Gearing Up!

The time had finally come for our Grand Canyon adventure!  Pops was our kind shuttle from the North Rim to the South Rim.   It was a 7 hour drive up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon from our house and then would be a 4 hour drive around to the South Rim.  Without him we would not have been able to do it.  In addition, without Nana watching the kids, we would not have been able to consider it.  We are so grateful for their support of our wild adventures!
We stopped and had lunch at Beaver Street Brewery in Flagstaff.
Then we made a pit stop at Marble Canyon and walked across the Navajo Bridge.  It was like a mini Grand Canyon.  We were starting to get excited and nervous.
We tried to estimate how long it would take us so Pops could see Horseshoe Bend and then meet us in time.  We could only gauge our speed based on our prior hikes, however none had been as long or as difficult as what we were about to undertake.
We stayed in some basic cabins at Kaibab Lodge which is 20 minutes from the North Rim trail head.
We had reservations to dine at the beautiful Grand Canyon Lodge.  We enjoyed cocktails while watching the sunset on the Canyon.  I was having doubts that we were really going to make it to the other side in one day.  Do you see how far away that looks?!
I was the Nervous Nelly in the group and stuck to one cocktail.  However, my company was ready to roll!  We had a delicious dinner at the lodge with much laughter and fun.
As I drove us back to the our cabins everyone was feeling invincible and they all tried to convince me to push back our start time.  I would have none of it!  We were getting on the trail at 4:30 am.  I did not want to be caught climbing up in 100 plus degrees.  After much badgering they finally realized I was leaving at 4:00 am and they could come or sleep in.  :)
I have been told I am stubborn...

Last Day of School!

 This year seemed to go so fast.
It feels like they were just starting school and now it is sweet summer time!
 They have grown a lot over the year!
Hailey found her stride in high school this year.  She has a great group of friends and is doing all things teenager!  She even got detention!  She and her friends loved the thrill of climbing on the roof of the high school to watch the stars and hang out.  One night a bunch of girls spent the night at our house.  Everyone was back in the house by curfew, however, little did the girls (or Max and I) know that a teacher reported seeing a car in the high school parking lot and took down the license plate.  On Monday the school reviewed the video surveillance and watched the girls climb up to the top of the gym roof.  That was the first time the girls went with no boys to help hoist them up the high wall.  They were so proud of their accomplishment they did happy dances and high fives, much to the amusement of the principles.
On Monday they called the girls down to the office one by one and asked who each girl was in the video.  BUSTED!  Since they were all good girls with no prior record of trouble and clearly did no damage, the principle gave them Saturday detention.  Max and I told Hailey they should all spend the night before detention and watch The Breakfast Club.  Not all the parents were as relaxed about as we were and some were grounded.  We figured Saturday detention was a fair punishment.  However, we told her if she ever went up there again she would be in serious trouble!  During Saturday detention at the break the security guard asked them if they were the girls on the roof.  They sheepishly replied, "Yes."  He started busting up laughing and said he had to get them the video because he had heard all about how funny it was.  A week later he gave them the video copy and we got to watch.  It was hilarious.  I am not sure I could have kept a straight face as the principle.  So happy she is making all those fun high school memories.
Karlie also had a great year.  She loved being on the club volleyball team and excelled in academics.   Her friend group got closer and she loves to go hang out at the mall with them.  She is growing into a smart, determined and loving young lady.
 I can't believe baby Kaitlin is all done with elementary school.  She is so sweet and tender I pray the middle school years won't be too hard on her.  Kids can be so cruel and half the time I don't think they even know they are hurting others or why they say the things they do.  Luckily she will have big sister Karlie there to watch out for her.
Her big transformations were cutting off her long locks and getting braces.  Sure signs of growing up.
 Hank had a big height growth spurt this year.  He also grew a lot academically.  School is not as easy for him as it has been for his sisters.  
Lunch and recess are definitely the highlights of his day.  However, he worked very hard and even won a reading trophy for all his efforts.
 He is still a big hearted boy that will melt your heart with his smile and seems to be always bouncing or throwing a ball.
 I am so excited to have my babies home for the summer!  Jump for joy!
I am really happy to not have to pack lunches for 10 weeks!  Summer movies, workbooks and sleeping in here we come!

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!

Birthday Boating

Our best friends' little girl wanted to go boating with our family for her birthday!  She didn't want a party with her friends, she wanted to boat with us.  If I didn't love her already...
Hailey was busy studying for finals and couldn't make it.  We sure missed her. It is strange starting do things without one of your kids. :(  It just always feels like something is not quite right.
 For her birthday present she got this floating island.  We had lots of laughs trying to stay afloat.
 We might have exceeded its weight load because it kept folding like a taco.  Aimee and I tried doing Yoga poses and failed miserably but at least we provided loads of laughter.
 There is something so fun about speeding along the water listening to your favorite tunes.  Buy Me a Boat being one of my favorite.
If our buddies didn't have a boat I might be tempted to get one!
 It is a day of fun for the whole family.
We pulled the kids in the tube, floated, and cruised.
I hope we get invited to Julianna's party next year!!

Will My Feet Ever Forgive Me?

With only a week until the big Rim 2 Rim hike we set out to do our longest and last hike.  First Water is a nearly 16 mile hike that would challenge us in a similar way as the Grand Canyon because you hike up, then descend to the lake and turn around and have to hike up again.
 My buddy Aimee was struggling with a bad cough and wanted to rest up to be sure she could make the Grand Canyon.  So me and the boys set out at sunrise.
 It was a pretty hike, but the best part was reaching the lake and taking our shoes off.  Max packed a beer for each of us.  I don't think a beer has ever tasted so good, especially at 9 in the morning.  We decided then and there we had to bring one for the bottom of the canyon!  Easy carbohydrates and mild analgesic.  Perfect!
We completed the hike in 6 hours, so we were felling pretty confident we could do Rim 2 Rim in under 12 hours.  But boy were my feet tired.  I was a little freaked out about the thought of needing to go 9 more miles and with a much greater elevation climb.
The expression be careful what you ask for came to play for me that day.  Earlier in the week the girls and I were talking about how Hailey would get to go to prom next year.  I was telling her how she had to savor it because there are not many chances in your life you get to all dressed up in an evening gown and go out with a boy in a tux.  I told her how when I was her age I imagined I would have many opportunities to get dressed up fancy.  However, in reality I had only gotten really dressed up for my wedding and one other wedding.  I wistfully said how I wished we had fancy dinners, galas or events to go to.
Two days later one of my friends invited us to the Hon Kachina volunteer awards gala with black tie attire.  I couldn't believe it.  I have not been to a single gala and here just after telling the girls that Dad has only been in a tux for our two proms, our wedding, and one other wedding, we get invited to one.  The only catch was it was the night after we had already planned to do the big First Water hike.  I wasn't going to let either opportunity pass.
 I tried a 5 hour energy for the first time, gave my feet a good rubbing and jammed into some high heels!  Fancy gala here I come!
It was a wonderful evening and it was inspiring to hear about the passion of the volunteers.  Hon Kachina has been awarding outstanding volunteers for 40 years. Their stories brought me to tears more than once.  I can't think of a better reason to get all dressed up than to honor people that devote countless hours to helping others.
An older gentleman came up to me and asked me if I was related to Inger Stevens.  I had never heard of her but he claimed I was a dead ringer and was sure I could have been her daughter.  When I got home I looked her up and learned she died before I was born.
What do you think?  I am not sure I can say I look like a movie star but I certainly felt like one for a night.
 What a day!  I felt so blessed to be beside my handsome date that seems to find a way to make all my dreams come true.  Now if only he wanted to rub my feet...

Breakfast Club

Kaitlin's group of girlfriends' mothers and I have become good buddies.  We tried to get together once a month for brunch during the school year and more than a few times for grown up nights out over the year.  Scottsdale is much different than where I have lived before because people are always coming and going.  You tend to keep friends at arms length because it seems everyone moves to the next destination sooner or later.
 Val is from Italy, Felice most recently from Kansas, Cristina from California, and Catherine from Washington.  I have been here the longest of all of us and I still consider myself a recent transplant.  Our backgrounds are all very diverse with some being Catholic, Jewish, Christian, and non participating.  Some with back East attitudes and others California dreaming.  Stanford Alumni to no college at all.  Not one of us have worked in the same industry as the another.  Some working full time out of the home and some full time stay at home moms. But one thing supersedes all our differences is how much we love our kids and enjoy each other's company.  We also all know how to have a really good time. :)
 Since nearly everyone is here without family, friends become like family.  The girls are like one of my own.  I know I could call on anyone of these people and they would drop what they were doing to help.  We learned Val and her family would be retuning to Italy at the end of the school year.  We had to have one last celebration.  Val has always wanted to go dancing, so dancing we went!
 Well, maybe the ladies danced and the boys enjoy the champagne.  :)
 We are all so different but have found a common cord of friendship and wadding through the waters of motherhood together.  I am so grateful for these ladies and will miss Val and her sweet family.  It always makes you wonder who is next? :(

Three Strikes And We Are Out?

Hank and his buddy played baseball together for their 5th year.  This year the boys had to try out in the Minor League.  Unfortunately his team with all his buddies since Kindergarten got broken up as the league attempted to divide the talent.
 Ben was the only person on the team Hank knew.  It was a disappointing season.  With Hank being the youngest of the boys playing in the minor league he mostly rotated right field, left field and bench.  It is suppose to still be developmental level and the kids were all suppose to rotate through the positions but his coach wanted to win and only played three boys at pitcher.  Hank didn't get suit up as catcher once.
 In addition to that there was more unsportsmanlike behavior from parents and coaches than we have ever seen.  We were totally turned off with parents and coaches behaving badly.  Wake up, this is neighborhood baseball for 9-12 year old boys not the World Series.  People need to get a life if they feel the need to chew out a high school umpire for a bad call.  Hats thrown in the ground, play books tossed on the field, tantrums left and right, and parents saying they were willing to fight each other.  What are they teaching these boys?  I can tell you.  One little boy on our team shouted to the umpire's face, "You Suck Ump"  as the game concluded.  A coach from the opposing team reprimanded the boy and said you don't ever speak to an adult or umpire like that.  Wish we had that coach.
Hank seemed to be having trouble hitting the ball too.  On opening night he had the first line drive to first base.  A couple weeks later he hit a homer.  However, as the season progressed he seemed to be getting worse with his timing and striking out more.  Only after the season did we realize he was struggling with his vision and he needed glasses.  He was still managing to hit most nights but not his usual big hits.
Hank didn't care as much as we did that he wasn't getting playing time or that the coaches were poorly behaved.  He thought it was the greatest when he and Ben would ride the bench and shove as much Big League Chew in their mouth as possible!  He even asked once if he could sit on the bench instead of play outfield.  :)  The boys would practice their spitting and he loved getting to have hotdogs and soda for dinner two nights a week!
It is sad that kids' sports have gotten so competitive that you want to quit because it is no longer fun and you don't want your child picking up bad behavior from the adults.  Each night on the drive home we would have to undo all the negative talk that he had picked up and reinforce respect for the umpire's calls and that it was not ok to talk badly about the other team.  I sure love the game of baseball and wish it could be just a bunch of boys playing ball.  If this is the direction the league is going, I am so sad to say it was Hank's last season.  It looks like three strikes and we are out. :(