1 day ago
16 July 2018
I watched the boys for their last swim team practice, there are more practises but only for the kids who qualify for pre-lims and the competitions. They made it!!! I am so proud of the older kids for sticking to all the hard practises and learning so much. Phillip killed it out there during practice. He really did his best. Everett really struggled with swim team. He barely swam across the pool, mostly hanging onto the dividers as he slowly swam under the water. I wish the coaches let me know he really needed individual swim lessons to learn his strokes. The coaches all told me at the beginning that Everett would be taught and helped along. Seemed like they just let him flounder, even letting him jump in however he desired. It's partly my fault for not attending practises, Josie and Evelyn are asleep most mornings and taking Josie is pure distraction since she only wants to swim. Next year I will enroll Everett in lessons before the season starts.
I heard about a local bakery hosting a Harry Potter event for free cupcakes and butterbeer. The kids dressed up and scrounged up wands for the party. I printed off spell lists for the kids to practice their spell making. Everett was disappointed there was not a spell that made lightening shoot from his wand. The bakery was all decorated with Harry Potter paraphernalia. The kids were sorted into a house, Mia, Josie, and Everett into Hufflepuff, Evelyn into Ravenclaw, and Phillip into Gryffindor. The cupcakes were so delicious! I indulged in a bite or two. Evelyn and Josie loved the play kitchen area. Amelia was impressed the butterbeer we made at home tasted the same as the bottled version we tried (just with a more chemical aftertaste). The kids made wands and played with the photo props. All in all a nice time for everyone.
Thursday we headed to the mall early in the morning. Build-a-Bear hosted a pay-your-age sale. We parked, walked to the corner, saw the line, and got back in the van. The line was stretched completely around the block and down to the next block. Looked like a 6+ hour wait in the humid heat. No thank you. So we headed to Peter Piper Pizza in order to redeem the kid's free pizza coupons earned through the library reading program. We had no idea the pizza parlor also had an arcade! Score. I shelled out money for tokens. The kids raced about shoving tokens into machines like crazy folks. All the kids loved the water shooting game and the car racing game. Josie was content to win two rubber balls from the claw game. Her favorite game by far was the Paw Patrol game. I had to laugh as I caught snatched glimpses of the kids clutching cups of tokens in one hand and reams of tickets in the other. Once the tokens were used up the kids counted out their tickets and redeemed their points for cheap trinkets and candy. I remember thinking as a kid why my Mom hated these amazing arcades. Now I know, total waste of money! Alas, I tucked that feeling away and let them play much like my mom did way back when. One our way home I stopped at a water store and bought 8 10lb blocks of ice. Our pool's temperature was hovering between 96 and 98 degrees. We threw the ice into the pool and let the kids loose to play icebergs. The Russo's came over to enjoy the event. Once the ice melted the pool temperature was down to 92. Josie can swim almost across the pool now on her own!
Our week was quite overcast and humid. Several thunderstorms ripped open throughout the week. I contentedly enjoyed a nice evening thunderstorm after everyone else was in bed. Even with the lower temperature the humidity makes the heat almost unbearable.
Justin and I hired a sitter Friday evening. We caught some dinner at a salad joint then watched Ant man and the Wasp. I like going on dates without the kids. It's nice.
We spent Saturday morning working on the yard. Justin trimmed the bushes out front and mowed. I worked with the kids in the backyard picking up clutter. Amelia and Evelyn hosed down the playhouse since it was covered with dirt from the storms. Phillip cried and whined for an hour about picking up dog poop. He ended up paying me $8 to do the chore for him. Nice! I took myself to 7-11 for a cold drink, thanks for the money dude! He was so unhappy about paying me all of his money I agreed to let him earn back $5 if he helped me with the garage. It needed some major de-cluttering. The boys worked on cleaning out the lego and dress up area. Phillip worked hard and earned back $5 of the $8 dollars. We were all dripping with sweat before lunch rolled around. I dropped off a load of stuff to Goodwill. After naps we spent some time cooling off in the pool, wait, the water was the same temperature as outside the water. Phillip and Everett brought in the Imaginext toys to the living room. They spent the rest of the evening playing with the toys. I found a plush Skye for Josie off Amazon. She was so darling while opening her new toy, gushing over it. She totes it around all the time now.
Posted by Jenni Call at 3:36 PM
11 July 2018
Everett earned the "make your mother laugh" award this week. I came downstairs one morning to hear Everett crooning over something. He was petting a dead dove that I'm guess the dog brought in. Once he noticed me Everett said, "Mom! Look this nice bird is letting me pet it! Oooooo, it's so soft. Look! I can even pick it up and it's neck flops around!" He truly had no idea the bird was dead. We talked about how the bird was no longer alive and that's the reason it was not moving. Everett responded by picking the bird up and letting me know that dead birds don't freak him out. Oh my gracious...I went back to my room and enjoyed a loud, raucous laugh.
I finally had the chance to watch Amelia during swim team practice. The team started out stretching then doing laps by stroke. The instructors had those kids running, doing jumping jacks, lunges, and laps. The funniest race was when groups of 3 kids raced, the front kid as the arms, a middle kid as the middle, and the last kid as the legs. They had to work awkwardly together to make it to the other side of the pool. She is doing much better than she reported to me, I'd say her skill set is near the middle! Almost every photo I took captured her gaping mouth sucking in air! The kids got to play at the end of practice on the water slides and enjoy a Popsicle. I picked up Patriotic hats and sunglasses at Target's dollar bins. The kids let me practice using my studio lights outside for some 4th of July photos. I am amazed at how crisp and vivid the photos are using my lights outside. The wind kept tipping over my umbrella so Amelia had to prop it up with her body. I love how the sky pops as well.
Our 4th of July was quite relaxing. I made a cold broccoli salad and a crock pot of baked beans the night before. We left relatively early on Wednesday to drive up to Payson where my cousin Amber Mcentire lives. Justin stopped at Safeway where I bought some ice and soda for the cooler. In my hurry I left my dang wallet in the shopping cart again. Doh! I am sure my luck will run out one of these days and the dang item will get stolen. The store found it first and kept it safe until I realized the next day it was gone and retraced my steps. Payson was a good 15 degrees cooler than Gilbert. We all went on a hike with Amber, Megan, and Amy on a trail that included lots of huge boulders for the kids to climb on. The hike did not last long, we got too hot after just 15 minutes. The kids had such a fun time climbing the boulders, even Josie got into the action. Amber showed us a partially split and burned tree the kids could fit inside. We headed back to the Mcentire home for lunch of baked chicken, beans, broccoli salad, chips, and watermelon. Yum! Amy let the little girls play with her pet shop toys, much to their delight. We rested and play a bit until 2:30 or 3 pm. We all headed to Tonto basin, specifically Roosevelt lake for the rest of the afternoon to swim and relax. Mike loaded up their pedal boat and life jackets. All the kids loaded into the boat or on floaties and drifted off a ways off the shore to do what kids to best. Brandon caught a crayfish and made it really mad...then let it go. That mean old crabfish snapped my butt not once but twice. The first time I was crouched down in the water taking photos of Josie playing on the shore, suddenly that cur snipped me right on my privates. Yeouch! I jumped clear out of the water and sprinted to shore. Twenty minutes later Josie wanted to get wet so I helped her in choosing a spot quite a ways from the previous attack, little bugger found me again crouched and snipped me in nearly the same spot. Ornery little bugger! I stayed out of the water after that, flinching each time a pebble rubbed my toe. Evelyn saw me jump the second time, she refused to get back in the water for quite some time. Guess those crabs only like squatting, stationary, white bums! Easy targets. Phillip and Brandon headed out to almost the middle of the lake for a time. The girls were intent on swimming all the way out there to catch up. We roasted in the sun in between necessary dips to cool off. I am so happy that Amelia and Amy play well together. Cousins are the best. We parted ways around 6:30, us heading back to Gilbert and the Mcentire's to Payson. We headed to Mesa, hoping to catch the city firework show. Everett had to go pee on the way home. He lost the pee bottle lid. Then he was not paying attention and sprayed urine all over Amelia's arm, book, clothes, and seat. The kid had no idea why Amelia suddenly turned witch on him, yelling and screaming. Justin quickly pulled over so I could help defuse the situation. We still have not located the pee bottle lid. We grabbed some dinner before the show. The restaurant bathroom was out of order, the girls and I had to walk to the closest gas station for facilities. Outside was roasting hot. Justin found a spot to view the show from a random parking lot. I spread out towels on the asphalt so we could watch outside the van. The heat quickly burned any exposed skin through the towels. The boys all holed up in the stuffy van, with the girls on the burning towels. Not sure who had the better spot. Josie was quite enamored with the fireworks. Evelyn was quite proud that she did not get scared this year and did not need boom protectors. We needed some patriotic music to serenade the show!
I took the kids for a game of bowling and mini golf at Fat Cats for our fun outing this week. Turns out bowling is not so fun. The kids lost interest after the first 3 frames. I had the computer put of rails for all the kids and let them use the ramp for extra fun. I bowled an especially good game with those rails up! Mini golf was much more amusing. I followed Josie around giggling over her funny expressions while she tried to hit her ball around. Amelia stayed glued to the couch this week completely engaged in the Harry Potter series. She finished the first 5 books in less than 6 days! Seems like each time I catch a glimpse of her all I can see is the book and her legs. Evelyn left lipstick impressions on the wall! Once asked about her lips on the walls she let me know that the lips were to tell the house how glad she was to be home after the beach. Well, then! Don't me stop you.
Justin finally watched Greatest Showman. I loved watching the extras, especially the making of the soundtrack. I adore the song, "This is Me!"
I roped Justin into going with us to Sunsplash on Saturday. This was one pogo pass location I could manage on my own. We picked a nasty, hot day to go! The high was 112 with 26% humidity. We rented a small locked to keep our electronics and such safe, but kept the swim bag out. Justin headed off to explore the water slides with the older kids. Evelyn, Josie and I checked out the kid area. Evelyn loved the smaller water slides! She was happy to swim without her floaties. Josie was especially upset that I would not let her take off her floaties. She hates them with a passion. Both girls enjoyed the wave pool! Justin said they could not ride some of the slides because the stairs were too hot and only swim shoes were allowed. They rode what was allowed. The water in the shallowest pool was so hot. It felt like a hot tub! Only the splash pad offered water cool enough to bring down our heat register. Phew. The kids started to melt down around 3 so we fed them hot water...just kidding, Justin got hot french fries and cold drinks. We all perked up a bit after a treat. All the kids rebelled when we announced it was time to leave at 6 pm. Amelia really wanted to come back and swim until 10 pm. After eating some dinner at our new favorite Mexican restaurant all the kids decided they were too tired. Justin said the shrimp ceviche was amazing! Josie fell asleep in the van between the water park and dinner. She stayed asleep on my shoulder much to my delight.
Posted by Jenni Call at 3:58 PM
06 July 2018
We might not ever go on vacation again...at least until Josie is over the age of 8, that gives us 6 years before our next vacation. What a relief to know we can just stay at home and never leave. Seems like each time we go on vacation someone ends up at the instacare, this time the ER. Good gracious. I had a hankering to introduce the kids to the beach. They grew up thinking Lake Bridgeport, NE was the ocean and beach. After our first few moments on a real beach the kids all agreed the two spots are vastly different. I found a cute little hotel in Laguna Beach for a really good deal, as long as we did not book over a weekend. Our room slept 6, so we only had to sneak in the baby. Actually, the extra bed was terrible so the boys took turns sleeping on the floor thanks to a more comfortable sleeping pad.
We spent Monday doing laundry and packing clothes. The kids were quite excited to pack up their own backpacks again. Just the thought of packing two swim suits was quite exciting, ya know, one for the beach and one for the pool! The littler kids and I spent the morning running errands to the bank, Walmart (juice/snacks), and Costco (muffins). I planned to buy breakfast and lunch items to bring in a cooler. Just covering lunch with sandwiches lowered our cost exponentially. Cha-ching. Evelyn chattered non-stop about packing her clothes, whether Justin was going, if he wanted her to pack his bag, etc. I watched Everett rub his face along the carpet for the entire length of the hallway. A while later he came to me complaining that his nose was burning. I asked him why he rubbed his face along the carpet, apparently it was fun...until he gave himself carpet burn. The next day revealed a nice strip of skin was rubbed off. Now he knows what a carpet burn is! Around 5:30 pm Phillip came whining up to me that his right ear was hurting again. I rushed him to a minute clinic still open until 7, we barely got into the clinic before it stopped accepting walk-ins. Per inspection, his ear is indeed red and the ear drum bulging. He got another round of antibiotics with a promise that he will see his pediatrician again and possibly an ENT specialist. Looks like another round of tubes could be in his future. We found a $12 boogie board at the CVS while getting his prescription!
We headed out around 9 am leaving the hot Arizona sun behind us. It stayed HOT until a few miles from the beach. Our drive was not so long, about 6 hours to Laguna Beach. We checked in then walked down to the beach, a mere four blocks away. We did not change clothes, intending to just check out the beach and put our feet in the sand. What was I thinking? Kids, water, sand? As the beach loomed larger the kid's eyes became larger as well. Amelia had the hugest grin ever! Soon our little feet were in the soft beach sand. Not long after that the kids were magically in the surf, covered with sand, and wet as wet can be. Justin and I laughed off their exuberance and enjoyed the moment. Josie wanted to swim more than anything, she finally got to swim before realizing the water was salty and quite disgusting to ingest! After her first douse in the water she really did not get wet again without persuasion. We walked back up to our hotel a sandy, wet mess. We found an outdoor spigot to rinse some of the sand off. You know how sand works it's way into everything, and I mean everything. The kids were all freezing in the 72 degree balmy weather. We drove around in search of family friendly dining. We finally settled on Greek fare at the Damasq Cafe, an small diner serving shawarma and kabobs. Mia had a bad headache and her hip was hurting so she was grumpy. We settled down to eat one several barstools outside the diner. Dinner was so delicious. The kids even devoured their food. Towards the end of our meal Josie decided to play acrobat and flipped herself off backwards off the barstool onto the curb with the right side of her forehead. I was helping the boys and Justin was not paying attention when she took her dive. I snatched her up and immediately noticed her right eye was not responding, it rolled around without any coordination to her left eye. I could tell her eye was also starting to swell quickly. After reporting this to Justin we hurriedly packed up the kids and headed to the nearest instacare. The kids said some powerful prayers for Josie while Justin drove. Justin quickly gave Josie a priesthood blessing before I ran into the instacare office. The instacare immediately pointed us to the nearest ER at Hoag hospital. As we drove Josie tossed her dinner. Carseat barf is the the worst, it's impossible to clean all the mess off the nooks and crannies. Bonus, our van smelled like reject Greek food the rest of our trip. Justin dropped me off with Josie at the front ER door. I checked in and was told the wait was an hour. Props to Josie for starting to fall asleep and lose consciousness. She started throwing up again all over myself and the floor. I made a fuss which cut short our wait to less than a few minutes. Justin walked in with the kids when she started throwing up even more. Soon we were ushered into a room for monitoring. She was dosed with a anti-nausea medication to calm her stomach. The kids waited patiently in the room on the floor and in chairs watching Disney Jr. I placed a text and phone call to my Uncle Shawn and Aunt Sandi asking for help if they were available. Most gratefully they showed up and took the older 4 kids off on an adventure to the Huntington Beach Pier for french fries at Ruby's Diner then off to their home for TV time. Shawn and Justin gave Josie another blessing with consecrated oil before Shawn took the kids. She was blessed to make a full recovery with no future impact on her health. We waited and waited for an open slot for a CT scan. Josie was not happy when her bed was moved without me in it for the CT scan. I held her chin and neck still during the scan. She was crying before the scan started but stopped crying during the scan. She was mesmerized by the rainbow lights of the scanner! The tech said Josie did 100% better than the 25 year old he scanned just before her! Her first scan was clear so no need to redo the scan more than once. A while later the Dr came in to report that the scan revealed no bone damage or brain swelling. Soon after we were released with instructions to wake her up several times that night, use wet tea bags to reduce swelling, and pain relief for headaches. Shawn and Sandi met us at the ER door to drop off the kids. The kids were quite excited to show us all the paper cars their french fries were served in! We made it to our room after 11 pm. Needless to say we were all a bit tired and worn out after that exciting evening. No one stirred until well after 9:30 the next morning.
I am not a very excitable person, the stress paid off with mental weariness, we all spent the morning resting until 11 am. The kids amused themselves with muffins and TV until we all caught up with the program. We hopped in the van excited for our beach day. I should say, we tried to hop in the van because nothing was responding. Dag-nabit. One of the van dome lights was left on, completely draining the battery. Instead of heading the the beach Justin went in search of an AutoZone to test the battery and possibly replace it. That consumed 90 minutes of driving inland. Finally we headed back to Laguna Beach for some beach fun. Parking was crazy around the city beach, we parked a good mile away and hoofed it back to the beach with all our beach stuff. The customary sand toys, towels, sunscreen, snacks, *camera*, and such. The surf was a bit crazy most of the time. Heaven! Sitting on the beach playing with sand with Josie! Squealing and running away from the waves with Evelyn. Watching Everett's cold Frankenstein moves when he finally rested out of the water. Amelia and Phillip riding the waves with our cheap boogie board. Sand filling every crevice, the rest filled with salt water. Eating cookies after salt water is about the best thing ever. Josie was quite crabby and intent on staying inside the shade tent instead of near the water. Her poor eye was swollen shut and colored purple and blue. We got to explore the tidal rocks in search of small ocean creatures. Our lovely 4 hours went by way too fast. We headed back to the shower area around dinner time. Evelyn showered off the sand then went back and encrusted herself with sand again. That child was covered with sand. Justin offered to Sherpa the large bag of towels and toys back up the to van a few blocks away. Poor guy earned some chafing on his thighs for his efforts. The rest of us were grateful not to walk the distance with a crowd of whiners. We enjoyed dinner at a roadside hamburger joint (Husky Burgers)...with tables and chairs outside. Back at the hotel we all went swimming in the pool to rinse off more sand and salt. Evelyn soiled her swim suit bottoms, she was incredulous I made her wear a swim diaper, she was ready to skinny dip. Phillip's swim trunks were full of algae and sea weed! The amount of stuff he left on the bathroom floor was more than impressive. The kids prepared a swim show as a game for the evening. Amelia, Evelyn, Josie, and I walked down to the beach just to admire high tide coming in and the moon reflected on the water. The stroller decided to come apart right then, grrr! It only needed to last another few months!
Next morning we were all in the pool again before 9:30 am. Amelia and Phillip somehow both scraped their faces on the pool walls, Mia had a scrape on her upper lip and Phillip on his forehead. Guess that game of Marco Polo was more involved than imagined. I enjoyed a lovely muffin outside in the cool morning air, surrounded with fragrant ocean air and gorgeous plants. We ate some sandwiches for lunch in our hotel room before heading out to Huntington State Beach for the day. Once again the surf was quite high and strong for the day. We had a bit of cloud cover off and on all afternoon. Josie's eye was not as swollen by Thursday, she could open her eye and see out of it. The color was even more vibrant and slowly bleeding to color under her eye as well. I got more than a few mean stares from folks thinking she was abused or neglected. Justin agreed to watch Josie for a bit so I could actually swim in the water. I grabbed the Boogie board and went for a ride. The third wave I rode was quite strong, the board collapsed under the pressure and sent me roiling! The current ripped off my swim bottoms! Gratefully, my quick toes grabbed my shorts before the errant garments got ripped completely away. Getting my shorts back on was another dance with the waves. I had to move close enough to shore so the waves did not crash over me, but not close enough to reveal my naked half. I finally got my shorts back on inside out and backwards...but on my body. Went back out to swim the waves with Mia only to have my shorts yanked down again! Yikes! Guess my shorts were a bit too loose. Justin was quite sad he missed the spectacle and quite keen to repeat the event with the kids on shore. The wind caught up our shade umbrella at one point. Amelia, Phillip, and Everett all became quite proficient at body surfing before our day was over! Evelyn got "washing machined," she is still telling us all about that a week later. Getting washing machined was more like she got saltwater in her face, but to a toddler her face full probably felt like a washing machine experience. I love asking her about getting washing machined, her eyes light up and she tells me all about it. She did not really get wet again afterwards, content to play in the sand. She was quite delighted with making herself sand mermaid tails. The kids were happy to get nachos, shakes, and a hot dog to share for a treat. Beach food is quite crunchy. We cleaned up around 5:30 in order to meet Shawn and Sandi for dinner. They reserved a table at Ruby's Diner much to the kid's delight, this time for a meal. Walking down the pier brought back many fun memories of other walks I've had down that pier. We watched the sun go down while we ate some delicious food and enjoyed time my with Uncle. Sandi was so patient with our talkative Everett. Phillip assembled paper cars for all the kids, the cars hold french fries. After dinner we walked slowly down the pier admiring the fishermen and surfers. I wonder if the fishermen have ever caught a surfer?! All the kids wanted to get a souvenir so Shawn led us to a popular gift shop. After much hemming and hawing the kids placed their chosen items on the counter: a key chain for Mia, a Maui fish hook necklace for Phillip, a shark puppet for Everett, unicorn slime for Evelyn, and nothing for Josie. Evelyn attached herself to Sandi, holding her hand the entire time. We drove back to our hotel with a group of very tired children.
The last morning dawned gray and misty. I planned to visit the beach down the road before we checked out but the kids were not very keen on that idea. We cleaned up and packed the van then left. Justin drove us down the Pacific highway to San Diego. He had in his mind to go visit Old San Diego. Google maps took us to downtown San Diego instead, which was very cool but not the right place. Justin was equating Old San Diego with Mexican food for lunch. I was quite confused not realizing the place he was looking for was a quaint tourist trap focused on the first settlers of the city. He finally found the correct location. We spilled out of the van and indeed smelled delicious Mexican food hovering over the area. Lunch was served at an authentically decorated affair, the food delicious as the smells. Everett ate so much he could barely walk after lunch. He did start walking after some prodding and once we spied a candy store in the distance. The kids went bonkers in the candy store, especially when they were allowed to choose one candy per kid. Kids in a candy store...how quaint. Josie was so excited to score a large pink lollipop, 'licious! I spied a luchadore face mask with a rooster comb on the crown. Yep! It came home with us! Our love of Nacho Libre is legendary, so the mask came home too. Our last stop was to the Mormon Battalion museum. Courtenay's brother acted as one of the characters in the filmed narrative! We really enjoyed the interactive exhibits and the various rooms. Everett was enlisted as a child soldier, uniformed up as a soldier for us all to see. The gun was almost twice his height. We left the balmy weather behind about 30 miles away from the coast. Bam! Back to temps hovering in the 100s. Our drive home paralleled the US/Mexican border, Justin spied the border fence several times. The desert scenery reminded him of his years spent at 29 Palms military base, dusty, hot, shimmering desert. We stopped at a fast food joint with a play area so the kids could run off some energy. The air conditioning was not working so the play area was hotter than Hades 3rd circle. We hobbled back into our garage around 10:30 that night. I was worried about Josie going back to sleep since she slept a good hour right before we got home. Gratefully, she did sleep.
Sometimes I have genius ideas, coming home on a Friday night was genius. We all got to rest and sleep in on Saturday. Justin was a slave driver, making us all unpack before the sun drove the temperatures above 105. I focused on laundry and cleaning out Josie car seat. The van still has a mild funk from that experience. We did not do much else except unpack and clean up from the beach. I am reading Harry Potter out loud to the kids. Amelia decided to read the first book again after I started reading it. By Sunday evening she finished reading the 2nd and 3rd books. She's rejected reading the books after the first one because she was horrified after learning Voldemort was drinking a unicorn's blood to gain power (that was 3 years ago). That kid is hooked line and sinker now! Poor Phillip spent the entire day on the couch with a headache and tummy ache. He looked miserable all day. He did not eat much Friday either, earning some flack from us about ordering food then wasting it. He was not permitted to eat his candy shop treat until the next day for wasting food. Now I feel bad, looks like he really was sick and not faking it. Justin gave him some nice snuggles while they watched TV. He was back to his normal self come Sunday morning. For singing time this Sunday we spent our time singing Patriotic songs from the hymnal! I thought we had quite a good time marching and singing to the tunes. Everett came home enamored with My Country Tis of Thee. During Senior Primary I was left 45 minutes to fill with my 20 minute lesson. Gah, drives me nuts how often they use me to crutch along the time they should fill with a longer lesson. "Hey! Sister Call...wink...I'll just give you 45 minutes with 15 kids, half of whom have lost interest in Primary and singing, good luck!"
Posted by Jenni Call at 12:15 AM