19 May 2019

End of School Looms Large


















I left a Utah spring for Arizona summer! Actually, in all honesty it was quite balmy in Arizona when I arrived home. The next day however...those mild temps blasted up to 100. The kids are swimming most days after school since there is no more homework. 

Monday I spent the entire day cleaning my little heart out. Well, with the exception for the trip to Walmart for ice cream and toppings. Justin and the kids tried to clean but mostly managed damage control. I busted out the dusters, broom, mop, vacuum, and cleaning sprays. Bam! I accomplished lots before the kids came home. They arrived home to threats on their lives if they so much as breathed in the clean house. The reason? It was piano recital day! Hooray! We had lots of folks over to watch their cute little ones perform memorized piano masterpieces. Amelia typed out a handout for me. This time each child played 2 songs each. Amelia and I kicked it off with a rendition of Music Box from Rigoletto. Everett smashed his performance of Lemonade Stand and Supercalifragili-sticexpialidocious. Phillip played wonderfully Donkeys Love Carrots and Star Wars Main Theme. I love how their personalities shine through the music chosen. After the recital the kids pounded ice cream topped with loads of sugar. One parent gave me the stink eye for serving sugar after 6 pm. I wonder if she knows about the candy her daughter earns each week? I'm happy that's over until Christmas time. 

Tuesday the house was back to it's cluttered glory. I'd be an angry mom all the time if I wanted to keep the house perfectly clean. I'd probably get rid of the kids and Justin to do it....good thing my standards are relaxed. I got to photograph a sweet little baby girl, born after three big brothers the youngest of whom is now in 9th grade. I bet she is spoiled with lots of love. After the session I finally cleaned the garage mess by putting away my studio stuff to make room for the van. It's too hot for parking outside in the sun all day. Josie played with dress ups while I worked. I loved the warrior pig with a sword ensemble she put together. 

Everett is one step closer to getting baptized! He had his Bishop's interview with Justin and I in attendance Tuesday evening. He tried so hard to look dapper, that rumpled collar just added to his charm. I quite enjoyed witnessing his interview as Bishop ascertained Everett's worthiness and intent. Everett is the best, such a sweet kid, wanting to try his hardest. We are so proud of Everett's progress the past few months as he's prepared himself. He's nearly halfway through the Book of Mormon. 

After his interview I picked up Isla and Brooklyn so we could support a school fundraiser at 212 Ice Cream studio. Somehow I managed to drop my phone between the ordering counter and the ice cream freezer. Josie was small enough to crawl behind and retrieve it once the freezer was pulled out a bit. Ordering for 8 people is stressful. I managed to make only 2 mistakes, ate one of them. Ha ha. I was not impressed with the ice cream, regular stuff you can get at Walmart. The kids loved using plastic shovels to eat their treat with. 

Wednesday morning Josie had her final ballet/tap class then a short recital. She was NOT happy I made her stay, cried for quite a bit. She managed to pull out her smile for the recital bit. Ballet recitals at that age are like herding cats. Hilarious and darling. She earned her sticker chart and a chocolate cookie for her efforts. Mia competed in a district math competition! Seemed like she enjoyed herself. 

Everett is selling oil pastel art drawings for $3 per sheet. He worked hard one afternoon and whipped out 4 drawings to sell for profit. He has a bright future as an artist. Let me know if you are interested.

Amelia and Chloe plus friends performed in the last strings recital in elementary school on Thursday. We had quite the fun time before the recital choosing outfits and fixing hair. I really need to brush up on my dutch braid skills. Sounds idyllic, in reality we were rushed since I had piano students coming and going. Everett came down with strep so he was down for the count with a high fever and aches. We made it to the recital with time to spare, only for me to realize I forgot a memory card...back home in a rush to get one. Everett was still on the couch with pink cheeks. Back to the recital. Listened to screeching instruments warbling their way through sheets of music. The looks on the kid's faces was priceless! So proud of my girl(s). Justin made it a few minutes before the music started. Ronald and Phillip made green finger spikes using recital program papers. I made them sit near the doors so their paper rustling would not disturb the performers. After the recital I rushed off to take Everett to the pediatrician, confirmed strep, got antibiotics.

Got my food shopping done with Everett's help this week. He navigated the list for me, actually cutting the time in half. Good job buddy! Justin and I enjoyed a much needed date. We dined on Sushi for dinner. I'm in love with sushi with thin slices of lemon on top. Swoon. We finally got to watch Avengers End Game. I wished it inspired me more, mostly it felt slow. BUT...I did feel quite relieved to have the story tied up with a bow in the end.

Saturday we worked for a bit to clean up clutter. Amelia was extra cranky after babysitting until 11 pm. She moaned and was sassy to her siblings. I picked up that great big girl and rocked her like a baby for 5 minutes. She somehow turned into a normal kid after a big hug. All it takes is LOVE. Justin worked whack-a-mole with the sprinkler system. The girls went out to enjoy pedicures at the salon Chloe's dad works at. Josie smeared my polish not 5 minutes after leaving the salon, she stepped on my toes. Boo hoo. I went back later to get the polish fixed. It smeared again even when I was super careful, must've chosen an old bottle of polish. Justin took the boys to Walmart so Everett could look around for birthday present wishes. Our fun Roman Catholic neighbors are moving. They gave us their garage fridge! YAYAYAYAYAY. We are loving the bits of extra room, our fridge is always jammed packed with milk and eggs taking up lots of space. Free-o-hundred baby.

I'm falling apart. Literally. My heart is giving my grief. It skips a beat at least once every 5 minutes. Regular beats...then giant thud to catch up the missed beat. I've had an arrhythmia for many, many years. It's getting worse and more noticeable. I had a 30 second scan, my heart skipped twice. Could be nothing, just making sure. My forearm is killing me. I have absolutely no strength in my right arm now. That same arm was acting up when Amelia was born (it seized up terribly), when I was pregnant with Everett (lost use of that arm for months and months), and recently. The doctor administered a steroid shot to that tendon, hoping it will calm down. It is feeling much less irritated after 3 days. Just as a parting thought I asked the Dr if she could take over the medications I get from Envoque. She said absolutely! I asked about switching me to armor thyroid, she perked up and wrote out a request. Hot dang! I've tried to get armor thyroid for years now! Probably I just need to lose weight and all my health problems will go away. On to adventures wearing a heart monitor. Let's see what this week brings. I hate to complain, I don't want to end up a sour old hag complaining about bad health. Let's get this fixed stat.

We had a nice Come Follow Me lesson this evening on Zaccheaus in the Sycamore tree and learned about the hypocrisy parables. We've renamed our kitchen table to the "Temple Table" when we are doing our lessons.

**Everett can even turn his pants pockets into weapons. He's fancy. 

Grandma Baerwaldt's Funeral













I stewed for a good couple days after learning about Grandma's passing...trying to decide the best way to celebrate her life. If we took all the kids and drove we'd have to squeeze the drive in over the weekend (yikes), just fly Justin and I, just fly me, or not attend at all. I determined I'd kick myself if I didn't go, so kick that option out. We ended up opting for sending just me with Justin at home to man the helm. It was a tough decision. We are grateful the kids and I got to give Grandma last hugs and kisses and tell her how much we love her. I hope that memory lasts.

Monday-Wednesday we had Gabi here all day since Jason was out of town for training. The kids quite enjoyed playing with her before and after school. She is crawling all over the place and getting into everything. She was pleased to learn how to crawl up the stairs, not so pleased when she tumbled down them. Of course that first day Josie came down with the barfs, I thought maybe it was food poisoning since my tummy was also feeling strange. Josie barfed and barfed and barfed. She always missed the bowl and aimed for the clean carpet. I left out the spot carpet cleaning machine for 3 days as I tried to manage the mess. The kids felt sorry for her and kept giving her apple sauce or pink milk, which only made her barf. She did not get better until Friday morning. Early Friday morning (like 2 am) she crawled into my bed....covered with barf. I left Justin to manage four loads of bedding and messed up clothes from her little episode. I hear poor Gabi also caught our stomach bug, we did not have much of a choice since Jason was gone and Amanda had to work. Yuck

I quite enjoyed shopping for some new clothes. My closet was in dire need of some new threads. My mom style was taking over and leaving me with stained and ratty clothes to wear. I scored several shirts, shorts, and sandals. The best part was shopping alone! Justin was glad I came home. Ha ha.

Justin was quite happy I was home before the kids left for school. That hour before school is madness. He and Josie dropped me off for another Allegiant flight, the cheapest by half the money. Phillip had me tote along Belt a stuffed animal to help document my trip. The airport was nearly deserted in the security area. I love not waiting. I hear Josie was convinced I was staying up in the clouds. Justin managed the food shopping with only a couple hitches. Thank goodness for my new shopping and cooking system, complete with lists. Miekka picked me up in Provo just a couple hours later. We enjoyed delicious food at Bam-Bam's BBQ. Then we went for some more shopping. I still needed a new stretchy pencil skirt since the one I love at home has a broken zipper. I found two (one at a deep discount) at Nordstrom Rack. I've never been to that store before, was quite pleased with my skirts and new sandals. We headed to Ross next then DI in Provo. I enjoyed the quiet, enjoyed time alone with Miekka. The great Lance pizza production was in full gear when we got to the Eagle's nest. Each Friday the James Lance kitchen turns into a pizzeria. Seth, Jacob, and Lia were all involved to make their favorite dinner. It's like a delicious dance. We headed up to Taylorsville for Grandma's viewing. I am so, so grateful I could go. The best part of funerals is seeing all the family you never get to see. I was pleased to see Darrel Jr, who flew in from Japan for the funeral! He won the travel distance award. Mom used Grandma's floral arrangements in her apartment for her casket decor and wreath. We headed back after visiting for an hour.

We left early the next morning for Wellsville, UT. Mom organized a nice luncheon picnic at the tabernacle park starting at 11 am. After lunch a graveside service was held to honor Grandma. It was quite a sight to see all the Baerwaldts gathered together. Darrel presided over the service. Mom gave a lovely talk about what Grandma wanted her grandkids to know, that she loved the savior and served him. She relayed Grandma's beliefs on the plan of salvation. We all had to laugh over singing all the verses of the songs, we mumbled through the unknown verses as best we could. There was a mud puddle next to the casket, it was a continual draw for all the little kids. More than one mom or dad snatched a kid away before the inevitable. We gathered back at the park for birthday cake to celebrate Darrel Sr and Yulia's birthdays. I caught a ride back with Jared. He really, really wanted me to see Alita, Battle Angel. He saw a movie I suggested so it was only fair. I had to laugh (inside) when he started preaching about the merits of home school and the evil school system. I'd love to homeschool but circumstances (my health) are delaying that want. Opinions are easy to have and deliver...the reality is harder than an opinion. I quite enjoyed the drive down. We had a couple hours to burn so we stopped at a couple plant nurseries to find Mom a Mother's day gift. I found a lovely wisteria vine and Ben Franklin peonies for her! The movie was hilarious. I laughed at all the wrong spots and made Jared stare at me in confusion. My sense of humor is much changed now that we have our own 12 year old. When one of the main characters died after losing his arms and legs, I started throwing out torso jokes. What do you call a man with no arms and no legs floating in a pool? Bob....ha ha ha.

By this time I had a deluge of hilarious texts from Justin. "Josie won't eat anything but yogurt. Amelia is pissy. Evelyn is a buttchunk, Phillip can't focus. Everett is good but severely outnumbered" "I can't figure out why you put up with this!" "Today I googled, 'why is my 12 year old a bitch? turns out it's hormones and her brain rewiring'" The kids were constantly fighting! Fighting over corn dogs and microwaves, elbowing in the van, Evelyn so angry she dumped out the DVD case contents, Amelia trying to parent...I about died when Justin texted..."I think it's time to consider permanent birth control, I can't handle any more." Poor guy! Happy Mother's Day!

James whipped up sushi for lunch. Lia was his sous chef, her task to apply the ingredients and roll up the sushi. Delicious! Yum! I went home with a happy belly. I was quite surprised to walk out of the restricted area to find all the family waiting! Got a huge bear hug from everyone at once. Josie beat the crowd. I was expected a curbside pick up. Somehow the parking token fell out of Justin's pocket so he had to pay for an entire day of parking, $45 verses $2. I found the token a couple days later under the front seat. I loved all the cute Mother's day gifts, cards, book marks, hugs, and flowers. Justin grilled up steak for dinner with shrimp cocktail and salad.

14 May 2019

Art by the Slice, Grandma B Passes Away








Amelia walked in after our trip to find she finally scored her OWN room! Justin moved around some furniture and assembled her new bed. She was quite pleased with her birthday gift. It took us the rest of the week to move the rest of her items and get it all situated to her liking. I am doubting my wisdom of this switch since she is really testing her boundaries with us. We have a family rule stating no electronic devices in bedrooms (especially when the door is locked). She's broken that rule numerous times, sneaking in the phone to watch netflix. Guess we need to figure out a harsher consequence. Still, she loves having her own space to get dressed and keep clean.

We jumped right back into the swing of school. While in Utah the kids missed 4 days of school, but were able to keep up thanks to homework packets. Amelia got a couple lessons ahead of her class so that was nice, especially since she did not complete all her work. Everett was quite enthused to be part of Apple Valley, an in-school pioneer era experience. He missed the first part of the school but earned more points by the end than 90% of his class. The kids could earn points by: dressing in pioneer clothes, making art projects, bringing old photos, and other small projects. He earned lots of points making a diorama of a school house. We used Popsicle sticks, Lego props, and other stuff to make a pretty fun scene. Ms Epstein said she was quite amused with Everett's enthusiasm.

Thursday we went to school for pizza and soda. The kids each had several art projects displayed in the hallway as part of Art by the Slice. I enjoyed checking out their hard work. We brought along Jacob since his parents were away for the weekend.

The boys went camping over the weekend! The girls got to stay home and play! Justin almost did not go since his cpap battery is not holding a charge. Finding a replacement was quite stressful. I met with an awesome photographer here in Gilbert for an hour. He showed me some cool LR tricks to speed up my editing processes. The girls and I hit the streets downtown for the evening. The girls wanted to try Lolo's Chicken and Waffles for dinner. Josie found a cute dog kennel at the store earlier. She toted that carrier around all evening making us all laugh while she played. Dinner was oh so delicious! We walked around after dinner enjoying the busy ambiance. We browsed a fun candy store that has almost every candy imaginable. They loved choosing a favorite item to take home. I had the longest newborn session the next morning. The girls really, really wanted doughnuts so we made a hurried trip to snatch up some doughnuts. I was upset my session was over two hours late. Grrrr. New first time parents! It was hard to stay mad after seeing how nervous they were. Amelia and Evelyn invited over Brooklyn and Isla to play for the day while I worked. The boys came home while I was working.

Justin (and I helped a little) got the pool all set up. We had to tear it down and lay a new tarp underneath then reassemble it. I spent a sweaty hour inside the pool mopping out all the dirt and grossness. We did most of the reassembling work after dark to avoid the heat. He did a great job setting up the new salt-water filter and filling up the pool. It was ready for use on Sunday. Bummer.

I heard from my mom that Grandma Baerwaldt was in a coma through a group text around 5 pm on Saturday the 4th. Her head injury was no doubt responsible. Less than two hours later Grandma passed away. Amelia read the text while I was out needing some space. I came home to a very sad group of kids, Amelia wailing and crying her eyes out. The other kids soon heard the news and joined in. Grandma finally earned her angel wings! I am so happy we got to visit with her and say our goodbyes in person. It was hard to make it all work but so worth the effort.

Justin stayed home from church with himself nursing a man cold and Phillip suffering from a bad case of cellitus in his neck and cheek. Justin took him to a minute clinic for antibiotics. It was pretty swollen and looked terrible. Poor kid's face was twice the size on his left side. He has terrible reactions to some mosquito bites. I stayed home last week from church with all the kids except Amelia. We had a round of barfs going around, Josie, Phillip, and Everett, soon Evelyn joined in. The kids just had to make sure the newly shampooed carpets were once again cursed. I cleaned carpets in each and every room in our house. Boo hoooooooo. I took the kids, minus Phillip, for a Cinco de Mayo taco celebration at the Chandler Calls. We decided to make the first Sunday of each month our time to visit and eat dinner with each other. Yum. We celebrated Gary, Amelia, and Everett's birthdays as well. Spenser drained half of the spa and let the kids run wild inside. Things got quite exciting when he turned on the jets! That was hilarious! Family is the best.

13 May 2019

Utah in Spring


































We took a special trip to Utah over Easter vacation this year. We celebrated Easter with family, spent time with Grandma Baerwaldt, and I took over 3,000 photos. I'm writing this several weeks after we even got back. Life is going way too fast for me to catch up.

The day we left the school had a decades dress up day. Amelia dressed up as an 80s pop star and Evelyn as a 70s hippie! I thought both girls looked so adorable. We left from home on the 18th of April (Thursday) and drove to Kanab. Phew, that was a looooooong drive but we made it to the hotel around 11 pm. No real snafus to speak of.

19th: Friday we pulled up to the Lance compound around 3 pm. Courtenay had egg coloring set up for the kids to enjoy. All along our drive the mountains and fields were covered with splendid tiny purple flowers, there happened to be the same flowers right in their neighborhood so the little girls all let me take cute flower photos. Miekka had an amazing pizza making performance for dinner. They really have quite the operation, all the kids help out!

20th: We took Lia along to egg hunt at Grandma Baerwaldt's assisted living center. Grandma and Hannah met us at there. Jana accidentally stepped into a window well while working on her grass, she thought her leg was broken, ended up she really hurt her muscle in her thigh. The kids were in high spirits to have the best egg hunt ever. Each kid filled their buckets to the brim with candy! They got to meet the Easter bunny and get cookies! Grandma had a terrible fall that resulted in a large wound on her scalp. She was not feeling well with the newly acquired 10 staples keeping her head together. I took the kids in one by one so we would not overwhelm Grandma B. On our way back I took the early turn to Redwood road, Lia excitedly asked if we were headed to the amazing park....why?! Yes!! That's where I was headed. Ha, surprise! The park was pretty amazing. Right after lunch we drove to the Henderson's home for another egg hunt. The kiddos collected plastic eggs, turned the eggs in at the end for a bag of candy. I like that way...no tedious hours of filling plastic eggs.

21st: Celebrated Easter with a disastrous photo session before church. I gave up after the little girls all turned ugly shades of red after crying. We went to church instead. I toiled many hours to make the girl's dresses this year. Amelia's dress did not quite turn out the best, it was a new pattern and the fabric more like swimsuit material. Still, to wear once it worked out well enough. Church was quite relaxing. I headed back after sacrament to put a very crabby Josie down for her nap. Sleep does wonders for the soul. She did not sleep well because her newly acquired Hello Kitty phone was missing. She woke up every 10-40 minutes asking me if I had her Hello Kitty phone. Turns our Penny found the phone so took it home to put under her pillow for safe keeping. The kids all found their Easter baskets hidden down in the basement. That bunny was very tricky and hid those baskets quite well. James cooked a ham sous vide, oh my gracious, that ham was so tender and delicious. He used a cooler filled with water and a sous vide appliance to circulate and heat the water. The Lances gathered for a delicious Easter meal. Yum. So much food. Mom and Dad gave a presentation on the symbols of Easter after dinner. It's quite amazing to hear their perspective after living so many years in the Holy Land.

22nd: Played at a fun park. Seth and Jacob are very attentive cousins to the littlest ones. They kept Charlie and Josie occupied and entertained for the duration! After dinner we celebrated Amelia's birthday a few days early with milkshakes from Arctic Circle. Loved the chance to embarrass Amelia with a birthday song.

23rd: Headed up to Grandma Debbie's for the rest of our vacation. I left around 4 to meet my niece Libby and finance Cole at the Utah capitol for bridal photos. Mom and Amelia kept the kiddos occupied at her home. So many brides! I counted at least 7 couples there for the same reason we were. I quite enjoyed spending one-on-one time with Libby and Cole. Hannah tried to sleep over with us. Turns out my kids are way too crazy for her. Josie was crying because she wanted me to sleep in the baby crib with her. Evelyn was not settling down. I asked Hannah if she was ok, she replied, no I need my mom. I asked what the matter was she told me the lights were blinking in her eye. I bent over, could see no lights. She insisted and showed me a metal sheet clip that reflected the light. I covered it up. She told me I can still see it blinking in my eye...I know it's there. Good excuse to get out of our crazy!

24th: Kenny and Charity were close by for a Dr appointment, they stopped by to say hello! Josie was acting strange, hitting her diaper and yelling. I'm so happy we got to see them. We spent a lovely time at the park with Jana and her girls. Mom and Dad showed up independently of each other much to our delight! Dad had the boys running their paces here and there! Phillip had Hannah in giggles while riding a tire swing. Baby Rachel is pure delight, lots of kissable chubs. I rented a fruit grove. Check that off my photography bucket list! Since my kids were so crabby for Easter photos I enlisted them to take photos at the fruit grove dressed up in their fancy duds. I was sad the sky was gray and threatening rain. We finished their photos in record time. Poor kids spent the next hour and a half cooped up in the van watching movies while I photographed Joe and Kat's tribe. The most challenging was capturing Logan and Anne's two sets of twins under the age of 5, those cute boys were fast little boogers. Rain finally came down, the skies cleared for the rest of our session. I love that Joe has such a great support system. I can see all these kids growing up to be great friends. My patient kids earned a splurge for dinner. Amelia chose to eat some dinner at Noodles and Co her favorite place for her birthday dinner. We did not get back to Grandma's until well after 9:15 pm. Got to see Jeffrey for a bit, he came to rest in between truck driving jobs.

25th: AMELIA'S birthday! We have a 12 year old! Yippee! Greek food for lunch! Yes please. She and I had a fun shopping session getting her some shoes and clothes. We went back to visit Grandma Baerwaldt again. We were quite pleased to find her sitting up and ready for a visit. The kids and I sang her our favorite song, I Will Be What I Believe. Everett was all teary-eyed as he gave her a final hug, he said I'll never see you again alive! She explained how happy she is to finally make it to Heaven. It's such a hard thing to lose someone you love. I'll treasure that hug and kiss for the rest of my life. I had three sessions at International Peace Gardens with Jana, Libby and Cole (engagements), and Mason (my nephew graduating high school). The gardens were quite lovely, full of colorful grasses and flowers. We got some gorgeous shots of Jana's family. After I got back we sang Amelia Happy Birthday and ate some jello cake.

26th: Woke up early to be at Joseph's graduation from Weber State! Amelia and the boys got to ride in Grandpa's truck. Mom rode up with me, lots of nice talking time.  He earned his bachelor's degree in engineering technology. He started college when Phillip was born...that's quite the span of time to work on a degree. Josie snuggled up with Grandpa for most of the ceremony. Ahhh. We headed to Joe and Kat's celebratory BBQ. Josie was not feeling well. She started to run a pretty high fever at the BBQ. I hear the party went well after we left, until late that evening. We stayed until after lunch. I wanted to head home to avoid travel on Sunday. The drive down was terrible. Just past Snow College I looked over and noticed ice green clouds roiling overhead. It hailed and rain until we passed Panguitch. My hands were glued to the steering wheel, white knuckled. After the rain stopped the deer came out to play. I passed over 30 deer loitering near the highway. I was ready to pass out when we stopped for the night. Josie continued with her fever and settled in with a cough.

27th: made it home safely. Had a near death experience just past Camp Verde. I was in the zone just driving along a canyon walled section of the road. A sedan raced towards us from the opposite direction hit the guardrail and flipped right into the canyon wall, stuck a couple feet off the ground. The strangest part was there were no red lights, squealing, brakes, etc. It was all silent and 10 feet away from my bumper. We pulled over and tried our best to help but it was easy to tell there were no survivors. I was quite alert the rest of our drive home. I am still dreaming of that terrible accident and thanking God for sparing our lives. Justin was quite grateful we busted the house of it's silent spell. Came home to freshly shampooed carpets. My favorite ever!