21 October 2018

Utah in Fall




























Friday Oct 5th: left for Utah at 1:25 pm. Josie and I packed up the van that morning. Mia had a Greek Feast at 11 for her history class unit end. I brought a platter of gyro meat and pita triangles. I enjoyed watching the 11-12 year olds picking at their plates of strange foods. Mia brought home a tray of figs, yep, we ate those in a matter of minutes. We drove the Vegas way, mostly because I did not want to be winding through canyon roads in the dark, instead we wound through the huge metropolis. We stayed the night in Hurricane at a hotel, took us from 1:30 until 10 pm to drive that far.

Saturday: Josie stuffed her favorite binky into a drawer so it got left at the hotel. I was so not ready to wean her cold turkey, but did not want to drive back 3 hours for the comfort toy. She was elated over the elephant version we picked up at Target. I also found a cute deer footed PJ in Mia's size while out shopping. Back to the drive. We left Hurricane just in time to catch the morning session of conference. Rain followed us the entire drive to Grandma's house. My knuckles were white and my shoulders frozen in a hunch from driving the slick roads. We all exclaimed over the new changes happening this coming year! Two hour church should be amazing. Most of my thoughts that first session centered on how the Lord is urging us to be accountable for our own gospel learning, personal and family. One talk I know made me think of Justin and his struggles with anxiety. We stopped at Fillmore for lunch at a gas station Costa Vida/Burger King. It was nice to get something the kids would eat and a salad for me. The drive seemed to drag on longer than it should. We arrived around 3:15 pm just in time to finish the last few talks of the afternoon session. My Aunt Jan was also at the house with Joana's little boys Benson and Liam. Benson followed around my boys for hours learning the ropes of being a big boy! The boys roamed the back empty lot behind the house collecting rocks, sticks, and junk. Phillip came in quite excited over a chain saw he found, wondering if could "fire" it up and chop something down. Everett was obsessed about picking vegetables for Grandma. Mostly, it was nice to be free from the confines of the van.

Sunday: Watched conference with Mom and Dad, Jonathon, Jan, Julia, and the boys came over before the first session. Jan offered to fix Amelia's hair, she completed a fun elaborate hairstyle with braids and sectioned hair twists. Amelia was able to attend the last session on Sunday at the Conference Center! Aunt Jan had several extra tickets. They bumped into Aunt Laura at the same session. Amelia said it was amazing to attend the live session. She got to experience the fun temple announcements. I was so excited to hear a temple will be built on Praia, CV. So exciting. After the session Laura and  Scott came over for a sibling's dinner. We provided the entertainment. Ha ha. The kids played a silly game in the garage with Grandpa's car cleaning tools. Amelia was a rabid deer (wearing her new footie pjs) and the kids had to rub her belly with the car brushes. Dad thought the kids sounded like a zoo.

Monday: We spent more time at my parent's house than usual this time. It was nice to switch things up. The kids and I headed to Temple Square for the day. We started at the newly renovated Church History museum. The kids and I really loved all the interactive exhibits, the artwork is breathtaking. The kids got to watch an organ recital, Josie was quite unhappy so I enjoyed the concert from outside. Josie spotted a temple decoration on the steeple that looked like a creepy spider. She talked about creepy temple spiders for quite some time. The kids wanted to check out the hand carved wood doors on the temple. Their poses had me cracking up. The reflection pond was a huge hit for Josie. She spent most of the time strapped to my back. We did not have a great night of sleep. Josie was restless and Amelia was sharing with us so it was cramped. Amelia did not appreciate having toes in her nose that night. We walked over to the food court for some lunch. All the kids had Subway, I went for a bite of Chik-fil-a. Holy smokes the kid's play area was completely amazing. It was a dinosaur lovers dream! One part of the carpet depicted a lava pit. Even Josie went about yelling, "floor is LAVA!" I was ready to head back right after lunch but the kids spotted the church office building and wanted to meet the prophet. We did not meet the prophet but did meet several folks who worked there, one man from the music department gave us a CD of children's music. We had the quick tour, just a peek from the observation decks. From the observation deck Amelia noticed that the Conference Center had a garden on the roof. Of course we had to go check that out as well. Cranky Josie finally fell asleep on my back, her head flopped in time with my gait. Our tour guide let us take the short tour as well. All the kids were quite impressed with the immense size of the auditorium. On our way out Everett waved his hand at the guide and said, "Thanks Paul for the nice tour!" Paul and I exchanged puzzled looks until I realized his name tag had his first and last name! How I laughed over that! "Thanks Paul!" We rushed home since all the cousins were at Grandma's house for dinner and FHE. I did not mean to spend that much time but we sure enjoyed every second. Next time we will need to catch the JS building and Brigham Young's home. Jared played Pied Piper with all the kids. He has a magical gift with kids. It was so nice to see all my siblings, minus Jeremy (he's in Jordan). Jana and Melissa both have really cute bellies. Got to hug Joe and Kat. Jeffrey popped out of his room for a while. Dad showed Courtenay and I his intense, complicated series of back torture/exercises.

Tuesday: All my kids came down with runny noses and coughs from the weather changes. We enjoyed a lazy day not doing much. I took Josie and Evelyn to the International Peace Gardens that morning. It was blustery and cold. I sewed up a version of a Spanish Puffball dress to take photos of Josie wearing. She looked darling. We picked up the other kids and Grandma for a visit to see Great-Grandma Baerwaldt. She was getting her bandages changed when we walked in. The kids were shocked to see her large sores that she constantly picks at. We visited for 20 minutes got lots of hugs and kisses. I showed her my newest dress creation. A few weeks ago I woke up suddenly with the thought that she had passed away, thankfully it was only a dream. I was grateful to get a hug and kiss this time. We treated Grandma to Gryos for lunch. Yum. The rest of our afternoon and evening were pretty tame. After dinner we paid Hannah a visit at her home. She was looking out her window when we drove up. Her reaction was so darling. She loved our visit until we walked in her territory and touched her stuff. It was good therapy for her new baby coming.

Wednesday: packed up and headed down to Miekka's for some cousin time. We played at the Curiosity Museum with Courtenay, Jana, and Lia (with kids). I think the zip line was a huge hit. The boys were excited to band together and explore on their own. Lia, Mia, and Emmie went off on their own to play as well. Lia and Mia made lots and lots of slime. Mia tried her hand making butter slime with model magic. Evelyn was thrilled to make her own batch.

Thursday: The kids played all day. We spent some time and Courtnay's since Miekka had home school obligations most of the day. Jared came over and amused the kids. I hear they got yelled at around 9 pm while outside playing night games, some neighbor got grumpy. The ladies and Josie went thrifting for a few hours while Jared watched the kids. Scored the cutest oval frame and some cute clothes.

Friday: played with cousins at the pumpkin patch. The corn pits were a huge hit. I loved that the entrance fee did not break the bank. We had corn kernels in all our places! Josie loved the ducks so much. We had some tacos for lunch then headed back. After a short break we went to a new park in Eagle Mtn. Poor Charlie got his face smashed by a zip line swing. Poor baby!

Saturday (13th): we were headed back for home by 8 am. It was a LOOOOOOOONG drive in one day. Just barely on I-15 a guy flagged me down. My rooftop carrier had popped open and was spewing stuff from inside. I locked down the hatches and tried not to worry about what we lost and if anyone else damaged their cars from our flying debris. Turns out I lost diapers and the stuff we thrifted from DI. Boo. Hoo. Hoooooo. Once again our drive was white knuckled from Hurricane south. We stopped by the hotel and picked up Fox binky for Jojo. This time we drove through Page and Flagstaff. It rained the entire way home after Hurricane. The large semi trucks and Indians in their pickups screaming by made me near shaking! Scary. We pulled in just before 9 pm! Our drive home was an hour shorter than the drive up, we stopped more times on the way up. Still, it takes a good 13-14 hours to make the drive. My eyes seemed permanently peeled open after being wide-awake for so very long.

After that long drive I was in no shape to perform as music leader for Primary. I let the president know on Thursday that I would not be at church. I attended sacrament meeting then went home to rest. I hear that for some reason no one knew I was not coming. I spoke with the President twice and sent reminder texts three times!

***Grandma Debbie introduced us to Daniel's pulse. A guess at the dish Daniel and his friend's ate instead of the King's meals at court. It is quite delicious: OF oats, flax seeds, milled flax, chia seeds, raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut, sesame seeds, raw honey, and milk. I'm changing up my diet after a year of low-carb. Going to try this out for a while! I hear you can also make the pulse with various whole grains, served warm or cold, also as a dinner meal with bone broth. 

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.