Monthly Archives: November 2014

we live in the wild, wild west

back in may, when dave’s parents were town for a nice long visit, we decided to trek out to the Goldfield Ghost Town to experience a bit of the wild, wild west.

but we’re not too wild in this family.

so it was more like a visit to a fun, kitchy-themeatic ghost town.

there was no real “wild” to be had…. unless you count the train whistle (but only alex got scared by that)!

i thought it was a fun adventure and i’d gladly go back again. there were TONS of things for me to photograph, but in the end, i didn’t want you to wade through 150 photos, so here are just a few (in no particular order) for your amusement:

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(casey, i hope this helps you decide whether or not you guys want to visit the town while your parents are here!!)

Hand Games…

November 2013 (so just over a year ago) I took these amazing photos:

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that would be alex face-timing (yep… i made it a verb!) with nana and playing the

“This is the church….

This is the steeple…

Open the door…

and see all the people”

hand game.

nana had taught it to alex just a few weeks before (october 2013) when she was here for a visit.

and alex still does it from time to time, over a year later.

but i love having it captured on film that she was “chatting” with nana on FaceTime!

he can do it!

many of you know that we bought our (THEN) three-year old son a STRIDER balance/push bike for his birthday back in 2010. and a month later, we bought our almost two-year old daughter a STRIDER balance/push bike for her (early) birthday.

we chose the STRIDER balance bikes because we didn’t want to have to endure the “drama” of training wheels as the kids got older.

we LOVED those bikes.

our kids LOVED those bikes.

we enjoyed long family bike rides.

our kids could go faster than we could.

they could go down big hills.

on trails.

over rocks.

we took those bikes on mini vacations.

and across the country on a big family vacation.

everyone who saw our kids on those bikes loved them.

they were amazing.

fast forward to earlier this year (or about a year ago?) when Samantha hopped on her new-to-her bigger bike (without training wheels) and took off down the sidewalk as though she was born with two wheels for legs.

but her big brother wasn’t able to do the same.

not even close.

and worse yet?

he didn’t really want to.

not at all.

so we waited.

and waited.

and waited.

longer family bike rides like we USED to enjoy sounded fantastic.

but they weren’t a reality.

we LONGED for them.


months passed.

we did everything we could think of to convince him to PRACTICE riding his new-to-him bigger bike.

but nothing worked.

so we waited.

and waited.

and waited some more.

and not always patiently.

but now….

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…now we can!

for real.

we can enjoy family bike rides again!

and it’s everything we dreamed it would be!

hijacking a party

i’ve just spent the past THREE DAYS going through photos.

on my computer.

see, i’m only about a month “behind” in my Project Life album.

but it was a BUSY month.

it included Fall Break (trip to the Zoo, idea museum, vertuccio farm x2, pumpkin painting, the Munchkins’ first camping experience), and it included Sam’s birthday, her party, Movie Night, Field Day, Halloween at school, Halloween at MaryAnn’s house, Jada’s birthday and i don’t even know what else.


each of those events listed above were EXTRA events in each week…. and i took LOTS of photos.


and LOTS.

so i made a collage of each event listed above.

(well, the camping collage hasn’t been started yet – i think it needs to be a book of it’s own instead)

and i’m CELEBRATING because ALL of the collages

and all of the DAILY LIFE photos (through 11/2/14) have been cropped and edited and merged and uploaded to Costco.

woo hoo!

and what better way to CELEBRATE something than with a party?

even if it’s a 3-year old’s birthday party…. a party is a party!

bubble guppies might not be the theme i’d choose for a party,

but it was perfect for this darling 3-year old:


who received an extra special gift when her BROTHER (age 8) played HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the guitar while the rest of us sang off key and out of tune:


and her amazing parents:


threw a wonderful party at a nearby park.

there was enough food.

there was plenty of entertainment.

and they prayed so long and hard for nice weather, that God granted them a BEAUTIFUL day for an outdoor birthday party in early november in arizona. weather in the 70s?

yes, please!

but because i know most of you would rather see MY Munchkins than photos of someone else’s kids, here are my three favorite MUNCHKIN photos from that sunny Sunday:



but i kinda love this photo, too:

and this one was part of an entire series of bubble-blowing photos:IMG_7795

and now i think we’ve celebrated enough for one night.

i’m going to sleep.

but i DEFINITELY plan to stop at costco tomorrow for my pictures and collages!






some of you know, and some of you don’t know that after two years, i FINALLY got REALLY involved in the Munchkins’ school. i joined the PTSO (formerly known as the PTA).


i did.

yes, those still exist.

yes, they’re for real.

and YES, we do AMAZING things for our kiddos and our school.

and yes, it’s extra work.

sometimes a lot.

but it’s very rewarding.

because in the end, it’s all about the kids.

and it’s all for the kids.

so when the PTSO planned a Movie Night for the EVENING OF SAMANTHA’S BIRTHDAY, i was torn.

1. celebrate samantha with a family dinner


2. help my fellow PTSO parents with Movie Night at the school

in the end, it was Dave’s idea to let samantha decide.

and being the extroverted, people-lover that she is, she chose Movie Night.

so i volunteered. to help. with a lot.

i was in charge of decorations:


which included a “photo booth” type backdrop and props:IMG_6798


here are some photos of some of our PTSO gang…. and you might recognize Drew (our neighbor) who is doing one of the best-ever photo bombs!
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IMG_6787 IMG_6784 IMG_6783 IMG_6782 IMG_6780 IMG_6777the Munchkins wanted me to take their photos ALL. NIGHT. LONG. 

they LOVED the photo booth – couldn’t get enough of it!

but along with decorations and the “pretend” photo booth, we had snacks (hotdogs, nachos, popcorn, candy, chips, soda, water, etc.) for sale:


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and we collected movies (new or gently used) to add to a pack of microwave popcorn to give to children in the foster care system.

see? we do stuff for the community, too. :)


students, teachers and parents/families brought blankets and camping chairs and snagged a spot on the floor of the multi-purpose room (aka: cafeteria, gymnasium, etc.). we watched Despicable Me 2 and I would say the evening was an overwhelming success!

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it made for a long, LONG day (the Munchkins never went home between school and movie night) that started with samantha waking up EARLY to open her birthday presents, included FIELD DAY at school, samantha’s school birthday celebration (aka: frozen yogurt tubes delivered to class just before school was over), setting up for Movie Night and then walking home and getting the Munchkins to bed a little after 8pm.

AND THEN i had to make the cake, plan the games, print some stuff and cross my fingers that everything would be ready for samantha’s party the next morning!!



before there was Halloween, there was pumpkin PAINTING….

did you know that before halloween comes along, comes the DECORATING?!


i’m serious.

and i’m not quite up to the task of helping the Munchkins CARVE Halloween pumpkins. not yet. i just can’t bring myself to give them SHARP knives.

so instead, i gave them cheap acrylic paint and paint brushes.

alex’s outfit is permanently paint covered.

but i think the evening was worth it.

(bonus?we did this painting with FRIENDS at someone else’s house! hooray!)

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(as soon as i saw this fully painted red hand, i removed all paint brushes from her grasp and reach and carried her inside to be ALL DONE and to get washed up)!IMG_6171 IMG_6164 IMG_6161 IMG_6160 IMG_6159 IMG_6157 IMG_6154 IMG_6148 IMG_6147 IMG_6146 IMG_6143 IMG_6140 IMG_6139 IMG_6134

it was a warm and balmy evening….

for those of you who don’t know, life here in arizona is HOT HOT HOT…. especially in august and september. it starts to cool down to the 90s in october.


you might have a few days of 87 or 88 or 89, but it’s still pretty darn warm, so halloween here is oh-so-VERY-different from halloween anywhere else i have lived (Illinois, Ohio, Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington).

here in arizona, you do NOT buy costumes from old navy (you know those cute, furry, warm, somewhat insulated ones that keep YOUR kids mildly warm on a cold evening? yeah – you don’t buy those here unless you want your kids to have heat stroke. seriously).

but there are so many, MANY good things about halloween here in arizona. FIRST, it’s finally COOLING down! yes. weather in the 80s is considered “cool” after months of temperatures over 100*! SECOND, it’s PARTY time. because the weather is finally nice enough to be outside, people ARE outside. two blocks over from us, they have a HUGE block party complete with pot luck dinner AND a movie on an outdoor screen (usually a sheet hanging from some giant inflatable something-or-other). the neighbors line up their chairs in a LARGE semi-circle and instead of going trick-or-treating to their HOUSE DOORS, you simply walk down the line of people eating their dinner and watching a  movie – they’re holding their candy bowls in their hands. THIRD, other neighbors bring out their fire pits and benches and camping chairs to their driveways and just relax and spend an evening together – and they have THEIR candy bowls in their hands, too.

halloween is a super SOCIAL event here in arizona and while it’s like nothing i’ve ever experienced before, i LOVE it.

i should let you know that halloween is NOT my favorite holiday. i was raised baptist and the baptists are very DOWN on halloween because of all it “celebrates.” but in the end, we’re okay with halloween. the way i see it, it’s been so commercialized that most people don’t know the true meaning/origin of the holiday (kinda like Christmas, eh?)! that said, we DO let our children dress up and have fun and go trick-or-treating and talk about vampires and bats and jack-o-lanterns and more. there are SOME things my children will never get to be when they get dressed up but for the most part, we’re pretty lax about it all. and i do NOT buy specific costumes for my children – they get to choose whatever they want from their dress up buckets OR we can make/invent a new costume from things we already have (i DO hit walmart/target AFTER the holiday to buy cool costumes for CHEAP that i then add to the dress up bucket, but you get the idea).


this year, my kiddos ALL switched their costumes from what they wore at school to what they wore for trick-or-treating. alex’s party, as you already know, was on thursday (because she doesn’t have school on friday) and she was a Veterinarian. Samantha was a Rock Star from the 80s at school while Davey sported a Darth Vader look around the hallways and classroom.

this year, after a short break from all the fun festivities at school including class parties AND a Character (aka: wear your costume) Parade, we headed to MaryAnn’s house for a Mom Squad family party.

Alex was dressed like Snow White (thanks for the hand-me-down costume, MaryAnn!). Samantha was dressed like an Ordinary Princess (until later when we were out Treating and several other adults insisted that “there’s no such thing as an ‘Ordinary Princess!’ all princesses are beautiful and special!” after that, she was a Beautiful Princess). And Davey rocked his Iron Man costume. For a second Halloween.

And I didn’t care that they changed their minds and their costumes. It was all about dressing up and having fun and just enjoying being kids.

but back to this Mom Squad Party….

Matt made a yummy white chicken chili (mmmmm!) and the kids enjoyed pizza. MaryAnn had decorated LIKE CRAZY (she does everything 110% – she’s amazing, really!) and had a photo booth area for the kiddos (that some of us grown ups crashed!) and there was apple bobbing and it was just a fun EVENT to hype up the kiddos before we went trick-or-treating together.

and once again, ALL my photos are in REVERSE order and one day i will have to figure out how to FIX that, but for now, enjoy our afternoon/evening in reverse order, okay?


(three very FULL buckets of candy for three candy-loving Munchkins)!

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(isn’t that a cool BAT-drop for a photo booth?

i promise that was DAVE’s joke.)

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when it’s dark, there are lights, there is space, there is music and there are girls,there WILL be dancing and spinning. LOTS of spinning!

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(this poor kiddo is missing a large top tooth so he had a very DIFFICULT time getting his apple stem in his mouth!)IMG_7433 IMG_7426 IMG_7422

(Geneva volunteered to show the kiddos how to bob for apples. she needed a little direction but in the end, she got one!)


(these Lofthouse Iced Sugar cookies are the devil. they are SO DARN GOOD. dave can’t eat them because they aren’t Gluten Free. alex will only eat the sprinkles. samantha will only eat the frosting. davey doesn’t care for them much. so it’s a rare treat for me to have them – because if i buy them and bring them home, i eat them.

ALL of them.

By myself. and that’s so very, very bad.)

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(luke, reagan, sarah and mommy were going to another party, so they stopped by for just a few photos on their way to another family friend’s house. i LOVE their homemade Where’s Waldo costumes!)

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(i told you, MaryAnn is AMAZING!

Check her out on her blog HERE - it’s called Cherish Everyday)IMG_7382 IMG_7381 IMG_7380

(alex was NOT the only child to think the devil’s horns was some warped smile….)

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(their newest decoration for their collection this year was that super cool skeleton. see him up their on the roof?!)IMG_7364 IMG_7354

(i LOVE this door monster. he was SO EASY and inexpensive to make. after i made him, i was wishing for more outside doors so i could make more! i confess…. i left him hanging until after church on Sunday when i finally took him down. reluctantly).

and now we are living life  5 days AFTER Halloween.

neighbors are outside more.

kids are outside more riding bikes and scooters. making up games. playing “adventurer.” enjoying playground equipment and backyard trampolines and play structures. it’s only a  matter of time until bubbles and sidewalk chalk make an appearance again.

the weather has cooled off (it’s been in the 70s and very low 80s this week!)

and it was halloween that started it all.

i think i’m really starting to like this “Halloween” day.  :)