17 September 2017

Downs Syndrome Walk

Life here in Gilbert seems to be settling into a peaceful routine. The boxes are gone! The same guys who unpacked the truck came back and picked up the load of debris on Monday. Some boxes were outside the gate, they commented that they would be done in a jiffy...yeah, until I showed them the backyard. Took more than a couple jiffies. We are enjoying the new view of our backyard spaces. Monday I picked up 18 cf of garden dirt to fill the garden area. I should plant seeds this week! Evelyn helped me plant my tomato plants, one promptly shriveled up the next day. Amelia has a pumpkin planted she got during Achievement Day Girls. I started a small herb garden as well. Seems like I am spending a bit of time each day flooding the citrus trees and hand watering my new little plants before the hot sun burns them to ash. One day I staked up the little pomegranate tree, thinking it was a tree and not a bush. I might need to restake it for bush support and not try to shape it into a tree and add mulch to protect the fruit. Our apple tree is now half dead. I think the water/drip system is not working. The rest of the time outside was spent pulling grass and weeds out of the rocks. I hate rocks, specifically, I hate weeding rocks. Using herbicide can also ruin any chance of planting in the future if I decide to change up the design. I finally found the swing hangers in the shed after checking every box in the garage. The girls are quite content to swing and paddle about in the wading pool while I work. The temperatures were under 100 this week, felt almost like we can survive outside for more than 5 minutes. The older kids are outside more after school as well playing in the sprinkler and on the popular swing. Justin even got our bikes ready for road riding! We went on a family bike ride around the "oval" with the girls in the trailer. Amelia's tires promptly went flat so Justin took her back to get it fixed while the boys and I charged ahead. Felt amazing to be back in the "saddle." I might even want to exercise now each morning, walking outside at 8 am to temperatures under 100 makes a difference. I should comment that I stopped drinking coke and coke zero the day after we moved here. The first 4-day migraine almost did me under but I was craving water so badly that quitting seemed a god-given chance. I am sad no change happened with my weight, maybe the changes are inside?! Once in a while I treat myself to a large lime on our tree (unripe) to squeeze into my water. Our limes are turning sweeter each day we wait. November seems so far away, we might not want limeade in November.

Phillip ripped his shorts this week from waistband to hem at scrub scouts this week. He was quite proud of his manly feat! How many folks can boast their bum busted out of their shorts? He was quite sad the bluehost sunglasses Uncle James gave him finally busted. He shed a couple tears over his lost treasure. He is excited for pack meeting this coming week, the police are coming to give advice and demonstrations.

Amelia and Evelyn tried out soft hair curlers this week for the first time. I bought to curlers for my own hair, to add some body (curls) to the back of my head. All the babies I bore quite flattened all my beautiful curls. The curlers flopped on my hair. Amelia and Evelyn were hilarious the night I rolled the curlers on. They went to bed with kerchiefs wrapped around the curlers acting like old grannies. In the morning they went crazy with laughter over their cute boingy curls. Amelia head bopped her curls this way and that. She declared herself the Princess of Pig Butts. Evelyn's hair kept the curls tight and small just like a little Shirley Temple. Amelia's curls fell and lengthened within the hour, still keeping a pretty wave for the school day. We replicated the look for church today. Be still my fluttering heart! Girls with curls are over the top adorable. Those with natural curls are the luckiest.

Thursday Justin came home early from work. He had a work function that afternoon, his company went to an adult Chuck-E-Cheese type place, with better food and adult sized carnival games. He got to come home a bit early. I was glad to get back to the hairdresser so she could fix the side of my hair that was an inch longer than the other. This time I went alone, sans poopy diapers and toddlers needing to use the potty. I picked up an old door on my way to salon from a lady on Craig's list. The door was in the right price range and cute. The back of the door had large bolts sticking out, so it would not fit well as a piece hung on the wall. I switched the glass-paned door in the living room for the new one and hung the glass door over our bed as a headboard. I was pleased to actually find studs in the walls that matched the spacing of the hangers on the door (from when it was hung on the wall in Sidney). Also pleased I hung it level all by myself, sometimes my leveling turns out wonky no matter how hard I try. Saturday I unpacked a last rogue box of books I found in garage while looking for the swing hangers. Chucked that box into the recycle bin.

I started teaching the kids piano this week. Amelia is in level 2B of the Faber method. We just picked up where she left off in May. The boys I enrolled in the Hoffman Academy, an online method that mostly uses video instruction supplemented with curriculum I print off. The parent is meant to sit and help with the lessons. Seems like the system would be better for Phillip who learns better reflecting with a teacher. The boys started off learning how to play Hot Cross Buns using black keys. They are not restricted to which set of 3 black keys to use, the variety appealed to both boys. The music sheet showed only staggered notes without music lines. Everett is quite excited to earn points, by the end of the lesson and his first practice he racked up 450 points.

Saturday we attended the Sharing Downs Syndrome Arizona walk at the Tempe baseball stadium. The kids were so excited to get out and explore our new area. Folks signed up as teams with donations, most wore matching shirts or colors showing support for the Downs syndrome people in their lives. We signed up with our ward primary. The kids enjoyed dancing to popular music, playing in the bounce houses, and working the carnival games. They came home with fists full of cheap prizes and grins on their faces. We walked around the stadium shortly after 9 am. Volunteers cheered everyone on and handed out cold Gatorade and waters. After the walk the kids got face paintings then we explored the carnival games. Josie was quite taken with the ducky game, mostly filling her net with quacks and dumping them out. A light breeze kept us cooler than expected. I still had a nasty headache most of the day that no amount of water would stamp out. We splurged on Jimmy John sandwiches for lunch. The kids are getting used to our new way of life: no drinks or chips, just water and the basics. It's good for us all. Sidney was too easy a place to satisfy boredom with food and soda, here we have more options to fill the void. I think we are the loudest folks within a mile radius. Seems like no one ever comes outside after dinner to visit or play. We are outside making all the noises rowdy kids make, probably annoying all our elderly neighbors. Hoping we are providing some entertainment instead of annoyance. The Godard boys actually came out to play we were making such a racket. We ate dinner of sandwiches and veggies on the driveway, hope that is not against the HOA. LOL.

Our house in Sidney is still up for sale and vacant. The stress of having a double mortgage is almost enough to drown a person. I keep thinking of ways to bring in a bit of money and still stay home. I might watch a baby or kids on the side. I am not quite sure how to grow my photography business...if I should. Evelyn could attend kindergarten next year, she meets the deadline by two days. That kind of jolted me out my skin. I found a lady who does a home preschool, only $135 every 4 weeks. Still that expense is out of reach with our current circumstances. Looks like the Cabela's and Bass Pro merger will happen in the next week. We are hoping to finally get some answers so Sidney can released it's bated breath. Hoping for changes that will bring more folks to Sidney at least temporarily.

Quietly and quite suddenly Josie stopped nursing. I was sure she would be super difficult to wean, but Monday morning she refused to nurse and has not since then. I am so torn! I love nursing my babies, seems to keep them babies for just a little longer. I love the close contact and moment to sit down and think. I will miss it dearly. Josie is growing up too fast, slow down just a little and let me savor the small moments.

11 September 2017

Phillip's Baptism

Our Labor Day was quite absent of labor. Instead we watched TV, read books, and laid about like lug-a-muffins. Evelyn wanted a picnic for lunch. The kids instantly took up that idea and made a kitty picnic with bowls of milk, goldfish crackers, fruit, etc. At 1 pm we suited up for some swimming at one of the local pools. Labor Day was the last open swim day of the season. Baffles me why they close pools around here when the temperature is consistently over 100. This pool had a fun splash pad and a surfing type pool (cost extra). The kids quite enjoyed their time swimming in the main pool. Josie and Evelyn were quite out of sorts that the baby pool closed for an hour due to a poop incident. Josie is not keen on floating about and letting me hold her. She wants to range about in shallow water, gratefully the splash pad kept her somewhat amused. That girl has learned to scream and screech like a banshee whenever she is crossed. Josie was absolutely sure one of the water spigots belonged to her. She screamed each time someone got even remotely close to her. The water felt so refreshing, the water was actually cool! After swimming we treated the kids to either a corn dog or a 1/2 price drink at Sonic. Phillip only wanted items were not willing to purchase. He was terribly upset and mad for a good hour or more. He cried the entire drive home and sat in time out until his angst passed. It's hard to make choices that like and deal with the consequences. I cut watermelon and cantaloupe while keeping an eye of Phillip. He was keen on hitting anyone who got too close. I wanted to put some lemon juice and sugar on the fruit but only had lemonade powder...I tried it out. Not too shabby in a bind! We had dinner and FHE over at Spenser's home. Laura made Mongolian Beef for dinner. Anna gave a cute lesson on sharing the gospel.

Tuesday morning I had another chiropractor visit with Dr Godard. He was surprised my hips and lower back were way out of alignment again. My hips are certainly sore and causing discomfort. The girls were quite unsure what to think of me getting an adjustment. Evelyn had her entire fist stuffed in her mouth. I worked on cleaning up the house a bit throughout the week, finally getting a chance to take some photos of the downstairs area. A gal in our ward referred me to someone who could cut my hair. We visited this business plaza with lots of little rooms each rented out by a sole hair dresser. We closeted ourselves in with Alana who cut off my hair. Josie decided to fill her diaper within the first few minutes. Evelyn had to use the bathroom 3 minutes after that, she would not use the potty because someone had an incense burner going, Evelyn was afraid of the smoke. Felt like being shut up in a poo closet getting my hair worked on. Feels much better! I need to go back because one side is noticeably shorter than the other.

I am loving all the thrift stores around my area. I needed a letter/paper holder so went looking at Goodwill. Totally lucked out in a letter holder and some darling dresses for the girls. One day I took a pile of outgrown Josie, Amelia, and Everett shoes to Once Upon a Child. I was quite let down they only took one outfit and one pair of shoes. The stuff I brought was in better condition than most of the shoes in their bins. Stinky, stink. Amelia presented her Student Council speech she prepared over the weekend. She and I worked on her 2 min speech using bulleted lists of ideas found online.  She was quite excited to deliver her speech! Amelia came home on cloud 9! From what she told me her speech was the longest in her class. After all the speeches the class voted for their favorites. Amelia and another girl were chosen to be the representatives. I certainly hope the position is manageable. Way to go sweet girl!

Phillip had his first Cub Scouts meeting at 5:00-6:30 pm on Tuesday. He wore a second-hand shirt we borrowed from someone in the ward. Phillip was all shades of excited and a bit worried about his first meeting. He came home raving about getting to eat a cookie and make slime. His leaders are awesome. Looks like I will be pulled back into Scouting again. Amelia had Activity Day Girls Wednesday at 4:30. Most extra curricular activities are not going to happen this year, things like sports and ballet and piano lessons. I will teach the kids myself piano if I can get my ducks in a row this coming week. Phillip read a long, boring story this week/month for school. The teachers are going by theme and not in order. The first story of the year was quite long (took me over 15 minutes to read out loud) and not very interesting. He got discouraged after the first two pages. We muddled through the story as best he could. He brought home a drawing assignment where he was asked what his watermelon seed turned into, with all his imaginative, boyish sarcasm he drew a two-headed pig with one leg. I laughed over and over all day each time I caught sight of his snarky drawing. What did you really think of that story? Ha ha ha ha!

Friday morning the little girls and I headed to Sonoma Ranch for Grandparent's Day, a day for grandparents to visit the school with their grandkids. Parents were also invited in the case no grandparents were available. We were treated to doughnuts and milk or juice for breakfast in the cafeteria. In the library we fought immense crowds to visit the book fair. Each kid got to pick one book, Phillip and Everett paid for their own books using birthday money. Then the kids got to see each other's classrooms! I spent some time finally meeting Phillip's speech teacher and getting her up to speed. Phillip's IEP never arrived from Sidney. After more time on the phone the records were set up to come on Monday. He came up upset one day because his teacher had him read in front of the class. He was so embarrassed! We are working each and everyday on his reading skills. It's hard to watch him struggle, he is smart, smarter than Amelia just not in the traditional ways.

Saturday was Phillip's big day. The day arrived for his baptism. He carefully got dressed, making sure to wear his white undies (even though the pair had a slight poo smear stain) and bring an extra pair. Three kids total were baptized that day. The stake had a small and short meeting beforehand. We were so glad the Chandler Calls and Arizona Grandma Shirley could come. Phillip offered some sweet prayers earlier in the week, one night he prayed for a good 5 minutes asking for all the animals to feel the spirit when he was baptized like the hamsters, dogs, and cats. That boy was beaming all day long. He flashed many a toothy smile! He had cousin Anson right by his side most of the service. Evelyn is quite impressed and now plans on getting baptized like Phillip. We gathered afterward in the RS room for another short talk and his confirmation. He was confirmed by Justin, Spenser, and Brother Waite. I made special sugar cookies for everyone to take home once the service was over. Aunt Shirley came over for lunch of fancy chicken nuggets and ketchup. Mmmmm. He did not sleep well Saturday night. He woke up and told me he flipped and flapped and flopped about all night, sitting up every few minutes. Why? He was excited to sit up front with the Bishopric in his new suit and "Future Missionary in Training" badge. Indeed, he beamed up there on the stand.

Josie is developing into a full-fledged toddler. Why are we so blessed with kids who have such strong personalities? For once, I'd sort of enjoy a toddler who did not scream or cry at the turn of a hat. In nursery all Josie does is cry and carry on when another child gets remotely close to her. Evelyn and Josie constantly fight now. Her ear-blasting screams might even challenge someone hard of hearing. She discovered the joy of coloring this week: on paper, on the floor, on her arms, on the furniture, etc. Sigh. Back to constant preaching over the glories of writing only on paper. She even played with her poo this week. I neglected to change her diaper for a few moments after she pooped. A while later she came toddling up to me delightedly chattering to show me her poo covered legs and arms. Speaking about poo...Justin spent a few nights this week fixing a leak on our toilet. Took a few trips to Home Depot for supplies and a wrench...but the toilet leak is much slower now. Thanks sweetie for fixing that.

We came home from church to find Vader's snout full of cactus spines. The side gate was left open so he went a wandering while we were gone. Guess he sniffed a cactus and got a piece of one stuck in his mouth and nose. I never want to pull out spines from his snout again. Poor dog was shaking and miserable as Justin held him still and I used tweezers to remove the smaller spines. We are grateful the cactus he got into was a larger one and not one of the fine-spined ones.

03 September 2017

Grandma Debbie Visits

We were so lucky to enjoy almost a week with Grandma Debbie here in Arizona. We wore ourselves out this week working around the house. I am so grateful for her help, not sure I would have tackled the garage without her help.

Monday for FHE I started a new incentive program to increase gratefulness and more appreciation. When the kids are prompt, get homework done, act without complaint, and go out of their way to be nice they can put a warm fuzzy or two into their incentive jar. Once the jar is full they will earn a fun reward like making a blanket fort, time alone with mom or dad, going for an ice cream cone, or FaceTiming a friend, etc.  Seems like it is working to increase morale around here. They are earning more than they lose. I picked up my mom from the airport around 9:10 pm. She got settled and we went to bed.

The kids woke up excited to find that indeed Grandma was here to visit. Evelyn was not so excited because she developed a high, steady fever Monday afternoon, it finally broke late Thursday afternoon. Poor girl took several naps throughout the week which is highly unusual for her. The RS President and her counselor (Sister Larry) came to visit us around 9 am. We enjoyed visiting for a while. Grandma gave Evelyn a pack of My Little Pony paper dolls to decorate and play with. She perked up for a bit while coloring.

Wednesday morning we took Evelyn in to see a doctor. I called the clinic where Aunt Laura Call's father works. They immediately told me since I was new there were no openings until the next week. I pulled the "Well...Dr Auxier is my Sister-in law's father..." card. That worked and had an appointment scheduled for the next hour. She had strep throat. My mom and I worked hard to empty all boxes in the garage. It was over 100 degrees in the garage. We were both covered in sweat after just a few moments. Before the end of the night we made sufficient room to park the van inside the garage. The girls often cry when getting in because their buckles are so hot. The sun melted the finish off my expensive prescription glasses (boo hoo). We worked on moving all the plastic bins to one side, mom shoved empty electronics boxes up into the burning hot attic, and Friday we emptied the last of the large wardrobe boxes. It was nice to find the last few missing items. Mom also worked on putting some craft supplies into the library drawer system Jen gave me. The drawers won't fit it all but at least I can have some items accessible! She made spaghetti for dinner (my favorite mom meal) one night.

The kids and I visited the public library and got new cards! They were all very excited to get their own card to check out books. Amelia went into bookworm mode reading a series about Pegasus, a true middle school series (think Rick Riordian). Mom and I read quite a few books aloud to the boys, especially Geronimo Stilton the Mouse books. We were quite overwhelmed over the size of the library. It was like Mecca for books after our little library in Sidney. I can't wait to go back with less kids and find books I want to read. Checking out was a loud affair. Josie's most recent talent is squealing or screaming anytime she feels the slightest bit aggravated. Phillip is quite adept at making her squeal. I felt a bit frazzled before the end of our visit.

Friday Justin got off work at noon so was home at 1 pm. He rested then we went to Home Depot to find hardware to hang our swings and dirt for our garden areas. Evelyn brought her birthday $5 from Grandma and Grandpa Call. She was bound and determined to buy a candy. She marched up to the checkout stands chose her treat AND a Gatorade, continued her way to the register. Plopped her selections down, unzipped her wallet, and handed him her money. She was quite pleased to get a dollar and change back. That little firecracker, said, "Thanks Dude!" and walked away with her receipt. Mom and I scoured two Goodwill's in search of another bookcase. We visited a plant nursery for information about local gardening for vegetables and herbs. I am quite excited over the extended growing season. We enjoyed a special dinner out to Chik-Fil-A with Grandma. Our goal was to get some photos of Phillip taken at the Mesa Temple and drop off mom to visit Great-Aunt Shirley. Faux pas number one: I left my camera at home. Justin ate his dinner in the car while he ran back home to fetch it. Faux pas number two: the drive between the temple and Shirley's was more than 5 minutes (more like 18 minutes). I almost missed having sufficient light to take photos of Phillip. I made it work in spite of my ISO pushed to the upper limits. We enjoyed a nice hour touring the grounds and the visitor's center. Everett had tears in his eyes after watching a movie where a family lost their 6 year old son due to a bus accident. He cried for quite some time touched, that the boy died but still had his family. He squeezed my hand three times just like the movie said the family said "I love you." Afterwards we visited for a bit with Shirley before heading home. Grandma is convinced that Evelyn resembles Aunt Shirley as a girl. It is more in the facial expressions but certainly there.

Saturday we had our first cloud cover day since moving here. The sun was muted all day...but the humidity was terrible. We spent a lazy day playing and relaxing. Mom, Amelia, Evelyn and I all went to Smart & Final, a discount grocery store I hear Grandma Jean is quite fond of. Indeed, it was a fun store to shop in. I felt giddy with all the new international options and range of choices. Even their produce was more than decent, better than Walmart. Grandma went back home around 3 pm.I felt a bit empty as I did dinner dishes and put her water cup in the dishwasher. The kids were over the moon with dinner, Calabacitos and Sally Lunn bread. Amelia said, "Mom this is the most tastiest way to get me to eat veggies!" Each older kid downed 2-3 servings each. While making the dish I was worried about all the weeks of leftovers I'd be eating. The kids bathed quickly then we watched a family movie.