Catching Up: Tucson Train Museum

August 16, 2017

  What is it about boys and trains?  Sky loves them too but not the same way that the boys do.  They love everything about them: the noise, the size, the speed.  I've taken them to the toy train museum here in Tucson but one Saturday when Sky was out with D, I decided to take them to see the real thing at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum.  I didn't get a lot of pictures (Earth is really on the run these days!) but it was the perfect place for little kids who love trains.

The restored engine was open and the boys got to blow the whistle and try all the knobs and levers.

Catching up: 4 Kids, 1 Mom, and the Grand Canyon

August 15, 2017

 We had this week off between camps and VBS.  It was supposed to be a slow one spent here in town and at home but when some good friends from Kwajalein messaged to say they would be passing through the Grand Canyon on their honeymoon road trip and asked if we could meet them there, I looked at that empty calendar and thought, "Why not?!"

Best.Decision.Ever.

Catching Up: A Night at the Fair

August 13, 2017

I love that we're making new traditions here for our family!  It looks like one of them is going to be going to the county fair.  We went last year and had a blast and this year was even more fun.

Catching up: Fire's Pre-K Graduation

August 11, 2017

  While I was sorting through my drafts to start on my summer catch-up posts, I found this one on Fire's Pre-K graduation.  I can't believe I never got this posted! 
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 I'm so proud of Fire!  We celebrated his graduation from pre-k this week, a graduation we thought he wasn't going to have since he was so far behind academically.  Fire made so much progress during his pre-k year, thanks entirely to his teachers.  They set high expectations for him and he flourished.  I'm so thankful for all their hard work and that Fire was able to make so much progress in such a short amount of time.
 Fire's "formal" graduation picture

Cutting Water's Hair

August 9, 2017

I love Water's hair. It's so soft and he has such beautiful curls.  I've been letting it grow out for almost a year because I wanted to see if how longer hair suited his face (and because I love his curls!).  We'd found a hair routine that worked: co-wash and comb and then deep condition and re-curl at bath time, and then alternating with a leave-in deep conditioner or curl cream for everyday styling.  When I could get him to sit still for it all, his curls looked amazing:

First Day of School!

August 7, 2017

  Summer is officially over.  And, somewhat surprisingly, we survived- no, we did more than survive.  My friends, we killed summer this year!  We did space camp, art camp, soccer camp, went camping at the Grand Canyon, stay-cationed in Flagstaff, spent a week at Grandma and Grandpa's house, lived at the pool, had play dates, and sleepovers.  There was more bickering on the kids' part and more yelling on my part than I would have liked but overall, it was a great summer.  I'll try to get to the catch-up posts soon but in the mean time, here are this year's back to school pictures:
 Just kidding!  This one has two more years at home before he starts Kindergarten.

Camp Week One: Art and Soccer

June 10, 2017

We are two weeks into summer and the big kids just finished their first camp weeks.  Fire attended a soccer camp and Sky went to an art camp and they both loved them. 
   Besides being a camper, we were also a host family!  Two of Fire's coaches stayed with us for the week.  They were great with the kids and it was fun having two new personalities in the house. 

Catching Up: Fire's Fifth Family Day

June 2, 2017

We've had five wonderful years with this sweet boy!  He's come so far in the last year since we moved to Arizona and it's been wonderful to see him grow.   I'm so glad you're in our family, Fire, and I can't wait to see what the next year holds for you!

     Fire's Family Day Pictures 2017  

A Weekend at YMCA Family Camp

May 31, 2017


 We spent our Memorial Day weekend at the Triangle Y Ranch family camp and had an amazing time.  Some good friends recommended it to us and although I was worried that the kids were too young, I thought we would give it a try.  We really had an amazing weekend and we're already talking about going again next year.

Catching Up: Happy Easter!

May 29, 2017

Happy (belated) Easter!
This is the best picture we got of all the kids in their Easter outfits....

Last Day of School!

May 26, 2017

We made it through another school year!  Sky has finished 1st grade and Fire completed Pre-K.  This last month was a busy one and we're all ready for a fun summer break, full of pool time, play time, a summer camps.

Sky's first day of school
 Sky's last day of school

Decorating for Easter

April 7, 2017

I love decorating for the different seasons around the house!  I didn't do it on Kwaj, mainly because I didn't have the storage space for the decorations, and it was something that I was super-excited about doing once we moved back to the States.
  I kept the decorations pretty simple, in part because we want to focus our Easter celebration on Jesus' resurrection rather than a bunny and candy.
Speaking of bunnies and candy, this little guy is on my floating shelves and is currently empty of candy.  Somebody (cough, cough, not naming names) couldn't stop eating all the jelly beans.  I'll refill it again soon but maybe with something healthy since I can't keep my hand out of it.

Hair Battles

April 2, 2017

Sky's hair has always been a bit of a touchy subject between she and I.  When we met her for the first time, her hair was short and pulled into tiny little pony tails.  I was excited to have a daughter and to do her hair but she wouldn't have anything to do with me touching her hair for the first few months.  It wasn't until we returned to Kwajalein and then took a short trip to Roi that we discovered the secret to doing Sky's hair : distraction.

My first time putting ponytails in Sky's hair

Life Lately in Pictures

March 30, 2017

I think it's time for a little photo catch-up, don't you?  We haven't been doing much since we returned from Mexico, just settling back into our normal routines.  We're all starting to look forward to the end of the school year and my plans for summer are slowly coming together.
  Scout has moved in and we're getting used to each other.  She is a wonderful dog and is a great addition to our family.  House training is going slower than I wish it was so any tips there would be appreciated.
  Without further ado, here's some slices of our life lately...

A boy and his dog.  These two already adore each other

Teaching Sky to Sit: An SPD Story

March 11, 2017

This is probably one of my favorite pictures since it captures so much of Sky: trying to do what's expected of her (homework) but in her own way.

Happy Birthday to Me!

March 8, 2017

I turned 38 at the end of February and we celebrated by doing nothing... and it was great!

Sky's Sixth Family Day

March 6, 2017

Sky has been home with us for six years!  There aren't enough words to say how wonderful it's been to have her as our daughter.  While it hasn't always been easy, it's always been a blessing. 

A Phoenix/Tucson Stay-cation

February 27, 2017

Some very good friends of D were in Phoenix last weekend so we decided that he should take a few days off and that we'd make it a long weekend stay-cation.

On Wednesday afternoon we loaded up the boys, picked Sky up from school and headed up to Legoland in Phoenix

Planning for Summer

February 21, 2017

  Am I the only one already thinking about how to handle summer break?  Sky and Fire will be done with school at the end of May so I have just over two months to figure out how to fill June and July.  I'm going to have all four kids home with me this summer and I would like us to all still love each other at the end of it.
  For my family, that means staying busy and having a schedule.  I'm already talking to one of our favorite baby sitters about being my mother's helper three days a week.  When he's here, we'll do our school time

In the Seoul Airport

February 19, 2017

I was looking through pictures from our trip to Thailand last year and found this one of Fire watching planes take off. 

Looking at it tickled something in my memory and quick search led me to this picture
I'd taken the same picture, in the same airport, at the same gate, two-and-a-half years later. 
Fire still loves to travel, still loves airplanes, and we still love exploring the world with him!

A Happier Fire

February 17, 2017

  This boy, my friends, has had a rough couple of years.  Remember this post about the issues we were going through just before we moved back to America?  Well, I think we're finally on the upside of things here and it feels so good.

Happy Valentine's Day!

February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day, sweet friends!  My day was a little extra special with flowers from D and cards from the kids.  I hope day was full of love and joy!

Happy Fifth Birthday, Fire!

February 13, 2017

  Birthdays are usually small family celebrations in our house with one exception: the fives.  If you turn five, 10, or 15, we're going to throw you all the party you want.  When Sky turned five, we rented the gym and the biggest bounce house on the island and had about 75 kids at the party.  Sky had a great time and we loved celebrating her in a big way.
 A few months ago, we started thinking about how we were going to celebrate Fire's fifth birthday.  We wanted to throw him the same big party that we had for Sky - we were going to rent the whole Children's Museum (it's Fire's happy place right now) and invite all the kids from his Pre-K class, Sunday school, and soccer team.  When the time came to book the party though, we asked Fire one last time how he wanted to celebrate he said that all he wanted was to have his friends at his house to play.
  We were surprised but more than happy to give him just the party he wanted.  We sent invitations to his best friends, ordered a race car cake, and planned a few games.  Fire spent an afternoon playing with 10 other little kids, eating flaming hot cheetos and cake and was the happiest little birthday boy.

  Happy Birthday Fire, we love you to the moon and back!

   Fire modeling his favorite gifts: a plasma car and a Storm Trooper helmet

Decorating for Valentines Day

February 9, 2017

I love decorating for holidays but kept thing simple for Valentines day: a few table decorations, some things in the window, some fun throw pillows to brighten up the living room.

I found this table runner and candy jar at Target last year.  I didn't feel like having to worry about the kids sneaking candy this year so used some stickers and cloth flowers to turn it into a cheerful vase.

A Slice of Life

January 31, 2017

The other day, Sky pleaded a bad cough and I let her stay home with me for the day.  Since Fire was home sick on my first "Day in the Life of a SAHM" post, it seemed fair to let Sky be in one too.

The behavioral therapist recommended using light and music to wake the kids up (I'll be doing a post on that soon) but since they "lost" my Mozart CD, I woke them up with a little Shakira this morning.

It Takes Two to Fight

January 26, 2017


  I love this girl with all my heart but she really knows how to push my buttons.  She will seek out a negative interaction with me on purpose (a common pattern in kids from traumatic backgrounds) even when she knows it won't gain her anything and until recently, I didn't deal with her behavior very well. I used to dread her coming home from school because I just knew we would fight. I just didn't know how to redirect her off of a negative path and would let her keep pushing me until I exploded.  It became a standard pattern and I hated it.

Weekending

January 24, 2017

I've said it before in other "weekending" posts and I'll say it again, we love weekends here!  There's always so much to do in Tucson and we cram as much fun into a weekend as we can.  This one was a busy one, even for us.  We kicked off the weekend by having a friend and her kids over for dinner.  One of her sons is Fire's best friend and her older boys are great with all the kids so they all played pretty nicely while the adults talked.  It was so nice to have one of those wide-ranging grown-up conversations (my conversations these days typically revolve around why you can't wear pajamas to school and why we can't have candy for every meal!).
 On Saturday morning, D took Sky to gymnastics while I took Water and Earth with me to Tucson March for Women.  It was an exciting event and last longer than I thought it would so the boys ended up getting their nap in the car on the way home.  That meant that instead of an hour or so of quiet time to do school work with Sky and Fire, I had four bored kids on my hands.  After a rainy morning, the sky had cleared.  Since there was a nice breeze blowing, I grabbed the kids, some snacks, and announced that we were going to the park to fly a kite.


Tucson March for Women

January 22, 2017

  On Saturday I took Earth and Water into down town Tucson and we joined with thousands of others to march for women!  I was super nervous because I'd never done anything like this before but it was great to be part of it, even at the fringes.  I wish I could have brought all the kids but Sky and Fire would have complained about the cold (it was 40 degrees- they're such island babies!) and the wait.
  I was able to keep the little boys happy with giant chocolate chip cookies and then lunch during the speeches and they happily waved at everyone while we marched.  Because I had the stroller, I ended up at the front of the march and didn't have any trouble maneuvering along the route.
  I didn't carry a sign or start any chants but my boys and I were there, showing our support for those who did and standing up against misogyny. 

Kitchen Renovation: Finally Finished!

January 18, 2017

Our kitchen is finally done! 

Talking to Sky about Dr King and Race

January 16, 2017

  Sky has off of school today.   Unscheduled time and changes to her daily routine can be challenging for her so we try to talk about things like this ahead of time.  Being a very curious seven-year-old, she wanted to know why she had off of school so I her a little about Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.  How do you explain racism to a child who has equality ingrained in her heart?

Adoption Talk Topics #1: Introductions

January 12, 2017

  I'm going to try to keep up with the Adoption Talk Link Up this year and the first topic of the year is Introductions.  I've done a few of those here on the blog (how we got to the Marshall Islands, why we chose adoption, and 99 things about me) but my life has changed quite a bit since those were written.
(There is something photo-worthy about a popcorn bucket bigger than your head...)

Hiking in Madera Canyon

January 10, 2017

Sky has always loved hiking and her favorite place to do it around here is Madera Canyon.  It's a short drive away, tucked into the base of the beautiful Santa Rita Mountains.  We had rain around Christmas which meant that there was a bit of snow in the canyon!

Playing Catch Up: Earth's First Family Day

January 7, 2017

For so many reasons, I couldn't get my act together around Earth's family day.  Maybe because it was his first, maybe because it fell just after we got back from Thailand and then it got lost after the excitement of Halloween.  Can I blame on Earth being the fourth child?
  To tell you the truth, I didn't remember exactly when his Family day was.  Earth had already been living with us for a while by the time we went to court and the whole process was messy and so much didn't go as planned (see my Island Adoption post for more on that).  I did remember that it was in early November but when I went to look for the exact date, I discovered that we don't have a copy of his adoption decree (note to self: fix that!).  
  I had to look on this blog to find it- we finalized Earth's adoption on November 4th.  We celebrated about a week after that with his favorite dinner- sausage and pepper sandwiches but for some reason, I just couldn't remember to take our annual photos.  Finally, two months late, here they are:

D and Earth 2017

From the Draft File: Easter and Water's Baptism

January 5, 2017

I can't believe I never posted this one!  This was the year that I was in charge of organizing the sunrise service on the beach and I guess this post just got lost in all the busyness.
 These sunrise services were one of the many things I loved about Kwaj and the fact that Water was baptized at this one made it extra special.  Since I was working in the background I didn't get any pictures of the service but D got some great pictures of Water's baptism. I'd forgotten what a chubby, happy baby Water was!

From the Draft File: Oahu's North Shore

January 2, 2017

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope you had fun celebrating, however you did it (I was in bed by 9:30, so you know we lived it up!) and that you're looking forward to a wonderful new year.  Sky will be on school break for another week and half so I'll be taking a short break from blogging but to tide you over until we get back to our regularly scheduled programming, here is a post I found in the draft file from our trip to Hawai'i in early 2015 for Sky and Fire's US citizenship.  I hope the pictures of green grass and beaches brighten up your winter day!


Our Charmed Life. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.