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. :(

Mother's Day

 There are some days as a mom you feel like as long as none of your kids end up in jail, you will be winning!
Then there are other days you feel like you might be getting it right more than wrong.  Mother's Day made me feel that way as the kids showered me with sweet notes and gifts.
 Hank's class had a Mother's Day Tea with many sweet and thoughtful gifts.  Hank made me a turtle necklace, a pottery flower and a book about me.  I laughed so hard when he said he dedicated the song House Party to me because I love having a big House party.  My boy knows his mama too well.
 Max treated me to my favorite breakfast, eggs Benedict with potatoes and Mimosas.
 Then we got ready for church.  After the service they had a free picture session for moms.
 My goofy gang.
Karlie and Kaitlin put on a play for us.
 One thing we did not get to do enough of this spring was family bike rides.  The heat was already starting to turn up, so I used Mother's Day as a chance for our desert family ride.
 I love how close we live to wonderful desert trails.
 We stopped and had a picnic lunch before heading back.
To finish a perfect day we got in the hot tub and relaxed.  I had a wonderful day full of the things I love most.

Hank's Camping Trip

Every year the 3rd grade class can do an overnight at the Phoenix Zoo.  With both Karlie and Kaitlin it was an option to leave at bedtime.  Not this year.  Often when we have been at the zoo Hank's allergies act up.  I wasn't sure how he would handle all night next to the animals.  Since I had done it with the girls, it was Max's turn to do it with Hank.  Funny, Max told Hank he would take him real camping instead if he wanted.  Well, you can imagine what Hank picked.  :)
 Friday night the boys set out toward Four Peaks.
 After an hour of diving out the dirt road, Hank wanted to stop at the same camp site that his sister used instead of continuing up further.  That left plenty of time to set up the camp, complete with the Arizona flag, of course.  
Hank liked how the Jeep was a transformer and turned into a tent in just a few minutes.  
Who does't enjoy the camp shovel?  
After hearing about how Karlie split a can in two with her pellet gun, he begged her to loan it out to him for the trip.  Being the good older sister she was happy too.  It took him a few more shots than Karlie, but split the can he did.
The camp at dusk.
Hank's personally selected menu included bratwurst, SpagehttiOs, and Dr. Pepper.  Dinner of champions.  
His favorite part of camping was reading "Just Me and My Dad" by lamp light just before he fell asleep. 
I think Hank made a wise choice on where to go camping. :)

Karlie NJHS

Karlie was invited to be apart of her school's National Junior Honor Society.  Only students that kept all A's and only 1 B through their 6th grade and 7th grade year were potential candidates.  Then they have to have a teacher nominate them as well as write an essay about why they would like to participate.  I was surprised how few students were at the induction ceremony.
Over the course of the year she will have to do a research project on conflict and compromise in history.  The students have various platforms that they can use to present their conclusions.  The society has meetings, does a community outreach, and Karlie has to perform community service.  Karlie is very hard working student.  She is not satisfied with just an A, she wants as close to 100% as possible.  We are so proud of her and her work ethic.

Par For The Day

One of the gifts I got for Max was a morning of golfing with his buddies.  Max rarely takes time for himself with the guys.  He is always putting the kids' sports and spending time with me first.  I knew he would enjoy a forced morning of golf.
I was the Uber driver and the boys had a great time!  But Max being the guy he is and never letting us down had told me we would try to hike a double of Sunrise mountain in preparation for our Rim 2 Rim hike.  Our buddies had done it that morning in 2 hours and 58 minutes.  All I need is a little competition and I am ready to run.  We ran the downs and hiked the up.  Poor Max had a couple IPA's, a giant cheeseburger and fries at the 19th hole.  He was tasting it the entire hike but he wouldn't ask me to slow down.  He is a trooper!  We made the summit twice and did a total of 9.78 miles in two hours and fifty minutes.

The big hike was now just 3 weeks away and we were doing our best to be ready.