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.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Spring Break

For Spring Break we headed up to Utah.  Utah had buckets of snow this winter and the kids were excited to sled, snow shoe and have a snowball fight.  After all, it makes since that on Spring Break you would play in the snow right?  Seriously, the week before break the valley was covered.  Then it warmed up and ALL MELTED two days before we got there, even in the mountains.  Really?  So much for packing our winter clothes!  The good news is that it made for perfect 70 weather and we missed the Arizona heat wave of mid to high 90's.  The other good news is that Boondocks exists in every season and it's all my kids really cared about anyway.  We went on a Tuesday where the unlimited pass is only $12 so they got to play and play and play.  Why are my boys total gamers?
The only other request besides Boondocks that the kids had while we were in Utah was a sleepover at Ava's and the Rec Center for swimming.  We fulfilled all wishes so it was a success.  The wish list for Adam and I consisted of seeing friends and family.  We went to a family dinner with my mom's family, spent a night with Uncle Jay, dinner twice with Adam's brother Rob, hair cut with my bestie Margie, ice cream with Adam's bestie Brock (do guys have "besteis"?), swimming with Derek, a nice visit with the Asay's and Grandma Aston, dinner at The Garden with Grandma and Grandpa and plenty of time with Kelsy and Ava.  It was busy to say the least.
View from The Garden at Joseph Smith Memorial Building
Kelsy planned a scavenger hunt with the kids for Saint Patrick's day.  Of course it caused problems when someone found the clue before others but in the end I think they all thought it was magical to find a pot of gold.  Magical until the chocolate gold was smeared everywhere and wrappers dropped wherever they wanted.
We finished with a leprechaun lunch including shamrock shaped grilled cheese.
It's been awhile since we last saw Vailea.  Funny thing is she still looks like a little newborn!  Those Polynesian genes are not creating big kids!  I mean since when did Benosn look so huge?
I had to laugh when Benson "digressed" by crawling all over the floor as he played with his baby cousin.
Alas, all good things come to an end and then we had to make a 12 hour drive home :(  Benson was not a happy camper...but Mariah and Zach were amazing.  Mariah made herself a "quiet zone" which you see in the background and read the hours away.  I guess we just need our youngest to turn 5 and it will be peaceful again.
We also stopped at an Indian cave outside of Kamas on the way home.  It was a good little break and worth stretching the legs.
These rocks naturally glow when a black light is on them

Because Spring Break is over 2 weeks long we still had plenty of time to play when we got back.  Too bad Adam has to work because I could make a career out of vacation!  I tried to plan something fun for every day.  One morning we went to Kids Club, met the Easter Bunny, rode the carousel, got ice cream then saw the movie Sing.  All in one morning.  We got home and I told Mariah she needed to turn off the karaoke because Benson was asleep.  Her response: "You never let us do anything fun!"  Holy cow!  Sometimes you just can't please kids.
In line for the Easter Bunny
Their favorite activity was Bounce U.  They can run around for hours on all the inflatables.  It doesn't wear them out though in case you were wondering.
Then of course, in good Arizona fashion, we spent the rest of our free time split between the pool and the park.  This time of year the weather is great for either one depending on the time of day.  Clay and Benson were melting my heart as they went down the slide time and time again together giggling like little kids should.
By the end of the break I was more than happy to send the kids back to school.  Man can they bicker.  Especially the boys...and Benson is joining in on that too.  Just a few hours of preschool to separate them can make all the difference!  Plus, it's just hard to fill the whole day with activities and when Mariah gets bored she tries to turn my little boy into her little sister.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chugga Chugga Two Two

I know that most little boys love trains but Benson LOVES trains!  When our neighbors asked if we wanted this hand-me-down toy saying all it needed was a new charger, I was not about to say 'no thanks'!!!  Being the 4th child and 3rd boy, I packed it away until his birthday since I didn't know what to get the kid anyway and said a $9 charger counts as "buying" him a birthday present.  Then to help justify the free toy, I bought the over-sized Thomas the Train balloon and called it good.  The balloons cost more than the train (which originally retails for $200--gotta love good neighbors!).
Benson, and all three of his siblings, were ecstatic!  That train got a lot of use that first day, and the next, and the next.  Then we went out of town for a week.  When we returned and he saw it in the yard, he squealed with delight and rode around and around and around once again.
Most boys like trains and most boys also like cake.  In this sense, Benson is not most boys.  He wont eat cake or a billion other foods for that matter.  He is BY FAR my pickiest eater.  Its super stressful.  I could fill a blog post of foods he refuses to even try including every. single. vegetable.  So instead of make him a cake for his birthday I did a pizookie with ice cream.  He does like cookies and he does like ice cream.  It had M&M's, browned butter, and was baked in a cast iron skillet.  It was amazing!!!  Benson however, wouldn't take a single bite.  He was ticked off that his ice cream was touching his cookie.  Once they were separated, he ate the ice cream but not the cookie.  Oh, and I also made him a home made pizza for his birthday since it's his favorite food...well pizza is at least.  Wouldn't even taste my delicious home made version.  At least 5 of the 6 of us enjoyed it all!
He blew out the candles all by himself
One of the biggest excitements of the day was the party hats I bought.  With little kids it doesn't take much to make a day magical.
Nana sent this remote control car for him to open.  He couldn't be more elated to work the thing all by himself.  Grandma sent travel toys for our long car rides.  At least they don't forget the 4th child :)
A few days after the birthday we headed to Utah for spring break.  We were there over one of my extended family monthly birthday parties.  Since the celebration was for all March birthday's Benson and Adam got to be included.  Mariah knows my cousin Abbie does amazing cakes and requested that she make one especially for Benson.  He even got to keep the toy train (which on the drive home got stuck in his hair--it's battery operated and moves--and was screaming but it wasn't until he used his words exclaiming "hurt" that I realized what was going on...after a big chunk was ripped out)
 My baby is 2.  My baby has never been 2.  By the time I had a 2 year old, I always had a new baby.  Let's just say, it's a really good thing that Benson is a caboose.  He's way too needy to have another baby around.  Like the day Clayton fell asleep on my lap and as soon as Benson saw he immediately climbed up attempting to push Clay away and claim his space!
He is certainly a mommas boy and loves to be held, cuddled, and carried.  He gave up his high chair replacing it for my lap at meals.  It's super annoying but if I don't give in he keeps crawling over the table, knocking everything over and SCREAMS.  Adam calls him our 'pterodactyl' with the high pitched squeal he's perfected.
He loves masks but not dress ups, Mariah's baby doll, his blankie, and the trampoline.  Isn't interested much in books and isn't interested at all in TV.  Loves nursery rhyme songs and Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam.  Speaking of sunbeams, this is the first week he's gone to nursery without a fuss.  It was amazing!  He also loves the park, particularly the swings and slides and is my first water baby with both the bath and pool.  He's only in the 18% for weight but 52% for height and is talking more each day.  Yesterday he counted to 10 for the first time.  He gets the award for sleeping in the latest each day (which is usually 7:00) and for that, he usually gets my "favorite child" award...until meal time when he wont eat, then it swaps to a different kid.  He's the best little buddy and pretty easy going unless someone has taken his toy.
Happy birthday to our favorite two year old.  Boy does time fly!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Valentine's and More

Zach lives for holidays.  He can tell you all of them, in order, starting with New Years Day.  He knows exactly what's next and how he's going to celebrate.  The kid said the night before Valentine's Day that he couldn't sleep because there were butterflies in his tummy he was so excited.  Valentine's Day!?  When you hear that, how do you not give into his excitement and go all out?  For several years now, a bunch of people have gotten together at the park and do a potluck lunch and exchange Valentine's.  Zach talked for WEEKS about the different ways he wanted his box.  He settled on Pikachu from Pokemon.  I don't even know who that is but he's obsessed.  Clayton wanted a pirate ship.  They seriously LOVE those boxes.  Totally worth every minute spent.  Plus, they got to use them for preschool exchanges too.  I told Zach next year he might not get a box because sometimes things are different in kindergarten.  He was quite disappointed!  Until I reminded him they will still do a party and there are a lot more kids in kinder than preschool.  Heart break over!
Mariah passed out these little masks to her class.  Not sure how they were received by the class but Benson wouldn't take it off.

I got this picture from Clay's joy school teacher of him blowing me a kiss.  Cracked me up
I made the kids cute little homemade cards that I forgot to take a picture of with candy and a date night coupon.  Each kid gets to pick an activity and place to eat with mom AND dad while the rest stay with a babysitter.  That also means they get to stay up late.  They were so excited and immediately everyone wanted Chuck E Cheese!  This may not be a new tradition.  It's already a sacrifice to give up my date night for a month but then make me spend everyone with The Big Fat Rat!  Ahhhhh!  Well there was no talking Zach out of it.  He loves that place more than Disneyland.  Seriously!  However, after brainstorming, Clay finally picked bowling and Red Robin, and Mariah pedicures and Cheesecake Factory...we said no...that girl is already expensive...she settled on a trampoline park and Macayo's.  We may endure the next few weeks after all.
Zach with his hero (he's the only one who has got his date so far)
In other news, we had another run-in with lice this month and it was even more horrendous than the last.  Mostly, because this time I was included in the list of infected people.  Background story: we are in an antique shop in Waco, TX.  I see some silly, cheesy hat and put it on before Adam turns the corner and I do some silly dance.  Adam rolls his eyes and says "enjoy your case of head lice now".  One week later I CAN NOT STOP ITCHING.  I have Adam check my head three times and he keeps saying that there is nothing there.  "I just have a dry scalp."  A few days after this I find a bug in Mariah's hair.  I make Adam check me again and he says, "I don't know how I missed all these!".  I wanted to kill him.  I seriously couldn't sleep for two weeks with an itchy scalp.  Could I have really gotten if from Waco?  Well we later find out 3 other little girls in our ward had it so who knows.  Anyway, we do a shampoo treatment on both of us and a billion loads of laundry.  The next few days I still itch like crazy!  By this point Adam is out of town.  I buy a super expensive comb that is suppose to work magic and dig through my own hair (which isn't easy) and find all sorts of bugs and nits.  The treatment had failed!!!  I buy an different shampoo and do a whole house clean and laundry sweep AGAIN.  Like 20 loads in a week plus couches, carpets, car seats, hair brushes and bows, etc.  When I go to wash out the shampoo, it wont rinse.  No where on the box did it say anything about this basically being overpriced Vaseline!!!  I can't wash it out of Mariah and I's hair.  I google how to get Vaseline out and read that your best option is scissors.  At this point I'm ready to cry and go to bed instead.  This was my hair the next morning.  Completely dry.  All that is grease!

It may be a mug shot but I was NOT happy enough to smile
The next day we tried all sorts of baby powder and clarifying shampoo ideas from the internet.  No dice.  After about a week of treatments it finally started looking okay.  A week.  I didn't even want to go to church with hair like that.  Adam says you can't skip church for greasy hair.  I said "yeah, but you can for LICE!"  That being said, between the special comb and grease bomb shampoo, it did get all the bugs and we didn't see anything after that.  And for the record, you did find us in church that week with a slicked back bun for me and two french braids on the Little Miss.  If we ever see lice in this house again, I will have a break down!

We got rid of the lice and then had a run in with pink eye...twice...covering 3 of the 4 kids.  After that they came down with a bunch of coughs and colds for the boys (who were also the victims of pink eye, but after the lice Mariah deserved a break).  It hit Zach hard!  I've never seem him so lifeless with a sickness.  Didn't want to do anything and was in and out of sleep all day.  He even threw up and had a high fever unlike the other two who just had coughs.  Before bed, we had Adam give Zach a priesthood blessing.  Within 10 minutes, I'm not kidding, his fever vanished and he perked up.  He suddenly wanted to eat and play (which was kind of a cruel joke since all the kids were in bed and Zach was out riding his bike at 8:30 pm and up until 10:30 that night).  He still had/has his awful cough but it was a little miracle.  Today in primary they learned about the priesthood.  Zach told his class that he got a blessing and it made him all better.  Love those faith building experiences.  He also gave a talk in primary today where he pretended he was different prophets and stuck his face in the little masks.  It was the cutest thing ever.  Not just because I'm the mom.  Okay maybe it is?
On a different note, I signed up for tee ball snack and made these cookies that I'm quite proud of.  I'm determined to master sugar cookies.  Don't worry that the game got rained out.  LOL.  We just took them to the following practice and nothing went to waste.
Benson's little "friend" turned two and they had a super hero party at the park.  All the kids brought capes to wear and for the little ones the mom made capes and masks as party favors.  Benson couldn't be any cuter although all he really cared about was the candy in that pinata.
Lastly, Mariah ran in a 1K to finish out her semester of running club.  It was sponsored by the Phoenix Marathon and pretty legit.  I secretly hope she finds a love for running.  I wouldn't mind a running partner :)
 She's proud of her accomplishment and so am I.  I adore my kids!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Winter Happenings

It's time to play catch up on the day to day life the last few months.  For Christmas I bought the kids a season pass to the Idea Museum.  There was a screaming deal on groupon and it's nice to have something different to do now and again.  It's certainly geared to young ages but we will mostly go when Mariah's in school anyway. This giant lite brite was a mega hit.  All the kids loved it.
My mom gave the boys tickets to Legoland Discovery Center as part of their Christmas.  Zach has been DYING to go. Once all the kids were back in school and the crowds had died down, I finally let him use his present.  This place was awesome.  Everyone loved it, including Benson.  It's no wonder the admission isn't cheap because it is over the top cool.  They have a couple rides (one like Dumbo and one like the Toy Story laser gun ride), 4-D movies, invention rooms, play places, pinewood derby track and car build, and endless places to play with legos.
Clay's very favorite was the ride
This was their first 4-D movie complete with wind, waterfall, fire, snow and a skunk!
At one place you build cars and race them against others.  Zach is a poor loser!  He was getting so frustrated, especially when his car would break.  Finally, I pointed out that the people with longer cars seemed to be doing better.  He went back to the drawing board and built himself a new car.  He took 1st place the next three races in a row.  He was ecstatic.  Turns out he's also a pretty poor winner :)
I had to post the next pictures just for Clay.  I couldn't get him to act "normal".  Turns out I like the pictures better this way anyway.
Basically, the have a new favorite place and keep asking to go back.  We may be spending the next couple birthdays at Legoland because I said we wont go again unless they want it to be their gift.

The annual Itty-bitty Open was a couple weeks ago.  This time Clayton got to participate and both boys had a friend there too.  Zach was really starting to get the hang of it but Clay was a lost cause.  He hates following directions and hates structure.
Speaking of directions and structure.  Gilbert Youth Sports just broke off of Mesa Youth Sports and this is their first season.  Since they are new they offered a buy one sport get one free deal so I decided to sign Zach up for tee-ball and soccer.  Turns out the teams were 3-5 years so I figured why not sign Clay up too rather than have him sit on the side and watch everyone play.  Especially cause it was such a good deal.  THE KID REFUSES TO PLAY.  He LOVES to hit balls and play soccer in the back yard.  He does not love to play on a team!!!  He only wants to hit off the tee but then refuses to run bases and does not want to stand in the outfield.  He wont even try soccer for a second.  I can't figure it out and it makes me roll my eyes.  He wants you to kick a ball to him during the games...THEN GO OUT AND PLAY!  Whatever, he's three and we are over it.  He can play when he wants.  Zach on the other hand got his first goal in his first game!!!  It was a proud mommy moment for sure and a big boost of confidence for him.

Speaking of accomplishments.  Benson has learned to pull his own pants down.  It's now his favorite game.  Please out grow this stage quickly!
Clay has finally become interested in learning and once he decided to care he picked things up quickly (hopefully this happens with teamwork and sports too?).  He now knows all his letters and almost all their sounds.  Joy school is his favorite part of the week.  After all, who doesn't like writing letters in play dough?

My little girl who hates running joined running club at school. Let's be honest, it was all for social reasons but something we definitely support.  Well today they had a "fun run" fundraiser and the parents could go cheer on the kids.  I was amazed at how much Mariah actually ran.  She gave it her best effort and tired her little heart out.  Maybe running club is helping her catch the bug and build her endurance?

However, of all the accomplishments this winter, I think I get the first place prize.  I survived 8 kids for the weekend!  Hooray!  We took our turn to watch our friends and it was wild!  My house looked like this within 5 minutes of the kids arriving.  It was so hard to turn my back and say "embrace the mess" for the next 48 hours.
And I had to laugh when I was getting toothbrushes ready before bed.  That's just too many little kids mouths to take care of!
Mostly I'm grateful it was perfect weather so we spent hours each day at the park.  Their kids are a lot more hyper and have a lot more energy than mine.  When they came back Saturday night they had brought a surprise for everyone.  They had been snowboarding in Flagstaff and brought  home a cooler full of snow.  A giant snow ball fight commenced.  Zach and Clay were giggling like school girls while the real school girl watched from the window inside.  She was not interested in freezing her little hands off, but the boys had the time of their life--especially since we never got our Christmas snowball fight we promised them since their was no snow when we went up north.
They even build a snowman complete with a baby carrot they pulled straight from our grow boxes.
Yep, gotta love Arizona in the winter.  We've got a garden in full bloom, pristine park weather, outdoor sporting events, AND we still got to play in the snow.  If only it lasted all year long.