14 May 2019

Art by the Slice, Grandma B Passes Away








Amelia walked in after our trip to find she finally scored her OWN room! Justin moved around some furniture and assembled her new bed. She was quite pleased with her birthday gift. It took us the rest of the week to move the rest of her items and get it all situated to her liking. I am doubting my wisdom of this switch since she is really testing her boundaries with us. We have a family rule stating no electronic devices in bedrooms (especially when the door is locked). She's broken that rule numerous times, sneaking in the phone to watch netflix. Guess we need to figure out a harsher consequence. Still, she loves having her own space to get dressed and keep clean.

We jumped right back into the swing of school. While in Utah the kids missed 4 days of school, but were able to keep up thanks to homework packets. Amelia got a couple lessons ahead of her class so that was nice, especially since she did not complete all her work. Everett was quite enthused to be part of Apple Valley, an in-school pioneer era experience. He missed the first part of the school but earned more points by the end than 90% of his class. The kids could earn points by: dressing in pioneer clothes, making art projects, bringing old photos, and other small projects. He earned lots of points making a diorama of a school house. We used Popsicle sticks, Lego props, and other stuff to make a pretty fun scene. Ms Epstein said she was quite amused with Everett's enthusiasm.

Thursday we went to school for pizza and soda. The kids each had several art projects displayed in the hallway as part of Art by the Slice. I enjoyed checking out their hard work. We brought along Jacob since his parents were away for the weekend.

The boys went camping over the weekend! The girls got to stay home and play! Justin almost did not go since his cpap battery is not holding a charge. Finding a replacement was quite stressful. I met with an awesome photographer here in Gilbert for an hour. He showed me some cool LR tricks to speed up my editing processes. The girls and I hit the streets downtown for the evening. The girls wanted to try Lolo's Chicken and Waffles for dinner. Josie found a cute dog kennel at the store earlier. She toted that carrier around all evening making us all laugh while she played. Dinner was oh so delicious! We walked around after dinner enjoying the busy ambiance. We browsed a fun candy store that has almost every candy imaginable. They loved choosing a favorite item to take home. I had the longest newborn session the next morning. The girls really, really wanted doughnuts so we made a hurried trip to snatch up some doughnuts. I was upset my session was over two hours late. Grrrr. New first time parents! It was hard to stay mad after seeing how nervous they were. Amelia and Evelyn invited over Brooklyn and Isla to play for the day while I worked. The boys came home while I was working.

Justin (and I helped a little) got the pool all set up. We had to tear it down and lay a new tarp underneath then reassemble it. I spent a sweaty hour inside the pool mopping out all the dirt and grossness. We did most of the reassembling work after dark to avoid the heat. He did a great job setting up the new salt-water filter and filling up the pool. It was ready for use on Sunday. Bummer.

I heard from my mom that Grandma Baerwaldt was in a coma through a group text around 5 pm on Saturday the 4th. Her head injury was no doubt responsible. Less than two hours later Grandma passed away. Amelia read the text while I was out needing some space. I came home to a very sad group of kids, Amelia wailing and crying her eyes out. The other kids soon heard the news and joined in. Grandma finally earned her angel wings! I am so happy we got to visit with her and say our goodbyes in person. It was hard to make it all work but so worth the effort.

Justin stayed home from church with himself nursing a man cold and Phillip suffering from a bad case of cellitus in his neck and cheek. Justin took him to a minute clinic for antibiotics. It was pretty swollen and looked terrible. Poor kid's face was twice the size on his left side. He has terrible reactions to some mosquito bites. I stayed home last week from church with all the kids except Amelia. We had a round of barfs going around, Josie, Phillip, and Everett, soon Evelyn joined in. The kids just had to make sure the newly shampooed carpets were once again cursed. I cleaned carpets in each and every room in our house. Boo hoooooooo. I took the kids, minus Phillip, for a Cinco de Mayo taco celebration at the Chandler Calls. We decided to make the first Sunday of each month our time to visit and eat dinner with each other. Yum. We celebrated Gary, Amelia, and Everett's birthdays as well. Spenser drained half of the spa and let the kids run wild inside. Things got quite exciting when he turned on the jets! That was hilarious! Family is the best.

13 May 2019

Utah in Spring


































We took a special trip to Utah over Easter vacation this year. We celebrated Easter with family, spent time with Grandma Baerwaldt, and I took over 3,000 photos. I'm writing this several weeks after we even got back. Life is going way too fast for me to catch up.

The day we left the school had a decades dress up day. Amelia dressed up as an 80s pop star and Evelyn as a 70s hippie! I thought both girls looked so adorable. We left from home on the 18th of April (Thursday) and drove to Kanab. Phew, that was a looooooong drive but we made it to the hotel around 11 pm. No real snafus to speak of.

19th: Friday we pulled up to the Lance compound around 3 pm. Courtenay had egg coloring set up for the kids to enjoy. All along our drive the mountains and fields were covered with splendid tiny purple flowers, there happened to be the same flowers right in their neighborhood so the little girls all let me take cute flower photos. Miekka had an amazing pizza making performance for dinner. They really have quite the operation, all the kids help out!

20th: We took Lia along to egg hunt at Grandma Baerwaldt's assisted living center. Grandma and Hannah met us at there. Jana accidentally stepped into a window well while working on her grass, she thought her leg was broken, ended up she really hurt her muscle in her thigh. The kids were in high spirits to have the best egg hunt ever. Each kid filled their buckets to the brim with candy! They got to meet the Easter bunny and get cookies! Grandma had a terrible fall that resulted in a large wound on her scalp. She was not feeling well with the newly acquired 10 staples keeping her head together. I took the kids in one by one so we would not overwhelm Grandma B. On our way back I took the early turn to Redwood road, Lia excitedly asked if we were headed to the amazing park....why?! Yes!! That's where I was headed. Ha, surprise! The park was pretty amazing. Right after lunch we drove to the Henderson's home for another egg hunt. The kiddos collected plastic eggs, turned the eggs in at the end for a bag of candy. I like that way...no tedious hours of filling plastic eggs.

21st: Celebrated Easter with a disastrous photo session before church. I gave up after the little girls all turned ugly shades of red after crying. We went to church instead. I toiled many hours to make the girl's dresses this year. Amelia's dress did not quite turn out the best, it was a new pattern and the fabric more like swimsuit material. Still, to wear once it worked out well enough. Church was quite relaxing. I headed back after sacrament to put a very crabby Josie down for her nap. Sleep does wonders for the soul. She did not sleep well because her newly acquired Hello Kitty phone was missing. She woke up every 10-40 minutes asking me if I had her Hello Kitty phone. Turns our Penny found the phone so took it home to put under her pillow for safe keeping. The kids all found their Easter baskets hidden down in the basement. That bunny was very tricky and hid those baskets quite well. James cooked a ham sous vide, oh my gracious, that ham was so tender and delicious. He used a cooler filled with water and a sous vide appliance to circulate and heat the water. The Lances gathered for a delicious Easter meal. Yum. So much food. Mom and Dad gave a presentation on the symbols of Easter after dinner. It's quite amazing to hear their perspective after living so many years in the Holy Land.

22nd: Played at a fun park. Seth and Jacob are very attentive cousins to the littlest ones. They kept Charlie and Josie occupied and entertained for the duration! After dinner we celebrated Amelia's birthday a few days early with milkshakes from Arctic Circle. Loved the chance to embarrass Amelia with a birthday song.

23rd: Headed up to Grandma Debbie's for the rest of our vacation. I left around 4 to meet my niece Libby and finance Cole at the Utah capitol for bridal photos. Mom and Amelia kept the kiddos occupied at her home. So many brides! I counted at least 7 couples there for the same reason we were. I quite enjoyed spending one-on-one time with Libby and Cole. Hannah tried to sleep over with us. Turns out my kids are way too crazy for her. Josie was crying because she wanted me to sleep in the baby crib with her. Evelyn was not settling down. I asked Hannah if she was ok, she replied, no I need my mom. I asked what the matter was she told me the lights were blinking in her eye. I bent over, could see no lights. She insisted and showed me a metal sheet clip that reflected the light. I covered it up. She told me I can still see it blinking in my eye...I know it's there. Good excuse to get out of our crazy!

24th: Kenny and Charity were close by for a Dr appointment, they stopped by to say hello! Josie was acting strange, hitting her diaper and yelling. I'm so happy we got to see them. We spent a lovely time at the park with Jana and her girls. Mom and Dad showed up independently of each other much to our delight! Dad had the boys running their paces here and there! Phillip had Hannah in giggles while riding a tire swing. Baby Rachel is pure delight, lots of kissable chubs. I rented a fruit grove. Check that off my photography bucket list! Since my kids were so crabby for Easter photos I enlisted them to take photos at the fruit grove dressed up in their fancy duds. I was sad the sky was gray and threatening rain. We finished their photos in record time. Poor kids spent the next hour and a half cooped up in the van watching movies while I photographed Joe and Kat's tribe. The most challenging was capturing Logan and Anne's two sets of twins under the age of 5, those cute boys were fast little boogers. Rain finally came down, the skies cleared for the rest of our session. I love that Joe has such a great support system. I can see all these kids growing up to be great friends. My patient kids earned a splurge for dinner. Amelia chose to eat some dinner at Noodles and Co her favorite place for her birthday dinner. We did not get back to Grandma's until well after 9:15 pm. Got to see Jeffrey for a bit, he came to rest in between truck driving jobs.

25th: AMELIA'S birthday! We have a 12 year old! Yippee! Greek food for lunch! Yes please. She and I had a fun shopping session getting her some shoes and clothes. We went back to visit Grandma Baerwaldt again. We were quite pleased to find her sitting up and ready for a visit. The kids and I sang her our favorite song, I Will Be What I Believe. Everett was all teary-eyed as he gave her a final hug, he said I'll never see you again alive! She explained how happy she is to finally make it to Heaven. It's such a hard thing to lose someone you love. I'll treasure that hug and kiss for the rest of my life. I had three sessions at International Peace Gardens with Jana, Libby and Cole (engagements), and Mason (my nephew graduating high school). The gardens were quite lovely, full of colorful grasses and flowers. We got some gorgeous shots of Jana's family. After I got back we sang Amelia Happy Birthday and ate some jello cake.

26th: Woke up early to be at Joseph's graduation from Weber State! Amelia and the boys got to ride in Grandpa's truck. Mom rode up with me, lots of nice talking time.  He earned his bachelor's degree in engineering technology. He started college when Phillip was born...that's quite the span of time to work on a degree. Josie snuggled up with Grandpa for most of the ceremony. Ahhh. We headed to Joe and Kat's celebratory BBQ. Josie was not feeling well. She started to run a pretty high fever at the BBQ. I hear the party went well after we left, until late that evening. We stayed until after lunch. I wanted to head home to avoid travel on Sunday. The drive down was terrible. Just past Snow College I looked over and noticed ice green clouds roiling overhead. It hailed and rain until we passed Panguitch. My hands were glued to the steering wheel, white knuckled. After the rain stopped the deer came out to play. I passed over 30 deer loitering near the highway. I was ready to pass out when we stopped for the night. Josie continued with her fever and settled in with a cough.

27th: made it home safely. Had a near death experience just past Camp Verde. I was in the zone just driving along a canyon walled section of the road. A sedan raced towards us from the opposite direction hit the guardrail and flipped right into the canyon wall, stuck a couple feet off the ground. The strangest part was there were no red lights, squealing, brakes, etc. It was all silent and 10 feet away from my bumper. We pulled over and tried our best to help but it was easy to tell there were no survivors. I was quite alert the rest of our drive home. I am still dreaming of that terrible accident and thanking God for sparing our lives. Justin was quite grateful we busted the house of it's silent spell. Came home to freshly shampooed carpets. My favorite ever!

15 April 2019

New Camera!!!!







I've read "Go, Dogs Go!" over 76 times in two weeks. Josie is obsessed. When we are out running errands she pay special attention to the red and green lights now. When I read it, I can't just read it. We have to decide which dog is our favorites, pretend to be scared about the toy dog, use a squeaky voice for the tiny dogs, and bark out Happy Birthday. It's pretty intense. Maybe she could read it to me after 76 times of hearing it!

Using my new serger I whipped up a knit dress for Mia in less than 30 minutes. Her Easter dress is complete. I also finished a darling bunny dress for Josie.

Tuesday was an epic day. My highly sought after new camera and lens came at precisely 2:36 pm. It looks the same as my old camera but man, oh man, the new insides make all the difference. Amelia was more than willing to pretty herself up and take some 12 year old photos for her upcoming birthday. She is a weird child...I think all 12 year olds are strange. A strange ring showed up in any photo taken under f/2.0, I knew it was some sort of setting I needed to change. Thankfully, the firmware setting did not affect the actual photos just the thumbnails. It's quite sharp and able to handle just like I imagined. Giddy!!

We had two days this week in the 90's, totally broke down and turned on the AC. Crazy to think that it was blizzarding in Nebraska! I have to admit it did get WINDY here, like a bona fide wind.  I heard stories of trampolines ending up in swimming pools. The wind squished our empty above ground pool against the wall! By the end of the day our lawn was littered with papers and toys.

I found a suit for Everett's baptism. His best friend is getting baptized this month so Kristin and I wanted some photos of the boys together. Everett's suit was quite large on him, the size 8 was more like a size 10/12. Unfortunately, the next smaller size was a 4. I hemmed the pants a good 5 inches and took in the waist 3.5 inches. He looked pretty snazzy in his cute baptism suit. Kristin and I met at the temple for some photos there with the boys. The sunset was so gorgeous. Everett was spoiled with three dates alone with me this week. I love the silly things he says, "mom, I could get used to be alone with you all the time." We enjoyed getting his scriptures together at Deseret Book, an outing for a hair cut, and then to the temple. He is a little poser! Towards the end his eyes started to get dry, he quipped, "this posing thing is hard on the eyes!"

Justin and I snuck out to watch the new Shazam movie on Friday night. Amelia managed to get all the kids to sleep...in their OWN beds even. The angels are singing! Ok, confession...I LOVED the movie. It was funny, ever so funny. A nice change from the normal super hero stuff.

Amelia had her spring piano recital on Saturday. She practiced her piece and performed it perfectly. After she claimed that she flubbed up by pressing the wrong pedal. No worries! The kids used up all the referral cards at the performance center, it kept them quiet. We were just down the street from the Mesa temple, took a drive by it to see it was barren and empty. Lunch, yummy, yummy lunch at Morenos. MMmmmmm. Amelia earned her first babysitting job watching the Jackson kiddos. Our stake organized the most amazing Easter concert, One Voice. President Tinker arranged for a sound system that blew our socks off. I got to attend while Justin stayed home with the rest of the kids. I rode my bike over since parking was limited. What a privilege! The concert was breath taking. So many talented folks in our stake. I was expecting something half done, but this was worthy of a concert hall like Carnegie. 

Evelyn adopted a worm. She made it a habitat and named it Hermie. I was stunned she actually touched it and held it.