22 February 2017

Valentine's Day 2017

I signed up to feed the Elder's Monday night. We had the privilege of meeting the new Elder first, fresh from a transfer from Ft Collins. I am sure Sidney was a bit of culture shock! Justin and I somehow miscommunicated, he heard it was STEAM night at Central school, which it was, I reminded him we were feeding the Elder's at 5:30. Poor guys had to camp out on my front porch for 45 minutes until I could track down a priesthood holder. It was a crisp, cold evening so they certainly earned their chicken fried steak and mashed potato dinner. The kids played an exuberant game of shadow tag and pestered the missionaries. I finally found Josh Austead at home, he rushed over to serve our family and eat a hot meal. His dad poked into Josh's room saying, "The Calls need some service, go eat a meal with with." What 18 year old would refuse? I might based on my children's reputation. Justin arrived a couple minutes after Josh arrived. We let him stay and eat! I was excited to report about my brother Jared's mission call to Johannesburg South Africa. I am so proud of that kid, he's worked hard to become mission able. Justin and I laid out Valentine treats and cards for the next morning.

Our little Valentines woke up excited for school parties much earlier than usual. For once I did not need to fight Phillip to get out of bed, choose clothes, get dressed, and eat breakfast. He jumped right out of bed and slid into Valentine worthy clothes (a red/black Darth Vader shirt). The kids especially loved the little stuffies we got them! Amelia named her unicorn Pinky Pie, Phillip named his dino Dart, Everett named his puppy Brownie, and Evelyn named her elephant Elephant. Josie drooled on her cute giraffe as she gnawed a plastic eye. I bestowed a bag of high protein treats for my love, jerky, nuts, and a couple chocolates...even a cute Star Wars card. Justin and I caught a lunch date at Della's for their awesome gyro salad. Evelyn was quite excited to wear her Valentine dress with boots and a pony tail. She loves to have her hair in a pony tail EVERY DAY. The girls slurped down some chicken soup. Josie was not feeling so great, after effects of her immunizations a few days prior. The little girls and I stopped by Jen's shop and gave her some cards the kids helped make with photos we took of them on Sunday. She was delighted with the attention. After school was a flurry of candy eating and card inspecting. Evelyn used her sneaky skills to filch candy when the owner was not attentive. She ate more than half of Phillip's candy when he got distracted. Amelia made a very adorable Valentine's box using craft paper and glue. I helped cut out and with the hot glue. Josie wore her first whale spout of hair on her head. She rocked the top pony like a champ. Heart eyes all over!!! We ended out lovely day with a steak dinner at home. Justin cooked up the steaks to medium rare perfection, I roasted Brussels sprouts and tomatoes under the broiler for a side dish. Dessert was an even more rare occurrence of Andes Mint Brownies. We walked a piece over to our new neighbor as a welcome to the neighborhood treat. I hated Valentine's Day once I reached my teen years. I love it now, love it because I can spoil my cute kids and wonderful spouse.

Wednesday morning Vader caught a stomach bug and barfed in his dog bed. Justin was not up to cleaning up the mess. Quite frankly, neither was I. I girted up my spine and grabbed the disgusting bed and my dirty floor mats. The girls and I spent a nice hour at the laundromat watching the huge machine spin the items clean. I cursed when the cycle ended, the dog bed had split open during the wash and covered all the items with brown poly fill stuff. A week later I am still finding puffs of dog bed stuffing on the floor and mats. Justin stopped at Walmart on his way home to get a new bed.

I left early Thursday morning to enjoy a day of decoration shopping in Cheyenne. I made it to Hobby Lobby, Once Upon a Child, TJ Maxx, and Target. I found most of what I needed at Hobby Lobby. Amelia was in desperate need of church dresses and size 10 clothing and size 1 shoes, her wardrobe got upgraded at the clothing store. Evelyn loves that store. She grabbed a cart and shopped for clothes and toys. She gasped when I found a Barbie Mermaid dress, "OH! Tank you Mommy! It my favorite!" Evelyn spied Chik-fil-a down the road and insisted we go there for lunch. I had my heart set on Chipotle, the kid won. Josie finally napped for 10 minutes while we raced through TJ Maxx. I set a record for Target, only spent 15 minutes inside to get a floor mat. After changing diapers, potty stops, nursing breaks, and such we made it home by 4 pm. Ashley picked up Everett from school, the older kids knew I would be home soon after they got off the bus. Someone (I think it was me, blush) left yogurt on the coffee table. Josie noticed it and had her first experience making a decent mess. She was delighted to feed herself, paint the table, and squish handfuls of yogurt. Oh man, she hammed it while once Justin came in to inspect the damage. She shot him the most mischievous smile I've ever seen on that baby. We might have seen a glimpse into her unfolding personality.

We enjoyed a long 4-day weekend for winter break. Friday we made the annual trip to Pizza Hut and Justin's office with all the kids in tow. This year we had lunch first because Justin had a late meeting until noon. He tried hard to lobby for Mexican but he royally lost, tradition is tradition even if it tastes gross and is not diet friendly. The dieters bellied up to the salad bar. The rest fancied the pasta and pizza bar. The pizza bar won in the end, we all ate a couple slices of pizza...well, except Amelia. She still hates pizza. I am honestly worried about her, what is a teenager that does not appreciate pizza? Maybe her taste will change? What does this dislike mean for the future? At one point I had my camera out to catch Josie eating her pizza. She noticed me and immediately screwed on a cute smile and flirted with the camera. I died. Seriously. We trekked over to Justin's office next. Our troupe sounded like a menagerie of monkeys inside the building. Once on the correct floor, I could see faces popping up from cubicles, curious was the commotion entailed. Yah know, just the Call family coming to entertain for a little while. I enjoyed talking with Justin's boss lady. She is really, really nice. I was mostly on the floor so Josie could explore, she got right down on the floor with me! Yep, that is a mom-at-heart kind of a boss. The older kids raided Justin's office. We heard Everett's groans after he could not find the calculator with the receipt paper. His sole focus centered on playing with that machine. He had to settle for a regular calculator. Phillip drew a fancy picture of Justin as a monkey with glasses. Justin used the extent of his artistic abilities drawing a poop emoji, good job honey. Once the noise level increased the parental figures left the crowd of coworkers to control the menagerie. Phillip found pop-up tape, made himself a hilarious mustache. Soon Amelia had eyebrows and Everett a sol-patch. Fun times. We stopped off at the park on our way home for an hour of play in the sun. That was a pretty good day.

Saturday I was determined to clean the garage out and finally get Christmas back up into the attic. The attic stairs finally busted. Whomever installed the stairs did not get the proper length. The bottom of the staircase just hangs, swinging freely. We still used the stairs until the hinge broke. Now getting stuff up and down is a huge pain. Took us all day to sort, ferry items into the attic, and throw away the winter accumulation of stuff. Felt soooooo amazing to get the area cleaned up. I even cleaned out the garage fridge and freezer, after 6 years or so. That is embarrassing but true. Amelia was quite the stinker. We asked her to help and she flat out refused, ran outside and started playing. Sometimes I just want to beat that child. I politely asked for her help again giving her a choice: stay in bed for the rest of the day OR clean out the shoe bin (whatever needed to be done). She accepted the latter choice with a side hug. Drama!!! The kids spent most of the day playing outside while we worked. Once again: I love family work days. Makes it seem like the housework belongs to US and not just me. I get tired of doing most of the work during the week.

Sunday I got to teach my Sunday School class and Sunbeams. The older class did just great. I am constantly amazed at the spirit that always attends. I feel the love God has for these teenagers, and love that he needs to feel at every opportunity. The Sunbeam class was a bit sketchy. Number one Evelyn was in attendance, all she wanted was a turn on the iPad. Miss Shaylee was the other attendee. I prepared a cute lesson all about Dads and babies. The topic was HF is the father of Jesus and the nativity story. Instead Shaylee had an accident. I asked if the girls needed a potty break, no...all clear. No sooner than Josie started nursing Shaylee needed to potty. I had 15 seconds notice before she let loose. Both girls started bawling, Josie joined in for good measure. After the girls were squared away we returned to resume the lesson. Evelyn would not share her baby dolls with Shaylee. As a last resort I helped the girls color makeup on the baby photo copies I brought with me. It was a good day! I am still laughing over all the faux pas of that little hour with 3 year olds. After dinner Justin and I worked on cleaning the living room and kitchen area. I arranged to get the living room carpets cleaned so all the furniture and stuff needed to the cleared out. I feel giddy when our carpets get cleaned. Is that strange? ha ha ha ha

**a nice, opinionated lady at Hobby Lobby commented on Evelyn having a binky stuck in her mouth. She said, "You are way too old to nurse that sucking reflex. You need to get rid of it before you damage your mouth and teeth. Big girls should be ashamed to have such a babyish item hanging from her mouth." Yes, agreed. I felt quite ashamed, because she was really talking to me though my child. It was hard to just hold my tongue and thank her for her unwanted opinion. I decided the opinion stung because her words are my thoughts half the time. I don't need to explain myself, she is too old for a binky. It does need to go. When it comes down to the battles of toddlerhood, I focus on regulating emotions, learning to become self-sufficient, and being polite. Quite frankly, the rest is hard for me to work on. This child is crazy. She sleeps with us (me), she is resistant to potty training, is delayed in speech, is precocious, hates clothing, and loves to pick a fight. The binky seems like a minor issue when compared to the rest Evelyn. Eh, just have it. She well end up with braces no matter what we do, she was born with a very narrow upper palate.

12 February 2017


I did not get the last couple days of January or the first week of February written down. Right after we all caught norovirus (the stomach bug) I came down with the worst sinus infection (again). This is the 4th infection I've had since October. I finally took myself in on Feb 3rd for some antibiotics, the Dr gave me Omnicef this time for 10 days. Good gracious. I am taking myself to see the ENT specialist. I started drinking vinegar everyday just because it seems harmless and simple to stave off infections, not sure, might be a witch doctor promise...or I am cursed. A couple days after I finally started to feel better I twanged a nerve in my back (5th of Feb), spent some time at the chiropractor. Justin caught my nasty head cold on Tuesday (7th of Feb). Amelia was home Thursday (9th of Feb) and Friday with strep. Every year around this time I resurrect my theory that Sidney is diseased. Thursday Josie also got her 12 mth immunizations so was completely miserable for a few days. I curse you Jan-Febr-uary.

The boys were quite excited to celebrate the 100th day of school. They dressed up as old men. Phillip designed his outfit on paper, carefully selected clothing to match his drawing, he executed his plan right down to his socks and undies. Stink...I already covered the 100th day, that was the day Everett came home from school after chucking his lunch all over his classroom floor. Oh well, the boys looked pretty cute. Enjoy a second telling of the event.

On the 30th of January Sister Jarreau dropped by on a whim and gave Evelyn a small box of Barbie dolls. She got around 25 new dolls! The look on her face was priceless. Her mouth turned into an "O" of surprise. Soon she had all the dolls naked and enjoying a tea party with playdough and water baths in her play kitchen sink. She was delighted to finally get two boy dolls, Cristoff and Prince Phillip. She removed their clothing and stuck them in the oven. I related to Ashley our woes over potty training Evelyn. I told her a gumball machine and candy sat in my Amazon cart for several weeks now. Ashley said she had a machine we can borrow! That girl saved me $30! Thank Heavens for friends. Evelyn did not have one accident the first day with the gumball machine. Day two she refused to use the potty but wanted gumballs anyhow...she already went potty...yesterday. We are working slowly on potty training, she uses the potty off an on at her whim, when she wants a gumball. She surprised us a couple times by going number 2 on her potty, a total victory for the little firecracker. She yelled at me to come check out her first poo on the potty. I did the crazy parent victory dance and asked her if she was ready for three gumballs. She smiled a wide toothy smile, revealed two gumballs already nestled in her cheeks. Little stinker got gumballs from Phillip put them in her mouth then used the potty. Just the impish look she threw me right before smiling her gumball smile is something I don't even want to forget. It was pure joy! Vader has taken to peeing on the carpet, probably result of Josie's diaper changes on the floor and Evelyn's failed attempts to potty. Even Vader barfed on the carpet a couple days after the family episode of norovirus.

I have most of the photos up on the walls now! Jen got an old door from her igloo, she is painting it cream and distressing it, I plan on hanging the door over the couch. One day I will be finished. Now to decide where to put the 100 other frames hanging out in the garage. Jen came over one day and rearranged the living room completely. She had the two couches facing each other in the middle of the room, moved the piano and yellow cabinet to the dining room, and brought over a huge focal piece of furniture. Justin got home and nixed the arrangement. Her arrangement did spark a different furniture arrangement that makes the LR more comfortable and intimate. The piano is back in the LR, the yellow cabinet is now in the basement.

Five days before Josie's birthday I decided she needed a mommy made dress. I whipped out the Pepper pattern from Violette Field Patterns and quickly had a dress cut and sewn in a day. It fit Jojo perfectly. We adore the little scripture on the dress bodice. Amelia is planning her next dress and picking out fabric possibilities. She found a unicorn fabric with a design panel on the bottom.

The girls helped me make cinnamon rolls last Sunday. Good gracious, the rolls tasted like heaven. I have not baked much the past year, to help Justin and I lose weight. I find precarious towers of stools stacked around the house as Evelyn attempts ways to get into stuff she should not have. She ate Parmesan cheese one night for dinner because the dinner I made was yucky. Amelia had an ortho appointment last week. Her retainer barely fit over her teeth. The ortho spent a good 30 minutes cutting away plastic and adjusting/readjusting the retainer wires. Guess her face grew along with her body. Makes sense. Evelyn wanted to get all dressed up for her appointment, she basked in all the attention and compliments. The girls enjoyed a special drink run afterward to Sonic. That same day an inch of fluffy snow covered the ground. The snowflakes looked like huge triple clumps stuck together. Amelia insisted on some photos outside in the snow with her newest cute shirt. I obliged since my camera was all ready, I had my studio stuff out to take photos of Josie for her birthday. Evelyn even let me put this fancy fur bonnet I have and take some photos of her. I convinced her she was Masha from Masha and the Bear.

Couple things about Phillip. I finally got his report card. He earned an outstanding in Math, Writing, and Reading. He earned Satisfactory plus in Spelling and Satisfactory in Science, Social Studies, and Handwriting. Mrs Hoekema says he is making progress, he struggles to complete his assignments in time and loses focus often, but is steadily trying his best to improve. Mrs Watchorn (reading) said she loves his excitement over what he learns and the connections he makes. He needs to practice reading for fluency. He is finally making strides and is almost reading at a 1st grade level! As a mother at home, I still struggle getting him to focus on homework. Our newest strategy is an hour of play, snack, then homework just before dinner. He gets chocolate chips for each problem he solves. One day he came home from school and asked me for a dog chew toy he could take to school. Indeed, there are chew toys for kids on Amazon. I relayed my concerns over his issues focusing to his teachers. He was denied use of a wiggle chair in homeroom and a "chew toy." I felt quite frustrated since he might need some gentle accommodations to help him. As a last resort I spoke with his speech teacher, he is still enrolled for special services (thank goodness). Mrs Huus said the teachers don't really communicate with her any issues that I discuss with the teacher. WHAT? By the end of that day I had an email with a plan to help Phillip concentrate at school. He has a wiggle chair for reading, strips of Velcro installed under his desk to fidget with, a fidget cube, the chew toy approved, and he can even chew gum when concentrating is especially hard. Score!

Justin went to the temple the day after I started antibiotics. He let me sleep in a bit Saturday morning to get a jump start. My head felt much better! He left right around noon for the rest of the day. The Lord woke me up, he really wanted Justin to attend the temple. We made it happen in spite of me feeling quite sick. As a distraction the kids and I walked to get some beans and rice for lunch. It was a nice day, very windy but temperate. After lunch we went on a little trip to Walmart for kid snacks and school Valentine cards. We were in the party aisle. I turned around to find Phillip wearing a beer hat, he wanted to get one for Justin and one for me. So we could sit on the couch drinking Coke and staring at each other. If he only knew how close to the truth that scene really is! If he only knew the true purpose of the beer hat. Since the garage was finally over 40 degrees warm I spent the rest of the afternoon spray painting a box for Amelia, the doorbell cover, and more frames.

Lately, Evelyn randomly lays the sweetest little kisses on my cheek. She will whisper something like (mom, I need chicken soup) then sweep back my hair and kiss my cheek. She has also mastered the skill of asking nicely. One moment she is screaming like a banshee for applesauce. I ignore her screeches. Next moment she clasps both hands demurely, cocks her head to the side and sweetly asks, "Mom, more applesauce, please?" We are working on keeping the sweet disposition even after I say no. It really helps her when I just don't say no. My new strategy is to delay rewards. I will say, "Yes, Evelyn you can have an applesauce after you [clean up, get dressed, after something healthy, etc]. It is so nice to finally reach the point where she can be reasoned with. She is still a curious little person. Somehow she busted open a package of blue jello powder. She decorated the floor, dusted the dog, and licked up a bowl of powder. Vader was not so keen on getting a vacuum treatment to suck the powder off his fur.

We celebrated Josie's birthday on Monday. I made a cake for her to smash on Saturday. I used a new buttercream frosting recipe. Straight out of the fridge the frosting was so hard Josie could sit on the cake without damaging it. The cake smash was not nearly as messy due to the hard frosting. She was not overly fond of the cake or frosting. Her favorite was standing up and banging on the cake. Evelyn cut herself a slice with a play kitchen knife and served herself up on a play plate. Monday I made the most delicious raspberry white chocolate cake for the bigger people. Jen, Kelly, Zane, Sierra, Adam, and baby Sophie came over to enjoy a slice of cake with us. Josie got a cute play garden from Little Tikes she can cruise along and explore. I found a cute used chair toy as well. We are so glad to have this sweet girl as part of our family. She crawled for the first time a couple weeks ago. She can now maneuver herself from her tummy into a sit with ease. Her preferred mode of movement is a cute side scoot. She pulls herself up anything she can and cruises along the furniture. This week she learned to growl like a bear, pretty much she sounds like a mewling cat, so dainty and cute.

The Elder's came over for dinner on Tuesday. Justin forgot they were coming at 5:30, he arrived home at 6:15. Poor guys froze outside for 45 minutes whilst the kids forced them to play shadow tag. Justin finally texted back that he was not coming home for a while longer. I called the Austead family and they sent over Josh to come eat dinner. Josh's dad snagged him at home and said, "Sister Call needs you to go eat dinner at their home!" Like any sane 18 year old he immediately complied. I warmed up the frozen Elder's with country fried steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Justin arrived home just in time to eat. The kids want to invite the Elders back for more shadow tag.

Phillip had a hard time falling asleep on Wednesday. He kept me company while I worked on Josie's photos. My nose hairs started to burn and tingle, my eyes watered, I found myself gagging. DUDE, Phillip has the gnarliest farts on this earth. His farts smell like a swamp creature that decayed up his bum. He is delighted to add smelly feet to his list of recently acquired talents. He was quickly sent to bed before he let loose another destroyer fart. Thursday we spent $270 on medical copays. Josie had her 12 mth visit. She was not keen on getting her shots and waved enthusiastically whenever the nurses/Dr left the room. Phillip and Evelyn saw the dermatologist. Both kids have acne appearing bumps on their cheeks, rump, and arms. The dr said both kids have an autosomal condition called Keratosis Pilaris, basically too much keratonin that forms around hair follicles and entraps the facial hair. The pimples are essentially entrapped facial hairs. The condition gets better after puberty and is not reflective of future acne issues. Basically, the kids inherited Justin's sensitive, bumpy skin. He gave us a prescription for a cream that will reduce the irritation. Phillip was quite embarrassed to show off his bum cheeks. He has itchy, raised lumps that drive him crazy at night. Evelyn was not so inhibited. She immediately exposed her bum and showed off her itchy spots. He gave me a list of lotions that actually work, expensive but should help reduce their dry, itchy spots. After lunch Justin went to see a specialist. Amelia came home from school with a fever of 99.1 (seriously?!) and a sore throat. I peeked at her throat and determined another Dr visit was needed. We hopped off to the walk-in clinic, yep, poor girl had a nasty case of strep. Just today she started sneezing her head off and showing the same signs of the nasty head cold Justin and I struggled with. Can we please just forget February?

Friday we spent outside. The temperature was 76 and partly sunny. You heard me correctly, 76 degrees. We busted out the chalk and enjoyed an hour making masterpieces on the patio. The little girls enjoyed the swings and the slide. I enjoyed keeping Vader outside for a day. We aired out our contaminated house with fresh air. It was a delicious treat to enjoy spring for a day in the middle of the winter. Next day it was barely 50 degrees. We now have a renewed memory of what warmer weather is like. Sigh! Dream! Yum!

Saturday was yet another day with a sick person to stay at home. Justin slept the day away. The kids and I spent an hour at Walmart. Amelia got her first training bras and a pack of sports bras. Phillip was in heaven since the character shirts were all on clearance for $2-4 dollars. I hate those shirts but he is soooooooo picky about only wearing tshirts and soft pants. The other kids also got a couple shirts, dresses, or outfits off the clearance racks. Justin woke up in time to take the older 4 kids to see Lego Batman Movie. I stayed home with a napping Josie. A notice came in the mail this week. Apparently, our new neighbor applied for a permit to keep SEVEN dogs outside, right behind our home. One is ok, two is annoying, three...seriously...7? What the heck?

I'll end this narrative with Everett's parting words. As I closed the door to his bedroom, I hear his shaky voice call out, "Mom?!...I'll never forget you!" Oh buddy, I'll never forget you! He earned a Mom hug and kiss. Sometimes these little ones just need some reassurances. Yep, it would be hard to forget the ones we love. Let's always remember!

06 February 2017

12 Months

Darling Josie Mae. Turned 1 year old on Monday Feb 6th, 2017. A whole year of this sweet girl. I love her silly side tongue trick. I love her shy snuggles. I love her happy disposition. I love how she points at everything, waves, and blows kisses. This girl stole our hearts.

I was quite upset that the Dr office refused to weigh Josie on the baby scale. I felt it was not the same to weigh her on the adult scale, fully clothed, with a wet diaper. All the other well-baby visits were on the baby scale, naked. How do I compare? Nuts, I can't. So here are the results of her well-baby. She weighed 17.2 lbs on the adult scale, measured 28 inches long. According to growth chart she lands in the 12.4% for weight and 12.2% for height. On our home scale the same day she weighed 15.6 lbs, that is a huge difference. I averaged the two results together, I am reporting her 12 mth weight as 16.4 lbs, the 6th percentile. I feel this is more reflective, skinny and a bit taller ratio. The same ratio we got at the Dr office did not reflect her lack of chub. It's all relative.

I am so excited to report that Josie finally crawled a few paces. She crawls a bit but prefers to use her tummy to get up to crawl stance then push herself into a seated position, from there she does a side scoot. After several weeks of practice she is getting faster. I am surprised every once in a while to find her grubby paws on my pants leg moments after I put her down and walked away. Justin caught her first crawled paces, we were lucky to get them on video as well. We caught the action on Feb 1st, 2017. Since then she is quite anxious to walk. Forget the slow crawling phase. She discovered climbing and can get herself up on items that are no higher than her belly when standing. My snuggle buddy is morphing into a wiggle worm that wants to explore. She only wants to explore IF I am right next to her. Her favorite books are: Curious George mirror book, the books about animals with fuzzy areas to pat, and Little Feet Like. She can make the cutest growl ever, sounds like a mouse trying to scare a rat. She loves her siblings, baths, and getting into drawers. She is nursing at 8 am, noon, 4 and bedtime. She eats oatmeal for breakfast, finger foods for lunch and dinner with a packet of baby food. Her favorite foods are pasta, crackers, turkey lunch meat, cheese, banana, tortillas/cheese, yogurt melts, and any food she finds on the floor. She naps from 9:30 til 11:30 and 2:30 until 4, sleeps from 8:45-7:45 am. Seems like her top teeth are starting to bother her, she wakes up at night on occasion but easily goes to bed after nursing. She goes to sleep with a binky, her blanket, and a snuggle monkey. No rocking, just put in bed and left alone. I can tell when she awake because this girl loves to kick her crib, the banging is quite distinctive!