Monday, January 30, 2017

It's been too cold and snowy or muddy here to exercise with Pat or go walking.  I need those daily walks like I need water; but it's been weeks.  I kept us walking in the bitter cold; way past when he would have stopped.  But the mud, snow, and slush don't work.  I'm gaining weight and feeling cranky.  My new semester is super full.  I have three classes: 7 credits.  Not to mention 5 music lessons for all of us weekly, and volunteering at the school weekly, 3 callings, foster care training, ... and all the regular things you have to do to take care of a family.  It's a lot.  My kids just got selected to be in the school talent show so now I'm supposed to come up with 5 nights to come to rehearsals, get their costumes and, help them get their routine down perfectly too.  I can't.  I told them we might have to back out.  We had no idea they'd require all those rehearsals. 

We've been happy to have some friends to dinner and Pat's been able to tutor another friend.  Today my neighbor came over, rang the doorbell and marched into my house with a ladder and fixed the light problem we've had for 10 years because we've never had a tall enough ladder.  Blessings.  We are so blessed, and it's funny to feel so blessed and so stressed simultaneously.  Someday I'll miss these times, however, in hindsight I'd change some things.  Like I wouldn't have accepted one calling if I hadn't know my other calling would soon change.  Now there's nothing more to be done than to see it through.  And pray often for help. And I usually add in a few good doses of freaking out.

I thought my 1 credit lab wouldn't be a big deal, but since it's 3 hours long at the campus, it takes 5 hours for me each week just to go there and back, with a lot more work at home to do too.  But that's not the worst of it.  I sit next to kids just 1-2 years out of high school (my lab partner is a 6'1" jock) talking about how old they are, and I have to try to figure out labs without Pat next to me!  It's terrifying!  I had one Biology class and one Chemistry class in high school and they were both a joke, so no help there.

It's interesting, but stressful.  The teacher is not good at explaining and then she leaves us alone to do seven labs each week.  This one credit class is just as hard as my 3 credit ones!  At least for me, not having had any real science before. I'm learning how to use a microscope for the first time in my life, and I ask the teacher more questions than everyone else, which is embarrassing, but I want to understand.

Our girl with her crazy outfits.  She's holding a chicken egg after coming in from feeding them.  How in the world am I going to pull together a birthday party for her?  Pat and I still haven't done anything for my birthday or for our anniversary.  16 years!!!  We haven't gone away by ourselves for 6 years now.  We keep thinking of flying a grandma here to help so we can get away, but trips cost so much...
Below are pictured the most adorable dolls that my friend Teresa made for Leia.  Leia and her son are in the same class at school and enjoy playing together.  She hand painted these; incredible!
Such a cute gift for our girl.  She is almost 7 years old!

Evan asked our neighbor Warren to help him make his pinewood derby car since we have no tools.  Warren spent hours researching and learning how to make a fast car.  Evan wanted a pencil shape, so together they went to work.  Two days and 6 hours later, we had the nicest car this family has ever made by far! Unfortunately, as he won the first race, his car crashed onto the hard floor when the track ended.  It jacked up his wheels or something, and he never won a race after that; even against the same people.   I asked Pat if he wanted to try and fix it, but Pat just shrugged, not caring.  Luckily, Evan wasn't upset by it either.  I love that about my kids.  Some people went home super upset after this event about different things that transpired.  We just joked about how his pencil didn't like being raced; it just wanted to write :)  I think the best part about the pinewood derby is seeing the different car styles the boys chose.  Super fun!  This was our last one for some years until Charlie starts cubs.

Evan learned so much about tools and doing good work, as he went through all the steps to make this car and he is super proud of it.  We are so thankful to Warren for doing what we could not with our kids and helping his car to not be just a lightly sanded block of wood!
As a side note, while we were at the Pinewood Derby, D was out working for a family in our ward (who own the airport), to make money for camps.  He's on NYLT staff this year, so that's only $100 for 9 days, but he also has scout camp this year ($300), and Philmont next year ($1000), so he's trying to earn money.  So he washed airplanes and a bunch of other stuff and then Brother W. took him flying!  What a blessing he is.  I though it was funny that Dallas still came home with $20 for working.  He probably owed this Brother way more in airplane fees!  I was also glad I found out about it after it was over too, because I get terrible anxiety.  We have had someone in our ward die in a small plane crash out of our same airport just a couple years after we moved here.  He was commuting to work like he did every morning and something happened...  he was in our bishopric and one of the best people I've ever known.  His wife's now been a widow around 8 years, and she still seems so young and serves so much.  But she must get so lonely at times...

We are really glad that our Stake won the lottery to get to go to Philmont.  Two weeks of backpacking and various adventures.  Pat, Dallas, and Sam plan on going.  So we'll need $3000 dollars.  Those boys are going to have to work a lot to earn that!  I wish Evan and Charles could go too so we could get it all done in one year. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Family Visit

My brother, Eric, just got home from his mission in St. Petersburg, Russa.  It was an opportunity to go home to see my family, and all of my siblings were there.  It's not very often that all 8 of us get together any more.

For how uncomfortable this was getting all of us onto the stairs, I think the picture turned out great!
It was great getting to go to the Sacramento temple with some of my family.  I grew up going down to Oakland and have only been to the new temple a few times, but I love it each time.  Especially when I can go with family.

We got to sit around and talk.  And eat lots of good food.  And play lots of games.  You know, all the stuff we do when our family is together.

Everyone that was visiting, with spouses and kids that were in town. 
Sam got to come along and hang out with his cousin that's nearly his same age, and visit with all the aunts and uncles as well.  I just love all my brothers and sisters and was so happy to see them all.  I'm glad Eric came home and gave us the excuse to get together again.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Favorite Music

I was going through my old 2016 planner and found a list Pat and I made (on one of our very long drives to California) of our favorite musicians/bands.

Patrick: Boston, Jethro Tull, Beatles, Eagles, Styx, Talking Heads, Juanes, Cheyenne, Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, Piano Guys, Collective Soul, Journey

Karisa: Eagles, Cranberries, Mana, Pablo Herrera, Duran Duran, Toto, Laura Pausini, Simon & Garfunkel, George Strait, Lionel Richie, Kool & the Gang, Gypsy Kings, Various Latin Music artists

I also love international folk music.  I love Cara Dillon's voice for Black is the Color, She Moved through the Fair, and old English songs like Under the Greenwood Tree.

Honorable mentions (in no order):
Toni Braxton
Player, Baby Come Back
Earth, Wind, and Fire
Christina Perri
Chris Isaak, Wicked Games
Moodly Blues, In Your Wildest Dreams and The Voice
Andrea Boccelli
Maroon 5
Justin Timberlake
Selena Gomez
Michael Jackson
Beach Boys
Various 80's music
Jon Bon Jovi
Def Leopard
Mr. Tamborine Man, Bus Stop, Mama's and Papas
Mr. Bojangles
Oldies like: Cherish, Never My Love, Rock around the Clock, Sugar Sugar
Under the Boardwalk, Brown-eyed Girl, Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay,
The voices of Buble and Harry Connick Jr.

This could go on forever, but you have to have a LOT of music for a 20 hour drive!  One way.  And another 20 hours back.  I wish we lived somewhere where it was only one flight home.  Even flying is an all day thing.  Two flights to get to Sacramento :(

I just learned how to play Travelin' Soldier by the Dixie Chicks and sang it for my guitar teacher.  Music makes me happy.  I need singers in my family as well as piano, violin, flute, base, guitar, and drums.  Maybe some horns or wind instruments.  Then we'll be ready.  I don't know for what...   but we'll be ready.
A few random things.  More granola bars.  The back one has almonds, craisins, and white chocolate chips.  The front one has butterscotch chips and pumpkin seeds.  They are my two favorite granola bar recipes.  Tightening our budget means I need to make more food so Pat can take these to work too and not have to buy food during his long days.

Handsome kids.  We're always at church super early now because Dallas has to set up chairs and help with the sacrament, Sam has to put up the flag and pass the sacrament.  Here's Evan.
Charles and Sam.  One night Charles had a bad dream and came into our room crying about lava. I was so sad for him!  Except that now every night he has the lava "dream".  Usually it's before he's ever fallen asleep.  And he always needs to come into our bed of course.
Our dearest girl.

Sam in Braces

Sam has real trouble with bright lights, so trying to get this last picture of him without braces was pretty impossible.  Front view:
Side view:
Now with all his hardware:
His dad didn't even see his braces for four days because Sam usually keeps his mouth closed like this now.  We love our orthodontist.  He and his partner are returned missionaries, my age, both speak Spanish, super cool, and the main guy runs his business really efficiently.  Everyone is so professional, but they also dress up one day a week to a theme.  It is the one day a week that they schedule all the braces to be removed.  We feel so blessed to have him too because we were quoted $10,000 at the first two orthodontists we interviewed.  He is significantly less!  But yes, braces are super expensive.  It's going to hurt having two in braces at the same time.  I hope it turns out well. 
I told the doctor how I see so many people who've had braces and their teeth stick out too much nowadays.  When you look at them, all you see is teeth.  Perfectly straight teeth, but teeth!  I look at the youth and I can tell whose had braces because they're all teeth!  How are they going to kiss each other someday?  Their teeth will crash together!  I asked why that is, since all his perfect plastic models look that way too.  He said orthodontists got together and decided this was the best look for most humans (basically).  I said I didn't like it, so he's going to file down Dallas's teeth a bit and pull them back in.  I don't like the filing, but they assure me it's safe and that they do it for different reasons multiple times a day.  I was worried about having less enamel to protect from cavities, but they seemed to dismiss that as not a worry.  Okay.  It's hard being a mom, and speaking up for your kids (well, not so hard for me, but hard for some people), but I had to say something when my Dallas started to look like one of those toothy kids and not like himself anymore.  And I didn't want it to happen to Sam too!  My doctor said, some ortho's will never pull teeth, so it makes the arc flare out and the teeth super prominent, but if he feels the arc will come out too far, he'll pull teeth to bring the teeth in.  I had four teeth pulled and my teeth are straight down, maybe even angled back a titch, and I wouldn't like it any other way.  This is part of why I love this doctor though.  Some people get offended when I'm blunt, but he doesn't, and I can just joke and have a good time.  You don't find people as awesome as that very often!

Our girl

Our girl feeding the chickens on a very snowy and windy and day.  Burrrr!  She looked so cute to us out there doing her chores.

She loves bleu cheese.  Have I ever mentioned that?  She is her father in so many ways.  The other day she said something about letting the cat out of the bag.  She said she knew what that saying meant.  It meant its better to keep cats in bags than pigs. Then I lost the next 5 minutes of her reasoning that out.
This is our girl with her class doing the pledge, the patriotic song, and the poem that starts each day at the school.  The poem was cute and short this time:

Three wise men of Gotham,
They went to sea in a bowl,
If the bowl had been stronger
My poem had been longer

Leia's talk in primary: 

Agency is when we can make choices for ourselves.  After we got new kittens I used to hold and squeeze them a lot, which would make them sad and try to run away.  My mom told me not to and once I chose to stop it made the kittens start to trust me and play with me more.  

In the parable of the Good Samaritan some bad people took a man’s clothes and made him bleed.  Some people saw the hurt man and just walked by, they chose not to help him.  Then a Samaritan came.  In Luke chapter 10 it says: “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”  The Samaritan in this story made a choice to help someone that needed it.  I hope we can use our agency to choose the right.  If we do this we can see Heavenly Father again.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, January 2, 2017

K School Plans or Ideas

Just notes for me in case I lose them. As you can see, a child already spilled a drink on them :)
I made a plan for the rest of my schooling, because without a plan it certainly won't happen.  However, I am not determined to make it happen either.  I want it to happen.  The sooner the better!  But if it doesn't that's okay too.  Now that I know I cannot have any more kids, I am trying a few paths simultaneously until I feel which one is right. 

I would like a degree. It's something to keep my brain alert, to provide for us if anything ever happened to Pat, to help others, to help with missions and college tuitions that are quickly approaching.  However, I won't do anything to overly neglect my kids or rack up debt.  I don't want to miss my time with them!  For example, I want Charles to have the one-one-one time I had with his older siblings.  I am lucky that Pat is able to take care of us.  I know some mothers have no choice.  They have to work, like my mom.  When situations like that arise, I think God makes up the difference if we are faithful. Though it still bites. But as a general rule, I'd say, if you have a choice, be with your kids!!!  They need you.

I'm a curious person and I like to understand things.  I love being a mother, and have so much yet to learn about nurturing and homemaking and wife-ing.  I love to listen to radio podcasts, read books, observe people.  My callings at church constantly challenge me and stretch me.

Pat and I have also started taking foster/adoption classes.  They will probably tell us our home is too small, and it may not work out for a number of other reasons, but we would love it if it did.
Then there's the amount of things I volunteer for, or callings that I have.  Parent Advisory Council at the school, music lessons, three classes this semester, tons of kids stuff, primary presidency, trek, etc.  The state is trying to shut down our school for a variety of non-issues to mask the fact that they don't like charter schools, especially not ones that are conservative with a classic education.  It's a messy time that will require much.  I'm not sure how these things will be resolved. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Christmas morning started at the end of this post, where you can see in the pictures that it is still dark. So all of these are in reverse order. We had a great Christmas! It was extra fun to have Pat's sister Kathryne visiting.

Charlie's favorite toy was this marble set (or maybe his Bumblebee transformer). I love this set because all the kids have spent a lot of time building different tracks with it.
Dallas with his loot.  He's looking through his Lord of the Rings piano book!
Cute Kathryne!
Christmas morning mess!
D's lego Capitol building.  Over a thousand pieces.  Thought it would take a while.  He was done in an hour.  I think this is the last Lego thing we'll buy him; but he liked it!
Sam loved his Lego thing.
Evan got a transformer!
Leia's baby doll.  Quote from Leia at Christmas dinner: I see that this stuffing has a lot of different things in it.  And that's why they call it stuffing; because it has a lot of stuff in it."
 Aunt Amanda made Leia this flower crown.  Daisy got daisies!

Charlie got books!  We realized that the 'small child' books we used to have for the older kids were mostly missing or practically destroyed.  Now we have books to read at night just for him.  I had gotten into the habit of reading bigger books each night to the older kids, and was neglecting him!
Pat got lots of games for the family and loves games so much.  I hate these difficult games!  I guess we don't have to agree on everything, but it drives me crazy when he spends half a day playing just one game. 
We got a darling puzzle from my sister and did it over the Christmas break with everyone helping.  Also, more books.
Dot markers he has loved!
I loved how my kids gave each other gifts and gave gifts to Kathryne and always hugged!  Sam gave Dallas a 1st place brother ribbon and some secret gifts were given out too that we don't know where they came from.  Anonymous.

Pat got Evan several old books from a mystery kids series he used to like to read.  We got a lot of books that were out of print this year for family!
Steph is the best sister and a great Aunt!  Goody boxes!
Game from Bren'mama!  We played this with Kathryne and it is super fun!
Dallas's gift to me.  I love this mug and hung the glass "cutting board" on the wall!
Dallas's gift to Sam and Evan.  Everyone was so excited!  He also got Kathryne a massager, and Leia and Dad a huge game set.  Isn't he the best?!  I mean, he already got us all those kitchen tools!  I told him, from now on, I wanted him to focus on saving for mission and college!
More games.
More books!

It's hard to see, but Charlie is showing everyone his church shoes that came from Aunt Steph and Uncle T.  They got each of my kids beautiful, nice, new shoes.  These were not Walmart shoes people. Leia got boots, and the boys all got Nikes.  Incredible!  They all had holes in their old shoes and barely made it to Christmas break, so it was perfect timing!
Kathryne with a lotion set from her mommy!
Kathryne with her blanket from her mommy.  Brenda makes the best blankets!

Below is a picture of the Christmas kitties: George and Martha

Charlie with his light saber from Evan.  Evan also got Dallas a light saber, Leia a wand, and Sam a few things too.  Such thoughtful kids! 
 Leia reading one of our favorite books for beginning readers: Kitten in the Well (it's kind of a weird Mennonite book, but it is so interesting!)

I was excited to read the Betsy-Tacy books with this girl, and that they're in print again!  They are so creative and fun!

Here's a WONDERFUL book that is out of print, Papa Married a Mormon, but we found one for us and one for my mom.  We're reading it out loud right now.  It's one of my favorite books!
Dallas being very excited about getting socks!
Evan jeans

and Sam about a new tie.  He just got a hand-me-down suit from someone at church and looked really nice on Sunday.  I just wish I knew how to hem pants.  Actually, I wish I had a hemmer? hemmist? on hand to do it for me!
Leia with her glass tea set I found at the thrift store!  She loves it!
Stocking stuffers!

I didn't get everything in this post.  I hate taking pictures during events.  But we had a great Christmas!  I am so thankful to my mom who always sends money to help.  We all got plenty of candy, cookies, and ice-cream, etc (not that that's great- I've gained back all my weight and have felt slow and achy eating bad again).  We had thought about not having Christmas gifts and instead doing a trip to Disneyland or something, but it would still cost so much more than gifts, that we gave up on it.  Maybe we'll do a trip next time, but I think it will have to be to someplace mostly free.  It's not worth going to Disneyland unless we can spend 2-3 days there since it takes us 3-4 days to drive.  But once you pay for all those admissions, and hotels, and meals, and gas for 7 people?! Fogettaboutit.

I was glad that I got out cards and gifts to friends, neighbors, teachers, and ward family members, but always wish I could think of someone who grew up without much like I did and could really use some help with groceries at Christmas. I will always remember the person (probably from our ward at church) who doorbell dinged us and when we opened the door, we found two bags of groceries out on the driveway.  In it were marvelous foods we never had.  I think I remember a ham, and I definitely remember the green and red mint M&M's.  Such simple things, but it was amazing to us then.

We ended the year with a really fun party over at the Tuckers house with the Haslers playing games and guitar, and then did the 5 remaining fireworks we found lying around.  I am excited for the New Year!