31 May 2017

School is OUT! Mia's surgery, Everett's birthday, Moving to Phoenix

What an eventful, emotional, momentous week this was. I am so glad to have it over and done with. We had lots of fun, lots of tears, and lots of changes. The biggest news is that we are moving to Phoenix, AZ area. Last week Justin was offered a job as manager of financial reporting for an educational company, Universal Technical Institute. The institute teaches courses on diesel, automotive, motorcycle, and marine engine repairs. Unfortunately the acronym is the same for urinary tract infection.  The entire process of searching for jobs, finally getting an offer, waiting to hear back about another interview, and such was quite stressful for Justin (and I a bit). We sought the Lord's help through prayer and time in the temple. Monday morning Justin accepted the offer and boom! Here we are a week later! We both felt the opportunity was a good one, the pay is right, his new director is a good Mormon guy, we will live close to Justin's brother and my great-aunt, better schools, etc. Justin starts his new employment on 19 June 2017. I am relieved that part of the contract includes a relocation package. That's how you talk sweet to me! Pack my boxes and load them too.

Phillip performed in a cute reader's theater at the park gazebo Monday at noon. All the kids made cute little masks out of paper plates and art supply stuff. Evelyn woke up that morning insisting on a Cinderella make over and dress ups. She carefully gathered all the stuff needed to complete her outfit and got it all on herself. She stayed in costume all day! Well, her Cinderella ballet bun did fall out before noon, her hair is so fine most styles just fall right out. We met Justin at the park to watch Phillip's play. His was the 3rd out of 4 skits. He played the 3rd Billy Goat Gruff. Made my heart swell to watch him read with confidence and some sass! After the play he ate some grass just to prove he was a real goat. Silly boy! The kids brought along sack lunches. I did not have my ducks in a row so missed out on packing picnic lunches for the girls and Justin. After we gave hugs and left I helped Justin drop off his truck to her new tires and an alignment. It now rides smooth as butter, much better than the milk-shaking ride his old tires offered. I grabbed treats for Everett's classroom while we were at home. Evelyn was starving so she scored a Happy Meal since I was out of time. We had to be at Everett's school by 1:30 to share birthday treats with his class. He beamed, just shone with excitement when we walked in the door. Evelyn lugged over the bag of ice cream sandwiches to Everett. He pulled up a chair for her and patted her back. Those two fight quite a bit so any love passed is a very good thing. We all sang happy birthday then snacked on the treats. I took Everett home with me since it was close to the end of the day. He deserved some mom time at home. Amelia taught a FHE lesson on loving your family. Phillip chose a dance party just for Amelia since it will be some time before she can dance again.

We gathered the kids together right when Justin came home from work on Tuesday to tell them our news. Justin told his manager and coworkers earlier that day. I heard it was quite emotional spilling the beans to his team. The folks he works with are pretty great people. Leaving is one of the hardest choices we've ever made. Amelia caught on quickly to what we were saying. She and Justin cried as the other kids caught on. Phillip started crying, realizing he would leave his friends like Cassandra. Once he learned that Anson would be in our new town he turned pretty excited. His new dream is to play Legos with Anson and swim in the desert. Everett was reading a book, he cried for a moment because it seemed to go with the moment. A few moments later he was happily reading his book again. Mia seems to be the one who will have the hardest time leaving her friends Ella and her school friends Katelyn and Rachel (Mimi, KK, and Ray-ray). Thinking about all the folks we will leave hits a very tender spot on our hearts. We've called Sidney home for almost 9 years. That is a chunk of change in my book. Compared to Sidney the second-longest stretch I spent in one place was living with my Grandparents in Wellsville for almost 3 years. We welcomed 4 children to our family here in Sidney. Started 3 kids in school, served in many church callings, took thousands of photos, gained a truck and motorcycle, a dog, and Aunt Jen. Phillip penned a note to Mrs Hoekema explaining his news. He wrote it on one of my memo notes then made an envelope and taped it all together. I got a call the next day from his school asking to verify the "rumor." At least the kids got to have a full school day knowing it was their last with their classmates.

The kids enjoyed their last full day of school on Wednesday the 24th. I know the kids at North Elementary got to walk to the theater for a viewing of "Sing." Seems like the kids spent quite a bit of time outside playing in recess, eating lunch outside, and making art projects. Amelia was crowned Raider Queen again this year on her last day. She came home wearing a crown and a huge grin. I worked on editing a little photo session I did for my friend Sheena and her family, hoping to finish it before summer started. Amelia had her last Activity Day Girls for the summer making marigold pots. Amelia came home with a fun get-well-soon gift bag from her friends. Everett and I had a very special Mommy-Son date after dropping Mia off. I took his birthday photos at the field. We went to Walmart afterward to exchange some shorts. He found a ridiculously cute Pokemon hat for his birthday. In the shoes aisle he found two plastic shoe forms (they looked like bent straws), those immediately became Pokemon weapons. Everett has classic middle child syndrome. He told everyone we passed: "I'm on a date...with my Mom! Like for the first time ever! Or "This is my mom we are on a date, for the first time." We had such a fun time, that dude is pretty cute and silly. After Walmart we had ice cream cones at DQ. Our DQ is under new management, a new less active LDS family. They run some fun little contests like Father and Son superheros, Mom and child Mother's day, etc. The manager asked Everett if he wanted to make his own dipped, chocolate swirl cone! Everett was thrilled to wash his hands and make his own cone! The grin on his face belied how happy he felt. Since our date whenever he and I are partially alone he sidles next to me, "Mom, we are on another date, right here!" I'd say our first date alone was pretty awesome. I think we will even go on a second date. Ha ha. Our evening before bed had a traumatic turn, I french-braided Amelia's hair. Yeowch! She screamed, wailed, and cried as I made four braids. Last year she came home with a knotted mass of hair behind her head. We hoped to avoid the awful hours of brushing out a bird's nest with the braids.

Phillip woke us all up at 5:45 the next morning, anxious to start summer vacation! Justin and Mia drove off to Denver Children's around 6:30 am. Evelyn was pretty upset that they left to Denver without her. She was mid-packed when they pulled away. Poor kid cried for an hour before she really settled down. Around 8 am the rest of us piled into the van to visit the schools, fetch report cards, and say goodbye. We visited Everett's classroom first. Ms Buoy gave us his last report card and kindly promoted Everett to first grade status. Everett earned the equivalent of straight A's. Once again his scissor skills were the only complaint. We stopped off at the donut store for a healthy breakfast of sprinkle donuts and maple logs, the milk made it healthy. Phillip was excited to give Mrs Hoekema a huge hug. His report card was also stellar: Outstanding in Math, Satisfactory in spelling, science, social studies, writing, reading, and handwriting! He made tremendous strides the last quarter in reading, now working on fluency and memorization. His main struggle is being attentive and turning in work on time. Lastly, we visited Mrs Roach without Amelia to collect her report card. Mrs Roach started crying as we talked about Amelia and her year with Mrs Roach. I got misty-eyed when she complimented Justin and I as amazing parents. Amelia earned: 98 in Language, 94 in Math, 99 in Reading, 99 in Science, and 98 in Social Studies. Straight A's!!!! Go girl! The boys went a bit crazy in the classroom because they found a beach ball and whacked me in the head with it. Evelyn was cackling like a witch as the boys played dodge ball. I think their manners went out the window with their hungry tummies. We ate our donuts at the nearby park. I had a Dr appointment at 9:45 so we did not stay long. I wanted to check my thyroid levels since I am still quite fatigued. It was a bit low so the Dr adjusted my medication. Evelyn and Everett were quite intrigued when the tech drew blood out of my arm. She still tells me that I have blood inside my arm. Yep! Even today. The rest of the day we waited to hear about Amelia's surgery progress. She was in surgery around 11:30 and able to see Justin in recovery by 1:30. We were completely surprised she was sent home a couple hours later. The surgery only required a nerve block so was not nearly as invasive. The Dr advised me she could stay a couple days, so we planned on that. She was home and on the couch by 6:30 that same day. I about died laughing over the boy's antics. Phillip stuffed 6-7 scarves into Everett's pants. Everett tried to stuff some scarves as well, each time he bent over his undies stayed with his pants instead of covering his bottom. He had some very fat pants! Course, the game devolved into fighting and wrestling on the carpet. I busted out the friendship robe for the first time this summer. It was not a warm welcome. Soon the boys were walking around the house trying to keep up so the other would not trip and fall.

Everett woke up on Friday as the newest 6 year old in our family. He opened presents here and there throughout the day. He was stoked to finally get his OWN Nerf gun, 81 bullets, and a zompie sword like Uncle Jared. He continued his backwards pants trick on his birthday. I wanted to finish making a "6" shirt so he went outside with pants, undies, footwear, and a Pokemon hat. He got to play a bit on the iPad for his birthday. Mostly, the boys played with his new toys and helped to amuse Amelia. Poor kid was in a lot of pain, drugged on Oxycodone and pain killers. He requested lunch at Oya Grill, ordering his favorite enchiladas. For dinner he requested pizza with pepperoni. I made him a sinful chocolate cake with peppermint ganache. We told stories about him and watched a couple videos from his baby days. He blew out candles like a total champ. We sure love our Everett. Such a smart, cute, loving child. Everett got: green scooter, laser pointer, sword, nerf gun, the game SET, a slip and slide, Pokemon hat, a turtle webkinz, and PieFace showdown.

Sacrament by myself this week was something out of a comic book. Justin stayed home sick. Everett once again donned his pants on backwards. He needed help during the meeting to button and zip his butt. Poor Sister Michaels almost died laughing. She gave me a much needed hug after the meeting. Almost pushed me over the proverbial edge.

 On a brighter note, Josie is chattering away like a monkey now. She jabbers on and on over all she sees and notices. Often her little finger points as she tells you her thoughts and feelings. Sometimes she straight out says a phase as she imitates us. The other day she said, "Don't do that!" Her favorite word is Everett. Her favorite place to play is on the long couch. She stands up, balances, then crashes back down with a delighted smile. I've caught her crouching then standing up while she admires a toy, even taking steps on her own to get closer to something. Walking is just around the corner. She is trying to teethe more top teeth right now. Josie is such a happy little chatter box. We all adore her so much.

Justin made the last payment on my student loans last month. I am finally done with my Bachelor and Master's degrees. That only took 14 years to pay off. It's a good feeling to be done. Many thanks to my sugar daddy for paying off the debt. It was worth it...right?! LOL.

22 May 2017

Following a Map, Amelia Earhart, AG Systems, Ft Collins Temple and Nature

This week was another busy school week, full of field trips and presentations. Amelia is quite glad to have all the major projects over with. The highlight of our week was an impromptu trip to the Ft Collins temple. I was able to do a session for the first time since before Josie was born. The session was so wonderful.

Monday afternoon Justin left for another business trip to Sandy, Utah. The kids wished him good luck before parting ways that morning. After school Phillip stayed home to stay with a napping Josie. The rest of us went to Amelia and Everett's well child visits. Amelia weighed exactly 70 pounds and grew a full 3 inches since last year! We were all ready for FHE that evening when Jen unexpectedly showed up for dinner and loves. She gave all the kids rides on her motorcycle instead. Her cycle has little (or no muffler) so it is really, really loud. Everett was all scrunched up not knowing what to do with the extra noise. Everett had me make no-bake cookies for FHE treat so we had that and no lesson. Justin was unavailable to video call so we missed daddy during scriptures and prayers. Last week both boys started reading a verse to practice their skills. I really enjoy listening to their almost daily progress. Later that evening Jen and I were chatting. She told me I am way to lax with my kids. She is way to strict and quite mean with her kid. My mind was restless as I pondered her point of view.

Tuesday morning was so gorgeous, sunshine, light breeze, and no clouds. I dropped the kids off at school then came home to get the girls dressed. Evelyn was very sad I dropped her off at Elliott's for a morning playdate. She got to play at the park with her friend. Jojo and I met the kindergartners for their tour of Sidney field trip. Everett's class started at the Treasurer's office. I caught his class after the Treasurer's office enroute to the Sheriff's office. He had a clipboard clutched in one hand, the other hand busy marking off the first stop on a crude map. He was so proud to show me his perfectly executed "X." Those bright, brown eyes looking up at me made my entire day. We held hands while touring the prison exercise yard, checking out the sheriff's car, and meeting the county drug dog. Our tour included: an insurance agency focusing on wearing seatbelts, the state patrol office (got to meet another drug sniffing dog, a seatbelt demonstration, and how the officers weigh vehicles), State Farm (got a real map atlas), the postal office, and American Bank. Seems like the kids got candy and fun books at each stop. He was quite delighted to help stroller Josie along. I had to leave right after the post office. I picked up Evelyn then grabbed some lunch at Subway with my little girls. As I pulled out of Subway Sheriff Aikens pulled me over. Sigh. I was not doing anything wrong except made a sort of wonky turn out of the lot. I had my license and registration ready. Instead of a ticket or reprimand he gave both girls a certificate for wearing seatbelts properly and a treat voucher for Dairy Queen! Evelyn was so happy to get a reward for her seatbelt wearing. Best police stop I've ever had! Right after that we ran to Amelia's school to see the Wax Museum exhibit Mrs Janssen's reading group put together. I know the kids worked very, very hard! Amelia researched all about Amelia Earhart, wrote several reports, made a cute display board, and chose an outfit. She even made a steering wheel out of paper. The day before the exhibit she made pilot's goggles out of paper that taped to her glasses. The design was quite ingenious. She opted to wear the prop hat I had for babies since it was more substantial. All down the hall kids sat in a predetermined pose. Their display boards all had a "press here" button. Once pressed the child would deliver a memorized biography about their character. It was really fun to hear what each kid had prepared. After school I had her video her speech since the school hallway was so noisy. I made chicken, rice, broccoli casserole for the first time in many, many years. The kids were grossed out since it looked disgusting, after tasting it each kid at least ate their entire serving. We talked about how most casseroles look gross but taste good, probably the reason I hate making them.

A robin made a nest in our tree this year, well, this happens every year but this year's nest is on a much lower branch. Evelyn was quite concerned to watch me climb up the tree to nearly the top branches. She yelled and screamed at me to get down. I was able to get some fun photos of the nest from above, I could see a newly hatched baby and a pretty blue egg. The mama robin was not happy about the giantess encroaching on her territory. She does a very good job keeping the blackbirds at bay with her sharp beak. The boys heard about my tree adventure from Evelyn and wanted proof that I could climb a tree. Once again I headed up skyward, earned a "cool mom" award. I then made the boys climb up high enough to peek in the nest at eye level.

Friday afternoon we got to see Amelia's grade present their Agricultural project. I know the students worked hard for over a month to learn about Nebraska's agricultural roots. They followed the Rowan family who maintain a homestead 127 years in the making. Amelia interviewed Scott Kelsey a local resident pursuing an agricultural degree in system technologies. She interviewed him over the phone a couple weeks ago. The entire project will be on display in a museum for the state's 150th anniversary. Pretty exciting stuff! All the kids wore matching shirts and helped explain their project to those with questions. I brought along superwoman, aka Evelyn, to bring a sense of super powerness to the event. Our exciting evening activity was to clean the basement. Yeah, we make things exciting around these parts.

I lucked out finding someone to watch the kids Saturday while Justin and I went to the temple. Our friends, the Curries, had their first unscheduled Saturday in over 2 months. They willingly and lovingly watched the kids. We dumped the kids and ran, our aim to attend the 11 am session. We made it with about 5 minutes to spare! Last time I attended a session was back before Josie was born. The quiet was almost unnerving! I am quite used to an explosion of noise during all awake hours (and some hours at night). Justin and I have some questions and concerns we are thinking through. The temple seemed like a logical place to ponder and pray. Justin reminded me of Elder Robbins talk, The Righteous Judge, from October 2016 conference. I mostly pondered his words especially this quote:

Perhaps more than opening the mouths of babes, the Lord was opening the eyes and ears of their astonished parents. Those parents had been granted the extraordinary gift of a glimpse into eternity and of beholding the true identity and premortal stature of their children. Would that not forever change the way the parents saw and treated their children? I like this variation of a quote attributed to Goethe: “The way you see [a child] is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is [who] they [will] become.”10 To remember a child’s true identity is a gift of foresight that divinely inspires the vision of a righteous judge.

and these:

President Joseph F. Smith taught, “If children are defiant and difficult to control, be patient with them until you can conquer by love, … and you can then [mold] their characters as you please.”

Thomas S Monson said, "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."

The Ft Collin's temple is so beautiful. The beauty, quiet nature, and spirit in the temple were a balm to my heart. After the temple we snagged some lunch and talked about family matters. The kids were happy to play with the Curry family. Josie was half-asleep when we arrived. We were able to visit for a couple hours before we headed out. Heidi has two boyfriends! Yikes! We teased her about them, well, mostly Justin. He is tenacious about wheedling information out of Heidi. On our way home we made a stop at Once Upon a Child to stock up on summer clothes for Amelia and Phillip, the other kids got a couple outfits each. We dawdled even more by having a teppanyaki style dinner. Evelyn was terrified by the fire. She hid under the table until the chef was done with his tricks. Everett talked the chef's ear off. He earned extra servings of rice, meat, and veggies be endearing himself to the chef. Amelia was convinced all we were going to eat was soup, salad, and sushi rolls. Josie ate most of Evelyn's rice while she was in hiding. I slipped spoonfuls of food under the table, the food disappeared. I'm still laughing! We arrived home after 10:30 that night.

Sunday we had ward conference. Phillip helped Everett get dressed up handsome style: with collared shirt, vest, tie, and belts. Phillip lamented over me not buying him the spike studded belt the day before, it was the perfect accessory. The boys fixed each other's hair and applied cologne. Pretty handsome. The kids were tired and cranky. After an hour of sacrament meeting the girls and I went to the nursery until the meeting was over. I actually left right after to take Josie home for a long nap. I finished up visit teaching this month with my companion after dinner. Amelia came with us. She loves to play with Judy's dog, Sassy. At the first house she reacted badly to Jenny's dog and ended up with a bite on her palm. She was pretty freaked out. Our dog is so laid back, hyper dogs make her really, really nervous. Had she not backed up but stood her ground the dog would not have jumped. They can sense weakness! Justin was pretty anxious all day. I feel so bad and helpless when he has an anxiety episode. This to shall pass.