Friday, February 27, 2015

Rex in the Pantry

 My little guy is growing so fast!  I can't imagine life without this sweet boy.  He (along with my other four angels) make me so happy.  He is at such a fun stage of life.  His personality is rapidly emerging and I can see it is going to be an intense one.
He loves pressing his forehead against my lips each time I pick him up.  He knows the routine (I am constantly picking him up and giving him a bunch of quick kisses on the forehead.  Apparently he likes this because when I forget (or don't give enough kisses) he pushes his forehead on my mouth.  If I still don't give him enough kisses, he will grab my head and force the kisses!  I love it!
 Now that he has started walking, he has become extremely outgoing.  He loves waving at people.  When people leave our house, he stands at the door and waves until they drive away.  At church he is constantly waving at people.  If they don't see him, he will get right in their face (or tap them on the shoulder) until they notice him.
 Rex is a  true Zarkou kid!  He loves his clothes!!!  He loves getting dressed and is continually bringing me his clothes to change his look.  He absolutally loves his stash of shoes!!!  He doesn't talk too much (so far only "Mama", "no", and once he said "ball").  I know he understands what we are saying but, communication continues to be confusing with this little one.  For the longest time he would shake his head "yes" when he wanted something.  A couple weeks ago he has started shaking his head "no" when he really means "yes"... and sometimes when he means "no" too.  It's adorable and confusing all at the same time.
 The picture above makes me smile.  He is hanging on the fridge door.  I am certain we have another monkey on our hands (like his two sisters Paisley and Alexa).  He doesn't climb things nearly as much as the two of them did but, he is equally as busy and curious as the two of them were.


I was able to get all my dishes done today without a single pause in the process.  When I was just about finished I heard a small noise inside my pantry door.  Here is what I found...
 ... almond slivers, all kinds of things pulled off the shelves and out of the garbage, and a whole lot of powdered sugar spread across the floor.
 He was not a happy kid when I took away the powdered sugar... and then the brown sugar too!

 The picture below is one of my favorites.  While I began cleaning up the mess, I noticed these adorable white footprints across the living room.  They ended next to a big blob of white against the couch.  I feel like 90% of my afternoons are spent cleaning.  If I take a day off and run errands, it is virtually impossible to recover until the weekend (when I have my older kids and Dave's help).  With all that cleaning you would expect my house to be spotless -- um, not so much!  I think I just have a lot more little messes to clean up than the average gal.  :)
Life is good!  The past 18 months have been extremely busy.  I feel like my life is finally beginning to settle in.  Life is still insanely chaotic but, I feel like it has slowed down just enough for me to look around and enjoy  the journey along the way.  This is a very good  thing. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Color Run (Shine On) 2015

Zoey and I had so much fun running the 2014 Color Run tour last Spring, when we noticed the 2015 tour started in Arizona this year, we knew we had to sign up for round two... and it did not disappoint!  After our first color run, I promised Alexa that she would get to run with us the next time we signed up for the race.  Instead of just signing up Alexa, we decided to make it a family event.  Dave and I pulled the kids out of school early Friday afternoon and made a weekend trip to Tempe.  We partied at a hotel and took the kids to a fancy restaurant in downtown Tempe the night before.  The morning of the run we hurried to get ourselves out the door and ready on time.  We barely made it to the start line. :) -- Kinley was excited to hear the announcer continually refer to the group we were waiting in as "the caboose".  Thankfully I had my phone and was able to snap a few pictures during the race...
Quick into the race Zoey, Alexa, and I ran up ahead of the rest of our group.  There were quite a few people in the "caboose" group causing Dave and the rest of our crew to fall behind.  Our first "color zone" was pink!  Yay for starting the race off with a color that is a crowd favorite in this family!
Second was yellow!  Early into the run the girls were full of energy.  The were happy doing cartwheels all along the road.
After the yellow zone we met up with the rest the group!  I love the picture above of Paisley, Rex, and Kinley.  My kids are so cute!
The third zone was blue.  Check out my princess in her hot pink lipstick.
... and last but, certainly not least, was orange.
I love the pictures above and below.  If you look really close you will see Rex's head covered with blue powder.  After multiple baths, and even more showers (yes, my baby LOVES showers -- his favorite part of the day), he still has two bright blue dots on his head... and do you love his dirty blue feet chillin on the stroller handle.  This is his favorite way to ride in the stroller (with his feet resting on the bar).  My kids loved putting on the temporary tattoos (or at our house we call them "body stickers").  They were pretty excited to see a shiny gold "happy" sticker included in the packet this year.  Paisley's is across her arm (notice in the picture above).  Alexa placed hers across her forehead!
My husband is sure good looking!

... and just like that the race was complete!
Right before finishing the race, there was one more color zone!  This one was new for the 2015 "Shine On" tour and hands down the best part of the race.  The last zone was a "glitter zone" -- After getting out of this particular spot we were all covered in silver glitter.  The girls were mesmerized and even stopped to sweep some off the concrete to add a little more shine to their look.  They also added a bunch to their Dada, thinking he needed some more sparkle to him.  The glitter is still hanging around.  I have scrubbed and washed as hard as I can... Alexa, Kinley, and Paisley have handfuls of glitter all over their scalp that I still can't seem to get out !
At the end of the race everyone was given a medal, a color pack, a glitter pack, and (my personal favorite) some delicious kind bars!  Look how proud of her medal Paisley is in the picture above!  Adorable!
Since our last color run, I have noticed Zoey has started to describe herself as a runner!  When she fills out school papers or talks about her talents, she always includes the fact that she is a "runner".  I do the happy dance inside my head when I hear this.  From the time my babies were small I looked forward to the day they would be my running buddies.  I am thrilled to hear that they are well on their way.  It also makes me happy to know my kids feel accomplished and like they have special talents. It is such a fun way to boost my kids self confidence.  Zoey was excited to save her packs for a later day...
Alexa immediately opened hers up (and a few of her family members) dumping glitter all over her head.  You can't tell in the picture above but, her hair is plastered with gold glitter and her face is covered with silver sparkles.  She felt gorgeous!
Kinley was hesitant to do this race with us on the days leading up to the big event.  Running a 5k seemed kind of overwhelming for her.  Early into the race she seemed to be over this fear, as she confidently was able to help her dad push the stroller and run with her sisters and I when she wanted to.  When she entered the glitter zone, she was in heaven.  She left the race feeling beautiful (and technically entered the race feeling pretty good about herself to, as she showed up wearing my hot pink lipstick) and was sparkling from head to toe.  She loves the fact that still (three weeks later) I can't seem to get all the glitter out of her hair and smiles with pride when anyone comments about the glitter in her hair.
Rex did great!  He was sick the day of the race, notice the color sticking to his snotty nose in the picture above.  He loved holding my color pack for me.  I sure love this little guy.
Alexa getting ready to open another glitter pack.  :)
I sure love this man!

Zoey and I had just as much fun this time around than we did the 1st time.  My kids (mostly Kinley) are already begging for a color run to be a yearly Zarkou tradition.

When my kids were really tiny I feared the day they would someday grow up...  I still believe time is going to fast and wish I could make those newborn days and baby years slow down just enough for me to remember every tiny detail of those precious weeks when they are changing so quickly but, I no longer fear the time passing and my babies growing like I used to.  I absolutely love the season of life I am in right now.  My children (and husband) are truly my best friends.  I love spending time with them, playing with them, talking with them, and laughing with them.  They make me so happy!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Nutcracker Ballet 2014

Dave gave me the ultimate Christmas gift this year!  Tickets for me and my 4 ladies to attend the Arizona symphony and ballet nutcracker performance!  It was so fun!!!  The day after Christmas we made a quick trip over to Phoenix.  First on the list for the weekend was attending the ballet with m 4 beauties!
More than the performance itself, my favorite part was getting to experience this day with my 4 ladies.  They love everything and anything that involves the word "dance".  During the intermission we had gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate (that was WAY too hot for any of us to enjoy).
They loved the performance.  Zoey is already trying to talk her dad into finding a job in Phoenix by next year so she can try out for the part of Clara.  Paisley was enthralled during the attack of the mouse king.  They all loved the little children that magically appeared from under their mother's skirt and can't stop talking about the Uncle who came out of the mist of smoke during the party.  At the end the girls all left practicing twirls and leaps and had picked out exactly which ballerina was their favorite.  The one and only complaint they all had was the costume choices for the boys... My girls (especially Kinley) were certain one boy in particular came onto the stage without remembering to put on his pants.  They made sure Dave heard all about the boys in the ballet and their choice of clothing attire for the ballet. :)
After the ballet we drove over to the temple and enjoyed the Christmas lights displayed all over the temple grounds.  It was beautiful.  This was my favorite part of the day!  Being at the temple with my family is such a perfect feeling.  My kids loved walking through the lighted tunnel of lights.  Seeing the orange trees and palm trees covered with Christmas lights was a beautiful sight.  I loved seeing the nativities set up in the midst of all the lights.
(The picture above is of Paisley posing in a patch of her favorite lights.) Before leaving we stopped in the visitors center for some exploring.  They had a room with hundreds of nativities displayed from all over the world.  There were so many creative and interesting ones from so many diverse cultures.  I could have spend hours in there looking over every detail of these unique nativities.  I love that we live in a world where different cultures are cherished and respected and no matter what culture you come from Christ can be present and embraced in your particular culture.

To end the trip we stopped by to visit my Aunt Ann and Grandma Vern.  It was great to see the two of them and catch up on their life.  I love living so close to my grandma!  She has attended every major event throughout my entire life.  I am blessed by her supportive and loving example. 

This quick trip to Phoenix was perfect in every way.  I loved it and hope to make it a new family tradition for as long as we live here in Arizona.

December 2014 Activites

Everyday in December our family had a wrapped present from Grandma and Grandpa Rhees ready for us to open!  This was a highlight of the month.  The girls could hardly wait to see what each beautifully wrapped package had hidden inside of it.
Grandma and Grandpa were also able to come and stay for a couple days early in December.  The kids were thrilled.  One of the advent gifts the kids opened while they were here was a gingerbread kit.  We all worked hard decorating the house with big plans to eat all the candy the second the masterpiece was complete... and that is just what all my little ones did!
In the picture below the kids are opening another "advent gift" from Grandma and Grandpa.  I love how excited their faces are.  That excitement carried through each day of the month as they looked forward, each day, to these daily surprises.  Inside these boxes are some adorable stuffed animals for each of the kids.  They were a huge hit!  My kids are still sleeping with these special stuffed animals (a couple of the girls are holding their animals in the Christmas post below while sitting in front of the tree.)
I love these kids!
Although I do miss the snow, I absolutely love my daily walks to and from the kids schools.  The weather here is perfect right now, 70- 80 degree temperatures as I walk home from school with my little ones.  The girls have been begging me for days now to let them take a dip in our pool.  They love this Arizona heat!  The picture above and below was taken one afternoon in December before heading off to get sisters.  I love how snug and bundled my little boy looks in his stroller.

We decorated sugar cookies to sneak onto unsuspecting neighbors with a secret surprise tucked in for the their family!  I bet after looking at the picture above of Paisley licking the icing before frosting her cookie makes you wish we delivered these cookies to your house too.  This was one of my favorite activities we did this year.  We decided to involve the kids in choosing and executing a secret Santa plan this year.  I helped the girls make and decorate cookies.  Then Dave and the kids drove to their house to do a little door bell ditching while I stayed home and got Rex to bed.  At one point I called to see how they were doing... Dave answered the phone all out of breathe.  Apparently I called just as they were making the drop off.  Dave is such a great dad.  Instead of leaving the kids in the car while he made the drop off, he actually got all the kids out of the car (including Paisley), helped them each hop a fence to break into the gated community, quietly crept up  to the door with four sneaky kids, and successfully made the escape back over the fence and into the car with all our little ones without getting caught... twice (because the people failed to answer their door the first time).  Moments like these are why I love my husband so much.  I love his good heart.  He has a desire to serve and lift those around him but, I especially love the way he involves his children in accomplishing this. -- and for the record, this family doesn't read my blog.  They still don't know who left the beautiful cookies on their door.  Yay!  
The picture above was another hit gift from the monthly advent.  Rex didn't seem too interested in many of the gifts but, the second this one opened he claimed it as his and didn't put it down all month.
Each of the girls had a special Christmas program for families to attend.  I loved watching my little ones sing and being able to hear them practice the songs all month within the walls of our home.  Kinley sang "Silent Night" as part of her program this year.  Not only did I appreciate the fact they included some songs about Christ, I loved hearing her practice this particular song.  She was told to sing it with a more peaceful Spirit... so when she sang it, she tried her best to sing in her most beautiful, grown up voice.  It was lovely. :)
One of the days I picked Alexa up from her classroom she begged me to turn around and go look at the walls of her classroom.  This is what I found.  She loves art and continues to excel in this talent.  Her project is the one right beside her head.  Clearly she had a passion for art. 
 Her paper says:
"My favorite Christmas song is Mary's Lullaby.  My favorite Christmas treat is hot chocolate.  My favorite Christmas tradition is to put the Christmas lights on the tree, put the star or angel on top, and decorate the tree.  My wish list is Caroline and Caroline's accessories, a barbie, legos, and pollies.  My favorite Christmas memory is when I got the lego cruise ship.  On Christmas Eve I will make cookies."

Alexa is such a good kid.  I love the way her self esteem has blossomed this year.  She is the top reader in all of her second grade and the librarian reminds her every time he sees her.  She comes right home after school and gets to work on her homework.  I am happy to see the impact this small town school has had on my sweet Alexa's confidence in her school work.
Her school performance was fun to attend.  I kept waving and cheering for her out in the crowd, although she appreciated the support, she made sure I knew that she was given strict rules from her music teacher not to wave back.  See the little boy in the blue plaid shirt standing next to her.  He has a mad crush on my sweetie.  Despite me saying "Not today, maybe wait until the summer", he asks to come over to our house every single day after school.  He also brings her all kinds of toys from home. 
The picture above is of Zoey's school performance.  We had a perfect shot of her during the performance.  She also did an excellent job.  Her songs were difficult and new to learn.  She practiced often... So, often little Paisley was even able to pick up some of the songs and sing along with her as she practiced.  It has been sweet to see the bond between Zoey and Paisley grow over the past few months.  Paisley adores her older sisters.  I love the way they include her in their sister time.

Alexa and Kinley go to the same school this year.  This small detail in our life this year has really allowed their friendship to bloom.  Alexa if often found hugging Kinley goodbye in the morning outside her classroom as they part ways.  They get so excited when they spot one another throughout the day and can't wait to tell each other about it at the end of the school day.

I sure enjoy these little ones.  The Christmas season was definitely different this year.  It was extremely busy.  We had to really pick and choose which traditions to leave out and make a conscious effort to include the ones that really mattered.  Despite dropping a few of our typical activities, we finished the month feeling both exhausted and complete! 

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!