Sunday, February 7, 2016

Our Week Without Dad!

Every once in awhile I look around and am in awe at just how blessed my life is!  I have a house full of little people (and one very handsome big person) that I have this love for -- a love I have never felt and can't even begin to describe the depth of.  I love this family of mine with all my heart.  They are my whole world!

I adore the everyday routines of this house that make me smile.  I know this stage of my life is limited and hope to remember every detail -- the way Rex calls for his Dad every morning from his crib when he wakes up (yes, my little guy is still in his crib.), the way it feels when Paisley puts her tiny hand against my face at night and says "Mommy, I love you.", the look on Alexa's face when she first sees (and recognizes) our big, white yukon pull up to her school each day, the feel of Kinley's hug when I pick up Alexa from dance (and she is still there for another hour but, so happy to see me during her break.), and the way Zoey has to be around me every spare second she has in the day,  -- just talking and hanging out! I hope to never forget the feeling of excitement that comes over me every evening when I hear the garage open... and know that Dave is seconds from walking into our home. 

A week or two ago, Dave left town for a few days, leaving me to run the show.  He does a whole lot around here each day -- So, it made for a very busy week for me. :)  I took some pictures to document the week!
 This little guy is growing up way too fast!  He insists on choosing his own clothes -- and changes his clothes at least 7 or 8 times a day.  His favorite color is blue.  So, most of the time he is wearing blue.  His shoes in the picture are his favorites.  Although he has an entire basket busting full of shoes, he insists on wearing these ones every day.  About 60% of his clothes he refuses to wear.  When I suggest he wear one of these adorably, untouched clothes in his closet, he will always say... "small!" -- He is a smart little guy and knows that if something is too small, he doesn't have to wear it!
 It has been such amazing weather here lately -- perfect bike riding weather!  Rex doesn't own a helmet but, is happy to wear the spare (Kinley won a bike last year, which also included a bike lock and helmet).  He doesn't mind a bit that it is pink with sparkles and princesses.  Such is the life of a boy with four older sisters.
 Lunch time is such a fun time of day here.  Its quiet and low key, just the 3 of us (Paisley, me, and Rex).  It's a perfect time of day for the 3 of us to sit and talk.  Paisley requests a peanut butter and jelly sandwich most often through the week.  While she eats, the 3 of us talk -- we talk about music, dancing, Heavenly Father and Jesus, our sisters, our dad, Kindergarten... this is our uninterrupted time to talk about anything and everything on this sweet girl's mind.

I love her clothing selection this particular day!  Love, love, love this bright and cheery angel of mine.  She reminds me so much of Alexa at this age (I am constantly resisting the urge to call her "mini me").

 The week Dave was gone was also the week Alexa's science fair project was in full swing!  Talk about a high stress experience.  We went to the school and chose 10 different spots in the school to collect swabs and grow bacteria.  (Notice the picture above) Alexa is growing germs under the heating lamps of my oven.  The fans and heating lights were on all week long, day and night, to keep those babies growing.  The 1st night, I woke up multiple times throughout the night to check and make sure -- 1. the house wasn't burning down from leaving the heat lamps on too long and 2. to see if this little experiment was actually working and bacteria was growing yet.  

Within 24 hours the germs were growing and forming like crazy!  By day 2 these cultures were beginning to stink -- bad.  On day 4 (the last day), the stink was unbearable!  While assessing the experiment, we kept having to take brakes to Lysol the place before moving on.  Blah!  I was happy to toss these babies in the trash at the end of the week, turn off my fan and heat lamps, and Clorox the entire area from top to bottom.  Her science fair is this coming week, although the experiment part is complete, the project is still very much a part of our daily homework routine.  I will post more details on the results and experiment at the end of the week.  Alexa and I had a great time!  As soon as she climbed into the car from school each day, she would ask if  we could work on her project a bit more when we got home.  It was neat to see the results, teach my kids about germs and hand washing, and (most of all) spend time with my sweet girl working on something that interested her so much.
Alexa with her germs on day 1 -- no growth or stink yet, we had no idea what we were in for!
 A lot of art projects took place while Dad was out of town!  My kids love to be artistic!  Kinley is reading all kinds of Junie B. Jones (I am not a fan!) books in her classroom this year.  She made this valentine one for her teacher, the class started a new valentine Junie B. book this week.
 The girls also celebrated the 100th day of school during this particular week!  The girls were given the option to wear either their school uniform shirt or a shirt with 100 items on it.  Thanks Michelle, for the idea of 100 stickers!  It was the perfect way to be involved without spending a lot of money and ruining a shirt.  My girls each picked out 100 stickers from my endless box of stickers and designed their shirts.  They turned out pretty cute.
 Kinley woke up feeling a little off that morning (if you can't tell by the two pictures above).  I asked her is she was feeling sick and if she wanted to stay home (I asked her 3 times).  She said she felt okay and was just tired for not sleeping well the night before... So, I took her to school!  Within an hour of her being at school, the nurse called and said Kinley was in her office with a head ache and fever.  I went to get her but, had to immediately head over to the church to help set up for New Beginnings that was going to be taking place that night (a youth event that takes place every year in our church).  I planned to put Kinley in the corner and let her rest while I got everything set up.  The second Kinley got out of the car, she started throwing up!  Ahh, I still feel so awful about letting her go to school and dragging her on all my errands -- poor girl!  Anyway, we left immediately, I took her home and left the other youth leaders to take care of all the set up (and evening events -- as I was home with a sick kid and running my 2 other dancers to and from practice.)

Kinley ended up staying home the rest of the week!  Between washing my hands from germ analyzing/ science experiment stuff and washing my hands from helping and serving my sick kid, my hands were rubbed raw by the end of the week.  I still have a couple bloody knuckles on my hands from all the hand washing but, it worked!  Kinley was the only one to get sick.  Yay!
We were so happy to have our daddy back at the end of the week!  The kids made signs to hang up around the house for his "welcome home".  In the picture above they are all chowing down on the delicious shortbread Panera cookies Dave bought for them in Vegas.  We miss you Panera! -- Oh, and as an added adventure in the week, my little guy decided he wants to start the potty training journey this week.  Is he not the cutest little things in those boxer briefs.  Adorable!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My 3 Star Students!

On a typical weekday at our house from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. (give or take depending on work load), you will find my 3 school age kids busy finishing homework assignments and getting some required reading time in.  It's a routine that was established early on in our family's school years and I am happy to see that, even with the multiple moves our family has encountered, this part of our daily routine has been constant.
 I have been so proud of Alexa this year!  Something special has sparked inside of her causing her to excel, leaps and bounds, in her academics.  This year I have seen a passion for learning from her that is surprising and exciting!  During our after school homework time, she is eager to get out her assignments and quickly and quietly finish them up.  Then, before I know it, she has disappeared into a bedroom or snuggled up on the couch somewhere reading one of her books.  She was flying through the Harry Potter series but, has decided to take a break to read some Fable Haven right now.
 Each semester the girls have an awards ceremony at school.  This semester all 3 of my girls were thrilled to get the "Principal's Honor Roll" award (straight As).  Alexa also received a very special award in her class!  She was given the award of "student with most words read for the semester" (I forget the official name of the award but, that is the reason behind it)!  Her face beamed on stage as they presented her award.   I love that this little one has caught the reading bug.  I makes me happy to see what a confident and eager student she is this year with her academics.

In February there will be a school science fair that Alexa is required to participate in.  Over the weekend we came up with a killer idea that her and I can not wait to get started on. :) -- Eek!  I get so excited every time I think about it.  Our supplies are currently on their way from Amazon and should get here early next week.  We will be sure to post our idea and process along the way.  Can't wait!
 Kinley saw me snap a shot of her sister reading and decided I needed to take one of her too. :)  First grade has been an interesting one for Kinley.  I hear little about her academics but, much about her day. -- what she played at recess, who complimented her on her hair, clothes, or jewelry, and what her secret crush said to her that day.  She enjoys the social aspect of school and is busy with adventure in her class.  

Last week she got to go on a field trip to an aquarium (the bus ride was 2 1/2 long hours away!).  She came home with all kinds of knowledge about ocean life (specifically sharks and sea horses).  Also (last week), due to the Hot Air Balloon Festival in town, she had an assembly at school where the kids were able to watch a demonstration with two of the hot air balloons that were participating in the festival.  It was fascinating hearing about that particular assembly.  I love living here during the week of the festival -- hot air balloons are in the sky all week long!  This year Paisley was convinced they were following her every time we got in the car and was certain the balloons would end up on our front door to give her a ride (It never happened, and she blamed it on the fact that Kinley was with us and she scared them away.  Ha ha -- I heard her outside, yelling to the sky, "Kinley is nice!  Don't worry, Kinley is a nice girl.  Just come out (It was hiding) and come to our home!"  I love that girls confidence!)  My girls were amazed at the size of the balloons once they were all blown up and so disappointed the school Principal was the one chosen for the balloon ride around town instead of  themselves (or one of their sisters).
Zoey's school year has been a busy one (project after project)!  The homework load in the gifted class is kicking my butt.  Due to the intensity of each of her projects and assignments, I have needed to help her with her school work more than ever before.  I am constantly getting letters sent home informing me of upcoming assignments.  These letters require a signature from me saying that I understand the homework and agree to help my child accomplish it (as it is knowingly too complex for a 5th grader to due on their own).  I am sure grateful this sweet girl is so responsible and studious on her own or we would be in some serious trouble this year.  On the plus side of all these projects and assignments, our relationship has been tightened deeply.  Zoey loves taking trips to hobby lobby with me to pick out materials for upcoming assignments.  She also enjoys discussing details and hearing my opinion on how best to execute her creative projects.  We spend a lot of time together doing something she loves (learning and homework) and as a result of me actively showing interest in things that interest her so deeply, we are becoming very close!  She loves to be around me, just hanging out -- talking about life!

She has also been able to go on all kinds of fun field trips.  Her knowledge is increasing everyday and the way she is able to retain facts amazes me.  This class is keeping her (and me) very busy this year but, it is just what she needs.  In years past, her role of student tends to morph more into the teachers assistant.  She was constantly running errands for her teachers and "tutoring" kids throughout the day because of her ability to learn so quickly.  This year has been much different, she is still a distinct leader in the class (the teacher often using her assignments as examples, ect.)  However, the rest of the class is not holding her back.  She is engaged in assignments and continually learning each day!  This class has been perfect for her.  She loves all that this year's academic path is offering her!

I am sure proud of my 3 star students!  They are working hard to be their best selves each day.  It makes me so happy!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Eve Party! 2016

 Happy New Year!!!  New Year's Eve is one of my most favorite days of the year... It's right up there with Thanksgiving and Halloween in my book!  I love it!!!  I love that my kids are now old enough to enjoy this fun day too.  As December 31st approached, my  kids began asking what we had planned for our big New Year's party.  They made a few requests of their own for the night, at the top of the list was the timeline balloon pop.  We started this a few years back and the kids have requested it every year since.  It is quickly becoming a favorite New Year's tradition at our house.  The balloons all have a designated time written on the front.  Inside each balloon has a piece of paper with a designated activity written on it.  Next year I think we will be adding confetti to the inside too!  Par-tay!

 We started the night with delicious fruit and veggie trays and some yummy subs (bread from jimmy johns).  The kids also helped me make some lemon bars for later that night.

 In the picture above the girls are writing down their 2016 goals and decorating the paper with some special craft supplies.  They each came up with some very thoughtful goals.  I have been happy to see them striving to achieve these goals in the few days since the year began.
 As the night went on, the kids loved playing each of the games I had prepared for them.  The crowd favorite was "the flour and candy game".  This was a game I absolutely loved when I was younger and decided to introduce it to my own kids.  The candy (kit kat minis in this case) sits on top of a compacted pile of flour.  Everyone takes turns cutting pieces of the flour away from the pile.  When the candy falls, the one who knocked it over had to retrieve it without using their hands.  My kids LOVED this game!
 After games it was time to bust out the pinata! -- So much fun!!!  This was the favorite activity of the night for all my little ones... So much so that we might possibly have to make it a part of our yearly New Year's party from here on out. :) -- The kids loved it!!!  It was jam packed with stickers, mini coloring books, crayons, and an assortment of ghiradelli square minis (yum!).  The airplane proved to be a tough shape to bust open.  After multiple times of letting each of the kids have a swing at the thing, it was time for me and Dave to step in... I am sure glad nothing broke when Dave took the final swing...  He busted it right open, treasures went  flying all over the garage.  I even saw a few things get caught up on top of the garage door!  Everyone loved it!

 We let off a few confetti popper and opened up some noise makers to get us into the mood.
 Before we knew it, midnight was here and we still had 3 little ones awake and ready to celebrate!  We watched a few fireworks going off around us and then handed the kids these monster size poppers...  I didn't know what to expect.  I thought they were silent and fairly safe for my young kids to use.  Um, they are loud... like gun shot loud!  However, they were super fun.  The confetti shoots everywhere.  We even ended up with some stuck to the ceiling.
 Love this picture above, the look of pure joy on Alexa's face.  This right here is why New Year's is one of my most favorite days of the year!

 My 3 late night owls that made it to midnight (no surprise Paisley is awake!  She would stay up until midnight every night if we would let her.)
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 The next morning we were still celebrating!  Kinley was given a monster size popper of her own to welcome 2016... That one was just as loud as the others -- I screamed every time one was opened!
 2015 was full of surprises for our family.  Looking back on the year, I never could have dreamed of all the changes our family encountered... We moved to a new town, bought our 1st home, Dave was given a few new callings (Stake Clerk and Institute teacher), all that the kids have experienced with school and dance.  Looking back, it is easy to see just how much the Lord's hand has been involved in my family's everyday life.  We have been blessed abundantly in 2015.  I can't wait to see what lies in store for my family in 2016!  Here's to another  fantastic year!!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Christmas Day! 2015

Christmas is such a fun time of year to be a Mom!  Being able to see the excitement and joy on your children's faces during Christmas morning is a feeling like nothing else.  
 Kinley with her stocking
 Zoey with her stocking.
 Alexa with her stocking -- check out all those bruises on this girl's knee.  Ouch!
 Rex (and Dada) with his stocking.

  Paisley likes to stay up late and sleep in late -- She always has from the time she was a tiny baby.  Getting a handle on her bedtime routine is at the top of our New Year's list!  So, as a result, she was the last to wake up.  However, when she did, she was super excited to see that Santa came.  She immediately got started on opening the gifts in her stocking.  I love the picture above... She is so excited!!!  Do you notice that Rex's stocking is different than the one he is holding in his own stocking picture?  The Snowman one is Dave's!  After he opened his own, he decided he would help Dave open all the gifts in his stocking too.
 This year the girl's stockings were filled with yogurt covered raisins, new glittered hand sanitizer with key chain holders for their backpacks, Ghiridelli peppermint bark, cereals (for their breakfast), and a few things of make up.  The kids also got a few applesauce squeezes but, those are Rex's favorite here -- So, he gathered up all of them for himself! :)
 The house got a little chaotic after stockings were opened.  We tried to stick to an order of opening gifts but, every once in a while we had someone (mostly Rex) unexpectedly decide to open one on his own.
 Rex opening his lego train.
 Paisley with some gifts.
 Paisley gave each of her sisters lotion this year.  The one she gave Kinley was, of course, purple!
 The girls all got new Sunday dresses this year -- except for Zoey, she got some new fashion boots instead.  They loved their dresses and Alexa and Paisley immediately put them on upon opening them.  The picture above is of Alexa in her dress (and her favorite shoes -- Kinley and Alexa love wearing those white heals all over town!)
 Zoey worked so hard putting this gift together for me (picture above)!  She would come home from school and disappear into her room to work on my gift.  She is so thoughtful!  It is a cute little jar she decorated and filled with 52 slips of paper, each on telling me something she loves about me! :)  She slept with it under he pillow until Christmas (ha ha, ouch!) and was so excited to have me open it.
  This year we really tried to focus our children's attention of "gift giving" rather than receiving!  It was an inspired decision.  Earlier this month the girls had a Christmas Shop open at their school.  We sent my 3 older girls to school with $25.00 each and told them to buy something special for each of their siblings!  They were so thrilled about this project!  Everyday they talked about it and told me updates of their gift giving plans.  I helped them wrap and label each of their gifts -- they were so excited!!!  It was so fun to see the joy of serving they each felt throughout the month.  Not once did they talk about themselves or ask if they could buy themselves something too -- It made me so happy to see them focused 100% on each other!  Kinley bought me a beautiful purple ring (because we both love purple).  I am showing it off in the picture above and below! 

 Kinley bought her dad a blue ornament because his favorite color is blue. :)
 The kids all got an art kit I made for them! (Paisley opening her new art kit).
 I got a little ahead of myself when Alexa went to open her art kit and said.  "Wait, hold on Alexa!  I want to take a picture of you opening your art kit!" -- I didn't even realize what I said until everyone looked at me and Alexa said "Mom, how to you know it's an art kit?" -- Um... sometimes being Santa's head elf at this house gets tricky. :)
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After all the gifts were opened, it was time to play!  We played some games, spent hours playing with magnet dolls, watched a movie, and made some beautiful art masterpieces!  The girls also put on a few entertaining magic shows for me later that night.
 Rex could not get enough of the swords Uncle Brian sent us!  I lost count of the number of times my head was unexpectedly wacked with those things.  It seemed Rex was watching and waiting for me, every time I was low enough to be in his range -- bending over playing twister, crouched down loading the blu-ray with a movie, stretching on my yoga mat after my run, sitting at the table getting the girl's paint sets all ready for them... you get the idea!  All day this this little guy was ready to play swords with someone. -- I love this little fella of mine! 
 The picture above might possibly have been my favorite shot of the day.  I need to adjust the lighting on the picture but, check out that form!!!
 This boy loves his dad!!!  Wondering if Dave wears his scrubs everyday (even on his day off :)), Dave had to run into work during Christmas afternoon.  Being the only podiatrist "on call" here keeps him very busy.  We were happy to have him back quickly. 
Christmas was a success at our house!  It was the best feeling ever to see all my kids so happy and excited throughout the entire month... I couldn't help but think about the children all over the world who have never experienced the thrill of Christmas morning with family!  God has given me so much in this life -- It makes me wonder what I can do to help more kids in the world feel our Savior's love and know how cherished and special they truly are!