Ransom Family

Random Ramblings and Happenings

October 2020

Hey, we made it to November! This year has been so strange. In so many ways it has flown by, but it’s also just felt like it’s been dragging on forever…

Early in the summer Abby drew this picture to depict train safety for Washington Operation Lifesaver’s contest about Rail Safety and won 2nd place! She got a gift card in the mail (which she traded for cash to deposit in the bank so she can save it for driver’s ed in six years.- she wants to be ready!)

There’s a girl on a bridge above a train saying, “I’m glad I’m not down there.”

We enjoyed a wonderful General Conference weekend.  So many great talks and inspiration.  It was just what I needed.

Distance learning…not my favorite, but we are surviving.

The elementary school PTA had a Read-a-thon instead of the traditional Jog-a-thon this year since they are all still distance learning. (actually special education went back the end of September and the last week in October the kindergarteners were able to go back… Abby still has to wait another week before her grade goes back.)  Anyway, Abby had a goal to read 500 minutes in three weeks for the READ-A-THON this year and she crushed it with 1,021 minutes read! 

Sometimes I take Abby on errands with me on my days off so she’s not home while the older kids do their school zoom classes (elementary school zooms are earlier in the day than middle and high school).  We found these adorable overalls at a thrift store and had to get them.  They fit her perfectly!  But her siblings tease her and call them “dungarees” like they call the overalls in the “Bing Bunny” books, so she hasn’t worn them for a few weeks.

I went to a sidewalk book sale at our local library one afternoon, not that I need more books, but I also like to support the Library Book Room and really, I just love, love, love books!  I just picked up all of these books for $5. Some are to replace worn out copies at my house. Olivia has been collecting the Alex Rider series and I bought a few of them and had to call her and confirm that she didn’t already have these four books.  Elizabeth’s Fablehaven books are so worn out you can hardly read the spine, so I picked up those for her (even though they have some wear too) and Elizabeth quickly claimed first reading for the Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Andy’s Grandma Ellen’s husband, Paul, passed away this month.  He had cancer all over and was in pain, so it was a blessing.  He was almost 97 years old.  With all of the Covid restrictions, they had a small viewing and graveside service with very limited numbers that Andy’s parents and his aunt and uncle took Grandma Ellen to to help her (she’s 92).  We were able to take her to a family memorial service at a family member’s home in my hometown (Paul lived in Burbank until he remarried and his son was my bishop and I know his grandchildren pretty well.)  They told all about Paul and then opened up the service to anyone.  Grandma Ellen leaned over to Andy and I and asked us if we thought that meant her, YES!  She said how much she loved Paul and how she knows he’s with Annie now and how much she loves each one of his children and grandchildren too.  It was very special. 

Paul’s military service picture.  He beat the odds and made it home in one piece!  He spent 33 months in Italy during World War II driving a tank.

Photo display with Ellen on the left and Annie on the right.

Fishing pictures and military medals.

I took this picture November 2019 for Grandma Ellen and Paul so they could put it in their Christmas card.

And this one is from their wedding August 2008 when she was 80 and he was almost 85.  They had a very happy 12 years together.
Olivia and Vincent played a beautiful duet at church in October.  Yes, we are finally back at church!  The regulations for meetings are pretty strict and we could only have 50 people in the church at a time (and still wearing masks), so we were only able to attend in person once a month.  However, our ward set up a link each week they met in person so we could watch from home until it was time to bless and pass the sacrament.
 
Abby and I planted the tulip bulbs that my parents sent us from Winter Quarters Visitor’s Center for my mother’s day/birthday. Here’s to hoping they winter well here! 
Abby wrote a petition in September to encourage us to recycle more and begged us all to sign it.  Since then, we take weekly trips to the city recycle bins (because I don’t want to pay $8 a month for another giant garbage outside that the city picks up…)  I hadn’t been to this recycle spot in awhile, but noticed the spelling on “Enforcement” looked a little bit odd without the ‘e’ in the middle. Also, people always leave trash, used oil, and broken furniture right next to this sign.  They really need some cameras and should blast people on social media for leaving junk that other citizens clean up for them.

We celebrated Halloween!  Elizabeth had two friends over to carve pumpkins and let Vincent and Abby join her.

Elizabeth made this shirt with scraps she picked out at Grandma Mary’s house and did her makeup for a 

She painted this cool jack-o-lantern on the back of the shirt with special fabric paint too.

 

 

Abby wanted to be a girl Tron.  Elizabeth made her a costume out of cardboard.  She also made Vincent’s King Boo costume.  It purposely folds so he can go through doorways. Olivia pulled out our suspender dolphin costume last minute, so she could come with Abby and I to a few of our normal stops and up and down our block trick-or-treating.  Elizabeth had some friends over to play games and visit.  Vincent went trick-or-treating with two of his best friends and a few extras. 

Abby in front of a photo set up at a house we went to.

The King Boo costume was made of all cardboard and spray paint/acrylic paint by Elizabeth.  

Vincent’s two best friends decided last Halloween that they needed a game plan for this year.  They planned where to go, what to wear, and even which candy is the best with a candy scale from best to worst.  It was a very thorough presentation they created during Ramen Club. 
They all wanted to be ghosts.  Vincent is King Boo from Nintendo.  Alanna was Phantom of the Opera.  Maddie was the Hatbox Ghost.  And the two girls who joined in later were also ghosts because that was the requirement for going with them.  I can’t remember if they were particular ghosts.  Vincent’s costume was probably the most fun, but I think it was a little hard for him to walk around in it all night, but he was with four girls, so he didn’t complain. (They are all just friends).
After they finished trick-or-treating they went back to one of the girl’s houses (whose parents are some of our good friends) and ate snacks, watched a movie, and visited.  Vincent’s costume didn’t work for that, so my friend set it up in the corner and put a pumpkin in front of it so it wouldn’t tip over and then Vincent thought it looked like King Boo was eating the pumpkin and laughed hysterically.  She even took a picture of it.
Fun night and extra easy now that I don’t have to make the costumes!
 
And now we head right into holidays with retail sales and hours and busy-ness!  I’ve already picked up a few gifts and hoping I can keep it simple, but also get it all done early this year to limit the stress.  I do love the holidays!

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September 2020

The kids started distance learning school September 1st this year (we usually start the Tuesday before Labor Day and Labor Day was really late this year.) Our county is still in Phase 1.5 and the local health department recommended no in person classes. We are making it work, but hoping the schools can reopen soon.

Elizabeth is a SENIOR this year!
Olivia is a SOPHOMORE.
Vincent is in SEVENTH grade.
Abby is in FOURTH grade.

Abby’s school had a supply pick up a few days before school started with a special box that they weren’t supposed to open until the first day of school. All of the fourth graders got this fun shirt.
I’m no longer the PTA president at the middle school, but this year I’m the treasurer and the new president made these fun survival kits for our teachers and put them in their boxes the day we helped pass out school supplies in a parking lot parade for pretty much one whole, long day. Of the 800 kids normally enrolled in the middle school 630 came to pick up their supplies, which is much more than I expected! They had different stops for each subject and the table we were assigned to was to pass out a shirt to each middle school student. There was a different color for each grade. It’s tricky to still show we care and support the teachers with this social distancing stuff.
The sister missionaries came over to work on their pictures Elizabeth is helping them with. They came over about six weeks before this picture and she showed them how to trace their picture onto the canvas with the carbon paper between. This time they were all done tracing and she showed them how to paint the pictures they chose. Sister Hilton chose to paint her parents. Sister Shunn painted her sister and her sister’s fiancé, and Sister Bradshaw painted her dog. Sister Hilton was transferred soon after this, so we don’t have her finished picture yet, but here are the others.
Sister Shunn’s wedding gift for her sister and almost brother in law.
Sister Bradshaw’s picture to remember her dog she misses.
Olivia was able to start social distanced piano lessons with a new teacher. In person is so much easier than over video. Our new teacher is Holly and she’s very nice and has great corrections to help Olivia improve. Sometimes she plays the upright piano (to her left in the picture) to show Olivia something new to try. It’s really kind of cool.
It may have been less than a week of distance learning, but we were ready for a break. We went up to Andy’s parent’s place for Labor Day and spent Sunday night at their house so Andy and his dad could start work early on their pump house project. Labor Day wasn’t all fun and games… But it was mostly fun plus a bit of work.
Andy helped his dad transfer the electric program to his new water pump shed.
Shirley buffed up a new dresser, and Olivia drove for the first time (that counted as my working for the day-she did fine and started drivers ed this month with virtual classes and we’ll schedule in person drives later.)
Kids played games with a cousin-Clue, Nintendo team games, and some intense Chess battles. It was great to get away for a few days and be unplugged for the majority of the time.
We had to take a detour through Prosser and Benton City on the way home because the highway was closed due to fires and poor visibility and accidents in the area, but we made it safely.
Praying for all those affected by so many fires in our area as well as those fighting the fires!
Traffic backed up at Prosser.
Smoky, smoky skies for a few weeks. There are so many fires in the Northwest that all dumped into our area at the same time. We were happy when it finally all blew away.
Back to school! I don’t know what the writing prompt from the teacher was, but Abby was excited about it!
Some days are better than others with this distance learning thing, but we are making it work. Some of my kids enjoy the shorter day of actual classes more than others. Abby’s school begins at 8am and goes until 11:00am with 8:30-10am on zoom with her teacher and class. Vincent’s classes start at 10:30am and go until 12:30pm and the high school classes start at 12:15pm and go until 3:00pm (or 4:00pm for days they have zero hour). The middle and high school classes are split into two groups with periods 1, 2, 3+zero hour one day and 4, 5, 6 the next day. I like that they aren’t ALL doing Zoom meetings with their teachers for the whole day. We did bump up to some nicer internet to accommodate the extra internet use, but it’s still better to have the classes staggered.
Sometimes I take Abby on errands with me during the afternoons after her class is done. We had a lunch date to The Folded Pizza Pie one day. Abby decided it’s her new favorite restaurant. She thinks it should be everyone’s favorite too. The owner Becky said that she was the first person to draw on the chalk wall since February when things all shut down. We are finally able to eat inside restaurants with limited capacity and wearing masks until we sit down. Abby asked to give her compliments to the chef (Becky’s husband) and asked him about how much experience he had to have to make such delicious food. We are just happy to eat sitting inside restaurants instead of in our car.
I celebrated THREE YEARS at Fountain Books! It’s hard to believe I’ve been working at my dream job for that long already! So many memories, they wouldn’t all fit into the collage!
Here are a few things I love about my job:
-Working for and with seriously great people Ben and Jodi, Heather, Christina, Chandler, Hallie, Kayla, Nicole -plus nicer than average customers.
-Meeting published authors and artists including David Archuleta (twice!), Lexi Walker, Jason Lyle Black, Brad Wilcox, Anthony Sweat, Ganel-Lyn Condie, Esther Hatch, Jennifer Moore, Anneka Walker, Krista Jensen, Joanna Barker, Heidi Kimball, Ashtyn Newbold, Julianne Donaldson, and a few more I didn’t get pictures of!
-Getting to read, listen, and watch new products early!
-Challenges of moving a store two years ago and also figuring out how to do business during COVID-19.
-I’ve been the store manager for Sweet Salt Clothing for the past two years (it’s attached to the bookstore) and have enjoyed that part too! So many cute things!
-I am also the social media manager and learned how to schedule posts that are helpful and timely to our customers.
– It’s been an amazing three years and in a lot of ways feels so much longer in the very best way possible!
Olivia printed out her permit ten days before driver’s ed begins, so Andy took her driving. Don’t worry, the magnet moved to the back of the car before they drove.
She’s cautious, but smart. She starts virtual driver’s ed next week (with in-person drives we’ll schedule.)
She has almost a year to practice before getting her license which is awesome! She’s been out driving almost every day since this time and is improving each time.
I worked really hard on getting our PTA 2-for-1 Discount Cards figured out for the year. Each PTA member receives discounts to all of these local businesses (including Sweet Salt Clothing this year!) PTOs are able to buy the cards from the Richland PTA Council and hand them out to their PTO members as well. (PTAs pay $1 a member in fees already, so PTO pays the same for each card they purchase).

September was pretty busy. I worked quite a bit, but we are still closed on Mondays, so it’s nice to always have Mondays to run errands and catch up on things at home. Kids are doing school again and between the four of them, they have 20 teachers (Elizabeth has 7, Olivia has 7-but the same seminary teacher, Vincent has 6, and Abby has one)! Andy was finally able to go and visit some customers for work in Portland, Seattle, and Spokane areas, but still isn’t doing any air travel.
I’ve had to keep changing my reading goal for 2020 because I’ve read more than normal, especially in February and March. My new goal is 200 books read this year and I’m ahead, which I’ll need during holiday time at work.

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August 2020

August already seems SO LONG ago, even though it’s only September 13th (Happy birthday, Milton!) as I write this.

Olivia, Vincent, and Abby wanted to go camping, but we didn’t plan any trips this summer, so they set up the tent in the backyard. Vincent and Abby didn’t make it outside overnight. They couldn’t fall asleep because the ‘crickets are too loud’. Olivia stayed out there overnight and enjoyed a room to herself.
 
Elizabeth is offering her acrylic paintings for sale on Etsy.
Looking for a unique gift or want something different than you’re finding in every store?
She has painted her siblings, one set of grandparents, a few custom paintings, and even a just married couple as a wedding gift! These Clue (1985 movie) characters were fun for her to make.
Check out her page on Etsy (EZRansom).
Elizabeth painted these pictures of Abby and Vincent to practice.
Elizabeth and Vincent had an opportunity to spend a few nights up at the mountain with Andy’s parents. They were able to go to church INSIDE a church building! They have been closed in our area of Washington since March. They also did some exploring on a Sunday afternoon.
Beautiful area!
Elizabeth and Grandma Shirley did some Halloween crafting.
And Elizabeth helped sand down the picnic tables for a fresh coat of stain.
Vincent tested out the zipline.
Vincent played some of his favorite Legend of Zelda music on Grandma Shirley’s piano.
They had a wonderful visit.
And did some good work too!
Andy took Vincent and Abby on a little trip to Idaho to sit down in a restaurant because they were both cavity free at their last dentist appointment (dinner is cheaper than fillings!)
Vincent and Abby almost always choose Texas Roadhouse. They had to wear masks until they got their food, but had a great meal and visit. I was working that day.
Olivia turned 15!!!
She is a great kid who loves others, shares her talents, and strives to do better daily. She has filled our home with music and laughter and we love her!
Olivia had a scavenger hunt from Abby, home church, a phone call from Grandma Mary and Grandpa Paul who are on their mission in Nebraska, lunch with Grandma Shirley and Grandpa George, a flaming cupcake courtesy of Elizabeth, piano duet playing with Vincent, and a lot of texts and messages from friends and family, plus some gifts, including a new cute dress from Sweet Salt Clothing! Pretty nice for staying home the whole day!
A little closer picture of a cupcake with 15 candles courtesy of Elizabeth.
Kayla, Heather, and I wore our graphic tees one Saturday at work. They are super cute. I’m so glad we are open inside! We took masks off just for the picture.
It’s true… Unless I’m reading, I’d rather be reading. There are so many books on my to-read list!
I love this tee that Sweet Salt Clothing-Kennewick just got in. It’s great for errand running days. There are several new fun styles to choose from.
Abby came with me to the grocery store and we saw Venus Flytrap plants for sale in a center aisle. Abby LOVES plants! She asked if if buy her one, but I said no and said if she wanted to write a report all about them, I’d consider it.
That night after dinner she wrote down all that she knew about them and then did some research. Olivia helped her add some pictures to improve it and I edited her initial report to have her fix a few things, but it looks pretty good for a fourth grade report!
Abby with her Venus Flytrap plant named Jaws. She loves to talk to it and feed it.

The summer was so strange without any reunions or any real trips. We went up to the mountains a few times, but mostly just stuck around home. We ended the month prepping for school and doing supply pickups at the elementary and middle schools and figuring out what this distance learning 2.0 will look like. Finger’s crossed they get to go back at all this school year!

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July 2020

You’d think I’d have posted about the month before the next one is half over, but even though I have time, I’m still not awesome at getting these posted quickly…. remember when I posted every.single.day?  Yeah, I’m not in that place in my life anymore. lol.

To kick off July, something miraculous happened!  We FINALLY were able to OPEN the bookstore INSIDE!  We’ve been limping by with Curbside Pickup since March 25th until July 3rd.  The bookstore side of the store did alright, but the clothing side didn’t do well at all.  We are so happy to be able to be open inside and see our customers again and let people try on clothing (and then we quarantine it for a few days).  Everyone is required to wear masks in any business in the state, but we’ll do that to be able to be open again.  Our county seems to be stuck at Phase 1.5.  There’s really no end in sight for us yet, but I’m hoping that by the end of the year, we’ll be able to go back to normal in most things. (I mean, I wish it would happen tomorrow, but I don’t expect it with the amount of positive cases in our area and I’m not going into how political it has become.)

We sanitize registers after every customer and wipe down the doors and bathroom and I’m pretty sure we’re cleaner than any other store I’ve been to in the last five months…

Andy’s sister Torrie gave me this cute sign that I hung up in my kitchen.  I added this phrase from a hymn I like to remind me to do good.

The Fourth of July was fun.  We sent Olivia and Abby up to the mountains with Andy’s parents to spend a night before we went up on the 4th.  They crafted and played and had some grandpa and grandma time before we came up to try out the zipline Olivia and Grandpa George put up.  It still needed some finishing touches, so Andy helped with that as much as he could.  It was decided that they need another kind of strap to make it able to go up higher and probably need to build a little stand to go off of.  For now, just Vincent and Abby were able to ride on it without dragging on the ground.

Vincent tried it out.

Olivia was a good helper to them and to Grandpa George.

Abby had a fun time riding the zipline.

Elizabeth’s favorite thing to do at the mountain is to drive the side-by-side around the property.  They come back covered in red dirt, but we still love it!

Andy and George tightening the straps up as best they could.

Abby found a lizard and made a little home for it.

We played some games inside while we waited for it to be dark enough to watch the fireworks.

I popped some of our traditional poppycock popcorn (similar to caramel) and went outside to watch the fireworks.  Our neighbors put on a great show.  All of the public shows were cancelled due to COVID-19 and I heard that all of the firework stands in our area were sold out a day or so before the 4th.  I believe it!  I saw and heard fireworks for days and weeks (and even heard some the beginning of August!)
Free fireworks and popcorn is how we roll.  If you get to wear pajamas, it’s even better.

I think the kids have officially been home too long.
Two of them can now beat Andy at MarioKart.  They have had a great time playing games that haven’t been played much lately.

I’m still finding plenty of time to read.  I have been working on my stack of to-read books that I have physical copies of, but somehow it just keeps growing…. Thriftbooks.com and Andy’s aunt and uncle gifting us a lot of books might have something to do with that… I just love to read!

Abby handed each of us a note with an invitation to meet her in the backyard. Tragedy has struck. She has such a tender heart.   It was a backyard burial for “Grassy” Abby’s pet grasshopper. She took care of Grassy for weeks after he broke his leg.  She has a sweet and tender heart.

 

I heard about a Lego Challenge that a local Real Estate office was hosting with Amazon gift card prizes for kids up to 12 years old.  I signed Vincent up for it.  They were asked to count out 500 or less Legos to use and were given a challenge as the Zoom started to build a dream playground with their Legos.  This is what Vincent built.  Initially they were going to have each kid vote for one other kid and whoever had the most votes would win for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places.  Then it changed to their office was going to vote and then it changed again to them posting it on their facebook page and whoever’s picture had the most likes (or whoever’s mom had the most friends like it-total popularity contest) by a certain date would be the winners.  That part of it was a little annoying, but Vincent had a good time making his creation anyway.
Abby’s activity day leaders dropped off a little kit to grow this flower in May or June and she asked if she could send them a picture of it in July.  She loves to garden!  She’s been watering plants and fertilizing them with broken egg shells and opening curtains to let light in all summer.
Elizabeth started an Etsy account to sell her acrylic paintings.  Feel free to check it out and let her know if you’re interested in having her make anything for you.
While it’s still not ideal to be under restrictions due to COVID-19 and government overreach, I feel like we are doing alright and managing it all pretty well.  Our kids are still getting along pretty well and Andy and I find time to go out at lunchtime alone and take some time away from kids too.  Andy has been going to parks to do his work some days when he can’t have interruptions and I am able to go to work usually three days a week (sometimes more if needed.)  I actually worked a lot in July because one of my coworkers had a trip and then jury duty and the store manager is juggling two jobs right now and mostly just worked on the weekends.  It’s a good thing I like my job!
Hope all of our friends are healthy and happy and enjoying extra time spent together.
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June 2020

With our State shutdown, our kids aren’t going many places (Andy still has to leave the house daily, even if it’s just getting a pop at the store and I’m working a bit again), so they are busy at home doing projects, watching movies, reading books, playing games, and eating (all day long!)  Early in June they were picking at each other so Andy and I sent them on a walk. Our house was the most quiet it had been in three months. We sent Elizabeth with Vincent and Olivia with Abby and in the middle Vincent and Abby traded.  When they all got home, we had ice cream.  It was a good night.
I’ve been reading even more than normal during all of this.  Early in June I hit 100 books read this year so far, 64 of them since March 13th (when everything shut down). I’m not quite at a book a day because things have started getting a little busier around here, but I’m fairly confident that I’ll get to my goal of 120 books for the year.  I like to keep track of the books I read and want to read on Goodreads.  It’s a great way to track and rate books and find new great books to read.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since my high school graduation. Every time graduations come around, I find myself thinking about the people I graduated with and remembering the fun times we had and the good people they have become. There were only 60 graduates in my class, but we were all kind to each other and got along with each other, despite differences. I love seeing that so many of them have stayed in the area and some are even teaching there now! Class of 2000 was a special class.
In the beginning of summer all the bees hang out in the Linden trees in our front yard.  There’s a constant buzz when you walk outside. They must be in bee heaven.
The kids finished school on June 16th this year.  Vincent had a 10am math zoom everyday, so when Abby’s class met twice a week at 10am (of course 10am is always when everyone had meetings…), she’d hang out with me in my room and then I could help keep her on track.
I turned 38 the day school got out! I always wanted to go to school on my birthday and one of my friends with the same birthday and I were excited one year that we had a lot of snow days because school kept getting closer and closer to our birthday, but we ended up getting out of school on June 15th instead of 16th.  We were bummed.  Lucky for my kids, they get to go to school a few times on my birthday.
I age happily (mostly) and relish each new year’s adventures and opportunities.
Andy and I have been married for 19 years now! We got married on my 19th birthday, so I’ve now been married half of my life.
It’s been a wonderful journey and there’s no one is rather travel this road with than Andy. When we met in the singles branch at church, we were in the same group for an activity and he was driving and I called ‘shotgun’ so I didn’t have to sit in the back with the rest of our group and I’ve been sitting shotgun ever since.
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Andy and I planned a trip to Seattle to go to the Temple there with my aunt and uncle who are celebrating their 50th anniversary, but the Temple is currently closed due to COVID-19, so we went by ourselves to celebrate our anniversary.
Andy and I drove around the state and ate INSIDE a few restaurants (most had just opened that day!) Nothing big, but time together is always wonderful. We stopped at Red Robin in Wenatchee and Olive Garden in Seattle near our hotel.
My cousins had a smaller party than planned to celebrate their parent’s anniversary.  We were able to join them for the BBQ at my parent’s house where they are currently living.  It was so good to visit with cousins who live near and far and share their joy with their parent’s marriage.
Happy anniversary Aunt Roma and Uncle Gordon!
Happy Father’s Day to some of my favorite dads! I’m so lucky to have grown up with an amazing and faithful dad, a humble and kind grandpa, and to have married a fun and wonderful man for my kids to call dad, along with his father who is loving and selfless. I’m grateful for fathers who strive to follow the example of Christ and love their children as Heavenly Father does
We traveled to see Andy’s parents on Father’s Day and surprise his dad (his mom invited us) and to have dinner with them.  We had a great visit as always.
Abby wrote a poem about Grandpa George for one of her assignments before school was over.
I love this quote from David Butler’s book, “Redeemer”. Because of Jesus miracles did happen, still happen today, and will continue happening forever.
Cupcake of the Month delivery day! A friend who lives in the town I grew up in started this business a few years ago and she comes up with the best flavors month after month!
One of the best things about marrying Andy was gaining four more sisters! I love each one of them and enjoy spending time with them and their families. Susie and Torrie live close to us (and are in our top ten people we visit right now). We went out for DQ Blizzard birthday celebration and visited in the car. So much fun to see them and visit without kids this time.  We were going to do a picnic, but it was too hot that day, so we went out alone instead, which we might have to keep doing for the sanity of all of us!
I love this Hymn that reminds me to strive to do good each day.
I see this message board often and hear my family humming the hymn. Torrie gave me this message board for my birthday.
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More and more we hear stories we could never have imagined on the news that make us concerned for the future, but we know that with our faith in God and the revelation given to the Prophet Russell M. Nelson that everything will turn out.  I’m so grateful for the knowledge that there’s more to life than just coming to Earth and that we can be together with our families for eternity.  It gives me a peace I can’t describe while it feels like the world is in chaos (or maybe it’s mostly our country…) Despite all of that, I don’t feel worried for the future.  I know there will be challenging times and that we can overcome them and become stronger as families, in our faith, and as children of God.

 

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May 2020

Vincent got a little haircut. I think he lost four pounds of hair. We were going to wait until the kids went back to school, but it’s too hot for him to have that much hair over the summer. That was the original plan when we were only supposed to be home for six weeks…
Elizabeth and Abby are in charge of the garden this year. Vincent helped a little today too.
I’ve decided that my new motto is, “A book a day keeps Corona away.”  I’ve been reading a lot over the last few months with extra time at home, even though I’ve started working again doing curbside pickup with some semi-regular hours.
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Quarantine fun: Wii Guitar Hero
Hand-eye coordination, reading, cooperation, and music history.
The kids have been enjoying finding older games and books and other activities to work on during their extra time home.
Ticket to Ride on a rainy day.  The kids also like to go on walks together.
We love our teachers so much!
This year has been more than a little different, but the love they show our kids is always the same.
The teachers our kids are given have always been the best fit for them to learn and grow and develop into the people they need to be and we appreciate that so much.
If you’re looking for my kids, this year Abby’s our only elementary student (so strange to only have one kid there!) and she’s on the top row, second from the right. 
I helped celebrate teachers at the middle school with gift cards to a local restaurant from the middle school PTA.  The counselors at the school delivered these with a few treats and other fun things to each teacher’s home during teacher appreciation week.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, mother-in-law, grandmas, and everyone who has been like a mother to me and our children. We are so blessed to have amazing mothers who strive so hard to love and teach us by example and always show they care.
I don’t think it’s coincidence that Mother’s Day is often so close to teacher appreciation week. I love the extra mothering and love that my children receive from teachers in school and church and aunts, friends, and neighbors!
I claim mother-perks often for kids I babysat, cub scouts, miamaids, trek children, and primary kids. I love to see them do good things, become parents, and create beauty in the world.
Happy Mother’s Day to all those who mother all those around them!
Andy’s aunt and uncle moved into a neighboring town, so we went to help them unload the trucks.  There was enough help that we didn’t all have to work too hard.  We are glad they live so close.  Since they moved in, we have had them over for dinner and Come Follow Me (and they brought us boxes of books for us to enjoy) and we’ve seen them a few other times too.
Uncle John and Aunt LeeAnn found these fun glasses and decided Abby needed them.
I jumped on the avatar bandwagon on Facebook.  It was fun to try and make a mini me, but hard to make it semi-accurate.

 

Crepes sounded good, so I made some.  I heated up some frozen berries on the stove with a little sugar and added whipped topping and powdered sugar. What toppings do you like on your crepe?
We went up to the mountains to visit George and Shirley for Memorial Day. We went up Sunday night and spent the night and had a great visit.
Torrie’s family came up on Monday and the cousins played and played!
It was ‘all-hands-on-deck’ literally when Andy and the kids helped Grandpa George put up new edges on their deck.
They finished before Torrie’s little girls arrived.
Troubles cease? I’ll take it!  Andy and I run errands at lunchtime (when I’m not working) a few times a week.  We like Panda Express, Arby’s, and Costa Vida most.  We have to eat in the car with all seating inside restaurants closed.
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We had a photo shoot at work to update the website.  This is the picture of me.  Want to check out the new website with drone footage?  Here’s the link.  I’ve officially worked at Fountain Books for a little over 2 1/2 years and I still LOVE it!
With all of the protests and rioting in the news, we have all needed a reminder to love one another and be charitable to those around us. As we often ask in our family scripture study when applying scriptures to our lives, “Who is your fellowman?” We’ve talked about that many, many times this year in our home and it helps us to remember that we are ALL children of God and He loves each one of us.
Abby had a grade level zoom art class drawing self portraits. This is her sketch and final self portrait. She was super excited to see the art teacher and do some arranged art (she does a lot of unarranged art at home everyday.) Abby had a sad day because she just realized that she won’t get to take the state testing this year.  She was having a one-on-one zoom meeting check-in with her teacher and broke down about it worried that she’ll have to take third grade again, won’t be ready for fourth grade, and will never get into college.  It was intense and a bit dramatic and made her teacher cry too missing the things they normally do.  Both her teacher and I reassured her that everyone is in the same boat this year and not to worry about what’s happening and that she’s right on track, but it was rough for a few days.Image may contain: 2 people, drawing
Vincent has been connecting with two of his friends after their math daily zoom meeting with a lunchtime Ramen Club (they call it Ramen Cult) zoom almost daily. I found this fun Ramen sweatshirt and decided they each needed one.  We delivered them to the girls and they were so excited, both to get something Ramen themed and to see Vincent in person, even with social distancing.
Olivia and Vincent completed their piano lessons for the year.  Their piano teacher dropped off awards and treats for them to our door and they presented them to each other.  I love the sound of them playing piano and learning and growing in music abilities.
The governor’s stay-at-home order technically expired, but a lot of businesses are still closed (only the ones deemed non-essential-which is much more subjective than you’d think!), restaurants are open for drive-thru only, and we still aren’t able to go to the church building to have meetings as groups.  We are missing some of the social, but we are also enjoying more time spent together and time to slow down a bit, although this month was busier than normal with finishing a lot of things up.
The kids have a few weeks of school in June and then they are off for the summer.  The school district asked everyone who would be attending school here in the fall to keep their Chromebooks because they aren’t sure what school will look like at the beginning of the school year.  Finger’s crossed for a regular start to school!

 

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April 2020

Things look a lot different around our house lately.  Kids are home almost constantly (because we only let them leave to go on walks around the school close to us and to go in the car on birthday drive-bys.)  We now have piano lessons via Facebook Messenger video with our piano teacher.
It works.  It’s different, but it works and we’re getting adjusted.
Vincent and Olivia always have a duet they are working on to help them stay on tempo and work together.
Our kids also have a lot of Zoom classroom meetings.  Between the four of them, they have 20 teachers.  Luckily, Abby only has one, Vincent has one teacher twice (orchestra for 6 grade and the 7/8 grade combined) and the older girls share a zero hour class.  And not every teacher does a daily Zoom meeting.
I did the silly Facebook thing where you list things you don’t like that most people do.
I must have chosen a lot of things well because there were a lot of comments surprised that I don’t like these things.
Unpopular opinion. Things I don’t like that most people do.
1. Dark chocolate
2. Pets
3. Seafood
4. Target
5. Stranger Things/Game of Thrones/Bachelor
6. Video chatting
7. Getting up early
8. Manicures/pedicures
9. Charades
10. Swearing
We participated in the Worldwide Fast on Good Friday.
Join me and my family in Prayer and Fasting on Friday that the pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized.
I believe in miracles. I believe in the faith of millions for the good of all! I believe in Christ and that as we look to Him, He will show us the way back to Him.
I also believe that there is a prophet on the earth today and he is Russell M. Nelson who speaks with God’s instructions for our day, just as Moses, Noah, Isaiah, and other prophets in the Bible led the faithful.
We can fight this terrible pandemic and we CAN win, but not on our own. We need God’s help. What better time than now to call down the powers of heaven to make this stop?Image may contain: 1 person, suit, possible text that says 'invite all, including those not of our faith, to fast and pray on Good Friday, April 10, that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened and life normalized." #PresNelson #GeneralConference'
We enjoyed General Conference and watched it together.  Vincent fell asleep during the last speaker before President Nelson’s closing remarks.
Vincent rediscovered this awesome circuit piano we bought for his birthday in January (that he hadn’t played with yet) when we were reorganizing the laundry room storage last week. He played “Baby Shark” on it.
This is me all torn up about hanging out at home with my family and cancelling most of the things on my calendar and reading a lot!
Also, this shirt I had a friend make for me is perfect.
There was a National Sibling Day.  I posted these pictures from  1991 and a more recent picture of the six of us in 2017.
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It’s a good thing half of us like boiled eggs at our house! I think we skipped this last year and missed it. Happy Easter! 
I love this picture of Christ painted originally by Walter Rane. Years ago I cross-stitched this one for my Grandpa and Grandma Crowther for Christmas. I got it back after they both passed away. I know Jesus Christ lives! This helps me to remember Him.
Virtual Ramen Club with friends. They actually call it the Ramen Cult, but I call it Ramen Club. I just overheard one of Vincent’s friends say that this is the thing they miss most about school.  They used to meet in a teacher’s room and eat lunch together everyday.
One of the girls in the club (did I mention that Vincent’s usually the only boy?) had a birthday in February and her parents arranged for a friend to make a Ramen cake.  Super cool!
Image may contain: foodWhen I was a sophomore in high school our class decorated brown grocery bags for Earth Day.
A lot of the older kids were trying to be in the newspaper. I didn’t try at all… It was funny to me. And somehow they spelled my first name correctly and misspelled my last name.
Happy Earth Day!
Playing Ticket to Ride counts as geography, math, and social interaction, right?  Really, I’m just happy when they are all in the same room getting along nicely.  I made some cookies while they started and by the time I was done, Abby had given up, so I played for her.
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Clot Trot 2020 complete. This year was a little different because it’s virtual. We picked where and when to walk/run. This is the 13th annual Clot Trot and most of us have participated each year. We’ll get this year’s shirts in the mail.
I asked a friend who lives on the other side of the school to take our picture with ‘social distance’.
I had a PTA meeting to attend, but we were invited to a birthday drive-by for two sisters in our ward with the same birthday four years apart, so the kids went on their own to wish them happy birthday.
This happy birthday sign has been well used over the last few months with all of the birthdays we helped to celebrate drive-by style or by sending a picture.
Also, a lady in our ward dropped off fabric masks for each of us.  This day was the first day Vincent and Abby left the house in the car in about six weeks.  They were nervous to go anywhere without their masks, even though they stayed in the car the whole time (and have been outside daily on walks and working/playing in the yard.  We went to the district office so I could meet someone outside the building, to a birthday drive-by, and because it lined up, we stopped by the school to pick up free lunch (which we hadn’t done yet, but I love that the schools in our area are offering free food to those who want it.)
Andy’s parents finished their self-isolation and we made a day trip to do a few projects.  Andy is building an electronic board to demo some of the products he helps sell and needed to drill holes in the plastic material and also built a sacrament water tray for us.
Abby found a tiny frog and caught it to look at for a little while.  We let it go before we left for home.
We still have stay-at-home orders from our state governor, but we’ve been venturing out a little bit.  We aren’t doing a lot, but Andy gets antsy and wants to go somewhere daily, even if it’s just to buy a pop (and a candy bar for me).  I’ve been reading A LOT and trying to keep the kids on track.  Vincent somehow managed to get behind on his assignments over the year and I made him finish all the ones from this semester even though at this point they weren’t really required.  He’s all caught up now and the weeks are easier.
The Temple is still closed and I’m missing it so much.  At the beginning of the year, Elizabeth, Olivia, and Vincent all found a lot of family names to do Temple work for and they did the baptisms for most of them and now it’s my turn to do the next steps, but I can’t yet.  I have hundreds of names to do and feel guilty having them on my dresser undone, but soon enough I’ll be able to complete their work and make a stronger effort to attend the Temple (probably weekly).  I set a goal at the beginning of the year to go to the Temple 20 times in 2020 and I was at five visits already when the Temple closed for cleaning and then COVID-19 in March.  We’ll get back to it hopefully soon!

 

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March 2020

Vincent was on one of three Destination Imagination teams from the middle school.  They had a regional tournament the beginning of March to determine who would be moving onto the state/national/world levels.  They had a good time, but didn’t move forward (which was just fine with us.  It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding and fun!)
Eight authors visited Fountain Books early in March to meet people and sign their books. They all write fun, clean romance stories. I love so many of their books! Esther Hatch, Jennifer Moore, Julianne Donaldson, Joanna Barker, Heidi Kimball, Anneka Walker, Krista Lynne Jensen, and Ashtyn Newbold. 
I was kind of fan-girling.  I LOVE the regency/proper romance genre and that’s what most of them write.  I was part of getting the ball rolling on this whole event-that kind of snowballed into this huge thing!  Esther Hatch posted at the end of 2019 about some of the things she was planning for 2020 and one of them was a trip to Washington, so I reached out to her to see which part of Washington she was going to visit and mentioned that we’d love to have her visit Fountain Books if she was going to be close.  She was coming to our area for a writing conference with all of these ladies (and more!)  It was then arranged through the store manager, Heather, and Covenant (publisher), and Deseret Book to make it happen.  They had extra authors able to come who they didn’t think would be available initially and then it was suddenly EIGHT authors.  Amazing!  I spent the first few months of the year catching up on all of their books I hadn’t read yet.
We celebrated Andy’s birthday with a birthday lunch with his sisters and various nieces and nephews at Mod Pizza, a special dinner, some fun gifts, and cake.
Elizabeth asked for a badminton set and the kids have been busy doing “P.E.” with it.  The easiest spot to play is in the driveway so it doesn’t get caught in the trees or go over the backyard fence.
The kids like their time together.
Our dishwasher went out and delivery was a few weeks out.  We bought a dish drainer to set dishes in and Olivia asked me how to use it. She may or may not have been kidding. We are enjoying this new dishwasher! It makes a quiet sizzling sound when it’s running and makes me want to eat bacon. Maybe Maytag and Hormel are in cahoots.
Andy fixed up some electrical wiring to bring a few extra circuits to our kitchen from our addition’s electrical panel.
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Yes, I know I get excited about silly things, but this Insinkarator that we bought soon after we moved into our house 14 years ago is now installed! Thank goodness it still works. Some electrical things had to be updated before Andy could install it. He’s been working on that over the last week or so. So excited to have a garbage disposal now!
The night before the big announcement from our state governor when everything was shut down everywhere, Olivia’s high school orchestra had a concert with two middle school orchestras, including Vincent’s.
We attended an orchestra concert for both Olivia and Vincent at the high school. We watched and listened to all three high school orchestras and the older orchestra group from the middle school. They all played beautifully.

My favorite part was when Vincent went up to the piano and realized he couldn’t see the conductor and tried to move this grand piano (that was locked) himself and some of the high school kids noticed and hopped up to help him out. Very sweet (and funny too!)
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And it sounds like that’s the last time we’ll be in an auditorium for awhile with schools shut down for the next six weeks in our state…
Video the school district made:
Olivia’s HHS String Orchestra – Farandole HERE
She’s in the second row on the left side with glasses.
CJMS 8th Grade Orchestra – Wood Splinter Fanfare HERE.
Vincent plays in this orchestra accompanying on piano…if you can see him. The piano got turned a little too far.  Vincent’s orchestra teacher had a baby a few weeks prior, so they had a long-term sub (that turned out to be pretty short-term instead).
Because of the mega virus COVID-19 (Coronavirus), school was cancelled in our state for six weeks (initially-now cancelled for the year) until April 24th.  It was an abrupt change that cancelled nearly everything on our calendar and took some adjusting.  Andy works from home normally when he’s not travelling, but his work has suspended travelling as well.  Now all of us are at home and with kids doing school work and Andy working, I’ve been trying to figure out how to balance the kids and food and getting some projects done and reading A LOT of books!  Fountain Books closed temporarily on March 25th and is still closed, but doing some curbside orders or shipping things out as orders come in. I worked for the first week the kids were home a few times.  It was super slow, but we found things to do there (mostly wiping everything down multiple times and after every customer!)
There was a mass panic everywhere emptying so many store shelves of almost everything, especially toilet paper, hand santitizer, and all paper products.  The produce, canned foods, dairy, and most everything were cleared out!  It was so strange to see so many empty shelves.
Andy’s parents got home in the middle of March from their mission to the Philippines. Because of the virus thousands of missionaries came home early from missions.  We picked up food and supplies for them because they were going to be gone for another year initially.  Andy picked them up at the airport and came home to pick up the cold food, so I asked his local sisters if they wanted to come over to see their parents.  We all met in our front yard and welcomed them home.  I didn’t even tell Andy we were doing it, so they were all surprised!  We made some signs right after Andy left and took some markers and signs to Andy’s sisters to make while we waited for them to come back.  We didn’t get to hug because everyone was asked to keep their ‘social distance’ to prevent spreading the virus.
Andy’s parents spent two weeks at their home in the mountains to make sure they didn’t pick up any virus on their travel home.  They are adjusting to all of the changes and feeling well!
Bored? Don’t use that word around your mom…..
Abby came up with her own way to stay busy after doing her chores. She’s keeping track of how many squirrels are coming in our yard and the color of their tails.
We now do piano lessons virtually with Facebook Messenger even though our teacher just lives a few blocks away.  Our governor declared a “stay-at-home” order and also asked that those with immune deficiencies or who care for those who would be more susceptible to the virus avoid coming into contact with anyone.  They have more time to practice now without school.  Vincent and Olivia have been working on a duet lately.
We were invited by President Russell M. Nelson to fast and to pray for relief from the physical, emotional, and economic effects of this global pandemic Sunday, March 29.
We were uniting our faith to plead for physical, spiritual, and other healing throughout the entire world.
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There was a special feeling as we participated in this fast.  Our ward met via online video (Zoom) to have a Sunday School lesson that Sunday and shared some of our feelings about this fast. I believe praying and fasting can work miracles!
People keep asking me if I’m doing okay with all of this…. maybe this is why.  I’m doing well. When kids start getting too antsy, they get to go on a lap around the block or to the shower (so they get a break and so do the rest of us.)
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Everyone has been doing well giving each other space when needed and working on things.  Andy bought a new video game the beginning of the month for his birthday that he and all of the kids have been playing and they’ve been building their island in Animal Crossing ever since.

 

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February 2020

February was a whirlwind.  It began with the funeral service for a dear friend’s husband.  Monica was one of our game night regulars before she moved across the state to meet and marry Nate. They have three little boys and we are so sad for her and them that Nate passed away from melanoma cancer.  We were able to attend the funeral and give her big hugs and hear amazing stories about Nate’s life and the legacy he left.
Vincent accompanied his friend, Alanna for their Solo and Ensemble parent performance with a piece called “Gypsy Dance”. They did a great job and played again a few days later for the judges. And then we went out for spudnuts together.
Elizabeth is SEVENTEEN! It’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s also hard to imagine life without her. She is thoughtful, creative, crazy good with math and science, and has big hopes for her future.We celebrated with cake and her favorite meal.
Our ward youth were able to make a trip to the Temple to perform baptisms in February.  Vincent went his first time, so Andy and I found a place for Abby to hang out and joined our three older kids.  This is one of the biggest groups our ward has had in a long time.  Our kids all had family names they found themselves to take to the Temple and it was a special night.
Doughnuts with Grown Ups at Jason Lee on Valentine’s Day! It’s always fun to go have a doughnut at the elementary school with whichever kids go there.  Abby only has a few of these left.
We worked on this 1000 piece puzzle together for about two weeks and finished it up on Sunday evening when Andy left on a trip.  I had to take a picture so he could see it completed.  (I may have bribed the kids with ice cream if we finished the puzzle before 8pm.)
I had a friend ask if anyone wanted to hike Badger mountain with her a few weeks ago.  Although I haven’t gone hiking or walking in a long time, I thought it would be fun to do and nice to visit with her.  We took one of the new trails that’s longer and wraps around the side to avoid the stairs and spent about an hour and a half hiking.  It was fun and I only ran out of breath a few times (elevation and exercise combined seem to make it hard to breath… I think I probably have a little exercise induced asthma like two of my kids.)  It was still good to go.
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The next day I had off work too and spent some time in the Temple getting some work done for some of the family names the kids completed the first step for. I’m now at five visits for the year of the 20 I set a goal for.  I’m right on track!  Our Temple closes for a few weeks to clean during March (and now longer with this virus…)
We went to see Beauty and the Beast at Chief Jo Middle School. We went to their opening show. Well worth going and enjoying the music, costumes, and talented kids!  We know many of the kids acting/singing and it was fun to watch them and take pictures afterward.
Because of all the new primary kids moving up at the same time, the Deacon’s Quorum was reorganized.  Vincent is the 2nd Counselor in their quorum presidency.  These kids are growing up and I love watching them mature and help others.
For President’s Day, the Columbia River Temple announced that the baptistry would be open for youth from 9am-3pm on their day off from school.  Olivia let us know that she was going to go with a few girls in our ward, but ended up coming back soon after she left because there was an hour wait and they sent local kids home to come another time.  I was working that night and throughout the day, families and youth would come in and tell us how busy the Temple was and how far many had driven to attend the Temple on their day off from school.  The Temple ended up staying open until 5pm and nearly 400 youth were able to do baptisms, even with the 150 youth that were local who were asked to visit another time.  Our youth are amazing!
Because they had names ready to go, they decided to try again and invited even more youth to join them the last day the Temple was open before the scheduled closure.  They got a bit of a family history bug and found a lot of family names.  Elizabeth found over 100 names and Olivia found over 80 names.  They each had boy and girl names, so they shared with Vincent and several friends and other youth at the Temple.  My to-do Temple stack got bigger and so did my appreciation for their sweet spirits and the power of family history to soften hearts and build testimonies.
I requested a picture of the three of them because we didn’t get one earlier in the month when Vincent attended the first time.
Amidst all the worry about the future and the things you hear in the news about youth, I feel like there are enough great and faithful kids out there to help calm it all down and spread their light and testimony throughout the world and I’m grateful to have these kids in my home.

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January 2020

We kicked off the year with an extended family party.  My dad’s side started getting together for New Year’s Day instead of Christmas a few decades ago.  We rotate who is in charge and the church building and have a fun time playing and eating and visiting with everyone.
This is my dad and his original siblings.
My parents left for their mission the following day, so we took a few good-bye pictures too. My parents with Vincent.
Me and my parents.  It is still early, but it is odd to not have them just an hour away already.
Olivia did some organ practice while we were at the church.  (I didn’t take this picture in the chapel, but I like having it!)
Me with my cousin Brenda.
Vincent was ordained a Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood by Andy.
He is excited for the new duties being a Deacon brings.
I’ve made a goal to attend the Temple 20 times in 2020.  I checked off two times in January, so I’m right on track so far.
Abby turned NINE!  She is fun, spunky, sweet, feisty, friendly, artistic, and thoughtful.
Abby had a super fun pirate party with some friends Saturday. Elizabeth built this awesome pirate ship and helped decorate the cake. Olivia planned a fun puzzle scavenger hunt and helped keep the kids entertained. Vincent went down the road to a friend’s house while his friend’s sister came up to our house for the party.
Abby ended her birthday going to a birthday party for a friend at the skating rink that her whole grade was invited to.
Pretty great birthday!
I love having two delicious homemade cupcakes come to my house each month from Farmhouse Bake Shop.  She comes up with the best flavor combinations.
Vincent turned TWELVE! He is enjoying middle school and making good friends there. He is creative, smart, musical, and funny.
He had nine friends over for his birthday-both boys and girls!  They had pizza, ate cake, and played some games.  It was fun (and very, very loud!)
Some people complain that January stretches out forever, but with so much going on at our house, it never seems to drag on.

 

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