Claimed the title…

In the state of Arizona, high school beach volleyball is not a sanctioned sport and instead it’s a relatively new high school club sport. I think girls beach volleyball has been around for a year or two and this year is the first year for boys beach volleyball. Our nephew is a senior and a dedicated volleyball player and beach volleyball was a natural fit in his off-season.

Because it’s the first year for boys beach volleyball, there weren’t many teams to compete against, but our nephew crushed it with his amazing freshman teammate.

They didn’t give up a single game the whole season and we gathered as a family to watch his final championship game. We like to joke he’s the first state champion. Years from now when it’s a sanctioned sport he can claim he was the first title winner!

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Birthday serenade…

I had a meeting at the high school on Hallie’s birthday. I teased her I was going to convince the principal to wish her a happy birthday over the intercom system (which I totally could have pulled off). Sometimes its fun to watch your kids squirm just a little bit…she was adamant that I not do that – it would be so embarrassing. Some kids may love that kind of attention and others would be mortified – Hallie falls in the latter camp.

As I was wrapping up my meeting, Hallie texted me asking if I was still at the school. Her campus is large – but we just so happened to be in the exact same building and even the same hallway of her school. I met her outside the classroom and gave her a quick hug (In our similar sweaters in which she will claim she was dressed first – she was!)

I suggested she go say hi to the principal standing just outside the building. (Hallie’s been working with him on a project so he’s come to know her and appreciate her).

Once she was outside, I let the principal know it was her birthday which of course resulted in him leading the birthday song to our group of 10 community members. She was only slightly embarrassed. 🙂

This was our text exchange after:

My parenting philosophy is never let them know your next move!

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The boy can sing…

Our kids participated in our church’s annual primary program on Sunday, where the kids have speaking and singing parts. About a month and a half ago, the primary chorister called and asked if Cannon would be willing to give up his speaking part for a singing part (the kids typically do one or the other since there are so many kids.) This was a little surprising considering Cannon doesn’t really sing. The chorister assured me she had listened to Cannon in class and he would do great. I never heard him practice or singing his part at home and the morning of the program I asked if he wanted to go over his part. He was confident and said he was good.

You can imagine my surprise when he got up there and sang his part so beautifully. He wasn’t nervous, his voice was steady and he was totally on-key! What was not surprising is him undressing the minute we got in the car after church – something I have come to expect from him! Another not so surprising moment – finding his suit crumpled on the floor of his closet.

But the boy can sing!

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God appreciation…

This evening I walked into the high school football stadium to watch the girls flag football championship game. The sky was a beautiful shade of pink. The longer I sat in the stadium, the more vibrant the sky became, but most of the color was just behind the stadium. Eventually, the anticipation of a beautiful sunset was killing me so I climbed to the stop of the seats to get a better view. It was breathtaking.

A few minutes later Hallie’s friend was standing next to me taking in the beauty. And before long, Hallie started climbing up the stairs to see what was peaking our interest. Before she made it to the top, she asked what we were doing and I replied, “Cloud appreciation.”

She heard, “God appreciation” which I like so much better. We were standing on the top of a high school football stadium appreciating God and his colorful masterpiece.

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Halloween 2022…

Halloween 2022 is brought to you by In-N-Out! You may notice there are a few people missing from this family picture. That’s just how it worked out this year. The only time we dressed up was on Halloween and both Hallie and Hunter had plans outside of our neighborhood. So they were off the hook. We normally plan our family costumes far in advance and I just didn’t make it a priority this year – too many other things consuming my time and mental energy.

Last week, Bennett decided he wanted to be a hamburger for Halloween. So we shuffled things in the attic and found the burger costume which we all remember as much larger than it actually was. After he tried it on, he realized it didn’t fit like he hoped. But that led to the birth of a family costume idea. (I secretly hoped Hallie and Hunter’s plan might fall through and they would be able to join us as workers!)

Bennett was the milkshake – which was created with a laundry basket covered in felt, with flannel decals cut out and glued on with Aleene’s Fast Fusion Glue.

Cannon’s hamburger has been in the family ever since my Pottery Barn Kids days years ago. It’s come in handy more than a couple times. I made a white felt sleeve for the burger and cut out the logo from flannel and glued it on.

Briggs was the fries, made from 2″ upholstery foam from Joann’s, cut into strips and spray painted. His bag is felt with flannel decals glued on.

A little behind the scenes: I was trying to figure out how to sew the foam to the bag, and then I figured it was easier to attach the fries to Briggs, not the bag. I used a belt and cinched him up.

Steve and I were the easiest costumes. I made some red aprons, made paper name tags and picked up hats from In-N-Out.

We entertained the drive through for a bit while Bennett was the dancing milkshake and then the other kids joined in the dancing.

We attended the neighborhood block party where I caught my little fry eating a hot dog. 🙂

Each kid found their neighborhood buddies (only a few of which I caught pictures of) and as soon as they had inhaled their food they were ready to run through the neighborhood collecting candy. Figuring out what kids are trick-or-treating with who, with what adult is always a bit of a puzzle. The dads often end up back at the houses handing out candy while the moms herd groups of kids from house to house. I had the youngest group with two other moms and we were constantly counting kids and blocking the road so they couldn’t run across unassisted. The nice part about the youngest group is their legs are short and tire quickly. Makes for a short night. Before long, I was back at the house on the driveway with Steve and the kids were trading candy in the house.

Hunter was in another neighborhood with friends – the same group we hosted in our neighborhood last year. He was a packers fan and somehow was missing his cheesehead in this picture.

One of Hallie’s good friends has a birthday on Halloween so they gathered together for a fun dinner together. No costumes. No treats. Totally happy with life.

And a flashback to Halloween morning when Briggs had his school costume parade. Of course it was themed: Storybook. Which cancelled out his In-N-Out costume and we were lucky enough to find Bennett’s (And Cannon’s) Fox in Socks costume in the attic. The classic costume that gets more use than any of our fancy costumes I spend far more time on!

And that’s a wrap. Thanksgiving is basically over and Christmas shopping needs to be done.

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Birthday girl…

I recently spoke in church and I shared the story about Hallie as a baby. How, by no fault of her own, she caused me to shed so many tears. (Read the whole story here and here).

And yet I look at her now and I’m amazed we’ve come so far. She is beauty and light and it’s hard to believe I ever wanted to give her back!

Here’s a birthday snapshot of 17 years:

She loves wearing jewelry. She’s excited for next semester when she can return to a jewelry making class at school.

She is social and we don’t see much of her on Friday and Saturday nights.

Because she drives herself, I’ve been missing out on drivetime with her. Just the other day I showed up at her tennis practice after dropping off soccer because I don’t get to see her play nearly as often as I used to.

She has a surprisingly clean car for a teenager.

Although her car is clean – her room is not. Ever. Ever.

She loves to wakesurf and she can hold her own behind the boat. If asked, Lake Powell is her favorite vacation.

If given the chance she will sleep until noon on Saturday and come home after church on Sunday and sleep some more.

She’s been working for her aunt using inDesign, laying out photo books. She’s also worked on my blog books which is amazingly helpful.

She’s chatty at midnight and she’ll sit in the chair in my office and talk about her night. Some of my very favorite hours.

She’s thoughtful and I have received many random texts of gratitude or admiration and they always make my day.

She is not confrontational, even when she probably should be. She is tender and kind hearted.

Her phone screen time is minimal and we have to remind her to text friends back.

Being raised with four brothers, she’s learning how to be adventurous when maybe it isn’t what she would prefer.

She loves watching sports – especially the Suns.

She participates when a lot of girls back away. If people are jumping in a cold lake, she’s in. Game of spikeball, she’s in. Don’t challenge her in ping-pong, she just may beat you.

She’s loyal. She looks out for friends and helps the underdog – and sometimes she is the underdog and someone looks out for her.

Her problem solving skills could use some work, something we’re working on before she leaves for college! 🙂

She always has her nails painted and usually wears earrings – even when she’s wakesurfing.

She’s 17. Not sure where all the days went in all those years, but she is a delight. So glad we didn’t end up giving her back when she was a baby. 😉 I would have missed out on a beautiful human being. The older she gets, the closer I am to her and the harder its going to be to let her leave our home. Life is better with Hallie.

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Grandparent weekend…

It used to be that my parents would come into town and I would come up with fun activities they could do with my kids to fill our days. And then life shifted. Now they come down when there’s a kid’s activity they can participate in. This past weekend was full of soccer, as well as Cannon’s birthday and they were able to join in the fun.

A quiet morning in the temple while the kids were in school.

A birthday lunch of Cannon’s choice: Taco Bell. In which Cannon was the only one who ate lunch! I’m so grateful when my kids get a little older and their palette for a birthday lunch improves. 🙂

Hunter was the only one who ended up having games this weekend – but he had a tournament and we were able to attend all of his games. Bennett’s game was cancelled at the very last minute (very disappointing) and Cannon’s was cancelled earlier in the week. My parents have sat through their fair share of soccer games over the years and I’m grateful they still find it enjoyable to cheer from the sidelines.

Hunter was in luck with my parents in town. He has to test multiple ages for his science fair project (does age affect response time) and he got several rounds of testing out of the way this weekend.

And although this wasn’t a project weekend – my parents still managed to help me get some things knocked off my punchlist. New moulding in the dining room is installed and painted and at the last minute we got new landscape lighting installed. Not expected, but totally appreciated.

Not to mention, we also took some new photos of the kids for our wall (seen above). It’s been several years since we’ve updated and it was long past due.

Their visits are never quite long enough. I’m already looking at the next tennis/soccer tournament and wondering if I can get them to come back down.

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Birthday boy…

We celebrated Cannon this weekend. One of his gifts was a date night with Steve and a friend (of course he chose his best friend Avery!). He was grinning ear to ear when he opened that gift. His love language is the gift of time. He loves any and all special “dates”.

Here’s a 9-year-old snapshot:

He has started playing soccer just like his older brothers.

He still has some of the most unruly hair. Every morning it’s so hard to tame. And he has a lot of it!

He is sensitive and isn’t as rough and tumble as some of his brothers.

He shares a room with Briggs and they both think it’s the other person that messes up their room. There is a reason they are sharing – they’re both messy!

I was surprised when they asked him to sing a solo part for the primary program at church. Evidently, he’s a singer. The only time I hear him sing is to Imagine Dragons when we have it playing on the Alexa in the kitchen.

He prefers Steve to me all day long. He has a special bond with his dad and I often see them sitting at the kitchen counter playing a game.

We just had parent teacher conferences and I was not surprised to hear he excels in school because he just loves it. He’s always willing to help a classmate and leads out in the class.

He’s happy. He can entertain himself, or he can go to the neighbors and grab a friend. He’s such a good sport as he sits at older siblings games and he loves it when they come to his games. He’s not so little anymore!

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You all get to be amazing…

I was talking with my mom tonight about high school today vs high school 20 years ago. I had a great high school experience – but there is a part of me that wishes I could do it over again, and do it a little better. However, I would only want to go back if I could take my experience and wisdom with me to ensure I do it better! And at the root of it is to be more kind. I don’t recall being intentionally unkind, but I know I was selfish and at times insecure which doesn’t equate to being kind.

And knowing what I know now, I want to flood my kids with all my wisdom and experience. But how do you teach that without having them roll their eyes because they already know…

And then I came across this and had to screenshot. This is what I need my high school kids to remember:

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Rim to Rim…

Steve checked off a bucket list item: Hiking rim to rim of the Grand Canyon. Nearly 24 miles, they descended below the north rim, crossed the mighty Colorado River, and climbed back up the south rim in just about 12 hours.

There was a group in our neighborhood/church taking it on together and Steve wasn’t going to miss out. He spent weeks and weeks training. He followed a specific schedule as to when he should walk and when he should hike and when he should do the stair climber. He really worked hard to prepare.

Several people went with their spouses and asked why I didn’t join. The truth is – I could have done it physically with some training but I didn’t have any desire. Although I am a very active person, I don’t particularly care for working out and I wouldn’t have enjoyed the training. Even watching Steve train, I knew I made the right decision! 🙂

But luckily Steve didn’t have to hike alone, Hunter joined him with no preparation! I was a little concerned because I watched Steve train so hard and Hunter didn’t. But evidently Hunter didn’t need to because soccer was enough training for him and he made it just fine. Oh to be young and energetic again.

They went up on a Friday and stayed in cabins at the north rim and enjoyed some pre-hike views.

They had a 5:00am start time and an even earlier wake up call. The first couple miles were in the dark with a headlamp and it was cold. But they just endured it with minimal layers because they knew they were going to be hot and sweaty just a few hours later.

Hunter said about half way through they stopped for lunch and put their feet in the river. It was about this point in the hike he was second guessing his decision to participate. He was tired and ready to be done…and he still had 12 miles ahead of him. But after lunch, he had a renewed sense of energy and he was ready to go. According to him, he hiked his dad’s speed but he could have easily made it out faster. I’m glad he felt obligated to hike with his dad. 🙂

They both made it out with plenty of food to spare, but very little energy. Steve hasn’t decided if he ever needs to hike this again – although some in the group think it should be an annual activity. I figure it’s like someone asking you if you’re going to have another baby when you have a newborn in your arms – too soon to ask. They were both a little sore after, although Hunter went to soccer practice two days later and managed okay.

More than anything, I am so happy Steve was able to work at this and check it off his list. He loves the Grand Canyon and what better way to see it than to hike 24 miles through it.

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