26 December 2017

The Pre-Christmas Lull

Seems like this week was sort of boring with lots of candy crusted faces and hands! Our Nelves tend to drop off little toys and candies more often the closer we get to Christmas Day. The best treat of the week was bubble gum rolls. Poor mom had to scrape numerous piles of gum from off the floor and carpet. Naughty Nelves! They need some training on proper gifts for little kids.

Monday afternoon Evelyn, Josie, and I met with Mrs Melichar, Evelyn's new preschool teacher. She and I went through a mound of paperwork that outlined Evelyn's IEP. We decided to make a decision about Evelyn and kindergarten once school comes to a close for the year. Mrs Melichar said she would give me her best and honest opinion about Evelyn's readiness for school. That felt like the best decision: wait and see. Paying Evelyn $4 after a week of using the bathroom by herself was the best thing ever. She asks me once or twice a day to help her use the bathroom, I respond: "Sure! I love to help you but it will cost a dollar! Show me your dollar and I will help." Evelyn usually huffs off and does the chore on her own. I smile to myself loving the sway of a dollar. Evelyn started crying when we arrived at Sonoma Ranch, she wanted to attend her OWN school, not the same school. Inside her new classroom she quickly had a change of heart. The toy stations were totally awesome. The kid-sized bathroom was amazing. We saw Everett and Phillip on our way back to the van! I stopped by the main office to finish completing all the paperwork for her enrollment. I can't find the immunization records I worked so hard to obtain from the hospital in Sidney. Poof, GONE. Grrr. Since Monday Evelyn has talked excitedly about going to school with her own backpack and a water bottle. "The new Monday" cannot come soon enough for her. Evelyn's most recent fascination and conversation topic is: "Mom? Why do we have mouthes?" We talk for miles about why humans have mouths. We determined having a mouth is quite important.

Phillip earned his Bobcat and Wolf badges Tuesday! He was so embarrassed to wear a furry tail pinned to his shirt. Even more embarrassed to eat a bowl of dog chow (chocolate cereal) for his wolf badge. On top of those two badges and the Cyberchip Award he earned these belt loops: Coucil Fire, Collections & Hobbies, Howling at the Moon, Grow Something, Call of the Wild, Paws on the Path, Running with the Pack, and Duty to God. The boys had a fun white elephant gift exchange. Phillip came home with a Pokemon trading card mat. I earned two pins for my new Scout collection.

Most evenings this week I spent wrapping gifts after 9:30 pm. Even though the kids did not get as many things this year the multiplication factor results in quite the haul to wrap up. Justin worked on assembling bikes while we watched Netflix together.

The littles and I enjoyed a trip to the mall this week. We went to a couple stores to window shop then played at a little play area for toddlers. Josie loved the slide, but kept ramming herself into one little girl who refused to move from the bottom of the slide. Jojo earned a goose egg for her sliding efforts.

Everett came home Tuesday so excited after attending a field trip to watch "Go, Dogs Go!" The highlight for him was sitting on the balcony at the theater! I love that kid and his simple enthusiasm. He is the best helper and the one who complains the least when it comes to cleaning and helping. The boys started wrestling around on the floor this month. Most of the time it is friendly, but this week is starting to end in tears.

Mia and Chloe worked hard for a month studying jellyfish for their Genius Hour presentation. The girls would get on Google Classroom and work on a PowerPoint presentation on their topic. They rehearsed via FaceTime and text making changes and such. All the teams presented their topics the few days before Christmas break. I got to watch their Genius Hour presentation on Wednesday. The girls did amazing! Answered some hard questions after their presentation and took some insightful criticism well. A couple hours later Amelia, Chloe, and Abby teamed up for Battle of the Books. They named their team, "The Three Unicorns." I found cheap unicorn horns for the girls to wear during their battle. The horns gave them luck since the girls scored perfectly during their battle! After dinner and work we loaded up the kids for a short Walmart trip. I wanted to show Justin a grill the store had in stock. I found a combination propane/charcoal grill for a very reasonable price. We stuffed it in the van, after we paid for it. LOL.

Evelyn had a dentist appointment. She started wailing loudly as I parked the van, screaming, "I HATE DENTISTS!" She would not listen to reason, that the dentist actually helped heal her mouth better. The new x-ray went well. Once in the room she started to cry again. The dentist allowed her to sit on my lap while her torso rested on his knees. He probed her teeth, was dismayed her right incisor is still very wiggly. He applied some topical antiseptic to her upper gum and lip line since it was white with infection. Evelyn recovered nicely at the reception desk where she earned another sticky hand from the prize box.

Mia held down the fort later that afternoon while Josie was napping. I got to shop at Walmart alone for food and a couple Christmas items still on my list. I'm so grateful she can help out.

Friday morning the kids had to clean their rooms before 10 am. The incentive was a shopping trip for their sibling gift exchange. They got the job done before 9:45! Yes! Minimal complaining as well. Shopping for 5 kids at the same was not a brilliant idea. I helped each child while the older kids kept Evelyn busy. We hid their gifts with jackets we brought along. The older kids convinced Everett to buy giant squishies with his allowance money...if they paid him back. Amelia got a taco, Phillip a burger, and Everett a pizza. They played with their little doohickeys for the rest of the day. The best game was convincing Josie to play fetch as they threw the toys on the ground from the truck. Justin about lost his marbles and patience as he tried to help the kids wrap their gifts to each other.

Saturday morning we walked over to our neighbors house for breakfast. The kids admired all the naked Roman statues decorating their house. I enjoyed getting to know them better. All week I watched Guido cut wood incessantly. Turns out he was making the most intricate crosses for those who ordered them! Phillip, Josie, Everett, and Amelia all caught nasty colds/coughs/sneezes for a nasty soup of sickness. The lack of sleep is wearing me down. Each night one or more of the kids needs help or is unable to sleep.  Evelyn helped me with a photo session at Riparian Preserve. She was the honkey pig holder. We took photos of the Bishop and family! Bishop Price is a very jolly guy. Evelyn enjoyed the individual attention and time to explore the preserve by herself (near to me of course). We worked on sugar cookies for Santa after dinner.

Our choir performance this morning was so amazing. We worked diligently together to produce a lovely performance. All the men sang a song about the Innkeepers who turned away Mary and Joseph, "Let Him In." Chills! I feel relieve to have my little flute performance over with. Our Primary kids sang "When He Comes Again/Joy to the World." Gracious, the kids sounded like angels. Glad that pressure is over as well. Yahoo! We did it.

19 December 2017


Evelyn will be wishing for her three front teeth for many years to come. Not how I envisioned a toothless kid! Story to come in a bit. 

Last week was a bit of a boring one. The house closing is postponed until the end of December due to more financing issues with the purchasers. Justin was quite upset. Our FHE this week consisted of watching the First Presidency Christmas Program. We missed the broadcast so took the chance to watch it. Seems our Nelf team made an appearance and dropped off some treats for the kids to enjoy. We love our Nelfs, much better than those sneaky Elves on Shelves. Our team of Elves have Army training in reconnaissance and childhood drama survival. Since moving to AZ the Elves appear to prefer ringing the doorbell and not using the Christmas bell. Our activity was to write letters to Santa. I mailed the letters of the next day! We hope Santa writes back like he did last year. 

Tuesday Amelia had me bring Josie in to her class for Show and Tell. Since Evelyn was also there she got some Show and Tell attention as well. Amelia answered lots of questions, most centered around feelings of annoyance and siblings. Josie brought in her favorite toys from Shimmer and Shine to show off. I finally got a good look a Mr Lars, the boy who now broke Amelia's heart (phew). He is handsome! I brought along lunch for us to enjoy with Amelia after her classroom event. Everett never even noticed us after several attempts to catch his attention. Phillip noticed me right away. Evelyn and Josie ate Princess soup for lunch. Amelia's friends, Chloe and Abby kept us company. 

Phillip completed all his spelling homework on the bus for the entire week! We only had to work on reading his assigned books after school. That was ever so nice not to fight over homework for a few days. Way to go!

After school on Friday, Amelia was pushing Evelyn and Josie on the swings while I watered the plants and trees. She happened to push Evelyn's swing at the same exact moment Evelyn was trying to stand up. Gravity worked again poor Evelyn. She face planted right onto the concrete patio, tore out one tooth, scraped her gums and chin up, bloodied her nose, and almost fainted. Poor kiddo was a bloody mess. Amelia immediately freaked out and blamed herself for the entire incident. I had Phillip run to get the Goddard's for assistance. Evelyn laid on the grass until her nose bleed subsided. Once I peeked in her mouth I knew it was a lost cause. We both had blood streaked over our clothes before too long. Her right front tooth was almost completely pulled out, the other teeth looked intact. I sent the boys out to search the lawn and patio for her other tooth. Eventually I decided she probably swallowed her left front tooth. Debbie came over and called her Son-in-law who is a dentist. Lucky, right? He advised us to get her immediate help, extraction of the right tooth, and x-rays. I called up pediatric dentists close by, the closest office was still open at 4:30 and got us in immediately. We worked out insurance stuff on the drive down. Debbie stayed with the kids until Justin got home. Evelyn sat still through 3 x-rays. She was stoked to get 2 stickers for her courage. She was not happy to visit the dentist and sit in the chair. After more paperwork she was in a private office with laughing gas vented through her nose. Not sure that helped much because she still cried and almost thrashed. The worst was after the dentist numbed the surface and injected her gums with the needle. She screamed and screamed through that. He used a "popcorn" device to force her jaws open during one open-mouthed scream! The x-rays showed her right lateral incisor was no longer attached and grinding against her adult tooth. The dentist pulled out her central and lateral incisors with two quick twists and pulls. Disgusting to watch the teeth extracted leaving bloody gaps in her mouth. He then cleaned out her gums, pulling debris from them. A visual peek at her upper lip showed a nasty surface gash, worthy of a stitch or two. He decided against stitches since it would rub her sore gums.   After that she calmed down quickly and declared she hates dentist chairs. The best part was earning TWO prizes from the prize case. We walked out an hour later with a medical packet of teeth and mouth bandaids. We drove straight to CVS to get an antibiotic filled to prevent a mouth infection. She was happy to get popsicles for dinner. Evelyn was in a world of hurt the next day trying to eat, aka gnaw food with her cuspid teeth. I was quite amazed at the lack of emotion I showed. Calm as the proverbial cucumber on the outside, storm raging inside! Amelia was wracked with guilt. She wrote the tooth fairy a note: Dear Tooth Fairy, please give Evelyn something amazing and worth the loss of three teeth. I also got a note and $20: Mom, please use this money to pay the bills, don't give it back. Justin had a good chat with her about culpability and accidents. That could've happened to anyone, even the mom. 

Saturday we took it easy. Evelyn woke up with $6 under her pillow from the tooth fairy. Lucky girl.  Mostly watching movies and cleaning up the house. Justin took the van in for some much needed repairs. The brakes were replaced and the front tires replaces again. We got new front tires earlier this year for the van. The store probably used old, weather worn tires, causing many issues with steering and rough ride. Those repairs cost us a chunk of change. When it rains...

I found a front bike seat for Josie on a For Sale page for $10! They usually go for $20-40 a seat. The seat I scored was in mint condition and perfect for my bike. We biked around for some time right before dinner. The Christensen's hosted a fun South American Christmas party. I made refried beans using my pressure cooker. They had old Christmas movies playing outside, lots of yummy food, and new folks to meet. The kids wrote letters to Santa then tied the letters to helium filled balloons. The kids congregated on the front lawn with all their white balloons!  They let go of their balloons at the same time. It was quite a sight to watch all the balloons float away. How fun! 

Sunday choir practice was long and arduous. We practiced the program three times in a row. Once at the church. Phillip stayed home while Josie napped, thankfully, she napped longer than usual. The Chandler Calls came over for dinner. I made pulled pork sandwiches with tomato salsa. Laura brought a salad. After dinner we fried up donuts to take to our neighbors. This time we sang Christmas carols as we delivered the goodies! So much fun to sing and make memories with our cousins. I think we sounded amazing! Walking down the streets we sounded like a menagerie let loose. Phillip was so excited he started ringing doorbells of folks we don't know (yet). 

Justin and I are remaining strong with our "Keto" diet so far. It's hard to avoid the carbs! Especially donut carbs. I finally feel more motivated as I dropped 7 pounds after 3 weeks. Yay. My brother Jeff moved into my parent's house this week. He was close to living in his truck during a Utah winter. I'm glad he is motivated to get some help from the VA, counseling and maybe medication. Jana miscarried another baby this week. It was so hard to hear about her suffering and anguish over losing another baby in one year. Stay strong! Jeremy also had kidney stones around the same time. Seems like this was the week of bodily harm. Let it be written...let it be renamed. 

12 December 2017

Visiting Santa

Monday morning we went to Costco. I figured after a busy weekend that the store would not be so crazy. Oh no, it was just as crazy. I grabbed diapers and a couple other items then got out of dodge. Evelyn wanted a hot dog since it was close to lunch, yum. She insisted on sitting at a table across the aisle from me. Maybe I was embarrassing her! LOL. For FHE this week we drove out to see the Christmas display at the Mesa Temple. It was impressive and felt a bit like SLC Temple minus the freezing cold. The kids were so excited to run around and admire all the lights. Justin met us at the temple on his way home from work. My favorite nativity display outside was the Fontanini creche. It was so stunning. The kids thought they would freeze because it was under 70 degrees outside! Inside the Visitor's Center we walked through a room full of worldwide Nativity displays. A Sister missionary suggested the kids keep an eye out for the Taiwan display. We found it in the last case, a tiny creche painted on grains of rice. Everett is one of our loud kids, he does not know how to whisper. The entire time he complained and whined over not finding the right Taiwan nativity. A choir started a performance around 7 pm, we did not stay long since Evelyn and Josie both started to loudly cry.  For dessert we had ice cream cones at the Diary Queen sharing the same parking lot as our van. It was close and convenient. The older kids all ordered hot chocolate! Yum. I indulged in a delicious butterscotch dipped cone...that Evelyn ended up eating for me. 

Tuesday the girls and I headed up to Justin's work. We had to sign some loan documents in front of a notary for the Sidney house closing. That date was pushed back to the end of December, a bit of a bummer. I am relieved we even have a buyer, so no complaints here. Evelyn and Josie looked adorable dressed up in Christmas clothes. Josie ran through the hallways and cubicle aisles giggling and laughing. I enjoyed watching folk's faces change from intense concentration to amusement. She is such a happy little girl. For lunch Evelyn instructed me to drive to Jimmy John's, once again, no complaints. Justin and I enjoyed unwiches, no bread versions of our sandwiches. Evelyn let me braid her hair into an Elsa crown. Phillip got to visit Mesa Temple with his Wolf den! He was very excited to go again. I hear he told the Sister missionaries all about our family 25 days of Christmas service project. It is fun to #lighttheworld again this year. 

After school on Wednesday we headed to the park for a couple hours. The boys brought their homework to do there. We had such a great time outside. We rode our bikes, even Everett. He wanted to show me his new bike riding skills. The kids rode figure 8's in the parking lot for a good 30 minutes. Evelyn is quite proficient riding her balance bike. Last week I got a new extended seat since the original seat was just an inch too short. Amelia really needed a break from moping. Her friend Lars sent her a new note saying he hates her now. He is moving schools and got a new love interest there. Amelia taped an appropriate note on her door: 5th grade boys are dumb! Yep! Agreed. She cried for a bit then decided it was not worth crying over since she did not really even like him that much to begin with. I finally got a glimpse of Lars, he is handsome. 

I went out holiday shopping a couple nights after the kids were asleep. I tried to get a couple items for the older kids while food shopping with the little girls. Evelyn immediately told the kids what I got. Guess no surprise shopping with her! 

Amelia and I went out on a date Friday. I took her to Claire's so she could pick out a couple gifts for herself and a BFF gift for Katelyn and Rachel. She was so goofy the entire time. I loved her silly side. Loved that she could be silly in pubic and not worry about others. We admired all the unicorn accessories! She was pretty cold so we popped in and out of stores along the outside mall. She loved Hot Topic since they had amazing Pokemon items. 

Saturday morning we cleaned the house. Lots of yelling and stalling were involved. Justin's heart rate was a bit elevated! I kept up the heart rate with a wild ride around the highway exchanges. I was not paying attention to the map so missed a couple opportunities to head the right way. By then it was much too fun so kept up the charade. Eventually, I got turned in the right direction. By that time Justin had a map pulled up and monitored my progress, ready to jump in on any errors. LOL. We got Christmas outfits on to visit Santa at Bass Pro this year. May as well keep up with tradition. Bass Pro...Cabela's...same difference now. Justin had to get passes, a time to come back and visit with Santa. Our time slot was 3:30 over 3 hours away. We had lunch then Justin dropped the kids and I off at the park. He went to see if a tire place could look at the tire balance for the van tires. Half the playground was blocked off so I was done after an hour, we had to wait an extra hour, near torture for me. Josie loved to wander off, I'd locate her climbing up some dangerously high ladder. She gave me several near heart attacks. Phillip was so proud he climbed to the very top of the Eiffel tower structure. Amelia almost fainted several times while he was up there, thinking Phillip was close to falling. Evelyn had doggy ears for pony tails! She reminded us of Harley Quinn, personality and looks alike. The kids had a wonderful time chasing the pigeons!  Justin finally picked us up. Guess I deserved the time out with the kids after my driving torture. We walked about Bass Pro for a while then headed over to the holiday center. The kids played at different stations while we waited our turn. Evelyn was terrified to sit on Santa's lap, yet she did and actually smiled. Afterwards she told me, "Mom, that was not Santa Papa!" I think we enjoyed the event! I rushed around at home to make cookies for our ward party. Justin went on a motorcycle ride. At the party the kids immediately joined the other kids sliding about on the gym floors. The committee decorated the gym so beautifully. It hardly resembled a church gym. The Primary kids performed the nativity while singing the Nativity Song. We forgot most of the verses! I know them all but got all mixed up after feeling flustered. At least the kids looked darling. Santa showed up at the end of the party! Santa twice in one day?! Lucky kids. All the kids asked for Hatchimals, Amelia went rogue and also asked for a Squishy. 

Sunday after dinner we drove about looking at Christmas lights. I heard about a crazy decorated street not too far away. The street was packed full of cars touring the area and families out walking the street. We parked and walked as soon as we could. The attraction of the night was rolling down a small, steep hill next to the parked van. Josie tried to run down the hill, biffed it big time. All the kids came home with headaches and sore tummies! Phillip even tried to roll down the hill and launch himself off a ramp stationed at the bottom. Justin and I both wondered if someone moved onto that street would they need to sign a Christmas light contract?! 

06 December 2017

Christmas Trees and a Diagnosis (or two)

Early Tuesday morning (Nov 27) I had a meeting with Phillip's teacher and the special needs team. I am quite proud that we made it to the meeting with 5 minutes to spare! Not an easy feat to dress, potty, feed, and transport 5 little people that early in the morning. The older kids watched Evelyn in the waiting area while I attended the meeting. Mostly we talked about Phillip in turn focusing on his key behaviors at home for me and at school for the rest. We are all on the same page that Phillip struggles to pay attention and on-task. The school will continue to test for developmental delays/issues because we all thought that maybe he is missing a level of comprehension after removing the cloak of inattentiveness. The previous day he met with Dr Auxier, we talked about ADD and ADHD. I filled out a long questionnaire, based on that alone The Dr said he would be very surprised if Phillip was not struggling with ADD. I took his teacher the rest of the packet for her to fill out. The next day Dr Auxier called to inform us that Phillip has an official diagnosis of ADD. Dr Auxier did not recognize us, even after I mentioned his grandson Anson a couple times. Once the connection was made Phillip got some pretty good advice, Phillip should never, ever touch or taste alcohol. Kids with ADD/ADHD have an especial tendency to alcohol addiction.  Phillip seemed to take all Dr Auxier's advice to heart. Thursday morning we started him on Dyanavel, a liquid medication that we can easily adjust during this initial phases of medicating him. His school uses colors to measure behavior each day, Phillip usually earns mid to low colors. Friday he earned the highest level for the first time! He was so proud and happy earn level pink. In the 4 days he's taken medication that boy has improved so much. He is completing assignments at school alone, which he's never done before. He is completing more than 10 math problems at a time. At this time we are not seeing any side effects. He was a bit dizzy on Thursday but not since then. I am very interested to see what his grades look like this next quarter. Phillip is still obsessing about and struggling with the feelings of leaving our family, mostly just at night. It is hard to watch him struggle with anxiety at such a young age. Hopefully we can provide him with some tools to help him succeed mentally and socially.

Wednesday morning Evelyn had her second observation with the preschool disability team. This time we met with the team alone and not in a group. Two teachers assessed Evelyn's speech, social, and small muscle skills. She scored high in all levels, even scored mid-range in speech. The teachers felt like her stutter was an obstacle so decided to place her with a speech IEP, even though she scored average. The deciding factor was how much she struggles with her face and expressions while she stutters and the placement of her stutter (like in the middle of sentences and the consonants she stutters on). She will start preschool for free sometime either before or after winter break. The drawback for me is that she has to start Kindergarten next year if I want her to keep her IEP. I can choose to hold her back but will not have free preschool anymore. I really do feel she is quite young and immature to start kindergarten just a week after her 5th birthday. At least we can use services for the rest of this school year!

Everett is struggling with anger of late. He gets so angry and upset that he hurts his siblings. His fuse is short but the explosion is not drawn out. I hope to communicate with him that feeling angry is ok but hurting others is not ok. He seems to lose it and lose himself in the process.

Friday evening I had my first photo session here in Arizona! I loved the session because it was simple and fun. Josie looked so cute wearing her plaid shirt, she made the silliest faces at the ducks. After the session we took the kids to dinner at Cafe Rio. I've craved a delicious salad all week long, something no-carb and filling. Eating Keto is not so easy! I feel frustrated since my weight is still the same. Continuing the fight is not easy with no progress. We took the family to dinner because it was cheaper to get dinner than hire a babysitter. After dinner we went to Toys r'us, Justin and I enjoy self-torture. Yah know, the torture of taking 5 kids to a toy store and not buy anything. Honestly, the kids did really well, knowing we were only looking for ideas and sizing the boys for height appropriate bikes. Evelyn was the only kid who really had a tantrum, wanting to buy the entire Barbie aisle.

Justin spent half of Saturday with the Bishop for tithing settlement. I convinced the kids to take some Christmas card photos at a local tree lot. Check that off my bucket list! The rest of us went to the local Festival of Trees at the Gilbert Museum. It was not as fancy as some others I've seen but the kids enjoyed the event. Santa was leaving when we arrived. Everett ran up with a huge grin on his face! That kid loves Santa! We wandered around the museum to admire the trees. Our favorites were the ocean-themed tree and the perler bead MineCraft tree. In the courtyard a dance company performed. Josie showed off her own dance moves! The kids painted salt-dough ornaments and helped decorate a replica model of the museum. At home the kids rushed to put away their clean clothes and tidy their rooms to earn some electronic time. Amelia, Evelyn, and I went to a home-business party. Amelia loved trying on all the makeup. I was a bit horrified at the prices, seriously, $75 for a lipstick system? Yikes. A member of our ward makes cotton candy every year for one afternoon, a tradition his father started and maintained for 45 years. The kids were so excited to eat as much candy as he could spin! Justin took Phillip and Everett to Freestone park where Everett practiced riding his bike on grass with no training wheels. He worked up the courage to try biking on the pavement. Once he did Justin reported Everett exclaming, "I feel sooooooo free!" Everett is now a biking enthusiast after crashing into his first parked vehicle. Justin said Everett swerved into a parked truck and rubbed the tail pipe. All Justin could see was the bike and Everett laid out flat. He yelled to Everett and heard him respond, I'm fine!

I found myself playing my flute for the ward Christmas choir this year. I have not really played my flute in 18 years. I was quite pleased that the talent quickly returned to me. Yay.

Amelia started a bully watch club at school. At first it was just an idea, but she took the initiative to turn her idea into something more. She got the club approved by her teachers and recruited kids during recess to watch for bullies or bully behavior. She said running around the play areas setting watch is exhausting but fun! Now...if she could bring that peaceful attitude home! She bullies her own brothers more often than not! I am so proud of her for making her idea more than just a concept.