28 August 2018

Phillip's Party

Tuesday the HVAC guys came back to fix our air conditioning (again). This time the crew was upstairs in the bathroom attic access point. The damage was not apparent until the guys started rooting around up there. Somehow...the duct work up in the attic melted. What? I asked how this could even happen, he shrugged saying this was the second time he's seen this. Lucky us. Of course, the damage could not be repaired right then. The crew came back (again, again, again, again) Friday morning to install new duct works. Since then the air does seem to be working. I don't want to jinx anything, so I'll leave the narrative at that.

This week Phillip waited so patiently for his birthday. He was over the top excited for Friday and Saturday. He organized a late night with four of his good friends: Anson, Ryan, Owen, and Jacob. Wednesday he spent a good hour writing down a list of the night's activities: eat snacks, play laser tag, swim, dance party, Legos, Pokemon, and a movie. I suggested he add dinner, gifts, and cake to the line-up! The party added quite a few decibels to the loud factor! Our house was rockin' and rollin' until after 10 pm. Anson was able to stay the night since he is FAMILY! Phillip loved his gifts: Pokemon cards from Owen and Toilet Trouble from Ryan. I am still not sure how Justin and Evelyn fell asleep with the party cacophony, but they did. Saturday we continued the celebration, I took him and Evelyn to Walmart to shop for birthday gifts. He chose a Lego Ninjago set, Harry Potter wand, a Grumble, and two Transformers. The Gumble was not a surprise choice: it's a toy that shakes, farts, and, burps when you make it mad. Josie is terrified of it. We sure love our newest birthday kid! I can hardly imagine 9 years have passed away. We celebrated both Phillip and Evelyn with a lunch treat at Del Taco. As seen above the kids enjoyed the play structure. Justin took the older kids to swim at Mesquite Groves pool before it closes for the season next week.

I had several nights this week to myself! What a treat. The kids in school all had curriculum nights, basically where you meet with the teachers who talk about their rubrics and rules. Tuesday I had 2 meetings and Thursday I had 3 meetings. Amelia's advanced classes added another meeting to the mix. Wednesday my second cousin Kayla (Tiffany's daughter) took out her own endowments at the Gilbert Temple. I was so happy to attend. I downed a 5 hour energy at 5 pm hoping to actually stay awake during the session. I'm happy to report I did stay awake...until 2 am. Ha ha ha ha. We stayed in the Celestial Room quietly visiting until the temple closed. Tiffany confessed she dropped a 6-week old John on the floor while babysitting us all one time. I've always wondered about that John boy....now I know.

Amelia and Evelyn got their summer hair trimmed. Amelia especially needed a trim, her hair does not do well in chlorinated water. Josie and I took Phillip out for a special lunch date on Friday. He was so attentive to Josie. He ate two burgers and medium french fry and apple slices and Josie's nuggets. That's a growing boy. Friday I got word that Amelia and Evelyn would not be allowed to attend school until I proved vaccinations. Amelia was easy, just had the dr office fax her record over. Evelyn I made her well-child appointment which "proved" I would get the vaccinations done.

Sunday at dinner Justin was telling the kids to stop growing up. Amelia immediately said, "What? Don't you want us to go to the temple?" Justin was totally trapped, smart kid annoyed her smart dad.

26 August 2018

Phillip is Nine

This handsome young man is growing into such an amazing individual. He is looking more and more like a young man for starters. He loves to keep his hair short, can't stand it when his locks get longer than an inch. I personally love his sense of style! Phillip feels most comfortable wearing character tshirts with sporty shorts, long black knee socks, and tennis shoes. Although he also enjoys dressing up in his suit on Sunday.

Phillip is growing an interest in reading. His favorite books are the Geronimo Stilton series (Way of the Samurai and Kingdom of Fantasy). We read lots of GS books together at night before bed. He loves scouting and is now a Bear. This year he excelled at swim team, doing his best each practice. Phillip loves to teach himself new songs on the piano with Mr Hoffman videos (an internet program we use).

He is all boy, potty sounds and burps included. He is very kind-hearted towards others, sensitive when someone is in need. Mornings and evenings are challenging for us, but getting better. He does have a hard time focusing but we're learning how to manage as a family. We can't wait to watch this kid grow up. He is a real keeper.

**well-child update: 72.8 lbs (77.6%); 51.75 inches (34.9%)

19 August 2018

Daddy-Daughter Campout

We had an exciting FHE this week. Sonoma Ranch hosted a fun back to school swim party at Mesquite pool. We toted along Chloe and Abby, two of Amelia's friends. I got to try out my new waterproof cell phone "bag". I was a bit disappointed that I could not take photos under the water, the pressure is too confusing for a touch screen, even the side buttons were too hard to manipulate. Kona Ice provided refreshments for those willing to pay. Evelyn was obsessed with the self-serve syrup station. So many choices! Her icee ended up looking to brown sludge.

Tuesday later afternoon I noticed the upstairs air conditioning was not keeping up with the heat again. By that night we could hear the attic unit struggling to keep up. Barely any air was pushing through the vents. Bugger. Justin turned off the air again for the 3rd time this summer. It appears we are getting a "new" unit piece by piece. I'm starting to hate home insurance, it is just not worth the headache of someone else controlling the repairs. There was a storm that night so the it was not too hot upstairs, I chose to sleep upstairs with the kids. Justin opted for the cool couch. We all woke up grumpy bears. I called in another recall repair, third time the charm right? A few hours later the HVAC company contacted us to say our repair date was scheduled for next Tuesday? Sigh. I lugged all the bedding back downstairs and relished the deja vu, including many feelings of frustration and anger. I am dreading next summer when the downstairs unit will fail with our current luck. I photographed two cute baby girls for some milestone sessions. I pulled out my first sewing machine to whip up a cute romper for the occasion. I immediately recalled why I packed away that machine, it was terrible! It sounded like a train wreck and made a mess with almost all the stitches, a complete nest of threading behind the stitches. I can't wait to get my serger and machine back from the repair shop. Since half my studio was out I convinced Josie to get dressed up cute for me. She was delighted to sit with my bear for a couple photos. I realized afterward she recently turned 2 and a half!

Josie was so happy to help me feed the ducks, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Thursday she pulled me all around Freestone park to visit wherever her little heart desired. We started off at the umbrella park (it has a huge awning). I smacked the top of my head so hard I thought my head was bleeding! She lured me on with cute phrases like: "Mom! c'mon!; I run so fast!; Look! Duckies!; I hold your hand!; Let's go" After an hour I called it quits, our clothing was saturated with sweat and our faces glowing red. Josie downed two water bottles before her face returned to normal. It was only about 98 but the humidity was quite high.

A couple times this week the kids jumped into the pool, surprised to find the water cool and refreshing. The night temperature is now in the upper 80s which helps cool the water significantly. Phillip about pushed me over the edge on Tuesday. He was not dressed for school, did not eat breakfast, and refused to make his lunch...all by 7:55 am. The kids are to be at the bus stop by 8 am. He is sooooooo slow. I told him if he missed the bus that he would have to ride his bike. By a miracle and prayer he made it to school on time.

Justin took Friday off from work. He took Mia to school early for a Battle of the Books meeting. He collecting camping gear to take the girls to our ward's Daddy-Daughter campout. Evelyn was so excited she barely slept. We ran some errands to the bank, Walmart, and Goodwill. The best was a quiet lunch at Cafe Rio! Jojo was content eating my rice and the free kid's quesadilla. I picked up the girls early from school. Evelyn chattered non stop about camping with dad. By 3 pm the van pulled out with Justin and all the girls. From the scattered texts and photos it appears they had a great time. Justin took the girls to dinner at Tiny's diner, where the chicken parmigiana was really spaghetti and meatballs with grilled chicken on the side and clam chowder that failed to satisfy Amelia's gourmet palate (my recipe is muuuuuch better).  It appears the dirt was attracted the Josie face, she ended up with an amazing collection of sticky, dirt on her face. Camp fires are still not allowed so the girls made fried scones with marshmallows for treat. I hear bedtime was awful. The cabin was hot, the girls would not settle down, Josie would only sleep with Justin, the beds were creaky, and on and on. Next morning was breakfast burritos, rocket decorating, then rocket blast offs until it was time to go. Amelia and Justin made the highest performing rocket of the bunch. They came home around 2 pm covered in dirt and quite happy.

The boys and I were left alone to our own devices! The boys first had to put away their laundry (mean, I know) before we could play. We enjoyed lunch at Buddyz pizza. It was good but took forever to make. I ordered a salad and wings, I was finished with my meal before the boys got their pizza. Everett almost died of hunger. He even dared to eat half my salad and a spicy chicken wing. We headed to Fat Cats for some arcade fun before and after our movie. We laughed so hard during the movie Hotel Transylvania 3, I was pleasantly surprised that the movie was not bad! Phillip laughed so hard he made other folks start laughing along. The boys were spoiled with nachos and candy during the movie. We headed home and spent an hour playing Clue! We ended out night watching an episode of Monkey World with the boys challenging each other for title of best snuggler. Phillip won, he was not fidgety at all!  Next morning I convinced the boys to go grab some fancy doughnuts at Hurts Donuts. The store boasted a large variety of strange combinations, every cereal imagined, crumbles, mint, cookie monster, etc. We selected a dozen to try out and mostly take home. The rest of our morning was quite boring. I cleaned the kitchen while the boys got to play on their precious devices unmolested by girls for two hours. 

Saturday afternoon I convinced Phillip and Evelyn to get ready for birthday photos, a yearly tradition! Phillip spent 15 minutes plastering his hair to his scalp with water and gel. It took quite a bit of convincing for permission to dry it a bit so his hair did not look plastic. Evelyn let me curl and style her hair. We picked out 3-4 outfits for their session. Phillip chose Riparian because it had cactus and mesquite trees, plus a playground. Everett came along just for kicks, he mostly whined because he had no one to play with. I enjoy our photo time! I hope the kids do as well. They get to help choose fancy outfits, locations, and poses. At the end the kids played snake chase until we all stepped in a fire ant nest. Phillip, Everett, and I all got dozens of stinging bites on our toes and feet. Ouch! I also stepped on a tiny cactus, that barb hurt something fierce going in and coming out.

I tried a new challenge for singing time today. We are only a month away from the Primary Program. To help the kids review each Sunday for the next 4 weeks the kids can earn a Rolo for a Solo! I was not sure how the kids would take to singing alone, but they were so excited! We can't wait for next week! I'm challenging the kids to sing a song from the program they memorized. Phillip knocked my socks off, he sang the loudest and clearest out of all the kids who tried today.

13 August 2018

Eye Comparison

Most of our kids have brown eyes. I never knew brown could vary so much! Amelia inherited my green hazel eyes, the rest varying shades of brown. Everett's eyes are the most green, Phillip has golden flecks, Evelyn's are the darkest, and Josie's are a medium gray-brown. I am not so happy with the quality of the project above, but the kids were not willing to cooperate. Amelia was the biggest stinker because she did not want to be next to Phillip.

The air conditioner saga continues. We reveled in cool air bliss from Friday the 3rd until the next week. I noticed a high pitched squealing was coming from the fan motor, the air was running but the fan was not. I ran upstairs and turned the unit off and let it cool down for a few hours. I placed another "recall" service call for the new issues. Later I turned the unit on and ran back downstairs then outside. I found a long stick and gave the fan blades a hard shove. Phew, we hobbled through the next two days with this push and shove system. Friday the same guys showed up on my door stoop to repair the fan and motor this time. He said the motor was days away from working at all, I'm happy we avoided complete failure this time.

Phillip spent an entire hour at the piano figuring out a new song on the Hoffman Academy site. Phillip was soon plunking out the tune of Halloween Mouse complete with sharps and flats! We still really love his lessons, I'm undecided about renewing at this point. I think the boys would love actual piano lessons from me. Mia is excelling with her new teacher, actually practicing most afternoons.

The kids first full week of school went well. We are settling into the routine of homework, signing agendas, reading, and no electronics after school. Everett and I played Chutes and Ladders about 20 times this past week! Ha ha. Evelyn is doing well. She does have a hard time getting ready and eating breakfast before the school bus. Mornings are full of chaos this year. I decided to fore go hot school purchased lunches in lieu of home lunches. I have a few kinks to work out, like when to make lunches, and what to put in the lunches. Phillip and Evelyn came home most days with nothing eaten. Mia and Everett are efficient to make their own lunches with little to no help. Amelia is deep into a new series called Septimus Heap. I found the entire series for $20 at a consignment sale. The boys and I read a new Geronimo Stilton book every couple of days at bedtime.

I cashed in some birthday money for my yearly pedicure! The salon had a kid-sized chair just perfect for Miss Josie. She sat there for 45 minutes getting her own pedicure while licking a lollipop down to the paper stick. She was quite taken that the tech painted pretty flowers on her toes! We somehow lost her baby Skye inside the house. She loves carrying around that thing. Makes a pretty cute cuddle toy.

Friday Justin helped me drop off the van to get detailed at 7 am. I neglected to leave my keys with the van so that was interesting getting back there once the kids left for school. The van looks so amazing! I went from confetti dark gray back to a nice flat light gray. It still smells funny but I think by now that is how the van will smell. Debbie gave Josie and I a lift around 3 pm to fetch the van. Most detail jobs take 1-2 hours, our van took 4 hours. Ha ha ha. While the van got it's bath I went through the time consuming task of cleaning car seats.

Saturday Luis came over to repair a major leak in the sprinkler system. A few days later another sprinkler head burst. Seems like we are replacing the air conditioning and sprinkler system a part at a time. Justin worked on mowing the lawn. Our neighbor asked if he could borrow our mower. I let him borrow Justin as well! Justin and the boys went over and mowed his postage stamp lawn. The boys almost died, the sweat was killer. In spite of the exertion the boys earned $5 each! Phillip soon had grand plans to mow other folks lawns and earn more money. In the evening I had two mini sessions, one of baby Liberty with a water/strawberry bath and another of a couple expecting their first baby!

Sunday we had the Chandler Calls over for dinner. Laura made dinner for us all! I appreciate all her work in prepping so much to bring over. I went easy and made the chocolate chip cookies the kids begged for their snacks. Evelyn was spoiled early with a gift from the Calls. She got a fun hair chalk set from a show called Sunny Days. Soon she had colorful streaks in her hair to complement the pink hair from my fancy red hair shampoo. Phillip was delighted to get a fun candy card with money on it! Aunt Laura made a fun mathematical equation of 5+5-1=9 years old using real money. We love our cousins. Spenser helped me vote, lame I know. I'm so stuck in the child care rut that getting out is quite out my realm. I did not want to waste my feminine vote so asked him for help.

10 August 2018

Back to School

Just like that and four out of my five kids are now in school. School started on Thursday the 2nd of August. The kids were quite excited to start school, things at home were turning a shade of boring those last few weeks. I have not had less than two kids at home in 9+ years, so that is a tad strange, just Josie and I!

We started out our week with a fun morning at Urban Jungle. The kids got to play for 1.5 hours, which was more than enough time. I only saw Everett once the entire time! He plays hard. Amelia found a cling-on in the form of a stray 3 year old girl, she insisted on holding Mia's hand and following her everywhere! Amelia was content to let her stay around. The little girls and I had a wonderful time running about exploring the facility. We were starving by the time our time ended at noon. We partially settled on lunch at Jimmy John's, Everett was our dissident voice. He finally chose to eat a huge pickle for lunch. That kid was so happy to munch down his lunch. We finished up school supply shopping before heading home. A crazy storm raced overhead just after dinner. We've had some amazing storms the past week, I adore the storms. The lightening is stunning. The temperature drops are pure bliss. Justin tried to do Father's blessings for FHE but the kids were quite rambunctious so we decided to try another evening.

Tuesday was Harry Potter's birthday, now a big deal in our home. The kids found Harry Potter wands and glasses in the party aisle the day before. We celebrated with doughnuts for breakfast! The older kids went to the Russo's home where they watched a Harry Potter movie. I hear the butter beer was tasty! Phillip and Everett surprised me by shoving Everett in a toilet paper box and presenting the box at the front door. A rock held down the flaps! His cute faced popped up once I removed the rock! Best early birthday present ever. Towards the evening was "Meet Your Teacher" night. Justin met us at school so he could also meet the kid's teachers. We lugged all the school supplies along at the same time. We went to Ms Epstein first (Everett), then Mrs Norton (Evelyn), Mr McKinzie (Amelia), and Mrs Sanders (Phillip) last of all. Mrs Norton was so nice, Evelyn brought along her handwriting pages from preschool to show off. Mrs Norton dropped to her knees and had a lengthy conversation with Evelyn about her hard work! Evelyn was positively glowing. Everett anxiously filled out a questionnaire he found on his new desk. Phillip found his best friend, Ryan in his new classroom! Hooray!

Wednesday I photographed two newborn babies. Setting up my "studio" spaces was more than a little challenging. The only space for my 107" backdrop paper and stand was in the kitchen. I had a little mini area near the piano and the bean bag on the opposite side of the room. Dragging out all the items was quite challenging! I miss my little basement area. The first baby is my neighbors new daughter. She produced a prodigious amount of poo right when we were taking family photos, not once, twice, but three times. She slept well the remainder of her session! Amelia and Chloe did their best to wipe the mess off the kitchen floor. Poor Mia was gagging the entire time. We took a lunch break at Chic-fil-a, my kitchen was almost completely blocked off. Everett ordered a chicken salad! That's my boy! Yum. Amelia and Chloe were too grown up to sit with us, they were also too cool for us. I hear the pair monopolized the music center in the play area. Little RJ was next for some photos. I solicited him to come over, mostly for practice and fun. He was the exact opposite of Gabriella, she was chunky, feisty, and easily startled. He was a dream! I really loved getting my hands on some new babies. Chloe brought over a balloon animal set for the kids to try out. Everett made double swords, which he used for several days to torment others with. The girls made more slime. I swear Chloe has slime for blood. The girls used over a gallon of glue this summer in their slime adventures. That box of borax is always on the kitchen table.

Thursday came way too quickly. We are still sleeping on the floor, so that added to the chaos. Evelyn set out her first day outfit the night before. She adamantly insisted on wearing zebra socks with her dress. Amelia was so easy to boss about when it came to clothes, not Evelyn! She wears what she wears (and we are all grateful she has clothes on). A fly on our wall saw a whirl of chaos as kids dressed, ate, packed lunches, cried, laughed, and sang that morning. I took the kids that first day. Evelyn was mad because she wanted to ride the bus two times, not ONE. I asked the kids what they wanted to be when grown up. Amelia wants to be a unicorn-rainbow, meaning she has no idea. Phillip wants to be a zookeeper, and Evelyn a kindergarten teacher. Everett made me laugh with his response, "Mom what jobs can I do where I can collect money? Yah know, since I love to collect money?" Me: "Well you could be a banker or accountant like Dad" Everett: "Yes! I want to be an accountant so I can count money and collect it!" That's my nerd! The kids were good sports letting me take photos with silly paper signs. Evelyn was off soon after she dropped her stuff off at Mrs Norton's line marker. Seeing her in action assuaged most of my reservations. Josie and I headed out when the bell rang. I got lots of kisses from the boys and Evelyn. Amelia was off with her friends on the other side of the playground. Home was so quiet. Josie and I stared at each other for a bit then wandered off to clean or play. Her baby Skye got sick so we mended her up with Doc McStuffins supplies. Her toy is a hypochondriac, constantly sick and afraid of germs. I worked on editing the newborn sessions from the prior day.

Friday was a repeat of Thursday, except the kids rode the bus to and from school. Two HVAC dudes finally came by to repair our unit. They replaced the condenser and correctly grounded the unit. After 15 days we finally had cool air upstairs. The floor and walls were so hot it took a good day before temperatures came down to normal levels. We were all thrilled to carry our bedding back upstairs that night. Hooray! Justin and I went on a date to celebrate my birthday a bit early. We ate some pizza then watched the new Mission Impossible movie. Brecklyn Godard watched the kids, she cleaned up the house as best she could. I am so grateful she went the extra mile.

Saturday was a busy day for me. I photographed the Guderian/Bebee wedding. Justin held down the fort at home. He was not feeling great so staying home was up his alley. Amelia had book club that morning. We picked her up then headed to my new favorite Mexican restaurant, Moreno's for family birthday celebrations. The location south of our house was NOT the same as the Mesa location. Justin called a do-over, I agree. I drove the hamster wagon down to the temple for the wedding. It was miserably hot. My feet were burning through my shoes! The bride and groom did not want any posed photos near the temple since they did their Bridal photos the prior month. I did the best possible given the time of day, heat, and such. I came home showered and went to the church for the reception. It was a long evening, ending well after 9 pm. Amelia was quite upset I did not take her with me to the reception. I forgot to text either the Godards or the Russos to give her a ride.

I have a birthday twin, Bryce, one of my piano students. We enjoyed our birthday song in Primary. Amelia spoiled me with breakfast of scrambled eggs and a can of diet coke. She knows me too well. What a sweetheart to think of that all on her own. She even made a card with the words from "My Happy Birthday" on it. Justin cooked up some steaks with zoodles on the side. I got a waterproof bag for my phone (hoping to take some underwater photos with it) and some red hair shampoo. My hair is way too dark for the shampoo to work, so that became an item for the little girls to enjoy. Hooray. One year older, more gray hair, and wrinkles. My brain is also becoming smoother, maybe by the time the kids leave I'll have a brain as smooth as a balloon, finally becoming the airhead my brother James knew I was. Ha ha. I made a strawberry jello cake with fresh strawberry whipped cream. I stole the middle piece which was divine.

**I don't want to forget this so here goes. Evelyn always answers number questions with 30-50-100. Example: Evelyn, do you want this quarter? Sure, is it 30-50-100? (giggling). How many pieces of meat do you want? Oh! How about 30-50-100? (giggling). It's funny and cute.