Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Kindergartner No More

Is it just me or did kindergarten go by really quickly?  School is out and summer is in full swing (including a forecast of 115 this week).  Here is Mariah on her first and last day of school.  The change is subtle but there's no questioning that she grew and matured over the past year.
For her last week, we decided to brave the school cafeteria with my 3 little boys and Chick-Fil-A for lunch.  I figure, I only get a couple years where she wants me to come to lunch with her, so I might as well take advantage, even if it's really complicated and even if Clayton is a class clown in the making and really loud in that cafeteria.

On the last day of school they had a kindergarten graduation program for the families to attend.  Mariah is the very first kid on the left because she had the very first part in the program and said her line with confidence!  That alone is a huge improvement since last year.
Afterwards, they could be checked out early and go home.  Mariah, however was not ready to begin her vacation.  She chose to stay in school!!!  Only 2 other kids wanted to stay and a few others who's parents didn't come so they couldn't be checked out.  Crazy girl!  She really did love school and sometimes would even comment on Saturday that she wished she could go to school.  She's way to social to spent too much time at home.  It's going to be an exhausting summer!

We absolutely loved Mrs. Arnold.  She was so great with Mariah and I think all of us will dearly miss her.  Just keeping my fingers crossed we are as lucky with the 1st grade teacher.

We had a fun summer kick off on Memorial Day with some neighbor friends.  Everyone brought any water toy they had and everyone had a blast.  The day included popsicles, snow cones, watermelon, smores, corn on the cob, and hot dogs.  Perfection!  The major hit was the giant slip 'n slide.  I can't get enough of my little seal in this picture!
They started getting braver and more creative as the afternoon went on.  Too many giggles to count.
Our swim suits and snow cone machine will get a lot of use this summer.  I'm sure you wont find me with my hair out of a bun for several months and my kids will smell like a mixture of chlorine and sunscreen.  Dreamy isn't it?  Especially when you see how good the sun is at wearing the little ones out by nap time :)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Clayton's Pirate Party

When Zach and Mariah asked what we were doing for Clayton's 3rd birthday, I said we would probably just go to Peter Piper Pizza as a family or something.  NO PARTY!!!  How could I!!!

Well... he's only 3 and his only friends are the kids of my friends or the siblings of Zach and Mariah's friends.  Why does he need a party? Regardless, somehow they talked me into just inviting a couple of little kids and their families over for a BBQ and cake.  Then I remembered this treasure chest cake my sister made years ago and how cute it was so I decided to give it a try.  But Clayton LOVES Jake and the Neverland Pirates so maybe with a treasure cake I could do some fun invites that my sister used as well.  A cake and invites.  Easy peasy.  Fast forward a few days to when I became bored and consulted Pinterest.  Game over!  Somehow this small BBQ morphed into a full-on party with games, decor, and all out themed food.  Pinterest just makes everything seem so doable even if you aren't very talented.  Plus, the kids love making the stuff with me and we even killed two birds with one stone by doing a pirate themed joy school the same week.  That's my justification for all the work this party ended up becoming for my son who really just wanted to eat cake.  But seriously, how did I expect his thoughts to not be consumed by cake when he had to stare at that loot for 24 hours!

The invites rolled inside root beer bottles
We already owned these Jake figurines so I incorporated them into food to decorate the buffet table.  Skully's Pirate Booty, Mr Smee's Cannonballs (meat balls), Tick-Tock's Swamp Water etc.
Adam made a major contribution by building the watermelon ship with Jello jiggler shark-infested waters.  Big hit with our guests I tell ya.

As were Jake's Pirate Ship hot dogs
The kids got to walk the plank as they had a sword fight, dig for treasure in the sand box, play in our water table (which just happens to be a pirate ship), and do Captain Hook's ring toss.
 All in all it was a success and a lot of fun.  Part of me wants to convince the kids to do birthday parties every other year and the other part of me had too much fun planning and crafting to care.
Opening up the pirate ship Zach made him and wrapped all by himself
For Clayton's birthday we bought a balance bike.  If you haven't heard of them, it's a bike with no pedals.  They are the newest craze and everyone swears they make learning how to ride a bike so much easier.  Supposedly, kids skip the training wheel step all together.  Since we haven't had much success with the older two and training wheels we figured this would be worth a shot.
In order to "open" his bike that wasn't wrapped, we sent him on a pirate treasure hunt (once again plagiarized from my sister).
Here are a few of my favorite clues:
  • Ye aargh getting closer to becoming true pirates. Aargh! Don’t walk the plank to meet yer doom, the next clue is in the living room!
  • Yo-ho-ho! Now ye are looking much like Captain Hook. The next clue is hidden where you might want to cook.
  • Don’t give up yet! Ye gotta stay on yer toes. You’re final clue will be where you’d dry yer wet clothes.
  • Heave Ho! Where might ye go if you were to leave in da car? Aye, aye aren’t ye excited me sure you may be for de treasure is surely not far. (this is where he found his bike sitting in the garage)
Lastly, I "interviewed" Clayton today.  I always want to remember his cute little voice and when he counts, well it's just the best.
Happy 3rd Birthday little buddy.  Goodbye terrible two's and hello to the even more terrible three's. :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Father and Sons/Mother's Day

A couple weeks ago these three got to go on the annual Father and Sons Camp Out.  They didn't leave until 2:00 and I can't count how many times I was asked the question "how many more minutes?" as they waited for the upcoming excitement.  However, when it came time to go, my sweet Zach burst into tears as he said goodbye to his mamma.  Warmed my heart I tell ya.

Once they pulled out of the drive way, he was all better and excited for the fun.  Zach even got to roast his own hot dogs and marshmallows without help.  I'm sure those were charred little things.
The highlight for Clayton was a toss up between the fish hatchery and the outhouse.  A "toilet that has no flush" is a big deal for a little boy who just started using the bathroom.  "Mom!, it was a BIG hole with LOTS OF POOP!"  Of course, Adam being the rock-star dad that he is, added to the fun by letting Clay shine a flash light into the hole to really see what's going on.  Exciting stuff I tell ya!
Looking at hundreds of fish
They loved camping with all of their friends but next year we may need to make sure we are prepared to keep these Valley of the Sun boys a little bit warmer.  I heard a lot about how cold it was and it didn't give Adam the best nights sleep.
Mariah and I had fun at a Cinderella Party with all the girls while the dads were away.  We even put Benson down to sleep at our friends house so we got to stay up late just the 2 of us.  Such a fun weekend for everyone.

Our next fun weekend (for me) came on Mother's Day.  I told Adam I wasn't coming out of my room until 10:00 am.  I was really excited to sleep in.  He convinced me to wake up at 9:00 and by 8:00 the noisy kids convinced me it was time for my first ever breakfast in bed.  Hey, these days 8:00 still feels pretty awesome so I'll take it!
I got to wake up to this girl taking my order.  She makes a good little waitress.
Crepes as good as Village Inn.  Actually better.  Village Inn doesn't come with a fun Sophia the First place mat :)
My favorite part of the day was opening my presents from Mariah and Zach.  They both made gifts at school with these "All About Mom" questions.  They know me pretty well.  Except for the fact that I actually don't like milk.  Haven't had a glass of that since I moved out of my parents house and my mom wasn't there to make me...That being said, I'm glad they've never noticed so I have some leverage to get them to drink it now and again :)   It made there day to give me gifts and was so hard to keep the presents a secret.

Adam got me what I really wanted, a snow cone machine with Bahama Bucks syrup.  A REAL snow cone machine.  That makes snow, not shaved ice.  It's delicious and we are sure to enjoy it all summer long.
Here we are with my clan all ready for church.  They are my world and they try so hard to be good little kids.  I'm pretty lucky to have them.
I'm also lucky to have a mom and mother in law that are incredible examples in every way and have taught me how to fulfill my calling.  Most importantly, they both step in to help me raise these kids in love and righteousness.  The work of a mother is never done and I am blessed for the on going support I get from them.
 As we were going to bed Adam said "I can't wait for Father's Day".  I had to laugh.  He did a great job of making it a great day.  I think he's ready for our regular routine again.  I on the other hand woke up wishing that the previous day could have been Groundhog Day the movie because when I realized we were low on sippy cups and I went for a search, here is what I found...Back to the grind of keeping up with the havoc the little angels I call my greatest blessings bring :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Easter Celebrations

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Break

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

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