24 May 2020

School's OUT!!

Amelia created a new quote for this week: April Flowers bring May Showers! It rained every single day this week! It was cold, dreary, overcast, blustery, and rainy. Did that stop the kids from playing on the tramp? No way! The older kids were outside in swimwear when it was 55 degrees outside, raining...with the sprinkler on under the tramp! Looked like they had a lovely time. Josie tried to join them a couple times but the cold was too much for her. She came back inside to huddle under her blanket. Evelyn toughed it out knowing a warm bath waited for her inside.

School this week was mostly fun assignments. I checked out most of the week since I hate stupid assignments. Amelia's science teacher emailed her a nice letter, Amelia earned an achievement award for the 4th quarter without meeting any of her teachers and plunging into her work with flying colors! Everett was still not feeling well on Monday so he missed completing a Rube Goldberg machine. Most of us spent the week dealing with severe allergies, headaches, and general blahs. I read a couple books from the Twisted Tales series, retellings of the Disney animated greats. Evelyn works very hard on her worksheets and participates in her daily zoom meetings. We had a nice visit from Ms Sharp this week, Phillip arrived at the door sliding down the hall on his belly like a penguin then rose to his knees with a really strange look on his face. We had quite the chat about door etiquette afterwards.

Amelia is going to visit her friend Chloe in Arizona this summer. Those two spent several hours talking over the phone to plan the visit. They have an entire list of activities: learn hairstyles, lemonade stand, pet bunnies (Chloe's new pets), make cell phone cases, and other art projects. The girls spent two hours picking out coordinating dresses as Chloe's birthday gift! Amelia was thrilled to finally spend her hard-earned money on a plane ticket and gifts for Chloe. She started making cute friendship bracelets out of complete boredom.

We shoveled/moved 8 more yards of wood bark into the side yard area. Quite honestly, the area needs another load or two of wood bark to level things out. The kids worked hard manning shovels, rakes, and wheel barrows. Everett once again out-worked all the kids. Josie's cute shovel scooping expressions kept the kids quite entertained. I am delighted that less mud and dirt are making their way into the house. Yesterday we had sun! Yay! I couple rows of seedlings popped their heads above the dirt in the new garden boxes. I hired a guy to hang the new ceiling fan. Justin was unsure how to exchange the ceiling box for a larger one capable of supporting the larger fixture. It looks so nice! A few weeks ago one of our newer (thrifted) chairs split into a few pieces! Yikes. I ordered some new smaller chairs to fit in around the table. We finally have room to seat us all in real seats! It's been years since I sat in a real chair, it's usually a stool or the flour bucket.

Friday we celebrated the end of school and Everett's birthday with a lunch at Subway with Justin. Good gracious the kids were embarrassing, fighting and/or hemming and hawing over condiment choices. Everett was delighted to finally get a restaurant choice all of his own. We visited Justin's office after lunch. He has a nice view of the parking lot! As always the kids poked into every niche of his office. Everett grabbed the calculator to figure out a math code he left Justin last year in his old office. The girls decorated the white board. Amelia tried on hats...Phillip literally farted around. I got to meet Justin's boss, Jennifer. Ironically, her maiden name is Lance!

Saturday the men worked on learned man skills. Justin had the boys help him change spark plugs and oil in the lawnmower. They changed the oil in the motorcycle! That right there is some good learning! The little girls helped me make pizza dough and then the pizzas for dinner. I had a girl on each side helping me measure and assemble ingredients into the mixer. I quite loved seeing their interested faces watching the yeast bubble, the flour change the consistency, etc. As a reward the girls made heart-shaped pizzas for their own dinner. I made a lovely cheese pizza and a pesto pizza. Justin and Amelia are not fond of tomato sauce. So far we've experimented with a garlic butter and cheese pizza and the pesto version. Both are delicious. My bread skills are finally developing as my family is interested in eating homemade bread. Amelia moved from the couch twice on Saturday. She got up to accompany me to the gas station AND to clean the living room space. It was tough going to move that much.

18 May 2020

Orchard Duty

Justin and I stole away for a mid-week date to Lowes for garden boxes, a snake plant, and stuff to plant in a front porch planter. We even walked away with a new ceiling fan and light for the main living area. The silence was ever so pleasant. Justin even treated me to a double-dipped butterscotch cone at DQ.

Justin signed us up for a ward service project working in the church peach orchard on Wednesday. I was not so sure I wanted to drive 45 minutes just to herd kids. Justin was not able to make it due to some changes and hang-ups for the most recent filing. We arrived about 10 minutes before the project was to start. The drive up was gorgeous! We hugged the shore of a large lake, the banks teaming with trees, bushes, and flowers of all sorts. I am reading "Freckles" to the boys right now so the scenery lent some framework for our imaginations. The lake front fell away to broad farmlands neatly growing crops. Then came the orchards! Oh my gracious...we passed apple, grape, peach, cherry, apricot, pear, and all fruits in between. The church expects to can 30 million bushels from the peach trees we worked on! Only one older gentleman was there slowly picking through the trees. We surged in to help! Our job was to thin the peaches to one fruit every 3-4 inches. The rest were pinched off to allow the bigger fruit room to grow. Loads more folks arrived around 7:30 in typical LDS timing! Amelia was thrilled to use the ladder for a time to thin the tops of the trees. Our ward had an entire row to work on! We left shortly after 8:15 pm. The best part was the western view as the sunset over an amazingly beautiful valley. I treated the kids to Dairy Queen cones just for kicks and giggles...I was not complaining about two cones in a row.

Justin started a cute note trend. I am not so nice to myself after having 5 kids and the years of raising little kids catching up with my current weight. I hate where I am at right now, but still don't see how I can get out and do what needs to be done exercise wise. Penned with 5 kids is a bit mind-numbing. Justin leaves me sweet notes in the closet, on the bathroom mirror, the bathroom scale, and on my computer screen. The kids swept up the trend and are now leaving me notes! It does my heart good to see all these positive affirmations pasted all over.

Friday Justin only worked a half day so we took the rest of the day to work on our yard. The north side of our house is a mud pit! We picked up a load of raised garden bed soil at a local nursery. First step was to move the compost pile to another location. The kids helped schelp lava rocks to form a border containing the compost. Amelia helped trim trees by removing sucker branches. It took the rest of the day to build the boxes, fill them, and plant seeds. I also picked up some nursery plants like tomatoes to plant from Walmart. Everett really wants to become a gardener now! He mused out loud if he could be an accountant and a gardener at the same time! Everett is my "stick-to-it" guy. He helped me until the last task was done. He got to water the plants as a reward. Grilled chicken never tasted so good as it did after a long day of work. Saturday Justin picked up a yard of wood chips to mulch around the garden boxes. We plan on getting another 6-8 yards of wood chips to cover up the ugly, messy mud. The mulch work went much faster! I had the nursery deliver 4 more yards but they were delayed until Monday morning. It was much nicer to take an afternoon rest after working hard for several days. Both boys are quite proficient lawn mowers. Phillip even earned the privilege to use the blower for a little while! Evelyn is quite taken with Ambery, one of the kids next door! She roped Ambree into playing American Girl dolls, LOL dolls, and Barbies for hours on end over the weekend. Phillip is also quite happy to have Ambree as a friend. Earlier in the week the kids shredded up several boxes playing a rousing game of kitty cats in the trampoline! They even did a good job cleaning up their mess after playing.

Dog Vader chewed up my new tomato plants and stomped all over my new garden boxes. Justin convinced me he would leave them alone...NO!!! Stupid dog traipsed all over, probably peeing on it all. I jerry rigged a fence with some fencing, staples, and some cement blocks lying around. Justin was convinced my plan would fail. It probably will fall over, it just needs to last long enough for things to grow so the dog avoids that area. My Baerwaldt genes were hard at work, I'm sure Grandpa B was giving me pointers from up in heaven. Amelia made an arm octopus, she was sharing her Popsicle with it...we're all a little worried.

Home church is going quite well. We have lots of singing, the sacrament, a short talk and listen to a conference talk most weeks. I might not want to return back! Ha ha. Sunday we went on a brutal stroll down a walking path near our home. Most of the kids almost died, the only one who didn't complain was Evelyn! The path was abundantly gorgeous, patches of wild primroses grew mixed in with raspberry brambles. We even stumbled on a pretty little nature park. My love of beauty was completely filled. Everett had some digestive troubles along the trail. He had to do a squat...we all heard the noises from many, many paces away. Poor guy.

17 May 2020

Children in the Snowball Bush

10 May 2020

Water under the Tramp

Only two more weeks of school...HOORAY! I really need to decide what our next school year will look like. I hear class sizes might be limited to 9 kids, meaning the kids will attend school on rotation...that sounds like a disaster. We made it through this past week. Thankfully, the work load is mostly fun activities focused on keeping the kids reading, writing, and working on math. Phillip is still the hardest child to motivate. He refuses to work unless I am sitting next to him. He lost out on several after school activities this past week because of his stubbornness. Everett got to make a catapult and homemade ice cream for STEM learning. Friday afternoon Ronald Reagan hosted a fun teacher parade. We got to wave and yell as the teachers and staff drove by. All the kids were excited to watch their teachers drive by and get a car honk. Amelia strengthened her inner nerd this week, she watched all the Anne of Green Gables movies from the 1980s! I must say it was fun to watch the movies again and laugh, cry, smile, and frown over all that magic.

We invited over the Palmers to try our hand at making Macrons (again) using the Italian meringue method. The recipe flopped...it was messy and time consuming to weigh everything and work the recipe in the proper manner. The shells turned out all puffy and half the shells were half baked. Once again the buttercream Mia made was amazing. She made a fresh lemon frosting....swoon. We still ate the treats and enjoyed our work. The French were appalled over our efforts. I even turned out half of the batter into a 9x13 pan to make a macron sheet cookie...that even flopped because it was half-baked inside with a crunchy shell. The purpose however was met...to develop friendships with our newly acquainted cousins. Sweet Eli colored lots of papers full of my favorite colors! Hyrum showed Everett some awesome soccer moves.

I convinced the kids to let me take photos in front of our pretty snowball bush. I had a series back on Sidney of the kids in front of the pink cherry tree blossoms, the series is back on but snowball version! I can't wait to update the series after 3 years. Josie was quite unhappy about participating until I bribed her with bunny chocolate leftover from Easter! That kid will do just about anything for chocolate. Hummmm....I wonder if she would eat her veggies or try a strawberry if I bribed her with chocolate?!

Mia organized a fun fashion show this week. Evelyn finally decided it was fun to change her earrings. She changes her ear fashions several times each day lately! Her favorite is a large pair of silver hoops! The boys got into the fashion show by coordinating their special stuffies with fashionable outfits. Even Dog Vader got some decor.

Justin and I got the old (new) trampoline dismantled, Esther helped take down the frame while they were here on Wednesday. The wind about carried away the tramp early that morning. We felt a little self-conscious carting an entire tramp into the store. Thankfully, they accepted the return with no questions. Everett helped me put the new trampoline together. All the other kids helped for 1-2 minutes then ran off. He stayed with me for a couple hours until the job was completed. That kid is golden. Putting the safety net on was quite the wrestling match...Justin got punched in the face quite on accident. The new trampoline is much heavier and sturdier. It can hold the weight of all the kids plus water as they jump with the sprinkler running.

Saturday we celebrated with the Call family as Gary was baptized. The ordinance was broadcast via Zoom meeting to family members. We're so grateful we could participate. We enjoyed a yummy lunch at Costa Vida picnic style. The kids and I biked to the gas station for treats in the late afternoon. I had quite the workout, my bike barely coasted down the hill with the bike trailer attached. The rear brake was fully engaged and the trailer had a flat tire! No wonder my heart was thumping. The Ostler's invited us over for s'mores and bonfire fun after dark.

I am thinking about my mom and grandmothers today. I have exceptional women in my life to lead and guide me. Justin taught me something this morning. He quoted President Kimball saying that the creations of the Lord started with simple and ended with the most beautiful and complex. Phillip commented that Eve was the most complex of all the Lord's creations...yep! Those women are complex and beautiful creatures. So sweet. Evelyn had a tear in her eyes while we sang "Love is Spoken." She offered a lovely prayer with tears in here eyes. That more than anything warmed my heart. Seeing her tender heart touched with love for me, her mother. I am so blessed! Justin brought home some pretty flowers over the weekend. I had a vase ready and waiting! Ha ha. He presented me with a new set of gleaming knives to replace my worn out set. Can't wait to slice up my fingers.

* Josie calls the snowball tree (when it had green bunches of flowers) the Broccoli Tree
*Phillip was asked to share something with his class in a Zoom meeting: "My Dad is bald on top, like the shiny bald with short hairs by his ears..." LOL...guess he was out of other interesting facts.

Amelia is 13 teen

Amelia is growing into such a lovely young lady. She gets up early to work on her school work without prompting. She is working hard to read ALL the books she can get her hands on...or rather borrow from the library on her phone. I rely on Mia everyday, she helps me with the kids. I love that she is willing to take on a task and make it fun. Her heart is still young and playful. She has taken to hibernating on the couch with a blanket and a good book. The next moment you might find her on the trampoline organizing a game or playing Barbies with her little sisters. Mia loves singing, reading, plunking out tunes on the piano, hitting her annoying siblings, baking treats, hates cleaning, loves her bike and scooter, going to the gas station for treats, and Chloe. We miss Chloe.

I love her goofy side. Kindred spirit! Love this cute kid.

Well-Child update (01 June 2020): weighed 130.6 (87%) and measured 60.5 inches (28.3%)

04 May 2020

The First Teenager

Staying home is hard to do! I miss going out, especially the ability to visit with other humans. Social distancing makes it difficult to make new friends in a new town. School at home continues to be a challenge. BUT we are settling into a schedule that helps maintain my expectations and the kid's teachers expectations. All the kids have morning zoom meetings with their teachers. We miss the meetings most of the time because we are still snoozing when the meetings start. It is quite difficult to convince the kids into bed at 9 pm when it is still light outside. So our Arizona bedtime of 9 pm is the new Nampa bedtime at 10 pm. Makes for later mornings for us all. Evelyn always makes her meetings at 10 am, hers are by far the longest meetings since her teacher does an entire hour of lessons. To stay entertained Amelia and I tried our hand at making Macrons. She tried one batch all on her own, tasted yummy but were quite lumpy. We tried again together with better results, still not professional level but tasty. The raspberry buttercream was delightful. Amelia convinced me to drag out my sewing machine to make face masks. So far we've tried 3 different patterns with no success.

The heating coil on our dryer burned out. Justin successfully repaired the dryer after waiting 9 days for the part delivery. He found a mound of burnt dryer lint that most likely started a small fire. We felt very lucky it did not start a larger fire. Amelia and I visited a local laundromat to finish drying all the wet clothes on hand from washing day. The last time we were in a laundromat together she was barely 2 years old! Some treats from Family Dollar helped pass the time.

Monday evening Amelia and I went out for her birthday photo session. We found a lovely field and stream on a family walk a few days beforehand. She was quite exuberant! She brought along Mr Moo-Moo and Octavius for kicks and giggles. She chose a cute dress for her main birthday outfit from an online store. It looked so adorable. Can you tell her favorite color is yellow? She is such a goof ball. She discovered a tiny baby squirrel living in the tree we used for one of her photos. The little guy kept peeking over the log! Mia had her heart set on a post-session treat. Amazingly, we found an open ice cream shop still open at 7:50 pm, we ordered gourmet ice creams and a brownie to share. We walked about the downtown area licking down our treats. Yum. I really wanted to try the doughnut ice cream sandwich, but the store was out of doughnuts. Next time!!!

The kids were so bored they actually started a game I suggested! Grandma Debbie used to make ant villages for her playtime outside, James and I used to do the same while waiting for the school bus. The kids started an elaborate village made of mud, rocks, and plants. Mia mixed cement for the kids to form the village. They all gave up after a couple days. Phillip made a replica of the Grand Canyon as part of his village. Everett wanted to know how long it would take to dry his mud into bricks, wish I knew the answer to that! Lots of mud...my new floor shows every speck of dirt and mud. Lovely.

The ice cream truck insists on driving through the neighborhood a couple times each day. We finally got a treat one day since the kids finished their school work early. That was quite fun for the kids. Evelyn and Josie get especially excited when the truck drives by. We are learning how to save our money for other things besides expensive frozen treats.

I found some office cubicle desks for sale that worked perfectly for the office and upstairs. I dreamed of having a wall of desks for the kids to work at. I was excited to find long tables that fit the exact dimensions! I finally got the office cleaned up and organized a bit. I need to find a place for my craft corner. So far there is no perfect spot for me to work. The best candidates are my closet or the master bedroom.

Mia twisted her ankle on the tramp just in time for her birthday. She hobbled about on crutches for a couple days. She's graduated to an ankle brace. Stinks because one of her gifts was a scooter. Apparently, she often reaches her birthday with some sort of injury. This year was no different.

Jeremy, Yulz, Pasha, and Ksenia came for the weekend! They needed a change of scenery and we needed to snuggle some babies. I hear the drive up was quite dull...I was glad of that. Pasha took advantage of our extra space to finally start walking about. He went from crawling to walking in one evening! We loved how his one big toe poked out of his sock. Phillip developed quite an affinity for Pasha, he enjoyed playing with him. Ksenia looked like a tiny doll snuggled in Justin's warm arms. Our ward hosted a virtual Primary talent show. Phillip and Everett showed off their embroidery creations as their talent. Evelyn had big plans to wear a Princess dress and sing, "Sacred Grove." We ran out of time and gumption.

Saturday Amelia woke up as a 13 year old! Say it is not so! I decorated her door with 13 hearts and some chocolate. Our day was quite boring but also busy. Justin worked on the lawn. I took lots of newborn photos. There was not enough room to bring my bean bag so used the kitchen table as a substitute, it worked quite well. Mia chose Jimmy John's for lunch. We had plans for Noodles and Co for dinner but the stars did not align. Jeremy and Yulz took Mia and Evelyn out for a treat at the gas station. I had a number of little helpers to wrap birthday gifts! Pasha unwrapped as quickly as I wrapped. Mia's only surprise gift was a box of chocolates from the Lances and a set of Harry Potter perler beads from me. We wrapped up the evening with delicious cheesecake and fresh strawberry compote. Happy birthday sweet Mia. She introduced her new Archie Axolotl to her squishmallow gang.

Sunday we had a short church meeting because the Lances were heading back to Utah. I am finally getting our family back on schedule with our Come Follow Me. We've done it most days but it was more spur of moment. We had our first Temple Table lesson in Idaho! Yay! The kids all griped about it...that is music to my ears.

Monday the 27th we enjoyed lunch at Noodles and Co for Mia's birthday. I ordered via phone, picked it up, then met Justin on a near by patch of grass for a picnic. We were close to Sodalicious so indulged in a fun drink treat as well. Birthday celebrations are so much fun.

The rest of our week was a blur of outside play, school work in PJs, playing with the neighbor kids, and lots of sunshine. Justin declared war on the dandelions. He is winning armed with weed killer. I purchased a new over-sized chair and footstool off of a gal on FaceBook. We had to remove the door to stuff it through our bedroom door. Now only half of our room is decorated and filled! Friday the Govenor started a plan to reopen business in Idaho. Select stores are allowed to open if operated with Social Distancing guidelines. Restaurants, theaters, and churches are still closed for another month. The little girls and I went thrift store shopping on Saturday. The boy's bikes are in horrible shape. They are borrowing the neighbor's bikes...yikes. I found a really nice bike for Phillip at the Yard Sale Place. Evelyn spotted an almost new 20" bike for herself at Goodwill for $4.50! Score. She talked all the way home about how scared she was to ride her new bike, talking about how much Dad needed to help her, etc. Little snippet hopped out of the truck and right onto her new bike. She was so excited she forgot her fears and went riding down the sidewalk without any help. She was racing around the neighborhood after just 5 minutes...all without any help at all. Way to go Evelyn! Everett decided to spend his saved money on a new bike. We went to Walmart in search of a bike. I was quite sure all the bikes were sold out. There were only 6 bikes (1 for boys) in stock. The one style of boy's bike was exactly what Everett wanted. He wanted a bike with gears! Lucky him! He bought that bike with 7 whole gears on the back sprocket. So exciting. He spent the rest of the day practicing on his new bike gears. He reported that level 7 is his favorite. Justin and Phillip fixed up the flat tire on his new ride. So many excited kids in the house right now. Phillip earned quite a lovely sunburn from all his time outside.

Yesterday we had dinner with the Palmers. Decided it was time to get together in spite of Social Distancing. Esther and David smoked chicken and made dutch oven potatoes. I brought along some potato salad. The kids went crazy in their humongous backyard. Josie cold roasted her marshmallows, she stuck marshmallows on her stick and carried the stick 4 feet away from the fire. They taste good like that.

Funny story: Justin enlisted the boys' help to mow and edge the lawn on Friday evening. They worked hard and got it mowed. Everett strutted in, declared: "We're MEN now!" Guess that spot of hard work qualifies him as a MAN. Bless his sweet heart.