Monday, December 30, 2013

Fiesta Bowl Parade

A few months ago at Sunday dinner Kathleen announced she had a great idea. At the Gardner house this usually means something crazy that we've never done before. The Fiesta Bowl Parade had a spot open for a float and APS said they would foot the bill if Holbrook wanted to put a float in. She thought it would be awesome if Kyle's Swing Thing would dance along side the float to give it a little something extra. After running it past his principal, they jumped right in. They danced to the famous "Route 66" song and "Life if A Highway". This year they are doing a musical instead of going on tour, so Kyle took the opportunity to do a few fun things with them and get some good "choir bonding" time in. 

I really wanted to go and watch the Parade but we weren't sure if Bentley was going to be able to go on the bus or not. Since my parents were already up for Christmas, we talked them into taking Bentley down for two nights and then Kathleen would bring him back up since she was already down for the parade. Everything fell right into place and off we went. The girls LOVED the bus ride and still talk about going on the bus. We left fairly early to have an action packed day.

 We started off at the Ice Skating rink. This was the girls first time ice skating and we will probably wait awhile before we try again. They had lots of fun when I would hold one hand and Kyle would hold the other- that way they would just slide across the ice, but any other way we tried and it was pretty rough. They really liked watching all the other kids skate- but after an hour or so they were pretty much done. Kyle needed to stay with the kids and ours were pretty bored so I took them over to the pet store to look at the hamsters and birds and such- they loved it! Why go to a zoo when you have a pet store?!

Me, London, Macy, and Kyle

 Swing Thing
 After Ice-Skating we went over to Arizona Mills for dinner and then hit Golfland! The girls loved going mini-golfing. London was so funny to watch, she would just keep putting the ball over and over again until it went into the hole. She was pretty determined for awhile and then decided it was much easier to just put the ball into the hole with her hands and then move on.
 Everyone had a pass for unlimited goofy golfing, unlimited go-karts, and then a round or two of laser tag. We didn't think the girls would have any fun on the laser tag so we headed over to the go-karts. London was barely tall enough to ride (I really don't think she was even tall enough, but they let her on anyway) and the whole time we were waiting to go they were getting so excited. I rode with Macy and London joined Kyle. Macy and I got a super fast car and we lapped everyone the whole time.

 After the go-karts the girls were pretty tired and getting a little grouchy but with all the school kids and a bus we were pretty much stuck there. It dawned on me that my brother Steven only lives 10-20 minutes away from Golf-land so I asked him if he would be willing to come pick us up and take us to the hotel a little early. He's amazing and came and gave us a ride. While we were waiting we hit up the arcade. With our passes we had a few dollars in the arcade. The girls had a hard time with some games so Kyle and I jumped in to get the girls some tickets to get a prize with.
 We got back to the hotel and the girls totally crashed- which was good since we had such a busy day ahead of us. We woke up, all got ready, and then headed off to Phoenix to line up for the parade. The float turned out really good- all the highlights of Holbrook were hit. Kathleen and David did a great job building it.
 The even won the Spirit of the Southwest award- how cool is that?!
 I didn't really know where the girls and I were going to do during the parade. At first we thought maybe the girls could ride on the float- but a 4 and 3 year old's attention spans aren't very long so we weren't sure how long they would last. I finally decided we would just go find a spot to watch the parade and then hopefully find them later. We waited at the lineup spot for awhile and decided to go find a place to sit. As the kids and I were walking to the actual parade route I got a phone call from Kyle that his niece just posted a picture on instagram of them waiting for the parade to start, I'm so grateful that they posted that picture- I found them fairly quickly and we got an awesome place to sit. The girls had a blast with their older cousins Megan, Ryan, and Cameron and I was grateful I didn't have to sit on the road since I couldn't carry two kids and chairs. After the parade ended I was even more grateful we found them; I was getting up to leave and they offered to drive us to where ever we needed to go. We got ahold of Kyle and route ended a good 3-4 miles away from where we were. Can you imagine walking 3-4 miles in a crowd of 100,000 people with two little kids?! Heavenly Father was definitely looking out for us. We had a blast and Kyle and Kathleen are already planning for next years float. Crazy kids.

The biggest football players and bag of chips I've ever seen.

The big bag of chips handed out little bags of nasty chips and salsa to everyone! They were trying to share their new flavor and I was not a fan. Ryan was a fan though!

Did you know Phoenix has a club of Super Heros?! We saw them. Pretty legit.

By far the best part of the parade. These are all ladies from Sun City that haven't lost that lovin' feelin'. They are awesome! They had a dance routine and everything. There are probably 30-40 of these ladies in their group!
Here are some pictures of Swing Thing. These kids deserve big kudos. They danced and sang for 2 hours- straight!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas!

December was jam packed this year with Christmas Festivities. It started out with the local town Tree House lighting which takes place the first week in December, this year it was Dec. 4th. They brought in a HUGE tree that looked amazing all lit up. Kyle's choir was asked to serenade the attendants with some Christmas carols so we joined a long to listen.

(Super bad pictures, sorry about that)

Macy was all dressed up in warm clothes and looked so cute, like such a big girl. Again- the picture is awful, but such a cute girl!

Next came our own tree decorating. My Mom was always super picky about lights while we were growing up and I think I inhertiated that. One thing I remember about decorating the tree when we were kids is that our whole family would sit around the living room and watch my mom- for what seemed like hours- put the lights on the tree. I'm afraid that's all my kids will think of too when they are older, but at least they'll know how to put on Christmas Tree lights! 

The week of the 9th this little guy and I spent a lot of time at the church getting all set for the Festival of Trees. We hosted the festival last year and decided to do it again this year. The Catholic Center that usually lets us set up the trees accidentally double booked and we were the ones that got bumped. Luckily the LDS Church let us use their building and it really did work out great. We had about 50 trees this year and it seemed like everyone really enjoyed it. I was running around so much I didn't get very many pictures, but he was the cutest part anyway.

On the 12th and 13th we had Kyle's big Swing Thing Dinner Show. This one was a little different though, they did Christmas on the Bayou with the Band and Fusion. It was a cool little dinner- they had Jumbalya. The cook did an amazing job and it was so much easier to have all 3 teachers helping instead of just Kyle. I got to just come and enjoy the show! 

The 14th was the Annual Parade of Lights and that was a big hit. There were so many great floats and everyone did a great job. The also had Santa Claus at the park. London and Macy wouldn't go anywhere near Santa, but Bentley didn't know any better so we tossed him up there. You can tell he's not really sure of this- but he had his Giraffe so he was all good.

Next came our Ward Party (I think it was either the 16th or 17th). We had a super yummy breakfast for dinner, a cool video that Kyle and I made as the presentation, and then Santa joined us. 
I stared at this screen A LOT as I made the cool video. We took a good 3-4 weeks before the Christmas party to interview different members of our ward about Christmas and then put all the clips together. Unfortunately, we didn't have the sound right at the party so you could hardly hear it, but it really was a great video.
How cute are these Santa Pancakes that the Relief Society made for the kids?!

On the 18th Macy had her big preschool Christmas Concert. She was so cute and you could hear her about all the other 20 kids. She definitely has a stage voice that's for sure. She will make a great Show Choir Girl. Luckily Kyle was able to slip away from 1st hour (after clearing it with his principal) and got to watch her. Grandma Gardner and Aunt Kathleen stopped by to watch too.

Her whole class. They all did so good! I was impressed!

After such a busy couple weeks we were ready for Christmas Break to be here and spent it just hanging around the house as a family.

By this time, Christmas was super close and we still didn't have any gifts for the Grandparents so we had a little brain storming session and Kyle came up with the idea to make them Christmas CD's from the songs Macy sang at her concert. Brillant! Kyle's school just put together a recording studio, so we headed over to the school and got to work. It took us about 4 hours from start to finish and Macy did a GREAT job. Can you imagine trying to get a 4 year old to sing 7 songs super loud and clear to put on a CD?! Some of them aren't as great as others, but she did so good. We were super happy with the way the CD came out and I think the Grandparents were too.

Macy stayed in the studio and while I sang into a microphone in the other room that fed into her headphones. That way she could still have help and remember the words, but I wouldn't be recorded with her.

Eventually the poor girl was sick of being in the room by herself so London and I went in to keep her company. I'm not sure who was more ready to be done- me or Macy.
Somewhere in there Macy, London, and Kyle made some cute little gingerbread houses. It's a tradition around here.

Christmas Eve finally came! My parents are empty nesters now so they ventured up North to our house for the Holiday. After they got here we headed over to Joseph City to Brian and Jane's house where we had our Annual Gardner Christmas Eve Party. We always have yummy Mexican food, play games, and the kids favorite- a pinata! After the party we drove around a little looking at the Christmas lights and then came home and the kids opened up their Christmas PJ's.

 Our kids have surprised me with Christmas and their presents from Santa. They are MUCH more excited to open up the presents under the tree than their stockings and whatever Santa gave them. I think I might start wrapping their Santa presents instead of just having them out in the open. Maybe then it'll be a little more fun for them.

After waking up early and opening all their presents the kids were pretty wiped out!

After some yummy breakfast the girls played with all their toys. They loved their new glasses from Santa.

I think their favorite present were these awesome duffle bags from Grandma Carbonneau. I have always put the kids stuff in their own separate bag when we go anywhere (it's so much easier for me, I know exactly where everyone's stuff is- and so do they!) and she got them all their own personalized ones. They love to go anywhere now because they have something to call their own.

After all the unwrapping and playing we got to talk to this guy!
Derek is serving his mission in the California Riverside Mission. He is loving his mission and his letters just keep getting better and better. We are so proud of Derek!

Next was Christmas dinner at Marie's house. This is Kyle's favorite part of Christmas... Deviled Eggs!

Kyle was his Mom's Christmas helped getting ready for the big dinner!
 I love his cute face!
 At Grandma Gardner's house we had even more presents to open- we were spoiled this year.

A few hours later we came home and the girls played some more with their new toys. Grandma Gardner gave them some Princess Barbies and a tea set. They put both to get use.

The Christmas After-Math. 

We truly had a great Christmas this year and one very busy month. It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of it all and forget about the true meaning of Christmas. I am so grateful for the birth of our Savior and his atoning sacrifice for us. May we always remember the meaning of the season and keep a prayer in our hearts. Merry Christmas!