on camera but I really wish I had filmed his first 4 times to bat.  #1, missed and spun around in a 360, #2, hit the ball and stood there with the biggest grin on his face because he was so proud of himself.  As he grinned, and didn't move an inch he was tagged out, #3 hit the ball, dropped the bat, and ran (making big progress here)...except that he ran to his ball, picked the ball up and then took it to first base.  You'd think it all would have clicked by now but #4 he sprints toward third base right after hitting.  #5 is the video below.  Why did I not film the first 4 hits???  That would have been way more priceless.  I guess I just assumed he was a quicker learner than he turned out to be.  Lol.
And here he is playing catcher.  Cutest catcher on the Higley Hot Dogs team I might add.
Everyone is turning into such big kids around here that they are finally starting to earn their keep.  A foot massage to stay up 5 minutes past worth it.  Zach was all in but Mariah took some covincing, she takes after her mom, touching feet is not her thing :)
There ya have it.  Mommy wow!  They are all turning into big kids now!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Easter Celebrations

Easter is quickly becoming one of my favorite holidays.  It's got an element of fun and spirituality all mixed together.  We celebrated all month long with activities, crafts, and lessons.  From Easter egg hunts, to testimony eggs, from an outdoor movie "Hop", to resurrection rolls, and many others in between.  We filled our days learning, playing, and being together.  Mariah even sang her first solo (with Adam and I on the chorus) in church the week before Easter to a song called Gethsemane.  She practiced hard and was so excited but when it came right down to it, I was afraid her nerves would take over.  However, she stood up there and sang!  As soon as we got back to our bench, her bottled up emotions overcame her and she burst into tears.  She did an amazing job and brought the spirit into both the meeting and our home as we practiced and remembered our Savior at this time.

Of course we had fun dying eggs.  Especially with cousins in town to join in.
This year we even dyed some "blood red" like they do in Serbia to represent the blood of Christ using the skins of 15 yellow onions.  Rather than buy 15 onions I dug through the bins at the store to find those that had flaked off...embarrassing moment when I was questioned by some man what in the world was I doing! They look more burnt orange than red but it was enjoyable nevertheless.

The Easter Bunny brought some drama this year.  Mariah was the last of 7 kids to find her hidden basket and she was not happy about it!  By the time she found it she was in tears.  Then apparently the swim toy she got looked like it was a baby toy (they were dive turtle eggs (perfect for Easter) that you can't even use unless you can swim to the bottom of the pool but they LOOKED like they were for babies.) and that only increased the drama.  The gratitude of my kids astounds me :/  Next year EB won't be hiding her basket and next year she won't be getting a single toy.  Zach on the other hand was quite excited with his new things for the pool as well as the shiny egg he found :)  Clayton was equally as happy.

In addition to all of the chocolate goodness found in Easter eggs, there were also 12 eggs with a puzzle piece inside.  The kids had to all combine the pieces to build a puzzle of Christ holding a lamb.  At desert book you can find mini puzzles for $2.99.  This may be a new tradition.  Plus, it's 12 less eggs full of sugar!
Zach is becoming my puzzle boy
Mariah was proud of her loot and decided it was worth being happy again.
My favorite Easter tradition is the pageant at the Mesa Temple with pizza and popcorn.  It's so well done!  Clayton can't stop talking about how Jesus was flying and all the angels.  When a cast member asked Chloe if she knew of any stories from the life of Jesus she responded "I don't know any, I'm from Utah".
Upon seeing this picture, Zach: "Mom, I don't like that picture.  I look really scary!"
We had another special visitor join us for the holiday besides Rob and family...Hoot.  Mariah's class has an owl that someone takes home every weekend and then documents the adventures they have to share with the class.  Boy was she attached to Hoot all weekend, even buckling him in the car and sleeping with him each night...I'm thinking hoot may have a lot of germs climbing on him.
There ya have it, a Happy Easter indeed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Break

Mariah got 2 weeks off for Spring Break and Adam had 3 more weeks of 'bonding leave' to use so we jumped into the car and headed for California.  We stopped first at Nana and Pappy's where we had an Easter egg hunt and bunny pancakes.  Benson was making me laugh when we got back into the house and he took every single egg out of his bucket and put it into someone else's.  The Easter eggs also included money which the kids were so excited to spend on souvenirs from our trip!
We also made a stop at Dinosaur Wonderland.  What a gem we just happened upon with this one!  Dozens of bounce houses, dinosaur rides, dino dig, panning for shark teeth, and a dino exhibit that TERRIFIED both Clayton and Benson.  Clay refused to get out of the stroller and poor Benson cried each time something moved or growled.  A little too realistic looking for the littlest of kids.
We also made it out to Knott's Berry Farm.  We've taken Mariah and Zach to Disneyland around their 3rd birthday and planned on doing the same with Clay but when we heard they liked Lagoon, AND IKEA AND Red Robin AND Chuck E Cheese AND church BETTER than Disneyland, we decided that it's a colossal waste of money and energy.  We went to Knott's instead and it was an amazing experience.  We never waited in a line more than 5 min including the big coasters for Adam and I. We rode every kid ride and the favorites twice, saw a show with Charley Brown, met the characters, and ate churros all by 4:30 when we went home.  No one was exhausted, no one was bored and we weren't broke!
Clayton was our little dare devil going on EVERYTHING he was tall enough for and loving it.  He even went on the log ride when Mariah and Zach were too scared (Mariah later got up the courage to try it as well as the Wild Mouse ride which she LOVED).   He loved having his stomach tickled, he loved going fast, he loved the kid roller coasters.
Zach's favorites were the things that spin and we were lucky he was barely tall enough to ride them by himself because Adam and I could only handle a couple of those a piece before we were done with that.  Which means Clay had to sit out on a few :/  When did I get so old?
After spending a couple of days with Nana and Pappy, we headed to Grandma and Grandpa's in Central California to play with them.  The highlight of the trip for the kids were the elephant seals. UGLY creatures yet completely fascinating in every way.  I'm baffled by nature and the instincts that each is born with.  A true testament of God and His creations.  Thousands of seals line the beach at the same time each year to rest and mate, then they head out to sea alone and return the next season. The males grow these hideous trunks (hence the elephant title) and they all make these hideous noises that Zach couldn't stop laughing, HARD, at because he was convinced they were all passing gas.
Mariah's eyes are a little red in the above picture because she had just finished her huge tantrum since she didn't get to tour Hearst Castle with Adam and I.  She simply couldn't realize it was no Cinderella Castle and although we were fascinated by the building, it's collections, and architecture, I'm certain my 6 year old daughter would have been bored out of her mind on the 2 hour tour.
As part of a birthday gift to Adam, my parents rented some kayaks for us and we paddled around the bay spotting sting rays, seals, and otters.  Clay was a little nervous but Mariah and Zach seemed to really enjoy riding and even attempting to help paddle a bit.  What is it about the water that's so peaceful?
We took a short hike to Elfin Forest where we attempted to get a picture with my parents.  Somebody always has to ruin it.

So when we attempted our family picture we decided to make it seem like Zach's goofiness was planned.  I think I like this one best anyway :)  Plus the trees and their low branches were just awesome.
Lastly we chased the waves at Pismo Beach.  This possibly got the most laughter and grins out of Clay and Mariah.  Until Clay fell into the water that is.  Although he came up smiling, he quickly realized that he was wet and cold.  Grandpa's jacket did not improve his mood nor did us laughing at him.
Needless to say, we came home tired and sick of the car and a little sick of each other :)  But somehow we are looking forward to when we get to go back again.  Funny how that works!

Benson's 1st Birthday

March 6th, 2015 will forever and always be celebrated in our home!  Sometimes it seems forever ago and sometimes it feels like just yesterday.  But one things for sure, our life has changed for the better this past year now that we have Benson in our lives.
As cute as he was as a newborn, he's certainly gotten cuter with age!  I look at this picture and see absolute perfection.  He's the happiest baby (assuming that he's riding on his mamma's hip) and he's been so easy to enjoy.  He's been my best napper, best sleeper, and most smiley.  He's the only one that no one fights with and the only one that doesn't push others buttons. All he really needs is attention and a full belly.  With that, life is good!
Wearing his new birthday suspenders and bow tie

We were in California on Benson's actual birthday so it was fun to be able to have a party with so many family members at Nana and Pappy's house.  Nana made him his very own smash cake but I think he would have preferred to be more of a gentleman and been handed a fork.  P.S I thought it would be cute to have him dressed like this for his cake until someone mentioned he looked like a Chip n' Dale.  Now that you mention it... it forever ruined the idea I was going for :)

Luckily Benson had some older siblings to help open the presents or we may have been their all day!
However, once it was out of the box, there was no mistaking that Nana and Pappy had found a winner of a gift and that he was indeed grateful.  Endless squeals of delight!
Benson still hasn't started pulling up or cruising, he's not even close to walking and has made no resemblances of a first word.  BUT he does love to clap, give high fives, and play peek a boo.  His favorite "toy" is all of the Tupperware in our cupboards, or the rocks in the backyard.  He loves grapes, bananas, and yogurt and can eat more than one piece of pizza.  He's not a huge breakfast eater, hates string cheese (which was a major fall back and easy snack for all my other kids) and cows milk.  Benson was only taking 1 nap a day from 10-11 months old but has digressed back to needing a morning and late afternoon nap.  Clayton still needs an afternoon nap but he can't take a nap past about 1:30 or he wakes up super cranky.  Basically, someone in this house is napping from about 10:00-3:30 which means we are either house bound or dealing with a whiny kid.  Usually it's Benson that gets the short end of the stick which means I end up holding him A LOT because that seems to keep him tolerable.  When he cries, the kids have been known to say "Mom, he just wants you to hold him!", or "Mom, you know if you walk out of the room then Benson is going to start crying so just don't walk out!"  The solution to life is so simple in the eyes of a child who has no ''to do list".  If Benson, is well rested however, he's simply a dream.  I've enjoyed having him as a baby the most of all my kids and I hope his little personality never changes!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Valentine's Weekend

It's been a long couple of weeks.  The 2016 plague of Gilbert hit the Cuppett household hard.  One person with a nasty cough and fever after another, making the rounds through each member.  Zach reached a fever of 104 and Benson 103.6.  Benson also was up ALL NIGHT LONG one evening struggling to breathe.  I took him to our doctor the following morning where he was diagnosed with croup and given a steroid shot to help.  The shot helped a lot but it was heartbreaking to see the little man so miserable.  Literally took about 20 naps in my arms over the next 24 hours.  Didn't have energy to even cry let alone crack a smile. 
Being stuck inside with no friends as everyone recovered at different times made for a boring and long beginning to the month.  After being on the mend for a few days we were thrilled to received the news that my brother and family were coming to visit for the Valentine's/President's day weekend.  They wanted to surprise the kids so we kept it a secret.  I should have had my camera ready for that part!  Mariah was over the moon ecstatic that Mele and Co. was here to play and the LAST thing she expected to see at her door.  She was so tired waiting up for the "special delivery" to arrive but once they came and the fun began, her and Clayton (Zach knocked out on the couch) had a surge of energy partying karaoke style until 11:30 pm.  Then up early to play again.  Having big cousins that don't take naps and stay up late is all fun and games unless you are the little guys.  After a rough few hours, Clay finally passed out and missed much of the fun at the park with kids zip lines, dog races and 88 degree weather.
Obviously, 88 degree weather and a park is a little too warm so then everyone, meaning the kids who have no brain cells, decided to brave the pool with unheated water.  Everyone but Clay was all in.  Clay sat on the sides enjoying the hot tub with the other wimps, aka adults.

If you are an Aston, you know half the fun of going out of town is to try new places to eat.  We went for the 5 star Valentine's Day restaurant...the Burrito Shack.  Seriously, "hole in the wall" doesn't even begin to describe this place with no A/C, tin walls, boarded up windows and a toilet seat on the dirt.  But it is BOMB and one of our favorite finds in AZ.
Most of the fun and laughter, however came from hanging out at home and playing games.  We finished off our Bean Boozled jelly beans. When Clay took his turn we said "does it taste like canned dog food or chocolate pudding?"  He begins chewing and says, "no, it tastes like poop!" then proceeded to eat the entire thing.  Died laughing.
We also broke out the Pie Face game.  My party pooper, children still refused to participate but had plenty of fun watching others take the hit...we all did!
Soakai was declared winner but after glorifying in the moment, decided he wanted a turn and played by himself until he got whip creamed. 
On Sunday we visited the temple grounds.  Once again, late nights combined with 12:00 pm church made for a cranky Clayton so I had to join the picture that I intended to be cousins only.  I tried to convince Maxine to jump in with the pregnant belly to include the cousin in the womb but she wasn't for the plan, especially since she was throwing up as the shot was taken.  I can't imagine that kind of pregnancy!!! :(
Part of me wishes they could have stayed longer and part of me thinks that Clayton wouldn't have survived.  He's big enough he just can't and wont miss out on all the fun for sleep but little enough that it becomes no fun!  That being said, I couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate Valentine's than with so many of the people I love. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

New Year, New You

How is it possibly 2016!?  I'm excited for a new year.  I'm excited to watch my kids grow and learn.  I'm excited to grow and learn myself.  A current update on my family--watch out, I will be doing plenty of bragging.
Mariah got a quarterly award for "Outstanding Excellence".   Only two kids per class received the award.
She is doing so well in school.  Many parents complain about how much homework they have for kindergarten and I'm often asked how long it takes Mariah to complete her assignments.  I'm never quite sure how to answer without being too big headed (on my blog I will be though).  We skip most of her homework because she doesn't need it.  For example, we never do spelling because she has yet to miss a single word on her spelling test...although after trying to read this, you may feel like I need to emphasize it more.

I live on a tropical island for Santa (this comes from a book we read)
You like to play superheros
She is a reading machine these days if you find her the right book aka Disney.  The  other day when Clay was sick she let him choose book after book as she read to him pretty flawlessly on the couch.  Heaven for Clay and definitely heaven for mom.  I tell her all the time she needs to be a nurse.  She loves taking care of others.
She's also the most social in the house and plans over-the-top events on a daily basis.  Seriously, this girl can dream big!  She had been begging for a girls party.  One that would have cost $500 to put on.  We settled on breakfast crepes at our house, then her first ever pedicure and a lunch date at Kneaders.  Still pretty fun in my opinion.  In hers, a mild get together with friends. 
Zach won his first trophy for the "best dressed caddy team" at the Itty Bitty Open.  It also won us 2 free tickets to the US Open which we are excited about.  Zach was beyond thrilled to have a real trophy.  Carried it around all day long.
For my family:does he look like Diego here?
What do you think Grandpa, is he a natural?
He has also started soccer once a week.  The first day it was like pulling teeth trying to get him to go despite that when I signed him up he said he wanted to play.  However, after class he said it was even more fun than Chuck E Cheese and if you know Zach that's sayin' something!!!  He loves it and is all grins all class.  He also thinks he's the best in the class.  He gets that from me :/
He is still my little shadow never leaving my side.  Makes me really enjoy the 4 hours of joy school I get each week.  The other day he said to me "mom, I just don't like to EVER be alone".  Really Zach, I hadn't noticed!  At least he's a good little buddy and content to play quietly by my side during nap time.  One day I'm going to count the number of words he says to me in a day.  I'm not sure I've ever counted that high before :)

Clayton is my puzzle/brain teaser lover these days.  Obsessed.  He spends literally hours a day working on his pattern blocks, color sorters, lite-brite etc.  Hours.  He doesn't get frustrated when he's stumped and just keeps trying.  The bad side is all these kinds of games come in A LOT of pieces and he's yet to master the art of cleaning up.  Although he did an awesome job of clearing the dishwasher this week.
We also turned his bedroom lock around, moved Zach in with Mariah and finally started locking the little morning person in his room.  We began with leaving him a snack, water bottle, and his lite-brite and it went better than I could have dreamed.  He stayed in until 7:00 with little protest.  Most mornings he would even put himself back to sleep after being awake for who knows how long.  Now we don't leave him with anything (about 3 weeks) and most mornings I don't hear from him until 6:30-7:00 when Mariah and Zach wake up to unleash the caged animal.  Everyone is getting more sleep now that Clay isn't waking up at 5:00 am and trying to find a play buddy and everyone is happier. 
Benson--the baby is changing fast and furious and he is one handsome devil.
The biggest update is that he's on the move!  At 10.5 months he finally learned how to soon as he learned, I quickly realized that I wish he hadn't.  Taking a mild spill down the stairs was the first sign of that.  Baby proofing, ugh!  That being said he's so much happier and independent it may be worth it.  He loved to be held and was always on my hip--my second shadow next to Zach.  Now he doesn't seem to need me for much of anything.  It's a two edged sword.
He also plays peek-a-boo.  This is how he plays.  We love it.  Makes everyone in the house laugh.
I started my new year with a 5K run with some of my Arizona Besties.  It was The Color Run where 90% of all participants walk.  LOL.  It is probably the least "run" race in the country but fun it is, and run I did!
Adam, well he's still working hard for the money while we lounge around in pajamas and play.  It's a tough life and we are glad he's willing to do it.  Sometimes to help brighten his day, we wait for him at the door fully loaded.  Nothing says welcome home like being blasted with nerf gun bullets.  It makes the kids day and Adam pretends that it makes his too :)
That's our 2016 update.  I'm sure we'll be surprised to see what changes one short year will bring.