Piestewa Peak

If their is a cloudy day in AZ, we are going to climb a mountain.  While the kids were on spring break we had the rare treat of a beautiful cloudy day.  We decided it would be a great time to summit Piestewa Peak.
Squaw Peak was renamed Piestewa Peak after Lori Ann Piestewa, who was the first Native American woman to die in combat and the first female soldier killed in action during the 2003 Iraq War.
 As we were hiking along Karlie exclaimed, "I lost my tooth!"  After a good rinse and tucking the tooth safely in my bag we continued on.  Never a dull moment!
 Piestewa is the second highest mountain in the Phoenix Mountains and the 3rd highest in Phoenix, with an elevation of 2,610 feet.
It has a very rocky terrain.  While it is only 1.2 miles long, it has an elevation gain of 1,208 feet.  It felt like we were climbing stairs the whole way up.
 But the views from the top are worth it.
Max and I took pictures at the same time from this particularly treacherous spot.  It was so steep!
 I am very proud of my little mountain climbers!
After all that early morning work, a trip to Krispy Kreme was in order.
We headed home for a shower and then we were off to a spring training game.
It was so fun to kick back and relax at the old ball game.  I think we enjoy the junk food as much as anything.  Will Farrell dropped in to our surprise for his HBO special that is raising money for cancer.  He played every position on 10 different teams in the Cactus League.  He happened to be playing outfield right by us for the Diamondbacks!  He was funny as usual as he repeatedly scratched his rear and dropped balls.  It was such a fun day.  It got me itching for summer break!!

Laguna Laps

The kid's school had their annual fun run to raise money for supplemental programs like Art Masterpiece, Word Masters, and funding additional teacher's aides.  Fifteen laps equals one mile and they won't collect any more than 36 laps.  The kids all got sponsorships from their grandparents and us for a dollar per lap.  I told them if they did all 36 I would buy them a Jamba Juice afterwards.  I also pledged to run with them if they wanted me to.
Kaitlin was up first and she was determined to set the bar high for her siblings.  Not only did she make the 36 laps, she wanted to keep going.  She ran 45 laps, which equals 3 miles!  Karlie was next and was not about to be beat by her little sister, so she ran 48 laps and had the most laps by a girl in her class.  Another 3 miles!  By this point I was starting to get a little tired and it was getting hotter.  I was hoping Hank wouldn't want me to run the whole thing with him.  However, he was so sweet and wanted to hold my hand the entire time.  Yep, melted just like butter.  So we ran hand in hand for 36 laps.  I told him how great he did, but he wanted to know how far the K buddies went.  There was no stopping him despite my pleas to just walk a few laps.  He ran 50 laps!  There is nothing like sibling rivalry to get them running. :)  They each earned their Jamba Juice and money for their school.  Thanks to their competitiveness I ran the most in one day I ever have, 9 and half miles, and they raised over $300 for their school!

Karlie's Murder Mystery Dinner Birthday Party

For her birthday party this year, Karlie decided to do a Murder Mystery Dinner Party.  We found a St. Patrick's Day themed one at My Mystery Party.  You buy the party and then download it and print out all the clue cards and parts of the game.  It provides step by step instructions on what to do and even offers menu ideas and games to play during your party.
Luckily we are pretty stocked up on St. Patrick's Day decorations so getting the house set for the party was easy.  The party is set at a neighborhood home on St. Patrick's Day.  All the characters have issues with each other in some way.  As the guest arrived we gave them their character and costume props.  Once we gave them the instructions, they were to stay in character throughout the party.
 There are 3 rounds throughout the evening.  Each round  you pass out clue cards that tell each character things they are to tell other characters.  For example it might be a trip they took or one person was spreading rumors about the town baker putting grasshoppers in her cupcakes.  All these clues help set the scene for motives for murder.
 The girls loved playing the wild Irish characters and gossiping behind each other's back.  It is a great party for tweens and teens.
 Round 1 was the appetizer hour.  For the adults they have you make it the cocktail hour.
 Then as you serve dinner, you hand out the second round of cards.  We served green mac-n-cheese, bratwurst, pickles and salad.
 Hailey was quite the actress and improvised one of the girls tripping her.
 During the dinner round one guest learns they are the victim and one guest learns they are the murderer.  The victim quietly goes to the bathroom where their props (a ghost sheet and victim sign) are hidden for them to put on.
 The girls didn't know this was going to happen and were all so excited trying to figure out which one of them had done it!
 During the dessert round everyone has a chance to proclaim their innocence and then each guest writes down who they think did it and why.  It was so fun and only one person guessed correctly!
 Time to finish the night off with cake.
 Karlie loved her colored flame candles.
I made a chocolate eggless cake on top and a surprise shamrock cake for the bottom.  Here are the step by step directions.
 It was fun to try something I had never done before and to surprise everyone!
There were many surprises and mysteries during Karlie's 11th birthday party.  However, one thing is no surprise, and that is Karlie is growing up into a beautiful, young lady!  We are lucky to have her in our life!

Saddle Mountain and SSBTR

The Last Saturday in February Max and I decided to get up early and hike to the top of Saddle Mountain before our day with kid activities got rolling.
 It does not have a trail, so we just picked our own path over the lava rocks.  The views along the ridge were gorgeous and we watched a helicopter rescue on nearby Sunrise Mountain.  It was a rare chilly day with rain threatening the whole morning.  Five summits down!
Hailey is in the National Junior Honors Society and the primary charity they support is Students Supporting Brain Tumor Research.   According to their website, brain tumors are the number one cause of solid tumor cancer deaths in children through high school.  Hailey's school has had a higher than average amount of students develop brain cancers.  Every year SSBTR holds a walk-a-thon to raise money for research.  It is really a grass roots organization that was started by a Studetn Council Advisor at one of the local high schools.  SSBTR was founded in 2002 and with 250 walkers they raised $7,500 dollars.  Since then, they have raised over $1.75 million dollars for research with 93% of it going to fund brain tumor research at local hospitals in the valley.  It was really touching to be part of such an great charity.  We hope to continue to support them and were grateful Hailey chose to get involved.

How Karlie Spent Her 11th Birthday

Karlie's Birthday is always especially fun to celebrate because many people are in the mood to party.
 To start off her day she wanted pancakes with green sprinkles for breakfast.
Everyone in the house and many people at school were dressed up in her favorite color, green.
 I always sneak the kids out of school for a trip to Fountain Hills to watch the giant fountain turn green.  We ate lunch by the lake and watched it turn emerald green.  It was so lovely.  I feel like the luckiest mom in the world.  After school we swung by McDonalds for a Shamrock Shake!
 Dinner is always corned beef and cabbage, but she also gets to choose her specific dinner the next night.  So tonight we are having steak, cheesy rice and artichokes at her request.
 Karlie wants to redecorate her room.  It is the same as it was since we moved here and she and Kaitlin shared a room.  Most of her presents revolved around her room.  She was thrilled to get a disco ball!  I may or may not have played Staying Alive and got my groove on.
 This year Karlie wanted to adopt Max's family's tradition of making two pies for her birthday.  One for the family and one she gets to eat entirely on her own!
I made a blackberry pie for the family and Karlie wanted a lemon cream pie died green for her special pie, which makes it looks more like a key lime pie.  She really enjoyed her trick candles and the candle that screeched the Happy Birthday song.
But what she really loved was getting to smash her face in her pie!  As she hovered about the top of it, I couldn't help but push her face in the pie!  She laughed and laughed!  Crazy Karlie!  Well with a disco ball, a pie in her face, and new room decor, I think 11 is looking like Karlie is going to SPARKLE!

Happy 11th Birthday Karlie!!

Happy 11th Birthday Karlie!
You are the sparkle in our family, you have the fight and determination of the Irish, you have a heart of gold and you we are lucky to have you in our lives!  I know this will be a great year for you as you go on to middle school and spread your wings.  Love you Karks!

Pi Day 3.14.15

Yesterday, 3.14.15, was the most exact pi day we will have in 100 years.  Every Wednesday Karlie goes to math club with her girlfriends.   She runs with some smart girls and many of the moms felt they could use a little more challenge than what the school was providing.  Ellen stepped up and formed the Math Club where they are going through the 6th grade math book.  I tried to convince Karlie to go to trampoline class with Kaitlin and Hank but she really wanted to do Math Club.  She is our go getter!
One of their challenges before spring break was to see who could memorize the most digits of pi.  Karlie was relentless as she studied.  She found an App to challenge herself with.  She worked so hard every night for 2 weeks.  She memorized 108 digits!  However, at the contest she inverts digits 77 and 78, so she ended up in 3rd place behind girls that had memorized 87 and 86 digits.  She was so bummed.  :(
But she made up for it eating pie.  We made a chocolate silk pie for their celebration.  The girls then had to test the ratio of pi with my pie and a store bought pie.  They then had to calculate the cost of each piece of pie.  What a delicious way to learn math!
Since the Math Club did their Pi Day celebration last week, we had a chance to celebrate it for real yesterday!  No other way than with a blackberry pie.

Here are a few fun facts about Pi that we learned from TechHive and 9 News:

1.   No one knows for sure when Pi was discovered but the Great Pyramid of Giza has a perimeter of 1760 cubits and a height of 280 cubits, which is twice pi.  

2.  Archimedes ,around 250 BC, is the first known person to calculate pi.

3.  There is also a ratio of pi in the Bible.  Kings 7:23 says, "And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it about."

4. Super computers have calculated more than a trillion digits of pi and are still going.

5. The Guinness World Record for memorizing digits of pi is 67,890.

6.  This website can tell you where the string of your birthday is within pi.  Mine is at position 51533. :)

7.  3.14 backwards looks like PIE.  Therefor the best part about pi is eating pie!

This Chocolate Silk Pie from Taste of Home was a crowd pleaser!

Patriotic Productions

February was a busy month for school programs and productions.
 Kaitlin's class did a patriotic play that walked the audience through America declaring it's independence and writing the Constitution.  It was full of facts and comical relief.  The finally was a slide show with Kenny Rogers singing I am Proud To Be an American.  It was very cute and well done.  Kaitlin loved being a part of it.
 Karlie's class had a living history report where each student became an important American historical figure for the presentation.  Karlie was Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.
 Her best friend was Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher.  There were many Abraham Lincoln's and  Steve Jobs.  My favorite was Neil Armstrong who cam in a full astronaut suit!
 I was so impressed with all these kids getting up in front of the entire 4th and 5th grade classes and all the parents to present a short bio of their historical figure.
 Kaitlin also had her end of the 2nd trimester Accelerated Reading ceremony.  Her teacher sets specific goals for each student on how many points they must earn and how many nonfiction books they must read.  Kaitlin is a very organized and driven little lady.  She set out her plan of how many books she would have to read each week and followed it religiously until she smashed her goal.  She was one of only 10 kids to reach her goal.  They were rewarded with a reading trophy.  This system has turned her from a struggling reader to a fluent reader that now enjoys reading.  Hank is biting at the bit to start AR after spring break.
Programs and productions are pretty much over by middle school, but they do have spirit days.  Hailey rocked the 80's day at her school!  She is an 80's girl at heart.  She loves the music and movies of the time.  She has made many of her teachers laugh quoting lines out of Ferris Bueller and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.  For the shortest month of the year, it was one of the busiest at school!

Squeeze Every Minute Out

Our friends like to joke that our family has a form of ADD.  We have a hard time sitting still and admittedly I start to get a little anxious if we are not doing something.
A few Sundays ago I realized just how out of hand we can be as I was compiling pics of the day for an Instagram post.  We started the morning with a family 4 mile bike ride.  
Then Hailey took Kaitlin horseback riding for her first time!  Kaitlin loved it.  We may have another horse lover on our hands. 
While we were doing that, Max decided he wanted to take the top off the Jeep and got his motorcycle tuned up for spring. 
 Karlie then went to a birthday party and we decided to take cupcakes to the firehouse where the firefighters invited the kids in for a tour!
 They got to put on fire fighter jackets, sit at the wheel of the fire truck, and learn about fire safety.
  Then we played at the park before heading out to ice-cream.  We rounded the evening out with sleepovers since they had Presidents day off!  We squeezed every minute out of our day, just the way we like it.