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.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Magnolia Market

My parents had $200 flight vouchers they weren't going to be able to use so they told me to have at it.  When I found a round trip flight to Dallas for $87 I knew all my dreams were about to come true...Magnolia Market is located 1.45 hours outside of Dallas and I've been dying to go.  Fixer Upper is THE ONLY show that both Adam and I enjoy.  He likes it from a construction standpoint and I love it from the design side plus, the couple on the show has won me over.  Just last year, they opened a shop and boy has it been popular.  We were told that on Saturday's you can't see the floor and everyone is shoulder to shoulder.  The line to get in the place can be a couple hours!  We were there on a Friday and it was still crowded.  Lets just say Chip and Joanna Gaines are making a pretty penny!  Nothing is cheap and everyone is buying.
I'm not a professional photographer and people were always in the way of a perfect shot anyway so just take my word for it when I say that it is over-the-top beautiful!  Every single inch.  

The gardens, the grounds full of swings, lawn games and lounge chairs, the rustic looking silos, and quaint bakery were done to perfection.  The cupcakes were divine and gave Adam a break from shopping :)  At $3.50 a cupcake and the size of the line outside you would have never guesses you could make so much money off of flour and sugar...and your name... because without the fan club things wouldn't be quite so prosperous.
Knowing that everything in the store was priced equal to my first born, and that we were flying home with no luggage to check, I had to contain myself.  I was looking for something to add color to my kitchen counter.  I loved these test tube vases (I'll find fake flowers for them) and cookbook stand.  We also got some letters to complete our "C wall".  The big one we found at Harp Design Co. who is the woodworker on the show.

If you are wondering what else there is to do in Waco, Texas besides Magnolia, the answer is nothing.  It's no wonder that Fixer Upper has done so well in this small town because every.single.home. is a fixer upper.  So old and run down and falling apart.  However, we were content to have a calm day because life with 4 kids isn't calm.  In fact, you know you're a mom of littles when the plane flight seems like part of the vacation.  2 hours to read a good book with no interruptions and no to do list...bonus!  We enjoyed good food, great shopping and a TV free of cartoons!  Oh, and Texas pride runs deep because both hotels we stayed at served these Texan waffles.  
We were able to spend one morning in Dallas before we had to catch a flight back home (it was a quick trip since finding a sitter for more than 2 days wasn't going to happen).  We ended up at these Water Gardens with perfect weather and no crowds.
We loved how the trees of these roots grew.  It's as if they couldn't grow down and so came back up along the tree and side of the reflection pond.
 We are those two little specks at the bottom :)
I feel blesses to have such good friends to take the kids for the weekend (they have 4 seven and under of their own).  Without their help it wouldn't have happened.  However, they get their turn in 2 weeks while we take their kids for them to go on a quick trip.  Wish us luck!  I had to laugh when she sent this photo.  Clayton and Zach are in each others clothes which means Zach's is too small and Clay's too big (although they are only one size apart).  When I told the sitter that, she laughed and responded that half way through the day she noticed Zach must have been in Clayton's pants because they were such high waters.  You would think they could find their own clothes in a suitcase.  Especially since I showed them exactly what I packed!  Oh and Mariah wore her school uniform clothes both days because she didn't like what I packed for her.  Whatever, when we got back everyone was alive and happy.  We will let you know in 2 weeks if it was worth it or if I lose my mind with 8 kids under 1 roof.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Christmas with Nana and Pappy

We were all so excited when we learned that Nana and Pappy were going to be at our house for Christmas.  It made it so special for the kids to play with all their new toys with their grandparents.  When I heard they would be here, I immediately knew we would have Christmas Eve Mexican style.  I had them bring homemade tamales made by their Latin friend with them.  That's all I needed to have the perfect holiday :)  Then we spent the evening playing the new board game, Monopoly Junior, the kids opened that night as they wore their Christmas jammies.  This was the best picture I could get in their pajamas.  Eye roll!
Each day of December we opened a Christmas book to read.  We've got quite the collection of some really great kids books now.  Some fun and some that highlight what this is really all about.  Of course for Christmas Eve we read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and of course they wanted Pappy to read it.
Zach was sick, Clay hadn't napped, and Benson had been fighting a cold and was mad he couldn't tear the game apart that we played.  Needless to say, the kids were all in bed at 7:00 on Christmas Eve.  Santa had his job taken care of by 8:30 pm!!!  The kids even slept until 6:30 which is a major improvement from last year.  Never dreamed that would be possible but I also did ALL of the wrapping before Christmas Eve and any prep work I could.  I didn't take a single picture Christmas morning (eye roll again) so I'm grateful Nana was on the ball.
Zach's love language is gift giving (and receiving).  He was so so so excited to give me the present he made at preschool.  Like mentioned it 30 times in 3 days excited.  He couldn't stop talking about how hard he worked and how he tried his best.  It's my new favorite ornament on my tree.  Love that boy and his giant heart.
Clayton's robot was suppose to be the size of him by the time Christmas rolled around.  I was worried he was going to be so disappointed that it wasn't what he had imagined.  I was relieved to be wrong.  He didn't want to open a single other gift.  Leave him and his robot alone to play!  He hasn't grown out of his love for it a week later either.
This piano may be returned!  Can't get the kids off it.  Especially since it's electric and has built in beats and songs.  Luckily it also has a power cord that I can take :)  Mariah learned how to play her first song within minutes.  I hope the passion doesn't die.
Zach bought Mariah hair chalk for Christmas and Nana was kind enough to be a guinea pig.
 And Benson got the cutest monkey that when put in the microwave becomes a heat pack (with rice and essential oils inside) or a cold pack when frozen.
He also got the bouncy donkey thing that may give us a broken bone in 2017 but only after it's been well used and loved.
Zach is our budding magician after his magic set.  He loves preforming the new tricks he's learned and you would love to watch his enthusiasm.

It was the best Christmas.  With 2:00 church we stayed in pajamas and played with the toys for hours!  Had a yummy crepe breakfast and didn't worry about being anywhere.  With the in-laws in town Adam and I were both able to sing in the ward choir while they watched the kids for Christmas Sunday and Adam gave the best talk.  Seriously, that man can preach.  And seriously, we could get use to one hour church.  Afterwards, we had a cheese and chocolate fondue dinner then ended the night walking on Pappy's back and watching a Christmas movie.

I mentioned that Zach loves gifts.  Small, dollar store ones are at the top of his list of favorites.  Because of that, Chuck E Cheese is heaven on earth.  Play games and win dumb prizes.  With company in town and Adam off work we headed out to play arcades.  Zach hit a 200 ticket jackpot.
 Then Pappy hit two 500 jackpots!!!  Luckiest day ever.  We ended up with nearly 2000 tickets which was better than Christmas to one little boy in particular.

We loved having the company and are always grateful when people make the trek out to visit us.  Especially since the kids usually wake them in the morning instead of me.

Speaking of visitors.  The highlight of Christmas break for me was when some of our best friends were in town for the first time in 3+ years.  The Luft's stopped by and Cyrus and Mariah still consider each other best friends.  Despite being 3 years old when they moved, they didn't miss a beat when they saw each other.  You would be hard pressed to find better people than this family and we've given up hope of ever having better neighbors.
With Adam still off work, we went to Bass Pro shop with friends to see the fish and shoot the guns.  Adam may be the only one in the family with aim but his boys certainly couldn't think anything was more fun than trying.
the fish aquarium
On the night of Christmas Zach said "Christmas is actually kind of a sad day because it means it's all over".  I couldn't agree more.  Everything is so perfect.  Time off of work, time with family, focus of Christ, lots of activities, beautiful Christmas lights etc.  I find that we can't wait for Christmas and there is so much anticipation surrounding the day and when it's finally here, you realize that it came too fast.  Until next year.