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!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Time is Flying

A couple months ago I bought tickets to go to Lantern Fest.  It's basically a live showing of the movie Tangled where everyone gets fire lanterns and sets them off into the sky.  5,500 people were in attendance however, the wind was strong enough that they were threatening to not let us set off our lanterns.  I was super nervous since I'd looked forward to the event for awhile AND because the tickets were not cheap.  Luckily for us, prayers were answered (is it bad to pray about something so unimportant?) and we were able to light up the sky!
The festival is a production for an entire day!  Live music, face painting, princesses, balloon animals, food trucks etc.  We had other unexpected conflicts so we weren't able to make it until close to sundown but the s'mores were a huge hit!  We need to go camping more because fire and dirt are my kids best friends.
I noticed Zach nibbling on his s'more.  He hadn't eaten much for several days because of his loose tooth.  It was SOOOOO loose.  Like really gross looking loose.  He's too skinny as is and to not have him eat isn't an option.  When I noticed him still eating his first s'more and everyone else was on number 3 I asked if I could just wiggle his tooth, then reached in his mouth and pulled it out.  He didn't even realize what happened until I said "hey, Zach, do you know what's in my hand?".  Then he burst into tears and scolded me for lying to him.  Then he cried more about all the blood until I told him there was none.  Such drama.  Two days later the next tooth was dangling and sideways!  I finally convinced him to let me pull it as well and it went down with just as much drama as the first.  Now just look at the little jack-o-lantern!  I think I may miss the old smile ;)

Before letting the lanterns off, you can write messages on them or goals and send them into the sky. Zach must have not understood because he cried--again-- when we let his off.  He was heartbroken that he had worked so hard on his drawing and realized it was never coming back.
Needless to say, Zach struggled that night but for the rest of us it was magical...until we almost caught Mariah and Benson on fire when our second lantern flew horizontal instead of vertical, crashing into their heads as Adam went diving to catch it.  You would have peed from laughing so hard.  After that, Mariah turned into mamma bear protecting her three little cubs.  There were lots of close calls we witnessed and I'm honestly shocked that the fire departments allows the event.
The next week the big event happened and my parents finished their mission!!!  They stopped at our place on their drive home for two days and it was a lot of fun to hear some of their experiences.  They witnessed a couple of miracles and were instruments in helping many feel the love of the Lord.  They had an outpouring of love shown to them too.  I am so proud of their work and honorable return.  What a legacy I've been left with.  We had lots of fun while they were here but I only have 2 pictures from our exploring at the Riparian Preserves.  We also swam (they aren't use to 100 degree temps anymore), played miniature golf, celebrated both my dad and Clay's b-days and ate yummy food.  I'm grateful they made the sacrifice to see us as I'm sure they were anxious to get home after 18 months!
Lastly, the best weekend of the year came when I get the pay off of having three boys...Father and Sons camp out!!!  Adam took all three and they had a blast.  Of course collecting pine cones was at the top of the favorites list.  
 Someone had these mustaches and apparently Zach didn't take his off for 2 hours.
 Proud this boy is getting a little more brave.  He even did the giant swing and loved it.
 Clay is usually my daredevil but looking at this picture, I'm not so sure he loved it.  LOL

 On their way out they visited the fish hatchery and Benson couldn't stop commenting on all the fish.
They came home smelly and dirty and with a sleep deprived dad.  I on the other hand, enjoyed a movie at the theaters, dinner, and an evening bike ride with my little girl.  Oh, and I slept in until 9:00.  It really is the best weekend of the year I tell ya!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy Easter

We had a lot of fun activities to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ this last month.  My mom recommended we make Easter similar to Christmas, focusing on the Savior the entire month.  I really loved this thought and we had several activities and lessons to help us remember the importance.  My favorite is by far the Easter Pageant at the Mesa Temple.  I can't help but feel an outpouring of the spirit when they sing "He Lives".  We even went twice this year since an inactive and non member went with us the second time.  Our friends were in the pageant and Zach made sure to get a picture with him before the show.
We also made 'birds nests' cookies to thank all of the kids primary teachers.  They seriously have some amazing teachers right now.  Especially Clay whose teachers have changed completely his excitement for church.
Next on the list was to dye Easter eggs.  I was given the brilliant idea this year to not hard boil the eggs.  We hard boiled a few because Adam and I like them however, the kids don't and so it seems they either go to waste or you just don't dye many.  Well we tried to do them raw instead and they didn't break a single egg!  I'll be cooking with color for weeks since I didn't make them hold back.
My favorite activity was the glow in the dark Easter egg hunt.  The only credit I can take on this one is that I'm at least amazing enough to have amazing friends :)  We just accepted the invite to the party and it was quite the party!  Before everyone went home Ashlea handed all the kids glow necklaces and sent them outside to a sea of glowing eggs (filled with finger lights).  Afterward there was even a lesson on how Jesus is the light and how with Him we too can glow.  Fun + lesson = win!
The neighborhood hunt wasn't as calm or magical.  Look at the mass of kids.  Why do we submit ourselves to that kind of torture for a few eggs!?  We need to move to an older neighborhood.
Don't forget after that chaos we still had to wait in a LONG line to meet E.B. himself.  You must agree the picture is precious though.
Nana and Pappy sent the kids a package of sugar cookies in the mail along with magic jelly beans.  We planted them in the garden and the kids were THRILLED to find lollipops had grown the next morning.  Zach even woke up extra early to check on them.  My only advice is next time they need to send less cookies...either that or we need to open the box AFTER dinner.  LOL.
The night before Easter when I began setting up baskets and getting things ready Adam said "Wow, next year you really need to scale back.  After all, some of their friends are only getting a chocolate bunny."  He made me feel a little guilty and I admit I did more this year than any other but I just couldn't help it.  Easter is quickly becoming one of my favorite holidays.  The spirit combined with some of the fun.  In my defense, everything did fit in the the giant eggs.  I found these nesting eggs at Hobby Lobby and was SO tempted but restrained myself (see Adam, I really can scale back).  Then my mom sent a check in the mail to get the kids something small for either Easter or conference.  Hobby Lobby eggs here I come!  The only bad side is my mom didn't get any credit.  That stinkin bunny did (sorry mom!).  But just look at them!  The size of their heads!!!  When they saw them lying on the lawn in the backyard and were BLOWN AWAY it was completely worth it!
I mostly posted this picture of Easter morning with their baskets for Benson's awesome bedhead.  They all got writing tablets (in Mariah's hand) that will be used for sacrament meeting only and made Sunday a dream last week!  Everyone has their own.  They don't make a mess.  They can't color on themselves.  The don't make noise.  That is all they will get in church from now on.  They can sit and doodle.  We are past needing snacks and multiple toys to entertain.  I'm praying the success of week one continues.
They also got these darling swim towels.  Every year for Easter they get something for the pool.  These were especially golden for Benson and Clay who have a hard time holding up a towel and walking home after we are done.  So cute huh!
Then they got electric toothbrushes because they got a lot of candy :(  Oh and new Easter clothes.  I couldn't resist (okay maybe I do have a problem) when I found a dress for Mariah that had neckties to match.  Benson's is an exact match (I wasn't sure I could convince the other boys to wear flowers) and I think my biggest and littlest couldn't get any cuter.
Easter wouldn't be complete without an imperfect family picture.  After all, the promises made to me that they are mine forever is what I live for and why Easter is worth celebrating.  He is the Prince of Peace.  He is our Light.  He is the why to all we do.  He lives.  I know it.  I feel it.  I will testify of it until my last dying breath.  Because of Him we have joy.