14 August 2019

Potty Training and a Tween with a Phone

The potty training saga is going so well, I can hardly believe my luck this round. She did have one poopcident yesterday but mostly because she was so constipated she wouldn't sit down because it hurt too badly. I keep telling her to eat those fruits and veggies, they will help out so much sweet girl. After just a week I can say this little girl is trained! She even naps without a pull up and is dry most mornings. She's even acquiesced and wears undies now. Yay! She totally punked me during our Walmart trip this week. The kids ruined her potty prize by opening it as soon as I got it. At Walmart she found a cry baby doll, huge head, cries when binky is not in mouth sort of toy. She pointed doe eyes at me and said, "I'm a big girl now?!" She tries to punk me every week so this was nothing new, I caved this time.

Monday Evelyn started at the MEC (Montessori Education Center). She was a bit nervous but went right in a started playing. I don't much enjoy dropping her off and picking up all the time. I joined a carpool with two other mother's to cut down on all the driving. By mid week Evelyn was telling me she hated school, it was boring, and refused to attend school. After a short email to her teacher she had to sit out of an activity for chatting. One teacher told me Evelyn is quite the smarty pants, she scored higher than the older kids in many areas. Whelp, there went my worries. She has to take a home lunch and snacks, no sugar or nuts allowed. I'm grateful Evelyn really loves her fruits and veggies. Evelyn gets a good 30 minutes with me before we have to leave. Mornings are much more relaxed with the kids leaving at staggered times now.

I celebrated my 42nd birthday at home waiting for a tow truck to take the van to Tony's shop. Justin was sure the started was shot. The tow truck took 3 hours to arrive instead of the predicted 30 minutes, that was annoying. Course it finally came when I left to retrieve kids from school. We also got a second opinion on a new air conditioning system. The first quote we got totaled $10 per unit! Yikes. Our neighbor owns a small company so I had him give us a quote as well. His quote was $12 for BOTH units. Justin worked getting all the money in the right places. We received quite the wonderful miracle. The timing of this all lined up with our 2 year anniversary in this house, which means our house has appreciated enough where we can pull out enough equity without raising our monthly mortgage! Then the mortgage rates dropped so our payment went down $20 per month. The excess after taking out a loan is only an extra $5 per month. Talk about a large amount of money for suddenly assumed back into our house loan for only $5 more. Had we accepted the other offer I'm sure we'd pay so much more. Glad we were not in a hurry to get the unit replaced, now we're used to sleeping on the floor. Sonoma Ranch hosted a pool party that evening. The kids and I quite enjoyed a couple hours of evening swimming. Justin came for a bit then left early to take Mia home to finish her homework. She was still up past 10 working on math by the dim light of her chromebook.

Phillip finished reading 12 chapters of Harry Potter in one sitting! He spent the entire summer reading the first 12 chapters. He discovered audio books and had the great idea to reading the book words along to the audio version. He was so proud to finally read quicker than Everett. Everett is totally consumed with solar cookers. We made 4 versions of solar cookers this week trying to find the best version. We tried shoe boxes, pringles can, and pizza box styles none are actually fast cookers but take forever. The last version was the best, a variation of the shoe box with modifications. He made a can version as a school project. Now he really wants me to invest in a parabolic solar oven. Friday his class took their cookers outside to cook hot dogs in their ovens. Luck would have it that Friday was completely overcast! Some kids had condensation in their ovens but most did not. The parents ended up microwaving the food instead. Josie had a little home lunch she ate with Everett's class. Everett was so cute when we arrived. He gave Josie the sweetest hug through the fencing.

Tuesday evening I attended a very short version of Amelia's new school. I used Amelia's schedule and map to find my way around for a 10 minute visit to each class period. Amelia was worried I would not be able to find my way about! This mom is pretty good at finding my way around school campuses. It was nice to meet all of Mia's teachers and get an idea of what GCA is all about. Monday and Tuesday after school got me pretty worried about her survival, it seems extreme for a 12 year old to work like a college student. I spoke with my mom and realized I was in community college at age 14 taking general arts classes with 20-50 year olds...and getting perfect grades. I think Amelia just needs to do her math homework faster, the homework grades don't count (getting it done does), it's the tests that are graded and weighed against her grades. It's hard to believe a few months ago she was in elementary school, now she's jumped from this to THAT, a big that. I gleaned that her homework should take: 90 minutes for math, 15 for English, 20 for History, 30 for Science, 15 for Viola, and 15 for Latin each day (when they have homework), and grand total of 3 hours per day. Add in piano, YW, and just being a kid leaves not much wiggle room.

The kids got to use their library summer reading program reward on Thursday! All the kids earned a free book, state park passes, Peter Piper pizza reward, and a free basketball game. Evelyn was all over me begging to use their pizza coupon. Done! It was a good reward for all that reading. Josie used her tokens the fastest, she was done after 15 minutes. Earned herself a lollipop with her tickets. Amelia almost had to stay home but managed to finish her homework. Chloe was quite the distraction, the girls annoyed Zoe so much I had to take her home early. Amelia and Chloe were FaceTiming another friend while sitting next to each other, the feedback loop was terrible(ly) funny.

Friday night Justin took me out for a date! Wahoo! He is so thoughtful, he brings home flowers every other week! I love all the pretty colors decorating the sink bar area. We arrived just in time for our favorite sushi place, got there before the doors opened and before the rush started. Dinner was nice and quiet. We went to Verizon right after and purchased a new phone for Amelia. I had my heart set on a flip phone but those were terribly expensive. It was practically free to add a smart phone to our plan. We had quite the discussion about rules Amelia will have to follow. I had a birthday baby party to photograph so Justin tagged along! We had to wait a while, worked out well especially since I forgot the memory card. To end our date we watched Lion King, it was sort of boring, I've seen it so many times there were no surprises.

Saturday Justin got up early to get the truck and van inspected for emissions.  I started to rearrange the junk cluttering the garage. The HVAC guys needed access to the unit in the garage, so cleaning in the summer heat was unfortunately necessary. I'm not sure how the garage gets so cluttered so quickly, feels like the rest of my life. If I don't give something my utmost attention, BOOM, turn around and there's a mess. My cupboards are already cluttered again after my spring cleaning. When Justin got home we sat Amelia down. Quite sternly, Justin said: "Amelia, Mom and I talked about some serious things concerning you last night." Amelia was smiling out of nerves, so we stressed how serious the situation was. She stopped smiling until we told her about the phone, busting out our own smiles. She had to take notes on all the rules. Justin and I have an app that can remotely control her phone, turn it off, lock her out, track her phone usage, text messages, control downloads, and restrict usage of data. Pretty much turned her phone into a basic piece of nothing. She was thrilled! I'm happy to finally have a way to contact her about school pick up, ability to reach her at home when she's baby sitting, etc. Evelyn had her bestie Isla over. The girls played makeover...pretty much threw everything out of the closet! I deserved that after my years playing House and McDonalds. Evelyn is making sure her friends Taylor and Isla are still her friends. Isla's dad ordered us a pizza snack as a thank you. The kids swam most of the afternoon so the treat was much appreciated.

09 August 2019

Back to School 2019

Can I just write how grateful I am for the Come, Follow Me program? It is challenging to round up our 5 kids and study the New Testament. Half the time we're yelling, crying, complaining, etc about our time at the temple table. BUT then, you look back and see how much we've changed. I feel like I'm climbing out of an abyss. I love listening to certain podcasts, related conference talks, and simply reading the scriptures. We are learning to have discussions as a family. It is amazing.

Monday for FHE Justin gave us all Father's blessings before the first day of school. There is great comfort in watching Justin's voice and words change as he gives each blessing, those words are directed to each one of us personally. I even got a blessing! Heavenly Father loves us all so individually and deeply.

My nerves were frayed to the max after school supply shopping. Amelia and Chloe took Evelyn's list and got her stuff. I helped the boys with theirs, it was constant bombardment of "Can I get this? or That?" Evelyn was bawling because she did not want to start school, it's booooooring. Everett was mad I would loan him $40 to get a science kit (we already have one at home). The older girls were goofing off being 12 year olds with a little freedom and a phone in the shoe aisle. I drowned my nerves in plain tap water at home, wishing it was an ice cold Diet Coke. I photographed a lovely family sending off two girls for missions in Canada and NC. The kids all squabbled and teased just like a normal family.

Amanda, Chloe and Ronald's mother, invited us out to breakfast as a thank you for watching her kids quite a bit this summer. I hope we did not overwhelm her! Josie totally ignored her pancake, said it looked yucky. Mia and I ordered lemon pancakes, which were sorta good. Chloe and Ronald's dad showed up towards the end of breakfast. That was quite awkward since he recently divorced Amanda and remarried another gal in Vietnam. We are practicing getting up earlier each morning until we are getting up at 6:15-6:30 am. That's early after my summer of sleeping in until 8 am. All things come to an end. Ryan and Addison came over afterward until 1 pm while Stephanie went to college orientation. Evelyn decided she does not like Addison at all. Little stinker was screaming and yelling at poor Addison, Addison dished it right back which made Evelyn steaming mad. I found her a play date with Alta just to get her away from Addison. Amelia had taken to designing Gotcha Life outfits in her design notebooks. She's created some pretty cool outfits. I took the boys and Josie to get hair cuts before the first day. I struggle at hair cutting! Once in a while the boys need a professional cut that I try to maintain until I can't anymore. I had the stylist cut 4 inches off on Josie's head. The lady cutting her hair said Josie was the first 3 year old to actually sit and listen quietly to instructions. So proud of our big little girl. After a quick dinner we headed to Meet the Teacher night. Phillip has Mrs Nguyen for 4th grade, Everett has Mrs Sanders for 3rd, and Evelyn has Mrs Lasky for 1st grade. Seems like the kids are just following in their older siblings paths! Phillip had Mrs Sanders and Everett had Mrs Lasky! We dropped off supplies, met the teachers, I signed a bunch of papers, and got new school t-shirts for the year. I'm still considering a Montessori school for Evelyn, she was still #2 on the waiting list. As I spoke with Isla's mom about Evelyn, I got a jolt of "Yes" this is a good choice for Evelyn to stay at Sonoma Ranch.

The last day before school we spent running errands. It was raining when we got up, a nice cool monsoon rain. The kids busted out bikes, umbrellas, boxes, to play in the welcome rain. I hated that they had to cut their time short due to errands we had to get finished that morning. Everett slipped in the rain on his bike. A kind neighbor helped him back up, he was injured (sort of) when he remembered he was injured. We stopped first at a new orthodontist to check out Amelia and Everett's mouths. Everett has a narrow palate, needs braces to stretch out his bridge. Amelia, the expensive child, needs $6k worth of braces and stretchers to get her mouth fixed up. She has one tooth growing behind her front teeth! The kids were thrilled to get free slushies. Next we went to outfit the kids with new PE shoes for the year. I called the front office at GCA a couple times to figure out what shoes Amelia could wear that were in uniform code. I stepped into Bath and Body Works to treat myself to some birthday lotions, my supply of Rose scented lotion was critically low. We drove out to a uniform supply store for an order I placed, turns out it was not ready yet, so that was a wasted errand. It was lunch time and we were a good 30 minutes away from home by this time, so we took advantage of Sweet Tomatoes cheap "feed your kid" lunch. The kids were thrilled with eating at a buffet, getting seconds, thirds, and fourths. I cannot go into a buffet restaurant without remembering my brother John's famous buffet gorge session. It's famous. Right after I got Josie down for a nap, then raced off to get another mammogram. That ordeal took 3 hours of my life, two mammograms and an ultrasound just to determine my right breast has dense tissue. Welp, guess I'm still healthy and cancer free. The kids all dressed up for Harry Potter's birthday. Brooke LaBarr invited anyone over to celebrate with chocolate frogs and butter beer! So we went to celebrate in style.

Thursday morning was a race of nerves, excitement, and GAH! School! I took the kids to school that first day. We were racing out of the house by 7 am to get Mia to school. We were almost at the school when Mia went white in the face, she forgot her school map and schedule, both critical on her first day. Getting back home was a slow process with ramped up traffic around all schools. We made it home and got her back to school just moments before the first bell rang. Talk about a nerve wracking way to start Jr High. The other kids were right on time for their new 8:10 bell ring. We parked and got 1st day of school photos at the mascot and by their teacher signs on the play yard. Josie was begging for a nap already!

I made a snap decision to potty train Josie right after the kids were dropped off. We came home and the diaper came off. I've never had an easier potty trained kid. I was expecting weeks of crying, wet and dirty accidents all over my floors, etc. She did cry most of the day wanting her diapers back. I dressed her in a play dress with nothing underneath just so she could quickly sit on the potty. She mostly cried but would sit. She peed in her diaper at nap time. That girl can hold it! I offered her lots of water, milk, and yogurt drinks she loves. She finally could not hold it and peed on the garage floor after dinner. Later that evening she made a poop in the the potty!!!! Josie was quite in love with potty treats, that made it worth her while. Since then she's only had one accident. Yay!!! She hates undies so we'll see if that changes.

I had to make an after dinner run to Target to buy all of Amelia's school supplies listed on her fancy syllabus for each class. She worked on all her homework from the first day. Figuring out the new schedules is quite challenging. Amelia will catch the bus from here on out at the high school. Justin drops her off and I pick her (and Zoe, sometimes Chloe) up. Zoe and Amelia both went to see Mary Poppins for YW this week, to watch Siona and Hannah perform. The girls came home quite late but thrilled with the performance.

Friday Josie did much better with the potty. She actually used it when I told her to go sit down. I got a call from the Montessori school that Evelyn made it in on Thursday. I was all ready to send her last week but after that spiritual zing on Tuesday night that Sonoma would work I was all sorts of confused. The worst choices seem to be the ones of good vs good. Spent a chunk of time praying and sorting out the pros and cons. In the end I chose to send Evelyn to the Montessori school. It's something I think she will excel at and enjoy the atmosphere there better than a traditional classroom. After school we headed to a Meet the Teacher at MEC (Montessori Education Center) to meet Ms Nikki, Ms Lindzie, and Ms Bri her three teachers in the 4B classroom. The classroom was pretty fun with lots of colors, corners dedicated to different themes. As I was considering which direction to go Stephanie Tobler told me the best indication of success at school is a parent who cares and loves the child. Really, it does not matter where she goes in the end because she has support and love.

Saturday the boys spent a few hours outside mowing the lawns and getting the yard work in order. Amelia and I worked to get the house cleaned up inside. Evelyn got to play with her friend Taylor. I got some time alone at Goodwill "dropping off donations" wink. We celebrated my 42nd birthday with family dinner at Old Spaghetti Factory. Everett could not remember the name, so called OSF as the Old Noodle Factory. The kids were talking about how gross old noodles would taste, Phillip was actually a bit queasy. Amelia was convinced we were about to see pasta in the making. Josie went potty in a public toilet! Best news of the day! Dinner was quite disappointing, I think my memories of OSF were better than the reality. At least the Italian soda and spumoni were hard to mess up. Outside the restaurant we played with some large games like Chess, corn hole, Jenga, and a small splash pad. That was fun to get our wiggles out. While getting ready for bed, Justin spotted a blur of white in our bedroom. Crunchwrap was still alive! He was a hard booger to catch, he was living under our bed eating the food storage. Justin laid on the bed, I coaxed him out with a trail of food and his food bowl filled up. Justin caught him with the exercise ball. Phillip was thrilled to have his pet alive and thriving. Such a silly story. 

Sunday church and potty training went extremely well! Evelyn was so deathly afraid of public toilets I was unsure how Josie would take to using a large toilet. No problems! Now she has a pass to get out of sacrament meeting. We had Chloe with us at church. Yay. Sunday Call dinner was at the Chandler Calls. I made TWO birthday cakes for myself, it's hard to choose so make two favorites. I made lethal peppermint cake and a raspberry j-ello cake. While at the Calls I told everyone Josie had an announcement to make, I pulled up her dress to show off her new undies....except the undies were gone. Little stinker took of the undies before we left home because the wrong princess was decorating her undies. I blushed over that blunder. Good thing we all had little girls. We quite enjoy having Wendy and Tyler (plus two girls) as new family in our Sunday celebrations.

02 August 2019

End of Summer Saga

It seems like coming home from a long trip takes about the same length of the trip to recuperate. Thus, last week's post is pancaked into this week's. I've had on my mind for quite some time that I need to quit drinking diet coke (for the upteeth time, this time for good). I know it is bad for me and I can can't seem to just drink one can, I guzzle the stuff down. I'm unhappy to say that a couple weeks ago my normal daily intake was about 88 oz per day. I drank the equal amount of water but somehow that did not seem right either. I am tired, like bone tired each and every day. My body is fat, my energy hovering around the zero mark. To accomplish all that I need to each day diet coke was my energy crutch. I loved it and hated it at the same time. Come Monday, the day after we got home from Utah, I quit cold turkey. Last week was absolute misery. I could not keep my eyeballs open for 4 days, add in a raging migraine and phew, not a happy camper. Tuesday I came home from running the girls to a playdate, laid on the couch to close my eyes and slept for 3 hours solid. Now almost two weeks later I feel the same tired as before Diet Coke, but better than last week. I went in for some lab work and appears I should be a chipper normal, healthy person. My TSH levels are (.01) back in May they were .113; T3 is 28; T4 is 1.22. Sounds like gobbledygook. I was supposed to get another mammogram but drove around for an hour trying to find the place. Each time I put the address in google maps a different location showed up. Half my problem was I just wrote down the address and not the company name, so I could not call for directions. By the time I figured it all out my appointment time was over. I felt quite frustrated over that ordeal.

Highlights of last week: the kids carved Ivory soap for our Make-It Monday. Evelyn figured out water colors work quite well to stain the soap! Amelia carved the cutest little fox. Everett was the catalyst for the carving project. He gave up after realizing it is not easy to carve, not easy to whip out a perfect creation without practice.

Tuesday the younger 4 kids enjoyed a lovely evening at Pack Meeting. The Payne's hosted a water slide event in their back yard. The boys had a rip roaring time! Josie was not keen on the water for some reason, instead content to play with the other toys outside. Evelyn was making dare devil moves down the smaller slide. We ended the evening with yummy ice cream treats.

Thursday Amelia and Everett finally had their well-child visits, I missed the last one. Amelia weighed in at 110 lbs (76.7%) and 58.5 in (28.4%). Everett weighed 59 lbs (57%) and 50.25 in (42.5%). Growing like weeds! Phillip kept us entertained with a medical glove. He somehow shoved a mini can of soda in his pocket, that made us all laugh. That same day we went to BounceU for a couple hours of fun. Right away Josie crashed into a bench and earned a nasty bruise on her cheek. That put a damper on her experience. The kids had a fun game going where one of the bounce houses was a jail.

We went to a fancy pool on Friday. I called ahead and checked the website since the closing time was different. The lady said the pool closes at 8, after making the 30 minute drive down we paid entrance only to learn the pool was closing in an hour. Well, I'm glad we got an hour to swim. Everett was quite upset with me that I did not search him out, he couldn't find me to show off a new diving board trick. Josie can swim with her head fully submerged, she's quite the little fish. We have to be careful to keep the ladder out of the pool, she came close to getting in by herself this week. We got some delicious snow cones from Bahama Bucks. Phillip and Justin worked in the hot evening and morning on the sprinkler system. The game of whack-a-mole lives on.

Everett continues to dress himself, amazing us all with how he can get his clothes on so oddly. Josie looked adorable with a ballet bun and dangle earrings. We finally had a regular Temple Table lesson after several weeks off. Amelia had a tantrum (yes, Amelia), when I asked her to get actual scriptures. We were looking at the Bible Maps for our lesson. She about lost it, the parents almost lost it too. Sunday night the same spot of carpet was wet again. We dried out that spot for days. I noticed a damp spot on the carpet last week near the boy's room. It was always wet right where the boys hung their wet towels after bathing (they tend to hang towels on the ground). Sunday it became quite apparent that no amount of wet towels could provide the amount of water on the carpet. The next day the walls connecting the boy's and Amelia's rooms was showing signs of water seepage from the ceiling. We made a plumbing call on Sunday night since the leak was not apparent.

Tuesday the plumber confirmed that the leak was from the air conditioning condenser in the attic. The space is so limited that the installers had cut the pan to 3/4's of what the depth is supposed to be. The issue could be junk in the pea trap pipe, the pipes clogged, or a much worse issue like the coil. The house insurance folks sent over a restoration company (ATI) to assess and take care of the house damage. We had two guys tearing out drywall, carpet, etc until after 11 pm that night. They left with plastic securing the damaged area, a HEPA filer running, and three large fans drying out the walls. The kids did not have access to their rooms for a couple of days. That same night CrunchWrap escaped from his cage. I hired a babysitter to watch the kids while I took Amelia to new student orientation. I was told my presence was required for 3 hours, which was not the case. There was no information on the website. Instead I took myself to Goodwill for a kid-free shopping trip. Stella and the kids untaped Crunch's habitat area to put him in his ball. Later that day he popped off the lid and escaped into the mouth of Hades (aka the damaged area). I'm sure the poor guy is mummified somewhere in the upstairs. The temperatures were well over 105 up there, especially with the attic heat coming in. Phillip was quite distraught to find his pet missing. Now he is convinced I'm getting him a Chinchilla. Phillip has such a tender heart, he cried for quite some time. I hope we don't find Crunchy in his room.

We toted all our bedding downstairs for a long term stay on the floor until the air conditioning is resolved. We learned last year that process takes a long, long time. I was stressing big time because I planned on setting up the living room that evening for two newborns sessions I had scheduled for Wednesday. The first session coming at 10 am, but I had the little girls for ballet from 9-9:50 so that hour of prep was not available. Somehow I got all the stuff set up before 10, the living room was a mess of bedding and newborn stuff. Both babies were very sleepy so that helped so much. Right after the first session I ran to the Dr office for an appointment. Just checking the most recent blood work I had, showed TSH is 3.61, T4 1 and T3 2.7, more normal for a normal person. I think this time I showed quite anemic and testosterone levels quite high. I raced home to set up for the next newborn, a girl this time. She was quite tiny and very flexible, so much fun to squish her into cute poses. Papa John's made us some dinner that night. We ate our dinner at the church. The YW asked me to take glamour shots of the Beehives and Laurels! That was quite fun. I was worn out at the end of that long day. In the middle of all those sessions I had house insurance adjusters and HVAC guys working on the upstairs. The HVAC guy said the main coil is shot, the unit was improperly installed due to the limited space, and the drip pans were a 1/4 of the required size. Stupid.

Thursday ATI came and removed the plastic barriers and tape around the damaged area, the walls and floor were finally dry. It was nice to have access to the kid rooms again. We met Chloe at GCA around 9 am for Spartan Day, we picked up Mia's schedule, bought more uniforms, and paid lots of fees. The rest of our day was quite boring. I had to stay at home for numerous house visits by adjusters, workers, and such.

Saturday we went to Sunsplash for the afternoon. Ronald and Chloe came along for the day. The park does not open until 11, we were on schedule to get there around that time. We stopped at Walmart for water shoes so the kids could ride the water slides. Course they were out. We parked at then realized that Josie had no shoes either. Grrrr. So we had some lunch while I got her some shoes, found the boys water shoes as well so that was a win. The rest of our day was a fun blur of lots of water. Josie loved the wave pool, mostly because the water was quite shallow for her mermaid moves. Amelia and Chloe mostly stayed away from us only coming around for more sunscreen, food, and water. Justin and the boys loved riding all the fun slides. I finally got a turn to ride some slides while Justin stayed with Josie. Evelyn and I rode the slides 8-10 times then went around the lazy river. Once again the water was lukewarm except for one water feature that showered you with nice cool water. Josie and Evelyn loved the slides in the toddler area. Josie was done around 4:30 pm. She revived after a snuggle and food. We made it until after 8 pm! Right around 6 the park was flooded with tons of people. We had to wait in line for the wave pool due to the number of people. Lots of strange folks showed us as well, tickets went half price so the attraction was strong. I am proud nobody got a sunburn, I was especially glad since Evelyn applied sun lotion to my back. Phillip was a great big brother to Evelyn, he jumped into the pool and helped her cross the lily pad feature. Melted my heart. We were tuckered out!

22 July 2019

Utah in July

We started out out vacation to Utah with a sick Phillip, Everett followed suit Sunday afternoon. Not to be left behind James and Courtenay came down with the flu as well. I'm not sure they had the same thing my boys had, they just threw up then felt fine. We missed out on a Call family dinner Monday night and Justin's cousin's funeral in Payson on Tuesday. No one wanted our germs before the wedding on Friday. Can't blame them at all. So we just enjoyed lots of down time at the Lance compound. Evelyn and Phillip spent some allowance money on huge jaw breakers. Evelyn sported a sugar goatee for several days. She was thrilled once she broke through to the gum middle, she used a butter knife to extract the gum! Monday we spent the afternoon doing gel manicures using Miekka and Court's supplies. Miekka hand painted some sunflowers on my toes to coordinate with the wedding theme. The little girls all had Amelia busy with intricate designs, which the girls peeled off before dinner. I love how smooth the gel polish is. I think we went to the splash pad after naps for some exercise. Phillip was a bit perturbed about the grown man wearing a white diaper playing alongside the kids. He was just enjoying the water, we all loved the exuberance of another youth who parked himself under the water fall area chanting his heart out. Amelia was a party pooper, she read a book outside for half the time, Lia was so bored.

Courtenay was sick on Tuesday so her kids mostly stayed over with us. Josie was completely in heaven with Bee-Bop and Sesie playing pillow fights with her and Charlie. After naps I took 7 kids to the Dinosaur Museum, bam! I earned a medal. Evelyn was terrified most of the time, clutching to my shorts in terror. The boys and Emmie had a fun game going on pretending to be prey trying to avoid the predators. They crawled about on the floor like Infantry soldiers. The museum was quite empty of visitors so I allowed them to play. The sand, bone pits were a huge hit with all the kids. Phillip organized a search for the largest t-rex known to man. Oddly, the highlight was running circles around the balcony area! We spotted the well-hidden iSpy object in one of the galleries so the kids all earned extra stickers. Miekka had delicious spaghetti ready for us. The girls whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies while we were gone. For second dessert we walked down to the shaved ice shack. We had a dance party while waiting for our treats. Josie was mesmerized by the color changing spoons. The boys stayed out as late as possible playing in their PJs, making those precious memories. Everett shouted out during the night, "No! It's my turn on the COMPUTER!" That startled me out of a deep sleep.

Wednesday we headed up to Logan for the day. Laura organized a cousin temple trip, decided to go to the Muir's for once saving them the trip. We left too late so missed the temple trip. Instead we stopped at Gossner's cheese factory for squeaky cheese and boxed milk. The kids were hoping to catch a glimpse of my old boyfriend, Dan who worked there once upon a time. I rather hope he moved on to better pastures. At the Muir's we arrived just in time to find Elijah sharing his razor electric motorcycles with Anson and Gary! My boys whooped out of the car and joined in that fun scene until the bikes ran out of battery power. We got to visit with Raquel and Grandma Call for a couple hours. Santa Papa was taking a nap, he made an entrance before we headed back to SLC. Josie happened to have a Santa ring in her hand when Grandpa made his entrance. Her jaw dropped, she did a double take between Grandpa and the ring in her hand before exclaiming, "Santa?! Papa!!! It's the same!" My kids were in garden heaven at Grandma Debbie's house. Phillip parked himself in front of the green beans and raspberry bushes. Evelyn soon collected 5 roly poly bugs in a container with earth, grass, and some water...can't forget the blueberry. I ran out to take Amelia for a sleepover with Stella from our Sidney, NE days. Stella is quite the busy girl so only had the evening to spend time with Mia.

It worked out really well, the girls got to visit, Meagan and I got some time to chat the next morning when she dropped Mia off. We learned that Dani is extremely flexible, she put Phillip shame by putting both legs behind her head, Phillip can manage one. Maggie brought a bag full of ring pops so she made instant friends with my girls. We made a quick trip to Walmart for deodorant and girlie supplies. The kids played for an hour at the McD play area. We got to see Jana several times, she was quite stressed out with a home disaster that left her basement flooded on the day of closing. Yikes. The disaster company turned out to be a shady piece of work, she was upset about all their nefarious dealings. Baby Rachel is like a marshmallow, so fluffy and sweet. We went over to Charity's after Josie's nap. It's a party! We headed over to a park in Centerville for a Groom's hosted BBQ. That was delicious BBQ indeed. Our pack of boys roamed all over getting into all sorts of boy mischief. I tried to take a photo of just the boys but Anna and Evelyn snuck into most of the frames just to be annoying. I quite enjoyed a chance to visit with Elaine and Heidi Curry. We spent several happy visits with them in Colorado. I worked on my biceps pushing the girls in swings for 20 minutes.

Wedding! Wedding! Pig and Froggy Wedding! Friday is the day! Grandpa Call picked up Justin from the Provo airport and dropped him off around 10 am. The kids were all enthused, I was suffering from 8 days of vacation and terrible sleep sharing a bed with octo-toddler. Josie tooted on a bird water-whistle Grandma Lance got in Egypt, all we could hear from the bathroom was random bird calls. Took me most of the morning to get all the hairs organized and the clothes prepared. We spent an hour at the Calls before heading to the reception center. Like most weddings everyone was terribly late, makes my job hard to photograph all those groups when this person or that person is late. Libby and Cole, so cute together. Josie was in a terrible mood, just cranky and clingy. She wanted nothing to to with Justin. Once the wedding photos were over we waited for the ceremony to start. In less than 5 minutes the ceremony was over, bam! Married in a reception center, I wish those two all the best. I took off for an hour driving about Bountiful hoping Josie would take a nap and reset her mood. So many memories to relive in Bountiful. Justin and I skipped out on Del Taco for the second time that day, we left the kids to their tacos and walked down the road for Gyros. They were quite upset we did not take them along. Evil laugh....heh, heh, heh. The best part of the reception was the fight I witnessed between Mason and the Bridesmaids. Mason was doing a bang up job decorating the escape vehicle. He slipped some condoms between layers of plastic shrink wrap. The maids were in an uproar because Libby did not want anything gross on her car. Swear words, pushing, and a punch were thrown. I was trying not to laugh. Kenny came up and smoothed things over. I'm happy Justin got the chance to catch up with lots of family who came out for the reception. Dad gave us a dose of Vitamin L, to a tired group of wedding partiers. I vaguely recall he talked about what electronic devices do to young brains. I liked the part, parents know best, listen when they ask you to turn it off.

We headed home on Saturday.  Took us a long while to get packed up, eat pancakes for breakfast, visit with Jeremy, Yulz, and Pasha, and simply just leave. It's hard to leave Utah behind. Our adventure of the day was a stop at Zion's National Park. We arrived around 4 pm and stayed until almost 8. The stash of granola bars and water barely lasted long enough to ensure survival. We rode the shuttle around the complete circuit. We got off once to enjoy a museum and another to hike a mile to Emerald Pools and back. I say enjoy with an ounce or two of sarcasm. Evelyn was queen whining pants, Everett wanted the hiking stick, Phillip would not share the stick, Amelia was annoyed with the entire situation (why, why do we HAVE to hike?), Josie took a ride in the back carrier, my back ached. Other than the heat and bugs, the walk was lovely. I think we need to hike at least once a week until the kids learn to enjoy it...or the parents leave the kids in the wilderness. Josie love the tame squirrels, we spotted several near the path. Around the pools the rock was wet with condensation dripping from the rocks above, guessing the water is a small stream that feeds the pool. I can see why so many people flock to Zion's each year. I added a trip down the Narrows to my bucket list, the one I just started. The views are breathtaking. We headed into town (Springdale) for a very late dinner. We decided on a pizza place. It was quite delicious, hiking will turn any food into a sumptuous meal.  Our hotel was another 90 minutes away so we did not pull in until after 11 pm. Nothing fun ever happens during the night anymore when Justin tags along. What a relief. Everett did wake up grouchy, sleeping on the couch cushions was not his thing.

Sunday we stopped at a cute little museum specializing in the geology seen in the Grand Staircase-Escalante region. Mostly the kids fought over the magnifying glass. Everett decided to be sweet to Josie and Evelyn...until the magnifying glass episode drove them back apart. On a whim we stopped at Toadstool HooDoos to torture the kids. That was one hot hike in 100 degree heat down dry gullies. The end was so worth the hike. We all enjoyed the fun scenery, the echoes, and the slick rocks. Phillip somehow managed to slide down into a dry riverbed, he was quite proud of that feat. We were beat after that hot death march. Our drive home was delayed THREE hours due to an accident on I-17. Google predicted our arrival home around 6, the close we got to the accident the higher the wait time grew. Right before we ran into dead stop traffic Phillip and Everett somehow upended the entire pee bottle on the van carpet. We've endured splashes before, but this, this was complete and utter saturation. We soaked up two beach towels, the well where the seat clips into was full of urine. The boys were off in lala land, they did not even notice. I noticed the smell and asked what happened, just an nonchalant answer, "oh, the pee bottle fell over." The worst was waiting in the traffic fumigated with porta potty smells. It was steaming hot outside and gag worthy inside (but cool). Since we were stuck I lectured the kids on our Come Follow Me lesson for the week. Captive audience, see Dad I can learn new tricks. We rolled into dodge around 9:15 pm, just as google predicted. We stopped off to retrieve Justin's car from the airport. The van did smell a bit better the next morning after the carpet dried out a bit. My cousin Alex Baerwaldt stayed in our empty house Friday-Sunday morning. He came down looking for housing and to check out a job at Verizon. That worked out perfectly! Dog Vader had company and he had a place to stay.