September 29, 2020

back to school round two

I think this is how we all felt when schools closed down last March.

And when they stayed closed.

And then when the start of school was postponed and the calendar year was adjusted to take away our longer fall and spring breaks.

And then we had to do virtual school.

But here we are finally taking steps towards normal school again! And back to in person instruction for half of the kids.

Happy, happy days!

This little Brinna Lou started at preschool for two mornings a week.

I can not believe how much she is growing up.

Hands down, three year olds are the best!

Maybe a little emotional and sassy, too. But I love everything about this three year old of ours.

I'm excited for her to have some new experiences at preschool. 

Though I very much miss her, I think the time at school is so good.

She gives me the best I love you squishy faces.

The best.

Oh, we love her so!

That cheese grin!

Perry and Layla have started in person instruction as well. Perry got to go to school a week before Layla did. Perry rides the bus. Layla and I walk to school each morning. There was a lot of big feelings about the requirement to wear masks. However, even though we still don't like it, Layla and Perry will both wear face shields. Perry has a medical exemption so they are not supposed to be pushing him about it. And when they did it caused some big behaviors. So, it's a year of learning and adjustment. But we are happy these guys all have in person instruction right now. And we can't wait for the high schoolers to get to go back, too!!

September 26, 2020


We had one more mini family vacation. It was Layla's turn to plan our outing. She picked Subway for lunch and then Sunsplash water park in the evening.

I can not even tell you how weird it was to be back at sunsplash! It always brings me back to high school days when I worked at Big Surf and then could get into all the waterparks for free. So many memories there! And so many things have not changed one bit. ;) Anyways, it was fun to take our little family there for a couple of hours. We rode all the rides, played in the wave pool, floated the lazy river, and only had a few moments of kid behavior that I wish to block from my memory.

I love when we get to have fun and do something different together as a family. These guys make me laugh and I love to be around them.

September 24, 2020

Escape Room 12: The Cabin at Escape Chandler

 Escape: Chandler is definitely one of the best Escape Room venues in Arizona!!

I'm so glad we made it to this place again. A couple of years ago we went here with some friends to do the room "Tony's Bistro." We didn't have a lot of escape room experience then, but it was really well done and we had a lot of fun. Though, we only made it out because we were granted a minute extension. 

But since then, Escape: Chandler has been on our list to go back to. We finally had the chance to try another room, The Cabin, with our friends. IT WAS AMAZING!

The atmosphere, the details, the puzzles--everything was top notch. They created a cabin scene that even had the smell of the woods. Pretty incredible. The puzzles were varied and logical but made you think and work. They had some cool mechanical elements. They had some interesting details, but not so many and so random that it was frustrating or anything. It was a blast!

We didn't ask for a single clue and escaped with 27:22 left on the clock. Our game master (who happened to be the owner) came bursting in stunned and asked us our team name. We were a little confused, but she explained we were so good that we had to be a team that goes around together completing escape rooms and breaking records. Hahaha. She certainly made us feel good about our genius skills and teamwork in an escape room. 

Inspired by the vacation that brought us together, we became team "UnBELIZEable"! And then got our picture taken for the Facebook page.

Anyways, I am giving this one 5 stars--and that is not just because we broke the record and became famous;). It really is one of the best Escape Rooms in Arizona!

The Cabin at Escape: Chandler= *****

September 18, 2020

the gift to clean


Today is Friday. It's cleaning day. Just like most Fridays are. We blast music and then we pick up and put away. We sweep, vacuum, mop, dust, and clean bathrooms. Everyone pitches in until the house is clean. Once a week I am guaranteed at least a few hours with a clean house. 

Today when I started vacuuming my third room, I started thinking about how much cleaning I had been doing that morning and how good I still felt. Memories of trying to clean during cancer treatments started flooding over me. I remember it was literally exhausting to dump a load of laundry into the wash. I had to sit down on the laundry room floor for a few minutes after starting a load. It took an incredible amount of effort to wipe down a kitchen countertop. I remember crying as I tried to pick up toys off the floor and put them away. I don't have any memories of vacuuming so I probably altogether abandoned that during those months. (We were so blessed when someone gifted us a house cleaner for the last couple of months of my chemo treatments. I am forever grateful for that.)

As these memories poured in, I was so happy that today there I was cleaning my floors. It's exactly what I wanted to be doing. What an amazing thing to get to do! I felt well enough to mop floors after that. And help Brinna pick up her toys in her room. Oh, how lucky am I to be strong enough to do all of those things today!! 

Each day is a gift and the ability to clean is incredible. 

(One day I hope my kids fondly remember cleaning days.) 

September 16, 2020

more river time

I know, I know. Another river post.

I just can’t help it though. 

The flowing river has been my lifeline. I’m still there at least once a week. And it is GORGEOUS there so I can’t resist pictures. 

But this particular river run was a special one. Partly because it was quite the adventure just about everything went wrong that day—I had to turn around twice to get forgotten oars and life jackets and arrived there to find a leak in the seam on one of our boards. A man at the parking lot borrowed our pump and then he offered to help fix our leak with duct tape (thank goodness for having some in the truck!). FYI duct tape is not the wise choice on your paddle board, but after everything we went through to get there I just couldn’t bring myself to end the adventure at the parking lot. My board was squishy at the end of the river, but we made it.

But mostly what made it special was bringing Layla, my niece, Macie, and Jacqui. 

It was their first time paddle boarding!

From start to end this river run took more time than it usually does. But that's expected when you have some girls on the boards who just want to have fun.

At Layla's request, we stopped at the rope swing for some hanging fun. YOu can tell who the gymnasts in the family are...

And who is just there to party.

We saw some absolutely beautiful groups of horses. As we would pass them, the girls would each claim their own and give them a name, usually they were either named Snow or Brownie.

Sometimes the river is too dreamy.

And sometimes we get a little crazy.

The girls were so excited by the little colt we saw towards the end. There was also a hug group of paddleboarders that we ran into.

We made it to granite reef at the prettiest time.

It was the latest I have ever been on the river so it was a little tricky to get packed up in the dark next to the huge group of paddleboarders, but I talked to some nice people and got some good paddleboarding information. While the girls had some fun with my phone.

The little girls are already begging for another paddle boarding adventure!