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LIFE ACCORDING TO MY IPHONE

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got these new illesteva sunglasses.  i absolutely love them.

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initially the chickens made her really nervous.  now i see her out there holding them, petting them.  its really sweet.

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our neighbor gave us goose eggs to paint for easter.  if you haven’t seen one in person they’re huge and heavy.  the kids had a lot of fun drawing on them.  they ate them too and said they were good.  i’ll take their word for it.

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jack loves watching kinder egg videos on youtube.  its becoming and obsession.

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cheering ava on at tennis.  he just yells hi ava the whole time.  its really cute.

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it was all fun and games letting jack crash into them with the baby doll stroller until henri got it good.  that’ll teach ya!

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ironically we didn’t have church on easter we watched it on tv.  so this was our week before easter church picture.  minus new easter outfits.

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he’s finally starting to pretend play.  i love watching his imagination grow.

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i love this swing in the yard.  so does jack.

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elle’s date night at zin burger.

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catching up on missed homework from being in mexico.  neither one of us was very thrilled.

 

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we had cousins in town for easter.  jack and amelie on the piano.

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elle doing ami’s makeup.

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ava, always the animal lover.

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date night with ava, i love that she still loves little girl things.  i know these days are numbered so ill take as many as i can get.

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would you believe me if i told you we are finally celebrating henri’s birthday.  only 4 months later.  christmas day is just a hard day to have a birthday.  anyone else with a christmas birthday out there have any advice for me?  im struggling.

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BEST GREEN CHILE IN AZ

we love mexican food.  i mean really love it.  we eat it a lot, probably 5 times a week if not more.  i’ve rounded up a few of our favorite places to get green chili in arizona.

first up is guayo’s el ray in miami, az.  they make their own chips and the flour are our favorite.  we always get several baskets full.  their green chili cheese crisp is my favorite.  its a cheese crisp topped with their green chili and tender beef.  the sauce is buttery and the tortilla are homemade and delicious.  ivan gets the green chili burro filled with green chili + beans + cheese.

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another favorite in miami is burger house.  i have never tried the burgers but the green chili there is as good as guayo’s el ray.  we always get the green chili burro and grab a few extra to bring home.  you go up to the counter to order and pay then sit down.  its more fast food and el ray is sit down.  both places are worth the drive and you might have a hard time deciding which one to go to like we always do.  so sit down and enjoy your meal at el ray and the drop by burger house for a few burros to go.

another favorite is here in phoenix called rito’s.  its a little hole in the wall with outdoor seating.  the place is always packed but the line moves quickly. the menu is small with just a few items to chose from.  we like the green chili burrito enchilada style with green sauce. the kids like the cheese quesadilla with a side of guacamole.  the burrito is huge so you can share it or bring some home.  the neighborhood is a little rough so if you feel nervous go during the day.  i grew up in phoenix and feel completely comfortable and safe but as you can see there are bars on the window to order.  somehow these sketchy places always end up being my favorite.

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another good green chili burro is at xaviers casa renyoso in mesa if you are looking for something in the east valley.

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FLYING WITH KIDS

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we love taking our kids on vacation with us.  we want to show them as much of the world as we can.  it’s not always easy and sometimes its exhausting. but the memories are what make it all worth it.  showing them the beauty of other cities, the different cultures and foods.  hearing them talk about their favorite city or vacation, that’s what its all about.  we travel frequently with the kids and we’ve gotten pretty good at.  here are a few tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way.

1. PACK LIGHT- this is key when flying.  the airport can be tricky with kids.  hauling your bags + strollers + carseats + kids into the airport, check in and the security line is difficult.  by the time you get to the plane you’re already exhausted.  our kids have gotten really good at navigating through the airport.  typically we have the kids each carry a backpack.  we love Fjallraven.  they are super light and have several different sizes so you can pick which size fits your child.  if we are taking a short trip we will pack their clothes in that bag and take 1 carry-on for everything else.  most airlines allow you to check your strollers and car seats for free.   for a longer trip we take 2 checked bags and use those backpacks to hold snacks + toys for the flight.

2. SNACKS- for those short flights i take a carry on in addition to the one full of our clothes.  usually this MZ Wallace Bag, it’s super light weight and has plenty of storage.  we pack dried fruit, nuts, granola bars and pretzels which are little to no mess and easy to eat on their own.  i also bring a few different candies or fruit snacks in case they get really fussy,  there’s nothing worse than an inconsolable child and ours are usually happy to have a treat.  for longer flights i let them keep their snacks in their backpack and get them out as they choose.

3. BE PREPARED- make sure everyone uses the bathroom and has a fresh diaper before you take off.  we typically take everyone to the restroom when we get to the airport and then again 5 minutes before boarding.  we also eat at the airport, most airports have good restaurants and this ensures they don’t eat every snack they have before take off and are hungry the rest of the flight.  we also grab a few water bottles to take on the plane.  the drinks they give on flight can be difficult trying to keep little one from spilling them on their tray tables.

4. TECHNOLOGY- we limit screen time at home so when we travel our kids are thrilled to play on the iPad or their Nintendo 3DS. we don’t let them play until we are well into the flight and they are starting to get antsy.  this will hold them over until we land.

5. TOYS + BOOKS- we always buy one new toy and stick it in their bag so they are surprised when they get on the plane.  something small like play doh or a drawing set.  paper and a pencil for tic tac toe or hangman.  we also really like Where’s Waldo and Seek and Find books.

6. TICKETS- designate one person to be in charge of tickets + licenses + birth certificates.  i put them all in a large Ziploc and stick it in my carry on.  that way we aren’t digging through our wallets and bags trying to find them all.  make sure you’ve printed your tickets ahead of time.

if you have a baby on flight with you make sure you nurse/bottle feed them while you are taking off and landing this will help their ears adjust and if you’re lucky they’ll fall asleep.

the last piece of advice i can offer is do NOT pre-board.  i know its tempting to be first in line but that just means sitting in a small confined space longer.  we board last.  let the kids get their energy out before getting on the plane.

happy flying.  its never fun but we always get compliments telling us how well behaved our children are on the flight.  i attribute this to being well prepared.

 

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CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEARS 2014

it was a christmas miracle, we actual stayed in town this year.  it’s the one holiday i want to make sure we wake up to at home.  we’ve traveled for christmas and its just not the same.  christmas is also henri’s birthday and we’ve tried to make christmas day more about him and less about christmas but it doesn’t work out.  i’m still working out the kinks on how to celebrate the two events.  so far i haven’t found a good solution.  i’m still trying.  we took the train to the polar express.  we go every year and we all love it.  this year we took the 3:30 train and i don’t advise it.  the sun was blazing through the window the entire time and it just wasn’t as magical.  jack didn’t nap that day either so that contributed to the chaos. i like it much better when its completely dark outside.


annual christmas jammie’s

the train.
that face.  she’s the sweetest.  i have so much anxiety about her starting kindergarten next year.  its gonna be hard.
jack has a love hate relationship with trains.  he loves to watch them on t.v. he loves to talk about them. he even loves to ride on them.  but the one that we can hear from our house scares him to death.  if he’s outside and hears it he will come screaming in the house.  last time he tripped on his way in and was crawling through the door in tears.  or he’ll stop where he’s at drop to the floor, curl up and cry.  its pretty sad and a tiny bit comical too.
gosh these kids are getting big.  i don’t like it one bit.
ivans christmas gift.  a ranger, its become more of my daily driver.  i think i’ll get a scooter once my kids are grown.  really i hate having a big bulky suv.
we went to a cabin with friends a few weeks before christmas and honestly i think this was the first time i had seen snow fall. actually fall and build up.  not just melt off.  the kids loved every minute.
ava had her christmas concert.  to celebrate we got donuts.
henri’s concert was during school hours so i got him all dressed up before school only to have his teacher call me and tell me i was a day early.  he was not happy to wear “church” clothes all day.  i think i gave him so much anxiety making him spread his nervousness over the course of two days that he called me to get him early on the actual day.  complaining of not feeling well. oh well, theres always next year.  now if i can just get the day right.
we spent new years eve in mexico.  that doesn’t really count as a holiday, right?  so only not real holidays can be spent out of town.  real holidays we have to be home.  thats what i’ll tell the kids so i can get in a few extra vacations.
we sewed blankets to bring down to the hospital.  i  love getting the kids involved with these kinds of projects.  pch will always be our hospital.  i hope to teach the kids how much pch means to our family so they can carry on these traditions with their own.
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SEATTLE+CANADA FOR THANKSGIVING

at our new school we don’t get the usual october break.  instead we get 2 days off in october and an entire week off for thanksgiving.  great for people who have family in other states to travel to for the holidays.  not so great for those of us who love to travel but don’t love to miss holidays with our family here in az.  we decided to ditch out on thanksgiving and head up to seattle.  we were in mexico for halloween.  i don’t suggest missing both holidays.  the kids had fun while we were gone and when we got home they all said ok we are ready for halloween or thanksgiving and i felt pretty bad telling them we weren’t celebrating.  anyways we did have so much fun in seattle and decided to head up to vancouver too.  i highly suggest you go if you haven’t been.  its beautiful.  so so clean.  the air is clean the streets are clean.  and the people are just really cool.  really its one of my top favorite cities.
of course the day we landed it rained.  hard.  the next day we woke up elle was swollen and had a rash everywhere.  oh no biggie it was just scarlet fever.  what?!  who gets scarlet fever?  she got on antibiotics and they kicked in right away.  she was a new woman by the next morning.  oh and the others had strep, so antibiotics all around.
we tried japa-dog.  i do not recommend it!  now i was told it was gross but then the reviews! the reviews are sooo good i had to try it anyways.  so i did and we all regretted it.  the hot dog, especially the pork is so fatty and the dogs are thick and too meaty like a bratwurst.  the worst part is the seaweed on top.  it tastes like a fish hotdog.  $30 later and 4 un-eaten hotdogs i advise you not to go or if you really really want to get one hot dog share it, throw it out after you taste it and call me so we can laugh at how bad it is.  its that bad.  sorry for the rant.  on to the next.  these boys are the cutest.  this is probably what spread the strep throat.  weird thing about my kids and strep, they don’t show any symptoms.  no fever no soar throat no aches, pains.  nothing.  just tiny little red dots on their face and only like one or two.  its weird.
the fish and chips we ate at a small restaurant i think it was in port angeles.  you know when you bring your kids into a restaurant and they seat you next to the older couple who doesn’t have kids with them and you want to crawl under the table and hide cause your kids are noisy and your baby is trying to crawl on the table.  well that was us.  i didn’t even want to make eye contact with the people next to us in this tiny restaurant.  they finished before us and walked out, we never exchanged words.  and then when ivan went to pay they had already payed our bill and left a 50% tip.  i was so shocked and surprised i wanted to cry.  i wondered had they once been us?  the noisy kids and now some 50 years later their kids are grown and the chaos is a little remembrance of those days.  such nice people in this world, that do generous things wanting nothing in return.  no pat on the back. no thank you. nothing.  i think about those people often and how someone you don’t know can touch your life so much.
all those feet in that picture.  they’re all mine.  that puts a smile on my face.




elle’s swollen face.  that poor girl is a trooper and i mean it.  barely complains, always smiles and has a great attitude.  i think we could all learn a little something from her.  henri braided my hair while we sat at urgent care.  boredom does strange things to you.  the cobblestone streets and brownstones in vancouver are real good. funny and really really gross.  the kids rode their first ferry.
pukers in the front non pukers in the back

 there’s my city.  really there are only two cities that make my heart swell.  seattle and san fran.  those both hold so many special memories.  and lets be honest both are totally rad and i could live in either in a heart beat.

a laughable attempt at taking your own family pictures
the glamorous side of traveling.  this makes me laugh cause this is so true.  behind all the fun and great pictures for the album is this.  tired exhausted and way too much luggage.  how do we manage to get all this from the car into the airport?  i still don’t know.

and el charro.  this seems to be a running theme with us and traveling.  we land and head straight to el charro.  we typically do not eat mexican food when we travel.  unless of course we are in mexico.  then its tacos el poblano for every single meal.  anywhere else we skip it.  i know it will never be as good as what we have in arizona.  el charro after you land is always a good idea, i think i’ll keep the tradition.

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HALLOWEEN 2014 IN MEXICO

we headed back down to mexico for halloween.  we were on the fence about going or not.  we are going to be out of town for thanksgiving and i don’t want them to miss every holiday.  of course it sounded fun but would the kids be bummed to not trick or treat?  ultimately we all decided a weekend of fun was worth missing out on a night of candy.  plus i always take the candy away and throw it out the next day so they weren’t missing much.  we don’t need any cavities around here.  i brought down a box of full sized candy bars and assured them our candy was better than anything they would get trick or treating anyways.  i hid the candy around the condo and we did a scavenger hunt a few times.  they had a lot of fun with it.  elle has asked a few times when we are going trick or treating.  i do feel bad for her, she was sick last halloween so she didn’t go out then either.  next year we will stay home but i am happy with the memories we made this year.


oh tacos el poblano i could eat you everyday and not get sick of you.  thats exactly what we did.

have you heard of kinder eggs?  my kids are fascinated with the girl on you tube who opens egg after egg showing you the toy thats inside.  apparently they’re too dangerous for the good ole u.s. of a but not for mexico.  we stocked up.  and yes they are a choking hazard, jack tried to put the little hamster that came inside his in his mouth.  no worries i got it from him before her devoured it.  oh and that sleeping picture of jack has nothing to do with kinder eggs i just love his fat face!
these four are really mine!  all mine.  well ivans too.  but they don’t think so.  they think they’re biologically mine since they came from my belly and ivans just some nice guys who came in and was like sure i’ll take care of you and your four kids.  what a guy. but really he is a great guy.
halloween was super crazy windy.  like what i would have thought hurricane winds were made of.  but what do i know i live in arizona, no natural disasters here.  then poor jack got stung by a bee.  3 of my kids have been stung by a bee in the last 4 months.  i thought bees were on the decline or something.  apparently not, most of them hang out at our house.  i was a little nervous wondering if he might possible be allergy.  checks out that he’s not.  now we just need ava to get stung and we’ll have the whole bunch.  I’ve always seen kids screaming and crying and flipping out over bee stings.  i guess they’re not as painful as i thought or i just have super human kids.  none of them have really cried.  jack started scratching his arm, as you can see.  henri didn’t shed a tear he just came in the house said i was stung by a bee and i pulled out the stinger.  he really is a freak of nature. like can give 8 vials of blood without flinching.  the phlebotomist are always impressed when they ask if we want two people to hold him down and we say no.  now i think he might actually cry if two strangers came in and pinned him down.  (he has all sorts of allergies thats why he’s constantly giving blood) and elle got stung when she touched a bee on the ground.  i wasn’t home but when i got home she didn’t say much.  anyways enough rambling about bees.  mexican breakfast is the best breakfast and a massage on the beach trumps all other massages anywhere ever!

 

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PARK

i took jack to the park for the first time and actually let him play. unless you count the one time we were on vacation and i let him swing then disinfected him.  that time doesn’t really count so yeah this was his first time.  and guess what… he loved it!!  i loved watching him play.  we went to the park in our old neighborhood and no one else was there.  score!  i love that park.  we have so many good memories there.  now we are all sick with the worst head cold ever and we’re trying to recover.  guess that’s the side effects of the germ infested park.

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LIFE ACCORDING TO MY IPHONE 11-2014

we had our first halloween party.  it was so much fun, i think i’ll do it again next year.  elle’s chubby little lipstick face makes me soooo happy.  now that its cooling off i’m cooking dinner every night again.  this bruschetta was amazing.  sweetcakes got a new sandwich and its so dang good i eat it at least twice a week.  its called the hail ya (created by hailey) get yourself one.  i was an old man for halloween and ivan was my old lady.  ava wanted to try on his wig.  lunch date with these two, ivan surprised us so it was the four of us.  ivan in his old lady wig.  jack wasn’t sure about it.  this trail mix from tj’s is heaven.  i ate it all and haven’t stopped thinking about it.  i love to match my babies.
 jack loves dancing.  i do too.  he hates the car wash, that face quickly turns into tears.  jack waves at himself when i face the camera at us.  he doesn’t know that baby is actually him.  cupcakes are my favorite dessert, i made these for our neighbor girl who got baptized.  we got out the big boy potty.  fall is happening here even if the weather is still in the 90’s.  i love one on one time.  henri and i went for a walk and then raced our scooters up and down the street.  we both wanted each other to win.  a new truck book is better than anything else in jacks world.

 

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CAMPING

we took the kids camping friday night.  can i even call it camping if we drove home in the middle of the night?  i guess i should say we attempted to take the kids camping friday night.  it was going really well until around 10:30.  then jack woke up and it all went down hill, fast!  we ended up driving home around 11:30.

it was fun while it lasted.  we set up camp and the kids played in the stream.  we had hot dogs for dinner.  we ate all sorts of junk food.  funny thing, i don’t usually buy junk food to have at the house. so while i was at the grocery store loading up on hot dogs + chips + candy and all other things junk, i actually felt like i was doing something really bad.  hoping no one would see me.  we roasted marshmallows and sat around the fire.  i decided if all else fails in this life i know one thing for certain, i am good at roasting marshmallows.  like really good.  i can make your marshmallow perfectly toasted on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside.  i’ve also decided that poking at the fire with a stick is therapeutic and addicting.  so i did that most of the night.

last week i was helping ava with some papers she’s supposed to fill out for church and i asked her what her fondest childhood  memory is.  she said that jack lived.  i asked again.  i said no like whats something that was really fun or sticks out in your mind.  she said that jack lived.  that was it, that was the one.  i know their memories aren’t like a lot of children’s.  we’ve spent a lot of time in survival mode.  but these memories are ours and they’re good.

i also realized something that i already knew but didn’t really really realize it until friday night.  these kids love each other so so much and they look out for each other so much.  they’ve got each others backs like nobodies business.  every single one of them looks out for jack.  they’ve had an experience few have to go through but that experience, though the hardest in our lives, i now realize has been a blessing greater than we could have ever imagined.  these kids know what its like to watch someone die. they know the pain.  its very real to them.  they prayed and begged and pleaded the way i did for jack.  they also know what it feels like to have your prayers answered.

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