Oasis in the Desert!

>> Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer has arrived and it has brought its usual scorching high temps!!! Luckily Jared's brother Jeff invited us over to swim in his apartment's pool and have a BBQ! It was a BEAUTIFUL thing!

The cousins were giddy about it too! :P


1 Fish, 2 Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

>> Monday, June 27, 2011

We took the kids to Lakeshore Learning Store on Saturday. They offer FREE kids art activities every Saturday during the summer. You can't beat that! :)

Such concentration! :P

They were quite proud of their creations! (Note Alayna's cool rider pant leg. Last week at Eli's swimming lessons she slid off the bleachers and skinned that little leg pretty bad. Poor girl. :( )

I'm hoping to take them back each week. They have some pretty cute ones planned in the future. I also heard Lowe's has free projects on the 1st Saturday of each month, so I plan to check them out next week! :) I LOVE free stuff!!! :D


Walker's 11th Birthday Sleepover!!

>> Sunday, June 26, 2011

Summer is a really crazy time to have a birthday. Everyone is out of school and usually on vacation. I think we tried 3 different days to try to get a party going for Walker before we were able to finally make one work. It ended up being on Thursday night, even though his birthday isn't until July 1st! :P

Walker wanted to have his friends over for a Birthday D&D Gaming/Sleepover Party!

We bought him a Nook Color for his birthday. That boy reads books like nobody's business. I can't get to the Library often enough for him so we decided to get him an E-Reader so he can get them 24 hours a day! LOL!! Jared and his tech savviness also turned it into a full blown tablet. He unlocked it so it was able to play games on it as well. :D Walker was thoroughly STOKED! :)

Don't you just love how Walker is ALWAYS smiling!! He just lights up a room! :)

He invited his buddies Andrew, Alex, Chase and Jeremiah.

That's a BIG bag of M&M's! :P

I slaved and slaved over making those ice cream sandwiches! LOL!!

It was a very low key birthday this year, but he had SO much fun!! They had pizza and ice cream sandwiches (that I slaved over)LOL! Then, the boys played D&D pretty much all night with Jared as the D.M. Around 10:30pm they finally stopped and put in a movie. Around 1:30am we still heard them out in the living room giggling!

Happy 11th Birthday Walker!!! :)


Arrow of Light

Walker received his Arrow of Light at Pack Meeting last week. The Arrow of Light in Cub Scouts is what getting your Eagle in Scouts is. It's a pretty BIG deal!!

We held a very special ceremony with an Indian Chief and Medicine Man for the boys who had earned their Arrow of Light. It was really cool!

The Chief and Medicine Man walk in beating their drum and shaking a medicine stick. They get up to the front of the Pack and ask, "Are there two boys who have worked hard and are worthy to receive the Order of the Arrow?" The Pack answers, "Yes!"

He goes to Walker and Chase and has them follow him as they walk around the room. It is symbolic of walking through the forest and he is their guide.

I love that Walker looked right at me with such a big grin as he was being led out. :)

He leads them back to the front of the Pack and shows them that there is a fire. As a Scout they are to always be helpful. To help the Pack they can show their willingness by laying a stick on the fire to keep it burning.

Then he asked the parents of the boys to stand.

He asked us to follow him as well. This is to symbolize how as parents we are there to always help our boys along their way.

He then asked the boys to say the Boy Scout Oath.

Their Cub Master, Brother Campbell, then presented them with their Arrow of Light patch. This patch will be one of the very few patches that will transfer to their Boy Scout uniform.

The Chief then explained the meaning of the Arrow of Light.

First, the sun. The sun sheds its light on all that we do. A reminder that Cub Scouts should be a light for those around them.

Second, the rays. The seven rays of the sun representing the seven days of the week. A reminder that Cub Scouts should do their best every day. Also each of the rays represents 7 great virtues:

WISDOM- Having wisdom doesn't mean that a Scout is smarter than others. It means that he uses what he knows to live a better life -- to be a good example for other people, young and old, Scouts and others, family and friends.

COURAGE- Having courage doesn't mean that you're never afraid -- very courageous people are often afraid. However, facing danger despite your fear is the act of a brave, courageous Scout.

SELF-CONTROL- Scouts have to know when to stop. When you can stop yourself when you have had enough or done enough of something -- enough eating, enough playing, or even enough working -- then you have self-control. Know what behavior is correct in each situation, and do it. When you have self-control, you are growing up as a Scout.

JUSTICE- Justice is part of the Pledge of Allegiance: "with liberty and justice for all." Justice is being fair with others that we go to school with, work and play with. Justice means it doesn't matter who the person is, or what color they are, or what they do ... Scouts are fair to everyone.

FAITH- Scouts believe in God. Faith means that we believe in God and other things we cannot see. When you know God exists in your heart, you have faith.

HOPE- Hope means you look forward to good things that you believe will happen. You hope for better things tomorrow, but you work hard today to make those good things happen.

LOVE- Scouts have many kinds of love. Love of family, home, your fellow Scouts, God and country are all a part of Scouting. Every kind of love is important for a full and happy life.

You will find that if you live by these seven virtues, you will be happy and will make the people around you happy as well.

And finally, the arrow. The arrow which is symbolic of everything which is straight and true. Just as Cub Scouts should be straight and true in their lives. It also points forward to the trail of Boy Scouting ranks and higher challenges.

After he explains the meanings they present the boys with a pin. They boys place the pins on their Mother's necks as a token of thanks for all of our help along their way.

Then their Father's present the boys with their Arrows. (Insert OOOO's and AAAAAH's here :P)

The final step is the Crossing Over part of the ceremony. The bridge symbolizes leaving Cub Scouts and entering the Scouting Program. The boys had to take off their kerchiefs and slides and then 'cross over' the bridge where their new Scout Master, Brother Aaron Murphy, greeted them and shook their hand to welcome them into his Troop.

It was a great moment as a mom to see my son's hard work and effort being acknowledged. Walker has learned so much through the Cub Scout program. It has taught him important life lessons and I've seen him grow into an outstanding young man. As he continues into the Scouting Program I'm sure he will continue to grow into an outstanding man! :D


Sword of Darrow

>> Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Walker and Eli joined a Young Reviewers Book Group a few months back. They were asked to read "The Sword of Darrow" by a father and son team, Hal and Alex Malchow.
Once they read the book they were asked to give input to what would make the book better. They were asked to tell them things that needed to be changed such as, characters that seemed not developed enough, story line that didn't make sense, spelling errors etc.
After it went through the Young Reviewers it went to their publishing company and then to print. The Young Reviewers were so good at catching spelling errors, even after they had paid a company to proof read it, that he submitted 30 pages of errors back to them. It is the most correctly spelled book out to date! LOL!

Once the book published, each Young Reviewer received an autographed copy of the book in the mail. That same week the boys received their copy, they got an email announcing Hal, the father, would be coming to Tempe, AZ at Barnes & Noble for a meet and greet event!

It was a really cool experience for the boys. They were able to hear more about the authors and their story of how this book started as an idea and then a reality for them. They were able to ask questions and each of the Young Reviewers received a "Sword of Darrow" t-shirt!! :)
They really felt apart of the process!


A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned!

>> Thursday, June 16, 2011

Eli and Walker opened their very first savings accounts today!

We have decided in our family that the boys would earn money this year for good grades. I know a lot of parents give allowance for chores, but we feel that chores should be done because it helps us to feel closer to each other. It builds and strengthens relationships, and it gives them a sense of responsibility. It teaches them to work and serve others because that's why God put us in families..to ease each others burdens. If everyone pitches in a little... a lot can be done! :)

We feel that school is their job. And with any job a person has they want to a paycheck. So we gave them a pay scale.

A's = $5.00
B's= $3.00
C's and Below = $0.00
Specials if they get an "E"=$3.00 anything below that $0.00.

It's been a great teaching and learning experience for all of us. They are expected to pay tithing on what they earn, and put 20% into savings. The rest is up to their discretion to spend how they like. (Mom would like them to save that too..but it's hard when they have money burning a hole in their pocket. LOL!)

We are blessed that both boys are outstanding straight 'A' students. They have been keeping track of their money at home and today they had enough to take to the bank to open their very own savings accounts! :D

(Cell phone pics again...Better to have poor quality ones than none at all I say. :P)

It was a BIG day!

The first of many 'official' documents they will sign in their lives! :P

Walker was so excited. He told me that he felt like he was growing up! He said I got my very own library card a few weeks ago and now my own account! (Warmed my heart!)

As a bonus...each time they come in and make a deposit they get to choose a prize out of the Treasure Box!

Kids get all the cool stuff. I want a Treasure Box! LOL!


Boys Will Be Boys...

On Tuesday afternoon I was in my room and the next thing I know there were blood curdling screams coming from the other side of the house yelling, "OPEN THE DOOOOOOR! OUUUUUUUUCH!!!! OPEN THE DOOOOOR! MY FINGER!!!!!!"

I raced as fast as one can on crutches, and found that Eli and Walker had been actng like boys. Eli decided to try to shut Walker out of his room. However, Walker's thumb was in the door-hinge side of the door while Eli was closing it over and over to get it to shut.

I assessed the damage and it wasn't pretty. We put an ice pack on it and gave him some Tylenol to relieve the pain but he said it just wouldn't stop hurting. I asked him if he could bend it? He showed me that he could at the base knuckle but not at the top knuckle. He said it was really painful.

Sometimes it's hard to decide if as a parent you are overreacting or if you are following your instincts. But my gut was telling me his thumb just didn't look 'right'. So, I took him to the Pediatric Urgent Care...we've become somewhat of 'regular' customers there this year. :S

They took x-rays and put a hole in his nail to help drain the blood that collected underneath to relieve the pressure. The Dr. came back and said he broke the tip of his bone and wasn't quite sure if there was any damage to the joint/growth plate so she put him in a splint and referred us to an Orthopedist.

This is what he looked like that evening, poor kid.

I called early the next morning to 3 different specialist to try to get him an appointment and finally found one that had an opening before Monday. We went today to Dr. Yospur, who let me tell you was AMAZING! He and his entire staff were so friendly and helpful. I was truly impressed and recommend him for any hand related needs. :P

Dr. Yospur took off the splint and looked at the x-rays we brought with us and determined that the growth plate and joint were fine. The tip did sustain a break/fracture but the treatment for that is pretty much what he had already been given..the splint.

WARNING: Graphic Pic Below....also very blurry (cell phone pic) lol!

Ouch! :(

They gave us a choice to stay with the one he currently had which didn't offer a whole lot of protection. He could get a custom one that basically fit over his thumb. Or he could get a more stable one that fit more like a glove and was also custom made for his thumb and hand. We opted for the more stable one since he's a kid and kids tend to whack things accidentally. :P

The black part is a soft sock type glove. The blue part is the splint. The material is warmed up and molded to the hand and then sprayed with this instant freeze stuff from a can to harden it. He was happy he was able to choose the color of the splint and the velcro. :)

He said it feels much better in this than what he was wearing before. He feels it's more protected which is what we were going for. :) He goes back in a week for a follow-up, but they expect he'll need to wear it for 3-5 weeks depending how fast he heals.

We are pretty bummed though because he had just started swim lessons on Monday. He only got 2 lessons in and they told him NO SWIMMING. :( I hope he can get it off in time for one of the later sessions this summer. He was looking so forward to it...


Disney Day 5...Joe Time, Agrabah and Bob??

>> Saturday, June 11, 2011

Our final day at Disney is always bitter sweet. We get one last chance to see and feel the Magic but we don't want to say good-bye.....

In the past we've had such a hard time saying so long that we don't leave until 6, 7, 8, and even once 9pm and that makes for a really hard and sometimes scary 6 hour car ride home. Pulling off the highway running around the car trying to wake ourselves up is NOT a good thing to do.

We've matured in our decision making and now we try not to leave any later than 3pm. :D Since we have limited time we hit the last few attractions we can, purchase souvenirs, load up the luggage and head home.

The 1st on our list on our last day was a family favorite The Tiki Room! Where the birds sing words and the flowers croon! :)

I love the classics. Especially because the music use to be well...music. In the Tiki Room I love the water fountains that transport me back to another era, and I feel Walt's imaginative hands in the entire experience. It's a good time! :)

Did you know that The Tiki Room is the only attraction with a bathroom in it? That's because it used to be a restaurant! Fun fact! :P

We had been trying over the past week to see Jasmine and Aladdin but every time we came they either weren't there or were about to leave. The stars aligned on the last day and we finally got to meet them!

Jasmine has become Alayna's favorite Princess and she was dying to meet her. You can't tell from the photo but she was super excited! She even chose a little Jasmine plush doll as her souvenir at that HUGE World of Disney store in Downtown Disney on our way home. :D

I love how Eli shows me the autograph he got in his pictures with the characters. He's a clever kid! :) Too bad you can't read it...maybe I need to give them a sharpie next time. :P

Look at my young man! :) It looks like they are trying to lock him into place...he gets so shy around girls. :P

Walker really impressed us this trip. He really showed us what a mature young man he's becoming. Jared and I kept telling him throughout the trip how proud of him we are. It's been a few years since we've gone on vacation with just our family. We like to invite other family/friends when we go, but it was great to just have it be our little family this time. It really gave us a chance to connect with our kids and experience them in a different way. I know we probably wouldn't have been quite as aware of the changes we saw in Walker if we had been traveling with another group. I'm so glad we didn't miss out! :D

That was pretty much all we had time for so we left the Park. Walker had purchased a lanyard and 2 pins earlier in the trip so he could start the exciting journey of pin trading. I already mentioned Alayna bought a Jasmine doll, and Eli got an adorable puppy at Build-a-Bear. He dressed him up as a Jedi and named him Pupi-Wan. So cute!

We went back to the hotel to say a wistful good-bye and loaded up the car and headed for home. I had remembered from past trips there is a Bob's Big Boy I see off one of the exits but we are always in a rush to get home or I space it until we've already passed it. I had put it on our 'to do' list so we got to try it out this time.

When Jared and I were kids we loved to go to Bob's Big Boy. It was THE place to go. The food was tasty and you could mix your own syrups into your sodas and their desserts were delicious!

Unfortunately, they all closed in Arizona. You can't go to Bob's anymore. So we were stoked about re-living our past!

Unfortunately, again...it wasn't anything like we had remembered. It was an equivalent to a Denny's. It was sad..very sad. :(

I'm glad we stopped though and gave it a try or we'd never really know. It was also fun sharing a part of our childhood with the kids. They thought it was really neat to go where Mom and Dad use to go as kids. :) And as a side note: The kids thought the food was GREAT! So maybe that might mean the food was never that good but as kids you think it's good??? LOL!

We had an AMAZING 5 days and we loved every minute! I love my little family and I couldn't have had more fun with 4 other people. It was perfect!


Disney Day 4...Merfolk and Storm Troopers!!

>> Friday, June 10, 2011

We did our best to get to the park bright and early! We wanted to make sure we got to everything we needed to before we had to leave the next day.

We walked out of the hotel straight into Downtown Disney, and snapped a few pictures along the way. Did I mention the Grand Californian Hotel also has a Downtown Disney entrance?! SWEET!

Walker took this pic of us. Not too shabby! :)

Banners promoting their summer offerings. :)

We've never actually walked through this store until this trip. It's HUGE! When they say World of Disney..they are not kidding!

Once we entered the Park we had to make sure we met Rapunzel. Alayna has been dying to meet her. However, so is every other little girl and the line was an hour long. The boys went on Splash Mountain while she and I waited in line. They got back just minutes before it was our turn to go in. Alayna was at her limit by the end but she was SO excited once they let us go inside! :)

She's trying to be so patient. :P

Drum roll..........

She couldn't believe her sweet little eyes when she saw her. She said, "It's her! I see her! And her hair is soooo long!" :) It was precious!

I thought she was a great face character. She was very pretty. :)

The brothers didn't want to lose out on the fun.....lol!

Walker is so funny...he gets very shy and nervous around the Princesses. He stands about 10 feet away from them when they talk to him until they grab and pull him in for the photo op! LOL!!! :P

I was a little sad however, that Flynn Rider wasn't there with her that day.

We were starting to get hungry and we wanted to try out Carnation Cafe to mark another 'to do' off of our list. :)
The food was pretty good but our favorite part was dessert. We ordered The Matterhorn!!! It is four scoops of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, topped with caramel, hot fudge, and strawberry, then piled high with whipped cream and a cherry. YUM!!!!!!!!!!
Our next 'to do' attraction was the movie house. They have several vignettes playing different old cartoons of Mickey Mouse. It's very small in there but it was neat to see some of the classics. :) It was also a great place to get away from some of the hustle of all the crowds.

The kids were itching to get some pool time in so we walked back to the hotel. The boys had been wanting to ride Grizzly River Rapids so they got in their suits and headed over there and Alayna and I went down to the pool where they caught up with us later.

Nice..huh?! :D

They have a nifty water slide too!

View from the pool looking towards the wing where our room was at.

We spent a good couple of hours swimming to our hearts content. Alayna was a little upset about the salt water they used in the pools. She said it was gross...lol! I told her to stop drinking the pool water! Hahaha!

The kids had an amazing time!

It was wonderful to have a break during the middle of the day and be able to get back to the Park so easily when we were ready to. Have I mentioned how AWESOME the Grand Californian Hotel is? :P

We love the Aladdin Show. It's a MUST everytime we go.

I'd pay $30-$40 to see it, but it's FREE with Park admission!! It's a wonderful production! If you've never seen it you really should! :)

Eli loves Autopia so we rode that next. We got about 1/4 mile down the track and a poor 8 year old boy was driving with his mom and he turned the wheel right when he should have turned left and well......

He launched the car off the track and into the bushes!!!! In all the years we've gone to Disney I've never seen a car launch off the track like that!

Everyone was fine thankfully, but they had to evacuate the attraction. The 'suits' came out and then everyone was ushered out by Cast Members. We had to sit and wait for them to bring me my wheel chair. We were the very last ones out. :P

For our inconvenience they gave us a fastpass. Since we had the wheel chair it basically was a fastpass so we found a family and gave it to them. :) It was fun to spread some 'magic'!

Disneyland just opened a new attraction, The Little Mermaid, in California Adventure.
The building is pretty cool looking. DCA has been in need of some of that magic that Disneyland is famous for. It has been a struggling Park since it opened about 10 years ago. This ride is definitely a step in the right direction.

How many wonders can one cavern hold? :)

Animatronics have come such a long way. The way Ariel and Ursula moved was unlike anything I had seen before. It was really cool!

All of the most popular songs were played through out the ride.

It was great to see Disney going back to their roots and putting in classic style rides for the whole family to enjoy! :)

The much anticipated Star Tours ride re-opened this weekend at Disneyland Park. They shot new film with George Lucas and it has over 50 different ride combinations. So the big draw is to try to ride as many times as you can to get all the different combos. Pretty clever!

We rode this ride 3 different times of day on 3 seperate days and guess what.....yup, it was the SAME everytime!! Now what are the odds of that??? We have the strangest luck! LOL!!! Jared is still cursing that ride. Hahaha!

They even have souviner popcorn R2-D2.

And plenty of any other type of Star Tours souvenirs you'd like to take home! :)
Later that night we went to see World of Color. We went to the 10:15pm showing. Walker was beat so he went back to the hotel room and Alayna fell asleep in my lap. Eli was determined to stay up and watch it though. He was excited to to see it again. I highly reccomend seeing it. One of the neat things about this show is that it's easily updated. We saw it just this past Christmas and it had several new sections added to it already. It's pretty impressive what they can do with a bit of water. :P


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