Monday, June 2, 2014

Mothers Day 2014

 This year Mother's Day was also mine and Alexa's birthday!  Between all the celebrating and our regular Sunday routine, which involves an hour drive to church and and hour home, it was a very busy day that flew by faster than we could fit in everything we wanted to.  In the picture above Alexa is wearing some new sunglasses and tumbling outfit (notice it is her two favorite colors) given to her by our neighbor Judy... along with a whole ton of other exciting birthday gifts purchased just for this little sweetie!
 The two birthday girls!
 While Dave and I were in Arizona Grandma helped the girls put together some special Mothers Day gifts for me.  I could tell they worked hard on their cards and were so excited about their individual presents they chose for me.  I loved it!  I loved seeing their sheer joy as they surprised me with this project.  Being a mother is so much more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined!  I love being a Mama to these five little cuties!   
During sacrament meeting Rex started crying a bit, so I took him to the mother's lounge and almost missed hearing my three oldest babies get up and sing with the rest of the primary children.  I look forward to this moment all year long.  I rushed down the hall and was able to step in the chapel doorway just in time for the first song to begin.  I loved the moment each of my girls spotted me in the door.  Kinley leaned over and let Alexa know I was in the doorway watching them, the three of them smiled, Kinley waved, and they all began singing in their prettiest singing voices.  It was a good day to be me!  The Bishopric spoke, which was equally as enjoyable.  I love hearing my husband bear his testimony behind the pulpit.  He has a natural talent for this.  Dave genuinely loves and cares for the people of this ward, he prays for them, he encourages them, and he instructs them with love, in a way they feel that love he has for them.  The following week our bishopric (including Dave) was released.  This has been Dave's favorite calling.  He loved serving with Bishop Wait and was so sad to see that this precious experience had come to an end!
 Me and my babies!  I sure love these kids.  I love this season of my life!  My children are at an age where they all still think their mother is the most perfect person in the whole world and I am soaking up every minute of it!!!
 I am super excited about my birthday gifts.  Instead of getting any of them out and playing with them, I kept them in their boxes and added them to the stack of other boxes overtaking our house waiting to make their way to Arizona.  As you look at the picture above you can see that Rex is just as excited as I am to get his hands on my new hand weights!   
It was a very busy day!  I was hoping to get a picture of me and the little ones before leaving for church but, in our typical Sunday morning fashion, we were needing to get out the door as soon as possible or have to sit back on the hard chairs-- which after 3 years of sitting through sacrament without my husband, the bench is a bazillion times easier to keep everyone in place and sitting reverent than when you show up late and have to move to the metal chairs in the back... so much easier!!!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Alexa's Early Birthday!

Why is getting one good picture of five adorable kids such a difficult task to accomplish???
 Here are a few of my "best" shots.
 Alexa's birthday fell on a Sunday this year.  So, at school, they celebrated it the Friday before her real birthday.  Grandma was flying home on Saturday, so we decided to celebrate her birthday on Friday too -- presents, cake, and all!  Alexa was thrilled to be called "the birthday girl" all day (more correctly stated -- all weekend) long.  Zoey, on the other hand, was not too happy about our very real enthusiasm for an unbirthday celebration.  She had to comment and correct every time we referred to my Lexa as "the birthday girl".  It was a great start to the day.
 As anyone who has a Spring birthday would understand, when Alexa's school birthday celebration had finally arrived she knew exactly how she wanted things.  She had watched her friends birthdays come and go and put together her ideal day of birthday festivities.  The main thing this day entailed were blueberry donuts from whitehouse farms for her entire class.  She was very particular about this request and told me exactly when to show up and pass them out to her class chums!  Later I pulled her out of school to get her ears pierced (again, remember we did that last year for her birthday too.  We had some issues and had to try a "do over".  Hoping round two works out a little better for us!). 

 Kinley and Paisley were pretty excited to pick up the blueberry donuts with Grandma, Rex, and I.  Bonny, the dog with the same birthday as Lexa and I, was wandering the farm parking lot.  She was so good to wander around the different groups of people in the parking lot saying hello.  She wanted to play catch with the people but, was very particular about giving everyone in the group a turn to toss the stick.  Such a cute dog!  The girls loved every minute!
 Alexa loves to sit on the table and has from the time she was tiny.  In following after her older sister, Paisley is also frequently found sitting on the table rather than comfortably in a chair behind her.  Whatever, some battles are not worth fighting!
 This is a girl that loves to shop!  Her birthday list started months ago and has been rapidly growing ever since.  It was hard to know what exactly to choose for her.  We decided to narrow her choices down and take her to the store so she could make the final decision.  Although she knew what most of her presents were she was thrilled to open all of them.
 Alexa in her "wild west" hat!
 I love this picture above.  Alexa is such a snuggly little thing.  She loves sitting on my lap, giving hugs, and being close to those she loves.  She was particularly sweet to me during our birthday weekend.  She wanted lots of pictures of just the two of us and kept referring to us as "the birthday girls".  I love the way she has her arm around me in the picture above.  Such a sweetheart!
 She really wanted a "frozen" cake this year.  I really wanted to make a dessert our family would enjoy!  I am realizing we are not cake eaters.  Most birthday cakes end up in the trash around here.  I thought if I bought her an ice cream cake this year things might be different.  I wanted to make her birthday a special one and she is a girl who loves her sweets.  I thought she would want to choose her own (although I had a pretty good idea which one she would pick -- and I was right).  She chose the coldstone cake batter ice cream cake with sprinkles mixed throughout it.  To make it a frozen cake I added the girls toy frozen dolls on top.  Success! 
 So, how did the cake taste you ask?  Lets just say we were happy the sister missionaries were coming over later that week to get rid of the other half of the cake.
I love these pictures of my little sweetie blowing out her candles.  This girl has such a passion for life.  She is a confident, outgoing kid that goes into every situation with full force.  She is quick to stand up for her beliefs and is not shy about calling someone out of their bad behavior.  She loves her family and is a loyal sister.  She is strong willed and determined.  I adore her unique interests, one of them currently being a book collection called "Who Would Win".  It relates facts about two animals found on the earth and determines which one of them would win if they happened to fight one another.   She is an incredible artist, loves riding her bike, and is the first to spot the bus each morning (She loves being around her friends).  I love the petite little thing that she is and feel so blessed to be her mama
 Although I LOVE sharing a birthday with this girl, it was fun to have a day dedicated to her and only her.  I hope she felt our love for her.  I can't imagine our family without an Alexa in it!  We adore her!!!

Our Trip to Arizona

Recently Dave and I (and our sidekick, Rex) took a trip to Arizona.  Dave signed a contract with a hospital out there after his residency completion next month.  The day or two after Rex was born (I was still in the hospital), Dave was contacted for an interview.  They wanted to fly both of us out but, I just couldn't bring my brand new (and very sick) baby across the nation.  After almost 10 years of marriage my husband knows me, almost better than I know myself!  So, I sent Dave on a plane and trusted he would let me know if I would enjoy living there or not!  -- Despite feeling this was the right choice for our family, I was eager to get out there and take a look at the area myself.  The picture above is of my Rexy Boy after a very, very long day of traveling.  We are about to get off the plane.  His first plane ride!!!  He did awesome! 
We flew into Vegas (crazy place if I do say so myself!) and headed south.  For miles and miles all that you see is dessert... until you get to Lake Havasu.  There you see a beautiful blueish, green lake as you enter the city.  As I looked over the lake I had a very clear and district feeling that "this is right!".  This is where our family belongs.  That was my main goal of the trip (with a close second being finding us a place to live).  I wanted to get out there and receive that confirmation for myself that this is where our family belongs.  A few months back I went with Dave to an interview for another hospital up in Idaho.  Although the trip was pleasant, it was also unsettling.  These feelings were unexpected, as we thought that was the place for us.  Dave loved the place in Idaho but, I didn't feel right about it.  The ward was super friendly but, made me tear up after leaving... as it didn't feel like "home" and as we drove around the town, I felt the same way.  It was a great town, awesome running trail, and nice people but, something was amiss.  Because of Dave's excitement for the place in Idaho, I didn't say anything to him about how I felt.  I was confident if it was meant to be God would make it happen.  Needless to say that job fell through.  Before we flew out to Arizona I wondered if that was the Spirit telling me the Idaho job was not a right fit for us or was it my own uneasiness causing these feelings.  I wondered if I would have that same feeling as we drove around Arizona.  I really wanted to step foot in this town and see for myself how things felt as we walked around.  It was a tender mercy for God to answer this prayer (that I hadn't told anyone about) so quickly and firmly.  The first sight of the town, it felt right... really right!  We visited the ward on Sunday and got to know many of the members of the ward throughout our trip... it feels like home! 
The picture above is of us outside our hotel room balcony and the picture below is a picture of our hotel room balcony at night...beautiful!
There is a 3 hour time difference between us and them, waking up at 4 a.m., feeling alive and rested was glorious!  The hotel is also a casino.  I was shocked to see the large amount of people at the bar and slot machines each morning around 4 and 5 am.  It made me sad for these people, many of whom I am sure are struggling with the depressing hold of addiction.  I was also grateful for the love my Heavenly Father has given me, and all members of the LDS church, with the knowledge and warning to stay away from addictive behavior (like alcohol, smoking, and gambling).
Rex was a great little guy the whole trip.  He did require multiple trips back to the hotel for some serious down time but, for the most part he did great.
Such a cutie!
The trip was a great success!  We were able to find a rental right in the center of the town Dave will be working in.  The girls are pretty excited about the swimming pool in our backyard and I am thrilled about the double kitchens (double fridge, double freezer, huge pantry -- heaven!).  To sum up my first impression about our new stomping ground -- I love, love, love Havasu (which is the town about 40 minutes north of us).  It has a beautiful desert landscape with the lake as the city focal point.  The place is filled with all my favorite restaurants (Jamba Juice, Papa Murphys, and Red Robin).  The local gym is fabulous.  There is always some activity going on -- lots of fun races and activities on the lake -- not to mention a perfect running trail that lines the lake.  It is a major spring break resort town for Californian and therefore always something to do!  

Now, the town we are actually moving to, not quite as hoppin but, in all honesty, I think it will be a better environment for our family.  It is a small town with a small town feel.  The ward was fabulous and the schools were so welcoming (and so close to our new home).  The super Walmart will be the store I frequent most often in town (despite what you might be thinking, I am really excited about this -- our current grocery store is outrageously expensive).  There are only 2 restaurants in town... both Mexican.(Dave loves that).  They have a bountiful basket drive with fresh produce from California regularly delivered to the town -- score!

When we walked into the elementary school there was a big boxer mix dog sitting in a chair directly in front of the reception desk.  Everyone (Dave and the two secretaries) were pretty aware when I noticed the dog... as I froze in my tracks, hugged my baby tight, and had an obvious look of fear.  I tried to play it cool but, it was obvious to everyone in the room that I had a serious fear of big dogs!  Apparently it's the principal's dog.  She comes to school often and hangs out in the office as an unofficial school mascot.  I was grateful I saw her and could warn Zoey about her before she started school (She has a pretty serious fear of dogs too).  I was just grateful I didn't have all my kids with me or I would have really embarrassed myself!  Seriously!

It was great spending time with Dave on a very low stress trip!  I love my husband and sure enjoyed eating meals with him every day, driving around town with him all afternoon, and shopping at Walmart with him.  He is a great husband and excellent father.  Hands down favorite part of the trip was during breakfast one morning.  We were eating at the casino/ hotel restaurant when a guy from a few seats over started asking us questions about our cute baby.  He talked all about the joys children bring into your life and ended the conversion with advice to "keep having children.", and "you need to have lots more." -- Um yes!  It was then and there I decided this was my kind of town :)  Really!  Never mind the fact we only had one of our babies with us and people kept thinking he was an only child and the guy giving the advice may or may not have been a little drunk at the time... My love for the town grew deep right then and there :)
Now those of you wondering where the rest of my kids were during our little vacation... they were in good hands with Grandma!  My mom was so good to fly out and watch the girls for us while we were in Arizona.  The girls had a blast and barely missed us.  In my mom's typical fashion, she was able to run my life more perfectly than I run it on my own!  The girls kept my mom busy playing all day long and partied all night with a nightly sleepover with everyone in our king size bed!  Thanks Mom!!! 

Things I Did Over Spring Break

Recently Zoey came home from school with an essay she had written about her Spring Break experiences.  Her view of the week made me smile.  With each upcoming holiday, I work to create fond memories my children will remember and look back on with love.  I often wonder which experiences will be memorable and cherished by each of my little ones.  Because we were staying home this year, Dave and I planned the week with activities sure to cultivate family togetherness and hopefully create memories the girls will cherish as they get older.  Zoey's version of the week surprised me.  I loved being able to read what events she valued most throughout the week.  Here is her essay (with original punctuation and spelling)!

"I did many things over spring break.  On the very first day we got to go to Mill Creek Park and rode our bike.  Alexa rode her princess bike so did Kinley, and Paisley rode her four wheeler.  When we got home some people were crying because they didn't have a good time or they fell off their bikes.  Another thing that happened was dad, my sister, and I went fishing!  We caught two types of fish: Blue Gil's and Bass.  When we got there it was about 8:00 a.m.  At first, we just caught Blue Gil's then, after a little while we caught Bass.  Large mouth Bass!  We caught about 4 or 5 of them.  Dad caught the biggest, I caught the second biggest, and Alexa caught the third.  We had such a fun time.  On the way home we looked at the pictures we took.  Dad kept on saying that the big fish, we caught was big.  We had an amazing time.  Now let me tell you about Easter.  In the morning we woke up and went to the store to buy things for our kind neighbor, Judy.  Judy has a garden so we bought her gardener things like: a shovel, watermelon seeds, forget-me-not seeds, and because she has dogs we bought her dogs bones.  Well we went home on Saturday. (We celebrate Easter on Saturday so we can remember the true meaning of Easter on Sunday.) And we looked for our Easter Baskets.  Dad's was in the washer, Rex's was in his bed, Kinley's was hiding in Rex's car seat, Mine was in the kitchen cupboard, and Alexa's was in the kitchen, too!  We had stuff like hand santizer, glow slime, gronala bars, and talks  from our favorite speaker!  Then, Judy came over.  She gave us more baskets.  With candy!  I loved it.  The basket has stuff like: Chocolates, a carrot shaped thing with Reese's inside it, Cracker Jack, and much more delicious pecies of candy!  Then, on Sunday we got to wear our Easter dresses!  They were pink with flowers on them.  That is what I did over the best Spring Break ever!!!!!!!"

... and there you have it!  Our Spring Break experience through the eyes of Zoey.  I sure love that kid :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Happy Birthday Kinley!

 My princess recently celebrated her birthday!!!  It was so fun to witness her anticipation for her special day.  The days leading up to her birthday, she would sleepily wake up asking if it was her birthday yet.  The morning of her birthday she popped right out of bed and was ready to get the most out of her day. -- a day that revolved around her!
 She loved every minute of the attention!
 The day was hers to do with it whatever she wanted.  I gave her the choice of a park, riding bikes at the bike trail, lunch at panera... whatever she wanted -- She decided what she wanted most of all was to wear her mama's hot pink lipstick and play board games at home with Paisley and I, while chewing some of my gum.  Later in the afternoon she helped me bake her chocolate cake. 
The second her sisters walked in the door from school, she quickly opened all of her presents.  She had them carefully waiting for her in the center of the table all afternoon! 
 I love the picture above of Paisley holding up her sister's gum!  She was excited to see all her sister's gifts, as were the rest of the girls.  I love how they find joy in each others happiness.  In case you are wondering how long that gum lasted in the hands of the birthday girl... one and a half days!!!  She was good to share plenty of it with Paisley.
 Love these girls!
 Kinley is not a huge cake eater... She is not one to branch out to new foods often.  She will find a favorite food and stick with it for weeks.  At one time it was cereal (mostly mini wheats), next chips and hummus, and currently graham crackers and milk -- with an occasional apple slice or carrot to add a star to her rainbow chart :)!  I wanted her birthday dessert to be something she enjoyed.  Weeks before her birthday she let me know what she wanted -- chocolate cake with purple frosting (the picture looks pink but, it is indeed lavender).  I asked for her approval with each detail... what shape did she want? What else did she want in her chocolate cake?  What type of frosting would she prefer?  Did she want homemade ice cream with it?  If so, what color and flavor? -- I felt pretty confident she would be happy with the finished product, just a basic chocolate cake (although I did put some toffee bits throughout it) with home made whipping cream across the top and a side of home made vanilla (lavender colored) ice cream on the side.  She loved the making process of both the cake and ice cream and was excited to choose the first slice and sit at the table with her family... She was happy!  It wasn't until I began clearing the table I noticed not a single bite had been taken... I guess some kids just don't like cake!  Despite her not eating the cake, she was delighted to have a cake made just for her in the precise details she had requested.
Kinley is such a sweetie.  It was so fun to have a day where the focus revolved around her.  I love spending my days with this cutie and know I (and Paisley) am going to miss her tremendously when she starts school soon.  She is my official ergo buckle latcher and loves to help me clean up.  She prides herself in being one of the best cleaners in the house.  She enjoys borrowing my make up, especially my hot pink lipstick.  She wears it almost daily.  I love that just about every time we leave the house she will ask if she could put some of my lipstick on.  She feels beautiful in it!  She can spend hours drawing pictures and hanging them around the house or placing them on someone's pillow.  Her homework is still one of her favorite things to do in the day.  She is a great little mama to Rex and loves to carry that boy around the house!  Her personality is so happy, go lucky.  We love this little princess so much!!!

Eggs, Eggs, And More Eggs!

 Saturday (before Easter) we had an egg hunt out front.  It was Rex's first time on grass.  He didn't love it but, was content to be a part of all the action.
 Alexa with her bag full of eggs.
 Paisley gathering her eggs.  She was so excited when she would spot an egg.  She would yell out in surprise "Ah, an egg!" "Ah, another egg!" -- It was cute to see her so excited.
 The girls had so much fun running around the yard gathering eggs, we decided to gather them all up and hide them again.  The first time Dave hid all the eggs.  For round two Zoey wanted to hide them with me.  In the picture above Zoey is holding Paisley's bag for her while Paisley hunts around for all her eggs.  She loved the special attention from her older sister!
Above is a picture of Kinley looking for her eggs.  In this case the egg hunt was much more exciting for the girls than finding the treasure inside (paper with a new sidewalk chalk color waiting for them)

Later that day we colored eggs.  Many bowls of colored dye, fragile eggs, and lots of small hands... it was a very intense activity, which is why we didn't get any pictures until after the project was over.  We had a great time.  Paisley cracked a couple eggs during the process but, in the end it all worked out.  She really loved using the blue coloring for her eggs.  They were so proud of the finished product.

Here we are holding a couple of their favorite designs.  We turned them into deviled eggs the next day.  The girls (mainly Alexa) enjoyed helping me prepare the special snack.  Alexa, my adventurous sweetie, was quick to sample the new food.  She didn't love it -- I was proud of her for trying something new.

Easter Baskets

 Saturday morning the kids all woke up ready to search for their baskets (the Easter Bunny is kind enough to drop our baskets off a day early so we can focus on the Savior during Easter Sunday).  Each one of my sweeties were so happy with their basket treasures. 
 Alexa with her basket! 
 Kinley with her basket!
 Zoey with her basket!
 Rex with his basket.
Dave wouldn't let me take a morning picture of him with his basket :) -- but, he was pretty excited about his treats too.  The big hits of the basket this year were "glow slime" and Hank Smith CDs.  I love hearing the girls quote their favorite parts of Hank Smith firesides.

Later that day our neighbor Judy brought the kids each another basket... filled with candy!!!  The girls were ecstatic.  All month long they had been noticing peeps throughout the stores and commenting on how delicious they looked.  When each of their baskets contained a brightly colored pack of bunny peeps, they were thrilled!!!  Although it was painful to watch my cuties shove their face full of peeps, I couldn't say "no" when they started saying things like "Please Mom!  I just wonder what they taste like." (Zoey) and "Mom, I've never even tried a peep before and really, really want one!" (Kinley) -- I just love these kids (and husband)!