Sunday, May 29, 2016

School's Out! (end of year review)

 School is officially out!!!  Yay!  It was a great year for my 3 beautiful ladies.  They were all kind of  bummed about the school year ending when they climbed into the car on the last day.  We lucked out with awesome friends, amazing teachers, exciting field trips, and loads of learning this year -- which made the last day of school very bitter, sweet for each of them.  Once again our little family is moving.  We are again stepping into the unknown and trusting that it will all work out in the end.  Although the kids and I are looking forward to this new adventure and eager to see what this new town has to offer, I also think we are all kind of hesitant for fear of another Parker repeat... that town was just plain old tough on all of us.
 This year (1st grade) Kinley's favorite class was math.  Her teacher focused a lot of the teaching through song -- Kinley was coming home from school singing fun songs all year long.  Her end of year performance showcased all of these songs that were taught.  I loved watching her stand and sing each song with confidence.  Kinley was so happy to have Dave and I there watching her.  Throughout the year she enjoyed spending her Starbucks rewards on helping out in her sisters classrooms multiple times throughout the year and bringing treasures for show and tell.  Her crushes signature was a highlight in her yearbook.  Her classmates adored her and she loved being the "cool kid" in the class.  Watching the baby chicks hatch and getting to name them was one of her favorite activities of the year (names: Yolkahontas, Darth Vador, and Hair Ball).  Kinley was able to visit an aquarium in Las Vegas as one of her field trips.  She loved this experience!  Her knowledge of Ocean life and curiosity for this mysterious underwater world was peeked by this experience.  She still talks about it often.

 Alexa really enjoyed going to computers.  She was good friends with the computer teacher.  He would let her spray the kids with squirt bottles and would sometimes break into her computer in order to speed type, allowing her to pass levels and win the games on the screen.  Her favorite subject was science.  Alexa was a favorite in her homeroom class, and she knew it.  Alexa and her teacher clicked perfectly.  Her teacher is a soft spoken, sensitive, compassionate person... Alexa thrived in this environment.  She adored the class pet, Leonardo (a gecko).  Alexa received multiple awards for her reading -- She was able to consecutively hold the reward for "Most Words Read To Date" throughout the entire year among her class.  She loved holding the title of "Top Reader!".  Dave went with Alexa on her end of year field trip.  This was one of her favorite memories of the year.  She was so happy to have her Dad come bowling with her and her classmates for the afternoon.
 Zoey had an awesome year!!!  She had a really sweet group of friends that all seemed to fit perfectly together.  I loved eating lunch with Zoey and her friends.  They were talkers (mostly her friends) -- loved to talk about anything and everything that was on their mind (fashion, school, dancing, babies, upcoming holidays, hair, makeup -- I loved sitting back and listening to them interact!)  Her teacher was super impressive.  She respected the kids and treated them like human beings -- it was a much more enjoyable atmosphere than years past for Zoey.  Zoey's favorite subjects were math (She did so well she got to go to a district competition and won 3rd overall district wide for 5th grade) and writing (which she also won a special district award for best anti-drug essay this year).  They went on multiple field trips -- Zoey got to be a part of a world wide jet ski competition, visit the Grand Canyon, go to the Arizona Science Center, and visit the local library often.  She loved going to see the Grand Canyon!  "Envision" projects were a big part of her learning this year.  She chose a career (Rockette Dancer) and mapped out the path to achieving it.  I will take pictures of her posters and post those another day.  :)
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The following are a few random pictures I found on my phone of school projects and activities the girls participated in throughout the year.
 1st -- Alexa's science project.  We cultured germs around the school and grew them in our kitchen.  Blah!  I will never forget the stink that slowly started coming from those agar plates as the bacteria started to grow.  Alexa is in her pjs because we worked on this poster late into the evening.  It was fun to spend the time learning about germs with this cutie.
 Kinley learned about "Flat Stanley" and made her own flat Kinley.  She mailed it to Utah where Grandma and Grandpa Rhees gave that little doll the adventure of a lifetime.  She was sent back to the school with a bunch of pictures from all over the place and stickers to share -- She even had some new clothes and jewelry.  Kinley was thrilled!  Her teacher told the class that Kinley's doll had been on one of the best adventures she had ever seen.
 Alexa and Zoey with some of their awards for the semester.  Kinley got some great awards too (not sure why I didn't get a picture of her too).

 During the second half of the school year Zoey participated in preforming arts at the school.  They worked hard to put on a cute performance of Suessical the Musical.  Zoey did awesome!  She played the part of "top bird girl".  There was a lot of dancing involved for her part -- She loved every minute of it.  As one part of the play, Zoey was required to choreograph her own solo dance.  It was fun to see her create the dance at home and practice it over and over throughout the house.  I was incredibly impressed with the end result.  Her sisters were proud to call her their sister at school that day, as they shared the performance with the school during an assembly.  This is a girl that loves to dance!  I wish I took a better picture of the event.  The back of Zoey's hair is all pulled back and curly with glitter everywhere.  her skirt is extra puffy, bright yellow with red and yellow feathers all over it (the janitor told me he was pretty happy to be done with this event -- as he had a million feathers left to clean up.  I didn't tell him that one of my kids was responsible for that.  :)).  We were super proud of her performance.  She is one talented girl. 
 This was from the last awards ceremony of the year.  Alexa was all smiles as they read her name and announced her awards.  Top Reader! -- as the numbers were read the cheers grew louder.  Alexa was super pleased with the recognition from the audience.
After weeks of having Kinley's middle tooth hanging on by a thread it finally came out at school (during the last week).  Her new smile is precious and I love the way she talks without those two front teeth in her way.

All in all it was an awesome year.  I have some talented and amazing kids.  I sure feel blessed to be their Mama!

Paisley and Mama time!

I love this little firecracker of mine!  Paisley is such a tiny, little thing with a big, sparkly personality.  She is quick to let you know what is going on in her head.  If she is not happy with you, you know it -- but, on the other hand -- when you are on her good side, she is the sweetest, kindest, cuddly little princess you have ever seen.  Paisley will be the 1st to stand up for her brother, sisters, or parents -- if she feels they need it.  She is determined and confident!
 My phone has a million selfies of the two of us!  She loves talking pictures with her Mama.


 Paisley lives in her swimsuit!  It's not uncommon for her to be in an out of the pool between 3-5 times everyday.
 I love watching her relax in the pool.  She will lay on her back and slowly kick herself all around the pool -- my little princess!


Paisley's favorite animal is a unicorn!  The other day she was invited to a swim party.  She came home with this fun new headband.  She has wanted to wear it (with her  matching pjs) ever since.  Love this little sweetie kid.  I can't believe our afternoons together are over!  She starts Kindergarten next year... How did this school year slip through my fingers so quickly!!!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Alexa turns 9... and I turn 35!

Happy Birthday Alexa (and me!).  This year our birthday started the second I popped my eyes open.  Alexa was waiting by the side of my bed, wearing a birthday sash and ready to jump in and snuggle with me while we ate our breakfast together.  Smoothies and eggs.  Thanks Dave!
 Alexa is so sweet to me on our birthday.  She is always sure to include me in the celebration.  We referred to each other as "the birthday girl" all day long... and sometimes "the other birthday girl".  If the experience we share on our birthday is anything like being a twin -- sign me up!  The older Alexa gets the more I enjoy sharing this special day together!

 It has been an incredibly busy month (more on that later) and as a result I was late ordering a few of Alexa's gifts.  Sadly, one of those gifts was her birthday outfit.  My girls really look forward to getting a new outfit to wear to school each birthday.  Kinley was so kind to let her borrow the birthday skirt she received 3 weeks prior -- one of the many benefits of having a sister that wears the same size of clothes!
 Alexa was excited to get to school and share her cookies with the rest of her class.  She loved wearing her sash all around the school "Birthday Princess".  She said anywhere she went, people noticed her sash and birthday bow and wished her a "happy birthday".  She loved the attention.

I snapped a picture of the girls as they got into the car after school... truly my favorite part of each day!  I bought the headband I am wearing for Alexa, she decided to wear our other birthday bow instead.  So, I wore the headband.  My kids thought I looked beautiful wearing it.  Paisley told me over and over how pretty she thought I looked.  I enjoyed all the attention until I had to run a few errands -- I had a lot of strangers wishing me happy birthday.
 The birthday girl and the other birthday girl!!!  I sure love this cutie of mine.
 After a few dance lessons and some swimming it was time to open gifts!
 notice in the picture above and the picture below a few of the hair accessories have changed on Paisley and Alexa... Alexa was given that starfish hair clip as a gift.  It smelled like a dead, rotting star fish -- authentic.  Thankfully the smell is now gone.  I drenched it with perfume.
 The bottom gift (the big one) is a Lego and Friends Hotel.  The girls spent the rest of the night in the casita building and playing.  It is great the way my girls love their legos.
 For dessert we ate some delicious chocolate cake (with oreo frosting) from one of our favorite shops in town -- Small Cakes!
 It was yummy but, incredibly rich.  We invited the elders over to have some too.
 We lit the candles a few times.  The one below is of Alexa blowing her candles out...
 ... and the one below is of my candles being blown out.  I hope my kids made a good wish for me!

I can't believe how old Alexa is getting... 9!  She is a confident, artistic, outgoing, and a smart little girl.  She loves to read, loves dance, and loves her friends.  When she grows up she wants to be a mom but, as a back up plan -- a dolphin trainer.  Paisley adores her older sister -- Which makes me smile, they are so similar in looks and personality.  It's fun to see the two of them interact. Alexa is a self proclaimed nature lover (studying animals and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors is her thing).  She is a natural in the water.  Her dives are perfection.  She loves the ocean and is fascinated by the sea life.  She dreams of being a mermaid/ human (like Barbie).  Her favoirte color is aqua (like the color of the ocean).   Alexa's personality is so fun to be around.  I love being this girls Mom.  Happy Birthday to us!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy 7th Birthday Kinley!

 Happy Birthday Kinley!  Spring is the season of birthdays at our house.  Kinley is the first to kick off the season.  My little sweetie turned 7 this year!  7!!!  The day started out with breakfast in bed.  My kids love this tradition.  They request a favorite breakfast and enjoy a few extra minutes in bed eating it before starting their morning.  Kinley's request was simple (and no surprise)... cereal!  As school is a social event for her, she was pretty excited to get to school on her birthday.  She brought birthday cookies to share with her class (she was a little hesitant about it, although she is a social bug and loves her friends -- she is also very quiet and not one to voluntarily draw attention to herself).  I snapped these pictures before she left.  She was thrilled to wear a birthday bow and new golden skirt for her big day.
 Zoey and Alexa jumped in a picture too.  The joy of having lots of kids is always magnified on birthdays -- I love the excitement and kindness they show towards the "birthday kid".  They go out of their to make their siblings feel special.  Alexa is showing off a new Harry Potter coloring book she picked out at the school book fair the night previous.
 Kinley planned her day down to the minute.  Right after school each of the kids ditched out on homework time and did some swimming instead.  I can't even tell you how much I love our pool.  Keeps the kids happy, they are developing an important life skill, and getting exercise all at the same time. 
 After coming in from the pool, it was time to open gifts. (I am not sure what Paisley ate in the picture above.  Obviously something she didn't like.)


 Kinley got some fun stuff.  I am super excited to help her with a garden craft kit she received.  She loves arts and crafts.  So, most her gifts were themed around that hobby.  She was really excited about her new art kit.
 Zoey found this bracelet at the store while shopping with her dad the night before.  She begged Dave to buy it  for the birthday girl.  Zoey was eager to give it to her.  Kinley was so excited and has been wearing it ever since.
 After opening presents Rex and Paisley got creative with play dough and helped me make some brownies (which is what Kinley requested instead of cake this year).  Which is why they are wearing their adorable aprons in these pictures.  Anytime  my kids help prepare food they insist on putting their aprons on 1st.
 Love this little boy of mine!
 The girls got busy coloring.  Kinley shared her new art kit and her sisters shared their new Harry Potter coloring books.
 Rex's favorite part of the play dough was flattening it on the floor with his feet.  He liked the squishy feeling between his toes and thought the imprint it left on the play-dough was pretty impressive.
 Paisley had fun mixing the colors to create purple and then designing shapes into her dough.  She is holding up her favorite (a butterfly).  After each shape was created she would say -- "Mom look!"
 Dave pulled up about the same time as the Elders.  I love having missionaries in our home so frequently.  It is a great blessing for my kids to be surrounded often by these gospel loving boys who are striving to be their best, have a great love for Jesus Christ, and are encouraging others to choose the right.
 After pizza we had brownies and before we knew it Dave and the missionaries were gone again (Dave had stake meetings).

For ice cream we decided to shake things up a bit.  Dave and Zoey went to the grocery store the night before and bought all things Ben and Jerry's!  Kinley sat her four siblings around the table and made them close their eyes.  One by one Kinley and I chose a flavor for them to try and guess the flavors.  Kinley liked this game because it put her in control of the food.  Some flavors she chose to try and others she was content letting her siblings test alone.  The kids loved this game.
 Kinley and her tower of ice cream!
 She was particularly excited to try the Peanut Butter Chocolate flavor.
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 2 short days later Grandma and Grandpa Zarkou and Dan came down for a visit.  Kinley was so excited about the gifts and balloon they brought with them.
Grandma brought Kinley this super long coloring page.  The girls got busy decorating it right away.

Kinley is such a sweet kid.  I love spending time with this cutie of mine.  Yesterday we (Zoey, Kinley, Alexa, and I) attended a local ballet program of Cinderella.  Kinley sat next to me and held my hand the entire show.  Her friends came over during intermission and hugged her, going on and on about how happy they were to see her and how they told their entire dance team about her.  Kinley didn't say a word.  She just smiled and hugged each of her friends as they came over to her.  This is not an uncommon experience for Kinley.  People are easily drawn to her because of her kindness and beauty.  From the time she was teeny, tiny people were telling her how beautiful and sweet she was.  Sometimes this attention makes her uncomfortable.  The other day we were at a youth fireside with my kids.  Kinley hid behind the fridge the entire time.  We brought her some food and she was happy to eat in silence.

She is a good kid.  She tries hard to do what is right.  She is quick to clean up and help around the house without complaints.  She is loyal to her sisters and kind to her brother.  Kinley is the first to wake up in the morning.  She likes getting dressed quickly so that I have extra time to spend on her hair.  She loves getting it curled each day for school.  On weekends she likes waking up early to play on the Ipad while the rest of us continue to sleep.  She has a tender spot for animals and loves holding our new bunnies.  She is great at sharing her clothes and toys.  Kinley loves laying in bed at night with her me reading books while her sisters start to go to sleep.  Recently she learned how to swim to the bottom of the deep end of our pool -- 8 feet down to the very bottom, touches it with her hand, and then back up to the surface again!  She has no desire to ever get her ears pierced but, is happy to wear jeweled stickers for the rest of her life (until she is a mom, as that is the time she has decided she will be brave enough to get her ears pierced).  She is a gem to have in the family.  We feel blessed to have her!