A little getaway.

       A few weeks ago, we had the chance to go to Flagstaff with some good friends of ours-it was so sweet of them to actually  invite us, especially after Adam prettymuch invited himself :) We got to go up to their family house up there, which is fantastic because a) it has tons of room for lots of kids/families to stay and have their own area and b) Beth's parents are very welcoming and didn't mind us invading with our crew-and even cooked for us!! and c) it's out of the city, tucked back in the mountains outside of Flag (as they call it here) and c) it backs to BLM land. So, you know, pretty much just an all-around fantastic mountain getaway. We drove up Friday afternoon and spent one night up there (this time...muah ha ha!!) playing outside, loving the quiet, enjoying being able to see all those stars again, and learning a new card game. (Of course) It felt so familiar and home-like to Adam and I; we agreed it was just therapeutic to get out of the city for awhile...it's funny, since it's much higher in altitude, but I told Adam that I felt like I could breathe up there-and I'm pretty sure it had a lot to do with  soul-space and the peace that is found in the outdoors.
        After we got the rest of the kids to bed that night, Blythe tried her hardest (boy, did she try!!) to stay awake as long as the adults did; she finally gave up on the couch in front of the fire about 10:30 that night. It was pretty funny-she just wouldn't let herself stop moving. And if she felt herself getting tired-up she went from where ever she was! For a three-year old who hadn't had a nap, that pretty much spelled meltdown the next afternoon...but that was AFTER we left :)
We ate "first breakfast" Saturday morning (after keeping the kids quiet as long as we could), and then headed out with Beth, Loren, their two girls, Beth's parents, and the dogs for a little hike. Yes, that's my youngest in a pink marshmallow snow suit. I know I brought along our blue one, but it disappeared. So we borrowed...he has a red hat on, so that's ok, right??

 Pax took off up the trail with Beth's dad and the dogs as soon as the door was opened, which is why I have only one very far away picture of him from the whole time. Beth and I let the others go ahead and stayed back with the two littlest girlies; so we had time to admire the early morning sun on the grass.
That's Blythe (3) and Cora (2)- these two are about 10 months apart... they sure do have fun together! Blythe was talking a mile-a-minute to Cora, of course, who I'm pretty sure was telling her she just wanted to play in the dirt.
 A bit further down the trail, Charissa (4) came back to walk with us, and the girls took a break. That's Cubby popping out of her jacket-he's a Very Important Animal.

See? Playing in the dirt on the trail-good times!

A little of the view...beautiful day.
I know Adam might not be happy with me putting pictures of his youngest son wearing pink on here-but look how he feel asleep in the backpack!! SO cute. I'm loving these last few days of true babyhood before he becomes a full-on toddler!
    The rest of the day was spent eating "second breakfast" (pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes-the works cooked by Beth's hubby Loren), playing outside, and learning proper slingshot technique. Very important.

   As soon as we pulled away that afternoon, Blythe proceeded to melt down and throw the biggest fit ever (for her) off and on the rest of the afternoon...even all through her nap on the way down! Impressive, to be sure. We told the kids if they took naps (much needed) on the way back, we could go burrito movie night that night; but only if they slept. To which Pax replied, "I get a burrito if I take a nap, right?" (Right) "Ok, I'm going to sleep now," and promptly closed his eyes and was asleep. Also impressive....
thanks for the little retreat, Beth and Loren...looking forward to going up again sometime!!n


This kid...

Adam and I were outside working on a new headboard for Blythe's big-girl room (more on that soon...I think.). The boys were out with us while Blythe napped; Blaise was exploring everything that was not one of the several toys I'd brought out for him, and Pax was playing in his happy place on the side of the yard. And then he came over to show us what he'd been doing....

 I think it's safe to say he likes the mud.

         I love this kid's love of the outdoors, and his desire just to play and explore and make mud and messes and giant dirt-tracks for his trucks and anything else that comes into his head. His attitude about life, ability to listen-everything-is a thousand times better if he can just be outside. Which I think is generally true of most kids, and of small sons in particular. This house, with it's giant backyard and can't-mess-it-up landscaping has been such a blessing in its' SPACE in the middle of the city! That's also reason 10009 I'm glad I have the ablility to homeschool right now-Pax would struggle, at this point, with a conventional school day just because he needs to move-a LOT-in order to be able to focus and concentrate for long periods of time. He's a 5-year-old boy....that's pretty normal. He's also lucky that Arizona hose water isn't as freezing  ice-cold as it is in Colorado :)


Mud Run. (or at least, mud jog)

One night awhile back Nicole texted me (we very rarely actually talk on the phone...thank goodness for texting!!) and asked me if I was interested in doing a mud run with her. Basically, it's a race (in this case, on a motocross track) through giant mud puddles and other obstacles designed to get you really really messy...and also to test your balance with giant balance beams, your upper body strength with walls to climb over, your fear of height with giant spider webs...stuff like that. It looked super fun to me so I told her I was in-but I didn't really want to pay $69 to get muddy. I mean, let's be honest, I can just take a hose out into my backyard (which is pretty much all dirt) and accomplish the same thing. Then I noticed that, if you volunteered to help out at the race, you got to RUN IT FOR FREE. This was good. So we signed up to help out with registration, and I put my running shoes on the next day.
before the run...
        Now, I ran cross country in high school for 3 years as well as running off and on ever since then-so I know how to train for a race. BUT. I hadn't done any distance running since Blaise was born..so I was pretty out of shape! I have exercised as consistently as I can; but somehow I simply have.no.time. so....let's just say this race was motivating :) We had about 3 weeks to get ready for the race-and I did the best I could to get ready in such a short time. Then, super early the last Saturday in February, I got up, put on my ok-to-get-muddy running clothes, and headed out. After a stop at Starbucks, of course. The track was waaaay out there, much farther than I thought it would be, so it was actually light by the time I pulled up next to Nicole and we got out....into the cold. Yes, it was cold!! We'd had freezing (literally!) weather the past week; and even slushy hail the Wednesday before (which freaked most of the Phoenix people out-so fun to watch the kids at AWANAS that night! NUTS.). It was about 37 when I hurried over to Nicole's car, and as we pulled on the awesome neon knee socks she'd snagged for us, I was amazed once again at how quickly I've acclimated..or just forgotten that I don't love being cold! Because, actually, I don't think I will EVER get used to 115.
     We spent the morning handing out t-shirts to the women who were running the race, laughing at the (sometimes awesome, sometimes not) costumes the various teams were wearing, and chatting. Nicole said later it was kinda like spending the morning at a (very cold) coffee shop, because we'd been fortunate enough to get put handing out shirts instead of registering people or something else.Adam, Jason, and the kids pulled up about 10 minutes to eleven; and at eleven we joined the last wave of the day on the track. And it.was.fun.

 (Chloe, Jade, Pax, Blythe, and Byron..don't they look excited to watch us run??)

I'm not sure where Jason or Peyton are...but they were there!

And messy....we also felt kinda good because, although neither of us is in what we'd call great shape, we were passing girls who were younger and seemingly fitter than us :) It was super fun to go by our families and see the kids wave and cheer, "Go, Mama!! YAY!!!" as we ran up a big hill...and I'm pretty sure their favorite part was when we went down the huge, messy, black-tarped slipn'slide that ended in a giant mud puddle. Our husbands told us we had to take it at a run, or we'd never make it down...so we did. And we flew down. And we had the (absolutely beautiful) bruises to prove it :)
It's so fun to have a friend to do this kind of thing with again! By the end, you couldn't tell our socks were anything other than mud colored. And we used a hose to clean off as best we could, but I'm not sure how much good it really did. After we'd scraped as much muck off as possible and changed clothes (which the fantastic hubs brought me-I totally forgot!) we all went to lunch together (at Taco Bell, of course) and then back to our respective houses, where I promptly took a shower. And a nap. We're absolutely planning on doing the race again next year with whomever we can round up around here; so if any of you out-of-area ladies want to come to Phoenix in February....let's do it!! Although I would suggest not planning on going to a ball or any place, really, where your knees or elbows will show for the next couple of weeks. Really, spectacular bruises like I've never had before-and for a girl that bruises like a peach, that's sayin' something!


Her first dance.

And his first dance, as well...with his daughter, that is. When Adam sent me an email asking if I thought B would be interested in going to a Daddy-Daughter dance with him last month,  I didn't even hesitate. Are you kidding me?? She'll be over-the-moon-excited about it! I thought. And I was right. From the minute he asked her if she'd like to go with him, her eyes sparkled and shone with excitement. She nodded shyly, but then-
'"Mama," she asked, turning her big green eyes toward me, "What do we do at a dance?"
So we explained about  the dinner with other girls and their daddies; and, of course, the dancing. This little girlie LOVES to dance; so she was ready to go right.then.
Only she had to wait a week :)
The next day, in Jo Ann's , she spotted some shiny, silky, sparkly bright pink fabric.
"Mama," She whispered, "I need a new dress for the dance with my Daddy,"

 I looked at the price and figured out I could make a simple, twirly dress (the main requirement, really) for about $6-so I said yes. And she picked out the fabric. And the rest of my week became devoted to a labor of love, in small snippets of time. When the day after Valentine's rolled around and she tried on the finished product, I could hardly get her to stop spinning long enough to take the dress off again...not that she wanted to. But I told her that it needed to stay nice for the dance; and instead we painted her toes while her baby brother napped so they would be sparkly, too.

  Then it was naps, change, a quick photoshoot (of course!) and they were off to the dance...(like Adam's pocket square? He asked me to make him one so they'd match :) Adam said she had SO much fun and, indeed, when she came home she told me every.single.detail...he said the only thing she was sad about was that the music ended much to early for her liking. But she learned the hokey pokey...and the chicken dance...and twirled and spun to her heart's content (almost).
I love that my Adam is the kind of man who takes the initiative to find a daddy-daughter dance to go to with our girl...our church doesn't have one. I love even MORE the sweet relationship developing between the two of them. The excitement and joy in Blythe's eyes at the thought of getting to do something special with just her Daddy-I pray she always feels like that. And that her love for her Daddy translates easily into seeing the Lord as a loving Father. Their relationship is so different-of course-than Adam's relationship with the boys; and it's sweet to see the tenderness vs. the rough-and-tumble of the boys (yes, even the baby...he's all boy!!). Daddies are important for girls AND boys, and I know my kids are blessed to have Adam as their Daddy. And my husband is a great daddy to our kiddos. But we both know that our kiddos bless us FAR more-even as we are stretched and grown through the trenches of parenting three littles 5 and under. Adam has learned (as have I) much about God's father-heart for us, His children, as our own have grown-and it's changed him. I love, love, love watching that man with our kids!  I know Blythe will always, always remember her first dance. As for me and the boys? We had a fantastic burrito-movie night, thankyouverymuch! and then got to listen for an hour as Blythe told us allllll about it :)