August 30, 2016

out with Kyler

Kyler had early release from school one day last week. Like, go to school at 9am and come back home at 10:30am early. And I loved it!

He got some homework done before lunch. Then we dropped Layla off at school and I got to take him to the Natural History museum in Mesa. I loved the one on one time with this boy. And let me tell you, going to the museum with a 12 year old was quite different from going with a 5 year old (when I took Layla a few weeks ago). I enjoyed each experience. They were just so different. It was really nice to have that time with just Kyler though. 

We thought this looked a lot like Sparky, the ASU sun devil. We had to take a picture for Kacin.

We were also quite proud of ourselves for putting together the clay pot puzzle.

To end the day, poor Kyler was eaten by a dinosaur.


August 29, 2016

Cinematic Pop concert

I was lucky enough to snag a few tickets the day before the cinematic pop concert. I had seen the group on you tube and I was so excited to watch the performance live. And it did not disappoint!


I took Kyler and Kacin with me. They had no idea what to expect, but they both thoroughly enjoyed it. 

We got to see them perform some original songs and all of their awesome pieces that are on YouTube. There's something about live music and performances that I just love. And this performance was so powerful and fun.

So I have a list in my head of all my goals for life since we moved. I call them my "fresh start" goals. Because moving is a natural time to start fresh and make changes. They have to do with relationships, personal growth, health, etc. And one of them is to attend more plays, concerts, and performances.  So I was so glad this worked out! I think I like this goal of mine. 

Kyler was caught off guard when his chair really started rocking!

Cinematic Pop now has a few new fans.


August 27, 2016

the importance of fathers

Eric has been traveling all month. Luckily, he has been able to be home on the weekends and only be away during the week. There is something about being apart that always makes me realize just how important he is to our family and how much he means to me.

As a dad, he annoys and teases the kids. He jokes around. He doesn't always say or respond in the way that I would with the kids, but, you know what, it's effective. He has a great relationship with each of our children. They respect him and listen to him. He is patient and calm. And they need him. He brings balance and perspective to our parenthood.

Our marriage itself is pretty wonderful but far from perfect. We have our ups and downs. But I can honestly say I love him more today than I did when we were married 12 years ago. That doesn't mean that I don't get annoyed at him or frustrated and that he doesn't feel upset at me sometimes. But we keep choosing each other and choosing God and working on our marriage. And we are happy. I miss him like crazy when he is gone. Thank goodness for phones!

I came across a Matt Walsh article this week and I loved this part.

Eric will be home in a few days and we are so excited that he does not have to leave again for awhile! Fathers and husbands are pretty great people.

August 26, 2016

student council induction

Kacin was officially inducted into the student council as a 6th grade class representative.

He was in the back row on the stage which made it very very difficult to see him or get a good picture (especially because all I had with me was my iPhone). But he was sworn in and a candle was lit and it was all very official. And then they served cake afterwards, which, of course, was Kacin's favorite part.

I know serving his school will be a great experience for Kacin. 

August 25, 2016

Kacin's calls

I keep finding pictures like these on my phone.

I'm so grateful for technology and that Kacin can keep in touch with his best friends. They can get pretty goofy on those Facebook video chats, but I'm happy for him. It's definitely made moving easier to know they can still talk and see each other. Sometimes I think technology is pretty great.

August 23, 2016

update on our house


I'm quite certain we are going to be moving into an unfinished house. Our close date got pushed back last week. But we had to push back too because we have to be out of our rental house. We found a compromise of just under two weeks time from today. We are so hoping that it will all come together by then. I desperately need it to. I know it's a seemingly small thing in the scheme of time and life, but this has been so stressful. And I'm going crazy here.

But even though the process has been long and grueling and frustrating at times, the worst part about building a house is that there is no one else to blame when your design choices don't look that great. I'm not in love with our floors like I was with our floors in Washington. And we walked into the bathroom and saw the grout color of the tile and Eric and I both said "oh man, that looks terrible! Who would've picked that?" Come to find out it was us.

I am full of hope that it will all come together in the end.

August 19, 2016

natural history

Layla and I spent the morning at the natural history museum in Mesa. This was a new museum to me and we had a blast exploring it.

We panned for gold and worked on dinosaur puzzles.


Hmm, I guess she wasn't too thrilled to be on the rocking dinosaur.

But she loved brushing for fossils.

Speaking of natural history, let's talk about my children. And the history of what they naturally said today. 

I made Perry pick out birthday party decorations. Really just birthday plates. And I really had to force him at that. But he also grabbed batman party favors. He really wants those. And he does not want to share. He does not want friends to come to his party (which is fine). But he has also extended that to he does not want girls to come (which means no me or Layla). But he does want all of those party favors he grabbed. Tonight at dinner I explained to him (again) that he could have one on his birthday only if he shares and gives one to all the kids (cousins and siblings). I thought I had reached him when he finally said "fine!" He put his head on the table. And then he went on, "I'm not having a birthday then." Dun dun dun

Perry is also going through a stage in which you can not call him anything but his name "Perry". "P-E-R-R-Y". Not buddy. Not cutie. Not P-dawg. Just Perry. He will call you out on it. He will be upset until you correct yourself.

Layla was playing with Macie this evening and it was time for Macie to go home. Jacqui gave the girls a one minute warning before it was time for Macie to go. Layla said "Can she just go now? I'm pretty sleepy."

See, they are naturally cute and stubborn and funny and ornery and honest. And I naturally adore them.

August 17, 2016

These days

Kyler joined drumline. He wasn't planning on it, but it just sort of happened. He is excited, but it means I have to drive him to school an hour early every other day. Which miraculously has worked out, considering each kid starts school at a different time and I'm flying solo because Eric has been in Washington the last few weeks.

I am counting down the days until this month is over. Because then we will finally be moving into our house and Eric will be done traveling. And then you can be sure we will be holding trainings for our kids on things like how to put your clothes away and how to empty the dishwasher properly. So many things we have had to let slide lately because nothing has a real proper place in our little rental. 


I figured out why Perry's toy cars and trucks are usually up like this fire truck. He pretends they are rescue bot transformers. His birthday is coming up so I think we just may need to invest in a real transformer for him...

Perry was supposed to make a puzzle piece all about him to hang up in his classroom. We were a week late, and this was possibly made more by his brothers than by him, but this what we came up with--our crazy family, swimming, rescue bots, legos, and sweets. That sums up Perry.

Layla talks all the time about how much she misses her best friends, Miriam and Quinn. Really, these three were the absolute greatest together. Layla really wanted to get them each a present. So I let her pick out a small toy and a bracelet for them. She made the sweetest cards for them. Eric delivered them on his next trip back to Washington. She hasn't stopped talking about her best friends.

Layla and I have had lunch with Perry a few times at his school. He is so excited when we come and visit. He gives us both the biggest hugs.

We are loving all of the cousin and grandparent time. We don't live really close to each other, but close enough that we can get together.

We took our kids on a tour of my growing up in mesa. We passed by my house on Fraser fields and my old schools Edison, Kino, and Westwood. I can't say that my children were as excited as I was when I pointed out restaurants I ate it during high school and friends houses and even one of the houses Eric and I lived in when we were married. But hopefully they found it somewhat interesting to see a glimpse into our past.

We finished at the Mesa temple visitors center.

We have been trying really hard to be healthier around here. We are doing a little family challenge and keeping track of the fruits and vegetables we are eating and the amount of water we are drinking. We are limiting our sweets and trying to exercise more. That first week we were pretty awesome at it. And here we are at week 4 and the healthy habits have digressed a little. But I still think we are eating better than we were a few months ago. And our goal is simply to develop healthy, life-time lasting habits. One baby step at a time.

My car broke down a few days after we moved here. While I was in the middle of no where coming home from my parents house. Thankfully, we were able to get it to a car place and they fixed it for us the next day. We were so lucky that it didn't happen while we were driving from wa to az. And now we know a good mechanic in the area.

August 16, 2016

a welcome to our new home

The first thing Kacin wanted to do when we drove into town was go look at our new house. We walked through the model home and then went to our actual house. We were quite surprised that we had something sitting inside our house welcoming us.

Furthermore, there were already pictures hanging on our walls.


Thanks, Schlinks, for the funny surprise!

We are still boggled by the whereabouts of the priest. . . is he buried in our foundation, up in our attic, inside a wall?? will we find him when we dig to put in a pool?? Or is it all just a mind game??

*i realize this might seem a little odd or sacrilegious if you don't know our game. This game has been going on for maybe about seven years. This statue, and another ("the priest") have turned up in random places over the years and have been passed within our family. The first time, they were found watching tv at my sisters house. From there, they have been found on doorsteps, in cars, around the house. They have traveled to family reunions. They have been to Utah, Wyoming, and Washington. They have even flown on an airplane. And so now it's our turn to plot the next appearance. 

August 12, 2016

Summer challenge

Each year I plan a summer challenge for the kids. It looks different every year depending on our summer circumstances. Last years summer system worked out great, but this year we only had a four week summer break between school years. And a big move across states.

So this is what we did. Each kid got a folder with a checklist in it. They had three areas to complete. (It started as four but by day 2 we crossed out the fourth category).


The first area was cooking. They simply had to cook on their own or help me with a meal 10 times over the break. 

Next, they each had to listen to all of the Alexander's Amazing Adventures stories. Kyler is on the getting-too-old-for-these side, but as much as we have tried over the years we have never been able to listen to all of them as a family. And I felt he should listen to them at least once. 

Finally, they each got brain games to complete. They were from workbooks and puzzle books. A whole slew of them.

They could work on them whenever they wanted to over the summer. Some of my people worked hard at the beginning of the summer to get it all done and some of them waited until the last possible second and it was questionable if they would finish in time. They had to be done the Friday before school started.

And for all of our finishers there was a fun reward in store--a fun family outing and new school supplies.

Everyone worked really hard, so we all got to party before school started. We went out to eat at Texas Roadhouse, got Bahama Bucks, and rode the go carts at Golfland.


I took each of the kids out during the week to pick out a few school supplies. We don't go crazy with new supplies or clothes, but as their reward they each picked out a new backpack, a couple shirts, and one other thing (like a water bottle or special binder). I kept the backpacks and supplies until the night of our party. You would've thought it was Christmas when I brought them out. They tried out every zipper pocket and got their new supplies all organized. It was a happy time.

Eric was soaking in every moment of it.

He loved his new batman water bottle.

August 10, 2016

Arizona vs. Washington

Last night, when I was tucking Perry into bed, he asked for a drink. While he was sipping the milk I gave him, he told me:

"I'm so thirsty today.
It is so hot every day.
I want the hot to stop.
I'm trying to hate Arizona.
I want to go back to the other place."

Yes, our Arizona days have been quite hot. That first week I thought I would not survive. I questioned our decision. Who in their right mind would ever move to a place as hot as heck?? 

But now, whether it is because our bodies are adjusting to this weather or because monsoons keep rolling in and are keeping the extreme heat at bay, we are all handling it much better.

The "other place" (Washington) that Perry was dreaming of last night is obviously quite different from Arizona. 

(By the way, Perry does not really hate it here. Even though he said he was "trying to" (which I'm pretty sure he meant 'starting to'). He was just particularly warm last night. And he recently learned the word "hate". Yeah for that.)

Anyways, these two states could not be any more different in so many ways. Not good or bad necessarily. Just different. 

WA: green, tall trees, gray and low clouds
AZ: brown, dirt and rocks, wide open skies, sun

WA: mostly public schools, few private schools, school district doesn't have to ask or inform parents of many things they teach or do
AZ: so many school choices--private, charter schools, and even choices within the public school district, the school district is much more conscious of parents role and rights in education of children (from my opinion)

(I know I shouldn't generalize this one, but we did think that it was interesting--on the first day of school, the kids were telling us about their days. One of our boys was most surprised and pleased by this: when his teacher had to leave the room for a minute she asked the kids to continue working quietly. And so they did. Kacin was so surprised--he said that never would've happened in Washington. In every class he has been in in Washington, if a teacher left the room at least a few kids would be goofy or crazy. He told us the kids are more respectful here. I know this can't be true across the board and I'm not sure why this would be, but I'm glad this is his new experience.)


WA: roads that wind and turn, lots of one lane roads, roads with numbers
AZ: straight roads, grid system, most roads at least two or three lanes wide, roads with names

WA: hills
AZ: flat

WA: always traffic, passing everyone on the freeway when you go 65 mph, 20 mph speed limit in school zones
AZ: not much traffic, getting passed on the freeway when you go 85mph, 15 mph speed limit in school zones

WA: more than two kids was considered a big family
AZ: less than 4 kids is considered a small family 


WA: fresh, crisp, clear air
AZ: you are walking around in a sauna, thick air

WA: drizzly, misty rain or a constant light shower, rarely flooding
AZ: downpours, huge raindrops, thunder and lightening, flooding

WA: expensive everything 
AZ: cheaper produce, houses, gas, eating out, and pretty much everything else 

WA: take off your shoes or at the very very least ask if you should when entering anyone's house
AZ: go on in


At the same time, we have begun noticing that they also have similarities and counterparts. For example, the loud noises of the frogs in Washington have simply been replaced here by the loud noises of the cicadas in the trees.

So let's start with the critters.
WA: we had many many sightings around our neighborhood of bunnies, raccoons, coyotes, owls, woodpeckers, frogs, spiders, bluejays, slugs
AZ: we were welcomed into our rental house by a scorpion and too many earwigs, but we have also seen jackrabbits, lizards, pigeons, and cicadas

There are other comparables. Like,

WA: fog
AZ: haboob (dust storms)

WA: rivers, ponds, and natural lakes
AZ: canals, retention basins, and man made lakes


WA: teriyaki restaurants and coffee stands on every corner
AZ: Mexican food everywhere, and plenty of shaved ice and ice cream shops

WA: stinging nettle
AZ: cacti

WA: nature preserve trails 
AZ: canal trails


WA: "traffic calming device" sign, "fish crossing" signs on the road
AZ: "speed hump" sign, "irrigation is reclaimed water-do not drink" signs

WA: always be prepared for the weather--wear layers, bring an umbrella, keep a towel in the car
AZ: wear as close to nothing as you can, bring cold water and sunblock


WA: rain boots
AZ: flip flops

WA: being the first one down the slide at the playground and so getting your bum soaked with water
AZ: being the first one down the slide and getting covered in brown dirt


WA: green grass in your backyard year round
AZ: a swimming pool in your backyard

Those are just some of the things we have noticed between living in Arizona and Washington so far. Both experiences are quite enjoyable, but we sure are grateful to be where we are right now.