Four Peaks

 On Good Friday we set out to conquer Four Peaks!
 To get to the base of the trail you have to take a 20 mile dirt road, which was a perfect start to  our adventure.
Max rode his motorcycle while I drove the Jeep and Nana and Pops drove the truck.
 At our lunch stop Hank and Kaitlin took a little ride on the motorcycle.
They didn't like it much. :)  They liked it about as much as I like driving the Jeep!
 Since it is a slow drive, the kids big and small rode in the back of the truck.
Once we reached the base we had about a 2.5 mile hike up to the saddle before heading up the final scree chute.  It turned out to be a bit long of a hike for our troopers but they hung in there.
The views were beautiful and it was amazing to us that in less than an hour we can go from desert to forest with pine trees and wild flowers.  
We could see the forest starting to recover from the Lone Pine Fire of 1996.
We saw a few Pai Striped Whiptails which have only been found in northern Arizona at elevations from 4,500 to 7,600.  Hailey also found a dead tarantula!  What a wild place we live in.

Nana and the kids stayed on the saddle while Pops, Max, and I scaled up the challenging chute.
It was crazy steep!
It was by far the most technical climb we have done.  It is rated as ropes optional...  There were some parts that I wouldn't have minded a rope.  That makes 7 out 12 peaks done!
 Brown's Peak is the highest of the four peaks and is 7,657 feet.  Ropes are needed to climb the other 3 peaks.  We could see both Roosevelt and Saguaro lakes.  You can see 1/4th of Arizona from the top!  It was stunning.
The most wonderful thing happened at the top.  We had seen only 10 people as we hiked, with 4 men passing us earlier on our hike up and then 6 people coming down.  When we rounded the top, the men were sitting and listening to one of them read the account of Jesus' crucifixion.  We were able to join in and listen.  It was a very spiritual moment listening to the gentle cadence of the man's voice read about our Lord's death as we were perched so near the heavens.  It was an amazing Good Friday filled with adventure, family, fun and blessings of safety and God's word.

Pops and Nana's Visit

Pops and Nana visited us for Easter and Kaitlin's Birthday.  Kaitlin requested they come for her birthday one year, and she got her wish!
 We really gave them a run for their money over the 3 days they were here.
There was little time to relax, but we did manage to soak it up one night and do some star gazing.
We had 3 days of eating like kings.
On Friday we spent the day off roading, motorcycling, and climbing Four Peaks!
What a fun but busy day!  I will be doing a whole post on it next.
 On Saturday they got to be a part of the birthday party madness.  Kaitlin was so happy to have them there for her party and Max and I were grateful to have two more pairs of hands!
After the party Hank and Pops had a Nerf gun war.  Everyone took cover.
Decorating eggs by the pool is the way to go.
Easter morning was full of sweet surprises and egg hunts.  Kaitlin found the coveted Golden Egg, which was fitting since it was her golden birthday.
We put on our Sunday best for church and then got to celebrate the resurrection with lamb chops and this precious lamb cake.
It was so great to have family around to celebrate Kaitlin's birthday and Easter.  Hopefully we can treat Pops and Nana to a little more relaxing time the next time they visit!

Raise 'Em Up

Tonight I will raise 'em up!  I feel very blessed to have a birthday surrounded by people I love so much.  They are my world and I love celebrating life with them.
Music is an integral part of four family.  We might not watch TV but we listen to a lot of music.  Songs marry our memories to good times, special moments, and chapters in our life.  This song,  Raise 'Em Up, sums up this chapter in our life right now.  Max even had a colleague that asked him if he had heard it because the song reminded him of our family.  :)  I especially love the last verse about raising kids.

Raise 'em up trophy high
Raise 'em up to the sky
Raise 'em up, show everybody that newborn smile
Raise 'em up tall and strong
Raise 'em up right from wrong
Raise 'em up so damn high they can hear God singing along

You know I like to celebrate and "its just whisky glass if you ain't making' a toast!"  So raise 'em up!

First Day of Spring

I am still trying to catch up from our busy March.  Spring is such a beautiful time here.  The desert is blooming, there is a faint green hint to the landscape and the weather is wonderful.
The first day of spring rings in flip flop season for sure, so the kids got new flip flops.  The girls were excited to show off their fancy feet.  Max got a new cold coozie because nothing goes better with warm weather than an ice cold beer.  Spring rolls and spring Oreos were a fun snack before we took a  walk to see how many flowers we could find.  We also planted garden version 4.0.  I live by quote, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."  It would seem that plants and I don't get along very well.  I have fatal effect on them, yet I keep envisioning bountiful gardens, so I keep trying.  However, it might be time to listen to the rest of the quote by W. C. Fields who said, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  Then quit.  There's no point being a damn fool about it."  I can report that a month later all the plants are still alive.  Cross your fingers!

How Hank Spent His 7th Birthday!

With Hank's birthday being on a Saturday, it became a bit of a two day celebration!  On Friday he was celebrated at school and got to bring Rice Crispy treats to share with his classmates.  He certainly doesn't mind the extra attention, especially from his favorite non family lady.  He has has a love of school and has learned so much because of her.
 He woke up Saturday morning dancing around with his fingers pointed to the sky singing, "Today's the Day!  Today's the Day!"   Aww, the days when you were that excited for your birthday.
He was so excited that it added to the celebratory feeling of the day.  His enthusiasm was contagious.
 For his birthday menu, he wanted chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and a subway turkey and cheese sandwich, chocolate milk, and Doritos for lunch.
 Hank had a baseball game in the morning and had the game of the season.  Little man was on fire.  He had 3 at bats with 3 base hits and 3 scores.  He also tagged someone out at first base and got to be the catcher!
The team sang him "Happy Birthday" and coach gave him the team ball.  Each game he hands out a team ball to the a player that either had great sportsmanship or a great game.  Hank was so excited!
 Papa was pretty proud too.
Before heading off to Kaitlin and Karlie's double header volleyball match, we had a little time to take a dip in the pool.
 One hour of relaxation!
After the game we went to our favorite BBQ restaurant because Hank wanted "Joey's Ribs!" They had a DJ and prize drawings for the grand opening, which only added to the party atmosphere.  Karlie won a gift certificate and the DJ had the entire restaurant sing "Happy Birthday" to Hank!
 We brought his requested eggless chocolate ganache cake with sprinkles.
Then he finished off his day opening presents where he got his much wanted fitbit!  Now he can be fit just like Daddy and his sisters.
  Such a blessed boy.  He will be hard pressed to have a birthday filled with so many people celebrating him and having all his wishes come true.   Must be that lucky #7!  :)

Happy 7th Birthday Hank!

Happy 7th Birthday Hank!
 You are all boy, and boy do I love you!  If there is a ball anywhere in sight you are bouncing it, throwing it, or kicking it.  You like to make a competition out of everything, and don't like to lose.  Your favorite things to play are Minecraft and to build Legos.  However, you don't follow the directions, your are a "master builder" and build your own creations.  You have a great imagination and are always making things out of paper, rather it is a DS, and gun, folders, wallets, or iPhones.  We wonder if you might be an engineer or architect when you grow up.  I love to see what you build, but am going to have to take out stock in tape and copy paper.
 I am not sure if boys can get any better than a 7 year old sweetheart like you.  You are a loving little man.  Your teacher adores you and gets choked up talking about you leaving her in a month.  It seems you can make friends with anyone and we teasingly call you frat boy because you have a comedic timing and are able to rile up a crowd in no time.  You have a tender heart and that smile melts your mama.  Not to mention your bear hugs.
You love to plant a big smooch on me when Daddy is around and then see if he wants to "fight" for his girl.  :)  This usually leads to a big rumble and wrestling match.  So I am just a pawn, but I will take those smooches anytime.  We are so grateful God gave us you and that you fought through your rough start.  I just have one request...  Don't grow up anymore, stay my sweet, little, seven year old mama's boy forever.

Kaitlin's Golden Birthday Party

To celebrate Kaitlin's golden birthday, we had a gold theme.
  However, pink is still so much her favorite color that we had to make it a pink and gold party.
For our snack we had pink and gold food.  They have just come out with a Princess Goldfish that is pink, so pink and gold Goldfish worked great.  The best I could come up with for pink and gold fruit was strawberries, watermelon, pink lady apples, golden delicious apples and golden pineapple.  We found coconut covered marshmallows that look gold and had pink strawberry marshmallows.
Pink and Gold Oreos. :)
Pink lemonade and Hersey's gold bars.  Like at a baby shower where you can't say baby, everyone wore a necklace and would take the necklace from anyone who said gold.  The winner won a gold dollar coin.
The first game was a color themed scavenger hunt.  Kaitlin and her buddies were team pink and Hank and Karlie and their buddies were team Gold.
 They had to collect 9 items around the house and in the backyard that were their team color.  Like pink and gold pairs of earrings.
 They loved racing all over the house finding items.
 Kaitlin's team completed the hunt first!
 The boys were so cute trying to find the golden egg.
 Pass the present was such a success at Karlie's birthday that we had to repeat it for Kaitlin's.
 Everyone got a gold dollar coin.
 Max made a golden K for the piñata.
 They absolutely love whacking the piñata!
Even Hailey wanted to take a swing.  I spun them around however many years old they were.  She was pretty dizzy and fun to watch.
 Everyone made it through without breaking it open so round two was without the bandanna on.
Finally it got cracked so much we had to shake it all out.  Of course it was filled with pink and gold candies.
 Kaitlin wanted a rose frosting cake with an ombre design, which are two things I have never done before.
 It turned out ok, but I will have to give roses another go.  I used Wilton's food color spray to make the ombre effect.  It worked well and I will definitely play with it again.
 I hope all your wishes come true golden girl!
 Kaitlin also thought a surprise inside like Karlie's shamrock would be fun.  So I put pink M & Ms and gold covered eggs in the center and made the cake pink zebra!  
 The kids were so excited about the inside treat!
 In the goodie bags were Gold-Bear gummy bears, chocolate gold coins and a million bucks chocolate bar! She had a thank you note in it that said, "Some friends are like gold and some birthdays are too!  Thank you for making my party golden." 
 It was a special party for a special girl.