Tuesday, October 18, 2016

1st Quarter of School Year 2016

 After 6 weeks of school, our morning routines seem to be in full swing.  My alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m., I get out of bed and start my workout.  I end my workout with some stretching, personal prayers, and scripture study... just as I am finishing up (6:40) Dave comes in to let me know the family is ready for morning scripture study (Dave wakes the girls all up and gets them breakfast while I finish my exercise -- such a great husband).  We read scriptures and discuss what we are reading while the girls are eating their breakfast.  Then, the girls and I head upstairs for hair and getting ready while Dave gets himself ready for work downstairs.  At 7:40ish Dave comes upstairs, we all say a morning prayer together and the older two (Zoey and Alexa) head to school with Dave -- he drops them off on his way to work.  I finish doing Paisley's hair, wake up Rex (and get him dressed because he thinks life is better to be lived in his underwear), and load everyone up into the stroller.  Rex and I walk the girls to school (unless it's raining too hard) as the four of us walk we talk about what they might be doing at school that day, trucks and cars driving by, and 2 annoying dogs that always have to run up to their fence and bark at us.

I don't consider myself a morning person -- However, with a house that no longer has babies waking up all throughout the night, my body has been popping out of bed much easier these days.  Mornings are genuinely my favorite time of day here!
 After doing these two girl's hair they decided to pick out their own headbands... We ended up with a unicorn and cat.  I love their confidence!  
 The girls love their keychains and hand sanitizers attached to the backs of their bags.  They all have a "boo eye" animal keychain, like the one in the picture above (that particular one is Paisley's).
 Alexa has had a handful of "spirit days" so far this year.  The picture above was taken in our driveway just before leaving for "crazy hair day".  Alexa is enjoying the school year so far.  She is making many friends easily and quickly becoming a favorite of the teachers.  Her confidence and bright personality make me smile.  She loves to sing and is continually gracing us with her beautiful vocal skills.
 Kinley is also enjoying the new school year.  She has a great teacher and a classroom of friends that all look out for each other.  Her classmates are constantly giving her gifts (mainly pokeman cards).  Her favorite class is science.  The science specialist often brings in fossilized items to show the class (Kinley's favorite to date -- fossilized poop).  Kinley looks forward to this part of school all week long.
 Rex and Kinley getting ready for school.  Rex fills that little backpack he is wearing to the brim each morning before leaving -- it is filled with cars, cars, and more cars, and an occasional stuffed animal if it will fit.
 This particular morning Paisley was having a rough time getting out the door.  We are still working on a smooth kindergarten morning with this one.  Mornings can be tough after staying awake to play way past your bedtime the night before.  She loves being at the same school as her older sister.

Having a kindergartener in the home is pure joy.  Paisley comes home with stories of boys that want to marry her (she said "no"), kids blowing booger bubbles, kids eating their boogers (not on purpose, having boogers run from their nose to their mouth), a boy that looks like an elf (the same one who wants to marry her), and all kinds of other wacky daily events told through the eyes of my 5 year old.  She also fills me in on facts she has been learning about -- germs, fire trucks (I loved her stop, drop, and roll demo), school rules, and everything else you could possibly think of.

When we send her to school with home lunch she will come home letting me know which of the kids in her class liked my zucchini bread (because she decided to share a bite with all her classmates) and the hand sanitizer on her bag was empty by week two because she was sharing it with everyone and anyone who she thought needed it.  She makes me smile.
Notice Rex's picture above, this is his new smile.  He is such a cute little thing in real life, then I say "smile" and he makes this crazy face, every stinking time.  Oh boy, hoping this phase is short lived... as in, by the time thanksgiving roles around and Michelle is taking his yearly pictures.

Zoey's year has been super eventful too.  I don't have any pictures of her on this post but, wanted to document her updates too.  Zoey, as usual Zoey fashion, is excelling at everything she dips her foot into.  She is taking an honors math class, currently the fastest girl in her PE class, has recently been selected as part of an exclusive writing club from her language arts teacher, and has been placed in the top science group of her class.  She tried out for a lead role (chitty chitty bang bang) in a local production and got the part (Jemima)!  This little town can't seem to get enough of this over-achiever!  Perhaps the biggest event of the month (and the one that made me most proud of her) was how she handled being asked out on her 1st official date.  Yup, you heard me right, my 11 year old was asked on a formal date to a school dance... one that the date and her were to dress alike and have his dad come pick the two of them up for the night.  Um, no!  Zoey tried to handle the situation politely at 1st.  Over the course of a few days, the situation quickly began to ravel out of control.  The situation stressed Zoey out, her main concern was unknowingly breaking a personal commitment she had made to God -- not dating until she was 16.  She was able to set the record straight with the boy who asked her and relieved to have a reply prepared for the next time someone asks her on a date.  I was proud of her for doing the right thing so willingly in a difficult situation.

... and so goes the events of the school year thus far, can't wait to see where the next quarter leads us!

Dave's Birthday (34)

 My handsome husband had a birthday this month!  The kids were pretty excited to celebrate Dave's special day.  Dave chose to have dinner at our new favorite restaurant (Georgies -- has a treasure chest for the kids to choose prizes from at the end of dinner and the view of the ocean is absolutely gorgeous while we eat our dinner).  Again, we had 2 strangers (and one of Dave's coworkers who was eating there too) come over and tell us what amazingly well behaved children we have. :) -- I love what a novelty our family of 7 (seriously not that big!) is in this small town.  While I was over by the treasure box waiting for the kids to make their choices, the waitress came over to ask if she could please  bring out a dessert for Dave and have them sing happy birthday.  Apparently she asked Dave but, he said that wasn't necessary (Alexa was sure to let them our waitress know it was Dave's birthday the second we arrived).  So, lucky for me, I knew exactly which dessert was Dave's favorite (marionberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream).  The kids were thrilled to have the waitresses come sing to our table (except Zoey, who was mortified at all the attention) and helped sing as loud as they possibly could while hugging Dave and crowding around the dessert.  After the song everyone in the restaurant clapped for Dave.  It was pretty great!  The girls (except Zoey) have decided they will be eating out on their next birthday too.
 After dinner it was time to come home for presents.  The kids had been adding gifts to his present pile for a few days prior -- wrapping paper made out of printer paper accessories with ribbons and hair bows.  There gift ideas were very thoughtful and they couldn't wait for Dave to open their gifts.  These gifts were  drawings they had made, a brightly colored (wet) leaf they found outside, a book Zoey wrote about our family in 3rd grade (almost 3 years ago), and -- my personal favorite -- an Anne of Green Gables book the kids found in our bookshelf.  I love how excited my girls get for birthdays around here.
We sure love this boy and are so blessed to have him in our family!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Midnight and Baby Fluff

 These cuddly little bunnies are the perfect pet in my opinion.  This time last year we promised our kids a pet, after hours and hours of research we found the perfect option -- jersey wooly rabbits.  They are bred to be super snuggly and calm, they are incrediby low maintenance -- put them in a cage until you are ready to play with them and they are perfectly happy about it,  and they make no noise ever (it drove me nuts when I would just lay the baby down for a nap and the Fedex guy would knock on the door, which would cause the dog to bark, which in turn would wake up my very tired baby -- this seemed to happen way too often with our dog!  Anyway, for more reasons than one, jersey woolies are the perfect pet for our little family.
 Sadly, one of our little bunnies died last week.  We aren't sure what happened to her.  She had been losing weight for the past month or so, getting skinnier and skinnier each day.  As we all loaded into the car for church last Sunday we noticed our Midnight had died.  If was a sad drive to church with lots of talk about life after death and where bunnies go in the afterlife (I am so grateful for the knowledge of the plan of salvations!).  A few of my girls walked into sacrament meeting with tears in their eyes.
 This picture was taken the week before Midnight died.  Paisley thought Midnight looked adorable in her unicorn crown and begged me to take a picture.  Midnight was Paisley's favorite of the two.  On this particular day Midnight spent hours in Paisley's arms.  She even rode on her lap in the car while we ran the girls to and from lessons (either dance or piano, I can't remember).
 After church Zoey drew a picture of Midnight for the "art wall"
We will miss you and your cute little white belly, Midnight!

just me and the kids for a week

Dave was out of town for a work conference towards the end of last month.  We wished we could have gone with him (San Diego!) but, sadly we weren't able to make the trip this time around.  We tried to make the best of it at home while we waited for him to get back.  These pictures were taken while Dave was away.
 Waffles and smoothies for dinner are always a favorite while Dave is out of town.  I love the way Alexa decorated with her fruit.  Who knew blueberries fit so perfectly into each waffle pocket.  I also love the way Rex is chowing down on his waffle in the background of this picture.
 My two little ones slept in my bed with me the majority of the time Dave wasn't home -- not the most comfortable group to have in my bed with me.  This is how the two of them were positioned by the time each morning hit...  Yes, Rex is sleeping sideways.  See that pillow up by his head, the one hanging off the bed halfway -- that would be where I slept each night, with his little head poking into my back all night.  :)  Got to love these two cuties!
 Grandma and Grandpa Rhees sent the girls a package full of Halloween crafts.  The girls spent the entire weekend (starting from the second they walked in the door on Friday) putting this little halloween village together.
My middle schooler had some homework to do before getting into the craft projects with her sisters.  We ended the week with cinnamon popcorn and an iron man movie (Rex's favorite part of the entire week).  It was a fun week but, we were super happy to have Dave get back Monday morning!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

1st Day of School!

School started last week!  The kids were excited, I was faking like I was excited too -- but, deep down I was anxious.  A new town means a lot of unknowns about our day to day life.  School is a major part of our daily routine.  I want this to be a positive experience for them.

The girls go to three different schools this year.  Dave drives the two older girls to school on his way to work.  I load Rex into the stroller and walk Kinley and Paisley to their classrooms each morning.  I love that we are once again close enough to the school building to be able to do this.  I have heard that by the end of October this town gets hit with rain that doesn't stop until March.  We may have to readjust our morning stroller ride when the wetness sets in.
 Alexa on the 1st day of school (4th grade)!  She is the only Zarkou at her school.  She has already made some great friends.  Friends are important to this kid.  It makes me happy to know she is making connections with new friends that are kind and helpful.

 Because our town has so many low income families living here, every kid at the school (including ours) get free breakfast and lunch available to them if they would like it.  Alexa is thrilled about eating hot lunch this year.  After a few days of school, She asked if she could have breakfast too.  Apparently that day they were serving pancakes and she wanted one bad!  Her eyes lit up when I told her she was welcome to get a school breakfast any day she would like.
 When the afternoon arrives, Alexa is the 1st girl on my route for me to pick up.  She is one of the 1st kids out of the building and heading towards the crosswalk.  I love seeing the excitement in her eyes when she spots my yukon.  Each day she runs to the car and hops in.  I ask her how her day went and she always says the same thing -- "Really good, actually!" is her response.
 She loves "dressing up" for school.  We joke pretty often about how some students and staff are going to mistake her for a substitute teacher because of her fancy style.
 Zoey started middle school this year (6th grade)... middle school!!!  I was pretty nervous about sending my baby off into the big world of lockers, rotating classes, changing in the gym room, and hanging out with 8th graders but, she has handled this intimidating pressure like a champ.  After week one, she loves middle school!  Her favorite class is band.  She has been having high schoolers and 8th graders help the new band students learn the different instruments and find the best fit for them.  She looks forward to band class everyday.

Language arts and Spanish are also up near the top of her list of favorite classes for the semester.  Even gym class (which she had decided would be her least favorite) has been a good experience.  She is not a fan of sports and was convinced they would be playing sports all semester.  So far it was been running and yoga -- which makes her happy.  Her favorite thing about gym is her outfit (ha ha -- such a Zoey thing to say).  We bought some adorable yoga capris this summer for her.  They are perfect for her gym clothes.  She feels beautiful and confident during that class hour, which makes her lack of sports skills a little less valuable in her eyes. ;)
 She is loving her teachers, the classes, and making some good friends.
 On our 1st day of school along the Oregon coast, it was very fitting that the rain was out during our morning.  It lacked consistency in its amount of rainfall.  One minute it would be a light mist over the air and the next second it was coming down fast and heavy enough to pull out the umbrella.  Alexa's pictures were 1st (not too much rain), Zoey was next (too wet to be outside -- opted for indoor shots), Kinley was last (back to a light mist).
 Kinley was excited for the 1st day but, cautious.  She asked if I would walk her to her classroom and wait by her desk until she felt comfortable enough for me to leave.  She is a quiet little thing.  We walked to school together and I waited by her desk while she put away he backpack.  She quickly sat at he desk and began coloring her pages set out by the teacher.  I introduced myself and her to the rest of the students at her table.  I then went on to tell the table what a kind and smart kid Kinley is and how lucky they were to be sitting next to her.  She didn't look up from her paper during the entire conversation.  She was nervous about this new setting.  I was proud of Kinley for putting on her brave face and gave her one last hug before heading home.

I couldn't wait to pick her up from school the afternoon!  After she climbed into the car and buckled in, she told me that she loved it.  Yay!  She likes her teacher a lot and was so excited to hear they have an art class at her school.  So far, I think she is having the most fun in her math class.  She comes home each night talking about this new math computer game they have been playing during the day.  Each day she is getting more comfortable with saying good-bye and entering her classroom with confidence.  I love walking by her classroom after dropping off Paisley and peeking inside one last time to see her working hard at her desk on my way out to the parking lot.  She is a sweetie.
 She loves walking to school with me each morning.

 Rex thought he needed a 1st day of school picture too (love the pose in the picture above).
 Before we knew it, it was already Friday.  The 1st week of school was complete.
 Paisley's 1st day was Friday.  I wanted to get a picture of all my school girls together.  I wasn't able to finish Paisley's hair before my older two needed to head out the door (school starts 30 minutes later for Kinley and Paisley).  So we said a morning prayer together, snapped a few pictures and hugged my older 2 (and handsome husband) as they walked out the door before finishing up my little one's hair.
 Alexa's school has special "school spirit" Friday shirts they get to wear.  She was excited to put it on for the 1st Friday of the year to show her pride in the new school.  This school is already so different from the school we just moved from!  Free lunch, school shirts for free, art classes, 3 different schools to drop the kids off at,  and lots of Spanish being spoken when you step onto each campus.  40% of the school (according to the intranet, in my observation I think it is closer to 50%) is hispanic.  Zoey has a kid in one of her classes that doesn't speak any english, and the teacher speaks no Spanish.  How stressful for these kids.  So far, this cultural diversity makes me happy.  The hispanic culture is rich in family centered living and these are nice kids my girls are surrounded by.
 Kinley, Rex, and Paisley getting ready for Paisley's 1st day.
 We are going to have some quiet mornings with just me and the little guy at home.  We will miss my Paisley girl.

 Paisley was so ready to step into this new adventure.  She could not wait for the day to begin.  Earlier that week I brought her over for a small group assessment the teacher had arranged.  She loved it!  They rode the bus around town, beaded necklaces, and got to know the classroom.  When I picked her up that afternoon, I asked if she missed me.  She said "No" and told me it was because she was having too much fun and could not wait to go back.
 On Friday when I picked her up, she climbed into the car and said "That was super fun mom!"  

She loves her new backpack and boo eyed leopord key chain on the back... and she really loves the sparkly hand sanitizer attached to the back.  She puts it on multiple times a day and told me all the kids in her class like using it too.  So, she shares with them.  I am glad she is working to single handedly keep her classroom germ free!  I sounds like I will need to be restocking my cupboard with extra sanitizer bottles ;).
 Kinley and Paisley stick together these days, as they are the only ones in the family at their school.  I love watching them hold hands as we walk over to the school in the morning.  Listening to their conversation, it is fun to see Kinley taking on the protective, older sister role and Paisley eagerly following her lead.  Kinley hugs the three of us as we say good-bye outside her classroom door each morning.  Then, onto Paisley's classroom.  It's cute to see her search for her name along the coat rack and hang her pack up after finding her spot.
 Paisley watching the birds off our deck.
 We are looking forward to a great school year!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Back to Schoo Dinner

"If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world." -- Elaine S. Dalton

This quote is our family's theme for this upcoming school year.  During the last official day of summer we took the kids to my favorite beach in town -- the weather could not have been more perfect!  It was sunny, the tides were the lowest we have ever seen, and the wind was nonexistent.  We had a beach picnic and presented our family quote to the crew.  We all discussed our desire to make a difference in this world and live with purpose.  We also talked about how to accomplish this in our day to day life -- how to be different (how to be a light), have the courage to stand up for what is right, and impact those around us for good!
After dinner the older girls went down to the ocean to jump the waves and watch the surfers with Dave while Paisley, Rex, and I stayed in the sand to play with his toy diggers. 
Then we all went over to the tide pools to look for crabs.  This was so much fun!  The tides were lower then I have ever seen them (they change hourly).  We were able to look into tide pools that are usually covered with water when we are here.  In the picture above and below Dave is holding the 1st little crab on the hunt.  After this picture was taken we found a good 20 or 30 more crabs and other sea creatures.  Some of the crabs were so big, others (like the one in the picture) were teeny, tiny.  My favorite part was walking along the side of the mountain housing the tides.  It was covered in plankton and anemones.  After taking a close look at the wall, it was also covered in crabs,  They were all over the wall -- some crawling out in the open and others hidden deep in the crack with only their eyes peeking out at us.
On our way back to the car we spotted a big heron hunting for (and catching) fish.  Kinley got as close as she felt comfortable and let me snap a picture with my phone (Do you see the bird behind her in the picture below?).
By the time we got back to our car, the kids were covered in sand and water (if you can't tell by Kinley's heavy looking clothes in the picture above).  It was such a fun day with this family of mine -- possibly my favorite day at the beach yet!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Beach Fun

 More beach pictures!   I don't think we will ever get tired of living by the beach.

We saw a bunch of whales out in the water on this particular day.  The kids were excited to see them!

Action shot -- this boy was covered in sand.