As we attempt to become Zonies, we are realizing that the desert may not be all bad.  All of the hostile plants are suddenly in bloom and even beautiful this time of year.
While it's not tulips and roses, flowers, even on a cactus are enchanting.
Like the flowers blooming out of these strange and hostile plants, so is our family.  We have slowly taken root here in the sand and are starting to flower.  The kids are feeling connected at school and somehow the craziness of dance, gymnastics, girl scouts, piano, volleyball, horses and swimming lessons has found us here.  We are learning to navigate  with just our little unit.
Life has returned to a normal hum of happy activity instead of a somber song.  Our church is like precious rain that helps to fill up our hearts, sustain, and help us grow.  New friendships are budding with each of us.  Max is in full bloom and has found an oasis in the work world.  While we still long for Colorado and all of our friends and family, little by little the thorns are turning to flowers.
 We also learned that we now have two planting seasons, with the first starting now.  It seems so strange to planting vegetables around Valentine's Day instead of Memorial Day but I can't complain.  Two is better than one, except that we can never grow pumpkins for Halloween. Boo-hoo!
One of the things I really enjoyed at our old house was the garden.  It was massive and we got so much joy from watching our little crop grow and then getting to eat the fruits of our labor.  Max promised to make me a garden and he did.  He built a garden box!  He is so handy to have around.  There is nothing this guy can't do.  He never ceases to amaze me.
 Here is our first AZ garden.  It is mostly about backyard salsa!  We have tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and peppers in the majority of it.  For fun we added a little corn, carrots, watermelon and strawberries.  We will see how green our thumbs are in a few months.  Max installed an irrigation system, so I can't kill them by forgetting to water.
Max even dedicated the first garden box to me.  Oh, yes, I have plans for a few more. :)  We still have lots of growing to do, but we are all trying our best to bloom.

Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?

We have the first millionaire in our family!  This week Hailey was recognized at school for reading over 1 MILLION words!  Her exact total to date is 1,039,449!  Hailey is the 5th millionaire in her class.  Her school aims to read 180,000,000 words by the end of the year.  If they accomplish this, the principle will ride around town on a tricycle.  Hailey has always had a love for reading and it's really paying off. :)  

Spectacular Speaker

 Tuesday was a big milestone day for Kaitlin!  She graduated out of the Speech Therapy program!! 
 Kaitlin has been working on her speech since she was 18 months old.  First we had a speech therapist come to the home.  Then when she turned three, she went to speech school.  Since she started Kindergarten, she has been pulled out of the class once a week to work on her articulation.   Her therapist called me about a month ago to say she thought Kaitlin was ready to graduate and for me to listen closely for a month to see if I agreed.  Her last hurdle was the "th" sounds and she was hammering them at home.  Kaitlin has worked so hard to get all of her sounds.  She was always a favorite among her teachers for her work ethic and sweet nature.  Mrs. Sally said she tried to think of ways to keep her, but she is just too spectacular of a speaker!
We had to celebrate this special occasion.  Kaitlin requested breakfast for dinner and her favorite chocolate cake.  Daddy brought home balloons and flowers.  To prove the point that she has full command of the English language, Kaitlin didn't stop talking all night. :)

We are so happy for you and proud of all your hard work Kaitlin!

Pressing President's Day

 The kids had off for President's Day and as usual we had a day full of pressing activities.  We got in the car around 9:30 and didn't stop until dinner!  Our first stop was Starbucks for a little hot chocolate and some coffee to fortify mom for the big day ahead.
 Then we picked up a present at Target for the party in the afternoon.  We hopped over to our favorite toy store where the girls have patiently waited to get their newborn exam from the babies they received for Christmas from Grammy.  Yes, they had to wait two months.  Slacker mom for sure. :(
 It was so cute how the "nurse" checked them over and signed the adoption certificate.  She spent a half and hour with them.  The girls loved it!  Karlie named her baby Noel Connie and Kaitlin named hers Sophia Natalie.
Then we raced home to wrap the present, take K buddies to the party.  Then took Hailey to a church picnic at the park, went home for lunch with Hank.  Picked Hailey up and went to get our plants for the garden (more on that soon).  We made a quick stop at the store for dinner supplies and then picked up the K buddies.  Hank watched the entire ET movie as we drove all over town.  Poor guy had an entire day of running the ladies around, but he didn't complain a bit.  I feel with spring coming that these kind of days will be the norm.  Livin la vida loca!

3D Darth Maul

 On Saturday we took the kids to see Star Wars Episode 1 in 3D.  Hank is a big Darth Maul fan and he got a Darth Maul costume for Christmas.  He just had to wear it to the movie, light saber and all.  I am wondering if acting is in his future?
Daddy was pretty excited to see the movie too.
Hank was into it and we had to keep taking the light saber for fear he would whack someone.  We taught the girls to sneak popcorn, candy and Capri Suns in their purses.  LOL!  We have finally reached the stage where we can all go to the movies together!  I am looking forward to the next 5 episodes. :)

Green Girl's Got Game

 For Christmas Karlie wanted to get Max a gift card to the driving range so they could go golfing together.  Yesterday they finally had a chance to cash in their balls.  I know she has a better swing than I do and she might be as good as Max.  
Girl's Got Game.  Golfers beware of the Green Girl!!!

The After Dinner Show

The kids and Max have gotten in the habit of a nightly rough and tumble after dinner.  On Valentine's Day it was exceptionally rowdy with Siri jumping in for some fun too.
Such a goofy bunch.

Candy Does Rot Your Teeth Out...

Hailey was down to her final two molars to lose.  I packed a See's Candy from Nana's Valentine package in her lunch yesterday and she came home with a tooth necklace!
Now she only has one tooth left to lose.  My baby is growing up SO fast!!!
Hailey said she was chewing on the candy when all the sudden she felt it "pop" and then she pulled out the candy and found her tooth in it!  She had to dig her tooth out of the candy.  I had to laugh when I told her, "See, candy will rot your teeth out of your head!"

A Happy Valentine Centennial!

We had one big celebration yesterday!  Not only was it Valentine's Day, but it was Arizona's Centennial too!  I love celebrating life and especially on holidays, so it was a really lovely day for me. :) I wanted to do 14 special treats for my little Valentines.  My number one Valentine and I will be going to Wicked for our romantic treat.
1.   They awoke to new swimsuits, candy and pencils.
2. Hot chocolate with heart shaped marshmallows.
 3. Heart shaped pancakes and pancakes with hearts of chocolate and marshmallows in the center.
 4. Heart shaped sandwiches for lunch.
 5. Very special Peep treat in their lunch box.
 6. Special Valentine's shirts.
7.  An ironic Darth Maul Valentine of suckers made Hank's day.
 8.  A festive table for dinner.

 9.  When in Rome...  I found some Arizona made wine, olive oil and salad dressing.  I also found some Prickly Pear Candy to help us celebrate Arizona's 100th birthday.  Pretty tasty native foods.  LOL
 10.  Some heart shaped pasta.
 11.  We made Prickly Pear Popsicles with hearts made of pears in them.  They were a hit! (Can you tell I am digging the whole cactus fruit thing??)
 12.  We had our first formal dinner with just our family in the dinning room.  Complete with candle light, cloth napkins and good manners.  Although, Hank is definitely a work in progress.  We celebrated with crab, lobster, pasta, asparagus, and spinach salad.  What a treat indeed!
 13.  Since they didn't get enough sugar at the parties at school, we had to have chocolate cake and chocolate dipped strawberries for dessert!
14.  Our final treat of the day was Valentine PJs for the girls, even some for mommy!  It was such a great day with all my loves.


This is the door to our garage.  We probably go in and out of it at least a half dozen times a day.  As we walk out the door each morning we are reminded what love looks like.  The love is patient part has been a keen reminder on those mornings when we are running late and someone forgot their lunch or their homework.  I remind myself that love is not easily angered many times a day. :)
If there is only one thing my kids remember from their childhood, I hope it is love.  I hope they know how dearly they are loved.  I hope they love each other dearly.  I hope they will be little lights of love in the often dark world.  But mostly, I hope Jesus' love lives in their heart.

Welcome Alanah Raye!

 On Thursday I got a call from my Mom that my sister would be having her baby that night!  The doctors had tried to turn the baby on Tuesday and on Thursday discovered that there was a leak in the bag around the baby.  I was able to hop on a plane and thanks to some other women needing to have cesareans before my sister could, I made it in time!!
 The anesthesiologist was kind enough to let both my Mom and me back in the OR with Kerrie.  I am so happy I could be there to help her and her hold her hand.  It is always special to be apart of the miracle of life.
 Grammy with grand baby number 10!!!
 Look how tiny!  That is my hand she his holding.  My hand is bigger than her head!  She was 6 lbs 1oz and 19.5 inches long!  Her breech little legs kept bouncing up just like Hailey's did. :)
Little lady has a gorgeous head of hair.
Big brother RJ was just beaming as he held her.  She is blessed to have such a loving big brother to watch over her.
 Both mom and baby are doing excellent.  Little Alanah has the sweetest temperament.  She barely made a peep the entire 48 hours I was there.  She is a fantastic nurser and just pure butter to hold.  I want one!!!!  Congratulations Kerrie!  We are all thrilled with latest little lady that has joined our family.  Love you so much.

Prickly Pear Cactus Margarita

I was in the produce section at our grocery store and saw Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit.  I had to get it.  Who has cactus fruit in their grocery store!?
 After learning how to handle it and get the juice out of it, I decided it would be excellent in a Margarita.
 To prepare, you cut off the ends and then slice it down the middle.  You then peel the thick skin off the fruit.  It is the most beautiful magenta color.  Very rich and thick juice.
 I then put the fruit in the blender and liquefied it.  To remove seeds and pulp, I strained it. One Prickly Pear yields about 1/4 cup of juice.
 I then added lime juice, tequila, and triple sec.  I cooled it in the freezer for a few hours.
 They were delicious!  Dangerously delicious.  You couldn't taste any alcohol.  Such a perfect drink as the sunset before our Mexican dinner.
 Totally Arizona Prickly Pear Cactus Margaritas.  
1/4 cup prickly pear juice
3/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 cup tequila
1 cup triple sec
salt for rim of glass
handful of ice

Serves 4