Sunday, August 21, 2016

First Day of School!  Dallas 8th, Sam 7th, Evan 5th, Leia 1st grade!

Kids lined up for the pledge. You'll only be able to find Leia if you're her mother.
I have been working on a post about our last school year, to sum it all up.  In my head anyway.  But I haven't had hardly any time to do much.  I've been trying to get the last Summer stuff done, and planning out my year for Cub Scouts and doing lots of activities with my Bears, and going to round tables and completing hours of training for the scout work I've been called to.  At the end of each training, they always say, "And remember, keep it fun, keep it simple!"  I wish they'd take their own advice!

Dallas has had fun riding bikes all over our town with his friend Larry and his brother.

Dallas is making the final preparations for his Eagle project in less than two weeks.  He will be making some repairs at historic Beatty's Cabin in the Pecos Wilderness.  I can't say how blessed I've felt recently with those at church and in the community around us who have offered to help.  I really am shocked.  It is a 2 hour drive to get there, and after the 2 hour drive, a 7 mile hike!  So if you leave early, it will take half a day just to get there!  Dallas hoped for 10 volunteers to come, but it looks like he'll have even more.  I didn't think he'd get 1 frankly.  I knew some people would want to help, but not be able to because they are doing it on a Thursday & Friday so people have to take off work and school  Yet still, friends from church are coming, and Mike our neighbor and Jason, a coworker of Pat's.  It's incredible!  I'm just floored that these people are all willing to help.  Even some boys from another ward!  

Sam was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood today.  I kind of panicked when I heard his name called by the bishop.  I forgot they were going to do that.  Then I enjoyed seeing his smiling face as he stood up there to be sustained. It is an honor too great to say to hold the priesthood.  The priesthood is the power of God, and it can change the course of history.  Abraham of ancient times, left his father's idol worship and chose the priesthood, the wisdom of the fathers, passed down from Adam through all the faithful.  That decision changed the whole course of history, as the Lord watched over his chosen people the Israelites.  They weren't better than any other people, they simply chose Him and made covenants with him.  “The door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives.” –Thomas S. Monson

Sam had a fun 12th birthday that was very easy for me.  I thought I would plan a swim party for him and a few friends.  But the next day at church, the bishopric announced a ward swim party, on, of all days, Sam's birthday!!!  Party planned!  He got to swim with his friends, and I didn't have to do a thing!  We had a great time.  Here are some pictures of his family party.  He has just finished reading all the Harry Potter books over the Summer, and watching all the movies.  So of course, he had a Harry Potter Birthday.

He wore this shirt to school and tons of people told him how much they liked it, even the teachers!

 The above cake was supposed to be Hagrid's cake that he made for Harry in the first book; you know covered in pinkish frosting and green messy lettering saying, "Happy Birthday Harry", until I realized I am out of food coloring except purple.  So I did green candles, and set a pink washcloth out.  J/k.  That was there.  But it was a fantastically delicious chocolate cake all the same, with pudding in the middle! 

I've been watching a baby occasionally who is only 6 weeks old and her mother has severe PPD.  Not sure what will happen to this baby, but I wish I could adopt her.  Except that that would just prolong the stress of raising kids, right?  Ha.

Middle-age (having turned 40 this year) has been both happy and depressing.  Closing previous chapters, like having babies, breaks my heart and makes me sigh with relief at the same time. That chapter is probably closed, but who knows. Opening new ones, like going back to school are slightly exciting.  I love just being a mom and can find endless things to learn and do at home, but it'd be nice to have a degree to fall back on if I ever need/want it.  Some friends are thriving in their families and having  time for their interests, but I've been sad for all the divorce and heartache that has surrounded me for the past two years.  There really does seem to be some middle-age-crisis or something.  A friend of mine said, "Wait 'till your 60.  All my mom's friends are divorced or living parallel lives in separate wings of the same house."  Life is hard.  It's better with the Lord, but we can't choose that for our spouses, or control their actions, nor can they control ours.  And we all have our issues.  But the Lord can make weak things strong.  I rely on that.

We have had stormy days every day for the past weeks.  Pat and I go walking 2 miles most days, and the storms seem to sense when we are out walking.  Yesterday we returned home through near-hurricane-force winds and pelting ice-rain.  Moments before it was a bright sunny day.  New Mexico if famous for doing all the seasons in one day; with gusto!  But man, it's gorgeous where I live.  I absolutely love the views I get to see, and everything has been so green lately.

Oh, and I've been cooking up a storm to have healthy food for lunches and meals ready.  The next two months are going to be incredibly busy.  The Fall is always the craziest time for us.

I only took pictures of these butter, cinnamon, tortilla roll-ups

and these vegetable, cream cheese, cheese wraps (put whatever vegetables, olives, etc., you want in the cream cheese, with shredded cheddar cheese.  Mix and spread on a tortilla and roll up).  I used a lot of Thrive freeze-dried veggies for this and the kids didn't like it so much.  I made them the next day with just strips of fresh cucumber and carrot rolled up in the cream cheese tortilla and they seemed to like that better.  It reminded me of sushi!  Wraps are nice.  Add chicken, avocado, southwest sauce, bbq sauce, whatever!

But I also made Bean Burritos with corn, Meat pockets (that are half lentils), Hard Boiled Eggs at the ready, Chicken strips with ranch and bbq dip, and lots and lots of popcorn and granola bars to fill them up.  Here's an easy good roll recipe for anything.

I also made some taco meat for dinners, beet burgers for me for lunches, and I still need to make some of my tortillas, and some other types of pockets.  Maybe a ham and cheese with apple, or chicken and cheese with bbq sauce, or pizza pockets.  Hmmm...

I put this sign on the fridge so when they pack their lunches in the mornings they can be reminded of what's possible.  They're not whole food plant based like I am trying to be, but they are not pre-packedged processed food kids either.  They won't be that until the Spring.*wink*

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Wedding to Remember

Pat's sister Beth married her long time boyfriend Casey and we drove out for a few days to be there with the family for all the festivities. It was wonderful!  Doesn't she make the most lovely bride?! They were married in the Sacramento Temple and it was such a touching and well done ceremony.  So.Well. Done. It was such a joy to be there! Casey and Beth have hilarious group of friends and both come from really terrific families, so we all had a blast celebrating with them.  Everything just went so well! We are so happy for them.

The mothers
 All our kiddos hung out at the church adjacent to the temple, and then joined up for the pictures afterward.  I worked so hard to find clothes that would work with her colors, but in the end, we had to use some school clothes so the boys looked at least decent.  This picture is missing Brian and Steven, and Eric who is in Russia.
 There was a luncheon after the temple put on by Casey's family.  Great food, real cute decorations, and toasts from the friends and family.  Then the preparations for the reception that night began.  We tried to help out, but I don't know how Mom and Dad didn't keel over from exhaustion!

And speaking from keeling over with exhaustion, I am never doing that drive again!!!  I know I say that every time, but I mean it!!!  It was awwwwfuuuul!  There were some neat meteors and some rocket that crashed back to earth (we read about it online since it was spectacular), and Dal's hilarious shadow singing puppet, but other than that...  Then for the trip home, right on cue, the kids got sick, like on every trip home.  On our last day, Dallas woke up with pink eye and an ear infection, of all things!  I don't think he's ever had either those! He wasn't able to swim and enjoy the trip as much because he had a sore throat the whole time.  But when it got really bad that last day, I had to take him to urgent care in Sacramento to get him some meds. 
On the second day driving, Sam got really sick.  On the last day (today) Evan woke up crying with a fever.  Good grief!!!  As if driving endlessly for three days wasn't bad enough!  These trips are so hard.  5 days of driving total for 4 days of visiting.  But I'm glad we left when we did since we got the plague.  Sometimes, you just want to be home.  I'm glad we enjoyed our visit so much before it all fell apart!

We listened to this whole book on audio tape.  This is an excellent book  Every kid going into fifth to seventh grade should read it.  It's about a deformed boy and his experiencing school for the first time in 5th grade (which is middle school in New York?), and how people reacted to him, teaching lessons in true kindness and success.
D's medicine on ice in the cupholder.
Charlie's hippo from the hotel!  He and Leia were great, except for the peeing.  He peed in all his clothes and most of his beds.  Leia did some of that, but mostly we just had to pull to the side of the freeway quick as lightning before she wet her pants.  We did that approximately 9476 times.
Grandma Stanger with some of her grandkids.  Can you tell who the three year olds are? 
Here's all the grandkids at our yearly traditional trip to Leatherby's.  Tradition!  Grandma muggin' in the background. We celebrated her birthday, and Emme's and Sam's!  Emme got that umbrella from us and some fairies that she loved.  Mom got a clock signed by all of us.  And Sam got Star Wars puzzles, a perfect lunchbox for school, and cash.  They all got sung to, too!
Tradition!  Faiiytale Town
Now some pictures to remember Grandma Brenda's house.  Her great-grandma below.

Tarantula skin.  Yuck!
I love this checkerboard
Her backyard
Lovely Amanda

I overheard the kids checking out this "really old phone". 

At their church on Sunday, the primary pianist was playing music I recognized from Pride and Prejudice.  So I took a picture of the piece and the book! (Thanks to him for letting me interrupt).

Charles doing Michael Jackson.
Dallas.  Sassy Since Birth.  He stole that bib from a baby.
Va'a and T playing basketball with Sam and Evan.  So awesome!
Pat talking to Eila.  Mom acting like she never was sick at all.  She is like a whole new person from when I saw her a month ago.  Seriously amazing!!!  I mean, I don't think she's going to the Olympics still, but, with her, you never know!
Now back to Beth's reception.  Watching the super cute video of her and Casey.  It was so funny.
Cutting the cake!
The location, and me!  I was so happy to see Val and Ann Lewis and get to talk to them at the reception!

I asked my nephew Isaac to take this photo of us at the temple!  I wish I could accurately describe my feelings this day.  Light and dark clear to see.  I could feel the magnitude of what Casey and Beth had accomplished; all those we couldn't see with our physical eyes who were there.  Both the ancestors, and Beth and Casey's future posterity.  How much it meant to choose to make a covenant with God, and to choose Him over other things.  The joy of all those we couldn't see was almost palpable.  There is no greater joy as the joy of putting God first, and that was crystal clear to me this day. 
I did SO good eating for the first half of this trip.  I even packed my favorite snack/meal, my tortillas!  But after a few days, they started to go bad, and I started to give in to the temptations all around me, and it all went downhill from there.  Oh, well.  At least I'm home now and can resume my normal diet of nutritious foods that I love.
It was so stinkin' hot on this trip.  All through Arizona and Southern California it was 109 degrees!  It was oppressive.  Sacramento was only around 100.  We were sweatin' it out!
 Handling the snake
 With Great-Grandma Dixie.  Isn't Isabel so beautiful?
 Playing games with everyone
 Going to parks with Grandma and Kat

I'm still waiting for Pat to load some more picture, so I'll continue this post later!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Our Summer

We thoroughly enjoyed our Summer hanging out at the pool with all the other moms and kids.  We were there for 2-4 hours everyday depending on lessons.  I adore these awesome moms and have so much fun being together.  The kids all improved, except Charles who was having none of that.  He and Leia have both tried to drown this year, and scared the....&$%  out of me.  Back to the drawing board next year with them.  Here's a text I sent to Pat about my days with Charles and swim lessons:

"I'm going to have an aneurysm today.  I'm soaking wet, Charles tried every last bit of my patience, and clawed me like I was trying to throw him off Niagara Falls.  We were a huge spectacle for all the other moms."

Luckily, I'm no new mom, and I don't get embarrassed anymore.  We all have kid troubles.

Mandy, Rachel, Tera, Adrian, Julie, Nichole, Dion, pictured with lots of kids.  Missing Misty, Cathy, Amy, Jessica, Ashlee, and others...
Pioneer picnic.  Charles wanted a bonnett, okay!?
Swim meets and water polo games.  What better way to spend the summer?!  Tons of exercise before relaxing each day.  Love it!