21 February 2020

Valentine's Surprise

When I opened my phone on Monday afternoon I got an alert that my photo storage was low. I checked out my feed and noticed some little person (named Josie) had captured over 1,500 photos of herself in the space of 10 minutes. I take quite a few photos, however, I think she outpaced me! Speaking of Josie she finally made a conscious choice to poop in the potty. I started a sticker chart for her to keep track of her successes. Once we get to Idaho and she finishes her chart we will get another kid car. The kids had the best time riding around in the Elsa car, so sad it finally broke. If Justin won't condone a trampoline...then a 12v kid car it is! The past two or three weeks I noticed Josie can be reasoned with right before she throws a tantrum in the store. It is so nice to finally talk her down from her immediate wants and desires. Patience is finally winning. Josie is also weaning off her afternoon naps, she only naps 1-2 per week now when she needs. It sure makes bedtime earlier and easier, boo hoo, I miss MY nap.

Josie and I enjoyed a ladies breakfast at Cari Sue's home. All the kids played in the backyard while the ladies ate scones and fruit. Yum. Josie commandeered the digger toy, she can be ever so bossy when she fixates on something.

I got all the girls these micro fiber hair towels. The littles like to pretend their towels are princess hair. At times Josie will appear wearing her purple towel to preen in the mirror while singing Frozen songs. The weather is warming up to the upper 70s, we are shedding our long-sleeves and pants for cooler attire. Evelyn and Josie pranced about in their ballet attire and Princess shoes several afternoons last week. Evelyn taught Josie some ballet moves. Josie's Sunbeam teachers stopped by to deliver a cute Valentine's Day bag of treats and bubbles. They were treated to a ballet show for their efforts!

Amelia and Zoe were quite busy finishing up their science project. Stress levels were quite high as the girls finished their board. Zoe got super upset at Mia because she did not write the abstract by Wednesday. Zoe withheld the information Mia needed and did not respond to Mia's texts. Amelia and Chloe are obsessed with the Disney movie "Zombies." All day, every day the kids are singing songs from the 1st and 2nd movies. Zoe stormed out of our house because Mia wouldn't stop humming/singing out loud. Friday morning the girls went to school in church attire for their Science Fair interviews and presentations. Mia said her energy was high, right after the last interview she felt like a deflated balloon. I stopped by after school to admire their board and check out the other 7th grade projects.

Phillip came down with a nasty ear infection early, early Thursday night. He had a fever and one red cheek. He coughs so hard and blows his nose so violently I was not surprised he came down with an infection. The pills prescribed were huge horse pills, he swallowed them ok until he choked on one Saturday. He refused to take the pills until I tried crushing the pills then mixing with chocolate sauce. In the time he skipped his medication his other ear flared up into a double ear infection. Ronald has a friend, Owen, who often comes over to play after school. Ronald, Owen, and Everett started hanging out together but leaving Phillip on the outs. Owen and Ronald think Phillip is extra annoying so leave him behind at every opportunity. Breaks my heart to watch the boys dealing with such feelings. I understand both sides, the annoyed and the left out. We are working towards being better friends, kindness wins.

Friday morning dawned...as Valentine's Day! So exciting!!! I usually decorate the coffee table with my Valentine treats. Phillip neglected to put away his Legos after several askings, even a warning about not putting out Valentines if he did not put his toys away. He "forgot" so I "forgot," the other kids were quite upset. Good thing he finished his chore before school started. Josie was so happy to get a baby squirrley Squishmallow. We are obsessed with Squishmallows! So squishy and soft. Evelyn got a baby Francesca and baby demon llama, the same ones she's checked on daily for a couple weeks. The kiddos came home on sugar highs to get more sugar from me. It's not the best tradition we have to stuff sugar into our kids at every holiday. Amelia paired her new baby unicorn, Ezzie Wezzie, with Octavious her octopus. She enjoys walking around the house balancing both squishmallows on her head. Ronald earned his sugar buzz with a sprite spiked with skittles, pixie sticks, and other candies (uber gross). The kids requested homemade spaghetti sauce with pink noodles, warm bread, and asparagus for dinner. We light up the candles for an extra special dinner. For treat we ate chocolate covered strawberries. Yum. After dinner we had a house clean up since someone was coming to look at our house Saturday morning (wink).

Justin completely surprised the kids with a visit. His flight got in around midnight, he grabbed an Uber home. Amelia woke up first and passed our bedroom, several times. She was confused at the large lump in the bed, both girls together did not equal a dad-sized lump. Evelyn squealed when she realized Justin was the lump in our bed. So much laughing and screaming! Josie crawled into bed and snuggled right up for a good while. So nice to have Daddy home for a day. The boys went out on a special errand. They brought back flowers for all the girls. Josie was distraught when Justin left in the truck without her. She was distraught whenever Justin left her presence. We all enjoyed a lovely lunch at Morenos. We went to the I.D.E.A museum for the afternoon. A fun event was happening that day so we got in for free and got to participate in the activities outside the museum. All Justin wanted was some Bon Chon wings, so we went out for dinner as well. I invited Chloe and Ronald just for fun. Amanda met us at the restaurant after her store closed. She footed the bill (without asking) even though we invited her. Chloe and Amelia ran around the restaurant block like crazies chasing after Octavious and Ezzie Wezzie. Sillies.

We loved church with Justin...and Ronald. Justin was able to get part of his temple recommend updated. Josie took a long nap with Justin. We spent a lazy Sunday together. Justin tried to take the kids fishing but the newest kid pole is broken. We had a quick devotional before taking Justin to the airport around 7:30 pm. We all had a wide array of feelings from elation and joy to tears over saying good bye after a short 36 hours.

**One day last week I gave Dog Vader a shower. He was one stanky dog. After he was all clean Josie and I walked him around the block so his fur could dry. Josie was having a grand time running with the leash and dog. Half way around the block she stopped with her chest heaving, "I'm not running anymore, my doggy is super fast!" Sister Broughton has taken to chatting with me several times a week now. She retired a few months ago and is a bit stir crazy and lonely. Josie was playing with Vader while I chatted with Kathy about water storage issues and the tree/wall situation. Vader caught wind of another dog taking a walk. He ripped the leash away from Josie and chased after the dog barking happily. Josie immediately started crying, "My Doggy! My doggy is in big trouble! Please help my doggy, I lub him!" We chased down our runaway. He somehow made it across the busier street without incident. He was sniffing the new dog with a grumble in his chest. Josie was thrilled her doggy was safe. She wrapped him in her favorite blanket and showered him with kisses. Her pleas for help pulled my heart strings. I can still her hear yelling, "My doggy is in trouble! Please help him!"

10 February 2020

Finding a House, Josie Turns Four

Another two weeks went by, last week was exhausting for me so didn't write down our happenings. It's hard being a single parent! Props to all you single mothers, who even work on top of all the other things at home. Wednesday our neighbor Olivia arranged for a pizza dinner for us. Unbeknownst to her my dinner calendar had pizza already for that particular day! Those small miracles make life sweet. Josie and Evelyn dumped out their under-the-bed boxes to make kitty beds. It was a pretty cute arrangement. Josie even took a couple naps snuggled inside her kitty box. Amelia got a squishmellow octopus, named Octavius. This particular octopus is the object of many silly preteen antics and jokes. The other day Amelia and Chloe dressed up Octavius as a VSCOpus with scrunchies on each tentacle. Those two girls are hilarious.

I was able to get a fun tutoring session with Sarah Burton. She is a "Light and Airy" photographer, much different than my contrasting, colorful style. Coordinating our schedules was quite the feat. Josie was our main model in her Elsa dress she got for her birthday. Evelyn came along for the ride. It was rather cool that day, a nippy 50 degrees for this area. I sure learned a lot from Sarah. I had no idea the look is achieved using a wide open aperture (f1.8) and super fast shutter speed. We had a lovely time practicing the best places to put a subject and how to get the look just right in camera. Josie was so patient using her best smiles and listening. 

Justin arranged for me to fly up to Boise for the weekend of January 31st-Feb 2 to look at available homes in the area. The most stressful part for me was finding childcare for the kids. By Wednesday evening I finally had all the bases covered, the boys would stay with Jo Ferolino (she has a playstation and chess board) and the girls would stay the night with Amanda. Mia and Chloe watched all the kids from after school until picked up (boys at 5 and girls until 7:30). The boys had a good time learning chess from Sister Ferolino, Grandma Debbie has a set for us waiting in Utah! Evelyn spent the day with her friend Taylor on Saturday, she enjoyed a fun day as their family was celebrating birthdays. I hear she got to eat out and play at Main Event, an arcade center. Mia and Josie spent Saturday at home alone. Josie slept terribly, even waking up at 2 am with her toes in Mia's nostrils and singing Elsa songs. She refused a nap but 5 minutes later was asleep on the couch. The girls slept at Amanda's the second night as well. Evelyn was extra tired so kept picking fights with Josie. Amelia got a taste of being a mom, on-call for 24/7. She earned the money I paid her for going the extra mile. Debbie picked up my girls for church, even helped them finish getting dressed and hair fixed. I flew back in early Sunday morning, was able to meet my kids at church to take them home.

Amelia and I came down with a very nasty head cold on Thursday. Mia stayed home from school on Thursday and Friday she felt so awful. By Thursday night I was feeling like death warmed over as well. She and I took copious amounts of zinc, vitamin C, and Elderberry juice to shorten the colds. I think Mia quite enjoyed a quiet day at home with Josie on Saturday to recuperate. There is nothing worse than traveling with a head cold. My ears still hurt from the pressure changes. Friday morning Josie went to play with friends until school was over to give Mia a chance to rest. I left around 10 to make it to the airport in time. I was stuck in between two rather portly gentlemen, being rather portly myself our particular row was rather squished. I annoyed both guys with my crocheting hands! Evelyn is happy I finally finished making her a hat. Jon Stoich met me at the airport around 3 pm. He is our realtor, randomly chosen from zillow, randomly picked the best guy for us! We spent the afternoon viewing homes that Justin already toured. I took notes of each home to remind myself of what I liked and disliked. Reading over the notes later that evening rather made me laugh. The second home we saw was the one we offered on in the end.  One house had access to a decorative shelf over the kitchen, the shelf was accessible from the stairs, can you just imagine the kids climbing up onto the shelf? I nick-named that home the kid-shelf home. Another home had appealing windows accessible to the roof, nixed that home right off. We only saw 8 homes in total that were available in our budget and size. Jon and I saw 5 of the 8 homes on Friday. He dropped me off at the Air BNB since Justin was still working. I was feeling quite terrible so took more sudafed, zinc, elderberry, water, Tylenol, etc and took a nap. Justin was all shades of excited! I was just a zombie. Stink. We made the best of my poor condition. I was hungry so we ate at a fancy seafood restaurant. I couldn't taste much but it seemed pretty delicious. The kids were excited to video chat with Justin AND I at the same time. Josie thought that was quite hilarious. I was struck with the dreary weather in Idaho. The winter sun down here is ever so nice keeping depression at bay. I loved all the barns, open fields, farms, etc at every turn. I can't wait to see Boise in spring colors.

Saturday we arranged to meet up with Jon after 1 pm. I took 3-4 doses of Nyquil throughout the night and morning to force some sleep on myself. I hate that sleeping is so elusive when one feels so crappy. We had two favorites one move-in ready but more expensive and another less expensive but needing more work. Neither of our choices were in the better school districts, instead located in the worst one. That was a huge factor for me. We talked about all the pros and cons over lunch at Costa Vida. We saw two new homes on Saturday and one flipped home, it was extra large with 6 bedrooms but with a tiny kitchen visible from the front door. I was quite adamant that the kitchen is not visible from the front door, my cleaning skills are greatly challenged lately. I was feeling better than Friday so that was a blessing. After viewing the houses we went to Walmart and checked out the area. My cousin Esther lives a mere 5 minutes away from our top choice home. We got the inspection report for our Gilbert home on Friday, mostly just piddly stuff except for one item. The Broughton's tree is pushing over a section of our back wall. That could be a costly fix but one dependent on the neighbors. Of course the inspector noticed the attic air conditioner drain is not up to code. I arranged for Andrew to write a report stating why the system is set up the way it is. I did get the toilets fixed since the one in our master runs constantly to my annoyance. Over dinner we decided to offer on the Rock Springs home for $320, $10k under the price. The offer went live before 7 pm! Yes! I did not sleep well that night, I didn't want to take Nyquil and not wake up. I can count on my hand the number of night spent staring at the ceiling, make that night the 5th. It was a long, boring night. I felt sad leaving Justin to his Air BNB situation, living out of suitcases and the back of his Hamster Wagon. He's worked extra late since moving there, I'm glad he is asserting himself into his new job. I'm sure the Air BNB is boring and lonely on the weekends.

The flight back was much better, easy getting through security, half empty flight, easy getting back to my van. The kids were quite excited to find me at church! I went home and took a long nap. Josie really wanted to go swimming. She asks once or twice each week to go swim. I finally told her, sure! She donned her suit and dipped in a toe, shivers! Too cold. Josie stood on the ladder for 30 minutes throwing things in for me to get with the skimmer net. Instead she enjoyed a warm dip in the bathtub. Silly goose.

Monday we were all back to the routine of school and play. I am relieved the weekend went without major mishaps. Monday for FHE we had a lesson on Joseph Smith, coordinated with 2 Nephi 3. For our activity we did stick pulling! The boys are hooked! My favorite part of the photos is the one with Evelyn tackling Josie, an ever present occurrence. Josie may turn out to be a first-rate wrestler after dealing with her overbearing sister. We played so hard the stick we used broke in two! Josie turned her clothes basket into a kitty crate while I folded the laundry. I had a dr appointment until 4:30 on Tuesday. I came home and asked where Josie was at, the boys told me she was at her boy's home playing. Mia said she was in her room. I solved the mystery when I saw two feet sticking out of her pink laundry basket! She is starting to drop her afternoon naps now, I am half-glad (maybe she will actually sleep earlier) and half-sad because that little cat nap I get myself is golden.

The boys helped me strip the fruit off the lemon tree. Brigdon told me in no uncertain terms that our lime tree is a lemon tree. The fruit is too large and yellow to be limes! We've all had this opinion for the duration of our time here, but Justin insisted it is a lime tree. Maybe we had a limon tree! Ha ha. We filled an entire wading pool with lemons! Phillip earned more money off his garage door mishap. Took all of us to drag the pool to the curb. The kids sat outside selling the lemons for free! Ha ha ha. I went outside a while later to find the kids abusing the fruit in a multitude of ways: running over it with bikes, playing baseball, skewering the fruit with arrows, stomping, etc. They were upset I made them clean up all the lemon innards decorating the driveway and street. By the end of the week only 30 lemons were left in the pool. These got thrown away after sitting so long in the sun. I left a couple on the tree to last me through the move. There is nothing like a freshly picked lemon.

Sonoma Ranch had a fundraiser at Fat Cats Wednesday evening. I was not planning on the event but the boys and Ronald came home overly excited to go play. The boys had their first activity boys meeting, they seemed to have quite a good time. We went to Fat Cats right after the activity. Amelia and Chloe caught a ride to Youth Activities so stayed home. Each kid got $15 to play arcade games, a free game of golf (thanks to POGO Pass), and some pizza. Josie and I spent a good 45 minutes playing golf. Josie was quite content to bat the ball about in her own order and tune. The other kids played one game then left to play games. My skill level is now ultimate cool, I won Josie a super-sized unicorn from a claw machine game! Only cost me most of her arcade game balance! Evelyn and Phillip spent most of their money trying to get an animal, they ended up with less than 30 tickets. I combined the little kids tickets so they each could get something they wanted. Everett won over 2,600 tickets by winning two jackpots! He splurged all his tickets on candy, magic cubes, and stuff. Evelyn now wants to go back so I can win her the same unicorn, that could be quite impossible, I'm cool but not that cool.

Thursday, February 6th, Josie woke up as the newest 4 year old in our acquaintance! She was quite spoiled for the day! She took her giant unicorn out for breakfast doughnuts, fed her the sprinkles. She got two balloons to drag about, one crown and one butterfly. After school she opened one gift of a tiara, shoes, and a wand! Evelyn got a similar set as a reward for behaving over the weekend I was gone. She and Evelyn got dressed up for the rest of the day. I quite enjoyed the clomping noise the shoes made. It reminded me of the year Evelyn spent wearing princess shoes instead of real shoes. We had dinner at McDonalds, Josie and I had Jimmy John's instead of McD's. Josie's boys came over for cake and presents around 7. Josie helped decorate her PAW Patrol cake. Good thing I made the cake, it was used to blow out candles. Josie licked the frosting. Tears! The rest of the cake ended up in the garbage. Josie was pleased to get Elsa shoes, Frozen baby dolls, a necklace set, and a fishing game. Justin joined the chaos via video chat. All day Josie was so happy to tell everyone she is four. I love watching her figure out how many fingers to display. She was able to also talk with the Calls and Grandma Debbie.

I taught the Art in Action lesson for Phillip's class this year. We studied Salvador Dali's Swans Reflecting Elephants. Dali believed that his famous mustaches received inspiration from aliens in outer space. I thought it would be funny to wear a silly mustache, so I walked in wearing a pipe cleaner mustache! The kids loved hearing about some of Dali's crazy antics. The art project was to make a reflection of their name and decorate it with dream-like objects. Josie sat with Phillip quiet as a mouse, content to play with his erasers and his desk-mate, Spencer.

Evelyn whines for play dates all the time. She had a bad experience with Isla last time she came over, so now refuses to play with her. I arranged for Isla to come over and play regardless of Evelyn's feelings. We had a great time! We went to the Dollar Store for cheap activities like color books, temporary tattoos, bubbles, and ring pops. All the girls applied some garish lipstick Evelyn stored in the van. Oooo lala, the littles looked so amazing with pink spotted teeth and wobbly lip stick lines. I wanted to take the little girls to the IDEA museum but it closes early on Saturday. Instead we went to the park. Josie was so excited the carnival was open, I had enough change to buy one ride for each girl. They rode the carousel, Josie was happy until she realized she could not ride the boats as well. Phew, tantrum central. I carried her off kicking and screaming to play at the park. Ryan came over to play with Phillip in the afternoon. Everett played with Owen but left early because "he had a feeling he needed to be home!" Mostly, I think he realized he was missing out on some screen time with Ryan.

Sunday we had Call family dinner at our home. I made Koshari for dinner, an Egyptian street food most folks love. It is made of rice, pasta, lentils, chick peas, a tangy tomato sauce, fried onions, and a cumin-vinegar sauce. Most of the grains are spiced with the onion oil, it is a heavenly comfort dish. Most of the kids were picky and only ate the pasta or rice. We had a riveting talk about teens and dating! The twins and Madi are dating age! So it begins. Lots of good advice was thrown out over the table.

How are we surviving? Most mornings I take a nap, exercise is the furthest thing from my mind. I am depending on lunchables (gross) for Evelyn's lunches because she does not fight me over a delicious lunchable. The boys are eating school lunch more often than not. Most morning I am late getting Evelyn out the door. We try to study the Book of Mormon, it seems most of the time our devotionals are chaotic cry fests, done way too late in the evening. Bedtime is after 9 pm, late for the little girls. Dinners are made last moment without much preparation, the menu is out the window until we get settled again. Half the time I feel like a frazzled mess, the other half of the time I look like a frazzled mess. I hate myself for breaking my Diet Coke ban, it's full on survival again. I should be packing but that seems like a bad idea until we have a month before moving.

With all this on my plate our buyers are dragging out the process. We had lots of going back and forth this week over inspections, appraisals, and settling issues. The appraisal came in at $350k, $2 less than the purchase price. We refused to fix the electrical issues (like the poorly marked breaker box) and the back wall. The buyers came back asking for more money and our washer and dryer. Personally, I say let them have it! The set is 10 years old and provided years of hard work for 7 people...and I hate my front-loader. Let them have it, I'll get something new! Ha. I need dates to schedule the moving company, hope we have those dates this week! On the Idaho front we are under contract for $322,500! That house inspection came back with piddly items as well, so relieved. As stated above, we just need to nail down closing dates now. All of us have contingencies which makes finding solid dates quite the challenge. Still, I think things are moving smoothly and will resolve as time moves forward.