Sunday, May 22, 2016

Alexa turns 9... and I turn 35!

Happy Birthday Alexa (and me!).  This year our birthday started the second I popped my eyes open.  Alexa was waiting by the side of my bed, wearing a birthday sash and ready to jump in and snuggle with me while we ate our breakfast together.  Smoothies and eggs.  Thanks Dave!
 Alexa is so sweet to me on our birthday.  She is always sure to include me in the celebration.  We referred to each other as "the birthday girl" all day long... and sometimes "the other birthday girl".  If the experience we share on our birthday is anything like being a twin -- sign me up!  The older Alexa gets the more I enjoy sharing this special day together!

 It has been an incredibly busy month (more on that later) and as a result I was late ordering a few of Alexa's gifts.  Sadly, one of those gifts was her birthday outfit.  My girls really look forward to getting a new outfit to wear to school each birthday.  Kinley was so kind to let her borrow the birthday skirt she received 3 weeks prior -- one of the many benefits of having a sister that wears the same size of clothes!
 Alexa was excited to get to school and share her cookies with the rest of her class.  She loved wearing her sash all around the school "Birthday Princess".  She said anywhere she went, people noticed her sash and birthday bow and wished her a "happy birthday".  She loved the attention.

I snapped a picture of the girls as they got into the car after school... truly my favorite part of each day!  I bought the headband I am wearing for Alexa, she decided to wear our other birthday bow instead.  So, I wore the headband.  My kids thought I looked beautiful wearing it.  Paisley told me over and over how pretty she thought I looked.  I enjoyed all the attention until I had to run a few errands -- I had a lot of strangers wishing me happy birthday.
 The birthday girl and the other birthday girl!!!  I sure love this cutie of mine.
 After a few dance lessons and some swimming it was time to open gifts!
 notice in the picture above and the picture below a few of the hair accessories have changed on Paisley and Alexa... Alexa was given that starfish hair clip as a gift.  It smelled like a dead, rotting star fish -- authentic.  Thankfully the smell is now gone.  I drenched it with perfume.
 The bottom gift (the big one) is a Lego and Friends Hotel.  The girls spent the rest of the night in the casita building and playing.  It is great the way my girls love their legos.
 For dessert we ate some delicious chocolate cake (with oreo frosting) from one of our favorite shops in town -- Small Cakes!
 It was yummy but, incredibly rich.  We invited the elders over to have some too.
 We lit the candles a few times.  The one below is of Alexa blowing her candles out...
 ... and the one below is of my candles being blown out.  I hope my kids made a good wish for me!

I can't believe how old Alexa is getting... 9!  She is a confident, artistic, outgoing, and a smart little girl.  She loves to read, loves dance, and loves her friends.  When she grows up she wants to be a mom but, as a back up plan -- a dolphin trainer.  Paisley adores her older sister -- Which makes me smile, they are so similar in looks and personality.  It's fun to see the two of them interact. Alexa is a self proclaimed nature lover (studying animals and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors is her thing).  She is a natural in the water.  Her dives are perfection.  She loves the ocean and is fascinated by the sea life.  She dreams of being a mermaid/ human (like Barbie).  Her favoirte color is aqua (like the color of the ocean).   Alexa's personality is so fun to be around.  I love being this girls Mom.  Happy Birthday to us!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy 7th Birthday Kinley!

 Happy Birthday Kinley!  Spring is the season of birthdays at our house.  Kinley is the first to kick off the season.  My little sweetie turned 7 this year!  7!!!  The day started out with breakfast in bed.  My kids love this tradition.  They request a favorite breakfast and enjoy a few extra minutes in bed eating it before starting their morning.  Kinley's request was simple (and no surprise)... cereal!  As school is a social event for her, she was pretty excited to get to school on her birthday.  She brought birthday cookies to share with her class (she was a little hesitant about it, although she is a social bug and loves her friends -- she is also very quiet and not one to voluntarily draw attention to herself).  I snapped these pictures before she left.  She was thrilled to wear a birthday bow and new golden skirt for her big day.
 Zoey and Alexa jumped in a picture too.  The joy of having lots of kids is always magnified on birthdays -- I love the excitement and kindness they show towards the "birthday kid".  They go out of their to make their siblings feel special.  Alexa is showing off a new Harry Potter coloring book she picked out at the school book fair the night previous.
 Kinley planned her day down to the minute.  Right after school each of the kids ditched out on homework time and did some swimming instead.  I can't even tell you how much I love our pool.  Keeps the kids happy, they are developing an important life skill, and getting exercise all at the same time. 
 After coming in from the pool, it was time to open gifts. (I am not sure what Paisley ate in the picture above.  Obviously something she didn't like.)


 Kinley got some fun stuff.  I am super excited to help her with a garden craft kit she received.  She loves arts and crafts.  So, most her gifts were themed around that hobby.  She was really excited about her new art kit.
 Zoey found this bracelet at the store while shopping with her dad the night before.  She begged Dave to buy it  for the birthday girl.  Zoey was eager to give it to her.  Kinley was so excited and has been wearing it ever since.
 After opening presents Rex and Paisley got creative with play dough and helped me make some brownies (which is what Kinley requested instead of cake this year).  Which is why they are wearing their adorable aprons in these pictures.  Anytime  my kids help prepare food they insist on putting their aprons on 1st.
 Love this little boy of mine!
 The girls got busy coloring.  Kinley shared her new art kit and her sisters shared their new Harry Potter coloring books.
 Rex's favorite part of the play dough was flattening it on the floor with his feet.  He liked the squishy feeling between his toes and thought the imprint it left on the play-dough was pretty impressive.
 Paisley had fun mixing the colors to create purple and then designing shapes into her dough.  She is holding up her favorite (a butterfly).  After each shape was created she would say -- "Mom look!"
 Dave pulled up about the same time as the Elders.  I love having missionaries in our home so frequently.  It is a great blessing for my kids to be surrounded often by these gospel loving boys who are striving to be their best, have a great love for Jesus Christ, and are encouraging others to choose the right.
 After pizza we had brownies and before we knew it Dave and the missionaries were gone again (Dave had stake meetings).

For ice cream we decided to shake things up a bit.  Dave and Zoey went to the grocery store the night before and bought all things Ben and Jerry's!  Kinley sat her four siblings around the table and made them close their eyes.  One by one Kinley and I chose a flavor for them to try and guess the flavors.  Kinley liked this game because it put her in control of the food.  Some flavors she chose to try and others she was content letting her siblings test alone.  The kids loved this game.
 Kinley and her tower of ice cream!
 She was particularly excited to try the Peanut Butter Chocolate flavor.
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 2 short days later Grandma and Grandpa Zarkou and Dan came down for a visit.  Kinley was so excited about the gifts and balloon they brought with them.
Grandma brought Kinley this super long coloring page.  The girls got busy decorating it right away.

Kinley is such a sweet kid.  I love spending time with this cutie of mine.  Yesterday we (Zoey, Kinley, Alexa, and I) attended a local ballet program of Cinderella.  Kinley sat next to me and held my hand the entire show.  Her friends came over during intermission and hugged her, going on and on about how happy they were to see her and how they told their entire dance team about her.  Kinley didn't say a word.  She just smiled and hugged each of her friends as they came over to her.  This is not an uncommon experience for Kinley.  People are easily drawn to her because of her kindness and beauty.  From the time she was teeny, tiny people were telling her how beautiful and sweet she was.  Sometimes this attention makes her uncomfortable.  The other day we were at a youth fireside with my kids.  Kinley hid behind the fridge the entire time.  We brought her some food and she was happy to eat in silence.

She is a good kid.  She tries hard to do what is right.  She is quick to clean up and help around the house without complaints.  She is loyal to her sisters and kind to her brother.  Kinley is the first to wake up in the morning.  She likes getting dressed quickly so that I have extra time to spend on her hair.  She loves getting it curled each day for school.  On weekends she likes waking up early to play on the Ipad while the rest of us continue to sleep.  She has a tender spot for animals and loves holding our new bunnies.  She is great at sharing her clothes and toys.  Kinley loves laying in bed at night with her me reading books while her sisters start to go to sleep.  Recently she learned how to swim to the bottom of the deep end of our pool -- 8 feet down to the very bottom, touches it with her hand, and then back up to the surface again!  She has no desire to ever get her ears pierced but, is happy to wear jeweled stickers for the rest of her life (until she is a mom, as that is the time she has decided she will be brave enough to get her ears pierced).  She is a gem to have in the family.  We feel blessed to have her!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Easter 2016

The night before we left Utah Grandma made a delicious Easter feast and the Easter bunny made a visit to the house.  Dave drove all the way up from Arizona just to turn around again the next day and head back home.  He arrived just and Alexa, Zoey, and I had left for the Women's Broadcast.  We were so excited to see him when we got back... and the Easter bunny had also come!  The kids searched for their baskets and were so happy with the final results.
Paisley checking out her basket -- a pool toy, new book, bubbles, Reese's egg, Reese's pieces carrot, water shooter, play dough, letters to baby book, hand sanitizer, and a hand sanitizer holder key chain.
Kinley with her basket of goodies (the same stash as her sisters except instead of a pool toy the 3 oldest received some super fancy goggles for swimming).
Alexa diving into her basket.
Rex and his basket -- his had a bag of chocolate sports balls (which he noticed and opened immediately) and a new toy car (which he went for right after he ate his chocolate balls).

Zoey with her basket of treasures.

... an all around great day!

Spring Break in Utah

With only 3 days between our San Diego trip and Spring Break life got a little chaotic.  Thankfully we were able to pull it together and get out the door in time for another fabulous week of fun.  This time we spent the week at Grandma and Grandpa's in Utah!  We were sad Dave couldn't stay and play.  We missed him.  The kids loved spending time with family!!!
Grandma took us to a farming store.  The kids loved the 10 cent mechanical horse ride.  They rode that baby nonstop almost the entire time we were in the store.  The music that went along with it was loud, slightly broken, and somewhat annoying to other shoppers and workers.  However, our kids were thrilled to ride it over and over again.  The girls also found some cowgirl hats and pretended to ride stuffed horses all over the store.  Par-tay!  The store had a creepy cat that liked having us pet it and 2 dogs that wandered the place.  There were chickens of all breeds out front and baby bunnies, ducklings, and chicks of every possible kind for sale as well.  They were adorable.  Zoey instantly fell in love with the baby ducks (in the picture below) and begged me to bring one home.  She even offered to pay for the little guy with her hard earned babysitting money.  If they stayed that cute and little forever I would have considered the idea.  Unfortunately, they would only be cute and tiny for too short of a time to make that bargain worth it.
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Kinley, Alexa, and Rex playing in Grandma and Grandpa's backyard.
While we were visiting, Zoey and Alexa got to come with Michelle, Tyson, and I to the new Provo temple dedication.  This new temple is so beautiful!  They both loved the Hosanna Shout!  Alexa loved it because of the excitement and spice it brought to the otherwise dull aspects of the event (in her opinion).  Zoey chose that as her favorite part because of the meaning behind it and the Spirit that was felt.  It was great having them at the church with me for this event.
We also got to attend Women's Conference (Zoey, Alexa, Grandma, Michelle, and I) towards end of our vacation.  I loved watching my two sweeties taking notes and eagerly listening to the speakers.  Alexa was really looking forward to the dessert and it did not disappoint -- super, delicious chocolate cake with raspberry sauce all made from a local bakery.  Yum!  The pictures above and below were taken as Zoey and Alexa were either just about to leave or just getting back from either the temple dedication or Women's broadcast.
I love the picture above!  They are amazing and certainly know it!!!
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In the picture below we are just beginning to get some lovely eggs colored.  The most popular colors in the bunch were purple, pink, and blue.  Green and yellow were not a big hit (and never have been).

A few eggs were saved for my handsome boy to color when he woke up from his nap.  He was thrilled and got busy making blue eggs!  This boy loves eating hard boiled eggs.

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For Family Home Evening Grandma put together a lesson about the events of Christ's death and Resurrection.  It involved an egg hunt around the house.  The kids were so excited.
Rex posing with his "Easter basket" as he gather his eggs.
Kinley and a beautiful pink egg.
Some of the eggs were numbered and some were not.  Some eggs were filled with candy, others were filled with parts of the Easter lesson, and 12 was filled with nothing.  Zoey was thrilled to find the number 12!  This is a FHE lesson my kids look forward to each Spring.  She knew 12 was empty and was pretty excited to be holding the most prized egg of the bunch.
Zoey holding her basket (and baby Jay in the back with his cute Easter ears).
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The kids also got to have a hunt in the yard.  The picture above is from that hunt.  Zoey kept hiding the eggs that were being found to extend the fun as long as she could... as a result, Grandma is still finding eggs in her yard!
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At the end of the trip I asked each of my kids what their  favorite part of the trip was... My three oldest girls all said the same thing.  Grandpa invited the 3 of them to attend a concert with him.  He took Kinley, Alexa, and Zoey to see the BYU group Vocal Point in concert with him.  They loved every second of it and are now official groupies.
They were even more excited about the fact that at the end of the concert Grandma and Grandpa took them around to meet (and get pictures with) "the band".  It was a late night for my girls.  They came home thinking it was the best night ever!  This was the highlight of our trip in their opinion. All three of them went back to school on Monday and told their classmates and teachers all about.  They loved it!
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It snowed while we were in Utah!  The kids were so happy.  Thankfully Grandma and Grandpa had an giant bag full of winter supplies for the kids to borrow.
Paisley loved being out in the snow!  She was in and out of the house multiple times as the snow was falling.  She was so happy just to be outside watching the snow fall onto her body and all around the ground.
I loved Paisley's winter attire!  She was drowning in her gear but, it didn't seem to bother her a bit.

Zoey in the snow.
Alexa, Kinley, Zoey, and Paisley getting ready to build a snow fort.
Rex wasn't happy about the glove options.  He enjoyed the snow for a bit but, before too long, his Arizona blood kicked in and he decided to enjoy the snow fall from the window of the house.
Kinley and Alexa still working on their fort.  They were really wishing they had their dad there to help with building it.
The kids were so happy to come in from the cold and see that Grandma had made them some delicious hot cocoa.

After warming up, it was time to go out for some more snow time.
In the two pictures above Paisley is building a snowman.  In the picture below her 2 snowmen are complete.  She is so proud of her masterpieces.

Alexa build herself a nice, comfy chair to rest on.  Unfortunately, if you sat on it longer than a second or two you pants started to get wet.
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Grandma helped the kids all make an Easter craft.  She showed them how to sew little bunnies out of felt.  The kids were so happy with their new creations.  It was fun o see the different colors they each chose.  Zoey made white, Alexa - black, Paisley - purple, Kinley - light pink, and Rex - red.  Alexa and Rex are also holding our new little pets in the picture above.
We also did some shopping during our trip.  The kids were so excited to be somewhere with exciting shoopping options.  They went a little crazy in target (as well as seagull book and Walmart).  They left with a few treasures.  Rex and Paisley are showing off some of their treasures in the picture above -- Rex got a new car and Paisley found a dress-up kit complete with shoes, purse, earrings, ring, and necklace! 
The kids could not get enough of their new little cousin Jay!  He is such a sweet little guy!
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After months of searching for the perfect pet for our family, I think we finally found them!  On our way up to Bountiful we made a quick stop to pick up our newest additions -- 2 jersey woolly rabbits!  They are the sweetest little bunnies ever and my kids are completely smitten.
Paisley is brushing the bunnies hair in the picture above.
This picture makes me laugh.  Rex is so happy to be holding his new bunny... I don't know if its the angle of the picture but, the bunny's eyes seem to be displaying an entirely different emotion than Rex is feeling at the moment!

Zoey holding Baby Fluff.
Rex and Paisley combing Midnight's hair.
Paisley decided she didn't care for the names the rest of the kids gave our new bunnies.  The one she is holding in the picture above is named Midnight but, she calls it Fans.  The other one is named Baby Fluff but, according to her its name is Ice Cream.  We will see if the names stick... she has changed there names a few times since we have brought them home.

Spring Break was loads of fun.  Aside from all the activities we took pictures of we also made some delicious resurrection eggs (requested by Zoey), took a trip to the library, I got to go to the temple with Michelle and Tyson,  All of us got some new haircuts (Rex hated every second of it), and went and saw the new movie Zootopia (loved it).  We all had such a fun time and hated to see the week come to a close so fast.