16 July 2017

Birthday Party

The kids woke up excited on Monday. The time finally arrived to celebrate birthdays...party style. This year instead of individual parties for the kids I rented the movie theater and let the kids invite their closest friends. The theater had a table at the front of the theater for gifts and treats. We had about 25 kids show up plus a smattering of siblings and parents. Each kid got a box of popcorn, soda, and a small candy. We watched Lego Batman! To rent the theater here all I have to do is pay the rental fee of $100 and bring any DVD disc (excluding Disney) to play! It was capital! Phillip and his friends claimed the front rows of the theater. Everett and his crew claimed the middle left, Amelia the middle top left, and Evelyn switched seats about 20 times. The babies and littles had a great time running up and down the center aisle. I made no bake cookies in lieu of cake and ice cream. Best party ever! No clean up (for me anyhow), kids contained, kids entertained, and manageable cost. Amelia and her cronies walked home in the 100 degree afternoon heat. We have 7 pre-teens running around until after 5 pm. Phillip and Everett played with their new toys. Everett scored the best toy, a remote control car with a cool roof wheel for extreme wheelies. Evelyn got two Rapunzel dolls, she was in heaven. A storm rolled through and cleared out the hot air around dinner.

Last week I finished all the sessions on my plate, just delivery and some payments left. This week I photographed a pair of 2018 HS Senior twins, and 3 other families. Should be close to finished with all the sessions. Gotta earn myself enough cash to get a fridge. Ha ha ha ha. Seems like there are another 2-3 sessions left to get done before we move away. The kids are quite patient as I work in the evenings to capture sessions and when I edit a bit in the afternoons. Mostly, I try to arrange for the kids to swim while Josie naps and I work. Twice this week the kids went with me to sessions since the sessions were short. The kids chose to walk across the street to play at the park. Wednesday was just perfect. Thursday was not so great. They wanted bikes this time. I loaded up the truck, Amelia's rear tire was flat, Phillip's chain popped off, and Everett wanted his scooter. He learned the hard way that scooters, gravel, and steep hills aren't a good combination. He crashed and found me in the middle of a session his elbow and hands covered in blood. I did not have anything to treat him since the van was at home. Evelyn had a poopsident to end the excursion.

The stress of this week seemed almost overwhelming. Last week the house saga ended with a positive house inspection. This week started out with a low house appraisal, causing us to renegotiate the contract once again. The owners went down to the appraisal price but then refused to cover any closing costs. That put us in a strain with Mia's surgery bill arriving (finally) and worries over selling our Nebraska home. Negotiations steamed up when the house owners asked for $5G in cash, non-refundable, earnest money. Somehow we settled with only paying $2G and a couple loopholes in case something happens before the loan closes. We were so stressed out I went back to the drawing board and started to look for houses again. Justin was pretty intense and wishing Nebraska and Arizona were not so far apart. The kids felt our stress and went silent when I was talking things over with Justin or our agent. That is a miracle. Amelia riled up the boys and Evelyn to make me cute cards for a breakfast in bed tray on Friday morning. That girl can make the best ham and cheese scrambled eggs. Maybe I should expand her repertoire. Looks like things are back on track for a closing the first part of August. We might be sleeping in an empty house until our stuff arrives if the shipment and closing don't match up. Quite honestly, that sounds like a bit of fun to me.

We are enjoying school lunch when the menu looks enticing. I finally tasted Amelia's favorite goulash. I never make it right. After tasting it I realized all it was was prego, ground beef, and soggy elbow noodles. Shopping with all the kids still feels like a party. I really want a cart with flashing lights, disco music, and confetti cannons to round out the effect. Seems like management won't go for that. Instead the kids whined about shopping, filling the cart with junk food, and complaining about my cooking skills. I might just go on strike until those boogers appreciate my lame efforts. I admit, since Justin left we are eating kid meals more. It's not like they really eat food anyway. I spend money to buy healthy food that just rots in the fruit baskets. Eh, that's not entirely true, the kids do love fruit and carrots.

Everett lost another bottom tooth! He was eating a rice krispy treat when one of the rice kernels popped his tooth out. He put it in a baggy and promptly lost the bag. Maybe the tooth fairy will take mercy and pay him for that missing tooth. We finally went to the library for the second time this summer. Hurts my heart to admit that. Amelia got sucked into a book right off the bat. Evelyn and Josie helped empty the numerous board games into a large pile on the floor. Ah yes, that is the reason why I stay far away from our library. They keep 1000 piece puzzles and board games in reach of toddler arms and hands. Phillip checked out 20 books on dinosaurs. Everett was content to check out Dinosaurs Love Tacos 2. It was a good read, fast too. I whipped out the weed killer and zapped all the nasty weeds growing in the rocks encircling our front yards. Since I was killing things I also weeded my raised garden beds. The petunia pots Justin dumped out a few months ago spread seeds in the garden. They look pretty so the flowers stayed. I also cultivated the tomato plants that grew from last year's cast off tomatoes. Yay! Free tomatoes this year.

Amelia got to play with Katelyn all Friday afternoon. The rest of us did a little garage sale shopping. I lost $40 out of my pocket at the last house. Thankfully, I'm friends with the lady who lives there. She eventually found both $20 bills, phew. Evelyn immediately changed into a zebra outfit with zebra ear headband after finding the outfit at one garage sale. She paired the outfit with soccer cleats a couple sizes too big. We grabbed some burritos then went downtown to enjoy an evening outside. Each Friday local bands can come perform at the Sidney Downtown Sounds. Vendors sell beer for those over 21. We left those folks near the watering hole. Instead we made our way near the stage where all the families and kids were congregated. Yah know, the ice cream truck side of the concert. Josie was making us all laugh with her dance moves. She actually has phenomenal rhythm and can keep the beat correctly. At one point she had a push-pop in one hand and a glow stick in the other. She danced so hard the treat zoomed out of it's tube and on the ground. She ate it off the pavement until I could save it. Evelyn was in her own little world performing random arabesques and ballet arms interspersed with head banging. Everett made a huge glowstick circle ring, he played catch with the object along with many other boys. He was quite content to score a paper guitar, made his stellar dance moves even more amazing. Amelia and Katelyn stuck together like glue, giggling over silly things the other girl noticed. Phillip scored a tiny skateboard, like the size fits Josie, he tried to skate and dance on it much to my amusement. Fresh air, loud 80s music, and friends! Sounds like a perfect win to me.

Saturday morning I scored a huge bin of random Lego blocks, like it's huge. For the price of three brand new lego baseplates I scored 17 large baseplates plus thousands more in Lego pieces. Took the kids and I all afternoon and into Sunday afternoon to sort through the mess and organize the lot. The most random item we found stashed in the tote was a real hermit crab claw. The tote must've been a collecting spot for lost of left over toys and parts. Threw away two Walmart bags of random doll parts, cheap chinese prize toys, and trash. It was totally worth it! The boys are so excited about their new collection. The lady how sold us the lot was there when the boys discovered it on the porch. Their exclamations of joy and surprise totally made her day! She went home and told her boys about my boy's reaction. I organized a cleaning sweep, from one side of the house to the other. We had everything picked up until Phillip dumped the Lego tote onto the carpet. All that work?! I went to celebrate Rachel Godard's new coming baby with other ladies at Applebys...ALONE. Yes, alone. It was magical. My eyes were so tired I nearly slept on the table and on my order of buffalo wings. Single momming it is not for the faint of heart. Props to my mom for all the years of raising 8 kids on her own while my Dad was roaming the world.  

10 July 2017

Fourth of July 2017

After much going back and forth offering and countering on a home we have an offer accepted! We bid on a home in Gilbert on Tradewind Dr. The offer was accepted on the 3rd of July! It feels good to have a timeline now and a date to see Justin again. The house inspection results were quite positive, just a couple small items to fix like a couple broken roof tiles and the second air conditioner needing a bit of attention. Today we learned that the appraisal came back reflecting what we originally offered. That offer was rejected since the owner's agent said the comps reflected a much higher price. We are now hoping the owners will renegotiate the price. If that does not happen we might need to go back to searching for homes. Justin (and I) are loathe to go back to the drawing board especially after all the countering. After we sent in the offer Justin asked if we made the right decision...a little late, but yes...I think we did. Now we are praying that it will go through and we can move. Our projected move date is around the 8th of August, 3 days of packing and 2 days to stuff the truck.

Josie is developing into a very cute little human. She loves to fill her arms with soft stuffed animals, especially when we get her out of bed, she has to have all her binkies and at least 2 stuffed animals. I'm pretty sure a baby loving on stuffed animals is one of the perks in life. This week she also took to toting around her favorite books (Bubble Guppies Colors, Baby Feet Like..., Elmo flip and find, and several others). She'd whine until I let her sit in my lap and read her favorites over and over. Her jabbering is more defined lately. The other day I swear she said "Phillip" clear as can be. She also read me her favorite book one morning. We smile as she gets excited when handed her favorite toys. Mia loves to make her say "Doh" just like Mia did as a baby. Josie loves to say "Hi Dad!" when calling Justin.

Jakob offered to take the kids swimming from 1-5 Monday afternoon. The kids got to play, I got to work on editing, and Josie got to nap. It felt like a win-win to me! Our FHE lesson was taught by me. We learned about the history behind the 4th of July, that it was the date our nation declared independence. We learned some fun facts then watched a short animation depicting the events of that day. Our activity was to go watch the city fireworks in the back of the truck. Several other LDS families gathered in the church parking lot to watch as well. Evelyn was pretty scared because of the loud noises and bright flashes. Towards the end of the show she loosened up enough to identify her favorite colors. The kids nursed soda pop in glass bottles and little bags of candy we got for the event. Josie was pretty funny at first. She made a cute surprised face and would say: "Ooooooooooo!" My favorite part was the one firework that was set off 3 minutes after the show ended. I think all the fireworks the neighbors light up are better than the official Sidney show. Cracks and bangs echoed clear until midnight both the 3rd and the 4th, the previous 8 days were bad but those two days are tremendous. Evelyn was so tired she zonked out on the short drive home.

Independence day dawned with bright, clear, and blue skies. The kids excitedly put on their 4th of July clothes so we could enjoy a day in Sterling, CO. The Overland Museum hosted a Pioneer style 4th of July party. We arrived shortly after the event started. Parking was diverted to the Justice Center and folks bussed over to the museum. Evelyn was pleased to finally ride a bus. We visited this particular museum last year, the kids were excited to come back and visit again. A live band played old-time marching music. The entire village was decorated with flag buntings on all the rails, hand cut flag decorations, and lots of patriotic colors. The kids got their faces painted while I ordered food from the fire department booth. I had to laugh over Everett's choice of face paint: a glass of lemonade, the patron and I laughed over the novelty. The kids soon had fried chicken grease smeared on hands and faces. Cold watermelon, potato and macaroni salad, a roll, and root beer to chase it all down. Sure seemed like a noteworthy Patriotic meal! Everett insisted on waiting in line to play a carnival game. He waited for a long time out in the sun. He lost the game and found us with a glum face, near tears. Phillip, that kind-hearted boy, gathered Everett in a brotherly hug to comfort him. The kids really enjoyed the gas station and the train caboose. The heat was quickly sapping our energy so we finished our tour and headed back to the van. We spent the rest of our afternoon swimming at the pool. Our friends the Jenson's showed up unexpectedly so we enjoyed some friend time as well. The pool closed as we walked out at 5 pm. All the kids were ravenous and unwilling to wait for dinner at home. So...off to McDonald's playhouse for more playing, food, and rest. I cheated and grabbed a Jimmy John's sandwich for Amelia and I since McD's is gross. Amelia lost a tooth while enjoying her sandwich. She did not tell me about the loose tooth because I like to pull them, this one came out on its own. She proudly showed off her 4th of July tooth to me! Evelyn was most impressed, excited the tooth fairy was coming back. On our way home the setting sun turned all the waiting wheat fields into the literal "amber waves of grain." I made the kids wade through cheatgrass and stickers to stand next to a wheat field. Evelyn was having no part of this idea, she turned her back on me, which actually made the photo I captured pretty amazing. I'm glad the kids went along with my idea...all for a handful of Swedish Fish. All day we wished Justin could be with us to celebrate. He spent the day with the Auxiers in Chandler. Poor Vader must have gotten a touch of heat sickness since he barfed on the carpet a couple times after we got home. It was a scorcher. Evelyn was beside herself when all the fireworks started going off once dusk settled. Even with her "boom protectors" she was reluctant to come outside. I scared her inside when I made her hold a sparkler for a moment, she was DONE, done after that small second. The boys were very excited to set off the little pile we purchased at the Haley's firework stand. Amelia thought I had no pyrotechnic skills...well, I do! Our house shook until well after midnight from all the explosions. Those who suffer from PTSD, please do not come to Sidney during the last week June and first part of July. Pretty much feels like a war zone.

We needed a down day so stayed at home the next day working on laundry, cleaning the house, and resting. The kids were soooooo bored, so bored they came up with an idea to hold a circus. I played the rotating sprinkler system for them as they danced in the water. Amelia dumped apples in the baby pool to bob for apples. Seemed like something pretty good came from all that boredom.

Thursday afternoon Jakob insisted he take the kids swimming again all afternoon. I about cried on my drive home thinking of his willingness to help without asking. Bless that teenaged soul! I busted through the rest of the sessions I had on tap to edit. Yes! I was even able to burn the discs and get everything ready to deliver. I cleaned up the first floor of our house that night while the kids watched a movie. Two families are interested in looking at our home to possibly rent if Cabela's maintains it's presence in Sidney. The board is meeting this coming week to hash out details and vote.

The kids did a great job cleaning up the basement next morning. We left for the day once the house was clean to keep it that way until the folks toured our home. We spent a lovely afternoon at Bridgeport Lake. Evelyn dressed herself in a swimsuit with underwear over the top! Once again we picked up Ella to spend the afternoon with us. Rachel Godard came along with her two small kids as well. She loved it! We love it! The lake is so relaxing and laid back, often the pool feels cramped and hectic. At the lake we can spread out and not worry so much. The kids have fun in the water and just as much fun in the sand.

I was out of it on Saturday. Just felt blech. The kids were bored at 9 am, way to early for whining. I tasked them to host another Lemonade Stand. Yahoo! The kids were excited to make a couple dollars sitting in 90+ degree weather. Phillip and Everett bailed after an hour, preferring to play magnatiles and play dough inside. I made another trip to Salvation Army for donations. Amelia invited Rachel over to help her man the lemonade stand. The girls sure enjoyed walking down to Safeway for cold drinks and candy with their earnings.

The power went off Sunday afternoon for 10-15 minutes. The kids thought the world was ending, the silence was noticeable! Everett's first words were: "Mom, what will we do with all this darkness?!" Glad we did not have to worry about that. Instead we headed outside where it seemed the rest of Sidney had the same idea. Without electronics to keep us inside everyone headed outside! We got to visit with our neighbors and play outside!

02 July 2017

Mia's Miracle

We finally made it to the Denver Zoo. It's been on my bucket list for 8 years now! Mia had a late Dr appointment at 3:40 pm so we made the most of the later time. We left Sidney at 7:30 am, I'm pretty proud we made it out of the house by then. The zoo reminds me of the Hogle zoo in Utah, relative same size and feel. Amelia was intent on seeing the cheetah, otters, and tiger, mostly the cheetah. We lucked out that the temperature was in the high 80s, bearable (lol). I really enjoyed the Tropical Discovery center. All the kids seemed to gravitate towards the bat exhibit and the komodo dragons. We got to see the baby giraffe Dobby nurse off his mother, as Evelyn exclaimed: Just like you mom! Yep! Just like me. Due to timing and bad planning on my part we ate lunch at the zoo. That was a mistake I'll never make again. Cost us more to eat lunch than to pay for entrance. We made the most of the experience since it was quite singular. The kids settled on an Asian cafe, getting rice bowls for Mia and I and burgers for the boys, chicken nuggets for Evelyn. While we ate lunch the one-horned rhino showed off his stuff. We saw him poop (much to Phillip's delight), take a shower, swim, and eat. By this time we were running out of time so the kids decided to ride the carousel and train, check out the cheetah, and visit the wish (gift) shop. All the kids brought along their hard-earned money to get a stuffed animal or other souvenir at the shop. Mia was close to tears that the cheetah was napping somewhere we could not see. Josie was so tired she fell asleep sucking her lower lip while the kids shopped. We only got to see about half of the zoo, we missed the primate area, bears, sheep, etc. 

We barely made it to the hospital with a moment to spare. Amelia's name was up after I took the kids for a short restroom break. No worries, the kids made 6 other visits to the restroom to catch up. Dr G looked at the newest x-ray and declared Amelia could run, jump, walk, do whatever her little heart desired as far as using her leg. Yes! My eyes filled with tears as I admired her newly grown bone around her femur head. I could hardly tell that the joint was disfigured. The regrowth phase finished her off with a smooth, relatively round femur head. Compared to what she started with almost two years ago the recovery is nothing short of a miracle. Dr G said from here she needs an x-ray in 6 months, then once a year to monitor further growth and development. She seemed to think Mia might even avoid a hip replacement until well into her 40s! Our hearts were quite full as we pondered this miracle. Mia has endured so much for one so young. She bore her testimony this morning, saying how grateful she is for the trials in her life. The rest of our trip home seemed long after our exciting day. We stopped at Ft Morgan for dinner and a trip to Walmart. I was looking for new boosters for the boys. The mifolds we got are too much of a hassle for the boys on their own. I am constantly having to adjust them and rescue Everett when he gets tangled up in the seatbelt. I found a brand called Bubble Bum, a sort of inflatable booster made of the same foam in camping pads. Instead we walked out with dog food, some shoes, and Barbie movies. 

I took on a few photo sessions to earn some quick money. This week I had two on Wednesday, four on Thursday, and one on Friday. The kids tagged along with me on Wednesday. The boys kept themselves entertained gathering sticks and branches, seeing who could gather the largest pile. It was quite humid outside with rain threatening at any moment. I had Josie in the front pack but was sweating so badly I had to confine her to the stroller. We had fun playing with Kaci Mae Markum for her first birthday pics, then Lucy Davis and her family. Amelia was off to swim with the Activity Day Girls. Their swim day got cut short, like only 10 minutes in the water due to lightening. My light was quite terrible for the Davis family. It rained hard for a few minutes, then cleared up becoming lighter outside than it was the prior hour. I sewed up a cute little dress using some African printed fabric I scored on my mission. We have a family from South Sudan living in Sidney. He is a PA at the hospital working in the ER for until his residency is over. His wife Biella came over Tuesday morning to see the fabric I had. We had such a fun visit. Her baby, Faith, is 6 months old, so chubby and sweet. She kept me so entertained. Her boys are also the same ages as Phillip and Everett. We enjoyed a fun hour visiting with them. 

This week several quick, furious storms ripped overhead. One moment it would be gray, the next black, the next hail and rain, then sunshine. The kids quite enjoyed the thunderstorms! After each storm the kids donned swimsuits and splashed in the gutters. One rainstorm came right after baths, Everett went out to splash in his PJs while Phillip ended up stripping down to his skivvies (thankfully black shorts). Best fun for a summer evening! Evelyn has confined herself to the house until after the 4th of July...she is quite allergic to fireworks. She tells Justin everyday over the phone several times about the fireworks. Phillip found her pink ear muffs, she wears them quite a bit now in the evenings. Our town turned into a fireworks show every evening since Monday and will continue through the 4th of July. Josie is quite undecided over the racket the fireworks bring. She jolts in my arms every once in a while. Everett tried to ride his scooter in the rain, instead he slipped and banged up his foot. He was quite insistent that his foot was burning so his bones were broken. He hobbled about on Mia's old crutches for the rest of the evening. He made a miraculous recovery the next day, walking and running without a broken bone in his foot. 

We had quite a good laugh one evening when Josie toddled toward me jabbering, her knees bouncing high, and a slobbery grin. She is quite the jabber mouth these past few weeks. She like to say uh oh, dis, these, and other words that sound nonsense. 

Kelly Bilbrey watched the kids Thursday evening while I photographed the 4 sessions. I was so glad the Betony clan all came together for family photos. I've bugged Nora for years to come get her family photographed. They all wore turquoise shirts and jewelry! I got to photograph pretty baby faith and her three brothers. Last on the list was Jamie Parkin and her family. They held honky pig captive, I left him at the field where they took him home. Wonder what I need to pay to get ole honky back. He is my prop used to grab kid's attention. 

Friday we went to Sterling pool with Sheena Jensen, her kids, and another gal and her kids. Phillip and Mia spent most of the time inside jumping off the diving board! Phillip passed the deep end swimming test with flying colors. He mastered the cannon ball and jackknife move. I giggled as he covered his eyes each time he jumped in. Evelyn scraped her knee and drew a bead of blood. She collapsed and refused to use her leg for the rest of the day. I think Everett's performance the prior night influenced her response. She also recovered nicely once she forgot about the bandaid. It was a bit chilly that day so Josie did not last very long. Instead she skirted the water, preferring to toddle about. She did learn to lick the water spouting from small pipes in the zero entry area. After Evelyn's injury her friend Leah took to pulling Evelyn around the wading area in her star floatie. That's the life right there. Sister Christian watched my clan while I took Ashlyn's senior photos. I think they had fun since her house is a full blown daycare and preschool center.

The boy's finally got their wish to purchase some fireworks. Evelyn attended her first friend birthday party. Miss Clara turned 4 last week. Her older sisters organized a lovely super hero party for the birthday girl. Evelyn was tickled pink to bring home a mask, cape, treats, and lots of memories. I hear Clara stood up to give a speech. That girl is so smart and loquacious.  Since we were near Walmart we stopped to load up on 4th of July ingredients and fresh fruits/veggies. After shopping we stopped at the Haley's fireworks stand to buy some items. Ella helped the boys shop, convincing them without much effort to buy all the good stuff. She was good! We spent twice the amount I allotted the kids of $30. Amelia said, "mom, not to be rude, but how are we going to fire off these fireworks without Dad here, since you don't know how to set off fireworks." Well, little girl, I guess you will witness my pyrotechnic skills soon enough. Layers, layers like an onion...keep that husband and those kids guessing. I was quite in a stinky mood Friday evening and Saturday. Just feeling frustrated and angry over the Arizona house hunt. Justin offered on a home Saturday evening. We offered on another home this week and were immediately outbid with a cash offer. I am not about to get my hopes up again. We heard back this evening on the offer, the owners want their original price and less closing costs. Per comps in the area the house is over priced based on square footage price. Time will tell. 

Amelia now really enjoys dressing up for holidays. She put together a fantastic outfit for church. She inspired the boys to also dress up with red, white and blue colors. Phillip's outfit was pretty styling, complete with his Animal driving cap. Everett thought orange was close enough to red so let his shirt fly as the American flag colors. I was tickled pink with their outfits. Phillip walked into church with a cloudy white rock clutched in his hand. He claimed it was the rock of Ammon, he took it to church to show his teacher. The Elders came over this afternoon to look at my working computer. It started to randomly shut off during the night a few weeks ago. One of our current Elders is quite a talented computer tech. The Austad boys came over to be the priesthood presence while the missionaries were here. Both Josh and Jakob played with the kids for over 4 hours, well after the missionaries left. We fed them french toast and sausage for dinner. They introduced the kids to long board skating and shot off some of their fireworks for us. The boys were in complete heaven! Everett especially loved Jakob. I caught them playing an imaginary game using alter egos and number codes. Jakob was using texting lingo as his passwords, like loling or tgif. Everett was completely oblivious, thinking his code was magnificent.