25 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving


Amelia said this pie looked like "a sunrise over the perfect Thanksgiving morning!"

The little boys and I cleaned house for three days straight. It felt GREAT to get some much needed deep cleaning done around the house. It is even better to clean knowing family is on the way! Monday I deep cleaned the kitchen. The boys loved helping me empty the cabinets, rearrange them, and such. I even cleaned the oven. Pat me on the back. Phillip found a packet of instant flavored oatmeal. He whipped up some oats for breakfast with milk, cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic salt, and ginger. He put a huge bite into his mouth savoring his intense creation. A couple seconds later I shivered and croaked out a plea for water.

Monday night for FHE we cleaned the bathrooms. The kids had a blast cleaning the tubs with shaving cream while Justin and I cleaned the rest of the bathroom. Amelia said that sliding in the tub is the best way to work. I agree. Tuesday I cleaned the living room, halls, and storage room. After dinner we helped the kids clean their rooms. That was a short trip to crazy trying to get the kids to follow directions. Justin helped me rehang my studio curtains that Phillip ripped out of the ceiling a couple weeks ago. He ripped the drywall anchors out of the ceiling too. Granted the screws I used were not adequate, still it had to be Phillip who ripped the curtains down. I mopped the floors shortly before bedtime. Wednesday I straightened up the basement and started cooking for Thanksgiving. I baked the pumpkin for pies, made the brine for the turkeys and got the meat into the brine, made the pie dough, and got sloppy joes into the crock pot. I cooked up some apple butter overnight to spread on scones. The apple butter had too much cinnamon, it was almost bitter. Bummer.

Dad, Mom, Jana, Joseph, Jeremy, and Jared made the long trek from Utah to Nebraska. Dad has never been out this way to visit us...only took 4 years. Jana finally came to visit us in our new house of 3 years. The kids were ever so excited to see their punkles. Amelia attached herself to Aunt Jana as soon as possible. Mom helped me make a pumpkin and apple pie before bedtime. I enjoyed having my mom in the kitchen. Makes it much more fun to bake with my mom.

Thanksgiving day dawned with a fresh load of wind! Jana almost blew away during her morning run. Mom and I worked away the morning on dinner preparations. Justin helped quite a bit too. He likes to man the turkey prep and baking. He got one turkey into the smoker and the other turkey into the over after I stuffed it with lemon and veggies. Jana made an instant friend with Amelia when she stamped Amelia's nails. Amelia orchestrated several fashion shows throughout the day. I barely saw the boys! The punkles kept them pretty busy. Everett chattered around enjoying all the commotion. We had our traditional Horse Duvers for lunch. Yum. Phillip found my wedding ring he lost a couple months ago. It was hidden in the loveseat in the living room. He was very proud of his discovery. Justin put my ring into the gun safe. I can get it back once I provide a plan to keep it safe from getting lost again. Not sure I can do that! LOL. Maybe I will just keep my $5 target ring on my finger until the kids grow up. Justin and I gave mom and Dad a full tour of Sidney, including the 801 ammunition igloos north of town. We had dinner around 6 pm. Amelia and Phillip decorated the table. We counted out 4-5 blessings each with traditional popcorn kernels before eating. I felt very grateful to have so many awesome people parked at our table. The turkeys were amazing, brining makes all the difference. Dad loved the cranberry salad. The mashed potatoes with caramelized onions, sharp cheese, and gravy tasted heavenly. We were so stuffed after dinner that we decided to have pie for breakfast. All in all we enjoyed a very relaxed day.
Friday we woke up to pie for breakfast. It was even more divine the next day on an empty stomach. I think the pumpkin pie won my personal award. I went shooting with the boys out at the Webbs property. Justin and Dad set up a pistol and shot gun area. Dad mentored me on how to shoot his .22 pistol. It was hard to master in just a couple tries. He is an excellent shot. Jeremy is also a really good shot. He plowed the clays I threw into dust with my little shotgun. I enjoyed shooting my gun for the second time. Goodness I need to get out more. The highlight was when Dad tried out his new rifle and scope. That rifle was a huge monster with a large boom. It took a while to get his scope calibrated. Fun! After lunch the guys went to Cabela's for a couple hours. I took the kids for an hour to let some steam off. Phillip enjoyed spotting his grandpa and punkles around the store. Another lazy day spent with family.
Saturday I took some photos of the boys, Mom, Dad, and Jana. Jared and Jeremy are funny boys, not a serious bone in their bodies. That afternoon Dad drove a group out to see the Zowonitzers missile silo home. Their visit prompted several good discussions about our food supply and how much our food supply is corrupted by genetically altered wheat, corn, meat, etc. Mom let me go to Walmart by myself while the others visited the missile site. We enjoyed a fun time with our family. Dad seemed to enjoy our slice of small town America. I enjoyed the talking, visiting, and cooking! I am so glad Jana and Joe came along too. Amelia was crying in church today because she misses Aunt Jana so much. Poor kid. It is hard to be far from family.
**We gave Dad one of our honky pigs (the dog toys) to use when waking up the boys. He loves it as much as we do!

18 November 2012

Happy Birthday to Justin

Happy Birthday to our favorite Justin! He turned one year closer to 40 on Thursday. Last year Justin enjoyed how much Amelia doted on him. She rubbed his back (and head), read him stories, and snuggled him most of the day. Since we only had two stinky boys at home this year Justin took the day off to wrestle with them. I had a photoshoot that morning so he helped me wrangle kids. We went to lunch at Mi Ranchito. Phillip kept laying his head on Justin's shoulder. When we told him we were going out to lunch he did not get excited until I mentioned he could have a soda. "SOLDA!" is about his favorite thing. Saturday Amelia helped me wrap and decorate Justin's gifts. She made him a sweet card. I love her spelling attempts. Amelia got Justin a titanium spork tool, Phillip a rifle shaped lighter, new pjs with an eagle t-shirt to remind daddy he is an American, and a new work shirt. I also found him some jerky spices for the deer he never shot. The deer are scarce this year! After dinner we took the kids to see Wreck it Ralph at the theater. It was cute! Everett did really well as long as his popcorn and candy were at hand. He did spend the last 20 minutes in the lobby playing peek-a-boo with the ladies behind the concession counter. Justin enjoyed a nice nap and time to organize his stuff at home.
Tuesday the sister missionaries came over to teach Tabitha the first missionary discussion. Maren, a new sister in our ward, came along too. We all got to snuggle a baby twin and try to discuss the gospel around Phillip and Everett. I hope she reads the BoM assignment. We have another discussion planned for this coming Tuesday. Justin also went out hunting all day Tuesday. He said only a couple deer passed his section all day. Bummer. Amelia was near tears that Justin did not kill a deer. That evening I found Phillip had moved his potty into Justin's bathroom to follow Justin's example. It was hilarious to see the both of them. Sorry if the imagery is disturbing...made me laugh. This morning Justin was shaving his face. So Phillip smeared about a quarter bottle of lotion all over his face and hair while watching Justin. Then he unrolled a roll of toilet paper just for kicks.
Wednesday the boys and I went to the library. Phillip proceeded to dump out all the kid board books, which are organized by author into baskets. Then he gave the pile a good stir and called his work excellent. I spent 30 minutes sorting books back in the baskets while Everett squealed like a banshee and Phillip dumped all the puzzles onto to the floor. I finally got the books and puzzles put away. We left with my tail between my legs. Sometimes my boys are just too much to leave the house. I can still hear the librarians "tsking" at my horrible mothering skills. It would have been nice for one of the six ladies to offer some help. I know my boys are a bit crazy but the library is a nice place to visit for a change of scenery. I think they cringe when we arrive. Wednesday was McTeacher night. We went to have dinner at McDonalds where the teachers from our school district worked for the evening. All the money raised that night was donated to the district. Amelia said "McTeacher night was the best night of her life." The lobby was standing room only it was so packed.
Friday I had a basement full of boys! The Wood family moved into their new home so I watched kids while some RS ladies could help clean before the guys moved stuff in. Little RJ Wood is one cute kid, sort of like an ewok, he even shrieks like one. I got to enjoy an evening out on the town. A lady in town threw a Breaking Dawn party complete with photo booth, manned by me. I got paid a bit of money to enjoy an evening out. I must admit that spending the evening with a group of mostly unknown ladies, most who were slightly inebriated, was more than entertaining. I knew three ladies at the party. I enjoyed dressing up a bit and even hamming it up in front of the lens for a couple photos myself! After the party all the ladies went to see the Breaking Dawn movie. Some of those ladies are pretty crazy. Lots of hooting, cat calling, and lobbying for favorite characters. I like a good book and movie, but this level was a bit beyond me. I felt like an outsider watching a hilarious video. 
Saturday was crazy shopping day for Thanksgiving dinner. I made our menu and then a shopping list. Amelia came with me to the store. On the way she drew a checklist of all the things working on the van. I am relieved to report that our tires, horn, wipers, and windows are all checked off as working correctly. When I told her she could check my list I thought Amelia would go into raptures. I would find, say, celery. I would locate the item on the list and she would carefully draw a box next to the item and check the box. It took her a couple minutes to decide on drawing boxes to check or crossing off, or checking with no boxes. The boxes and checks won. She even got to draw four stars on the list for stuff we could not find at Walmart. She was upset when I got stuff not on the list. I then had to help her add it so our list was correct. I love that girl.
Justin "helped" me take some Christmas card photos of our kids. I had imagined a peaceful session with lots of cool props and ideas to try out. Imagine the opposite. Amelia near tears, a rogue dog terrorizing the kids, Phillip infatuated with the bazillion sticks on the ground, and Everett wanting to walk all over the place. Maren and Matt arrived for some couple photos shortly after I started with the kids. I think they saw the frustrated mommy side of me. Phew, it is done and I am mostly satisfied with the pictures. Glad it won't happen again until next year. Everett's favorite part was the candy cane. He had candy cane pieces stuck to his chest and red smeared face and hands. He was in heaven. Justin took Phillip with him on some errands. Justin said one lady commented on how well-behaved Phillip was compared to those other kids she sees at Walmart. I think Justin snorted on his reply, trying to choke down his laughter. If she only knew.  



11 November 2012

Sock Puppets

Monday evening we made sock puppets for FHE. Justin mentioned how much Phillip would LOVE one. Amelia really loved the puppets, not Phillip. Still it was fun to design something for kicks. Amelia helped/dictated me with her puppet. She decided upon a unicorn pegasus named Victoria. Justin's puppet is named side-tongue lizard because it's tongue lags to the side. Amelia spent the rest of the evening bossing us around as she organized puppet shows. It was fun. Phillip finally decided it was ok to say his name. When asked he will reply his name is Little Buddy...then say Phillip.
Wednesday Amelia's class earned a PJ party. She was excited to sleep in her PJs then go to school wearing the same clothes. It was silly to the max in her little book. School was cancelled Thursday and Friday because the girl's volleyball team made it to state. I guess when local teams make it to state school is cancelled so folks can drive to support the team. Nice! We enjoyed a very relaxed four days with no school. I hate daylight savings. It messes with little kid schedules and getting dark at 4 pm is no fun either. I had three photo sessions this week, one Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesday was a newborn session with a hefty 9 pounder. He was so cute and squishy. Dad is a cowboy through and through. They wanted mostly simple photos showing off his little self. I love the simple ones.
I finished a cute flapper cloche hat for Amelia last week. She enjoyed modeling it for me in the last seconds before the sunset. What a silly, gorgeous girl. Yesterday Justin went deer hunting. It was bloody cold outside with fog and snow all day. It never got above 35 degrees around here. The kids and I went grocery shopping early Saturday morning. I hate going with all the kids. Phillip had a fit when I made him put back some McQueen jammies, Everett wanted to get out and run, and Amelia wanted a honking pig dog toy for herself. The chaos made me laugh. We spent 2 hours at Cabela's in the afternoon. First we had a yummy lunch on the balcony. Then we went shopping for Justin's birthday this week. Everett tossed his binky, we could not find it after searching for 30 minutes. A friend noticed the binky and knew Everett's binky by sight. She found us and returned the binky. Relief! I got a fleece pullover for myself. After checking out I noticed the fleece charged as $149. Yeah. I about fainted. I returned it and found the same fleece marked as $55 on the same table. North Face had put the wrong tag on the wrong item. Yikes. Glad I noticed. Trying to figure out the error with three kids was an adventure. Everett wanted to scale the mountain display. Amelia wanted to climb the shoe tester terrain ramp. Phillip wanted to play with the gun games. I wanted a nap. Justin came home around 4 pm in a flurry of snow and a tail of cold wind. LOL. He sighted several deer but could not get a sight on the deer through his scope with the cold fog masking his scope. He plans on going out later this week.
I made Christmas shirts for the kids this week. They turned out really cute. It took me several hours per shirt because each was pretty intricate. I should not spend that much time on Phillip's shirts because he just trashes them the first time he wears them. He got paint all over his cute R2D2 shirt within 30 minutes of wearing it the first time.
Justin and I got new church assignments this week. Justin is teaching the 9 year olds in Primary with Brother Franken. I am teaching the first year Webelo cub scouts on Wednesday. I taught them this past Wednesday...first thing I noticed: the boys were super stinky. New rule: shoes must remain ON during Webelos. We had the Sister missionaries and Tabitha over for dinner on Wednesday. Tabitha is coming over tomorrow evening for FHE and to hear the first discussion. I am so excited and inspired! I feel like she is so ready to hear the gospel. Pray for her!   

04 November 2012

To Be or Not To Be

Photo Credit: Justin Call
My mind has not rested easy for some time now. I tried to ignore the constant promptings out of selfishness. I am a top notch excuse maker. As I mentioned last week the tax commission called me two weeks ago. My decisions were not made out of fear, shame, or evasion. Rather the call served as a wake up call. Everything is fine on the tax level. No issues there. I decided to fly under the radar because the money I made was a pittance, not even worth the price of a business license. Bad thinking but still it was my line of thinking. I had the opportunity to make my Apple Green Photography business totally legit with an LLC this week. I honestly felt like I was staring at a fork in the road: to be an amazing photographer part time or to be a full time mom. It is so hard to do photography part time. Most folks do not understand the amount of time it takes to set up, clean up, download, process, edit, post online, blog, order, make props, etc. Shoot. It is crazy! And I LOVE it all. I would jump on the professional photographer boat in a heartbeat. I honestly believe I finally found my niche. My dream as a young girl was to work with newborns. As a photographer I can pose and capture those fleeting newborn moments, hold, snuggle, and mold those little ones.
Thursday my amazing friend Kelly, a professional photographer, sent me an email. Her gist was that it is not fair to just do photography for fun at a fraction of the cost. It demeans my product and puts folks like her at a disadvantage. I took her advise to heart. For months and months now the Lord has prompted me time and again to put my dreams on hold for the sake of my family. Between the tax commission, Kelly, and the fork in the road it was time to make my decision. I regret to say I made my decision suddenly with no consultation with Justin. I was afraid that if I did not make my decision public that I would flounder and keep going. So my business will close 31 Dec 2012. One day it will reopen but not for the foreseeable future. I hope Kelly will let me assist her just to keep my skills fresh. I know my kids WILL let me (bribe) them into taking more photos than necessary just for the heck of it. Watch out...Kelly one day our playing field will be fair. We will be famous! LOL.
My decision was spurned by a moment of frustration. I was sitting at my computer editing a session. Phillip was sitting next to me watching Go Diego. He pressed a key on my keyboard and closed the photo I was working on, erasing 8 minutes of work. I smacked his little hand and pushed him back into his chair. It was one of those moments when the anvil smashes into your head. "What the heck am I doing?" I realized and processed that I do not want my little son to remember me sitting at my computer protecting my precious photos that were more important to me than he was. I am not saying that every moment of every day is like this. But lately as the holiday season brings more sessions for Christmas cards and such the crush made my family time sparse. Phillip started hitting, pushing, and biting more in the past two weeks. I cannot say it is because he is ignored for 30 minutes here and 40 minutes there, while watching TV or playing. This time in our life is ever so fleeting. I would rather snuggle my kids, play with my kids, have a tidier home, and bring our family focus back to the basics then excel at photography. Hard decision but the right one.
Justin and I discussed and will realize a new plan of action starting today. The time has come! Hooray. I feel relief and excitement for the future. We will make our home the best we can full of love, compassion, fun, and most importantly...the Lord. I cannot wait to see how things will change for the better. The longer I live the more I see that a simple life is the best life. The simple life is living to love and loving to serve. Wish us the best as we embark on our newest journey in life.

Black Thumb


Thursday night/Friday morning Justin woke up to a bad case of the flu. He made an awful mess in the bathroom. Gross. He slept most of Friday. Now he is developing a nasty sinus infection. Poor guy. Saturday he got some yard work done and helped me with the kids in between naps. He made a fun leaf/grass pile in the back of his truck that the kids enjoyed jumping in. Alison and I helped eight 8 year old girls sew some American Girl sleeping bags for a birthday party. We had a blast helping the girls sew something, most for the first time. The girls made other crafts while they waited for a turn in the sewing room. I think that was the best birthday party idea ever! Justin dropped of Amelia at the theater to watch The Lorax. Emma's mom and dad reserved the theater and invited the entire kindergarden to the movies! The kids paid for snacks but watched the movie for free. We watched Madagascar 3 that evening. The kids loved it.

Justin is slowly getting a little better. He stayed home from church. We are getting sister missionaries tomorrow for the first time...as far as I know. I am beyond excited. My friend Tabitha would be ever so receptive to Sister Missionaries. I think helping Tabitha learn the gospel could be the push I need to get my spiritual life back on par. Honestly, I was getting a bit lazy! It takes just as much work to fit in the spiritual as it does to keep the house clean, the kids happy, the husband cared for, and everything else in between. I had a bad habit form that spirituality just happens and stays. One more area to work on! In nursery 15 kids showed up today. I am no longer in nursery but stayed first hour to help out. As we got out of the van to go in the house I asked Phillip if his tummy was hungry he retorted, "No! mom, my shirt...hooongry." He tried to make a super hero fist using some black yarn from a hat I had half way crocheted. Grrrr. He called himself black thumb.

Trick or Treat

Tuesday after school and piano Amelia and Phillip helped me pull the carrots out of the garden! We pulled about 40 pounds of carrots! Now I just need to clean, scrape, blanch, and freeze them. I love to make a quart baggie full and freeze the carrots for fast and healthy additions to stew, soups, and side dishes. Yum! The kids enjoyed digging in the empty garden getting dirty and dusty. I did too. One of my piano students decided to stop lessons for a while. Makes me sad to see a student quit.
Wednesday we had a great day. The boys and I enjoyed a fun hour at the park. I think we went most every day this week. Everett is getting better at circumnavigating the rough terrain. Alaina Gull hosted a potluck at her house before trick or treating. The kids helped me make pigs in a blanket for our contribution. Everett loved all the dogs over all the Gulls. One teenager was dressed up at Elmo, like a real Elmo, furry head covering and all. He enjoyed bonking into the Elmo dude. Everett soon caught on to the benefits of carrying his bucket to the door. He said "tank-u" after getting some candy. After getting a treat he'd plop down on the porch right there and eat a candy. Ella and Amelia went around to the houses together just like old times. They are so cute! Everett consumed a large amount of candy after the first four houses. We drove over to Mrs Hamling's (Amelia's teacher) home to trick or treat. She invited all her kids over to show off their costumes. Amelia was gushing over how much Mrs Hamling LOVED her costume. She adores her teacher. Amelia and I went to a couple houses around our neighborhood. At home we sorted the candy and then put it all away. Everett woke up at 1 am bouncing off the walls until about 3 am. He did not get any candy for two days after that.