25 April 2018

Amelia is 11

This sweet girl is such an amazing daughter. We are so blessed to have her as our oldest. She is smart, dependable, gorgeous, and funny. She is magically 80% unicorn as well. Some days I swear she has a shimmering shadow of a horn on her head. Rainbows and magic follow this girl all the time. Amelia is an A+ student. She earned so many awards the past school year, even more impressive at a brand-new school. She makes friends easily and is kind to the under dog at school. Amelia wants to be an "I don't know" when she grows up. Personally, I think she might turn into a Greek Myth one day if she is not more careful. She is a voracious reader, part of her Greek Myth problem. On the other hand she is quite the swimmer, half mermaid to the unicorn. Lately, she is babysitting for me more and more, sometimes for money if the occasion is special. Amelia has a kind space in her heart for dog vader, she was so distraught when he ran away.

Mia weighed 83 lbs (50.5%)at her well-child on 23 May 2018. She measured 55 inches (25.5%) tall. She is going through puberty right now, developing in all the right places. That is strange to think about for Justin. I notice the most changes in her face and cute little figure. Along with hormonal changes we are getting the mood swings! She hates cleaning up and loves to throw her anger about like a sledge hammer. After her tantrum she'll often pitch in, just has to say her say before helping out.

22 April 2018

Lost Tooth

Do you struggle with FHE on Monday nights? We do. Fights, yelling, arguing, it is embarrassing. This week was especially bad. The older kids were so focused on roller-blading they would not come in for FHE. Justin lost his top, Mia was stubborn, yelling ensued right when the opening prayer was coming. Yikes. I took a time out and then expressed my disappointment in my family's behavior. Disgraceful. Ruined the rest of the meeting. Amelia was shivering under a blanket, hidden from view while she sulked. Any ideas for a better FHE experience?

Monday I set up my studio light and backdrop to take some birthday photos of Mia. She got her hair styled right after school and then we took a couple photos before dinner. The kids had so much fun pretending the backdrop set up was a stage area. Evelyn put on several shows for me! Our FHE activity was a combination show of princess, roller-bladers, scooter, and a dancing baby. At least that part of FHE made us laugh. Amelia made no-bake cookies for dessert.

Seems like most of the week was spent dealing my stupid computer. It finally gave up the ghost along with some files I was about to back up. I got the files backed up finally, after much finessing. We used some tax refund money to get a new tower. Hooray. I'm excited for faster processing power while using photoshop.

Wednesday I got a call from the school that Everett lost his tooth. The call came because a soccer ball smacked him in the face during PE knocking out the tooth! He looks so adorable with that tooth missing. I love the top teeth missing stage, well at the right age! Evelyn will look cute for quite some years. Phillip finally got to have his friend Ryan over to play after school. Right before the boys ran off to play I heard Phillip mutter, "Now we can act weird!" No pressure from school to behave in our home! They had a blast playing Legos and Nerf war. Evelyn's little friend Miranda also came over to play at the same time. Those two soon had the coffee table set up as a hospital bed and played Doc McStuffins.

Friday the Jackson family invited us over for dinner. Brother Jackson is also a nerdy accountant like Justin. Nerd Power! Cari Sue is quite the talented musician with a Master's degree from BYU in violin performance. She made delicious fajitas as foil dinners for the adults and hot dogs for the kids. All the kids loved the puffy cheetos Jojo chose as our side dish. I brought the chips and a side of taco seasoned cauliflower. Josie was quite taken with the fire once dark fell. She kept saying it looked like a dragon. The kids got to go to bed after 9:30. That is living large.

Justin finally put his grill together. I helped motivate him by unboxing the grill, forcing him to assemble it before Phillip got to the parts. Ha ha ha. Josie enjoyed watching him from the swing. She was so tired from the previous evening poor kid fell asleep in the swing, complete with oreos smeared all over her face. She took another nap just shortly after noon as well. I finally got some seeds planted, just in time for this coming week of temperatures in the high 90's. I also painted the citrus tree trunks white to prevent sunburn. Amelia, Evelyn, and I had a lovely afternoon out shopping at the mall. Amelia was so excited to shop at Claire's for some birthday gifts. She picked out a unicorn Beanie Boo, bath bomb, two trucker hats, two squishies, and two lip balms. There was a sale for buy 3 get 3 free. Ha ha. I love spending time with my silly girls.

20 April 2018

Greatest Showman at Home

Evelyn started ballet/tap/gymnastics class this week through the city of Gilbert. We enjoyed going to the recreation center and playing. At the end of class the girls show off what they learned! I love how low-key it is! Evelyn gets to dance and wear tutus with other little girls. We stopped off at a cute park down the road after class for a bit. The girls pretended to be baby birds in the climbing web area. Evelyn watered some plants since there was nary a bathroom in sight. After preschool we took the van in for some tire maintenance. Last time I drove up to see Justin the van was shaking quite terribly. The rear passenger tire was coming apart and causing most of the issues, course the tire sensor was also broken, and the front alignment off because of the rear tire issues. At the same time I realized my wallet was nowhere in the van. Justin checked our accounts to make sure no one had my cards and such. Phew, no strange activity. We waited around for 90 minutes while the tire was fixed up. I'm happy that Mia can take charge at home, starting the boys on homework and fixing snacks.

Monday just happened to be National Unicorn Day (in Scotland). Mia needed no further excuse to wear unicorn themed clothing and act like a unicorn all day. Even Snapchat had fun unicorn filters for that occasion. FHE was a disaster this week. Some I was upset and stressed, Justin was upset at Mia for not listening, Mia was being stubborn and obstinate (gasp), and the little girls total divas. In fact, FHE this week was just about as bad for the same reasons. Justin and Amelia seem to go at it right before FHE starts, usually she will not (stop playing piano or take off her roller blades when asked) and Justin felt the need to sort it all out right there. She can be a pain.

Tuesday morning found us at Walmart searching for my errant wallet. Thankfully, it was in the office all safe and sound. We headed back to the tire shop for an oil change, the tire sensor repair and the alignment. After an hour the girls ran out of snacks and patience. After the second hour so did I! Phillip showed his true colors. I am telling you, this boy is so generous and kind. He always amazes me with gospel insight. I finished my first piano lesson for my newest student, Tillman. The boys went out front to play while we waited for his mom. Tillman wanted to ride bikes so Phillip let him use the treasured motorcycle bike. After a moment or two he asked Tillman if he had a bike. He said no. When time came for Tillman to leave Phillip and I asked Sister Webster if they wanted the bike. She asked how much, Phillip said, "He can just have it, I will feel happy knowing he has a bike and is using it!" After they left Phillip told me, "Mom, I feel so happy and good right now, I made a good choice!" Yes, yes that is right. He's saved his money for over 6 months now to buy his own Kindle Fire like Everett. This boy was blessed for his generosity. Saturday he found a practically new Kindle Fire for $5 at a garage sale. He was over the moon happy to still have $55 dollars and a Kindle. We can all learn to be a little more like Phillip. A kid who gave away at $50 bike just because it was the right thing to do.

I've been busy thrifting clothes for the kids summer outfits. I found a pair of darling gladiator sandals for Evelyn! Last week I found two nice pairs of roller-blades at Savers. Amelia and Phillip come home each day now and practice roller blading! So many memories for Justin and I of all the skating we did as kids and teens. Sunday we walked around the oval while Amelia and Phillip roller-bladed. Justin said it felt like baby birds leaving the nest! Phillip's herky-jerky moves made me smile. After some youtube videos and tips from Justin both kids are now learning railroad ties and pizza pie moves.

I wanted to torture myself further by cutting out and sewing three more sister dresses with some fabric I have hoarded in my stash. I lost my mojo. I resewed the bodice for Jojo because it was too small, the sleeves were torture, my ruffler was not working correctly, and my serger quit on me again. I pulled through and finished thanks to a seam ripper and the zig zag stitch. Now my station is put away until I catch the fire again. Evelyn had the best time playing in the garage, I set up her tent and she stuffed it with all kinds of goodies. Her Barbie dream camper went on a trip to Las Vegas and then camping in the tent.
The Greatest Showman came via mail on the 10th. Oh my gracious! So exciting. The kids got to watch it both Wednesday and Thursday after school. Phillip divulged after the movie that he did not mind the kissing parts at all...in fact, he rather liked those parts! Ha ha ha ha, he's got a romantic heart. Thursday Mia invited over Chloe (who was over for piano anyhow), Abby, and Averie to watch the movie with her. Fun times. Even Evelyn is taken with the movie, especially the bearded lady. We dance often to Million Dreams and other songs in the soundtrack.

We found an alien rose in our bush, a rose stem with a bud was growing out of the center of the rose!

Saturday morning the kids set up a lemonade stand at the Kim's garage sale! Sounds like they had more fun perusing the garage sale and spending their earnings on a bean bag and the above mentioned Kindle Fire. While they older kids sold lemonade Justin and I took the little girls down to South Gilbert to fetch some "free" sand. It was lots of hard work moving enough sand to build a two inch base for the above ground pool. We only ended up moving 6-7 wheel barrows of sand the first time. The second time Justin took just the boys plus a young man from our ward looking to earn money. They moved another 9-10 loads of sand! We are slowly working on grading the area and pulling out larger rocks. We were all a bit sore the next day. I worked on cleaning the garage again and closing up my sewing shop.

Singing time was interesting this week. Instead of my planned 20 minutes this week I was given close to 40 minutes. I'll just say it was a bit sketchy at times with junior Primary. The senior primary seemed to enjoy singing favorite songs...from the hymn book! I love that they chose Star Spangled Banner and other favorites. The girls looked so gorgeous in their new dresses! They even let me take some nice photos of them just because. Well, Evelyn was a bit touch and go, but we managed.

Evelyn has almost half her sticker chart filled out. She is a booger. She wakes up so early and pesters Amelia and even the boys until we all make her cry. Several times she got up in the wee-hours and refused to go back to bed unless I was with her. Still, she is proud of herself for "sleeping" in her own bed. Little battles win the big war right? Maybe I'll move her bed into the food storage closet and call her Harriet Potter.

15 April 2018

Cute Photos

09 April 2018

Everett's Concert

Monday Everett stayed home from school. He was the first child to stay home this school year! That is a pretty good track record. I'm not sure what is going on with that boy. Each morning he wakes up with new aches and pains and complaints about how poorly he slept. I hope we can figure out what is ailing him. Could simply be growing pains. Josie had a rough couple nights once Jen left early Wednesday morning. I let her duke out her sleep for 4-5 days, not really sure what happened during the nights since I closed my bedroom door and turned on the loudest fan setting. She was pretty cranky all week so guessing she was up screaming 2-4 hours each night. Around noon she grabs her favorite fox binky and my hand asking to go "nigh-nigh." Bless her little sleepy heart.

Jen and I ran some fun errands Monday and Tuesday. We did some thrift shopping, went to a wig store, lunched at Lo-Lo's chicken and waffles and took the girls to get pedicures. I desperately needed a pedicure! Evelyn was beaming over her cute nail polish. Everett tucked himself in the corner of the shop with my phone to entertain himself. He commented later that the smell in the nail salon was really nice. For FHE we talked about what our new Prophet said during Conference. Jen joined us for an epic game of hide and seek. She won the award for the best hider...except the one time Phillip bested even her. I hid him under the TV console table and shoved the CD and TV blanket flush against him. I was surprised he stayed still so long.

Tuesday Jen helped fix my botched milk paint job on the coffee table. She helped me narrow down a color for the kitchen cabinets and helped me get some supplies. Everyone seemed a bit down that day. Goodbye's are hard. Amelia had the best time with Jen, lots of one-on-one walks and early morning coffee runs. After school Jen took Evelyn to get a hair cut. Ever since our Utah trip Evelyn begged for a haircut just like cousin Penny. Jen watched the kids while Justin and I went out for the evening. I hear they had quite the time! Jen drove the kids to see the Mesa Temple, unaware it is surrounded by a poorer part of town. She would not even let the kids out of the van! LOL. They got a fun treat instead. Justin and I ate burgers (sans carbs) and watched Tomb Raider. Fun times. After we got back home Jen related how impressed she was that each child wanted to pray for her right before bed! Seems I need to do a better job of ruling over our spicy pizza child. She is so forceful in all she does it wears on my patience. The reminder was duly noted.

Jen's flight left around 7:30 so we arrived at the airport around 5:30 am. She made it home back to her boys safely. We are so, so happy she could come and enjoy our warm paradise for a few days. I was in a terrible funk the rest of the day. Could be all my new hormone treatments are affecting my disposition...making me feel irritable. Grrrrrrr. All the advice from Justin and Jen also made me contemplate my role as a mother. I am terrible about taking advice from other people, it always feels like an attack of my character. My pride is vast! A few tears, hugs from the kids, and a talk with my mom helped immensely...oh and that good night of sleep.

Everett was up early and dressed nicely for his first grade concert. I helped him put on different clothes since his outfit was blue gym shorts with ratty tennies and a black shirt. His teacher said to wear black, teal, or gray for the morning concert. Apparently, he earned another grade level award for being nice! He forgot to tell me! He's earned two out of the three available grade level awards. After school I taught my new piano student Chloe, plus I have a new student on Tuesday as well. Chloe got to play with Mia the rest of the afternoon. Everett got all spruced up for his concert right before dinner. I caught him practicing his moves in my bathroom! Justin attended half of the concert due to an important church meeting. Amelia ended up taking Josie outside since she kept running around near the performing kids. The theme was a poem and a song. The kids did a great job reciting poetry and singing a song with the same theme as the poem.

The little girls and I took a trip up to Scottsdale to check out Goodwill and Savers. The area is a bit more ritzy than Gilbert. I was on the search for some dresses for Mia's birthday photos. Totally scored! Lots of cute summer clothes for all the kids. We met Justin for lunch at the ever favorite Jimmy John's. Justin got a new lemon tree to replace the peach tree that died last year. Saturday morning found us all working hard. Justin and the boys dug a hole and prepped it for the new tree. Amelia, Phillip, and I worked on stripping the side area of rocks and relocating the rocks to other areas of the yard needing better coverage. My plan is to put an above-ground pool on the North side of our house. It will get partial shade in the summer which would keep the water temp down a bit. Now to find a pool that will fit the area and our budget. The ward held a Spring Fling BBQ at the Val Vista ramada. The ward even rented two bouncy houses for the kids! Justin learned one of the sisters in our ward was also in his singles BYU ward pre-mission! Small world.

Primary was rough this week. I had a migraine which did not help matters at all. One of the presidency is a vice-principal so runs Primary like a school. I am a bit more lenient when singing time comes, thinking the kids need to expend energy more than sit and listen to more talks. This sister often interrupts me to "regain" control of the kids even when they are being good. Drives me nuts. Yesterday she reamed me out for not teaching the kids like a music teacher should and letting the older boys get a bit too rowdy. Embarrassing for me and the kids. They are learning the words and doing great so I don't get why I needed a dressing down. Second time in one week...anyone else want to take a hit? I'm down folks.

PS: the Palo Verde trees are blooming gorgeous lime-yellow flowers that remind me of forsythia. I took Mia out on Friday evening for a few photos. Took all the girls out Sunday afternoon for a few more. I quickly sewed up a dress for Evelyn I had planned that matched the flowers perfectly. I felt better about myself making some gorgeous art with my cute girls. Too bad the boys hate photos so much.

08 April 2018

Easter Surprise

Last Sunday (March 25th) I used a bunch of plastic eggs for a Primary music lesson. After church the kids spent the afternoon hiding and rehiding the empty eggs for each other. I found some candy left over from Christmas to fill a couple of the eggs to make the game even more fun. Josie and Evelyn were completely thrilled with the new game. Soon each kid had their own color of eggs to find and hide. Monday and Tuesday mornings Evelyn had me running about hiding eggs for her and Josie. What a fun, cute way to change up our mornings. Josie has taken to wearing American Girl doll glasses. We all get a laugh over the way the glasses smooch her face up. She looked like a pig with some Power Ranger glasses worn upside down. What a goofy ball.

We invited over the Russo family for FHE on Monday. We had a short Passover meal to kick off Easter. Our lesson was short, based on tasting the Seder plate and talking about the symbolism. I had a nasty headache so my focus was gone. Brother Russo made a loaf of Challah bread, yummy. The kids went off to play right after the lesson. The best part was drinking grape juice.

Phillip roped me into making Cager a sleeping bag with extra flannel I had lying about. He helped me measure, cut, and design the sleeping bag. Everett then wanted a new sleeping mask. Amelia has a pillow and blanket planned out to sew up as well. I worked on sewing a dress for Marianne and a tunic for Amelia last week. Amelia found cute unicorn fabric at Hobby Lobby she "had" to purchase. I only have one more dress left to sew. It's getting hot in the garage, my time is short!

Evelyn thinks it is getting hot enough to swim. Each day after school she puts on a swim suit and begs to swim. I finally got the kids signed up for swim team and diving lessons! They are excited to have activities this summer. Evelyn will start ballet on Monday through the city.

Wednesday night Evelyn woke up after 30 minutes asleep screaming and crying. Nothing would console her. When I finally checked her out she had tiny white worms all over her bum. Oh gross! Gross. She somehow contracted pin worms from preschool and incubated a set of worms on her own. I removed as many as possible with wipes and lots of hand sanitizer afterwards. Justin stayed up with her while I tracked down a Walgreens still open at 10:40 pm. I found one closing at 11 and barely made it in time to check out with a bottle to dose the little ones and cream to kill the ones bothering her right then. Justin and I felt all sorts of shades of wiggly that night. 

The kids had Friday off from school. I told them there was a surprise coming that day, Amelia is a stinker and read my text messages, suspecting what the surprise was. I erased the texts and had bogus texts sent. Our surprise was a morning at Urban Jungle! We arrived a bit after 9 am and spent 2 hours bouncing and running about. I barely saw Everett, the other kids would check in every so often. The place blasted toddler music since it was technically toddler time. Josie was in heaven. We were starving after so we headed to cheap lunch at McDonald's as the remainder of our surprise. Ha ha ha. I desperately needed to food shop so once Josie was napping I left Amelia to babysit until Justin got home from work at 2 pm. I went off to pick up an Easter Bunny outfit and food shop at Walmart. The big surprise was a visit from Auntie Jen. I was so excited I forgot my phone in the bathroom, thankfully I realized that before leaving the store. I picked up Jen at 3:30 from the airport and headed home, both of us bursting with anticipation. Jen donned the bunny suit while I went to park the van. Amelia immediately tried to help me unload the van, sweet thing! I asked her to wait for a bit. Soon the doorbell rang, Evelyn answered the door to find a very tall bunny waiting. She screamed for the other kids to come look. Soon we were all crowded on the porch with a silent Easter Bunny. Everett was excited about candy in the the basket. A few moments later Jen took off the mask. Took the kids a moment or two before realizing who was in the outfit. Josie was not a fan of the creepy/scary bunny or Jen for that matter. LOL. We had a great time planning and executing the surprise! Life was a bit bigger, fuller, and extraordinary with Jen around. Even our hair got bigger! Wigs?! Whodathunk?!

Saturday the Calls came over for the first session of conference. Jen got some funny expressions from Renae, who was not expecting our tattooed guest. The solemn assembly was amazing. I'm so grateful to sustain Russel M Nelson as our new prophet. Elder Soares (Brazil) and Elder Gong (Asia) were named as the new Apostles. There were so many changes made this conference. The quips from the speakers were so funny. Seven new temples were announced. Home and Visiting teaching retired and replaced with "Ministering." High Priest quorums are now combined with the Elder's quorum, combining experience and age. Phew. Lots of fun changes. I was surprised the Boy Scout program was not nixed and replaced with a church version of the program. Jen was not impressed with conference, it was too boring. She is used to rock concerts for church-based praise. Ha ha. Guess we are sort of boring and quiet. In between sessions on Saturday we went on walks, ate lunch, and colored Easter Eggs. Josie was so cute as we colored eggs. Her favorite color right now is pink, mostly because she can recognize and say the word. We colored eggs out on the back lawn in perfect spring weather. Phillip enjoyed soaking eggs long periods of time to make super saturated colors. Everett decided he was not feeling well so put himself to bed right after coloring eggs. We took the kids out to the park near their school for a lovely picnic dinner. Phillip and Amelia rode their bikes while the rest of us went to get sandwiches at Jimmy John's. Jen had not tried the unwich yet, so we introduced her. Sister Christensen met us at the park as well. Josie was acting very cranky and ran a fever for three days with no other symptoms. She broke out with welts on her lips, hands, feet, legs, arms, torso, and bum. She came down with hand, foot, and mouth disease. Oh my gracious! What else?! Amelia was embarrassed to play because three boys from her advanced math class where also at the park. She is the only girl in the math class so got embarrassed to see them. Melanie and I tried to answer Jen's questions about why we don't drink coffee, tea, and why caffeinated drinks are allowed. I must admit answering her questions were a bit challenging since she does not take surface answers. I am not talented at verbally expressing my feelings and beliefs, written? Better than verbal. We ended our evening with ice cream cones from Dairy Queen for those eating sugar (aka kids). Justin reported the big news of the High Priest and Elder's Quorum.

Sunday the Easter bunny dropped off Easter baskets for the kids outside. Somehow while the kids searched for baskets he hid eggs all over the back yard. Josie was so cute with her expressions once she spotted her basket! Amelia helped the girls put their basket toys together. Jen gave Phillip major kudos for sharing his eggs with Josie and Evelyn. He helped the girls search instead of finding his own eggs. Sometimes Phillip just amazes the socks off us. Poor Everett was feeling even more sick. He took several naps when he felt tired, his face was quite pale, and he ran a little fever. He told me his tummy felt like it hated the taste of Gilbert water. Not sure how to interpret that. The same three kids sick again as when we were on vacation. I'm tired of sick. I did not sleep well while Jen was here because Josie hollered so loudly she kept Jen awake one night. I slept through 2 hours of Josie yelling. The next few nights I slept on her floor so she would not keep up our guest. Little stinker can cry and holler for hours without fail, night after night after night. Most of the time I just let her duke it out. Justin took a huge, long nap from noon until 5 pm. After the last session Jen convinced us to take a bike ride. I loaded up Everett, Evelyn, and Jojo on my bike (and trailer). We headed out to explore our neighborhood. We cleaned up stray lemons from a tree on the oval to use in our water. The kids wanted to show Jen the park so we headed that way. The park was so crowded it was crazy, families parked shade tents feet away from another family, portable BBQ grills littered the park along with tons of playing kids. Josie got trampled on the play structure so we left. Jen saw the little amusement park area was open. I would never fork out money to take my kids on a ride, the dinky train alone was $40 for us all. Jen insisted on taking the kids on the train and the carousel. Talk about spoiled kiddos! Evelyn and Josie were in heaven!!! At home a mess of rescue vehicles were surrounding our neighbors home. They had an Easter celebration going on for their church goers. One of the little boys had a massive psychotic episode that landed him in an ambulance. Poor guy. Our kids were invited over after the ambulance left to play with the other kids on the large water inflatable our neighbors rented. We took the invitation, it was an excellent way to get to know our neighbors. She is a pastor at their local church. She has a huge personality! I also met another mother who recently started homeschooling her son. She is using the k-12 online system, which turns out is free if done in conjunction with a school district. Everett put himself to bed without dinner at 5 pm. Kassie and Nelson finally got engaged. They asked for some engagement photos asap since their wedding date was set a mere 4-5 weeks from Sunday. We went to Nichols park for a few photos. The park was flooded on the western end which made the photos spectacular, trees, grass, throw in a few ducks, and overflow water! Kassie is quite photogenic so photos were over the top easy.

I am so grateful for this Easter season. Conference was so wonderful this April. I am already listening again to the talks as it is challenging to concentrate. I can't wait to get photos of all the new prophets and apostles for our walls, I plan on having the kids write down what each spoke about during conference. Our manner of worship is not very exciting, but it is soulful and introspective.