Thursday, October 12, 2017

August 2017

Erik started first grade this month! We found a great charter school that seemed like a much better fit for him than where he was at last year and so far he loves it. It's crazy to see how big he is!
Having Erik in back in school made me realize how much easier life is with only two kids around most of the day. Just having one less kid to wrangle in the grocery store makes such a big difference! (And it means I can use the cute fire truck shopping carts because there's enough seats for everyone. This also makes shopping much easier.)
 It's been fun to see Sharli and Maren becoming buddies now that Sharli doesn't have Erik around to play with all morning. They still have normal sibling squabbles, but they're also learning to enjoy each other too. It gives me hope that someday they might actually be friends!
 It's a good thing Maren lets Sharli distract her most of the time, because she's learning to create her own ways to entertain herself, and most of them are NOT Mom approved. Like this day when she learned the value of a step stool and helped herself to the kitchen drawers.
Maren's not the only one coming up with creative ways to entertain herself. Sharli got bored and invented "nose coloring". Oh well, it kept her busy for a very long time. 
 As cute and fun (and crazy and frustrating) as they all are when they're awake, I still love to watch them sleep. They're so peaceful and sweet. Plus they tend to provide some entertainment for us while lying there unconscious, so it's a win for everyone!
He had to have the headband that matched his PJ's...
She fell asleep sitting up. Good thing her tiger was there to catch her when she fell over.
Nap time on top of the bookshelf. Makes perfect sense.
 While this month was pretty low key, we did have some fun visitors! Grandma and Grandpa Richins came with Uncle Heber and hung out for a few days. We really enjoyed having them around! We took them to try out a new ice cream place, and we all loved it!
 Grandma Kathleen came to visit a week or two later, and it was so much fun to get to spend some time with her! We met up with cousins and enjoyed the AZ Science Center. It was a fun day and a great chance for the kiddos to enjoy being with their extended family.

Friday, August 4, 2017

July 2017

 Wow, looking through all the pictures from this month made me realize what a busy but super fun month this was. We got to see and do so many great things!

Of course we kicked the month off with Independence Day, and what better way to celebrate America than to watch a baseball game and some fire works?! The Phoenix valley is where all the major league baseball teams come for Spring Training, so there are nice ball fields all over the place. We went over to Surprise and watched the Rookie league match-up between the Kansas City Royals vs. The Texas Rangers.
Not being huge baseball fans we weren't really into the game (which moved SO SLOW!), but the atmosphere was fun and the kids really enjoyed wandering the stadium and taking it all in.
Erik had no idea what was going on, but he was sure excited to be there! Later in the evening someone even gave him a ball that had flown into the stands during the game. He was tickled pink! He named it "Bally Bally".
I love this picture!
 Maren's favorite part of the evening was when she scored a Dum Dum sucker. Best night ever!

 After the awesome fireworks show we spent ages fighting the traffic to get home and get our tired kids in bed. It was a really nice day! We were a little sad to not be with the Payne clan in Lordsburg. This was the first time in 6 years we had to miss out on that party, but there's always next year!

The next big event of the month was Sharli's ear surgery. She had been dealing with hearing loss and ear aches since March, and we finally managed to get her in to get tubes put in her ears and her adenoids removed. She was sleepy the day of the surgery, and then after that you'd never know anything had happened to her. She was able to hear better almost instantly, and felt SO much better than she had for months!
A few days later we got to go to a fun Family Art Day at ASU, you can read all about that here.

Ethan got to spend a couple of days over in Thatcher wandering through our old stomping grounds and being a "fish superhero", as the kids called him. He was with a team that hiked up Mt. Graham to rescue endangered Gila Trout after the Frye forest fire. It was hard work, but he got to see some pretty country. You can read about it here.
While he was gone, the kids and I joined in on Cow Appreciation Day at Chik-Fil-A. The kids were so proud of the hats they had made.

 We have been really enjoying the library system here. They have just about anything you could want to watch or read. They also put on lots of great events, like the Balloon Show we went to.
Erik got to be a monster. Sharli didn't get picked to come up and help with the show, but she was lucky enough to score the princess' castle afterwards. They were pretty excited!
 Maren is growing like a weed. She's practicing really hard for the "terrible twos", and oh boy is she getting good at it! ;) She has her good moments too. She learned to say "cheese" and smile for the camera. It's fun to be able to get some nice pictures of her cute smile now!
She found this little foam ball that she carried around for days. When it started to get a little shabby I cut a slit in it to make it work as a clown nose. She LOVES it! 
 One of the other big events that we can count on every July is Erik's birthday. He turned 6 this year! His birthday was a lot of fun. There was a water activity at the church that day (just a coincidence that it happened on his b-day), so he got his dream party without me having to do any of the work. He got water balloons, friends, slip-n-slides, popsicles, and fun, which is exactly what he most wanted. We had a coupon for a free cake from the grocery store, so we went to pick that up and they announced his birthday over the intercom so everyone knew it was his day. That night we had cake and ice cream, and discovered I had accidentally bought trick candles. He was totally confused at first when they kept relighting, then just frustrated. Oops. :)
 We ended the month with a bang by going on a tour of our local fire station with some of our friends. It was really fun, and the kids loved getting to see it all. Read more about that here.

ASU Family Art Day

Since moving to the Phoenix valley we've been really enjoying the opportunities to experience some fun new things that weren't available to us before. There's always something going on around here, and if you look hard enough you can typically even find things that are not only fun and family-friendly, but also FREE! Those things are our favorites!
A few weeks ago we heard about the Family Art Day at the ASU modern art museum. It sounded like fun, so we piled in the car and headed that direction. There were fun, kid friendly crafts set up in each of the art galleries and even in the lobby. We spent a couple of hours working our way through them all and watching the kids have fun creating their own art. They got to try their hands at things like coil pottery and screen printing, as well as less sophisticated things like coloring refrigerator magnets and making superhero masks. They ate it all up!
Coloring refrigerator magnets.
Creating their own modern art.
We're not real big into modern art, but there were a few of the pieces that the kids enjoyed. 
After the art museum, we headed over to McDonald's to grab a quick lunch and a treat. Oh boy do we love cheap ice cream!

These super hero masks were probably the favorite of all the crafts we'd done that morning. 
Maren decided today was the day to master the art of drinking through a straw. She even put aside the ice cream in favor of her cup of ice water and a straw. It took some work, but she got it figured out. :)

After lunch we realized we were right down the street from the Bass Pro Shop, and there was no way we'd pass up the chance to go check that out! We haven't been to one of those since our trip to Mobile, AL when Erik was a baby. Of course we spent the most time in front of the big fish tank...
...but the camping section was a close second.
We had to try out ALL the tents, chairs, and sleeping bags.

This was such a fun day! I can't wait for the next Family Art Day in a few months! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

June 2017

This was such a fun month around here! We started off on the first of the month taking the kids to their first ever dentist appointments. Erik did great and they were able to examine his mouth and get his teeth (mostly) cleaned. Sharli wasn't so sure, so they just kinda peeked in there for a quick look and then let her go. Maren was having nothing to do with it all and wouldn't let her touch them.  Oh well. They all got balloons and bouncy balls out of the deal, so they were happy!
Look how grown up he's getting!!! 
One event that we LOVE celebrating every June is National Donut Day, and this year was no exception. Ethan invited a friend from work and we ate donuts until we were very literally sick. It was amazing! And painful...  :)
We had a fun visit from Kett and Cameron, and their kids got to spend a few days here with us playing with cousins and having a blast.
Even the babies got along pretty well and had a fun time.
One of our kids' favorite things to play (still) is Moana. They'll spend forever just voyaging through the living room in their make-shift boats. I love it!

Maren doesn't get in on the adventuring very often, but she does like to cuddle up nearby with her "gankget" and watch the fun from a safe distance.
One not-so-fun adventure we went on this month was Sharli's first visit to the Chiropractor. Poor thing threw out her neck while showing her muscles off to Erik at the crack of dawn. Luckily we found a chiropractor who could get her in right away and by the next day she was back to normal again. I hate neck pain so much, and it was so sad to watch her deal with it!
June was SO hot! We got within a few degrees of breaking the all time high temperature record for Phoenix, which tells you it was just WAY too hot! We tried really hard to just lay low and stay under the AC, but sometimes there were things going on that were worth leaving the house for. Like when we found out that Wildman Phil would be at the library with all his crazy critters. We met up with some friends for a great morning of learning about some fun animals.

Obviously the alligator was the kids' favorite, but all the animals were really neat.

Erik really loved this three-legged tortoise. They spent a few minutes gazing into each other's eyes...

This boy likes to think he's all grown up. He lost his second tooth this month is getting so big! Sometimes though he does something to remind me that he's still just a little guy though, like this day when he curled up for a nap while playing down the hall. I love this cute little/big guy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

May 2017

 The month of May started off with a bang for us, with a visit from the Lathrop family. Sally has been my best friends since shortly after we first moved to Glenwood, and her girls and our kids have loved each other SO much. We were already missing them after the move, but then we found out they were going to be moving to Nebraska and we knew we had to find a way to see them again before they left. They ended up coming over to the valley to visit some of their family, and they made the trip across town to come spend some time visiting with us. It was so wonderful to get to see them again, even though we were pretty sure it would be the very last time.

After that visit, life continued on as normal. The kids discovered they know how to play Go Fish well enough to play completely on their own. That was a fun surprise and provided hours of fun.
We had one day when my car keys accidentally went to work with Ethan, so we had to walk Erik to and from school that day. It's about a mile walk, and May in Phoenix gets pretty warm, so we found some shade on the way home for a popsicle break. It made me glad to have a car to get around in!
A few weeks before the end of school I started collaborating with Erik's teacher and the PTA from his old school in Glenwood. We arranged to meet them in Tucson for an overnight field trip so we could have one last hurrah with all our friends. Even though it meant having to drive across the valley during both the morning and evening rush hours, it was totally worth it!

We picked up Sally and her girls who had just flown in from Nebraska, and met everyone else in Tucson for lunch at Chuck E. Cheese, where the kids had a BLAST! Then we loaded up and headed over to the Tucson Children's Museum. This place was a ton of fun, and they had some really neat exhibits.

After dinner at Golden Corral we headed for our hotel, where we swam in the pool and played games until the kids were ready to crash. The next day we got to visit the miniatures museum. It was really incredible, I could have spent hours and hours in there looking at everything!

It was so hard to say good bye to everyone and head back home again when we were done. When we moved from Glenwood the kids didn't really get what that Good Bye meant, but by the time we were leaving Tucson they had a better understanding of the implications, so it was much more difficult for us all.
 We got back from Tucson and Erik finished out his last few weeks of Kindergarten. He and his buddy Liam were sad to see each other leave!
 To kick off our summer vacation I found a great deal on a family summer pass to the Arizona Science Center. We spent a whole day playing, learning, and exploring there and had a blast!
 Playing with the power of water. 

 Mower's vs. the rest of the kids. Erik and Sharli worked together to beat the other kids in the room on this huge tug-of-war game.
 Erik learned about the power of pulleys by using one to lift his own weight.