27 September 2015

Staying Put
















The first day of Fall came...and went...with no change of weather. The temperatures continue to hover around 80 degrees outside. This week the mornings started off foggy and gray, once the fog burned off it went from 50 degrees to 80 in about an hour. I am loving the bountiful tomatoes our vines are producing. We eat almost all of the tomatoes none left to can. Sunday afternoon the kids cracked open Everett's last birthday gift. He got a set of dinosaur bones hidden in a chunk of plaster. The kids spent a good hour hacking away the plaster and extracting the plastic bones. The kids determined that the dino bones made a T-Rex skeleton. The rest of our afternoon the kids pretended to be dinosaur excavators. I hear some exciting discoveries were buried in the garden.

A couple weeks ago I started picking up Kaylee Hornbarger from school at the same time I get Phillip. She is a sweet little girl! We enjoy having her around to play with each afternoon for a couple hours. Amelia and I are reading Farmer Boy we are about 75% through the book. That book always makes me hungry! Phillip gave our FHE lesson this week on Loving our Family. He stood still for a couple seconds at a time to deliver a sentence or two. Everett showed off his ability to sing I Belong to the Church of Jesus Christ, rather than sing he belts it out in a level closer to screaming. No wonder we can hear him singing down the hall at church. In my family we often held "Glory" sessions as part of FHE. We are continuing the tradition with our kids. Each child takes the place of honor up on the coffee table to receive accolades. Our twist is that glory comes in silly deliveries. I remember my brothers creating heat seeking glory missiles.

Wednesday morning I ran to the library for a couple minutes to return a late book. I heard Evelyn shouting, "I did it!!" over and over. She did it in the children's book section. What did she do? That was the question burning in my mind. Well, she removed all her clothing, shoes, socks, diaper, hair clip, and was prancing naked near the Berenstein Bear books. Thankfully, the section was rather empty at the time and no one else discovered her streaking abilities. She was quite upset that I put clothes back on her. Evelyn has some naughty streaks that remind Justin and I of Phillip. He also enjoyed being naked.

Amelia had 8 pages of piano theory to get through this week, guess we neglected that book. She was rather glad piano was cancelled last minute. We ripped through 6 pages together and plan to finish the rest tomorrow. She enjoys piano once she can hear a song played through. It is like pulling teeth to get her practice, when she starts she enjoys herself so thoroughly that she will play for quite a long time.

This week I had three graduating Senior sessions, one boy and two girls. I enjoy the change of pace, young toddlers and babies pose certain problems. Amelia came along when I photographed the girls. She helped me get more natural smiles! Amelia enjoyed herself exploring the field and walking along unused railroad tracks. She was pretty cute skipping along and singing to herself. Justin had the extra task of watching cranky kids after dinner while I had the sessions. He went to bed early with the crankies as well.

Saturday we dedicated to yard work. In the morning Justin trimmed trees on our neighbors side that started to grow through our fence and warp the fence slats. I ripped out some spent garden plants and trimmed the lavender bushes. After lunch Justin trimmed the pine bushes. I went to work cutting down the pine tree gracing our front steps. The top got burned last year when it was covered with plastic to prevent paint splatter from when the rails were painted. It did not grow back. Justin was concerned with my attempts to remove the bush. I got the dang tree removed with the help of his saw attachment. Then I went to work on another dying pine bush. Then I removed a dying snowball bush as well. By the time we finished the back of Justin's truck was packed with yard waste. The boys were very impressed with Justin's muscles when he picked up an entire tree. The kids donned winter gloves and pitched in filling the wheelbarrow and throwing the debris in the truck. I think the kids secretly enjoyed the hard work. I sure did. Amelia and attended Women's Conference together. I enjoyed Elder Uchtdorf's talk. It was a spectacular reminder that the Savior's pure love is what makes us happy in this life. My favorite quote was "You see, everything else in the gospel-all the shoulds and the musts and the thou shalts-lead to love. When we love our neighbors, we stop thinking so much about our own problems and help others to solve theirs. And that-the pure love of Christ is what makes someone happy." I enjoyed having Amelia snugged up to me drawing as she listened.

This morning our ward experienced a changing of the guard. Bishop Siler was released and called to serve as the new Seminary teacher. Our new Bishop is Keith Grunig with Brother Hill as 1st counselor and Justin as 2nd counselor. Evelyn was sitting on Justin's lap when he was invited to come sit on the stand. Poor Evelyn trailed him all the way up to the stairs. When she realized his destination she ran all the way back to me with her face scrunched up in a pre-sob moment. Poor kid cried for her Daddy until I coaxed her back to normal with a bag of cereal. All better. We are excited to at least have Justin in Sidney now instead of traveling around the county 2-3 times per month. I got several offers from folks willing to sit with me and help. Our testimony meeting was filled with assigned testimonies from the new and old leaders. Justin's testimony was quite poignant as he related recent trails leading up to his calling. He said, "I felt like the girl that was never asked to prom" when all the companies he recently interview with decided not to offer jobs. Well, his answer of patience paid off! Looks like we are staying in Sidney until we are not.  This week was particularly hard on Cabela's as 70 employees were let go to streamline the company. All levels of the company were affected, from VPs to managers, to main level employees to bottom of the pyramid. Two families in our ward were affected. One was rehired to fill an open needed position, the other is headed back to Utah or Colorado. The new Presidency was set apart after church. Phillip was not so keen on more church after 3 hours. He ripped out of the meeting before Amen was said. I found him with no shirt on hanging from the defunct satellite near the parking lot.

20 September 2015

Temple Excursion
















We've heard a lot about Sabbath Day expectations lately in church, in the Ensign, and from our prophet. A couple weeks ago we made some newer goals as a family to keep the Sabbath Day holy. I enjoy writing my entries each week for this family journal. It does take some time. One goal was to cut down my time so the kids get more attention. Last week on Sunday the kids and I spent a happy hour or two playing Legos in the side yard. I really do enjoy making such moments happen and a prevalent part of our family.  Monday for FHE we got to feed the Elders for dinner. Justin and I made chicken fried steaks, potatoes, gravy, and salad. It is pretty easy and delicious to make. The Elders gave us a nice lesson on prayer, perfectly leveled at the kids. After the Elders left Justin got dressed up in Sunday clothes to give us Father's blessings. We somehow forgot to do this when school first started. It seemed even more poignant a month after school started. Evelyn went first...she did not enjoy Justin's hands on her head. We all got a wonderful blessing by Justin and our Heavenly Father. I even got a nice blessing. Amelia and I had tears in our eyes before he finished mine. Amelia is pretty tenderhearted! She needed lots of snuggles afterwards. We are very grateful for each of our blessings.

I finally got around to canning a couple quarts of jalapenos from our garden. I seem to have an addiction to jalapenos and nachos this pregnancy. I am trying to stay away from nachos since I don't need any more extra weight to lose. Jalapenos....those are totally healthy. Ha ha. We all started coughing while I cut the jalapenos and cleaned off the utinsels. Once the dishwasher started we were all in coughing fits from the jalapeno-tinged air. Thankfully, the affliction did not last long. One of our favorite afternoon activities is either playing a game in the yard or the livingroom. Everett loves to play Feed the Woozle. He gets all kinds of crazy when we play that game.

Tuesday afternoon the kids really wanted to play at a park so we went to the flower gardens. A few teenagers were hanging out blasting music with terrible lyrics and hanging from the gazebo rafters. Amelia kept saying how uncomfortable she felt and that we needed to leave. She is very rule conscious of late. So we found the play yard at South Elementary was available. The kids had a blast playing for a while. We played so long that there was not enough time to make dinner, cereal it was.

Evelyn discovered the joys of coloring on her skin this week. She can now be found with self-inflicted drawings on her arms and legs. She will color on herself as she reprimands herself. It is pretty funny. I spent a day cleaning out the extra toys and toys the kids did not play with. As I cleaned Evelyn would decorate herself. My favorite outfit consisted of a tutu, one glove, a binocular case purse, princess shoes, a purse as a hat, and a scarf. She looked quite fancy! I ended up taking 4 separate trips to Salvation Army and the consignment store of toy items. Phew, that was nice. Now it all fits in one cabinet again. Evelyn insisted on wearing her newly discovered fancy princess shoes to Amelia's piano lesson. I love, love, love this stage.

Friday morning Evelyn and I volunteered to help with Math Centers in Phillip's classroom. I helped the kids play shape bingo. I am not surprised Evelyn found markers to decorate her arms. She was quite a good helper. Phillip was so excited to have his mom in class.

After school we quickly got the van packed up with a few items to last overnight. Once Justin got home we headed down to Denver for a temple trip. We got to Sterling when the low tire pressure light came on. Justin put more air in the tire only to hear air escaping the more pressure he put into the tire. A can of tire goo temporarily fixed the issue. Justin realized he forgot his c-pap machine at the same time. He dropped us off to find dinner while he made the trip back home. The kids and I got some food at Santiagos, much to the amusement of the patrons our 4 kids behaved quite well considering I was the only parent. I heard several folks muttering about a lady eating alone with 4 small kids. After dinner we walked down the street to check out a farmer's market, all the stalls were closed up by the time we walked by. It was chilly outside so we walked over to McDonald's and their play place. It was perfect for 4 crazy kids. The kids got to play for over an hour! Justin met us in the parking lot where we dressed the kids in PJs for the rest of the 2.5 hour ride. Evelyn of course fell asleep on the drive. She woke up as Justin pulled into the hotel. Everyone was asleep by 10:30...except Evelyn and I. Soon after Evelyn finally drifted off to sleep at 11:30 the smoke detector in our room started beeping every 10 seconds. Trust me...it was 10 seconds. So I slipped out of the room and had a guy quietly change the battery. Blessed silence. Until Evelyn started coughing her head off. Poor kid coughed and coughed until after 5 am. I am grateful Justin reserved a suite so at least Amelia and the boys all slept well. The Rognon family showed up at 7:15 am to watch all 8 of our collective kids. Justin and I went through the 8 am session. Of course I was pretty sleepy during the session. I resorted to poking my leg with the safety pin attached to my locker key. It mostly worked. We had a chance to get new garments while the Rognons and kids made the short trip to the temple. We took the kids to a nearby chapel while the Rognons had their turn. We were quite dismayed that the nursery toy closet was well-secured. The kids barely survived by playing school, eating snacks, and running in the gym. Then we grabbed some tacos for lunch and walked around the temple until their session was over. It is crazy trying to go through the temple with small kids. Imagine 8 kids with each age duplicated! Nuts.

Amelia was thrilled to take her doll to the American Doll store to get her ears pierced. Samantha got new turquoise earrings and three other sets to change into. Her eyes were huge as we explored the store. She is still smiling! She reports it is the store of her dreams. I must admit being just as excited! I always wanted the Samantha doll and all her accessories. The lady who gave Samantha back to Amelia was pretty cute. She gave her instructions on caring for newly pierced doll ears. If I had a million dollars I might just buy out the store....for Amelia?! I wanted a new dress to cover my belly but alas, all the dresses this season were way to long for my shorter stature. Guess I will be wearing skirts and sweaters. I am quite enthralled with the newly released nursing garments. All the ladies will be excited to know nursing flaps are out the windows. Welcome the new criss-cross design. I wanted 10 but the store only had 7, guess I will made due with 7 tops.

**Evelyn's new phrase of the week: "OOOooooooo, I sorrowy!" It is so adorable. Even Amelia does not mind if Evelyn pulls her hair when she says sorry in such a cute way.

13 September 2015

Rainy Labor Day

















We started Labor Day with Justin and I leaving the house at 8:00 am sharp. Justin had a business meeting in SLC the next day so was on his way to Denver airport. I had a large family to photograph in Potter. I am grateful to the Haddock girls for watching the kids while I was gone. The drive to the homestead was 40 miles away from Sidney, half of it on dusty country roads. The location, lighting, and younger kids proved quite the challenge! At 9:30 am the light was straight in their eyes with no cloud cover relief. Still, it was what the family wanted! They wanted to capture their family on the ranch their father owned and operated. Some lucky cows wandered into our photo session. The van was covered with fine silty dirt by the time I arrived back home. The kids and I had a good time scrubbing the bugs and dirt off the van at the car wash. I used a bay first with the foam brush to scrub all the nasty bugs off the hood. We had quite a collection after our trip to Martin's Cove and the farm. We enjoyed lunch near the fun tourist train where the kids played for quite a while. We had no idea what to do for fun after Evelyn's nap. A lovely rain storm solved that problem. We donned our rain gear and enjoyed Mother Nature's swimming pool. The rain reached our front steps! It reminded me of the days we sloshed around the in the water on irrigation days in Providence, UT. Evelyn was so short and the water high enough to slop into her boots. She literally went swimming a couple times. At one point I heard Everett crying for help. His shorts succumbed to the weight of water and fell down around his ankles. The comical relief was pure joy. Justin got to celebrate Ethan's birthday with Charity, Melissa, Diana, and the crew out in Bountiful. the kids and I went to have FHE at the Rognon's home. The lesson was doled out amidst the playing and crying.

Tuesday morning I had a prenatal DR appointment, 17 weeks gone! I am still feeling quite nauseous and my back is killing me. Everett got to hear the baby's heart beep. I had more blood drawn for a panel to determine if the baby has any defects, better to know when you live out in the country. We enjoyed the rest of the morning running errands and playing at the park. Evelyn is quite in love with all her babies. She now has Elsa, Anna, Aurora, and a Baby Chou Chou. We found the Chou Chou doll at the consignment store. It interacts when you touch her face, change her diaper, put her in the stroller, feed her, carry her in the baby carrier, and holds her bear. Evelyn carried her bebe doll around the neck for the rest of the week. She is on a language development streak. Her newest words are "sworry, thank you mommy, thank you daddy, me me (excuse me), burrrrrrrp, bubble buppies (her new fave show), and moing (wants to bounce/jump). She is quite into finding head gear to put on. She looks adorable when she finds one of my hats...looks like a rasta man. Justin came home after 10 pm from his long, and fast Utah trip.

Wednesday I sent Everett and Evelyn out to play in the bounce house. A little water from the sprinklers was in the house. It was so fun! Everett soon stripped down to undies while he slipped and bounced all over the place. Evelyn soon had all her clothes off to moing. I ran inside for a moment and came out to find her raiding my tomatoes. She had two lovely tomatoes in her hands and red juice dribbled down her chest. That kid has picked more than 30 green tomatoes. Such wasted potential! Boo hoo. This is the year of tomatoes; I am picking 2-10 ripe tomatoes each day. Tomatoes are my ultimate favorite garden treat. We are eating, and eating tomatoes. Love it. Friday I made fresh tomato sauce over spaghetti for dinner. It was scrumptious.

Thursday Amelia had piano lessons. I finally decided to have another gal teach her again for a while. September and October are crazy with family photos and folks wanting to update photos before the holidays. Her teacher lives next to two boys that Phillip knows from preschool and kindergarten. We enjoyed playing in Aidan's yard for 30 minutes. I finally got a chiropractic adjustment after piano lessons. The kids were delighted he had tiny bottles of water just for kids. My back is feeling a bit better.

Friday Justin came home at lunch pretty peeved about some things happening at work. He bounced his issues off me for the next couple days. It stinks when problems at work cause such anxiety. Don't worry...it is nothing big, just annoying. You know! Normal life and working with human beings can be unpredictable at times.

Amelia got to travel to Cheyenne with the Activity Day girls for a "Prepare Your Temple Bag" activity. She came home with a cute bag, a decorated notebook, and lots of stories about fun activities geared towards getting the girls excited about the temple. She raved about Sister Siler's purse shaped cookies. The rest of us spent a fun day at home playing, going to the park, and cleaning up house.

07 September 2015

Martin's Cove





























Late Thursday evening Justin and I decided to officially take the kids on a crazy, impromptu trip to Martin's Cove. For FHE on Monday we talked about our Pioneer ancestors who crossed the plains and especially Mary Goble Pay who was in the Hunt party and also crossed late in the season.

We quickly packed up the van after school and left for Casper, WY around 4 pm. The kids were pretty excited. When Phillip learned we were headed to Martin's Cove he started crying. He did not want to freeze and lose his toes and fingers. He refused to get in the van until I assured him that it was still summer and no snow would catch us. He was quite traumatized. We stopped at the amazing pizza joint in Cheyenne for a quick dinner. It was quite late, after 9 pm when we got to the hotel. We got everyone settled into bed, once again Everett curled up under the sofa table on a pile of blankets. I held Evelyn for 90 minutes, she was still awake at 11:30 pm. I gave up and we went to Walmart. Evelyn did not get tired until after 1 am. Gah! Sometimes traveling with toddlers/infants is crazy. She was coughing a lot so I gave her some powdered cough medicine, she decided it was not candy and inhaled it instead. She coughed her poor head off for two days afterwards. I felt so bad. Once she fell asleep she was out like a light until 8 am.

We drove another hour west and north to Martin's Cove. The church acquired some property from the Sun family ranches near the site. The church updated and used the existing out buildings used during the ranching days as museums. It was well-maintained and informational. Our guide let the kids drag around a miniature handcart along a small version of the trail following several amazing bronze sculptures. Evelyn found a nice fire ant hill, she loves bugs, she did not love the bugs crawling all over her. The poor missionary looked on in bewilderment as I quickly stripped off Evelyn's clothes and picked off the ants. Evelyn was happy to be naked and cried when I made her get clothes back on. She went back to the ant hill to find more bugs. Phillip was thrilled to find Anson Call's name on the plaque, he was one of the rescuers! Amelia brought along her toy camera. I enjoyed watching her boss the boys around, getting perfect snaps of our trip. She even tried to improve her selfie technique. Hilarious! We could see Devil's Gate to the east of the visitor's center. Each kid got a fun wooden necklace memento.

Around lunch time we snagged up a full-sized handcart, packed up our lunch and hiking supplies and went on a "death march." We are quite familiar with windy conditions. It was windy, the wind was coming from the west, so pushing the handcart east felt like walking though a hurricane. At this point the kids were pretty excited to walk, ride, and snack on grapes. Amelia decided one of the rock formations looked like a buffalo smiling. Justin and I pushed the cart 1.33 miles to the handcart parking area. There is a large covered pavilion, drinking water, and honey pots for folks to use. Sandwiches, grapes, and chips never tasted so delicious. Evelyn loved licking several servings of mayo off her sandwich. Justin and I wavered about taking the kids on the 2.33 mile loop to see the actual cove. Sensibility did not win, sentimentality did! I packed Evelyn on my back and lugged several water bottles in my hands. Justin held the boys hands as their weight was too much for my aching back. Handcarts are not allowed since the actual site is owned by the BLM. 100 feet from the trail entrance Everett laid down in the dirt and started scooting back to the handcart. He got up when I mentioned he might get a snake down his pants. The kids did really well considering the steep hilly, area. We kept reminding them that "We can do hard things," and recounting stories we read about Martin's Cove. Our favorite area was a higher platform with benches to play on. Justin took over baby lugging duties to give my poor lower back a rest. Evelyn fell asleep during the rest of the hike portion. Justin may have mentioned that we should just leave him lying in the prairie for dead. I was grateful for the wind, it kept the hot sun at bay. I think the Lance side of me enjoyed the experience immensely. I thought continuously about our ancestors and how this experience will stay with the kids, hopefully for a long while. It was quite peaceful. One couple passed us and commented that they were very proud of us. They bet we would not make it around the loop with so many young kids. Ha! We made it. Everett and Amelia were a total troopers, minimal whining! Phillip almost laid beside Justin to die on the Prairie.

The 1.33 hike back to the visitor's center was hard. I am not a pansy, but this was hard work. I have a new found appreciation for the words "Pulling a Handcart." I think after a couple weeks of pulling a cart life would adjust and the hardships become expected. Really, I think this is how life is. Trials come, we struggle, our muscles adapt, our knees sore after praying for help. We survive and learn to carry on. A sweet testimony of endurance to the end is what I carried back in my heart. As we walked back I mentioned to Justin that this was the hardest physical task we have performed together as a family. He punted back, "you mean stupid?! A fat man, pregnant woman, 4 small kids, and a handcart across the prairie?" I love his humor...it get it. Yes, hard and stupid. Can't wait to do it again. Har-har.

Our poor dogs were barking by the time Zion (our white van) came into view. We drove back home taking a dinner break in Casper before heading the rest of the way home. Our house never looked so good as it did at 10:30 pm. I think we labored for our Labor Day vacation.