31 January 2021

January Blahs


Seems like there is always a week in January that is utterly blah. That was this week; so normal it hurt. We worked on taking the practice state tests just to get a feel of what we need to work on the next few weeks. This week the boys took the entire ELA tests, next week we will focus on the math tests. Phillip will also have to take the science test. Evelyn agreed to take the IRI reading test for a milkshake. Amelia is settling into her second semester classes. Apparently, we have a week of winter break coming up! Yipee! We might head down to Utah for more cold weather. 

Evelyn made herself a golden beard out of masking tape during Temple Table this week. She was all hunched over then popped up with the beard. Totally squashed the spiritual moment but the laughter was worth it. Phillip ended the lesson early by bending one of my new chairs in half. Thankfully, it was bent back but I'm sure the structural integrity is compromised. 

Most days we stay in our pajamas since we rarely leave the house anymore except for the Ostlers...they wear PJs as well. Josie and Evelyn now have koala ears and tails. Each morning I attach tails to pj'd bums for a day of koala-ing. Josie really wants her own baby koala...like a real one. Well, that's a no go. I found Josie perched on top a pile of cushions with a crown, koala ears, a squishmallow, blanket, and a scepter holding court. 

Amelia finally got her slime order from Kawaii Slime Company. We were all delighted with the cute box, packaging, and especially the awesome slime. Josie now wants her own box of slime for her birthday. I think Josie wants everything. I introduced Amelia to Korean marble soda. It tasted like juicy fruit and sprite! Amelia got a cute new chloe (hoodie), I looked over at her to find her in super spy hoodie mode. She looked very distinguished with her nose sticking out.   

Nampa had a fair amount of rain, wind, and snow this week. The wind blew over the Ostler's grill and broke off a wheel. I was relieved the trampoline was still in our yard. Josie enjoyed 20 minutes in the rain with her cute galoshes and umbrella. We had one day with sun and slightly warmer temperatures. The kids had a veritable party on the tramp. Everett found two clamps he turned into gun weapons. 

Thursday I hosted Activity Days at my home. I invited the Primary Chorister to teach the girls a song to sing in sacrament meeting. We learned "We are Children of God" by Monica Scott. Sister Young was impressed we learned the song in less than 20 minutes! The girls played a rousing game of "guess what" and enjoyed muffins for a treat. 

Josie and I caught a bug this weekend. I was fighting a nasty sinus infection. I was able to fend off the worst of it keeping my sinuses dry with Sudafed. Josie is having a repeat of her nasty tummy virus she had a month or so ago. She is not keeping anything down, we're on hour 36 now with nothing staying down. I'm just religiously feeding her teaspoons of pedialyte. So stressful. Our prayers are with Jana (and family), Jeffrey, Sally, Shawn, and those others in our family who came down with COVID. Someone at Grandpa's funeral unknowingly contracted COVID and got several people sick. Jana is having quite the time since Rudy left for two weeks, it's not easy to hole up with two small kids and seasonal depression. My heart goes out to her. 

Justin had a terribly busy week. We hardly saw him at all this week. He left home around 7:30 and arrived back home between 9-10 pm. The good news is the draft is filed so things should settle down a little bit this week. He is taking a much deserved Sunday nap. 

*Funny Josie story: Evelyn ripped off her blanket fort from the bunk beds. Josie was crying and said, "Evelyn you are making my feelings sad!" So cute.  
*Last week Everett created his own song inspired by the stars in the night sky. It was so cute and very U2 inspired. 

24 January 2021

Inauguration Week


I didn't know what to title this particular entry...it's been a boring week. We celebrated Martin Luther King day like most every other day. The boys learned about him in their Monday Social Studies zoom meetings. Inauguration day felt like an ominous day, nothing untoward actually happened...except the democrats ruling the government now. Since Wednesday Biden worked hard to undo all the things Trump worked hard to accomplish. It's like a new president HAS to erase the former president before he can snuggle into the chair of power. I bought extra bags of flour, oatmeal, and dried milk to celebrate the coup. My dad sent an excellent review of conference via email. Floored me that he listened to conference like 15 times in double speed, the things you can learn in solitude! What can one learn in chaos? Feels like survival. I've had school for next year on my mind. Trying to decide if homeschooling is our jam or just to get through the COVID crisis. I know next year I would do things much differently with more book curriculum if we continue this avenue. I feel like Phillip would flourish better at school, he responds much differently with a teacher in a public setting. 

Half of the family ended up with the sniffles this week. Mia and I skipped the gym two days since she was not feeling well at all. Evelyn had the worst of the germs with a cough and runny nose. Josie went to gymnastics by herself on Tuesday. I stayed in the gym to watch her. Once again she freaked out on the balance beam. She was doing so well then realized she was high off the ground. I looked over to find her grasping the underside of the beam with her hands and feet yelling, "No! I'm a baby koala!" Her coach pried her off the beam, Josie then went full Koala mode on her teacher refusing to unlatch her hands or feet in favor of the beam. The adults were all trying very hard not to laugh, Josie was crying. It's hard to face your fears, even with a soft mat underneath you. 

The kids had quite the time this week playing "fox holes" in the school room. It was a disaster by Friday morning. The kids each had a fox hole (pile of blankets and pillows under a desk of chair) split up by unused bunk bed rails. I invited the Ostler's to come help us clean up the mess, took only 10 minutes and no whining. Phillip worked hard to assemble his last Christmas Lego: Lady Luck the pirate ship. He is massively proud of his largest project to date. Sometimes the mermaid prow is replaced with the shark! Ha ha. 

I had a meeting with the student success team to add accommodations to Phillip's 504 specifically for testing. We are trying to find a testing site he can go to instead of testing at home because of all the distractions. The boys worked extra hard this week and finished passing off the last of the PLGs for the year. Now our bi-monthly reports can be focused learned the fun stuff in math, ELA, Science, and Social Studies. 

Mia spent a chunk of time this week planning a surprise birthday party for Josie. She created the cutest invitations for her party, hand decorating the cards with lettering. Saturday we delivered 5 invitations to some folks we know like the Palmers, Potters, Tiny Chloe, Hyde's and the Ostlers. I ordered the cheapest power wheels on Walmart clearance for $80 cheaper than any other model, thankfully the car is pink. Amelia and I searched Amazon for Koala party supplies. Josie will be thrilled with her koala pinata, favors, and decor. I even found a fun $15 over-large koala she can snuggle with. Her favorite show right now is "Izzy's Koala World." She found a night dress at Walmart earlier in the week, she wore it for 4 days in a row. By Friday her hair was messy enough it stuck out of her sleeping mask like her own pair of koala ears. 

I'm busy figuring out how to work my magic on a laptop...a MAC laptop at that. It's quite a change from the PC. Somethings are very similar to my iPhone so that is nice. Other things are quite frustrating like finding my files and re-wiring my brain to understand how the MAC stores things like my files. It is magically fast with editing on Lightroom and Photoshop. 

17 January 2021

Grandpa Lynn's Funeral and a new Deacon

I am trying to figure out how to attach photos to my blog now that I have a new computer. Change can be hard to deal with after years of doing my blog a certain way! In the end my new computer does not support the rather easy photo program I used for blogging. Maybe it's time for a change. One answer could be to just skip the blog and make my family books. I don't know. I missed last week so remembering that will be a challenge! 

School is going. It was hard to get back into the saddle after Christmas break. We managed with a light first week back of school work. We will have state testing come March this year, the kids can practice the tests until end of February. I signed up Phillip and Everett for the ELA test. Everett finished his test in about 30 minutes. Phillip whined for an hour, would not even try to read the first sentence of the test. That was particularly frustrating. I then switched his assignment to work on a 5 question math quiz. Same behavior. He missed lunch and was facing a weekend of boredom over a stupid quiz. He gives up before even trying. After he actually looked at the quiz and read the questions, he realized it was super easy and finished in 5 minutes. I am concerned he will refuse to take the state tests! This week I contacted the student success team to revise his 504 plan before the deadline in January. I am hoping we can get some extra accommodations especially for testing (extra time, text to voice, multiplication tables, etc). Phillip has got to face the fact that sometimes learning and work include repetition and doing things that fall outside of "fun." These situations are stressful for us all because his behavior (and my responding behavior) affect our home aura. I wish he could test in a facility, but COVID...but COVID. Everett had a fun science experiment testing how useful our thumbs are. The experiment had him wear gloves then tape down his thumbs and try to open bananas, twist jar lids, pour pitchers, pick up marbles, etc. It looked so fun the other kids soon lost their thumbs! They raced around on the hoverboards acting like raptors. Everett is also learning about the fur trade in Idaho. He and I played a fun Trader and Indian game, we each had cards with trade items rated on a point system. I won, my barter skills are superb. I was "Ninja Mother" the Nez Perce Indian. Everett was Everett the Fur Trader. After Christmas break I expected Evelyn's reading skills to be much worse. She stepped up to the plate and is reading like a champ. We even started reading a chapter book together. I guess when your front teeth come in your reading skills improve?! Ha ha. Amelia experienced some headaches this week with lots of tests at the end of first semester. She got through her tests without much of a problem. This week she had to create a portfolio showing what was learned and answer a bunch of questions about each course. That was fine just time consuming. Things got dicey on Wednesday when she found out that part of her math grade was based on taking math tests in CTC Math. She did all the course work but had to go back and take a certain test (not the ones she took during the semester of course). We stressed over taking 12 math tests in a day. She did really, really well until the linear equations. Those had me stumped as well. I understood the mechanics but the answers were not matching up. Dusty came over and clarified the problems in less that 5 minutes after we stressed over the equations for an hour. Felt good to submit that test. Bam. 

Everett decided he wanted to make bread. I was not in the mood to assist him. He was not taking no for an answer...he basically made bread all by himself. The bread was super tasty! Way to be assertive, Everett. Everett and Phillip are learning to play a new game called "Here to Slay." The game is a bit complicated. I have a hard time keeping the rules and following the gist of the game. So we fight. The game is best played with fighting gloves on and shouting. Phillip made the game extra fun this week, he learned how to make guardian cards online! He made me a power card that said, "if you lose, you sever mom for a hole week." Ummmm, that sounds uncomfortable. I helped him spell the words correctly. Guess I get slaves when I win. 

My Grandpa Lynn's funeral was on Saturday the 9th of January in Heber, UT. We joined via Zoom to watch the proceedings. My mom carried dad around on her phone via zoom! He was far away in Saudi Arabia. My dad even delivered the Eulogy via zoom to those present in Heber and remotely. Oddly, we could hear Dad the best. It was very difficult to hear Laura and Scott. The best part was the graveside service. Johnny Miner, Grandpa's great-nephew, played the bag pipes. Grandpa was laid to rest with a lovely military tribute, flag folding, gun salute, and taps. James, Seth, and Jacob all served as pall bearers. My mom sang a lovely Welch lullaby. I felt my heart stir knowing we would meet again with perfect health and as an eternal family. I've included Lynn's obituary:

Lynn Terry Lance was born April 23, 1932, a resident of Gilroy, CA, passed on December 28, 2020. Lynn was born in Salt Lake City, Utah son of Lynn Eldore and Hilda Terry Lance, he met and married Amelia Jean Crook from Fallon, Nevada. After graduating from the University of Utah, he was inducted into the US Army during the Korean War. He served in Verdun, France and Fort Ord, CA. While at Fort Ord they became familiar with the Gilroy area. In 1956, the young couple moved to Gilroy with their two young boys to begin his 32 year career as a teacher for Gilroy Unified School District. He taught thousands of students in Gilroy. He was always interested in how they were doing and never stopped caring about them. Lynn was president of the Gilroy Teachers Association and participated in many school activities over the years. He also served as Bishop of the Gilroy Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and helped build the chapel on the corner of Miller and First Street.

He is survived by his wife of 67 years. Jean and children Lane (Debra) Lance, Scott Lance, Laura (Matt) Pettit, Jonathan (Jan) Lance, Carol Wilson, Shawn (Sandi) Lance, and Sally (Jeff) Herbert. He is also survived by 27 grandchildren and more than 50 great grandchildren.

Last weekend felt quite stressful. I had a moment to un-decorate Christmas, the mess is terrific! I do enjoy the challenge of redecorating the walls. I made a couple small changes to our walls, even set up a seasonal table to Evelyn's delight. I went thrifting on Saturday to shed some stress and find Valentine's decorations for my table. Justin and the boys stepped up before dinner and put all the boxes away. We then cleaned up the main level. Everything looked fabulous all cleaned up. I finally found the calendar I purchased in November...I put it away so it would not get bent. It was in the closet I searched about 6 times...only hung up between several winter coats. Gah! Amelia spent the afternoon with Jocelyn for her birthday. 

Phillip had a stellar Sunday! He was set apart and sustained in sacrament meeting as a new Deacon. He received the Aaronic priesthood right after second (half) hour. We've got a squeakin' Deacon. This Sunday he passed the sacrament for the first time and did a wonderful job. I had to update his wardrobe with a new white shirt, shoes, ties, and a belt. He keeps growing! Justin and I delivered a stellar lecture last week after the testing fiasco about doing hard things. Grandpa Lane would approve. It was ward conference last week. We unexpectedly got a new Bishop. We are praying for the retired Bishop and our new Bishop. The Palmers let us come over and snuggle Tilly's 6 new puppies. The puppies are so, so cute. Almost makes me want a puppy, except I don't want one. Just to snuggle. Phillip also achieved a personal record by making it 7 days without a shower. He was an oily, smelly mess. Gross boys. 

Most of the kids spent some Christmas money this week. Everett found a Gatling nerf gun; so many darts, so many games this week. He can be found shooting inanimate objects of all sizes and kinds. Evelyn finally spotted a doll-sized vanity she's wanted since her birthday. Josie got two figurines of Jojo Swia. I found the dolls buried in kinetic sand the next day. Amelia convinced me to take her to Costco in search of an XXL squishmallow. She scored a cute cheetah now named Chai, Chai Bubble T. The teen is happy. The teen now wants a bar on her bed so can make a bed nest with all her animals. Phillip still has his $20.   

Our country is going cuckoo. President Trump spoke in a rally near the Capitol Building. Soon after the building was "raided" in an effort to change the electoral college votes going on. Now Trump is being impeached only weeks before Inauguration Day. Essentially, Trump is being hailed a terrorist for inciting a riot; Biden is taking over (triple yikes), and patriotism is hailed only if you agree with those in power. In my mind we are at the point where Laconeous and his people retreat into their city and endure a 7 year famine of food and war against the Gadianton robbers. If you express your opinion be ready for folks to crucify you digitally. So instead we are quietly making sure our water storage is up to par, went from 70 gallons of water to 420 in just two days. I bought some used food grade barrels from a local store. Two of the barrels smell like almond extract, that water could be used for bathing. The vinegar smelling barrels are for sanitation and bum washing. The new barrels are for drinking water. My dad said his barrels smell like diet coke....he won the lottery. Hold on kids! The ride will get even more bumpy and strange. 

Yesterday I was able to photograph a baby girl. Her mom found me through her friend whose baby I photographed 6 weeks ago. This baby was gorgeous with curly blonde hair. Sara helped me with a Home Depot trip to buy two new "fake" floors using sheets of paneling. The sheets are so much easier than the loose wood I have. Now to figure out how to edit and use my computer for photos. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. Justin and I went to Cabela's in search of stuff to buy with his store points for our preparedness. We walked out with life jackets, a wound care kit, pepper spray, and an emergency blanket. You never know when you might need to kayak to Zion. 

Well, I'm off to snuggle the cutest baby koala. Her name is Josie. She is darling and loves to snuggle. This koala doesn't eat leaves...she eats marshmallows and chips ahoy. 

06 January 2021

New Years in Utah


Monday the 28th was a very memorable day, it was the day our family lost our dear (Great) Grandpa Lynn to old age and complications. I was feeling stir crazy so planned a trip up to go sledding since there was snow up in the mountains. We left around 10 for Idaho City. It was almost lunch time when we arrived. The kids were of course HOONGRY so we found a mom and pop cafe for sandwiches and fries. We busted out our snow clothes and sleds for a fun afternoon at Steamboat Gulch. The snow was nearly ice by Monday. I had friends go on Friday with lovely soft snow. We got beat up sledding down the hill. Our newest sled broke the first run down the hill! Everett cracked it in half after slamming off and down an icy bump. The icy conditions made for swift and bone jarring rides! Did that stop us? Nope! Well, it did stop me, my back/hips are giving me grief again so I became the photographic documenter. Josie and Everett spent the most time sledding, up and down dozens upon dozens of times. The gulch was packed with lots of other families enjoying the cheap fun. Amelia won an award for bruising her shoulder on the van's bumper...1/8 mile past the hilly area. Justin took a couple runs down the hill with the little girls. Evelyn did not enjoy herself very much, she was a party pooper. Amelia stuck to the sledding even though she walked away limping and stayed sore for a couple days. Everett hurt himself towards the end, he looked like an overturned turtle. We left shortly after Phillip ran into a group of adults. They were standing right in the way of the fastest hill. One of the adults was badly injured, dislocated knee? While the poor lady was down other adults fended off 10 other kids who slid down the same path. Why did it have to be Phillip? Poor kid was traumatized. I was traumatized listening to the lady scream in pain when loaded on a sled to move further away from the hill. An ambulance passed us on the drive home, so many prayers for that poor lady.  

During our sledding adventure I got an email at 12:11 from mom saying Grandpa was in the Emergency Room with severe pain from a flare up of Diverticulitis (personally I think the incorrect name was relayed since that doesn't really end a person's life). Surgery was not a viable option so Grandpa was given 24-48 more hours of life, however by 2:30 pm Grandpa had passed away. He was surrounded by Jean, Scott, Laura, Jonathon, Sally, and Shawn when he passed away. My Dad sent an email later in the evening that just made me sob. I cannot even imagine being alone in Riyadh, wanting to be home more than anything. He recounted the miracles accompanying Grandpa's passing like most of the siblings present, the fact that Grandpa was lucid and knew what was happening, a miracle the Grandparents made it to Robinwood circle, that they had a month in Utah to be with family, a miracle because everyone was worn out caring for him. I am relieved he is now free from his dementia, physical pains, and confusion. He had a lovely welcome in the spirit world. I'm not much of a crier but goodness I cried off and all the rest of the day. I enjoyed an ugly cry the last quarter of our trip home from sledding. I cried the next day when my dad cried over FaceTime. We all cried during our nightly devotional remembering the great man Lynn Terry Lance was and the legacy he left us. His funeral will be next week in Heber. It is a small affair with a viewing and family meeting at the Probst Funeral home in Heber. A small dedication and service at graveside before interment. Just like most of these strange times things are vastly different, we are discouraged from attending since the crowd limit is 50. All proceedings will be broadcast via Zoom. If I only had stocks invested in Zoom! I'd be rich. 

Nampa had a lovely stretch of frozen fog and snow that iced and decorated all the trees and bushes! I convinced Josie to brave the snow for Narnia photos with me. We just finished reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, so the snow and scenery perked my creative juices. I found a spot near the railroad straight out of frozen fairy land! Josie was thrilled to earn a juice box and chocolate for her efforts. Evelyn's top front teeth are finally growing in after a 3 year absence. She is very excited one broke through her gums. The other tooth is about a week or so from growing through her gums. She might lose her ability to lick her left nostril. The hoverboard gang is in constant motion! The kids started forming chains! Several items have been knocked to the floor over the last week. Rose kindly sent the kids two enormous XXL squishmallows for Christmas, a Minnie for the girls and Chewbacca for the boys. 

Tuesday we washed clothes and packed up for a very short Utah trip. We left early Wednesday morning in order to attend the temple with Mason at 3:30 pm. Oh how we love the shorter drive! It only took us 5.5 hours to Bountiful. We visited for an hour with the James family and Muir family. Reagan and Emma entertained us all by using a tens unit to test their shock limitations. Hilarious. Justin and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary in the Bountiful Temple around the same time we were married there! That was quite fun and memorable. It is such a rare treat these days to attend the temple, thanks to Mason for serving a mission and taking out endowments. Thank you especially for the invitation! The changes made to the endowment are in line with all the new COVID restrictions, nothing fancy. Justin made sure we sat on the same sofa in the Celestial Room where we decided it was a good idea to get married. We left Charity and Kenny with our kids...for the night. Yee Haw! Justin and I wasted an hour picking a place to eat, only to find out it had an hour wait. We settled on movie tickets to watch Wonder Woman 1985 for 8 pm. That seriously limited dinner options, in fact we settled on theater nachos and popcorn for dinner! Rock on Calls! Justin booked a room at the same Anniversary Inn, a newly wed couple checked in right in front of us...talk about a blast from the past. We almost invited them to look at photos of our kids and take a tour of our mini van, decided that could discourage them from having kids. LOL. Justin surprised me for the 3rd time in one year! Whoa! Nice! He purchased me an iMac laptop! My current computer is dying already after only a year. I could get used to surprises. 

We picked up delicious doughnuts for breakfast on our way to Charity's home, those two dozen doughnuts never had a fair chance. We visited for a couple hours before packing up and heading south. Our first stop was at Grandma Debbie's home. Uncle Scott was visiting Grandma Jean, he showed us a painting he completed of Grandpa that everyone loved. I asked Grandma if I could take a photo of my kids with her, she complied. Josie was quite reticent to stand near someone so old. Grandma Jean muttered, "well, it's not like I'm scary" then growled quite suddenly and loudly! Josie was freaked out while the rest of are still laughing. My Grandma Jean is a very smart and feisty lady, I enjoyed seeing the lady from 20 years ago for a moment. The boys were able to look through Grandpa Lynn's knife and watch collection. My boys were in awe over the cool knives Grandpa collected. Josie loved the toy dog Grandpa Lane gave Grandpa for comfort. Grandma Jean let us check out her special collection of pop-up books and knick-knacks. I got to choose a pop-up book to take home, a jeweled photo of Great-Grandma, and a set of caroling books. I was so pleased! Next stop was a short visit with Jana, Hannah, and Rachel. Rachel loves to talk about us but the reality is a bit louder than she is comfortable with. Soon Phillip was carrying her about at her whim. So cute. Justin was afraid we would leave a smudge behind. We spent a relatively quiet New Year's Eve with the Lances. Courtenay's kiddos were sick so we couldn't play much with them. James and Miekka had a large spread of finger foods for dinner. We watched numerous episodes of Gravity Falls. My tribe was exhausted after a poor night of sleep. At Charity's house I heard that Everett's elbow, Phillip's snoring, Evelyn falling off the couch, and such made for a restless night. We went to bed by 10 pm with a bunch of crabby kids. Mia and Lia hibernated in Lia's girl cave in the basement, they slept on a bed of squishmallows! Friday Jana came over for the day. We spent another low-key day embroidering, playing outside in the snow (with cousins), and snacking. Evelyn gave Rachel some tips to up her dress-up game. She looked quite the vision with her nerf gun glasses, hat, purse, and rubber chicken. Josie wanted to go back home after she ate with the ducky spoon, took a bath with the Princess toys, and played with Sesie and Bee-Bop. She was quite worried about Minnie Mouse being all alone. 

Saturday we headed back home around 10 am. We stopped to kiss the Grandma's before completing our journey. Our van reeks of Greek Gyros now, thanks to a delicious lunch. It still smells sketchy 4 days later. We listened off and on to Dragon Watch 1, the continuing Fable Haven series. I'm happy to report no barf accompanied us home! Mia was hired to babysit right when we returned home, she had enough time to shower and help unpack her stuff from the van. 

Sunday church started bright and early at 9 am with our entire congregation! Yay! The kids attended 30 minutes of Primary after sacrament. We heard that YM/YW was changed to Tuesday nights, seriously blindsided everyone. Most folks scheduled other activities (choir, sports) on other days of the week, mutual was reserved for Wednesday. The YW leaders switched activities between Tuesday and Wednesday about 8 times, I cancelled Amelia choir and reinstated her to choir 7 times! Make up your minds!!!! I felt over the top frustrated. This morning activities were changed back to Wednesday, making 9 changes in the dates over the span of a week. At 4 pm Phillip, Justin and I attended a Temple Prep and Priesthood meeting for the new YM and YW entering the program this year. Phillip was also interviewed for his limited temple recommend and priesthood interview. So exciting. He will be ordained on the 10th of January. Justin taught part of the class speaking about the Priesthood. It is so nice to attend church in person. Attending the temple was a rare priviledge, I renewed part of my temple recommend after church, still need to meet with a member of the Stake Presidency. 

**Lately Evelyn started drawing pictures of me wearing a fancy dress, lots of curves and daring necklines! I love her creativity.