Thursday, October 30, 2014

Zoey turned 9!

Happy Birthday Zoey (like 3 months ago :)) -- Zoey was woken up bright and early with the family singing "Happy Birthday" to her as we carried a breakfast tray to her bed!  She was thrilled!

One of my favorite things about birthdays here is watching all the siblings compassion and excitement come out for that particular family member throughout the day.  I love seeing my children cherish and serve one another and on birthdays the love seems to be plentiful!  I hope that never changes.
This was the first birthday ever that Zoey had a birthday on a school day.  I was eager to hear about the experience.  I sent her to school with some treats for her to share with the classroom.  After school, as we were driving home, she told me it was not only her best birthday ever but, also the best day of school that she had ever had in her entire life!!!  I was so happy to hear that she had such a perfect day.  She also said the treats she brought to share with the class was the highlight of the day.  Victory!
The evening was spent at dance but, ended with a late night meal at Red Robin (a crowd favorite here!).  She wanted to save her gifts for the next day, as we had a big birthday party planned for her.

To kick off the party Dave lead the girls in a classic pinata game.  They loved every minute!
 The birthday girl taking a hit!
 Kinley giving it a wack.
 Alexa trying hard to get the treasures out.
 Zoey helped me plan much of the party (she chose the pinata and prepared the bracelet craft for us).  I love that she decided to wear a crown that day instead of a bow -- such a Zoey thing to do!  Her cupcakes were delicious, despite the Arizona heat doing its best to try and melt all the frosting and chocolate before we could eat them! 
 Here she is with all her fellow ward friends!

I adore this picture above!  When it was time to open presents I noticed Zoey save a specific spot on both side of her for her sisters.  It made my mama heart smile and her sisters were ecstatic about this choice as well!

 This was the big gift of the year, and has been an obsession ever since!  Zoey got an american girl doll (Isabel) for her birthday.  I tried hard to talk her out of it, as I feel it is a lot to spend on a doll.  However, she has loved this doll and has valued it and played with it (brushed and styled her hair) so much more than I ever expected.

Zoey is maturing quickly but, still holding on to those last few years of childhood.  I see things changing, as she no longer enjoys barbies and playing make believe in the same way her younger siblings do.  I can see her years are limited with trick or treating and Halloween costumes.  It is bitter sweet to see my oldest baby growing up.  I love the beautiful young lady she is growing into and have really enjoyed being able to to "grown up" things with her in the recent months but, this means a new stage of life is coming to our home... and I don't know that I am ready to give up the baby phase just yet!

Zoey is a sweet kid that was born with the desire to do good!  I am proud to be her mother!  She brings a joy to my life that I never had experienced before having her.  So far she is such an easy kid to raise and makes my job as a mother look extremely easy!  She is one of my greatest blessings in this life!

1st Day of School (3 months later :))

 It has been a whirlwind of craziness since school got out last Spring.  The summer went by in a blink and just like that our first quarter of the school year is officially over.  These pictures are from the first day of school, when excitement was high  and the Arizona heat was unbearable!  Here are a few highlights from the first quarter!
 Kinley started Kindergarten this year -- she is my first Kindergartner that is enrolled in ALL DAY Kindergarten!  It is a long day to have my little sweetie gone.  I sure miss her cheerful spirit around the house.  At first the classroom was a culture shock for her.  She made quite a few comments the first few weeks about being the only "light skin in a room full of brown skins".  Since that first week she has made many friends and seems to fit right in!  She has a cute little group of girls she likes to play with at recess that come from each of the different classrooms and gather each recess.  From what I gather they chase a boy named "Peter" all recess in hopes to catch him.  She is such an outgoing, peppy, and confident kid.  It has been fun to see her personality sparkle as she heads off to school each day.  She loves to chat after I pick her up at the end of the day... and I love to listen!  She tells me everything from a boy in her class puking (and her accidentally stepping in it) all the way down to what book was read in library, the game they played in gym class, who she sat by at lunch, and which of the boys in her class have a crush on her. :)   
Zoey is now in 4th grade and is really killing it!  One of her best friends from church is in the class with her and that has made a huge difference!  She was picked as student of the month for September, which provided a great way for the class to get to know "the new kid in town".  She also was picked for student council this year!  She ran for vice president of the school.  Although she didn't win it was still a great experience for her.  She was able to make a lot of friends through the process and overcome a fear of preparing and giving a speech in front of her entire school.  She has enjoyed being on student council and being involved in the school programs.  She still loves doing her homework and has been thriving in this new town.  I was proud to see a paper she had written at school early in the year.  It asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up.  Her response was "a mother!"
Alexa started 2nd grade this year!  It was an adjustment for her at first but, things are finally starting to come along.  The new school building and class setting took some time to get used to.  She had a hard time remembering all the different kids names, as most are Spanish type names and unfamiliar to her.  I had to smile as we attended back to school night.  The kids made construction paper picture of themselves and answered questions on the back about themselves (Alexa also wrote that when she grows up she would like to be a mom :)).  We looked and looked for her paper with no luck.  I left the meeting a bit disappointed at not getting to see her work.  A few days later the picture was sent home in her back pack.  The skin color was brown construction paper (no wonder we couldn't find it).  I asked Alexa why she used brown for the skin color.  She told me it was the only color available for the skin color.  Yes, we are a minority here.  Apparently the teacher forgot to consider the one white kid in the class. :) We just attended an awards assembly where Alexa was awarded a number of special certificates, the one she was most excited about was a leadership award presented to her through the local police department.  She has been selected as this months "Student of the Month", which has made her very happy!  Her reading skills have really excelled since the school year began.  It has been fun to see her confidence grow in the area of reading.   

With just my two little ones at home life is extremely quiet during the afternoon hours of my day!  I try to soak it all in as much as I can.  Hands down Paisley and Rex's favorite part of the day is the stroller ride to and from school to drop off and get sisters.  What a blessing to live so close to the school!  I have fallen in love with this part of my routine and hope to keep it going for a very long time.
Sure love these two cuties!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dance Recital 2014

 During dress rehearsal I missed snapping a shot of Zoey in her hip hop costume.  Fortunately I remembered during the recital.  This was her least favorite class this year.  She didn't love the costume, thought the moves were too fast, and most of all felt uncomfortable dancing to an inappropriate song.  I am proud of her for standing up for her standards this year!  It was a tough and stressful experience for her but, I am grateful she is continually striving to be her purest and best self.  She is a great example to me and all those around her. 

 Here are my 3 little ones at the end of the long recital night.  They were excited to receive their flowers after a year of hard work.

Judy, our next door neighbor, came to see the performance and bought each of the girls a special flower too.  We were so blessed to live by this lady for the past 3 years!  She is the best neighbor ever!!!  

Father's Day 2014

Although Father's Day occurred days before our move this last year we knew we needed to do something special for our daddy!   The girls were thrilled when they were given the task to wrap and prepare Dave's gifts (using random paper bags like that baby gap and coldstone bag shown in the picture below).
 I love the fact that each of these pictures shows just how much these kids love their daddy.
 They all want to be right up there with him, sharing in the action of his special day!  Dave is a great dad!  He works hard to spend time building relationships with each one of the girls, making sure they feel loved.  
We recently were able to here the prophet President Thomas S. Monson and the apostles speak a few weeks ago during general conference.  Tad R. Callister was one of my favorites this time around.  He talked about the divine role of husband and wife and mother and father in this earth life and throughout all eternity.  The part of his address that stuck with me was when he pointed out that -- after this life titles such as Bishop and Relief Society President may not be present but, husband, wife, mother, and father are eternal callings.  These titles will be with us in the eternity and it is these titles that we need to perfect and focus on while here in mortality.  He talked about giving our best self to these titles rather than what was left over at the end of the day.  I loved the talk!  With 5 little ones in the home life can and does get pretty hectic.  I am grateful to be married to a husband who values his role as both a husband and father.  I appreciate the way he works to perfect this art in this mortal life as we strive to raise our little ones in righteousness. 
 My little Rex is happy to be in on the action!

Color Run with Zoey :)

The week before we left Ohio Zoey and I ran a 5k color run together.  It was so much fun.  I am in the midst of raising my future best friends!  I love to run myself and therefore an working hard to find ways to instill this same passion into my little ones.
 In the picture above we are just leaving for Zoey's first race.  In the picture below we had just returned home from the main event.  It was a success!
 My favorite part of the race was when Zoey decided to do cartwheels along the course!  She was clearly one of the  younger runners on the course.  It was fun to see the happiness on her face as she ran through the confetti filled finish line.  You could see on her face that she felt proud of her accomplishment.  It was a good moment to be a Mama!  Purple was one of the last colors we ran through.  As I was running through I yelled out that purple was my favorite color -- so they decided to cover me in purple...  When I got home Kinley was pretty happy to see me covered in our favorite color.
 Me loving on my little boy!
 We ran through the downtown street of Youngstown.  An area I would never be if we weren't in the middle of a race, I had to laugh inside when Zoey suggested we walk during the middle of the race to enjoy the moment and take in the scenery around us.  We were surrounded by creepy, abandoned buildings with graffiti all over the town... and police sirens sounding in the background.  Ha ha!  
It was a lot of fun.  I can't wait to do another race with Zoey (and the rest of my little ones) in the near future... Well, not too near - this race did not help my leg injury (stress fracture).  It has been 5 months since my initial injury and I am still working to repair the damage.  I was looking forward to a 12k this Christmas and another color race with Alexa and Zoey but, sadly need to wait a little longer for my leg to heal completely.  Hopefully next Spring we can get back into the swing of things.  I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Paisley turns 3!

 Forever ago my "sweetie kid" turned 3!  I adore this  little one and am so happy to have her as a part of our family.  Her birthday arrived in the thick of us packing and preparing our home for the big move... hence the reason her gifts are still all packaged up in the Amazon box!  I love how happy she looks in all these pictures.  She felt special on her big day.

 This is a kids who loves her stuffed animals.  She is often found with one of her special stuffed animals in hand and has lovingly given each a name.  Her current favorite is "Pinky", a sparkly pink pony.  She was thrilled with the new Minnie Mouse addition Grandma and Grandpa Zarkou sent her for her birthday.

I realize the picture above is kind of blurry but, i still love it.  I love how excited my three older girls are about the gifts but, my most favorite part is just how sweet the birthday girl looks here.  She is a little ray of sunshine everywhere she goes.  She loves being in the spotlight.  She loves to sing and dance!  Her favorite song is "Peanut Butter and Jelly" but, she also knows the way it melts my heart when she sings "I am a Child of God" and will often sing it for me, just to make me smile!  I love this little cutie.  I love her "tight squeezes" throughout the day and the way she quietly wakes up in the morning and peeks her head around the corner in the morning waiting for someone to acknowledge she is there with a big good morning hug.
She chose donuts from our favorite farm in town instead of a cake.  We sure miss White House Farms!  I was grateful that in the midst of preparing and packing for our move we were able to take a breather to celebrate this little ones special day.  She is such a joy to have in our family!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dance, Dance, and a little more Dance!

We have a great year of dance behind us!  The girls all did an exceptional job throughout the year.  Dave and I loved watching them at the end of year recital.  This is a real talent my little ones have and it brings me so much joy to watch them thrive and excel in this passion.
 Zoey is so graceful and precise in her movements.  Her absolute favorite class right now is lyrical.  She loves the clothing choice for the recital and loves the movements involved in this type of dance.  She is often found dancing throughout the house in her spare time.  I love watching her dance.  This year she danced to the song "Manhattan" and did a beautiful job!
 She is becoming such a beautiful young woman.  I love watching her mature and develop.  She tries her best at all she does.  Sometimes she is too hard on herself, as she really is an exceptional kid!

 For jazz Zoey danced to "Walk Like An Egyptian".  It was a fun dance for her to do.  I enjoyed watching her preform the different movements.

 This was Kinley's first year of dance.  She was thrilled to join her 2 older sisters in this experience.  She loved every minute of it!!!  She could hardly wait to put on her recital costumes.  She could have spent all day in the front yard having me take pictures of her in her many unique poses.  These were a couple of my favorite shots.  All the poses were her own idea, I just snapped the camera.
 For tap she danced to "Little Jack Frost"

 Alexa ended up with another sailor theme this year!  She really loved this costume.  Her favorite part was the skirt.  This year Alexa has really fine tuned her skills in dance.  She has developed a great love for dance and has become very good at it.  During the last month of dance she informed me multiple times that she would "never stop dancing because she loved it so much."  I smiled at these comments... as I LOVE watching her dance!
 Alexa chose tap over jazz this year.  She danced to the song "Sea Cruise".
 Kinley's ballet class danced to "You've Got a Friend in Me".  It was precious.
 Kinley did awesome with the recital, as she remembered all her parts and preformed with perfection!
 I love how excited she was about dance this year.  She would look forward to practice all week long.  As recital time came around you could just see the excitement radiating from her face!  It brought me so much joy to witness this.

 Alexa's ballet routine was to the music "I Feel Pretty" -- She did an awesome job!  Her picture above and below are of her favorite part of the dance.  She is in a circle with all the other girls at the time of this particular dance move.  Cute kid!
 This was her favorite dance for the season.  A lot of that had to do with her costume.  She loved this red dress!

We also signed Zoey and Lexa up for a tumbling class this year.  They LOVED it!  Throughout the year they were continually doing flips off the couch and cartwheels throughout the house.  Zoey perfected her walking bridge and Alexa was able to fine tune her cartwheel!

It was a really great year of dance!  Since our move we have struggled finding a dance studio that works out for us.  I know it isn't a part of this life that will have eternal significance... However, it has been such a big part of our family thus far.  A part that brings significant joy to our entire family -- We are praying something works out in our new town that will allow for this love of dance to continue for our girls!