Thursday, November 26, 2015


On this Thanksgiving day, I am reminded how thankful I am for my wonderful husband and my truly amazing kids.  I don't get all gushy all over facebook about them, but I sometimes watch them in perfect awe and gratitude.

Charles the Conquerer!
I am really hating school right now, but only because it's stupid :)  So eloquent, aren't I?  I am going for a nursing degree, but heaven forbid I do that without learning about the Byzantine empire first, or how to use the MLA style of formatting a paper.  Mostly, I can't stand how I have to sit, sit, sit.  There's always a million things to write and before I know it, I've spent half the day sitting in the same spot writing a stupid essay about how Christian saints compare with Greek and Roman Gods.  Bleh.  At least I have studied everything we're learning in home school before.  I love learning and we have books galore here at home, but rarely does school inspire me.  It seems to suck the life out of learning. You have to have an exceptional teacher for it to feel worthwhile, or wait to get to those classes you're more interested in.  Colleges are great for some things, but I have just as much respect for the blacksmith, the policeman, the businessperson, the person who can build a house, or fix a car even if they never went to college.  But I am thankful that I have the opportunity to do it, even if I sometimes hate it.  Many people don't have that as a possibility at all.  I hope I can do with it what God wants. At the beginning of our school year, we watched that movie on Netflicks called On the way to School, or something like that.  It was about school kids all over the world and the great sacrifices they make to go to school and the great difficulty of even getting there.  It was fascinating.

Had our first snow a couple weeks ago.

It gets dark so early now, and I've been getting really cranky because I don't get to walk outside with Pat anymore!

Happy Turkey Day!
Anyway, long rant long, I wrote this to pay tribute to my wonderful husband, who loves that I am doing school and helps me every step of the way.  I know for a fact I couldn't do it without him.  I don't have the patience for all the nonsense and he talks me down and tells me how proud he is of me.  He helps me with the computer, and doesn't get discouraged when I do.  Sometimes my days are so long and then to have to sit and do more...  He is just full of patience with me.

Enough pies?

New topic:
Since we were one of the few families staying home for Thanksgiving in our ward, we ended up watching several pets for people.  One home of a friend who moved has a renter who left for 9 days with the owner's dog locked in the house.  No food, no exit.  The owners found out, called us, and by the time we got there the dog had peed and pooped all over.  You almost can't pay me enough to clean up messes like that, and we were just doing a favor anyway, so I wasn't going to clean it up.  I called the owners in Utah and said we were bringing the dog to our house since he was ruining theirs.  They thanked us and said not to worry about the mess; they would get it cleaned.  The next day when we went over to feed the turtle, I noticed Dallas had cleaning supplies with him.  I told him we weren't cleaning the carpet.  He said, "I want to.  No one wants to come home to a stinky, messy, house.  It's the right thing to do."   He cleaned it up on his own.  I still have flashbacks of cleaning up dog mess while pregnant so I stayed away.  He did this for people we don't even know, or will never see again.

 Charlie's cards we made at the library.

Dallas also made a friend when we went to the retirement/assisted living center this week to volunteer.  Sam and Evan ran a BINGO game, and we all played BINGO for a while with the residents, but then Dallas wandered off and made friends with several people in their rooms.  Phillip was his favorite.  A well known professor in his time with a room full of books he had written who likes to play chess and also killed Hitler.  We're pretty sure the last one isn't true, though he repeated it many times.  This is a perfect match for Dallas, who plays chess (or used to), and checks out a stack of books from the library at least half his height weekly.  They'll have lots to talk about.

He thinks he owns my bed.
Sam and Evan have been doing so well in piano that I am having a hard time thinking of putting them back in school next year.  Decisions, decisions.  School makes us too busy for piano since everything here is a long drive and there just isn't time after school.  Since school started, Sam has gone through two sets of books, or two levels, and Evan has gone through three!  So as soon as Sam finishes a song, it seems Evan has it.  They really are twins!  Sam is doing well in math and we are impressed that even though he is two years younger than Dallas, he is only one year behind him in math.

Leia's card
Pat has just started doing math with Leia too, and that girl never ceases to surprise me.  I have been teaching her to read and she is doing wonderful!  I thought it would take much longer with her, but once she got it, she got it.  That is really A LOT to be thankful for.  I love being the one to teach my kids how to read.  She is always reading books now and puzzling out the words on her own.  Today, Thanksgiving day, she decided she'd had enough of not knowing how to tie her shoes, so she kept practicing and finally got it too!  She woke up super early today, before anyone else, and went straight to the kitchen, put away all the clean dishes, set the table nicely (her favorite thing to do right now), swept and cleaned the entryway, got dressed, did her hair, and just did all sorts of good stuff without even being asked to at all!  She has already made gifts for her friends and can't wait until Christmas to give them out.

Organizing the drawers.
Sam has some issues but last week he proved to me, yet again, what a very caring person he is. 

We should have just had this turkey for dinner.

He was grumpy, but we all read scriptures and Pat had everyone do "Popcorn", where you read as much as you want and then say someone's name and they have to read starting from that point.  Every time someone picked Sam he'd read two words and give it back right away.  It got really funny though because he'd go, "And now, I say unto you EVAN...", or "...It came to DALLAS..", or "he killed DAD".  We were all laughing a lot.  When we were done I had a weird dizzy spell, and it didn't go away quickly (like when you stand up), so Pat walked me to the bed and I knelt down on the floor and leaned on the bed waiting for it to pass.  It lasted about 20 minutes and that whole time, Sam scratched my back without a word.  He really is such a neat and interesting person.  He has a lot of challenges and a lot of blessings.  Perhaps we all do.

Pat and the boys wrestling.

Evan is just the sweetest most non-complaining person there ever was, and he is best friend to Sam.  Those two are always together and really do act like twins.  He's a great friend to Leia too as are all her brothers.  They always pretend she's super powerful and fight with her in such a way that any slight push or punch sends them flying.  She comes at them screaming like a banshee and within seconds she knocks them all down like bowling pins yelling, "Super Sister Punch!"

Yesterday morning, I had Zumba dancing for workout group with my friends and since so many were going to be out of town, Julie said we should bring our kids.  It was a wonderful idea.  There were about 5 moms there and the gym was full of kids- mostly teenagers and then my smaller ones.  My boys didn't really want to do it, but they did and I think they really enjoyed it.  All the teenagers were maintaining a calm, cool, and collected approach to the Zumba dancing, while Dallas danced around like a wild lunatic (if you could call it dancing).  It was really quite embarrassing if it hadn't been so funny.  It was so fun, because he didn't care how he looked.  He made a name for himself, by exerting more energy than anyone ever has during a workout.  I had to keep him confined to one space as he was crowding other people unawares.  My goodness, he has a youth dance next week.  Saints preserve us...

Other Thanksgiving weekend fun... we went to the Nuclear Museum thanks to a library program that lets you check out a free family pass.  We also cleaned out the chimney, ate way too much, caught up on school work, watched movies, and played games.  Oh, and Evan has a fever of over 103 degrees, poor guy.  Maybe he's getting the sickness Sam had last week.  It involved throw up.  I try to forget.

New York City puzzle.  Dal and Dad trying to get through math.
 The boys on the roof "helping" Pat clean the chimney. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Old Pictures

Found a few old pictures I thought should be scanned and saved.

One month after we were married, Pat and I went to the ward Valentine's Day party.  (Feb 2001) When Pat saw this picture, he very kindly said, "You look sooo.... much better now than you did then." 

Although, after he saw these highschool photos of me, he said, Why didn't we meet when you were in highschool?  Ha.  These were taken by my eclectic friend Persephonie. 

And this is our second baby Dallas, (but the first we got to keep with us).

We've been going through all our stuff and trying to get rid of as much as we can, so I may still find more pictures.  It's so refreshing to give tons of things to the thrift store.  We had a wonderful Stake Conference last Sunday- so many things to talk about.  But one thing that stood out was to get rid of stuff.  More stuff means more time taking care of it, paying it off, insuring it, worrying about it, protecting it, etc.  There is so much in the world that is Good, but what is Better?  And what is Best.  (Elder Oaks talk: Good, Better, Best).  Time to re-center.  In so many ways.

Feeling like Fall

Frustrating week.  My van needed an oil change that cost almost $80 because it takes a special synthetic oil (we found out), and Pat's car just got $1600 of work done for random sensors and other weird stuff, and still needs the brakes worked on.  It is literally always something, isn't it?

But on the brighter side, I just made my first pie for the fall time of year, and I got to exercise and dance with my friends, and Chantelle stopped by (and got her job back), and we had Posole with the Haslers, and got to see the Bushmans who came back for a visit.  Now some pictures from our week:

Somebody being silly. 

Elements Weapons Dallas makes to have wars at home.  Starting at the top row, left to right, Shield, Earth, Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Everything, (2nd Row): Lightning, Metal, Ice, Fire.  Leia usually gets the Water Trident, and she uses it whenever Dallas is getting a drink.  Being the good brother he is, Dallas obliges by pouring his cup of water over his head so she thinks her Water Trident really works.  It's pretty hilarious.  I love his creativity. 

Scout demonstration at the church.  Just thought it was neat since I'm in scouts now.

The day Charles found my lipstick.  He was so proud.

These pictures of my two fruit trees didn't turn out, but we've had lots of deer in our yard and they've eaten the leaves so there's only a cap of leaves left at the tops of the trees.  One morning Dallas was out feeding the chickens and out of the corner of his eye he saw a deer really close to him start to bound away.  Scared him to death.

Our chickens are molting and losing lots of feathers right when the weather is starting to go below zero!

Dallas' favorite blanket from Grandma.

We made candles and it was pretty fun.  They didn't turn out all smooth and nice, but they work!

Then Evan made awards for everyone.  Below is Charles, since he dipped his wick in only once.  They were all funny.  Leia's was for best carrot candle, mine was best candle helper.  I think he gets this from scouts where they all get awards after they race cars or boats.  
It made me smile.  Leia felt really proud of her award.  Here's her candle.
Here they are before they got so fat.

Charles and the storm trooper, who we named "Steve".
Leia got a really nice card from Beth.  With stickers! She was smiling so hard, I had to make her look more calm so her smile just turned out weird.
Had to take a picture of Leia's growing hair.  I can do more and more with it, and it's interesting because the top hair is straight, while the under hair is spiral-y.  I love her curls!  She'll probably grow out of them like I did. 
More homeschool reading.  Borrowed these from a friend.

Dallas hand-sewed this scripture bag for Leia.  It is made out of square of fabric from my Grandma.  How cool is that!?
You can't see it, but he even sewed on a blue beaded "L" on the front.  Now if I can get him to sew his own patches on his scout shirt!  (and his brothers).

Leia and her baby she named "Rosalina".  This was on our trip.  She was often concerned about Rosalina who got very upset at times. 

Evan got his cast off the day before we left for California.  He took the wrappings he used and gave Charles two broken arms.  But mostly I posted this 'cause Charlie's face cracks me up.
I keep telling Pat to post about Sam getting his Arrow of Light, and about several campouts he's been on with the boys.  They just went this weekend again. He always puts it off.  I just wish everyone could see the neat people these kids are and all that they accomplish.  Right now, the three oldest are playing Christmas music in their piano lessons and it knocks my socks off!  They are growing up so fast.  We always want to move to a bigger house, or add on, but Dallas will be 13 in a couple weeks and it makes me realize they are going to be moving out probably before I can blink. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Halloween California Trip

I wish, like I always wish, that I had taken pictures of all our family in California.  I always forget.  So this is mostly pictures of my guys.

Conversation at dinner table today:

Karisa: Evan, I'm going to be your new cub scout leader. (my new calling)
Evan: Yay!
Karisa: But I'm not doing boy scout stuff, 'cause I'm a girl, so we're going to do girl scout stuff.  We're going to sell girl scout cookies, and make pretty hats, and...(on and on like this).
Evan: Do you have any girl scout cookies?
Me: No!  I don't want to eat girl scouts!
Evan: I would.
Dallas: Yeah, 'cause they're hot.
Me: WHAT!! 
Evan: Yeah, the girl scouts wear lots of sweaters and coats and then they make them into cookies.
Me: I don't think that's the hot Dallas was talking about.  I think he was saying they look nice.
Dallas: Both
Me: Okay, Dallas.  Which girls look nice to you?  Which girls are hot?
Dallas: All of them.
Me: That's the right thing to say!
Dallas: Except one.
Me: Which one!?
Dallas: Leia.  She's an ugly old troll.
Leia: ( growling and beating up Dallas with a dishtowel) I am not a troll!  I am beautiful!!!
Dallas: See, you sound like a troll.
Leia: (screeching at the top of her lungs while laughing) I am BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!

We all had a good laugh.

 At 'In and Out'.  I feel like we stopped at a hundred bathrooms along the way.  This was one Pat didn't mind stopping at at all.  He loves In & Out.
There were some pretty fun moments on our drive too.  Like when I was explaining something very animatedly and loudly to Pat in Spanish, and as soon as I said the last word, Dallas added, "Mijo!"

When "Lights" from Journey came on and we all had a sing-a-long at the top of our lungs.

When we played Mother May I outside the In-and-Out.

When Charles was watching a show on the iPad and we asked, "Charles, are you watching My Little Pony?", "No", he replied, "I'm watching Leia's little pony." 

Evan on our trip to California:
When we stopped for a sandwich at Togo's, they asked Evan which veggies he wanted on his sandwich.  He remained silent.  I said, "What do you want?  Like tomatoes, lettuce, ..."
He replied, as the lady waited impatiently, "A tomato is a fruit."

Another time, as we were driving we asked if anyone else had any pieces of bagel left for Leia.  Everyone said no except for Evan who said, "I have one piece, but it's slobbery and a bit chewed up.  It's in my mouth.  You can have it if you want it."  He says all this funny stuff with a dead straight face and I don't know why, but it just cracks me up.

So, as you can see, we just got back from a trip to see family in California.  We thought it would be fun to go for Halloween this year just to be different.  Plus then we wouldn't have to do two Thanksgiving dinners and all the stress it brings everyone who has to cook them; especially for Kim who has to work black Friday.  But we missed her anyway as she was away on business.  When we were in the car after church today Leia said, "I really want to see Aunt Kim again."  And I hardly saw Stephanie at all, but I knew that since she had T's family in town, I wouldn't see her much and since she couldn't take off work.  They made us a great dinner though and I got to talk with T's mom who has come to help them with June.

Another reason we came at the end of October was we thought it would be memorable to go trick-or-treating with cousins, and for my kids, it was their first real trick-or-treating (going door to door) experience.  I hope they'll have good memories of it.  It's too cold here and the houses too far apart, so my kids have only ever known the trunk-or-treat.  The neighborhoods near Jeremy's house (in the 40's) were like a movie; block parties, decorations, haunted houses, homemade cotton candy, and kids everywhere.  It was great fun!

Even just as Pat and I drove around during the daytime on Halloween (in quest of good pizza) people were just walking the streets of downtown and midtown in costume, which I loved.  And everywhere we went I could say, "I used to work there!", "I used to work there!", "I used to work there!", and "I used to work there!"  (I visited clients in all the law offices downtown, worked at the capital, worked at two Baskin Robbins downtown, and one Carl's Jr., worked at Attorney's Diversified Services and Sutter Hospital, and tramped around Old Town, Mid Town and Downtown with Ruby and other friends all the time.)  I am always so happy to see my home.  I love visiting the land of a million trees, palm trees, plants, flowers, shrubs, and perfectly manicured everything.

T's family visiting (see little June?), and mine and Jeremy's kids but missing Emme and Eila :(  Daisy is Anna, Evan the skeleton, Charles Batman, Sam Mad scientist, Dallas Old man).  My kids quit way too early.  Some earlier than others.  I could have gone forever.  I loved it!
The kids got lots of candy, of course, and it was great to eat throughout our trip, and on the three day drive home.  The weather was better for traveling in October too, though we did see snow on the way home and it froze early at our house so we had to ask our neighbor Mike to go into our garage and set up the heater and turn it on so the pipes wouldn't freeze.  I felt so bad asking him to do this!  We're so glad to have great neighbors.

I was most proud that the kids worked to help pay for this trip.  A friend invited us up to her house on the mountain to pick piñon nuts.  We dug around on the ground for hours and then sold them $20 a bag in town.  We made $160 and she made about the same.  We also made lots of treats to hand out for free, but I should have known, most people were too scared to take food from strangers.  So we sent all the homemade cookies and cupcakes to the final soccer games to share with everyone there.

Selling piñons:

 Sam jumping with his sign.

I love stuff like this.  If I could think of enough ideas to make a living I would be out on the streets like Burt most of the time (from Mary Poppins). 
"I does what I likes, and I likes what I do."

We got to go to the Wood Park with Grandma Mullen where we all ran around and chased each other like crazy and got to play with Taylor.  We also went to Jeremy's favorite park by the big open market under the freewary, and McKinley park, and the train museum with Grandma Stanger.  We love parks!

We also explored Old Town Sacramento and met some really nice artists that showed the kids everything in their shop and talked about how each thing was made.  We tried to go to Fairy Tale Town, but like always, they were closed.  Then we ended up going on our last day before we left town because it was too cold to visit the sequoias like we had planned.  It made me happy.  I remember that place from when I was young so it's really nice to take my kids there.  It's a tradition.  At least while I have small ones. *smile*

Daisy and Elle were super friends. 

We had a big Sunday dinner and got to see all of Pat's family that were within a 3 hour radius of Sactown, and Beth and her boyfriend even flew in from Idaho. Brian and Steven were there, along with Char and kids, Priscilla and Elizabeth, Megan and family, etc.  The kids took pictures with Grandparents which we'll hopefully see soon. Grandpa made his famous caramel, caramel apples, turtles, ice-cream, lasagna, and so much more!  We stole a lot to bring home. Shhh!!!  Dallas really enjoyed playing games until late at night with everyone, and Sam and Evan played mostly by themselves together.  Like always.

Pat sporting the Star Wars figure from Steph and T.  "Aren't you a little short for a storm trooper?"

Uncle Jared was really funny with Charles and Leia, but the funniest thing was when Aunt Amanda (Pat's sister) caught Leia staring at her.  I stole this picture from her facebook as this is how Amanda looked minus the unicorn horn.  So when Amanda saw Leia staring at her she said, "I'm a mermaid, does that answer your question?", to which Leia replied, "Yes!", and ran off.  We all laughed and laughed. 

Anyway, so now we're home with huge piles of laundry, trying to fill the fridge with food again, and get back into our routine.  Five days of driving for 5 1/2 days of play.  We love it, but I don't think we'll do it again for a couple years.  If people want (and I hope they want) to get to know our kids, they are better in their own environment.  So come to New Mexico!  (I know, it's not easy for anyone!)  We appreciate the great amount of work it is to host us too.  Thanks to Pat & Brenda and Jeremy for making space for us, and to all who cooked for us, and cleaned up after us.  We are seven people, so that is no small undertaking.  The kids loved playing with their cousins so much and I wish they could see them all the time.  We even drove by Tracy and Livermore on the way home to think about moving there.
I can do my own hair, Mom. 

Arriving at hotel room.
Life. Is. Overwhelming.  And traveling is hard.  Charles was teething so bad (and still is) that I'm taking him in tomorrow in case he as a cavity or something else wrong.  And unfortunately some of us got sick during our visit, which happens EVERY TIME WITHOUT FAIL when the whole family travels to California.  I get really tired of explaining why kids aren't feeling well (or me!).  It is exhausting.  It is just difficult to fathom what it takes to make a visit like this, getting the house ready, the chickens, the clothing, the car, the time off work, the money, etc.  This first day of driving my former surgery was giving me terrible grief for sitting for 12 hours.  Yes, we drove 12 hours that first day.  And we had soccer, scouts, piano, school, and work right up to the day we left.  The week we left, we even had the radon guy drilling into our foundation, and the plumber out twice to fix broken pipes, and Leia to the doctor with an infected toe, right before we left, Evan got his cast off so his arm was hurting him on the trip.
Doctor stuck a needle under the nail and squeezed the puss out and Leia didn't even cry.  Doctor said she was the bravest girl she ever saw.  She does not get this from her mother.
All this made packing and cleaning the house no small feat, and during the whole trip I had to do my schoolwork each night and listen to lectures while we drove.  I would always forget at night when we'd finally get to a hotel and I just wanted to relax, Pat would say, "You've got to do your schoolwork".

One hotel gave Charles a bottle of baby shampoo and a cow when we asked for a crib.  We stayed at the same one on the way home and this time they gave him a pig!  He was so excited, and talked so much about them. He felt really special because he was the only one who got them.

I am so proud and amazed by Charles though, who only had one potty training accident on that whole drive.  Sometimes he had to pee into a bottle in the car, but he did it!  I know it seems like I'm complaining, but I really am just appreciating the good and bad.  I remember them all and want to remember them all.  Someday when I'm ninety, I'll probably go whoa!  I can't believe we did all that!

And as we drove through the desert, I heard an OLD country song called "I Love".  I'm thinking of making it Charles' official song.  I thought it was so cute and sweet.  Kinda fun to sing too.  Here are the lyrics:

I love little baby ducks
Old pick-up trucks
Slow-moving trains and rain
I love, little country streams
Sleep without dreams
Sunday school in may and hay
And I love you too
I love, leaves in the wind
Pictures of my friends
Birds of the world and squirrels
I love coffee in a cup
Little fuzzy pups
Old TV shows and snow
And I love you too
I love honest open smiles
Kisses from a child
Tomatoes on a vine and onions
I love winners when they cry
I love losers when they try
Music when it's good and life
And I, love you too