Color Run 2022…

Our school held their annual PTO color run and it did not disappoint.

My kids look forward to this event every year. I remember years ago when Bennett ran this race for the first time – he did just about everything to avoid getting wet or chalk thrown at him. Oh how things have changed. This year, he was going to make sure he walked out a colorful mess.

I’m pretty sure Briggs wins the award for the most laps – that kid sprinted every single lap and never stopped. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him run and he just kept running. It was hard to get pictures of him because he was always speeding by. After the race, one of the PTO members was asking who the sprinter in the group was, I had no idea who she was talking about and then she saw Briggs across the lawn and pointed him out as the sprinter. I had to laugh because I noticed the same thing but I wasn’t really paying much attention to everyone else so I just assumed they were all running like that. Evidently they weren’t.

Cannon couldn’t get enough chalk. He ran by the chalk stations very slowly to make sure they didn’t miss him. And in the end he was disappointed that the one chalk he never seemed to catch was the red chalk.

The all walked away completely stained and totally elated with how it turned out. They had the best time. By far, the most successful school fundraiser – done totally in-house by the PTO.

They all took showers when they got home and Bennett said it looked like he was constantly bleeding while in the shower. It took a while before the water draining was clear again. And no matter how much I scrubbed Briggs neck, it’s still a new shade of pink/red.

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Happy feet…

I was cleaning out closets recently and I found a bucket of old Native brand shoes that hadn’t made its way to the donation pile. This basically sums up the shoes Briggs wore for the first 5 years of his life. He could put them on himself. They didn’t rip. They were easily washed. They protected his feet. They were the best.

We have a store called Nordstrom Last Chance (with crazy good deals) close to us and I had a neighbor that would pick up the next size for me anytime she saw them there. We were stocked and had multiple colors in every size and Briggs wore them every single day. However, when he started kindergarten and was spending time in the sandy playground (mixed with his sweaty feet), they just didn’t make sense anymore so they slowly found their way to the back of the closet.

These were the last pairs I had left – its the end of a shoe era. Thank you Native for being the best childhood shoe for an Arizona boy.

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A little emotional…

I was visiting an english classroom at the high school and in between the shelves of books and motivational sayings, I found this painted on the wall:

I walked across the classroom to get a better look and I immediately found my current emotion among the brightly colored squares. I’m not sure the teacher’s intent on painting this on the wall besides the interest it adds to a windowless room. Perhaps it serves as a quick mental health report card – I know I scanned the chart and checked myself. Maybe it’s serving an english purpose and providing better descriptive words for emotions in students’ writing.

Either way – I liked it and I appreciated it’s place in the high school classroom. I snapped a picture on my phone and have found myself periodically going back to it and referencing it.

I think I’ve become lazy when describing how I feel. I’m well. I’m tired. I’m excited. I’m frustrated. That pretty much sums up all the emotions, right?! 🙂 Really, there’s a whole slew of emotions I don’t regularly recognize for what they are. Am I well or am I satisfied? Am I tired or drained? Am I excited or optimistic?

We use so many of those interchangeably but as I look at the chart, I see just how different some of those are. I like the idea of narrowing it down a little more to truly recognize what emotion I’m sitting with.

And looking at this chart it’s clear we’re all a little emotional – both good and bad.

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Birthday boy…

We celebrated this boy today – the big 14!

Hunter is driven and passionate.

Here’s his 14-year-old snapshot:

He loves Phoenix Suns. He loves Green Bay Packer football. He loves ASU Football but it may be a couple years before they’re worth following!

He loves playing sports just as much as watching sports and he’s a great athlete and just completed Grand Canyon Rim to Rim (24 miles in one day) with no training.

He loves Lake Powell and wake surfing – his favorite vacation.

He loves the stock market and tracking his stocks.

He is a good student and abnormally good in math – he’s two grades ahead and is sitting at a 98%.

He’s social and has a broad group of friends but he’s also busy enough that his life doesn’t revolve around friends. He isn’t typically the center of attention, but always seems to be a quiet leader.

He’s driven and knows how to work hard.

He’s happy and even tempered and is always willing to play football or soccer with his brothers. He’s a great listening ear to his sister and still loves to tease her.

If this is what teenagers are made of – I’ll take them all.

Happy Birthday Hunt-man!

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Painting and cookies…

One of these things is not like the other.

Call me crazy, but sometimes my wild night includes a large batch of chocolate chip cookies and painting trim.

Actually, its been a while since I’ve had a paintbrush on my counter. Which is funny considering for years and years I probably had a paintbrush on my counter more often than not. And then life shifted. The time and energy I once spent building and updating our home was redirected to other things. What was once the norm has become the exception and as I was cleaning my cookie mess the other night, the paintbrush stood out to me. It looked a little out of place. I have painted nearly every surface of this home and yet it still looked a little out of place. Funny how life changes on you.

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Middle Mom…

We are in an interesting phase of life. We have a revolving front door with all ages running through and its become a little bit of a balancing act. Weekends have to be planned so Hallie and Hunter know when they can brings friends over and have full access to the hangout room. And if neither of them claimed dibs, you better believe the other three are chomping at the bit to host a pool party or a movie night or whatever other genius plan their minds conjure up. I can play referee to 6-year-olds one afternoon and then entertain teenagers the next.

Our home is always open. Is it always clean? Nope. But they know they’re welcome here and I’m not going to freak out when a dozen kids are traipsing through my kitchen with their wet feet after I just mopped the floors (even more reason for me to mop them less often – as if I needed an excuse).

Hunter decided to host a gathering a couple weeks back. The plan was to play frisbee dodgeball at the church and then come back for cookies and swimming and the invite list was extensive. (And in situations like this it’s always an open invite. So every person who asked if they could bring another friend, the answer was always yes.) I’m not sure how many people couldn’t make it, but I do know that 38 people decided to come. And they had the best time.

As a parent, I’m happy they’re here because I get to know every single one of them and that is worth the messy floors and dozens and dozens of cookies consumed.

One weekend evening, our house was quiet and Steve was heading off to bed as I slipped out to grab Hunter from a friend’s house. While picking Hunter up, I was chatting with the mom and catching up when I saw a call come through from Steve. Finding it odd he was calling so late, I picked up the phone, “Hallie’s group just arrived and they don’t want to see me, they want to see you so come quickly!”

And just when I thought my night was winding down, it was in fact ramping up and I wasn’t even sad about it. I was excited at the idea of seeing Hallie’s friends and feeding them cookies.

After a heavy week of hosting every age of kids, I came across this quote on Facebook and I couldn’t relate more – I am a middle mom.

I am a middle mom and this has to be the sweet spot of parenthood. We are in the thick of every age and it’s exhausting, but so great and rewarding. It is rare that a day goes by that we don’t have welcome visitors/playmates and it makes for a busy but joyful (at times joyfully loud) home. Hoping we can make this stage last as long as possible because we sure do love a full home.

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Salt River…

Admittedly, I’m not a great “social mom”. I have great friends and those that know me well, know not to take offense if they invite me to things and I choose not to join. We have a great neighborhood community that often find ways to get together and part of me thought maybe when all my kids went to school, I would look forward to those opportunities to gather with friends. Come to find out, it didn’t matter whether I had kids at home or not – its just not my thing.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve been invited to float the river. And as a surprise to most everyone, including myself, I agreed to join on a recent float. In fact, I texted the organizer shortly before the meet up time and she said when she saw my text come through she thought for sure I was cancelling. But I didn’t – and now no one can say I don’t participate! I think I’m officially off the hook for at least another 6 months!

The Salt River is known for its wild roaming horses and the view did not disappoint. Every bend of the river had more beautiful horses – some crossing the river right in front of us.

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Weekend soccer…

I’m not sure there has ever been, or ever will be a more perfect line up of weekend games where none of our boys game times conflicted with each other and they were all at the same location. We set up the pop-up tent in the morning and just moved it a couple yards from one field to the next. The only problem with no conflicting times means we are at soccer all day long – we walked out the door at 8:15am and walked back in at 5:10pm. I’d take that every week if that meant I could watch them all play each Saturday.

We started with Bennett’s game where we picked up a late loss…but he scored a goal so if softened the blow just a little bit. Bennett is by far the most improved player – he has grown leaps and bounds from when he started two years ago. He’s hitting his stride and he’s going to have a fun season.

Hunter’s game was next. He is playing a new position…again – which has been his story since he started club. He started as a right back defender, then center defender, then right midfielder, and now attacking/defending midfielder. He’s becoming quite the swiss army knife of soccer. He’s playing for his same team, but it looks drastically different than last year and we’re hoping they rebuild quickly.

Cannon is starting his first season of organized soccer and he’s learning so much. He has the same coach that both Hunter and Bennett had and I think he’s enjoying the familiarity. There are so many kids at Cannon’s age that are already very advanced in their soccer skills, so he’s playing some catch up but he’s working at it. He scored a goal and he couldn’t have been more pleased with himself running back to the center of the field.

Hunter’s second game was with another team in our club in the heat of the day and he had already played an entire game. His tank going into this game was low and yet, he found the energy (without substitution) to keep going. Due to the heat index, they gave the teams 2 water breaks which was his only saving grace. By the end he was spent.

Let’s be real, Steve and I were spent and were sitting in the shade all day. Of course, we didn’t mention our exhaustion to Hunter when he drug himself to the car after the second game. I’m not sure he would have given us much sympathy! 🙂

Steve and I were both able to watch our three boys in four games and I only wish that was the case each weekend. It will be more of a divide and conquer going forward, but we enjoyed it this weekend.

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Carpools make the world go round…

Bennett and his friend were outside waiting for carpool and I got a kick watching their conversation (without hearing what the conversation was about, only seeing hand gestures).

Driving carpool – especially this age group – is always an interesting drive. I can never predict the type of conversations that are going to come out of their mouths. It’s a car full of 6 grade boys so the sky is the limit.

I was talking with another mom who has kids my kids’ ages – spanning over three schools just like us, very involved. And when I mentioned carpools she said she couldn’t relate. I heard what she was saying, but I didn’t understand. She had never had a carpool. Ever. Not for school. Not for sports or lessons. Never.

My mind was blown.

Carpools are what make our after school life possible with a large involved family – and kids running every direction. But evidently, she’s made it work without the need for other drivers. She did share her kids aren’t into sports, instead heavily involved in music/theater/instruments which has allowed them to be a little more in control of their after school schedules, although equally busy. She also shared that she lives in her car for hours every day.

It just gave me a renewed appreciation to all those that are shuttling their kids to and fro. And keeping all the schedules straight. Driving Cannon’s carpool once a week, Bennett’s every 2 1/2 weeks, Hunter every other Thursday and every third Monday…and that’s just for soccer. Thank heavens Hallie can drive herself around now.

On a somewhat related note – we’ve got four soccer games this weekend and I can’t wait. Happy weekend.

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For the Strength of Youth (FSY)…

For years, our church has offered a week-long summer camp for youth held at BYU. In an effort to make this program more accessible (distance and cost) to youth throughout the world, they’ve created a more localized program called FSY (For the Strength of Youth). Every other year, teenagers are invited to attend a somewhat local weeklong camp. Based on your location, you’re given options of different weeks throughout the summer as well different campuses to attend. Hallie and Hunter were both able to attend this summer with friends; Hallie the first week of the summer at University of Arizona and Hunter the last week of the summer at Eastern Arizona College.

This is the first summer they are rolling out this program and Hallie being the very first week, she truly was a guinea pig.

The bottom line is she had an amazing experience. It was fun. She grew spiritually. She made new friends. She had the best week. Having said that, this is a new program and they have some kinks to work out. Evidently they could use some major improvement in the food area. There were 800 kids that attended her week and I can only imagine what it must have been like to meal plan for that group. (They didn’t appear to use campus kitchen facilities.) Every day I got a fantastic picture as to what her food was for lunch. And every day looked just as appetizing as the day before. Luckily, we sent her with so many snacks that she was never going to go hungry, but the meals did leave much to be desired.

Oddly enough she ran into her cousin – who she didn’t even know was attending the same week.

Hunter attended the week before school started after a long summer of traveling and then back-to-back with his BYU soccer camp. I was worried he would be exhausted, but he proved to be the energizer bunny. Both Hallie and Hunter were able to choose their roommates which helps ease the anxiety walking into a weeklong adventure not knowing many people.

In true boy fashion, I got a fraction of the pictures from Hunter than I did from Hallie. Although he did share food pictures with us as well, but his meals seemed significantly better than Hallie’s. He was at a different campus with half the amount of kids so maybe that had something to do with it. Hallie claimed all of his meals were edible as opposed to hers. 🙂

Hunter is a social kid and I knew he would thrive in an environment of making new friends…and he did. Every night he called and gave me a play-by-play of his day. What classes he liked. What he felt. The girls he met. The games their team won.

He spent two weeks in a row, on his own, at college campuses this summer and he was living his best life. I think he started to think he was older than an 8th grader, which one day back home was reminder enough.

I couldn’t have been more happy for him in his independent adventures. He did say he liked the soccer camp a little better than FSY. FSY had a lot of classroom/sitting sessions and he preferred the physical nature of the soccer camp. Considering his athletic/competitive nature, that is totally understandable. But he thoroughly enjoyed both weeks.

Even working the kinks out – Hallie and Hunter both really enjoyed their experiences. This worldwide program is a massive undertaking and I have no doubt it will continue to change and evolve to meet the needs of the youth. Hallie won’t have the opportunity to go again before she graduates, but Hunter will get to go again when he’s 15 and again when he’s 17 – it will be interesting to see how it changes over time.

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