Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's A Zoo Around Here!

My favorite animal: Flamingos!
Pretty in Pink!

Here at the Phoenix Zoo, during the summer (when it is literally too hot to be outside in the day time) They do what they call a Starry Safari. They open the Zoo from 6-9 pm, on Friday and Saturday nights, and it costs just $5.00 to get in. There are water features around the Zoo that kids can play in to keep cool. And they bring in the big inflatable water slides and bounce houses, etc. Radio Disney is there, they do some craft type things for little ones, it's a lot of fun.

Two By Two
John & Star

Kyle & Olivia

Zach & Suzy

This is our third summer going. My kids all love animals! When you get there they give you a map of the Zoo with times at some of the animal exhibits. And if you go there at those times you will get to see them feed the animal and hear all about that animal. We've learned a lot from these little talks. For instance: do you think a Zebra is black with white stripes or white with black stripes? The answer is: neither! If you look at their belly, it is all white, so they are white but their stripes aren't black, they are chocolate brown. (now I like Zebras even better!) Wow! Look at that, you learned something from my blog. And you thought this was just good, clean fun. It's educational too. Who knew? (Not me!)

My Niece Sarah and her son Avery met us there too
and got to hang out with us and our Church buddies!

(And no, I don't mean the horses!)

Erica & Avery going down the water rock slide!
Avery & I rode the Carousel, my favorite!
Kyle with Avery, Walking Tall!

The first time we went it was just our family on one of our "Forbis Family Fun Nights". The next year I told my Moms group at church about it and we all went. So, this year a few of us families all went together again.

"The Girls" Renee', me*, Tammy and Michele!

BFF's: Isabeau, Erica, Cailin, Lexi, Morgan & Maddie!
(Isabeau is a little older, Morgan is a little younger,
and the other four are all the same age!
Makes for a lot of fun! And some drama from time to time)

This is my favorite picture!
I call it BFFB's "Best Friends Forever's Butts!" :)
They were watching the otters.

If you live in the greater Phoenix area I highly recommend going. If you don't, maybe your Zoo does something similar, it's worth checking out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tips For Traveling With Children

Summer is here . . . No more school . . . Family Vacations . . .

Traveling with kids can be tricky, and over the years we have traveled by air and by land with up to four young children. Through all those trips, we have learned and came up with some great ideas for traveling with kids.

I always let my kids pac some things for traveling. Books, toys, games, etc. They got to choose some of their favorite things. Then I would add some "surprises" to their bags. And always a favorite stuffed animal. And of course lots of snacks! They each had a travel bag of their own, weather we were traveling by car or plane.

One tip we learned on Oprah, was, before heading into a crowded airport, put a whistle around the neck of each of your children. Let them take a practice blow at home, then make it very clear this is not to play with it, it is only in case you get separated from Mom and Dad, you blow the whistle until we come and find you! Thankfully we never got separated, but it helped me relax taking preschool aged twins into large crowded places. It also helps to dress young kids in matching, bright colors that make it easy to spot in a crowd.
And while living far away from family, we took many cross country road trips. And that was before there were DVD players in cars. So we made our own by taking John's laptop, it fit right in between our seats on the arm rests of our mini van. And we could play DVD's for the kids. Shrek is a great movie for in the car because it has some great music and funny lines for the adults. And you have to be careful because some movies that have car chases and sirens going on can cause you to think your being pulled over, or that there was an accident. But, now a days everyone has their own DVD player with headphones, so you feel like your traveling alone. But, in doing that you can miss out on a lot of great times together!

The getting there can be half the fun! We love to play travel games in the car. I bought flash cards on the 50 states and every time we'd cross a border into a new state, we'd take turns reading all the fun facts about that state! We'd count how many different states license plates we could find, or play "I Spy". Our favorite is to try to read any personalized license plates we'd see and then come up with stories of why they would have put that on their car. The stories can get quite funny and even outrageous!

And being a musical family, we play "Name that Tune" with our iPods, where we'd play the first few seconds of a song and see who can name the song and the artist first. We'd also see how many songs we could come up with that have names of City's or States in them. And then move on to musical groups and/or songs with colors in them, etc. Being Youth Pastors for so long made me very creative in the group game department!

And the best tip I can give families hitting the road this summer is after you've packed the car, the last thing you need to throw into the car is a soccer ball. Then every time you stop at a rest area get that ball out and let the kids kick it and chase it around. It gets them moving after a long car ride and helps release some of that pent up energy!

If you have any tips for traveling with kids I'd love for you to share them with us too. Just put them in the comments of this post, so we can all benefit from them.

Remember, It's the Journey, not just the Destination!

"Happy Trails To You"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Who's Your Daddy?!

To all the Dad's out there . . . this is how your kids see you.

And this is our Superman!

The best Dad, The best Husband!

It's all those little moments: like watching him holding our new born baby, or wrestling on the floor with the kids, to teaching them how to make music,
or teaching them life lessons.

Moment by Moment . . .
We Love You!
Happy Father's Day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Summer Lovin" Quickly turning into Loathing!

Working in a retail clothing store, I hear a lot of women complain about shopping for swimsuits! And I can relate! Trying to find a flattering, supportive swim suit for this winter white body of mine is not my idea of a good time! But this year, I got to see it from a different angle that I like even less!

My Beautiful twin daughters are now 11 years old (and a half!), and we went to find them new swim suits. The largest size in girls is a 14/16. Well, that worked pretty well for one of the girls, but for the other one it was a little too tight around. So, horror of all horrors . . . we ventured over to the Junior Department.

We found that swim suits in the Junior department consist of tiny triangles of material held together with strings! AHHHH! They tried a couple on and I said, "I'm sorry girls, but you can not wear those!" They were embarrassed just trying them on in front of me and each other! After a couple of stores, I finally found one that had enough coverage for one of the girls and we went back to the children's department for the other one. Both are really cute!

So, along with their last year suits, that should see us through this year okay, but the question is: What In The World Am I Going To Do Next Year?! The girls will be 12. The Children's sizes will really no longer fit. I'm in trouble!

They are pre-teens, that in between stage. They don't want to look like little frilly girls anymore, and they don't want to wear old ladies styles either! But, why do the manufacturers think teen girls should show much skin? God, help us!

Lexi and Erica when they were little, playing at a lake in The Great Lake State of Michigan!

Erica and Lexi last year at a lake in the middle of the desert in Arizona!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Senior Year - Part 9 (The Parties)

Okay, I know what your thinking: enough already, I know. This should be the last Senior Year Post (until we start Zach's in the fall anyway) But, you can't have a Graduation without a Celebration!

We don't have a large house, so we used the Gym at our Church to host Kyle's party. That way he can invite the whole youth group, all our friends and family. We had a really great time! All the decorations and paper goods I got at our local Dollar Store! The lady behind us in line said to me, "I just got those exact table cloths at Party City for $4.00. Of course I was only paying $1.00, gotta love it!
Kyle and one of his BFF's Andy Slater

With some of the other 09 Graduates from our Church
Top: Brittany Wilbraham, Kyle, Susy Vandendriesch, Justin Middleton
Below: Marci Charpentier, Kyle, Meghan Miller
John and Kyle with the Youth Pastor of all these kids: Sam Frederick

"That's my Boy!"

With Grandpa Forbis

The Proud Parents!

Now, 3 of my Brothers and I all have a child Graduating this year. So, we decided to have one family party together for all of them, instead of all of us having to go to 3 other parties besides hosting our own. Fun, Fun!!

The 4 Cousins all Graduating this year!

My Three Brothers and I with our Graduates:
L. to R. (in order of the age of the siblings, not the students) My Brother Danny and his son D.J., (Danny is not that tall, he's on a curb, D.J., Nathaniel and Marty are all taller than him, he'll be mad at me for pointing that out! But what are little sisters for?!) My brother Marty with Nathaniel, Me with Kyle, Richard (the Baby) with Alarie! One Big Happy Family!

Congratulations to Kyle, and to all the Graduates of 2009!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I was hired at SHADE Clothing at the beginning of March.
And I've got to say: I Love Working! I Love my my job! I Love the Clothes!

My Manager who hired me, Emily, is sadly, moving away. She is staying with the company though! She sent in my resume with a letter of recommendation and yesterday the District Manager called me at work and offered me the Managers position! Yeah! I am so excited! It will mean more hours at higher pay for me, which is such a blessing. God has been so good, I've only been with the company three and a half months. It's so unbelievable.

Emily and I in our matching SHADE shirts at work!
And no, we didn't plan that! :)

I will miss Emily terribly. Not only is she my boss and co-worker, but she is truly my Friend! I'm so happy that I will have her within the company still, so that I can call her with any questions I might have. She will be training me the next couple of weeks before she leaves, so hopefully I can learn all I need to. (That saying comes to mind about old dogs and new tricks! So please, be praying for me!)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

One Year/Year One

Seasons Of Love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Moments so dear

Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights,
in sunsets,
in midnights
In cups of coffee

In inches,
in miles,
in laughter,
in strife

In five hundred twenty-five thousand
Six hundred minutes
How do you measure a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love
Seasons of love,
Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand
Journeys to plan

Five hundred twenty-five thousand Six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life
Of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned

Or in times that he cried

In bridges he burned

Or the way that she died

It's time now to sing out
Tho' the story never ends
Let's celebrate

Remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love

Remember the love

Seasons of love
Seasons of love

June 6, 2008 I launched my Blog, Laughing Through Parenting! A whole year has gone by! My kids are a year older, I am a year wiser (well, I have been called a wise cracker, or a wise something else, I can't repeat! And I'm certainly not ANY older!) I'm sure I've embarrassed my kids and/or myself a time or two. I hope I've caused you to laugh along with us. And if you've laughed at us a time or two, that's okay too. I've shed a few tears while writing some of the posts that touched me, or moved me, or while sharing things close to my heart. And I want to thank you for crying along with me and letting me know when you were touched too.

I love the song Seasons of Love from the Broadway musical Rent. How do you measure a year in the life of a Blogger? By Laughter? Or tears? By numbers of posts? By comments? Or readers? I don't really know, but I do know that I have loved blogging about this past year. My oldest child's senior year of High School, and now my second child begins his. My girls getting ready to march into adolescence. I've tried to be transparent about all the mixed feelings that parenting brings with it. Thank you so much for being a part of our lives.

We've looked back into the past, and only God knows what lies ahead in the future . . . I guess you'll just have to keep reading to find out!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Senior Year - Part 8 (The Ceremonies)

Well, it's official. Kyle is a High School Graduate!

It's funny when you have a child, you never think about this day! You think of what pregnancy, labor and delivery will be like. You think about what it will be like having a little baby around that depends on you for it's every need to be met. You think about having a toddler and facing the terrible twos! You may even think about that child's first day of school. But you never think about Graduation Day! It just sort of sneaks up on you. Without warning, that baby turned into a toddler, then went off to school, and somehow, we ended up here . . .

(The processional at the Baccalaureate)

How it happened, I have no idea. But, it happened too fast, that's for sure! Way too fast! I felt unbelievably sad. But, unbelievable proud at the same time! The Baccalaureate was moving. The Graduation ceremony was held at ASU. Both were very nice. Zach's choir sang at both events, so that was kind of special for both of the boys.

(The boys acting like, well, themselves!)

(The Big Brother!)

(With his Youth Pastors! Sam and Dana Frederick)

(With his girlfriend of over a year, Olivia,
who will be graduating next year as well!)

Memories to last a lifetime! And just think, I get to do this all over again next year with Zach!

(The Proud Family!)

(With Grandma Forbis and Aunt Pat)

Congratulations Kyle!
We're proud of you!
We Love you!