22 May 2017

Following a Map, Amelia Earhart, AG Systems, Ft Collins Temple and Nature

























This week was another busy school week, full of field trips and presentations. Amelia is quite glad to have all the major projects over with. The highlight of our week was an impromptu trip to the Ft Collins temple. I was able to do a session for the first time since before Josie was born. The session was so wonderful.

Monday afternoon Justin left for another business trip to Sandy, Utah. The kids wished him good luck before parting ways that morning. After school Phillip stayed home to stay with a napping Josie. The rest of us went to Amelia and Everett's well child visits. Amelia weighed exactly 70 pounds and grew a full 3 inches since last year! We were all ready for FHE that evening when Jen unexpectedly showed up for dinner and loves. She gave all the kids rides on her motorcycle instead. Her cycle has little (or no muffler) so it is really, really loud. Everett was all scrunched up not knowing what to do with the extra noise. Everett had me make no-bake cookies for FHE treat so we had that and no lesson. Justin was unavailable to video call so we missed daddy during scriptures and prayers. Last week both boys started reading a verse to practice their skills. I really enjoy listening to their almost daily progress. Later that evening Jen and I were chatting. She told me I am way to lax with my kids. She is way to strict and quite mean with her kid. My mind was restless as I pondered her point of view.

Tuesday morning was so gorgeous, sunshine, light breeze, and no clouds. I dropped the kids off at school then came home to get the girls dressed. Evelyn was very sad I dropped her off at Elliott's for a morning playdate. She got to play at the park with her friend. Jojo and I met the kindergartners for their tour of Sidney field trip. Everett's class started at the Treasurer's office. I caught his class after the Treasurer's office enroute to the Sheriff's office. He had a clipboard clutched in one hand, the other hand busy marking off the first stop on a crude map. He was so proud to show me his perfectly executed "X." Those bright, brown eyes looking up at me made my entire day. We held hands while touring the prison exercise yard, checking out the sheriff's car, and meeting the county drug dog. Our tour included: an insurance agency focusing on wearing seatbelts, the state patrol office (got to meet another drug sniffing dog, a seatbelt demonstration, and how the officers weigh vehicles), State Farm (got a real map atlas), the postal office, and American Bank. Seems like the kids got candy and fun books at each stop. He was quite delighted to help stroller Josie along. I had to leave right after the post office. I picked up Evelyn then grabbed some lunch at Subway with my little girls. As I pulled out of Subway Sheriff Aikens pulled me over. Sigh. I was not doing anything wrong except made a sort of wonky turn out of the lot. I had my license and registration ready. Instead of a ticket or reprimand he gave both girls a certificate for wearing seatbelts properly and a treat voucher for Dairy Queen! Evelyn was so happy to get a reward for her seatbelt wearing. Best police stop I've ever had! Right after that we ran to Amelia's school to see the Wax Museum exhibit Mrs Janssen's reading group put together. I know the kids worked very, very hard! Amelia researched all about Amelia Earhart, wrote several reports, made a cute display board, and chose an outfit. She even made a steering wheel out of paper. The day before the exhibit she made pilot's goggles out of paper that taped to her glasses. The design was quite ingenious. She opted to wear the prop hat I had for babies since it was more substantial. All down the hall kids sat in a predetermined pose. Their display boards all had a "press here" button. Once pressed the child would deliver a memorized biography about their character. It was really fun to hear what each kid had prepared. After school I had her video her speech since the school hallway was so noisy. I made chicken, rice, broccoli casserole for the first time in many, many years. The kids were grossed out since it looked disgusting, after tasting it each kid at least ate their entire serving. We talked about how most casseroles look gross but taste good, probably the reason I hate making them.

A robin made a nest in our tree this year, well, this happens every year but this year's nest is on a much lower branch. Evelyn was quite concerned to watch me climb up the tree to nearly the top branches. She yelled and screamed at me to get down. I was able to get some fun photos of the nest from above, I could see a newly hatched baby and a pretty blue egg. The mama robin was not happy about the giantess encroaching on her territory. She does a very good job keeping the blackbirds at bay with her sharp beak. The boys heard about my tree adventure from Evelyn and wanted proof that I could climb a tree. Once again I headed up skyward, earned a "cool mom" award. I then made the boys climb up high enough to peek in the nest at eye level.

Friday afternoon we got to see Amelia's grade present their Agricultural project. I know the students worked hard for over a month to learn about Nebraska's agricultural roots. They followed the Rowan family who maintain a homestead 127 years in the making. Amelia interviewed Scott Kelsey a local resident pursuing an agricultural degree in system technologies. She interviewed him over the phone a couple weeks ago. The entire project will be on display in a museum for the state's 150th anniversary. Pretty exciting stuff! All the kids wore matching shirts and helped explain their project to those with questions. I brought along superwoman, aka Evelyn, to bring a sense of super powerness to the event. Our exciting evening activity was to clean the basement. Yeah, we make things exciting around these parts.

I lucked out finding someone to watch the kids Saturday while Justin and I went to the temple. Our friends, the Curries, had their first unscheduled Saturday in over 2 months. They willingly and lovingly watched the kids. We dumped the kids and ran, our aim to attend the 11 am session. We made it with about 5 minutes to spare! Last time I attended a session was back before Josie was born. The quiet was almost unnerving! I am quite used to an explosion of noise during all awake hours (and some hours at night). Justin and I have some questions and concerns we are thinking through. The temple seemed like a logical place to ponder and pray. Justin reminded me of Elder Robbins talk, The Righteous Judge, from October 2016 conference. I mostly pondered his words especially this quote:

Perhaps more than opening the mouths of babes, the Lord was opening the eyes and ears of their astonished parents. Those parents had been granted the extraordinary gift of a glimpse into eternity and of beholding the true identity and premortal stature of their children. Would that not forever change the way the parents saw and treated their children? I like this variation of a quote attributed to Goethe: “The way you see [a child] is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is [who] they [will] become.”10 To remember a child’s true identity is a gift of foresight that divinely inspires the vision of a righteous judge.

and these:

President Joseph F. Smith taught, “If children are defiant and difficult to control, be patient with them until you can conquer by love, … and you can then [mold] their characters as you please.”

Thomas S Monson said, "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."

The Ft Collin's temple is so beautiful. The beauty, quiet nature, and spirit in the temple were a balm to my heart. After the temple we snagged some lunch and talked about family matters. The kids were happy to play with the Curry family. Josie was half-asleep when we arrived. We were able to visit for a couple hours before we headed out. Heidi has two boyfriends! Yikes! We teased her about them, well, mostly Justin. He is tenacious about wheedling information out of Heidi. On our way home we made a stop at Once Upon a Child to stock up on summer clothes for Amelia and Phillip, the other kids got a couple outfits each. We dawdled even more by having a teppanyaki style dinner. Evelyn was terrified by the fire. She hid under the table until the chef was done with his tricks. Everett talked the chef's ear off. He earned extra servings of rice, meat, and veggies be endearing himself to the chef. Amelia was convinced all we were going to eat was soup, salad, and sushi rolls. Josie ate most of Evelyn's rice while she was in hiding. I slipped spoonfuls of food under the table, the food disappeared. I'm still laughing! We arrived home after 10:30 that night.

Sunday we had ward conference. Phillip helped Everett get dressed up handsome style: with collared shirt, vest, tie, and belts. Phillip lamented over me not buying him the spike studded belt the day before, it was the perfect accessory. The boys fixed each other's hair and applied cologne. Pretty handsome. The kids were tired and cranky. After an hour of sacrament meeting the girls and I went to the nursery until the meeting was over. I actually left right after to take Josie home for a long nap. I finished up visit teaching this month with my companion after dinner. Amelia came with us. She loves to play with Judy's dog, Sassy. At the first house she reacted badly to Jenny's dog and ended up with a bite on her palm. She was pretty freaked out. Our dog is so laid back, hyper dogs make her really, really nervous. Had she not backed up but stood her ground the dog would not have jumped. They can sense weakness! Justin was pretty anxious all day. I feel so bad and helpless when he has an anxiety episode. This to shall pass.

15 May 2017

Field Day with Phillip and Mother's Day






















We love our sweet, happy baby Josie. She is really developing her personality lately. True to last baby status she loves finding leftover treats her siblings neglect to throw away. Oreos are now contraband since the older kids lick out the frosting and leave the chocolate shells around to crumble into pieces. Josie practically crowed in delight after finding an entire pile of discarded shells. She jabbered to herself and ate the tower of treats. I love to hear her jabber, quite possibly the most darling sound ever. She tries so hard to talk, pointing and letting me know what she sees. She is quite fond of driving the van (while parked). She loves escaping outside to run with the big kids. She hates grass, loves rocks, and will find birds and animals faster than I can spot them. Her left front tooth finally cut through last week. Sigh, maybe we can have a short break from the crankies.

Monday evening Phillip taught a lesson on Baptism out of the Nursery Manual. He practiced bearing his testimony at the end. Glory! As usual was a crazy, loud affair. The kids customize the kind of glory we throw at them (car glory, pig glory, shimmer shine glory are all popular). Everett FINALLY had a turn with activity. He was quite intent on playing PieFace. I was out of canned whipped cream, he had a list of other items that would work as substitute: cheese, bread, ice cream, or smashed bananas. Justin made a quick trip to SafeWay for a can of cream. The noise level accompanying the game is impressive. The screaming (laughter) was so rambunctious poor Josie had a nervous breakdown. Amelia and Everett were clear PieFace winners earning the most whipped cream faces.

Justin flew out of town on some business Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday night. Evelyn insisted we get some chicken looloo soup with Dad before he left. She is crazy about looloo soup. My head decided to start a nasty migraine that day as well, it is still plaguing me a week later. The kids and I managed just fine with Justin gone. Bedtime is a bit tricky with how we divide and conquer parental duties between kids. We stayed busy with homework, playing outside, a trip to the library, and some shopping.

Amelia was picking her nose on the way home from dropping off kids to school. She wanted me to make her a pizza for breakfast. As she asked a lovely nooger appeared on her finger. She then said: "Mom?! I not want a nooger pizza, a green nooger pizza, that gross. Just pizza please."

Thursday I finally had a chance to visit Nora in Peetz. Josie's naps often impede morning visits. I brought her a potted lily for Mother's Day and got many mom type hugs during our visit. She is gold! After lunch the 1st graders met at the park for their field day. Evelyn, Josie, and I went to enjoy the afternoon with Phillip. He is so adorably kind with his little sisters. Evelyn rushed right up to him and got a spinning bear hug. He held her hand most of the afternoon, helping her play the games, most often losing just to help her out. Other siblings did not join in like Evelyn did since their siblings pushed them away. He made sure Evelyn had sips of water and pushed Josie's stroller when he could. I loved watching his class perform their square dancing routine. He is quite wiggly but when it came down to dancing he did so with his own little interpretations. He helped Evelyn through the obstacle course, shouting out her name to encourage her and leading the way. Evelyn's eyes about popped when she saw the rainbow parachute station. She got to play a mouse during the cat & mouse game. After school the kids helped me clean the living room. We walked over to the HS for BINGO night and pizza. For $25 we got a large pizza, 4 sodas, 4 desserts, and a handful of BINGO cards. Thankfully, each of the kids won at least one game and earned a prize. All Evelyn wanted was a blue ring pop. They came home with bouncy balls, tattoos, books, and a hated whistle. Justin joined us after work. He chose a homework pass for Phillip's teacher for me as a prize...best gift ever.

Friday while washing up dishes I let Evelyn play with some leftover pudding, using it as finger paint. It started out innocent, quietly painting on the mat I provided. Soon I noticed articles clothing flying through the air as she stepped up the craft Evelyn style. Her goal? Naked pudding painting with her feet, bum, legs, and hair. Since the dishes were done be the time the game devolved I popped her into the kitchen sink for a soak. Justin sent a gorgeous bouquet of roses for Mother's Day. This time he sent colorful roses in a cute vase. Good job sweetheart. We enjoyed a date night while our neighbor's teenaged daughter Setti babysat our kids. Justin and I went to Sam and Louie's then to the theater to watch Guardian's of the Galaxy 2. The night off was completely wonderful. All I can say is: Trash Panda and I am Groot. So funny.

I made a matching dress for Josie using the same fabric and pattern as a dress I made for Amelia. I cut out a coordinating dress for Evelyn but lacked a couple inches of fabric for the sleeves. It is a joke trying to get just a little more fabric out here. I finally found someone going to Scottsbluff, she got the fabric. Phew. Meeting up with her was another story, she finally remembered to drop off the fabric after 4 times of failed meetings. I wanted the girls to wear their new dresses for Mother's Day. Most of the Evelyn's dress was completed so finishing it took no less than 45 minutes. The girls looked darling! Saturday we went to Cabela's for some shopping. Justin wanted a thick camping pad to use over the crappy hospital bed next week. We got sleeping bags for Everett, Evelyn, and Josie. The kids all got fun sunhats as well. Evelyn insisted hers was a cowboy hat. At home she put on her cowboy dress, her cowboy shirt, cowboy boots, and the new hat. She had hair doughnuts (messy buns) that day, so her hat looked a bit wonky. Everett had his shorts on backwards and his hat strap tangled up. He is a walking wardrobe malfunction. We visited with the Haley family out in Dalton for Morley's graduation reception. Alison served cute root beer floats in glass jars and also had a s'mores bar. The kids played and played outside with the other kids in attendance. Josie was enamored with the cute chickens and ducks out back.

Sunday morning Phillip woke up a 6 am, he wanted the iPad. I told him no...go back to sleep. Instead he headed to the kitchen and rustled around for a good 30 minutes. He tottered into my room with a tray holding a water bottle of milk (it had a dollop of strawberry powder in it for a nice shade of pink), the container of brown sugar, package of walnuts, two bowls (one for Evelyn), and a tiny bowl of oatmeal. He smacked a huge kiss on my cheek then wandered away. I am still giggling over the huge thermos of milk and the tiny bowl of oatmeal. What a kid. Matt Haley asked me last Sunday if I wanted a gift. I am leery of his gifts. Hesitantly, I agreed. He asked if I wanted to sit on the stand and watch Justin wrestle the kids during Sacrament meeting. The catch was I had to give a talk on Mother's Day. The gift was well-appreciated! The primary kids sang the intermission song, my kids all gave me hug as they returned to their seats. Everett said quite seriously, "Mom, I hope you give a good talk, we are all counting on it!" That's quite the pressure. I sure appreciated all the extra hugs, kisses, and snuggles on Sunday. Justin made shrimp scampi, well, tried but burned the garlic right off. I made the dish but it did not taste delicious, not enough lemon and soggy noodles. Yuck. I did not have to do dishes so that was a bonus. Monday I paid the price with the extra leftover dishes waiting for me. Guess the bag of white chocolates will console me while I clean up the weekend mess. Ha ha! All in good spirits. I was so glad to chat with my mom and relax more than usual.

PS: Evelyn calls white dandelions blow-ies. Yah, know...you blow them and the seeds poof free?! Cute.

07 May 2017

Concerts for Days

























If you thought this week would calm down after the busy week before...nope. It was even busier if that is possible. Still, we really enjoyed watching each child showing off skills they worked hard to perfect.

The kids all celebrated Teacher Appreciation week at school. Each day the kids were to bring special gifts to say thank you. Phillip had a Spirit week to celebrate the end of arduous testing, his favorite day was wearing Sidney Red Raider clothes. The worst day was dressing up like a teacher, he did not want to wear a dress or put on a bow tie like the principal. He finally settled on dressing up like the PE teacher, but had a fit because he could not find the right kind of sports pants.

Phillip and Everett worked hard on their last soccer games of the season. Everett's team rounded out the season as undefeated. He really enjoyed: holding the timer to keep track of switching teammates on the field, faking injuries, kicking the ball, making scores, and sitting on as many soccer balls as possible. He sustained several kicks and balls to the head his first season. I think his brain is fine. Phillip's team played their very best but the other team won by 8 points, the older teams have a bigger field and some teams have kids in the 2nd and 3rd grades, giving them the advantage. Still! He loved his time playing soccer. Never once did he complain about going to a game. He kicked the ball a few times during his last game of the season. Everett's coach kindly hosted a pizza party at Pizza Hut to celebrate an undefeated season. Amelia almost died because all there was to eat was pizza. She thought that until I ordered her some chicken Alfredo to eat. She survived the ordeal. Everett and his mates had a grand time eating pizza and acting like weirdos. I think he downed 5 slices of pizza. Hooray for us! We made it though soccer.

Tuesday night the 4th Graders performed in the best recorder concert I've ever heard (or played in myself). I prepped myself all day, knowing the shrill whistle sounds coming for an entire hour. Sweet surprise! Mrs Michelman experienced her first year teaching music and recorders this year. I am quite literally stunned! She had fun music the kids playing along to using the notes ABC. For the range of notes the kids played the music was so cool. She trained the kids to played controlled with little to no squeaks. Three groups of two classes each performed than a special orange belt group. The kids could earn a white, yellow, and orange belts (yarn tied around their recorder to show their level). Amelia said she did not want to miss out on recess so did not try out for the orange belt group. She and Jacob Loebig wrote their own class introductions and got to announce the songs their group played. That girl is a great public performer, no fear at all. Keeping Evelyn and Josie quietly entertained was "fun." The girls were in the main aisle distracting those nearby. The noises and clapping only entertain for so long. Amelia showed off her newest trick: playing her recorder with her right nostril. Stupendous talent!

Wednesday at 2 pm Everett's class performed their Spring Sing and presented special art work focused on replicating the Impressionist artists. By this time Josie and Evelyn were quite over sitting and watching performances. Two was enough to cure them of the novelty. Evelyn stood by me as I took some photos and video recorded the concert. She was entranced with the dancing and props, this was on her level! Brushing your teeth, tying your shoes, and music speed songs?! Yes please. Everett lead the group for the decrescendo song. His energy and dance moves were captivating. I heard more than a couple titters and giggles from the audience. Everett loves performing and music as well. Justin stayed long enough to hear the songs and see Everett's displayed work of art. The girls and I stayed to enjoy a cookie and wait until he could go home for the afternoon at 2:45. Evelyn had a fun playdate with Elliott in our basement that morning. Jenny and I chatted about photography and photoshop. She is a blossoming photographer who needed a bit of help.

Josie learned how to climb up on the dishwasher while I loading up the machine. Her smiles of triumph were the cutest thing ever. She stood on her own a couple times this when placed on her feet. She cries and looks very worried to free stand. Amelia claims Josie took a couple steps after standing to get rescued by Amelia. I do find her free standing near a toy or the coffee table unaware of her feat. This week she started sticking her bum more in the air as she moves her feet. Walking is coming ever closer! I am trying to change around her nap schedule, she is having a hard time taking two naps. What she really needs is a long afternoon nap instead of a long morning nap. Finding a good nap time is a bit challenging with summer vacation a couple weeks away. I want one early enough to still enjoy the pool, but not right around lunch hour. This could be tricky. She pulled a midnight play time from 11 pm until 2:30 am, melatonin did not work. Looks like she is cutting her other top tooth. We love to watch her dance, jigging her short, stumpy legs to the beat. Her animal noises are also very endearing. She calls every one "Hi Daddy!" when someone comes home. This week Josie also started pointing and jabbering quite intently. She's trying to find her words.

Amelia is already starting the "I'm bored" whine. She did not have homework this week due to Mr Ahovissi tutoring the 4th graders in African drumming, dancing, and culture of West Africa. I cracked down right away...if your bored don't come asking me...you'll get a chore. One day she mixed cornstarch and water to play with. All the kids really enjoyed that activity. The mess was mostly cleaned up by the kids since we used cutting mats to catch the drips. Some drips landed on the floor which I swept up after it dried. She read a book and tried not to look so glum in her obvious boredom. I'm appointing her fun coordinator this summer. She can plan the activities and I will be her assistant.

Thursday the weather was so amazing outside. We spent a fine morning playing at the park with Elliott and other little friends. During Jojo's naptime I coaxed her outside to play with purple sand in the sand table. We played find the buried treasure (my fancy fake wedding ring) and loved how the fine sand swept through our fingers. After school the older kids spent more time playing outside with the sand, bubbles, and the swing. Everett started a super hero game using two foam Captain America shields. He played for a couple hours in his own little world fighting bad guys and perfecting his moves. Once when he threw the shields the wind gusted them away into the street, there the shields righted themselves and rolled down the street for two city blocks. He was pretty sure that his powers made the shields go so far. Justin mowed the lawn after dinner. A lawn guy also came and aerated our lawn. The sideyard lawn is quite firm and dirt packed, it really, really needed the aeration. The boys made thinking chairs using lawn clippings. I thought the chairs looked itchy but Phillip insisted he came up with all sorts of ideas sitting in his lawn chair. LOL.

Friday during lunch hour the 4th grade performed African dances and African drumming for parents and teachers at the High School. Amelia's group went first, they danced then drummed as a group. Once again the drumming was quite impressive and spot on the beat. Evelyn scraped her knee when we walked over, she was quite worried about her wound and whining for 3 bandaids. Evelyn is working on her posing skills. Some poses are experimental, some are darn cute. Amelia earned an African bracelet for answering some questions Mr Ahovissi asked kids about their week learning some of his culture. My favorite question: what is the capital of Africa? Trick question?!

Sister Talbot organized the best talent show our ward has ever seen...ok....the first talent show ever. Amelia and I played the duet we practiced for her piano recital. I really wanted to rap out a Dr Seuss book but Justin refused and the boys said my idea was dumb. Last moment the boys decided they needed to have a talent to show. Everett wanted to perform his Ninja Power Ranger dance moves with sound effects. Phillip wanted to control his Batbot for everyone. Somehow using my questionable mind persuasion skills I convinced him to read a BofM scripture as his talent. He's worked so hard and come so far it seemed quite a feat for our boy. Really, experiencing him read a scripture each night and watching his progress is a miracle. I set up a table earlier in the day with photos, props, and dresses I've sewn for my talent. I made a chocolate and an almond sheet cake to share for treats. Both were delicious, course I am quite partial to the almond one. Delicious. Phillip freaked out when he saw two drum kits set up near the front. Josh Austead let the boys try out his kit. Phillip did not go all "Muppets Animal" as I expected. He quite tentatively tapped a surface here and a drum there. Everett got fed up with his reticence so grabbed the sticks and showed him how, that it was ok. After Everett's intervention he played with more vigor. Everett was the one who sounded like the Muppet's Animal. Josh got a nice sideshow from my boys during the show, he captured more than a dozen silly faces and traces of crazy moves (Josh helped man the audio equipment). The ward members show off real and goofy talents. Quite a bit of singing and instrumental talents were shown. One boy did some break dancing, his dad finished the contest with some of his own moves. Little Myrah thought Everett was adorably cute performing his moves. Such a fun night for our Sidney ward. Everett finally lost his first tooth. He wiggled it so much during the talent show the tooth was barely hanging on. Justin convinced Everett to let him try and get it out. Moments later he had the tooth in his hand and a paper towel stuffed in the vacant spot. Evelyn was a nervous wreck knowing the tooth fairy was coming to visit. She also has a phantom loose tooth. Tooth fairies are quite real for Evelyn. Everett discovered an entire dollar under his pillow the next morning. He declared himself quite rich, able to buy candy from a vending machine.

Just a few hours later the church was once again swamped with families and youth for the large yard sale. I hear the youth raised over $1300 for their summer camps this year. Amelia, Josie, and I showed up early to help out. We also waited for Ella so the girls could get their annual birthday photos together. I happened to have the same material Alison used to make Ella's dress. I whipped up an easy boho dress in just a couple hours on Wednesday night. After photos I ran home so Justin could take off for Stake conference meetings in Cheyenne and to get new tires for his truck. He was not gone 30 minutes before he was back home, the truck's 3rd piston was misfiring, causing the engine to run really rough. He waited around for an hour then left. The boys woke up quite early Saturday morning. I came home to find them eagerly playing some amazing game with the Imaginext toys. That morphed into a Power Ranger game. A little while later the boys raced outside dressed as Power Rangers ready to defend Earth from invaders. Phillip got distracted with the Power Wheels. He left Everett sulking on the curb, a sword forlornly stuffed into his shirt. He did not want to "talk about it" as he escaped my camera. No worries, he emerged a while later with a new weapon and a new attitude. Phillip meanwhile took Josie on a ride around the block letting her steer. What I captured seemed the essence of childhood! Bless their hearts. Justin left, I picked up a hot and tired Amelia from the garage sale and we went to Subway for lunch. We lucked out, the subway had only one worker and a line of 20 people. We lined up right before the other 20 folks showed up. After lunch the kids played on the train car for a while. I filled up the wading pool with water since outside was over 80 degrees. The kids enjoyed a lovely afternoon playing in the water and sprinkler. They loved swinging into the sprinkled water. The water aimed at the swing lead to a mud puddle under the swing. That lead to pigs warming themselves in bliss (Phillip's words). Everett and Evelyn were quite immune to the mud action. Evelyn was dressed as a mermaid, she was afraid to get her tail dirty. Everett heard me say that after playing in mud was my turn to spray them off with the hose. That was my treat. Amelia painted Phillip up pretty good, he only had a couple bare spots left. The mud released two very strange mud zombie monsters. I am so glad they had a great time. Josie watched them play from the safety of the rocked tree area. She wanted to join but also did not want to. She hates the grass so always finds a haven under the tree. Such a lovely afternoon with my punks. After baths/showers and dinner we spread blankets out on the front lawn and played "I Spy." Josie was a total goofball as she laughed and rolled around on the soft blankets. She made me laugh with her infectious giggles.

Today we attended Stake Conference, the meeting was broadcast to our building this time. We enjoyed several talks and many testimonies. Our Stake President challenged us all to bring a friend to church in June either for a special meeting (in June) or for a class based on the new initiative to be prepared. Challenge accepted! After church Amelia got to perform her recital pieces at the E-Free church along with Mrs Raymond's other students. We played our duet Pagoda in the Purple Mist and she performed The Dragon Hunt as a solo. She was nervous this time to perform in front of strangers. She played beautifully as usual! I am relieved this coming week looks rather empty.

**I found Phillip in the kitchen staring at the remains of a squished cherry tomato, his gaze held wonder and fear. Curious about why there was a squashed tomato on the floor I asked about the situation. He said his foot accidently stomped on the tomato because he was curious over how far the insides would explode. After cleaning up the mess the boys ran outside with four tomatoes each to continue their accidental science experiment. Phillip was the fast stomper and Everett was the slow, careful stomper. Phillip won. The remains of the poor tomatoes can still be seen, baked into the concrete.

***Evelyn finally went poop in the potty three times this week. After every success she was quite happy to tell me I could not give her a cold bath. Maybe she hated them after all her pretended adoration. I am quite happy to celebrate with her and treat her with 6 tic tacs as a reward.

***I tried out a simple menu this week, to cut down on food shopping excess. Our bill was a quite a bit lower and there was less food to waste. The kids were not excited because the snacks were also significantly less. Menu planning makes me shudder, maybe I can do something simple. In my mind the process includes recipe gathering, making full grocery lists, and such. I am not that kind of person (yet).