27 May 2018

Last Week of School

I was using the bathroom (alone with the door locked). There is a good 1.5 inch clearance from the floor to the bottom of the door. Suddenly I saw Evelyn's lips sticking under the crack, she yelled, "Do you wanna build a snowmaaaaan?" I about died laughing. It was so unexpected. Evelyn then started to laugh at herself saying, "silly there's no snow in Arizona, just sand...let's build a SANDMAN!" Insert laughing. Ha ha ha ha ha. She's a funny one. Today she stuffed a ball in her pants, then went to the mirror to admire her new wiener. I am curious what this girl is going to be when she grows up.

We started our week off with Evelyn's last dance class. She insisted on wearing her Mrs Margaret dress since the girls would give us a short performance. I do miss recital days, we enjoy getting all dolled up with hair and make up to go with the cute costumes. Josie found a stuffed doggy someone left in the waiting area toybox. She was quite the pill interrupting the performing girls with her own cute moves. Evelyn showed off some ballet, tap, and gymnastics. She is already signed up for an Island Princess class to learn Moana moves. I need to sign up Jojo for some classes come fall.

I went back to the camera store to pick up a rental 24-105 lens, since mine was still in repair. I also went to sell my 70-200 lens since I don't use it very much. The salesman said I could sell it for more on a public platform like eBay or Facebook. Amelia performed well in the 5th grade strings performance. She loved playing the viola this year and decided to stay with it next year. We signed her up to borrow the same instrument over the summer and next year. She was so jumpy all during my piano lessons, worried we would be late, especially since she needed help choosing an outfit. The theme was nautical so we found a cute boat skirt in her closet paired with a jean jacket. That girl felt all shades of pretty! Before the concert we admired all the art projects the kids created through the Art in Action program. I still love Phillip's the most because of his hilarious rendition of a Nebraskan tornado. Evelyn's little pig tails were totally melting my heart. Josie decided to be a stinker, she made so much noise I had to leave Justin to wrangle the other kids, we headed to the hall where she could run and find "stars" on the walls. Phillip sat quietly and drew a giraffe he gave to Amelia after the concert. He is so kind and thoughtful. Outside the school Evelyn found a couple of "muddy puddles" to jump in. Josie joined her yelling, "Peppa! Puddles!" and snorting like a pig. We celebrated with a Taco Tuesday outing to Del Taco and their play area.

I was so nervous all Wednesday, by 3 pm my stomach was in knots. The reason? I photographed a Bridal session at a very posh resort. I was anxious about forgetting equipment, being late, getting lost, leaving Mia to watch Phillip and Everett, and other factors. Amelia made a chart for each boy to keep tally of their infractions...I was concerned that would backfire in her face. I was nervous because the wedding was Friday morning and the couple requested a complete wedding album ready for the reception. I arrived just 5 minutes late...felt terrible...until the Bride and Groom were 45 minutes late. The session went off beautifully. The Royal Palms made a luxurious setting, the photographers pass cost $250! Once we got started and situated everything fell into place. The girls did not die at Christensen's home, instead rather enjoyed some time on their trampoline, Mia and the boys were still alive with cleaned rooms. Mia excited to earn $10 for her effort. I pulled an all-nighter to cull, process, and assemble the photo book. I finished by noon on Thursday! Hooray for me! I had the book and prints in the Bride's hands before 8 pm on Thursday. Now I want to go back to the resort for some R&R with Justin.

Thursday the girls and I enjoyed a picnic lunch with Everett. The first graders brought stuffed animals to school the prior day to sleep over at school. The kids took their animals to the park for a Teddy Bear's picnic! I thought the idea was so cute. We found Everett gnawing on his carrots and sandwich with a slushie in the other hand. Evelyn was stoked to enjoy a water day for her school. She spent the entire week counting down for water day ("Mom! I have 2 more sleeps until water day!").

Friday was another busy, busy day. Once the older kids left for school I left to drop off the girls with the Russo family. Evelyn was in heaven playing with Averie's barbie collection! When I picked up the girls Kristin had dozens of balloons filled up for the kids to chase! I was at the temple by 9:15 am to photograph the temple wedding part for Kassie and Nelson. I immediately felt intimidated! I am so not a group person, I do well in small groups of 2-3, ha ha. Put me in charge of bossing 50-60 folks and that is quite out of my comfort zone. Thankfully the videographer had quite a booming voice so bossed everyone around. Weddings are not my forte or where my photographic interest lies, the entire situation is way too stressful for me. I admire those who photograph weddings for a living. Right after the wedding I rushed home to get the girls. We ate a hurried lunch then went to see Amelia, Chloe, and Abby perform in the school talent show. Josie fell asleep so I rushed to find someone who could stay home with her, luckily our neighbor Mandeep was home and able to stay with her. I ended up leaving the show early to rush home and grab her after Josie slept 90 minutes. We arrived just in time to watch the girls perform. Justin then raced home to get supplies rounded up for our ward Priesthood Commemoration camping trip (aka Father and Sons). The boys left right after 4 pm. Once again I took the little girls to someone's home for babysitting. This time they went to the Payne's home. Evelyn was so excited to play with Miranda! Josie was not so excited to be left again. Amelia and I arrived at the reception at 5:45 as requested. The couple wanted family photos again. We arrived to find the reception only half set up and everyone rushing about. We chipped in and did not get those photos started until 6:50. Amelia was tasked to clear tables during the reception. I think she had quite the fun time with several friends coming to help her. Not exactly how we wanted to spend our girl's night out, but pretty darn fun! Once the dancing started Amelia ditched the tables for the dance floor. She loved dancing to YMCA! Oh, the memories attached to that particular song.

We continued our girl time with doughnuts for breakfast and a trip to Target. Amelia hosted American Girl Doll Book Club this month. She chose a Samantha mystery book to read. We went to Target to buy the game Clue! Amelia changed the character cards to correspond with those from the book. The girls enjoyed doughnuts for a snack, colored and glitterized their own gems, then played the game. We drove the 30 minutes back to the camera store to return the rental lens then had lunch at McDonalds. The boys came home full of stories about tents, camping, and bottle rockets. Phillip said his favorite part, "was yelling as loud as he could!" Brother Ferolino rigged up the coolest water rocket apparatus. The boys loved their campout so much! We lazed about recovering from our exciting weekend the rest of the evening.

Sunday evening we got to repay the Payne's kindness in watching our girls by watching their 4 cute kids for a couple of hours. Amelia was in heaven taking care of baby Bertie (her name is Liberty), especially feeding her a bottle. The boys played with Phillip's Imaginext toys out on the back patio for a couple of hours. Miranda was kind of a stinker and refused to play with Evelyn. We enjoyed the crazy evening as a group of two adults and 9 kids.

15 May 2018

Dive Lessons and Mother's Day

Amelia woke up last Sunday with a sore throat. Based on her grumpy demeanor, I'd say she was not feeling well. She stayed home part of the day Tuesday to rest and recuperate. We visited the DR to see if she had strep, both the rapid and extended tests came back negative. She seems to be developing our family trait for seasonal allergies. Welcome to Zyrtec! She wanted to be at school by 2:30 for the school talent show try outs. Amelia, Abby, and Chloe are singing along to a Lindsey Sterling song.

I scored some darling outfits for Josie from a lady off Facebook Market. When I got to her house it was huge, palatial, spotless, with 3 maids deep cleaning every inch. This lady had spotless clothes, perfect hair, and so on. Sometimes it is hard not to compare myself, feeling like a total frump with a gross van, rumpled hair, and dirty kneed toddlers. I don't know this lady's story, but my own seems to be riddled with messes and trench warfare. It is what it is! I'd love the clean, spacious, light colored house with maids. To assuage my envious heart I took Josie and took darling photos of her wearing her pig dress and a couple other cute outfits. My house might be dirty, but I can take clean photos. Ha ha. I took the girls while the older kids were at diving lessons. The temperatures hovered near 103, sizzling hot. Nichols park was consumed with mosquitoes that dined on our delicious blood. I am still scratching some of the bites earned during that photo session.

The kids graduated from beginning diving, back into beginning diving. The instructor advised all 3 kids take the course again to gain and perfect the skills for diving. That scary back dive is a doozy. We all went in for their last lesson. Josie was flirting with the pool's edge making us all nervous. I finally got her to stay on the grassy area. Her concession was to climb on the kick board cart nearly upending it like 20 times. She kept flashing me the most mischievous grin ever, knowing she was acting like a stinker. She agreed to sit down on our towel because of the wax ear plugs. She soon had wax balls shoved in her ears, plus a large hank of hair. I only saw one belly flop from Everett. Good job kids!

Evelyn's preschool had a visit from Build-a-Bear at school! A couple employees from the store arrived to help the kids stuff their animals and give them wish hearts. Evelyn came home with a bunny named Carrot and a cardboard house beautifully decorated. She is excited for the last week of school and all it's super fun activities.

The kids really had a great time showering their teachers with gifts for Teacher Appreciation week. Monday all the kids gave their teachers flowers from our rose bushes or carnations we had in our house. Tuesday the kids wrote sweet thank you letters. Wednesday was a fun school supply day. Phillip had a long list of supplies his teacher needed, including white paper to doodle on. He was so sweet as he made me a list of items Mrs Epstein needed. All the kids have really wonderful teachers so giving them some gifts felt like a great act of service. Phillip was recognized on Friday as a student who showed the most respect out of all the 2nd grade! He was thrilled to finally earn an award! His class is also doing a pioneer themed school adventure for the next 2 weeks. He wore the same outfit all week, plans to wear the same outfit next week too. A blue button down shirt, with jeans that are rolled up and have a ripped knee, and tall socks with shoes. I tried to convince him that the other church shirts would work as well, nope! That was the outfit. By Thursday he was quite smelly, he said washing the clothes was not part of the experience. I suggest spraying his clothes with Febreeze...he agreed that freshening up his clothes (while wear them) was just fine. Reminds me of the time I Febreezed Justin's bum after a particularly gross toot.

Our weekend was quite boring. We tortured the kids with cleaning up the backyard. The space was riddled with boxes and trash from the pool installation plus all the kid clutter that is normally there. I even vacuumed the patio to remove all the sand from the stones. Justin mowed the lawns and trimmed bushes. I dropped off my 24-105 mm zoom lens at Tempe camera for repair. The drivetrain motor (works the auto-focus function) was damaged a year ago when a helpful child dropped the lens for me. I was busy changing lenses and it was in reach for a enough minutes to get harmed. Those minutes cost $450 to repair the damage. I need the lens for a wedding I am photographing on the 18th. I treated myself to a visit to Goodwill afterward. Scored some clothes, books, roller skates for Evelyn, and roller blades for Everett!

Sweet Amelia got up at 6 am to prepare a Mother's Day surprise. She created a treasure hunt for me! I was hung over tired after Josie had a rough night so was not with it until 7:45 am. She and the boys hung 5 clues around the house and hid them under inconspicuous blankets. The hunt ended at the dinner table laden with Mother's day surprises! Mia had two cards and matching bracelets, my favorite from her was the saying, "You're the reason I'm alive...literally!" Ha ha ha. Phillip gave me a cute planted flower and card saying Te Amo. Everett made the cutest purse filled with 1st grade spelling and sentences. Evelyn made a fun card with painted hands and feet in school. She also cut out a heart all by herself. Justin dished up green scrambled eggs the kids ordered for me...'cause, you know, green is my favorite color! What a perfect start to Mother's Day. The primary kids performed "Mother, Do You Love Me?" The kids sang verses one and two and the chorus. The women sang back verses three and four with all singing the final chorus. The women did not sing as well as the kiddos! So proud of how quickly they learned the song. Justin grilled up steaks on the coal side of our grill. Yum! I asked Sister Amanda Kim to take a couple photos of me before she moves for an updated business headshot. She obligingly took photos of the kids and I as well. Yay! We went on a nice, hot walk after dinner. Evelyn wore her new roller skates...yeah, that lasted about 2 minutes. She looked like a character from the band Kiss, with her awesome makeup skills.

07 May 2018

Phoenix Zoo, Skateland, Pudding Fight, New Pool


The teacher's strike was a good chance for us to try out summer vacation. It was a wake up call for me that summer is coming and I need a game plan or else all the kids will do is play on devices. Brrrrrring! Wake up! Ok, I'm getting my game face ready. Summer will be here in 13 school days. Monday we stayed home so I could work most of the day on the senior session for Savannah. As I worked I watched some more Meg Bitton editing videos. I am switching from using actions to really hand-working all my images. It makes the process more interesting and involved. I monitored the draining pool all day, moving the hose so one particular are would not flood. The kids were soooooo bored after lunch I let them swim in the remaining water (which was still above knee height). The water was just under Evelyn's chin! Those kids had the best time playing shark and minnow. Most of the day we relaxed, worked on laundry, cleaned a bit, and participated in ballet/diving lessons. Our FHE lesson focused on water safety. Amelia wrote down all our POOL RULES as acting secretary.

The forecast predicted temperatures in the low 70's for Tuesday. I was sure we missed our chance to visit the zoo until after Thanksgiving. We used our POGO passes for the first time to tour the zoo. The Chandler Calls met up with us at the Bobcat enclosure. While we were at the vulture enclosure the keepers threw out two dead rabbits for the birds to feast on. The kids were morbidly fascinated, Josie started crying about the poor bunnies! When the birds started to wing fight over the remains Josie was so startled her eyes got huge and she yelled, "STOP IT!" then cried again. Amelia was quite excited the wolves and Cheetah's were visible this time. Laura is totally brilliant, to keep the younger kids engaged and moving she held quarter challenges every so often. Each kid had a chance to earn at least one quarter doing things like spotting certain animals, hopping, freezing still, etc. Genius. Phillip and Anson were joined at the hip having such a splendid time. Those two boys are peas in a pod. Evelyn's favorite part was finding a Bustard bird, she laughed that the bird had the same name as the bustard she uses on her mayonnaise and turkey sandwiches. We ate a picnic lunch near a bird lagoon and lake. The kids cooled off in a really cute splash pad area afterward. Josie is so silly when she gets near a splash pad, she totally digs the spraying water. Josie was quite upset a bird stole her chocolate sandwich from her lap! We did not last too much longer after lunch. Laura showed us a treehouse play area we enjoyed for the last moments of our visit. Anna and Amelia were so funny to watch, wanting to be kids but trying to be grown up at the same time. Josie had to blow poo out of her diaper as well. Thank goodness for towels and her swimsuit to change into. I am still so happy we could go and spend time there on a gorgeous day. Each day we got an email from the district suspending school for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Wednesday I was so tired there was no way we were going to play outside of our home. Come afternoon the kids started fighting and getting restless. I whipped up 8 boxes of pudding so the kids could have a food fight outside. Everett helped me spread out a plastic tarp to minimize the damage. The chocolate pudding looked disgusting. Soon the kids were covered with pudding and throwing it at each other. Amelia drew pictures on Phillip's back. Josie thought the activity was not a good idea, getting smeared with cold pudding was not her thing. Amelia, Phillip, and Evelyn had the most fun. I really enjoyed spraying off the kids with the hose! Yeah! Amelia started crying before we got to diving lessons. She finally told me the last time she got a really bad water burn and scared from learning to dive backwards. I can totally relate to feeling scared about entering the water in a back dive. I walked her in and she agreed to try front dives until her confidence was boosted again. Later that night Everett walked up to me complaining of a belly ache. He lifted up his shirt to show me a bright red belly earned from not one, two, or even three belly flops but FOUR!

The kids finished their morning chores quick as a flash Thursday morning. We headed out for a morning of fun at Skateland. Amelia and Phillip brought their roller blades to use. Even Josie got a pair of adjustable skates to try out. She did pretty good on the carpet. I rented two "skate mates" for Everett and Evelyn. The mates seemed to hinder the kids more than help them learn. Next time I will not rent any. I've not skated in many, many years so it was quite nostalgic to get on the rink floor. There's nothing quite like the stale breeze kicked up from skating fast trying to avoid collisions. Amelia and Phillip loved the entire experience. We even earned some tickets from the arcade to buy cheap toys and treats. Amelia looked so cute in her unicorn helmet as she zoomed around and around. All the kids thought the dark out and black light time was pretty cool. Phillip commented that he got distracted because of the flashing lights, it was hard for him to skate. Justin stocked up on 2x6 lengths of wood to prop up the pool under the areas that needed it.

The kids went back to school on Friday. Maybe you can imagine what our home looked like, maybe not. The clean/friend matrix reveals the status of our house: only the best of friends could come over because it was a right awful mess. Just a few hours alone sorted out the biggest messes. Felt good to get things dusted and the kitchen set to rights.  After work Justin finished leveling off the pool and he started to fill it again. Yay! Josie donned a pair of pink goggles that made her eyes look so funny. She made pig noises and told us she was a special pig, goggles. Justin started watching the most horrid cartoon series from the 80s, it seriously makes me want to gag. Now he probably watches it just to annoy me. The animation is so glitchy and bare, the screen plays are even worse, sort of like the Power Ranger show from when it first started and Pokemon. Just terrible. Phillip was delighted Friday was "MAY the 4th be with you!" He insisted on watching an episode of Star Wars. Amelia painted light sabers on the older kid's cheeks and a rainbow for Josie. Phillip watched the movie wearing a Darth Vader shirt and a helmet.

Saturday dawned hot, the three cool days we enjoyed evaporated quickly. Justin installed the pool filter and had it going before 10:30. He added some chlorine and the pool chlorine floater. Just had to wait for the pool to filter through a cycle before we could try it out. Amelia painted BYU themed art on the kid's cheeks with our face painting set. She is getting really good! Josie smeared her rainbow several times, until I drew a heart on her forehead...which she immediately smeared. We headed to Mesa for BYUfest Arizona. It was scheduled for the worst time of day, at o'hot hundred. We got to meet the head BYU football coach, throw some footballs at targets, run through a football obstacle course, and wait in lines. We barely made it halfway around the park before giving up. The lure of splashing water was too great, the cool water felt amazing! Josie ripped off her shirt and tried to take the rest off but finally gave up when I repeatedly pulled her diaper and shorts back up. Her blue heart face paint smeared making her look like a happy Celtic baby dancing in the water. We went to a nearby authentic Mexican restaurant for lunch, gotta celebrate Cinco de Mayo properly! Best Mexican food I've had in a long while! Justin tried the Sonoran hotdog, a nod to a spicy topped hot dog. Yum. The boys cleaned off their entire plates of enchiladas, beans, and rice. Josie used all my rice, half went on the floor, half in her belly, and half on the table. We headed to Home Depot with all the kids. One guy casually stated, "You've got your hands full." Nah, just wait until we get to 10 kids then our hands will be full. Snarky! After dinner we christened the new pool. Justin had all the kids jumping and hooting to his demands. Justin insisted on being the first in the pool. He made a huge back splash that spilled onto the sidewalk outside the fence! Phillip's face was priceless. Even more priceless were the expressions on Josie's face when I popped into the water. Pure terror and fear graced that child's face. She started shaking uncontrollably soon after, from cold or fright or both. Amelia later saw the photos and almost wet her pants from laughing...me too! Mia squeezed into her mermaid tail ensemble for the first time. She used the monofin last year but not the mermaid skin since her scar was newly opened from surgery. We played until well-past nightfall.

Amelia wore her rainbow beanie boo slippers to church on accident. She did not notice the faux pas until we exited the van. She was soooooooo embarrassed. That girl slunk into church trying to make her maxi dress cover her slippers. After the sacrament we hurried home for her to change. The Chandler Calls came over for dinner to celebrate Amelia, Everett, and Gary's birthdays! We ate tacos, fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, and a bit of shrimp. Yum. Laura made delicious cheesecake bites for the birthday kids. We neglected to clean up the clutter before they arrived. Yikes, looked like normal everyday mess. Guess our secret is out, we are sort of cluttered. Time for me to sort through stuff and make a Goodwill donation.

Evelyn stuck her 28th sticker onto her "Sleep in your own bed" chart Monday morning. It was a day for celebration. She waited all weekend to finish her chart and earn the Barbie makeup set she chose. Every now and again I'll find her parked in front of the mirror making her face look "spooky" as she calls it! The amount of pink and purple on her eyes and cheeks is a touch spooky. She is continuing the trend and doing well sleeping in her bed and staying there until Amelia wakes up.