Karlie's Back To School Date

We like to start the school year off taking each of the kids out alone on a date.  They get to pick an activity to do with just mom and dad.  I think dining at the fancy restaurants in Mexico gave Karlie and appetite for fine dinning!  She wanted to go out to a nice restaurant with us.
We all got dressed up and headed to Eddie V's Seafood and Steakhouse.  I had never been there either so it was a treat for me as well.  Karlie ordered the crab and shrimp salad, lobster taco appetizers, and Alaskan king crab legs.  She also really enjoyed bites of Max's filet mignon!  Over the courses we discussed how Karlie is doing as well as physical, mental and spiritual goals for the year.  We also talked about five year goals and what she need to start doing to work toward that.  In five years she sees herself getting ready to go to Notre Dame.  We talked about many fun things over the delicious dinner.  Our little girl sure is growing into a lovely lady with big dreams and a big heart.

Back To School 2017

It seems like just yesterday the kids were getting out of school and bam its time to go back to school. :(
 Hailey is a junior this year.  She is taking honors drawing and painting, AP English, photography, algebra II, American history and zoology.
 Karlie is the queen of the campus as an 8th grader.  She is going to have her work cut out for her with high school level Algebra and Spanish classes.
 Kaitlin in in 6th grade and is excited about changing classes and loves how calm and quiet computers class is.
 Hank is in 4th grade.  It is the first time he has been at school without a big sister to watch over him.
 They are all growing up way too fast!
 We were very happy got in a class with a great teacher and his best friend Nick that he has been with since preschool.
Everybody was dressed in their brand new back to school outfits and shoes.  Looking like they are all off to a great start.  I am the only one that cried this year.  Maybe one day I won't be so devastated when they go back to school.  I miss them already and its only been two days.  However, it is amazing how neat the house stays when they are gone all day.

Last Weekend of Summer

We filled our final weekend of summer with as much fun as we could.   I took the girls to get their nails done.  It is always a special treat to have pretty nails.  Hailey and Kaitlin chose to get a pedicure while Karlie opted for a manicure.  I know they are surely growing up when they don't qualify for the kids price anymore!
 We hosted a Back To School BBQ with many of our friends.  It was great to see everyone reconnecting after a summer of travels.  We are so lucky to have such a nice group of family friends.  It is great when the kids and grown ups can play at the same time.  One grown up might have taught the kids to chuck salami at the ceiling fan to see if you can get it to shoot onto the wall and stick!  I keep finding greasy splats!
 On Saturday we went boating with our best friends to celebrate Aimee's 40th birthday!
 Adults day out on the boat is hard to beat.
We got in lots of surfing time.  It is so much fun!  I still can't let go of the rope but I am getting close. One of these days I am going to try it the right way and not be goofy foot with my feet.  I keep telling them they have to do it backward before they can taunt me about letting go of the rope.
 After spending the morning  surfing we blew up the Oasis water island and had a redneck yacht club.  :)
 Happiest birthday wishes!  I told her our 40's are going to be full of adventure and celebrating if her birthday party was any indication.
 As our last supper before school we had a grinder, a true summer favorite.
 With Kaitlin moving onto middle school she now gets to attend our church's back to school RACE.  She is on the Blue Sharks while Karlie and Hailey are on the Black Lions.  A divided family...
 While I can't say I am excited to be going back to school, I am excited to see what wonderful things happen and great memories they will make over the school year.  My Junior year of high school was one of the funnest.  The freedom of driving, later curfews and all the fun and rowdy adventure of being 16!  I know Hailey will have to work very hard but its rewards will be sweet.  Karlie is now the queen of the school and embarking on many changes.  While middle school is generally a rough time, being at the top of it is exciting and brings a new confidence.  Kaitlin is wading into a whole new scene and schedule.  She is lucky to have two big sister to help guide her through the often turbulent waters ahead.
Hank is growing like a weed and it will be interesting to watch him navigate school without the loving and protective care of his big sisters.  Little man is going to have to take care of himself for once!  LOL  Many changes going on this year for sure.

Our Goddess...

Hailey's clavicle break was severe enough to require surgery.  Usually they allow the collarbone to just mend back itself but hers was overlapping so much that it would need to be platted and screwed back in place.
Mayo Clinic Arizona will take patients as early as 16 years old.  She just made it!  We are very grateful to have her taken care of by Mayo.

 The night before we dropped each of the kids off with a friend because Hailey was the first surgery of the day and we had to be there by 6 am.  We took her out for a Dairy Queen treat and watched the sun set.
 An added bonus of going to Mayo was that Max could work a floor away and come down when she needed him.
 Got the mark for the Dr. to fix!
 As mom you have to be strong and not crack so they can be brave.  While Hailey was hurt I managed to put on my most clinical nurse face and reassuringly told her she was going to be fine.  However as soon as they rolled her away toward the operating room the hot tears came rolling down my cheeks.  Hailey was nervous that we couldn't accompany her to the OR.  Luckily the nurse anesthetists gave her some Valium and she was calm and sleepy seconds later.  But it is so hard to watch your baby have to go through pain and fear.  The hour long surgery seemed like forever.  I was so relieved when they called me into see her and learned everything had gone so well.  The doctor said she has excellent bones and it snapped back together like a Lego piece.  Must be all that milk she drinks. :)

She wanted us to video her being silly while coming off of the drugs used in the OR.  Here is our Goddess Beyonce.
My friend brought her a sweet get well package of all the things a healing Goddess needs.  I am happy to report that Hailey is recovering well and hoping to go back to school on Monday.  She has to be in the sling full time for three weeks and then mostly for another three weeks.  This is delaying her new freedom of driving.  She is bummed, I am not! :)

Way Too Much Growing Up Going On!

Going to middle school is a big change.  Not only do the kids get phones, but the ladies are allowed to shave if they want to.  Kaitlin is blessed with the hair growing gene.  She grows thick, luxurious hair rapidly.  She has some of the longest natural eyelashes you have ever seen.  While all that is wonderful for hair and lashes, it is not so great for legs and arms.  She was so excited to shave especially since most of her friends have already.
 We managed to shave both legs without a single cut!  Kaitlin was positively thrilled with her smooth and silky legs.  I was positively dying inside because my last little girl is on the upward slope to becoming a woman.
Max said there is entirely way too much growing up going on in this house, as though he could command time to slow down.  It think seeing Kaitlin practicing applying mascara almost stopped his heart.  He began to protest and I reminded him that this was another big rite of passage allowed for middle school.  Just mascara until next year where a little eye shadow is allowed.  Neither of us are doing very well with this stage.  When they were little you were so excited when they said, "Mama", or crawled or walked.  You felt smug when your kid achieved milestones earlier than your friends' children.  Now we want nothing more than for them to stop flying through the milestones and would love if they were at the low end of normal on achieving developmental milestones.  The term growing pains has never been more real than this year.  They are ready, we just aren't. :(

First Phone!

Guess who got their first phone yesterday?
Getting a phone in our house is a right of passage.  Once they start middle school we allow them to get a phone.  Hailey and Karlie had to prove their responsibleness by having a basic flip phone for a year and half.  They were both upgraded to the coveted iPhone for Christmas of their 7th grade year.  Karlie was literally the ONLY kid she new in school that did not have a smartphone.  Of course we had planned to have Kaitlin suffer through the same humiliation and prove herself. But as the technology wheel spins ever faster, it was now going to be more expensive to get a flip phone than a Samsung smart phone!  They were willing to give us the phone for free where we would have to pay over $100 for a flip phone that basically is used in just emergencies.  So we decided she could get the phone but is not allowed to use data.  We may become Android users after this intro.  They have so many valuable features for parental controls.  We can control from our phones turning of cellular data, setting automatic bedtimes where the phone shuts down to calls only, and monitoring what apps she uses and for how long.  Apple better catch up!  Needless to say Kaitlin is on cloud 9 and her sisters are slightly resentful.  I told them by the time Hank gets to middle school they will probably be giving iPhones away.

Swim Team

With the end of swim team, I know school is just around the corner.  The kids had a great season swimming with their friends and improving as swimmers.
 It might be Karlie's last year.  I suppose once she is in high school she doesn't have to do it if she doesn't want to, but I am hoping to convince her to just keep swimming.  They all got better in their strokes, with Kaitlin being the best at breast stroke and Hank and Karlie both did well in back stroke.  Front stroke is the crowd favorite and butterfly is unanimously the least liked stroke.
So long summer.  :(

Via Ferrata High to Rocky Mountain Low

We have been to Telluride many times but never had time to fit in climbing the Via Ferrata.  From what I remembered it was a steep hike requiring being clipped into a harness.  Aimee handled all the reservations and I didn't think about it until Tuesday morning when we were picked up by our guide.
 When we drove to the trail head I could see a small path and was thinking that would be neat and then the guide continued to trace the trail along the front of the rock face.  Wait!  I didn't sign up to go rock climbing!!  I thought it was a hike.
Our guide said we would have to pass the entrance exam which was a small stretch of the climb that would sample all the technical areas we would continue onto.  If we made it through the entrance exam without having a panic attack, we would likely be OK.  As I looked at the anchor line careening off the mountain I wondered if I would pass the entrance exam.

 We all made it, however Bill was having serious reservations about this idea.  I think after Rim 2 Rim, Havasupai Falls and then this thrilling hike, Bill was also reconsidering his friendship with us!
 After the entrance exam I was feeling pretty good and like I could tackle it!  That all evaporated when we got to the section that would require us to scale the side of Ajax's Peak.  Really, these iron ledges were going to hold me?!  I am not afraid of heights but this was a little insane.  Who installed this and tested it?  Why hadn't I done more research?
Every step required complete concentration.  Living on the edge for sure!
At the end of the Via Ferrata was a bench dedicated to Chuck Kroger, the man who single handedly built the Via Ferrata.
Our guide spoke of Chuck as a true legend.  Apparently he was a pioneer climber in the 60's, ultra runner, cyclist, inventor, metal craftsman, construction company owner, and a mountain renaissance man.  One day as he gazed at Apex Peak he decided Telluride needed a Via Ferrata like the one in the Dolomites of Italy.  Via Ferrata means iron road in Italian.  They were constructed during WWI to assist in moving soldiers.
But the craziest part is that Chuck decided to build the Via Ferrata at night, in secret, and on public land.  He and his wife welded the iron handles in their basement.  Chuck would single handedly climb the mountain, drill holes into the rock face and secure the iron handles all in secrecy under the cover of night.  It took him ten years and he completed the last sections while battling pancreatic cancer.  A real wild man!
We happened to be climbing while a member of the Telluride Mountain Club was officially surveying the route and examining the sturdiness of each rung.  He told us the Forrest Service has wanted to shut it down for years and they have been lobbying to keep it free and open just as Chuck designed it;  there for all who have the heart to enjoy it.  When I look at the picture, I can't agree more.
 We got to cross back over the rock face and I felt much more confident the second time.  It was an awesome experience and has stoked my desire for more thrilling adventures!
When we got home it was time to ride and hike.  Max, Bill, Hailey, Hank, Ben and I wanted to get in a ride while Aimee, Grace, Karlie, Kaitlin and Julianna hit the hiking path.
I was in the back coaching Hank down the mountain.  For most of the ride Hailey had been sandwiched between Bill and Ben and then Max and Hank.  This prevented her from really cutting loose.  She is an avid mountain biker at home.  In the non summer months she goes out nightly.  She loves to go as fast as she can.  However, the desert trails are more flat than the sheer downhill of Telluride.  Toward the end of the trail we paused so Max could coach Hank and I could ride freely.  Hailey had a spot where she could pass Max and and Hank and go full throttle.
With just a 100 yards of the trail to go she hit a bump too fast and flew over her handle bars.  Neither Max or I saw the crash but saw her crumpled up in a ball on the ground.  We rushed down to her and she was having trouble breathing and holding her left arm.  I could tell immediately that she had broken something but were more concerned with her head and neck.  As we examined her and ruled out concussion or neck injury she started to go into shock.  Her skin tone turned yellow and her lips blue.  She started to feel like she was fainting.  I began to worry she had a punctured lung.  At that point we called 911.  An angle showed up at that moment.  A young man happen to be walking down what is usually only a mountain bike trail.  He offered to call 911 and directed the responders to us while we could both focus on Hailey.  Bill took Ben and Hank to Aimee who coincidently was on the way back.  The firefighters made it up the trail in their truck.  I don't know how long it actually took but it seemed like forever.  
 That picture was only taken because while Hailey was in shock she insisted she should take a selfie with daddy.  A daisy was growing right where her head landed so I plucked it and put it in her hair. 
 I can not say enough about the people of Telluride.  Every single person went above and beyond to be good to us.  The fireman offered to take the extra bike and delivered it to the house after he got off work.  The medics were so kind and gentle and the ER doc provider us with her cell phone should we have any trouble in the night.  The nurse also told us she would be on duty the next day and to call for anything.  The pharmacist was getting to know Max on a first name basis after he had called in a prescription for Hank's raging ear infection the first day of the trip and then immediately filled Hailey's prescriptions right before closing.  All that talk about small town hospitality is sure true in Telluride.
We spent Wednesday letting Hailey rest before the big drive home.  I stayed home to play nurse while the crew took the day to ride and hike.  The ladies hiked to Bear Creek Falls while the boys rode.
We had one last celebratory toast.  Grateful that her injury was not worse.  Even though she would need surgery it could have been so much worse.
Telluride is a special place for us.  It was particularly magical staying in a castle on the hill, experiencing the Via Ferrata, and despite the unfortunate injury, seeing the kindness of the folks of Telluride.
 Hailey is already talking about going back and conjuring the trail!  Until next time Telluride...

Telluride Trio: Bike, Hike, Fish

We are in love with Telluride.  As an active family the heat in the summer in Arizona can be oppressive.  It is hard to be stuck inside all summer.  Escaping to Telluride allows us a few days to play outside as much as we can.

 The free Gondola makes mountain bike riding and hiking so easy.  All you have to do is go down!  The first day we took a group circus ride down to the town of Telluride from Mountain Village.  Loading and unloading 11 bikes on and off the Gondola 4 times each way is a bit of an ordeal.  However, it is getting easier and easier as the kids get bigger.
Grace did not have a bike so we brought an extra.  It wasn't until we were on the mountain bike trail that I learned Grace had only learned to ride a bike two years ago and had never been on a mountain bike.  She also had not been on a bike in over a year.  There was a learning curve for sure.  I hung back and coached her while the rest of the gang made their way along the river.  I told her not to worry, I have been the back of the caboose forever and I am always coaching one of the kids.  She was so grateful and relieved.  She picked it up pretty well by the time we made it back to the town.  At that point Bill and Ben went to ride the more serious downs while Hailey and Grace hung out in the town.  The rest of us continued toward Bridal Veil Falls.  Little 6 year old Julianna ended up biking over 10 miles!  We stopped by the river to cool off and Max dunked the kids.  Soaking in the hot tub was a perfect ending.
Max loves Telluride because he can literally ride downhill until his legs scream and his hands can't break anymore.  The last day he biked for most of the day and came back a muddy mess but you couldn't wipe the grin off his face.
The next day we headed up to Alta lakes to fish.  Grace had never been fishing before either and was very excited.  By the end of the afternoon she was helping me bait hooks!
 This is by far one of my favorite activities in Telluride.  The kids are so excited to real in the big guys and you could not imagine a more picturesque place to sit on the banks.  With so many poles in the water someone is always casting or reeling one in.
 I felt bad for Max, he was the only man on deck as Bill had to work.  Usually Pops and he are the dynamic fishing duo and are continually helping string lines, net fish, pull out hooks, and fix broken bobbers or caught lines.  
 With this team everyone was wanting Max's help.  I tried to help by netting and stringing fish, and bating hooks.  But removing the hooks was still a daddy job.  :)
We were wildly successful!  Everyone caught a huge fish.
Max was going to have his work cut out for him cleaning all the fish.

 It was a gorgeous and fun day by the lake.

One big dysFUNctional family that reeked like fish.
 When we got back to the castle, Max and I took a little nap in the drizzling rain.
 Max seems to always have the perfect beverage for the occasion.
The chess board got a lot of use between Max and Karlie and Hank and Ben.
 Ben is in the chess club and was coaching Hank on how to play.
 For those of us a little less cerebral, we played Jenga.  It was so peaceful playing games and listen to the rain fall.
 Hank and Ben played outside constantly.  They were hauling sticks and wood from the side of the house to make a fort.  They thought they were Mindcrafting outside.
 The golf balls were treasure, especially the colored ones.  It was awesome to just let him run around and play.  That is one of the things I miss most about Colorado summers, is the kids running free in the backyard and over to friends' houses.  In Arizona it can be life treating to play out in the heat and there are dangerous snakes, pokey cactus, and high walls making it impossible to go play.  The pool is your only respite but that requires an adult to supervise too.
 We attempted to go out to a nice dinner in the town one night but after waiting 2 hours we ditched Main St. Telluride and went to Mountain Village for some pizza.
Max found another perfect Ale to try.  :)
 One night we decided to do S'mores.  Bill, the former Boy Scout, had us laughing till we cried as he attempted to make the fire.  After several attempts with the kindling and newspaper and nothing but smoke, Max walked over and turned on the gas switch and had a roaring fire.   Who knew the real fireplace also had a gas lighter sticking out of the wood holder.
 We ate and celebrated enough for an entire summer!
Hailey and Grace wanted to try the chair.  You start out with a chair under each of your backs and then someone pulls the chairs out from under each person until we were all holding each other up without any chairs under us!  Lean on me...  It was fun from morning till night until Tuesday.  Tuesday morning we would set out to do Telluride's Via Ferrata.