15 October 2020

Fall Break with the Nguyens


We are so blessed to have the Nguyen family as friends, really adopted family. They came from Gilbert for the week during their fall school break. I was so glad Amanda came along too. We know the kids very well but never had a prolonged chance to get to know their mom. The kids worked most of the day helping me clean, it was nice to have a reason they wanted to help clean. We weren't even sure the Nguyens were coming because Ronald cheated on a test Thursday for school. He didn't get expelled but learned a lesson, our kids also learned the seriousness of cheating. Amelia had a breakdown Friday when she heard the news, they might not come. Amelia accompanied me to the airport at 10:20 pm. So many girl squeals...OMG!!

My kids took their fall break a week early so they could play with their friends. The younger kids did have to complete math lessons and some worksheets for our bi-monthly submission. Amanda went with me to take the little girls to gymnastics. We stopped at the Asian Grocery for Vietnamese pancakes Rose wanted to make for us. All was right in the world for 5 days! Rose and I worked most of the day making beef Pho broth. I planned to use a detailed recipe but Rose stepped in and showed me all the shortcuts. I bought way too many bones and meat so we used three pots to get it all cooked up...all for a gallon of broth. It was an all-day dish but the result was phenomenal. The sister missionaries came over for dinner, talk about a coincidence. They were not sure about our strange meal but tried it and loved it! We had enough broth for Ronald to eat for the rest of the week. That kid is picky about his Asian food. 

Wednesday Justin had a tire on his truck crap out. The tire just disintegrated a mile before he turned onto the freeway. It took some figuring to get the jack properly working and the spare installed. He limped back home and worked for a while in our home office. The rest of us illegally squeezed into my van for a trip to Albertson's Park in downtown Boise. Amanda treated us to Starbucks on the way. All us non-coffee bibers slurped down vanilla frappuccinos. Mia got carsick riding in the truck with Chloe watching things on the phone. The park was absolutely gorgeous! So many stunning fall colors competiting for our attention. Amanda (aka Rose) and Evelyn took several hundred selfies! I think Rose out-shot me photo wise. The boys brought along play swords to have an epic battle around the park. Justin joined us towards the end as he was nearby ordering a new tire. We enjoyed lunch at the Boise Fry Company. Rose, Evelyn and I walked over to check out the Capitol Building before the parking meter ran out of time. I worked on editing photos the rest of the afternoon. 

Thursday we had a lazy day until the late afternoon when we headed to the Pumpkin Patch. Josie was thrilled! She busily scampered here and there, me following in her wake. My favorite part was the sunflower and zinnia patch. So pretty. The boys went off adventuring, first to the dragon maze. Amelia and Chloe were also off on various adventures. Amanda took Chloe's phone because Chloe didn't take good enough photos of her in the flower patch. In order to keep track of Chloe, Amanda called Mia over 20 times on Mia's phone. Evelyn adores Amanda now, Amanda applied professional makeup each day they were here. The little girls got cute nail paint and the full spa treatment. Amanda promised to send Evelyn all of her extra make up! Amanda was impressed that Evelyn can perfectly reapply lipstick without a mirror. Those two went off on adventures until 5:30. Josie got to bowl, ride a fancy side, and go down the zipline. I experienced bees calmly eating honey off my hand! Amanda gave all the kids $20 dollar bills to spend at the Pumpkin Patch. Josie was thrilled to spend $5 on a pony ride. She was so cute sitting up on the pony stroking it's mane and singing to her pony. We all grouped back together for the pig race and dog show. The kids recognized the dog show company from a Disney+ show "All Star Stunt Dogs." Before the show all the kids were hoping Crazy Confetti would be part of the show. Indeed Crazy Confetti was in our little local pumpkin patch show. The rest of the evening the kids talked about meeting a celebrity, made them crazy happy! The little kids all bought cute dog visors for $5 as a souvenir. Justin met up with us before the dog show. We went through the mini-corn maze...no time for getting lost in a huge maze for hours with kids, am I right?! Yes. For dinner we ate the best corn dogs ever! Yum. We lasted another hour until the kids got cold. That was a very fun day. 

Friday we drove out to Cabalo's Orchard to pick apples! We had two wagons and 5 bushel baskets for the lot of us. I think we went a little overboard with the apples. I like apples but what does one do with 104# of apples? The thought was daunting. Josie and the boys used apple pickers to grab the yummy fruit from the higher branches. Evelyn and Rose took photos, I took photos! Ha. We lost the two older girls, off picking apples from the other end of the orchard. By far my favorite apples were the wine-sap apples, a delicious tart, juicy apple. I don't really like bland apples like Golden Delicious and Red Delicious, which the orchard mostly grew. Still...fresh off the tree is hard to beat! In their pumpkin patch I found a mushroom shaped pumpkin we just had to get for our porch. At the front market we added in two gallons on fresh cider and lots of cute decorative gourds. What a haul! Amanda and I used the rest of the evening to wash then peel/core apples for apple sauce and apple butter. Our house smelled so good! I made a few more batches of apple sauce then canned the butter and sauce on Saturday and Sunday. We ended up with 16 quarts of apple sauce and 8 of apple butter. Over the next few days I dried several batches of apple chips in our large dehydrator. We're down to the last couple pounds of apples to eat and enjoy. Amanda treated us all to dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Yum. 

Saturday was a happy and sad day. Everett and Mia cried off and on all day because our guests were leaving. It's fun to say hello and hard to say see ya later. We headed to the airport around 3 with a very packed van, no one wanted to stay behind. There were lots of tears and hugs at the curb, Mia and Everett donned masks to walk the Nguyens to their ticket counter. The rest of our day felt bland and sad. The kids were up past 1 am most nights chatting and playing. I encountered Mia on Friday night trying to wash eyeliner off her face...we ended up using a pad because that was the largest sponge item in the kid bathroom. So much laughter and silliness from those two cute girls. Evelyn made 5-6 love letters for Rose with gifts wrapped up in hand-decorated paper. She was delighted to mail a box with apple butter, her letters, and some items Ronald left. 

Sunday was a red-letter day! We finally got to meet with the entire ward for the first time...after 7 months in the area. It was nice to at least know the Ostlers!  

14 October 2020

October General Conference 2020 Edition


The weeks galloped away from me! I neglected to narrate last week because we had visitors from Arizona to entertain us. 

Our school week was quite strange! I photographed 80 children for Homeschool-School Photos. I used sign-up genius to organize the event. I had kids coming every 15 minutes for most of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a few scheduled on Tues/Thurs mornings. School, of course looked a bit different. Evelyn did her math, spelling, and phonics work in the garage between photo slots. I had the boy's work scheduled out so they worked quite well on their own. They were even able to get their online classes working for science and history. Amelia was a huge help managing Josie and Evelyn when needed. Amelia completed 2 weeks worth of school work in 4 days. Once you get into the groove it's easy to get ahead. She finished so quickly I also asked her to compile a family class on voting and the Electoral College. By the end of the week the kids completed all their work! Yee haw. I had a huge pile of 80 kid photos to edit...but the editing was so light because the photos were studio style and meant to be candid. I did have a couple of kids with acne or wearing eye glasses, so that took a few moments to fix. Evelyn had another massive tantrum. I locked her outside until she calmed down a little. She decorated the glass door with water in an attempt to get me upset. We are in a pickle with that girl. Her counselor suggested we try a psychologist instead of a child counselor. It would be nice to test her for ADD and such. 

So Phillip is in this moment where he constantly talks nonsense. He will approach me and say "My name is cheese-man and I like to eat my beef in a hot dog made of toes." His current name is hotdog-tortellini-hippo-dolphin. Phillip dump the garbage, response: "I like to eat beef and cheese in my brain." What does that even mean?  "Apple sauce." Phillip, go do your school work, "honk, honk" with crossed eyes and a stupid look on his face while flapping his hands.  Mia, I'm sweating apply juice out of my forehead, you will sweat apple juice out of your toes. My computer monitor turns off, "mom, why does it do that?" I don't know. "Well, that makes a good hotdog roasting system." Anyway, I cannot even begin to capture his normal conversations and personality. Just know it's epic. 

Justin got the boys new fishing poles last week. We took a family evening to round up the kids and go fishing. The ponds were stocked that day so we hoped for a better than usual result. Rounding up kids is an exercise in frustration. Justin's face was bordering on psycho before he finally got into the truck. Sharing 3 poles proved an exercise in patience. Still, the night was cool and the pond quite lovely. Several hundred ducks and water birds shared the pond, it was quite noisy at night! We were way too noisy to catch any fish. Everett and Phillip caught several hooks full of pond weeds so that was exciting. Mia and I scoped the area as a possible photo op location. Fall is proving is gorgeous colors! 

Wednesday I found a gal selling a lot of American Girl sized toys. We drove out to her home with the intent to buy her almost new schoolhouse (like Emmie and Penny have). We walked out with a bag of clothes/shoes, a laundry system, a vet set, a camper, jeep, and travel set...drumroll...all for $60. The schoolhouse alone used is over $60. I gave her an extra $10 because she was totally underselling the toys. The kids came home and unloaded the haul into the front room. The Ostler's came over for a very exciting evening with the new toys. Next day I organized the toy closet and made room for the new toys inside the closet. I am thrilled the girls have amazing role-play toys to use. Josie and Evelyn are spending hours up in the closet playing dolls. While thrifting for Halloween stuff Mia found a Cactus Joe costume, man-sized onesie, for Phillip. Phillip is completely thrilled with that find especially since cousin Everett loves cactus man. 

Josie is in love with Jo-Jo Swia. This child icon is quite annoying with her shows, songs, and fan apparel. Her signature look is bright funky colors with a huge bow on her head. Josie found Jojo shoes at Walmart, a shirt and a bow to complete the outfit. I think Josie looks way cuter than Jo-jo...she is OUR Jojo. 

Conference weekend was amazing. The kids worked on embroidery during the sessions. I traced designs on tea towel material for the boys to work on. Everett had a monkey design and Phillip chose Stitch. Evelyn and I worked on a pre-designed unicorn set. Amelia traced a cute baby Yoda design. She later water-colored inside her stitches and wrote, "when they say no more chikky nuggies." I worked on a floral design. Quiet work helps me listen and concentrate...except when the kids poke me every two seconds for help. In a nutshell, the speakers focused on unity, overcoming prejudice, being recommended to the Lord, being prepared, having hope, and finding joy in Christ. Each talk was amazing. We noted how many times 4 Nephi and President Nelson's April closing talk were referenced. Feels like the end scenes are closing in faster and faster. In between sessions we worked on deep cleaning our house. The baseboards were looking grubby. Work slaves! Work! Justin whipped up conference crepes between sessions on Sunday.  

27 September 2020

Babby Farms

 Most of our week was on the boring side. The hazy skies brought a measure of "blah" and "meh" to our attitudes. I did buy a large pack of sidewalk chalk on Monday. The girls decorated parking spots for their bikes or scooters. It was too late to get a photo of the chaos in the driveway that evening. Evelyn and Josie took baths in the snow saucers with hose water and hand soap. Ambree, Evelyn, and Josie made an umbrella fort. The creativity was very high this week. Everett spent most afternoons outside with various lengths of PVC pipe doing whatever he does outside. 

We are enjoying our family read of The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. The kids finished worksheets for each basic subject for this week's submission. Friday's submission went quickly, only took me 20 minutes to gather and submit. I tried on Thursday night but Google had a large outage, course...just my luck. Our early morning are catching up with me! I love getting up at 6:40 but it does make for a very tired mother. I wish getting up early was a natural talent. Still no weight loss for any of us gym-goers except Everett who doesn't have any chub to lose. My huge task of the week is getting the plethora of receipts ready for reimbursement. I need a better way to get this done. 

Wednesday we drove out to Babby Farms for a homeschool activity. I had to laugh a little at the amount of essential oil smells wafting from other attendants. The natural folks were out in abundance for the activity. The kids fed some of the non-biting animals. The Asian deer were by far the daintiest creatures. We loved the Llamas, camels, zorses, zdonk, ponies, emus, monkeys, cats, and such. Amelia was quite sad the sloths and otters were not out to play. Exotic animals in the middle of farm country! What an idea. One little monkey named Mario gave us a playful show on his tiny circle swing. Amelia had a service project cleaning out an over-grown backyard. 

Josie bemoans most everyday how long it takes until her next birthday. It is torture to wait until after Christmas. She is worried about it taking too long. We tease her that she's not going to grow much since she will not eat fruits and veggies. I can almost see the disgust character from "Inside Out" driving her brain during meals. Evelyn is planning for Christmas already...once she noticed decorations out at Walmart. Fall is indeed in the air this week. I am looking forward to pumpkin patches. On our drive to church this morning I told Justin my plan to visit lots of Pumpkin patches. He responded, "Hon, I am the wind beneath your wings." I added and the "money to my dreams!" Ha ha ha. Justin keeps my kitchen island stocked with fresh flowers. He is so thoughtful. Tonight we are having dinner with the Palmers! Fun times. Amelia is baking lemon cookies for dessert. Drool......

20 September 2020

Yard Work Weekend


It's a good week when you start with Master Shifu noodle moustaches at dinner on Sunday and end with yardwork on Saturday. The kids have made noodle 'staches for years now, it's still funny. Justin mandated Sunday as my day of rest from dinner dish duty...it's about time. I'm quite enjoying the break from dishes, seems like I was put on dish duty shortly after I turned 8. This week the skies were filled with dreary smoke from all the fires on the west coast. It's hard not to equate half of California burning with the judgements of God. Thankfully, there are still God-fearing people who live there or that state might drop off the earth. 

Last week we finished our unit on Call it Courage. The boys worked on vocabulary, spelling, geography, and writing a few moments each day last week. I am very excited to start our new literary journey this week with Chronicles of Narnia. The plan is for the boys to put together a lapbook page for each chapter we read of the first book. Grandma Jean said she is reading the series again after many years, she was part of the inspiration. The boys were quite consumed with a new game, Night Zookeeper, I think they played about an hour each day. I quite don't mind them working on spelling, grammar, vocab, etc. Our homeroom resources are slowly trickling in, like usual I went overboard and ordered too many resources. It is nice to figure out what works best for each kid. Evelyn had several dynamite tantrums this week over school and cleaning up her messes. It is exhausting! She doesn't like to work on reading, writing, or math. She did read Hop on Pop and Go! Dogs Go! this week so that was a step forward. I got her test results from the disastrous IRI test last week. She scored dismally, like in the lower 10% in most areas except for letter identification and vocabulary. At least now we know how random that test is, she will improve drastically just reading every day. I joined a trial run of A-Z books and was able to save 40 new decodable books for free. That is enough material for a few months. I keep hoping the library will open for business. 

Monday Evelyn was having a very hard morning. Justin suggested we have a family lunch at Jimmy John's! That cured her funk! Before we left I noticed our new "Nugget" couch was on our porch. It is a very cool piece of furniture with 1 firm base layer, 1 soft layer, and two triangle pillows. The kids can use it to lounge about in our school room, for gymnastics, making forts, and imaginative play. They quite enjoyed playing with it the rest of Monday. The neighbor kids came over for some extra fun. Sunday night the kids were playing some version of four-square with a sword and spells. We are so grateful for the Ostlers. One our way home from lunch we stopped at a kid's consignment store for new church shirts for the boys and possible Halloween costumes. Instead we came home with new rainboots for the kids (except Phillip and his chonky dogs), bath robes for the boys, and stylish vests for Phillip. Everyone is in love with their new rainboots, at least the price was decent at $12 a pair. I assembled two more metal shelves for the garage that were taking up space. They are now between the 2nd and 3rd garage bays to hold the stuff that piles up there like bike helmets, coolers, and other garage extras. I smashed my thumb right on the scar Everett made all those years ago, the scar tissue exploded open again. That hurt! Amelia helped me set up for a newborn session, she earned some school points for her photography class. 

Tuesday was an extra busy day for me. I photographed baby Laney in the morning. I met Sister Potter at the park a few months ago and solicited her business! No shame here! I am so happy she said yes to the session. Laney was a perfect little model, she was super sleepy and poseable. I tried hard to ensure the kids had enough work to keep busy while I was away from the school room. Sarah Ostler took the little girls to gymnastics for me. Justin and I had a counseling session at the same time as gymnastics. I am needing therapy again for issues stemming from childhood sexual abuse when I was between the ages of 8-11. I hate how my issues still leak outside of my control. It's a good idea to seek tune ups from a professional after almost 16 years together. That was of course emotionally draining. I am going to start EMDR  (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) next week. Let's hope I make progress! Justin took Mia and the girls to Choir after dinner. I hear the little girls got treats at DQ while they waited. I photographed an engagement session with one of Jana's friends, Sarah and her fiancĂ©, Brent. The evening was smoky! I got home with time to clean the kitchen and teach the boys their piano lessons. One funny note about Everett. He wore his new bathrobe most of the day...just the bathrobe and undies. I am happy to report he added shorts before going to play with Kyran...still in his bathrobe. 

Phillip had a nerd moment. We were sitting about ready to start our evening devotional. He was dressed with his bathrobe and covered with a blanket. He plopped a toy on his head, declared, "I like Gameshows!" I don't think he's ever seen a gameshow before. So random and funny. We all had a round of laughs and giggles. Next day both boys were seen in their bathrobes (now wizard robes) playing in the yard with Kyran. I'm glad those robes are getting mileage. Phillip had medication review with Dr Aldous. We decided to up his dosage to 2 pills in the morning and if needed one at lunch (for gymnastics and piano lesson days).  

Amelia noticed on Monday that her fitness tracker was not picking up all her steps because she holds onto the treadmill. Next day she tied her watch onto her ankle, did it work? Yep! It picked an extra 5,500 steps! Smart girl. Phillip is going to the gym with us on Tuesday and Thursday when Justin is home working. Phillip had some funky moves on the treadmill...I had to step in and remind him the equipment is not for playing on. We didn't swim this week, it was too busy. 

Friday the kid's Jr Ranger badges came in the mail! Yay! We worked hard to finish the packets, watch the videos, and talk about Yellowstone for a week to earn the badges. The kids wrote part of the email sent to the forest rangers. I love how the Yellowstone badges are embroidered instead of the usual plastic pins we get. Josie had a playdate last week with her new friend Chloe. Evelyn has made several new friends, Scarlett and Grace so was off playing on Thursday. Josie was completely bored. I did a red-neck thing: set up the plastic pool on the sidewalk for her to splash about it. It was quite the attraction for several days. Justin was impressed with the level of nerd in my idea. Josie was happy, me too because she wasn't whining. Clare came over Friday afternoon. I finally got log-ins for educational minecraft this week. Amelia and Clare were totally geeking out the afternoon with their custom Halloween world. They programmed some very nerdy dialogue. Mia had a few set-backs with APEX this week, the curriculum used for Science. It was hard to get everything figured out. All the tests on her end were locked so she missed getting her assignment completed before the weekend. 

Saturday Justin had us all outside working on the yard. It was so pleasant outside. Amelia and I worked on the front yard. We pulled out the ratty carnations and daylily plants. I removed the paving stones to relocate them to the backyard for easier access to the garbage bins when barefoot. We planted over 60 spring bulbs! Josie planted several hycianths, the bulbs were purplish, she renamed the bulbs Jo-jo's Heaven. Because, of course, purple is heaven. The boys were busy in the backyard trimming branches, bushes, and pulling out the dying Oak tree. I had them rip out the ratty plants back there. Once my peony bare-roots arrive those will go along the back fence. I'm curious if raspberries will thrive in the center circle of the backyard? If not I want to plant some along the back fence. Phillip and Everett did their best to rip out the tree with their bare hands! We were busy all afternoon getting things done! We earned every blister and dirty nail. I spent a couple hours planning the education for next week. We are so happy to hear cousin Emmaline was baptized yesterday! 

13 September 2020

New-New Normal


We so enjoyed our visit with the James family. Reagan brought some make-up for the little girls enjoyment. Charity got hair, nails, and face makeovers thanks to Evelyn. The boys taught Mason how to play 5-Minute Marvel. Mason loved the game! He instigated a game before they left back for Utah. I adore when older cousins solicit their younger cousins to play! The sounds of chaos coming from the boys playing was epic. Dog Vader had a great time sniffing poor Molly's bum and playing with her. He acted like a puppy! Evelyn was super sad all day after the James family left. Lots of tears. We love when folks come and hate when they leave. 

Amelia, Everett, and I started a thing on Tuesday. We are getting up and going to the gym before school each day. I am literally rolling out of bed at 6:50 and peeling my eyes open. TOO EARLY for this mom who finally got to sleep in. It's ok, I was getting to the "way too lazy" stage. I'm glad we can start school at an earlier time with more energy. Everett is hilarious at the gym. He has to exercise next to me, which means he talks my ear off about how many miles he is running, the rate, his heart rate, what percentage, and his plans for the future. I also found a pull-up bar and climbing rope at DI this week. He's busy building those muscles! Several times I've spotted him hanging from the top branches of a tree in the backyard! Amelia and I have a goal to lose weight and better our general health. Mia is tracking her sleep, "steps" per day, and nutrition for her health class. I just want more room on my lap to hold kids! 

Tuesday the kids were really bored so we spent the afternoon swimming at the rec center. I will enjoy that aspect of our family pass. Everett swam 14 laps instead of playing with his siblings. That is one determined kid. 

My Great-Aunt Mary sent us a lovely box with two Pioneer cross-stitches she completed many years ago and an elephant per kid from her collection. The kids had more fun popping the bubble wrap. Evelyn wanted to turn the box from Uncle Mel into something special. Amelia, Evelyn, and I spent an afternoon turning the box into a doll-sized school room! We enjoyed the artsy project. This week started a new crop of piano students. I am teaching 3 of the Ostler kids and possibly another little girl from across the street. 

Friday we met other home-schooling families at the park for show-and-tell. My kids were totally psyched! Everett showed off his special monkey binky (sans binky), Phillip showed 3 Yoda things, Josie showed off a unicorn and her Lil DJ, and Evelyn showed us her make-up box. The best part was running around with lots of other kids for an hour. I spent some time this week setting up my Google Drive to organize the kids saved work in folders so I can easily do the assessments. The kids save their work to their personal Google Drives, I can access their folders and then save them to the correct subject and kid. I got through the first round of submissions in less than 30 minutes! YAY! I have to report on each kid for each subject every two weeks for the school year. It is less daunting than it sounds. The hardest part was Phillip's social studies submission, he was dragging his feet like usual. 

Saturday I spent the afternoon planning the next school week. I'm currently making a document in the kid's Google Drives with links and assignments for the entire week. After their work is done the kids can play the "fun" educational games for an hour. Evelyn took the IRI (Idaho Reading Indicator) Thursday at 3 pm. She was close to having a tantrum, tears, and picking wrong answers on purpose. I was unable to help her so sat close by with a handful of Skittles to reward each page she completed. I was frustrated because she knows the answers simply didn't want to do it. The platform the State uses was quite dorky as well. An annoying Owl leads the kids through a game/test. Just the way the test it set up makes it difficult for kids with learning disadvantages to do their best job. I did find that Evelyn needs spelling work more that I thought, I added that to her weekly work this coming week. Justin had the kids working off and on all day on the yard. I slept in then took a nap. Still felt like a sledge hammer bonked me over the head. Evelyn threw a level 9 tantrum just after I announced a family clean-up inside the house. Working together we can get it cleaned in 30 minutes. That girl screamed for an hour. She was damaging things so I locked her outside on the porch where she ripped grass, flowers, rocks, and poured water. I am at a loss, we mostly ignore her but she gets so violent sometimes she loses reason. 

Amelia is growing way too fast! She looks like a woman but acts like a girl. That must be strange for her too. I found her some cute PJs and workout clothes at the DI. I am always on the lookout for Geronimo Stilton books, this time I found over 12 books! Everett read them ALL before Saturday night. I just need to motivate Phillip to read them now. We are on to the 4th Fablehaven book. The boys and I were gripping our seats as we read the last two chapters of book 3. Riveting! 

06 September 2020

Labor Day Weekend

This week felt a little better. The kids had a goal for school and worked hard to pass things off. I also got several log-ins as the week continued, we got to try new platforms like Night Zookeeper, ABC Mouse, Quill, etc. Evelyn and Everett had zoom meetings for science and social studies. Evelyn also had speech therapy this week. However, I realized that I need to have a better daily plan so the kids have a better focus. We are ready Call it Courage which is a fun book about discovering inner strength through trials. 

Tuesday Phillip and Evelyn had well-child visits. Both kids are doing well! Once again confirmed that our kids are quite short but stout. The Dr starting questioning Phillip about his ability to read once he found out we home-schooled. He asked several probing questions like what level do you read at, can you read alone, and how long does he read each day. Phillip proudly reported he was reading Harry Potter along with Audible. The Dr told him that was not good enough and he had to learn to read boring things like textbooks and manuals. I wanted to punch him...Phillip has a hard time reading. He is doing quite well and tries hard. Phillip was crestfallen after our appointment. We talked about how we need to judge other's words against our heart and mind before we let other's rulings part of our framework. The Dr had some advice which was not the best for Phillip. We will try harder but Phillip can still listen to audible books and absolutely love them. We went to Target after school so the kids could burn their birthday money. Evelyn got a huge LOL baby in a purse. Josie was very sad about not getting one too. She returned her special owl flyer toy and spent all her allowance to get one of her own. That was an ordeal as I made a same-day trip to Target in the evening. 

The kids are loving gymnastics. Evelyn swears her muscles are stronger already! Josie joined the older class with Evelyn. She did well but the age difference was quite evident. Her LOL doll watched the girls do gymnastics. On Thursday I dropped off the boys to gymnastics then headed to Goodwill to search through their books. I love when there are new books that exactly fill in missing books in series I am collecting. Yay! 

The James family is here to visit us this weekend! They arrived after 10:00 pm on Friday. We cleaned the house then settled in to watch the new Mulan movie. The movie was sooooo good. Charity brought along their dog Molly, Vader was very excited about that. He's sniffed every inch of Molly several times over. We finally got everyone settled in a sleeping space before midnight. 

Saturday Charity showed off an old home video of Cousin Shawn before he passed away back in 2002. Justin was teary eyed watching his cousin talking and walking. Evelyn busted out her makeup to give Charity makeovers. We spent a lovely afternoon at Arrowrock Reservoir. The water was a good 50 feet lower that the first time we visited. The space we found had a lovely strip of mud to play in. The kids lathered themselves in mud just for the heck of it. Mia said it was a lovely spa treatment. The mud turned Everett into a pond monster. We made the trek across the lake to the opposite shore. The water level drop revealed a stair-step bank. The soft sand was really fun to play in, crumbling the sand down to the lower levels. Everett showed off his Angry Squirrel belly flop! Mason and the boys played in the raft for a long while. We also had Clare Palmer with us for the day. We packed up when Evelyn started to get hangry. I've heard Boise Fry Company is a must-try in Idaho so we gave it a try. Their burgers were the best we've tried. The fries fresh and homemade, the sauces were especially creative but too fancy for most of our group. Mia and Clare loved the blueberry ketchup, I thought the jalapeno sauce and aioli were delish. I felt quite gritty after this dip in the swampy lake...everyone got a nice shower before bed. 

We had a lovely sacrament meeting for church at home today. We had a testimony meeting then watched President Nelson's talk Hear Him. After church I showed Reagan and Mason how to make sushi. The rice turned out all mushy and gross but we used it up anyhow.