12 Days of Giving ~ Day 5

Another one of our favorite ways to give is to make blankets for Project Linus.  Their mission is to "provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are serious ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts for new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer blanketers."
 The kids really enjoy giving with hands on projects.  They love making the cozy blankets and always want to snuggle up in them.
 Hopefully these blankets can provide a little warmth and love to a child in need.

12 Days of Giving ~ Day 4

One of our favorite 12 days of giving is to serve dinner to the veterans a MANA house.  MANA house is a transitional home for vets working to get back on their feet.  They are always so appreciative for the meal and the kids love serving.  Karlie chatted with one man over dinner and he seemed thrilled to have someone to talk to.  When we got in the car the kids all asked if we can try to do MANA house more often.  That was a gift to me.
One principle I really want to pass onto my children is to love thy neighbor.  There are so many needs in the community, the state, the U.S, and the world.  All you have to do is decide to open yourself to filling a little of the void.  We always get more out of these 12 days than we put into it.

12 Days of Giving ~ Day 3

For our third day of giving we dropped off our Christmas gifts to our Adopt-a-Senior Samantha.  There are hundreds of low income seniors that have no family to provide gifts.
Samantha wanted some new pants, a robe, hand towels and an electric can opener.  Along with her requests we bought her toiletries, stamps, a calendar and a gift card for groceries.  Hopefully we blessed her a little this Christmas.

12 Days of Giving ~ Day 2

For our 2nd day of giving we packed up a box of stateside goodies to send to a marine troop deployed overseas from Arizona.  Through Anysoldier.com you can select a soldier that has requested a care package.  You can choose the branch, where they are deployed from, and a male or female soldier.
The soldier we chose wanted treats, deodorant and wipes.  We packed the box as full as we could and wrote him and his troop thank you letters.  It is such a small gift for those who are willing to give it all.

12 Days of Giving ~ Day 1

It is the most wonderful time of the year!  Holly is back and it is time for our 12 Days of Giving.
 Holly helped make the 5:30 am wake up call a little warmer and sweeter with hot chocolate for the kids.
We had so much fun running for the Make A Wish Foundation last year everyone wanted to do it again this year!
I am so proud of everyone as we were all faster this year than last year.  I paired up with Kaitlin and Max buddied with Hank while the two big girls ran on their own.  I think I am in trouble.  It took everything I had to keep up with Kaitlin.  She has a serious competitive streak in her and wasn't about to let Karlie beat her.  This led to a dead sprint for the last 0.4 miles.
 Kaitlin had a 9:52 average mile/minute, then me trying to keep up with her at 10:00. Karlie and I raced to the end and she came in at 10:01.  Hailey cruised in at 10:54 and Max and Hank had a 11:07.
We ran into some friends who love to run too.
The kids love this race because they get a cute jacket and yummy treats at the end.
We were all pretty bushed but happy to have been a part of raising money for the Make A Wish foundation.

Bountiful November

As we approach Christmas it seems time starts to accelerate.  I can't believe November is over!  Looking back it was a bountiful month.
Pops calls Kaitlin the administrator and we affectionately call her the police.  Kaitlin has a beat on everything going on around her.  I have never seen a more globally aware child.  She knows the other kids' schedules better than they know their own schedules.  She has saved me more than a few times with reminders to check if food is safe for Hank or to bring the Epipen to a friends house.
She is also all heart.  She always wants to help a friend or family in need.  She will tutor Hank, help me bake, play a game with Karlie, and hang with Hailey.  I loved seeing her "Minor Behavior Intervention Sheet" that her science teacher sent home.  It said the Incident was: "Kaitlin continued being kind and friendly to other students in class and would not stop."  He said she need to write an apology letter, have think time, be re-directed, peer mentor, seat change, lunch detention, and mediation.  :)  With reports like these coming home, I know Kaitlin is the same at school as she is at home.
Our close group of friends went out one Saturday to celebrate Joey's birthday!
That is some serious day drinking with an entire bottle of champagne!
I prefer my meal replacement Bloody Mary.
These guys are so much fun.
When we weren't goofing off with our friends we were at sports.  Hanks team won the championship!  He was so excited to get such a big trophy.
November is a stressful time as it is club volleyball try out time.  First you have to decide if you want return to the same club or try a different club and then you never know what team you will make.  After seeing how much Karlie improved under her high school coach, we realized we needed to find a different club.  We went to many different open houses trying to find the right one.  She settled on a new club with some excellent coaches.  They are small but we think Karlie will get a lot of instruction and playing time which will hopefully help her make the JV team next year.
This was Kaitlin's first year to try out for club.  Just because one club is right for Karlie does not mean it was right for Kaitlin.  We visited many open houses for her as well.  That meant for two weeks I drove and watched a volleyball open house every night.  Kaitlin settled on a different club and made the same team with one of her best friends!  We are going to have a volleyball tournament every single weekend except for three from the first of January until the middle of May.  I am not sure how we are going to work Hank's lacrosse and basketball in yet, but we will find a way.
November was full of food, friends, family and fun.  The weather reminds me why so many people live here.  It is perfect around 70 and sunny.  One night I had to pull over as I was driving home alone from one of the many activities and pause.  It is easy to get lost in the hustle.  Watching this magnificent sunset reminded me to slow down and take it all in.  It is a blessed and bountiful time.

100 Mile November

 I have been running 100 miles each October for the last couple years.  However, I just did not have the giddy up and go to challenge myself this October.  Between the serious jet lag and fall break I was so far behind I decided to wait until November.
 I had to run, walk, hike or elliptical 100 miles.  Kaitlin was willing to get me started and went on a 3.5 mile run with Siri and me.  This girl is a natural runner!
 My hiking buddy was always willing to keep me company on a weekend hike to get in some miles.
My favorite was when we made it a date.  Max packed bloody Mary's and a snack.  When we finished the hike we found a shaded spot to stop and relax.  Hailey came and picked us up!  I think all 7 mile hikes should end with a cheers!
These are some happy feet!  No more running for a while.  I am not sure if I will have another 100 mile month.  My knees and feet are really barking at me.  I keep thinking I just need to find the right shoes.  LOL  But I think the truth is as much as I want to believe you are as young as you think you are, it is just not true.  Age happens.  Feet hurt.
But I will log this one in the books!  It was sloppy, but I got it done.

Happy Thanksgiving

 This year both girls participated in a "Friendsgiving" where they celebrated Thanksgiving with their friends the weekend before Thanksgiving.   It is so cute to see them forming friendships and practicing being adults.
We had our 3rd annual Friends and Family Football game on Thanksgiving morning down at the park.
 These four teens were so competitive.  Next year they are getting moved up to the adult ranks!
 This year to try and prevent some overzealous men from hurting each other, we had a kid be a quarter back every down.  This helped the little ladies see more action than prior years.
 The dads were still out to prove they haven't lost it.  But their sons were telling them another story. :)
 The ladies wanted more halftime breaks for Bloody Mary's and Mimosas.
 It was a great start to our day and no one got hurt this year!  The turkey trophy was given to the most competitive turkey (read dangerous) player, Thomaso!  
After the game we got our birds cooking and got cleaned up for the day.  
The overcast day was prefect for taking pictures.
We attempted Christmas pictures the week before and it didn't go so well.
Hank would either not smile or smile like he was crazed, which led to a crazed mom.  He tired his hardest to be a good little turkey this time!
My girls are sure growing up.
I am so thankful for my goofy crew and that I get to be their mom and his girl.
But that gushy love comes to halt when its turkey throw down time.  I have one mission and that is beat Max's turkey!  He does his on the grill and I do mine in the oven.  Last year was the first year I lost.  This year I made sure to buy the same brand of turkeys and we tied.  Now we are wondering if it all has to do with bird and not the technique.  Stay tuned next year...
Even though it was just the 6 of us we made 38 pounds of turkey, all the fixins and three pies!
I just have a thing for Thanksgiving.  It is the one time of the year to go all out for a feast fit for Kings.
Kaitlin put together our traditional performance.  Only Hailey continued with music lessons this year so we didn't have as many musical performances as in the past.  
But I loved this years performance!  I wish I had videoed Karlie's jokes because her teen angst with the jokes was awesome. 
This was the funniest year for sure.

So thankful for these turkeys and this blessed time in our lives.

Colonial Day Part IV

 Every year the 5th graders at Hank's school celebrate Colonial Day so the kids can get a glimpse of what life was like during the Colonial times.
Since this was my fourth Colonial Day rodeo I was nominated to be in charge of the entire day.  It is always a lot of work but so rewarding and fun to spend the day with the kids.
The day begins with the kids raising the US flag with 13 stars and discussing what a typical day was like for Colonial children.
 Everyone including parents and teachers dress in Colonial era clothing.  I am so happy I was born in an era where I can wear pants and tank tops!  After four years in a black, polyester dress, I am ready to burn that thing at the stake.
My friend Krissy was calling all of us sister wives.  LOL
 The kids move from station to station doing crafts and activities kids from the Colonial era would have done.  This day is entirely parent organized and run.  I was so grateful to all the parents who took off work and made time to come help.  It could not have happened without them and all my kids say it is there favorite day in 5th grade.
 Colonial kids couldn't order dolls on Amazon back then so they would make them out of left over corn husks.
 They learned how to make candles for light.  Oh how the parents have a field day with this station. Boys making penis jokes all day long. :) Everyone loves displaying the candles at Thanksgiving too. 
I wish we still had the stockades for naughty boys.  It might make it a little easier on the teachers!
 Ah, he's too cute to stay mad at.
 Another favorite station is the tin punching where they get to hammer out a design.  We didn't have anyone pound their fingers or get burned making candles this year!  I guess fourth times the charm.
 Our local grocery store helped make a grade wide feast possible.  I picked up 28 pounds of potatoes and 144 pieces of chicken along with fresh fruit, rolls and apple pie.
It was like an early Thanksgiving.
 The other stations included bead making, writing the preamble with a quill pen that they made, folk dancing, games and chores of the time.  They loved the game station where they had an obstacle race challenge to collect the eggs, milk the cow, feed the chickens, make the bed, hop in the potato sack, and sweep the floor.  They also loved trying to walk on stilts.
I can't believe this was my last Colonial Day.  These four have been together since Kindergarten.
I have loved being able to be such an integral part of the kids' schooling.  I am known as Hank's mom all round the school from kids and teachers alike.  Watching these little guys grow up has been a blast.  Their moms and I always tease that they will end up dating one day.  Growing pains sure hurt.