12 December 2017

Visiting Santa

Monday morning we went to Costco. I figured after a busy weekend that the store would not be so crazy. Oh no, it was just as crazy. I grabbed diapers and a couple other items then got out of dodge. Evelyn wanted a hot dog since it was close to lunch, yum. She insisted on sitting at a table across the aisle from me. Maybe I was embarrassing her! LOL. For FHE this week we drove out to see the Christmas display at the Mesa Temple. It was impressive and felt a bit like SLC Temple minus the freezing cold. The kids were so excited to run around and admire all the lights. Justin met us at the temple on his way home from work. My favorite nativity display outside was the Fontanini creche. It was so stunning. The kids thought they would freeze because it was under 70 degrees outside! Inside the Visitor's Center we walked through a room full of worldwide Nativity displays. A Sister missionary suggested the kids keep an eye out for the Taiwan display. We found it in the last case, a tiny creche painted on grains of rice. Everett is one of our loud kids, he does not know how to whisper. The entire time he complained and whined over not finding the right Taiwan nativity. A choir started a performance around 7 pm, we did not stay long since Evelyn and Josie both started to loudly cry.  For dessert we had ice cream cones at the Diary Queen sharing the same parking lot as our van. It was close and convenient. The older kids all ordered hot chocolate! Yum. I indulged in a delicious butterscotch dipped cone...that Evelyn ended up eating for me. 

Tuesday the girls and I headed up to Justin's work. We had to sign some loan documents in front of a notary for the Sidney house closing. That date was pushed back to the end of December, a bit of a bummer. I am relieved we even have a buyer, so no complaints here. Evelyn and Josie looked adorable dressed up in Christmas clothes. Josie ran through the hallways and cubicle aisles giggling and laughing. I enjoyed watching folk's faces change from intense concentration to amusement. She is such a happy little girl. For lunch Evelyn instructed me to drive to Jimmy John's, once again, no complaints. Justin and I enjoyed unwiches, no bread versions of our sandwiches. Evelyn let me braid her hair into an Elsa crown. Phillip got to visit Mesa Temple with his Wolf den! He was very excited to go again. I hear he told the Sister missionaries all about our family 25 days of Christmas service project. It is fun to #lighttheworld again this year. 

After school on Wednesday we headed to the park for a couple hours. The boys brought their homework to do there. We had such a great time outside. We rode our bikes, even Everett. He wanted to show me his new bike riding skills. The kids rode figure 8's in the parking lot for a good 30 minutes. Evelyn is quite proficient riding her balance bike. Last week I got a new extended seat since the original seat was just an inch too short. Amelia really needed a break from moping. Her friend Lars sent her a new note saying he hates her now. He is moving schools and got a new love interest there. Amelia taped an appropriate note on her door: 5th grade boys are dumb! Yep! Agreed. She cried for a bit then decided it was not worth crying over since she did not really even like him that much to begin with. I finally got a glimpse of Lars, he is handsome. 

I went out holiday shopping a couple nights after the kids were asleep. I tried to get a couple items for the older kids while food shopping with the little girls. Evelyn immediately told the kids what I got. Guess no surprise shopping with her! 

Amelia and I went out on a date Friday. I took her to Claire's so she could pick out a couple gifts for herself and a BFF gift for Katelyn and Rachel. She was so goofy the entire time. I loved her silly side. Loved that she could be silly in pubic and not worry about others. We admired all the unicorn accessories! She was pretty cold so we popped in and out of stores along the outside mall. She loved Hot Topic since they had amazing Pokemon items. 

Saturday morning we cleaned the house. Lots of yelling and stalling were involved. Justin's heart rate was a bit elevated! I kept up the heart rate with a wild ride around the highway exchanges. I was not paying attention to the map so missed a couple opportunities to head the right way. By then it was much too fun so kept up the charade. Eventually, I got turned in the right direction. By that time Justin had a map pulled up and monitored my progress, ready to jump in on any errors. LOL. We got Christmas outfits on to visit Santa at Bass Pro this year. May as well keep up with tradition. Bass Pro...Cabela's...same difference now. Justin had to get passes, a time to come back and visit with Santa. Our time slot was 3:30 over 3 hours away. We had lunch then Justin dropped the kids and I off at the park. He went to see if a tire place could look at the tire balance for the van tires. Half the playground was blocked off so I was done after an hour, we had to wait an extra hour, near torture for me. Josie loved to wander off, I'd locate her climbing up some dangerously high ladder. She gave me several near heart attacks. Phillip was so proud he climbed to the very top of the Eiffel tower structure. Amelia almost fainted several times while he was up there, thinking Phillip was close to falling. Evelyn had doggy ears for pony tails! She reminded us of Harley Quinn, personality and looks alike. The kids had a wonderful time chasing the pigeons!  Justin finally picked us up. Guess I deserved the time out with the kids after my driving torture. We walked about Bass Pro for a while then headed over to the holiday center. The kids played at different stations while we waited our turn. Evelyn was terrified to sit on Santa's lap, yet she did and actually smiled. Afterwards she told me, "Mom, that was not Santa Papa!" I think we enjoyed the event! I rushed around at home to make cookies for our ward party. Justin went on a motorcycle ride. At the party the kids immediately joined the other kids sliding about on the gym floors. The committee decorated the gym so beautifully. It hardly resembled a church gym. The Primary kids performed the nativity while singing the Nativity Song. We forgot most of the verses! I know them all but got all mixed up after feeling flustered. At least the kids looked darling. Santa showed up at the end of the party! Santa twice in one day?! Lucky kids. All the kids asked for Hatchimals, Amelia went rogue and also asked for a Squishy. 

Sunday after dinner we drove about looking at Christmas lights. I heard about a crazy decorated street not too far away. The street was packed full of cars touring the area and families out walking the street. We parked and walked as soon as we could. The attraction of the night was rolling down a small, steep hill next to the parked van. Josie tried to run down the hill, biffed it big time. All the kids came home with headaches and sore tummies! Phillip even tried to roll down the hill and launch himself off a ramp stationed at the bottom. Justin and I both wondered if someone moved onto that street would they need to sign a Christmas light contract?! 

06 December 2017

Christmas Trees and a Diagnosis (or two)

Early Tuesday morning (Nov 27) I had a meeting with Phillip's teacher and the special needs team. I am quite proud that we made it to the meeting with 5 minutes to spare! Not an easy feat to dress, potty, feed, and transport 5 little people that early in the morning. The older kids watched Evelyn in the waiting area while I attended the meeting. Mostly we talked about Phillip in turn focusing on his key behaviors at home for me and at school for the rest. We are all on the same page that Phillip struggles to pay attention and on-task. The school will continue to test for developmental delays/issues because we all thought that maybe he is missing a level of comprehension after removing the cloak of inattentiveness. The previous day he met with Dr Auxier, we talked about ADD and ADHD. I filled out a long questionnaire, based on that alone The Dr said he would be very surprised if Phillip was not struggling with ADD. I took his teacher the rest of the packet for her to fill out. The next day Dr Auxier called to inform us that Phillip has an official diagnosis of ADD. Dr Auxier did not recognize us, even after I mentioned his grandson Anson a couple times. Once the connection was made Phillip got some pretty good advice, Phillip should never, ever touch or taste alcohol. Kids with ADD/ADHD have an especial tendency to alcohol addiction.  Phillip seemed to take all Dr Auxier's advice to heart. Thursday morning we started him on Dyanavel, a liquid medication that we can easily adjust during this initial phases of medicating him. His school uses colors to measure behavior each day, Phillip usually earns mid to low colors. Friday he earned the highest level for the first time! He was so proud and happy earn level pink. In the 4 days he's taken medication that boy has improved so much. He is completing assignments at school alone, which he's never done before. He is completing more than 10 math problems at a time. At this time we are not seeing any side effects. He was a bit dizzy on Thursday but not since then. I am very interested to see what his grades look like this next quarter. Phillip is still obsessing about and struggling with the feelings of leaving our family, mostly just at night. It is hard to watch him struggle with anxiety at such a young age. Hopefully we can provide him with some tools to help him succeed mentally and socially.

Wednesday morning Evelyn had her second observation with the preschool disability team. This time we met with the team alone and not in a group. Two teachers assessed Evelyn's speech, social, and small muscle skills. She scored high in all levels, even scored mid-range in speech. The teachers felt like her stutter was an obstacle so decided to place her with a speech IEP, even though she scored average. The deciding factor was how much she struggles with her face and expressions while she stutters and the placement of her stutter (like in the middle of sentences and the consonants she stutters on). She will start preschool for free sometime either before or after winter break. The drawback for me is that she has to start Kindergarten next year if I want her to keep her IEP. I can choose to hold her back but will not have free preschool anymore. I really do feel she is quite young and immature to start kindergarten just a week after her 5th birthday. At least we can use services for the rest of this school year!

Everett is struggling with anger of late. He gets so angry and upset that he hurts his siblings. His fuse is short but the explosion is not drawn out. I hope to communicate with him that feeling angry is ok but hurting others is not ok. He seems to lose it and lose himself in the process.

Friday evening I had my first photo session here in Arizona! I loved the session because it was simple and fun. Josie looked so cute wearing her plaid shirt, she made the silliest faces at the ducks. After the session we took the kids to dinner at Cafe Rio. I've craved a delicious salad all week long, something no-carb and filling. Eating Keto is not so easy! I feel frustrated since my weight is still the same. Continuing the fight is not easy with no progress. We took the family to dinner because it was cheaper to get dinner than hire a babysitter. After dinner we went to Toys r'us, Justin and I enjoy self-torture. Yah know, the torture of taking 5 kids to a toy store and not buy anything. Honestly, the kids did really well, knowing we were only looking for ideas and sizing the boys for height appropriate bikes. Evelyn was the only kid who really had a tantrum, wanting to buy the entire Barbie aisle.

Justin spent half of Saturday with the Bishop for tithing settlement. I convinced the kids to take some Christmas card photos at a local tree lot. Check that off my bucket list! The rest of us went to the local Festival of Trees at the Gilbert Museum. It was not as fancy as some others I've seen but the kids enjoyed the event. Santa was leaving when we arrived. Everett ran up with a huge grin on his face! That kid loves Santa! We wandered around the museum to admire the trees. Our favorites were the ocean-themed tree and the perler bead MineCraft tree. In the courtyard a dance company performed. Josie showed off her own dance moves! The kids painted salt-dough ornaments and helped decorate a replica model of the museum. At home the kids rushed to put away their clean clothes and tidy their rooms to earn some electronic time. Amelia, Evelyn, and I went to a home-business party. Amelia loved trying on all the makeup. I was a bit horrified at the prices, seriously, $75 for a lipstick system? Yikes. A member of our ward makes cotton candy every year for one afternoon, a tradition his father started and maintained for 45 years. The kids were so excited to eat as much candy as he could spin! Justin took Phillip and Everett to Freestone park where Everett practiced riding his bike on grass with no training wheels. He worked up the courage to try biking on the pavement. Once he did Justin reported Everett exclaming, "I feel sooooooo free!" Everett is now a biking enthusiast after crashing into his first parked vehicle. Justin said Everett swerved into a parked truck and rubbed the tail pipe. All Justin could see was the bike and Everett laid out flat. He yelled to Everett and heard him respond, I'm fine!

I found myself playing my flute for the ward Christmas choir this year. I have not really played my flute in 18 years. I was quite pleased that the talent quickly returned to me. Yay.

Amelia started a bully watch club at school. At first it was just an idea, but she took the initiative to turn her idea into something more. She got the club approved by her teachers and recruited kids during recess to watch for bullies or bully behavior. She said running around the play areas setting watch is exhausting but fun! Now...if she could bring that peaceful attitude home! She bullies her own brothers more often than not! I am so proud of her for making her idea more than just a concept.

30 November 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Do you ever stress yourself out? I do! I wanted a clean house for when the Lances came. Clean and 5 children at the same time is not a common occurrence. I actually cried a few tears Tuesday because the house was so cluttered and I felt terrible, definitely not in any condition to clean house. Miekka snapped me out of it. Justin worked from home that afternoon so we could clean the house starting at 5 pm instead of 7 when he usually gets home. We spent Monday doing some food shopping and cleaning. After school Everett got pretty mad and upset, screaming and shouting as he tends to do. In his anger he said, "I don't want to be part of this family anymore! I'm running away!" I offered to help him pack some clothes and his money so he could eat. After 30 minutes of acting sullen Everett snapped out of his funk. He enjoyed the attention more than is healthy. Phillip on the other hand immediately started to cry and bawl after Everett made his declaration. He repeatedly asked Everett what his decision would be: to leave or stay?! Phillip had a full panic attack that night as I put him in bed. He was sitting up shaking his hands and crying. He recognized that the situation was resolved but could not get it out of his head. Even a week later he is still talking about how terrible it would be if someone in our family left. That experience was quite revealing to me, showing me a contained layer of anxiety that is starting to manifest. Phillip was always my most sensitive child when it comes to family and other people. Everett decided to stay, he did not want to spend his savings on food to survive for a couple days.

Hi! We are the Call family, officially part of a large town now. Why? You may ask?! Because this girl, the Call girl, finally has her own Costco card. The card even has my own photo plastered on the back. We are Costco family now. Strangely enough we ran into 3 families from our ward that same night. Amelia fell in love with a really cute dress. She bought the dress with her own money! It is a dark teal dress with a chiffon flower overlay in a hi-low cut. We ruined our diets with ice cream cups from the food court. Justin (and I) were surprised I did not go crazy and try to buy out the store. We walked out with Brussels sprouts, some snacks, the dress, and vanilla.

The kids had the day off on Wednesday. We finished cleaning the house that morning. The kids cleaned up their bedrooms and we had a clean house if you avoided the garage. Mia really, really, really wanted to make something for Lia. She designed a pillow shaped like an L, chose fabric from my collection, cut it out, sewed it, stuffed it, and hand stitched the pillow closed! I helped her but mostly she completed the project on her own. Lia was quite pleased with the effort.

The Lances arrived late Wednesday evening. The kids made welcome cards and placed them outside. They each had stations around the front door and a plan to welcome the Lances. As they parked Amelia fired up a song "Better When I'm Dancing" and the party started! James lost even more weight since April, he looks like Seth now! We since learned a thing or two about the Keto diet and are now inspired to follow his footsteps. I need to lose a good 20 pounds before I reach my pre-children weight.

Miekka and I planned for a simpler dinner than the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Our menu was balsamic pot roast, smoked pork roast, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, Brussels sprouts, rolls, and cranberry salad. I made two pies a pumpkin and pecan for dessert. I liked the simpler menu, meant we were not stuck in the kitchen all day. Thanksgiving morning we all went on a walk around the Riparian Preserve. Josie loved the walk across the duck pond! She is crazy about ducks right now. The older kids loved finding art rocks and rehiding them. Jacob found the most rocks, 5 or 6 in total. The rocks were enough of a motivator to keep whining at bay. Miekka saved the day with a supply of fruit snacks. Josie followed James around and copied his actions, she was quite fascinated with him. We headed back home once the heat index rose and lunchtime came around. The high for that was over 90. Not your typical Thanksgiving weather! We had hors d'ourves for lunch with crab dip, a cheese ball, deviled eggs, and pickle platter. Yum! Lia and Mia were tickled to decorate the dinner tables. They combined forces to make cute table decorations and placards. After dinner the kids performed the skit they practiced for a week. Lia and Jacob also had parts in the skit.

Friday we drove down south to visit the Saguaro National Park near Tuscon. Our kids were a bit crabby (me included). James, Miekka, and I all got up before 6 am to do some shopping at Kohls. Josie woke many of us during the night, took 20 minutes before I heard her since my door was closed. Loss of sleep and kids is a perfect storm for whining. We toured the visitor's center first so the kids could get their Jr Ranger packets. Josie and Evelyn loved the telephone center! The park was quite amazing, full of desert fauna. We learned about the life cycle of the saguaro cactus. It was a bit hot outside, not too bad. We stopped early to feed our hangry kids. Most of us felt much better after some food. We found the Lances at a different picnic area hiking around some Indian art. Josie took a little nap while some of my clan hiked to see the art while the rest ate lunch. The kids all passed their Jr Ranger packets and swore the oath to abide the park guidelines. Evelyn looked cute raising her arm and murmuring nonsense words. We made our kids upset as good parents should: we refused to buy gift shop gizmos and treats. Mia totally went into teen aged angst, sulking by the van. The Lances drove into Tuscon to find a house we used to live in. We headed home after getting ice cream treats for the kids.

Saturday we lazed about watching Spiderman and letting the kids play on devices. The adults and Josie went out to lunch and some shopping. Justin suggested lunch from a Mexican Mart where meat is grilled outside the store. It did smell wonderful. We bought carne asada, grilled chicken, guacamole, grilled onions/jalapenos, salsa, and tortillas. Yum! We looked for iron-on plastic paper stuff to make cute shirts like Miekka and Courtenay. The boys went shoe shopping, at the same time but not together. Men don't go shoe shopping together, it's not manly. Ha ha ha. I enjoyed hanging out with Miekka doing some thrift shopping at Goodwill. We snagged Costco pizza for dinner.

The Lances left for Las Vegas right after Sacrament Meeting. It's probably best they left while we finished church. We did not have time to dwell on their departure. We love our cousins so much. Miekka is now Evelyn's best friend. I've been outed. Sunday Mia and I went to choir to practice for the Christmas program. We put up our new Christmas tree once we got home. After dinner Justin and the kids had a wrestling match in the glow of our new tree. What better place right? Hooray bring on Christmas!  I am having the Primary kids learn a new song combining When He Comes and Joy to the World. It sounds gorgeous.