Over the River and Through the Woods: Play Time in the Snow

December 28, 2017

For a bunch of island babies, my kids love the snow!

Over the River and Through the Woods...

December 22, 2017

To grandmother's house we go!
  Well, we tried to.  Months of planning, days of packing, 20 minutes trying to get everyone into the truck and settled and it won't start.  Two hours and two replaced batteries later, and we were on the road.

How to Make an Ice Cream Cake

December 20, 2017

 My kids love ice cream cake! 

Sky's 8th Birthday

December 18, 2017

How did Sky get to be eight?!  Two seconds ago, she was a tiny little thing and now she's a big girl with big ideas, doing great in school and at home.  Sky is sassy, funny, and so smart!  I love watching her grow and can't wait to see what eight has in store for her.

Her godparents sent her some clothes for her birthday so we let her open a present the night before her birthday

A Visit With Santa

December 14, 2017

Santa came to the clubhouse on Saturday and we got to say hi
 Three looking, two smiling- I'll take it!

Sky's Birthday Show

December 12, 2017

It looks like Sky and I have accidentally started a new tradition: birthday dates to see a musical! Last year we saw the Sound of Music and this year, I took her to see Roger's and Hammerstein's Cinderella.

Movie Night at the Train Museum

December 10, 2017

My kids LOVE the Tucson Train Museum!  We've gotten to such regulars there that the staff know us and are extra sweet with the kids.  We usually go on Saturday mornings and the kids love honking the train horn and playing with the toy trains.  This fall, they had a special family movie series to promote train safety so we've been bundling up the kids and heading downtown for crafts, popcorn, and free outdoor movies.
Doing a craft before the show

Cute Picture Catch Up

December 3, 2017

It's been ages since I've done a cute picture dump!  Grab your coffee and get comfortable because here is a giant post full of adorable pictures from the last few months
  My little helpers, carrying in our Operation Christmas Child boxes

Wednesday Field Trip to Jump Tucson

November 30, 2017

There aren't too many indoor kids activities here in Tucson, something that was a huge surprise to me during our first summer here.  When a friend told me that a new place had just opened up, we headed right out to try it. Jump Tucson is an inflatable activity center, with lots of things to keep kids busy and a toddler area for the little ones.  We played for three hours and all the kids had a blast!

Water's Hair Cut

November 28, 2017

Water's hair has been growing crazy-fast lately!  I took him for a haircut in August (after almost a year of growing it out) and it was already long again. 

Decorating the Christmas Tree

November 26, 2017

This boy loves Christmas!

Decorating for Christmas

November 25, 2017

Since we're going to my mom's house for Christmas this year, we decided to decorate early this year so that we could make the most of the holiday spirit in the house.
The Christmas tree is in the office area this time.  It just seems to fit there but since it's out of the way, the kids aren't paying it as much attention as they did last year.  On one hand, I'm a little sad that they're not as excited about it and on the other, I'm relieved to not have to tell them to stop touching it all the time like I did last year. #momproblems

Earth's Family Day

November 24, 2017

Earth, so tiny and finally mine!
 11-4-2015

D's Birthday

November 22, 2017


 Happy Birthday, D!

Thanksgiving

November 20, 2017

This year, I'm thankful for these crazy kids- they keep me busy but they also keep me laughing.

Zoom Zoom at the Children's Museum

November 18, 2017

We love the Tucson Children's Museum!  They sponsored a "touch-a-truck" day recently and I took Water and Fire to check it out.  We got there early and the booth run by a pest control company was the only one open but since they had a snake, we headed right over

Sky and Quitting Quitting

November 15, 2017

Sky made it through the soccer season!  I think it really helped that her best friend was on the team

A trip to the toy train museum

November 13, 2017

After the Children's Museum, I think the toy train museum here in Tucson is our favorite place to go.  We went the other weekend and took one of Fire and Water's good friends along for the fun.

A Special Visitor

November 5, 2017

Besides my phone dying, this space has been quiet because we've had a special visitor:
Water's birth mom has come for a visit so we're trying to soak up as much time with her as possible.  I love that Water can still have a relationship with her and that she takes an active role in his life.  We have truly been blessed by adoption!

Happy Halloween!

November 2, 2017

Happy Halloween everyone!

Maui was in southern Arizona for the day!

Weekending, Halloween Style

October 30, 2017

It was getting close to Halloween and the kids still didn't have pumpkins to carve so when Sky's Saturday morning soccer game got rescheduled we decided to take advantage of the wide-open, beautiful day and head up to the pumpkin patch.
  We hit the corn maze first...

The Terrible Twos and a Threenager

October 24, 2017

Don't get me wrong, I love my boys and I love that I get to be home with them but let me tell you, having one in the terrible twos and a threenager home at the same time is tough on this mama!

A Little Bit of Everything in Pictures

October 21, 2017

None of these fit into a regular post but all of them are memories that I want to keep so here's one mixed up, random, mish-mash of our life, in pictures:

 I bought this antique rocker as a college graduation present to myself almost 20 years ago.  It's over 100 years old and has been out of commission while the seat was being repaired.  This little one is so happy to have our rocker back and it's his new favorite place to sit while we read books.

Fall Break, Fishing, and the Desert Museum

October 18, 2017

We survived Fall Break!  And not only are all of us still alive, we all still like each other!  I'm so surprised about that because I expected our week home together be a real challenge.  While it did have some rocky spots, I think our time together over the summer helped the kids know what to expect while they were out school.
  Schedules are important in our family and since we wouldn't have our usual one, I made up one just for the week.  On Monday, the kids slept in and we hit a playground with some friends,  On Tuesday Sky got to pick our activity, on Wednesday Fire chose, and on Thursday Earth got his turn to be in charge. We talked about what each child wanted to choose the week before so that everyone knew the plan and there weren't any surprises. I made arrangements for the kids favorite babysitters to come over later in the week and I planned a big day out at the Desert Museum for Friday.

 I didn't take too many pictures during the week but I got a few in front of the Children's Museum:

Referrals At Last!

October 15, 2017

   
These are some special papers, my friends!  These are the evaluation order and referral requests for Fire and Earth and I couldn't be happier to finally have them in my hands. 
  Fire has struggled with speech issues for years and although we finally saw some improvement during preschool, he never qualified for speech therapy like I hoped he would- his coping mechanisms were just too good and there were just too many other students that scored worse.  After years of "wait and see", his kindergarten teacher agrees with me that he needs some extra help and Fire will be evaluated again for speech therapy.  While the therapist was concerned that he would pass the tests again and she didn't want to test him into therapy, she seemed to think that he could benefit from her help.  It was the first meeting I've been to for Fire that I've felt like someone was taking my concerns seriously and it was so refreshing to be believed.
  Earth is Fire's full biological sibling so it's not surprising that he would have some language delays as well and because we're in America he was given referrals for audiology testing and a speech evaluation at his 2-year well-child visit.  Earth says just over 20 words regularly and isn't starting to make sentences yet (the norm for 2 year olds is 50 words and two-word sentences regularly).  While he's not screaming like Fire used to, he has terrible tantrums and I think if Earth were able to make himself understood better, that might improve. 
  I don't want to get too excited but these referrals make me feel so vindicated.  Mamas, if you think your child needs help, keep fighting for it!  You know your child best and don't let anyone else tell you that he or she is "fine" when you know they can be better than "fine" with some extra help.
 

Field Trip Days

October 13, 2017

  Arizona schools, I have a little tiny bone to pick with you!  Technically two, but I won't get into the fact that there's no art in the elementary schools right now.  My main issue since we moved here is the early release on Wednesdays.  Every Wednesday, Sky is home an hour earlier than she's used to and it throws her off.  Now, don't be reasonable and say that she should be used to that after having done it for the last year and a half!  Nope, every week, we confront this schedule change and while Sky is handling it better, it still needs to be handled. (For the record, Fire does just fine with getting off early once a week). 
  All last year, Sky did CrossFit with Coach Wayne on Wednesdays and the physical workout as well as the regular schedule really helped her to feel in control and we had a lot fewer behavior challenges.  We took the summer off from CrossFit but both Sky and Fire started going when school started in August.  Unfortunately, neither of them were enjoying it very much and it was getting to be a bit of a fight to get both of them there every Wednesday.  Since Sky doesn't need the strength training for gymnastics anymore and since she's in an amazingly good place right now behavior-wise, I decided to try something different: Field Trip Days.  Every Wednesday when the kids get off the bus, we go someplace.  The privilege of choosing our destination rotates through Sky, Fire, and Water.  Sky chose the Children's Museum for our first trip and for his first Field Trip Day, Fire chose to go to the Tucson Botanical Gardens

Earth Harmony Festival 2017

October 10, 2017

D and I are closet hippies, you could say.  We love farmer's markets, making most of our food from scratch, we were really conflicted about moving to the suburbs, and all our kids really are named after the four elements, so when I saw a flier for the Earth Harmony Festival I knew that we had to go.  D's not a big fan of camping but we thought it would be a fun family getaway so we loaded up the truck and headed down for the weekend.

  We got there early on Friday evening and set up camp

Decorating for Halloween

October 8, 2017

  It's silly (and I think I've said it here before) but I never really got a chance to decorate for the holidays when we lived on Kwajalein and it's something that I'm really enjoying being able to do now that we live in America.  I don't want to go over the top but I want the house to feel festive and I want the kids to remember that it was something that their mom did around the house when they were growing up.  Isn't it funny what little things can become important to us?!

 My front door sign, perfect for Halloween

The Importance of a Battle Plan

October 3, 2017

 No matter how great their smile is...

Sky and Soccer

October 1, 2017

Sky has a mixed relationship with soccer.  She played a few seasons when we lived on Kwaj but wasn't really into it when she played "real soccer".  I was skeptical when she asked to play this season but since her best friends are playing and their dad is the coach, she's doing great so far.
 The best part of soccer- snacks after the game!

Water's Family Day

September 29, 2017

Water's Family Day fell on a Monday this year and we kept things quiet and low key.  We spent the morning at the park with friends and then had an easy afternoon at home.  Water request noodles for his special dinner so we ramen (Thai shrimp soup for D and I) and had ice cream and brownies for desert.  Nice and simple, nothing like his first family day: racing through the rain to make it to his court date and then worrying about all the rest of the things that needed to happen just right. Although I prayed hard and did everything I could to make it happen, I was terrified that something would go wrong.  In the end, everything went smoothly so that I cried with relief in the Seattle passport office.
  I can't say often enough how this boy is a light to our family.  He has a sweet and tender heart and loves so big.  We needed this boy in our family and are so blessed to have him.

D and Water, 2017

Weekending

September 25, 2017

We do love our weekends here in America!  They've been quiet over the last month while we adjust to our new regular schedule but this weekend, we got back into it.
Friday morning started with a run

School Pictures 2017

September 21, 2017

  It's school picture time again!  My favorite things about these annual photos is the chance to look back at last year's photo and see how much the kids have grown. 

Sky
 2011 (21 months)

Earth is 2!

September 18, 2017

Happy Birthday, Earth!  Our unexpected, and unexpectedly male, last child is rambunctiously, energetically, terribly, joyfully two years old.
  Earth started the day early- this picture was taken at 5:30am, hence D's bleary eyes.  He helped D walk the dog and then we got all got ready for church

Decorating for Fall

September 15, 2017

 Just like last year, maybe if I decorate for fall, it'll start feeling like fall?  It may have worked because it looks like we're done with 100 degree days for the year.  I'm sure 95 doesn't sound that cool to you but those five degrees make a big difference here and pretty soon, it'll be cool enough that we can open up the house at night.  It's almost my favorite time of year here and I can't wait!
  I added some decorations out front this year; not much just a sweet door sign and some sunflowers but I think it cheers things up a bit

Just a Regular Day

September 13, 2017

Wow, it's been a long time since I've done a "regular day" post!  I think this was my last one and that was in May of last year.  Things have definitely changed since then so here's what a regular day looks like now:

Sky and Fire put on their uniforms for school and we did the usual morning stuff before heading out to the bus stop

We Have a Reader!

September 11, 2017

   I couldn't find Sky on the playground after school yesterday and when I did, my heart just about burst with happiness
It was just like seeing myself 30 years ago: hiding away on a playground and lost in a book

Super in 2nd Grade and Rocky in Kindergarten

September 7, 2017

We're about six weeks into the school year so I figured it's about time for an update.  Really, the blog title says it all: Sky is doing fabulous and Fire is doing not-so-fabulous.

A Little Me Time

September 4, 2017

  My friends, this summer started to get a little long at the end.  While it was a great one overall and while we made the most of it, towards the end my patience was running out and my temper was frayed.  I felt like I was always tired,   that I was yelling all the time,  and like nothing was fun anymore.  When I found out that a friend was going to be in Iowa for a short time, I looked into tickets and found a great deal with my airline miles.  A few text messages later and my trip was planned:  I was flying to Iowa for the weekend to see my friend, stay with my mom, and just be away for a bit.
Can you tell we're in Iowa?!

Violin Lessons

September 1, 2017

Towards the end of the summer, Sky started asking to learn to play the violin.  While she's always loved to listen to music, she's never expressed a desire to play an instrument herself and because of that, we held off on lessons until we were sure it was something she really wanted to do.  She asked several times and even said she still wanted to do it after I told her how much she would have to practice every week.
  Since she was so persistent about it, D found a teacher and rented her a violin
She takes lessons every Sunday afternoon and is slowly learning how to play.  Lesson time has become her one-on-one time with D which is hard to come by in a family the size of ours, so it's pretty special.

10 Years Together

August 30, 2017


D and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary this year!  While our actual anniversary fell over the Labor Day holiday, we took advantage of Sky and Fire's trip to their grandparents to spend a weekend away.  A friend from church watched Water and Earth for us and we spent two days talking, eating, seeing movies, hiking, talking, sleeping, reading, talking, watching TV, relaxing and talking.  It was so relaxing to spend time with just each other, with no kids to worry about.  To be able to have long lunches or read a book without interruption.  We came home on Sunday refreshed and ready to be parents again.

Catching Up: Summer Fun

August 27, 2017

Just a random collection of photos from the rest of our summer...
   Six kids ages 1 to 8, all waiting for the movie to start. 
Yup, that's the best picture I could get.
We got tickets to the local movie theaters summer movie program and I think we'll do it again next year- it was a nice, cool way to kill a hot desert morning.

Catching Up: Flagstaff Staycation

August 25, 2017

   We had nothing planned for the week before Sky and Fire went to their grandparents house in Kansas so when D told me that he was going to be working overtime, the kids and I decided to head up to Flagstaff a few days early to see the sights and enjoy a little cooler weather.
   Sky thought that we needed a picture of Earth too...

Eclipse Watching With Toddlers

August 23, 2017

The big eclipse was Monday and while we weren't in the totality here in Arizona, I still wanted to try and see a little bit of it.  Monday is our day to meet our adoption group friends at a neighborhood playground and since none of us had the special glasses, we tried using a pin hole camera to view the sun.  I was surprised by how well it worked!  The kids, all under 4, were unimpressed and spent most of the time grabbing the paper from each other and running around the playground.  Well, at least we tried!

  Did you get to see the eclipse?  What did you think of it?

Happy Birthday Water!

August 22, 2017

 This super boy is 3!

Catching Up: Picking Peaches

August 20, 2017

Arizona isn't really known for farming but fruit and nut trees do well here and earlier this summer we drove up to Wilcox to pick peaches. 
  The kids alternated between riding in the wagon and racing ahead to find trees with ripe fruit

Preschool Home School

August 18, 2017

  In an effort to save a little money, D and I decided that I would do preschool with Water at home for now, rather than enrolling him in some place this fall like we'd originally talked about.  This is a big departure for us because although I've a little bit of homeschool with him before and I taught Sky for pre-k when there wasn't a teacher on island, we've always relied on others to teach the kids.  Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I love spending time with them but homeschooling has never been a good option for us since there's always been adoption/developmental baggage involved in our relationships.  Since Water and I don't have any of that between us, we don't butt heads and working together is working out so far.
  I had originally planned on buying the Alpha and Omega preschool curriculum from a friend but that's on hold for now so I'm using the internet to find learning activities for him and sometimes making them up on my own. Since Water can already recognize most of the letter of the alphabet, his numbers through 10, and knows his shapes and colors, I'm working with him on letter sounds, counting skills, and fine motor skills.
  This week, we're working on the letter K:

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.
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