30 July 2017

Showing Off Our House












We finally got a couple more house showings this week. Tuesday while driving to the lake for a much needed rest our agent called me to schedule a showing for Wednesday and another on Friday. I was a bit worried about getting the house in order with all my little helpers doing their jobs. The kids helped me pick up the basement clutter than I deep cleaned that after they went to bed. I am so grateful to the Mortensen's for coming over to help and Sister Jones. In just a couple hours we cleaned the upstairs until it could pass inspection. Jeremee helped me weed the rocks and remove some dead plants. I left with the kids soon after everyone left so the house would not get cluttered again. We ate lunch at McD, went to the bank, visited the library, and went swimming for the rest of the day. Keeping the house clean for two more days until Friday turned me into a mean, stressed mess of a mom. We had to stay out of our house from 11 until after 4 pm on Friday. Poor Amelia caught the stomach flu (probably the same ailment Josie had at the fair) and ran a fever all day. I felt so bad carting her around when she was sick. That day we went to Subway for lunch, spent some time at the park, and sorted through my storage unit.

Monday afternoon Amelia had a long playdate with Katelyn. I worked on editing the newborn session from the prior week. Amelia taught our lesson on Pioneer Day. She told the story "Saving the Wheat" an accounting of the grasshoppers eaten by seagulls in answer to the Saint's prayers. Phillip wanted to play "Pirate May I!" Captain, captain may I cross the wide seven seas! I had a good time with the fun pirate versions. Like usual the game soon devolved into tears and frustration as the kids wanted to each win fairly. Fairness seems to be a curse for our young children. Amelia had a full on cry fest because she did not get a turn when she wanted it.

Tuesday we spent a lovely, relaxing afternoon at Lake Bridgeport with lots of friends. Alison and Ella came, the Christiansen's, the Godard's, the Campos', and the Relerford's all came for the afternoon. We got to the lake first so enjoyed some quiet time swimming before the rest came. Justin found a good deal on a fridge so he made arrangements to purchase and make the delivery arrangements. I found a microwave on sale Thursday night. We are slowly gearing up for the next phase of our move. Josie and Aria spent a good amount of time playing near each other. Josie was quite please Aria had eyes, lips, and hands just like she does. Aria endured the poking with her usual serious aplomb. Phillip went off with Lane to catch fish with a bucket and net! Boys and their ideas. As mentioned above we spent the rest of the evening cleaning up the basement.

I had three last photo sessions this week, Thursday I photographed Mrs Cheyenne County and her husband. Ylana is from South Africa! I loved her accent. Her husband works in the big game department at the Cabela's game center. Josie was quite content to sit in her stroller eating snacks and sipping on apple juice. She does very well as long as I am in her sight line. Jenn Relerford came along to shadow me on the session. She is learning to manipulate her camera in manual mode, wanted hands-on during a session. The kids got to go night swimming with Sister Jones while I worked. Friday I photographed the Hrbeks again, this time with Grandma and all her grandkids, minus one. Phillip, Everett, Evelyn, and Josie all came along for the session. The kids love to explore the "deep forest." Evelyn had to poo, and would do so before we left home. As expected she had to go right during the session. I popped a pull up on her and set her loose into the wild. She was quite embarrassed, rightly so! Kathi Charles shadowed me this time. She is another local upcoming photographer with lots of studio experience. She came over Monday night to learn editing in LightRoom and PhotoShop. I love meeting all these talented ladies in our town. Feels like I can hand my reigns over and get all "my" customers taken care of. Saturday afternoon I finally got the Davis twins in front of my camera. Their mom passed away almost 2 years ago, the girls were alone with their deceased mom for about 48 hours. Grandma and Grandpa fought for adoptive custody for over 18 months. The biological dad wanted the girls solely for their social security benefits. I am glad the girls are with their grandparents. Both are thriving and making amazing strides in spite of their health and mental setbacks. Evelyn made two new friends! She loved their Princess Poppy shirts.

Thursday morning we spent the morning at the park. Outside was so balmy and nice. The MOPS ladies were also there so the kids had lots of playmates. Afterward we ate lunch at school for the last time. After naps we went to Dairy Queen. The owners are a new LDS in our ward. They hosted a large party with bounce houses, Princess Poppy, Minions, and Sidney Cheerleaders for the Children's Miracle Network. The kids enjoyed the bounce houses. One Bounce attraction was a bungee cord thing attached to a vest. You run as far as you can and the cord bounces you back. The cheerleaders and Amelia made poor progress. I was confident in my skills to out pace them all. Indeed, I won...until the cord snapped me back. My head cracked into the carabiner clip giving me a mild concussion, a large goose egg, and a bruised ego. At least I beat them all. LOL. We quenched our thirst with sodas and ice cream cones.

Since the weather was so temperate this week I finally went over to my storage unit and sorted props again. I was able to sell the steamer trunk, half my baskets, blankets, and various other props. Once I get the truck back I will move all those items over to our garage in preparation for the movers. Josie was my helper at the unit. The rest of the kids went swimming on Wednesday while I worked. Josie found a forgotten lollipop! She crooned over her treat and made the most adorable sounds as she enjoyed her treat. I even heard her say thank you a few times!

Nan scheduled the same couple to come back and look at our home Friday at 11 am. She sounded upset about it, gosh...I am not upset at all! Thank goodness the house was clean and ready to show. She said both couples seem interested but won't have an answer anytime soon. Guess we are back to finding a renter.

All the kids came down with the runs this week. We had lots of leakage accidents, thus more laundry. Amelia woke up Thursday night to vomit several times. She slept in my bed so Everett would not be disturbed. I caught her bug on Saturday. It was a nasty, powerful 24 hour stomach flu. I hope the rest of the kids just stay with the diarrhea part. At least three of us had the stomach flu part, hoping the rest either get it fast or don't at all. With the move coming this weekend and next week I hope barf is not part of the menu. I felt like train hit me Saturday. Making dinner was a joke. I was so dizzy and close to passing out while I attempted to warm up cold mashed potatoes, open cans of soup/spaghetti O's/oranges, and passing out food. After an hour of extreme dizziness I finally puked my guts out for the 4th time and felt much better. Thankfully, this morning (Sunday) I felt much better, able to drink and eat a bit.

Phillip lost his other side tooth! The tooth fairy came that night, prompt as can be. She seems to be rather flaky most of the time. This tooth came out on it's own while he wiggled it! I am glad the drama was absent this time.

23 July 2017

A Little Something at the Country Fair





















The tooth fairy visited us again for the third time this month, third week in a row. First Amelia, bottom left tooth, second Everett bottom front left, then third Phillip, losing his top right tooth. He rigged up a length of floss to his bedroom door handle, prepped a cup of salt water, and a folded towel. The thought of tying his tooth to the door and slamming it was more than he could handle. Took him two days to give up on the door idea. Instead I convinced him to let me tie floss around the tooth with a slip knot, he could yank the strings out sideways when he was ready. After 4 failed attempts, he pulled down instead of to the side, the errant tooth popped free. He was so surprised it came out with no pain. He was quite impressed over his bloody front teeth. The salt water and towel took care of the rest. What a silly guy. He earned a dollar from the ole tooth fairy for his efforts.

Monday was a flurry of cleaning our house so someone could look at it. Nothing came of the showing...well, except for a very clean house. I was up until past midnight mopping floors, scrubbing the kitchen, and clearing out the normal clutter a family our size makes. I am in love with the 6 collapsible laundry baskets I got last year. They are so useful to fill up, empty, and fold flat when not us use. All the clutter in the baskets made me rethink my sorting strategy, looks like another purge is on the way. I walked into the storage room during my cleaning blitz, a large puddle of water soaked the concrete. Appears my ability to keep up with the salt for the softener, weeding, taking out garbage and doing Justin's chores as well has me quite overwhelmed. I called the HVAC company, a guy was over in less than 10 minutes. He quickly changed the air filter, a dirty gray mess of dust. The issue was the filter was not allowing the drip pan to drain fast enough. I'm glad it was not something worse. Felt terribly stupid the problem was something I should've caught and remedied, instead spent more money on a service call. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

With the house immaculate I left Sidney with the kids early Tuesday morning. I would not even let them eat breakfast. They spent a good hour in the yard or pounding on the front door begging to come in as I finished the last walk through. We drove to Cheyenne for the day. The kids got breakfast on the go while I nursed my gross protein bar. Being chubby is not fun, blech. We started our fun day off at a new park we noticed a couple months ago. It proved to be a very fun park. My friend Candice met up with us before she left town to drive back to Sidney. I am grateful she made the effort to stop and say goodbye. The kids enjoyed the park until the sun burned off the cloud cover, it got warm rather quickly. We ate lunch at Chik-fil-a, also playing the play area. The main attraction of our day was swimming at the updated rec center. As soon as we walked in a heady wall of moist chlorinated air knocked us over. My eyes started to burn with minutes. Josie fell asleep and napped in her carseat, a rare, very rare, occurrence, especially with all the noise around her.  We were almost denied entrance because I had too many "non swimmers" with me, guess the limit is two per adult. Amelia and Phillip quite enjoyed the high diving board and the rock climbing wall. During break we headed outside where a fun splash garden graced the back lawn. We swam until 4 pm then headed to Once Upon a Child to see what specials they had. We made it home before dark, well after the house showing. The clean house lasted a couple days.

Wednesday we pretty much laid around and moaned. It was fun to whine and moan. The kids went swimming again because they are morphing into dolphins. I stayed home with Josie and worked on burning CDs until the baby was done napping. I heard a strange whining moan float up from the basement after dinner. it sounded like this, "Moooooooooom, I'm borrrrrrrrrrred!" The strange sound syllabicated over and over. The moaning stopped once I packed all the kids into the van to raid my storage shed. The whiner found some felt to make a project. Amelia was the source of the whining. She likes to whine right next to my ear, like somehow it's my problem she is bored. I ignore her until she speaks English, give her ideas that usually induce more whining. Sometimes she gets an idea like making salt dough, sewing a heart pillow, or making slime that makes the dread whine stop. The first part of the week she did not whine because her little mind was reading a good book.

Thursday Amelia's second grade teacher came over to babysit. Yes, you heard that right. We lucked out with the best babysitter ever for a couple hours. The kids contentedly read books, played games, and chatted while I was gone taking photos of Mrs Belieu's newest granddaughter. Amelia made a heart pillow with the baby's name embroidered on the heart. I got to hang out at the field in the muggy heat with a sweet baby, two new parents, and a photographer needing some encouragement. Kathi, my Jehovah's Witness friend, is also a photographer. We enjoyed the outdoor newborn session trading tips and tricks. I was quite pleased the baby went to sleep rather quickly after a bottle of milk. Once again it was a hot day, over 100 degrees. We cooled off at the pool for an hour then went to the county fair. I was crazy this year and went on wristband night to the carnival with 5 kids alone. Josie started off the fun evening by barfing all over herself, 15 times. She was not feverish and quite happy in spite of her tummy issues. Towards the end of the evening she was spitting up foam, happily spitting up foam. Phillip dunked her pretty thoroughly at the pool so I was sure she was spitting up water trying to clear her system. We visited Amelia's 4th Grade Ag project displayed in the 4-H building, Mrs Roach was there with the founding couple the project was based on. The kids loved all the 4-H animals. Evelyn loved to pet the goats and sheep. She even got a horse to lick her hand. Josie's eyes were huge as we walked along admiring the animals, real animals is quite an experience. The highlight for the kids was free reign on the approved carnival rides. They kids split up, Amelia and Phillip riding the faster rides. Everett, Evelyn, and Spitty Josie were with me. Amelia lost us after the first ride, that dulled her excitement a bit until the next ride. Everett was thrilled to ride the ferris wheel with his friend (a girl) from kindergarten. He said she kissed him first....what?! Well, I just kissed her back he reported. He is banned from the Ferris Wheel already. Evelyn got to ride the train and airplane rides about 6 times each with her cute friend Ellie. They were both so excited, holding hands, and picking out the pink airplanes to ride. We finally got to bed after 11 pm!

Friday we were all lazy bums after our late night. Evelyn napped off and on all day. Josie woke up at 5:30 still not feeling well. She ran a low grade fever but did not exhibit any more tummy issues. The older 4 kids all slept together in Phillip's room. Amelia slept with Evelyn. Everett claimed the floor for his bed. They slept together Saturday night as well! Amelia got to watch Descendents over at Katelyn's home from 4-9 pm! The girls wanted to watch both movies, Lisa even had cute theme snacks for the event. Disney did not show the new movie until after 9 pm so she did not get to watch the second movie. I got some food shopping done. The boys and I watched the new Power Ranger movie with popcorn and doughnuts. Amelia got out the face painting kit before the party. She painted a cute whale on Evelyn's cheek, a zword on Phillip's cheek, and three colored lightening strikes on Everett. I was quite amused as he showed me how to activate the lightening bolts by pressing them in the certain order while making zapping noises. It was all quite elaborate.

Amelia's friend Rachel had an "era-themed" birthday party. The guests were invited to dress up as a character from their favorite era. Amelia was quite thrilled with the Victorian prop dress I had in my photo props. She went to the party dressed as her favorite American Girl, Samantha.  She came home with a tie-dyed shirt and stories about Rachel's dad dressed up as a 70s Disco dancer. The boys amused themselves with the face paint. I was not paying close attention since the boys were amused and playing quietly. Phillip finally showed off his creation: he stripped naked and painted his entire body, his butt crack was black, he painted his privates a nice shade of blue to be an elephant. I caught Everett trying to paint his blue as well. He barely had time to start so he was unable to finish. I sent those boys off to the tub. It was quite hard not to laugh. The boys got haircuts right after dinner. Everett insisted on a haircut just like his Dad, you know a striped down the middle with two stripes down the sides?! I humored him and cut his hair to those specs. He was quite pleased with the effect. I heard him chortle each time he walked by a mirror! Our day ended with a nice fireworks show, part of the fair entertainment. Wait, it almost ended with happy displays of fireworks. Josie changed that once the kids went to bed, she was up until past 11 pm with the same tummy troubles as Thursday night.

Today in church Everett strutted into the chapel with his crazy hair. He preened over his hair in front of the deacons. After the meeting started he snuck up to the stand and tried to sit with his favorite Priest, Jakob Austad. We frantically tried to convince Everett that he could not sit on Jakob's lap and that he had to leave the stand. If he could have sullenly kicked rocks down the aisle I believe he might have. Jakob gifted Everett an entire box of Pokemon cards with a promise that they would play Pokemon this coming week. Evelyn's eyes light up when we walked to our row, Jen was sitting there all ready for church! Jen finally came to church tattoos and all. She wore her longest dress and curled her cute hair. We were all surprised the church did not burn down. Ha ha ha. Jen said we have the most interesting service she's ever been too. Maybe that girl will be converted after all! Jen stayed at our house on Thursday night. Her husband decided to leave and get a divorce, finally after years of talking and threatening. She was left without a vehicle or place to stay until he leaves. Sounds like he decided to stay a bit longer and help move her stuff into the new rental they are renovating before he takes off for Kentucky. We love seeing Jen, but hate the circumstances she is in right now. Glad she came to church before we move away. Brother Austad came over after church to give Jojo a priesthood blessing. Everett point blank asked him why he is so fat. Blush, I recalled the same story involving me, a nice chubby man, and a quarter he gifted me, "Mr, why are you so fat?" Karma baby! Brother Austad is the nicest, most spiritual guy in our ward. He is quite thoughtful and very talented with visual arts. He is having gastric bypass surgery soon to change the hormonal outputs in his stomach. I was so glad he explained to the kids what their responsibility was during the blessing. The kids all kept quiet and concentrated on the prayer. We are so blessed.

16 July 2017

Birthday Party















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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 July 2017

Fourth of July 2017



























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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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