It's the most wonderful (and exhausting) time of the year! We do love it! Every year I tell myself the next year I am going to be better prepared, so I'll be able to relax a bit more the next year, and every year, I fail at that! BUT, all the last minute craziness and prep is worth it in the end...after all, it is Christmas! We love the magic of it all. This year was extra special, Amanda was here, so we had our whole family under one roof! Santa brought the boys the Play Station 3 they had been wanting...but Hunter was a bit disappointed the dog he'd asked for wasn't here, he was sure Santa would come through in the end. Oh well, there is always next year, right? No worries, there were plenty of other toys to play with. Months of prep, and in a matter of minutes we were drowning in gift wrap, boxes and toys. We enjoyed our annual prime rib dinner, which is always highly anticipated. And I swear, next year, I'm going to be more prepared!
Tonight, Amanda arrived :) Well, I guess in the holiday rush, her bags didn't make it on the plane she was traveling on, and wouldn't be in for over three hours! So she and Scott came home, we enjoyed dinner, then went back to the airport to get her bag. On the way home, we nearly got side swiped by a car! Thankfully with lots of sets of eyes, we spotted the car, and were able to change lanes. We then realized the person behind the wheel was certainly under the influence of something. We decided to follow, and call 911. It was scary to watch as this driver nearly hit at least a dozen cars, and frustrating at the same time. Each time the car exited the freeway or got back on we were transferred to the police department or to the highway patrol, new set of ears, and giving the same info over and over again to different dispatchers. Finally, the car took out an exit sign, and began spinning as the car took out a good 50-100 feet of guard rail. We stopped, Scott got out to make sure the person was alright. Out of the passenger side crawls the driver...furloughed on work release from tent city. Fortunately for her, her airbags probably saved her life. Divine intervention most likely saved dozens of lives. She was arrested as soon as the police arrived, I guess some people just don't learn.
She's Mobile! She's been taking a few steps here and there, but today, in McDonalds Playland of all places she got up, stood there, and started walking...and kept right on going! She doesn't want to crawl anymore, she's upright!
It's hard to believe, every time one of your babies have another birthday, your baby is growing up! Hunter is 7! This year, he wanted a Christmas tree cake for his birthday, pizza, and art "stuff"...check, check and check! The kids also get so excited in anticipation of a card (and cash) from Granny, and this year was no exception!
With Amanda coming for Christmas, I wanted to make her something special from her Brothers and Sisters. I came across this idea on Pinterest (if you dont know Pinterest, you need to, it's wonderful!), with some modification, it made the perfect gift. It's a handprint tree :) I used scrapbook paper, then painted their hands and pressed (and prayed)...it came out wonderful!!! The picture doesn't do it justice. It says, "Seasons may change- but we begin and end with family." Inside of the heart on the tree "Brothers+Sisters 4ever" She loves it! And now that she has seen it, I can share a picture.
The Character Trait of the Month this month at Leading Edge was caring...and Mr Cook felt Blake best fit that trait. Blake has always had a kind heart when it comes to others. Especially others that may not fit societies mold, or may face challenges and difficulties in daily life. From the time he was in preschool, his teachers have shared with me how he has displayed this trait of caring...so it isn't something that comes as much of a surprise. None the less, it's something I'm glad he was recognized for, cause he really deserves the recognition.
One thing I really love about the boys school is the fact that being a charter school, they are able to have Christmas and Holiday programs and activities at School. It's something I always enjoyed doing and am glad they get to do as well. Tonight we attended North Poll Diaries. It was a rainy night tonight, a real treat in the desert, making it feel much more Christmas-y, than had it been 90 degrees! Blake and Logan each tried out and got "parts" which was fun. Logan a lead Elf, and Blake a Rapper! We somehow got lucky enough to get seats front and center, so we got some decent video too!
I always look for opportunities to capture the moment, so this year I made salt dough ornaments as a playgroup with my mommy friends. It was crazy, but fun, and they came out pretty cute. When they were dried, I spray painted them white, added their names and some ribbon. Love them, just had to share!
We have so much to be thankful for, and we don't take the time to realize it, so its nice we have an entire day to focus on all we have, how fortunate we really are and spend time with family and friends. This year we spent the day at home, with the company of friends. Justin, Krystle and family joined us, we feasted on a wonderful turkey dinner with all the trimmings! Krystle made a Carmel apple pie for dessert...mmmm, delicious! Let the holiday weight gain begin!
Logan is always an all around great student, and this year being no exception. This months Character Trait was Citizenship. Mrs. Rios felt Logan best fit the description of best in Citizenship, which encompasses all the character traits Leading Edge Academy focuses on. Logan is certainly an achiever, and goes beyond the expectations when it comes to his Education!
Each year, Leading Edge Academy has a poetry recital. The kids are given a few weeks to chose and memorize a poem. Each teacher picks two kids from the class that best memorize and recite to the class. This year Logan was one of those kids. He recited "My Grandpa" by Kenn Nesbitt. He got to go to the middle school campus, for the recital. He was quite confident...until he got on that stage and saw all the eyes on him! He did trip up a bit...but that's ok, we had fun with it, and we're proud of him for going through with it.
Oh my, where has the year gone?!?! Our baby Girl is a year old, how can that be?!?! We enjoyed the day as a family, ate cupcakes with pink sprinkles...she knew exactly what to do, we've been practicing! She opened some presents...which her brothers seemed to enjoy just as much as she did. She weighs 22.4 pounds, and is 29 1/2 inches.
As always, Halloween is lots of fun! One great thing about Arizona is that the weather is very agreeable (nice after a long summer!) This year, Blake was a "nerd" or should I say "N3RD," Logan was a Warlock, Hunter a Zombie Doctor, Carson was Batman, and of course Ava, our Pink Fairy. Ava made it a whole four houses, when I noticed she was already sleeping. We got LOTS of candy! One of the benefits of a large family!!
Bass Pro Shop is always fun, but their seasonal special events are even funner! We took advantage of their Halloween Event. The boys colored their own treat bags...which were really nice! We roasted Marshmallows and had our picture taken in the Great Pumpkin Patch!
The temps are finally coming down! We decided to do a backyard camp out! We pitched the tent, ordered pizza (ok, I know that's not exactly camping...but it was fun and easy), had a fire in our half done fire pit, made smores, slept under the stars, and woke to a big breakfast, courtesy of me! It was lots of fun!!
This Morning we were fotunate enough to get a quick visit from Tania and Amanda. They were in Phoenix for one day for a Bridal Shower, so we met for Breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Wish it could have been longer, but it was so nice seeing them today!
There are several lakes near us, one of which it seems like nobody goes to. We decided to give it a try as a day trip. First we called, the lady at the visitors center told us hardly nobody goes out there because part of the drive out is unpaved, which shouldn't really be a problem we thought, and she also told us she didn't want to discourage us from coming. Well...I can say I've now been to Apache Lake, it was lovely, barely anyone there, and I will NEVER go again! It was the most uncomfortable car ride ever. The road was SO bumpy, it took an hou and a half to drive the eight unpaved miles. We did enjoy our time there, and picnic, and privacy...didn't so much enjoy the trip home. BUT, I can say- I've been to Apache Lake!
I know, I know, you've probably never heard of it, and I know at first, it'll sound crazy. See the problem is, for the last year and a half, I've been having some problems with the laundry. Not only do we have a lot of it, as you can imagine 7 people do, but our laundry room is down stairs on one side of the house, and our bedrooms are upstairs on the other side. So laundry involves me, going up and down the stairs like a pack mule. Another issue is that in all honesty, the laundry wasn't making it upstairs, unless we were having company (about once a week). I'd fold the laundry on the couch, and everyone would come down and start shuffling through...DISASTER!
The other thing that wasn't workin' for us was our pantry, our pantry and our laundry room...same room! We don't know who designed our house, but come on, laundry room/pantry...geesh!
So, Scott and I have been discussing idea's, looking for storage solutions, talking about dumb butler or laundry shoot, etc. Then I came across the family closet idea! I made the suggestion to Scott, waiting for him to tell me I was nuts, but he liked the idea! Well, one day I decided I was going to get started on it myself! That morning, I dropped the kids off at school, and went to Walmart in search of storage bin options for my new family closet. I walked in and right there in the center aisle I see stackable bins, regularly $5 on clearance for $1!!! So, here is what my new Family closet looks like (mind you the floor still needs tile...and Scott, if you're reading this, the tile is in the garage, whenever you feel the motivation!) I love it!
Scott got these lower cabinets off a job site, they were getting thrown away (we are going to put a counter top on soon). We took our pantry shelves out (there were two rows), and put a closet shelf in place of the top one. Then bins on top, my $1 bins! And under the cabinets, more of my stackabe $1 bins. In the drawers I have belts, hats, bows, accessories, etc.
I've got two laundry baskets, one for dark and one for lights...don't mind Ava, she's sorting.
And on the other side of the room, my washer and dryer...and I hang dry clothes on that rack. At some point I can also add more bins on that shelf if we need extras, but for now we still have a few empty in the lower cupboards.
So, all that space we had for our food was now gone...yikes! So I moved some stuff around in the kitchen, still wasn't quite cutting the mustard. Then it hit me! I had a cabinet upstairs that would match our woods downstairs!
Cans, dry food, box food baking, etc...
And snack foods in here! So, the total cost of what this project cost was less than $30! Lovin' it!
Our Baby Girl has her first tooth! We had been at a playgroup and when we came home I was playing with her an noticed her gums on top looked puffy. I lifted her lip and could see the outline of her top four teeth! They weren't poked through, but thet were not far off! I was thinkin' if her tops were that close her bottoms which are usually first must be really close! I stuck my finger in and sure enough, felt a nice sharp tooth in there!! She's such a trooper too, no complaints, just a bit of a runny nose.
And she certainly has opinions. She is becoming much more vocal (Mama is her favorite :). She loves being outside, eating yogurt, and baths are still a favorite. She is beginning to wave, and hold her arms out for you when you reach out for her. Ava is starting to give kisses...mostly the messy, drooly ones! She is wearing 12 month clothes...she's advanced that way! She's still toothless. Ava loves her brothers, and they love her back!
After a LOOOOOOONNNNNGGGG summer (according to me), the boys are back to school! Blake is in 5th, Logan in 4th and Hunter is in 1st. Blake has his first male teacher, Mr. Cook, which he was nervous about...but so far so good! Logan has a first year teacher, Mrs. Rios, who was the student teacher in Blake's class last year and was great. Hunter has Mrs. Voss, Blake had her for 4th, his first year at Leading Edge, and Logan had her last year...we already love her, so we are thrilled to have her again for Hunter.
At Ava's well child appointment, I thought it seemed odd that the doctor and nurses kept coming in and measuring Ava's head. Then the doctor said that her head measured unusually large, and that he thought she should have a CT scan. He said that a large head could be suggestive of hydrocephalus, bleeding in the brain, or brain tumors. All scary things! I mentioned that it would seem to me that if there was a problem like that she would probably not be hitting her milestones, or would seem uncomfortable, or unhappy...which just isn't Ava! But, to make sure, I of course agreed to get one done. I saw the order, and it listed "macrocephaly" as the diagnosis, so I went home and googled...ok, bad idea, because the images that came up were upsetting. For two weeks I stressed over this darn Scan, since they were not planning on sedating her, the location had no restraints, and she'd need to hold still...yea, right, she's 8 months old! Well, the day came...Ava had an army of prayer warriors on her side! To all of our amazement, including the staff at the imagine center, she held still and we got the Scan! And 4 days later the results were in, NORMAL! No macrocephaly, perfect in every way! Amen!
We decided to give the Arizona Youth Museum in Mesa a try! It's a children's museum dedicated to creating a love of art. The boys enjoyed spending the morning folding origami, drawing, dressing up in the Peanuts themed costumes, black light room (currently made to look like the Great Pumpkin Patch...complete with glow in the dark puzzles!) Unfortunately the morning ended with Logan jumping on Hunters back while dressed as Snoopy...Hunter thought his arm was broken and I had to try to peel a Snoopy costume off a crying sweaty kid. Thankfully Hunter recovered, no trip to the hospital necessary. All in all, a good day!
One of the favorite hobbies for the boys is fishing! Most mornings start with the boys heading off to the lake. Often times the doorbell is ringing bright and early, when other kids in the neighborhood are coming to see if the boys are home, or already at the lake. The fish in our lake eat more hot dogs and bread than our family does! I don't know how they brave the heat but I think they are angler addicts!