14 November 2017

Goldfield Mine

















Monday morning I set up an appointment to have a carpet company give me an estimate to replace the carpets and different tile. Around 10:30 am I heard the doorbell ring, immediately Evelyn belted out a bloodcurdling scream: "IT'S A ROBBER!!!!" I calmly explained that robbers don't usually ring the doorbell. She laughed off her mistake and opened the door! I was dying! The carpet guy had a rather confused look on his face! Looks like it will only cost an arm and half a leg to replace the carpets. Boo Hooooooo.

Amelia came home from school on Tuesday red-faced from crying. She was angry, mad, frustrated, and upset. It took some finesse to work out the truth from her. Seems like a boy in her class has a major crush on Amelia. His name is Lars. Mia's friend Chloe is quite excited about Lars' crush and is helping pass notes from Lars to Mia. Amelia was mad because she did NOT want a dumb boy to write notes to her. She ripped up the note (after I read it) and threw away the first note from Lars. I was flummoxed over her response to the situation. I think now a few days later some understanding crept in: she is embarrassed that a boy likes her and is unsure how to respond, unsure if liking a boy in return is ok. I had crazy dreams all week about Amelia, Lars, and teen romance gone bad. It was terrible! Ha ha ha. Justin and I urged Amelia to pray about the situation and wait to respond until her emotions were not so crazy. She responded the next day, Chloe was badgering her all day for a return note. I think Amelia finally wrote back a note that said friend, friend, friend...written all over. Lars' note back is the one included above. It seems he is smitten for all the right reasons! We totally agree with his assessment of Amelia. Justin is ready with his guns! Mia is way too young for all this (in my opinion). We talked a bit about how this time in her life is to play, imagine, read, and be a kid. No need for intense pressure like that, especially from Chloe and Lars.

Evelyn is the Queen of "Why" in our house. She is my first kid to really pursue the "why" question even after multiple explanations and return questions asking her why. Today she wanted to know why I had to mail back the rainbow swing. Why? Because the frame is not fitting together. Why? A section of the pipe is bent. Why? It was a manufacture defect. Why? The machine malfunctioned. Why? Why send back the swing? Why? Why? Gotta love those 4 year old minds. I love that she calls zippers as whippers instead. "Mom, can you whip up my bag?" Makes me kiss those delightful cheeks.

Thursday I convinced my third cousin to get some photos taken in the cotton fields near her home down in Queen Creek. I was so excited to find props, plan outfits, and such. Amelia agreed to babysit for me, aka watch devices while I was gone. The Godard's were aware the kids were alone and could come over if needed. I took Josie along just for fun. I brought my white baby pram, a white christening dress, the blue coat set, and a cute baby bed. I felt pretty jazzed to take some photos. Plus I finally got to meet up with my cousin and her cute baby, Sage. Amelia did a great job babysitting for me. Came home to the kids still in the same places I left them. Thanks to the crock pot dinner was soon on the table without much ado.

Friday the kids had no school. We took the morning to explore Goldfield, a ghost town near Flying Dutchman. I packed up a picnic lunch, lots of water, and treats for the event. Pretty much it is a tourist trap wrapped up in a cool setting. All the town's buildings are either gift stores or places you have to pay a fee to tour or enter. Still, it was exciting to walk around the town and explore the remnants of a mining town. Melanie and her kids met up with us shortly before noon. We ate lunch soon after they arrived. The hornets were haunting the picnic tables much to the kid's annoyance. They were too scared to eat with the pests hovering about. We settled for some boulders near a cliff instead to eat lunch. I gnawed on my huge flower of raw broccoli dipped in hummus. The hummus was most excellent since I made it fresh that morning. Josie kindly opened all the containers of yogurt, wasting 5 containers. Amelia made sure the boys did not fall off the cliff. She has top notch bossing skills, I let her do all the hard work! We checked out the cemetery and outhouse. One grave had an entire metal bed covering his area, guess that guy liked his sleep. Another plot was piled high with stones, Phillip quipped that the person buried there "must've been sorta fat" since the pile was so high. We got a laugh out of that. All the kids played an intense game of hot lava with Evelyn starring as Te-Ka. Melanie took Everett and Evelyn to ride the train around the town. Amelia, Phillip, Josie, and I all toured the mine. The tickets cost $8 per in cash, I only had $8 and a checkbook. The cashier gave me the child tickets for free because my bank was Navy Federal! Guess it does pay to still have ties to the military on Veteran's Day. She handed us "stickets" aka, stick tickets. LOL. The elevator ride down seemed to really shake up Amelia, I finally told her the ride down was all fake, and that we were less than 20 feet underground. Phillip was freaked out when the guide started talking about Tommyknockers, the fabled creatures that miners believed would warn them of cave collapses. Phillip had his eyes wide open hoping to catch a glimpse of one. Josie was a stinker, took off her shoes and rubbed my pants with dirt and rocks while we stopped to listened to the tour. Fun times. We were raving with thirst after the tour so we stopped at Sodalicious for some fancy soda drinks and cookies. Phillip got a Boy Scout (rootbeer and marshmellow), Amelia ordered an Officer Jenny (some citrus concoction with cream), two orange floats, and a raspberry drink for me. Evelyn made snow angels in the fake grass area...guess you have to work with the medium available.

Justin and I had a night off to grab some dinner and watch the new Thor movie. We ate wings at the movie theater, Fat Cats. They were gross, the salad is now on my dislike list. Yuck. The movie was most excellent. Lots of good laughs and highly entertaining. Can't complain about the reclining seats either.

Justin was at church on Sunday from 6:20 am until almost 3 pm. Talk about a long day at church, fasting to boot. He snuck in a nap before the Chandler Calls came over for Sunday dinner. I made Korean Bulgogi with lots of fun toppings for dinner. We had quite the Asian inspired week of food: Thai Tom Kha Gai soup, sushi, stir fry, and bulgogi. Asian food is good for vegetable and protein diets. While rice cooked I took family and individual photos of the Calls. Mostly, a thank you for all they did hosting Justin for almost 2 months. The kids had quite a rousing game of animal trainer going after dinner. I'm surprised the roof did not blast off with the level of noise the kids generated. So, so happy to have cousins to play with and a sister to talk with.

06 November 2017

Trick or Treating and a Miracle

















Halloween is lovely especially when outside is a balmy 70 degrees, we traded snow boots and coats for normal shoes and no layers. That was really, really nice. This week I tried to sleep train Josie back to napping in her bed. Monday-Thursday she sat/stood in her crib and cried for 1.5 hours. I expected the first day to be the longest cry fest. It never shortened or stopped. Looks like if that girl will nap it will be on the floor or wherever I put her down. Sleep training is brutal. She took two little catnaps which did little to abate her extreme crankiness. Pretty much I had a very tired and clingy baby all week. Her crib angst does not affect her night sleep so I let it go. She napped Friday-Sunday on the floor happy as a clam (as long as I was next to her). Naps last only about 30-45 minutes now. She is a full strength "mine" type of toddler. Happy until you grab her bucket, blanket, binky, shoes, diapers, etc. Josie makes us laugh with her joy of new experiences. She has this funny little happy dance where she chortles while dancing around. This week she discovered a love for spray bottles. If you give her one and a rag that girl will clean until she gets bored. She cleaned the dog, the floor, the carpet, several walls, and my lower cabinets.

Halloween day started early with a costume parade at Sonoma Ranch. The kids actually got to wear their costumes to school! They could keep their costumes on as long as they did not interfere with learning. Most kids wore parts of their costumes all day, Phillip changed his shirt and Everett took off his body suit. The night before I went to Target and bought the last Shine costume on the racks. Evelyn was over joyed! She gave me a grateful hug and kiss! I took the kids to school so the little girls and I could watch the parade. Josie was hilarious with her "bird" costume as she renamed her butterfly suit. After morning announcements the parade began. Josie was thrilled to notice Amelia towards the end, she ran up and insisted on marching along with her! Everyone (including myself) said, "Ahhhh! So adorable!" Justin came home right after lunch to work from home. With traffic he would've missed all the excitement! His boss suggested he go home early and work the afternoon at home. Brilliant! Once piano lessons were over I dished up early dinner. I raced to get makeup on the girls and costumes back on. Our ward hosted a fun Halloween street. Quite a few ward members live on a particular street nearby. They got city permission to block off traffic for a roaring block party. Along the street folks handed out candy. Stations of root beer, popcorn, fishing, a Halloween movie, face painting, etc dotted here and there. I helped out with the face painting station for a while. Amelia seemed in her own little world dancing to Thriller in the middle of the street with little abandon. We had a really nice time. Around 7:10 we drove home to let the kids trick or treat around our little neighborhood. The occasion was a good excuse to meet some of our neighbors as well. Around the corner 5-6 homes threw a block party while watching a baseball game, handing out candy, and eating hot dogs. The kids were quite terrorized by the house with a ghoul projected on the garage, the next house was even more terrifying with a motorized werewolf. Phillip had nightmares for three nights and ended up in my bed he was so scared. After all the excitement the kids came home and started the great candy trade-off. As soon as buckets were dumped on the floor the trading began in earnest: "Mia, trade me your snickers for my Reese's?" I think they had just as much fun trading as they did collecting the treats.

Wednesday and Thursday I spent cleaning up the post-holiday mess. I started drinking this nasty liver-cleansing drink with vinegar, lemon, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne, ginger, and raw honey. It tastes like an apple cider gone very wrong. I upped my raw veggie intake quite a bit, adding broccoli, salads, and power greens. It's not much fun to choke down raw veggies with no condiments. I'll manage, as I gnaw on this here head of broccoli. Blech.

Wednesday Evelyn Hornbarger surprised us with a visit. She is in the area helping her in-laws while her father-in-law is in the hospital. She needed to get out, we needed a visit from a friendly face, and so it all worked out. Seth seemed glad to come play in our yard with my Evelyn. We popped out to enjoy a special drink or two from Sodalicious. Mostly, we had some good chats about my liver and the state of Sidney after the merger.

Evelyn had a preschool evaluation for the Amanecer preschool early Thursday morning. She was very excited to finally go to school like the big kids. Evelyn packed up a lunch of 2 apple sauces, 2 fruit snacks, chips, and a drink, half to share with Josie. The evaluation was interesting to watch. Evelyn was evaluated by several specialists as they engaged her in play at several stations. First station was gross motor skills (kicking balls, balance beam, throwing bean bags). Next was fine motor skills like scissor cutting (she's good at this one), coloring, and some color/number identification. Then her social-emotional skills were tested while playing house with a teacher. Lastly, some cognitive skills and speech tests were conducted. She passed all with high scores except speech. She has a stutter much like Everett did except her stutters come in the middle of her sentences instead of the beginning. The teachers were quite impressed with her art skills. I heard her tell one teacher that Everett was dressed up like a ninja was bad eyebrows.  She will get another one-on-one evaluation towards the end of November. If I can get her into the preschool with a speech IEP, then preschool is free. May as well try?! Evelyn had a fun time playing with the adults. We made a library run afterwards. I am sad Evelyn does not enjoy the library as much as I do. Once inside she loved the toddler area.

The big miracle of our week is that we got an offer on our Sidney home. Wednesday afternoon Nan emailed Justin to let him know we might get an offer. Sure enough the next day we had an offer signed after just one renegotiation. They offered $107 and we countered at $112 with a couple items like no big fixes etc. During this process another offer came at the same time for $112. We still went with the first offer since I knew the family and trusted their situation more than the second unknown family. We are pleased with the offer and feel quite relieved to be headed towards closing. What a miracle. I still feel a little guilty that our house is selling when so many others are stalled out, some for over 18 months. Just the night before we prayed as a family our house would sell, Jacob was over since his mother is in California. We told him the good news the next day, he immediately smiled and declared: "God answered your prayer from last night! That was fast!" Justin had the idea to celebrate with taco Thursday at Del Taco. The kids had not complaints since the place has a play area. Their favorite game of late is hot lava. Evelyn is always pretending the floor is hot lava...or when we are out driving. It is hilarious.

Justin's work observed Veteran's Day on Friday, a week in advance of the rest of the USA. It was so nice to spend a low key day at home with him. We took the two little girls on a long, whine free bike ride. Enjoyed some time to talk about things we never seemed to find time to talk about. On our way home we stopped at the park for a break. Justin mowed the lawn and edged it! I felt spoiled. We made a quick stop at Home Depot for a gas can, winter grass seed, ant killer, and roach bait. We surprised the kids at school lunch. We fit right in with our home lunches. Justin totally caught Everett by surprise, he was busy eating when Justin snuck up behind him and asked why he was not eating his food. The lunch ladies found us a secluded table to enjoy our lunch. Phillip and Amelia found us as their classes came to the cafeteria. It was fun to put names and faces together for some of their friends. Recess was a wild affair. Phillip showed us how all the sand ends up in his undies and shoes. That kid was sliding and throwing sand all over himself. Mystery solved.

A few days ago Evelyn somehow got the idea that Robbers would try to steal her tent and binky. She constantly talks about robbers now. She locks all the doors. She talks about how Justin's muscles and guns will protect her stuff. A maintenance guy came over today, she freaked out because he rang the bell. She was sure he was a robber here to take our stuff. It is funny to catch a glimpse into her little world from time to time. Lava and robbers.

Saturday we instituted super cleaning time. A parental torture session involving kids moaning and parents yelling for cooperation. We ended up with a clean house, bedrooms included. I was happy! Maybe now I can get to deep cleaning instead of constant clutter control. Justin and I both have memories of Saturday morning torture as we cleaned house. Guess it's time to pass on the favor. The boys and Evelyn went to Anson's birthday party. I got the times mixed up so they were an hour late. I stayed behind to let Josie nap. Amber and Mike dropped off their younger kids, Megan and Amy, to play while they went to the temple. Amelia had a really great time with them. The girls mostly made perler creations and played outside. Towards the end the girls got an idea to make trash bag dresses. So the last 30 minutes the girls raced around designing dresses and decorating them with hot glue, gorilla tape, and accessories. Evelyn was so glad to see Amber, soon she had Amber pushing her on the swing.

I had the time of my life shopping alone at Lee Lee Asian Market. Most markets I've frequented were just a couple aisles. Not this store. It was a huge store the size of Walmart filled with international foods from the orient. I loved the produce area, so many exotic choices one would never, ever see at Walmart. The meat area reminded me of a genuine fish market. Tanks of live fish, freshly butchered fish on ice, prawns the size of my open hand! The aisles were organized by country, Thailand, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Brazil, India, Vietnam, Middle East, and Cajun (strange I know). Each aisle was a delight with so many new smells and ingredients.

Sunday we had Stake Conference. Phillip was sick to his tummy so spent half the time in the foyer with Justin. Hence, the little girls were up and down, in and out to check on Justin. Our stake theme for the next year is Hold to the Rod! Part of the conference was televised along with hundreds of other stakes in the west. After church Phillip decided Cagey the hamster needed a bath. So he put the rodent in his ball and filled it with water. Good thing the ball does not hold much water! Poor guy was wet from whiskers to toes. Phillip carefully wrapped his wet pet in a paper towel because he was shivering so badly. I am unsure if the shivering was from cold or that a human boy was holding the hamster. He survived the ordeal. Phillip hopefully now understands that hamsters don't take baths, rather the animal washes itself. The video he took and subsequent photos of the event are quite entertaining.

29 October 2017

Pumpkin Carving











Life rolls on! And on. It's destined to. Another pumpkin session carving session goes down in the books. Another Halloween almost gone. I am already looking forward to what next year will bring. I predict more hot days. That one is a sure deal. 

Josie thinks napping on the floor is fun. She only naps for 20-30 minutes each day now. It's killing me a bit since she really wants to sleep an hour or more. Little Jojo does not like her bed and just cries. It might be time again for another sleep duke-it-out series of sessions, nap-style. I need more time to get things done than 10 minutes with my arms free. She goes around whining: "Mommy! Mommy?! Mommmmmy!" It's cute. It does get old since she is trying to say something else but does not have the verbal skills to tell me what she really wants. Josie will get the hard treatment in nursery now since I have a Sunday calling in Primary as the Music Leader. Should be fun! Josie just cries and cries in nursery. Guess it's time to get used to a little time away from "mommy." I do enjoy her sweet kisses! She is quite the snuggler. 

I had a return Dr visit with the Red River clinic about my blood work from a couple weeks ago. Several items stood out that could be affecting my health. Mainly, it seems my liver is not quite working as it should, possible it's dealing with high amounts of inflammation due to food allergies or hormones. I have sufficient thyroid levels BUT it seems my body is not using the thyroid hormones (the reverse t3 serum is high). Treatment with the clinic will cost about $4,000 plus $150 per month in supplements for 6 months. Price tag hurts even with a medical loan. Still I felt hopeful that the Dr gave me some clues of what could be going on to cause my fatigue and headaches. I plan on approaching my new family Dr to ask for a food allergy work up, see if I can eliminate the tremendous inflammation my body is constantly fighting, normal levels are 1-2 and mine are at 11. A lady in my ward, Sister Wolford runs a clean eating blog and has lots of good information to help cleanse and help the liver to start working again. Means lifestyle changes, but I was totally expecting that. Justin was able to attend the visit since the office is not too far from his work. The girls were so excited to have him there. 

Melanie Christenson let us borrow her bottle of Viral Hot Pink shampoo. Amelia and Evelyn now have fun pink hair! The shampoo colors hair for 1-4 weeks depending on your hair type. It's pretty fun for the girls. I kind of want to get the ruby hair shampoo for myself! Evelyn now thinks she is a real genie with her pink hair.  

The kids had half school days on Thursday and Friday for parent-teacher conferences. I scheduled all the kids between 3-3:45 on Thursday. Amelia of course is sailing along with flying colors. She did some early gifted testing and could possibly attend the gifted school for 6-8th grades next year (if she wants to). Mrs Howard gave the kids self-evaluations and Amelia said the one area she needs to work on is turning in assignments on time (she likes to take her time making sure everything is perfect). Mrs Howard said that was exactly what her own evaluation said! She is making some friends in her class. Her friends are Chloe, Abby, and George. She earned straight A's her first quarter at a new school. That my friends is awesomely amazing. Phillip's conference was next with Mrs Epstein. He is doing well! Most of his scores are high average, except reading comprehension and able to write narratives alone. I've witnessed his jump in reading skills this quarter. He is really improving. We talked about his ability to focus and get work done. He works well at school (and home) only when someone is sitting next to him guiding him along. He gets it but needs guidance. We decided to have the school psychologist test him for general developmental delays just to see if anything pops up. Hooray for Phillip! He's got this reading challenge in the bag. Everett was last on the conference list. Mrs Laske said that Everett gives her a hug each and every morning! It's something she loves to get! His report card looks almost identical to Phillip's because the rating system is quite broad, especially the first two quarters. He knows 151/200 sight words, and has his pluses memorized up to the +5's! This kid is overly excited about school and loves the classroom. Our house is now a reading farm! Books everywhere! I love it. We read before school, after school, and before bed.

Phillip wants to be Luke Skywalker for Halloween. I spent lots of time scouring the Goodwill for items to make his costume. I found the last pieces on Friday, shoes and brown pants. The pants are women's fleece leggings! He put on the ensemble and started moaning. The karate Gi was not right, his hair was not yellow, he actually wanted to wear Luke's flysuit etc. Next morning Phillip comes downstairs wearing the women's leggings, the cool brown high tops, a brown button up shirt, sunglasses and a hat. He looked like a total hipster, leggings and all. I'm not telling him the pants are actually girl pants. Makes me laugh inside knowing something he would possibly freak out over. Phillip is on day day three wearing those leggings. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I promised the kids Saturday they could carve pumpkins. Everett's was rotten before we even got a chance to carve it. I had to make another run to get a pumpkin for him before we started. This time I used a drill with a whisk attachment tightened on to scramble the insides of the pumpkins. It did help to loosen the guts! Josie about gagged when I showed her the inside of the pumpkin. She appropriately squealed, "Ewwwwww!" Lots of giggles, gags, and usage of kid-safe carving knives produced four carved pumpkins. Amelia carved a Pegasus, adorned with painted mane and tail, lots and lots of glitter. I carved most of Everett's spider and all of Evelyn's witch. Phillip's was his very own creation, a killed zombie pumpkin. Justin had work to do over the weekend so he mostly read and popped out once to admire the chaos. We took a much needed slurpee run after Josie's "nap." Justin worked on a busted sprinkler pipe he started work on at 5:30 am on Thursday. Dang anxiety pops up at the most inconvenient times. Once he found the correct parts the fix was done in minutes, just took him 2 days to find the right parts. 

Our kind neighbors sent the kids the "You've been Boo'd" card back with a huge plate of cookies and treats. I am sure Hannah had to run fast since the kids were close to the door when the bell rang! Our neighbors are so intriguing! When I first went over to visit a couple weeks back, I saw a huge 5 ft Roman goddess gracing their dining room wall. Can you guess? Husband is from Rome! People genuinely make me laugh and smile. Later the same week we got to visit some neighbors across the way behind us. Their home is an antique wonderland. They have a record juke box, an air-pumped piano player box, and an entire wing of the house loaded with Egyptian fancies. Oh, and more mystery/adventure books than one person (except me) should ever read. Forget the library! I am going to my neighbor's home.

Justin was called to be the new ward clerk today. I was called to be the new Primary music director. I pray my energy levels will stand up to the challenge! Mia and I are not totally hooked on attending ward choir. We go at 1:30, after I take a short 20 minute nap! It's rather perfect and fun for us to do together.

26 October 2017

Pumpkin Patch and Camping



































Monday morning we left to have a fun morning at the Pumpkin Patch. When I think of pumpkin patches I think of chilly mornings, hot cocoa, cute fall outfits, and fall colors. Quite the opposite happened. The kids were stoked to put on Halloween outfits and push up the sleeves. The patch we went to is not very far from our house, I pass it quite often on my trips to consign clothes at Once Upon a Child. We had our water bottles and snacks ready for a fun day. It was 85 when we arrived, by the time we left it was 100. We were all a sweaty mess, trying to enjoy fall fun under summer weather. The kids really loved the zip line and bouncing pillows. Josie loved all the animals and the barrel rides. We did not love the corn maze, it was hot and hard to carry Josie (and Evelyn), plus the one water bottle did not last long enough. In the maze we had to find 6 clue stations and answer a riddle. That was pretty fun. Amelia got lost in the maze and came out bawling once she finally found the exit. She was not so keen on enjoying herself but soon got lost in the fun again. All the kids spent a good deal of time at the water pumps and duck racing station. Ingenious! Celebrating fall in desert heat was a bit hard to overcome for me. We left right around noon. We all got slurpees to quench our powerful thirst.

For FHE activity we made cards for Aunty Jen. She had back surgery last week and was so nervous about it. I am relieved her older son and parents made it out here for the surgery and to help her recuperate for a few days. I finished patching a pair of jeans she ripped almost a year ago. That was hard work, my fingertips were ragged even with the thimble. Everett made her a card with a volcano exploding love, my favorite part was the mysterious dot Jen was supposed to find. Evelyn made her a sweet drawing. Amelia's letter and sugar skull were so creative. Phillip went all out and made a peaceful meadow for Jen to enjoy.

Tuesday was a big, big day for Phillip. He finally reached his goal to stay dry at night for over two weeks in a row. The day before we picked up a cage I thrifted off Facebook. He was in heaven picking out a house, food, snacks, and of course the hamster. He chose the smallest hamster of the lot, a robo dwarf. It is so small and ever so swift. Phillip christened his new pet: Cagey Snuffs Call. We took him home and got the hamster settled in his new habitat. Since Tuesday the kids let the hamster escape 4 times. Thankfully, he always went behind the large library filing cabinet. Took patience and a fly swatter to get the rodent back in the cage. He is one speedy devil, too small to really hold. The kids sort of hold him inside his exercise ball, mostly they spin him around and roll the poor thing across the floor. At pack meeting Phillip earned his first two awards! He earned two belt loops and should have earned his Bobcat, but the patch was not shipped in time. That kid was beaming from ear to ear! This month's pack meeting focused on two boys who moved up to Webelos. We met at the park to play then met to divvy out awards. Evelyn's newest favorite shoes are two sizes too big Anna dress up shoes.

A stretch of cloud cover actually spread through the area Tuesday and Wednesday. I was so excited to see cloud cover because I knew that meant amazing light. For years I've wanted to take photos in cotton fields, two weeks ago I learned that there are several cotton fields not too far away, only 30 minutes or so. Josie was awake (and crabby) the kids were still off school for break, so I coaxed them into the van and we went adventuring for cotton fields. I squealed when some fields came into view! Josie was not happy but warmed up after a bit. Evelyn made some strange faces so most of her photos did not turn out. The kids got to hold some old cotton that fell in the dirt, it is a strange mix of soft fibers and hard seed like spots. I am so glad that vision worked out.

The kids returned to school on Wednesday morning. We really enjoyed our downtime. I worked on cleaning up the evidence of two weeks with kids home. After school Mia had Activity Day Girls, we went at the usual time only to find no one there. I did not realize the time was changed to an hour later. I dropped Mia off then got a phone call 5 minutes later from her asking to be picked up. She was quite upset to find herself almost alone in the church. Thankfully, some guys were playing basketball. She related that she first dropped to her knees asking for help, the spirit directed her to ask one of the guys in the gym to use a cell phone. She did this and was able to get a hold of me. I felt so proud of her for taking the right steps and following the spirit. During her actual meeting time the girls made cute cupcakes and a sign reading, "You've been Boo'ed!" The girls were challenged to deliver the treats to someone who might need them. Mia decided to surprise our neighbors across the road. The kids ran over, delivered the plate and note, then ran back after ringing the door bell. All the kids were lined up just inside the garage door peeking around the wall to watch their reaction. From my perspective I saw four excited kids kneeling on the ground with their heads visible to the family across the street.  The treat was indeed discovered, I could hear our neighbor loudly exclaiming over the plate of cupcakes. This morning our doorbell rang, Mia opened the door to find the same note over a huge platter of treats! So cute!

Josie insisted on wearing a swim diaper over the PJs one morning. She went outside to yell at the kids with the diaper on and the game "Slamwich" clutched in one hand. We were quite startled to find rain sprinkling down. That lasted all of 2 minutes! Josie can now say her own name. Her new favorite words are: ketchup, mine, book, diaper, shine, elmo, treat, shoe, push, and swing.

The girls and I got the van oil changed and the radiator system flushed. The van odometer recently went over 100k. We are in heavy weight oil territory now. LOL. The best part was getting the van cleaned out inside and out. The girls amused themselves with the water guns installed in the waiting area. Kids can shoot water at the vehicles going through the car wash. I also had a Dr appointment to get my medicines refilled. Outside the Dr office a fun covered playground shared the courtyard. The girls had so much fun playing before and after my appointment. Josie got a chicken/pig Moana sticker, she talked about her sticker for over an hour. I was feeling a bit down this week, missing our home and friends in Sidney. From what I hear lots of changes are starting to roll down the pipes at Cabelas. I left so many friends and family there. Quite a novel experience for me.

Friday morning I packed up the truck for the ward campout. I was called to the committee to help out so felt obligated to attend. Justin was unable to come since he is right in the middle of quarter end, by the time he got home after 6 pm he would still have a two hour drive up the canyon. Once again I took the kids camping alone! It was no big deal. The kids were so excited so go camping in a cabin with sleeping bags, flashlights, and the promise of smores. I took them out of school right around 2:45. We stopped back at home for potty then onward to Payson. Everett asked every so often if we were almost there, if we were late, and what we were missing. He was so excited to sleep in a cabin. We decided on some sandwiches for dinner in Payson. We had such a great time up in the fresh canyon air. My job was to organize some skits for the evening entertainment. Most everyone I asked refused! Soooooo....my kids put on two skits and the Christensens agreed to put on a skit. The Bishop spoke a few words about Alma the Elder. Then a brother from the stake gave a history about a Walk for Women he helped install at Camp LoMia (it is a Young Women's Camp). The kids put on a skit about a candy store and another about a broken TV. Next morning the kids grouped together to put on several other skits they made up! We slept pretty well considering! We had the entire cabin to ourselves! I was able to use the sound machine to drown out the major karaoke party happening in the camp just below us. Amelia and I got up shortly after midnight to watch the Orionoid meteor shower. We watched for a good 30-35 minutes, no obvious meteors raced across the sky. Others stayed up until after 2 am, they saw only 3-4 meteors. She was so disappointed we missed it poor girl was crying for sometime before she fell back asleep. Everett woke up complaining his legs were itching. Josie kept cracking her noggin on the wall, never woke up but woke me up. Phillip was jigging up in his bunk, kept my bed moving and grooving. By 6 am all the kids were awake and freezing. I think that's the best part about camping! Getting warm by a fire in the morning with hot chocolate in hand. Josie was wrapped up in her favorite Shimmer and Shine blanket. Evelyn was scared of the fire, her little hands were chapped red from cold. Mostly I only saw glimpses of the older kids as they played here and there. We had a massive breakfast of burritos, fruit, and pancakes. Food was expected for 100 and only 50 showed up, so there was a lot of food! I died laughing as older boys passed with plates piled with only sausages and bacon. After breakfast we caught a ride in the back of Bishop's pickup to the Walk for Women. It was a very sweet place to feel the spirit, along the trail were plaques with quotes about Women. At the trail end was a large statue of a young family. Bishop carried Josie on his shoulders! The boys were more excited about all the sticks (aka guns, bombs, bazookas, etc) than focusing on spiritual matters. I had to leave with them so the others would not be bothered. We found a lovely maple tree, fiery red. Josie would not walk on the decks of our cabin or at the kitchen. She seemed afraid of falling through the floor! Poor kid just stood rooted in one place while flapping her arms. The best part was the car races. Gracious, all the kids flocked to the car ramp and bin of hot wheels. Josie was in heaven! Evelyn was in heaven! Phillip was in heaven! Everett was off in the woods collecting weapons of war. Phillip tried to throw him a small log, the log connected with the side of his face. Everett had a bloody nose, scraped nostril, and a nice bruise on his cheek. On our way down the canyon we stopped in Payson to visit with my cousin Amber for a couple hours. Her youngest is the same age as Amelia. The kids loved their trampoline and swing. Good times! We arrived home around 4 pm. Justin was off on a motorcycle ride so missed the unloading phase as well! Lucky guy. He cleaned up the kitchen, even mopped the floors. Justin attended Anson's baptism that morning to represent our family. Phillip was so upset he missed the baptism. Guess he missed the memo that it was either camping or the baptism. Post camping baths are the best treat! Sluicing off dirt, sweat, and bug spray feels amazing. We all went to bed much earlier than usual.

Josie slept on Justin during Sunday naps. She is once again being a stinker about her naps. Gah, just sleep you cranky kid. Amelia and I went to choir practice for the first time. I think she really enjoyed it, I know I did. Josie had taken to calling me "mommy" this week. It is utterly adorable. She walks around saying, "mommy, mommy, mommy?! Mommy!!" On the opposite Evelyn and I are on first name basis. "Jennifer, get me some chips. Jennifer, wipe my butt! Jennifer, push me on the swing." This is about the second week of first name usage.