And She Is Off!

Today Hailey got her driver's license!  
 Teaching her to drive the last 6 months I have been slowly getting use to the idea of my girl driving.  It is such a big milestone in your life.  The freedom to drive,  the thrill of taking a road trip, being able to just drive to clear your thoughts, and having the ability to be so independent.
  Driving is a big responsibility and privilege.  Especially when I found the cost to insure a teenage driver!  Looks like I have a free babysitter anytime I need. :)
 Watching her drive off for the first time alone is hard to describe.  You are happy, proud, scared, terrified, worried, did I mention freaked out??  Be safe my baby girl.

Fourth Fun

I woke up to find Hank making a Lego scene.  I love summer so much when the kids just have time to play.  The 4th of July was a day full of playing!
 Kaitlin and one of her best buddies had fun playing with the make-up.
 Hailey got into the patriotic make-up too!
 Firecrackers in the pool and after dark were in order.

 The kids love having Max throw them in the pool.
 They are getting so big, I don't know how he does it.
 He wondered why he was sore the next morning.
Kaitlin made a patriotic cake with just a little help from daddy.
Kaitlin and Melina made a restaurant for desert.
 The Candy Land ice-cream was especially fun with lollipops sticking out of it!
 Max put on a great show for us.
 Sparklers and Poppers are always the kids' favorite.
 Sparkle and Dab.  LOL
 We had really fun day playing and were grateful for all of our freedoms.

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!
The last time we were home for 4th of July was 4 years ago.  The 110 degree heat reminded my why we always try to be anywhere else.  :)  We thought it would be fun to recreate our photo from then.  Boy have the kids grown!  I had to laugh as both Hank and Max have their same suits.  Hank can still wear a 5T swim suit!!  However, all of the ladies no longer have the same suits or could fit in them!  We were talking about trying to do this every four years and imaging the images of kids being absent as they leave to college and start families of their own until one year it is just Max and me in the photo.   Then husbands and a wife would be added and eventually grandkids.  Father Time is a strange thing.  We are so blessed to live in the land of the free because of the brave.  We are so grateful to have the freedom and joy to celebrate this day but never forget that our joyful celebrations came at a heavy price for many.  So proud to be American.  I love my country even if I don't love our leaders.  We can do better America.  I can only hope that in four more years our lives will be as blessed and that America will once again be what our forefathers dreamed we would be.


As soon as Max and I got back from hiking Havasupi Falls we headed to Karlie's final volleyball tournament of the season.  It was a four day festival in downtown Phoenix over the Fourth of July weekend.  We had gotten up at 3:30 am to try and beat the sun and heat for our 8 mile hike out of the canyon then had a 5 hour drive home and then another 6 hours of volleyball ahead of us!
Karlie's team played until 10:30 at night.  Max, my parents, and the kids had gone home at dinner.  I was a pretty tired mama and kept walking to stay awake.  That night was we left, Chase Field across the street began to shoot off huge fireworks at the conclusion of the Diamondback's game.  It felt like an perfect ending for a very long day.  The next day the girls played better and continued to play until the afternoon.  While they didn't win their division they placed 3rd.  Everyone was sad to say goodbye.  It was a really nice bunch of girls and parents, something it seems many clubs don't have.  Karie's passion for volleyball was further fueled with her time at Ignite.  She improved so much this season.  I can see she will be returning to play next year!

Happy 19th Anniversary!

"Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."
~ Emily Bronte
Nineteen years ago I said, "I do" to my soulmate.  Never could I have dreamed there was a man so perfect for me.  The everyday ordinary feels like paradise when you are holding my hand.  Our hearts need each other like our lungs need air, our stomachs need food, and our bodies need water.  We are greater as a sum than apart.  I am so very grateful I found you my love.

Sweet 16!

 We have been to a few over the top Sweet 16 parties this year.  Some of them certainly must have cost more than our wedding!  Scottsdale is a strange little bubble with kids driving BMWs, Mercedes G63s, and many getting brand new cars for their 16th birthday.
 Hailey had a pool party with all of her friends for her Sweet 16 but she wanted it to be very low key.  No theme was allowed and she was unusually concerned about being embarrassed.  She didn't even want a cake.  She more wanted just a party without her being the center of attention.  She didn't want a DJ or anything fancy.  She made the play list, we made burgers and dogs, and they all just hung out.
I told her if she was having a birthday party she had to have a cake and let us sing Happy Birthday to her!
 She agreed but asked if it had to have candles.  Of course!  I am so embarrassing. I told her you only have a few really special birthdays left and 16 is one of the big ones.
 Her friends were cute as they sang to her.
 I think she will forgive me one day. :)
 After cake I brought out a new driver basket gift.  It had all the things you need in your car.  An emergency roadside assistance kit with jumper cables, flashlight, flares, and a first aid kit.  It also had sunshades, a cold and hot travel mug, a gift card to Starbucks, Kleenex, chapstick, an Arizona map just in case the phone is lost or broken.  I added a  Tree car freshener, hand sanitizer, and a new keyring with a cross on it that also had a new key on it but she didn't notice.  I also put a phone jack cable in the basket.
 We had been planning on having her drive the truck.  That is what we have taught her to drive in and was what she was expecting.  However, the truck has taken a few hits like the AC going out, the stereo is blown, and now the drivers window doesn't work.  The one thing she really wanted, even over AC was a stereo that she could access the music from her phone.  Well, the 2000 Chevy stereo certainly did not have that capability.  We had planed to get her a new sound system before the truck started falling apart.  Then I started to feel bad she would have to drive such huge car.  Driving the bus is hard for me and I have been driving a long time and the truck has an even worse turning radius.  We began to look at cars....
 When she grabbed the AUX cord I told her we needed to go check out her new system!  The younger kids were waiting with confetti blasters to blast her as she walked out to her new car!
 All the pieces fell into order for us to buy her a 2006 Toyota 4Runner.  It has a nice stereo and a sunroof!  Mama will feel safe with her in a bigger car and our mechanic says these cars can easily go for 300K miles and are inexpensive to repair.  All three important for her as she goes off to college in two years where money and reliability are very important.
  She was so surprised!
 The one thing Hailey really did want at her party was photo booth set up.  
Max constructed the backdrop she wanted and we ordered a bunch of props.  They had so much fun taking pics.
 Our artistic gal really enjoyed making beautiful pictures.
 One of the coolest thing about Hailey is that she is friends with many different types of kids.
 She had her alternative friends, her church friends, and school friends.
 Everyone all mingled together.  I was worried there might be awkward and isolated groups but they all just hung out together.
 Hailey said it was the best birthday party she has ever had.  :)
That is the way it is suppose to be my sweet 16.
Happy Birthday!!

First Day of Summer!

The first day of summer in Phoenix broke a heat record for the day.  We have been having "summer" for a while and will continue to have "summer" into October.  Heat is just part of the living in the desert.
We have become accustom to the heat but over 110 it is just hard to do much of anything.  Even walking from air conditioned car to air conditioned store takes it out of you.  It is as if your body is fighting a fever.  I thought the best way to ring in the heat wave was to go visit my Grandpa and take him to an ice cream treat.  We had a nice afternoon chatting with him.  The kids want to go see him every week!  I think we might try different ice cream shops around him.  Sweet sweet summer time!

It's good To Be Alive

Over the weekend Kaitlin had her dance recital.  She has been in a Hip Hop class all year and she got to show us her moves!
Every Tuesday she would go to dance class with 3 of her best friends.  We changed dance companies and were so happy with the change.  This is was a recreational, non slutty kids dancing class.  Their outfits were appropriate for their age and the hip gyrations were at a minimum.  Max use to joke that the other company was preparing girls to be the future strippers of Phoenix.  Kaitlin and her friends had so much fun learning to dance.  In the same way that Hailey didn't get her artistic abilities from Max or me, Kaitlin certainly didn't get her rhythm from us.  Girl can bust a move!

Happy 16th Birthday Hailey!!

 Happy 16th Birthday Hailey!!
We were so worried about you when I was pregnant.  You were not growing and the doctors had a list of reasons why you might not be growing.  Many of the reasons were various birth defects with the leading one being Down Syndrome.  When you were born premature we were again worried about all the things that can go wrong with a premie.  But look how wonderfully you have grown.  You are a creative soul that is beautiful from the inside out.  A few people are lucky enough to be artistic and smart!  Most of us just get one strong side of the the brain, but you were blessed with both.  You are an old soul that swims in the deep waters of contemplating the meaning of life and His word.  You are a horse loving, desert mountain biking chick that plays in the church band, is a student leader, creates art, finds beauty in the ordinary, and still manages to get a 4.0 in school while taking college Spanish and AP world history.  I guess it is clear there are no lingering effects of your rough pregnancy and early delivery.  But I am not sure we will ever stop worrying about our kids. :)
We love you so very much and are very proud of the young woman you have become.  We know your future is bright and can't wait to see what you accomplish but oh, how I wish for just one night I could hold you tight like you were my 5 pound peanut again.  Love you HJ!

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to the 3 greatest fathers!  
You each bring so much joy and love to my life.  Thank you for being strong, hard working, trustworthy, loving, supportive, able to fix anything, and putting your family above all else.  You are true examples of what it means to be a father.  I am blessed to be your daughter Snork and grateful everyday you chose to be my dad.  Most dads just get stuck with the kids that come out but you chose to raise four girls that you didn't have to.  Your humor and steadfast love are some of the things I treasure most about you.  I flew because you gave me wings and confidence to fly.

Monty, I thank God everyday he put Max in my path.  The man he is speaks volumes to the father you were to him.  I feel so lucky that our relationship goes back to when I was still a new teenager and you managed to still find a way to love me like a daughter of your own.  You have influenced my relationship with Christ and for that I am eternally grateful.  You both have guided me and loved me into the woman I am today.
Max, thank you for loving our babies with everything you have.  You give a hundred percent all the time and always put us before yourself.  Hank will have massive shoes to fill and I am so grateful the girls are growing up with such an wonderful example of what to find in their future husbands and father for their children.  I love you.

End of the Year Celebrations

The last week of school is always full of achievement recognition and celebrations.  I ran my last water day ever... EVER.  At their school third grade is the last year to have water day.  The kids are way to cool by fourth grade.  I think Hank and Nick will never be to cool to get wet and dirty.  :)  
 Hailey and I have a tradition of stress eating together during finals.  In the past I have driven us to Cinnabon, however this time she drove us!!  I keep waiting to get use to being the passenger but it hasn't happened.  Max is apparently a much calmer passenger than I am.  What is wrong with going 10 mph??
I cannot believe my baby Kaitlin is done with elementary school.  She started here in Kindergarten and moved through the whole school.  
She has made some terrific friends, had wonderful teachers and really lovely elementary school experience.
I helped organized the graduation Luau for the 5th grade class.  They danced, played games, had ices and a photo booth.  The kids seemed to have a great last celebration.
During the morning awards ceremony Kaitlin was awarded for her excellence in Wordmasters, Math Olympiad, and student council.  We are so proud of how organized and studious Kaitlin is.  She puts 100% into everything she does and we can always count on her to get the job done.  She is a leader and a very good friend.  I know she is going to soar in middle school!