13 August 2018

Eye Comparison








Most of our kids have brown eyes. I never knew brown could vary so much! Amelia inherited my green hazel eyes, the rest varying shades of brown. Everett's eyes are the most green, Phillip has golden flecks, Evelyn's are the darkest, and Josie's are a medium gray-brown. I am not so happy with the quality of the project above, but the kids were not willing to cooperate. Amelia was the biggest stinker because she did not want to be next to Phillip.

The air conditioner saga continues. We reveled in cool air bliss from Friday the 3rd until the next week. I noticed a high pitched squealing was coming from the fan motor, the air was running but the fan was not. I ran upstairs and turned the unit off and let it cool down for a few hours. I placed another "recall" service call for the new issues. Later I turned the unit on and ran back downstairs then outside. I found a long stick and gave the fan blades a hard shove. Phew, we hobbled through the next two days with this push and shove system. Friday the same guys showed up on my door stoop to repair the fan and motor this time. He said the motor was days away from working at all, I'm happy we avoided complete failure this time.

Phillip spent an entire hour at the piano figuring out a new song on the Hoffman Academy site. Phillip was soon plunking out the tune of Halloween Mouse complete with sharps and flats! We still really love his lessons, I'm undecided about renewing at this point. I think the boys would love actual piano lessons from me. Mia is excelling with her new teacher, actually practicing most afternoons.

The kids first full week of school went well. We are settling into the routine of homework, signing agendas, reading, and no electronics after school. Everett and I played Chutes and Ladders about 20 times this past week! Ha ha. Evelyn is doing well. She does have a hard time getting ready and eating breakfast before the school bus. Mornings are full of chaos this year. I decided to fore go hot school purchased lunches in lieu of home lunches. I have a few kinks to work out, like when to make lunches, and what to put in the lunches. Phillip and Evelyn came home most days with nothing eaten. Mia and Everett are efficient to make their own lunches with little to no help. Amelia is deep into a new series called Septimus Heap. I found the entire series for $20 at a consignment sale. The boys and I read a new Geronimo Stilton book every couple of days at bedtime.

I cashed in some birthday money for my yearly pedicure! The salon had a kid-sized chair just perfect for Miss Josie. She sat there for 45 minutes getting her own pedicure while licking a lollipop down to the paper stick. She was quite taken that the tech painted pretty flowers on her toes! We somehow lost her baby Skye inside the house. She loves carrying around that thing. Makes a pretty cute cuddle toy.

Friday Justin helped me drop off the van to get detailed at 7 am. I neglected to leave my keys with the van so that was interesting getting back there once the kids left for school. The van looks so amazing! I went from confetti dark gray back to a nice flat light gray. It still smells funny but I think by now that is how the van will smell. Debbie gave Josie and I a lift around 3 pm to fetch the van. Most detail jobs take 1-2 hours, our van took 4 hours. Ha ha ha. While the van got it's bath I went through the time consuming task of cleaning car seats.

Saturday Luis came over to repair a major leak in the sprinkler system. A few days later another sprinkler head burst. Seems like we are replacing the air conditioning and sprinkler system a part at a time. Justin worked on mowing the lawn. Our neighbor asked if he could borrow our mower. I let him borrow Justin as well! Justin and the boys went over and mowed his postage stamp lawn. The boys almost died, the sweat was killer. In spite of the exertion the boys earned $5 each! Phillip soon had grand plans to mow other folks lawns and earn more money. In the evening I had two mini sessions, one of baby Liberty with a water/strawberry bath and another of a couple expecting their first baby!

Sunday we had the Chandler Calls over for dinner. Laura made dinner for us all! I appreciate all her work in prepping so much to bring over. I went easy and made the chocolate chip cookies the kids begged for their snacks. Evelyn was spoiled early with a gift from the Calls. She got a fun hair chalk set from a show called Sunny Days. Soon she had colorful streaks in her hair to complement the pink hair from my fancy red hair shampoo. Phillip was delighted to get a fun candy card with money on it! Aunt Laura made a fun mathematical equation of 5+5-1=9 years old using real money. We love our cousins. Spenser helped me vote, lame I know. I'm so stuck in the child care rut that getting out is quite out my realm. I did not want to waste my feminine vote so asked him for help.

10 August 2018

Back to School














Just like that and four out of my five kids are now in school. School started on Thursday the 2nd of August. The kids were quite excited to start school, things at home were turning a shade of boring those last few weeks. I have not had less than two kids at home in 9+ years, so that is a tad strange, just Josie and I!

We started out our week with a fun morning at Urban Jungle. The kids got to play for 1.5 hours, which was more than enough time. I only saw Everett once the entire time! He plays hard. Amelia found a cling-on in the form of a stray 3 year old girl, she insisted on holding Mia's hand and following her everywhere! Amelia was content to let her stay around. The little girls and I had a wonderful time running about exploring the facility. We were starving by the time our time ended at noon. We partially settled on lunch at Jimmy John's, Everett was our dissident voice. He finally chose to eat a huge pickle for lunch. That kid was so happy to munch down his lunch. We finished up school supply shopping before heading home. A crazy storm raced overhead just after dinner. We've had some amazing storms the past week, I adore the storms. The lightening is stunning. The temperature drops are pure bliss. Justin tried to do Father's blessings for FHE but the kids were quite rambunctious so we decided to try another evening.

Tuesday was Harry Potter's birthday, now a big deal in our home. The kids found Harry Potter wands and glasses in the party aisle the day before. We celebrated with doughnuts for breakfast! The older kids went to the Russo's home where they watched a Harry Potter movie. I hear the butter beer was tasty! Phillip and Everett surprised me by shoving Everett in a toilet paper box and presenting the box at the front door. A rock held down the flaps! His cute faced popped up once I removed the rock! Best early birthday present ever. Towards the evening was "Meet Your Teacher" night. Justin met us at school so he could also meet the kid's teachers. We lugged all the school supplies along at the same time. We went to Ms Epstein first (Everett), then Mrs Norton (Evelyn), Mr McKinzie (Amelia), and Mrs Sanders (Phillip) last of all. Mrs Norton was so nice, Evelyn brought along her handwriting pages from preschool to show off. Mrs Norton dropped to her knees and had a lengthy conversation with Evelyn about her hard work! Evelyn was positively glowing. Everett anxiously filled out a questionnaire he found on his new desk. Phillip found his best friend, Ryan in his new classroom! Hooray!

Wednesday I photographed two newborn babies. Setting up my "studio" spaces was more than a little challenging. The only space for my 107" backdrop paper and stand was in the kitchen. I had a little mini area near the piano and the bean bag on the opposite side of the room. Dragging out all the items was quite challenging! I miss my little basement area. The first baby is my neighbors new daughter. She produced a prodigious amount of poo right when we were taking family photos, not once, twice, but three times. She slept well the remainder of her session! Amelia and Chloe did their best to wipe the mess off the kitchen floor. Poor Mia was gagging the entire time. We took a lunch break at Chic-fil-a, my kitchen was almost completely blocked off. Everett ordered a chicken salad! That's my boy! Yum. Amelia and Chloe were too grown up to sit with us, they were also too cool for us. I hear the pair monopolized the music center in the play area. Little RJ was next for some photos. I solicited him to come over, mostly for practice and fun. He was the exact opposite of Gabriella, she was chunky, feisty, and easily startled. He was a dream! I really loved getting my hands on some new babies. Chloe brought over a balloon animal set for the kids to try out. Everett made double swords, which he used for several days to torment others with. The girls made more slime. I swear Chloe has slime for blood. The girls used over a gallon of glue this summer in their slime adventures. That box of borax is always on the kitchen table.

Thursday came way too quickly. We are still sleeping on the floor, so that added to the chaos. Evelyn set out her first day outfit the night before. She adamantly insisted on wearing zebra socks with her dress. Amelia was so easy to boss about when it came to clothes, not Evelyn! She wears what she wears (and we are all grateful she has clothes on). A fly on our wall saw a whirl of chaos as kids dressed, ate, packed lunches, cried, laughed, and sang that morning. I took the kids that first day. Evelyn was mad because she wanted to ride the bus two times, not ONE. I asked the kids what they wanted to be when grown up. Amelia wants to be a unicorn-rainbow, meaning she has no idea. Phillip wants to be a zookeeper, and Evelyn a kindergarten teacher. Everett made me laugh with his response, "Mom what jobs can I do where I can collect money? Yah know, since I love to collect money?" Me: "Well you could be a banker or accountant like Dad" Everett: "Yes! I want to be an accountant so I can count money and collect it!" That's my nerd! The kids were good sports letting me take photos with silly paper signs. Evelyn was off soon after she dropped her stuff off at Mrs Norton's line marker. Seeing her in action assuaged most of my reservations. Josie and I headed out when the bell rang. I got lots of kisses from the boys and Evelyn. Amelia was off with her friends on the other side of the playground. Home was so quiet. Josie and I stared at each other for a bit then wandered off to clean or play. Her baby Skye got sick so we mended her up with Doc McStuffins supplies. Her toy is a hypochondriac, constantly sick and afraid of germs. I worked on editing the newborn sessions from the prior day.

Friday was a repeat of Thursday, except the kids rode the bus to and from school. Two HVAC dudes finally came by to repair our unit. They replaced the condenser and correctly grounded the unit. After 15 days we finally had cool air upstairs. The floor and walls were so hot it took a good day before temperatures came down to normal levels. We were all thrilled to carry our bedding back upstairs that night. Hooray! Justin and I went on a date to celebrate my birthday a bit early. We ate some pizza then watched the new Mission Impossible movie. Brecklyn Godard watched the kids, she cleaned up the house as best she could. I am so grateful she went the extra mile.

Saturday was a busy day for me. I photographed the Guderian/Bebee wedding. Justin held down the fort at home. He was not feeling great so staying home was up his alley. Amelia had book club that morning. We picked her up then headed to my new favorite Mexican restaurant, Moreno's for family birthday celebrations. The location south of our house was NOT the same as the Mesa location. Justin called a do-over, I agree. I drove the hamster wagon down to the temple for the wedding. It was miserably hot. My feet were burning through my shoes! The bride and groom did not want any posed photos near the temple since they did their Bridal photos the prior month. I did the best possible given the time of day, heat, and such. I came home showered and went to the church for the reception. It was a long evening, ending well after 9 pm. Amelia was quite upset I did not take her with me to the reception. I forgot to text either the Godards or the Russos to give her a ride.

I have a birthday twin, Bryce, one of my piano students. We enjoyed our birthday song in Primary. Amelia spoiled me with breakfast of scrambled eggs and a can of diet coke. She knows me too well. What a sweetheart to think of that all on her own. She even made a card with the words from "My Happy Birthday" on it. Justin cooked up some steaks with zoodles on the side. I got a waterproof bag for my phone (hoping to take some underwater photos with it) and some red hair shampoo. My hair is way too dark for the shampoo to work, so that became an item for the little girls to enjoy. Hooray. One year older, more gray hair, and wrinkles. My brain is also becoming smoother, maybe by the time the kids leave I'll have a brain as smooth as a balloon, finally becoming the airhead my brother James knew I was. Ha ha. I made a strawberry jello cake with fresh strawberry whipped cream. I stole the middle piece which was divine.


**I don't want to forget this so here goes. Evelyn always answers number questions with 30-50-100. Example: Evelyn, do you want this quarter? Sure, is it 30-50-100? (giggling). How many pieces of meat do you want? Oh! How about 30-50-100? (giggling). It's funny and cute.

29 July 2018

Indoor Camping, AKA saga continues







The saga continues. It is quite entertaining, our 1st world problems are overtaking our lives. We started out the week with things under control. The little girls sleeping on the floor in our bedroom with the portable air conditioning. This situation at least provided for Josie's afternoon nap. The air conditioner was overloading the circuit and popped the circuit more than a few times. We decided to bail on the portable since there were no other windows to vent near a circuit with more amps (like the bathroom). Wednesday night found us all camping on the main floor. I had a Dr appointment early on Wednesday, while I was gone Amelia said the air conditioning repair guys came by. I was so mad, since we had an appointment set up for Thursday morning. After a call to the company turns out whomever stopped by was not sent by the folks we're working with. We've been sleeping down on the floor for 4 nights now. We woke up all shades of excited on Thursday knowing the repair company was coming. Our beds were calling. The doorbell rang at 7 am, we rushed the door open to find a pest control company who had the wrong address. Shoot, that meant the little girls lost 90 minutes of sleep. Grrrrr. A couple hours later the repair guy showed up, he left 10 minutes later. His only job was to diagnose and confirm that our unit was not functioning. He put in an order for a new condenser. I was so happy when we got a phone call a few hours later saying that the part we needed was located and the repair would take place the next morning. Hooray! The desk personality told Justin that it looked like the tech ordered the wrong part so he ordered the "right" part. Friday morning was a mirror of Thursday. He came started the repair but had to stop because the desk personality ordered the wrong part. Looks like we get to wait another 3-5 more business days spanning another weekend. By the time our air conditioning gets repaired we will be seasoned indoor campers of 14+ days. I will need a chiropractic adjustment as well. The dog wakes us all up whining way before it's time to arise, Vader can't stand it that Justin is just 4 feet away. His tags jingle and jangle us all awake. Everyone's walking around with a fuse 4 times shorter than normal. I hope we don't blow up before school starts. I really wanted to have a normal routine for a couple days before school starts.

I also happened to catch Everett and Josie's digestive bug on Monday. I ran a high fever, was practically delirious for two days. I lost 10 lbs just from the digestive problems, wish losing weight was that simple. During the twilight hours of Monday night the nausea resolved into something more meaningful at the same time my digestive tract was playing it's games. Lovely. Being a mother on Tuesday sat in the back row of our bus. Amelia helped make pancakes for breakfast. The rest of the day I worked on laundry from the couch. I started to feel like myself on Thursday or Friday.

We did not do much this week. The kids got to play at the Russo's on Tuesday. They came home to find Josie and I playing in the little pools with the hose. Josie was content to fill up the pools and have some one-on-one time. The kids decided going swimming in their undies would be much more fun than using swimsuits! Indeed it was much more fun. I set up the slip and slide as well in order to extend outside play. We watched too much TV this week. It's way too hot outside to play and going elsewhere to play is always expensive. The kids are sick of swimming so we only went swimming 4 times this week. Once at Mesquite Pool and twice at the community pool that friends let us use on occasion. Josie started diving to the pool bottom to fetch rocks on Thursday! She reminded me of a baby otter diving happily for shells. Her little face pops out of the water with a face full of smiles! She will also jump into the water instead of jumping into my arms now. I am amazed at her transformation: from terrified to a baby otter! Evelyn is completely flotation device free! She needs a spot of help now and again but she is a darn good swimmer. Everett surprised us all by doing back flips off the side off the pool. He spent a good hour on the diving board at Mesquite just diving and learning to back dive all on his own! Everett is that magical middle child who thrives with little to no maintenance.

Friday felt so frustrating. I went to Walmart to return a window air conditioning unit I purchased for Josie's room. At Customer Service I realized the return receipt was not in my wallet. I convinced the manager to accept the return and waive store policy. He did. Phew. They just needed my driver's licence. No problem! Shoot, my driver's license was missing. The boys used it to borrow rackets at the rec center, we forgot to get my license back. So frustrating. My favorite birkenstock sandals decided to snap the toe thong this week. I was in a mood to send the company a complaint email about my disappointment. Mia earned $10 for babysitting for over two hours, I had a 6-week touch up appointment for my amazing eyebrows. I desperately needed the alone time! Alexis let me whine my mouth off while she tweaked my eyebrows.

We delivered dinner to the Boyle family. Ashley is expecting her 4th baby, but has terrible HG (severe morning sickness) for the first 20+ weeks. Her MIL was in town for 4 weeks to help relieve some of the strain. She left two weeks ago so we, her ward, could finally help her out. The kids helped me make Hawaiian haystacks and deliver the meal. They also have three small kids under age 5, a kid every 2 years. No wonder I am so tired! I forgot already how dynamics change with your oldest still under 5. I felt crazy and now know, we looked crazy! It does get better! Look at us, we almost have a 12 year old! Serving someone else felt so good, to step outside our hot mess for a moment or two and into someone else's life.

The kids were excited to find out their teachers for this coming year. Amelia (and Brooklyn) have Mr McKinzie. She is scared of her new teacher, but I hear amazing things about his methods and capabilities. Phillip will be with Mrs Sanders. Everett has Mrs Epstein (same teacher Phillip had). Evelyn has Mrs Norton. We have all the supplies, or so I thought. The school website has multiple lists but none are the same. Looks like I chose the wrong list to shop from. Makes me steamed to buy the wrong items! That's money folks! I think someone typed in the wrong amount of tissue boxes for the 6th graders, 12 boxes per kid? Yikes. They could build a tissue box wall with that number. I need to regroup and shop from my stash before going to the store for more stuff. I ordered some folders and sharpies for Mia but we cannot find them anywhere.

Saturday morning we spent cleaning up the disaster mess accumulated through my illness, recovery, and the events of living in temporary quarters. The kids started whining but eventually lost interest knowing I was not going to budge. We got the cleaning done before Justin got back from another early morning job interview. He is not enjoying the interim CFO at work. Justin's looking for work elsewhere. We are hoping to either get him closer to home or move again. Things could also change at work but it's not looking likely. This month so far was especially annoying for Justin. It is busy and his new boss is constantly asking for items last moment, which makes Justin stay late at work, miss lunch, or down a bottle of tums. He's had several interesting job interviews. We have to keep the crazy train going.

Phillip fit both his legs into one pajama pant leg. He is always catching me off guard, making me laugh. That boy is a natural comic. He adores his thrifted Chewie slippers. We love his strange sense of humor. This week he taught himself to spit/stream water through the gap in his front teeth. He still has not learned to armpit fart, so some skills are still lacking.

23 July 2018

The Last Lazy Days of Summer







The inevitable happened this week. The air conditioner stopped working during the hottest time of the summer. Thankfully, only the upstairs unit stopped working so we can stay cool in the main living areas. I noticed the thermostat was hovering above 87 around Josie's nap time. After she was asleep I played about with the thermostat and checked the outside unit. The upstairs unit was not coming on at all. After some frustrating calls to Justin and speaking to our home insurance company it looked like any relief was 7-10 days out. Our neighbor came by to just check out the unit, if the fix was under $500 we would fork out the money for a small repair. Looks like the damage requires serious repairs or replacement. That means we get to wait for the contracted HVAC guys to come around. Sleeping is another different matter. The older 3 kids are sleeping downstairs, Mia and Phillip on the couch. Everett chose to sleep between the couch and coffee table under a sheet fort. Justin borrowed a portable air conditioning unit from Dr Auxier to cool off just our bedroom. The unit keeps our bedroom at a balmy 84 degrees.  I am not sure Josie will ever be content to sleep in her room again. She LOVES sleeping on the floor in our room, which usually means she ends up in our bed or me on the floor with her. Justin pumped up the fancy camping mat which is a huge improvement. Friday night a lightening storm woke up all the kids around 3 am. Evelyn ended up in my bed, I was on the floor with Josie, Amelia did not go back to sleep, and etc. Let me tell you sleeping a foot away from my comfy bed was pure torture. Each time I moved Josie would start to cry and thrash about, she even banged her tender head against the wall a couple times. I swear the kid's bedrooms on the west side of our house stay around 95+ degrees. We pour sweat just thinking about running upstairs to rummage for clothes and necessaries. Stink. I still cannot wrap my head around why someone would want to live here. I think about the folks who lived here pre-air conditioning days. They were either crazy or loved the heat. Arid-zona. We are staving off the heat eating our favorite meal: ham with cold cantaloupe. Yum! The pool is hovering around 100 degrees, about as relaxing as a hot tub in the summer.

Most of the week we spent going to stores shopping for back-to-school items. All the kids went up a shoe size or two, grew a size in clothes, and damaged the supplies we got last year (like plastic boxes, scissors, etc). I spent a good 40 minutes in Amazon purchasing most of the supplies on Prime Day. I hope that saved us some money. Monday we all packed into the van for a trip to Kohl's. Just as I was unbuckling Josie she slow-motion lava barfed down her dress and covered her car seat! Dagnabit! I just washed her car seat two weeks beforehand. Phillip tossed his cookies into a bag he found in the backseat. Just barely into the house Everett followed suit. Amelia and Evelyn all looked green around the gills! That car ride home was terribly stinky. I used the hose to spray off her seat. I lugged the dirty items to the washer and went to clean off myself. Once back downstairs, I found the boys filling the garage floor with water from the hose. The kids were making water angels and slipping about on the garage. Little stinkers! They almost damaged all my wood photo floors, at least I hope they didn't. Everett was sick over the weekend as well. Josie caught it next. Amelia got a summer cold at the end of this week. Turns out we spent the week dealing with cranky kids who weren't feeling well. Amelia watched all the Harry Potter movies!

Evelyn had her Island Princess Ballet recital on Tuesday. She looked so cute performing her wobbly knees, rainbow hands, and hula moves. Evelyn is by far my most ornery child. She is constantly attacking her siblings for small infractions (like looking at her). She makes the rudest gestures using body parts when she's angry. Today she kicked my back her with heels. I smacked her butt a little too hard. Little sh**! Time out does not phase her. Losing privileges makes her even more angry and out of control. Heaven help me and Heaven help us help her. She attended a fun kindergarten prep class Sister Russo offered. She loved hanging out with Jack each afternoon, learning fun stuff was lovely as well.

We enjoyed a lovely ward pool party at the Koski's daughter's home. Their pool area was so lovely and amazing. A large meandering pool hosted an island, a toddler area, bridge, diving board, deep end, eating area, water falls, and a separate whirlpool! The pool accommodated all who came with ease! We played until well after dark! Popsicles were available for those who wanted some. Josie got her tongue plastered to a popsicle, her tongue instantly froze to her treat. The dry ice worked way too well! I helped her thaw the treat off her tongue before she ripped it off. Amelia and Averie had a really cool game of Mermaid going on. 

I ran out of steam! Our vacation interrupted the crazy pace I set to keep the kids occupied. Once swim team ended (12 July) we stopped doing most of our fun themed days. The kids are tired of playing in water and just want to be lazy. Last week we watched more TV than is healthy while we all were not feeling well. Hoping to get some fun things done this week before school starts. Saturday we spent a good amount of time helping the Hill family move and clean. Brother Hill got a new job out in Missouri. They moved with very little notice. I knew Laurie from my high school days in Fayetteville, NC. Justin went over that morning to help move stuff intended for Desert Industries truck. We all went over after noon, Justin and I helped wash walls and clear out rooms. The kids went swimming while we worked! I found a fun pool toy someone was getting rid of for bulk trash day, a hippo float from Costco. The item was nearly brand new, just needed some more bean bag filling. We came home smelling like sweaty, hot messes. For Primary singing time this week we played Pioneer Sing-O. I loved singing Pioneer songs (mostly solo style) as some of the Sing-o tiles were songs. The kids were crazy happy to use M&Ms for space savers.

Amelia figured out a major holiday secret while reading one of my old blog books from 2010. I wrote an entry about a certain special character who visits our home in December. She sidled up to me with a sneaky look on her face and spelled my name backwards. Well, the cat is out of the bag. I feel quite happy that she did not learn the truth earlier! She was always so skeptical. LOL. Now I have a helper!!

16 July 2018

Iced Pool




















Miss Chloe came to spend the day with us on Monday. She had her piano lesson then basked in our cluttered house until after 7:30 pm. I love having her around since Amelia does not whine as much! We reached bored saturation around 2:30 pm. I heard that Coldstone in Tempe was giving away free ice cream so we all packed into the van and raced over there for a treat. The store gave away their $1,000 of ice cream a few minutes before we arrived, bummer. Since we were there and all the kids looking at me expectantly, I caved. Soon the kids were crowed around tables with cups of bubble gum and mint ice cream filled with gummy bears (gag). My phone bleeped an alert about a large approaching sand storm. Indeed as we headed home an incredible mass of dark clouds with a layer of tan dust swirling below raced towards us. The storm caught us head on right around the Gilbert exits. Chloe was almost white with fear, us Nebraskans were not terribly impressed. Mostly just muddy rain that swiftly fell and choked up the gutters. Josie laughed each time the van went through puddles spraying a curtain of water past her window! Once at home we spent a lovely hour playing in the rain. I convinced the boys that riding bikes through the puddles was amazing, they finally agreed and had the time of their lives! Everett was covered in muddy water before he finally stopped. Amelia made Mr Duckie a pool out in the gutters. Once the rain stopped, the kids turned on the hose to keep the gutters filled with water. Such a lovely holiday! Our FHE was quite embarrassing this week. While working on the blog last week I happened on some pretty racy photos that Phillip took of Evelyn's bum. The entire situation was quite innocent BUT gave Justin and I an opportunity to have a serious chat about pornography and keeping private parts, well, private. Chloe and Amelia were red-faced most of the conversation! I pulled most of the content off of the parent's site for teaching children about sex and the new LDS pornography helps website. After the serious part of the lesson the kids went off on a scavenger hunt finding items around the house that help us keep our bodies safe and healthy (food, exercise items, sundry items, clothing, etc). Phillip had us play charades and Everett chose smoothies for treat.

I watched the boys for their last swim team practice, there are more practises but only for the kids who qualify for pre-lims and the competitions. They made it!!! I am so proud of the older kids for sticking to all the hard practises and learning so much. Phillip killed it out there during practice. He really did his best. Everett really struggled with swim team. He barely swam across the pool, mostly hanging onto the dividers as he slowly swam under the water. I wish the coaches let me know he really needed individual swim lessons to learn his strokes. The coaches all told me at the beginning that Everett would be taught and helped along. Seemed like they just let him flounder, even letting him jump in however he desired. It's partly my fault for not attending practises, Josie and Evelyn are asleep most mornings and taking Josie is pure distraction since she only wants to swim. Next year I will enroll Everett in lessons before the season starts.

I heard about a local bakery hosting a Harry Potter event for free cupcakes and butterbeer. The kids dressed up and scrounged up wands for the party. I printed off spell lists for the kids to practice their spell making. Everett was disappointed there was not a spell that made lightening shoot from his wand. The bakery was all decorated with Harry Potter paraphernalia. The kids were sorted into a house, Mia, Josie, and Everett into Hufflepuff, Evelyn into Ravenclaw, and Phillip into Gryffindor. The cupcakes were so delicious! I indulged in a bite or two. Evelyn and Josie loved the play kitchen area. Amelia was impressed the butterbeer we made at home tasted the same as the bottled version we tried (just with a more chemical aftertaste). The kids made wands and played with the photo props. All in all a nice time for everyone. 

Thursday we headed to the mall early in the morning. Build-a-Bear hosted a pay-your-age sale. We parked, walked to the corner, saw the line, and got back in the van. The line was stretched completely around the block and down to the next block. Looked like a 6+ hour wait in the humid heat. No thank you. So we headed to Peter Piper Pizza in order to redeem the kid's free pizza coupons earned through the library reading program. We had no idea the pizza parlor also had an arcade! Score. I shelled out money for tokens. The kids raced about shoving tokens into machines like crazy folks. All the kids loved the water shooting game and the car racing game. Josie was content to win two rubber balls from the claw game. Her favorite game by far was the Paw Patrol game. I had to laugh as I caught snatched glimpses of the kids clutching cups of tokens in one hand and reams of tickets in the other. Once the tokens were used up the kids counted out their tickets and redeemed their points for cheap trinkets and candy. I remember thinking as a kid why my Mom hated these amazing arcades. Now I know, total waste of money! Alas, I tucked that feeling away and let them play much like my mom did way back when. One our way home I stopped at a water store and bought 8 10lb blocks of ice. Our pool's temperature was hovering between 96 and 98 degrees. We threw the ice into the pool and let the kids loose to play icebergs. The Russo's came over to enjoy the event. Once the ice melted the pool temperature was down to 92.  Josie can swim almost across the pool now on her own!

Our week was quite overcast and humid. Several thunderstorms ripped open throughout the week. I contentedly enjoyed a nice evening thunderstorm after everyone else was in bed. Even with the lower temperature the humidity makes the heat almost unbearable.

Justin and I hired a sitter Friday evening. We caught some dinner at a salad joint then watched Ant man and the Wasp. I like going on dates without the kids. It's nice.

We spent Saturday morning working on the yard. Justin trimmed the bushes out front and mowed. I worked with the kids in the backyard picking up clutter. Amelia and Evelyn hosed down the playhouse since it was covered with dirt from the storms. Phillip cried and whined for an hour about picking up dog poop. He ended up paying me $8 to do the chore for him. Nice! I took myself to 7-11 for a cold drink, thanks for the money dude! He was so unhappy about paying me all of his money I agreed to let him earn back $5 if he helped me with the garage. It needed some major de-cluttering. The boys worked on cleaning out the lego and dress up area. Phillip worked hard and earned back $5 of the $8 dollars. We were all dripping with sweat before lunch rolled around. I dropped off a load of stuff to Goodwill. After naps we spent some time cooling off in the pool, wait, the water was the same temperature as outside the water. Phillip and Everett brought in the Imaginext toys to the living room. They spent the rest of the evening playing with the toys. I found a plush Skye for Josie off Amazon. She was so darling while opening her new toy, gushing over it. She totes it around all the time now.