04 October 2018

Clouds and Rain

Hurricane Rosa brought us four cloudy and rainy days! Four glorious days of mild temperatures in the 80s and over an inch of rain. The kids were quite excited to experience part of a hurricane. Everett spotted several funnels in the rain clouds. We all enjoyed the change in weather especially putting on rain coats for a spell. Josie got soaked Tuesday morning, she reminded me of a little duck who finally found a puddle to swim in. Since it was so cloudy and dark outside I sewed up a dress project that I'v had my mind on for months. Just look up Spanish Puffball Dresses on Pinterest. These dresses are magical confections of lace, ribbons, and short puffy skirts. The bonnets and diaper covers just put the dress over the top. Evelyn went with me on Saturday to Sas, the most amazing fabric store, like a thrift store full of fabric. The trick is finding what you need, since all the fabrics are piled in boxes and shoved into random corners. Evelyn scoured the floor finding random trinkets like beads, spangles, and feathers. She showed the owner her pocketful of treasure, she was allowed to keep it all for her honesty and for cleaning up! I purchased the trim for the dress. I had the fabric in my stash. I can't wait to take photos with some Utah fall colors next week. Laura Webster came over to cut out a dress she wanted to make. I sewed my dress while she cut hers. So fun.

Josie, baby Gabi, and I spent a lovely (not) 4 hours at Walmart for an oil change. I almost gave up twice but was told the wait was only 30 more minutes, longest two hour 30 minutes I've ever waited. By the time we checked out my frozen items were soggy and the refrigerated stuffs not so cold. Thank heavens we had enough to do. Josie totally enjoyed spending an hour in the toy section. Gabi slept for three hours so that was another blessing.

Evelyn and Amelia had dental cleaning early, early Wednesday morning. I did not tell Evelyn until we pulled up where our destination was. She did quite well, was still very tense but did not bite fingers and kept her mouth open. Amelia still has gingivitis along her gums and a molar hanging on for dear life. Her mission for the next week is to wiggle that tooth out or else we are splitting the $165 bill. Gag...I don't know how to help Amelia with her gum issues. Do I brush my 11 year olds teeth for her, stand next to her and peer into her mouth while she brushes? Ideas?

Next post will be all about our Utah trip. Keep Justin in your prayers. Things are changing at work and becoming quite stressful. His anxiety levels are through the roof.

Primary Program 2018

Josie had another fun four days of Book Club at Sister Russo's home this week. She joined with two other little 3 year olds to read and learn all about "If You Give a Pig a Pancake." Each morning she jumped with joy to get dressed, fix her hair, and walk over to school. She came home with cute activities to work on at home as well. It's enough to break up the monotony of our chore packed mornings.

This week the older kids had three half days in a row for the end of term parent-teacher conferences. Thursday was the day for conferences. Amelia and Chloe held down the fort while I went to 5 conferences in a row, from 2-4:30 pm. All the kids are doing quite well. Mrs Sanders said more than once that Phillip is a very considerate and helpful boy! He loves to volunteer and help his friends out. He is doing well in all subjects, just at his own pace. Mrs Epstein said she caught glimpses of Everett's temper, he's rolled his eyes and shrugged those thin shoulders more than once when he's upset. We talked about how a little encouragement goes a long way with him! She said once he dove under his desk when a loud noise sounded, he reported he thought it was a tornado sound so went under his desk. Silly boy. Everett is racing through his reading and math! He is a smarty pants, sometimes goes a bit too fast and makes mistakes. Evelyn is doing well but is slow to catch on to most of the material. I was surprised when Mrs Norton agreed that Evelyn should be recycled back to kindergarten next year! Mrs Norton was glad to know that was my plan, she will not push her but let her enjoy the new experience. I just feel more and more that she is not ready but needs an extra year, better now than in 7th grade when she really struggles. Amelia is soaring those heights...she is excelling at all subjects. Her ALP teacher (Math, Writing, Reading) takes up most of her school day. She is only with her homeroom teacher for one hour (Social Studies/Science). Ms England says Mia is doing well, she is slow but consistent. Once again needs to work on her organization skills. We talked about putting her in the gifted program next year or at the private high school. If Ms England endorses Amelia she will not have to wait for a lottery slot! I hear lots of amazing things about the gifted program, it is quite different than an accelerated path at the Jr High. Amelia wants to just go to the same school as her friends. I also got a call from the Primary President asking if all the kids could sing a new song for the program on Sunday. She also changed three other songs (the senior primary practiced two songs alone, one for the boys and another for the girls), she wanted to have the entire primary sing those songs instead of the smaller groups. I was quite frustrated at the time, told her that we did not have time to teach and learn three new songs in an hour.

Friday morning Josie and I visited Phillip's classroom to share my vast rock collection. His class is in the middle of a science unit on rocks! Josie spotted Phillip right away, cooed his name, then ran off to give him a hug! Phillip was delighted with the attention from her. Phillip helped me pass around my rocks and explain a little about the most interesting ones. Since we enjoyed another half day of school the kids brought home several friends to play with, Brooklyn (Mia), Ryan (Phillip/Everett), and Isla (Evelyn). Jacob also came over for a couple hours while the kids went swimming. The 6 hour playdate was almost too much for the little girls. I kept them supplied with ideas to play new games and went practiced riding bikes around the block several times.

Several times the kids and I went out to raise funds for their school's fun run. The PTA is raising money to build more shade structures and install several water bottle fountains on the play ground area. Everett raised more than $100 all by himself. Our neighbors usually only see us when we are out to beg for money. Everett's approach is to explain that he wants money to put in his envelope so he can earn a free homework pass, "sooooooo....will (you) put some dollars in my envelope and fill out the form?" I laughed as the adults tried to contain their own mirth.

Saturday morning was our Primary program practice. As you can imagine it was pretty crazy but still fun. The kids knew all the songs as we practiced them. We did not have to learn 3 new songs but kept with the program as we learned. Phew. I accompanied one of the songs on my flute while another teacher lead that song. The kids earned a lovely Popsicle for all their hard work. Next day the program went smoothly and was quite amazing. The kids really pulled it all together and produced a spiritual program. I sure felt all the feels as they sang and delivered their parts. Wahoo! Primary was taught the entire hour by the Presidency, no singing time! I helped man a fishing game (behind a curtain). The curtain kept falling off the walls because the tape was not holding. Then the chair used to hold the curtain up slipped off and cracked my big toe. Golly great goats that hurt like the dickens. Mia and I sewed up two pillows after church for the fun of it. She cut out the pillows back in March but we never finished them. She is gaining confidence with the sewing machine slowly but surely.

24 September 2018

A Smatter of Rain

Everett found himself a job for a couple days! He let Amelia share the responsibility of caring for Gambit, our neighbor's dog while they went on vacation. The kids enjoyed going over several times each day to play with, feed, water, and settle the dog down. In the end the kids each earned $15 for working several days. We also had a chance to swim in their pool on Wednesday, it was a scorcher!

We started out the week with doctor visits for Phillip and Evelyn's well-child check ups. Those two really grew the past year. Phillip was a huge helper with Gabi, he held her most of time! Josie made us all laugh, she climbed the little stairs up to the examining table, and started to sing, "Let it go! Don't Care!" Guess she felt like Elsa, Queen of the world, on those stairs. Evelyn hid under my chair until it was her turn to get examined. She was quite aware of the necessary kindergarten shots. Once the shots came she did beautifully! Did not complain about her arms hurting at all. Phillip got one flu shot and complained for 3 days about his painful arm. The appointment took much longer than it should have. The kids missed school lunch so we splurged with McD and the play place for lunch.

Pack meeting this month was quite memorable with Brother Payne teaching us about Police work. He showed the kids some of his gear, we got to chat with his radio dispatcher, and listen to some stories. After awards and donuts we had a moment to explore his police vehicle! The spinning lights actually made me nauseous, I was not expecting that at all. Next day Amelia had stake Activity Days. She got to make buttermilk pancakes and syrup as part of a two hour faux sleepover. Sounds like she had quite a fun time.

Wednesday was a blessedly cool and rainy day. We soaked up the rain for a few hours in the afternoon. Gabi loved the overcast and rain, slept like a champ for the first time in 7 days. I met the kids at the bus stop with my rainbow umbrella. We stomp in all the puddles on our way home. The kids immediately changed into rain clothes and unloaded bikes, scooters, and crutches (why?) to play outside in the rain. Mia and I left for piano so the boys and Evelyn decided to stay home. In the 40 minutes I was gone Phillip set up an elaborate picnic snack on the kitchen floor, hot chocolate included. He responsibly made sure reading time was completed before we returned home! Once I was back home the kids all raced outside to enjoy the rain. Rain is a holiday.

Josie noticed the new pumpkin displays are out. Each time we pass one she crones lovingly at the tiny baby pumpkins. I got her a cute baby pumpkin to take care of! She enjoyed painting her pumpkin with some kid paints. Her vocal description as she changed paint colors and described what she was doing had me giggling.  Evelyn came home and washed off all the paint, stinker! I cared more than Josie did. On Friday I took Josie to "Giggles" and indoor toddler play ground. Josie walked in and did not stop exploring for a good two hours. Her eyes were huge as she surveyed the place, deciding what to do first was a struggle. Her favorite activities were: riding the roller coaster Thomas Train, the wooden play structure, the play house, and the shopping carts. Two other gals from my ward were also there so we had a nice time to talk. I took some cute photos of Gabi, who just turned 2 months old and little Liberty again. Sister Payne found some of her mother's baby clothes, bonnets, shoes, jewelry, etc she wanted to put Liberty in. Totally up my alley! Gotta love that vintage vibe. Josie found a green stamper during the session. She marked up herself when I was not paying attention. Ha ha ha. We also watched Leo a couple times this week, along with Gabi we were loaded up full with little kiddos.

I spent 21 hours kid and family free at our yearly RS retreat in Strawberry, AZ. The Wolford's invited us all back again this year! Their cabin is quite lovely and cozy. Cari Sue drove her car with me, Corynn Payne, and Kathy Muro along for the ride. We stopped for dinner at Jimmy John's then hauled off for the high country. I managed to have the worst migraine this month right before the retreat started. By the time we arrived I was nauseous and seeing stars. Held myself together and still enjoyed the fun. Next morning I managed to sleep in a bit trying to kick my headache, it worked a bit lessening it's hold to a headache. After a delicious breakfast we gathered for a devotional. I was asked to give a 15 minute thought on "our hearts knit together" and how that relates to Ministering. While writing down my thoughts Wednesday and Thursday the words and references came quickly. The Lord had something to say, it was said! We stayed to help clean up and play in the game room until most other folks left. I loved the glimpse of fall crispness in the air. Coming home was pretty awesome too! The sweet hugs and greetings were most appreciated. Justin did a fine job, even managing to clean up the house a bit. He's trying to show me up! Just teasing.

Sunday was a shade of crazy at church. We are practicing for the Primary program this coming Sunday so combined Junior and Senior for two hours. I barely sat down for two seconds! I used a magical microwave and cookie ingredients to help the kids sing through all the songs multiple times. Thankfully the microwave did it's magic and delivered 6 dozen freshly baked cookies! I earned my Sunday nap. I got a cute new dress in the mail. Yay! I love the color, one of my best colors to wear. I feel frustrated most of the time because I am not losing anymore weight. I still feel exhausted and worn out. I ordered a year subscription to work out at home through Beachbody but have I done a single workout yet? Nope. Now with Gabi here in the mornings things are crazy again. Getting myself out of bed before 6:45 seems impossible. I wake up tired and go to be exhausted. My mom suggested I do a sleep study! Maybe I snore like a bear or have sleep apnea. I guess it's one more box I can check off. It's been 7 months since I started with Envoque seeking some answers. I am on like 10 supplements, naturethroid, methlycobalamine shots, and occasional vitamin drips. Nothing. Still feel like crap. So frustrating.

Amelia read My Side of the Mountain and Where the Red Fern Grows this past week. Makes my nerd heart so happy to see her reading those beloved classics. This week I read the boys the Boxcar Children before bed. We all had tears in our eyes towards the end of the book. Everett sure enjoyed the story and wants to read it again. I'm now reading the Five Little Peppers. Phillip loves the older English slang from a much earlier century.

17 September 2018

New Baby Friend

We are happy to welcome little Gabriella into our home for some hours each day! Amanda went back to work as a speech therapist last week. It was a tough week for little Gabi for several reasons, first time nursing from a bottle, first times away from mom and dad, had to get 4 mouth ties release so her poor little mouth was hurting. She is accustomed to napping in her mom's arms, not so much fun to hold her for hours while housework piled up. I got a rock and play that auto rocks in hopes it would help her sleep for longer. We've got some work to do with her napping and eating but it will get better. Looks like I will just watch her for a couple hours in morning each day. She is very cute with deep blue eyes. Phillip says her eyes remind him of the deep ocean! The kids get to hold her a bit before school on some mornings. Josie is quite unsure about having a baby to take up my time! She had a meltdown over Gabi's binky because she has a similar one. It's good for her to learn how to act around a littler person. The clutter was worse than usual since my extra time was spent snuggling a baby.

Amelia helped Everett whip up some fliers to pass out in our neighborhood. He wants to earn more money so his wallet will get full. They passed out 9 fliers one afternoon last week. He got a call to dog sit for our neighbor. He is so excited to earn $6 per day! Amelia is helping out so she will also earn $6 per day.

Evelyn decided Josie can play with her now. She lured Josie upstairs to play doctor with American Girl dolls and Doc McStuffins props. I snuck a couple peeks into the bedroom since it was so quiet, both girls were happily playing together! Makes my heart happy when those two give each other positive attention.

Saturday the kids got through all the chores before 11 am! Amelia said she got up determined not to whine about chores, she stuck to her challenge! Everett and Amelia had the side rocked area all weeded in record time. Phillip helped me clean up the patio. Amelia mowed the lawns with just a little help from Justin! Justin had more tedious work on the ever-leaking watering system, fix one leak and another shows up. We treated our hard work with a slurpee run to 7-11. Justin scored a radical straw hat, breezy and shady all at the same time. I had to laugh, looks pretty darn amazing on him. Amelia went to her cousin Anna's birthday party. I brought home Anson and Gary for the boys to play with. Amelia said Anna's friends are quite intimidating! We enjoyed having the boys. After a scrumptious meal of carne asada (gracias to Justin for marinating and grilling the meat), everyone except me enjoyed some pool time. I threw my lume cube (a waterproof photography light) into the pool for some light. The kids thought that was so cool! I made a large batch of caramel corn while the kids watched Paw Patrol. The party was over at 10 so it was quite a late night for the kiddos.

13 September 2018

Auxier Cabin, Justin Hates Fun

Labor Day was very low key. Amelia spent most of the day reading a book from the Septimus Heap series. We cleaned a bit, watched TV a bit, and got a bit bored. I wanted to hike around Tonto but that did not work out again. Drat! Amelia and I spent an hour making friendship bracelets. We went to the mall for our activity. The mall was super crowded with other folks enjoying a day off. The kids were delighted to eat cheap pizza at a buffet place. Josie surprised me with the amount of pizza she wolfed down. The kids enjoyed walking around the mall, checking out all the fun displays. They played in the play area for a while, Amelia and I went to Claire's just for kicks. The escalator was a huge highlight. Evelyn showed off her new earrings to the guy who pierced them a few days before. For FHE Justin built a fire in the pit so we could roast marshmallows for Smores. The temperature was hovering over 100, our mister took down the temps a few degrees and provided tempting water for the kids to get wet and style their hair (Phillip). Evelyn came out onto the patio with her shorts hiked up her bum, I thought she looked so cute and unassuming in that moment. We read a talk from the Ensign for our lesson. Those gooey Smores tasted just like a slice of heaven.

Josie and I spent a nice morning at the library playing Legos and reading books. She was happy to have my lap all to herself. We read 20-30 board books just because we had the time. Everett has a goal to lift weights for 30 minutes each day. His goal is get stronger than Phillip so he can beat him when they wrestle! I should probably give him some pointers but watching him struggle is hilarious.

Sometimes I am funny. Sometimes my jokes come back to haunt me. I am haunted this week. We were discussing where to eat some lunch. I suggested we go to Peter Pipers (pizza and arcade). Justin instantly tossed that idea out the window and suggest Pizza Pie Cafe. The kids were whining in the back: WHY??? I replied, "Well, Dad HATES fun!" We heard a resounding chorus: "Dad HATES fun?!" Yep! We went to the not-so-fun restaurant for lunch. Later in the week someone in the ward was giving out free Hale Theater tickets to see the Scarlet Pimpernel. I asked Amelia if she wanted to go with me since "Dad HATES fun." She really wanted to go, but Justin said she can go if he can't have fun. He ended up going to the show with me, I'm thinking he hated it. It was too fun. I really did enjoy the show. It was difficult not to sing along to all my favorite songs. Justin and Clarissa (a ward member) did not seem to mind or notice. The show was well-performed, I rather enjoyed the changes made to the script and music. The costumes were brilliant, for example, the wigs were made of folded/curled fabric! We owe a huge thank you to Sister Tanner for coming last moment to watch the kids on a school night.

I made tacos wearing a tiara. Evelyn got tired of wearing the tiara and needed a head to hold it until after her costume change. I felt rather regal making tacos with the sparkly accessory perched on my curls. Made my perfect eyebrows looks rather on point.

Corissa Smith, Laura Webster, and I...plus 3 kids...drove up to Payson for the day. Our objective was to scout out mini session locations for family photos. Our first stop proved to be lovely, perfect for what we had in mind. We tried to hike down a bumpy trail with a stroller, it was soon abandoned by the way side. The little ones carried down the trail until we changed our minds. Instead we drove along the trail and found several spots right off the road for easy access. Looks like there will be 4-5 families attending the Payson mini sessions. We had hamburgers for lunch before heading back home. I walked into the house 2 minutes before my first piano student arrived, close call! 

We are lucky to have Aunt Shirley Joyce nearby. The kids invited her to their school for Grandparent's Day on Friday morning. I left my phone at home but did not have time to fetch it so we prayed she would find us! We met up right at the crosswalk in front of the school! The kids were so excited to share doughnuts with Grandma Shirley. Earlier in the day Evelyn asked when Charlie was coming over. I did not understand her at all, she got angry when I told her Charlie was her baby cousin. Turns out she had trouble saying and remembering the name Shirley. Aunt Charlie got a kick out of her new name. The kids showed her around some of the halls. They lead us into the chaotic library for the book fair. Whoever arranged that is brilliant! Justin had the day off so he helped herd the kids along. Phillip earned a Student of the Month award for being eager to learn! He was so sad last year, took him until the end of the year before he earned an award. This year...he's the first to get one! Hooray for Phillip.

Spenser and Laura invited us to the Auxier cabin in Pinetop for the weekend. Justin and I joked that maybe we should just stay home because Justin HATES fun...and the cabin would be fun. I went to Walmart by myself for recipe ingredients, that is always a treat. This time I chose the lazy method for packing: the collapsible laundry baskets. Shoved in PJs, change of clothing, a blanket, stuffy, and pillow per kid. The idea was once back home the baskets would already have dirty clothes. I picked up the kids at 3 so we could make the 3.5 hour drive earlier than if the kids rode the bus home. The drive up to Pinetop was so gorgeous. The views! Oh the views! Lovely! Towards the summit my ears plugged up from elevation changes. The hairpin turns gave us all a bit of nausea, but the views! Made it worth the car sickness. We ate some dinner at a Mexican place rated with 4.5 stars, it was more like 2 stars. I knew the ratings were skewed because the Quikstop was rated 5 stars. As soon as we arrived the whooping and hollering started as the boys joyously explored the cabin inside and out. Evelyn and Josie loved the water bed, it was quite bouncy. Evelyn and Josie were starving, they asked for food every 5-10 minutes. I tell ya, dinner was not so great. "I still hungry, mom!" Our family was in charge of breakfast. I whipped up french toast with freshly made raspberry compote, bacon on the side. The boys were outside playing some game with weapons and strategy. Everett got quite upset because the boys would not listen to his strategy. He sulked off in search of Gary who was not keen on playing outside. The girls loved the hammock. The girls brought me fistfuls of wild flowers, I loved the ones with the roots attached. We all headed up to Mt Baldy for a short hike and picnic. Spenser showed us all the beaver dam. All the kids got their toes wet in freezing cold mountain water. Anna even caught a few leeches on her ankles while wading in the mud. The dogs were off exploring once off their leashes. Everything was brilliant green, seemed more like spring than fall. The place had a magical feel with the bright colors, blue sky, cotton clouds, and such. We stopped once again at a large boulder, the allure of climbing it was magnetic. Fun times! We passed a shocking field of yellow wild black-eyed Susan, or small sunflowers. Several families were out in the field taking photos so we joined in the fun. Up close the field also boasted periwinkle bachelor buttons and blue wild flowers. The scene felt like something out of the Wizard of Oz, except the flowers were yellow. We relaxed until dinner, then ate delicious pork chops and fresh off the tree apple sauce. All too soon we headed back to the hot desert.

Amelia sang with 4 other kids in Sacrament Meeting the next morning. Our Primary Presidency spoke as well. The kids sounded amazing. We all practiced enough the prior week. She was quite nervous until it was over. Phillip was asked to sing "I am a child of God" as a solo for the Primary Program. He is very excited, is learning to play the song on the piano as well.

**we heard this past week that Drew Haley was in a football accident. Basically his knee cap was ripped to the side, in the process a major vein was damaged but not discovered until after his leg was deprived of oxygen for over a day. His leg was removed from the knee down this week. I don't cry much. Goodness, I cried for Drew. He reminds me of my Phillip, is such a beacon of hope for me that Phillip can grow up to be like. We love the Haley family. You are in our prayers!

11 September 2018

Evelyn is 5

A year is a long time to wait, birthdays seem to drag along when you're 4 waiting to be 5. I'm happy to report, Evelyn finally turned 5. The kids all get one pinata from us, this was Evelyn's pinata year. She could not wait to choose a pinata and treats to fill it up with. She planned her guest list several months ago. Her cake was going to be another doll cake with pink dress frosting. Her newest guest was Isla, her new bestie. Isla's sister is Amelia's bestie so we plan group play dates as often as possible.

Portrait of Evelyn at 5: this girl is determined. She is strong willed, smart, stubborn, loud, crude, silly, sweet, angry, thoughtful, button-pusher, etc. We joke that she is full of piss and vinegar, the joke's on us. Her nicknames provide further insight: Ra's al Ghul (chief demon) from the Arrow series, Sweetie, Cuckoo Loca, Stinker, and Evie Poo Poo.

At school she is a model student, if anything on the reserved/shy side of things. At home Rage against the Machine. I'm glad she is well-behaved in public, that gives her major points. We love seeing her grow and develop. Evelyn loves to play Barbie, doctor, and dress ups. She is often seen walking around listening to music. Her playlist is pretty funny. She started putting her shoes on the right feet, but tricks me when putting them on by placing the wrong shoe sides together then crossing her feet when putting on her shoes. She totally gets jokes, of all my kids she has the best understanding of jokes. We love her lopsided grin, those missing teeth make her smile unique. She is little miss independent until she does not want to be, at which point she melts into a crying pile on the floor. I adore her random hugs and kisses. I adore reading her books and playing games. She is one heck of a kid.

**well-child update 17 Sept 2018: 40 lbs (51.4%); 40.5 inches (13.3%). Did not cry during her shots but she did hide under my chair until it was her turn to see Dr Auxier. Met all milestones!