29 October 2017

Pumpkin Carving

Life rolls on! And on. It's destined to. Another pumpkin session carving session goes down in the books. Another Halloween almost gone. I am already looking forward to what next year will bring. I predict more hot days. That one is a sure deal. 

Josie thinks napping on the floor is fun. She only naps for 20-30 minutes each day now. It's killing me a bit since she really wants to sleep an hour or more. Little Jojo does not like her bed and just cries. It might be time again for another sleep duke-it-out series of sessions, nap-style. I need more time to get things done than 10 minutes with my arms free. She goes around whining: "Mommy! Mommy?! Mommmmmy!" It's cute. It does get old since she is trying to say something else but does not have the verbal skills to tell me what she really wants. Josie will get the hard treatment in nursery now since I have a Sunday calling in Primary as the Music Leader. Should be fun! Josie just cries and cries in nursery. Guess it's time to get used to a little time away from "mommy." I do enjoy her sweet kisses! She is quite the snuggler. 

I had a return Dr visit with the Red River clinic about my blood work from a couple weeks ago. Several items stood out that could be affecting my health. Mainly, it seems my liver is not quite working as it should, possible it's dealing with high amounts of inflammation due to food allergies or hormones. I have sufficient thyroid levels BUT it seems my body is not using the thyroid hormones (the reverse t3 serum is high). Treatment with the clinic will cost about $4,000 plus $150 per month in supplements for 6 months. Price tag hurts even with a medical loan. Still I felt hopeful that the Dr gave me some clues of what could be going on to cause my fatigue and headaches. I plan on approaching my new family Dr to ask for a food allergy work up, see if I can eliminate the tremendous inflammation my body is constantly fighting, normal levels are 1-2 and mine are at 11. A lady in my ward, Sister Wolford runs a clean eating blog and has lots of good information to help cleanse and help the liver to start working again. Means lifestyle changes, but I was totally expecting that. Justin was able to attend the visit since the office is not too far from his work. The girls were so excited to have him there. 

Melanie Christenson let us borrow her bottle of Viral Hot Pink shampoo. Amelia and Evelyn now have fun pink hair! The shampoo colors hair for 1-4 weeks depending on your hair type. It's pretty fun for the girls. I kind of want to get the ruby hair shampoo for myself! Evelyn now thinks she is a real genie with her pink hair.  

The kids had half school days on Thursday and Friday for parent-teacher conferences. I scheduled all the kids between 3-3:45 on Thursday. Amelia of course is sailing along with flying colors. She did some early gifted testing and could possibly attend the gifted school for 6-8th grades next year (if she wants to). Mrs Howard gave the kids self-evaluations and Amelia said the one area she needs to work on is turning in assignments on time (she likes to take her time making sure everything is perfect). Mrs Howard said that was exactly what her own evaluation said! She is making some friends in her class. Her friends are Chloe, Abby, and George. She earned straight A's her first quarter at a new school. That my friends is awesomely amazing. Phillip's conference was next with Mrs Epstein. He is doing well! Most of his scores are high average, except reading comprehension and able to write narratives alone. I've witnessed his jump in reading skills this quarter. He is really improving. We talked about his ability to focus and get work done. He works well at school (and home) only when someone is sitting next to him guiding him along. He gets it but needs guidance. We decided to have the school psychologist test him for general developmental delays just to see if anything pops up. Hooray for Phillip! He's got this reading challenge in the bag. Everett was last on the conference list. Mrs Laske said that Everett gives her a hug each and every morning! It's something she loves to get! His report card looks almost identical to Phillip's because the rating system is quite broad, especially the first two quarters. He knows 151/200 sight words, and has his pluses memorized up to the +5's! This kid is overly excited about school and loves the classroom. Our house is now a reading farm! Books everywhere! I love it. We read before school, after school, and before bed.

Phillip wants to be Luke Skywalker for Halloween. I spent lots of time scouring the Goodwill for items to make his costume. I found the last pieces on Friday, shoes and brown pants. The pants are women's fleece leggings! He put on the ensemble and started moaning. The karate Gi was not right, his hair was not yellow, he actually wanted to wear Luke's flysuit etc. Next morning Phillip comes downstairs wearing the women's leggings, the cool brown high tops, a brown button up shirt, sunglasses and a hat. He looked like a total hipster, leggings and all. I'm not telling him the pants are actually girl pants. Makes me laugh inside knowing something he would possibly freak out over. Phillip is on day day three wearing those leggings. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

I promised the kids Saturday they could carve pumpkins. Everett's was rotten before we even got a chance to carve it. I had to make another run to get a pumpkin for him before we started. This time I used a drill with a whisk attachment tightened on to scramble the insides of the pumpkins. It did help to loosen the guts! Josie about gagged when I showed her the inside of the pumpkin. She appropriately squealed, "Ewwwwww!" Lots of giggles, gags, and usage of kid-safe carving knives produced four carved pumpkins. Amelia carved a Pegasus, adorned with painted mane and tail, lots and lots of glitter. I carved most of Everett's spider and all of Evelyn's witch. Phillip's was his very own creation, a killed zombie pumpkin. Justin had work to do over the weekend so he mostly read and popped out once to admire the chaos. We took a much needed slurpee run after Josie's "nap." Justin worked on a busted sprinkler pipe he started work on at 5:30 am on Thursday. Dang anxiety pops up at the most inconvenient times. Once he found the correct parts the fix was done in minutes, just took him 2 days to find the right parts. 

Our kind neighbors sent the kids the "You've been Boo'd" card back with a huge plate of cookies and treats. I am sure Hannah had to run fast since the kids were close to the door when the bell rang! Our neighbors are so intriguing! When I first went over to visit a couple weeks back, I saw a huge 5 ft Roman goddess gracing their dining room wall. Can you guess? Husband is from Rome! People genuinely make me laugh and smile. Later the same week we got to visit some neighbors across the way behind us. Their home is an antique wonderland. They have a record juke box, an air-pumped piano player box, and an entire wing of the house loaded with Egyptian fancies. Oh, and more mystery/adventure books than one person (except me) should ever read. Forget the library! I am going to my neighbor's home.

Justin was called to be the new ward clerk today. I was called to be the new Primary music director. I pray my energy levels will stand up to the challenge! Mia and I are not totally hooked on attending ward choir. We go at 1:30, after I take a short 20 minute nap! It's rather perfect and fun for us to do together.

26 October 2017

Pumpkin Patch and Camping

Monday morning we left to have a fun morning at the Pumpkin Patch. When I think of pumpkin patches I think of chilly mornings, hot cocoa, cute fall outfits, and fall colors. Quite the opposite happened. The kids were stoked to put on Halloween outfits and push up the sleeves. The patch we went to is not very far from our house, I pass it quite often on my trips to consign clothes at Once Upon a Child. We had our water bottles and snacks ready for a fun day. It was 85 when we arrived, by the time we left it was 100. We were all a sweaty mess, trying to enjoy fall fun under summer weather. The kids really loved the zip line and bouncing pillows. Josie loved all the animals and the barrel rides. We did not love the corn maze, it was hot and hard to carry Josie (and Evelyn), plus the one water bottle did not last long enough. In the maze we had to find 6 clue stations and answer a riddle. That was pretty fun. Amelia got lost in the maze and came out bawling once she finally found the exit. She was not so keen on enjoying herself but soon got lost in the fun again. All the kids spent a good deal of time at the water pumps and duck racing station. Ingenious! Celebrating fall in desert heat was a bit hard to overcome for me. We left right around noon. We all got slurpees to quench our powerful thirst.

For FHE activity we made cards for Aunty Jen. She had back surgery last week and was so nervous about it. I am relieved her older son and parents made it out here for the surgery and to help her recuperate for a few days. I finished patching a pair of jeans she ripped almost a year ago. That was hard work, my fingertips were ragged even with the thimble. Everett made her a card with a volcano exploding love, my favorite part was the mysterious dot Jen was supposed to find. Evelyn made her a sweet drawing. Amelia's letter and sugar skull were so creative. Phillip went all out and made a peaceful meadow for Jen to enjoy.

Tuesday was a big, big day for Phillip. He finally reached his goal to stay dry at night for over two weeks in a row. The day before we picked up a cage I thrifted off Facebook. He was in heaven picking out a house, food, snacks, and of course the hamster. He chose the smallest hamster of the lot, a robo dwarf. It is so small and ever so swift. Phillip christened his new pet: Cagey Snuffs Call. We took him home and got the hamster settled in his new habitat. Since Tuesday the kids let the hamster escape 4 times. Thankfully, he always went behind the large library filing cabinet. Took patience and a fly swatter to get the rodent back in the cage. He is one speedy devil, too small to really hold. The kids sort of hold him inside his exercise ball, mostly they spin him around and roll the poor thing across the floor. At pack meeting Phillip earned his first two awards! He earned two belt loops and should have earned his Bobcat, but the patch was not shipped in time. That kid was beaming from ear to ear! This month's pack meeting focused on two boys who moved up to Webelos. We met at the park to play then met to divvy out awards. Evelyn's newest favorite shoes are two sizes too big Anna dress up shoes.

A stretch of cloud cover actually spread through the area Tuesday and Wednesday. I was so excited to see cloud cover because I knew that meant amazing light. For years I've wanted to take photos in cotton fields, two weeks ago I learned that there are several cotton fields not too far away, only 30 minutes or so. Josie was awake (and crabby) the kids were still off school for break, so I coaxed them into the van and we went adventuring for cotton fields. I squealed when some fields came into view! Josie was not happy but warmed up after a bit. Evelyn made some strange faces so most of her photos did not turn out. The kids got to hold some old cotton that fell in the dirt, it is a strange mix of soft fibers and hard seed like spots. I am so glad that vision worked out.

The kids returned to school on Wednesday morning. We really enjoyed our downtime. I worked on cleaning up the evidence of two weeks with kids home. After school Mia had Activity Day Girls, we went at the usual time only to find no one there. I did not realize the time was changed to an hour later. I dropped Mia off then got a phone call 5 minutes later from her asking to be picked up. She was quite upset to find herself almost alone in the church. Thankfully, some guys were playing basketball. She related that she first dropped to her knees asking for help, the spirit directed her to ask one of the guys in the gym to use a cell phone. She did this and was able to get a hold of me. I felt so proud of her for taking the right steps and following the spirit. During her actual meeting time the girls made cute cupcakes and a sign reading, "You've been Boo'ed!" The girls were challenged to deliver the treats to someone who might need them. Mia decided to surprise our neighbors across the road. The kids ran over, delivered the plate and note, then ran back after ringing the door bell. All the kids were lined up just inside the garage door peeking around the wall to watch their reaction. From my perspective I saw four excited kids kneeling on the ground with their heads visible to the family across the street.  The treat was indeed discovered, I could hear our neighbor loudly exclaiming over the plate of cupcakes. This morning our doorbell rang, Mia opened the door to find the same note over a huge platter of treats! So cute!

Josie insisted on wearing a swim diaper over the PJs one morning. She went outside to yell at the kids with the diaper on and the game "Slamwich" clutched in one hand. We were quite startled to find rain sprinkling down. That lasted all of 2 minutes! Josie can now say her own name. Her new favorite words are: ketchup, mine, book, diaper, shine, elmo, treat, shoe, push, and swing.

The girls and I got the van oil changed and the radiator system flushed. The van odometer recently went over 100k. We are in heavy weight oil territory now. LOL. The best part was getting the van cleaned out inside and out. The girls amused themselves with the water guns installed in the waiting area. Kids can shoot water at the vehicles going through the car wash. I also had a Dr appointment to get my medicines refilled. Outside the Dr office a fun covered playground shared the courtyard. The girls had so much fun playing before and after my appointment. Josie got a chicken/pig Moana sticker, she talked about her sticker for over an hour. I was feeling a bit down this week, missing our home and friends in Sidney. From what I hear lots of changes are starting to roll down the pipes at Cabelas. I left so many friends and family there. Quite a novel experience for me.

Friday morning I packed up the truck for the ward campout. I was called to the committee to help out so felt obligated to attend. Justin was unable to come since he is right in the middle of quarter end, by the time he got home after 6 pm he would still have a two hour drive up the canyon. Once again I took the kids camping alone! It was no big deal. The kids were so excited so go camping in a cabin with sleeping bags, flashlights, and the promise of smores. I took them out of school right around 2:45. We stopped back at home for potty then onward to Payson. Everett asked every so often if we were almost there, if we were late, and what we were missing. He was so excited to sleep in a cabin. We decided on some sandwiches for dinner in Payson. We had such a great time up in the fresh canyon air. My job was to organize some skits for the evening entertainment. Most everyone I asked refused! Soooooo....my kids put on two skits and the Christensens agreed to put on a skit. The Bishop spoke a few words about Alma the Elder. Then a brother from the stake gave a history about a Walk for Women he helped install at Camp LoMia (it is a Young Women's Camp). The kids put on a skit about a candy store and another about a broken TV. Next morning the kids grouped together to put on several other skits they made up! We slept pretty well considering! We had the entire cabin to ourselves! I was able to use the sound machine to drown out the major karaoke party happening in the camp just below us. Amelia and I got up shortly after midnight to watch the Orionoid meteor shower. We watched for a good 30-35 minutes, no obvious meteors raced across the sky. Others stayed up until after 2 am, they saw only 3-4 meteors. She was so disappointed we missed it poor girl was crying for sometime before she fell back asleep. Everett woke up complaining his legs were itching. Josie kept cracking her noggin on the wall, never woke up but woke me up. Phillip was jigging up in his bunk, kept my bed moving and grooving. By 6 am all the kids were awake and freezing. I think that's the best part about camping! Getting warm by a fire in the morning with hot chocolate in hand. Josie was wrapped up in her favorite Shimmer and Shine blanket. Evelyn was scared of the fire, her little hands were chapped red from cold. Mostly I only saw glimpses of the older kids as they played here and there. We had a massive breakfast of burritos, fruit, and pancakes. Food was expected for 100 and only 50 showed up, so there was a lot of food! I died laughing as older boys passed with plates piled with only sausages and bacon. After breakfast we caught a ride in the back of Bishop's pickup to the Walk for Women. It was a very sweet place to feel the spirit, along the trail were plaques with quotes about Women. At the trail end was a large statue of a young family. Bishop carried Josie on his shoulders! The boys were more excited about all the sticks (aka guns, bombs, bazookas, etc) than focusing on spiritual matters. I had to leave with them so the others would not be bothered. We found a lovely maple tree, fiery red. Josie would not walk on the decks of our cabin or at the kitchen. She seemed afraid of falling through the floor! Poor kid just stood rooted in one place while flapping her arms. The best part was the car races. Gracious, all the kids flocked to the car ramp and bin of hot wheels. Josie was in heaven! Evelyn was in heaven! Phillip was in heaven! Everett was off in the woods collecting weapons of war. Phillip tried to throw him a small log, the log connected with the side of his face. Everett had a bloody nose, scraped nostril, and a nice bruise on his cheek. On our way down the canyon we stopped in Payson to visit with my cousin Amber for a couple hours. Her youngest is the same age as Amelia. The kids loved their trampoline and swing. Good times! We arrived home around 4 pm. Justin was off on a motorcycle ride so missed the unloading phase as well! Lucky guy. He cleaned up the kitchen, even mopped the floors. Justin attended Anson's baptism that morning to represent our family. Phillip was so upset he missed the baptism. Guess he missed the memo that it was either camping or the baptism. Post camping baths are the best treat! Sluicing off dirt, sweat, and bug spray feels amazing. We all went to bed much earlier than usual.

Josie slept on Justin during Sunday naps. She is once again being a stinker about her naps. Gah, just sleep you cranky kid. Amelia and I went to choir practice for the first time. I think she really enjoyed it, I know I did. Josie had taken to calling me "mommy" this week. It is utterly adorable. She walks around saying, "mommy, mommy, mommy?! Mommy!!" On the opposite Evelyn and I are on first name basis. "Jennifer, get me some chips. Jennifer, wipe my butt! Jennifer, push me on the swing." This is about the second week of first name usage.

16 October 2017

Fall Break

We had a great time last week taking a break from school and exploring our new city a bit. Monday morning I hired a teenager to help me empty the food storage closet and reorganize it. My buckets with the gamma lids were mixed in with the sealed buckets. The task was overwhelming on its own and Justin was not keen to help. Brekken and I had the closet cleared out in 15 minutes. He helped me group the buckets according to contents. We stuffed smaller items between the buckets and ended up with more room in the closet for other stuff. I am still missing my gamma bucket with white flour and rice. Not sure how those buckets managed to disappear. After the closet was restored the kids and I went to Winco (as mentioned in the previous post). I got 4 new buckets and 4 gamma lids to replace the ones I lost. Evelyn went shopping wearing a princess dress and her favorite pink soccer shoes! I love the soccer shoe addiction she has, those shoes are her favorite!

Tuesday we cleaned up a bit, like putting laundry away. I hired our neighbor to babysit Josie so the kids and I could watch a movie at the dollar theater. I am so glad Josie was not around, it was crazy busy. I bought tickets online, thinking that would save time. We arrived 20 minutes early, we did not get into seats until 20 minutes after the movie started. We still had to wait in line for tickets, wait for seats, then discovered the seats were spread all around the theater. Amelia sat in a seat near the back, Everett was somewhere in the middle, Phillip and Evelyn chose to sit on the floor by me. Not sure the $1 theater movie day was worth the $1 savings. Next time we might just go to $2 Wednesday. LOL. We saw the Emoji movie. I tried to have Josie asleep before the babysitter (Hannah) came over. Evelyn busted into the nursery just as Jojo was drifting off. She was not happy about me leaving her. Hannah said she put on an Elmo movie and laid Josie on the couch. Guess Josie was tired, she fell right to sleep and stayed on the couch until we got home!

Josie is being a stinker about sleep for the moment. I hate leaving the kids because it disrupts their sleep patterns. Since my overnighter Josie is refusing to sleep on her own. I have to hold her until she drifts off then hope she does not wake up when placed in her crib. At night she just cries and cries. I spent quite a few nights on the floor and a couple naps on the floor. She is crabby from lack of sleeping! Looks like her eye teeth are also moving so that could be a huge factor. I'm grateful for the days of swimming since Josie's amber teething necklace was in the swim bag. I was going crazy trying to find it.

Wednesday we met up with Laura, Anna, Anson, and Gary at Riverside park for a couple hours. The kids immediately were too hot to play so ran through the splash pad area. Evelyn was starving so we laid out our picnics right after 11 am. I love watching the boys play together, it is wonderful to have instant cousin friends nearby. Laura and I got to visit while we watched the kids play here and there. As a parting activity we fed the ducks some stale bread from our cupboard. Everett was trying some ninja-tastic move spinning some bread into the pond, he spun off the concrete walkway into the duck pond. He was quite stunned as he landed on some large rocks, the ducks were quite displeased with the intrusion. Evelyn was almost in tears she was so worried about Evertt. I'm glad the water was not deep like the goose pit in Sidney, that pond is an instant 4 ft drop into the water. Not 3 minutes after Everett dipped into the pond, Anson slipped off the ledge into the pond as well. We fished him out only to send him back in when Josie's sandal flopped into the water. I think Anson had a rather sheepish look on his face, not sure his dip was quite accidental. After three incidents with the duck pond we took our chances and walked away! Laura and I exchanged some kids for the afternoon. I took home Anson and Anna, Laura took Everett home with her. We spent a nice afternoon quietly playing. Phillip and Anson mostly played Legos, then they tried to make Cager some armor out of a lays can. The girls quite amused themselves with the wading pool and making clay charms. A slue of slurpees rounded out the day.

Thursday morning we spent at the library stocking up on books and movies for the week. Amelia checked out books other than the Pegasus series she is currently obsessed with. I think she's read each Pegasus book 2-3 times now. After the library we checked out Once Upon a Child for a Power Ranger costume for Everett. Phillip wants to be Luke Skywalker, Everett a Power Ranger, Amelia is going as a unicorn, Evelyn as a princess, and Josie as an owl and Snow White. Phillip and I raided Goodwill for a karate top and canvas belt. He just needs some boots. Amelia's costume mostly consists of rainbow colors and a horn.

Friday we rather had a boring day. In the afternoon we went swimming at the Price's again. I was a bit embarrassed to arrive and find her family arriving for the weekend. Her son just returned from his mission in Japan. I felt strange intruding, Sister Price was quite fine with us swimming, no one else joined in the fun. The only real intrusion was two potty runs by Everett and Evelyn. The kids also got some craft kits to work on for the afternoon. They painted some statues and played with a fun stamp set I found in the discount pile.

Saturday morning we cleaned up the house. Uncle Shawn and his Fiancee, Sandi, were in town for a wedding. They planned on coming by in the morning but that changed to the afternoon. We went hiking at Riparian Preserve, a beautiful place just two miles from our home. It is a famous bird reserve in the middle of Gilbert, built with reclaimed water from the sewage (cleaned beforehand). The kids noticed fun rocks hidden all over the trails, we took photos of the rocks, then re-hid the rocks nearby. It's a fun new game that seemed to crop up last year. Folks take ordinary rocks and decorate the rocks with paint, spangles, etc and hide them as a treasure to find. We found a total of 9 rocks, the smallest was a ladybug painted on a small rock chip! The favorite was a Pokemon rock. Our kids are really wimpy! They could not handle the heat and walking at the same time. Phillip is the absolute worst when it comes to complaining about any exertion above a slow walk. It was a bit warm (only 95) at the time. We pushed the kids on towards the goal, a little more than a mile loop! At the entrance is a fun area the kids can climb on and over. We got home in time to eat some lunch before Shawn arrived. While munching on food some of us soaked our feet in the cool pool water. That felt amazing. The kids were quite excited to meet my Uncle! We had a fun time visiting, as much as we could over the kids excitement. Sandi used to live in the same area, just a couple home divisions away in the same "oval" we live. That was pretty exciting. She was in the same ward as well.

The kids are doing lots of reading to keep up during their break. Phillip and Everett have to read two books before any electronic time. Mia reads enough on her own so the rule is relaxed for her. Lots and lots of reading going on around here. Even Josie has her favorite books she carried around like Elmo, Peppa, and Shine. Friday night Josie sat on the kitchen floor with a page of Shmmer and Shine stickers. She had them stuck on her arms and legs, saying over and over: Shine! Shine! She was quite amused with herself.

My main complaint lately is how the bathrooms smell. No matter how many times I clean the toilets, walls, floor, etc the area still smells like pee. It grosses me out. Phillip and Everett are the worst distracted pee-ers ever. I am to the point those two will lose the standing privilege. Get it together boys!