29 December 2019

The Week Before Christmas!







The kids had a really busy week at school. Lots of parties, celebrations, activities, and such for the 3 younger kids. Amelia had finals all week so was more stressed than usual but made it through without much difference. She had a dress down day and was able to wear a winter-themed hoodie over her uniform the entire week of finals. Amelia and Zoe were quite the team when it came to studying for their tests. I about lost it when Amelia came home with the assignment to translate an entire story from Latin into English. Over 80% of the words were not in her textbook, notes, or slideshows. Turns out the passages were famous excepts from the story of the Fall of Troy. We muddled through the first paragraphs with almost perfect results. Then I found the passages online and cheated, yes, I cheated. It was late at night and Amelia was nearing a breakdown. Handing out vague Latin passages to translate with no real Latin knowledge was about the stupidest teacher move ever. Amelia and Zoe had two half days so that helped with time to study and even play time as well.

Evelyn had some dental work on 5 cavities on the 17th of December. I did not tell about the appointment until we pulled into the office at 7:15 am. She had to arrive fasting for 10 hours due to the sedative for her procedure. She was quite upset at me for concealing the truth of our early morning errand. She got an oral sedative first that made her woozy and sleepy. Once she went back the nurse strapped her to a surfboard apparatus to keep Evelyn from falling out of the chair. I think the actual dental work only took 20 minutes, the other 3 hours were spent waiting for the sedative and silly gas to work. Josie and I were utterly bored. After Evelyn was done she declared the entire situation was no big deal and super easy! Phew. She had to stay home for the rest of that day. We got a treat for her at a gas station for being a brave soul. The little girls went with me to Bath and Body Works for teacher gifts. That was quite fun for us all! After the medication wore off Evelyn had a bit of pain but nothing serious.

I made the mistake of vocally noting how long it had been since the little girls came into sleep with me (on the floor or in our bed). The past 10 days were terrible! Little stinkers went from a month of sleeping in their beds all night to sleeping like newborns. Evelyn is terrified of dying now, every night she wakes up with nightmares about dying or walking off cliffs to die. I don't really have vivid dreams, usually only recall 2-3 per year. To have so many children with vivid dreams is hard for me to understand. Must be terrifying.

The kids can only play in the garage now that the house is on the market. Josie was whining about visiting the park to play. I had stuff to do so let the kids play in the dirt section of our property. I had visions of the kids playing with plastic shovels and pails. Before I knew it the kids acquired all our large shovels to dig deep holes. Then Phillip had the brilliant idea to fill the holes with water. It was a mess! A glorious dirty mess! That game lasted for three more days. The only stipulation given was to not throw dirt about and make a huge disaster. They did have so much fun digging about in the rocks.

Our Nelves are stepping up their game. Scares the dickens out of Evelyn whenever they ring the doorbell, bang on a window, or ring their bells. We heard some stories from Grandma Debbie about her Elves visiting when she was little. One story she told about the Elves banging on the floor from underneath the floorboards! Guess what? Innej and Nitsuj were listening because the next night Phillip said the Nelves banged right under his feet when he was getting dressed for bed! The kids are constantly finding little treats and crafts to keep them motivated for Christmas. We have a new Nelf in training, Neajaim! She almost got caught a couple times, needs to work on her sneaky skills.

We went to the park twice this week. I had a house showing on Thursday at noon so picked up the girls from school and went to the park for a picnic lunch. I forgot Chloe also had a half day, we rushed to pick her up before the agent and clients showed up at our house. Josie was in heaven to have three 12 year olds at her beck and call. We went back to the park the next day. Evelyn was bored out of her mind so we went just to have a break. One little girl showed Evelyn an acorn she found. We went on a mission to find acorns. Everett, Phillip, and Ronald found a trove of acorns around several trees. The kids wanted to collect as many as possible to feed the nut meat to the ducks. I sure hope there aren't several dead ducks due to acorn nut constipation.

Friday morning the little girls and I went to have a nice pedicure thanks to Ronald's dad. He owns a salon with his mother in Gilbert. The little girls got their nails painted while my feet got de-summarized. Josie sat still for over an hour. The girls finally started to squabble over the pedicure chair and the massage remote. I whipped out the snack bag to soothed over the angry words with goldfish and water.

The rest of our weekend was spent wrapping gifts, shopping for the last odds and ends, and keeping our house clean. Justin and I went out on a date Friday night. He took me clothes shopping to Maurices and shoe shopping at DSW. I was pleased to find many shirts that now fit me better and will keep me warm here and in Idaho. Amelia organized our family gift exchange AND who shopped with whom to keep the gifts a surprise. We went to Target with our teams a pocket full of money and a goal to find gifts. I had Evelyn and Josie had Justin. Josie did not grasp the concept of shopping for someone else. That was hard for her to get Evelyn a gift but not herself. We made it through with some loud griping from Josie. I think everyone had a good time shopping for each other. Amelia and Phillip were a team! They did well shopping for their people all by their lonesomes. At home we wrapped up the gifts sneaky style. The excitement was HIGH!

Sunday was our ward Christmas program. I was in charge of the music for the program as ward music chairman. Lots of texts and questions those few days prior to the program. We practiced the program outline before church at the Wolford's home. Sister Larry was our narrator, she introduced each song with a little historical snippet. I invited our neighbor Edgar to church, he CAME! I was so excited. There are quite a few talented folks in our ward who performed during the program. We had piano, voice, violin, saxophone, and bass represented. The only snafu was the first number. A small group of Primary kids practiced a song to perform, but when Sister Larry invited the Primary kids to sing their song the entire lot of Primary kids stormed the stand. Surprise! After the program we had a mix and mingle. Sunday night we drove around to see Christmas lights. So many crazy folks go overboard to decorate! Ha ha ha. 

19 December 2019

An Inch of Hail














Monday it was my turn for carpool pick up. It was a cloudy, oppressive sort of day outside. I got a panicked text and phone call from Mia that it was seriously hailing. I was 4 miles away from home, it was drizzling and dripping a bit of rain, nothing of note. On some level, I was sure Amelia forgot what hail was really like. Once we crossed the border between Mesa and Gilbert the hail started. I kid you not, it hailed non-stop for over 30 minutes. We had a leg-it Nebraska-worthy hail storm, Mia's memory served her right! By the time I pulled into the driveway the kids were ALL outside scooping up bowls of ice pellets, mixing in snow cone syrup for a tasty treat. Phillip brought out our only snow shovel to scoop up huge piles of hail stones. We dumped about 30 pounds of ice off the sail sunscreen! That was quite fun. All the kids were shivering with cold and loving every moment. They all warmed up with hot cocoa and wearing 2-3 layers of their warmest pajamas.

Tuesday evening my piano students performed in our Christmas Piano Recital. It was nice not to scramble to get the house clean because it was still immaculately clean (best feeling ever). Marianne caught a nasty cough so only three families attended! Brigdon's family left right after his songs, so we were down to 3 adults plus our family and Chloe. I was expecting more family members to show up, picked up 3 dozen doughnuts as a special treat. We were left with 2.5 dozen doughnuts to indulge in, good grief that was too much sugar. Phillip and Everett performed so nicely. They practiced and practiced until their songs were perfect. Recital nerves always results in a couple finger flubs, but still they were awesome. Lyndsey told me after they left that Blake said, "You mean that was the last time I'll see my piano teacher? Well, we should have had a moment!" He cracks me up. I saw him the next day, we had a moment! Ha ha ha. Evelyn and I worked hard over the weekend to collect facts about the Bearded Reedling, a tiny marsh bird native to Europe. After the recital we worked on making a diorama with an old box, clay for the bird and sun (plus some pink in the nest for color), torn blue paper for the water, and Popsicle sticks for reeds. I quite enjoyed working with Evelyn on her project. I helped with the hot glue gun, she did the rest herself!

Everett also needed help writing a report on Portugal for a Social Studies project. We researched a bit and he decided to focus on the foods of Portugal. Wednesday we worked on a poster board for his presentation at school. We had a bit of trouble communicating. I think he wanted me to do all the work for him, but I made him come up with the ideas and write everything out. His poster looked pretty good for a 3rd grader.

Evelyn presented her Bearded Reedling project Thursday morning. Josie got to play with Keturah Smith at the Idea Museum all morning! She was a bit reluctant to go but had a super time with Ezra and Julia. It was nice to just focus on Evelyn for a bit. She refused to present until she had to as the last presenter. She was so cute twisting her hair while telling about herself and READING her report. She is turning into a good reader, no surprise there. After reading her report her classmates asked questions about the Bearded Reedling that she tried to answer. That girl is the cutest, she can pull of anything...once her mind is set. I found myself alone with two hours to spare. Soooooo, I went Christmas shopping. I hit Walmart and Target collecting all the things for Christmas this year. It was so nice not to battle the crowds swarming the stores on a Saturday.

Friday we had a quick family clean-up in the house. I vacuumed, swept, and mopped again. Phillip is totally into Fantastic Beasts so he was quite the whiz helping out so he could watch the first movie. We left our house by 9 am on Saturday morning. Edgar hosted an Open House from 9-1:30 pm. Justin left super early to grab tickets for Santa's Wonderland at Bass Pro. I still feel like a cheater going to the store but free photos and experience are hard to beat. The rest of us caught up at 9:35 just in time to enjoy the fun activities before getting in line. Tickets went fast but Justin snagged tickets so we did not have to wait long. Josie was so cute, she would not look at Santa, made Mia take her over, she tolerated a short sit on Santa's lap. I could see her whisper "Santa, I want a baby My Little Pony with a crown and bottle." Everett wrapped himself right up, completely at ease! Phillip was unsure if he could sit on Santa's lap, so he did the most hilarious backwards wiggle, easing himself onto one of Santa's legs. I about died laughing! All I saw was "beep, beep, load coming through!" Ha ha ha. Amelia refused to have a turn, but lowered herself to get a group photo. I am totally into child torture and embarrassment. I got my just dues when Josie threw a royal tantrum over a fishing rod and then a camping lantern. Phew, she is one stubborn kid when she wants to be. She does not get things usually when she and I shop, she gets one thing a month as an allowance. Sometimes a small treat if she behaves. Cry away kid! She threw another royal tantrum at Joann Fabric store earlier in the week. Her eyes beheld the most beautiful Frozen treasure chest, she toted it around the store for 30 minutes. She heard me say a few times I was not getting her the chest, stubborn girl insisted. We left with her purple in the face screaming about the Elsa Treasure Chest. Nope, double and triple NOPE. Back to the real narrative. The kids played at the park across from the shopping center for an hour or so. Everett was playing a form of chase, he and this other little boy were "girl slapping" each other if caught by the other. I was afraid that game would turn into real slapping and punching, stepped in as mean mom. That park is really fun to play in, so many fun areas for all different ages. We still had over an hour to burn, went to lunch at Moreno's. Forced absence from our home seemed like a good excuse to eat out. Only two people and a curious neighbor attended the Open House, boo.

Amelia, Chloe, and I went out shopping after we could go back home. Evelyn decided to change her Christmas list, like completely. I returned two items at Walmart, returned an item to Big Lots, and went to Joann's for the treasure chest, then Old Navy and Marshalls. The girls were hilarious! I forgot how silly girls are out shopping. Amelia and Chloe chose gifts for a little gift exchange they are hosting next week. Lastly, we went to Target so the girls could choose matching "Chloes" aka hoodies. I spotted the perfect hoodies on Tuesday, a sherbet tie-dyed hoodie with Star Wars on the front and the Rebel symbol on the back. I was pooped after that long day. Came home only to realize the Christensen's Posada was starting in 20 minutes and I signed up to bring apple cider. I quickly assembled the ingredients and boiled the brew for a bit before putting it in the crock pot...faux crock pot cooking! Over a 100 people showed up for the Posada! Every year the attendance goes up, hooray for lots of friends. Josie did not eat a scrap of food, it was too yucky. Her loss, nothing beats street tacos.

I worked to finalize the music for our Christmas program next Sunday. I hope the songs and performances bring the spirit to those looking for a spot of warmth in their heart this season. We've practiced long and hard to do our best this Sunday. I'm grateful for all the talented folks who volunteer their time and efforts.

**Phillip introduced Josie to the most annoying (and inappropriate) song: "Up Butt Coconut" a crass song about a monkey, butts, and coconuts. He was near tears because Josie played the song about 30 times in a row. He promised to never introduce gross songs to his sister again. That artist and song is blocked. Think Weird Al Yankovich of 2019 level of strange. Poor Ronald was so annoyed with the situation. I was not around for the experience but heard about it later. Thankfully, she forgot about the song and does not recall the words.  Anyone who plays that song will get a stiff consequence.

16 December 2019

Christmas Festivities











I lost a week. This week got lost in time, I had too much on my plate to sit down and write about the goings on. Two weeks later, I'll attempt to write the story. Most of the week was spent cleaning. Monday-Wednesday I spent upstairs cleaning every nook and cranny. I donated a couple trunks full of items to the DI. Wednesday morning Melanie came over to help me start on the downstairs. My mission was to completely declutter the house so we could get it Market worthy by Friday morning. A professional photographer came with a wide angle 10mm lens to capture each room. Lots of sweat went into cleaning and such. We moved a bunch of stuff out to garage, packed up toys and unnecessaries late Thursday night. Melanie and Debbie Godard came to help me work on the kitchen during the day on Thursday. I never had the chance to deep clean before moving in, guess I'm doing it before we move out. So many thanks to the ladies who helped me clean all the places. The kids worked on cleaning the backyard with Brigdon Godard playing the team captain, he kept the boys hopping from chore to chore. The house is clean...the garage is a healthy mess! Just keepin' it real.

Monday and Friday the kids had dental cleanings. Only Everett and Josie came away with no cavities. Mia has one, Phillip has 3, and Evelyn has 5. We don't have crappy diets, our kids brush their teeth, so maybe genetics is the culprit.  Phillip got his taken care of right away. I'm not looking forward to taking Evelyn kicking and screaming for her turn. My plan is to take her right away in the morning, she'll find out in the parking lot.

The older kids spent a couple afternoons making large batches of slime for a service project. Our ward is hosting an entire ward that is quite poor. The kids made slime to go in each stocking along with a new toy gift we donated. The stockings were assembled by the Primary kids during our ward Christmas Breakfast. Amelia and Chloe manned the stocking assembly operation. Amelia was an efficient director, she had the kids hopping along the assembly line. She made any repeaters fall out of line until everyone had a chance. I got several compliments about her ability to direct and lead. All the kids helped make either slime or playdough! Good job young people of Windrift Ward. The adults assembled 10 welcome baskets for the House of Refuge. For a month Debbie Godard collected donations to put in the baskets. Everything had to be new so that was a bit of a challenge. Each basket had a set of pans, dishes, cups, cutlery, knives, towels, sheets, and such put into a laundry basket. Sister Payne outdid herself with the Christmas Breakfast. There was a cute hot cocoa station, lots of crafts, and yummy breakfast foods. We had a fun sing-a-long for an activity. Santa even came at the end of the breakfast!

Right after the party Amelia had a choir performance at GCA for the school's winterfest fundraiser. All the music department (band, strings, and choir) had a required performance. We had Ryan for the day to play with Phillip. The boys had more fun roaming about the "fair" then sitting to watch choir numbers. Josie made a cute friend sitting on our same row. Each choir sang a technical piece and a fun number. Justin stayed with Amelia and Chloe while the rest of us went to visit the Cotton Candy man. Once a year Brother Brinton sets up his cotton candy machine and makes unlimited candy for anyone who wants a towering treat. My kids love this tradition. Josie still would not eat her cotton candy, she finally nibbled a piece I squashed into a tiny hard ball. She quite enjoyed filling cups of water instead. Amelia and Chloe showed up with hennaed hands! The designs were so fun! They bought tickets and paid to have it done at Winterfest. 

Our house went live on the MLS at 4 pm on Saturday. We had two showings on Sunday, one on Monday, and another Tuesday. Otherwise crickets! Boo hoo. It is quite the challenge for me to keep everything shipshape and squared away. The kids are not allowed to play in the house. They can play in the garage.

Sunday we enjoyed dinner with the Calls as it was the first Sunday of the month. We had lots to catch up on.

A side note: choosing the best way to sell our house was quite challenging. I finally settled on Homie to sell our house. Jana used them to sell and highly recommended it. I signed up, paid the deposit and had a photographer scheduled to come Friday morning. I was out spraying weeds when our new neighbor Edgar arrived home. I told him our news and got an instant scolding for not using him as an agent. I really thought he only flipped houses, turns out he is a self-employed broker. After looking at our house he was ready to start listing us at $389,900. I was listing for $340k through Homie. Even with realtor fees we would make more through Edgar than listing on our own. Selling through the holidays is a slow, slow time. I felt good about Homie and felt good about Edgar so it was really a choice of good and good. The less we sell our home for the less Edgar gets paid, if it only sells for $340 he will only get .5% commission. Time will tell. I also paid the deposit for the moving company. We are on a floating reservation so can move the date out starting in January. That looks a very likely scenario since we are now at the 16th of December and no real showings or offers. Could be we won't move until February.

01 December 2019

Thanksgiving 2019











The kids were all on board to fill up our Thanksgiving Gratitude Tree this year! Everett was by far the best contributor! He added new ideas every few minutes and reminded us all to add our items to each leaf on the tree. I love how the Come Follow Me lessons also coincide with the holidays! Whoever wrote the manuals took so much thought and effort to align everything. We have so much to be grateful for!

Tuesday night we had a very sad family council. Justin was offered a job to work for Pennant Group based in Boise, ID. Justin and I spent many, many moments in prayer before and after making a decision together. We hashed out pros and cons:

Gilbert: pros: stay near family and cousins, good schools, love our ward family, love the area
             cons: the heat is not our favorite, terrible commute, current job is not satisfactory, concerned               about survival in case of disaster
Boise: pros: Justin likes the team there, new area of expertise, will be near new family, closer to                     SLC, 4 seasons, better compensation and pay, less of a commute
           cons: moving after only 2 years (Justin does not move well, the anxiety is high), starting over,             coordinating house sale and purchase, hiring moving company 

Justin received a powerful answer in the temple on Saturday, a burning in his bosom, that this move is where the Lord needs us to go. I get frustrated with the lack of answers I seem to get. I wish answers were more forthright, however, I am glad that Justin gets the answers for us both. Tuesday we told the kids of our decision to pick up and move. Right before this Amelia and Phillip were fighting. I lost my temper, told those two pickle-heads I would make them share a room if they don't stop the bickering. With tempers already high we just plowed right on! Amelia, Phillip, and Everett burst into immediate tears. We carefully explained the decision process and how the Lord is blessing us. Justin was inspired several times to take the Personal Finance Class with me, he had the impression that a new job would not be offered until after we took the class. We finished our last class on Sunday the 17th, had the job offer on the 19th! Talk about miracles. Justin was so inspired to give us all Father's blessings. That was a sweet, tearful experience for us all. So many words of wisdom given from our HF to each one of us. I equate that spiritual family experience to a sort of Pentecostal rush of the spirit. I hope our kids remember that for the rest of their lives. We all felt much better after being blessed. Everett said he felt in his heart that moving was the right choice, even though he will miss all his friends. 

The kids were especially grateful for only two days of school! Yee HAW! Our piano recital is coming up so I moved around lessons to accommodate the holidays. I love to hear all the practicing after school each day. I got all the recipes chosen, lists made, and grocery shopping done for Thanksgiving on Tuesday. Wednesday we had Chloe and Ronald over for the day as well since Amanda had to work. I taught lessons then made 2 batches of pie dough so it could chill for hours. We went to McD's for lunch since the day was cold and rainy, the kids needed to play. I indulged in a very rare Diet Coke from McD's! The caffeine kick kept me up past 1 am! I quite love not being dependent on a drink for my energy source. Justin actually got home at a decent time so was able to go see Frozen 2 with us all. We had seats all over the theater but it worked out in the end. Josie was so funny during the movie, she belly laughed at all the funny parts and yelled, that she LOVED Elsa! Josie mostly enjoyed playing with the reclining seat. I think she inclined and reclined the seat 159 times during the movie. She was starving so asked me every few minutes for a drink, course she had to go potty twice. I thought the movie was darling. The music was fun and the story line a perfect segue from the first. After the kids were in bed I made a pumpkin pie, apple pie, and cream pecan pie. Making pies is a dance in coordination! Two pies needed half baked shells, both at different temperatures, the apple needed two temperature changes and a half-turn mid-baking. The masterpieces were done at 1 am!

Thanksgiving! Josie woke up excited to eat turkey meat! Both girls looked adorable in their cute matching dresses. The boys came down wearing gym shorts and ratty t-shirts, they were not happy I asked them to wear nicer clothes. We all looked so snappy in our Thanksgiving outfits. Course, had to take a few photos of the occasion. Justin took up the role of potato master. He enlisted the kids to help him peel a 10 lb bag of potatoes, he even cut up the potatoes and started the crock pot. I prepped green beans, whipped cream, and cranberry salad. We went over to the Calls around 11 am to share our traditional "Horse-duvers" lunch. Nothing quite as tasty as salty appetizers to get the juices running. The boys had an epic laser tag battle that lasted most of the day. Anna is such a great game keeper! She had those boys involved in game after game. My boys were quite taken with the bow and arrow set (it was REAL!) and target. Anson and Phillip attacked a pile of scrap wood, made a sand scraper to use at the park. I hear they dug several holes just for the fun of it all. Josie and Evelyn amused themselves with all the fun boy toys upstairs. Towards dinner I wrapped green beans with bacon and drenched the bean packets with a lovely rosemary brown sugar topping. Laura's two sisters and family came over plus a family from the Calls ward. We had quite the merry gathering! Never a quiet moment. Josie even pooped her pants and messed up her cute dress. Thank goodness I had a back up in the van. The spread of pies was something to behold! It was magnificent. I was quite glad my apple and pumpkin pies came home almost unscathed...more leftovers.

Friday and Saturday we got out the Christmas Decor. The kids were keen on decorating their tree, they had it assembled with a little help and completely decorated before lunch. I packed up all the living room decor and frames into boxes for our move, that process took me a bit longer than usual. I love the nostalgia of the familiar decorations. I adore my nativity sets so much. Justin worked on patching up our shower and fixing drywall damages in several places about the house. I put up my tree on Saturday morning. Anson got to spend the night with us Friday-Saturday! The boys were in heaven. We got a bum offer from OpenDoor for barely enough to pay off our mortgage. Using them to sell our house would be nice because then we don't have the hassle of dealing with buyer's demands and would get a specific move out date. The $18k price tag was hard to swallow. We will confer with an agent in our ward about the offer, maybe sell it the traditional way. One stress we've not had before is Pennant's HR is not organizing the move, we are getting $10k in the form of a taxable bonus, so really we have $8,500 to move from here to Idaho. That is tricky! I've been on the phone with many companies, trying to find one who will not swindle us last moment. Deciding between self-pack or hiring a crew. Listing our house is another stress. I need to get rid of clutter again so showing the house is not a huge stressor. Moving is not for the faint of heart.

We are so excited to start #lighttheworld today! Our devotional tonight focused on the new initiative. We read several scriptures about being a light to the world, watched the new nativity video, and checked out the service calendar. So fun. 

Lots of Rain! Gilbert Parade


















Rain means a big party in this house! We enjoyed three days with rain, some folks bundle up under a blanket inside, other folks drag out bikes, umbrellas, and bare feet to enjoy the rain. We belong to the last class of folks. So much fun. Josie forgot all about windshield wipers, she laughed for 10 whole minutes each time my wipers cleaned off the window. I about died laughing over her reaction. Phillip had the big broom out to sweep a large swath through the water from driveway to driveway. All the kids went through many changes of clothes, I don't mind the extra laundry if the reason is rain. Several places flooded due to the rain, one area was a large puddle close to our house but on the outside "oval." I got a worried Phillip race into our house telling me Everett was stuck in his bike chain. Somehow Everett's pant leg jammed into the bike chain, he simply fell over mid cycle right into the pond/puddle. Brigdon Godard came in for the rescue, apparently the choice was save the pants or cut them off, the pants were saved! Hallelujah. We may have invited the rain by washing off the driveway via hose to clear the way for more chalk art. Josie had the best time spraying the kids...erm, driveway.

Everett finally earned some cubscout awards! He came home with a handful of awards and a huge smile. Phillip also earned quite a few awards, our pack is desperately trying to get the boys through as much of the program as possible. Amelia (and Chloe) attended the last Young Women in Excellence program, a historic last for the girls. Several girls earned the last medallions before the program ends in December. I still have all my medallions earned so many years ago.

On Thursday evening Evelyn had a special hour with Mom and Dad to herself at school. The 1st year kids had a "Show Me" night at school. Parents attend with their child (no siblings), the student gets to show off their work. Evelyn was rather excited and reticent at the same time. She finally showed us how she learns spelling, reading, and math. All of her learning is done with manipulatives and quite ingenious! She was insistent we stay the entire hour just to follow her around and see what she does each day. That was a fun evening for the three of us.

Saturday we got up bright and early to grab a parking spot for the van and ourselves to see the Gilbert Days parade. We ended up parking a good mile away, Evelyn and Josie made the trek in good spirits on the way there, the way back they both almost expired from effort. We went so slow Justin had to come back to rescue us. We found a spot with the Payne family and friends. They were kind enough to squish together for the 7 extra bodies in our party. I smooched myself down in front so Josie could have a view on my lap. My legs fell asleep something major after two hours of sitting cross-legged. Phillip and Everett collected Frisbees, about 7 each?! Lots of candy, fliers, sunglasses, flowers, and joy came with each float! I always love a good marching band, all the feels deep in your chest, boom! boom! trill! One float had millions of tiny bubbles floating about, all the kids loved that one. Almost the last float was a contingency of Disney Princesses! Josie got to give Elsa a handshake! Swoon. Justin and I went to a temple endowment session around 4 pm. We had something quite major to pray about and seek answers for. Amelia held down the fort while we were gone for several hours.

Sunday we drove up to Payson early the morning. We went to church with the McEntire family. Everett lovingly sat right by Amber with his head snuggled on her arm. Evelyn was also quite taken with Aunt Amber. She was in heaven with all the little kid attention. We enjoyed a lovely pre-Thanksgiving dinner after church. I brought up a chocolate parfait dessert and Mac n'Cheese. Amber insisted on making the rest of the meal. We helped peel potatoes and snap beans. Everett, Evelyn, and Josie loved the playhouse outside! Dinner was a yummy affair. Afterward we went on a short hike about their wooded neighborhood. Amber was kind enough to give Evelyn a piggyback ride most of the way. We found a small pond on the way around our hike. Of course the boys threw every stick within a 10 foot radius into the pond water. We left Amelia pondering by the side of the pond without meaning too. I thought she left early with her cousin to head back, instead we got a phone call a while later asking where everyone went to! She realized it was too quiet for us to all be around. Amber and Mike went back to get her.

**while dropping of Josie to Nursery last week she bounced into the room, declared, "I had a birthday!" She was quite excited about Justin's birthday and got confused. She told her teacher she was 4 while holding up 2 fingers. Her teacher said you only have two fingers up! Josie replied, "well, I can't do dhose fingers, it too hard!"