The Greatest Pastime

Hank graduated out of T-ball this year and into the AAA division.  On opening day the league needed someone to fill in to sing the the National Anthem and they asked Hailey on the spot if she would do it.  Without batting an eye she said, "Yes!"  Max and I just about lost it.  We tried to talk her out of it because we knew how hard it is to sing, especially unaccompanied by anything.  I mean professional singers mess this song up regularly.  We didn't even think she knew the words much less could hit the high notes!  As I stood in the dug out watching her, I prayed she would not be humiliated in front of all these families.  Once again Hailey hit a home run!  She did an amazing job and I was balling by the end of it.  She never ceases to amaze us.
Hank was on the same team as his two best friends, which made it a fun family affair.  While my favorite sport to watch is football, I love the family connections that are made on the sidelines of baseball games.  
The pace of baseball allows for friendly conversation and the overly aggressive sports parents seem to find other sports.  While we all keep score, everyone is genuinely happy to see the kids on either team hit the ball or make a great play.  It was great to see the boys developing this year and making a few double plays and an occasional home runs!  As a lefty, Hank routinely made it to first base and he loved nothing more than to slide into home rather he needed to or not!
Max helped coach the team this year again.  I am very thankful Hank has Max as to learn from as a dad.  Max puts everything he has into being the best father he can.  When Hank grows up he will realize what a special dad he has.  Equally the girls will hopefully have high standards in husbands, knowing the importance of finding a man you can count on to be a good husband but just as important an excellent father.
 Growing up to be a chip off the old block.
I will miss our Saturday mornings at the ballpark watching our guy play ball.  It is the greatest American and family pastime for sure.

Pre Summer Party

As the temperature rises, the summer break fever begins to set in!  We have had a fun month of practicing for summer fun.
Max and I are closet rednecks.  Well, maybe not so closeted...  We love to go to country concerts.  We were able to sneak away to see Sam Hunt, Chase Rice, Jake Owen and Kenny Chesney.  The Sam Hunt concert was an outdoor street concert near ASU.  Max and I looked around and felt like we might be the oldest ones there.  I asked Max when he thought how old we would be when we stopped going to concerts.  He said hopefully no time soon!  :)
One Friday we had a concert in our house.  Family Karaoke night was so fun.  Max even busted out some Beastie Boys raps!  Hailey stunned us with her ability to sing This is Gospel and Sister Christian.  She is really something.  Karlie sang Part of Me and Kaitlin sang sang Up town Funk!  Hank and Hailey did a duet of Everything Is Awesome.
 For May the 4th we celebrated with Star Wars pancakes for dinner and watching Return of the Jedi.
 We have a very busy summer coming up so we tried to sneak in one final super sleepover!  Everybody had their buddy for a movie night.  We watched Paddington and pigged out on popcorn and candy.  It made me really excited for summer.
 While the kids might be starting to get summer fever, I have a full blown case of it!  Only 3 more days!

Seal Life Aquarium

I might have chaperoned my last field trip.  Hank's class went to the Sea Life Aquarium and another mom and I got to be the bus mom's.  My little guy wanted to sit with me both ways.  He is such a loving boy.  As you can see, I wasn't very happy about it...
 I had a fun time chasing him and his friends around the aquarium.  Seeing the sharks and sea turtles swim over us in the tunnel was beautiful.  It was a very different experience chaperoning a group of boys this time compared to two years ago when I chaperoned Kaitlin and a group of girls.  I am not sure if the boys really saw any of the fish as they raced around trying to complete their aquarium passport.
I am so lucky to be able to be involved in the kids' school and grateful I got to go under the sea with Hank!

2 for 1

It is rare that we split up.  It is even rarer that I get two of the kids and Max gets two of the kids for a weekend.  The first weekend in May Max, Karlie, and Hank made their annual trip to the desert with Pops and Max's uncles Dave and John.
 It happened to be the same weekend that Kaitlin's class was having their overnight at the Phoenix Zoo.  Kaitlin's best friend and her mom went too!  We got to have a girls night out while Hailey spent the night at her friend's house.  First we went out to dinner before heading to the zoo.
 The girls had a blast learning about the zoo animals but mostly they loved getting some extra time together.
Kaitlin got up and made waffles for us!
We had a fun weekend of Starbucks treats, shopping and snuggling.  Even Siri joined for the movie night in Mommy's bed.
These wild things drove 5 hours to a new campsite in California.
In all the years the boys have been going to the desert, a girl has never gone.  I can't imagine why.  But Karlie became the first desert chick and had no problem hanging with the boys.
She loved shooting the BB gun, setting fires, and lighting bottle rockets.  But the highlight for her was driving the truck, peddles and all, ALL-BY-HERSELF.  We only lost a few parts off the truck...
She didn't even mind sleeping in the back of the truck.
Hank loves everything about the desert, especially the Pops and dirt buggy factor.  Pops popped the wheel THREE times!  I think Max needs to teach him to drive.
 Max loves to let his redneck side out.  My all American cowboy for sure!
 The kids really like the way they get to eat in the desert.  I have learned there are no rules in the desert.  Eating steaks on a fork like barbarians, no napkins, no washing hands, no manners, and no limits in dessert.  Hank had to be reminded more than once he wasn't in the desert anymore the week after he got home.
It is such a special trip for them and I am grateful Max takes them.  When Hank was packing to go the first thing he wanted to pack was his Little Critter book, Just Me and My Dad and he made sure to grab his stuffed Little Critter too.
Each night one of the kids slept in the back of Pop's truck with Pops and the other in the back of Max's truck with Max.  This gave Max and opportunity to read the Just Me and My Dad book individually to each of them, which he said was very special.
Karlie loved the weekend and can't wait for next year.
We are raising ourselves some fine young rednecks.
I sure love my wild things and was happy they had their time in the desert.  But I was even happier that they were home.

Communion

 Recently we were invited to attend Kaitlin's best friend's First Communion.  Her brother and sister were also going through Confirmation.  Kaitlin and Mema, as Kaitlin affectionately calls her, were born on the same day just 3 minutes apart!  These two girls could be sisters they are so much alike.  As the girls have grown closer, we have grown close to their family.  They are this amazing Italian family that could be out the movies.  They are generous, funny, gregarious, kind, loving, and a joy to be around.
All of their aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents came from California for the big celebration.  We felt very honored to be the only non family invited to be a part of such a milestone.  It has been a long time since I have been in a Catholic church.  I was transported back to my First Communion nearly 29 years ago to the day.  I don't remember much except how happy I was that my Grandma, who was ill, found a way to make it.  During the entire mass I was sad that she wouldn't be there and then as we were dismissed I remember seeing her as I came up the isle and being so excited I had to remind myself not to run to her. 
 I still cherish the white Bible she gave me that day.
Mema's mom told me Mema kept asking when Kaitlin would be there and if she was going to make it.  As Mema came up the isle her eyes lit up and she went directly to Kaitlin where they embraced like they hadn't seen each other in years.  We all joked the same scene would play out in 20 years when Mema is in a wedding dress instead of a First Communion dress.
One thing we have discovered living away from all of our family is the communion you build with friends.  Friends become like family and strong bonds are formed.  Since practically everyone in Scottsdale is from somewhere else, most people are here without extended family.  It is a unique environment where people are eager to become friends and to have the comfort and closeness to be able to share in communion.  We are grateful for so many families, especially Mema's family, that have welcomed us with open arms.

Hank's Spartan Race Birthday Party

Hank loved doing the Spartan Race so much that he wanted to have a Spartan Race theme for his birthday party.  It sounded like a perfect way to keep a bunch of 7 year olds busy for 2 hours.
Max made a stencil to spray fabric paint on to boys and girls T-shirts.  I ordered some medals from Amazon to hand out after they completed the race.  It is so fun to see the kids wearing their shirts at school!
 The decorations had a little Batman in them since Hank is still quite the fan.  Spartan hasn't gotten into selling birthday supplies just yet.  The goodie bags had a a Gatoraide, kids protein bar, and a banana in them just like when you finish a real Spartan race.  They also got some bubble wands, balloons and a candy bracelet to drive their parents crazy when they went home.
The Sunday of his party was one of those days that one of us had to be running kids to events the entire day.  Max took over the cake while I ran the ladies around.
Hank wanted vanilla and chocolate cake!  Max did not disappoint.  However, when I got home to do the fondant, it was just a bad fondant day.  The worst fondant experience I have had!  I could not get it to firm up.  It kept tearing no matter what I tried.  Always down to the last minute in our house!  I didn't have time to get more supplies and start over.  So I was able to just make a fondant top that I could spray the Spartan design on with the Wilton food color spray.  I then sprayed the rest of the cake black!  Emergency is the essence of all new creations! :)
 Max must be the only man that is a Spartan stud and a stud in the kitchen! He can make a cake better than most women.  Now that's a real man ladies!
 Max designed an awesome obstacle course for the kids too!  They started by sliding down he slip-N-slide.
Then they had to climb the rock wall and zip-line over to the rope climb.
 Max gave them a little help as they climbed to the top of the tree!
Then they had to swing on the swing and hit the tree house with their foot before running to the weight pull.
Max put 25 pounds of rocks in the bucket, so these little guys had to pull about half their weight up!
 Then they had to do the "barbed wire" crawl under the tramp.
 I was standing at the spear chucking station making sure no one got speared!
 Then they had to run to the other side of the yard and carry a 25 pound weight back before crossing the finish line with the slip-N-slide.

 They were then awarded their medal and got to cheer their teammates on!
 This little cutie pie was the official medal handler and my personal helper.  I just might have to keep her.
 A bunch of champion Spartans!
 God was really smiling down on Hank during his party.  We have had the strangest weather this spring.  That whole morning it had been cloudy and threatening to rain.  Just as his guest arrived it began to pour.  
 With the obstacles all outside and me not having a back up plan because it NEVER rains in Arizona, it was looking like we were going to have to have a movie and popcorn party instead.
  But just as the last guest arrived the clouds parted and the hot sun shined down.
 We got through the whole party with glorious, hot weather.
 So warm the kids continued to play on the slip-N-slide and in the pool.
As the parent's arrived, the clouds returned and it started pouring again.  We spent the evening curled up on the couch in blankets watching a movie after all.  Our little Spartan had a great birthday with all of his buddies and getting to do what he loves best, run wild!