04 June 2020

Nine looks good!

Everett is a really, really good kid. He is kind, caring, imaginative, helpful, hard working, smart, proficient reader, budding pianist, and has a strong moral compass. He is highly attuned to balance and right and wrong. His pet peeve is when things are not fair or when he is wronged. I love to find this sweet boy curled around a book in odd corners of our home. His new reply is "dot, dot, dot" or "Question Mark?" Everett has a thirst for learning that inspires me to learn. We sure love his bright smile and laughter. Everett may have a future as a sound effect producer. He spent a couple days playing some high adventure game up in Alaska all in his head. I have video to prove it! He was especially noisy when he ran into another hunter and fought over a bear.

This boy has a very tender heart for the gospel. He tries so hard to pay attention and learn during our temple table and nightly devotionals. I love watching him feel the spirit as he learns and grows. I am so grateful to be this guy's mother.

Everett is NINE!

Everett is NINE?! Can you even believe that? Me either. He's been on the count down for his special day for quite some time. I remember how special birthdays were growing up in a large family.

Monday we celebrated Memorial Day with a family activity. Justin planned a hike around the MOrley Nelson Birds of Prey preserve. I had a nasty migraine so was not feeling very chipper. The preserve covers about 81 miles along the snake river where the birds nest. We made it only 10 miles or so! The kids were stoked to get their water backpacks filled, hiking shoes on, and snacks packed for the occasion. We first drove by an extensive prairie dog stretch, so many dogs. Justin tried to drive the swagger wagon up the butte (there was a "path"), the large rocks and pits scared me so I made him stop. So...We hiked up Initial Point to see the survey marker used to measure all of Idaho for the first governmental survey of the state! Josie loved seeing and hearing the cows mooing down in the basin. The kids were tired out after one measly 1/2 mile hike, granted it was uphill half way. The view was quite vast from the viewing platform. The butte is a volcanic remnant rising 350 feet high over the plain. I just adored Evelyn's outfit, she loves to accessorize. Justin drove a few more miles further into the preserve to the next stop Dedication Point, a 1 mile loop overlooking the snake river from the canyon's rim. It was a little hot by this time and past noon...so you can only imagine the whining. Josie insisted on wearing Phillip's Pikachu hat, so cute! The kids barely made it, once again. A turn with Justin's binoculars helped prod the kids along. Evelyn found a tumbleweed spawning nursery. Everett and Phillip spotted several hawks or eagles riding the upper air streams over the canyon. We enjoyed the view from the observation deck. I quite wished we could take a dip in the water, it was quite warm. We found a mediocre Mexican restaurant, Everett needed his birthday enchiladas! Everada who loves enchiladas!

Everett got to open an early birthday gift on Monday since Justin was home for the day. Justin chose a fun Estes Rocket set for Everett. The boys had a really fun time assembling the rockets before taking them out for the fun part. Justin took the boys and the little girls out to the middle school fields to shoot the rockets. They shot off all the A engines, and tried one C engine (a more powerful engine). I called Justin to see if I could join the party, he reported that the rocket with the C engine was lost. The rocket shot up to the max height, caught a wind stream and drifted until they lost sight of it. I also got "lost" winding my way through the neighborhood trying to find the northern exit. I passed a colorful red and white object as I searched for the right street. Took me a moment to recognize that the object was Everett's rocket parachute! The rocket drifted over 1/4 mile into our subdivision! Everyone was excited I found it and amazed at how far the rocket traveled. Justin pulled up a distance measuring website to calculate the exact distance from point A to B. Quite impressive.

Tuesday Everett woke up as a new nine year old boy. I heard him admiring the 9 hearts hung on his door once he woke up. Justin was working from home so got to participate when Everett opened his second gift: a set of 3 walkie talkies! Justin busted his radio out for kicks and giggles. All day the kids played with the walkie talkies. Everett tested the distance the radio waves traveled, found out he could bike all the way to the elementary school and still contact me at home! The kids chose some epic call sign handles: Big Daddy, Big Bertha, uniFrog, Stinky, Tzatiki, Honkey Donkey, and Yo-yo. I took Everett for a birthday gift extravaganza at Walmart since his two big gifts were really more family gifts. He was so considerate choosing gifts under the budget. He came home with Googly Eyes Game, Chikapig Game, a bag of 100 balls, 2 tennis rackets/balls, and wrist warmers. He took his walkie talkie along for the ride, we lost radio contact at the gas station! At Walmart we used the devices to communicate while he browsed the toys and I got ice cream sundae supplies. He was delighted he could spy on the Walmart radio channel! Everett chose gyros for dinner, his favorite for this year. We invited over the Ostlers (our next door neighbors) for ice cream at 8 pm. Quite a fun day for the birthday boy.

Wednesday we returned Amelia's laptop back to the middle school. She earned a certificate for placing the highest level out of the entire 7th grade for the last quarter! When we checked in the lady there asked if she needed to get anything out of her locker...I said several times that Mia never actually attended the school. I'm still not sure the lady comprehended that Mia never set foot in the school past the foyer. Thursday we repeated the process with the 3 kids at Ronald Reagan to return their iPads and accouterments. We biked over mid-morning for a spot of exercise...with walkie talkies in hand. All the kids got fun little gift bags from their teachers. Evelyn got to make a special stop at the Kindergarten graduation spot for a photo op. I saw a fun little intex pool with a small filter for $60 advertised on FB at Walmart. I searched our area for the item in stock, one local walmart had one left in stock. The same pool on amazon was $200, yikes. I drove to that particular Walmart but could not find it on the aisle listed. I bugged a store worker to check the back, no luck. As I was about to walk out I had the thought to check Customer Service, someone had returned one unopened because it was too small. Sweet! So now we have a kid-waist high pool about 10 feet in circumference. The kids were soooooooo excited.

I got quite a bit of work out of the kids next morning before they could swim! I think the big kids swam in the pool for over 4 hours that first day. Evelyn and Mia caused mini floods by leaning on the sides of the pool. Unfortunately, the water flooded all the new wood mulch right into the grass. It was quite a mess. We just have to be careful and not overfill the pool and keep top inflated. After dinner the 4 neighbor kids came over to enjoy the pool for a bit...it was quite a party with 9 kids inside. I heard at one point the kids playing Purple Soup using the pool. I often see the kids making a whirlpool by walking in the same direction. Evelyn and Josie made gorgeous mermaids one warm evening. The singing and hair slinging was ever so amazing.

I found a fun children's consignment store on Friday. Most shirts at Goodwill or DI are over $3-6 per item, at this consignment store shirts in excellent condition were priced between $1.50 and $3! I was able to refresh all the kids summer wear for under $250 including shoes, swimwear, etc! Revise that, Mia is out of kid's sizing but her wardrobe is sufficient. That was a pretty good feeling! Justin and the boys worked on the yard that evening. Justin turned his leaf blower into a leaf sucker...he vacuumed up most of the wood chips scattered by the pool overflows.

Saturday turned out to be the warmest day of the year so far at 100 degrees. We lazed about enjoying a day at home with nothing to do. Towards the evening another load of wood mulch chips was delivered. We rallied the troops to shovel and move the chips to the back section of the fencing and cover up the ugly back there. A thunderstorm moved in to relieve the heat with some rain and cool breezes. That night a rather obnoxious thunderstorm woke up me out of a deep sleep. Justin and I took some time away from the kids to discuss homeschooling for next school year. I've not really received any confirmations so decided maybe sharing my thoughts with Justin would help. Seems like we're always tired when we have free time! I've found that the Lord does not answer me until after I start down a path, if it seems good than I pursue it until that option/decision changes. I went ahead and applied for Trep Tech Idaho. It is considered public school with teachers, funding ($1700 per student) and resources available for parents. I like the idea of help and still affiliating with some aspects of public school but doing it at home. Next school year could be a strange one so why not try it out? I've wanted to try for ages, this seems like the best time and situation. Here are some of my thoughts in regard to why I want to homeschool:

*give the kids a firm foundation of the gospel, continue Come Follow Me in a broader way, get the gospel deep in their hearts
*We've grown much closer as a family during the Covid crisis, I want to continue that
*I want to develop a life long love of learning, it seems my kids are missing that aspect in school
*I have support from Miekka, Ruth Hansen (member in my ward), several neighbors, Courtenay, and a large online FB presence for help
*Discover how Phillip especially and my other kids learn best
*Give kids a chance to learn more efficiently and spend more time discovering and developing talents. 
*More time to work on the new youth initiative

I am most worried about my mental health and frustration next school year. Distance learning with Phillip was quite challenging. I worry it will be too much for me and the rate of failure seems high.

My roses are looking so pretty! I love the varied colors of the roses, even from one bush. One double rose looked like Wall-E from a Disney movie. I wish roses would last a bit longer, their scent takes me back to Grandma Jean's lovely garden roses. Church was short and sweet on Sunday. We walked to the local park with our walkie talkies in hand. I ordered 3 more so now everyone has their own radio. I love this time of year when everything is green and fresh. Phillip accidentally fell from the monkey bars and hyper-extended his wrist. His wrist felt much better after a couple days wearing a brace.

24 May 2020

School's OUT!!

Amelia created a new quote for this week: April Flowers bring May Showers! It rained every single day this week! It was cold, dreary, overcast, blustery, and rainy. Did that stop the kids from playing on the tramp? No way! The older kids were outside in swimwear when it was 55 degrees outside, raining...with the sprinkler on under the tramp! Looked like they had a lovely time. Josie tried to join them a couple times but the cold was too much for her. She came back inside to huddle under her blanket. Evelyn toughed it out knowing a warm bath waited for her inside.

School this week was mostly fun assignments. I checked out most of the week since I hate stupid assignments. Amelia's science teacher emailed her a nice letter, Amelia earned an achievement award for the 4th quarter without meeting any of her teachers and plunging into her work with flying colors! Everett was still not feeling well on Monday so he missed completing a Rube Goldberg machine. Most of us spent the week dealing with severe allergies, headaches, and general blahs. I read a couple books from the Twisted Tales series, retellings of the Disney animated greats. Evelyn works very hard on her worksheets and participates in her daily zoom meetings. We had a nice visit from Ms Sharp this week, Phillip arrived at the door sliding down the hall on his belly like a penguin then rose to his knees with a really strange look on his face. We had quite the chat about door etiquette afterwards.

Amelia is going to visit her friend Chloe in Arizona this summer. Those two spent several hours talking over the phone to plan the visit. They have an entire list of activities: learn hairstyles, lemonade stand, pet bunnies (Chloe's new pets), make cell phone cases, and other art projects. The girls spent two hours picking out coordinating dresses as Chloe's birthday gift! Amelia was thrilled to finally spend her hard-earned money on a plane ticket and gifts for Chloe. She started making cute friendship bracelets out of complete boredom.

We shoveled/moved 8 more yards of wood bark into the side yard area. Quite honestly, the area needs another load or two of wood bark to level things out. The kids worked hard manning shovels, rakes, and wheel barrows. Everett once again out-worked all the kids. Josie's cute shovel scooping expressions kept the kids quite entertained. I am delighted that less mud and dirt are making their way into the house. Yesterday we had sun! Yay! I couple rows of seedlings popped their heads above the dirt in the new garden boxes. I hired a guy to hang the new ceiling fan. Justin was unsure how to exchange the ceiling box for a larger one capable of supporting the larger fixture. It looks so nice! A few weeks ago one of our newer (thrifted) chairs split into a few pieces! Yikes. I ordered some new smaller chairs to fit in around the table. We finally have room to seat us all in real seats! It's been years since I sat in a real chair, it's usually a stool or the flour bucket.

Friday we celebrated the end of school and Everett's birthday with a lunch at Subway with Justin. Good gracious the kids were embarrassing, fighting and/or hemming and hawing over condiment choices. Everett was delighted to finally get a restaurant choice all of his own. We visited Justin's office after lunch. He has a nice view of the parking lot! As always the kids poked into every niche of his office. Everett grabbed the calculator to figure out a math code he left Justin last year in his old office. The girls decorated the white board. Amelia tried on hats...Phillip literally farted around. I got to meet Justin's boss, Jennifer. Ironically, her maiden name is Lance!

Saturday the men worked on learned man skills. Justin had the boys help him change spark plugs and oil in the lawnmower. They changed the oil in the motorcycle! That right there is some good learning! The little girls helped me make pizza dough and then the pizzas for dinner. I had a girl on each side helping me measure and assemble ingredients into the mixer. I quite loved seeing their interested faces watching the yeast bubble, the flour change the consistency, etc. As a reward the girls made heart-shaped pizzas for their own dinner. I made a lovely cheese pizza and a pesto pizza. Justin and Amelia are not fond of tomato sauce. So far we've experimented with a garlic butter and cheese pizza and the pesto version. Both are delicious. My bread skills are finally developing as my family is interested in eating homemade bread. Amelia moved from the couch twice on Saturday. She got up to accompany me to the gas station AND to clean the living room space. It was tough going to move that much.

18 May 2020

Orchard Duty

Justin and I stole away for a mid-week date to Lowes for garden boxes, a snake plant, and stuff to plant in a front porch planter. We even walked away with a new ceiling fan and light for the main living area. The silence was ever so pleasant. Justin even treated me to a double-dipped butterscotch cone at DQ.

Justin signed us up for a ward service project working in the church peach orchard on Wednesday. I was not so sure I wanted to drive 45 minutes just to herd kids. Justin was not able to make it due to some changes and hang-ups for the most recent filing. We arrived about 10 minutes before the project was to start. The drive up was gorgeous! We hugged the shore of a large lake, the banks teaming with trees, bushes, and flowers of all sorts. I am reading "Freckles" to the boys right now so the scenery lent some framework for our imaginations. The lake front fell away to broad farmlands neatly growing crops. Then came the orchards! Oh my gracious...we passed apple, grape, peach, cherry, apricot, pear, and all fruits in between. The church expects to can 30 million bushels from the peach trees we worked on! Only one older gentleman was there slowly picking through the trees. We surged in to help! Our job was to thin the peaches to one fruit every 3-4 inches. The rest were pinched off to allow the bigger fruit room to grow. Loads more folks arrived around 7:30 in typical LDS timing! Amelia was thrilled to use the ladder for a time to thin the tops of the trees. Our ward had an entire row to work on! We left shortly after 8:15 pm. The best part was the western view as the sunset over an amazingly beautiful valley. I treated the kids to Dairy Queen cones just for kicks and giggles...I was not complaining about two cones in a row.

Justin started a cute note trend. I am not so nice to myself after having 5 kids and the years of raising little kids catching up with my current weight. I hate where I am at right now, but still don't see how I can get out and do what needs to be done exercise wise. Penned with 5 kids is a bit mind-numbing. Justin leaves me sweet notes in the closet, on the bathroom mirror, the bathroom scale, and on my computer screen. The kids swept up the trend and are now leaving me notes! It does my heart good to see all these positive affirmations pasted all over.

Friday Justin only worked a half day so we took the rest of the day to work on our yard. The north side of our house is a mud pit! We picked up a load of raised garden bed soil at a local nursery. First step was to move the compost pile to another location. The kids helped schelp lava rocks to form a border containing the compost. Amelia helped trim trees by removing sucker branches. It took the rest of the day to build the boxes, fill them, and plant seeds. I also picked up some nursery plants like tomatoes to plant from Walmart. Everett really wants to become a gardener now! He mused out loud if he could be an accountant and a gardener at the same time! Everett is my "stick-to-it" guy. He helped me until the last task was done. He got to water the plants as a reward. Grilled chicken never tasted so good as it did after a long day of work. Saturday Justin picked up a yard of wood chips to mulch around the garden boxes. We plan on getting another 6-8 yards of wood chips to cover up the ugly, messy mud. The mulch work went much faster! I had the nursery deliver 4 more yards but they were delayed until Monday morning. It was much nicer to take an afternoon rest after working hard for several days. Both boys are quite proficient lawn mowers. Phillip even earned the privilege to use the blower for a little while! Evelyn is quite taken with Ambery, one of the kids next door! She roped Ambree into playing American Girl dolls, LOL dolls, and Barbies for hours on end over the weekend. Phillip is also quite happy to have Ambree as a friend. Earlier in the week the kids shredded up several boxes playing a rousing game of kitty cats in the trampoline! They even did a good job cleaning up their mess after playing.

Dog Vader chewed up my new tomato plants and stomped all over my new garden boxes. Justin convinced me he would leave them alone...NO!!! Stupid dog traipsed all over, probably peeing on it all. I jerry rigged a fence with some fencing, staples, and some cement blocks lying around. Justin was convinced my plan would fail. It probably will fall over, it just needs to last long enough for things to grow so the dog avoids that area. My Baerwaldt genes were hard at work, I'm sure Grandpa B was giving me pointers from up in heaven. Amelia made an arm octopus, she was sharing her Popsicle with it...we're all a little worried.

Home church is going quite well. We have lots of singing, the sacrament, a short talk and listen to a conference talk most weeks. I might not want to return back! Ha ha. Sunday we went on a brutal stroll down a walking path near our home. Most of the kids almost died, the only one who didn't complain was Evelyn! The path was abundantly gorgeous, patches of wild primroses grew mixed in with raspberry brambles. We even stumbled on a pretty little nature park. My love of beauty was completely filled. Everett had some digestive troubles along the trail. He had to do a squat...we all heard the noises from many, many paces away. Poor guy.

17 May 2020

Children in the Snowball Bush

10 May 2020

Water under the Tramp

Only two more weeks of school...HOORAY! I really need to decide what our next school year will look like. I hear class sizes might be limited to 9 kids, meaning the kids will attend school on rotation...that sounds like a disaster. We made it through this past week. Thankfully, the work load is mostly fun activities focused on keeping the kids reading, writing, and working on math. Phillip is still the hardest child to motivate. He refuses to work unless I am sitting next to him. He lost out on several after school activities this past week because of his stubbornness. Everett got to make a catapult and homemade ice cream for STEM learning. Friday afternoon Ronald Reagan hosted a fun teacher parade. We got to wave and yell as the teachers and staff drove by. All the kids were excited to watch their teachers drive by and get a car honk. Amelia strengthened her inner nerd this week, she watched all the Anne of Green Gables movies from the 1980s! I must say it was fun to watch the movies again and laugh, cry, smile, and frown over all that magic.

We invited over the Palmers to try our hand at making Macrons (again) using the Italian meringue method. The recipe flopped...it was messy and time consuming to weigh everything and work the recipe in the proper manner. The shells turned out all puffy and half the shells were half baked. Once again the buttercream Mia made was amazing. She made a fresh lemon frosting....swoon. We still ate the treats and enjoyed our work. The French were appalled over our efforts. I even turned out half of the batter into a 9x13 pan to make a macron sheet cookie...that even flopped because it was half-baked inside with a crunchy shell. The purpose however was met...to develop friendships with our newly acquainted cousins. Sweet Eli colored lots of papers full of my favorite colors! Hyrum showed Everett some awesome soccer moves.

I convinced the kids to let me take photos in front of our pretty snowball bush. I had a series back on Sidney of the kids in front of the pink cherry tree blossoms, the series is back on but snowball version! I can't wait to update the series after 3 years. Josie was quite unhappy about participating until I bribed her with bunny chocolate leftover from Easter! That kid will do just about anything for chocolate. Hummmm....I wonder if she would eat her veggies or try a strawberry if I bribed her with chocolate?!

Mia organized a fun fashion show this week. Evelyn finally decided it was fun to change her earrings. She changes her ear fashions several times each day lately! Her favorite is a large pair of silver hoops! The boys got into the fashion show by coordinating their special stuffies with fashionable outfits. Even Dog Vader got some decor.

Justin and I got the old (new) trampoline dismantled, Esther helped take down the frame while they were here on Wednesday. The wind about carried away the tramp early that morning. We felt a little self-conscious carting an entire tramp into the store. Thankfully, they accepted the return with no questions. Everett helped me put the new trampoline together. All the other kids helped for 1-2 minutes then ran off. He stayed with me for a couple hours until the job was completed. That kid is golden. Putting the safety net on was quite the wrestling match...Justin got punched in the face quite on accident. The new trampoline is much heavier and sturdier. It can hold the weight of all the kids plus water as they jump with the sprinkler running.

Saturday we celebrated with the Call family as Gary was baptized. The ordinance was broadcast via Zoom meeting to family members. We're so grateful we could participate. We enjoyed a yummy lunch at Costa Vida picnic style. The kids and I biked to the gas station for treats in the late afternoon. I had quite the workout, my bike barely coasted down the hill with the bike trailer attached. The rear brake was fully engaged and the trailer had a flat tire! No wonder my heart was thumping. The Ostler's invited us over for s'mores and bonfire fun after dark.

I am thinking about my mom and grandmothers today. I have exceptional women in my life to lead and guide me. Justin taught me something this morning. He quoted President Kimball saying that the creations of the Lord started with simple and ended with the most beautiful and complex. Phillip commented that Eve was the most complex of all the Lord's creations...yep! Those women are complex and beautiful creatures. So sweet. Evelyn had a tear in her eyes while we sang "Love is Spoken." She offered a lovely prayer with tears in here eyes. That more than anything warmed my heart. Seeing her tender heart touched with love for me, her mother. I am so blessed! Justin brought home some pretty flowers over the weekend. I had a vase ready and waiting! Ha ha. He presented me with a new set of gleaming knives to replace my worn out set. Can't wait to slice up my fingers.

* Josie calls the snowball tree (when it had green bunches of flowers) the Broccoli Tree
*Phillip was asked to share something with his class in a Zoom meeting: "My Dad is bald on top, like the shiny bald with short hairs by his ears..." LOL...guess he was out of other interesting facts.