28 June 2017

Josie is Walking, Bridgeport Lake























We made it through our first week without Justin. It feels like things are settling down a bit, at least as much as they can for the interim. Several times we chat on the phone with Justin through a video chat app called Duo or just on the phone. Josie can say "Hi Dad!" after which she chatters on like a monkey for as long as her attention lasts. Evelyn is the most possessive about talking with Dad, she thinks the monopoly is hers and hers alone. I do melt a bit each time she talks with Justin and says, "Dad, I like you!" She says it in her shy voice. Everett is the most reticent to talk, he'd rather fight the bad guys in his imagination. We try to read family scriptures and say prayers most nights with Justin on video chat. It makes the separation a bit easier. I just feel exhausted. Ha ha ha. I could fall asleep by 8 pm most nights. Do I listen to myself? No! After hours I look for houses, clean, talk with Justin and read my nerd books. 

Monday our art activity was chalk paint. This time I traced body silhouettes for each kid, including Phillip's friend Lyrah. The kids painted in their silhouettes with the chalk paint. Phillip insisted that I draw a fart cloud coming out of his bum. BOYS?! During the afternoon we washed the van with the hose, towels, and car soap. The activity was less about getting the van clean and more about working as a team. The front bumper was covered with bug guts, my goal was to clean off all the bugs. Yuck. The kids had a blast spraying the van and each other. Josie was not keen about playing in the wading pool I set up in the garage as a diversion. She just cried by the garage door. I let the kids put some water on the garage floor to slip and slide around in. I remember doing that as a kid. Course my kids had to take it 5 steps further and flood the floor with water. I went inside to work on dinner, came back out a moment later to find Phillip flooding the space. Normally that is not a problem but we now have the stuff from the attic in the garage, stuff to donate, and boxes. It all got soaked. The kids were banned outside until they swept out the water and repaired the damage. They did good and cleaned up well. We went to the pool for night swimming as our FHE, treat was half off shakes from Sonic. 

The forecast on Tuesday was for clear skies and hot temperatures! Yes! The kids had to put away their clean laundry and hang up their closet items to earn a trip to Bridgeport Lake. They all completed their task with gusto. We picked up Ella and drove to the lake for a blissful day in the sun. Everyone got some sun even with multiple sunscreen applications. I tried out our new sand blanket, it works well keeping the sand off. Josie was not keen on the water at first. She was more interested in emptying the picnic cooler. I forgot the bread at home so our picnic was lunch meat and cheese rolls. Noone seemed to mind much, bread is over rated in this family sometimes. I love watching Evelyn, she is such a water baby. That girl hardly left the water all afternoon. The Siler family showed up around 2 pm so the kids had even more friends to play with. The Silers took all the kids on canoe rides. That was quite fun. Mia and Evelyn got mermaid sand tails. Phillip wanted a shark fin on his back. Josie was quite excited to throw sand on Phillip and patting the sand down. She was content to play with Phillip as long as he laid still. All the kids were attracted to the gross warm water pools left over as the lake recedes.  We headed home around 5 pm, snatching some hot dogs from the Karette booth before leaving. I was anxious to be out of the house because we had no word about an offer we made on a house in North Mesa. We finally heard back that the owners live out of country and were hard to contact. 

I worked all week on taking down photo frames, removing the photo(s), and sorting frames into keep or sell piles. I kept less than half of the frames in the basement, donating over 115. The basement looks much larger now! It felt strange to remove all those memories off the walls. I need to think of a better way to organize and display my photos. We headed over to have school lunch at North Elementary. It proves to be a free way to break up the monotony of our day. Evelyn threw a monstrous tantrum in the cafeteria. The cafeteria worker put her beans next to her rice or some arrangement that was not satisfactory to the toddler. I threw away her food and she finished throwing her tantrum an hour later. I think she was tired from our day at the lake. She also spent half the night coughing, keeping us both half awake. Phillip and Evelyn went food shopping with me once Josie took her nap. I'm glad we hurried because the baby did not sleep the 2 hours she normally sleeps. Amelia is talented at keeping her happy so we came home to a content baby. Phillip was quite pleased I let him buy fidget spinners for the kids. Amelia entertained the kids by organizing a art show for the kids. Each kid spent an hour painting or coloring their projects. Everett painted a box and taped popsicle sticks together to make a high five. Phillip also painted a box and colored some computer printed paper. Amelia colored several unicorn coloring pages complete with glitter. Finally. Justin heard back about the home offer, the roof needed replacing at a steep price due to tiled roof. The same day we got the moving estimate, $32,061.80 for full service. Yikes. We can reduce that number by avoiding our goods being stored (month or storage was $8,686), taking apart the beds ourselves ($1270), and moving the safe onto the truck ourselves ($5,000). I was able to find two local friends who have a forklift and another a pallet mover to help us for free or a low price so that saves $2,500. Wednesday was a stressful day for Justin and I, felt like the walls were closing in for a bit there. Justin also learned his truck will cost $700 to repair. We were so blessed when Grandpa and Grandma Call insisted on covering the repair cost. Before we decided to fix the truck there was a flurry of discussion about options to move the safe ourselves like renting a uHaul and asking the Lances to come help. 

Josie was crabby patty all day Thursday. I needed to get my craft supplies emptied from the furniture in order to sell it. I made several runs to Family Dollar for totes. Amelia played with Lily for most of the day. I emptied the supplies one-handed since Josie would not let me put her down. She also refused to nap that day so was tired and cranky.  Towards evening I was done with the stress, the baby, and being a mom. We needed an intervention. I decided to take the older kids to see Cars 3, Josie got to cry over at the Jones' home. Before leaving the kids needed to help me clean the kitchen and dining room. Phillip and Everett jumped up ready to help once I asked. Amelia replied with a snarky "No! Whatever you want me to clean...NO!" The look on my face, the tears in my eyes must have terrified her because she apologized and did her chores. Sometimes she can be a huge stinker, makes me sad because she never treats other adults like that. At school she is an angel. 

Friday the kids held a fun Lego creation contest. They spent most of the day building Lego creations for the contest. I kept working on the basement. Amelia made brownies all by herself! She was quite excited to ride her bike over to Safeway for marshmallows all by herself. She wanted to make mint brownie Lego treats. Josie is walking more than she scoots now! We love to see her picking up those chubby knees as she toddles towards us with a laugh and a giggle. 

Amelia organized a Lego Party Saturday morning. Her task was to put together some of her Lego Friends sets in order to sell them. She invited over Lily, Katelyn, and Rachel. I took the other kids to run errands and keep them out of the girl's way. I finished off the brownies with frosting and marshmallows. The boys got to play with the Hornbargers at the park. I hear they had a great time! The Lego party morphed into a regular playdate after 30 minutes. Lego party flop. Instead I spent a few hours putting sets together. It's frustrating trying to find the correct pieces! We let the home offer fall through, Justin spent Saturday looking at more houses with Jared. We are starting to feel frustrated with the search. Mom and Dad Lance suggested we look at different options with our house here in Sidney and buying a house in Phoenix. We are grateful for their advice. 

Sunday we had some lovely talks from the Temple President 1st counselor and his wife. During Sunday School we got to have a Q&A on any questions we had. I felt a bit embarrassed to ask a question that plaques me. My question: any advice for those who fall asleep during temple sessions and can't seem to stay awake. He said, well, actually I've researched this very situation and have an answer for you! Yes! First: church sleep is the best sleep! Second: the Lord is probably just grateful for are able to attend. Third: related the story of Mary and Joseph losing Jesus and finding him in the temple. His advice was to attend the temple with the purpose to find Christ, as a mother looks for her child. His words really buoyed me up. 

20 June 2017

Farewell to Arizona...for Justin










Now that I am back home in Nebraska the past week almost seems like a dream. I know it happened but for a moment I can live in ignorance. This is much harder than I expected. Seems my heart got anchored to Sidney whether or not I wanted it to. I endorse small town living, mostly because of the folks you get to know and love.

We started off last week with a trip to Scottsbluff. The girls and I drove up there to get Amelia fit with a new retainer. Once there Mia realized the old retainer got left behind in spite of several reminders. The office almost refused to replace it without seeing the old one. We spent 10 minutes in the new office to get a new mold made, we had to return 3 hours later to try on the new one. The new office is pretty sleek and fun. There is an indoor playground for the kids to burn off energy. We played longer on the playground than Mia spent in the ortho chair. To burn time we had some "girl" bonding at the "mall." I used quotations because the mall is hardly a mall anymore. It only has 10-15 open shops, more than 70% is closed. Still to a 10 year old it was amazing. We went to Bath and Body Works to spray on body cologne, try new lotions, and even lip glosses. Next we skipped over to the rock shop and admired crystals with special powers. Lastly, the department store for makeovers. The ladies at the Lancome table were quite accommodating. As a kid I was always too embarrassed to try out a makeup counter, not so as an adult. All day we heard news about a super cell developing over Wyoming and Nebraska. We missed all the fun weather by a couple miles. A few tornadoes touched down and ripped up a barn over in Bayard. Justin was quite busy while I was away. He combed through the food storage and chucked all the goods more than 2 years expired. Guess that amounted to over 640 pounds in canned goods, condiments, mixes, spices, etc. Made my heart sink down to my toes. I admit to shedding more than a few tears over that loss.

Phillip got up every morning (at 6 am) to read his scriptures right by my bed. As I tried to steal extra winks of shut eye he read on the floor right beside me. Every few moments his head would pop up and he'd "whisper" asking what a particular word was. Whisper is not a part of this boy, his whisper is a normal talking voice. After he finished reading he'd lay a wet smacker on my cheek. So proud of him! He wants to earn the green bear award at church, a thrifted teddy bear that the kids covet to earn. Once he earned it (yes, he earned it) Phillip gave the reward to Josie. Phillip is such a tender-hearted boy.

Tuesday we worked on cleaning the house and finishing a couple rooms that needed some magic. Justin spent a good portion of the morning packing and sorting his stuff to take to AZ now and the rest to follow. He had a couple large suitcases because he needed an assortment of casual, business, and church clothes to last several months. I finally got Josie her birth certificate ordered, that means all our vital documents are at last complete. I packed in a rush several moments before bedtime and early the next morning. Phillip adopted a single black weight lifting glove a couple weeks ago. He wears it all the time! Ok, Michael Jackson. All the girls went to the Beauty Salon for much needed hair cuts. Evelyn got her first hair cut in a very long while (it might actually be her first haircut). Sheena organized a lovely farewell BBQ for us that night. Everyone who came brought a picnic item to share. I was delighted my lovely friend Nora was in attendance. I love that woman! She whispered, "Sister Jenni, I fell like a minority, the only brown person in attendance." I felt the same way a day later in Las Vegas, NM where white folks are scarce. Amelia disappeared with Katelyn walking around the pond several times. Phillip got whacked with a stick on the head, he was not happy about it at all. I'm not sure Everett even ate dinner, he was scarce, playing his little heart out. Good folks, good food, good conversation.

Mayflower sent over a surveyor to critically survey and estimate the amount of stuff we had to move. He arrived around 10:30 am. I took him over to my storage unit first. He has a handy program where he enters the amount of items we have by average weight and description. I'm sure this was the first time he entered the number 300+ for number of photo frames up on the walls. Yehhhhh, I might have a photo frame (and photo) addiction. I estimated that our weight would be about 20,000 lbs. Dad Call estimated 14,000. Justin 'fessed up his estimation after the food storage at 22,000. I think that disqualifies him because he did not say his guess before the surveyor arrived. Justin was pretty close. I think the estimation was around 24,000 lbs. The 900 lbs gun safe, a 500 lbs motorcycle, and food storage were the heavy items. Made us sweat a bit as the number kept going higher and higher. Guess more purging is my main task once again. Or figuring out a way to haul some heavy items if the cost is worth the effort. We will hear next week what the monetary cost will be.

We rushed the kids out the door with the swim bag to get some quick lunch at Mcd's before saying our goodbyes. I'm glad it was quick and the kids were excited. I think that made it easier on Justin! Monday Justin's truck decided to break down and ended up back in Rocky's shop instead of headed to AZ. Justin, Josie, and I crammed (literally) into ole Betty Blue for the long, hot trek to Arizona. It was just that: long and hot. Josie entertained herself for a while playing with all the bags of stuff within her reach like baby food, diapers, and baby books. Getting such a late start makes it really hard on those little ones. She was done before the sun even set, we still had 4 hours left to travel. I wedged myself into the backseat with piles of stuff keeping me safe from bodily harm. Josie and I sweated it out together for the last two hours. I let her roam free in the back seat once the sun was completely down. I rather did enjoy the stunning view of the Milky Way as we drove. We stayed the night in Las Vegas...New Mexico. Imagine the opposite of the Nevada version. I was prepared to stay up most of the night with a restless baby. Instead she decided to sleep heavily the entire night. I was most grateful. Justin and I nerded ourselves out listening to audio books most of the journey. We did spend some time talking and sharing emotions. LOL. We bonded. He refused to make up silly songs with me and dance to rap music so that was an epic road trip failure. It was quite stifling in the back of the car with a crabby baby. Maybe that cramped our style.

We made pretty good time driving the remaining 9 hours on Thursday. As we headed down from the Show Low area into northern Mesa Saguaro Cactus suddenly appeared in the landscape. We drove straight to the Auxier's home, Laura's parents, where some friends threw an early birthday party for Laura. Her parents have a pool so that is the place to party. Josie was quite relieved to get out of the hot car and her carseat. It was a classic Arizona evening: hot, dry, and sunny. The three of us did not last very long after dinner. Spenser guided us to their home a few miles away and helped get us settled. Once again Josie slept all night long another much needed respite. Justin also slept all night long. It was a good night.

Early the next morning we met with Jared, the real estate agent Spenser suggested. We checked out 6 homes in the first few hours. Mostly, we left that experience with our hearts pounding and feeling quite nervous. All the homes we starred online were either in terrible neighborhoods, next to busy streets, or much smaller than the photos conveyed. We quickly realized that our budget would pretty much only allow us to afford a small 3 bedroom home with a much smaller footprint than our current home. That means getting rid of quite a bit more stuff, large items like furniture, my photo frames, and photography props. Made me feel quite queasy to be honest. Justin looked up more homes in different parts of the city, even parts of Tempe just to see what that city offered. We met up with Jared again that evening around 5 pm and looked at more homes than I care to admit. We found one or two that seemed to be a better fit with slightly more square footage. By this time both of us were quite challenged to hold it together and not spaz out. Thankfully, Josie stayed with her cousins so we did not need to deal with her whining about all the car time. Jared drove us around in his air conditioned car. The best parts were visiting with Spenser and Laura after the kids went to bed. Those are some good people right there.

Josie did not sleep well Friday night. She was awake from 1:30 until 5 am rolling around and whining. I spent the night on the carpet with her diapered bum on my face, or a finger in my nose, or sloppy kisses on my cheeks. We narrowed down the search a bit more and went to see 6-7 more homes. The first home on the Saturday list was by far the nicest for the listing price. We saw the other homes just to make sure. We liked this particular home because it seems more rural than the other homes, the neighborhood has a good vibe, the home itself has a bit more room, and the schools are rated A+. Perks include a nice pool, landscaping, and a close chapel. Justin started to worry about owning a home with a pool. This home comes with a high pool fence and no other entry points besides the gate. Still felt like a pit in our bellies! We really felt like renting was not an option, complete stupor of thought when we started down that road. By the time we parted ways with Jared we both were hungry and cranky. A meal helped significantly. Across the parking lot from where we ate lunch was a barbershop. Justin got a hot shave with a straight razor for Father's Day. Justin said it was quite relaxing and a bit strange to have some girl holding a straight razor to one's face. While Justin napped the Call kids filled up water balloons for a water fight. Laura wanted a water fight for her birthday! While showing Spenser the home we liked best, his dialogue about the area, the home, and such brought quite a positive light to our number one choice. For us, his input verified what we knew in our hearts but had a hard time seeing. Justin had Jared write up an offer with a deadline for Monday night at 8 pm. Laura chose to eat Mexican food for dinner at a favorite restaurant. Yum.

The Call kids are pretty cool kids. I loved how Renee loves to sing Disney songs, the amount of reading all the girls accomplish, Ellie's connection with Josie, Anna's thoughtfulness, Anson's Lego creations, and how much Gary loved Josie. Josie was quite taken with Gary and their dog Oreck. Early Father's Day morning Josie and I were at the airport headed back to Nebraska. It was hard to leave Justin there in Phoenix on his special day. We can make it day by day with that prayer in our hearts. Getting through the airport with Josie squirming to get out of the front carrier and a heavy backpack was quite fun. We qualified for an extra special backpack check since several food pouches were inside. Josie did quite well her first plane ride. She and I read books most of the time. Once she started to get bored and tired she simply fell asleep in my lap until the plane started to let passengers off after docking. I got my checked bag and car seat from baggage claim. I could not find where my ride home was waiting. Appears I was on the wrong level. Evelyn was so excited that I actually was at the air-board. Jen drove the van to pick me up with Evelyn along for the ride.

After all the stress from driving and house hunting, coming HOME, felt so amazing. The kids were excited to see me. I was excited to see them. The familiar draw of home seeped all that stress right out of my body. I wished the same could happen for Justin staying with Spenser and about to start a new job the next day. Evelyn was alarmed Justin was not coming home. Poor kid. The next 6-8 weeks will be a long time without our favorite Daddy Justin. Everett practiced Away in a Manger to sing for Justin over our video call for scriptures and prayer. All the kids sang the Primary song, "When Daddy Comes Home!" Evelyn wished Justin a Happy Father's Day every other sentence. I hope he felt the love from us that night and every night we talk.

My heart is so grateful for all those who helped watch the kids in my absence. Amy (and Ryley) McManis stayed every night with the kids from 5 pm until 7:30 am. Setti from down the street came to watch the kids until play dates arrived. Mia stayed with Rachel one day and Katelyn for two days. She even got to spend the night and go to a swim meet with Katelyn! The rest of the kids played with the Talbots one day and the Campos family the next. Brother and Sister Cudaback stayed all Saturday with Phillip, Everett, and Evelyn. The Siler family helped get the kids ready for church, stayed with them during and after church. So many moving parts to account for but we all managed it just fine.

11 June 2017

Gold Rush Days
















Monday after lunch Nan Mull, the real estate agent we worked with 8 years ago, came back over to help list our home back onto the market. Thank our lucky stars we cleaned up the house over the weekend. The kids and I worked on cleaning up the basement that morning. Justin and I signed the plethora of documents. Nan wanted to snap photos of our home before she left. I was quite embarrassed since the house was still quite cluttered from the mess of organizing and sorting. We worked up a sweat clearing out the minor clutter right before the photos were taken. She left us with a For Sale sign in the yard. So bittersweet. Phillip was 6 weeks old and Amelia 2.5 when we had that same type of sign in our yard. As I recall that morning's work was quite difficult. I ended up sobbing on the couch upstairs because Amelia had such a rotten attitude. She was acting like a royal pain in the bum, every word she said was rude, contrary, and demeaning. Phillip made me a card after he found me crying. His card was a picture of me crying and him giving me a hug. Amelia silently dropped off Josie in my lap then disappeared. She reappeared a while later crying herself. I think all the emotions of moving are starting to catch up. We took the afternoon off and went swimming. On most levels it felt like the wrong move to reward the stinkers, but more than that I needed time off from the house and space from the kids. Josie loved the water. She enjoyed pushing herself around the shallow zero entry area on her belly. After an hour she was clinging so tightly to me there was no way I could remove her! Poor thing was freezing. I cuddled her up in a towel until she slowly relaxed. Evelyn was a true mermaid. That kid was all over the place, jumping, spinning, face under the water! I let Amelia go swim. Her scar looked fully healed, no sense in prolonging the inevitable. My peonies are in full bloom. Mmmmmm, my favorite scent and flower! For FHE this week we pulled out our 72 hour kits and updated them. Last time we did that was when Amelia was 5 and so on. The kids were amazed we had special backpacks squirreled away for emergencies. We chatted about the preparation mission of the church while we pulled out tiny clothes and shoes. Phillip even tried to put on his tiny size 3 undies, ha ha ha, so funny. The kids now have updated clothes and shoes that actually fit them in their packs, Evelyn and Josie now have their own packs. Rest easy the Calls are now prepared. 

Tuesday my main focus was to gut out the kitchen and dining room areas. I pulled everything out, drawer, cabinet, and cupboard at a time. It took me the entire day to collect, 3 large trash bags later, a medium sized donation pile, and a vacuum full of dust. Sister Jones took the older kids swimming from 1-5 pm, Josie napped that entire time as well, so I was alone and focused. We barely had dinner, dinner is reduced to stuff I found frozen in the freezer the hour before. After the kids were in bed I pulled out the washer and dryer to clean that space. We collect treasures under the appliances. I finally found Elsa's hair, half of her body (Lego body), the missing screw to the dryer door, and several dust pans full of odds and ends. You might believe I never clean that space, I almost believe it, except I did the same thing 5-6 months prior. Somehow I dislodged the draining hose from the washer. I started a load of wash as I finished some ironing. Thank the stars I was there when the hose came loose and drenched the area under the appliances. Once again I wedged free the appliances and mopped up the mess. I regretted the day ended, it was one of those days when I was on a roll and full of motivation to get things done. Before Everett went swimming, he asked if Dad would loan him back some dollars he earned from the Lemonade stand, he was not in consensus that the money should go to Justin. He wanted a cash horde for the snack stand at the pool. We also enjoyed having Ella over all day, Alison worked at the rental properties in Sidney. We love our Ella time. 

Wednesday was a dreary day. I took a breather that day. Got a nice long shower, went food shopping, and took a nap on the couch. Finally, I took up the gauntlet to find child care coverage for the kids while Justin, Josie, and I are gone next week. Finding care for 4 kids was quite the challenge. I still need coverage for Saturday. The dreariness built up to a massive storm that ravaged the area, went from a back band on the northern horizon to a nasty hail storm in less than 15 minutes. I really thought the storm would pass us by since it seemed to head north, but no, several minutes after noticing the storm the kids and I were huddled in the basement. Large quarter sized hail pummeled the area, my lovely peonies were shredded. The kids cowered in the basement while I admired the forceful storm. Sheets of rain gushed horizontally off our roof. I heard a loud shattering sound, was convinced a window was damaged. After the storm we headed outside to find our neighbor's tree was split down the middle. Evelyn is still talking about the hail. She ate a couple hail stones after Phillip convinced her it tasted like snow. 

Ella was back for the day on Thursday. Amelia was not in the best mood. She is convinced Ella only like sports and is not her friend. Indeed, Ella played softball with the boys for quite some time, much to Amelia's annoyance. I was glad Ella was willing to entertain the boys. A while later I heard Ella reading a large stack of books to Josie and Evelyn. Soon the boys brought her a stack of books. Made me melt to hear her taking time to read to my kids. I wish Amelia did that more, she and I are way to alike! Once again I sent the kids to the pool for the afternoon. Tessa watched them for 2 hours then brought home Evelyn. The older kids were on their own, with Ella's help, and several other adults who I knew would be there. I spent the afternoon cleaning out the storage room and the basement toys. When I picked up my kids everyone was crying and tired. Everett kicked Amelia in the throat (she was trying to dislodge him from his floatie), Amelia was crying because Ella ignored her and played with her friends, Phillip was fine until Amelia punched him. Gah! The kids went to bed early and got up much happier. 

Justin had his last day of work at Cabela's. He was pretty emotional all day knowing this was the end of a chapter in his work life. He told me later that day, come Monday he will be unemployed for the first time in over 15 years. Amelia had a Dr appointment at the downtown Denver office for her wound check. We stopped to wish Justin luck before leaving for Denver. We all gave him a hug and encouragement. The following 5 hours in the van were boring. I listened to the Griffon Chronicles book II while the kids watched the new Beauty and the Beast. We downed a quick lunch at Del Taco on the way down. Due to traffic and a couple unplanned potty breaks we were a few minutes late. The kids were wound up to the max! I had Everett show Evelyn how to do jumping jacks, that was hilarious. The boys fought over the wheeled stool until I put it under restriction. Amelia's scar looks great...she can now go swimming. Blush. She is walking with just a hint of limping on her left side, no crutches. Yay!!! After the appointment we stopped at Target to get a birthday gift for Katelyn and another party the boys were invited to. We headed home right after that, 5 hours in the van for 15 minutes with the Dr's PA. 

Saturday we tackled the garage and storage shed. That took us almost all day long. Dusty work that is. Amelia kept whining and whining about going to Gold Rush days or that she was booooored. The boys and Evelyn kept themselves completely entertained with treasured finds from the garage. She helped keep Josie happy by playing with her, that was the best move young lady! I appreciate the help. We took a break at 11 am, went to play at the Gold Rush Days. This year our ward had a tent in the textile area working on a quilt and hand spinning thread from wool. In the same area a lady worked on a trundle sewing machine, Sister Hermes had her wool threader and loom ready for those interested in trying out the techniques. The kids got to weave some yarn at the last tent. This year the main attraction was a large pile of real lincoln logs, bark included! We were glad for the gentle breeze that kept the temperature down a bit. After lunch I took several loads to the Salvation Army and worked on the basement linen closet. Justin resumed working on the garage after his nap. Amelia was moping around spraying weeds she was sooooooo bored. I conspired with Justin to start a water fight with the hose, some pitchers and bowls. Amelia finally had the smile on her face she lost a few days ago. Everett was not keen on the idea of getting wet (strange, since I recall him splashing in puddles fully dressed a few days prior). He ran inside, only came out after changing into a swim suit and with the promise that he could throw water on me. The water felt so cool and delightful! My kids are novice water fighters. Justin was a trusty hose handler, no shenanigans there. We enjoyed some laughter and comic relief as a family there on the side of our home. We needed that so much. Dinner was easily made: fresh berry burke. Nothing tastes better than burke for dinner on a hot, hot day. The entire bowl of it was gone before too long. Justin and I got to sneak out and watch Wonder Woman after the kids were asleep. Our neighbor Josh came over and held down the couch while we were away. I feel empowered with girl power now. Go! Women! You are Amazons! Hi-ya! 

The talks in church today came from the new Christiansen family. Seemed tailor made for Justin and I, as they talked about having faith in trials. Sidney needs this new family! It almost seemed as though they are our replacements. Glad we could meet them in passing. It will all be okay in the end. 

**Justin got me a new pair of Birkenstocks (at my request) from the store. I now have two new pairs of Birks to get me through the next few years. We will miss our employee discount. 

07 June 2017

Grandparents Come to Town



















Evelyn is terrified of thunder and lightening. All the fireworks last year turned her into one cute scaredy cat. She hates storms but loves, and I mean loves, when a rainbow comes after the rain. Sunday evening after a really nice storm the last rays of the day shone through the watery air and made two amazing rainbows. Evelyn even dared to step out into the misted rain to admire the sight. She jumped for joy and danced to her own rainbow dance. The boys admired the rainbow for a moment, the water in the gutters held greater sway. Justin yelled at Everett to take off his nice Sunday pants before getting wet. So he did just that. Off came the pants, on stayed the undies, and that boy was off making waves. Amelia ventured outside for a bit to enjoy the calm after storm. Phillip carefully carried a brimming bowl of ice cream into the livingroom. He asked if I wanted to hear a joke...sure...yes! What does a boy eat on Sunday? A SUNDAY! Hahahahahahaha. He was quite proud of his own joke. Justin seemed to feel a bit better Sunday evening after a very hard day.

Memorial Day came and went without too much bluster. We rallied the kids to help us clean the house before the Calls arrived from Virginia. It stayed clean for a couple hours. Mostly, Justin and I worked on the garage and little things around the house and yard. I cleaned out the coat closet, keeping only one set of winter gear per child for the odd visits to snow territory during the winter. I started a yard sale (slash) donation pile in the garage. The kids and I went to Walmart for some food and a couple necessities. The grandparents arrived around 3:30. Evelyn was in awe, she was certain Santa came to stay at her house. When she first saw Grandpa from the front window she yelled at me: "Mom! Get the cookies, milk, and carrots for Santa! He's HERE!" She warmed up pretty quick, the beard helped immensely. A while later she called him Santa-pa-pa. Having the Calls here was quite the miracle for us. They wanted to fly but ended up driving, the timing worked out to be the best possible for Justin. No one had any idea that God's hand was present in a simple graduation trip out to Utah. They extended their stay from overnight to 3 nights. What a complete blessing for us to have them during a time of need in Justin's life. Just shows that God is aware and will provide a way, laying down the path months in advance. We enjoyed grilled burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, and chips for dinner. The boys got all the luggage from the car down to the basement, happily helped in fact. Phillip was more than happy to show off his huge muscles.

Tuesday we all went to Walmart again then off to Cabela's to shop for stuff. We got a disc-o bed and three air mats for camping. The grandparents were enthralled with ball caps and wrap around sunglasses. While the baby and other adults napped I took the kids swimming for the first time this season. Evelyn insisted on her Mermaid tail suit, I tried to convince her to wear the top over a swimsuit, nope...that was not happening. She went with her mermaid boobies on, I'm glad she kept the boobie covers on. I chucked all my swim tops last week so did not have anything to wear. The kids were just fine swimming while I watched. Evelyn and Everett are quite the little swimmers. Amelia was on the bored side since she could not submerge her left leg at all. She helped me watch Evelyn. Phillip disappeared into the depths of the lazy river. I enjoyed the mild weather and some time in the sun. Evelyn would carefully gather up her tail around her waist when she went down the slide. What a goof ball. I took a couple quick photos of Katelyn's sister (Kiera). She has the most amazing green eyes and blonde hair on a child. I needed a creative outlet, we convinced her to model for me against a lovely snowball bush in full bloom. Sigh! The photos turned out exactly as I imagined. Think garden fairy. Grandpa scared Everett pretty good. Everett tried to sneak up on a napping Grandpa, Grandpa took advantage and made Everett jump 5 feet into the air he was so startled. Phillip and Evelyn tipped the Power Wheels on one side. Phillip wiggled his foot under the body to press the power button. Evelyn filled the empty tire wells with rocks. Phillip pushed the button to make the rocks fly out of the wheel. He said they were playing rock pottery wheels. All fun and games until someone gets beaned in the noggin.

Justin went back to work after 3 days off for Amelia surgery and Memorial Day. The kids were bored. All of a sudden Phillip got a bee in his bonnet to do a Lemonade Stand. He got the table out to the curb, enlisted the kids to help him gather chairs, cups, drinks, and signs. Pretty soon our corner was a busy enterprise. The Grandparents and I watched as the kids collected money after yelling at the tops of their lungs until someone stopped! "Lemonade!!! $0.25 a cup!" The kids offered lemonade, raspberry lemonade, and pink lemonade. Grandpa offered the use of a cooler to keep the drinks cold. After 3-4 hours of work the kids earned $30 after paying me for supplies. Not too bad for a morning's work. When Justin got home from work the kids donated all their money to him. Made Justin cry! They knew Justin was worried about selling our home and buying a new one. Everett made tracks up and down the block as the lemonade runner on his new scooter. At one time the police chief stopped by for a cold cup. He sent the rest of his officers on duty to spend a quarter on some juice. Bless their hearts. Small town living is a very good thing. Evelyn wanted a ballet bun in her hair, so I fixed her up all pretty. Grandpa took the kids to Old McDonald's Farm for lunch. Josie got fast handful of ketchup when I was not looking. She looked like a vampire baby. Josie showed off her crazy couch skills to the Grandparents. She gets a wild look in her eyes to match the smile on her face. She runs up and down the couch, flops down, stands up, and repeats. She made an uneasy truce with Grandpa. He coaxed to sit with him while I took a shower. He read her some books and made animal sounds. She let him hold her for a bit. That is progress. After lunch the kids closed up shop. Katelyn came over to play for a while shortly before lunch. The kids played on the slip and slide while Grandpa watched. I worked on sorting through two hall closets and Josie's bedroom. The kids were quite excited to have Bulgogi (now called Korean Tacos) and introduce it to the grandparents. Such a delicious meal, fast, and healthy! This time around I used a different marinade for chicken. After dinner Grandpa gave Justin a father's blessing. I think we all had teary eyes after the first few words. Justin kept track of the blessing, it was wonderful and gave him many personal reminders. My favorite was when Grandpa reminded him to call on those who passed on when he is unable to cope. Justin often thinks of his cousin who passed away. What a gift! We can ask for Heavenly help from those who passed on before us, I know I often forget this option. We all talked way too late. Evelyn crawled into Grandpa's lap to seek shelter from a lightening storm. She feel asleep as we talked away. I think that little creature asleep in his lap was quite a delight to his heart. Sure made mine feel all cozy.

I was lazy (not) and slept in past 7:50, the grandparents pulled away before Evelyn could say goodbye to Santa. She was all shades of unhappy, luckily they were not too far away so came back for a hug from us all again. We sure enjoyed their visit.

The rest of us quickly got ready for the day so we could head to Scottsbluff for Amelia's ortho appointment. Her retainer needs replacing so we wanted to get that done before we leave town. First off we got the van's oil changed. It was only a couple month's past due, yikes. Normally, Justin changes it but the move has made things a bit crazy. The kids were starving since it was close to lunch. I made the kids pile into one of the "party carts," ya know...the extra long ones that seat 3 kids. Well, I fit 5 kids into the cart and we trekked across the parking lot to get sandwiches. Amelia was soooooooo embarrassed. Score 10 points for mom! I lost the earned points 20 minutes later. I called the clinic to get their new address, during the call we realized the appointment was actually in Sidney. When making the appointment neither the receptionists or I confirmed the location. I headed to SB because they can only make impressions there. She scheduled me for Sidney since they were in town the next week. Doh! I regretted the lost time needed to sort and pack stuff up, regretted it for 3 minutes. Instead the kids and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon at the zoo (per Evelyn the Zoom). The main attraction was the splash pad. Even Josie got some action in! I caught her several times standing up on her own, ever so pleased with her little self. Our favorite animal was the large Bengal Tiger. He was pacing and growling much to our delight. One little raccoon put his paw on the window where Phillip's hand was resting. He was pretty stoked. The afternoon was warm but not overly hot, the cool water and breeze cooled us down. Phillip and Everett requested summer haircuts after dinner. Everett looks like a bald eagle now with his fuzzy head and brown eyes.

Friday was quite stormy. Amelia invited Lily over to play. I think the girls emerged from her room a couple times to eat food. They had an elaborate imaginative game going on all day. I found the boys outside with the hose trying to wash Justin's truck. Thankfully, the windows were closed. I have many fond memories of playing outside with the hose! It was fascinating. Phillip washed off his bike, the front door, and the picture window for 25 cents. The kids enjoyed another jaunt in the rain when the clouds finally started to let loose. It rained off and on for a good couple of hours. Everett wanted to earn some money as well. He let Phillip make up a card, he signed it and drew a picture on one side. He came up to me with puppy-dog eyes, a hug, and a sloppy kiss. I accepted his gift, after which he asked if I like it. Of course! I love it! Well...then can I have a quarter for all my hard work? Oh gosh. I gave my melty chocolate boy a quarter for his efforts. I had to run a couple afternoon errands. The Salvation Army, my storage unit, and the library. My tire ran over something between the storage unit and the library. My tire went flat in less than 2 minutes. I called Justin from the library (because of course I left my phone at home). We jogged the 7 blocks home. Evelyn cried the entire time because a storm was brewing, lightening and thunder galore. Just as we reached our front stoop the rain thundered down. I arranged to have someone meet me back at the library once the rain stopped. He jacked up the van and took the tire to the shop. I few minutes later he called to tell me the tire was not repairable. Grrrrrr, I had to buy a new (used rear) tire. Turns out a piece of wood cut into a triangle, 1.5 inches wide, 2 inches tall caused all the damage. Dude. That was a gnarley tire accident. After dinner we loaded up the van to get Justin's car. It was KSID Crusin' Night! One of our favorite nights in Sidney. We drove up and down main street with the kids out of seatbelts, on laps, bouncing up and down with the novelty. This year I drove while Justin manned the radio and tackled kids. Josie is a pretty good driver. She liked to stand up, her hair was just spiky enough to get in my way. Still she giggled and laughed. Evelyn is also a good driver. She was content to sit on my lap and help steer. Phillip really wanted to drive, alas, his request sort of scared me. Once the rain stopped the windows came down and kids faces started to appear. The kids got some cotton candy to snack on. Such a lovely night to enjoy out on the town.

Saturday we worked pretty hard. Justin found an app that keeps track of items donated (like to Salvation Army). At first it was overwhelming to enter in the mountainous pile of stuff I collected in the garage. Once I caught up it was pretty easy. I opted to donate instead of hold a garage sale. I love to garage sale shop, but hold one? Eh, not my style. I balk at pricing everything, sorting, and taking the time to have one. With the app to help me I collectively donated $876 dollars (estimated tax deduction), much more than a garage sale would bring in. By Wednesday the next week, I finished sorting the upstairs areas. I am a bit excited to see what I can donate in the basement. Muhahahaha. Justin cleared out the attic, so we could sort that stuff. So much stuff! It is crazy how much stuff accumulates when one is not moving every few years. We went to bed tired, dusty, sweaty, and totally worked through. The best kind of feeling there is. Justin chopped down some bushes on the north side and also mowed the lawn. The boys donned gloves to help drag yard debris over to the truck. Phillip wore one black weight lifting glove for a couple days. He reminded us of a white Michael Jackson. We have a meeting with the Real Estate Agent this coming Monday afternoon. I was motivated to get the house whipped into shape in case she decided to list it right then and take photos.

Josie turned into quite the jabber monkey. We love to hear her sweet words as she explains what is going on around her. She is teething two more top and two bottom teeth! Four at once makes for a cranky baby and mommy. Still, she is happy as long as she is clinging to me somehow. I spotted Evelyn admiring herself in the mirror, posing like a model, flipping up her hair and blowing air kisses. Ha ha ha.