25 October 2020

Brrrrrrrrr, the COLD arrived


Getting back into school this week was painful! The mornings are cold and dark now even at 6:45, we engage the bum warmers in the van on our way to the gym. Evelyn was not feeling the need for school on Monday. Took me an hour just to coax her to complete two math problems. The boys were not thrilled I made them do actual math lessons and learn about phonics. Amelia discovered she had to finish a complicated unit on factoring that took three days instead of an hour or so. I was delighted to try my hand at quadratic equations after many, many years. We figured it all out but she still had to slug through all the practices and tests. The little girls and I made an impromptu stop at the library to finally get cards because I heard the lobby was open...the library was open! Only 30 can enter at a time but we were able to go in, browse, and check out 30 new books. Lots of fun reading this week thanks to the library. I felt behind most of the week, behind in laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, writing and blogging the week, etc. 

We had some funny spots this week. Evelyn decided to brush her teeth using a silly apparatus that pulls lips away from the mouth...her goal was to see all her teeth! Goal reached. Evelyn and Ambree decorated our driveway with some gorgeous chalk art. Those two also set up a chair train in the school room. Josie donned Phillip's Halloween costume to our amusement. The suit is huge on Phillip so you can only imagine how swamped Josie was. Josie took Stitch (aka Mia) on a walk around the block with a rope. Everett got his much desired Sloth suit for Halloween. He was a three-toed sloth for half the week. It was super cold this week with highs in the 40s. We are not ready for winter yet in October. Guess I need to hitch up my belt and go get winter gear. 

Justin had a very, very busy work week. He was late getting home on the days he was in the office, Wednesday until after 10:30 pm. He was able to meet the deadlines of the week so had time to spare this weekend. He's working on a project to reset his Ryobi lithium batteries so the batteries will take charge after the factory settings fill up. I love his love of tinkering. He has a locksmith sets he loves to tinker around with as well. He was very nice and cleaned up the dishes twice this week. 

Thursday we decorated sugar cookies with the Palmers in an effort to help them with their Halloween party the next day. We enjoyed using royal frosting as a new medium. Amelia and the girls went early, Josie with a jar of nutella and bag of bread for lunch sandwiches. Everett loves Hyrum, he is everything Everett wants to grow up to be: a soccer star with a homemade ramp for bikes. Friday Everett made plans to make our own ramp. His first draft was 12" long by 8" wide, we had a laugh over those dimensions. After measuring his bike the plans got significantly larger. 

Friday the kids got dressed up in the Halloween costumes for the Palmer's party. Evelyn went as Mulan in her matchmaker outfit. Josie vacillated between Cinderella and Belle, Cinderella won. I had fun fixing their hair up fancy. The girls went from 5-7 for Eli and Fallon's party. The older kids went from 7-10 for Clare and Hyrum's party. Amelia worked hard on her deer costume. She had it planned out for a month at least. She made her own flowered set of antlers! Took us an hour to fix up her hair and face paint...but she loved the finished look. The boys were easy: don their comfy PJ union suits as Cactus Jack and the sloth. Josie cried off and on after we got home because I wouldn't let her go trick or treat. It's hard to understand that the real holiday is still 8 sleeps away. 

23 October 2020

Pumpkin Patch Heaven (again)


We celebrated a second week of Fall break...just because we could. I figured since submissions were pushed into November why not take a longer break. We did light school, no daily electronic usage, and lots of playing with the neighbors. 

We're updating our family photos...it's been a couple years. I have a love/hate relationship with family photos. Seriously, it's stressful for a photographer to have photos done...with me on the other side. I am quite self-conscious about all my current weight gain, don't really want to document that...but it is what it is. Amelia was my sidekick fashion expert. We raided DI on Tuesday for all clothing in Earthy green tones. I found several cute dresses for Mia and quite a few just fun dresses for me that looked extra comfy. Mia also found a set of rollerblades! She got a fun Stitch union suit at our next stop (Fred Meyer) during a stop for a dinner ingredient. We all got a kick out of watching her slide across the floor muttering "Stitch is coming" in a silly Stitch impersonation. Later that evening I stopped at Kidz Resale before Mia's choir practice for boy clothes. They had a good selection of pants in Phillip's size that were comfy and durable. I forgot my wallet so ran into lots of inconveniences being without money. There's not much worse than leaving a cookie at Sodalicious because they didn't have Apple Pay...same story at Hobby Lobby. I am most happy to report the few wardrobe updates I thrifted worked out splendidly. Then is it was making sure the boys had decent hair cuts and I had makeup my eyes would not reject (of the allergic sort). Amelia bruised her tailbone the first time she tried out her rollerblades. She slipped and...smack...right on her cute bum down on the driveway. 

Everett stumbled on a jackpot of free scrap wood from the Ostler's. He made a plan for the wood then executed his plan to make a table and stool out of the wood. Sarah helped him cut the wood into correct lengths. He finished the rest of his plan and assembled a really fun mini table with a seat. He was so happy about his accomplishment! The girls wanted to try out his new creation, he said they could use it for a $1 per use. Next morning he came down to find the girls had put a table cloth on his table and were eating breakfast (for free). He came unglued. Oatmeal scattered across the floor as he ripped off the bowls and cloth. Mia tried to mediate. I was in the shower. Then the fight escalated. Soon Phillip called Everett "a B****," Everett not wanting to be outdone threw the F-bomb back at Phillip. Wow! Just wow. I sequestered Everett in my room until I was decent enough to deal with the fiasco. He told me his version (omitting his bad word but telling me all about Phillip's cuss word). The boys got their first taste of bar soap. There was no electronics for the day and no fun allowed. It was quite the epic day. Evelyn had her own tantrum later. I was an emotional mess inside! Justin lead a family meeting before devotional about cussing, we beat that topic like a dead horse. Sheesh. 

The kids spent several days raking and blowing leaves to make an epic leaf pile. The wind dispersed their pile at every turn. They finally gave up and piled the leaves into the trampoline! I watched Evelyn rub her head across the trampoline catching leaves in her hair. She could've passed for an Army sniper wearing a ghillie suit. Justin had the honor of bathing and brushing out those leaves. The report was "It took forever to get the last remnants of the leaves out of her hair last night. It required a bath, a shower, a lot of conditioner and brushing to get the last little buggers out of her hair." She, of course repeated the hair incident the next day. 

Thursday Everett, Evelyn, and Josie had dental cleanings. Josie sat in the chair like a big girl with her mouth wide open for two minutes before her cleaning started. We enjoyed a long laugh! She looked like a baby bird. Evelyn made it through her cleaning with no fits or crying, YAY! The kids earned a clean bill of dental health, a toy, and of course new tooth brushes/floss/paste. I ruined their newly cleaned teeth by making a double batch of caramel. We invited over friends to help us decorate caramel apples. Used up 22 apples, half the caramel, and my reserve of sprinkles. The delicious treats then sat on the counter rotting until they went into the garbage on Sunday. My Great Depression grandparents turned over in their grave at the same time. 

Linder Farms hosted a homeschool day at their pumpkin patch on Friday! We joined many, many other families including the Ostlers for a lovely day outside. I love how each pumpkin patch is different and the same. I hear Linder Farms is closing after this season, the event was used to fund missions for their family the last kid is leaving this year! Mission accomplished. The kids immediately split up and raced off to enjoy all the fun spots. Mia volunteered to chase after Oliver for a while. The boys were a team, Ambree and Evelyn, and Sarah with her littles, me with Josie. Josie spent lots of time on the swings! She loved that ride best. I got quite a sunburn on my neck from standing in direct sun for so long. We were able to pick a free pumpkin on the hay ride around the patches. Evelyn balanced her pumpkin on her head. Let me tell you picking the perfect pumpkin is serious business! Josie spotted her baby pumpkin right away. The other kids flitted from pumpkin to pumpkin in search of the best and biggest. Amelia and I went back to the patch later to pick some specialty pumpkins like a porcelain doll, speckled hound, turk's turban, and jarrahdale. We ate a picnic lunch together when the crew got hangry. We stayed until our water bottle ran dry around 4 pm. An order of mini doughnuts revived our spirits. Good wholesome family fun for 5.5 hours, we beat our current pumpkin patch time record. A large box waited on our porch when we got home containing 3 cute baby Yoda squishmallows. Aunt Miekka clued me in on the release of Star Wars and Disney character pillows. So many cute things to hug. Yoda belongs to team BYU just like his parents and grandparents. The girls, especially Evelyn and Ambree have decorated our driveway with lots of fun art. Josie and Evelyn get into art contests, trying to beat how many art/love notes each girl can make Justin in a day. He get spoiled with lots of fun art from both girls. Josie favorite theme is Justin (heart) Josie drawings. 

Saturday the men worked on the yard. Justin hardcore edged the lawn a couple weeks ago...it looks amazing. Justin had Mia, Phillip, and Everett help him switch out his bad tire with a new one. They kids got to place and operate the hydraulic lift, the bolts, and such. That was a really good life lesson. The girls took a trip to Target for a couple more just-in-case items for photos. Josie spent her allowance on an "IB" Pet, really it is a VIP Pet, but she will correct you. Three days after getting her new toy the hair is impossibly tangled and most the pieces scattered to unknown places. She carries around the Amazon toy catalog like her personal bible. She circled about half the book. Evelyn helped me make some cute new hair accessories for our photo session. Evelyn was content to use the glue gun to her fancy and make lots of cute clips and bows. Felt nice to whip out creative supplies and make something pretty. Josie even came in a while later and made a few cute clips of her own. 

Justin was called to be the Deacons advisor with our neighbor Dustin. It will be nice to have Justin in the program when Phillip advances in a couple months. After church I had a mass of hair to curl, Amelia's alone took me 40 minutes. We left early so I could do the Ostler's family photos before ours. Parking was scarce. We were a bit late but it all worked out in the end. While waiting for my cousin I took photos of my kids and groupings that I wasn't in. Photos went by way too fast. I'm glad that is over. I quite enjoyed spending a bit of time with Alexia. Our kids are very similar in age so that was fun for all my kiddos. I brought along chocolate bars as bribes. I jokingly asked if Sarah was making dinner for us as well...she invited us over. Dustin made s huge pot Hungarian Borcht. That was delicious. Then we played the Thimble Game, remember the one with a cap of water and everyone guesses? So fun! I forgot about that game.  

15 October 2020

Fall Break with the Nguyens


We are so blessed to have the Nguyen family as friends, really adopted family. They came from Gilbert for the week during their fall school break. I was so glad Amanda came along too. We know the kids very well but never had a prolonged chance to get to know their mom. The kids worked most of the day helping me clean, it was nice to have a reason they wanted to help clean. We weren't even sure the Nguyens were coming because Ronald cheated on a test Thursday for school. He didn't get expelled but learned a lesson, our kids also learned the seriousness of cheating. Amelia had a breakdown Friday when she heard the news, they might not come. Amelia accompanied me to the airport at 10:20 pm. So many girl squeals...OMG!!

My kids took their fall break a week early so they could play with their friends. The younger kids did have to complete math lessons and some worksheets for our bi-monthly submission. Amanda went with me to take the little girls to gymnastics. We stopped at the Asian Grocery for Vietnamese pancakes Rose wanted to make for us. All was right in the world for 5 days! Rose and I worked most of the day making beef Pho broth. I planned to use a detailed recipe but Rose stepped in and showed me all the shortcuts. I bought way too many bones and meat so we used three pots to get it all cooked up...all for a gallon of broth. It was an all-day dish but the result was phenomenal. The sister missionaries came over for dinner, talk about a coincidence. They were not sure about our strange meal but tried it and loved it! We had enough broth for Ronald to eat for the rest of the week. That kid is picky about his Asian food. 

Wednesday Justin had a tire on his truck crap out. The tire just disintegrated a mile before he turned onto the freeway. It took some figuring to get the jack properly working and the spare installed. He limped back home and worked for a while in our home office. The rest of us illegally squeezed into my van for a trip to Albertson's Park in downtown Boise. Amanda treated us to Starbucks on the way. All us non-coffee bibers slurped down vanilla frappuccinos. Mia got carsick riding in the truck with Chloe watching things on the phone. The park was absolutely gorgeous! So many stunning fall colors competiting for our attention. Amanda (aka Rose) and Evelyn took several hundred selfies! I think Rose out-shot me photo wise. The boys brought along play swords to have an epic battle around the park. Justin joined us towards the end as he was nearby ordering a new tire. We enjoyed lunch at the Boise Fry Company. Rose, Evelyn and I walked over to check out the Capitol Building before the parking meter ran out of time. I worked on editing photos the rest of the afternoon. 

Thursday we had a lazy day until the late afternoon when we headed to the Pumpkin Patch. Josie was thrilled! She busily scampered here and there, me following in her wake. My favorite part was the sunflower and zinnia patch. So pretty. The boys went off adventuring, first to the dragon maze. Amelia and Chloe were also off on various adventures. Amanda took Chloe's phone because Chloe didn't take good enough photos of her in the flower patch. In order to keep track of Chloe, Amanda called Mia over 20 times on Mia's phone. Evelyn adores Amanda now, Amanda applied professional makeup each day they were here. The little girls got cute nail paint and the full spa treatment. Amanda promised to send Evelyn all of her extra make up! Amanda was impressed that Evelyn can perfectly reapply lipstick without a mirror. Those two went off on adventures until 5:30. Josie got to bowl, ride a fancy side, and go down the zipline. I experienced bees calmly eating honey off my hand! Amanda gave all the kids $20 dollar bills to spend at the Pumpkin Patch. Josie was thrilled to spend $5 on a pony ride. She was so cute sitting up on the pony stroking it's mane and singing to her pony. We all grouped back together for the pig race and dog show. The kids recognized the dog show company from a Disney+ show "All Star Stunt Dogs." Before the show all the kids were hoping Crazy Confetti would be part of the show. Indeed Crazy Confetti was in our little local pumpkin patch show. The rest of the evening the kids talked about meeting a celebrity, made them crazy happy! The little kids all bought cute dog visors for $5 as a souvenir. Justin met up with us before the dog show. We went through the mini-corn maze...no time for getting lost in a huge maze for hours with kids, am I right?! Yes. For dinner we ate the best corn dogs ever! Yum. We lasted another hour until the kids got cold. That was a very fun day. 

Friday we drove out to Cabalo's Orchard to pick apples! We had two wagons and 5 bushel baskets for the lot of us. I think we went a little overboard with the apples. I like apples but what does one do with 104# of apples? The thought was daunting. Josie and the boys used apple pickers to grab the yummy fruit from the higher branches. Evelyn and Rose took photos, I took photos! Ha. We lost the two older girls, off picking apples from the other end of the orchard. By far my favorite apples were the wine-sap apples, a delicious tart, juicy apple. I don't really like bland apples like Golden Delicious and Red Delicious, which the orchard mostly grew. Still...fresh off the tree is hard to beat! In their pumpkin patch I found a mushroom shaped pumpkin we just had to get for our porch. At the front market we added in two gallons on fresh cider and lots of cute decorative gourds. What a haul! Amanda and I used the rest of the evening to wash then peel/core apples for apple sauce and apple butter. Our house smelled so good! I made a few more batches of apple sauce then canned the butter and sauce on Saturday and Sunday. We ended up with 16 quarts of apple sauce and 8 of apple butter. Over the next few days I dried several batches of apple chips in our large dehydrator. We're down to the last couple pounds of apples to eat and enjoy. Amanda treated us all to dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Yum. 

Saturday was a happy and sad day. Everett and Mia cried off and on all day because our guests were leaving. It's fun to say hello and hard to say see ya later. We headed to the airport around 3 with a very packed van, no one wanted to stay behind. There were lots of tears and hugs at the curb, Mia and Everett donned masks to walk the Nguyens to their ticket counter. The rest of our day felt bland and sad. The kids were up past 1 am most nights chatting and playing. I encountered Mia on Friday night trying to wash eyeliner off her face...we ended up using a pad because that was the largest sponge item in the kid bathroom. So much laughter and silliness from those two cute girls. Evelyn made 5-6 love letters for Rose with gifts wrapped up in hand-decorated paper. She was delighted to mail a box with apple butter, her letters, and some items Ronald left. 

Sunday was a red-letter day! We finally got to meet with the entire ward for the first time...after 7 months in the area. It was nice to at least know the Ostlers!  

14 October 2020

October General Conference 2020 Edition


The weeks galloped away from me! I neglected to narrate last week because we had visitors from Arizona to entertain us. 

Our school week was quite strange! I photographed 80 children for Homeschool-School Photos. I used sign-up genius to organize the event. I had kids coming every 15 minutes for most of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a few scheduled on Tues/Thurs mornings. School, of course looked a bit different. Evelyn did her math, spelling, and phonics work in the garage between photo slots. I had the boy's work scheduled out so they worked quite well on their own. They were even able to get their online classes working for science and history. Amelia was a huge help managing Josie and Evelyn when needed. Amelia completed 2 weeks worth of school work in 4 days. Once you get into the groove it's easy to get ahead. She finished so quickly I also asked her to compile a family class on voting and the Electoral College. By the end of the week the kids completed all their work! Yee haw. I had a huge pile of 80 kid photos to edit...but the editing was so light because the photos were studio style and meant to be candid. I did have a couple of kids with acne or wearing eye glasses, so that took a few moments to fix. Evelyn had another massive tantrum. I locked her outside until she calmed down a little. She decorated the glass door with water in an attempt to get me upset. We are in a pickle with that girl. Her counselor suggested we try a psychologist instead of a child counselor. It would be nice to test her for ADD and such. 

So Phillip is in this moment where he constantly talks nonsense. He will approach me and say "My name is cheese-man and I like to eat my beef in a hot dog made of toes." His current name is hotdog-tortellini-hippo-dolphin. Phillip dump the garbage, response: "I like to eat beef and cheese in my brain." What does that even mean?  "Apple sauce." Phillip, go do your school work, "honk, honk" with crossed eyes and a stupid look on his face while flapping his hands.  Mia, I'm sweating apply juice out of my forehead, you will sweat apple juice out of your toes. My computer monitor turns off, "mom, why does it do that?" I don't know. "Well, that makes a good hotdog roasting system." Anyway, I cannot even begin to capture his normal conversations and personality. Just know it's epic. 

Justin got the boys new fishing poles last week. We took a family evening to round up the kids and go fishing. The ponds were stocked that day so we hoped for a better than usual result. Rounding up kids is an exercise in frustration. Justin's face was bordering on psycho before he finally got into the truck. Sharing 3 poles proved an exercise in patience. Still, the night was cool and the pond quite lovely. Several hundred ducks and water birds shared the pond, it was quite noisy at night! We were way too noisy to catch any fish. Everett and Phillip caught several hooks full of pond weeds so that was exciting. Mia and I scoped the area as a possible photo op location. Fall is proving is gorgeous colors! 

Wednesday I found a gal selling a lot of American Girl sized toys. We drove out to her home with the intent to buy her almost new schoolhouse (like Emmie and Penny have). We walked out with a bag of clothes/shoes, a laundry system, a vet set, a camper, jeep, and travel set...drumroll...all for $60. The schoolhouse alone used is over $60. I gave her an extra $10 because she was totally underselling the toys. The kids came home and unloaded the haul into the front room. The Ostler's came over for a very exciting evening with the new toys. Next day I organized the toy closet and made room for the new toys inside the closet. I am thrilled the girls have amazing role-play toys to use. Josie and Evelyn are spending hours up in the closet playing dolls. While thrifting for Halloween stuff Mia found a Cactus Joe costume, man-sized onesie, for Phillip. Phillip is completely thrilled with that find especially since cousin Everett loves cactus man. 

Josie is in love with Jo-Jo Swia. This child icon is quite annoying with her shows, songs, and fan apparel. Her signature look is bright funky colors with a huge bow on her head. Josie found Jojo shoes at Walmart, a shirt and a bow to complete the outfit. I think Josie looks way cuter than Jo-jo...she is OUR Jojo. 

Conference weekend was amazing. The kids worked on embroidery during the sessions. I traced designs on tea towel material for the boys to work on. Everett had a monkey design and Phillip chose Stitch. Evelyn and I worked on a pre-designed unicorn set. Amelia traced a cute baby Yoda design. She later water-colored inside her stitches and wrote, "when they say no more chikky nuggies." I worked on a floral design. Quiet work helps me listen and concentrate...except when the kids poke me every two seconds for help. In a nutshell, the speakers focused on unity, overcoming prejudice, being recommended to the Lord, being prepared, having hope, and finding joy in Christ. Each talk was amazing. We noted how many times 4 Nephi and President Nelson's April closing talk were referenced. Feels like the end scenes are closing in faster and faster. In between sessions we worked on deep cleaning our house. The baseboards were looking grubby. Work slaves! Work! Justin whipped up conference crepes between sessions on Sunday.