16 October 2017

Fall Break

We had a great time last week taking a break from school and exploring our new city a bit. Monday morning I hired a teenager to help me empty the food storage closet and reorganize it. My buckets with the gamma lids were mixed in with the sealed buckets. The task was overwhelming on its own and Justin was not keen to help. Brekken and I had the closet cleared out in 15 minutes. He helped me group the buckets according to contents. We stuffed smaller items between the buckets and ended up with more room in the closet for other stuff. I am still missing my gamma bucket with white flour and rice. Not sure how those buckets managed to disappear. After the closet was restored the kids and I went to Winco (as mentioned in the previous post). I got 4 new buckets and 4 gamma lids to replace the ones I lost. Evelyn went shopping wearing a princess dress and her favorite pink soccer shoes! I love the soccer shoe addiction she has, those shoes are her favorite!

Tuesday we cleaned up a bit, like putting laundry away. I hired our neighbor to babysit Josie so the kids and I could watch a movie at the dollar theater. I am so glad Josie was not around, it was crazy busy. I bought tickets online, thinking that would save time. We arrived 20 minutes early, we did not get into seats until 20 minutes after the movie started. We still had to wait in line for tickets, wait for seats, then discovered the seats were spread all around the theater. Amelia sat in a seat near the back, Everett was somewhere in the middle, Phillip and Evelyn chose to sit on the floor by me. Not sure the $1 theater movie day was worth the $1 savings. Next time we might just go to $2 Wednesday. LOL. We saw the Emoji movie. I tried to have Josie asleep before the babysitter (Hannah) came over. Evelyn busted into the nursery just as Jojo was drifting off. She was not happy about me leaving her. Hannah said she put on an Elmo movie and laid Josie on the couch. Guess Josie was tired, she fell right to sleep and stayed on the couch until we got home!

Josie is being a stinker about sleep for the moment. I hate leaving the kids because it disrupts their sleep patterns. Since my overnighter Josie is refusing to sleep on her own. I have to hold her until she drifts off then hope she does not wake up when placed in her crib. At night she just cries and cries. I spent quite a few nights on the floor and a couple naps on the floor. She is crabby from lack of sleeping! Looks like her eye teeth are also moving so that could be a huge factor. I'm grateful for the days of swimming since Josie's amber teething necklace was in the swim bag. I was going crazy trying to find it.

Wednesday we met up with Laura, Anna, Anson, and Gary at Riverside park for a couple hours. The kids immediately were too hot to play so ran through the splash pad area. Evelyn was starving so we laid out our picnics right after 11 am. I love watching the boys play together, it is wonderful to have instant cousin friends nearby. Laura and I got to visit while we watched the kids play here and there. As a parting activity we fed the ducks some stale bread from our cupboard. Everett was trying some ninja-tastic move spinning some bread into the pond, he spun off the concrete walkway into the duck pond. He was quite stunned as he landed on some large rocks, the ducks were quite displeased with the intrusion. Evelyn was almost in tears she was so worried about Evertt. I'm glad the water was not deep like the goose pit in Sidney, that pond is an instant 4 ft drop into the water. Not 3 minutes after Everett dipped into the pond, Anson slipped off the ledge into the pond as well. We fished him out only to send him back in when Josie's sandal flopped into the water. I think Anson had a rather sheepish look on his face, not sure his dip was quite accidental. After three incidents with the duck pond we took our chances and walked away! Laura and I exchanged some kids for the afternoon. I took home Anson and Anna, Laura took Everett home with her. We spent a nice afternoon quietly playing. Phillip and Anson mostly played Legos, then they tried to make Cager some armor out of a lays can. The girls quite amused themselves with the wading pool and making clay charms. A slue of slurpees rounded out the day.

Thursday morning we spent at the library stocking up on books and movies for the week. Amelia checked out books other than the Pegasus series she is currently obsessed with. I think she's read each Pegasus book 2-3 times now. After the library we checked out Once Upon a Child for a Power Ranger costume for Everett. Phillip wants to be Luke Skywalker, Everett a Power Ranger, Amelia is going as a unicorn, Evelyn as a princess, and Josie as an owl and Snow White. Phillip and I raided Goodwill for a karate top and canvas belt. He just needs some boots. Amelia's costume mostly consists of rainbow colors and a horn.

Friday we rather had a boring day. In the afternoon we went swimming at the Price's again. I was a bit embarrassed to arrive and find her family arriving for the weekend. Her son just returned from his mission in Japan. I felt strange intruding, Sister Price was quite fine with us swimming, no one else joined in the fun. The only real intrusion was two potty runs by Everett and Evelyn. The kids also got some craft kits to work on for the afternoon. They painted some statues and played with a fun stamp set I found in the discount pile.

Saturday morning we cleaned up the house. Uncle Shawn and his Fiancee, Sandi, were in town for a wedding. They planned on coming by in the morning but that changed to the afternoon. We went hiking at Riparian Preserve, a beautiful place just two miles from our home. It is a famous bird reserve in the middle of Gilbert, built with reclaimed water from the sewage (cleaned beforehand). The kids noticed fun rocks hidden all over the trails, we took photos of the rocks, then re-hid the rocks nearby. It's a fun new game that seemed to crop up last year. Folks take ordinary rocks and decorate the rocks with paint, spangles, etc and hide them as a treasure to find. We found a total of 9 rocks, the smallest was a ladybug painted on a small rock chip! The favorite was a Pokemon rock. Our kids are really wimpy! They could not handle the heat and walking at the same time. Phillip is the absolute worst when it comes to complaining about any exertion above a slow walk. It was a bit warm (only 95) at the time. We pushed the kids on towards the goal, a little more than a mile loop! At the entrance is a fun area the kids can climb on and over. We got home in time to eat some lunch before Shawn arrived. While munching on food some of us soaked our feet in the cool pool water. That felt amazing. The kids were quite excited to meet my Uncle! We had a fun time visiting, as much as we could over the kids excitement. Sandi used to live in the same area, just a couple home divisions away in the same "oval" we live. That was pretty exciting. She was in the same ward as well.

The kids are doing lots of reading to keep up during their break. Phillip and Everett have to read two books before any electronic time. Mia reads enough on her own so the rule is relaxed for her. Lots and lots of reading going on around here. Even Josie has her favorite books she carried around like Elmo, Peppa, and Shine. Friday night Josie sat on the kitchen floor with a page of Shmmer and Shine stickers. She had them stuck on her arms and legs, saying over and over: Shine! Shine! She was quite amused with herself.

My main complaint lately is how the bathrooms smell. No matter how many times I clean the toilets, walls, floor, etc the area still smells like pee. It grosses me out. Phillip and Everett are the worst distracted pee-ers ever. I am to the point those two will lose the standing privilege. Get it together boys!

11 October 2017

It's Faux Fall

I busted out the Halloween shirts last week. I was so happy to welcome October, just for an excuse to wear some different cute outfits, rather dress the girls in cute outfits. We excitedly brought the pink tub of Halloween outfits. It was 98 degrees outside that day...nearly all the outfits were long-sleeved. Fudge knuckles. I thought about busting out my scissors and cutting sleeves off to accommodate our new climate. Instead I went with a gentler option of rolling sleeves up a bit and pairing with shorts. Maybe melting pumpkin spice scents in my candle warmer will help. Eating soup just does not sound appetizing, salads it is.

Josie is a camera butterfly. She loves to look and smile right at me at least for the time being, I'll eat it up. Compare that to Evelyn who snarls and tips over to show me her bum..."mom! You a poop emoji!" Next second she is hamming it up begging for photos. Our lime tree seems to provide a nice backdrop for spur of the moment photos, light seeping through leaves and lovely open shade. Our poor apple tree died so that fruit is gone, the shade slowly burning away.

I should have biceps the size of a body builder's. Alas, no. Seems like I push the girls for hours on the swings hanging from our patio. Josie's constant pleading: push?! Evelyn yelling, "You working on it, Mom?!" When she asks me to push her higher I must say, give me a moment I'm working on it. I should have triceps tight and lean from all the laundry, dishes, vacuuming and mopping I get done. Nah, flabby as ever. Homes should be gyms, that is convenience right there.

Evelyn gave me a hickey or two this week. She thinks it is funny to suck on my neck. I never know if she will just give me a peck on the cheek or a red mark on my neck. I made the mistake of laughing the first time since it tickled so much.

Friday evening I got to attend a RS retreat in Strawberry, AZ with several ladies from our ward. I drove up with Reghan Rohner around 5 pm. I did not tell the kids until a few moments before I was due to leave. They did not have time to worry about me leaving, or me worrying about leaving them. Prepare yourselves. This was the first time I've left overnight alone since I had Amelia...10.5 years ago. I expected to feel a bit strange but a nasty headache just made me tired and a bit cranky. Still the drive up chatting with Reagan was pleasant. We grabbed some fast food dinner in Payson then heading to the cabin another 30 minutes away. I learned how to play "9s" from 3 darling vintage ladies. We stayed up talking about this and that until midnight. Some left and went back home. About 20 of us stayed up at the Wolford's cabin. I nabbed a nice clear spot of floor space and settled down on a camping pad and a comforter. Seemed like everyone was waiting for the first person to actually fall asleep and start snoring. I waited as long as possible mostly because my headache was making my eyes stay open. Dang mommy radar went off at 5 am, when a few of us got up to hike around the mountains. I joined since my eyes were open and my hair was ready to party. The exercise felt so nice. Breakfast included egg casseroles, fruit, and granola. Simple and delicious. The Wolford's roped us into playing badminton and horseshoes. I am totally allergic to nets, balls, rackets, and hoops. Since all the other ladies were also sport-challenged we made up silly moves like badminton ballet and the strangest ways to serve a birdie. The best part was being outside and not burning up. It was nice a cool. I rode with Melanie Christenson back down to the center of Hades. We stopped off at a honey stand. A tub of amaretto honey butter mysteriously made it home with me. Shoot, ok, I was aware my wallet came out and purchased it. Dang, it was worth the splurge. Honey and almond flavor?! Heaven. So glad I chanced the night away to work on making some friends.

The kids survived, course they did! We've got good kids and a wonderful dad to care for them. Josie has not napped since I came home unless she is in my arms. It's kinda nice and kinda annoying. Justin got the coins out of the van DVD player! Hooray! When he hooked the system back together (he had to take apart the dash to get the coins out) it all went kaput. It's strange to not have any music, radio, or movies to watch. Yikes, we might have to travel the old-fashioned way...sans digital entertainment. This will be interesting.

Sunday a new gospel doctrine teacher taught for Sunday School. He was quite riveting. This brother taught at the MTC while he was studying at BYU. He challenged us to read the Joseph Smith story and then pray for confirmation about it. I was so overcome during class I took up the challenge that night. I read and prayed. Nothing. Argh. Sometimes I feel so close to Heaven, the next so far away. I'm not giving up. I might have the account memorized again, this time in English before the challenge is confirmed (again).

Amelia earned her first warm fuzzy reward. She got a warm egg McMuffin on the way to student council meeting Friday morning. Her smile was huge as she set off to school. Man, that girl is something else, someone amazing. I am pretty sure the boys finally met the goal. Phillip had two wet nights between 12 dry days. He was so close to earning that hamster. I compromised with him and added another 5 days instead of 2 more full weeks. He can do this.

The first full day of fall break is here! We worked on laundry, cleaned up, and the kids got to burn out their brains on electronics for a bit. We went food shopping at Winco. The bulk food section was a huge highlight! Each kid got to choose a favorite candy, bag it, and label it. I got some blood drawn for some tests. Josie was fast asleep on during that adventure. We ate lunch at McDonalds since my blood draw was at 12:30 I was fasting and ravenous. The kids got hilarious face masks of Transformers or My Little Pony. Evelyn is still wearing hers. We enjoyed a freezing dip in Bishop Price's pool for a fun activity. Evelyn decided to swim towards the deep middle, she almost made it back. I got to jump in and help her back to the surface.
Phillip and I worked on his Bobcat, specifically the sexual abuse pamphlet. I realized our kids were a bit naive about the subject. We talked about it a long while ago when Amelia started school and in her 1st grade year. For FHE I taught a lesson on the Family Proclamation, focusing on why males are males and why females are females. Gender, body parts, functions, and such were all discussed. We talked about boundaries and abuse. I told the kids parts of some experiences I had as a girl related to sexual abuse. Talking was not as difficult as I felt it would be. Those part of myself are quite private. I'm not sure Justin had even heard the story I told. Amelia started crying. We had a good talk about what kids at school are teasing her about (hairy legs, being smart, not wanting to play gross games) and what makes her uncomfortable. Looks like I have some action items to follow up about with her teacher. 

05 October 2017

Fall Photos 2017

Visiting Parks

Apologies for the terrible, unoriginal title. I struggled to even write an entry this week. My computer hates my iPhone so downloading photos to use for my blog is worse than jumping through 20 hoops. I've tried every trick in my limited book to get my computer to recognize my phone, well, except for restoring to factory settings. I've also felt extra tired and cranky this past week, this is getting tiresome! I did finally see a specialist of sorts, a Dr at a holistic medicine center. Pretty much the same old story, no idea why you are tired, could be you have too many kids...or need to exercise. Getting a blood draw tomorrow just so they can check for disorders like Hashimotos or other thyroid issues.

I am teaching piano lessons again to earn a spot of side money. So far I have one student with 4 others lined up. Add my three kids for a total of 8 piano students. I plan on advertising for a couple more students next week. I'd love to teach a couple homeschoolers during the day.

Last Tuesday evening I dressed up the kids for some fall photos at Riporian Preserve. I am trying to drum up business for Fall Mini Sessions and wanted photos in the same location to advertise. The kids were all good sports and enjoyed the preserve. We want to explore it during fall break next week. Evelyn was freaked out by the mosquitoes, half the time her face was scrunched up and mad. Since it was Tuesday I treated the kids to some Del Tacos ala drive thru. I had a church meeting right after photos so had no time to make dinner.

Evelyn was pleased to have Alta over for a playdate. The girls started off swimming for a bit, playing on the swings, chased with some popsicles outside. They wanted to play dress ups, finding similar crowns, shoes, dresses, rings, and necklaces stretched our limit a bit. I got rid of quite a lot of dress up items. The girls reminded me of the early days Amelia and Ella started playing together...lots of arguing and fighting interspersed with giggles and hugs. Girls must play like this! Evelyn talked about her playdate for several days after, so she must have loved it. She is still going strong with no binky during the day. Wresting the darn binky out of her hands is still quite traumatic. Anytime she gets upset she cries for her binky and uses physical force to tell me how unhappy she is. When she is really upset she calls me poop emoji...well, then...bring it on girl.

The kids and I visited Freestone park last week. We hooked up bikes, bike trailers, packed water and snacks for our short ride. Everett does not have a bike large enough to ride fast enough so he rode in the trailer with Evelyn. Josie rode in the bike seat. That felt a bit precarious with so many kids to haul at once. At the park we visited two of the main playgrounds. The little kids enjoyed the first one more and the older kids seemed to enjoy the larger one better. One girl was blowing bubbles at the larger park, Josie was enthralled with the bubbles. I had dinner mostly made so we stayed until the sun started to set. Phillip was swerving like a maniac on our ride home, he crossed Amelia's path before she could stop. Amelia totally ran over Phillip's back. He survived the ordeal with a set of red tracks on his back and nothing else...except many wounded pride. Amelia was shaking for an hour afterwards, she was totally freaked out by the ordeal. Saturday after General Conference I took the kids for a picnic at Riverside park. Half of Mesa had the same idea! We ate our sandwiches the ran off to play on all the cool structures. The crowning attraction is a large climbing tower. The kids loved the wiggly, bouncy structure. After they got hot the kids begged to get wet at the splash pad area. I had no other clothing or towels, they went in knowing I had nothing dry to wear. So much for the "just get your feet wet" suggestion. Josie cracked me up as she hovered over the small water spouts. She gurgled and shrieked in delight. The kids used the picnic blanket to sop up some of the water. They went back to play in the twilight. By the time we left the kids were only a bit moist. We are planning on a return trip soon, hopefully with Justin this time.

General Conference was quite amazing. We loved all the talks and tried our best to focus through the noise of the smaller kids playing. Amelia did a good job listening while crocheting chains for her friends. We went on a short bike ride around the oval between Saturday sessions. We stopped several times for water breaks. You might think the oval is large, it is less than a mile! Baby steps! Sunday morning we had cousins over for conference crepes while the morning session was conducted. The boys all disappeared outside or upstairs to play. Our grouchy neighbors behind us texted me several times asking for the noise to disappear. The kids ended up soaking wet in PJs, the lure of wading pool water was too much to bear. Justin hung up his hammock. That was the hot item for the next few days. The kids wander outside around 7 am to play on the swings and hammock before school. It is so nice in the mornings now.

Phillip is working very hard to stay dry at night. He has a calendar to mark the days he is wet or dry. He is faithfully keeping track. We made a deal that after he is dry for at least two weeks in a row I would consider getting him a hamster. Monday (the 1st of October) he made it 7 days in a row dry! As an extra incentive we went to the pet store to look at hamsters and cages. He wants to name his hamster "Local." Josie almost jumped out of the cart when we passed the bird cages. She is so animated and excited about new experiences. Last night the 4th he had a night accident. This morning he was so glum in the face. We negotiated that he needs 5 more days after the two week mark to make up for the one wet night. Last night he told me "I'm so glad we are doing this, it teaches me I can do hard things!"

Amelia got to teach the FHE lesson. She confided me that teaching the lesson is her favorite because she gets to boss everyone around! Well, her bossy lesson was amazing. She taught a lesson on prophets and showed a video of President Monson's last conference talk. I made Great-Grandma's lemon ice cream for treat. The kids decorated mini pumpkins with googly eyes, spangles, bats, and pom-poms. Evelyn decided to paint hers so that element joined in the decorations. Just a word on crafts: Evelyn is now the crafting queen. The craft table is a constant mess of construction paper, scissors, white glue, markers, and crayons. Each day she hangs a few new creations on the fridge. I love watching her enjoy a new creative outlet.

The girls got to visit Justin at work on Tuesday. Evelyn insisted on her favorite three pony configuration with three colors of bows. The CD player the van is now not working, after Justin got the screen working again. Josie stuffed something in the player that I cannot retrieve. Evelyn wanted to listened to her favorite songs: shut up and dance, kisses, hands up, and Geronimo. She has the words memorized to all these songs. We made it three times through her play list during the drive to Justin's work. Evelyn loved his office. It's her new favorite place to go. Anything daddy related her is favorite. The clinic I went to was a mile away from Justin's work, the real reason we were in the area.

Mia and Phillip biked to school this week. Amelia loved it, and biked to school the day after as well. She can't bike on orchestra days. We really need to find the boys better bikes to cultivate a new biking hobby! Mia was the first to earn 70 warm fuzzies since we started the program. She chose to get a sausage McMuffin as her reward. She finally got her prize this morning on our way to an early morning student council meeting. Phillip and Everett are really, really close behind her. So proud of all their work.

Josie's new words: banky, dipe-dipe (diaper), cookie, p-lip, water, and thanks.