Who's Ready For Football?

Today is National College Colors Day!  Max and I had to represent with our Ram pride and wear our CSU gear.  Only a true fan has a shirt and tie combo of his alma mater!
Hank is our little CU Buff.  Too bad the Buffs are going to lose tonight in the Rocky Mountain Showdown! :)  Our little K buddies are future Notre Dame girls.  Hailey had  a "cute  outfit" picked out for today and opted to be the photographer rather than a participant.  That is when you know it is a corny family activity. :)  While there will be no boots, jeans or cool breezes with the kick off of college football, we will be shouting loud and proud for the CSU RAMS!  Go Green and Gold!!

Unstoppable Karlie

Karlie has been asking me since she got her Snow Cone maker if she could set up a Snow Cone stand to earn money for her Notre Dame college fund.  With temperatures in the 100s and our neighborhood having more retired adults than young kids in it, I tried to dissuade her from doing it.  I told her she would be lucky if she sold 1 snow cone.  I explained to her that no one is out walking around in the heat, and there definitely are not any kids running and playing in the streets.  However, Karlie would not relent.  Finally, I decided to let her learn a lesson and said I would pick weeds in the front yard for an hour and let her have her stand.  After that she would have to pack it up.
 Hank and Kaitlin were eager to help Karlie with her business venture.  Kaitlin set up the change box and Hank helped set up the stand.  Karlie negotiated to pay a flat rate of $0.15 per Snow Cone for each of them.  They were all very excited.  I however, had my doubts about how long their enthusiasm would last when no one stopped to buy a Snow Cone.
As soon as they were set up I started weeding.  Not a moment later our neighbor pulled up and ordered 2 Snow Cones.  I was so happy she made at least one sale and thankful for our kind neighbor.  To my surprise Karlie had a steady business for the next hour and half.  They made $30.00!  There is no stopping our Karlie girl!  With her determination, she just might end up at Notre Dame and teach her mom a thing or two along the way. :)

Watching Her Fly

One of the hardest parts of being a parent for me is watching my kids grow up.  I love being a mom and especially enjoyed mothering babies.  Letting go is hard and I miss being able to scoop them up into my arms and nuzzle them.  But watching them grow into adults has brought a new kind of joy to my heart.  If you read my blog, you know I adore my kids and have no problem sharing that.  I imagine sometimes it comes off as bragging, however, I am wanting to document how special and wonderful they are to me in that snap shot of time.  While their little league trophies or honors awards are nothing major in the grand scheme of life, to me and to them in that moment it is epic. :)
 Part of growing up means less mom can share on the blog.  As they mature they want more and more privacy and less and less time with mom and dad.  While it is no longer okay to share the trials and tribulations of growing up, I did get permission to share some of the good parts of growing up.  Middle school is rough no matter how awesome you are.  Add four of your five friends moving away over the summer and it is rough with a big dose of rotten.  But Hailey is very grounded and has so much going for her that I have been in awe watching her navigate all her grown up responsibilities and curve balls life can throw.  My little baby has become a smart, hard working, talented, and capable woman.  All of her doors are open.  She is beginning to sketch lines into her adult canvas that will progress from blank to a masterpiece.
 Since we moved to Arizona we have been trying to get Hailey in the appropriate level classes to keep her challenged.  Last year she had less homework than Karlie because she was able to do most of it in class.  The principal agreed that Hailey had slipped through the cracks and needed more.  She said she would look at her standardized test and be sure she was in the appropriate math class for 8th grade.  Hailey did so well she skipped all of 8th grade math and was placed in high school algebra.  Her schedule also consists of honors english and high school Spanish.  I was a little worried it would be too much.  But she is rising to the challenge and is like a sponge that loves soaking up knowledge.    She finds comfort in doing math problems and can roll her r's like she was born in Mexico (certainly did not get that from me!).  I just look at her in wonder and think, she's mine. :)
But Hailey's gifts don't stop at her brains, she happens to be a very talented artist and as beautiful outside and she is inside.  When she is not studying she is working on her drawings.  Everyone at school knows her as the artist and the art teacher asked Hailey to help paint murals on the school walls.
She has a gallery in her room and some of her pieces are quite moving.  She is not only good at drawing, she can evoke emotions.  Being able to replicate something is one thing but being able to create an image on your own that effects people is truly art.  This one breaks my heart.  I don't ever want my babies to be hurting, even in a drawing.
Hailey's two passions are art and horses.  She has always wanted a horse from the time she could talk and has a special gift with animals.  She has taken riding lessons since she was 7, but only once a week.  Hailey would love nothing more than to start and end her day caring for a horse.  I have been praying for something near us to work out where she could get in more horse time.  New neighbors moved in down the street and brought their horses!  We have managed to make friends with them and Hailey now gets to see the horses whenever she wants thanks to their generousness.  Last week as we came home from running the littles around, she was riding Sunny along our street.  It thought my heart might explode with joy.

 Dreams come true and Hailey has become a more wonderful person from inside out than I could have dreamed.  We are so proud of her work ethic and her passions are just beginning to bare fruit.  While I would do anything to hold you one more time as my little 5 pound newborn, watching you spread your wings and fly is a wondrous feeling.  I am lucky to be your mom and can't wait to see what your future holds and just how high you can fly.

While The Big Cat Is Away, The Little Mice Will Play

Last weekend Max was in California to teach at Stanford.  While he was gone I painted the work out room and got it all put back together.  Projects always seem to take longer than we anticipate and after weeks of the room in chaos, it was fun to have him come home to it all set up.
 However, since I was MIA on Saturday painting, the kids had to hang around and not have much fun.  I promised them Sunday would be more fun and they could each pick something to do with me.
Karlie has been wanting to make clay and sculpt.  So first thing Sunday morning we made green clay.
Kaitlin had a science project due the next week and she wanted to start painting the layers of the earth.  She did a great job!
Hank wanted to build a massive Batman layer.  A little help from Kaitlin and Thomas the train and we had a great underground network.
Hailey wanted to draw, alone.  It wouldn't be art if I was involved.  :) She drew an awesome zebra picture and got some much needed teen alone time after helping watch the little ones all day on Saturday.
Karlie earned a snow cone maker with her jewels and extra chores around the house.  For the afternoon, we invited their friends over for a pool party with snow cones!
Sweet treats for sweet kids!
Hailey was mini me and kept me company while the little ones romped in the pool.
While the little mice had a Sunday Funday, it just wasn't the same without the Big Cat and we are all happy he is home.

Grammy Goodness

 Grammy came for a visit the weekend the kids went back to school and it was full of good times.  Grampy was suppose to meet up with her but his flight got canceled.  :(  We sure missed him.  Max had to smoke 17 pounds of meet all by himself.  We had time to swim, chat and play board games.  Not to mention eat and drink lots of delicious things too.
While the kids were at school on Friday Grammy and I got our toes done, just like old times.  Kaitlin was rather envious, so Max gave her a pedicure.  He sure loves his girl.
It was so nice to spend some time with Grammy and Great Grandpa.  We can't wait for their return trip and more grandparent goodness.


Through the library's summer reading program the kids earned a free dinner at Benihana.  Yesterday marked 23 years ago that Max asked me to be his girl.  We thought it would be great to celebrate both events by going out to dinner.
 I am so glad I said yes to Max!  He has brought me more joy and happiness in life than one girl deserves.
 None of us had ever been to a Hibachi restaurant, so it was real treat!
 The chef made us a beating heart of fried rice.
 It was really entertaining to watch him prepare all the food.  He made a smoking volcano out of the onions and tossed food and his utensils in the air all while making it look easy and tasting delicious.  He was very accommodating for Hank's allergies too.
 Because they were so aware of his allergies, Hank tried and liked the mushroom soup!  He tried sushi for the first time, which he did not like. :)
 Dinner marked a new milestone in our journey...  Eating out as a family was pleasurable!  Dinner lasted nearly 2 hours and the kids were well behaved and enjoyable.  We have avoided restaurants like the plague because of always having little ones that don't like to sit still for long and in general ruin the dinning experience.  I think that chapter is now closed. :)
 It was a wonderfully fun night.
 They even had ice cream Hank could have!
Hailey's art she left for the chef sums up my sentiments.  Thank you Max for loving me for 23 years.  Thank you kids for being the lights of my life, and thank you Benihana for a truly memorable night.

Back To School

It seems the summers go by faster and faster each year.  As usual I was not ready for the fun in the sun to be over.
 School always starts on Wednesday as a way to ease the kids back into the swing of things.  We spent Monday and Tuesday doing some final preparations (shopping) and playing.  We found a few new outfits to start the year, new shoes and hair cuts.  The girls all put on nail wraps.  They turned out so cute.  Too bad they don't stay on for 10 days like the package claims.  More like 10 hours!
On Tuesday we spent the day swimming and watching a movie with popcorn.  I was savoring my last summer day with my peeps.
5:30 came very early and I can tell you I did not miss packing lunches and water bottles.

 Hailey has become quite the beautiful lady.  I loved her first day outfit.  Converse rock!  Queen of the school for 8th grade.
Karlie's shirt sums her up perfectly.  She was fearless and eager to get back to school to see her friends and start learning.  She is a go getter!  Watch out 5th grade, your are about to get crushed. :)

 My little tender flower Kaitlin on the other had was struggling pretty hard.  Going back to school is always a rough transition for her.  Once she gets settles into the new routine she loves it, but the first day is always hard for both of us. :(  I know she will thrive in 3rd grade once she gets rolling.
How can my baby be this big!?  How can he be in 1st grade? He is such a sweet boy, I didn't want to let him go.  Thoughts of homeschooling drifted through my mind.  But it would be for me, not them.
My back to school pack!
 Everyone was sporting their new shoes.  After months of flip flops it was strange to see them all in sneakers.
Karlie was thrilled when she found out she got Mrs. Q.  She has been teaching for 30 years and is so fired up and ready to challenge our fearless one!
 Kaitlin also got the teacher she wanted, Mrs. A, who has been at their school for 19 years.  One of Kaitlin's main worries the night before school was if her teacher was going to hug her when she was sad. :(  As soon as I got this pic, Mrs. A gave her a huge a hug and whisked Kaitlin in the class to do a very important job.  I saw Kaitlin on the play ground 5 minutes later and she was all smiles.  Made my heart smile.  I am so thankful for her teacher's loving touch.
Kaitlin had Mrs. H for both kinder and 1st grade so we were all thrilled when Hank got her too!  She is a wonderful teacher and I can't wait to watch Hank grow with her this year.
My Batboy was ready to fly.  He hugged me and sprinted for the playground to find his best buddy, Nick.  They planned to wear their Batman shirts for the first day. :)  These two melt my heart.
I am grateful that my kids are better adjusted than I am.  I had my usual back to school bawl on my way home.  The house was so quiet and I was so blue, there was only one thing to do...  Make chocolate chip cookies!  They were all very happy to get cookies as a snack when they got home.
It was National Root Beer Float Day, so we had a double sweet ending to the first day of school.

Woods Canyon Lake

For our last weekend before school starts we headed to the mountains for some cool mountain air.
It is hard to believe that only an hour and half away from us are beautiful mountain forests.  There were cool pines, whispering aspen, and even Elk in our campground.  We took two cars this time, which allowed us to bring plenty of wood and all the comforts we would need for a great base camp.  Our pathetic desert dog was shivering in the 70 degree weather.
 Karlie was eager to learn how to be chief camp cook.  She helped make all the meals and did a fantastic job.
Hailey convinced her buddy Jess to come along for the adventure.  The girls had a good time giggling in their own tent and hopefully we haven't scared Jess from future camping trips.
We headed out to Knoll Lake one morning, but our GPS has a way of taking us on off road "short cuts" and we ended up on a serious 4 wheel trail.  Max was in heaven and the kids were having a blast in the back of the truck.  Only mama bear was worried.  But I should have never doubted the Chevy or my man.  I just love Max's truck.  It can take us anywhere!  Like a rock!
 We had to hike down a steep embankment but ended up on a beautiful beach all by ourselves.

A thundering storm with black clouds was threatening us the entire time.  While we were eating lunch a rainbow trout decided to have a bite too!  Hailey reeled him in.
She wanted to recreate her fish kiss picture.  Ugh, my heart is hurting.
As it started to sprinkle we figured we had better get going since we had such a technical drive back ahead of us.  I can't wait to spend the day at the lake when the weather cooperates.
 The girls wanted to ride in the back even when it started pouring.  They were all crouched together to stay warm and would not come in despite my pleading. Kids!
Back at camp, Karlie helped Max clean the fish and grill him up.  Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads...
Unfortunately the rain continued for the afternoon so we were stuck in the tent.  The kids played war and Life with hot coco that Max made them.  He used the down pour as a chance to smoke his stogies. :)  It was great to snuggle up in the cold and spend so much time unplugged.
 The rain lifted for a few hours, giving us time to make dinner and have S'mores.  Hailey and Jess created the S'mores nachos.  Yummy!
Shortly after S'mores the rain came back and with a vengeance.  It rained all night and we discovered that our tent is no longer waterproof.  It was a long and cold night.  Packing up in the pouring rain the next morning was a real bummer.
   We learned while 4 wheeling we can camp anywhere up to 300 feet away from the off road trail.  Next time we will be ditching the campground and finding our own site.  Hailey called our campground "an outdoor neighborhood."  Unfortunately this time it was full of generators, families cussing each other out, and loud diesel trucks starting up at 5 am.
We are looking forward to next summer when we can give camping another go.  Each time we learn a little more about the area and what we need to improve out camp experience... like a waterproof tent and good rain jackets for everyone!