Ransom Family

Random Ramblings and Happenings

March 2017

*Birthday*Walking*Track*Orchestra*Pinewood Derby*Lost Tooth*

SO much going on in March!

Andy had a birthday.  I found some fun Star Wars pictures to hang on the wall in the family room and a cool apron for him to go along with the kid aprons I found.

We made him a cake.  Vincent tried to blow out the candles first. (See picture below.)

But he missed some, so Andy was able to finish them off after he made his birthday wish.

We bought a triple bunkbed this month and built it in the girl’s room, which now includes Abby.  They all get to share a room and are getting used to different bedtimes.
Abby lost her first tooth at church and another just after church.  Our other kids were all in first grade before they lost their first teeth.
Olivia had a middle school orchestra concert. I was able to slip in just as the orchestra teacher started introducing her group.  Work is BUSY! Olivia played beautifully and we had several friends and family members there to support her.
She also sold some popcorn for an orchestra fundraiser and delivered it this month.

I took my two older girls to watch Beauty and the Beast’s remake.  It was beautiful and I thought it was well done.  The girls enjoyed it too.

Belle was in the foyer before the show.

We had two of Abby’s friends over after a half day (before parent-teacher conferences) to make some sugar cookies.  Abby was sad to miss a birthday for one of them because it was on a Sunday, so we invited her and another friend over to play.  They had a fun time.  I made the dough and frosting the night before.

Vincent and Abby had good reports at parent-teacher conferences.  Abby needs to work on learning to read more, but is doing well.  Vincent is doing great and just needs to make sure he turns in his homework.
Here’s a little story about Abby in kindergarten:

Abby was telling me about a boy in her kindergarten class and how they have crushes on each other.
I told her about how long it will be before she needs to worry about crushes and how she doesn’t need to hold hands or kiss or have a boyfriend yet.
She asked if she could hold his hand if they were running from zombies….
I told her that you’re more likely to fall if you hold hands and that she shouldn’t do that, even if they ARE running from zombies. (That’s a game the kindergartners play at recess apparently.)
Luckily the report after school today was that he was on the wall the whole recess as a punishment for something. (Great, a ‘bad boy’ too….)
Oh, dear! I’m going to have my hands full with this one!

 

Abby drew this picture of me on Vincent’s teacher’s dry erase table.  Looks about right.

Our Cub Scout Pack had our Pinewood Derby. Vincent made a green car with a tri-force on the front.  He’s loving Zelda/Link lately.

We combined with Duportail ward again.  They were in charge of the awards and one of their leaders made cute twinkie/oreo treats for each of the scouts.

I started walking again.  I’ve needed to for a long time.  I miss how nice it is to be outside, especially when the weather is still a little bit chilly.

We’ll be out walking a lot more now that Andy and I have been asked to be Pa and Ma on the Youth’s Pioneer Trek this June.  We went four years ago and had a great time.
Olivia went on a walk with me the other night to test out our new tennis shoes.  It’s nice to have a walking buddy.
 
I started a Facebook group for women in Richland who want to walk.  The idea is that if someone wants to walk, they post there and someone can post that they can walk at that time too and then they get out there walking.  Since my schedule varies so much, the times I’m available shifts too.
I ordered all of this awesome stuff from Hollar for around $20.  Stuffed animals, organizers, a scarf, bra, cool towels with Lego Mixels on them, a mug, silverware organizer, bag, plus a Morse code clock.  Really awesome prices. Click on my link above and sign up and you’ll get free shipping plus a $2 credit and I’ll get $2 credit too.  Those stuffed animals pictured were just $1 each! I placed another order just last week and I’ll let you know which treasures I found next time.
Elizabeth started track at the middle school.  She had her first meet the end of March at a middle school in Kennewick.  It was super cold and windy that day and I wasn’t the one in shorts!  She did the shot put, discus, high jump, and 100 meter dash.  She’s learning a lot and having a great time with her friends.

At least *I think* she’s having a good time.  A girl from our ward was smiling back at her on the other side of the line before their race.

They had a spirit week at the middle school before Spring Break.  Elizabeth worked hard on this costume of a character from a video game for Villain Day.

Check out the detail on that shield!

Vincent had some excitement the other night.  We were playing games on a Friday night and he mentioned that he had put an airsoft pellet in his ear earlier in the week.  He told us which ear hurt and I messaged a few nurse friends to ask for advice.  One was out of town, but gave me an idea and the other had a son bring us a baby suction bulb over to our house.  Andy worked on the ear Vincent said hurt for about 15 minutes and then Vincent said, “Maybe it’s actually in the other ear”.  It was.  Andy could see it in that ear and it was a much faster retrieval process.  The hook from my knitting loom set was what helped the most, but it made us nervous.  I told him to look sad for the picture.

Work has been busy for both Andy and I.  He’s spent quite a bit of time out of town traveling all over our region helping the salespeople and customers.  His work is picking up with the nicer weather since he can travel more now.

My work has been busy (always is and never seems to slow down because there’s always another truck and another area to dive into and clean up more, plus we do ‘sets’ that are for all Kohl’s stores for each month/season.  This one is for spring in purses.  There’s one area that is all white purses from all brands.  

That mannequin was added too and it keeps making me think there’s a customer there.  It looks easy, but it always seems to take too long to get things done because by the time I move what was in the spot back to where it goes, clean where it goes, and put it out, and then shift the next product out, take breaks as required by law, backup at registers, cover other people’s breaks, help customers, and do the job I’m supposed to do, it seems to take all day.

Once in March I was DONE with ALL of my freight.  It was amazing.  I took on this intimates and accessory job in August/September last year and I’ve never been totally DONE.  There’s always one more cart or one more bin when the next truck comes (which I take out first usually on truck day so it’s still getting done), but one day it was ALL DONE!  And the next day was truck again…. Constant process.

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February 2017

This little girl had a birthday!
Elizabeth is now 14 years old!  It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.
To celebrate we went out for ice cream after dinner.
The MiaMaids decorated our door the first Sunday after her birthday to welcome her to their group at church.
Happy Birthday, Elizabeth! It helps to have so many kid birthdays all at once when you get to use the birthday coupons for free stuff all at once. =)
Vincent liked his ice cream too. Olivia picked a mango flavor.
Abby’s ice cream.

It just wouldn’t quit snowing.  Vincent took a turn to scrape the sidewalks.Andy

Andy took Olivia, Vincent, and Abby on a trip on President’s Day to visit his parents and then they drove the long way home.  (I was working and Elizabeth had laundry duty since she wanted to stay home. After I was done working, she helped me grocery shop and we went to dinner too.)

Speaking of work, guess who they chose for Associate of the Month?  Me!  My department is actually performing amazingly well compared to others in our region/district.  At the time of this award, my department was #2 in sales for our whole store, just behind men’s.  This is my 4th associate of the month award in 3 1/2 years (October 2014, October 2015, October 2016, and February 2017).

Olivia asked for makeup for Christmas and has been trying things out at home since she can’t wear it outside of the house yet.  She practices on Abby too.

Vincent needed to decorate a cake for the Blue and Gold Banquet for Cub Scouts.  He chose to decorate it with Yoshi’s world.

Grandpa Paul and Grandma Mary came for the Pack Meeting.  Abby loves to color and even got Grandpa Paul to help her. Grandpa Paul had his 63rd birthday this month too!

Vincent earned his WOLF badge.  His leader was amazing and had nearly everything taken care of in the weekly den meetings.  (I know what a feat that is since I was a Bear leader for 3 1/2 years!)  Amazing!  We actually only had to help him with one requirement and that was only because scouts was canceled due to the snow the day they were going to do it.  (We helped him with others, but that’s the only one we had to really do.)Mom pin. =) Celebrating 100 days of school!  The kids in the elementary school were invited to dress up like they were 100 years old.  Initially, Abby told me that she didn’t want to dress up because she didn’t “want to look ugly”.  I told her she’d still be her, just what she imagines she’d look like when she’s 100, so we picked out some things for her to wear and she was happy with them.  She wanted a cardigan “because old people are cold and like cardigans”. (Yes, she really used the word, ‘cardigan’ and no, we don’t use it normally.)

I went shopping at the mall last week and found some great deals.  These adorable size 1 skinny jeans were just $7 on clearance and fit Olivia really good (just a little long).  She really likes them too.

Olivia is going to start a baking business soon.  Her plan is to have monthly subscriptions for a dozen treats for $5 a month.  (My parents have a boy who lives near them who does this sort of thing, but his deal is 2 dozen cookies for $11 a month.)  She’s been practicing and invited Rory over to help last week.

They made Amish cookies and they were tasty!While they were baking, Andy was picking up this triple bunk bed in Yakima for our girl’s room.  Abby will be moving there once it’s built.

Olivia was making crepes the other day when I came home from work. She just got out a recipe book and went for it.  I headed back out to the store to get some toppings.

They were thicker than normal crepes, but still tasted really good.  She’ll need to experiment some more another day.

She was pretty satisfied with her creations and Abby and Vincent loved them too.

Fun February.  Onto March!
But first, here are a few Chuck E Cheese’s pictures from a friend’s birthday party at the end of January.
Vincent.

Abby and Olivia.

Abby.

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Back to School

Looks like I didn’t post this….. Oops!
These FOUR kids went to school this year!  Hooray!
Elizabeth’s in Eighth Grade.  Olivia’s in Sixth Grade. Vincent’s in Third Grade. And Abby’s in Kindergarten.  So I have two Middle Schoolers and two Elementary kids.
They had a Back to School Popsicle Social meet your teacher night at the elementary school.  Abby ‘met’ her teacher who was also ALL three of her sibling’s kindergarten teacher.  (And she had just had a baby five weeks prior to this picture and came back to school with the kids-her husband is home with their two kids.)
Vincent with his teacher.  She likes Star Wars too.
Olivia actually started the day before everyone else because they had just the sixth graders come in early for orientation and classes.
Olivia quickly found a few friends.
Elizabeth and Olivia had their pictures taken on the day they picked up their schedules the week before school started for their ID cards and yearbook pictures.  They turned out really nice, I think.
  We went to the Walla Walla County Fair with my parents to see our girl’s quilts.  My mom blogged about it here. She included all their ribbon info.  They did great.  I like going to the fair to see the things people enter and getting free stuff from booths.
Abby and Vincent learned about water safety while Elizabeth and Olivia bought a few things from the Avon booth.
Then we all headed over to the rides.  We are too cheap for armbands (and we didn’t have a lot of time), so we just bought a book of tickets and did a ride.  Abby was actually too short for this spider ride (I still call it the octopus-It’s my favorite ride!)
These kids were super nervous about the ride.
Some of them screamed for nearly the whole ride while Andy and I couldn’t stop laughing (at them and just having fun!)  They finally decided they liked it for the last 30 seconds….
Vincent tried roping a steer in one of the free activity booths.
 Abby was able to ride a kiddie swing with Vincent in the kid area and was a little disappointed that it didn’t do more, but she’ll grow and join us on fun rides soon enough.
I had to work on Labor Day, so Andy took the kids up to the mountain with his parent’s to hang out for the day.  They had a good time.
Love these people!!!
Abby finally had a day in the classroom the Friday after school started with half of her class and then everyone was there the day after Labor Day.  She was SO ready and excited.
She’s loving it so far!  No tears from her.
Abby made this little picture at school.  She wants to me a mom when she grows up.  She said she is the one in the rainbow dress with two of her daughters next to her.  She said she wants to have eight children.  WOW!
We headed down to Hermiston to go to a craft fair for fun last Saturday.  My friend Desi was there selling some crafts. I hadn’t seen her in ages.  We were best friends in kindergarten through fourth grade and then exchanged letters clear through high school and went to each other’s high school graduations. She came to visit when I had Olivia and I’ve seen her some other times too, but not super often.  She travels quite a bit (and is planning a world tour in less than a month-jealous!)  It was really good to see her. (You might be wondering why I’m all bundled up.  It was rainy with a chilly wind that day).
 Elizabeth got her BRACES OFF!!!  She’s super excited about that.  She had them on for nearly two years.  They look great and her teeth that were growing in on top of each other evened out.
Oh, I did get a promotion at work this month too!  I’ve been one busy girl trying to learn a new department and figure out what’s expected of me.  I’m the supervisor over Intimates and Accessories at Kohl’s.  It’s still part-time, and no, I don’t have to do bra fittings, but I do have to hang bras and underwear on tiny hangers and try to clean it up constantly and get all the product that comes in from the truck out to the sales floor where the special book tells me it belongs and help with fitting rooms, recovery, and other departments during truck days.  It’s kind of a lot, but I do have a little raise too and I’m learning fairly quickly, I think.
Vincent pulled out a science suit he picked up as a freebie at a kid’s fair thing the Cub Scouts went to last spring.  He and Abby tried it on and thought it was a lot of fun.
Speaking of Cub Scouts, at this last Pack Meeting we had a guy in our ward come and talk about his job as a paramedic.  The Cub Scouts were VERY interested.  It was great.
Vincent had a turn checking out the front seat of the ambulance with a few buddies.
I think I mentioned I had a talk last month.  I took a selfie before I left my house.  I think it went well so I thought I’d post the talk I wrote.  I didn’t edit it for my adlibs, but this is pretty much what I delivered.

I was asked to combine three different talks given in general conferences to help form my thoughts for this talk.  One of those talks was the “Good, Better, Best” talk given by Dallin H Oaks in October 2007.  I can think of plenty of Good, better, best things to say, but most of them are jokes and I shouldn’t. Wait, here’s one:

It’s good to agree to give a talk.

It’s better to prepare early to give your talk.

And it’s best to be finished giving your talk so you can hope you are done with your turn for a bit.

(Maybe you thought I was going a different direction with that… See, plenty of ways to think about “Good, better, best.”)

Of course when Elder Oaks gave his talk he was talking about choices we make and how we can choose the good (which IS GOOD!) or we can choose the BEST, which is obviously much, much better than just good.

 

Elder Oaks said, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”

I think that’s the end goal for the majority of us here.  We want to make good choices so we can develop faith in Christ and strengthen our families.  That’s what this life is all directed at.  That’s why we are here.  Faith and Families.  That’s what the gospel is all about.  The HOW we do that is the hard part.

Elder Oaks says, “Most of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do. As breadwinners, as parents, as Church workers and members, we face many choices on what we will do with our time and other resources.”

He continues, “We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.”

When Andy and I were first married and we’d both come home from work and I’d make some dinner, I’d ask him if he liked it and he’d always just say it was, “good.”  I thought that meant he didn’t like it that much because I was used to using many more adjectives to describe yummy food, so I thought maybe I should try harder or something until he told me that he really did like it (again with the lesser adjectives to describe!) and he ate two platefuls, which should be enough to show me he thought it was “GOOD”.  I like to think I’ve improved in my cooking skills since then, but that’s still the answer I get, but to him, Good is GOOD!  I just had to learn that although that’s his answer, that’s about the highest it goes on his food rating scale.  Gross, tolerable, good.  That’s about it.
Do we settle for only good, when we could have the BEST?  Do we do that with our faith?  Do we do that with our families?  Are we doing all we can to make our faith and our families hit that best line?  Or are we barely reaching the good line?  How can we improve that?  I know I have work to do in all areas of life, especially those two areas.  I’d give examples, but we all have areas to improve and each family has different strengths and weaknesses.

President Gordon B. Hinckley has pleaded that we “work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.”

Elder Richard G Scott added, “Remember, don’t magnify the work to be done—simplify it.”7

It is hard sometimes to decide to simplify work.  One thing I started doing a few summers ago when I started working was to give my kids areas of the house for a week for them to be in charge of.  They’ve been able to take ownership of those areas and while it might not be done to the “BEST” standard according to me, they are getting their jobs done and it’s less on my plate, which makes life more simple.

I told a friend just this week that the only way to get things done when you’re overloaded with things to do is to delegate, and then I started thinking of if maybe I could delegate my talk so I didn’t have to do that. (I decided I must have needed to reread these inspired words of guidance from our church leaders though.)  But really, delegating or eliminating or simplifying things that aren’t top priority are the key to being able to put the things that are more important at the top and keep them there.

“Elder M. Russell Ballard warned against the deterioration of family relationships that can result when we spend excess time on ineffective activities that yield little spiritual sustenance. He cautioned against complicating our Church service “with needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time, cost too much money, and sap too much energy. … The instruction to magnify our callings is not a command to embellish and complicate them. To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify. … What is most important in our Church responsibilities,” he said, “is not the statistics that are reported or the meetings that are held but whether or not individual people—ministered to one at a time just as the Savior did—have been lifted and encouraged and ultimately changed.”8

We just had a new chorister called in primary and she’s doing excellent!  One of the first things I told her was that we like doing things simply.  I knew that she’d recently had a baby and she has other children and I don’t want her to stress out about making a perfect sign that she’ll use for a week to teach a song (unless she really loves doing that!)  I love what she did to help the primary children learn a song about the Temple this month.  She gave groups in both junior and senior primary a line from the song and a paper to draw how they imagine the phrase and she uses that each week to remind them of the words.  Simple and effective.
Another talk I was asked to prepare with was the talk given by Larry R Lawrence of the Quorum of the Seventy in the October 2015 General Conference titled, “What Lack I Yet?”

I especially liked the way he talked about the “New Testament account of the rich young ruler. He was a righteous young man who was already keeping the Ten Commandments, but he wanted to become better. His goal was eternal life.”

When he met the Savior, he asked, “What lack I yet?”3

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and … come and follow me.”4

The young man was stunned; he had never considered such a sacrifice. He was humble enough to ask the Lord but not faithful enough to follow the divine counsel he was given. We must be willing to act when we receive an answer.”

The young ruler wasn’t willing to do that last step to be better than just good.  He was willing to ask what else he could do, but wouldn’t do it.

I think many of us have been there too.  Of course there are things all of us could change if we tried harder at it and things we could improve.  I know I have MANY, MANY things I need to improve, but haven’t yet.

Elder Lawrence says, “If we are humble and teachable, the Holy Ghost will prompt us to improve and lead us home, but we need to ask the Lord for directions along the way.” He also said, “The Spirit can show us our weaknesses, but He is also able to show us our strengths. Sometimes we need to ask what we are doing right so that the Lord can lift and encourage us.”

I also think it’s important to not just pick at ourselves and think about all the ways we could change or things that we aren’t doing well.  We need to play the “Glad Game” like Pollyanna and think of all the good things about whatever it is.   When I think I’d like a bigger, nicer place to live, I start thinking about how nice it is to only have to clean the house we have and how plenty of people would be overjoyed to have ANY house, let alone one I complain about sometimes.  It’s that way with pretty much anything.  If you play the “Glad Game” you can find something good about anything and it helps you appreciate what you already have or what you are already doing.  One thing I’ve heard said about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it adds another layer of understanding to what you already know.  If we continually build those layers, we’ll be “strong and immoveable.”  Our faith and our families will have the strength needed to weather the storms of life.

Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Be persistent, brothers and sisters, but never be discouraged. We will have to go beyond the grave before we actually reach perfection, but here in mortality we can lay the foundation. “It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today.”9

 

The way to find out what things in your own life need adjusting, much like the sails of a boat, is to pray about it.  Listen to the promptings that come to you, and ask on them.  It’s not good enough to just sit in the boat and say you’re safe from the ocean.  If you don’t have guidance and direction, you could easily sit in the boat until you run out of food or something worse happens, like hitting something you shouldn’t.  If we go back to good, better, best, it is better to be in the boat working and it’s BEST to know where you are heading and what to expect on the way there so you can choose the best route to get you safely to where you want to be.

President Eyring spoke of prayer and faith in his talk in October 2015, he said, “You can treat those moments of inspiration like the seed of faith that Alma described (see Alma 32:28). Plant each one. You can do that by acting on the prompting you felt. The most valuable inspiration will be for you to know what God would have you do. If it is to pay tithing or to visit a grieving friend, you should do it. Whatever it is, do it. When you demonstrate your willingness to obey, the Spirit will send you more impressions of what God would have you do for Him.  As you obey, the impressions from the Spirit will come more frequently, becoming closer and closer to constant companionship. Your power to choose the right will increase.  We need that constant help from the companionship of the Holy Ghost.”

I know that I have had many promptings in my life to change the direction my boat was taking.  I’m grateful for the companionship of the Holy Ghost to help me along my path to return to live with Heavenly Father.  Many of those adjustments happened for me while I was in middle and high school. Many more happen often as an adult.  You are never too young to start!

I know that we are led by a living prophet on the earth today and that if we follow his teachings, which are the same as the teachings of Christ, we will eventually hit that best mark even on the things we struggle with if we are consistent in trying to improve and following the direction of the Holy Ghost.  I’m so thankful for the Gospel and the way it helps me to see what’s really important in life and the way we are encouraged to always improve.

 

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January 2017

Yes, I totally typed 2016 before backspacing and putting a 7 in there… A month or two ago I actually wrote 2013 (!) on something accidentally.  Time just keeps marching on.

Vincent and Olivia play duets sometimes at piano lessons.  They are both improving so much!  Olivia has just started a jazz and blues book.  Vincent can memorize almost any song and play it without the music and even without looking at the keys.

I have a friend who makes cookies every Sunday and gives them to friends, neighbors, whoever.  I got the making cookies done one Sunday at least, but we weren’t very good at sharing…. My mom used to make these peanut butter cookies with kisses all the time.  YUM!

We got SO much snow (for here) this year!  We’ve pretty much had constant snow on the ground since the week before Christmas.  Usually here it snows and within a day or two, a warm Chinook wind comes and it all gets melted.  Not so this year!
On top of the snow, it has rained ice and freezing rain several times between the layers.  Occasionally, we’ve had a warm day that helps to melt the bottom layer before it refreezes.  It’s made seven cancellations for our school district and many activities have had cancellations and changes to plans as well.
The yard garbage cans show a little bit of the amount of snow we have.
One of the rare days the kids went to school Andy and I were able to go up to pick up his car that was special ordered and built for his new job. It’s a new Ford Fusion and it’s so nice! But it was REALLY icy that day so we drove pretty slow getting there and back.
I didn’t take many pictures other than the rest of these birthday parties the end of the month. Abby turned SIX!  Olivia was our in-house party planner for both Abby’s and Vincent’s birthday parties.  She wrote the invitations, planned and explained the games, prepared a little take home gift, and even helped decorate the cakes. Their parties were on the same day; one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
She wanted to make wands for Abby’s party, but we found cute heart skewers at Dollar Tree, so she dressed those up with ribbon and hot glue instead.  They were great.
She made these felt headbands with glued on ‘jewels’.  Adorable.
Here’s my part.  I made and frosted a cake.  (It looks like the cake the fairy godmothers make in Sleeping Beauty! All lumpy and drippy, but the kids didn’t care and it tasted good!) Olivia added the cones, candles, and wrote on the cake.
Abby blowing out the candles.
Abby with some friends who came to the party.  They had a pretty great time, I think! (And one kept her own headband on.)
Silly girls with Party Planner Extraordinaire Olivia!
While we waited a few minutes for parents to pick up kids, we read a Miss Silly story that Abby picked.  A friend snapped this picture.
Vincent’s Lego cake.
Vincent turned NINE a few days after his party.
He invited some like-minded friends to his party.  They are all a lot of fun!
And the boys with Olivia.
Super fun January, but oh so cold!  I had to scrape my windshield many times after closing shifts at work and then drive home in the ice, but our main rig handles really well in the winter and I know to go slow, leave space between cars, and to take my time.
I’ve been goi
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December 2016

We started December off with a concert for Olivia’s orchestra and a play for Elizabeth.

Olivia did a great job playing her violin with the combined middle school orchestras of Chief Joseph (her school) and Enterprise Middle School.  The place was packed!

Elizabeth was in the play, “Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis (Narnia’s most well known story).  She was a Minotaur for the White Witch’s army.  She really enjoyed that I wanted a picture.


I took photos for the drama teacher during both evening performances.  It was a fun challenge for me to figure out which settings worked best with the lights on the stage and not using a flash.  Some pictures turned out better than others, but I think I got a shot of every character.  Elizabeth helped a lot with the set and props and did a good job playing her character.

She and her co-minotaur pulled the White Witch’s carriage.
Grandma Shirley and Grandpa George came opening night.
Grandpa Paul and Grandma Mary came to watch too.
And the rest of us went the first night as well. Abby and Vincent have been reading all of the Narnia series with Andy at bedtime, so they were able to follow the story pretty well.  Abby pretty much talked the whole time and even called out Elizabeth’s name once….
Picture of the White Witch’s crew.
The second night our neighbors came to see the play.  Elizabeth smiled for the pictures with them…
It was super sweet of them to come and watch!
We decorated our Christmas tree the first Sunday in December.
Fun times.  Actually, it was great.  I got the boxes of decorations out and the kids all helped to put them up in record time, which was great because I worked a lot this month and I was exhausted!
We enjoyed our ward Christmas party.  Abby liked dancing to the dinner music Brother Cartwright played and a few kids followed her lead after they ate too.
Santa and Mrs. Claus came to visit our ward after the Christmas party.
Abby wanted to sit on Mrs. Claus’s lap.
Vincent chose Santa’s lap.
And Olivia wanted to sit on Mrs. Claus’s lap too.
Elizabeth skipped the laps altogether. ;)
We got a LOT of snow this month!  We had a few two hour delays and two snow days.  We only had one snow day built in, so now school is extended one more day into the summer.  No fun, but the roads were slick and that’s not good either.
Vincent and Abby have been loving all the snow whenever they could.  They love to go play in it and make snow angels and have had a great time.
On one of the snow days, I was able to go to a friend’s house for a craft day.  I made these three nativities (one for each mom and one for me) and a few other fun crafts too and I even finished almost everything in just that one day.  I just had to bring the nativities home to let them dry before Andy put them together for me.
Abby had a SnowKid day in kindergarten, but I was working and Andy had an appointment for the car, so a friend from church went with Abby and took some pictures for me.  I’ve gone a few times before so I knew what was going to happen, but I was still sad to miss it.
Olivia had some friends over for a holiday party.  She planned the whole thing.  She made the invitations, printed out some madlibs to do while everyone showed up, we had pizza for dinner, she even planned a scavenger hunt!  The prize at the end of the scavenger hunt was this cute sleigh she’s holding that she made out of candy for each guest.
Fun crew of friends!  They did a gift exchange too and played Apples to Apples Junior and Catch Phrase.
I had an unusual Saturday off in December, so we headed up to the mountains.  It was beautiful!
We played in the snow some more….
We went for a drive in Andy’s parent’s new 4×4 that seats five (with seatbelts).
We enjoyed the mountain air and snow.
While we went on a drive (our buddy Nathan came too), Vincent and Abby stayed inside all cozy on the couch watching “The Grinch”.
Did I mention that Olivia loves the snow?
Grandma Shirley took this picture of these three in the snow at the mountain.
A friend who used to be in our ward before it split mentioned that she was decorating all alone and that she hadn’t done that before, so I volunteered some kids to come help and she said she had cookies, so we headed over through the snow and we decorated with her too.  She took a few pictures.
Fun snowy adventure.
Traditional Christmas morning picture.
The kids had a good time opening presents before church.
Olivia liked her makeup kit (that she can’t wear in public yet, but she asked Santa for).  Abby was quite interested in it too.
Olivia wasn’t sure what to think of the Kindle we bought her since she has an old slow tablet she bought herself a few years ago.
But she got pretty excited once she thought about it.
I found this fun Hobbit clock for Elizabeth.  Santa brought her a Nintendo DS.
Olivia picked out this bracelet maker for Abby and she’s loving it.

After church Nathan came over for lunch and a game or two.  Andy’s parents were sick so they came over the next day to exchange gifts.
My parents were sick too, so we just traded presents at their door and went to my little sister’s house to visit with her family and did our exchange there, which was perfect because we had each other’s family this year.  We played some games with them and had some snacks and then headed home.  It was so strange to have a Christmas without our parents though!  We still had a fun time and since it was on a Sunday we enjoyed going to church and singing carols and thinking more about the Savior on Christmas.
Merry Christmas from our family!
And Happy New Year too!
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November 2016

Apparently I’m a once a month blogger now… I used to have time to blog daily.  Kids are bigger now + working just makes it not work as well as it used to.  BUT, I won’t give up on writing blogs or reading them, no matter how much easier it is to share pictures on facebook.  I like having the real story behind the pictures (so when I catch up on my scrapbooking, I can write the story-Abby’s about six months old in my scrapbooks…)

Vincent and Olivia did the Ribbon Festival for piano early in November.  They each played an original song they wrote, a solo, a duet, a hymn, chords, scales, arpeggio, made a craft, and did the little hearing test to show that they could tell if one note was higher than the other, etc.
It was at a church in Richland that has the most pianos in Tri-Cities all in one place.  They went from room to room to perform and be judged by the group of teachers who put this on each year.

Picture of their duet.

Vincent’s hymn.

All those ribbons they earned!

On Veterans Day Abby wanted to make some art and a video for Uncle Jeff to thank him for his service.
Vincent’s teacher put up a poster in the hallway to celebrate Veterans from families in their class, so I sent her pictures of my Grandpa Gordon, Andy’s Grandpa Loel McClellan, and my brother Jeff.
November is Native American month at our local library, so they had this tepee set up in the library entry. Vincent and Abby thought that was fun.
Jason Lee Elementary PTA put on a Holiday Bazaar this year (for the first time in a long time!) Shirley got a booth and let Olivia join her with some little crafts too.  Omazing Olivia made bracelets, ornaments, and some cute tiny canvases (and she sold out.)
We ripped out the carpet in our family room the week before Thanksgiving to make way for a new wood floor.
Andy’s parents decided they wanted carpet in their bedroom at their house in the mountains because the wood was making it too cold, so they took it apart and brought it down to us. It was just the right amount for our family room.  We LOVE it!
I was crazy busy working nearly 40 hour weeks at work all month, but we found time to do a lot with family too.
Andy’s sister and her husband and four kids came to stay with us the day before Thanksgiving for three nights and it was a lot of fun to visit with them (when I wasn’t working) and for the cousins to play together.  And we managed with 12 people and one bathroom.
We hosted Thanksgiving at our house for Andy’s parents and semi-local siblings at 1pm (because I went to work at 4pm that night).  Olivia set the table and wanted to put her candles up too.
She made some napkin rings at Activity Days the week before Thanksgiving.
Grandpa George with Ezra and Abby hanging out in the living room while we made some final meal preparations.
A LOT of food.  We made the ham, potatoes, gravy, turkey, stuffing, and rolls and some pudding pies.  Sara did a veggie tray and helped me all morning.  Torrie brought green bean casserole and some pumpkin cookies.  Shirley made a salad and a pumpkin dessert. Susie and her boys came just for dessert and brought more pumpkin cookies (different kind) to share.  No one went away hungry and we had plenty leftover.  Success!
We set up a kid’s table with two of Shirley’s folding tables and chairs and made our big table seat 12.
Fun times at Thanksgiving!
The next day (after I worked another 8 hour shift-yes, that’s two 8 hour shifts), we had a surprise 40th wedding anniversary party for my parents in Kennewick. They were married ON Thanksgiving Day in Canada in the Cardston Temple.
My sister found some photo booth props that Vincent really enjoyed.  My brother came up from Wyoming to visit with his family.
Everyone else had fun with the photo props before I got there from work too (the surprise started early…)
My parents were very surprised and happy to see so many family members and friends.
And they really loved seeing so many grandchildren all at once!
We were just missing three of our family members.  It was a great celebration.
My aunt took a family picture for us that I’m not using on the Christmas card afterall…
Abby and Vincent got to open their Christmas cousin exchange presents from Sara’s kids while they were here. Sara made them each a chef hat and apron and gave them a few cookie cutters.  They didn’t like them initially, but have since worn them and loved them several times and always want to wear both the hat and the apron every time.
Silly girl.
 People sometimes wonder how I keep organized.  Right now I keep two magnet clips on the side of my fridge with things for each set of kids (only one for each school-elementary and middle).  Then when I need to look at something I have the information I need and when it’s done, I can toss it.
A few Sundays ago I got dressed in my new dress and was putting on mascara when Elizabeth came by and told me, “You look weird.”  I thanked her for that.  This is my weird dress (and shoes that match and are comfy!)
I’m a busy, busy worker bee this time of year, but I still love this season and all the goodness it brings out of so many people.  A friend of mine recently posted about a lady who was leaving an abusive relationship and needed some household items for her and her kids and it was amazing to see all the people offering things to help her get a fresh start.  The things may not have been big, and for I think all of us, the things were extras we didn’t need anymore, but all of our little things have turned into several loads of items to help this lady and her kids out.  I love that.  I love seeing my kids looking for just the right gifts to give each other and watching them take their time to decide and wrap them just right.
Merry Christmas all (because I’m pretty sure I won’t get to blog again before Christmas….)
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October

Not sure where this year is going, but it’s FLYING by!

Our friends gifted Abby with a bike their daughter outgrew.  Andy tried to teach Abby for a few days.  It was awesome to come home from work to see them outside.

Speaking of work, I pretty much live there now with my new position as Intimates and Accessories Supervisor.  I’m trying my hardest to clean up my many areas and get product out on the floor the way the book tells us to and learn my department and back up at registers and cover breaks at customer service and answer customer questions and so much more.  But guess what?! I went in one day and found out I was an Associate of the Month!  I’m actually at almost three years working at Kohl’s now.  I get a special parking spot up front, $40 on my next paycheck, and a little recognition for all my hard work.  Although this is the third time I’ve gotten this, it still feels great to have hard work recognized and appreciated.
 
My mom came in one day and I was about to have my sandwich I’d packed, but I talked her into going out to eat together instead.  She took my picture by the special parking spot.  (My car is not the gray one behind me it’s the one with just the one wheel showing.)
This happened later in the month, but it’s work related so I’ll toss it in here.  I helped at a new elementary school’s Mascarade Math night with other Kohl’s associates (and a son of one of them.)  We helped with the bowling in the gym mostly.  Kohl’s has a great program where non-profits can sign up for a grant and if they have five associates show up to help for three hours, they also get $500 granted to them from Kohl’s.  In October it was the 50th anniversary for Kohl’s so they actually upped that amount to $1500!  Pretty cool.
It was the Jog-a-thon at Jason Lee and I went to help mark laps.  Vincent keeps loosing teeth like crazy.
Walking around after he got a little tired.
Abby liked the jog-a-thon a lot.  I like of love her hair in this picture.  She asked me to pick out her outfit (which is why she matches…) She wanted me to pick an outfit that would make her run super fast.
Walking with Mrs. Schamber at the end of the time.
A little tidbit from Abby: She told me a boy in her class told all the girls that he’s going to marry them.  She told him she’s not going to because she does NOT love him and she knows she doesn’t have to marry anyone she doesn’t love!  (These are times I like her little stubbornness!)  Another morning she prayed that this boy wouldn’t chase her at recess that day.  I may need to email the teacher to make sure she’s aware of the situation…
Pack Meeting for Cub Scouts was all about BUGS.  Our cubmaster’s new daughter-in-law happens to have studied about them and has a great bug board she shared with the scouts.
She told me that Vincent and Abby knew a lot about bugs.  They learned it all from books and PBS.
They love bugs.  They had a terrarium this summer made from our old wheelbarrow that they put weeds and bugs into.  They were hoping to make a new kind of bug so they could name it NaDell because nothing is named that other than me.
One thing I decided to help with this year at the elementary school is picture days with Ally, my buddy.  We had an all school photo taken from the roof, but this one was a shot while they worked on lining up.  So many students!
The kindergartners had a field trip to the pumpkin patch.  Abby had her first school bus ride.  She was excited to see me and ran right over to hug me.
Climbing to the top of the hay tower.
Riding on the tractor hay ride.
Picking the perfect pumpkin.

In other news, I witnessed and reported a hit-and-run between cars on Wellsian Way. A lady totally pulled out turning left and hit a car who was going straight with her back bumper and then just kept on going (after pausing and acting like she was going to turn around-so I KNOW she knew she knew.) I was right behind her, so I moved on up and got her license and all that stuff and called it in (and then watched her turn the opposite way of the accident onto the next road down.) You always have to stop if you are in an accident. Hopefully it all got resolved. Yikes.

Elizabeth’s church teacher sent me this picture after church this month.  They were talking about Naaman and no one could tell the teacher who he was, but Elizabeth piped in and said he was Laman’s brother because their names sounded similar.  Not true, but she’s pretty funny.

Andy had a work training in North Carolina for TWELVE days. He sent me TWO pictures which are below.
While he was away, I had a girl date with my buddy Ally.  We tried out the newest/only Crepe shop.  We looked at the menu and couldn’t decide, so we split a savory crepe (bacon/spinach/tomato) and each had a sweet crepe (sweet lemon for her/strawberry nutella for me).  They were all excellent.  We went on opening day and I’ve been craving them since.  I love having a buddy.
Olivia’s been going over to her house to read with her kids in the evenings.  Her kids really look forward to it and now another friend comes over to read to her youngest too.
The Saturday Andy was out of town (he left on a Sunday morning and came back on a Friday), I left a to-do list on the counter for the kids.  When I came home, it looked like this:
Abby has figured out that the “A” next to a list means jobs and erased hers before everyone else woke up.  So funny, but don’t worry, she didn’t actually get out of them.
This is my main station that keeps track of all of our comings and goings. I love this big desk calendar on the wall and our menu board and bulletin board along with our families Christmas cards on the wall all year. Gotta have something to keep me organized!
I came home from work one day after a TEN hour shift setting up several new areas for Christmas shopping to find these kids out front raking leaves.  It was pretty perfect because although I didn’t really want to keep working, I went and helped load up the yard garbage cans and they were ready for pick up that week.  Then I took them all out to eat for dinner!  I have some really terrific kids! (And Olivia’s dressed in purple and yellow for Hanford High colors.  It was spirit week.)
(Elizabeth was at play practice still.  She’s in the middle school’s Narnia play.)
Vincent had a scout activity painting pumpkins with the residents at Grandma Zora’s old place.  I brought Abby with me so Olivia could finish piano lessons and Elizabeth could get to mutual.  There was too much overlap to not make this work, but they all had a great time.
We had the primary program on October 23rd.  Andy was still in North Carolina, so he missed it.  It went very well and our last kid was done right at five after the hour and then the bishop had a little three minute talk and we were out right on time.  It was great.
Elizabeth had a Stake Harvest Dance where they were able to dress up in their costumes.  She made this up after realizing she wouldn’t be able to finish her Zelda costume on time.  
The girls all dressed up for their school day on Friday before Halloween.  Olivia only dressed as a pirate for extra credit in a class they were acting parts out.
It was crazy hair day at the elementary school.  Vincent’s hair doesn’t do much.  He said he wants to grow it out for the next crazy hair day.
Abby had five ponytails and gel in her bangs to make them stand up straight.  Pretty crazy.

Abby and Vincent collected enough jog-a-thon donations to participate in the first ever color run on the crazy hair day.
They had garbage bag ponchos on over their clothes to protect them and then had the shirts on top.  I got to help get color on the kids and it was a lot of fun.  They came out at their lunch recess time.
My buddy Ally enjoyed getting Abby colorful too.
We went to a community free fall carnival the Saturday before Halloween. Vincent’s a bat, Elizabeth’s some video game character I don’t understand, Abby’s a dolphin again, and Olivia is a futuristic girl or a bad make-up artist.  I’m not sure which this time.
 There was trick or treating along a set of shops and they had some photo areas with special guests.  Abby had a picture with Elsa.
And Jasmine, Cinderella, and Prince Charming (or is he?)
Olivia opted to be the dolphin on Halloween night. She picked up a pumpkin at the carnival we went to Saturday and then she carved it.  Everyone else had painted pumpkins at mutual or a scout activity.
And Abby wanted to be the butterfly.  I think this butterfly is my favorite costume ever.  So easy!
We picked up the kids from school with their costumes in the car and headed over to another shopping center that had trick or treating.  There was a police car to try out, so Vincent and Abby climbed in.
We went around with Ally and her kids (Jake and Elizabeth didn’t join us-Elizabeth had play practice).  Vincent decided he wanted to be Link (from the Zelda video game) on Sunday afternoon so Olivia made him a hat and he made a paper shield and a cardboard sword.
Friends are so much fun! Ally and I went to a movie together last night and it was so much fun and the movie was pretty funny too.
Work is so busy, but I feel like I’m catching up on my tasks.  I still have a mountain in the back to conquer, but I have a list of things that I’d like to get done and I’m crossing them off, so I feel pretty good about that.  I have an overnight this week and I get to spend the whole time in my own department, so I’m hopeful that I can finally clear my mountain.  I actually did work on Halloween during the day after asking for it off because I could work in my department.  I had three huge carts full of socks to get out and things to switch around in the sock/tights/legging area and I got them all out.  That was around 20 boxes full of socks to put away and organize.  It was kind of great because a sock vendor came in the middle of my day to check on two brands of socks and make sure they looked good and they did.  The store manager thought I could get my whole mountain done in those eight hours, but really it was only enough time to do socks…. I have that overnight to hopefully knock out the rest of the purses, scarves, belts, and slippers. There’s always more on the next truck.
We love having Andy home again!  We miss him when he’s away!
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September

Did September fly right on by for anyone else?  Goodness and somehow October snuck right past too and now it’s November already!!!
I promised some back to school pictures at the end of my last post… and then kind of got really busy for two months.  So sorry!
Back to school started with a Popsicle Social at the elementary school.  The kids were able to meet their teachers and bring school supplies and then have a popsicle outside.  Pretty fun and that way the teachers can get the supplies all organized before all the kids are there.
Abby has the same teacher all three of her siblings had for kindergarten (Mrs. Schamber just had her second baby five weeks before school!)
Vincent is in class with Miss Munn.  She likes Star Wars too.
Olivia had a sixth grade only day the Monday before school started officially.
She’s excited about her classes and starting middle school.
She found a few friends before I headed out.
First day of school obligatory picture…
even though it’s technically Olivia’s second day and Abby didn’t have real school that day…
Vincent and Abby by their school taking pictures because we got there a little too early to go in for breakfast
(and this year they are doing free breakfast and lunch for ANY student who wants to participate, so I’m stoked that we don’t have to make lunches again!)
Abby was super excited to start school finally after the kind of ‘ease into kindergarten’ they like to do here.  The first day of school was on a Tuesday and we had her assessment interview that day for a half hour. then other kids had theirs continuing through Wednesday.  Thursday kids at the start of the alphabet went for half a day and finally Friday the second half of the alphabet was able to go, including Abby (only to have Labor Day on Monday, so no school until that following Tuesday.)  She’s loving it so far!
I got to go and drop her off.  She did great and is learning to not interrupt the teacher and that it’s not always her turn.  She knows all of her letters and is learning sight words. And finally writes her name with b’s instead of q’s.
Vincent’s liking third grade too.  He is learning a lot and is doing great at piano and scouts as well.
Elizabeth started eighth grade and Olivia started sixth grade.  Now they are both in middle school!  They had their pictures taken the week before school started when they went to pick up their schedules.
 We finished up the first week of school with a visit to the fair in Walla Walla with Grandma and Grandpa Crowther.
Vincent trying out the water safety booth photo opp.
We decided to take the kids on a carnival ride, but we didn’t have the whole day because we had other things to do that evening, so we bought one book of tickets and picked a ride to go on.  Abby was too short for the spider/octopus ride, so she got to go on one in the kiddie section. Elizabeth and Olivia were pretty nervous before the ride.
And they screamed throughout the whole ride, mostly Olivia… begging to get off right now!  Andy and I just laughed at them because this is my very favorite ride.  I may have told them it is like a fun hill…  Vincent didn’t enjoy it much either.  The girls finally did like it at the very, very end.
We mostly went to Walla Walla to see the quilts Elizabeth and Olivia made over Spring Break with Grandma Mary.  Their quilts are behind them just above Olivia’s head.  They both got blue ribbons and Elizabeth got an honorable mention ribbon as well.
Monday was Labor Day and I was scheduled to work in the afternoon, so Andy took the kids up to the mountain to see his folks.
They tried out the new side-by-side and had fun playing.
Love these guys!
Abby wrote this about Labor Day at school.  She told me she wants to be a mom when she grows up and that she’ll have eight children.  She’s the woman in the middle of the pictures with the rainbow dress and two of her many daughters are on either side of her.  Super sweet!
Elizabeth got her braces OFF!  Wooohooo!  Now she has a plastic retainer for awhile and she’ll be all set.
Vincent and Abby decided on a Halloween costume early.  It’s from a field trip he took with the scouts to a safety convention.
I took down curtains and the wood brackets on the wall above the windows and filled in holes and patched and wiped down and painted the walls in the family room.  They are a silver mint color, but mostly look a little blueish.
We took a little side trip to Hermiston to visit Desi, one of my oldest friends.  We went to kindergarten together and always got in so much trouble for talking too much.  We were penpals all through middle and high school after I moved away.  She had a little craft booth set up to earn a little more money for her world travels she is going on this year.  (It was super cold and rainy that day even though it was September.)
I took Olivia and Elizabeth with me to the Stake Women’s Service Project before the General Women’s Broadcast.  Olivia helped to cut fringe on a scarf and both girls helped with other service too.  I made a soup and visited more than service.

We invited the primary families to the Temple on a Sunday evening in September.  The gates were opened after a few phone calls.  Good thing I showed up early.  They are supposed to be open on Sunday nights so families can visit, so I didn’t even think about calling or know who to call to make sure they would be.  Luckily, it all worked out.  They were opened just before our primary kids got there.  We asked four adults in our ward to share a little about the temple with our primary children.  One talked about family history, another about personal ordinances, another about covenants, and the last one about Baptism for the Dead.  It was great.

So glad so many kids showed up and brought their families. (This is actually most of the kids in our ward.)
We love to see the Temple!
This was a great thing to go and do the week before General Conference.  I really liked it on a Sunday evening.  Kids had the reminder at church that it was happening, they were all still dressed in church clothes, and we weren’t competing with sports, birthday parties, household chores, travel, or any of that.  It was even done in about an hour.
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Exciting August

Not really, but it WAS full and it was fun! Ok, some things are pretty exciting!  Read on to find out what!

We finished up with one last family reunion for the Ransom side.  We went to the Columbia Gorge by Bonneville Dam.  Normally we’d join everyone camping, but this year we didn’t because I couldn’t get rid of my shifts at Kohl’s AND because Andy gave his two week’s notice at his job the day before we were supposed to go camping and he wanted to finish up some projects first.  That’s right, new job for Andy after 18! years at PLCs Plus.  It’s kind of bittersweet because he really likes his boss and has a lot of perks there, but it was time for something new and that’s going to be with Schneider Electric.  It’s strange for Andy to go from a company with three people (including the owner) to a company with over 150,000 worldwide, but he’s enjoying it so far. And as a bonus, we have way less expensive health insurance, a retirement plan, a business car allowance, and a raise to look forward to.  We plan on using ‘extra’ to work our way out of debt much faster and then we can save more.

Back to the reunion fun.  We headed down early on the Thursday of the reunion and met up with Andy’s parents at the campsite, but no one else was there yet, so we decided to go hike Beacon Rock while we waited for Andy’s sisters to get there.  Elizabeth and Olivia didn’t want to come, so they stayed with Andy’s parents and Andy and I took Vincent and Abby.

It was WAY more steep than I could do easily.  I had to keep taking breaks just to catch my breath.  Partly because I’m out of shape and partly just to control my breathing.
But we made it to the top!
Andy brought it binoculars to check out the view and shared.
A lady at the top took our picture for us.
We picked up some lunch and went to a park to eat it in Cascade Locks and then saw a barge, so we headed downriver to see if we could watch it go through the Locks.
We watched the water rise in the lock to match the water on the side the barge was coming from.
And watched the gates open and the barge come in.
It was actually about four barges and they tied them all together to come through.
When it got to the end of the lock, it stopped while the water lowered to match the water on the other side.  It’s like a barge elevator.
It was really cool to watch, even though it did take a long time.
Then we headed to the Fish Hatchery in Bonneville where Andy’s grandma Flora used to count fish for her job.
Vincent keeps losing teeth and looks more and more like a jack-a-lantern every day it seems.
We met up with the whole family at a park where the kids played and we ate dinner and had a meeting/program.
Andy’s dad with his siblings.  Youngest to oldest.
Abbie Ransom met Abby Ransom again.  They met before three years ago but I don’t think we took a picture.
The following weekend was our ward campout and talent show.  We didn’t feel like camping, but we went out for the dinner and talent show.  Andy showed his Rubik’s Cube talent.
The following week one of our Primary Activity Day girls planned a Primary Ice Cream Social and asked everyone to bring a favorite ice cream topping.  I added a few extra kids to the fun with Christian, Rory, and Kilaina.
Olivia’s hamster Minty liked our summer squash.
Olivia planned out a fun visit to Andy’s parent’s place for her birthday.  She went the week before her birthday and took Elizabeth and our neighbor Ally.  Andy dropped them off on the Monday before Olivia’s birthday and they came home Thursday morning.
George and Shirley bought a fun new toy side-by-side to ride around in on the mountain.
They went out to dinner at a pizza place.
And they did a lot of crafting and playing.
Olivia had a really fun time and so did the other girls.
They even made a cake and decorated it.
My parents brought Olivia a new camp chair for her birthday.  We love visitors!
I love watching Vincent and Abby read together.
Andy and I took Olivia out to Famous Dave’s for her birthday dinner.  She wanted to go there and have ribs!
I gave a talk in church.  I think it went well.  Nothing would come together until about 11pm the night before, but I figured it out and the things I liked from the THREE talks I was assigned that I’d added to a Word document during the week helped a lot.  I deleted some and those ended up being the exact quotes the High Councilor used after my talk.
This little girl turned 11!
On her birthday my cousin brought her three girls over to play while she went to her college classes that morning.  When she got back we went to the park to play with them.
Olivia liked her baby.  I think the feeling was mutual.
Abby and Vincent had a good time with the older two girls.
And then I begged a friend to let us swim in her pool….
Abby is getting better all the time!
Most of the swimmers.  We took Ally around with us again for Olivia’s birthday.
This game was Olivia’s favorite.  They called it a color game.  The kids on the other side each have to pick a basic color and when the person who’s it says it they have to jump in and when the person who’s it hears a splash, they try to catch them and tag them.
They ended the fun with a Chicken Fight!  The three older girls put the younger kids on their shoulders and they all tried to knock each other off balance.
Next up. back to school!
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July Fun

 We had our annual Ward Fourth of July Breakfast that I LOVE!  Primary was asked to provide some games.  I asked a cub scout leader if she could be in charge of that and she found a large Jenga set and a yard quilt checkers game.  The kids had a good time.
Vincent with one of our friends from his primary class.
Abby liked the bubbles.  (The checkers quilt is in the background.)
After the ward activity we headed to Walla Walla for a BBQ with my parents and sister.
Happy Fourth of July!  Abby wanted to take some pictures with my mom’s camera.
So patriotic.
My mom finished putting the finishing touches on Elizabeth’s and Olivia’s quilts and has them ready for the fair in Walla Walla.  Elizabeth’s is the bigger quilt.  They had a great time making them with my mom over spring break.
My sister just moved and was headed home to make her kids organize their rooms and my older girls jumped at the chance to go help.  Olivia helped Jacob.
Elizabeth helped Jackson.
Their new place is nice and big and will be a great home for them.
My parents and I walked over to the park for the big community booths and food and fun, while Andy and Abby rested.
Vincent had a good time looking around and liked this big old limo.
Free Slurpees from 7-11 on the eleventh of July.  We went to two different stores this year since we had a few errands around town.  Elizabeth was babysitting, but I picked her up with the boy she was watching and took them with us to one stop.

A friend’s kids and the girl she babysits came over one day while she was taking care of her grandma at the hospital.  The kids all did great eating lunch and playing.
Olivia decided that she’d play music during the tea party that they dressed up for.
We spur-of-the-moment ran to the movies with some other friends.  We watched “Secret Life of Pets” and it was really funny and cute.  Abby liked the tiny white, fluffy dog most.
Olivia came with us too, but felt a little too old for a picture.
Andy went on a hike with the 14-17 year old boys in our ward (pictures below) and while he was gone, a friend of mine said she was headed through with her kids and wanted to crash at our house for the night.  She lived here for a summer when Vincent was a baby and it was fun to catch up.  She took selfies of us in her snapchat and sent them to me.
Thanks for the fun Janae!
I helped take the scouts up to their hike.  They started at the top of the Eagle Creek 13 mile trail.
It’s just a little ways from Mount Hood.  It was beautiful driving down the hill.
Wahtum Lake
At the bottom of the trail, where Eagle Creek dumps into the Columbia
One of the waterfalls you can see along the trail.
Different view of same waterfall.
They ate MREs (army food) along the trail, but the campsite host took them into town to get regular food, which was quickly devoured.
I helped pick them up Saturday and we all went to Burgerville to eat dinner on the way home.
I finally had a chance to get back in my garden.  I hadn’t done an initial weeding since planting and it was wild.  The whole thing looked like the middle part at the beginning with even bigger weeds at the back, but I chipped away at it over a week or so and got it cleaned out (15 hours later…)
Fresh and clean! But not many plants survived my neglect.  I’ve since purchased some tomato plants that were already big.
Andy built this sprinkler for the garden this year which has made a big difference.  We’ll be able to take it out at the end of the year to rototill and reset the garden.
Along with outside progress, I’ve finally got a little start on some inside jobs I’ve been wanting to do.  I took down the big ugly wooden valances above the door and window in the family room and the curtains and all the other odd things screwed into the wall that were no longer in use.  (Andy did have to finish a few things I wasn’t strong enough to get…)  Next up is filling in the holes and repainting before we replace the carpet for wood.  I’m still trying to decide what color to paint the two side walls that are currently a cream color.
Andy’s parents sold their home in Kennewick and moved up to their mountain home full time.  We’ll miss this house they lived in for almost 30 years, but I think it’ll be a good move for them.
We said goodbye to these leather couches that have put up with nine years of abuse in our family room.  Andy took them to the dump with the wall stuff that we took down.
We moved our couch and chairs from the living room into the family room (that we bought about 12 years ago for $125 from an ad in the Giant Nickel.  The recliner is one my mom bought at the thrift store just before Elizabeth was born that I recovered several years ago.)
AND Andy’s parents dropped off their living room couch and love seat for us while they moved.  So much nicer (and cleaning the carpets is on my to-do list.)
Abby cut her hair up to her ear on one side, so she had another drastic haircut when we went to visit my cousin Danette to fix up our hair the other day.  Danette told Abby she’d give her a buzzcut like Vincent’s if she cuts her hair again.
I had about four inches cut off, but I look the same.  Elizabeth had a full comb out (which took up most of our time…) and a trim, Olivia had a trim, and Vincent had a trim.  Then we headed to a cousin’s wedding reception.
I’ve been super busy with work since I opened up my availability to anytime other than Sundays and Wednesday nights.  I’m hoping to switch positions soon.  Elizabeth and Olivia have earned quite a bit of babysitting money watching Vincent and Abby while Andy and I work, but they are doing a great job.  They like earning some money to buy things they like.
Every time I see Elizabeth wearing my old shirt for pajamas, I think of the old man who was so rude to me about it when I was little.  He told me that this would never happen.
 My mom bought this shirt  for me in 1993 and I loved it.  It’s Dennis the Menace’s nemesis Margaret who always bossed him around.  I just wish the current woman candidate for president was worth voting for so I could be more excited about this possibility.
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