25 January 2020

Master of Mayhem

I had a busy week! I was out an about every morning last week. We dropped the price on our home to $359,900 on Monday. That brought 6 house showings between Tuesday at noon and Friday at 6:30 pm. Not too shabby. Saturday was another open house, 15 people toured our home with another 2 showings after the open house. Still no offers, that is a bit discouraging. Our agent says that folks are buying convenience homes left and right. Since our home needs an updated kitchen buyers are opting for smaller homes with more updates. Patience is hard to come by especially now that Justin is in Idaho. I am grateful for the increased foot traffic to see inside.

Tuesday morning was my first outing, had to be at Phillip's school by 7:30 with the younger 4 kids dressed, fed, lunches made, etc. I was a sweaty mess straggling into the school at 7:28 am...early I might point out. I met with the Principal and Ms Nguyen to develop a 504 plan for Phillip. He is phasing out of his IEP for speech. A 504 plan is developed for children with disabilities (like ADD) to allow certain accommodations needed for the child to thrive in a learning situation. Phillip can get extra time and help for his school work, an aide to monitor him during testing if needed, allowances for homework, able to give verbal vs written answers, etc. A 504 means he no longer needs to leave the classroom for special education classes (like speech). Ms Nguyen said several times how bright and kind Phillip is as a student. He just struggles to pay attention. I rushed home to finish straightening the house for a noon showing. Rushed out the door for an dental cleaning. Josie was quite happy to play with Ezra Smith for the morning. The dental assistant who cleaned my teeth was very thorough, my gums were all shades of sore the rest of the day.

Wednesday I had another chiropractic adjustment with Dr Godard. My lower back/right hip is bothering me something terrible lately. Probably all the weight I've gained is wreaking havoc. I turned 40 and the gift I got was a 25 lb weight gain. Yay for 40, not. Josie and I waited an entire hour playing with the lobby toys, he was backed up that badly at 9 am? Goodness. Once again we rushed home so I could rush about and clear the clutter for a noon house showing. Had another showing at 3:15 pm. The kids just ran around the block for fun until the clients left. I found Ronald and Phillip beating up my poor spineless cactus with a thick dowel. I just don't get why? Why take a stick and beat a plant up? What is the purpose? I suppose such questions get me nowhere, but still....why?

Josie got to play with the Payne family Thursday morning. I had a long doctor appointment up in Scottsdale near Justin's work. I wanted a second opinion on Dr Godard's allergy smell test before I went and changed my life. That appointment was long a boring. Instead of a full food allergy panel I had them test for only tree nuts and wheat, given the scratch tests were $6 per scratch a full panel is 76+ scratches. The limited test was expensive enough! I am not allergic to tree nuts or wheat, a did have a slightly mild reaction to black walnuts but not enough to even sting or itch. I treated myself to a bowl of Ramen at Ramenhood for lunch. Justin was crazy busy finishing last minute things on his last day of work at UTI. He did not arrive home until after 6 pm. He did not even have much time to pack and get his car loaded up with a full week of work on his plate. The kids spent every moment they could helping Justin sort through his closet and find stuff to schlep up to Idaho in the Hamster Wagon. Phillip and Everett were thrilled Justin finally found the set of magnetic balls to play with.

Phillip was flipping through Amelia's Latin textbook. I saw his eyes go wide and then he snapped the book shut. He flopped about for a moment then came and told me: "Mom...Amelia's book has pornography in it...I saw a man's penis!" First, I had to hold in my natural reaction to laugh. We had a short chat about why that photo was in a Latin textbook. I thanked him for coming right to me for guidance. Good boy! Took me a couple days to think about the topic of porn vs art, got some good insight from Amy Beckner (Miekka's sister) that jolted my memory back to all those art classes I took in college. We had a dinner conversation about the differences between art nudity and porn, basically boils down to the intent to illicit sexual feelings and distort the naked body or to replicate the naked body in admiration of it's perfection. It was a good, short conversation. I remember my Uncle Fred used to showcase a work of art each week, then discuss the artwork and the artist around the dinner table. I think doing something like that is a good idea!

We said our goodbyes to Justin Friday morning. He took Mia to school, got back in time to give the boys hugs and kisses. Packed up his car and left shortly before I needed to run the carpool to MEC. The little girls were so distraught. Josie was quite caught up in tears and crying, wanting every last hug she could soak in. Evelyn was excited and sad all at the same time. She can't wait to move up to Idaho, the entire concept seems very cool to her. Justin was crying because the girls were crying. I may have wiped away a tear or two as well, can't prove it but it may have happened. The rest of our day seemed anticlimactic and empty. Josie and I spent the morning playing at Giggles with my friend Sarah and her little boy Payson. Josie was quite content to hog the horse and carriage toy, she even coaxed a couple little friends to pull her around like a Queen, she insisted her minions take her to the castle! We played there for a good 3 hours.

Once the older kids got home we rushed about to get ready for two more house showings. The times were not conducive to cook and prepare dinner so off to Sonic (gross) we went for dinner. We stayed until the showings were over. Ronald and Phillip are often at odds lately. Ronald and Everett exclude Phillip more often than not when they play games. Phillip is so careful to include everyone. He is just so spastic and gross (with his bodily functions and fart noises) playing with him can be a chore. The boys quarrel then make up, quarrel then make up, over and over every day. I think Ronald is regretting becoming an honorary "Call boy." Chloe and Mia are so weird together. Everything is uber hilarious and silly! Makes me laugh just watching what those two sillies come up with. They treat Everett's training soccer ball (it's attached to a bungee cord) as a dog on a leash, guiding the ball here and there kicking the heck out of it.

Saturday morning all Hell broke loose. Our emotions were high after Justin leaving for Idaho. We had to leave our house from 10 am until 4 pm. I overslept so in my rush to get everything ready for the Open house was bossing kids here and there. Amelia was annoyed at Everett about something so she shoved him hard enough to push him to the floor. To Everett's credit he pulled a fast fake fall like the soccer players. He was not hurt but played up the offense, rightly so I must say. Amelia lost her phone privileges. She tripped over a toy in garage while holding my phone. My phone crashed into the rocks smashing the screen protector and the screen into a lovely spiderweb pattern. I ignored that issue while I mopped the floors just as the real estate agent arrived.  We sat in the Verizon parking lot for a good 45 minutes while I figured out how to get my screen replaced through insurance. At first the phone repair place wanted to replace my entire phone for $200+, took me 30 minutes on the phone to convince them just a screen replacement was necessary. I decided to take the kids either to the children's museum or the science museum. We chose the science museum since it appealed to a wider age range. Everett got the yummiest meat quesadilla from a taco joint while the rest of us ate sandwiches at Jimmy Johns. The Science Museum was pretty awesome. Just inside the lobby was a gigantic snow globe filled with air! I heard many Frozen songs coming from inside the globe as my kids played. The energy was almost frenetic as all the kids wanted to head off in 5 separate directions. I lost Everett first, then Josie, then Evelyn, then Everett again, then Josie. I had a massive headache just keeping up with those two. All this past week Everett dealt with mild diarrhea, he had to take a shower everyday this week and change his clothes due to the issue. Well, he had a moderate shard in his pants exactly at the wrong moment. Thank goodness for Amelia, she kept tabs on Josie. Evelyn was too scared to wander off on her own. Everett tried his best to rectify his issue, I instructed him to remove shoes and socks, then his pants, then his undies and throw them in the trash. Wash his bum with wet TP or paper towels. He came out with a huge poop streak on the outside of his pants. I sent him back in with instructions to wear his pants inside out since the inside was cleaner than the outside, and to clean his bum again. Amelia texts me (she could use her phone only to contact me while at the museum) saying that Josie pooped her pants. Indeed. Second pair of undies went into the trash. We survived. By then it was almost 2 pm, Josie was showing signs of breaking down. We pushed forward to inspect the last two floors before heading home. I told the kids we could get rock candy from the gift shop before leaving. I warned them that was all I would purchase. Josie ignored that memo. She found a lovely 4 inch high gummy lollipop, got a mighty case of the galloping gimmies. We ripped her out of the gift shop and museum screaming bloody murder over her favorite lollipop. Of course, I was wild in my mind, left my phone at the register. I left Josie screaming that rock candy was disgusting in Amelia's care so I could retrieve my phone. We left...it was fantastic. Josie ate her rock candy...it was delicious after all that drama. We all just collapsed at home, glad to have all that jazz over for a little while.

Of course I was running low on all the necessaries, skipped my weekly grocery shop due to all my morning escapades this week. I dropped off the kids, went to Walmart all by my lonesome, good gracious I needed some time alone to decompress. Josie snuck into bed with me at 1 am. She was wiggling all over the bed, kept complaining she needed a drink of water. I finally got up for the water, she barfed right into the cup of water. Poor kid unloaded right on my bed, unloaded again on the carpet as I rushed her to the toilet. Then she barfed so forcefully in the bathroom I found splatter near the ceiling the next day. We went downstairs until her tummy calmed down, over two hours later. She was retching every 10-15 minutes for a couple hours. We both collapsed into bed for a couple hours of sleep. Amelia woke me up concerned that we would not make it to church on time. I was not about to bring Josie, I was exposed to the mess so was not going to take myself. Amelia did not want to take responsibility for the boys and Evelyn at church. We stayed home, hunkered down for the day. I cancelled any showings for the day. Josie got up chipper as a lark, ate breakfast with no side effects at all. That was the most vicious, short-acting tummy flu I've seen in ages. Here's to praying no one else gets it.

Justin got to spend Saturday with Charity and Melissa before driving up to Boise. Melissa is living with Charity until Jonathon gets his new assignment with the Army after Basic Training and such. We enjoyed seeing everyone during our video chats with Justin.

09 January 2020

New Years 2020

Post-Christmas week was sorta, mostly, kinda boring. We did not have much on our radar to amuse us other than keeping our house ready for house buyers. Thankfully, we had a lull until Thursday so I had plenty of time to repack Christmas decor and get that out of the way. I donated both of my Christmas trees since the lights on my NEW tree stopped working. I changed all the fuses, checked the bulbs disconnected the tree sections, tried everything but nothing worked. The kids tree sheds pine leaves worse than a real pine tree past it's prime. Evelyn was quite worried Santa would forget about us if we did not have a tree! I needed to have a part of my living room cleared out as well to set up my newborn studio for the newest Russo baby.

Monday was our 15th wedding anniversary! Since we celebrated a few days beforehand we did not do anything else except chat about the meaningful memories with the kids.

Josie insisted I take her to the ducky-go-back-and-forth park all weekend. I was so confused, had no idea what she was talking about, maybe feeding the ducks. We got into the van and she directed me to the right park! "Mom...turn dis way, turn the Ban that way...you see the ducky now?" So cute! She was delighted to play on the duckie for quite some time. Justin had work Monday and Tuesday at UTI so he was not around much on New Years Eve. I found a Groupon for Uptown Jungle, the kid's favorite activity indoor park. We played there for two hours on Tuesday then got McDonald's for lunch at the request of 4 out of 5 kids. Our New Year's is quite boring, we go to bed at 10 and do a simple countdown is all. The Broughton's set off a few fireworks, my kids went to watch. They were kind enough to let the kids do sparklers. Josie came inside crying huge alligator tears. She came inside to get her new baby kitty, went back out to show Sister Broughton but they already left for their nightly walk. Josie was adamant someone admire her cute baby kitty, so we walked around the block until we came upon some folks chatting in their driveway. Josie went right up and showed off her toy then skipped home happy as a clam! Outside fireworks blasted until well-past midnight. It's hard to believe another decade has passed. Ten years ago we were just starting our crazy family with a two year old Amelia, a 4 mth old Phillip, a new house in Sidney, and lots of fun in the future for us.

While I was busy cleaning the kitchen after dinner Josie managed a spot of mischief. Most of the kids were in the living room playing. Everett was in the family room reading. Josie grabbed one of those thick (the ones that are about 1/2 inch thick) permanent markers for poster board and drew huge circles on 7 areas (kitchen pony wall, closet, bookcase, three walls, bathroom door, and the stair well). Her art work was not small! She went all the way with her expression. I tried magic erasers (2 large boxes), goo gone, windex, hair spray, toothpaste, and lemongrass oil. The kids helped scrub away New Years Eve. The best we achieved was about 2-3 shades lighter. I resigned myself to painting those areas, hoping against all hope to match the 3 different paint colors. Next day Wendy Call-Kechley contacted me saying she had a miracle product that would remove the marker. I was quite dubious knowing we'd done our best. She came over with a product called Mel-a-luca an oil-based natural cleaner. She patiently worked out the stains with a rag and toothbrush, not to mention half a bottle of the product. Heaven above...she did it. The paint was rubbed down to the primer in most spots but the glaring black marks are gone. I thank her and her sore arm muscles for working a miracle. I worked on cleaning up my mess from the newborn session and dismantling the rest of Christmas. Amelia was a good helper scrubbing walls with Wendy! Evelyn and I take the blame for the marker situation. Evelyn wanted the marker for an art project, she used it but did not put away as instructed. I ignored the marker for a day also not putting it away. Josie was also to blame knowing that art work goes on paper and not walls. Josie did her time scrubbing walls, enough for a 3 year old to handle.

I decided our digital grand piano was too rickety for us to move to Idaho. Last time I listed something it went ignored for months. I listed the piano hoping to sell it before we moved. I was surprised and a bit disheartened it sold in just a couple hours. It feels strange to not have a piano in our house! The family who purchased it lives up in Payson. They dumped a pile of snow from the back of their truck to fit the piano in! I ran inside to tell the kids we had snow in Gilbert. They ignored me! Evelyn was curious so followed me out to find said pile of snow! She got the rest of the kids to come out and enjoy the few moments we had to play with snow in the valley! First time in 20 years...he he he.

Justin flew to Boise, ID on New Years day for a retreat with his new company. His new boss wanted Justin in attendance to help make team goals and be part of planning the next few months. They went snowmobiling as a fun activity on Friday. He said it was much more difficult than anticipated. Before his flight back home on Saturday he toured 4 houses we had tagged as potential homes. Justin was quite impressed with a house in Middleton, ID.

Phillip experienced the first bow and arrow wound! His friend Ryan was over playing. Phillip neglected to teach him the rules about holding fire while someone is down range. He shot an arrow hitting Phillip on the lower part of his heel. The arrow glanced off and tore a good sized hole in his heel. He sported quite the bandage for a couple days and limped about when he remembered his heel hurt. Later I found the boys shooting limes off the tree as target practice! Just a week after Christmas and all the arrows are either lost or damaged! Guess who gets to buy more arrows?! Not me that's for sure.

We met up with some families from our ward and our Call cousins at a new park in Gilbert for a couple hours of fresh air. Everett had an espionage mission going to to spy on the older kids without anyone noticing. The boys went back with Aunt Laura to play more with Anson and Gary. The main reason is the boys wanted pizza for lunch and the girls wanted Jimmy Johns. We had more folks looking at our house while we were gone.

Everett accidentally kicked Evelyn in her teeth a few days before causing her wiggly lower tooth to loosen even more. She was beside herself with worry about the tooth coming out. She was worried it would come out in her sleep and choke on it. Not worried enough to let me help her. It took me two days to cajole her mouth open! That tooth came out without any pain or issues. A light pluck with a tissue before she even noticed. She was so happy to stuff the tooth into her tooth fairy pillow! In between her room and the bathroom she lost her newly plucked tooth. She cried and cried frantically searching for her tooth. The tooth fairy left her a dollar and a tiny note in spite of the misplaced incisor. One bright side of Arizona winters are the gorgeous roses! It's the perfect weather for my five rose bushes to put on their show. Flowers bloom year round here, makes my heart so bright and happy.

Josie started Primary on Sunday! She is finally old enough to graduate. She had almost an extra year in nursery with her early February birthday. Switching from Nursery (puzzles, toys, and snacks) to Sunbeams could be quite the challenge for her. She cried all through singing time. Phillip sat beside her as a comfort. Such a good big brother. The younger kids met their new Primary teachers at a Primary breakfast on Saturday. The kids got to eat donuts, drink juice, and play fun board games with their new teachers. Everett and Phillip's favorite game was playing with a set of tiny magnetic balls. I told them Dad had a set, they freaked out wondering why he never played with the magnets. Once at home we could not find the magnet set, looked in all the places with no luck. Justin had no idea where it went either.

05 January 2020

Christmas 2019

I like Christmas on Wednesdays! The kids had a couple days off of school before Christmas to enjoy more Christmas fun. We had Chloe and Ronald over on Monday for the day. I did a bit of grocery shopping and picked up another gingerbread house for Chloe and Ronald. The kids quite enjoyed decorating, frosting, and of course eating candy. Amelia helped Josie assemble a Paw Patrol house. The other three kids had 2 mini house each to decorate. The hardest part was waiting for me to assemble the house with the ONE tube of frosting we had. The kids later had Jacob over for a good chunk of time and played outside for a glorious amount of time. I worked on more wrapping when I could grab a chance.

Christmas Eve we started the day as lazy bums. Our crazy Nelves got Disney+ for the kids, hmmmm, how did that happen? Thus I lost my family for a week until they finished watching the Mandalorian series. Baby Yoda is the cutest ever. Amanda treated our family for lunch at a Vietnamese Pho restaurant. Amelia was not feeling well at all, poor kid did not eat anything. We gave Chloe and Ronald their Christmas gifts: a matching "Chloe" (aka a hoodie) with Amelia and a Beyblade set. It was a rainy day and quite dreary outside. Perfect day for a nap. Apparently, Justin and Evelyn sneaked out to Walmart to update my stocking with kafume and white chocolate. Amelia helped me wrap some last minute items. I whipped up my favorite Santa cookies: white chocolate cherry shortbread and soft gingerbread cookies. The favorite part of the day finally came, the time to make clam chowder. As a family we look forward to magical clam chowder all year. It tastes completely different on Christmas Eve! Justin helped fry bacon, Amelia set the table, and I made the soup. The other kids worked on finding costumes for our Nativity play. We ate our delectable meal by intimate candlelight. Martinelli's paired well with our meal, ha ha. Evelyn decided that clam chowder is much better without the clams. Josie ate her customary two sniffs and wandered away. I had to laugh when I saw what the kids had gathered for props and costumes. The sheep this year was a herd of unicorns. Josie was an angel and a unicorn shepherd. Phillip gagged because of the satin ribbon tied around his neck. He opened the front door to get some fresh air, I locked it so he would not open it. Stinker discovered a little Nelf surprise but he did not say anything just quickly slammed the door with wide eyes. Josie was crying because she wanted to play. The kids wandered away after our nativity to check on Santa's progress on NORAD's Santa Tracker. Phillip was the first to the door once the Nelves announced Santa was coming. He was relieved the bag of surprises was still on the front porch. Soon wrapping paper was flying and kids shouting with glee over their new awesome PJs this year. Santa sent animal onesies instead of Christmas themed ones. Phillip was a dinosaur, Everett a "derpy" shark, Evelyn a unicorn, and Josie was a cheetah. Amelia got a cute comfy set that will fit her for 20 more years. We did discover a large gaping hole in a side seam so had to whip out my sewing machine to fix the hole. Josie was so cute acting like a cheetah, growling with her claws out. The kids were still wired at 9 pm so the Nelves had to ring bells saying it was time to get in bed. Phillip got a dose of Benedryl, he was up every hour last year. Mom and Dad got their stuff set up then went to bed ready for that Christmas magic.

Santa CAME! He came! The kids sprung awake at 7 am, thank you Christmas spirits, and invaded our room to open stockings. Evelyn was tickled pink that Santa put her favorite pickles in the toe of her stocking. Josie's eyes were wide open and soaking in all the chaos. Justin got beef and cheese in his stocking...a reference to the movie Elf, he sits on a throne of lies. Ha hahahahahaha, Santa has a sense of humor. I headed downstairs to get a couple things ready before the crew headed down the stairs. Josie was first, Mia last down the stairs. Josie was delighted that Santa brought her an Elsa treasure chest AND a baby pony. Evelyn got a pink scooter from Santa. Mia got a furry reading pillow. Phillip and Everett got real bows and a set of arrows. All the kids got a box of Einstein bagels! Mia found a letter from Santa next to the cookie plate. She read it while the kids enjoyed their Santa gifts. The next 30 minutes was a perfect storm of paper, boxes, tags, balloons, and toys. The kids loved their new rice hot packs, loved the fabrics I chose for them. The boys immediately engaged Justin to help them with the Bows and Arrows. Phillip was hitting bulls eyes after a few tries. Everett was aiming with his eye closest to the bow closed, after some practice he got the correct eye open and aiming down as well. We only lost a couple arrows that day. Amelia was invited to go with Chole and Ronald to Prescott for the day, she declined wanting to spend the day with us. By 8;30 am she was soooooo bored, regretted her decision to stay home. Justin bought movie tickets for himself and the boys to watch the newest Star Wars movie, Mia stayed home. She bugged me until I finally helped her with a project sewing up scrunchies. We had tamales, beans, and rice for dinner. I made a new sauce this year of a spicy homemade cheese sauce, it was divine over the tamales. Josie and Evelyn were so cute playing with their new toys all day. I found Josie inside her treasure box more than once with her toys stuffed inside as well. Evelyn and I played Barbie cake shop.

Thursday Justin and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary a few days early. I hired the Boyd's to stay with our kids overnight. Justin and I left at 3:30 for Tempe Marketplace Mall. We walked around for an hour or so, tried on Jeans at the Buckle. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Gen Korean BBQ. Each table has an inlaid grill, the server brings out whatever meats you order, you grill them at your table. We also got a large platter of condiments and rice to deck out our meat. The Bulgogi was out of this world, the shrimp was meh, and the steaks quite delicious. We watched Star Wars (again for Justin). Ate really expensive, mediocre ice cream at Cold Stone. We drove in a half circle to stay in a hotel just 4 miles from home! That made me laugh. Our bed this time was not as comfy as the resort, we were up before 9 am. For breakfast we tried the Henhouse, a local favorite. That was a phenomenal breakfast! The Boyd's got off easy, we were back home by 11 am instead of 1 pm. I'm happy we got a night away, wishing it were exotic like a Caribbean cruise, but you get what you get!

Friday we cleaned up our Christmas mess in preparation for an Open House Saturday afternoon. Ronald and Chloe came over to enjoy our boredom. The kids watched way too much TV this break because we could not do much as Justin and I needed to work on house projects. I needed the mess to stay minimal. The kids were anxious to spend their Christmas money from Grandparents, we made several trips to Target and Walmart so the kids could decide. Everett was the only kid to save his money for a rainy day. Josie and Evelyn each got two new toys. Amelia got an instax camera and film. Phillip got a new Lego set. I had a sunset photo session with the Godard family. It was overcast and cruddy weather outside, cold and windy.

I had an early morning photo session with the Price family out at the Superstitions Saturday morning. It was cold and foggy. I was so worried when Bishop Price told me he wanted the mountains to look red, there was no amount of editing that will turn blue foggy mountains read. He about drove me nuts with the amount of family poses trying to get the perfect mountain shot. I ended up with 200+ photos of just the family. Came home to find the house cluttered and everyone watching TV. We had a come to Jesus moment, got our house in shape before the Open House. While our house was off-limits Amelia convinced us to try ice skating. I hurt my lower back so there was no way I was going to get on the ice. Phillip and Everett did pretty good for first timers. Everett hugged the wall until his feet went numb. Evelyn skated back and forth in front of a huddle box as I held her hand and walked her back and forth. Justin and Josie joined us after 40 minutes, Josie refused to take a short nap. Those two went to Walmart for water and a snack. I had another large family session at the Riparian. Justin and the kids drove to the library and sat in the parking lot?! At least go inside and enjoy the books for a while.

Sunday Justin was released at Ward Clerk during church. A new Music Chairman and music director were also called, but I was not yet released.

29 December 2019

The Week Before Christmas!

The kids had a really busy week at school. Lots of parties, celebrations, activities, and such for the 3 younger kids. Amelia had finals all week so was more stressed than usual but made it through without much difference. She had a dress down day and was able to wear a winter-themed hoodie over her uniform the entire week of finals. Amelia and Zoe were quite the team when it came to studying for their tests. I about lost it when Amelia came home with the assignment to translate an entire story from Latin into English. Over 80% of the words were not in her textbook, notes, or slideshows. Turns out the passages were famous excepts from the story of the Fall of Troy. We muddled through the first paragraphs with almost perfect results. Then I found the passages online and cheated, yes, I cheated. It was late at night and Amelia was nearing a breakdown. Handing out vague Latin passages to translate with no real Latin knowledge was about the stupidest teacher move ever. Amelia and Zoe had two half days so that helped with time to study and even play time as well.

Evelyn had some dental work on 5 cavities on the 17th of December. I did not tell about the appointment until we pulled into the office at 7:15 am. She had to arrive fasting for 10 hours due to the sedative for her procedure. She was quite upset at me for concealing the truth of our early morning errand. She got an oral sedative first that made her woozy and sleepy. Once she went back the nurse strapped her to a surfboard apparatus to keep Evelyn from falling out of the chair. I think the actual dental work only took 20 minutes, the other 3 hours were spent waiting for the sedative and silly gas to work. Josie and I were utterly bored. After Evelyn was done she declared the entire situation was no big deal and super easy! Phew. She had to stay home for the rest of that day. We got a treat for her at a gas station for being a brave soul. The little girls went with me to Bath and Body Works for teacher gifts. That was quite fun for us all! After the medication wore off Evelyn had a bit of pain but nothing serious.

I made the mistake of vocally noting how long it had been since the little girls came into sleep with me (on the floor or in our bed). The past 10 days were terrible! Little stinkers went from a month of sleeping in their beds all night to sleeping like newborns. Evelyn is terrified of dying now, every night she wakes up with nightmares about dying or walking off cliffs to die. I don't really have vivid dreams, usually only recall 2-3 per year. To have so many children with vivid dreams is hard for me to understand. Must be terrifying.

The kids can only play in the garage now that the house is on the market. Josie was whining about visiting the park to play. I had stuff to do so let the kids play in the dirt section of our property. I had visions of the kids playing with plastic shovels and pails. Before I knew it the kids acquired all our large shovels to dig deep holes. Then Phillip had the brilliant idea to fill the holes with water. It was a mess! A glorious dirty mess! That game lasted for three more days. The only stipulation given was to not throw dirt about and make a huge disaster. They did have so much fun digging about in the rocks.

Our Nelves are stepping up their game. Scares the dickens out of Evelyn whenever they ring the doorbell, bang on a window, or ring their bells. We heard some stories from Grandma Debbie about her Elves visiting when she was little. One story she told about the Elves banging on the floor from underneath the floorboards! Guess what? Innej and Nitsuj were listening because the next night Phillip said the Nelves banged right under his feet when he was getting dressed for bed! The kids are constantly finding little treats and crafts to keep them motivated for Christmas. We have a new Nelf in training, Neajaim! She almost got caught a couple times, needs to work on her sneaky skills.

We went to the park twice this week. I had a house showing on Thursday at noon so picked up the girls from school and went to the park for a picnic lunch. I forgot Chloe also had a half day, we rushed to pick her up before the agent and clients showed up at our house. Josie was in heaven to have three 12 year olds at her beck and call. We went back to the park the next day. Evelyn was bored out of her mind so we went just to have a break. One little girl showed Evelyn an acorn she found. We went on a mission to find acorns. Everett, Phillip, and Ronald found a trove of acorns around several trees. The kids wanted to collect as many as possible to feed the nut meat to the ducks. I sure hope there aren't several dead ducks due to acorn nut constipation.

Friday morning the little girls and I went to have a nice pedicure thanks to Ronald's dad. He owns a salon with his mother in Gilbert. The little girls got their nails painted while my feet got de-summarized. Josie sat still for over an hour. The girls finally started to squabble over the pedicure chair and the massage remote. I whipped out the snack bag to soothed over the angry words with goldfish and water.

The rest of our weekend was spent wrapping gifts, shopping for the last odds and ends, and keeping our house clean. Justin and I went out on a date Friday night. He took me clothes shopping to Maurices and shoe shopping at DSW. I was pleased to find many shirts that now fit me better and will keep me warm here and in Idaho. Amelia organized our family gift exchange AND who shopped with whom to keep the gifts a surprise. We went to Target with our teams a pocket full of money and a goal to find gifts. I had Evelyn and Josie had Justin. Josie did not grasp the concept of shopping for someone else. That was hard for her to get Evelyn a gift but not herself. We made it through with some loud griping from Josie. I think everyone had a good time shopping for each other. Amelia and Phillip were a team! They did well shopping for their people all by their lonesomes. At home we wrapped up the gifts sneaky style. The excitement was HIGH!

Sunday was our ward Christmas program. I was in charge of the music for the program as ward music chairman. Lots of texts and questions those few days prior to the program. We practiced the program outline before church at the Wolford's home. Sister Larry was our narrator, she introduced each song with a little historical snippet. I invited our neighbor Edgar to church, he CAME! I was so excited. There are quite a few talented folks in our ward who performed during the program. We had piano, voice, violin, saxophone, and bass represented. The only snafu was the first number. A small group of Primary kids practiced a song to perform, but when Sister Larry invited the Primary kids to sing their song the entire lot of Primary kids stormed the stand. Surprise! After the program we had a mix and mingle. Sunday night we drove around to see Christmas lights. So many crazy folks go overboard to decorate! Ha ha ha. 

19 December 2019

An Inch of Hail

Monday it was my turn for carpool pick up. It was a cloudy, oppressive sort of day outside. I got a panicked text and phone call from Mia that it was seriously hailing. I was 4 miles away from home, it was drizzling and dripping a bit of rain, nothing of note. On some level, I was sure Amelia forgot what hail was really like. Once we crossed the border between Mesa and Gilbert the hail started. I kid you not, it hailed non-stop for over 30 minutes. We had a leg-it Nebraska-worthy hail storm, Mia's memory served her right! By the time I pulled into the driveway the kids were ALL outside scooping up bowls of ice pellets, mixing in snow cone syrup for a tasty treat. Phillip brought out our only snow shovel to scoop up huge piles of hail stones. We dumped about 30 pounds of ice off the sail sunscreen! That was quite fun. All the kids were shivering with cold and loving every moment. They all warmed up with hot cocoa and wearing 2-3 layers of their warmest pajamas.

Tuesday evening my piano students performed in our Christmas Piano Recital. It was nice not to scramble to get the house clean because it was still immaculately clean (best feeling ever). Marianne caught a nasty cough so only three families attended! Brigdon's family left right after his songs, so we were down to 3 adults plus our family and Chloe. I was expecting more family members to show up, picked up 3 dozen doughnuts as a special treat. We were left with 2.5 dozen doughnuts to indulge in, good grief that was too much sugar. Phillip and Everett performed so nicely. They practiced and practiced until their songs were perfect. Recital nerves always results in a couple finger flubs, but still they were awesome. Lyndsey told me after they left that Blake said, "You mean that was the last time I'll see my piano teacher? Well, we should have had a moment!" He cracks me up. I saw him the next day, we had a moment! Ha ha ha. Evelyn and I worked hard over the weekend to collect facts about the Bearded Reedling, a tiny marsh bird native to Europe. After the recital we worked on making a diorama with an old box, clay for the bird and sun (plus some pink in the nest for color), torn blue paper for the water, and Popsicle sticks for reeds. I quite enjoyed working with Evelyn on her project. I helped with the hot glue gun, she did the rest herself!

Everett also needed help writing a report on Portugal for a Social Studies project. We researched a bit and he decided to focus on the foods of Portugal. Wednesday we worked on a poster board for his presentation at school. We had a bit of trouble communicating. I think he wanted me to do all the work for him, but I made him come up with the ideas and write everything out. His poster looked pretty good for a 3rd grader.

Evelyn presented her Bearded Reedling project Thursday morning. Josie got to play with Keturah Smith at the Idea Museum all morning! She was a bit reluctant to go but had a super time with Ezra and Julia. It was nice to just focus on Evelyn for a bit. She refused to present until she had to as the last presenter. She was so cute twisting her hair while telling about herself and READING her report. She is turning into a good reader, no surprise there. After reading her report her classmates asked questions about the Bearded Reedling that she tried to answer. That girl is the cutest, she can pull of anything...once her mind is set. I found myself alone with two hours to spare. Soooooo, I went Christmas shopping. I hit Walmart and Target collecting all the things for Christmas this year. It was so nice not to battle the crowds swarming the stores on a Saturday.

Friday we had a quick family clean-up in the house. I vacuumed, swept, and mopped again. Phillip is totally into Fantastic Beasts so he was quite the whiz helping out so he could watch the first movie. We left our house by 9 am on Saturday morning. Edgar hosted an Open House from 9-1:30 pm. Justin left super early to grab tickets for Santa's Wonderland at Bass Pro. I still feel like a cheater going to the store but free photos and experience are hard to beat. The rest of us caught up at 9:35 just in time to enjoy the fun activities before getting in line. Tickets went fast but Justin snagged tickets so we did not have to wait long. Josie was so cute, she would not look at Santa, made Mia take her over, she tolerated a short sit on Santa's lap. I could see her whisper "Santa, I want a baby My Little Pony with a crown and bottle." Everett wrapped himself right up, completely at ease! Phillip was unsure if he could sit on Santa's lap, so he did the most hilarious backwards wiggle, easing himself onto one of Santa's legs. I about died laughing! All I saw was "beep, beep, load coming through!" Ha ha ha. Amelia refused to have a turn, but lowered herself to get a group photo. I am totally into child torture and embarrassment. I got my just dues when Josie threw a royal tantrum over a fishing rod and then a camping lantern. Phew, she is one stubborn kid when she wants to be. She does not get things usually when she and I shop, she gets one thing a month as an allowance. Sometimes a small treat if she behaves. Cry away kid! She threw another royal tantrum at Joann Fabric store earlier in the week. Her eyes beheld the most beautiful Frozen treasure chest, she toted it around the store for 30 minutes. She heard me say a few times I was not getting her the chest, stubborn girl insisted. We left with her purple in the face screaming about the Elsa Treasure Chest. Nope, double and triple NOPE. Back to the real narrative. The kids played at the park across from the shopping center for an hour or so. Everett was playing a form of chase, he and this other little boy were "girl slapping" each other if caught by the other. I was afraid that game would turn into real slapping and punching, stepped in as mean mom. That park is really fun to play in, so many fun areas for all different ages. We still had over an hour to burn, went to lunch at Moreno's. Forced absence from our home seemed like a good excuse to eat out. Only two people and a curious neighbor attended the Open House, boo.

Amelia, Chloe, and I went out shopping after we could go back home. Evelyn decided to change her Christmas list, like completely. I returned two items at Walmart, returned an item to Big Lots, and went to Joann's for the treasure chest, then Old Navy and Marshalls. The girls were hilarious! I forgot how silly girls are out shopping. Amelia and Chloe chose gifts for a little gift exchange they are hosting next week. Lastly, we went to Target so the girls could choose matching "Chloes" aka hoodies. I spotted the perfect hoodies on Tuesday, a sherbet tie-dyed hoodie with Star Wars on the front and the Rebel symbol on the back. I was pooped after that long day. Came home only to realize the Christensen's Posada was starting in 20 minutes and I signed up to bring apple cider. I quickly assembled the ingredients and boiled the brew for a bit before putting it in the crock pot...faux crock pot cooking! Over a 100 people showed up for the Posada! Every year the attendance goes up, hooray for lots of friends. Josie did not eat a scrap of food, it was too yucky. Her loss, nothing beats street tacos.

I worked to finalize the music for our Christmas program next Sunday. I hope the songs and performances bring the spirit to those looking for a spot of warmth in their heart this season. We've practiced long and hard to do our best this Sunday. I'm grateful for all the talented folks who volunteer their time and efforts.

**Phillip introduced Josie to the most annoying (and inappropriate) song: "Up Butt Coconut" a crass song about a monkey, butts, and coconuts. He was near tears because Josie played the song about 30 times in a row. He promised to never introduce gross songs to his sister again. That artist and song is blocked. Think Weird Al Yankovich of 2019 level of strange. Poor Ronald was so annoyed with the situation. I was not around for the experience but heard about it later. Thankfully, she forgot about the song and does not recall the words.  Anyone who plays that song will get a stiff consequence.