23 June 2020
Tuesday the kids and I made a short trip to Office Depot and Lowes. As we were driving to our location Phillip noticed a business advertising "The Blinds Gallery." He thought about it a moment then suggested we go visit the Blind Gallery after we start home schooling in the fall. He was very interested to learn how Blind people do art and how many blind people he would see at the museum. I died laughing (inside) before explaining that the Blinds Gallery was really a store selling window treatments. I admit, a gallery full of blind art would be fascinating. The kids helped me pick out a few things to decorate Justin's office for Father's Day. Josie picked an elephant tape dispenser, Phillip a new desk organizer, Evelyn a rainbow stack of sticky notes, and Everett chose a new plant. I looked for new bathroom backsplash tiles but nothing caught my eye, came home with a bag of grout. The boys helped me scrape and clean off the tiles from the up and down stairs bathrooms. With the additional tiles from the downstairs bathroom I did not need any new backsplash tiles. The tiles matched the counter perfectly so that was nice. Justin worked on the plumbing and I finished the rest of the bathroom vanity update. It looked so nice! Twice the size of the old unit and with drawers to hide toothbrush supplies. I am a terrible tile sealer, the silicone looks so chunky and odd so if you come visit don't look too closely.
Wednesday was the day I really, really missed Amelia. I took the little food shopping with me at Winco. Spent double my usual budget and left with my nerves especially frayed. The boys were steering a separate cart and of course acting like Captain Dufus Pants. Evelyn was throwing a fit because she wanted to steer and run down the aisles. Josie wanted candy from the bins. Mom, I want this...Mom! I NEEED that. We made it with only four new white hairs on my head. To reward myself for an amazing shopping trip (meaning all the kids left alive) we had lunch at Jimmy John's. Everett was so mad because he hates the sandwiches. Well, he stooped down from his lofty perch and tried a hunter's club...ummmm, yes sir....it was delicious. Everyone was happy.
Thursday morning the kids and I quietly packed up the van with art work, wall decor, two new plants, and other trimmings to decorate Justin's office. I coordinated with his boss Jen Freeman and Sara the office lady to come in while most folks were at home telecommuting. We framed some art, cleaned up stuff from the previous office dweller, and decorated. The kids were so excited! The noise level went up several decibels from quiet to medium loud. Someone told Justin he saw the family at the office but Justin was sure he meant the visit from a few weeks back. Justin had no idea. We drove home with the intent to keep our special surprise a secret. Evelyn almost ruined the surprise the next morning when she said "we never went to the office at all" in a coy tone. On the drive back we listened to Beauty and the Beast, Phillip asked what "Brute" meant. Everett chimed in from the back, "it means a handsome man in wedding clothes!" Ha ha ha ha. Justin asked where went for Travel Thursday, we said a nice drive around town. Amelia spent a lovely day celebrating Chloe's 13th birthday at Main Event, the Mall, and Sonic.
Friday Justin was so surprised it took him 10 minutes to admire our work before calling! Evelyn giggled for several minutes straight! That was darling. Yay! Success. I wanted to try cherry picking so we drove out to Caldwell to Williamson Orchard for Foodie Friday. We waited in a hot line for 20 minutes before we got buckets and paid the fees. The kids were so excited to find the perfect dark cherries with the most stems. Joyful shouts of "Double Cherries, BABY!" and such rang loud and clear. Josie picked mostly sour cherries within her reach. We loved the experience of picking our own fruit. We cannot wait to go back next year! We left with 4 (5.5) lb buckets brimming with cherries. The kids immediately wanted to visit Dad at his office and show him personally what we did. So we drove the 50 minutes to his office from the orchard. Everett insisted we introduce Justin to the delicious Hunter's Club so back to Jimmy's Johns we went. I finished ripping out the downstairs vanity since the backsplash was already missing. I seriously banged my knuckle with the sledge hammer. Ye ouch. Josie earned a large prize. This girl kicked her binky sucking habit to the curb. She "lost" her giraffe binky and her favorite elephant binky had a leak. So she slowly cast it aside longer and longer each day. By Friday she had not used it to sleep for several nights. We are so proud! Josie chose a Rainbow-corn surprise as a reward. This kid is getting ready for school! She is consistently using the potty for her poops now, dresses herself, gets her own shoes, puts away the silverware, kicked her binky habit...go JOSIE!!!!!
Saturday Justin took the proverbial bull by the horns and finished the downstairs bathroom vanity install. We are very different in our approaches. I just barge in and hope it all works, which sometimes it works, other times I make it work. He carefully spent the morning reworking the cabinet drawers to fit the needed plumbing changes. He measured and remeasured to ensure the plumbing and the cabinet worked as needed. The end result looks so good! Yay! Thank you Justin for making the new vanity work! I just realized the vanity was never screwed into a stud...better get on that one before some little person tips it over. Now to paint the master bedroom to match my new, pretty bedding set. I used black trash bags to warm up the pool water, it was freezing after our week of rain. The boys decided to swim with the bags, they made merman tails with the bags...the cinch ties became suspenders. They splashed out more than half the water out of the pool that day. Evelyn's little friend Ellie (from across the street) brought over 5 large floaties to play with. So much fun for everyone. Later Ellie convinced Evelyn to play dress up, Ellie was the princess and Evelyn was "the help!"
We were able to attend church on Sunday. That was an odd experience! We went to a new chapel with completely new people. The RS president introduced herself then asked which kid fell out of the window! Ha ha. Every other row was blocked off to allow the 6 feet of space. Our meeting was very quiet and reverent. The bishop said a few words, we hummed songs, then went home. I whipped up a homemade cherry pie for dessert. Grilled some steaks up for dinner. Yum. We went on a little family bike ride to the park and back. I was able to FT my with my Dad on Saturday. We mostly talked about home schooling and the socialist brainwashing that occurs in most schools nowadays. We love our Justin and our Father figures. I tried to have the kids do a skit about the Ammon story, that was a failure! Ha ha.
The kids all miss Amelia. Phillip said he misses Mia's hard punches and angry pushes. Everett said Amelia could stay away for the next 375 days...she makes him the most angry and makes him cry the most. Both little girls miss Amelia quite a bit. The boys said they mostly miss Amelia because she makes their games more fun.
Posted by Jenni Call at 8:49 PM
15 June 2020
Everett worked on one of his youth goals this week and made no-bake cookies mostly by himself. I stayed in the kitchen to monitor him (much to his annoyance) and add in the corn syrup. He made the BEST batch of cookies for us. Way to go Everett!!!
Tuesday we drove out to Wilson Creek Trails with the Ostlers for a couple hours just to get outside. It rained/drizzled most of the way out but not enough to discourage us. Sarah led the way up a large mound of rocks and hills. I was in the back with the straggling Josie. The climb up was slippery and filled with scree. Our view was of a really stinky cow lot. Once up on the south side of the mound we discovered about a million Mormon Crickets (katydids) sunning themselves on the rocks. Everyone was thoroughly disgusted as we crunched over disgusting bugs. The noise was deafening. We had radios buzzing with disgusting examinations about our discoveries at every step. The crickets faded away as we descended the other side of the mountain. I was sure the kids would have nightmares about their experience, alas no! The boys found a fun "cave" at the bottom where all the kids played for a bit. Phillip was trying to break a large rock caveman style. We enjoyed a picnic lunch before heading back home. The kids earned an ice cream cone for that experience. I was relieved we got home before the DMV police representatives. They came out to get our vehicles VIN numbers for registration. That was pretty slick...instead of trying to caravan 3 vehicles and a motorcycle they came to us!
Wednesday I signed us up for a slot to swim at Lakeview Water Park Pool. Gone are the days of paying one entrance fee and staying all day. I signed us up for a two hour slot from 2:45-4:45, each slot you sign up incurs a new entrance fee. Still better than not swimming. We were late because I could not find Josie's new goggles. I did find them several days later inside a random bin in the school room. All the kids rode down the water slide several times. Josie got in trouble for going down on her tummy and upside down. I think she was so small the water spun her every which way! It takes guts to climb up those two stories of stairs alone to ride down. Evelyn was a maniac on the slide. She swam a good 20 feet all by herself! Her swim skills are back already. The boys decided to paint their toenails blue while I was out grocery shopping!
Thursday afternoon we drove 45 minutes away to try out Barclay Bay. We past a large swimming area called Sands Point Park that also looks fun. We decided to just stay at Barclay and save the other area for our next trip. Our beach umbrella tried to fly away with the wind several times. I finally staked it in the right direction to get shade and stay pinned down. The water was C-O-L-D, shivery and cold. We all tried the water once but only once did we really submerge ourselves. I waded about for a while, my legs were purple from the cold. Sooooo....we because sand hermits. It was still fun to just enjoy and relax in the sun and sand. We all came away wanting a fun paddle board or large island floatie for the next visit.
Friday I arrived at the DMV at 7:45 to get my ID license. The line was wrapped around the block! I waited in line until 11:20 am. So boring. I had to take the written driving test, passed that with flying colors. Went back to the counter to finish the process when the intake lady said she could not finish my application because there was an issue with my SSN. I was fuming mad! Went to my car and called the local SS office. They checked my number and vitals, everything looked completely normal. The line was the same length as when I arrived early in the morning. I just went back in and waited for the same intake lady. I had her try again, turns out there was a glitch with the system that several phone calls to the state office finally corrected. I am relieved I don't have to go back for another morning of waiting in line. I got my new license and Star ID card. I am doubly relieved that my SSN is not compromised. I was sweating for a hot minute. While I was sweating it at the DMV Amelia was at home making the kids sweat in the kitchen. She kept true to the theme of the day: Foodie Friday. She made no-bake strawberry cheesecakes in a mug. She had each kid assigned to a task: Phillip made whipped cream, the littles spooned in the measured ingredients, and Everett got mad. The result was a creamy, delish dessert. Justin and I got to take the evening off for a date. We went to a Mexican restaurant with decent carnitas, quite authentic if you ask me with a slight orange taste in the marinade. We tried to hammer down a date and idea for a short family vacation. Nothing. We got nothing this year so far. Bummer. Most of the camping spaces are booked for the year, everyone wants to get out of town and camp. The rest of our date we spent at Home Depot looking for a new light fixture for our room and plumbing supplies to replace the bathroom vanities and sinks in the kid and guest bathrooms. When we got back home the kids were all plugged in watching Big Hero 6 the series. We made them get off and play outside...mean parents. Josie tried her hand at climbing trees, aka, I lifted her to the nearest tree branch and let her hang. She was delighted!
Saturday was a rainy day. Rain poured down off and on all day long. Mia and I washed the van while we made a short Walmart trip for travel sized deodorant and shampoo. Justin took the younger kids out to play in the mud with the truck. The boys told me they almost got suck...really didn't but the tires spun for a bit before gaining traction. I was fuming because Justin agreed (or so I thought) to help me dismantle the vanity. I did it all by myself. Several YouTube videos helped the process along. It was harder than the videos since the vanity was narrowly installed around the plumbing. I had to smash the vanity apart with a hammer, most satisfying. I got over myself after all the banging and destruction. We stayed up late watching Angry Birds 2 with the neighbor kids over. Justin went to bed early in a terrible mood. I facilitated the bad mood by ignoring him...not helpful. We figured it all out before the evening ended.
Sunday church we listened to an amazing talk by Elder Uchtdorf "Learn from Alma and Amulek." The talk segued perfectly into our week of devotionals. We spiffied up the house for a surprise visit from one of Justin's relatives. The kids were grumbling until Aunt Chi-chi and Uncle Kenny rang the doorbell around 4:10 pm. Chaos reigned for many hours afterwards. The boys enthusiastically taught Charity how to play Chickapig. The girls were a constant roar of sound and movement! I am sure Charity and Kenny enjoyed a much quieter ride back to Utah. Evelyn was thrilled to paint Charity's nails. Josie adopted Kenny as her new pet. So much fun to have family come by...we've never had so many visitors! I love every moment of it. Amelia went to bed with a family of butterflies in her tummy, nerves from her upcoming solo airline flight.
Posted by Jenni Call at 5:29 PM
08 June 2020
Tuesday and Wednesday we spent cleaning up a bit more than usual in anticipation of Jana and the girls coming to visit. I have the kids cleaning in zones as part of their summer checklists. It is working quite well. Each child has a zone for a full week then the zones rotate. I love how simple it is. The kids worked in the zones and I focused on the harder parts like cleaning the pantry, the laundry room, and kitchen. I finally finished the laundry room on Tuesday. Amelia helped me pick some art at Hobby Lobby to use in the laundry room. It is less cluttered and we can use it with purpose now instead of another catch-all. I hung the daily checklists in the pantry with some markers close by to check off their lists. I was quite rushed to finish grocery shopping and mop the floors before Jana arrived. She stopped a few miles away for an ice cream break so we had a few more minutes. Hannah delivered a really cute painting she worked very hard on. She is quite diligent with her coloring...my kids don't have the patience. Rachel instantly latched onto Amelia! Those two were inseparable for days. Phillip took a few turns but Rachel really only wanted Mia.
We enjoyed lots of playing, dress ups, and swimming while the girls were here. Jana was content to relax while we all played...and relaxed. Hannah and the little girls all spent hours in our little pool! In and out all day long. Thursday we spent about 3-4 hours at the Nampa rec center swimming for hours. Jana left once Rachel got tired out and Hannah wanted a snack. My kids spent another hour or more swimming around. Once Jana left the slide and diving board opened up. The older kids took a swimming test to use the deep water pool. All the kids quite enjoyed the slide. Josie earned a badge of bravery going down the slide without a floatie and by herself. After the first scary time she was hooked! Friday we made cinnamon rolls for Foodie Friday! The boys helped me make the dough, I explained some of the science behind cooking. We also used math skills to figure out ratios as we doubled the recipe. I made a batch of cinnamon rolls and another of apricot preserve rolls. Jana ate her salad for dinner plus the yummy stuff. I never realized how much Evelyn says, "You got it?" until Jana pointed it out. She talked down to Hannah often, after a list of instructions she'd end her litany with, "You got it?" Hannah would dutifully reply, "got it!" Rachel kept us all entertained with her cute words like Arby, smoothie, "ahhhhh" after drinking a smoothie, and various words my kids had her parrot. We enjoyed several dance parties to Frozen! Evelyn turned makeup artist for Hannah, that purple lipstick...on point. We are so happy Jana and the girls visited us. I loved having a relaxed visit with no time constraints or pressures. Just a fun time to get to know everyone better. I took some photos of Jana and girls. Rachel was needing a nap, she was not happy about the arrangement. She just wanted Mia to hold her!
Saturday it rained all day, kind of a nice dreary and cold day. Jana made the trip back safely. Up in Idaho we had a very lazy day. The kids were so bored they actually thought a 30 minute clean-up sounded more fun than watching TV...nice. We had word from the stake that church will resume in two Sundays. The ward will attend every other week for 45 minutes with a cap of under a 100 attendees. I honestly wish we could do home-church more often. It is nice to customize our meetings in the home setting. Evelyn is a complete nerd bonker anytime we gather for devotional, temple table, or church. She is so disruptive and disobedient, makes it hard to keep the spirit. She understands why before and after she acts up but continues her belligerent behavior.
Posted by Jenni Call at 3:49 PM
04 June 2020
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.
Posted by Jenni Call at 8:29 PM
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.
Posted by Jenni Call at 8:14 PM