Saturday, November 4, 2017

US Army Birthday

 A couple of days after we got back from Sedona, I got a message from a friend that went with us that said "don't hate me but Ethan has Hand, Foot, and Mouth".   Sure enough, 2 days later Benson came down with a fever and a day after that sores all over his mouth.  He lived off drinkable yogurts because that's the only thing that seemed to not cause pain.  A few days after that it hit Clayton.  Clayton didn't get anything in his mouth but had the hand and foot part and was extremely itchy so much so that he could hardly sleep.  The day before Zach's scheduled birthday party he woke up itchy too although he ended up having the most mild case of the three.  Zach was devastated when I said we were going to postpone his birthday party with such a contagious illness in the home!  I felt so bad!  Today we are no longer contagious but it doesn't look like we are yet healed.  Clayton's skin on his hands and feet is flaking off in big chunks and apparently, he may end up losing his fingernails/toenails.  Zach and Benson look a lot better although there are certain signs that they were carriers of the illness too.
Since we were "quarantined" for so long I was bored stiff and on a cleaning rampage.  While cleaning the downstairs shower that is rarely used, I noticed a bunch of dust bugs all over and looked up and saw this...
TERMITES!!!  With 3 sick kids and two disappointing birthdays, termites seemed like a little too much to throw on our plate!  Needless to say, those are gone now too and today we actually had a birthday party!  Last year we decided that to do Mariah and Zach combined was just too much so from now on they get a party every other year and this was Zach's turn.  He chose a US Army theme and it turned out so cute.  Especially my cake if I must say so :)
Zach loves little toys.  He never understands why someone would chose a coupon or candy from "treasure box" at school on Fridays when they could have a toy!  Because of this love, we played a bunch of games and at the end of each one all the kids got something to put in their party favor bag.  There was a grenade launch
Target practice (notice the army guys in the windows)
And a paratrooper drop aiming for the bullseye
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX6VEth7cww&feature=em-upload_owner
We also played Solider Says, had a mini work out session, searched for those MIA where we hid army guys all over the yard and they had to find them like an Easter egg hunt (after this one they recieved their dog tags) and finished off with an obstacle course.  The obstacle course was definitely the highlight
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZsPKy9ECeg&feature=em-upload_owner
After they all finished, they earned their trophies which you can see in his friends' hand below but not very well.  They LOVED THESE!  I got big army guys and made kindly requested, that Adam figure out a way to put them onto a wooden base then I sprayed them with gold paint and labelled them "Boot Camp Graduate".  They looked legit man!  Zach loved having all his friends to celebrate with!
And with that, we can say Zach is 6!  He's the best little boy.  He's a natural rule follow and we pray that never changes.  He does so well in school (although he wishes he never had to go) and loves art class.  Zach is my little "tinker".  He loves to build any thing which is why his Lego stash and the recycle bin are his two favorite places in the house.  As far as his favorite out of the house goes, it's hands down Chuck E Cheese.  He's a total daddy's boy.  In fact, he's a mini Adam in so many ways, especially in his love for trivia and facts.  Ask him anything about sharks and he will have the answer.  Zach is definitely our most emotional child which can sometimes be a challenge but with it also comes the title of our most lovable and that part I like.  He loves spending time with Mariah and is the best big brother to Benson...I'm crossing my fingers him and Clay can learn to be more patient and kind to each other someday.  He can't wait to grow up even more but as for me, I'm happy with the slow passing of time.  After all, this seemed like just last week...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

This is Halloween


For school Mariah made a "storybook" pumpkin and she chose to do hers on the book Unicorn School.  Unicorns are insanely popular right now and we found the most darling idea on Pinterest with hair and a horn made out of modeling clay.  I had to resist not helping her since she was so happy to do it all by herself and lo and behold, she won 3rd place in the entire 2nd grade which included a gift card to Walmart and personal Pizza from Peter Piper.  She was ecstatic!  I'm convinced the reason she won is all little girls are obsessed with unicorns and it was a peer vote. 
We carved the other pumpkins so that we could roast the seeds and when Zach had a request for circle eyes, Adam found a way to make them perfect circles in 2 seconds flat.

The kids school never does anything fun for Halloween because there are too many Jehovah Witness students who don't celebrate but Clay's preschool class had a party.  Funny thing is, he's my only kid who doesn't want to dress up.  "I'll only do it for the candy and a picture mom!"  He takes the costume off the first chance he has.  Same with last year.  What kid doesn't like dressing up?  It's a shame since we have so many boy costumes to play with too.

We trick or treated at Intel almost 2 weeks ago.  This is where the kids make the big haul with a piece of candy each cubical.  They were especially happy when they peered inside this cubical and saw full sizes to choose from.
Next we had the trunk or treat.  We were different sea creatures for Halloween so I decorated the trunk like the ocean with bubbles and an orca whale swimming around.  Adam passed out Swedish Fish candy and dressed up as a snorkeler.  You know you have a good husband when you are planning Halloween costumes and he finds used flippers in the middle of the road and stops to pick them up for his costume.  Love him!
I was an octopus and I don't like this picture at all but I wanted a close up of my costume so I got dressed up again after Halloween for a quick snap.  If you look closely, I sewed suction cups on the back of my legs.  The funny part is I kept getting stuck to the church chairs during dinner.  Should have thought that one through but each person who noticed couldn't stop laughing.  Oh and the glitter tulle on the skirt was a big, big, big disaster. 
Mariah's jellyfish costume was the inspiration for the whole ocean theme.  She loved it and she loved all the comments she got from others.  The lights were my favorite part and looked extra cool once it was dark.  We weren't going to lose her this year!
Zach requested to be a sea horse which made me laugh.  Of all animals, he picked that.  How in the world do you make a sea horse?  Their aren't many ideas for that floating around the internet but luckily I did find one for sale.  Easy peasy. 
Clayton was a sea turtle.  Everyone kept asking if he was Crush and he just looked at them all confused.  I guess it's time we watch Finding Nemo again so he knows why they were asking. 
Benson was the coveted shark.  His swim towel is a shark and I happened to find shark shoes at a store going out of business and they only had his size.  Both Clay and Zach wanted to be a shark so it was easiest to tell both of them no and say Benson already had the stuff.  Then we found a shark sand pail at Sea World and thought it would make the perfect trick or treat bucket.  He's worn the shoes for a good month now and every time someone asked what he would be for Halloween he would lift up his shoes and say "shark shoes".  He loves them more than any boy has ever loved a pair of shoes. 
And the group shot of us all together.  My neighbor took them and got a little more "artistic" then I needed.
So I zoomed in and made the thing straight .  LOL. 
By Halloween night, we had oodles of candy so my kids went around the neighborhood for 20 minutes and then were content to party in a friends drive way after that.  Nothing beats Halloween in the Valley of the Sun.  It's perfection.  The weather has finally cooled but we can still be out in flip flops with no jackets watching an outdoor movie with pizza and soda.  It's just dreamy.  I like sitting out and chatting with friends a lot more than I do answering my door 100 times a night all by myself.  As long as I'm in Arizona, it will remain my favorite holiday of the year...And I've already got our costumes planned out for 2018 :)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Say Bye Bye to Diapers

About a month ago I was running low on diapers so I went and picked up a big box from the store.  I unloaded the car then went upstairs for a minute.  I came down to Clayton exclaiming that "Benson went pee in the potty!"  Sure enough, when I inspected he had indeed gone!!!   I looked at the diapers that I just bought and thought I wasn't really ready to potty train but I also didn't think we would get through that box and I didn't want Benson taking himself to the bathroom...talk about a mess!  I decided to give it a try so we bought some underwear and a big bag of bribery a.k.a. skittles.  When all the kids were in school, I took the little potty to the backyard and put on Benson's first pair of underwear.  Within 10 minutes he peed in them.  I hosed him down and got a new pair.  15 minute later, another accident and 10 minutes after that another.  Then something magical happened.  On our fourth pair of underwear Benson told me with urgency that he had to go potty!  Success!!!  After that we had success after success after success.  Here we are 5 weeks later including a trip to Sea World, Legoland, Sedona, and long car rides and we have had 2 accidents total.  One was right after a nap on day 3 and it was a very very small accident.  Oh, and he's definitely good at "turtling" when he has to go number 2 so we've had 2 turds fall out on the floor by the toilet.  They were out of the bum and not quiet yet in the undies if you know what I mean.  All of those things happened week 1 though.  He wore pull-ups throughout our vacations and kept every one dry.  He hasn't even had a night accident yet...
I keep holding my breath for the accident but at this point he was the easiest kid to potty train ever.  I know I'm bragging, but seriously!  He sometimes goes 4-5 hours and has held it for an hour after saying he had to go.  He's pretty proud of himself too.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtBdLLOiVvg&feature=em-upload_owner

On our back patio we have a bucket where all the dirty diapers have gone for the past 6 years.  It smells...especially in the heat.  And sometimes I catch the kids using it to collect rocks and playing around.  It's so disgusting.  Do they not think?!  Well I had the lovely privilege (and highlight of my month) to throw the poop bucket away!  It was glorious.  Say bye bye to diapers indeed!!!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sedona

 A friend of mine has a VRBO in Sedona that she said I could use for the cost of the cleaning fee.  I wasn't about to pass up that opportunity!  The problem was Adam didn't have time off and we felt bad using a weekend that they could rent for a lot more money.  Instead, I decided to invite several girl friends and their kids mid week for a couple of nights.  4 moms and 17 kids!  Adam was more than happy to stay behind and "miss out" on that chaos and chaos it was.  This home sleeps 18 but is only 1500 square feet.  The bedrooms were wall to wall queen bunks which means a lot of people in one room and no one slept but we had the time of our lives playing games, watching movies, eating a lot of junk and exploring the area. 

The number one reason I was antsy to head to Sedona is that I have been itching to try Slide Rock and figured it was only going to get colder and colder for the next 6 months.  At least in October the outdoor temperature is still nice even if the water temperature was in the 40's!  I figured you only live once and I only had to go down once to say I did it...Wrong!  We got there and Clayton was excited to give it a try so I put him on my lap and down we went.  Screaming and gasping for air in the cold, cold water.  We got out and he was scrambling for his towel but exclaiming to all the spectators around how much fun it was (no one of the 50 people around had dared try it yet).  I was pretty shocked he didn't hate me. 
Warming up on the warm rocks

As soon as we got out of the water Zach said that he wanted to go too!  I cringed!!!  I did not want to get back in that water but Zach is my most cautious child and if he was willing to try something adventurous without me twisting his arm, to heck if I was going to tell him no!!!  Up we climbed to the top of the natural water slide and down I went again.

This picture cracks me up of us trying to get out as quick as possible so that we could breathe again.
Phew!  We made it...then Mariah was excited for her turn.  Suddenly I was really wishing that Adam was on this trip to help take these kids.  I didn't want to send Mariah alone because it is actually pretty tricky to get out and I had my fair share of bumps and bruises from the first two runs.  I even made her wear a life jacket which she was ticked about but by this point I was cold enough I didn't want to trust my swimming skills if I needed them.  Especially since I had to pull out one of the other moms who went down with her kids and panicked because she couldn't find a way out.  They all loved it and I was so proud of them for trying something new!  Then Benson started asking for a turn and I said no!  Instead we found a spot down stream where he could wade in the water and hunt for rocks.  That kept him plenty happy.

We also went out hiking and exploring. You should have seen the looks we got from passerby's with all these kids!  I also learned that my trip to Havasupai in a month with a 40 pound pack will be a work out.  This 2 mile, flat hike with Benson on my back was enough to learn that!
We finally got to this big pile of rocks at the end of the trail and the kids enjoyed climbing all over them.
They especially loved all of these "Stacks of the Chief" from the movie, Moana, that people had built.  Zach contributed by building one of his own.  When we got home and showed Adam our pictures, I explained why I took this one. He said "those are trail markers; it means keep going."  What?  We thought that was the end of the trail?  I googled it and read some reviews that said when you get to the pile of rocks don't stop.  Climb over the rocks and a couple hundred yards later you will get to the true destination. 
I couldn't stop laughing when I realize how close we got to seeing this amazing arch!  Ha ha ha.  I had to text my girlfriends and tell them what we missed.  Who knew!  I thought it was odd that it was such a highly rated hike with no real destination except for the scenery along the way. 

 We also hiked up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross.  A working chapel built into the red rock.
 How would you like to have this view during your services?

I came home and was asleep by 8:00 that night.  Having only one day between 2 trips to basically do laundry, grocery shop, and re-pack before heading out again left me tired to say the least.  Plus, you get me with a couple of great, entertaining women, it's hard not to stay up until late into the night chatting and laughing.  Best play date I've ever had!

Friday, October 13, 2017

San Deigo

During the month of October there are 150 things in the San Diego area where kids go free or receive a discount.  When you have 4 kids and a 2 week fall break during October, it makes it pretty easy to decide where to have a family vacation.  Our first stop was the event that is always free, the Mormon Battalion Museum. We had heard that it was well done but after having been there I would say this is a must see!  I was a little nervous when we were in a tour group with a bunch of non-members that my kids might be a huge distraction and "ruin" the possibility of them feeling the spirit.  Upon leaving I complimented them on their excellent behavior and reverence and Zach said "Well it's easy to be good when it's AWESOME!"  It was so interactive and creative they had no problems.  Zach even got to be enlisted in the army and carry a gun taller than him.

I learned all sorts of stories and several miracles that I never knew about before.  The overall message I got from the tour is that God truly does work in mysterious ways that are not always easy but always worth it.  Afterwards we got to pan for gold and and climb in a covered wagon.


Then of course they take a picture and email it to you in an email full of all sorts of wonderful links to the church.  Smart I tell ya...if they don't get ya there, maybe they can get ya in another way.  The sister missionary saw this picture and bust up laughing and said she would do a retake.
I think I like the first picture the best.  It reflects my life better.  We also drove by the temple and Mariah was awestruck.  She couldn't believe our church had a castle!


The next morning we headed to Sea World where the park was blissfully empty.  There wasn't a single ride that had lines.  In fact, not one was even full...except for this one that could only seat 6 :)

I knew that because of my kids fascination with the marine world that Sea World would be a hit, but it was so fun to hear all of their "wow's" and gasps as the animals performed.  They were shocked that someone was "surfing on a dolphins fin!!!" and the Halloween sea lion show had me rolling with laughter.



Benson and Mariah were the only two brave enough to take the sky ride over the ocean but the views were amazing.
They even enjoyed the aquariums and seeing animals they'd only read about.  Watching the penguins dive in the water, a real life beluga whale (for some reason Zach is obsessed with them), sea turtles (Clayton's favorite), and tanks full of sharks.

Trying to get a good view of the touch tanks

It was a perfect day and hopefully one they will remember for awhile...because we wont be back anytime soon.


The next day we had Legoland on the agenda.  With my lego lovers we couldn't pass up the opportunity. Legoland is as magical as Disneyland in a lot of ways...at least it is if legos are more important to you than princesses.  Afterall, Ninjago is a lot cooler than Cinderella to 3 of my 4 kids.


But don't worry, Mariah got to meet the real Lego Friends.  The picture was in the shade and didn't turn out but this one's pretty cute too.

Adam and I were impressed by all the things built out of legos but so were the kids.  Miniland USA is incredible.  5-6 US cities built with amazing detail.  New York City alone has 8 million legos.

This park doesn't have many thrill rides but I also don't have many kids than like a thrill so they were pretty happy with that.  One of the favorite rides was the cars.  They give you a paper license and you drive the car all around this little city complete with stop lights and all.  The cars aren't on a track which they loved because they had complete control and felt so grown up!
 Zach got to ride this next ride at the same time as his best friend that we ran into!  Otherwise, I'm not sure we would have gotten him on it because we was nervous about how high it was.  He LOVED it!
The Storybook ride was quite darling telling the story of a dozen fairy tells with legos as you float down the river. 
The kids also did extra chores and saved their money for a month knowing that the souvenirs here would be pretty great.  Every Lego set you could imagine under one roof.  You could easily go broke.

After long days at amusement parks you'd think the kids might be tired enough to sleep in.  3 of the 4 were.  Not Clayton.  I've given up on it every happening.  But in a one bedroom hotel how do you keep the kid from waking up his exhausted siblings...it was Christmas morning for him to wake up and get video games!
After a couple of full days we were ready for some low key time so we drove up north to stay with Nana and Pappy hanging out and having fun.  It was the perfect blend of being fun and laid back.  The kids got to bake and decorate Halloween cookies and have popcorn.  Two of their favorite things.
They also took a trip to the corner-store with is always the highlight of their stay.  Mostly because they get spoiled with a bunch of little toys and well, anything they ask for.  What are grandparents for?

 A new park near their home that has been under construction for quiet some time was finally finished.  It's on a lake and is beautiful!  We had a nice picnic lunch and played the afternoon away.


 Of course you've got to hit up the beach too.  The weather was perfect and the water warm.  Right away Zach needed to pee.  Adam says you'll just have to go in your swimsuit and Zach stopped right there and just started peeing with it running down his legs and into his shoes.  Not quite what we meant!  We set up our stuff and walked down to the water to "rinse off".  Right then a big wave came up way higher than the others and started washing our stuff away!  Adam and I began scrambling to grab our shoes that were getting washed back into the ocean, towels covered in sea weed and oranges floating away.  Needless to say, Zach got rinsed but the boys freaked never touching the water the rest of the time and Benson wouldn't even let you put him down...clinging to you for his life as he said "I wanna go to my car.  The water no get my car."  A week later and I'm still hearing him say "I don't like the ocean.  It get my shoes!"  Mariah was having a blast but given the situation we didn't last long.
The next day we went to church with Adam's sister/family and I had my good friend Crystal meet us there too for a quick visit.  Basically after a week with my family on our lovely vacation, I realized I don't need to be around them 24/7 and I don't like having each in one room where they can touch each other.  I certainly don't like being stuck in a car with them hearing "how many more minutes" every minute but I do still like them and I do love seeing their faces light up when they get to experience new things.  Something tells me we will be crazy enough to do another one!