Hurricane Hank

On Saturday Hank had his first flag football game!  Hank loves sports.  If there is a ball in a 200 foot radius he is bouncing, kicking or throwing it.  He couldn't wait to start football.  Hank was excited that his team chose his idea of Red Birds as the their team name.  
His best friend Nick has been reluctant to play sports much to his parents dismay.  However, Hank encouraged Nick to join the team with him.  The boys talked all about the great plays they were going to make.  Nick's parents were afraid the big day would come and he would not take the field.  But he was ready to run!  Nick made the first touchdown for the team!  He also was awarded this weeks character counts medal for listening.  It couldn't have been a better introduction to team sports!
We are very close with Nick's family.  Nick's big sister Brynn made signs for the boys!  I think Hank thought he was an NFL player. :)  His whole family cheered him on as if he was part of the family.  I know Max was bummed to miss the first game but grateful he had such a cheering section.  It was so cute to see the boys playing ball.  Hank was quite the defensive player pulling flags.  The ref had to tell him, "No tackling buddy."  While it was grand to see my little guy playing ball, the best part was seeing Dave's (Nick's Dad) complete joy as he watched Nick tear it up on the field.  He could have floated out of the field.  Dave took to calling Hank, Hurricane Hank.  These two boys of fall are ready to roll and I think their Dad's are even more ready!

Spirit Night!

Last night the kids' school had Spirit Night.  Karlie is on student council this year so she had to be at school 45 minutes before school to prep and then stayed after school to set up.   We stayed the entire time until 8:30 pm.  Poor Karlie had been on school grounds for nearly 13 hours by the time we left.
Hailey worked the face painting station and gave Karlie a very cool Spidey face.  The kids ran around high on snow cones, pizza, and candy!  They jumped, ran obstacle courses, slid, and spun.  It is such a nice community event where all the families get together and the kids run wild.  A new charter school opened this year near us and the school lost quite a few kids to it.  Last night we saw many families that had moved to the new school.  They all commented how much they miss the family feel and warmth of our school.  After 3 years we finally know more people than we don't and feel a part of the school.  It was a fun night watching the kids with all their friends.  When we got home I sent them all to the showers because they were a sweaty, sticky mess.  They were so tired they all slept till 7am, practically a miracle!

Lion Heart

Kaitlin has the heart of a lion.  She loves fiercely and deeply.  Her love is so strong it can crash over her like huge waves.  All of the kids deal with Max traveling differently, but it is undoubtedly the hardest on Kaitlin.  She loves her Daddy.  Most mornings she is up first and has breakfast with Max.  He will make her braised eggs and she will often help pack his lunch.  They chatter back and forth while I pack the kids lunches. 
Max was leaving very early in the morning, so he was saying his goodbyes at bedtime.  I went to tuck Kaitlin in before Max had made his rounds.  Her pillow was soaked with tears as she tried to conceal her emotions.  As soon as I gave her a hug, the flood gates opened and the cries began to pour out of her.  Max came to tuck her in and held her and rubbed her head trying to soother her.  She would not be so easily soothed.  With only the full honesty and rawness of a child she told him through broken sobs how unhappy it made her when he leaves, how much she will miss him in the morning, and how worried she will be while he is gone.  I had to smile, because I too have all those same thoughts, but years of growing up have taught me to try and keep them to myself.  I will cherish the sight of him rocking her as her heart overflowed with love so strong to nearly bring him to tears.  She has the heart of a lion and we are all lucky to feel it roar around us.

Pink Boy

Hank has grown up so much this year.  He has Mrs. H, who Kaitlin had for both Kindergarten and first grade.  She is a terrific teacher and we were so excited Hank got her.  I warned her at the beginning of the year that Hank and Kaitlin are very different children.  Mrs. H adored Kaitlin and cried when she said goodbye to her.  Kaitlin is always a teacher's favorite with her eagerness to please, helpfulness, and hard working attitude.  I cautioned Mrs. H that Hank could be a handful and he was ALL boy.  Sitting down and focusing isn't his strong suit.  I worked with him all summer in his workbook and shuddered at the thought of trying to keep his attention all day.
His class has a behavior system where everyone starts on green each day.  The teacher will have the kids clip up when they are showing exemplary behavior and clip down when they are not behaving well.  The worst being getting on red.  That is a call home.  Then orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and pink being exceptional.  I think Hank earned pink twice all last year.  Last year his teacher colored in the behavior for the day while as big first graders, they are responsible for coloring in their own behavior.  To my surprise Hank was coming home everyday with blue, purple and pink!  I would grill him about what he did to clip up.  He would say, "sitting with my hands in my lap", or "bubbles in my mouth".  One time he reported that he held the door open for Mrs. Hawkins.  We celebrated and continued the tradition from last year that any Pink day was automatic dessert, even if you didn't eat all your vegetables at dinner.  He was so proud of himself he wrote a sticky note for Dad to see he was on purple. :)
Well, Hank continued to come home and announce that he was Pink Boy yet again.  After nearly a month of pink and purple reports, I began to wonder if Hank was rounding up as he colored in his behavior.  It is all on the honesty system and I am not sure how often Mrs. H checks to see if they are recording the accurate color.  I decided to email her and check.  I told her I would be thrilled if Hank really was getting on Pink every day, but something makes me think that might be a stretch.  When I saw her in the hall she said, "The boy you described and the boy I see are very different children.  He is perfectly behaved and is always raising his hand, has his hands in his lap, ready to learn, and picking up trash.  He is a wonderful little boy and I just love him!"  I said, "Umm, we are talking about Hank, right!?"  So while he might be a rowdy little guy at home, he is a prince at school.  :)  What more can you ask for?  I no longer doubt him when he exclaims, "Pink Boy!"  I am so proud of my little man, although this dessert every night is becoming problematic for our waistlines! 

Playing Like Pirates

 The only thing better than owning your own boat, is having great friends that own a boat!  :)  Our friends recently got a new speed boat and invited us out for a weekend of playing like pirates!
The kids are water babies and took to the lake like fish.
Saguaro Lake has to be one of the most beautiful lakes in America with giant, rocky cliffs and saguaros dotting the landscape.  Thanks to our 100 degree temperatures, the water is like bath water.  It is only 20 minutes from our house.  Close enough to make Max start looking at boats on Craigslist.
 While we anchored to swim and cool off, a Bald Eagle dove in and grabbed a fish out of the water about 100 feet away from us!  It was surreal.  We all started chanting, "America!!!"
 It was so fun to see the kids laughing their heads off as they were tubing (big kid too).  Hank and Karlie kept wanting to go faster and faster.  They wanted to go faster than the Captain was willing to go.  I don't think they realize how much it would hurt to hit the water at 30 mph.
 The kids each got a chance to try water skiing too and found out it was harder than it looks.  Karlie stayed up for the longest.  Hailey liked wake surfing better.  By the second day, she was getting pretty good at it.
Max and I also tried wake surfing for the first time!  Our friends' boat is pretty fancy and has an impressive sound system with speakers off the back.  Being so close behind the boat you can have your favorite play list rocking and chat with everyone.  It is much more gentle than water skiing.  Our friends are so good they can just ride the wave without having to hold the rope.  The boat creates an endless wave and you ride until you get tired.  Everyone but me was goofy foot, so I had to ride backwards, which was a little awkward, but I managed to stay up!  We had an amazing time on the water and are so grateful to our friends for taking us out.  Hopefully it doesn't lead to a new toy for Max. :)

Who's Ready For Football?

Today is National College Colors Day!  Max and I had to represent with our Ram pride and wear our CSU gear.  Only a true fan has a shirt and tie combo of his alma mater!
Hank is our little CU Buff.  Too bad the Buffs are going to lose tonight in the Rocky Mountain Showdown! :)  Our little K buddies are future Notre Dame girls.  Hailey had  a "cute  outfit" picked out for today and opted to be the photographer rather than a participant.  That is when you know it is a corny family activity. :)  While there will be no boots, jeans or cool breezes with the kick off of college football, we will be shouting loud and proud for the CSU RAMS!  Go Green and Gold!!

Unstoppable Karlie

Karlie has been asking me since she got her Snow Cone maker if she could set up a Snow Cone stand to earn money for her Notre Dame college fund.  With temperatures in the 100s and our neighborhood having more retired adults than young kids in it, I tried to dissuade her from doing it.  I told her she would be lucky if she sold 1 snow cone.  I explained to her that no one is out walking around in the heat, and there definitely are not any kids running and playing in the streets.  However, Karlie would not relent.  Finally, I decided to let her learn a lesson and said I would pick weeds in the front yard for an hour and let her have her stand.  After that she would have to pack it up.
 Hank and Kaitlin were eager to help Karlie with her business venture.  Kaitlin set up the change box and Hank helped set up the stand.  Karlie negotiated to pay a flat rate of $0.15 per Snow Cone for each of them.  They were all very excited.  I however, had my doubts about how long their enthusiasm would last when no one stopped to buy a Snow Cone.
As soon as they were set up I started weeding.  Not a moment later our neighbor pulled up and ordered 2 Snow Cones.  I was so happy she made at least one sale and thankful for our kind neighbor.  To my surprise Karlie had a steady business for the next hour and half.  They made $30.00!  There is no stopping our Karlie girl!  With her determination, she just might end up at Notre Dame and teach her mom a thing or two along the way. :)

Watching Her Fly

One of the hardest parts of being a parent for me is watching my kids grow up.  I love being a mom and especially enjoyed mothering babies.  Letting go is hard and I miss being able to scoop them up into my arms and nuzzle them.  But watching them grow into adults has brought a new kind of joy to my heart.  If you read my blog, you know I adore my kids and have no problem sharing that.  I imagine sometimes it comes off as bragging, however, I am wanting to document how special and wonderful they are to me in that snap shot of time.  While their little league trophies or honors awards are nothing major in the grand scheme of life, to me and to them in that moment it is epic. :)
 Part of growing up means less mom can share on the blog.  As they mature they want more and more privacy and less and less time with mom and dad.  While it is no longer okay to share the trials and tribulations of growing up, I did get permission to share some of the good parts of growing up.  Middle school is rough no matter how awesome you are.  Add four of your five friends moving away over the summer and it is rough with a big dose of rotten.  But Hailey is very grounded and has so much going for her that I have been in awe watching her navigate all her grown up responsibilities and curve balls life can throw.  My little baby has become a smart, hard working, talented, and capable woman.  All of her doors are open.  She is beginning to sketch lines into her adult canvas that will progress from blank to a masterpiece.
 Since we moved to Arizona we have been trying to get Hailey in the appropriate level classes to keep her challenged.  Last year she had less homework than Karlie because she was able to do most of it in class.  The principal agreed that Hailey had slipped through the cracks and needed more.  She said she would look at her standardized test and be sure she was in the appropriate math class for 8th grade.  Hailey did so well she skipped all of 8th grade math and was placed in high school algebra.  Her schedule also consists of honors english and high school Spanish.  I was a little worried it would be too much.  But she is rising to the challenge and is like a sponge that loves soaking up knowledge.    She finds comfort in doing math problems and can roll her r's like she was born in Mexico (certainly did not get that from me!).  I just look at her in wonder and think, she's mine. :)
But Hailey's gifts don't stop at her brains, she happens to be a very talented artist and as beautiful outside and she is inside.  When she is not studying she is working on her drawings.  Everyone at school knows her as the artist and the art teacher asked Hailey to help paint murals on the school walls.
She has a gallery in her room and some of her pieces are quite moving.  She is not only good at drawing, she can evoke emotions.  Being able to replicate something is one thing but being able to create an image on your own that effects people is truly art.  This one breaks my heart.  I don't ever want my babies to be hurting, even in a drawing.
Hailey's two passions are art and horses.  She has always wanted a horse from the time she could talk and has a special gift with animals.  She has taken riding lessons since she was 7, but only once a week.  Hailey would love nothing more than to start and end her day caring for a horse.  I have been praying for something near us to work out where she could get in more horse time.  New neighbors moved in down the street and brought their horses!  We have managed to make friends with them and Hailey now gets to see the horses whenever she wants thanks to their generousness.  Last week as we came home from running the littles around, she was riding Sunny along our street.  It thought my heart might explode with joy.

 Dreams come true and Hailey has become a more wonderful person from inside out than I could have dreamed.  We are so proud of her work ethic and her passions are just beginning to bare fruit.  While I would do anything to hold you one more time as my little 5 pound newborn, watching you spread your wings and fly is a wondrous feeling.  I am lucky to be your mom and can't wait to see what your future holds and just how high you can fly.

While The Big Cat Is Away, The Little Mice Will Play

Last weekend Max was in California to teach at Stanford.  While he was gone I painted the work out room and got it all put back together.  Projects always seem to take longer than we anticipate and after weeks of the room in chaos, it was fun to have him come home to it all set up.
 However, since I was MIA on Saturday painting, the kids had to hang around and not have much fun.  I promised them Sunday would be more fun and they could each pick something to do with me.
Karlie has been wanting to make clay and sculpt.  So first thing Sunday morning we made green clay.
Kaitlin had a science project due the next week and she wanted to start painting the layers of the earth.  She did a great job!
Hank wanted to build a massive Batman layer.  A little help from Kaitlin and Thomas the train and we had a great underground network.
Hailey wanted to draw, alone.  It wouldn't be art if I was involved.  :) She drew an awesome zebra picture and got some much needed teen alone time after helping watch the little ones all day on Saturday.
Karlie earned a snow cone maker with her jewels and extra chores around the house.  For the afternoon, we invited their friends over for a pool party with snow cones!
Sweet treats for sweet kids!
Hailey was mini me and kept me company while the little ones romped in the pool.
While the little mice had a Sunday Funday, it just wasn't the same without the Big Cat and we are all happy he is home.

Grammy Goodness

 Grammy came for a visit the weekend the kids went back to school and it was full of good times.  Grampy was suppose to meet up with her but his flight got canceled.  :(  We sure missed him.  Max had to smoke 17 pounds of meet all by himself.  We had time to swim, chat and play board games.  Not to mention eat and drink lots of delicious things too.
While the kids were at school on Friday Grammy and I got our toes done, just like old times.  Kaitlin was rather envious, so Max gave her a pedicure.  He sure loves his girl.
It was so nice to spend some time with Grammy and Great Grandpa.  We can't wait for their return trip and more grandparent goodness.