Staycation…

The day after school got out, we did an overnight stay at the local Great Wolf Lodge with Steve’s parents. We’ve stayed at similar places while living in Wisconsin (the Dells) but it’s been years and we only had two kids at the time.

Although Steve’s parents live close and we see them frequently, and they’re able to support our kids in their events, sometimes its nice to have some uninterrupted quality time without the distractions of life. This was the perfect little getaway to accomplish this.

This place is geared towards families and leans heavily towards younger families. Having said that, Hallie had a great time playing with her siblings on their level. She would have enjoyed far more intense water slides, but she had a great time. It’s a small enough area that the kids paired up and went their different directions and you could see them all most of the time. They also had an outdoor pool that was colder than I would’ve expected in Arizona this time of year and the hot tub was not so much hot, but more lukewarm which is perfect this time of year. 🙂

Outside of the waterpark they also had other entertainment options – the Magi Quest, with an interactive wand, kept the kids busy for hours – no joke. Its a scavenger hunt/quest where kids are finding items throughout the property and waving their wand at it and then they go to interactive stations where it tells them what to do/where to go next. It’s geared for a little older, perfect for Bennett’s age and he could do it without supervision. The younger kids had a blast, but required Bennett’s help on some parts. It seems silly, but when you’re done with the water, it was a great activity. They also have a tiny miniature golf area, two lane bowling alley and small ropes course. Naturally, the only thing included in the room rate was the waterpark, and the kids have to walk by the other activities to get to the waterpark. It’s like a dang grocery store – why in the world is the milk in the back?! They clearly know their audience.

Bennett was quick to say he would love to go back – I think the whole family would enjoy another stay. However, in the future, we will definitely be avoiding the weekend.

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Last Day of School 2022…

We have survived another great school year. And everyone is looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow – me included!

We had our annual neighborhood water balloon fight where everyone shows up to take aim at the kids. We arrange with the school to have everyone on the bus dropped off at our house and we patiently (or not so patiently) wait for kids to slowly file off the bus before dousing them with water balloons.

Before the kids showed up, the parents were filling balloons together and we all marveled at the bunch-o-balloons (aff.) invention that fills up 30 balloons in no time. Filling up balloons as a kid was such a chore which meant you filled 10 balloons and then your fingers were sore – and you had a really short water balloon fight. Instead, we filled up thousands and thousands of balloons. They were placed throughout our yard in kiddie pools, home depot buckets, coolers, rubbermaid totes, garbage cans…if it could hold water, it was holding balloons – and the neighborhood parents showed up.

And then we spent a good amount of time picking up small pieces of thousands of balloons in our yard before we handed out popsicles. Its a good motivating system that has worked for so many years. 🙂

Hello summer!

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Tennis wrap up…cont…

I felt like these pictures deserved their own post! Hallie (and all of our kids for that matter) has the best support system. I can’t even count how many matches she had people there cheering her on: Mostly family, friends from the neighborhood and she even had some friends from school come support. I wish I had pictures of everyone but sometimes people snuck away before I could snap a picture. Several have asked her if it makes her nervous to have people there watching her – oddly enough, I think she plays better. Evidently for her, it’s good pressure. Some of her toughest matches were played with grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles cheering her on.

Hallie had the biggest cheering section on the team and it became a joke with some of the other parents of players that don’t have any family living close to come support. Luckily, Hallie’s cheering section doesn’t discriminate and they happily cheered on every one on the team.

Steve’s parents were regular supporters and we had a mixed family group each time including one match that my dad was here visiting.

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Cousins came to an away match at their high school.

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These two are the real troopers. They ended up at far more matches than they would have chosen. 🙂 Due to Hunter’s later school schedule I’m not sure he made it to a single match and now that I’m thinking about it, Bennett had soccer at the same time so I don’t think he was able to come either. I love for my kids to support each other and yet sometimes it just doesn’t work… there’s always next year!

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This cousin stopped by matches a few times as he was making his way to and from the gym for volleyball games.

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Steve’s sister came to several matches.

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Steve’s sister visiting from Utah came to a match with her family and another match with her husband and sister.

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This cousin used to play on the team and Hallie built a friendship with her that would be hard to duplicate due to their age difference. They love each other and she’s been so supportive.

There are countless other people that have made Hallie feel so loved by showing their support either by attending or asking about her season. I mentioned yesterday, but tennis is a lonely sport and this is one way that it doesn’t feel like you’re an island. I feel like I’ve said it a million times, but I’m grateful for our village.

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Tennis wrap up…

At the beginning of the school year, Hallie was working with her tennis coach and he asked what her goal was in tennis for the year. She said her goal was to make the varsity high school team at as a sophomore – one of 6 girls. (We have a strong team) I thought it was a pretty lofty goal because she was #8 last year as a freshman and no one graduated. She was fighting for a spot against 5 seniors and she had her work cut out for her. But she worked hard. And then she worked harder. And by the time the high school season rolled around she found herself playing #5 and #4. (And really she could compete with every girl ranked above her – it was just a matter of who showed up to compete on the day they did challenge matches.)

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We were so happy for her and she was ecstatic – but the work didn’t stop there, it was the just the beginning. She played an incredible season, battling with girls that were ranked higher than her and predicted to win and didn’t. She didn’t give up and she kept improving.

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She played until she couldn’t – injuring herself late in the season. She missed multiple matches and the city tournament and then came back almost a month later and competed in the state tournament and played better than ever.

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She will admit that tennis is often a lonely sport. You live and die on your own merit. No teammates that can carry you even for a minute and that can be discouraging. She’s trained as a singles player and although she’ll continue in singles, she’s looking forward to improving her doubles game over the next year and enjoying the game with a teammate – her favorite teammate!

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She is sad to see the seniors go. She started training with twin sisters years ago and she’s enjoyed having them at practice every week. They kept things fun and entertaining and they were so great to Hallie even though she was two years younger. Hallie went to the first practice last week without them and she wasn’t a fan – she’s going to have to reach outside her comfort zone and befriend someone just like they did to her years ago.

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We had such a great time supporting her this season – some weeks we found ourselves sitting at matches three days a week and I didn’t complain one time! 🙂 Just enjoying my happy place from the sidelines.

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We like to remind her that although the outfits are cute – the tan lines are not! 🙂

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Soccer Wrap up…Bennett…

School is out this week which means everything is winding down – so this is the week of wrap ups! We’ve already wrapped up Hunter’s soccer season – it’s time to wrap up Bennett’s season.

Bennett has a passion for soccer. His heart far outpaces his skill and because of that we saw such an improvement in him this year, when you have heart, you’re willing to work twice as hard. (I wish all my kids had the heart he does!)

He loves soccer. He plays at recess. He plays with friends in the retention basin. He shoots goals in the backyard. He plays on a team with several friends and they carpool together twice a week – this is the highlight of his week. Soccer and friends – he’s living his best life.

I haven’t asked him, but I’m pretty sure his favorite moment of the year was a tournament game that my dad (a lover of soccer) happened to be in attendance at. Bennett was over the moon when he scored a goal. He was fist pumping and running down the field. He doesn’t score very often, so it was reason to celebrate, especially with my dad watching. And then he scored another. And another. And another. And after four goals, they moved him to defense.

He was on cloud 9 – I’ve never seen him play so well and I’ve never seen him so jazzed! My dad was clearly the lucky charm and I’m sure Bennett wanted to impress him. It was good soccer day. As a competitive sport, soccer is played year-round and is pretty time-consuming. So I questioned whether Bennett wanted to try something else next year – he was disgusted I would even suggest such a thing. I love his passion and I love his improvement.

So he’s signed back up for next year and lucky for us, so are his friends.

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