Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Christmas Day 2014!

The month of December was filled with all kinds of activities and events!  I will be posting some of those fun things in the near future but, for today I am filling this blog with pictures of our Christmas Day!
Wondering where Rex is in the picture above?... Look real close in the middle of the group.  If you need a hint Kinely and Paisley are watching him.
 We had a hard time getting him to hold still and smile for the picture.
We almost got it in this one (above)...
 Thankfully Dave was willing to jump in the picture for a quick Christmas morning shot!

The girls woke up early... much earlier than I was willing to get up.  So, we let them open stockings as we tried hard to get an extra 30 minutes of sleep.  The girls were thrilled to find hand sanitizer and new key chains for their school bags.  The sticky hands from Uncle Brian and Aunt Carol were a hit too.  By the time I woke up the girls had managed to pick out the wrapped present they were certain was at the top of their wish list this year.
 Kinley picked correct!  She was thrilled to unwrap her much anticipated American Girl doll "Rebecca".

 Alexa was ecstatic to find the American Girl doll "Caroline" with her name on it.  She immediately pulled her out of the box and gave those beautiful, blonde curls as good, long comb job!  

 Paisley getting ready to open her very own jogging stroller for her dolls.
 Sure love this little guy!
 Zoey already had an American Girl doll but, was anxious to get her some much needed accessories... if you can't tell by the boxes all around her, she received lots and lots of American Girl accessories for her doll.  She has been so sweet to share her new stuff with her sisters.  I have seen Alexa's doll in these clothes much more often than Zoey's doll.  She is such a peacemaker in our home.  I feel blessed to have her as a part of our family.
 I love this picture above.  Rex is unwrapping his new bike.  If you can't tell by his face, a bike is exactly what he had been dreaming of finding under the tree this year!
 Paisley was pretty excited about all her new baby doll stuff.  When she opened her American Girl doll "Bitty Baby" she could hardly wait to use all the new accessories on her.  Her baby is the same as her (green eyes and blonde hair).  So, she named her "Little Paisley" but, more often refers to her as "Bitty Baby"!

 Kinley is still loving the color purple.  This love of purple was a big deciding factor in choosing her "Rebecca" doll.  I love that Kinley is such a fashion conscious kid!  I know when I see her in this particular outfit, she prefers to be called "Rebecca".  My favorite detail of the look is the locket and hair clip.  You can't see it but, her doll also has a matching locket and very similar clip on the side of her hair too.  Kinley will usually have me curl her hair to match when she plans this look for school!  Such a cutie!

 Paisley and Bitty Baby!  This is a loved little doll.  Most days of the week Paisley will park her jogging stroller by the front door at some point around lunch time.  She knows that shortly after lunch we will be walking down to pick sisters up from school and wants to be prepared.  I buckle my baby Rex into my stroller as she buckles her baby into her stroller and we walk together to get sisters.  Kids are so much fun!
This year we really tried hard to focus more on activities that bring our family together and deepen our children's relationship and personal testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ instead of focusing on presents...  I feel like this year we achieved this goal.  Our tree appeared a little empty Christmas morning but, at the end of opening presents everyone was just as ecstatic as they have been every year.  Christmas can be such a stressful time of year as a parent.  On the weeks leading up to Christmas day I analyze and worry about every detail of the event... wondering if I have done all I should to make the day magical and perfect for everyone!  When I see the excitement this day brings to my kids, it makes me so happy!  Christmas morning is a great day of year to be a mama!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thanksgiving 2014

 This was our first year of celebrating the holiday season on Arizona.  We decided to take full advantage of the sunshine!  Most of the Thanksgiving break was spent riding bikes in the church parking lot but, we also played at the park across the street over the break.
 It was fun to spend Thanksgiving day as a family.  Each of the girls were so eager to help prepare the dinner.  Everything on the menu was made with help from at least one of my little sweeties.  They loved helping with the pies most of all.
 Zoey has been really interested in reading and following recipes lately.  She was such a help this year.  I love that I get to be this girls mama!
 Rex loved the meal and was anxious to taste test all the food!
 Lexa and Kinley were so good to decorate the table cloth for us.  They placed detailed art next to each person's spot in such a precise way.  Next to each plate the girls wrote out the menu with check boxes next to them.  The idea was to check off everything that you try throughout the meal.  I was so proud of my little Kinley!  She seems to have really sensitive taste buds. :)  It takes her awhile to try something new but, on this particular day she decided (all on her own) that she would try everything on the menu.  Her list had every single box checked!  It made me so happy!
It was a perfect day!  Of all the days we have had in this house -- I would say Thanksgiving was one of the best yet!

Over the break we had to run over to the church for a couple things.  While we were there we decided to bring some balls and play in the cultural hall (the gym).  

Rex LOVES the basketballs in the gym.  He cries during sacrament for me to take him out and let him go into toss the basketballs around.  As soon as we walk into the church he is trying to get out of my hands to go into play with the balls.  Rex knows where the balls are stored and takes every opportunity to get them out and start tossing them all over the floor (there are at least 4 basketballs at the church and he insists on getting ALL of them out).  Sometimes this is an appropriate setting and sometimes it most definitely is not the right setting.

Anyway, we thought it would be fun to play with the balls this particular day.  We were enjoying our time playing basketball, a little baseball, frisbee... and then someone suggested dodge ball.  Two minutes later three of my four girls were in tears.  It started when I tossed the ball at Zoey (She didn't know we started yet and was upset she was already out).  Alexa then picked up the ball and tossed it at Kinley hitting her in the face (second set of tears).  Dave immediately picked up the ball and threw it at Alexa (while she was running) -- apparently the power of the throw knocked Alexa's feet out from under her and she fell flat as a pancake on the floor...  That's when we decided dodge ball needed to be banned from the Zarkou family! -- Worst sport ever! 

Back to the Beach!

Before leaving California we spent another day at the beach with cousins.  The kids had a good time.
Cousins are so fun!  I love that Rex has a so many boy cousins close to his age on the Zarkou side of the family. 
 Zoey getting ready to dig out a spot for her to lay in.
 Alexa in the sand.
 Dave and Rex
 Zoey
 Lexa
 Rex loving the sand!
The kids had so much fun on this trip.  Our days were filled with all kinds of adventures and it was great to catch up with family.  The hotel we stayed in was one of my favorite parts of our Disneyland trip.  Each morning we would have breakfast and watch the little birds beg for people's food.  The birds would come surprisingly close to us as we sat quietly eating our breakfast.  The girls were delighted to see the birds come eat some of our food we had laid out for them.  I even saw the birds steal some bites from people's plates (not our family) as their heads were turned... an entertaining sight. :)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Disneyland!

 Day 2 was the big day... Disneyland!  The girls had a blast! We started the day off with a bang and went on the Indiana Jones ride first.  Zoey really enjoyed that ride (It was her favorite of the day), Alexa on the other hand, decided she was going to be a lot more selective at which rides were chosen after that one.  It was a little too real for her.  In the picture above the girls are waiting to start ride number two (a boat tour).
 The princesses were a fun part of the day.  While I was waiting in line at the princess castle the girls ran into their first princess of the day -- Merida.
 I loved seeing Paisley's reaction to meeting the princesses.  She was thrilled to run into each princess.  She gave each of them big hugs after excitedly chatting with them about anything and everything she could possibly think of.  It was cute to witness her excitement.  A little bit of that excitement is captured in the pictures above and below.
 We were lucky to meet three princesses in the castle that day.
 First Ariel
 second Sleeping Beauty
 and third Snow White.  We were so happy to see Snow White.  She was the one princess Paisley was really hoping to run into.
 Later that day the girls also ran into Princess Tiana.
 My favorite ride was the Peter Pan ride.  Kinley was in our cart.  She exhibited pure enjoyment during this ride as we rode through the darkness with only stars in our view.  Dave's favorite ride was the railroad ride with Zoey and Alexa.  Dave sat by Alexa and she was smiling and laughing the entire ride.  Paisley and Rex enjoyed the Winnie the Pooh ride.  It was filled more bright, neon lights than I have ever seen.
Rex and I spent a large portion of our day in the nursery.  Although it sounds like a downer place to be in Disneyland, I actually really enjoyed it.  The workers are dressed in old nanny clothes, the nursing lounge is comfortable for both Rex and I, they have cute tiny potties for potty trainers, cribs for napping babies, and a small play place for toddlers to relax while coloring or watching Disney movies.  As funny as it may sound, it was a highlight of the day.

I was still wearing my boot all day long.  The plus side of that is we rented a cool scooter for me and were able to go to the front of almost every line we wanted to.  Score!  However, on the down side, I was not able to be  as hands on with my family as I would have liked to be.  Dave was our photographer for the day,  these are all the pictures he took.  Most of the day was spent with Dave walking way ahead of me helping all five of our kids run from one activity to the next while I was doing my best (a good couple feet back) trying to stay with our group while at the same time avoid running over the millions of oblivious people walking right in front of my scooter.  Now I know why old people who ride scooters can be pretty crabby.  The park was really strict about not letting kids ride on the scooter.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to be as helpful as I wish I could have been that day.  With all that Dave had on his plate that day, stopping and taking pictures was the last thing on his mind and, although it was constantly on my mind, I was too far back from the group to be able to say something about it. :( -- I am kicking myself that Rex didn't get a single picture taken of him at Disneyland!

My favorite part of the day, hands down, was the parade.  I was able to get an up close and personal shot of the excitement on my children's faces as they watched each of the floats pass by them.  They would yell out to the princess and wave as they passed by.  Grandma and Grandpa treated the girls to some ice cream while they waited for the parade to start.  My girls were thrilled.

Things turned dark quick and the next thing I knew Dave was making a bee line for the exit... really, one minute we were in the park and the next I was doing my best not to lose my husband and kids while waves of people were creating more and more distance between the two of us... and it was really dark!  I had big plans to buy souvenirs for the family and watch the firework show everyone raves about but, instead my phone had died and I was doing my best not to be lost in the park forever!  When I finally caught up to Dave and the kids we were outside of the gates and headed back to the hotel.  As we waited for the bus to come pick us up we were given a perfect view, away from the chaos of the crowds to enjoy the firework show.  It was the perfect ending to such a fun filled day.

We were all exhausted by the end of the day.  My girls had a blast!  They are already planning a trip to go back.  This vacation is clearly one of their best family vacations ever!  Thank you Brian and Cathy for making this experience possible.  It meant the world to my girls and they loved every second of it!

Disneyland (part 1)

 It is hard to believe our big move across the nation took place 6 1/2 months ago!  Wow, where has the time gone.  Our life was in chaos for a long time... with so many big changes at each turn life seemed to be in constant motion (and still is).  New schools for the kids, a complete change in climates (which has affected virtually every season and associated activities), Dave's new job, life in a small town, new friends for everyone, a change of pace from serving in the Primary to now being in the Young Women, and finding a new day to day routine for our family... it has been a whirlwind of craziness.  I feel like life is finally starting to settle in for us and we are starting to call this town "home".  In between this big move from Ohio to Arizona, Dave's parents treated us to a dream vacation... (drum roll please)... Disneyland!!! 
 The two pictures above are of us making our way through the airport.  It was Rex's first plane ride (He did awesome!).  I was still in my boot at the time, which was not so awesome.  The trip to California was a nice fun way to enjoy family time, play with cousins, and enjoy the exciting life of California while we waited for the moving truck to deliver all our stuff to our new stomping ground.  We flew into the LA airport and immediately were picked up by Grandma and Grandpa to head to our hotel.  Being in this kind of traffic was so interesting for me.  I have never seen so much traffic in all my life.  The motorcycles were shocking, weaving in and out of cars, driving between lanes, and disregarding any and all traffic rules.  They drove this way on the highway and throughout the towns... crazy!
 On day one of our vacation we went to the beach!  The girls loved jumping the waves!
 We also were able to spot a few crabs in tide pools lining the shore.  The ocean is stunningly beautiful yet unpredictably powerful at the same time.  I enjoyed being there with my family enjoying the moment but, noticeably on edge in concern of my little ones safety the entire time too.  
 Alexa was really interested in testing her limits and seeing just how deep she could get.  The girls favorite part was jumping the waves.  A couple waves were so powerful they came up and knocked the girls right over (We made them hold an adults hand while jumping waves).  Alexa is my thrill seeker and such a little fish.  She could swim all day long.  Playing in the ocean was the perfect activity for her! 
 These pictures were taken just as the girls started playing in the water.
 As time when on they became much more brave with the waves.
Grandma and Grandpa were so great to stand and wait with the girls for each wave to come up.