09 November 2019


We laid waste to 6 large pumpkins! Went to Walmart for pumpkins at 5:30 and two hours later we had a pile of pumpkin guts and scraps flying all over the kitchen table. The kids had a blast designing their creations and doing their best to cut out their designs. Mia and Chloe carved BFF pumpkins, Phillip had his usual special creation with farts and stuff, Ronald mostly got frustrated, I helped Evelyn carve a sleeping unicorn face, and Josie wanted a silly face pumpkin. Oh yes, Josie was laughing her head off when she chose her pumpkin. She found a pumpkin with a butt on one side, I tried to steer her to another pumpkin but that misshapen gourd caught her fancy. I caught her singing a bum-bum song to her pumpkin. Justin arrived home in time to assist a couple kids on the carving portion. Two days later the pumpkins were oozing and growing mold. Traditions are tradition!

Tuesday early, early morning Phillip came down with croup. He and I were going between freezer air and hot water in the sink to clear out his airways. That took an hour of hot/cold treatment, breathing treatment, and breathe oils. He slept until well after 10 am that morning, even slept through the garage door opening and closing multiple times. Little person spewed his germs everywhere, wiping his boogers, spraying cough germs all over the place, he was not selective at all. He lost the towel I gave him to cough into about 10 times. It's no wonder the rest of us caught his nasty cough.

Phillip's grade performed a Spooky selection of songs for Halloween. The kids all dressed up in  Halloween costumes. Mrs Munley had the kids do a little play acting this time, the kids were all part of a ghost-busting squad trying to catch the Purple People Eater! Josie and Everett wanted to dress up as well just for the fun of it, Josie went as Elsa! Phillip got to be the telephone operator at one point in the concert! He quite enjoyed the action. Seemed like all the kids either had a speaking or solo singing part.

Thursday was of course a busy, busy day. I was on double duty carpooling that entire week, most of the time only morning or afternoon. Amelia got her costume on for school, she could wear it if she paid $2 or donated canned food. The boys wore their costumes for Sonoma Ranch's costume parade. Josie and I rushed between dropping off kids and trying to make the parade. We got there with just a couple minutes to spare. Josie loved watching all the kids parade by wearing costumes. Our favorite costume was a girl wearing a horse contraption, looked like she was actually a full-sized horse. Josie especially enjoyed the Princess costumes and the T-Rex blowup ones. I had to run a couple errands afterwards. Phoenix had a cold spell the high for Thursday was only 70 something, I had to run out and get long-sleeved shirts for the girls. After looking at Target I headed home, on the drive home I realized my phone was missing. Instead of grabbing both my phone and wallet, I only got my wallet. I ran back to Target but could not find my phone. I filed a report at Target and left Justin's phone number. Back at home I logged into "find my iPhone" saw my phone traveling towards the inner parts of Mesa stopping here and there, mostly Mexican marts and medical offices. I went back to Target after Josie went down for her nap. A very helpful security guard tracked down the individual who picked up my phone and logged the information. The lady who took it (out of kindness) eventually called Justin's number. I was able to text her and coordinate a time to pick up the phone. At 4 pm I headed back to Target to wait for the lady who never showed up. That was a stressful hour of waiting, knowing the kids were anxious to go party and eat dinner. Justin finally texted her in Spanish and was able to coordinate times and places. He met up with her back at the same Target on his way home from work. I picked up $.50 corndogs for a quick dinner at Sonic. The kids had done their best with costumes. Amelia put on makeup for the girls! I took a couple photos then we were off to the block party. I was asked to do face painting at one booth. I was so stressed out and without my phone to help me paint designs that we ended up putting that table away. Amelia looked so awesome in her costume! She really thought out each part of her costume and either made it or enlisted my help. At one point I noticed Everett watching the movie with a pile of candy by him. I asked where his bucket was, he answered, "I lost my bucket and candy so I played that game over there to get some candy in case I never find my bucket!" What?! What kid loses a bucket of candy? I snooped around the street and finally found his bucket under a table where a matching game was played. Justin came halfway through the party with my phone in hand. Phew, that was a huge fiasco just because of my inattentiveness. Ronald wandered away from the party with a bunch of school friends his age to trick or treat around the other streets. His parents and I were quite frantic looking around for him. Brother Payne (a police officer) finally found him two streets away calmly gathering candy. Drama! We walked around our neighborhood to finish out the night. Only a few houses actually had porch lights on. Our group was the first to trick or treat our street at 8:30 pm. Most houses gave each kid handfuls of candy just to get rid of their stashes. The kids were thrilled! At home the great candy trading and sorting game ensued. The dislike pile had Snickers and Heath bars, I acquired all the Baby Ruth bars and a couple Almond Joy. The kids enjoyed their candy for a day or two then forgot about their bags.

Woke up Friday with a bunch of grouchy kids! The teachers had quite a handful of hyper and grouches for that school day.

Saturday I had a couple photo sessions. My first appointment was a set of 1 year old twins. Phew, we adults were all sweating as we attempted to get the littles to cooperate. Took some elbow grease but we got some really cute shots. I was glad these sessions were close by at the Riparian. I got a couple fragmented texts from Justin and Mia about dinner prep...after 6 pm. I came home to the oven on, some cucumbers chopped up, and frozen gyro meat. At one point Amelia texted me, "Ugh! Men!" after Justin couldn't find the meat in the freezer. I died! Laughter for days. We did not starve but did eat a lovely late dinner after 7 pm.

Sunday we had our monthly Call dinner. I had to prep big time before church this time, cheesy potatoes and a baked chicken. During our class I quietly asked Justin to text Mia to ask if she'd flipped the chicken. Well, she texted back that flipping the chicken was way too hard for her. We were all laughing, since my comments were clearly not quiet enough. She did her best! Flipping those chickens is not easy. Dinner was delicious. Laura made Cold Stone style ice cream using the kid's Halloween candy. Yum. The boys were so funny to observe, they have the best time together.

02 November 2019

Pumpkin Patch and Color Fun Run

We enjoyed a special, short visit from Grandpa and Grandma Lance! They got up super early on Monday to make the 12 hour drive here. They arrived shortly after the kids got home from school, it was a whirlwind of joy and excitement. We showed them our afternoon routine with play, homework, piano, and dinner. For FHE we continued our lesson on the Apostasy. Next day Dad had all the kids exercising with him on the floor. Everett was especially keen on trying out all the exercises. Dad's duffel bag of tricks was especially exciting, one green handball was quickly lost. I found it an hour after they left! I had planned a trip to the Pumpkin Patch but our timeline for Tuesday did not work out in our favor. After dinner we headed to the park for an hour. Evelyn finally had the courage to ride down the steep hill on her balance bike...multiple times. The air was about 10 degrees cooler at the lowest point of the hill/ditch area...felt wonderful. Dad played ball with the kids for a while. Amelia and Chloe made the boys cry playing Monkey in the Middle, unfair advantage in height and skill. Mom and I played with the girls up in the park area. We topped off with some ice creams after the fastest baths the kids have ever taken. Mom and Dad were off early the next morning around 5 am. The kids were quite upset they left so quickly, on the other hand we are so please they made the sacrifice to come visit us. My dad is off to the Middle East soon for a new job lasting a few years. They drove straight through to Gilroy to visit my Dad's parents for a couple days. I quite enjoyed taking my dad to the gym with me and of course all the good talks with them both.

Wednesday was an early release day so we went to the pumpkin patch right after everyone was home from school. We went back to Vertuccio Farms for their fall festivities. We brought along Chloe, Ronald, and Jacob for a rather large group of 8 kids. Amelia, Chloe, and Jacob mostly played on the trampolines. Amelia said they adopted a cute little girl that loved unicorns as much as Mia. Everett and Ronald teamed up, they were everywhere! I saw snatches of them here and there, out of all the kids Everett and Ronald did the most exploring. Phillip and the little girls stayed with me most of the time. Josie loved the floating duckie game, that is always her favorite! It was torture removing her from the premises after 30 minutes. Then she fixated on the golf game. Phillip and Evelyn had a great time moving around the mini golf obstacles. We went on to the cow carts then the hamster rolls, and the zip line. Phillip melted my heart as he accompanied Josie each time and helped her up on the seat. Towards dusk we all met up for a turn around the corn maze! The little girls were a bit freaked out as the maze got darker. I quite enjoyed all the little smiles and time to enjoy Arizona fall weather.

Evelyn's school had a Halloween Mercado at school. All month the kids worked to earn fake dollars they could spend at the Mercado. I hear it was lots of fun! Evelyn came home with treats and a large bubble wand. She was allowed to wear her costume for the day as well. The Sister missionaries came over for dinner. Our ward has two new sisters that are quite energetic and fun. We enjoyed their visit along with taco salad and lesson.

Friday Justin flew to Idaho for some business. Josie and I went to Sonoma Ranch to cheer on Phillip and Everett as they ran laps for a school fundraiser! Both boys ran 14 laps! Towards the end of each lap the kids were squirted with different colors of liquid chalk (or something). It was fun to watch as each grade invented new ways to get colorized, Everett's grade walked a slowly as possible and jumped in the air, Phillip's grade did spins down the way! Josie was quite annoyed with the waiting around. She finally got to play with her friend Addison at the play structures. I came home to an oven dripping with pizza dough. I put in to raise, the dough was extra busy and efficient. We celebrated at home with homemade pizza and watching the new Aladdin movie. The kids were quite freaked out when an anonymous neighbor dropped off a creepy doll. I was gone to Safeway for a moment when the incident happened. Amelia and Phillip quickly passed the doll to another neighbor with shaking hands. Made me laugh.

I had a fun desert photo session Saturday evening with a young family of 3 kids. Ah, the memories of three kids and the young year chaos. I think we are finally growing as a family out of the young years. It is bitter sweet for sure. Josie is starting to put her poops in the potty, not consistent yet but getting better. That seems like the final hurdle for her to achieve the Big Girl prize. Friday Isla's mom, Vanessa gave her a cute little bike and a helmet. Josie immediately rode around the block several times. After baths we decorated Halloween cookies Sister LaBarr brought over. Phillip was in a mood, he decorated his cookie with a blanket over his head. Justin got home well after the kids were in bed.

Sunday we had a cool ward potluck after church. The theme was soup, salads, bread, and desserts. I made a squash soup with several delicious squashes my mom brought from her garden, I added an apple, sweet potato, and onion. Oh my gracious, it was delicious. The kids played in the gym while I attended our finance class. Justin and Josie fell asleep in the couch right before the potluck so they did not come to either function. In between church and the potluck I made two batches of cookie dough, peanut butter and chocolate chip. Right after class I baked up the cookies, just in time for the Sanders family to come enjoy a treat with us. They moved in earlier this year and seem to need friends in the ward. We swapped several stories and lots of laughs. 

22 October 2019

Ward Campout

Monday was our last day of fall break! We quite enjoy the down time from the grind of school. Amelia had a hankering for applesauce so I got out the apple peeler/corer device and let the kids take care of the apple preparation. The apple sauce slow cooked all day in the crock pot, the smell was heavenly! We all enjoyed a warm bowl of apple sauce with a dollop of cream, except Josie who declared it looked yucky. We drove up to Scottsdale for a nice lunch date with Justin. The kids love going up there. Justin scored some new whiteboard decor thanks to the kids. Everett ordered a large pickle for his lunch, he ate it all and declared himself quite content. Josie ate her entire sandwich! The kids got to have some friends over in the afternoon to play with. Everett finally had Conner over to play soccer. Justin had a very busy week at work, he did not get home until 8-9 pm each evening. I organized a picnic dinner of hotdogs cooked over the open flame, pistachio salad, veggies, and chips. We sat around the fire pit eating our grub and watching the full moon make an appearance. The kids started a story telling game around the fire. Phillip always added farts, poop, and burps to the storyline. For FHE we made trees with roots drawn with hand outlines and labeled with actions that keep us rooted in the gospel. Crafty projects always seems to go a long way in this family. Justin got home in time to enjoy a s'more with the stragglers still out by the fire pit. 

Pack meeting was super fun. Brother Broughton's nephew showed off his animal collection after the awards ceremony. He had three mid-sized snakes, a huge snake (think boa constrictor), a tree frog, a sweet chinchilla, and a tortoise. Evelyn and I loved the chinchilla, it was like holding a cloud! After the presentation we were able to hold and handle the animals! That was a super fun experience. 

The rest of the week was quite usual, with the normal piano lessons, homework battles, laundry wrestling, grocery shopping, meal making extravaganza, and such. I worked on editing the kid's photos I took at Sedona. Sigh, so pretty up there. I hear the fall colors are in gorgeous array now, we missed the color by a week. 

Friday I packed up the truck with camping gear. Somehow I managed to get all the right stuff we needed for an overnight camp trip without Justin to help me out. He was so busy at work I could not even reach him on the phone. I took the kids out of school an hour early so we could get to the campsite before dusk. Our ward hosted a campout for anyone interested at Rock Creek. We were all ecstatic for the chance to camp. Phillip sat between Amelia and I in the front of the truck, little punk kept farting and stinking up the truck. Kept me awake! Josie was covered with itchy mosquito bites, she complained about it all the time. I stopped to get some sandwiches for dinner and anti-inflammatory cream for her poor little legs. We made it to the campsite around 4:30 pm. Several other families were already there. I had just enough time to get the stuff unloaded (kids helping of course) and the tent set up, sleeping pads inflated, and bags laid out before the sun went down. The kids quickly disappeared to play in the woods with friends. After dinner I set up the hammocks. The boys immediately started a game of peas in a pod with AJ and his sisters.  As the evening progressed several more families arrived. The guys had a nice roaring fire going to warm our bones. It was due to get quite chilly up in Payson that evening, around 33 degrees.  Bishop delivered a fireside devotional to ponder before he left for home. Amelia was the lone child over the age of 11, well there was a boy her age, but that's just awkward. She roasted up her s'more and begged me to let her go to bed. She and Josie were miraculously asleep by 9:30 even with the dull roar of 8 families. Sweet Evelyn climbed onto my lap snuggled in a sleeping bag to fall asleep there, that was quite nice for me. The boys wanted to stay up until midnight with AJ but they gave up around 10 pm. We all got an amazing view of the night sky. Without the moon, we could clearly see the milky way. Everett and I spotted shooting stars we made wishes on. We sure missed our Justin. He was at work until after 9 pm, went back to work Saturday morning as well. 

The kids all seemed to sleep well. Little Tyler Webster was not keen on sleeping with her mom inside a warm sleeping bag. She cried off and on all night until 5 am. It was quite cold, Everett had the right idea, he slithered to the bottom of his bag and slept on his tummy so he was completely covered. Phillip popped up awake at 6 am when the sun started it's way up the sky. I made him lay back down for another hour. Every few moments he's pop up looking for an okay to escape from the tent. His mouth finally got the better of him and he let out a loud "Yahoo!" into the morning air. That got us all going and ready for the day. The sun quickly warmed us up, layers shed right onto the ground as the sun did it's job. Phillip somehow managed to avoid splitting his forehead open when he tripped on an imaginary leashed dog. He just flipped his cup of milk into the air (and on his face), tripped forward, narrowly missing the metaled picnic table edge by millimeters. Brother Payne organized water rockets as a very fun activity. Everett and Evelyn finished their rockets quite swiftly. They got in several rocket launches. Amelia created a Gryffindor rocket, after her 3rd launch her rockets got stuck in a tree! She was quite sad to lose her creation, so made a mini version out of a water bottle. Phillip and AJ made a fancy rocket complete with removable boosters. We were all wet and happy from that activity. Everett lost interest once someone brought out the bumper balls. He soon had a rotation going for the kids playing with the bumper balls. The kids all loved the hammocks and balance line. Josie was quite interested in staying inside the tent. She rolled about in the tent for a hour or so, I'd see her face peek through the door every so often. The girls made a dinosaur nest out of pine needles. Took me a good hour to get all the bedding and tent packed away again. We were back home before 3 pm, our chests full of lovely mountain air. The kids abandoned me in favor of a swim in the pool to clean off all the camping dirt. Josie stayed to help me unload the truck. Justin was taking a much needed nap, so I grumped along putting everything back all by my lonesome. Once Justin woke up I tasked him and the kids to clean the upstairs. I had a photo session, trusted the family to get it all cleaned up. My session went well. The light was gorgeous out at the North-East side of the Lost Dutchman area. I came back to a clean(er) upstairs. Took me a couple hours to finish up the job, but that was expected. I sure love deeply cleaned rooms, clutter free. 

Sunday I was called to be the Ward Music Chairman! Yikes. That means I am in charge of the music for the ward; choir and training included. The Christmas season is swiftly coming, was asked to organize a musical Sunday program for the Sunday before Christmas. No pressure, right? Oh yes, we just got a new choir director as well. Let's do this. Our Come Follow Me lesson this week was on the Apostasy. The kids quite loved the "cups" lesson. We had cup pyramids going up here and there the rest of the week.