Monday, January 23, 2017

Four day weekend

We finally got back into a schedule and routine just in time for another day off. Usually I fully embrace an extra day tacked onto the end of any weekend, but at this point I was fresh out of ideas to entertain the kids. Which, when did it become the parent's responsibility to always plan outings every time there's a day off of school? Growing up we just entertained ourselves. That's another topic for another day, but I think it has something to do with the dawn of electronics and the need to get the kids off the couch and out of the house. We lucked out to have Papa Jolley with us for a few days when he came down to go to the UFC fight with my brother for his birthday (his wife got major points for arranging that!). He was here for a few days during the week which worked out nicely to have some daddy daughter time while the kids were in school. We had a temple/lunch date but I mostly used the time to just talk with him, he is such a great listener and has the best advice. The kids ate up every minute with him, he always does such a great job making time for each of the kids. Jason was in St Louis (and luckily came home a day early since there was a blizzard) so my dad was nice to help out while I juggled all the busy weeknight activities. I didn't get too many pictures, but the days were filled with bed time stories, soccer, football practice and board games. And bran muffins. I usually cook such good food, but I told him he came at the wrong month, January is filled with oatmeal, whole wheat and broccoli. I told him to come back next month when our resolutions start to fade.  

On Martin Luther King Day we decided to take the kids bowling. But so did the rest of the town of Gilbert. We opted for mini golf instead. Mini golf is one of those things that always sounds more fun than it actually is. But we had moments of fun.

After a long debate we decided on In-n-Out for lunch. I hopped next door to snag a bean burrito and everyone was happy.

Kylie had dance the rest of the day and Maddox's tire was flat so Jayden was "nice" to let him borrow his bike (read: he was excited to have an excuse to stay home on electronics) and we went on one of our favorite bike paths. We counted bunnies, walked through model homes (which is a favorite past time, the kids love to pick which bedroom would be theirs and it always ends in a fight because someone gets told they have to have the pink room), stopped at the park where they dumped out the drinking water to make sand castles, went to the dollar where we spent a solid 25 minutes walking up and down the aisles of junk before settling on a tub of crackers and a batman mini figure that he regretted buying not even 5 minutes later. And mints, because those soft peppermints that melt in your mouth are hard to resist. We hit the golden hour riding back and I had one of those "I"m glad to be alive" moments. The golden hour always manages to do that. After putting the boys to bed Kylie and I announced we were having a girls movie night, I picked "You've Got Mail". She was convinced it was too old fashioned for her but before long she was hooked and Jason and Jayden even joined us on the couch rooting for Tom Hanks. You just can't go wrong with a classic. So I would say we didn't do too bad filling another day off. Slow claps and back pats all around.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2 1/2 weeks to fill

I saw a quote today. "My kids totally get along. As long as they aren't near each other, looking at each other, playing a game together, getting dressed in the same room, or breathing the same air, they're all good." Nailed it. For the most part this break has been just what we needed and I felt like we bonded more in a week and half then we have in the past 6 months. But sometimes the only thing getting me through the day was the promise of a hot bath with a new book. There were also days when Jason would come home from work at 5:30 and everyone would still be in their pajamas and I couldn't think of a single productive thing we did all day (and on two occasions Kylie didn't even emerge from her room until dinner time). And there's the time we decided to go to the movies where the fight heard round the world (or at least the movie theater) took place involving white Vans and stepping on shoes and alleged sibling slapping that escalated to tears and an uncomfortable scene in the middle of the crowded Harkins lobby. Moana was sold out, Kylie and I lasted all of 15 minutes in La La Land where we couldn't eye roll hard enough at all the spontaneous singing and dancing and quickly texted Jason to see if there was room for us in Star Wars. It was better than I thought, but didn't keep the attention of Ryder, so that was fun. Jason, bless his heart, tried to end the night on a good note announcing we'd eat dinner at Johnny Rockets. $9 hot dogs and a heart attack on a plate later, we admitted defeat. But then we spontaneously decided we needed to add a 5K to our New Year's resolutions and raced each other back to the car, then spent the ride home imitating "classic Dad" faces and expressions. The thing with family is that sometimes when you're at your lowest, all it takes is breathless laughter and a classic Dad move and all is right in the world. And also when you walk by your teenage daughter's room at night and for no reason at all she stops you just to tell you that you're a good mom. That's what keeps me going on the hard days. Besides a few rough patches, we had plenty of good moments. The Desert Trails bike park is always a win. After coming here last year we had big plans to go again soon, but life happened and almost a year later to the date and we finally made it back. The boys love this place, Jayden remembered his helmet this time, no big wrecks and Jayden and Maddox even attempted the intermediate course. Although, the MVP of the day goes to Ryder's dollar store ninja vest flapping in the breeze. Thanks Ihop Santa. 

We had some more NZ visitors, the Blackwells who were there serving as senior missionaries in our ward that are now living in Utah. They were Maddox's primary teachers and the sweetest things ever. It was fun to catch up with them.

We're taking this get fit in 2017 thing seriously, kicking it off with a 3.64 mile run. It may have taken us an hour, including a pit stop at the park and a close call with vomiting, but we all made it back in one piece and I see a 5k somewhere in our not so near future. I just feel like we need to make some drastic changes in our eating habits and over all health. The kids eat sugar cereal for breakfast, I pack veggies and fruits in their lunch knowing full well the only thing they'll eat is the chips and cookies. The only after school snacks they like are the ones with sugar...cookies, pop tarts, donuts and baked goods. For dinner they always pick the vegetables out of their food. It's gotten bad. So we've made some goals and set some rules then the plan is to take a family trip somewhere cool next year if we can stick with it. Feeling optimistic, but it is only 4 days in. 

We have been playing games almost every night and it's been one of my favorite memories during the break. We usually play a rousing game of Aggravation where Ryder has earned the nickname "lucky five". After the little guys go to bed we bring out Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride and play well into the night. I love it. Even though Kylie likes to cheat.

Jason let Jayden tag along on a guy's shooting trip and he was pretty excited to reach that milestone. He started out shooting his airsoft but quickly moved up to pistols, rifles and even an AR. And now he wants a .22 for his birthday. Heaven help us.

We went with friends to KTR, an indoor kid heaven. We spent hours at their skate park, trampolines and obstacle courses and left exhausted and dripping in sweat, the best way to end a day.

I love when these two play so cute together. Maddox is such a good big brother to Ryder and has started this "Maddox and Ryder fun time" where he plans games and activities to do in the mornings before everyone else wakes up. Love it.

We had a few park days, just soaking up this beautiful weather. Ryder is always looking for an excuse to take his shirt off. And I'm usually found walking laps around the park trying to get my steps on my fit bit in for the day.

When you try to jump in on your brother's picture, he's not so subtle about letting you know it's not cool.

Desert Breeze has been one of our favorite parks ever since Kylie was little. It's such a treat because I splurge for the $4.50 train ride around the park. But this time there were no takers. They were all convinced it was for babies, even my baby. And a little piece of me died inside. Not really, but it did make me sorta sad. But Jason met us there for a picnic lunch, we rode scooters around and found this cool tree that reminded us of New Zealand. And then I treated them to donuts since our get healthy challenge didn't technically start until school started.

The Usery Pass nature center boasted a movie night featuring "the best film ever made about our desert animals! All ages will love this exciting Disney movie on the big screen!" with a live snake feeding afterwards. So we stocked up on Mike & Ikes and fruit punch (once again, filling their sugar canteen before the drought) then headed out to the desert. It was right up Maddox's ally, he loves learning about nature and animals and could spout off a hundred facts afterwards. His favorite part was the scorpions square dancing. Ryder's was buying an arrowhead from the gift shop. My nerdy side loved it too but Jason was convinced there were better ways to spend a Friday night, although we agreed that it was nice just having some time with the little guys. And that's that. We're back to early mornings, full schedules, an insanely quiet house for 6 hours and lots more memories to tuck away.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

 Happy New Year!

New Years Eve wasn't too exciting this year. Kylie and Jayden were off with friends leaving us and the little guys to a rowdy game of Aggravation before sending them off to bed at 9:00. We watched the footage in Time Square off and on, ate some pizza, popped some Martinelli's then caught the tail end of our neighbor's firework show. It was a bit anti-climatic compared to celebrations in the past, the torch of New Year's Eve parties has been officially passed down to Kylie and Jayden and we have taken on the role of the boring adults who can't make it past 11:00. I feel old. Besides a quiet evening, the rest of our Christmas break was filled with some memorable quality family time. One of my favorites was the Wave Cave hike. The weather was on point, like one degree warmer would be too hot and one degree cooler would be too cold, but where it was at was perfect. The hike was a little longer, steeper and more precarious with all the loose rocks than I had anticipated, but the kids handled it like the champs they are. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, so iconic Arizona with all the towering Saguaro cactus. The cave was a cool retreat (literally and figuratively) and we had fun messing around with pictures while munching on carrots and apples (2017 Young family fit goals!). We hit the golden hour on the hike back and I pointed out to Maddox how the angle of the sun made the landscape glow. Pictures don't really do it justice. I'm happiest when I'm outdoor in the sunshine with my family, so today I was extra happy.

Kylie and Jayden beat us down and were cracking up over the carnival fun mirror on the side panel of the car. I love when those two laugh together and get along, it seems like it's a rare occasion these days so it makes me so happy when they do.

Jason and Ryder were the last ones down so of course we had to pass the time with a little photo shoot.