30 November 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 November 2017

Happy Birthday Justin! Strings Concert! Gilbert Days Parade!

Justin turned a year older on Wednesday. We had quite the eventful day celebrating it with him. I texted him asking if we could have lunch together. I was totally expecting him to shoot me down, but he texted an affirmative back. He almost shot me down but then decided to splurge a bit. Evelyn was so excited to dress up and see Dad during the day on his birthday. She chattered the entire drive up about birthdays, Justin, and her favorite songs. We hit some stand still traffic so were half hour late picking him up. We enjoyed some sandwiches at Jimmy John's, that dang Italian Night Club sandwich is hard to deny. Josie is such a happy, spirited baby. She brings joy to most around her... until Evelyn takes something away. Happy baby turns into baby nazgul.  After school Amelia got ready for her first strings concert. My phone was binging off the hook with 95 text messages between Mia, Chloe, and Abby. Apparently, the girls were deciding what to wear. I totally understand why parents get their kids phones. I get annoyed when 2-3 texts come in less than an hour, 95 in less than 10 minutes? Mia wore her cute unicorn dress. The kids almost made it though the concert like normal kids should. I almost lost my mind before the concert keeping the kids in check and not running around like safari zebras. Amelia was beaming when the kids took their seats. We are so proud of her, from not picking up a stringed instrument a couple months ago to playing actual songs is quite the accomplishment. Amelia and Chloe also got to play percussion for the 6th graders (apparently, this was quite exciting and embarrassing). So many giggles behind hands! Silly creatures. Justin made it in time to see the last song the 5th graders performed. We took the family out to eat Mexican food for dinner since it was already late.

I recycled the old swing frame when our new-new swing came in the mail. The rainbow swing had a bent frame so I had to return that one. I hung the swing vertically like a circus hoop. The older kids love it! Phillip was pretending to be a parakeet with a silly winter hat on his head, sitting on a perch. Soon Amelia convinced the boys to practice a play for Justin starring the hoop swing. Amelia was a cute Koala, Phillip a parakeet, and Everett a Thanksgiving turkey that Phillip shot with a spray nozzle. The amount of tears and crying from Phillip and Everett were quite substantial. The boys either hated Amelia's ideas or did not want to practice again. She can be a slave driver. I almost shut down the performance once Phillip went ballistic and shoved Everett to the ground. Once the time came to actually perform the play the kids were sweet and cute. I hope Justin enjoyed his birthday play, because the pain of fighting was quite substantial. I made some marshmallow brownies and homemade pizza for Friday dinner to celebrate his birthday a bit late.

Saturday Justin left for the church bright and early to help Bishop with tithing settlement. He was there for a good 6 hours. The kids and I biked a mile or two so we could enjoy the parade for Gilbert Days. Biking was easier and faster than trying to find a parking spot. We ended up on the wrong side of the road. We were on the side blocked off for the 5k runners, which meant the parade folks would not throw prizes and candy to us. Some kind soul gave the kids footballs and a few suckers towards the end of the parade. Josie was dancing! Her knee dip move is a sight to behold. She copied Everett as he threw and caught his ball, she was right behind him throwing and fetching. Evelyn was a turkey, quite literally. We loved the choir, marching bands, and the horses. Everett scored the bike trailer trunk since his bike is too small to keep up with me. He was squished in the back cradling my camera and water bottles. Evelyn pestered Josie by touching her pony tail, Josie was not happy sitting next to her annoying sister.

Evelyn can be really, really annoying. She is the annoyer in our family. Josie playing peacefully with a toy, Evelyn marches up rips it out of her hand and takes it. She pushes Josie around making her go places. She pokes and prods until the kids go berserk. When asked to stop she ignores us and continues. She only stops when physically restrained and made to cry herself. Persistent little bugger. On the other hand she will melt your heart. She made sure Justin was comfy on the couch with a blanket, stuffed animal, and kisses. She gives the best hugs. She prays every time: "Dear Heavenly Father, I love my mom and dad, best ever!" Phillip came up to me after watching Star Wars and said, "Mom, Evelyn is my Sith-ter. Heh, Heh, Heh. Get it? Sith-ter?!" Yes, yes she is the Sith, Raz al gul, and spicy pizza.

Amelia and I sang with the ward choir on Sunday. Justin was taking Evelyn to the restroom. Apparently she refused to use the Men's potty so Justin had to relocate to the family one. Josie participated in the choir as she was in my arms squirming and begging to be let down. Primary singing time is going well. The kids sang "Gethsemane" so beautifully they sounded like angels.

14 November 2017

Goldfield Mine

Monday morning I set up an appointment to have a carpet company give me an estimate to replace the carpets and different tile. Around 10:30 am I heard the doorbell ring, immediately Evelyn belted out a bloodcurdling scream: "IT'S A ROBBER!!!!" I calmly explained that robbers don't usually ring the doorbell. She laughed off her mistake and opened the door! I was dying! The carpet guy had a rather confused look on his face! Looks like it will only cost an arm and half a leg to replace the carpets. Boo Hooooooo.

Amelia came home from school on Tuesday red-faced from crying. She was angry, mad, frustrated, and upset. It took some finesse to work out the truth from her. Seems like a boy in her class has a major crush on Amelia. His name is Lars. Mia's friend Chloe is quite excited about Lars' crush and is helping pass notes from Lars to Mia. Amelia was mad because she did NOT want a dumb boy to write notes to her. She ripped up the note (after I read it) and threw away the first note from Lars. I was flummoxed over her response to the situation. I think now a few days later some understanding crept in: she is embarrassed that a boy likes her and is unsure how to respond, unsure if liking a boy in return is ok. I had crazy dreams all week about Amelia, Lars, and teen romance gone bad. It was terrible! Ha ha ha. Justin and I urged Amelia to pray about the situation and wait to respond until her emotions were not so crazy. She responded the next day, Chloe was badgering her all day for a return note. I think Amelia finally wrote back a note that said friend, friend, friend...written all over. Lars' note back is the one included above. It seems he is smitten for all the right reasons! We totally agree with his assessment of Amelia. Justin is ready with his guns! Mia is way too young for all this (in my opinion). We talked a bit about how this time in her life is to play, imagine, read, and be a kid. No need for intense pressure like that, especially from Chloe and Lars.

Evelyn is the Queen of "Why" in our house. She is my first kid to really pursue the "why" question even after multiple explanations and return questions asking her why. Today she wanted to know why I had to mail back the rainbow swing. Why? Because the frame is not fitting together. Why? A section of the pipe is bent. Why? It was a manufacture defect. Why? The machine malfunctioned. Why? Why send back the swing? Why? Why? Gotta love those 4 year old minds. I love that she calls zippers as whippers instead. "Mom, can you whip up my bag?" Makes me kiss those delightful cheeks.

Thursday I convinced my third cousin to get some photos taken in the cotton fields near her home down in Queen Creek. I was so excited to find props, plan outfits, and such. Amelia agreed to babysit for me, aka watch devices while I was gone. The Godard's were aware the kids were alone and could come over if needed. I took Josie along just for fun. I brought my white baby pram, a white christening dress, the blue coat set, and a cute baby bed. I felt pretty jazzed to take some photos. Plus I finally got to meet up with my cousin and her cute baby, Sage. Amelia did a great job babysitting for me. Came home to the kids still in the same places I left them. Thanks to the crock pot dinner was soon on the table without much ado.

Friday the kids had no school. We took the morning to explore Goldfield, a ghost town near Flying Dutchman. I packed up a picnic lunch, lots of water, and treats for the event. Pretty much it is a tourist trap wrapped up in a cool setting. All the town's buildings are either gift stores or places you have to pay a fee to tour or enter. Still, it was exciting to walk around the town and explore the remnants of a mining town. Melanie and her kids met up with us shortly before noon. We ate lunch soon after they arrived. The hornets were haunting the picnic tables much to the kid's annoyance. They were too scared to eat with the pests hovering about. We settled for some boulders near a cliff instead to eat lunch. I gnawed on my huge flower of raw broccoli dipped in hummus. The hummus was most excellent since I made it fresh that morning. Josie kindly opened all the containers of yogurt, wasting 5 containers. Amelia made sure the boys did not fall off the cliff. She has top notch bossing skills, I let her do all the hard work! We checked out the cemetery and outhouse. One grave had an entire metal bed covering his area, guess that guy liked his sleep. Another plot was piled high with stones, Phillip quipped that the person buried there "must've been sorta fat" since the pile was so high. We got a laugh out of that. All the kids played an intense game of hot lava with Evelyn starring as Te-Ka. Melanie took Everett and Evelyn to ride the train around the town. Amelia, Phillip, Josie, and I all toured the mine. The tickets cost $8 per in cash, I only had $8 and a checkbook. The cashier gave me the child tickets for free because my bank was Navy Federal! Guess it does pay to still have ties to the military on Veteran's Day. She handed us "stickets" aka, stick tickets. LOL. The elevator ride down seemed to really shake up Amelia, I finally told her the ride down was all fake, and that we were less than 20 feet underground. Phillip was freaked out when the guide started talking about Tommyknockers, the fabled creatures that miners believed would warn them of cave collapses. Phillip had his eyes wide open hoping to catch a glimpse of one. Josie was a stinker, took off her shoes and rubbed my pants with dirt and rocks while we stopped to listened to the tour. Fun times. We were raving with thirst after the tour so we stopped at Sodalicious for some fancy soda drinks and cookies. Phillip got a Boy Scout (rootbeer and marshmellow), Amelia ordered an Officer Jenny (some citrus concoction with cream), two orange floats, and a raspberry drink for me. Evelyn made snow angels in the fake grass area...guess you have to work with the medium available.

Justin and I had a night off to grab some dinner and watch the new Thor movie. We ate wings at the movie theater, Fat Cats. They were gross, the salad is now on my dislike list. Yuck. The movie was most excellent. Lots of good laughs and highly entertaining. Can't complain about the reclining seats either.

Justin was at church on Sunday from 6:20 am until almost 3 pm. Talk about a long day at church, fasting to boot. He snuck in a nap before the Chandler Calls came over for Sunday dinner. I made Korean Bulgogi with lots of fun toppings for dinner. We had quite the Asian inspired week of food: Thai Tom Kha Gai soup, sushi, stir fry, and bulgogi. Asian food is good for vegetable and protein diets. While rice cooked I took family and individual photos of the Calls. Mostly, a thank you for all they did hosting Justin for almost 2 months. The kids had quite a rousing game of animal trainer going after dinner. I'm surprised the roof did not blast off with the level of noise the kids generated. So, so happy to have cousins to play with and a sister to talk with.