29 July 2018

Indoor Camping, AKA saga continues







The saga continues. It is quite entertaining, our 1st world problems are overtaking our lives. We started out the week with things under control. The little girls sleeping on the floor in our bedroom with the portable air conditioning. This situation at least provided for Josie's afternoon nap. The air conditioner was overloading the circuit and popped the circuit more than a few times. We decided to bail on the portable since there were no other windows to vent near a circuit with more amps (like the bathroom). Wednesday night found us all camping on the main floor. I had a Dr appointment early on Wednesday, while I was gone Amelia said the air conditioning repair guys came by. I was so mad, since we had an appointment set up for Thursday morning. After a call to the company turns out whomever stopped by was not sent by the folks we're working with. We've been sleeping down on the floor for 4 nights now. We woke up all shades of excited on Thursday knowing the repair company was coming. Our beds were calling. The doorbell rang at 7 am, we rushed the door open to find a pest control company who had the wrong address. Shoot, that meant the little girls lost 90 minutes of sleep. Grrrrr. A couple hours later the repair guy showed up, he left 10 minutes later. His only job was to diagnose and confirm that our unit was not functioning. He put in an order for a new condenser. I was so happy when we got a phone call a few hours later saying that the part we needed was located and the repair would take place the next morning. Hooray! The desk personality told Justin that it looked like the tech ordered the wrong part so he ordered the "right" part. Friday morning was a mirror of Thursday. He came started the repair but had to stop because the desk personality ordered the wrong part. Looks like we get to wait another 3-5 more business days spanning another weekend. By the time our air conditioning gets repaired we will be seasoned indoor campers of 14+ days. I will need a chiropractic adjustment as well. The dog wakes us all up whining way before it's time to arise, Vader can't stand it that Justin is just 4 feet away. His tags jingle and jangle us all awake. Everyone's walking around with a fuse 4 times shorter than normal. I hope we don't blow up before school starts. I really wanted to have a normal routine for a couple days before school starts.

I also happened to catch Everett and Josie's digestive bug on Monday. I ran a high fever, was practically delirious for two days. I lost 10 lbs just from the digestive problems, wish losing weight was that simple. During the twilight hours of Monday night the nausea resolved into something more meaningful at the same time my digestive tract was playing it's games. Lovely. Being a mother on Tuesday sat in the back row of our bus. Amelia helped make pancakes for breakfast. The rest of the day I worked on laundry from the couch. I started to feel like myself on Thursday or Friday.

We did not do much this week. The kids got to play at the Russo's on Tuesday. They came home to find Josie and I playing in the little pools with the hose. Josie was content to fill up the pools and have some one-on-one time. The kids decided going swimming in their undies would be much more fun than using swimsuits! Indeed it was much more fun. I set up the slip and slide as well in order to extend outside play. We watched too much TV this week. It's way too hot outside to play and going elsewhere to play is always expensive. The kids are sick of swimming so we only went swimming 4 times this week. Once at Mesquite Pool and twice at the community pool that friends let us use on occasion. Josie started diving to the pool bottom to fetch rocks on Thursday! She reminded me of a baby otter diving happily for shells. Her little face pops out of the water with a face full of smiles! She will also jump into the water instead of jumping into my arms now. I am amazed at her transformation: from terrified to a baby otter! Evelyn is completely flotation device free! She needs a spot of help now and again but she is a darn good swimmer. Everett surprised us all by doing back flips off the side off the pool. He spent a good hour on the diving board at Mesquite just diving and learning to back dive all on his own! Everett is that magical middle child who thrives with little to no maintenance.

Friday felt so frustrating. I went to Walmart to return a window air conditioning unit I purchased for Josie's room. At Customer Service I realized the return receipt was not in my wallet. I convinced the manager to accept the return and waive store policy. He did. Phew. They just needed my driver's licence. No problem! Shoot, my driver's license was missing. The boys used it to borrow rackets at the rec center, we forgot to get my license back. So frustrating. My favorite birkenstock sandals decided to snap the toe thong this week. I was in a mood to send the company a complaint email about my disappointment. Mia earned $10 for babysitting for over two hours, I had a 6-week touch up appointment for my amazing eyebrows. I desperately needed the alone time! Alexis let me whine my mouth off while she tweaked my eyebrows.

We delivered dinner to the Boyle family. Ashley is expecting her 4th baby, but has terrible HG (severe morning sickness) for the first 20+ weeks. Her MIL was in town for 4 weeks to help relieve some of the strain. She left two weeks ago so we, her ward, could finally help her out. The kids helped me make Hawaiian haystacks and deliver the meal. They also have three small kids under age 5, a kid every 2 years. No wonder I am so tired! I forgot already how dynamics change with your oldest still under 5. I felt crazy and now know, we looked crazy! It does get better! Look at us, we almost have a 12 year old! Serving someone else felt so good, to step outside our hot mess for a moment or two and into someone else's life.

The kids were excited to find out their teachers for this coming year. Amelia (and Brooklyn) have Mr McKinzie. She is scared of her new teacher, but I hear amazing things about his methods and capabilities. Phillip will be with Mrs Sanders. Everett has Mrs Epstein (same teacher Phillip had). Evelyn has Mrs Norton. We have all the supplies, or so I thought. The school website has multiple lists but none are the same. Looks like I chose the wrong list to shop from. Makes me steamed to buy the wrong items! That's money folks! I think someone typed in the wrong amount of tissue boxes for the 6th graders, 12 boxes per kid? Yikes. They could build a tissue box wall with that number. I need to regroup and shop from my stash before going to the store for more stuff. I ordered some folders and sharpies for Mia but we cannot find them anywhere.

Saturday morning we spent cleaning up the disaster mess accumulated through my illness, recovery, and the events of living in temporary quarters. The kids started whining but eventually lost interest knowing I was not going to budge. We got the cleaning done before Justin got back from another early morning job interview. He is not enjoying the interim CFO at work. Justin's looking for work elsewhere. We are hoping to either get him closer to home or move again. Things could also change at work but it's not looking likely. This month so far was especially annoying for Justin. It is busy and his new boss is constantly asking for items last moment, which makes Justin stay late at work, miss lunch, or down a bottle of tums. He's had several interesting job interviews. We have to keep the crazy train going.

Phillip fit both his legs into one pajama pant leg. He is always catching me off guard, making me laugh. That boy is a natural comic. He adores his thrifted Chewie slippers. We love his strange sense of humor. This week he taught himself to spit/stream water through the gap in his front teeth. He still has not learned to armpit fart, so some skills are still lacking.

23 July 2018

The Last Lazy Days of Summer







The inevitable happened this week. The air conditioner stopped working during the hottest time of the summer. Thankfully, only the upstairs unit stopped working so we can stay cool in the main living areas. I noticed the thermostat was hovering above 87 around Josie's nap time. After she was asleep I played about with the thermostat and checked the outside unit. The upstairs unit was not coming on at all. After some frustrating calls to Justin and speaking to our home insurance company it looked like any relief was 7-10 days out. Our neighbor came by to just check out the unit, if the fix was under $500 we would fork out the money for a small repair. Looks like the damage requires serious repairs or replacement. That means we get to wait for the contracted HVAC guys to come around. Sleeping is another different matter. The older 3 kids are sleeping downstairs, Mia and Phillip on the couch. Everett chose to sleep between the couch and coffee table under a sheet fort. Justin borrowed a portable air conditioning unit from Dr Auxier to cool off just our bedroom. The unit keeps our bedroom at a balmy 84 degrees.  I am not sure Josie will ever be content to sleep in her room again. She LOVES sleeping on the floor in our room, which usually means she ends up in our bed or me on the floor with her. Justin pumped up the fancy camping mat which is a huge improvement. Friday night a lightening storm woke up all the kids around 3 am. Evelyn ended up in my bed, I was on the floor with Josie, Amelia did not go back to sleep, and etc. Let me tell you sleeping a foot away from my comfy bed was pure torture. Each time I moved Josie would start to cry and thrash about, she even banged her tender head against the wall a couple times. I swear the kid's bedrooms on the west side of our house stay around 95+ degrees. We pour sweat just thinking about running upstairs to rummage for clothes and necessaries. Stink. I still cannot wrap my head around why someone would want to live here. I think about the folks who lived here pre-air conditioning days. They were either crazy or loved the heat. Arid-zona. We are staving off the heat eating our favorite meal: ham with cold cantaloupe. Yum! The pool is hovering around 100 degrees, about as relaxing as a hot tub in the summer.

Most of the week we spent going to stores shopping for back-to-school items. All the kids went up a shoe size or two, grew a size in clothes, and damaged the supplies we got last year (like plastic boxes, scissors, etc). I spent a good 40 minutes in Amazon purchasing most of the supplies on Prime Day. I hope that saved us some money. Monday we all packed into the van for a trip to Kohl's. Just as I was unbuckling Josie she slow-motion lava barfed down her dress and covered her car seat! Dagnabit! I just washed her car seat two weeks beforehand. Phillip tossed his cookies into a bag he found in the backseat. Just barely into the house Everett followed suit. Amelia and Evelyn all looked green around the gills! That car ride home was terribly stinky. I used the hose to spray off her seat. I lugged the dirty items to the washer and went to clean off myself. Once back downstairs, I found the boys filling the garage floor with water from the hose. The kids were making water angels and slipping about on the garage. Little stinkers! They almost damaged all my wood photo floors, at least I hope they didn't. Everett was sick over the weekend as well. Josie caught it next. Amelia got a summer cold at the end of this week. Turns out we spent the week dealing with cranky kids who weren't feeling well. Amelia watched all the Harry Potter movies!

Evelyn had her Island Princess Ballet recital on Tuesday. She looked so cute performing her wobbly knees, rainbow hands, and hula moves. Evelyn is by far my most ornery child. She is constantly attacking her siblings for small infractions (like looking at her). She makes the rudest gestures using body parts when she's angry. Today she kicked my back her with heels. I smacked her butt a little too hard. Little sh**! Time out does not phase her. Losing privileges makes her even more angry and out of control. Heaven help me and Heaven help us help her. She attended a fun kindergarten prep class Sister Russo offered. She loved hanging out with Jack each afternoon, learning fun stuff was lovely as well.

We enjoyed a lovely ward pool party at the Koski's daughter's home. Their pool area was so lovely and amazing. A large meandering pool hosted an island, a toddler area, bridge, diving board, deep end, eating area, water falls, and a separate whirlpool! The pool accommodated all who came with ease! We played until well after dark! Popsicles were available for those who wanted some. Josie got her tongue plastered to a popsicle, her tongue instantly froze to her treat. The dry ice worked way too well! I helped her thaw the treat off her tongue before she ripped it off. Amelia and Averie had a really cool game of Mermaid going on. 

I ran out of steam! Our vacation interrupted the crazy pace I set to keep the kids occupied. Once swim team ended (12 July) we stopped doing most of our fun themed days. The kids are tired of playing in water and just want to be lazy. Last week we watched more TV than is healthy while we all were not feeling well. Hoping to get some fun things done this week before school starts. Saturday we spent a good amount of time helping the Hill family move and clean. Brother Hill got a new job out in Missouri. They moved with very little notice. I knew Laurie from my high school days in Fayetteville, NC. Justin went over that morning to help move stuff intended for Desert Industries truck. We all went over after noon, Justin and I helped wash walls and clear out rooms. The kids went swimming while we worked! I found a fun pool toy someone was getting rid of for bulk trash day, a hippo float from Costco. The item was nearly brand new, just needed some more bean bag filling. We came home smelling like sweaty, hot messes. For Primary singing time this week we played Pioneer Sing-O. I loved singing Pioneer songs (mostly solo style) as some of the Sing-o tiles were songs. The kids were crazy happy to use M&Ms for space savers.

Amelia figured out a major holiday secret while reading one of my old blog books from 2010. I wrote an entry about a certain special character who visits our home in December. She sidled up to me with a sneaky look on her face and spelled my name backwards. Well, the cat is out of the bag. I feel quite happy that she did not learn the truth earlier! She was always so skeptical. LOL. Now I have a helper!!

16 July 2018

Iced Pool




















Miss Chloe came to spend the day with us on Monday. She had her piano lesson then basked in our cluttered house until after 7:30 pm. I love having her around since Amelia does not whine as much! We reached bored saturation around 2:30 pm. I heard that Coldstone in Tempe was giving away free ice cream so we all packed into the van and raced over there for a treat. The store gave away their $1,000 of ice cream a few minutes before we arrived, bummer. Since we were there and all the kids looking at me expectantly, I caved. Soon the kids were crowed around tables with cups of bubble gum and mint ice cream filled with gummy bears (gag). My phone bleeped an alert about a large approaching sand storm. Indeed as we headed home an incredible mass of dark clouds with a layer of tan dust swirling below raced towards us. The storm caught us head on right around the Gilbert exits. Chloe was almost white with fear, us Nebraskans were not terribly impressed. Mostly just muddy rain that swiftly fell and choked up the gutters. Josie laughed each time the van went through puddles spraying a curtain of water past her window! Once at home we spent a lovely hour playing in the rain. I convinced the boys that riding bikes through the puddles was amazing, they finally agreed and had the time of their lives! Everett was covered in muddy water before he finally stopped. Amelia made Mr Duckie a pool out in the gutters. Once the rain stopped, the kids turned on the hose to keep the gutters filled with water. Such a lovely holiday! Our FHE was quite embarrassing this week. While working on the blog last week I happened on some pretty racy photos that Phillip took of Evelyn's bum. The entire situation was quite innocent BUT gave Justin and I an opportunity to have a serious chat about pornography and keeping private parts, well, private. Chloe and Amelia were red-faced most of the conversation! I pulled most of the content off of the parent's site for teaching children about sex and the new LDS pornography helps website. After the serious part of the lesson the kids went off on a scavenger hunt finding items around the house that help us keep our bodies safe and healthy (food, exercise items, sundry items, clothing, etc). Phillip had us play charades and Everett chose smoothies for treat.

I watched the boys for their last swim team practice, there are more practises but only for the kids who qualify for pre-lims and the competitions. They made it!!! I am so proud of the older kids for sticking to all the hard practises and learning so much. Phillip killed it out there during practice. He really did his best. Everett really struggled with swim team. He barely swam across the pool, mostly hanging onto the dividers as he slowly swam under the water. I wish the coaches let me know he really needed individual swim lessons to learn his strokes. The coaches all told me at the beginning that Everett would be taught and helped along. Seemed like they just let him flounder, even letting him jump in however he desired. It's partly my fault for not attending practises, Josie and Evelyn are asleep most mornings and taking Josie is pure distraction since she only wants to swim. Next year I will enroll Everett in lessons before the season starts.

I heard about a local bakery hosting a Harry Potter event for free cupcakes and butterbeer. The kids dressed up and scrounged up wands for the party. I printed off spell lists for the kids to practice their spell making. Everett was disappointed there was not a spell that made lightening shoot from his wand. The bakery was all decorated with Harry Potter paraphernalia. The kids were sorted into a house, Mia, Josie, and Everett into Hufflepuff, Evelyn into Ravenclaw, and Phillip into Gryffindor. The cupcakes were so delicious! I indulged in a bite or two. Evelyn and Josie loved the play kitchen area. Amelia was impressed the butterbeer we made at home tasted the same as the bottled version we tried (just with a more chemical aftertaste). The kids made wands and played with the photo props. All in all a nice time for everyone. 

Thursday we headed to the mall early in the morning. Build-a-Bear hosted a pay-your-age sale. We parked, walked to the corner, saw the line, and got back in the van. The line was stretched completely around the block and down to the next block. Looked like a 6+ hour wait in the humid heat. No thank you. So we headed to Peter Piper Pizza in order to redeem the kid's free pizza coupons earned through the library reading program. We had no idea the pizza parlor also had an arcade! Score. I shelled out money for tokens. The kids raced about shoving tokens into machines like crazy folks. All the kids loved the water shooting game and the car racing game. Josie was content to win two rubber balls from the claw game. Her favorite game by far was the Paw Patrol game. I had to laugh as I caught snatched glimpses of the kids clutching cups of tokens in one hand and reams of tickets in the other. Once the tokens were used up the kids counted out their tickets and redeemed their points for cheap trinkets and candy. I remember thinking as a kid why my Mom hated these amazing arcades. Now I know, total waste of money! Alas, I tucked that feeling away and let them play much like my mom did way back when. One our way home I stopped at a water store and bought 8 10lb blocks of ice. Our pool's temperature was hovering between 96 and 98 degrees. We threw the ice into the pool and let the kids loose to play icebergs. The Russo's came over to enjoy the event. Once the ice melted the pool temperature was down to 92.  Josie can swim almost across the pool now on her own!

Our week was quite overcast and humid. Several thunderstorms ripped open throughout the week. I contentedly enjoyed a nice evening thunderstorm after everyone else was in bed. Even with the lower temperature the humidity makes the heat almost unbearable.

Justin and I hired a sitter Friday evening. We caught some dinner at a salad joint then watched Ant man and the Wasp. I like going on dates without the kids. It's nice.

We spent Saturday morning working on the yard. Justin trimmed the bushes out front and mowed. I worked with the kids in the backyard picking up clutter. Amelia and Evelyn hosed down the playhouse since it was covered with dirt from the storms. Phillip cried and whined for an hour about picking up dog poop. He ended up paying me $8 to do the chore for him. Nice! I took myself to 7-11 for a cold drink, thanks for the money dude! He was so unhappy about paying me all of his money I agreed to let him earn back $5 if he helped me with the garage. It needed some major de-cluttering. The boys worked on cleaning out the lego and dress up area. Phillip worked hard and earned back $5 of the $8 dollars. We were all dripping with sweat before lunch rolled around. I dropped off a load of stuff to Goodwill. After naps we spent some time cooling off in the pool, wait, the water was the same temperature as outside the water. Phillip and Everett brought in the Imaginext toys to the living room. They spent the rest of the evening playing with the toys. I found a plush Skye for Josie off Amazon. She was so darling while opening her new toy, gushing over it. She totes it around all the time now.

11 July 2018

4th of July





















The heat switch was flipped to blasting this week. Not only was it hot but the humidity kicked in. In Nebraska our eyeballs would freeze, here when you walk outside right now your eyeballs will burn. I am not kidding, all the kids were complaining about their eyes hurting/burning on our Sunday walk this week. One day the temperature gauge in the van read 122 in the sitting heat. Phew, it was only morning. We stayed inside most of the time, sneaking out to jump in the pool which did not really help since the water temperature was 95.

Everett earned the "make your mother laugh" award this week. I came downstairs one morning to hear Everett crooning over something. He was petting a dead dove that I'm guess the dog brought in. Once he noticed me Everett said, "Mom! Look this nice bird is letting me pet it! Oooooo, it's so soft. Look! I can even pick it up and it's neck flops around!" He truly had no idea the bird was dead. We talked about how the bird was no longer alive and that's the reason it was not moving. Everett responded by picking the bird up and letting me know that dead birds don't freak him out. Oh my gracious...I went back to my room and enjoyed a loud, raucous laugh.

I finally had the chance to watch Amelia during swim team practice. The team started out stretching then doing laps by stroke. The instructors had those kids running, doing jumping jacks, lunges, and laps. The funniest race was when groups of 3 kids raced, the front kid as the arms, a middle kid as the middle, and the last kid as the legs. They had to work awkwardly together to make it to the other side of the pool. She is doing much better than she reported to me, I'd say her skill set is near the middle! Almost every photo I took captured her gaping mouth sucking in air! The kids got to play at the end of practice on the water slides and enjoy a Popsicle. I picked up Patriotic hats and sunglasses at Target's dollar bins. The kids let me practice using my studio lights outside for some 4th of July photos. I am amazed at how crisp and vivid the photos are using my lights outside. The wind kept tipping over my umbrella so Amelia had to prop it up with her body. I love how the sky pops as well.

Our 4th of July was quite relaxing. I made a cold broccoli salad and a crock pot of baked beans the night before. We left relatively early on Wednesday to drive up to Payson where my cousin Amber Mcentire lives. Justin stopped at Safeway where I bought some ice and soda for the cooler. In my hurry I left my dang wallet in the shopping cart again. Doh! I am sure my luck will run out one of these days and the dang item will get stolen. The store found it first and kept it safe until I realized the next day it was gone and retraced my steps. Payson was a good 15 degrees cooler than Gilbert. We all went on a hike with Amber, Megan, and Amy on a trail that included lots of huge boulders for the kids to climb on. The hike did not last long, we got too hot after just 15 minutes. The kids had such a fun time climbing the boulders, even Josie got into the action. Amber showed us a partially split and burned tree the kids could fit inside. We headed back to the Mcentire home for lunch of baked chicken, beans, broccoli salad, chips, and watermelon. Yum! Amy let the little girls play with her pet shop toys, much to their delight. We rested and play a bit until 2:30 or 3 pm. We all headed to Tonto basin, specifically Roosevelt lake for the rest of the afternoon to swim and relax. Mike loaded up their pedal boat and life jackets. All the kids loaded into the boat or on floaties and drifted off a ways off the shore to do what kids to best. Brandon caught a crayfish and made it really mad...then let it go. That mean old crabfish snapped my butt not once but twice. The first time I was crouched down in the water taking photos of Josie playing on the shore, suddenly that cur snipped me right on my privates. Yeouch! I jumped clear out of the water and sprinted to shore. Twenty minutes later Josie wanted to get wet so I helped her in choosing a spot quite a ways from the previous attack, little bugger found me again crouched and snipped me in nearly the same spot. Ornery little bugger! I stayed out of the water after that, flinching each time a pebble rubbed my toe. Evelyn saw me jump the second time, she refused to get back in the water for quite some time. Guess those crabs only like squatting, stationary, white bums! Easy targets. Phillip and Brandon headed out to almost the middle of the lake for a time. The girls were intent on swimming all the way out there to catch up. We roasted in the sun in between necessary dips to cool off. I am so happy that Amelia and Amy play well together. Cousins are the best. We parted ways around 6:30, us heading back to Gilbert and the Mcentire's to Payson. We headed to Mesa, hoping to catch the city firework show. Everett had to go pee on the way home. He lost the pee bottle lid. Then he was not paying attention and sprayed urine all over Amelia's arm, book, clothes, and seat. The kid had no idea why Amelia suddenly turned witch on him, yelling and screaming. Justin quickly pulled over so I could help defuse the situation. We still have not located the pee bottle lid. We grabbed some dinner before the show. The restaurant bathroom was out of order, the girls and I had to walk to the closest gas station for facilities. Outside was roasting hot. Justin found a spot to view the show from a random parking lot. I spread out towels on the asphalt so we could watch outside the van. The heat quickly burned any exposed skin through the towels. The boys all holed up in the stuffy van, with the girls on the burning towels. Not sure who had the better spot. Josie was quite enamored with the fireworks. Evelyn was quite proud that she did not get scared this year and did not need boom protectors. We needed some patriotic music to serenade the show!

I took the kids for a game of bowling and mini golf at Fat Cats for our fun outing this week. Turns out bowling is not so fun. The kids lost interest after the first 3 frames. I had the computer put of rails for all the kids and let them use the ramp for extra fun. I bowled an especially good game with those rails up! Mini golf was much more amusing. I followed Josie around giggling over her funny expressions while she tried to hit her ball around. Amelia stayed glued to the couch this week completely engaged in the Harry Potter series. She finished the first 5 books in less than 6 days! Seems like each time I catch a glimpse of her all I can see is the book and her legs. Evelyn left lipstick impressions on the wall! Once asked about her lips on the walls she let me know that the lips were to tell the house how glad she was to be home after the beach. Well, then! Don't me stop you.

Justin finally watched Greatest Showman. I loved watching the extras, especially the making of the soundtrack. I adore the song, "This is Me!" 

I roped Justin into going with us to Sunsplash on Saturday. This was one pogo pass location I could manage on my own. We picked a nasty, hot day to go! The high was 112 with 26% humidity. We rented a small locked to keep our electronics and such safe, but kept the swim bag out. Justin headed off to explore the water slides with the older kids. Evelyn, Josie and I checked out the kid area. Evelyn loved the smaller water slides! She was happy to swim without her floaties. Josie was especially upset that I would not let her take off her floaties. She hates them with a passion. Both girls enjoyed the wave pool! Justin said they could not ride some of the slides because the stairs were too hot and only swim shoes were allowed. They rode what was allowed. The water in the shallowest pool was so hot. It felt like a hot tub! Only the splash pad offered water cool enough to bring down our heat register. Phew. The kids started to melt down around 3 so we fed them hot water...just kidding, Justin got hot french fries and cold drinks. We all perked up a bit after a treat. All the kids rebelled when we announced it was time to leave at 6 pm. Amelia really wanted to come back and swim until 10 pm. After eating some dinner at our new favorite Mexican restaurant all the kids decided they were too tired. Justin said the shrimp ceviche was amazing! Josie fell asleep in the van between the water park and dinner. She stayed asleep on my shoulder much to my delight.