Wednesday, April 19, 2017

There's so much going on, and I almost don't care about my classes anymore. I just want to be done. These are the last two weeks and with finals it's a bad time to not care!  I don't want to lose all the work I've put into the classes, but Pat doesn't have time to tutor me anymore, and we're feeling a lot of stress. Even though we feel fine, we can tell this new calling is taking it's toll because we stay up late and wake up way too early each morning unable to turn off our brains. There's just so much to think about. I don't know most of what he's thinking about, but I'm thinking about how to support him.
A bishop should look like a bishop, so I went through this guys closet and threw out all the white shirts that had turned yellow/grey and also threw out all his ugly stained ties.  We took him shopping to get new shoes, LOTS of new white shirts, and a couple new ties.  Then we got his 2 suits dry cleaned (not that that worked- they did a bad job and I got my money back).

Then he bought a phone.  For the first time, he has his own cell phone.  We knew there would be confidential things and other leaders with whom he'd need to communicate.  All of this cost around $400 dollars.  I teased that he should submit his receipts for a refund.  Then, yesterday we got a completely random check in the mail for almost $400 from refinancing our house a while back.  We weren't expecting it at all, and are so grateful for that timely blessing!

Speaking of house, we've had a builder and drafter come out and try to help us add on to our house.  We really want to do foster care, but are already very full here.  Howard McCall gave us the best price he could, I'm sure of it, but it was still too much money.  About $70, 000 for an additional bathroom and two bedrooms.  Now I feel kind of trapped.  We didn't feel it right to go into that much debt to have the ability to foster/adopt, but my heart also hurts to not be able to do it.

My wonderful sister Stephanie and brother T really helped us out this Easter.  We've been so busy that Easter baskets haven't been a priority.  She, however, sent us a care package from their trip to Hawaii, FULL of neat things for the kids.  I asked her if I could save it to use for Easter baskets and she said yes.  It saved us!  All we had to do was add some candy and the baskets were done!  They wanted to wear their new stuff to school and church they loved it so much!  We finally watched the Moana movie to go with it!

It was a wonderful Sacrament meeting today at church.  I got roped into singing last minute with the choir, but it was a song I knew, so it worked out okay.  But all the rest of the program and speakers were wonderful, and the BEST part of all was when the primary children sang Gethsemane.  There are no words for how beautiful and impactful it was.  I have written about that song before, so that's all I'll say about that.  Sister M, the music leader asked if we would help arrange the kids up on the stand, and I said yes! because I wanted to sit unseen behind them and sing.  Theresa then teased me about being the only adult standing in the back singing.  I love her for making that hilarious picture in my head. 

Pat's new counselors spoke today and they're both great.  One said, while giving his background story, that after his mission, his wife was "lucky enough to land me, the perfect trophy husband".  (That might come off bad if some did it, but from him it's hilarious).  Her reaction was so cute too.  They both love their wives and they really brought the spirit.

We are so thankful for our good friends here.  We were able to have a new family, the M's over for dinner and games.  We played an easy card game Wacky 6.  It was nice to get to know them (we love them!) before the bishop thing.  The stake presidency counseled us that some would see us differently and I'm kind of sad/scared about that.  Will people not want to talk to me as much?  Already I scrutinize what I wear when I go out a bit more and how I behave.

We had such a fun game night at the Tuck's house.  The Treys, Sheps, and Hass were there and everyone is so funny to me; the last time we were discussing days to get together, Pat said, "We're having an introvert party, and your all NOT invited".  That really made me laugh.  We are so sad the S's are leaving.  They know everything, and know how to do everything, and do it with the Spirit and pure hearts.  We wish them well in D.C.

Last, I'm thankful for these great kids.  When Pat was called, they immediately lost their two family vacations this year because of it.  So it's their Spring break and instead of being on the beach in California like we'd promised, they're sitting around the house.  I had to ask Dal to watch them while I went to my class.  They all got in swim clothes and made mud, and had a blast squishing in it.  I came home and found them like this.

Oh, and at our last family night, we played kickball, and Pat and I were dying laughing (on the inside) at how uncoordinated our girl is.  She's like Bella or the girl in Princess Diaries who throws the baseball right into the P.E. teachers head standing next to her.  Pat and I are both pretty good at sports, so I am floored that someone could be so uncoordinated.  Charlie can run circles around her.  When we found out she would be tall, I thought I'd steer her toward volleyball or basketball.  But perhaps I should steer her toward track, martial arts, or dance.  Or knitting.  She hopefully can't hurt herself knitting.  Man... she has overcome a lot of difficulties she was born with though, so maybe she'll get better.  Who knows!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

On Saturday night, we told our kids that their dad was going to be the bishop the next day.  This morning as we were getting ready for church, Leia said, "Well, today's the big day!".  Impressed that she remembered I asked her what was happening today.  She replied, "Sister Ettin is finally coming back to primary!" (her teacher who broke her ankle).  I just love this girl.  Are we not all fellow servants?

Everyone has been so kind.  P. Manning came to me and in great delight gave his approval, followed by the phrase, "My condolences.  I'm sorry for your loss." This was probably the most appropriate reaction (from someone who knows). 

After church we went to Pat's office to say goodbye.  All the kids yelled "Daddy!" and gave Pat goodbye hugs; but Charlie just yelled, "Hey Bishop dude!".  (We are bewildered as to where he would get that).

We told Pat's parents they didn't need to come, but they did, and Charlie and Pat spent a good deal of time arguing about whether or not he even had parents.  Pat tried to explain that Grandma and Grandpa were his parents, but Charlie said, "You don't have parents!  You're a dad!!!"

So we got to enjoy spending time with the Grandparents, and Kathryne and had a lot of fun.  Grandpa likes to walk A LOT now, and so it was fun to go walking with them (even though D would ride next to us ringing his bell).  Dallas got made fun of by me for having a dorky bell on his bike. I just love Dallas, because instead of getting offended he started talking to his bell saying, "It's okay.  Don't listen to her."  Man he cracks me up.  He made pretty hilarious vlogs of his time with Kathryne too. 

I wonder if Pat was chosen to be bishop because of our wonderful kids and not because of us at all.  They have helped us so much this week (and they always do), and they didn't even know why we needed the extra help.  I am just so incredibly thankful for them. 

Pat and I cannot hold a candle to the former bishop, but the confidence of the Stake presidency meant so much to me today, along with the support from our ward.  Former Bishop Nuckols said there would be an intense pouring out of the Spirit in our home to help us and protect us.  The Shepherds expressed their love and support and I could tell that they felt both sad, and 100lbs lighter at the same time. 

When I told our neighbor and good friend Warren about it, he wondered why we would be willing to do something that required so much extra service without any pay.  I said it was a privilege to serve God.  I never know what to say in situations like these.  That seemed like too simple an answer, but it is hard to quickly sum up.  It is choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong, like Jesus Christ did for us.  It is why we're willing to take His name upon us, keep His commandments and always remember Him; because he loved us first! *smile*

When you stand with God, you never stand alone.  I choose to stand with Abraham, with Nephi, and Moroni.  With Abinadi who testified in flames.  With Alma, with President Monson.  With those not of our faith who have the light of Christ.  I am so thankful for my husband.  Even in the midst of overwhelming schedules, we've made time for each other and been happier in our marriage than ever before recently.  This, I know, would never have come without us both loving and serving God more than we love ourselves.

Now a funny from Leia: She's been learning about liquids, solids, and gases, and she knows the air around us is a gas.  Her little friend Heidi came over to play, and as they were swinging together Leia kept asking Heidi, "Do you feel the gas?!?"
I'm sure Heidi hadn't any idea what she was talking about.

Dallas and I practicing our mad faces.

Charlie totally came out of his shell and was his normal (fairly normal), talkative, loving, crazy self.  What a surprise!
Leia said this poem at family night. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Studying for a stats test....  on possibly the busiest week of my life.  Update* I got a 100% on this test plus extra credit.  I. Can. Not. Believe. It. 

My brain food kale salad.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Grandma came to visit our Family Night on Monday.  Okay, maybe not a real grandma, but Evan has perfected the character of "Grandma".  He does it at school and last night was the first time I saw it in force.  I laughed my head off.  He has no teeth.  Falls over.  Says words like whippersnapper, and "I'll switch you!"  He really was the most hilarious thing.  Grandma even played Duck, Duck, Goose with us.  Hilarity ensued.  I love that kid.

Something about family night makes Charles absolutely crazy too.  He dances around like a maniac. 

Evan has several friends at school.  One boy, who is a year older than Evan, plays a game with him, where they are not allowed to say Hi, but they can wave, or something like that.  Maybe they can't even wave.  But they try to make eachother break whenever they see each other.  Cracks me up. 

Evan wanted to go down to Albuquerque to do the Home Depot project, so we went and made these cute bunny boxes.  Then for some reason Evan began to be really grumpy and moped around the house for hours no matter what we did.  We were like, "We did the thing you wanted to do today so be happy!"  Then I forced all the boys to have haircuts.  He has the thickest, darkest hair out of all my kids, with the most curl too, and it had gotten quite long and poofy.  Once that hair was gone and he showered, he was like a new man; so happy.  I joked with him that his hair must have been weighing him down.  Making him grumpy.  I don't know why, but it was so funny to me. 

I love simple beans and rice!

These cats have hardly caused a ripple since being adopted into our home.  Occasionally they throw up, or claw my leather furniture which I hate.  But they are patient with Leia and Charles who LOVE them, and they love to curl up with the bigger boys, and have brought a lot of happiness into our home.  Sam especially.  Martha is on the left and George on the right.  Charlie now calls them Mardue and Cecil.  I have no idea why. 

Biology lab class.  I can't wait until schools over in about 3-4 more weeks. 

A boy we knew ever since we were in the homeschool group years ago, receiving his Eagle.  It was really neat.  These big productions scare me though.  I don't want to have to do that for all my boys. 

I love asparagus.  With fresh garlic.  And lemon.
Sam had to work on a project for school with a group of kids.  I guess they needed to text each other, so he gave them my cell phone number!  My phone dinged more in one night than I think it ever has.  I asked him what I should do if his friends started asking me out on dates, or to take them rollerskating, or just wouldn't leave me alone.  He was exasperated with my joking.  "Mom!  I'm going to delete that conversation!", he said. 

Dallas, always one to take initiative, cleaned out our garage for us and has been fixing up bikes for the warm weather.  (Though we just had a couple of huge snowstorms.  In April!!!).  He is wonderful.  Without telling us, he arranged to play a song in sacrament meeting a couple weeks ago, and did beautifully.  I'll have to record him and have Pat put it on here soon.  It was absolutely gorgeous. 
Sadly, I just quit my guitar lessons.  No time.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Where I go a little crazy...

A daddy daughter date to a wedding reception.  I had the flu, and had to miss it, even though it was for a dear girl who I knew since she was just a bit older than Leia here.  Time flies!

I'm going to have mostly grey hair by the end of this semester.  My heart hurts for how many people have dropped out of my Biology class.  I'm all too familiar with that hopeless, I'll-never-understand-this feeling.  We're down to less than half the class!  I'm sure some signed up for it frivolously and dropped it easily, but some NEEDED it.  And what must that do to someone's self esteem when you can't even understand what you need to?  I've had a coworker kill himself because he was not able to get anywhere in life and I know that so many feel like giving up because they feel like they'll never be good enough.  I wouldn't even be passing some of my classes without my live-in tutor Pat.  He's so wonderful and annoying.  I'll study something for a week, then he'll read it over in 10 minutes and explain everything I'm confused about like he's the professor himself.  I don't know how he does it.  I'm so glad I have him, and so annoyed by him at the same time!

Anyway, now that you know that I care way to much about random people, I do have to say that I'm quite pleased with the students who are left.  I'm twice their age, and we study group together and help each other and I think they are really neat!

But as I said, the flu (and probably stress) knocked me out for about three days, during which time I reread all the Twilight books and watched all the movies.  If anyone thinks less of me for that, I don't care. There is rarely a night I'm not up late doing homework, and I haven't had a date in months or any relax time ever.  Every weekend seems to be full of obligations and I was seriously going bonkers.  I hadn't done the Twilight Saga since they came out years ago and not being able to stomach anything that was on T.V. (or Netflicks) as I lay in bed with the flu, I decided to reread them.  The books are a combination of my favorite things: love, humor, friendship, and fantasy.  I'm a lot like Bella so it just makes sense to me.  The movies aren't near as funny as the books but I still love them.  Going by the books, I'm sort of a Jacob fan, but going by the movies, I'm team Robert Pattinson because he's so nice on the eyes. Kristen Stewart is too.  Most actresses that I'm told are supposed to be pretty just aren't to me, but she is beautiful; as far as looks go.  Sometimes we all just need an escape from reality and to feel like a silly girl again, and it did more for me emotionally that I can say.  I would laugh, and then bawl my eyes out back and forth as the stress left my body.  The music in the movies is really pretty.

When I was finally well enough, and Pat made me get back to the grind of Stats homework again.  I quickly felt the peace leaving me and the dread of stats (and all my other obligations) soaking in, so I asked him if we could listen to Bella's Lullaby while we worked.  Robert Pattinson plays it in the movie as he's a good musician, and it was like an immediate shot of some sort of happy drug.  The tears rolled down my cheeks as the music washed over me again making the unbearable bearable. And yes, I was fully aware that I might be crazy.

I made sure keep reading my daily scriptures and daily prayers, and I felt like God knew I needed that mental break.  I cried a lot while I was sick for seemingly no reason.  Even reading scriptures to my kids.  When Alma tells his son Helaman about his conversion, it's just so beautiful, I couldn't stop.  (I'd say I was pregnant if I didn't know better).

Last night the kids had their auction fundraiser for money for scout camps and such.  We auctioned two home cooked meals from a menu where the buyer could circle their choices.  (Cause I've got plenty of time for that, ha ha.)  I've been making meals for people in need, giving gifts for so many who are having babies and getting married right now, and when I have 10 minutes between studying and leaving for class, I call my visiting teachees to make the most of my time.  But I also know that the mental energy it takes to do everything is not sustainable (as evidenced by me being short with other people who try to add to my already full plate).  I happily say no to extra things no matter how desperate someone is for participation.  If there aren't people in the church to do it, then it needs to be scaled back or rethought, rather than forcing people to run faster than they have strength.

A couple of funny things:  Leia's been telling me how next year when she's 8 she'll be in scouts.  I keep telling her no, girls don't do scouts, but she doesn't seem to get it.  She reminded me the other day that I need to get her a scout shirt before she turns 8.  She's so funny.  She does get to do activities with the primary girls ages 8-11 though, so she'll have plenty of fun stuff to do, just no uniform.  I guess I could have her join girl scouts, but I'm not too keen on that idea.

Dallas came home using a new word: pulchritudinous.  Even though it looks (and sounds) like it would describe a disease or a bad attitude, pulchritudinous actually describes a person of breathtaking,  I wonder if he'll find a situation to use it.

The school had a real-live George Washington impersonator come and visit every single class.  All four of my kids were enamored with him.  He had real hair, period clothing, fit the stature, talked correctly for the time, and they could ask him anything and he knew the answers.  These kids know their stuff at the school, so that is quite impressive.  They all had neat things to say about him!

And over the weekend the boys added to my emotional tears by playing beautiful songs of their own.  Dallas has a gorgeous arrangement of If You Could Hie to Kolob, and Yiruma's River Flows in You which is actually the first song I imagined Edward playing to Bella.  Evan has a gorgeous Russian one, and Sam has some beautiful ones too.  So proud of them.

Dallas had one last thing to do to wrap up his Eagle and it was to serve in the community.  He kept asking me to take him to the Salvation Army thrift store.  We had talked to them once, but never had a free weekend for months afterwards.  So suddenly one Saturday I told him to get his uniform on and we were going down there first thing.  It worked out perfectly.  They kept him all day and he cleaned and organized that whole store, and got his 8 hours of service done!

Charlie is really troubled going to bed without me these days.  He always says stay with me, sing songs, and I love you mama. He is so sweet and loving to me.  He'll just listen, but if I stop a song, he'll prompt me with the words.  I've been playing him some of my guitar songs too.  Once I start singing, he'll go right to sleep.

Today Charlie and Pat surprised me by showing up at the college when I got out of my class.  We played at the park across the street and Charlie had so much fun with his dad.  They did crazy stuff and told me about their trip to the library and lunch together before that.  Pat is a REALLY good dad.  At the library he said he and Charlie did a 100-piece Dinosaur puzzle, and a really hard 72 piece memory game.  I was just so happy to see them after my class!  I sure am blessed.

Sam did a disability awareness fair at the church for scouts and ran a dodgeball game. It went really well!  He's so funny now.  I can tell he's growing up.  He was sitting next to me as I drove him to school one day, and I was reminding him of something, and he just patted his hand on my shoulder like, "Mom, I know you mean well, but I've got this", as he reassured me.  It was such a grown up thing to do, it cracked me up.  My kids always impress me and they make me laugh with their great sense of humor.  I wish I could capture all the funny things they do.

 She's been to the nurse more than all her brother's combined.  My poor uncoordinated girl.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

I ran into D's piano teacher at our school, and she said she's glad he's being asked to play in church.  I remembered that he has started playing in the men's meeting (priesthood) before all the men separate into their own classes.  She's not a member of our church, so I'm really grateful that she's willing to help Dallas learn the hymns.

I'm really enjoying being in the primary presidency.  I enjoy being with kids and teaching.  I love both the tiny, cute, shy kids, and the bigger, funny, tired-of-primary kids.  I'm so glad I get to see Evan, Leia, and Charlie in there.  At the beginning of January, Charlie wouldn't do a thing but hide next to me.  Now he sits with his class, does the actions to the songs, goes up when they call on him, and I get to see it all!  (We smile a lot at each other too.)

I had fun teaching a lesson about Noah's ark, and passed out pairs of animals to the kids, which they then used to find their match and come up into the ark.  Last Sunday I got to teach about Abraham, choosing God, and had several people come in and share about good choices their ancestors made that have affected them.  I loved hearing those stories and really tried to pick the people who shared by inspiration.  They all did a wonderful job.

Most of all, I love the songs the children sing.  We have a fantastic music leader who is both fun and tender with the kids.  They are learning Gethsemane right now to sing for Easter, and the words bring tears to my eyes every time. Jenny Phillips is the author and composer, and her work is always powerfully inspired. I know I'm not the only adult in primary crying when I hear the children sing these words:

Jesus climbed the hill
To the garden still
His steps were heavy and slow
Love and a prayer
Took Him there
To the place only He could go

Jesus loves me
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane

He felt all that was sad, wicked or bad
All the pain we would ever know
While His friends were asleep
He fought to keep
His promise made long ago

Jesus loves me
So He went willingly
To Gethsemane

The hardest thing that ever was done
The greatest pain that ever was known
The biggest battle that ever was won
This was done by Jesus
The fight was won by Jesus

Jesus loves me
So He gave His gift to me
In Gethsemane

Jesus loves me
So He gives His gift to me
From Gethsemane

Here's a beautiful video that can make you feel what I get to experience seeing the little girls and boys sing this song.

I tell my own kids who love super heroes that God is the most powerful, and Jesus the greatest hero we will ever know.  I truly believe the hardest thing that ever was done, the greatest pain that ever was known, the biggest battle that ever was won, THIS WAS DONE BY JESUS!  The fight was won by Jesus!  He saved us all.  He felt all that we experience and He understands what we're going through.  It is sweet to think, that along with the bad and sad that he had to experience in Gethsemane, that I know he probably saw all the children singing songs like this to Him too; that He got to see all of us who love Him. It must have helped. 

Our dearest girl started violin lessons (again)!!!  We hope it will work out better this time, though the timing was not my choice. What can I do?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Charter Renewed and Talent Show!

Michael Jackson celebration moves

We are so glad the PEC reversed their decision and renewed our school charter.  The whole thing was ridiculous and cost us another year of being able to build our new facility (and cost in many other ways too).  There were no clear allegations against us of any wrongdoing, and our governing council was practically ambushed in a meeting and not given the opportunity to even respond to the arbitrary and ambiguous statements.  The legal battle will continue because they only gave us three years instead of five they should have, but at least we know we'll have a school next year.  I go back and forth between home school and the charter school as I feel is right or necessary each year, and I can't say how glad I am to have this wonderful school choice for my kids.

I can't believe that next year I will have a high schooler.  I toured the other options for high school up here where we live, and making that choice will be difficult for Dallas.  One has way more funding, and therefore way more activities (hobbies, music, sports, clubs, etc).  Our school has hardly a thing, so the high school age kids tend to leave for greener pastures which is understandable.  I certainly wish there were more teachers, and more of those options.  But along with the greener pastures, you sometimes get all the kids that don't want to be there, who aren't interested in learning, are into bad things, and you are just one of many.  I love the family feel of our school.  When I showed my 1st grader this picture of our seniors (this years graduating class), she knew several of them by name because they help with her P.E.!

We also watched the seniors do a Charlie Brown skit at the talent show, and they were so funny and comfortable together.  The teachers did a really funny skit too! (several of the teachers at the school are from our church).

During a talent show break, they played, "Celebrate good times!" by Cool and the Gang to celebrate our recharter.  All of us in the audience at the PAC just danced and danced and a few students even got up on stage and danced their hearts out.  It was so fun!  These are indeed good times. 

Here's a picture of the whole school.  Small and sweet out here in New Mexico.

And here's the wonderful job the boys did on their talent show performance.  (Leia did a cute song with her first grade class too, which you probably can't hear).  We have so much talent, and I was so impressed by some of the performances.  I could have had all my kids do piano and stuff, but I knew that would be boring, so just Sam played Phantom of the Opera on the piano, and the three together did their Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson) dance.  It was certainly one of the best.  It was was definitely my favorite!!! (though I told them not to sign up anymore.  I don't have time for this!)

Dallas, Sam, and Evan Dancing to Smooth Criminal:

 Sam's Piano Piece - Phantom of the Opera:

Leia's first grade class song (she's on the far right):
This kid is the king of throwing fits and being contrary.  One day Pat wanted to go out and swing with him and it was really cold, so we put his coat on.  He kept ripping it off.  So we put it on backward and buttoned it up the back so he couldn't take it off.  That was hilarious.  And it allowed us to capture his pout face.  Now before you go feeling sorry for his cute self, let me just tell you that we went to Costco today and he refused to go to the bathroom when Pat took him.  So we left the store and then in the car he said NOW he had to go.  Back into Costco we trekked, and he sang, "I made you go back in the store."  Don't let the shyness fool you.  He's sharp.  He's also a punk. 

I found this book I used to have at the thrift store!!!  I loved it when I was little.  I remember always wishing for the yummy food inside. 
Pat's mom, Brenda, always does a family calendar each year.  Here's the pictures of our family that were in it.  I like this first one because we didn't have it and it was of them with their Texas cousins on a hike we took here in NM.

I just can't get over how much Leia has grown.  This picture below just makes me smile. (Which is more than we can say for Charlie).
Leia made us laugh the other day as she told on a boy in her class who talks to much.  She said, "And I didn't want to invite him to my birthday party, because he makes everyone laugh!"
Pat said, "Well then he would probably be really fun at your party."
She replied, "No Dad, I don't want to be changing my pants every 5 minutes!"

I miss that girl so much, and though she's doing superb socially and academically, she still has many days when she cries to please "just stay with you".  That kills me.  I might homeschool her next year again since it will be the last year Charlie is home, and my last chance to be with them full-time before going into nursing school (if I go).  They grow up so fast, so my schooling is secondary to them.  But the current plan is for them to all be in school at some point and for me to be doing nursing.  But we'll see...

For some years now Dallas will grab any vegetable scraps he sees in the garbage and take them out to the chickens.  I think that's so neat.  I always want to save them for that or composting, but I always forget.  He's been caring for people's animals in our ward and for a teacher at school and is so responsible and dependable.  He's always making me laugh and I just think he's awesome.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Leia is 7 ! Charles is 4!

Last minute I decided to throw a party for Leia.  She hasn't had one with friends in years, and I knew next year would probably be just family since she's turning 8.  So we had a party for 7!!!  If I had to sum up Leia, it would be clumsy, excited, dramatic (especially in fights with her brothers), and sweet.  I wish you could hear her talk.  Her primary teacher broke her ankle badly and hasn't been to church for months.  Leia uses big language with her tiny voice and was so cute talking about Sister Ettin's "damaged foot".  Her tiny voice reminds you she's only a first grader, but her language cracks us up; like she's much older. 

I was thinking of what games to play and such to keep the kids entertained.  Then I just decided to rent a bouncy-house-thing from someone down the street.  I don't know why that came to mind, but it was so perfect!  Especially in my super-busy life right now.  It was $150, which is a lot, but they set it up, took it down, and other than that, we only bought ice-cream cones for all the kids, and it wasn't so bad.  I figured it would count for Charlie's birthday too.  Plus, the kids all got to play on it like crazy and loved it so much!  I wondered if they'd get bored, but not at all.  They just kept going in a circle; up and down, up and down.  I'm sure they were totally worn out after the party!  There were some side games like freeze tag and Dallas throwing kids down the slide if they wanted it. 

I told all the parents "No Gifts", but she got some anyway, and they were the neatest things!
This beautiful dress, for example, came from her friend Isaac, whose mom is the most talented seamstress I've ever known.  She whipped this out quick that morning, because she "didn't feel like going to Walmart".  It is so cute!!!  We love it! 

Friends from church, dance, and school.

The kids loved the swingset too!

Just our family.  We had the bouncy slide for four hours (though it ended up being 5) so our kids got to play before and after the party.  (It was just a 2 hour party).

I love that Leia's hair is getting so long that I can do cute things with it!
These were the dolls her friend K made (with his mother) for her!

Since Leia's in first grade, I made these cookie flowers for her class.  On their way out at the end of the day, they got to walk by this flower box and pick a flower!  I told them to not eat them until they asked their parents if it was okay.  The cookies were baked with sticks in them and then wrapped and stuck into that green foam for flower arrangements, and topped with a moss/grass looking cover which you can't see.  It was so fun!

Then we had cake and blew out the candles just with our family at night.  Aunt Stephanie sent a box of the cutest girly things!  It made ME so excited!  I'll have to get a better picture closer up, but this is a darling lady-bug dress, and an adorable locket, with cute bracelets and bows to go with it!  She loves it!  And we love Aunt Stephanie!!!

And we have a four year old!  I have so much to say about Charlie, but my time is limited, so for now... Happy Birthday Charlie!!!   He did a good job blowing out his candles.
Leia gave him a princess of hers as a gift.  He was visibly disappointed and said, "Awww."  Then as he opened his next present, we heard him say under his breath, "I hope it's not a girl present."  He is so funny!
We didn't find anything for him we liked, so he just got a couple little things from his siblings.  And his favorite: these super heros from his friend P, whose mother made the princess ones for Leia!  These cute super heros crack me up!  The curl for Superman is to die for :)

 I love how I woke up in the morning and Evan and Leia had decorated for Charlie's birthday by putting up those streamers and balloons and making this special placemat and chair for him.

Had a fun day at the Biopark on his birthday, but Pat couldn't come :(. We are so dang busy, there was not other time, so we just had to go.

Funny note: Charlie's brothers are about to dance in the talent show and Charlie has learned the dance pretty good himself.  Too bad he's not in it!  He's the cutest of all, and a surprisingly good dancer!  But he had his first prayer in primary yesterday, and although he says prayers really well at home, he wouldn't do it in primary, so I doubt he'd ever dance in front of people.  When my friend Theresa called him up to say the prayer, she said he walked up like he was going to his death; like someone had asked him to walk the plank.  His face can be so funny.  But he is slowly coming out of his shyness and that's hilarious too, when he does something crazy and unexpected.

Then a package came from Aunt Stephanie, Uncle T, and June!!!  She's aware that we hope to see the Lego Batman movie sometime and got him this really cool Lego Batman costume!  He wears it all the time.  Best ever!!!