24 January 2021

Inauguration Week


I didn't know what to title this particular entry...it's been a boring week. We celebrated Martin Luther King day like most every other day. The boys learned about him in their Monday Social Studies zoom meetings. Inauguration day felt like an ominous day, nothing untoward actually happened...except the democrats ruling the government now. Since Wednesday Biden worked hard to undo all the things Trump worked hard to accomplish. It's like a new president HAS to erase the former president before he can snuggle into the chair of power. I bought extra bags of flour, oatmeal, and dried milk to celebrate the coup. My dad sent an excellent review of conference via email. Floored me that he listened to conference like 15 times in double speed, the things you can learn in solitude! What can one learn in chaos? Feels like survival. I've had school for next year on my mind. Trying to decide if homeschooling is our jam or just to get through the COVID crisis. I know next year I would do things much differently with more book curriculum if we continue this avenue. I feel like Phillip would flourish better at school, he responds much differently with a teacher in a public setting. 

Half of the family ended up with the sniffles this week. Mia and I skipped the gym two days since she was not feeling well at all. Evelyn had the worst of the germs with a cough and runny nose. Josie went to gymnastics by herself on Tuesday. I stayed in the gym to watch her. Once again she freaked out on the balance beam. She was doing so well then realized she was high off the ground. I looked over to find her grasping the underside of the beam with her hands and feet yelling, "No! I'm a baby koala!" Her coach pried her off the beam, Josie then went full Koala mode on her teacher refusing to unlatch her hands or feet in favor of the beam. The adults were all trying very hard not to laugh, Josie was crying. It's hard to face your fears, even with a soft mat underneath you. 

The kids had quite the time this week playing "fox holes" in the school room. It was a disaster by Friday morning. The kids each had a fox hole (pile of blankets and pillows under a desk of chair) split up by unused bunk bed rails. I invited the Ostler's to come help us clean up the mess, took only 10 minutes and no whining. Phillip worked hard to assemble his last Christmas Lego: Lady Luck the pirate ship. He is massively proud of his largest project to date. Sometimes the mermaid prow is replaced with the shark! Ha ha. 

I had a meeting with the student success team to add accommodations to Phillip's 504 specifically for testing. We are trying to find a testing site he can go to instead of testing at home because of all the distractions. The boys worked extra hard this week and finished passing off the last of the PLGs for the year. Now our bi-monthly reports can be focused learned the fun stuff in math, ELA, Science, and Social Studies. 

Mia spent a chunk of time this week planning a surprise birthday party for Josie. She created the cutest invitations for her party, hand decorating the cards with lettering. Saturday we delivered 5 invitations to some folks we know like the Palmers, Potters, Tiny Chloe, Hyde's and the Ostlers. I ordered the cheapest power wheels on Walmart clearance for $80 cheaper than any other model, thankfully the car is pink. Amelia and I searched Amazon for Koala party supplies. Josie will be thrilled with her koala pinata, favors, and decor. I even found a fun $15 over-large koala she can snuggle with. Her favorite show right now is "Izzy's Koala World." She found a night dress at Walmart earlier in the week, she wore it for 4 days in a row. By Friday her hair was messy enough it stuck out of her sleeping mask like her own pair of koala ears. 

I'm busy figuring out how to work my magic on a laptop...a MAC laptop at that. It's quite a change from the PC. Somethings are very similar to my iPhone so that is nice. Other things are quite frustrating like finding my files and re-wiring my brain to understand how the MAC stores things like my files. It is magically fast with editing on Lightroom and Photoshop. 

17 January 2021

Grandpa Lynn's Funeral and a new Deacon

I am trying to figure out how to attach photos to my blog now that I have a new computer. Change can be hard to deal with after years of doing my blog a certain way! In the end my new computer does not support the rather easy photo program I used for blogging. Maybe it's time for a change. One answer could be to just skip the blog and make my family books. I don't know. I missed last week so remembering that will be a challenge! 

School is going. It was hard to get back into the saddle after Christmas break. We managed with a light first week back of school work. We will have state testing come March this year, the kids can practice the tests until end of February. I signed up Phillip and Everett for the ELA test. Everett finished his test in about 30 minutes. Phillip whined for an hour, would not even try to read the first sentence of the test. That was particularly frustrating. I then switched his assignment to work on a 5 question math quiz. Same behavior. He missed lunch and was facing a weekend of boredom over a stupid quiz. He gives up before even trying. After he actually looked at the quiz and read the questions, he realized it was super easy and finished in 5 minutes. I am concerned he will refuse to take the state tests! This week I contacted the student success team to revise his 504 plan before the deadline in January. I am hoping we can get some extra accommodations especially for testing (extra time, text to voice, multiplication tables, etc). Phillip has got to face the fact that sometimes learning and work include repetition and doing things that fall outside of "fun." These situations are stressful for us all because his behavior (and my responding behavior) affect our home aura. I wish he could test in a facility, but COVID...but COVID. Everett had a fun science experiment testing how useful our thumbs are. The experiment had him wear gloves then tape down his thumbs and try to open bananas, twist jar lids, pour pitchers, pick up marbles, etc. It looked so fun the other kids soon lost their thumbs! They raced around on the hoverboards acting like raptors. Everett is also learning about the fur trade in Idaho. He and I played a fun Trader and Indian game, we each had cards with trade items rated on a point system. I won, my barter skills are superb. I was "Ninja Mother" the Nez Perce Indian. Everett was Everett the Fur Trader. After Christmas break I expected Evelyn's reading skills to be much worse. She stepped up to the plate and is reading like a champ. We even started reading a chapter book together. I guess when your front teeth come in your reading skills improve?! Ha ha. Amelia experienced some headaches this week with lots of tests at the end of first semester. She got through her tests without much of a problem. This week she had to create a portfolio showing what was learned and answer a bunch of questions about each course. That was fine just time consuming. Things got dicey on Wednesday when she found out that part of her math grade was based on taking math tests in CTC Math. She did all the course work but had to go back and take a certain test (not the ones she took during the semester of course). We stressed over taking 12 math tests in a day. She did really, really well until the linear equations. Those had me stumped as well. I understood the mechanics but the answers were not matching up. Dusty came over and clarified the problems in less that 5 minutes after we stressed over the equations for an hour. Felt good to submit that test. Bam. 

Everett decided he wanted to make bread. I was not in the mood to assist him. He was not taking no for an answer...he basically made bread all by himself. The bread was super tasty! Way to be assertive, Everett. Everett and Phillip are learning to play a new game called "Here to Slay." The game is a bit complicated. I have a hard time keeping the rules and following the gist of the game. So we fight. The game is best played with fighting gloves on and shouting. Phillip made the game extra fun this week, he learned how to make guardian cards online! He made me a power card that said, "if you lose, you sever mom for a hole week." Ummmm, that sounds uncomfortable. I helped him spell the words correctly. Guess I get slaves when I win. 

My Grandpa Lynn's funeral was on Saturday the 9th of January in Heber, UT. We joined via Zoom to watch the proceedings. My mom carried dad around on her phone via zoom! He was far away in Saudi Arabia. My dad even delivered the Eulogy via zoom to those present in Heber and remotely. Oddly, we could hear Dad the best. It was very difficult to hear Laura and Scott. The best part was the graveside service. Johnny Miner, Grandpa's great-nephew, played the bag pipes. Grandpa was laid to rest with a lovely military tribute, flag folding, gun salute, and taps. James, Seth, and Jacob all served as pall bearers. My mom sang a lovely Welch lullaby. I felt my heart stir knowing we would meet again with perfect health and as an eternal family. I've included Lynn's obituary:

Lynn Terry Lance was born April 23, 1932, a resident of Gilroy, CA, passed on December 28, 2020. Lynn was born in Salt Lake City, Utah son of Lynn Eldore and Hilda Terry Lance, he met and married Amelia Jean Crook from Fallon, Nevada. After graduating from the University of Utah, he was inducted into the US Army during the Korean War. He served in Verdun, France and Fort Ord, CA. While at Fort Ord they became familiar with the Gilroy area. In 1956, the young couple moved to Gilroy with their two young boys to begin his 32 year career as a teacher for Gilroy Unified School District. He taught thousands of students in Gilroy. He was always interested in how they were doing and never stopped caring about them. Lynn was president of the Gilroy Teachers Association and participated in many school activities over the years. He also served as Bishop of the Gilroy Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and helped build the chapel on the corner of Miller and First Street.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years. Jean and children Lane (Debra) Lance, Scott Lance, Laura (Matt) Pettit, Jonathan (Jan) Lance, Carol Wilson, Shawn (Sandi) Lance, and Sally (Jeff) Herbert. He is also survived by 27 grandchildren and more than 50 great grandchildren.

Last weekend felt quite stressful. I had a moment to un-decorate Christmas, the mess is terrific! I do enjoy the challenge of redecorating the walls. I made a couple small changes to our walls, even set up a seasonal table to Evelyn's delight. I went thrifting on Saturday to shed some stress and find Valentine's decorations for my table. Justin and the boys stepped up before dinner and put all the boxes away. We then cleaned up the main level. Everything looked fabulous all cleaned up. I finally found the calendar I purchased in November...I put it away so it would not get bent. It was in the closet I searched about 6 times...only hung up between several winter coats. Gah! Amelia spent the afternoon with Jocelyn for her birthday. 

Phillip had a stellar Sunday! He was set apart and sustained in sacrament meeting as a new Deacon. He received the Aaronic priesthood right after second (half) hour. We've got a squeakin' Deacon. This Sunday he passed the sacrament for the first time and did a wonderful job. I had to update his wardrobe with a new white shirt, shoes, ties, and a belt. He keeps growing! Justin and I delivered a stellar lecture last week after the testing fiasco about doing hard things. Grandpa Lane would approve. It was ward conference last week. We unexpectedly got a new Bishop. We are praying for the retired Bishop and our new Bishop. The Palmers let us come over and snuggle Tilly's 6 new puppies. The puppies are so, so cute. Almost makes me want a puppy, except I don't want one. Just to snuggle. Phillip also achieved a personal record by making it 7 days without a shower. He was an oily, smelly mess. Gross boys. 

Most of the kids spent some Christmas money this week. Everett found a Gatling nerf gun; so many darts, so many games this week. He can be found shooting inanimate objects of all sizes and kinds. Evelyn finally spotted a doll-sized vanity she's wanted since her birthday. Josie got two figurines of Jojo Swia. I found the dolls buried in kinetic sand the next day. Amelia convinced me to take her to Costco in search of an XXL squishmallow. She scored a cute cheetah now named Chai, Chai Bubble T. The teen is happy. The teen now wants a bar on her bed so can make a bed nest with all her animals. Phillip still has his $20.   

Our country is going cuckoo. President Trump spoke in a rally near the Capitol Building. Soon after the building was "raided" in an effort to change the electoral college votes going on. Now Trump is being impeached only weeks before Inauguration Day. Essentially, Trump is being hailed a terrorist for inciting a riot; Biden is taking over (triple yikes), and patriotism is hailed only if you agree with those in power. In my mind we are at the point where Laconeous and his people retreat into their city and endure a 7 year famine of food and war against the Gadianton robbers. If you express your opinion be ready for folks to crucify you digitally. So instead we are quietly making sure our water storage is up to par, went from 70 gallons of water to 420 in just two days. I bought some used food grade barrels from a local store. Two of the barrels smell like almond extract, that water could be used for bathing. The vinegar smelling barrels are for sanitation and bum washing. The new barrels are for drinking water. My dad said his barrels smell like diet coke....he won the lottery. Hold on kids! The ride will get even more bumpy and strange. 

Yesterday I was able to photograph a baby girl. Her mom found me through her friend whose baby I photographed 6 weeks ago. This baby was gorgeous with curly blonde hair. Sara helped me with a Home Depot trip to buy two new "fake" floors using sheets of paneling. The sheets are so much easier than the loose wood I have. Now to figure out how to edit and use my computer for photos. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. Justin and I went to Cabela's in search of stuff to buy with his store points for our preparedness. We walked out with life jackets, a wound care kit, pepper spray, and an emergency blanket. You never know when you might need to kayak to Zion. 

Well, I'm off to snuggle the cutest baby koala. Her name is Josie. She is darling and loves to snuggle. This koala doesn't eat leaves...she eats marshmallows and chips ahoy. 

06 January 2021

New Years in Utah


Monday the 28th was a very memorable day, it was the day our family lost our dear (Great) Grandpa Lynn to old age and complications. I was feeling stir crazy so planned a trip up to go sledding since there was snow up in the mountains. We left around 10 for Idaho City. It was almost lunch time when we arrived. The kids were of course HOONGRY so we found a mom and pop cafe for sandwiches and fries. We busted out our snow clothes and sleds for a fun afternoon at Steamboat Gulch. The snow was nearly ice by Monday. I had friends go on Friday with lovely soft snow. We got beat up sledding down the hill. Our newest sled broke the first run down the hill! Everett cracked it in half after slamming off and down an icy bump. The icy conditions made for swift and bone jarring rides! Did that stop us? Nope! Well, it did stop me, my back/hips are giving me grief again so I became the photographic documenter. Josie and Everett spent the most time sledding, up and down dozens upon dozens of times. The gulch was packed with lots of other families enjoying the cheap fun. Amelia won an award for bruising her shoulder on the van's bumper...1/8 mile past the hilly area. Justin took a couple runs down the hill with the little girls. Evelyn did not enjoy herself very much, she was a party pooper. Amelia stuck to the sledding even though she walked away limping and stayed sore for a couple days. Everett hurt himself towards the end, he looked like an overturned turtle. We left shortly after Phillip ran into a group of adults. They were standing right in the way of the fastest hill. One of the adults was badly injured, dislocated knee? While the poor lady was down other adults fended off 10 other kids who slid down the same path. Why did it have to be Phillip? Poor kid was traumatized. I was traumatized listening to the lady scream in pain when loaded on a sled to move further away from the hill. An ambulance passed us on the drive home, so many prayers for that poor lady.  

During our sledding adventure I got an email at 12:11 from mom saying Grandpa was in the Emergency Room with severe pain from a flare up of Diverticulitis (personally I think the incorrect name was relayed since that doesn't really end a person's life). Surgery was not a viable option so Grandpa was given 24-48 more hours of life, however by 2:30 pm Grandpa had passed away. He was surrounded by Jean, Scott, Laura, Jonathon, Sally, and Shawn when he passed away. My Dad sent an email later in the evening that just made me sob. I cannot even imagine being alone in Riyadh, wanting to be home more than anything. He recounted the miracles accompanying Grandpa's passing like most of the siblings present, the fact that Grandpa was lucid and knew what was happening, a miracle the Grandparents made it to Robinwood circle, that they had a month in Utah to be with family, a miracle because everyone was worn out caring for him. I am relieved he is now free from his dementia, physical pains, and confusion. He had a lovely welcome in the spirit world. I'm not much of a crier but goodness I cried off and all the rest of the day. I enjoyed an ugly cry the last quarter of our trip home from sledding. I cried the next day when my dad cried over FaceTime. We all cried during our nightly devotional remembering the great man Lynn Terry Lance was and the legacy he left us. His funeral will be next week in Heber. It is a small affair with a viewing and family meeting at the Probst Funeral home in Heber. A small dedication and service at graveside before interment. Just like most of these strange times things are vastly different, we are discouraged from attending since the crowd limit is 50. All proceedings will be broadcast via Zoom. If I only had stocks invested in Zoom! I'd be rich. 

Nampa had a lovely stretch of frozen fog and snow that iced and decorated all the trees and bushes! I convinced Josie to brave the snow for Narnia photos with me. We just finished reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, so the snow and scenery perked my creative juices. I found a spot near the railroad straight out of frozen fairy land! Josie was thrilled to earn a juice box and chocolate for her efforts. Evelyn's top front teeth are finally growing in after a 3 year absence. She is very excited one broke through her gums. The other tooth is about a week or so from growing through her gums. She might lose her ability to lick her left nostril. The hoverboard gang is in constant motion! The kids started forming chains! Several items have been knocked to the floor over the last week. Rose kindly sent the kids two enormous XXL squishmallows for Christmas, a Minnie for the girls and Chewbacca for the boys. 

Tuesday we washed clothes and packed up for a very short Utah trip. We left early Wednesday morning in order to attend the temple with Mason at 3:30 pm. Oh how we love the shorter drive! It only took us 5.5 hours to Bountiful. We visited for an hour with the James family and Muir family. Reagan and Emma entertained us all by using a tens unit to test their shock limitations. Hilarious. Justin and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary in the Bountiful Temple around the same time we were married there! That was quite fun and memorable. It is such a rare treat these days to attend the temple, thanks to Mason for serving a mission and taking out endowments. Thank you especially for the invitation! The changes made to the endowment are in line with all the new COVID restrictions, nothing fancy. Justin made sure we sat on the same sofa in the Celestial Room where we decided it was a good idea to get married. We left Charity and Kenny with our kids...for the night. Yee Haw! Justin and I wasted an hour picking a place to eat, only to find out it had an hour wait. We settled on movie tickets to watch Wonder Woman 1985 for 8 pm. That seriously limited dinner options, in fact we settled on theater nachos and popcorn for dinner! Rock on Calls! Justin booked a room at the same Anniversary Inn, a newly wed couple checked in right in front of us...talk about a blast from the past. We almost invited them to look at photos of our kids and take a tour of our mini van, decided that could discourage them from having kids. LOL. Justin surprised me for the 3rd time in one year! Whoa! Nice! He purchased me an iMac laptop! My current computer is dying already after only a year. I could get used to surprises. 

We picked up delicious doughnuts for breakfast on our way to Charity's home, those two dozen doughnuts never had a fair chance. We visited for a couple hours before packing up and heading south. Our first stop was at Grandma Debbie's home. Uncle Scott was visiting Grandma Jean, he showed us a painting he completed of Grandpa that everyone loved. I asked Grandma if I could take a photo of my kids with her, she complied. Josie was quite reticent to stand near someone so old. Grandma Jean muttered, "well, it's not like I'm scary" then growled quite suddenly and loudly! Josie was freaked out while the rest of are still laughing. My Grandma Jean is a very smart and feisty lady, I enjoyed seeing the lady from 20 years ago for a moment. The boys were able to look through Grandpa Lynn's knife and watch collection. My boys were in awe over the cool knives Grandpa collected. Josie loved the toy dog Grandpa Lane gave Grandpa for comfort. Grandma Jean let us check out her special collection of pop-up books and knick-knacks. I got to choose a pop-up book to take home, a jeweled photo of Great-Grandma, and a set of caroling books. I was so pleased! Next stop was a short visit with Jana, Hannah, and Rachel. Rachel loves to talk about us but the reality is a bit louder than she is comfortable with. Soon Phillip was carrying her about at her whim. So cute. Justin was afraid we would leave a smudge behind. We spent a relatively quiet New Year's Eve with the Lances. Courtenay's kiddos were sick so we couldn't play much with them. James and Miekka had a large spread of finger foods for dinner. We watched numerous episodes of Gravity Falls. My tribe was exhausted after a poor night of sleep. At Charity's house I heard that Everett's elbow, Phillip's snoring, Evelyn falling off the couch, and such made for a restless night. We went to bed by 10 pm with a bunch of crabby kids. Mia and Lia hibernated in Lia's girl cave in the basement, they slept on a bed of squishmallows! Friday Jana came over for the day. We spent another low-key day embroidering, playing outside in the snow (with cousins), and snacking. Evelyn gave Rachel some tips to up her dress-up game. She looked quite the vision with her nerf gun glasses, hat, purse, and rubber chicken. Josie wanted to go back home after she ate with the ducky spoon, took a bath with the Princess toys, and played with Sesie and Bee-Bop. She was quite worried about Minnie Mouse being all alone. 

Saturday we headed back home around 10 am. We stopped to kiss the Grandma's before completing our journey. Our van reeks of Greek Gyros now, thanks to a delicious lunch. It still smells sketchy 4 days later. We listened off and on to Dragon Watch 1, the continuing Fable Haven series. I'm happy to report no barf accompanied us home! Mia was hired to babysit right when we returned home, she had enough time to shower and help unpack her stuff from the van. 

Sunday church started bright and early at 9 am with our entire congregation! Yay! The kids attended 30 minutes of Primary after sacrament. We heard that YM/YW was changed to Tuesday nights, seriously blindsided everyone. Most folks scheduled other activities (choir, sports) on other days of the week, mutual was reserved for Wednesday. The YW leaders switched activities between Tuesday and Wednesday about 8 times, I cancelled Amelia choir and reinstated her to choir 7 times! Make up your minds!!!! I felt over the top frustrated. This morning activities were changed back to Wednesday, making 9 changes in the dates over the span of a week. At 4 pm Phillip, Justin and I attended a Temple Prep and Priesthood meeting for the new YM and YW entering the program this year. Phillip was also interviewed for his limited temple recommend and priesthood interview. So exciting. He will be ordained on the 10th of January. Justin taught part of the class speaking about the Priesthood. It is so nice to attend church in person. Attending the temple was a rare priviledge, I renewed part of my temple recommend after church, still need to meet with a member of the Stake Presidency. 

**Lately Evelyn started drawing pictures of me wearing a fancy dress, lots of curves and daring necklines! I love her creativity. 

27 December 2020

Epic Christmas 2020


Magical! Absolutely magical! Best Christmas ever! It was a good Christmas this year with our "little" family and friends. Last Sunday night Josie sat at the coffee table for an hour writing Santa a letter, the best part, she was narrating her letter. I heard cute whispered phrases like, "please invite me to your workshop, I want an LOL like Evelyn, please send me a delicious Kinder egg, I want to boop Rudolph on the nose, I love you Santa, and your bells are so cute." Throughout the week the mail man probably discovered an extra 4-5 letters from her. Santa can read scribbles so her little wishes were heard. She even scored a kinder egg and LOL surprise still frozen from the North Pole on Thursday. 

Monday I woke the kids up early to accompany me to the gym. They swam while Mia and I exercised. Josie was the only one thrilled to swim. That evening we went tubing with the Ostlers after dinner at the Gateway parks in Eagle Island State Park. The park is only a mile from Justin's work so he met us there after work! All the snow there was manufactured so it was perfectly slick for tubing. Part of the hill was specialized for snowboarders and skiers wanting to practice without going to the slopes. A conveyor belt helped us tow our heavy tubes up the hill. Our best run was definitely when 10 of us hooked up for a speedy trip down the middle hill. It was a whopping 58 degrees that day so we were almost hot from all the trips up and down the hill. Once I caught the highest lip with my head and almost flipped us over, talk about breathtaking. We took several minutes to admire the Christmas star configuration of Jupiter and Saturn an hour after sunset. That was a significant moment in my life! 

Tuesday was my grocery shopping day, took me several hours since the store was packed to the gills with other shoppers. Everett threw me for a loop by asking Santa for a secret gift, one that was not on my gift list. Santa made sure that particular gift was delivered in time. I was so tired that the remaining pile of gifts still remained unwrapped. We joined the Ostlers and the Finch family to go Christmas Caroling around our neighborhood. Three of our neighbors had tears in their eyes while we sang, melted us as well. Two homes said that was first time carolers ever visited their homes. The men hung back trying to direct the women who scattered around the streets without much of a plan. The kids ran helter skelter ringing bells before the rest of the group arrived. Ya know, typical caroling scene. Sara provided hot chocolate or cider afterward to warm up our bones. 

Wednesday morning Amelia helped me wrap the last piles of gifts. She let the little ones help her wrap my gifts. I made the deadline an entire 24 hours early! Ha ha ha. Towards the afternoon we made a last moment trip to Costco in hopes of finding a large squishmallow, no luck. Target had the dorky fairy squishmallows. Our last hope was Fred Meyer, they had small ones so that had to suffice. Can't have a holiday now without new squishmallows. Josie was with us so knew everyone got a new one. She completely surprised me by keeping the secret for two days. Sara and Eliza stopped by with a large gift bucket for Phillip who attended his last few days of Primary. He felt so special! The Nelves rang bells like 4-5 times after lights out, the boys were chatting quite loudly, took a while for the boys to notice! 

Thursday Evelyn raced into our room saying the Nelves left a surprise on the dining table! Fun piles of crafts and candy waited for the kids. Josie was especially into the crafts. She used entire tubes of glitter glue on her penguin craft. The boys did not touch their crafts but quite enjoyed the candy. The Ostlers invited us over for a Fondue lunch! I brought a cheese fondue and a chocolate fondue with fun things to dip. We had hot oil to fry cubes of fancy steak fondue style. Dusty made a delicious sour cream and beau monde spice sauce to dip the steak in. That was a divine meal! The kids snuggled their sweet kitten Astrid before and after lunch. I had a sudden errand come up so left for 30 minutes to get that taken care before the stores closed. We took a chilly walk to the school park while the sun was shining. We hosted dinner at our home. Made the kids clean the entire house on Wednesday and Thursday. Our traditional clam chowder was magical as usual. Justin and I worried over the bacon because it was not crisping up, it finally crisped after I divided the bacon up into two pans. We ate nearly the entire two batches of clam chowder and lots of sour dough bread! That was epic. After dinner the kids chose costumes for the Nativity play. Ambree made the cutest sheep I've ever seen. Justin read the story while the kids played out the story. It was so fun to have enough players! The kids were going wild, Justin put on Phineas and Ferb's Christmas, things went from 100+ to manageable in a few seconds. Our Nelves knocked on the door a little while after the Ostlers left for home. They were sneaky and hid the Christmas PJs on the back patio while knocking on the front door. So much yelling! Josie made for a preciously cute koala, Evelyn was a fuzzy llama, Everett a derpy shark, Phillip a Hogwarts student, and Amelia a cozy dog. After things settled down we watched about Christ's visit to America before heading to bed. We got the parental gifts settled under the tree before heading to bed. 

Santa decided to place his gifts under the tree in the standing room! Mia said she heard tinkling bells sometime in the night! The kids woke us up around 7 am, under strict orders to not wake up up earlier! We enjoyed some stocking time. Josie was so thrilled with everything she pulled out of her stocking. The older kids loved the Roblox gift cards and cute Minecraft power ups. Evelyn and Josie scored makeup, consequently sported wild eye makeup for the day. We headed downstairs after stockings were enjoyed. Everett completely missed the hoverboard in front of his Santa gifts. He went for the pink one near Mia's pile. Lots of fun squeals over their Santa gifts. He moved the cute squishmallows from the living room to the Santa tree and added bows to everything. Mia found a Santa letter near the cookie plate. We took a break to read Santa's silly letter. Then...the family gift opening extravaganza. Grandpa Lane happened to video call right as the kids ripped open their second gifts. It was a mad-house! Grandpa wished us a hurried Merry Christmas then signed off, he he he. Josie won an award for the best expressions and reactions! She was down right hilarious. Everett was thrilled about his snap circuits set. Evelyn made out like a bandit, it's easy to buy for little girls! The rest of the day we wallowed in mountains of boxes, paper, and plastic. The neighbors came over with their 2 new hoverboards, we had a parade of kids on hoverboards for most of the afternoon. The best part was watching the kids figure out how to mount their boards without falling. Quite a few pictures have popped off the wall and furniture slammed out of the way as kids maneuver around the gift remains. That was fabulous. Justin grilled a delicious skirt steak I marinated for carne asada tacos. Yum and double yum. We ate way too many cherry-chocolate cookies for dessert. Mia spent an hour tracing things on her tracing board. Towards evening Josie started whining about starting Christmas again for tomorrow and needing more gifts: she was either tired or spoiled...both?! Justin watched copious amounts of the Mandalorian all day long. Another highlight was video chatting with all our family scattered across the US and world. It was hard to think of Jeff driving truck, Dad eating his tuna sandwich, and Jared pestered by his 4 childish roommates while sequestered in lockdown in Poland. I'm happy we could bring them a spot of Christmas joy.  

Saturday we woke to a smattering of snow. Made for perfect hibernating weather. We played with toys, tried new games, and made tracks all over the house for another day at home. Josie entertained Justin and I with her toy that repeats the last 3 seconds of what is loudest. She had the most hilarious things coming out of her mouth, like you "merping wiggy waggy wormy". So many fights over the two hoverboards, one is mostly Everett's but sharing is hard when you have to share. Everett took his hoverboard outside, he learned that water and electronics don't mix. Justin took apart the board before the battery died. After it dried out the board started working again. Before dinner I instigated a cleaning sessions so we could welcome the Sabbath with a clean house. Everett and Evelyn dissolved into tantrums rather than help. Everett was banned to his room, Evelyn was banned from playing with Ambree for two days. Everett later snapped out of it enough to do all the dishes. We somehow fit all the trash into the bin, thank goodness trash day is Monday! The girls used "wody bash" to take a bubble bath with their new Barbie's. Somehow Evelyn managed to form a perfect duckie out of bubbles...on her head. 

Today we tuned into Charity's ward to listen as Mason gave his farewell talk in church! He takes out his endowments on Wednesday and starts his service mission in January. He will be serving at the DI for a time. Our new church time is 9 am! AND we get to meet all together starting next week for a 2 hour block! The littles are so excited for Primary. Phillip will be ordained sometime in the next couple weeks. Evelyn saved most of her toys opening one at a time and enjoying that toy for quite a few hours! She still has 8 toys left to play with. We opened her Santa gift after church, that was fun to play with her. The boys and I tried playing Here to Slay, I am so not talented at playing complicated games. Everett latches on right away to the rules he enjoys then forgets the technicalities, Phillip just does whatever. That mix of game personalities makes for a bit of yelling and revenge. Jack Frost decorated outside last night, we woke up to a wonderland of lacy frost on all the trees. 

I feel so grateful for this year in spite of all the COVID and political messes. It's been magical to study the Book of Mormon as a family. I've felt like this Christmas was the last of Christmas' like the past. The feeling that things are changing are only getting stronger. I have no idea what next Christmas will be like. Maybe more humble than this year? Maybe the same? Maybe completely different. Regardless, we have each other and the gospel as our base.  

20 December 2020

Piano Recital

Our school week was quite short! The boys only had a couple assignments but spaced throughout the week, Phillip completed a STEM project on Thursday and Everett finished his projects by Thursday as well. We did a short unit studying about Christmas around the world. All the kids chose a country and presented about the country, showed where it was on the map, and highlighted traditions. Evelyn chose Sweden, she dressed up as St Lucia in a white dress and red sash. We made a fun candle crown with construction paper. It was fun to learn about Christmas in France, New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Russia, etc. School vacation started for us on Thursday after I finished our school submissions. Hooray! 

The kids played outside in the melting snow most of Monday. Josie was the most insistent about playing outside. She would come in every hour or so for dry gloves and a snack! The kids shoveled our neighbor's driveway since she is a widow. They left her a note "We wanted to light the world for you today! Enjoy your clean driveway!" The Ostlers started making a snow ramp, it was enough to take a bitty ride on with the snow saucers. I was not too fond of the mountain of wet snow clothes left to moulder in the garage or laundry room. We had a serious chat about putting their wet things into the dryer and starting the dryer. Towards evening we drove to deliver cookies to my Uncle Darrel and Aunt Fawn. It was fun to do a spot of Christmas caroling at their door. At 9 pm we practiced "The Natavity" song with the Ostlers at Sister Miner's home. It sounds so fun to have us all singing together. 

Tuesday and Thursday the younger kids had gymnastics. I picked up the sourdough bread bowls during the girl's class. They were excited when I came in to watch them after my errand. Josie surprised us all by getting up on the high beam after swearing she would not do that again. She earned a candy and lots of high fives for braving the beam again. Thursday I sat out in the van with the bum warmer on to keep warm. It sucked the battery dry...had to beg a jump from someone since my back up battery jumper thing was also out of juice. We made it home...I was hoping the boys would not tell Justin about the battery, it's embarrassing. 

Wednesday was busy with piano lessons and activity day girls. We made fun pop-tart houses and decorated them with lots of candy. Esther gave me a huge bag of leftover candy to decorate with, there were 18 different kinds of loose candy to play with! I had Pandora radio going and a smidgen of snow falling outside for a very festive feeling. My girls joined in the fun since there were plenty of leftover pop-tarts. The boys were able to make their own after their activity. This was the last week of Primary for Phillip and Ambree! Those two are headed for the youth program. 

Friday I was helping Josie clean up their room and put away laundry. I noticed a pile of undies shoved between her bed and Evelyn's dresser. I asked her about that, she replied: "I hate dragon underwears! Those stupid undies have dragons. I put them in timeout!!!!" Silly girl. The kids really banded together and got the house cleaned upstairs and down for our recital. I took the little girls to grab doughuts as a recital treat. We met Justin for lunch at JJ's as a special girl date treat. The littles were especially delighted with some one on one time. This year I have 7 students, three are my own kids. In January I am getting 3 new student while their teacher is on maternity leave. Busy, busy. The kids performed so well! It was fun to watch them bop along to their songs. Phillip and I had quite a challenge staying on beat, he's got his own internal rhythm. Amelia is miss speedy keys! She tailored her song and added some creative license. That was a very nice evening. 

Saturday Justin took the kids for an adventure so I could knuckle down and wrap gifts. I wrapped for 6 hours straight, I only have Evelyn and Justin's gifts to wrap plus some gift stuffer items. Justin took the kids ice skating and then came home to grab the dog for a jaunt to the dog park. The girls helped me wrap the boy's gifts. My back is aching something fierce from sitting on the ground for so long. 

We attended church in person today so we could sing for zoom. The whining about mask wearing and the length of church wore down my patience. When did a 35 minute meeting become too long? Yikes. We enjoyed several musical numbers and the narration. 

Like usual I made a blunder out of organizing a short trip to Utah. Mason is taking out his endowments on the 30th, we wanted to support him in that as he leaves for his service mission. Well, he is staying at home but serving locally. I texted that we were coming, but did not text the Lances first to see if we could stay. I miscommunicated Jana's willingness to let us stay in her basement, put my foot in my mouth inviting ourselves over during James' Christmas vacation, etc, and etc. Too much drama. We shortened our trip to Wednesday-Saturday. The kids are enjoying a sleepover with Aunt Chi-chi on Wednesday so Justin and I can celebrate our 16th anniversary at the Anniversary Inn. Woot, woot. Then we see the Greats, the grands, Shawn, and Jana on our way to Eagle Mt. Spend New Years with the Lances then jiggity jig back home. Apologies that I stepped on toes. I really felt awful. 

16 December 2020

Full Steam in Holiday Mode


We tried very hard this week to get schoolwork done so the next week the kids could start Christmas Break early. The boys really strapped down and got their workbooks done, their math, and finished their research papers! Whoop, whoop! Evelyn is improving with her reading skills everyday. It's a relief to make some progress. 

My main goal was to get all my Christmas cards mailed out last week. I was joined by Josie, Everett, and Amelia. We put on a Christmas Pandora station while we stuffed, licked, closed, and stickered through a pile of 165 cards. We need to stop moving, my list gets longer with each move. All the letters made it to the post office by Wednesday afternoon! Amelia wrote Santa a letter because I told her Santa won't bring ornery 13 year olds gifts without a written letter. Santa wrote her back! LOL! I'm still laughing. The kids all got a fun letter from Santa's workshop. Josie stuffed random stapled pieces of paper with scribbles outlining her Christmas list in the mailbox for a week straight. The Nelves finally got the hint and put a treat in the box for her. She was thrilled. 

Friday we had PE at the church gym for a couple hours. Sara set up stations the kids rotated through like soccer, jump rope, yoga, jumping jacks, etc. We did that long enough to satisfy the requirements for homeschool submissions (aka take photos as proof). The next hour we played basketball and pacman chase. Josie opted out of chase to channel her inner yogi. That was a really fun morning. We cleaned up the house before the PE activity so it would be ready for our painting class. To keep the inside tidy I treated the kids to McDonald's for lunch. The boys were absolutely giddy to try the McRib, they voted a unanimous yes. Mia texted Justin so he also had a McRib for lunch out in Eagle, ID. Blech. Aunt Fawn taught us how to paint the cutest snowman. She was so efficient! Got here early, set everything up in a jiffy and had the kids painting like little angels. Phillip's inner Van Gogh emerged once he started painting the carrot nose. He went for a split nose effect with half the face going south and the other half north. We all agreed his snowman would not be the one we wanted to meet late at night. He got quite a laugh over how creepy his creation turned out. Josie loved using the hair dryer more than painting. Everett and Evelyn were so careful to follow all the directions and each painted cute versions. Amelia had Clare and Fallon over to join in the fun.  

Justin and I took the evening off for Christmas shopping. I had a hankering for Indian food, I found a place in Boise to try out. Good Indian food is the best comfort food! Yum. We literally ran to the mall in order to shop at Maurices in the 30 minutes we had before closing. I ripped through the store and found a couple cute shirts! I like this clothes shopping tradition, second year in the making. We wandered around Macys then Kohls since those stores had longer hours. Justin found some comfy work-at-home apparel. I found a couple more shirts. We had a good talk about a book Garrett wanted us to read called Attached. Basically, the book takes child attachment theory and links it to adults. Pretty much we all have attachments that are stable...and plastic. I am not feeling very confident in the book's premise. Doesn't leave much room for change, basically we have to fight against our natural attachments or end our current relationships (if a couple is having troubles). Still, it does explain quite plainly how the attachment styles Justin and I have (anxious, avoidant) are difficult in relationships.   

Everett experimented with making the strongest bridge he could using popsicle sticks. His final version could hold about 30 pounds! He was thrilled about that. The boys are also learning to knit on a circular loom. Phillip got to use the loom first but was kind enough to let Everett try. I got another loom. I am working on crocheting winter hats. I can't get the dang pattern sizing correct, had to rework the same hat like 5 times. The boys wanted to make their own hats, thus the loom. 

Our Nelves keep surprising the kids with knocks, jingle bells, door rings, little gifts, and even candy on occasion. The Nelves left the kids cute baby Yoda figures to decorate their computers this week. Over the weekend the Nelves left a shrinky dink kit and nail art kit! 

Sunday afternoon it started to snow. The kids were outside before the snow even piled up .25th of an inch! Josie made her own snow angel version on her belly! Before long, piles of wet snow clothes haunted the doorways in and out of the house. Enough snow collected by 4:30 the kids could sled a little bit down the culvert and steep street near our home. So much fun. I had a nasty migraine and felt out of sorts. I finally found a spot of time to make our (my) favorite holiday cookies. It's taken years to find a gingerbread cookie recipe that was not overly spiced and fluffy soft. These are to die for with a smatter of white chocolate and crunchy sprinkles on top. The white chocolate cherry cookies went fast, I'm training my kids to have a developed palate. Josie is excluded, give her everything plain with sugar on top.  Our family and the Ostlers are singing "The Nativity Song" in church next week. We sounded amazing packed into our front room! We're not trying to repeat the experience we had 4 years ago singing that song again...

Christmas 2016 "Our family was asked to sing "The Nativity" from pg. 52 of children's song book for Sacrament Meeting today. We nailed the first verse. During the second verse we put our stamp on it. Evelyn was finally able to reach the microphone and growl into it. While pulling her away and prying her hand off the mic, Jenni inadvertently induced some feedback into mic setting off that horrible squeal. During the third verse, Everett seeing the smiles from the congregation and small giggles decided it was his turn. He randomly leaned over into the microphone and blurted "blaaah" into the mic. He looked like he was going to back for a second round so I grabbed him by the neck and straightened him up until he started to whine. Here are some wardrobe notes. We didn't notice Everett's pants were too small until we were already at church. So he went up to sing with his pants unbuttoned and unzipped. Evelyn got play makeup for Christmas (not my idea). She painted her face before church with green and blue eye shadow so she looked a lady of the night who had possibly been punched in the eye."