Friday, July 27, 2012

School Begins!

After three long years of waiting, Kallie finally gets to ride the bus with Paige! She has been accompanying me to the bus stop for the last three years and kept asking and asking, "WHEN DO I GET TO RIDE THE BUS?" Her day finally arrived!

And then, the bad news... Mom is driving you today so she can get pictures (sorry Isabella!). But first, the obligatory pictures before we leave.
This is the best smile I could get out of Paige, my third-grader... she was a little shy at first.
The teacher showed Kallie where to put her lunch and backpack.
Ready to learn!
It was a long day without my little Kallie. I kept looking at the time and thinking, "Not yet?!?!" Finally, 3pm rolled around and it was off to the bus stop. Here are the girls and their neighbor friend, Isabella, getting off the bus together.
It's going to be a great year!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Summar-y

I've got a few random pictures from summer that I wanted to share, so here's your summer summar-y. Okay, May isn't officially summer, and the kids weren't even out of school yet, but I never posted pictures from Paige and Kallie's dance recital. I've signed them up for several sessions of the tap, jazz, and acro combo offered through the city. It's not a fancy dance class, but it's inexpensive and they have a performance at the end... so, it's perfect!

This was "Baby, baby, can't you hear my heart beat?" I like how all the girls seem to be doing different moves. Kallie was actually one of the better ones :) Some of those girls were completely lost.
Can't remember the song she danced to, but her class was a little more in step.
Sassy chicks!
One day (like many days), Kallie was bored and asked if she could run in the sprinklers. She ran around excitedly and giggled with delight! Can you see it in her face?
As soon as school got out, it was time for swimming lessons. Last year, Kallie got somewhat comfortable putting her head under and even kicking from me to the stairs, but this year it was like starting all over again.
Luckily, she relearned everything quickly and was able to advance to the next level. She's very comfortable underwater now, and swims all over the place!
Paige is still a strong swimmer. She's the far one in this picture (the one who's winning!).
This year, she started working on diving, and I was so proud of her determination. I didn't learn to dive until I was 13! Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of her diving, but here's her back float.
As I mentioned in my last post, my friend and neighbor invited me to go to a performance of Alice in Wonderland at the Broadway Palm Theater. I had already promised my girls I would take them swimming at the public pool that day, and I didn't want to back out, but I also wanted to be there for my friend. She only had one ticket, though, so I could only bring Brandon because he was free. When I explained my predicament to my girls, Paige said, "Mom, we can go to the pool any day. You can only go to the play today. Go to the play!" So grown up of her to say that!!

Here are the kids with some of the characters.
Alice and the Cheshire Cat!
When I got home, Russ told me that the girls volunteered out of the blue to clean up the house while I was gone. They cleaned the patio doors and made my bed. Anyone who has kids and cleans house knows that this is a rare and awesome treat. I like how they put stuffed animals in the middle of my bed. Melt my heart!!
I told them I was going to take them to get a sweet treat for being so sweet, so we went out for froyo later. That night after the kids were in bed, I found this little note on my computer chair.
It's days like these that make motherhood so rewarding!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Little Messer

I have to admit it... I am out of my element with this kid. Some people tell me boys are just wired different, but I've seen my share of girl messers. I think once in a while you just get lucky.

Well, I can't say he's different in every way... all of my kids seems to love shoes. There's the story of Paige at 18 months, who was riding around in the stroller while I was shopping when suddenly I noticed she had two giant blue women's shoes on. Where did her shoes go? I returned to the rack where I had been shopping to find two little (used-to-be) white shoes sitting neatly on the bottom rack. Then there's Kallie, who was always wearing whatever shoes she found around the house. Brandon is no different... big, small, girls, boys... he'll put on any shoe he finds... even on his hands.
And then there's the makeup. Ah, the makeup. Ladies, do we all have makeup stories? He gets my eyeshadow brush and uses it like a paintbrush in my foundation... and he doesn't do it neatly. No, that brush is caked with makeup... I'll never get it all the way clean again.

And, of course, the mascara. Was he trying to look like Daddy or something? He looks awfully proud of his handy work!
I'm just glad I can keep my cool enough to take a picture and capture it for posterity. The mascara is long since forgotten, but my little messer... oh no, I'll never forget that! His face is so darn handsome, how can I be mad?
We dogsat for my parents while they were on vacation, and as soon as Brandon spotted the dog food, he exclaimed, "Cocoa Puffs!" and popped one in his mouth. The other kids had a good laugh with that one. Little Brandon had a great time splashing in Marley's water and yelling "No Marley!" Although not quite the dog whisperer, he did seem to connect with her and talk to her at length, getting nice and cozy on her peepee carpet (ew). But I knew they couldn't really be best of friends when Brandon started hitting Marles for no apparent reason... naughty new habit!
Thursday, my friend invited me to go see a play with her and told me to bring Brandon along. I got him dressed (and yeah, sometimes he goes all day in his PJs, so getting dressed is a special occasion), and just as I got finished telling my friend I was on my way, I found him in the bathroom like this:
Brandon! Argh! There goes half a bottle of conditioner.

I can't end this post without a tantrum story. I do not know why, but this kid seems to be grumpy a lot. Next time you see a kid throwing a fit in a grocery store, just feel sorry for the mom and move along. I can't even remember why he was throwing a fit, but he laid face down, flat out in the produce section of the grocery store and started crying and kicking his legs! I have never seen such a spectacle from one of my own! I put him in the cart as punishment and went to get my tomatoes. When I looked back, he was leaning over the side of the cart, balancing on his tummy, legs flailing in the air, and just about ready to dump out onto his noggin! I screamed, ran over to him and put him in the seat with the buckle. Oh boy, he was NOT happy! The really nice man at the bakery offered him a balloon, which did shut him up, but of course gave him reason to throw a tantrum next time. Sigh.

This was taken during today's tantrum in time out. He wasn't crying; he was screaming like a pterodactyl every few seconds. What he doesn't know is how much enjoyment I am getting out of recording this little episode for my blog :)
Lest you think my Brandon is a terror, let me tell you that he only likes to look tough. He has four older siblings, he's really short, and he has to be loud to get attention. Not making excuses! When you see him making mean eyes at you, though, just try smiling back... he can't help but break out into a giant grin. He gives me loves and kisses, he's super curious, and really sweet when he wants to be. He is a little parrot, always copying what other people say. He likes to sing, especially "Rio" and the Rapunzel song ("Flower gleam and glow..."). Lately he started singing this song: "Tonight... we are young... set the world FIRE... higher... sun..." or something like that. He was singing that yesterday, and of course when I got the camera out, he was dead silent. Hopefully I can get a good video of him singing that song, but I will have to give it subtitles so you can understand him.

Oh my little Brando... so glad you're in our family.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Jones Sweet Jones

We didn't have any family nearby when we lived in Utah, but we had the Jones. Right after we moved to Arizona, they moved to New Mexico, which made me happy since they were closer to Phoenix there than if they had stayed in West Point. We have been visiting them every year since, but always wish they lived closer. I really miss making fresh salsa from the tomatoes and peppers in Leesa's salsa garden!! She would always give me a big basket of fresh tomatoes when I came over, and I have dreamed of having her tomatoes pop in my mouth and run down my chin ever since.

We stayed at their house on the way up to Denver, and all during the rest of our trip to Colorado, the girls would keep saying the night at the Jones house was their favorite part of the trip so far. We could have saved a lot of money by just staying there!

The first day, we went to see the (creepy) tooth fairy at the local library, and then we took the kids to the park.
I think it was record heat that day, so I don't know what we were thinking. The whole time, the kids just wanted to go back home.
Looks like I got some pictures of them smiling, though, so it must not have been too bad.
Back home, Paige and Emmee played Carcassonne.
Kallie and Cassidee spent hours in this little tiny pool.
Brandon spend most of his time playing alone... that is, when he wasn't being hit by Andrew (the blondie on the left). With an age difference of just one month, they definitely had a little rivalry going on.
Dan turned on the music when it was time to clean up the house, and after that was done, the kids had a dance party.
The next day, we wised up a bit and took the kids to a splash pad.
Slushies and splashing... would could be more summery than that?
Leesa was super pregnant. Just a few days after we left, she gave birth to a baby boy! Congratulations Jones!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Final CO Adventures

You saw everything we did. By this last day of our Colorado vacation, our energy was diminishing, but my tough little explorers pressed on. A metal walkway had been built inside this canyon so that visitors could gain access...
Welcome to Box Canyon Falls in Ouray, Colorado. The force of the water has cut the canyon so far back that you can barely see the waterfall from the end of the walkway. Spectacular rock formations, though.
As we approached, the thunderous flow of the waterfall percussed upon our mortal frames, and we became intensely aware of our puny stature against Mother Nature's dominating might (yes, I've been meeting with the thesaurus).
We couldn't even see the waterfall when we got to the very bottom of the stairway, but it got us wet anyway.
The pathway back out...
After you go in the canyon, then you can climb over the canyon. This part was a bit steep and rocky, but luckily the girls and I had our all-purpose hiking flip-flops on! A sensational view of Ouray was always by our side...
Taking a breather.
He loved throwing rocks everywhere he went on this trip... such a boy.
At the top, there is a bridge spanning the canyon. The narrowing contour of the landscape is perhaps the reason for the vigorous wind... I gotta lay off the thesaurus... too much of a good thing is ridiculous!
A commanding view of the river below.
Once in a while, I make Russ snap a picture of me to prove this wasn't just a vacation with Dad and the kids. I don't want them to start thinking he's the "fun" parent when they look back at our family photos!
What is it about tunnels that is so fascinating? I don't know anyone who doesn't get a little bit excited when they come upon a tunnel. This one was made for a water delivery project in the 50's, but now it is just for fun!
We popped out the other side. I like this photo because you can see all the way through to the other end of the tunnel with Paige's silhouette in the middle.
I told you I would need more adjectives to describe the million dollar highway, but then realized I only snapped two pictures that were even worth keeping. Know why? Because all the pictures were so disappointing compared to being there live, heart beating, in surround sound, and with a 360 degree view.
Our last stop of the day was Mesa Verde National Park. We had limited time because we were planning to have dinner with our friends in Bloomfield, New Mexico, so we ended up only visiting the largest of the cliff dwellings that didn't require a ticket for a ranger led tour... Spruce House.
This is my favorite picture, perhaps of all pictures from our trip. They are making shadow puppets in the light that is streaming down into one of the kivas. The crispness of the beam of light and the joy on their faces makes this a gem in my heart. I only wish they had a mother who kept their hair nice and neat.
The hike back up really got our hearts pounding, especially for me with an extra 30 pounds of dead weight on my back... okay, maybe he's not THAT heavy.
Next up, pictures with our friends in Bloomfield! Almost done! Don't worry, we haven't been doing much of anything since we got back, so you're not missing anything because of my slowness to post... it's just that there's nothing to miss!

Gee, that's nice of me to suppose someone cares :)