Ransom Family

Random Ramblings and Happenings

May 2018

May was a pretty busy month.  I don’t know exactly where time went, but all of the sudden it’s June already! Really, how did the school year go so quickly?!
Some of the kids in Vincent’s Cub Scout Pack went to visit the local police station.  They had a tour and then some police officers showed them their police cars.
Abby’s class had an animal wax museum.  They each chose an animal.  She picked a BLACK WIDOW!  I’m guessing that not many first grade girls who wear dresses nearly every day choose a black widow, but that’s Abby for ya!
She wrote a report, made a poster, and made a black widow mask.  Anytime someone pushed the button on the poster, she’d tell them all about black widows.  All the kids were around the cafeteria and we had a little animal tour.  Super fun.
Elizabeth started driver’s ed this month.  She’s learning and slowly getting more confident in her ability to drive.
 
I helped PTA with the middle school’s teacher/staff appreciation week this month.  I delivered a little gift for the staff four days and the other day PTA delivered lunch for them.  I liked the cute little things I found and the punny notes.
 On Mother’s Day we invited my parents to come to church with us and had dinner at our house afterwards.  It was nice to go to church with them.  (We took a picture with the kids and moms, but the dads were there too.)
The thing I have been looking forward to for MONTHS happened this month!
Fountain Books (where I work) sponsored a DAVID ARCHULETA concert!  A work perk was tickets and a VIP after-party pass to MEET him!  It was awesome!  I’ve been listening to his songs for months and can still hardly switch back to the real radio now without just going back to his fun CD’s.  I watched all of American Idol and even went to a party with friends for the final show his year.  The concert was inspiring and it was fun to sing and dance and be there with people I love.
I actually got two tickets free and bought a third for Olivia (I invited Andy’s sister Torrie as my guest) and then my mom bought tickets for her and my sister and they sat by us.  It was perfect.
Meeting David after the show.  Florals were not prearranged, but he commented on how springy they were.  I could not stop smiling.
Olivia and I before the show.  So excited!
David at the concert.  He sang and talked about his songs for a solid two hours.  Fabulous!
About a week before the show, we opened up the photobooth backdrop in the store so I tested it out before work one day.
Our little section of fun.  My brother’s wife won tickets on facebook and brought my nephew’s girlfriend with her.  There were so many people there I know.  It was at a local high school auditorium and it sold out.
We had a ward primary temple trip this month.  We invited the families to come and learn a little more about the temple and then they walked around the temple together.
Vincent has been finishing up the school year with the required state testing.  His teacher wrote him a nice encouraging note to help him slow down and take his time.  He wrote her back a little (not very nice) note that he did take his time and not to underestimate him.
Then he had a final piano party where his teacher had them write notes to parents.  Nice.
Busy month with work and kids and trips for Andy and three days a week of driver’s ed.  Ready or not, here comes summer!
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April 2018

April 1st already seems like so long ago, but also like yesterday.  The months are flying by!
We had Spring Break the first week in April.  Andy was in California for the week working, so I took a few days off work to hang out with the kids (not the whole week since there aren’t many employees where I work).

Easter was April 1st this year which was also General Conference (which was fantastic!)  I loved every single session of conference and I’m excited about the updates to programs and quorums and the Temple announcements.  The announcement about Elders Quorum and High Priest Group made for a month of limbo not quite knowing what would happen with Andy’s Elders Quorum calling and then having to wait an extra two weeks after we did find out because of our Stake Conference (also fantastic!)  BUT, it was finally announced last week that Andy is our ward’s new Elders Quorum President (again) and yes, I’m still Primary President…for now.  He kept one counselor and got one of the High Priests who was a leader in that group to balance them out.  They will do a great job.

Spring Break Day 1:
Started off the week with a 10am quick visit to the dentist (yea!) so he could see if Abby’s retainer could be placed back in.  It came out on Easter and you’d think it was because of jelly beans or something like that, but no, it came out when she was brushing her teeth.  The dentist was able to bend it back and reglue it in to keep her teeth where they go (fingers crossed!)

We followed that up with a quick stop into Fountain Books to get the next books in a series Olivia started that I bought Vincent for Christmas: Michael Vey.  She is flying through them and needed the next book before I finished work that Thursday.

At noon Andy’s Aunt Tricia and his two cousins who are Elizabeth’s and Olivia’s ages came to see us.  We had lunch and played games. And Abby beat all of the older kids at Uno.
We had an hour break before Uncle Brant and Aunt Tina and their six kids and Grandma Mary came to see us.
We went bowling (Grandma and Elizabeth went shopping) and then went to a park to play.  We decided it was dinnertime and I didn’t want to send them an hour away to Grandma’s to eat, so I called Elizabeth, who was home by then, to make some tacos for dinner and they were ready when we got back from the park. 

Our kitchen sink was backing up and not draining correctly and leaking a bit, so I asked Brant to check it out. I guess that’s payment for the dinner?  Fair warning that when Andy’s out of town, I may have honey-do projects… The fix worked good enough, but it still wasn’t draining quite right, so I just skipped using the dishwasher for most of the week.
We finished up the evening with a haircut for Vincent.  Olivia took care of that and did a good job and then she wanted to go to the store to buy supplies for a friend’s birthday party that she wanted to host for her here.  She came up with some fun crafts and invited friends and made the cake and everything.

Spring Break Day 2:
Andy’s sister came to Andy’s parent’s place in the mountains for their spring break, so we met them there to hang out for the day.  We had lunch and dinner there and the kids played and played.  It’s always good to see them!

Passenger took this picture…Our Hyundai Verscruz is a fantastic car. We got it nearly 11 years ago and haven’t had to fix anything more than regular wear and tear and maintenance things. Too bad they quit making this model or that’s all we’d ever buy. Driven to Nevada, Disneyland, Ohio, Yellowstone, Colorado, Wyoming, camping, and grocery trips.

Spring Break Day 3:
We didn’t have any plans this day, but one of Vincent’s school friends gave him a call and asked if we could meet him at a local park where he was playing.  It was rainy, but fun.  I read a book on my kindle while they ran around and played.  Came home for lunch and had an easy afternoon and then reading before bed.

Spring Break Day 4:
-Back to work for me. And I’ve been working there for just over six months and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! Yea! (seriously, best job ever!)
-Rained all day.
-Babysitting for Elizabeth and Olivia. One of them even had a paying babysitting job….
-Playing for Vincent and Abby.
-Pizza for dinner after a phone call request from Abby telling me she didn’t know what to make for dinner (she’s on kitchen this week) and a request for pizza. Sounded great to me too, so I picked up Dominoes on the way home-ordered it from my phone after I clocked out and it was ready when I got to Richland.

Spring Break Day 5:
-Kids hung out at home while I worked. Vincent built a pretty scary looking train track, but there were guardrails on that steep corner, so all is well.
-My lilacs are starting to bloom! They are my favorite.
-Abby made french toast for dinner.
-Went to an amazing meeting to learn how to teach more like the Savior with about a thousand other people and Devin Durrant who is the First Counselor in the General Sunday School Presidency.  The meeting was for eight area stakes and included all Sunday School teachers and a member of each auxiliary presidency.
-Andy flew home from his work trip to San Francisco and met me at the meeting and we had dinner afterwards.

We had a Family Home Evening Risk activity.  We played until Andy and I wiped out all of the kids (technically Elizabeth forfeit after we beat out Abby, Vincent, and Olivia so she could go to bed and be rested for school the next day).  Andy played a few more times with them the following days to help them with the way some of them react to losing…but it was fun to play together!

 

I came home Saturday night after closing at work and then two back-to-back wedding receptions with Andy to find Olivia had put Abby’s hair in curlers.  Took a picture on our way in to church the next day.  Elizabeth went early with Andy so he could practice with the choir for the number they were singing at church.

I had a day off and met Vincent’s Destination Imagination team at the Safety Expo in Pasco.  They spent the whole school day there going to all of the fun booths with their coach and other DI teams and other school groups from our area.  They had an instant challenge and I was able to watch it this time since I worked during the competition.

Later that night was the CLOT TROT!  This was the 11th annual event to raise awareness about blood disorders that Andy’s former boss’s son started for an Eagle project.  We (me and the three older kids) have been to ALL of them! Andy was traveling for work for some of them and Abby wasn’t born yet for a few of them.  We met some friends there and walked the mile with them.

I put Abby to work doing her chore after school when she wanted to play outside.  A little encouragement never hurts!  Work before play.

After getting some leftover food out for a few kids for dinner, Andy checked the mail and found Elizabeth and Olivia’s report cards.  They both did a great job, but Olivia had straight A’s and that was all the extra reason we needed to take her out to dinner to celebrate.  (I took Elizabeth out for DQ when we got home to celebrate her A’s and B’s.)  Vincent and Abby both had a good report at parent-teacher conferences too.

Our elementary school PTA does a Morning with Mom and Donuts with Dad each year.  So much fun to go with these kids!

After the donuts, they still wanted the breakfast, so we went over to the cafeteria for them to eat there too.  (Our school is one of the schools in our area with a lot of low-income kids, so they started having free breakfast and lunch to anyone who wants it and we take advantage of that.) When Abby finishes, I guess she likes to help clean up, so she asks the lady in charge if she can help and dons gloves to clean up trays and help other kids with trash.  Nice.

My dad asked Elizabeth and Olivia if they could babysit some kids from Walla Walla while their siblings and parents went to the Temple on a Friday evening.  I decided to go with them so they wouldn’t be alone in the stake center (and was glad I was there with all of the people coming in and out to decorate for the next day and do other things there).  They babysat 15 kids and a lot of Walla Walla families were able to go to the temple.

They had the kids all circle up and they played a name game and some other games before heading to the gym for more games and fun.  They did really great, especially for not even knowing these kids ahead of time.

Olivia was part of the district showcase.  I texted grandparents about two hours before it started to tell them about it (I forgot to give advance warning) and my parents decided to drive over to support Olivia.  She did a wonderful job and even had two solos in their piece.  Video HERE.
We had the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby.  Vincent cut his car in March with Grandpa George and Grandma Shirley.  Olivia helped him paint/color it.  Andy and Vincent put on the wheels and weights and he was ready.  Still didn’t win, but he had fun!
April 30th is the 65th Wedding Anniversary of grandparents.  I love and miss them so much!  They were and still are great examples of thriftiness, humor, love, kindness, patience, faith, and so much more!
Aprils done and Mays begun!  Countdown to SUMMER!
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March 2018

 Olivia had her braces put on early in March.  She is one of the most excited people to get braces ever.  She said they didn’t hurt until the second day, but even by then they seemed to be closing some gaps she had already!
Andy and I dropped the kids off at Andy’s parent’s place to stay for a night on Andy’s birthday so we could go to Portland.  They had a wonderful time with their grandparents.  They even cut out Vincent’s pinewood derby car.
Friday night we went to the Portland Temple where we were married nearly 17 years ago.  It’s so big and beautiful inside and it was great to go there.  (Also, our temple was closed for updates for three weeks and I have a goal to go to the temple every month this year.)
We went to Mod Pizza for dinner and sat at a large family table since there wasn’t any other seating.  There were families on either side of us.  We chatted with a lady and her two kids part of the time.  They were nice and fun.
Saturday we drove through town and parked and then rode the lightrail and bus back to downtown.  We walked around a park a little and across a bridge and tried to take a selfie and then a man came through and offered to take our picture for us (he said he’s a professional, and he did a good job, so that’s cool!)
 
Then we visited Powell’s bookstore, which is one of the largest bookstores.  It’s a whole city block and several buildings all connected to each other and about four stories high.  New and used books and novelty items.  Andy’s mom used to take him to storytime when they lived there when he was little.  Andy picked out a vintage print for his parents and one for him along with a set of Star Wars books.  I picked out a book I’ve been wanting to read (not that I need any more to read) and a magnet for the fridge and a tshirt.
We had some lunch and headed back to pick up the kids.  We stopped at Multnomah Falls on the way to see how it was recovering from the massive fire last summer.  Luckily, much of the main areas weren’t burned, but all around it was burned and trails are still closed.

Andy’s birthday/tax refund/work bonus gift he bought himself came in the mail.  He ordered a new Star Wars Lego Millennium Falcon that he’s been checking on and trying to buy for months. That box is deceiving from this angle.  It’s actually nearly cube shaped!  It took him a lot of nights to put together.

Andy had several work trips in March and during a few of them I worked on updating our bedroom a bit.  We moved into our house 12 years ago and hadn’t painted this room, so it was time.  I picked out several green paint chips and Andy picked this one.  I love it.  After I painted and the blackout curtains I ordered from Amazon came (that were $20 total for four panels!), I was at BigLots looking for some inexpensive frames to put up Andy’s new print he bought in Portland and along with the frames found this amazing 10 piece bedset that matched the curtains and walls perfectly and was only $60 for two blankets/comforters, four pillow cases, and four decorative pillows.  My friend Ally came over one day and helped me arrange the pictures on the walls in a new way.  The square pictures and the drawing of the Portland Temple hang above our headboard.  The rose picture came from flowers grown in our yard and the other is my wedding bouquet and the drawing is one a high school best friend made for me in her art class after asking me what my favorite temple was, so it’s super special to me.

Up close of the new frames and pictures I put up on Andy’s side of the curtain.  My side has pictures of temples I already had up. The top picture is of Andy’s grandpa Lorin Ransom who worked for the US Corps of Engineers working at the Bonneville Dam and helping to build parks all along the Columbia River in the Gorge.  The second is the picture Andy picked at Powell’s of workers in 1957 on the St. Paul bridge in Portland.  The third picture is of Andy’s dad, George when he was a teenager.
Our Young Women’s group decided to have “Missionary March” and had lessons and activities all month that went along with it culminating in a Sunday evening with people in our ward who hosted the companionships in their homes for dinner and for the girls to teach them the first missionary lesson.  They went to different houses, but I needed a picture of them before they left. Olivia went to the house of a friend of mine who sent me some pictures of their French Chateau set up at their house (her husband made the set years ago and they use it over and over).
I have been working at Fountain Books for six months and I don’t think that there’s a more perfect job for me anywhere!  I have an amazing schedule-sent out a month at a time and I can request days off when I’m busy with other things, work with two other ladies who I really enjoy-and who seem to like me and the owners are fantastic, we are not open on Sundays and only 10-6 on the other days of the week-so it really fits into our family life, get amazing perks like books to read pre-release and tickets to concerts, plus I’m surrounded by beautiful artwork and music and nice people who come in to shop who I can help find gifts for people or suggest books they might like. And I also get to organize books and displays sometimes which helps my creative side too. I’m just loving it!
Olivia had another orchestra concert.  Andy was in town for this one.  We were lucky and she sat on an edge for it.  Their orchestra sound so great! They are improving quickly and Olivia likes the teacher this year a lot.
 Our ward had a Chili-Chowder Cook-Off on St. Patrick’s Day so they had a photo booth and games that were Irish themed.  Nathan joined a picture with some of our kids (he’s in our ward).  The picture of Vincent is him rolling a purple cabbage along the floor with his head in a relay.
Vincent and Abby love to help me cook dinners anytime they get a chance and they almost always get out their Star Wars aprons I bought them and the chef hats that Aunt Sara made them.  They are both learning a lot about how to cook in the kitchen.

The quilts Elizabeth and Olivia made over Spring Break last year with Grandma Mary were entered in the Tri-City Quilt Show.  They went with my mom to the show one of the days and admired all of the quilts displayed, especially their own.

There was a fundraiser in one area that let them pick out scraps to fit into a lunch bag for $1 that they liked.
Olivia has been crafting and quilting and sewing ever since.  Elizabeth designed her quilt for this summer’s quilt camp on my mom’s laptop while she was here for a night using her program.
Our Primary was in charge of the Ward Primary Easter Egg Hunt this year, so Andy and I went and picked out the candy and invited people over to fill the eggs at our house the day before the hunt and asked people to come a little early to hide the eggs the Saturday before Easter between General Conference sessions.  It turned out great (and now my event for the year is done, unlike last year’s Christmas party assignment.)

We really enjoyed conference and I just felt like it gets so much better every year.  I’m not sure if that’s because I’m growing and maturing every year or because the kids are (but probably both contribute to the result).  We really liked sustaining our new prophet, Russell M. Nelson as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and are excited about the other changes announced during conference as well.

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February 2018

Vincent had a fun 10th birthday.  He had two friends come over and they just played video games, had some cupcakes, opened gifts, and went back to playing video games.  It was the most low-key party ever, but he LOVED it!
His class did a Wax Museum book report project and the Biography book he chose to read was Martin Luther King, Jr.  He wrote out notecards and made a poster about it and dressed up a little.

Vincent got a fancy book for his birthday from grandparents and the next day asked me if he could take it to school.  I made sure he put his name in it and told him he could, assuming he would just read it in class after finishing work.  Instead he came home that day and said he left it outside under the pavilion (on a rainy day) because he got distracted and was doing something else when it was time to come in.  He said he checked there after school and it wasn’t there.  About a week later with him not getting results and assuming that it was gone because it’s a cool book, I went in and dug through the lost and found bin myself.  It was just under the first layer of coats (spring is hard because it’s cold in the mornings here and warm after school, but way better than snow…)  Anyway, I decided he owed me for digging through the lost and found and not taking care of his things, so I made him a chore list with points assigned so he can earn it back.  It might look mean, but I just want him to pay more attention to what he’s doing.

Elizabeth turned 15!  I made a bigger collage of her life since she’s older.  I love having her in our family.  She’s responsible and stubborn (sometimes that’s a very good thing!)  She isn’t afraid to share her opinion or be herself, even if it’s not like all of the other girls at school.  And she’s so cute!
Andy was out of town on her birthday and I worked until closing, but I preordered some pizza and picked it up on the way home and even stopped in to get an ice cream cake so we could sing to her.
We found a Star Wars Family Feud game for Elizabeth’s gift.
Abby painted a lion for her too.

I took Elizabeth and Vincent for a little MyFroYo treat to celebrate their birthdays.

Elizabeth’s party this year she arranged via email and text with some friends at school and from trek.  She just requested some snacks from us and a few kids came over and played games and ate food.  She didn’t even tell them it was her birthday intentionally because she didn’t want gifts.

The Young Women had their New Beginnings annual kick off with the theme of Dr. Suess “Oh the Places You Will Go.”  It was awesome and so applicable.  Many of the girls had an official part that night and everyone participated in the game that was played.

Vincent and Abby helped me cook waffles for dinner one night. They are big helpers!

Olivia had an orchestra concert (actually more of a rehearsal for the solo and ensemble they did a few days later).  Both sets of grandparents and our friend Nathan came.  The time I heard was apparently the time for Olivia to be there instead of the start time, but it all worked out.  Grateful to have supportive family!

I like that this one shows Olivia’s violin better.  So musical!

We drove to Walla Walla one evening to celebrate my dad’s 64th birthday.  It was fun to visit.  He’s such a nice guy and never likes attention, so my mom planned a surprise.

Because Andy was gone most of the month, we asked our friend Nathan to fill in for him at the Donuts with Dad at school with Vincent and Abby.  He didn’t get any pictures of them eating the donuts, but took a picture of them eating school breakfast afterwards and went with them to their rooms to check it all out.

Abby finished a fourth dentist appointment and was good for all of them, so she earned her requested trip to Texas Roadhouse with Andy and I.
Our elementary PTA planned a Family Sweetheart Dance.  Decorations, food, and plenty of dancing!  So fun!
Vincent and Abby love school skate nights.  A friend of mine took this picture of them with her daughter last month.  I love it!

 

Olivia gave her first talk in Sacrament in February.  She prepared well and had it ready early.  She did a great job. The topic was how to treat your body like a temple.
Vincent is now a Webelos and earned his Bear badge.  He had great leaders who helped him earn nearly all of his requirements at regular weekly meetings.  So awesome!
We ended the month watching a few local plays and Andy heading on another trip for work.  Still working at Fountain Books and loving it!  Kids are doing great.
Since this is so late, I’ll see you in a few weeks with a March update. =)
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January 2018

I really kind of like that since I just blog monthly now I don’t have to try and pretend I’m clever with a catchy title of the blog…

I didn’t post my goals for 2018 yet, so I thought I’d start with those:

NaDell GOALS 2018

Self -Read Old Testament and New Testament (Reading with a Lutheran group with a friend. Link with schedule here.)

Couple -Attend Temple Once a Month (January-done)

Family -FHE Weekly and Regular Scripture Study

Home -Paint Kitchen, Master Bedroom, and Girl Room (and finish painting living room)

Church Calling -Four Primary Presidency Meetings (currently have about 2 a year and do
the rest of things via email or in short spurts.)

Oh, and I decided that I’m going to try and read more REAL books rather than so many digital books this year too since my to-read stack of books is ridiculously large (like over 80 books… and half of those just came home with me as a perk for working at a bookstore and it being the beginning of a new year.)  Seriously making a dent in the pile or possibly reading all of them this year.  Doing pretty well so far with 20 books read this year already (but not all from my stash. Some were library books and a few were digital books).

January 1st we had our annual Crowther party at our ward building.  I decided to put up the primary bulletin boards then too.  I printed a free downloadable file for the things and had them printed and bought some yellow fabric and edging for it and stapled everything up (with Andy’s help).  And once that was done, we ate lunch with everyone played games.

Abby likes her new bunny she got for Christmas and cuddles it.  She gave Andy the Thumper bunny so they could both cuddle bunnies.

Started out the month being DOWN for a week with some kind of nasty, achy, coughing, headache flu. I didn’t go and get diagnosed or anything, but taking cold/flu medicine and drinking a lot of water and apple cider and sleeping seemed to do the trick.  All of the kids got sick the following week.  Luckily, it wasn’t the puking kind of sick, so all is well.

Abby reading her favorite book on a day off of school due to sickness.

After coming out of the illness, everything tasted strange because of the medicine I took to knock it out of me.  The only thing that sounded good one night was oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
My mom and dad have birthdays close together and I wanted a visual for the new Primary Temple and Priesthood Preparation Meeting, so I combined the two and made a family tree for my parents.  They are the hearts in the middle with leaves for posterity and rocks for ancestors.  I came up with the idea and then let Elizabeth and Olivia and even Andy help me to put it all together.
My mom came to visit on her birthday and I took her out to lunch for bagel sandwiches.
Abby keeps asking how she can earn some money, so I told her if she weeds all of the lilac flowerbed, I’ll give her $20.  The grass that grows in there is SO hard to get rid of.
Prepare yourself for even more about Abby.  She turned SEVEN this month!  I put together a collection of favorite pictures of her that show a little of her personality too.
Finally, now that she’s seven she had the option to get her ears pierced.  (I offered ear piercing to Elizabeth at six and at seven and she didn’t want to because it would hurt, so at seven, I told her that if Olivia decided to get her ears pierced then, she could, so seven is our ear piercing birthday.)  We went to the mall and had them done and then went to Mod Pizza for dinner.  They gave her a strawberry milkshake for her birthday and sang to her.  She said that was the best part of the day.
She invited some friends over for an Art Party the following Saturday.  They played Twister while we waited for everyone to arrive and then we put tape across some canvases and they painted them however they wanted to (wearing aprons).  She blew out her candles (three or four tries) and then opened presents and the time was up.  It was pretty fun!  And then I went to work for 6 1/2 hours.
After work I met Andy over at the Americans Hockey game where Olivia’s middle school choir was singing the National Anthem.  They did a great job!  Abby made friends with the guy ahead of us and they made up a special high five handshake they did after each goal and he helped her hollar for the mascot Winger to come over to meet her too.  She danced in the aisles when the music came on between plays and really liked it.  Vincent kind of hated it.  Nathan came too!  And the Americans WON in overtime after being down 1-4 going into the 3rd period.  This is my first hockey game other than a friend’s hockey game I went to in high school.

Abby had several trips to the dentist after her last check up.  She had cavities on one side and the other side had decay so bad, the dentist recommended pulling two molars out (we go every six months and there wasn’t any sign of this then and she brushes too, but I guess not good enough.  And the challenge of having genetically bad teeth isn’t helping her either.  She was brave though and did her best to be good so she could earn the Texas Roadhouse trip Andy promised her if she was good.

The kids had a day off and so did I, so I scheduled haircuts for the girls with a friend and then went and had my own haircut and highlights done by my cousin.
Elizabeth’s hair is getting SO long!
She begged for bangs and I tried to talk her out of them, but she insisted she wanted them.  They look cute like this I guess (but mostly they just hang in front of one eye.)
After my appointment with my cousin, I stopped in to see my childhood best friend, Desi.  I’m glad I went when I did because she planned on leaving just a few days later to join the circus.  She will be helping to feed and groom and clean up for the horses who do tricks in the circus for New York New York Circus.   And then when it’s done, she’s going to go travel the world some more.
Vincent had a Washington State history report and made his map out of salt clay and then painted it.  Andy went to the afternoon showcase while I worked.
AND Vincent had a birthday too!  He’s now TEN years old!
We had a fun month, even though we were sick for a chunk of it.  Onto the rest of the year!

 

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December 2017

Ah, the end of a year!  It’s been an amazing year with some changes and a lot of fun.

To kick off the month, Olivia helped me decorate (and by that I mean, I got some bins out and then sat on the couch and directed a little bit while I caught up on facebook).   She had some help from Vincent and Abby and they got my nutcracker collection up (Olivia said I have 66 nutcrackers now), put up the nativities in the cabinet, and even put the tree up and the lights around our new window.

Our across the street neighbor commented on facebook about how nice our new window looks with the lights and the tree centered in it.  I had to go out and take a picture.  I love it too!
You can hardly set up holiday decorations without a Santa hat.  She wrapped most of the presents this year too and wore the hat for that as well.

The things I didn’t want her to know, I put in a box with an initial on it so she could use the wrapping paper she picked out for that person.  Everyone has their own wrapping paper so there are no tags and no one knows whose presents are whose until Christmas Eve when they open pajamas.  My mom used to do it this way and I like it.  She also did a big scavenger hunt for each person on Christmas morning to find their first present, but I haven’t been than ambitious yet.
Or maybe my ambitious is just DONE by the time it’s Christmas… Our Primary was assigned to be in charge of our Ward Christmas Party this year (we found out in January so I’ve been thinking about it ALL year and trying to figure out how to make it work).
I wanted to have it in our smaller church building rather than the stake center building it’s been in the last several years mostly because of the kids running around the whole building.  In our small building, it’s just an oval hallway around the chapel and gym with classrooms on the outside, so it’s not too hard to corral the kids (and there weren’t any kids playing hide and seek in the basement like last year!)  I decided I didn’t want to babysit anyones kids, so I did it at our small building (I ‘babysit’ enough being in Primary for two hours every Sunday and other activities as Primary President…)
I had some calculations to do to manage to fit enough seating for the number of people who attended last year and a few extra tables just in case more showed up than expected.  Our building has 22 round tables, so we arranged those on the morning of the party.  We set the tables and had a 12×12 scrapbook paper in the middle that we asked people to bring a nativity to set in the middle.   We fit all 22 tables in with 8 chairs around each table.
One table ready. We set the tables because dinner was served ‘family style’.  We prepared ham, lamb weston garlic mashed potatoes (story below), green beans, rolls, and green salad and dished it up into enough dishes for each table to serve themselves.  If they finished their serving dish, they just sent one person to come and refill it in the kitchen.  It worked out great and everyone loved having the food brought to them and especially not having a food line.
The papers on the walls are coloring pages of the nativity story that the primary kids colored the week prior to the party (and bonus it was even what was in the sharing time outline that week!)  Primary was in charge and I wanted them to be involved.  A few helpers put them up by taping them to red yarn and tacking the ends to the wall.  Simple, but perfect.
Another change I made was that Santa (and Mrs. Claus) came to visit BEFORE the party.  I put it on all of the invitations and it was well announced.  They came between 5-6 and then the party started.  And the Young Women’s group decorated a room for them to be in and even had one of their leaders take photos.
Vincent wasn’t so sure about Santa and Mrs. Claus knowing his name and asking him about piano…
Abby LOVED visiting with them.
All 22 tables were used.  AND we started right on time because most everyone was there already to see Santa.  There were a few extra spots at tables, but not many.  I had the extra rectangle tables set aside for just in case that we used for the kids to color more pictures while they waited if they came early for Santa, but we didn’t have to use them.
This was taken just before we started.
If you’ve made it this far, you deserve a good story about mashed potatoes.  I was trying to figure out a way to not have to buy ingredients and disposable containers for cheesy potatoes with sour cream for people in the ward to make (which would also require buying the ingredients and taking them to people and then getting them to the church on time).  I wondered if a local potato company might be able to sell me some of their potatoes (not found in stores, but sold to restaurants).  When I talked to a lady about it, she offered that they could donate them to us because we are a non-profit church and that I just needed a non-profit number for that.  I emailed our ward clerks and bishop and was told that we should buy the potatoes.  I was bummed, but followed their counsel and called her back a few days later and told her that we were grateful for her offer, but I needed to pay for them.  She responded that if I had to pay for them, their once a year employee only sale was happening THAT NIGHT.  She could set aside 3- 24# boxes for me of garlic mashed potatoes and charge just $2 a box. You read that right.  So I DID buy the potatoes, but they were a screaming deal of just $6 total to feed nearly 200 people.  It was amazing!  We heated them in three big roasting pans all day (and I hung out at the church to work on other tasks).  It was awesome.  A lady in our ward often slices and cooks the ham for funerals and said she’d just take care of all of that.
We had a Journey to Bethlehem after the dinner that we asked people to act a part in around the building (my second counselor was in charge of the little gifts that went along with this).  We divided the tables into groups and sent them around.  Then we came back into the gym for singing and musical performances (first counselor in charge of the music) and some Christmas cookies that people signed up to bring.
People told me it was great (which is probably because they have been in charge of things before, but still felt nice!) and I even heard a few ‘best Christmas party ever!’ from people who have been in our ward for much longer than my 16 1/2 years.  I think it was a hit!
However, the following Sunday when our new Bishop asked our ward council what people wanted to be in charge of for 2018, I said NOT the Christmas party.  I signed up for the Primary Easter Egg hunt. Phew.
The day after the Ward Christmas Party, my parents came to town and we went to West Richland’s Stake Nativity Showcase.  My kids didn’t want to go, so I just went with my parents.  It was nice.
The following Monday after the party, I stayed in bed the whole day with a nasty cold.  It’s still clearing up even almost a month later….
Therefore, I missed Olivia’s holiday orchestra concert.  Andy’s parents went and sent me a picture.
We arranged a Friday evening to meet up with my parents and a brother and his wife and sons at the Temple to do baptisms for the dead.  My dad had a stack of names ready to do the work for and another brother had a few names he sent with us too. Olivia had her first experience at the Temple.
 I worked a lot this month.  I worked 19 out of 25 days we were open (and two of those I purposely requested off to do the Christmas Party above). Since there are just four employees, we were doubled or tripled up often during the holidays to make things run smoothly.  Even at the busiest time at Fountain Books, it was still SO much nicer than other retail during the holidays and the hours we were open are great! We had more family time because even if I closed the store, I could still make it home to read scriptures and pray together and put kids to bed.
Fountain Books hosted a holiday concert at a local high school’s auditorium with Jason Lyle Black “The Backwards Piano Man”.  I signed Vincent and Olivia up for a free workshop with him during the day and then had VIP tickets to attend for Vincent and I (I had already purchased some balcony tickets that I intended to use for Olivia, Vincent, and I.) My manager’s friend wasn’t able to come, so she offered that ticket to Olivia, and we had Andy and Abby sit up in the balcony.  The VIP passes included a reception area with Jason Lyle Black and snacks before the concert. It was fun to meet him.
Sunday evening he did a fireside in our Stake Center that was full of extra inspirational spotlight talks from him and more spiritual songs (rather than the fun holiday songs that were played at his concert.)
In between church and the fireside Vincent taught himself how to play the piano backwards.  He can play this way or backwards on the bench.  He and Olivia figured out a duet and played together.  I posted it on Instagram and Facebook.
We were given supplies to decorate Gingerbread/Graham Cracker Houses by a sweet family in our ward.  It was a fun activity and they all had plenty of decorations and had fun making their treat. (I heard that this family delivered supplies to ALL of the families in our ward with Primary children which makes my Primary President heart happy.)
The Monday before Christmas my sister in law and niece drove an hour to my house and then I drove the hour to my mom’s so we could make some chocolates. My mom makes some fantastic chocolate truffles that we rolled and dipped in cocoa, candy cane dust, and chocolate.  We made some chocolate covered nuts and candy oranges dipped in chocolate and a lot of Ritz Cracker peanut butter sandwiches dipped in chocolate with sprinkles on top.  SO good! My aunt came over too.  We all had a great time.
I spent much of the rest of the week making and delivering my favorite treat to take to friends and neighbors for the holidays, Cinnamon Wreath Bread, actually dough.  I put them in pie tins with a lid and freeze the dough so people can make warm, fresh bread whenever they decide.  I’ve been making this same holiday treat since Elizabeth was 1 or 2.  My mom used to make it as a giant candy cane with maraschino cherries and raisins and all sorts of goodness.  Mine are pretty simple, but everyone tells me that they are good, so I’ll just keep doing it.  It doesn’t take long to make and since I don’t have to wait for it to bake, it’s even easier.  My mom used to make it for our Christmas morning breakfast and it would often be baking as we woke up.  I tell that story/tradition along with directions to make it and many of my friends make their treat on Christmas morning now too and it’s their tradition (and they don’t have to cook a lot or have stale, cold bread to eat only good for a little time when I drop it off.)
On Monday night we went to a puzzle room PerplEXIT in Richland with our game night friends, Robie and Nathan for Nathan’s birthday.  We went last year and it was fun, so we thought we’d try a new room this time.  We still didn’t have quite enough time to solve the puzzle and escape, but enjoyed the hour of challenge.

 

Friday night was our regular game night (after both Andy and I went on treat deliveries with a few kids each).  Nathan bought a birthday cake and I happened to have enough candles for his age.  Abby put them all in the cake and then I lit them.  Happy birthday to our friend!
Saturday night (Christmas Eve Eve) we gathered at my brother’s house for an easy soup dinner (everyone brought some) and opened presents to each other and presents from Grandparents.  We all visited and had a fun time together.
Christmas Eve was on a Sunday this year, so church was only Sacrament meeting.  It was full of music and short narration and a few testimonies.  Beautiful meeting.  Andy and I sang with the choir two songs, “What Child is This” and “Immanuel, Immanuel” and the choir also sang “Guard Him, Joseph” with the Young Men and Young Women (Olivia joined us for that).  The primary sang, “Samuel Tells of Baby Jesus”.  Loved all of the music.
We woke up Christmas Eve to SNOW!  It was beautiful.  Not super fun to drive to Andy’s parent’s mountain home in, but it was pretty.  We just took our time and got there just fine.  Andy’s a great driver and our Veracruz does very well in the snow.
We took our friend Nathan with us since he went home to Idaho for Thanksgiving and was in town for Christmas.  We had a delicious dinner up there and gave and opened some presents.  We came home and everyone opened a present of pajamas and set out a treat for Santa before bed.
Christmas morning there was even more SNOW!  The kids were excited to open presents (but they still had to wait until 8am when we arranged the night before that they could get up.)
Elizabeth’s Santa present was some Japanese Anime Manga books she wanted.  Olivia got a camcorder.  Vincent got a Nintendo 2DS.  Abby wanted a camera from Santa.  Andy got a new Star Wars Lego set and I got some of my favorite Victoria Secret Very Sexy perfume. I posted a picture of my favorite present which is a new picture of Christ to hang in my living room.
After our Christmas morning at home, we packed up and headed to Walla Walla to visit my parents for Christmas (with Nathan again because he’s our friend and no one wants to be alone on Christmas).  We had snow gear so kids could sled a little in my parent’s front yard.  We had a ham and potato dinner and we were able to see my sister Janessa and her family and my aunt and uncle.  It was a bit icy on the way home, so we took it easy.
 The day after Christmas and the rest of the week was back to work for me, but Andy took the whole week off of work, so he hung out with the kids.
On Thursday we planned to go to the movies.  Andy, Elizabeth, and Vincent wanted to see the newest Star Wars. I decided that if they were going to see something, I wanted to go too, so Abby, Olivia, and I went too.  A few days before that, my brother asked if Olivia could babysit his youngest so they could take their older boys to see Star Wars.  I said it would be more fun if she just joined us watching a movie and had him pick which one he thought his daughter would like better: “Coco” or “Ferdinand”.  They chose “Ferdinand”.  It was pretty fun.  It was a freezing rain day and evening, so skating back to the car and then back to the theater to find Olivia’s missing wallet was super fun…. but we did find her wallet and everything she had in it was still there.  Then we went to MyFroYo for frozen yogurt and picked up some drive thru Burger King on the way home.  My brother picked Katie up at our house after their movie was done.
We spent New Year’s Eve at church and then with our kids and game night friends playing games and eating treats.  So fun and easy and a great way to spend a night.
Here’s our Christmas card for your viewing pleasure with a short synopsis of our 2017.
2018 is looking good!
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November 2017

Almost forgot to update the blog for November with Thanksgiving and more hours at work due to the holidays (luckily, Fountain Books is a WAY better place to work more hours at since we still close early enough to be with family and it’s not a big store to tidy.)
Lucky for all of my blog readers, I woke up today after going to bed early, with a big cold so since I already had the day off, I’m going to do this and then rest and read pretty much the rest of the day.

So many things happened in November: TOFW/TOFG, School Activities, Thanksgiving, New Clothing at Fountain Books, Primary Program, School Concerts, a new window, and more (like planning the whole Ward Christmas Party).

Elizabeth and Olivia went to Time Out For Girls in Portland when I went to Time Out For Women (same place/same time).  My mom, cousin, sister in law, Andy’s aunt and cousin and her daughters, and many others we knew were there.  We took three girls with us who are friends with Elizabeth and Olivia.  We all really enjoyed the talks, music, and refreshing Time Out we received there.

Me and my girls, Elizabeth and Olivia. We were all helpers at the event, so we had to dress a little nicer. I helped at the TOFW doors with bags and greeting.  Elizabeth helped at TOFG with registration.  Olivia was a door greeter as well.

The girls all rode with me in our car.  They had a fun time getting to know each other better and being with other girls who believe the same way, but were starting to get a little tired of each other by the end of the second day.

My cousin Danette drove my mom to Portland following me and my carload of girls.  Andy’s sister Sara met us there.  It was so great to go with such a fun group!

We had to have a picture! My cousin and mom and me.

Olivia’s a pretty adorable door greeter if you ask me.
So glad Sara could make it! It was awesome to visit more with her and spend time together.

 

Most of the girls ready to start again after a break.

 

My favorite presenter at the TOFW in Spokane was these fantastic ladies.  Zhandra and Tamu.  They are so funny and spot on spiritually and down to earth.  Still my favorite in Portland.

Picture with my mom and girls.

We had to meet up with Andy’s aunt and cousin and cousin’s girls for a snapshot too.

Andy was out of town for much of November.  Actually, when I was on my way to TOFW, he was on his way home from a trip and his flight was cancelled and he was stuck in Seattle (it snowed a tiny bit there).  Vincent and Abby were at friend’s houses after school until Andy was going to be home, but when his flight was cancelled, he ended up renting a car and driving home instead.  His sister Torrie picked up Vincent and Abby and took them home with her for the evening until Andy was able to get back to town.
The Saturday of TOFW was also Ribbon Festival for area pianists.  Vincent was able to go this year.  He performed a duet with Andy.
For each category you participate in, you get a special ribbon at Ribbon Festival.  They have a church set up that has nearly 30 pianos in it that the kids can go from room to room and pass off their songs.
Lucky to have some help in the kitchen!  Abby likes to wear the apron and hat Aunt Sara made her and make french toast or tacos or anything!
I took Olivia, Vincent, and Abby to a science night at the middle school.  There were cool things set up all over the school to check out and touch (some of them) and learn.  They all loved it.  It was done very nicely!
Olivia had an orchestra concert at Hanford High School.  They invited her middle school orchestra to join them.  They sounded great!  Watch and listen here or here.
After the concert.
Olivia is good about making sure Abby’s hair is fixed and that she matches and is ready on time.

She had my friend’s daughter over for an afternoon and they decided to make denim purses from old jeans.

We hung these painting up soon after I painted the living room gray, but I didn’t get a good picture of them.  I love them!  Elizabeth did an amazing job painting them.  She’s wants to paint more of them for other people too as a job. Several people have told her that they’ll send her some pictures to get started, but they haven’t yet.
Vincent and Abby are getting to be really great roller skaters.  It’s fun to watch them with their friends at the school skate night, plus they are really tired when the two hours are over.

We had a very nice, relaxed Thanksgiving.  We went up to Andy’s parent’s place in the mountains and hung out, cooked, played games, and rested the whole day.  I absolutely LOVED not having to eat in a rush and go to work (I had to work the next few days, but not on Thanksgiving.)

As we were heading out the door to go to the mountain, Olivia and Vincent practiced one of their piano duets they like to play together.

Elizabeth helped Abby get ready before we left.

We showed up in the middle of the day.  Their regular power was out and the generator was on, so the oven wasn’t able to run on that.  Luckily, the turkey was cooked on the special grill outside.  There was plenty of help in the kitchen to get the meal ready.

(And yes, the picture above was taken while I was sitting on the couch hanging out watching the other ladies and girls work…)

Great kitchen helpers!

It was just us and Sara’s family with Andy’s parents for Thanksgiving this year.  We had a wonderful time!

I helped when it was crunch time and I helped to clean up the kitchen after the meal.  It was really nice to not have to run to work.  I hardly knew what to do when I had time to just rest on a couch.  Abby came over to keep me company.

Andy’s sister Sara brought a Thanksgiving Bingo game.  The kids played it with M&M’s for the markers.  When they got a blackout, they could eat their treat.

Wanted a family picture on Thanksgiving.  Love these guys!

I took Sara and David’s family picture while we were there too.  They are so cute.  I’ll let her post those ones though.  We were happy to have them come to our house to stay Friday night.

Andy’s cousin’s wife let me know they were coming to town for Thanksgiving so we arranged a special game night on the Friday after.  She ended up not feeling well, but sent Andy’s cousin and their four girls over to play.  Adults played Apples to Apples in the family room and we sent the older kids in the living room to play Apples to Apples Junior.

That Saturday after Thanksgiving, Andy’s dad came down to help him put in our new giant living room window.  The window guys delivered it on Monday so we had to strap it to the fence post to the side of the house and hope it didn’t break before we could put it in.  (They were supposed to call and arrange delivery, but didn’t.)

On Saturday as I left for work, Andy and his dad were taking out the old window piece by piece.

It looked great when I got home.  We still have some work to do to finish it, but it’s nice.

The last week of November Fountain Books got the permission from Deseret Books to sell clothes again!  We got a huge shipment of Sweet Salt Clothing.  They asked me to kind of take the lead on setting it all up.  We didn’t get skirt hangers for another few days, but this is the corner area where the clothes are.  Really cute blouses and dresses and skirts!

It took most of the week to get it all set after we got the skirt hangers and in between customers if I was the only one there, but it looks even better now and things are selling. I wasn’t sure I’d like having to fold and hang clothes again or empty the fitting rooms, but our customers are pretty respectful and don’t leave things on the ground or in a heap on the tables like at regular retail stores, so it’s been great!

December is busy with more days and hours to work at Fountain Books, but Andy is home more this month too.  Still loving my new job!

 

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October 2017

Carryover from September:
Andy was called to be our Elder’s Quorum President at church the end of September. Here he is with his two counselors.  They are figuring out how everything works (and no, they aren’t releasing me yet from Primary President.)
I helped a few awesome ladies with the Jog-a-thon at Jason Lee this year.  I didn’t do tons, but I did enough that they weren’t quite so stressed out about it. ;)
It’s always fun to be there to cheer them on during the run.
Abby started gymnastics the beginning of October with a lady in our ward who is an experienced gymnast and gymnastics coach.  She went to sign her daughter up for gymnastics when school started and couldn’t find any with availability, so she started her own in her basement.  She ordered all the pads and other equipment once she had enough interest.  Abby goes over there for an hour a week with several other kids and I believe there are four or five classes during the week.  This has turned into a fun side job for her. Little Gems Gymnastics
I probably don’t need to tell you that this kind of thing is right up Abby’s alley.  She’s loving it.  It’s just long enough after school for Abby to walk home with Vincent and change clothes and eat an apple before going there.  Abby says that apples make her strong.
Abby’s grade had their annual First Grade Hoedown.  They learned a few songs and dances and then chose a family member to join them for one of the dances.  Then there are haystack cookies (melted butterscotch chips mixed with chow mien noodles-tastes better than it sounds) and apple juice.  She colored one of the scarecrows to decorate the school too.
All of my kids have now had a First Grade Hoedown at Jason Lee.  The music hasn’t changed and neither have the crafts or snacks, but it’s always fun (and done in about 45 minutes).  Pictures of all the kids at their hoedowns.
I have been following a friend’s photography blog since she started it and happened to win a family session for pictures.  We finally took them in September, which is okay with me because then they can be holiday pictures.
She did a great job.  This one seemed to be a Facebook Favorite.  I think I’m going to print it for the living room wall.
Love this picture of the kids.
And another family shot.  I kind of like this one because I’m taller than Elizabeth in it.
A little collage I made of my favorite photos Jessica Howard Photography took.
I helped with school individual pictures this year.  After all of the kids had their own picture taken, the whole school gathered outside for a picture of everyone taken from the photographer on the roof of the school. (This one is just from my junky camera).
Olivia finished up 7th Grade A team Volleyball early in the month.  She worked hard and learned a lot.
Olivia had her first choir concert in the middle of the month. They actually have two seventh grade classes that combined for this choir.  There was also a sixth grade choir, eighth grade choir, and special treble choir composed of eighth graders who have to try out for it.
The Open House was later this year, but great.  It lined up with the Book Fair night and the school’s trick or treating.  Students were invited to dress up.  We hadn’t figured out their real costumes yet, so they raided the costume box.  I love the self portraits they draw of themselves.
Abby and Vincent have been excellent leaf rakers.  But now the leaves are pretty much all down and were rained on, so no more playing in them.  Now we’ll just have to clean them up and toss them into our yard garbage can.
There was a Stake Youth Dance for Halloween.  Our neighbor joined the girls for it.  They all had a wonderful time.
Olivia made her own gumball machine costume.
Elizabeth made her own costume.  She is Impa from a Zelda video game.
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Abby raking away after school.  She may have earned some coins for taking care of the leaves this day without being asked and without complaint.
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The Saturday before Halloween one of the local shopping areas in town had a community fall festival and then trick or treating around the stores. Andy had Stake Conference Priesthood Meetings, but Nathan came to hang out with us. (Elizabeth stayed home.  She doesn’t like crowds or waiting much.)
There were a lot of places where princesses were ready for a picture along the path.  Abby wanted pictures with all of them.
They had some free pumpkins at the festival, but they were gone before we were done, so we headed to our local Winco to pick our pumpkins for the year.  Best prices and so easy!
Vincent is Boba Fett and Abby is an Ice Queen (not Elsa-she says). We found their costumes at my favorite thrift store for $5 each.
We carved pumpkins the night before Halloween.
Elizabeth made a helmet to go with Vincent’s costume out of cardboard and tape the night before Halloween and I painted it.  Andy touched up a few spots that weren’t quite right.  It looks pretty good with his costume.
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Andy had to go out of town for work on Halloween, so I took the three younger kids to the Uptown Shopping Center right after school (picked up Vincent and Abby with costumes ready in the car).  Nathan met up with us there too and then loaded them up with candy since he doesn’t get trick or treaters at his apartment.  While Elizabeth was home, she finished up the soup I made in the crockpot and started the bread dough.  We ate just a little bit after we got home and then we went over to Kennewick to visit Andy’s Grandma Ellen and Paul.  We met Grandpa George and Grandma Shirley at Grandma Ellen’s house and had a nice visit.  Then we went and visited Andy’s old boss Sam at his house and then came back home to let Elizabeth pass out candy to our trick or treaters and we went around our own neighborhood with a girl from our ward.  We got home just before 9pm and the kids didn’t get much candy to eat until the days after Halloween.  It was a lot of fun!
Before Andy left on his trip, he replaced the light in the bathroom and blew out the sprinklers.  This light is brighter than it looks.  I like that it’s so easy to clean.
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Very busy October with all of those activities, plus church and work and regular school stuff.  (Still loving my new job at Fountain Books!) It was a really fun and enjoyable month! Onto November’s Primary Program and planning the Ward Christmas Party and THANKSGIVING!
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September 2017

The Spring Break quilts Elizabeth and Olivia made with Grandma Mary were in the Walla Walla Fair.  They both received blue ribbons and Elizabeth also received a Champion ribbon for the Youth quilt division. They both did a wonderful job piecing their quilts and using Grandma Mary’s pattern.

Elizabeth’s is the black, red, and white.  Olivia’s is shades of blue and white.  It’s the churndash block.

My mom’s quilt is the one with the giant maroon ribbon.  She was awarded Best in Show by the judges.

A few weeks later, my mom took their quilts to the Walla Walla Quilt Show.

Elizabeth’s whole quilt at the Walla Walla Quilt Show with a rainbow ribbon.

Olivia’s whole quilt at the Walla Walla Quilt Show with a rainbow ribbon.

We played at the photo booth a little bit before heading out in the heat to play.

Our friend Nathan came along with us to enjoy the Walla Walla Fair.

We ended up with all free tickets, so we splurged a little more than normal and let Vincent and Abby play in the big hamster beach balls.

Vincent and Abby tried out a kiddie rollercoaster. Elizabeth and Olivia decided that they would rather use the money we would have spent on rides to buy food and trinkets.
Andy and I rode the Orbitor/Octopus/Spider ride while Vincent and Abby stood next to a light pole and took pictures. Nathan rode this ride too.
Vincent snapped this adorable picture of Abby while they waited.
Andy, Nathan, and Abby went on the Eruption/Round Up ride.  Abby was a little nervous about it.
Holding her breath while she waited for the ride to start.
Abby LOVED it!  She even wanted to go again!  Vincent decided to try it too, so I went with them the next time.  SO much fun!

Vincent begged five dollars off Andy and Nathan to throw darts at balloons in one of the game booths. He got to throw five darts and popped a balloon four of those five times.
He picked out this fun stuffed toy for his prize.
We headed up to Andy’s parent’s place for Labor Day.  Shirley did a Relief Society activity where they painted rocks for decoration or to hide places (it’s really popular in our area.  Is it popular where you live??)  She had some extra rocks so the kids painted some for Grandma Ellen’s garden and a few to keep.
Abby painted a LOT of rocks!  She painted even more after this picture was taken.
Obligatory ride around the property to check it all out.
Olivia is playing on the middle school 7th grade Volleyball A Team.  She is having a good time and learning a lot about the game and trying really hard to get her serves over the net.  (And she is now #8 because her team had two #2 and that doesn’t work very well…)  We gave her the volleyball for her birthday.

We had a free weekend so we decided to drive over to see Andy’s sister Sara and her family several hours away.  We had a scenic pitstop and needed a picture.

We played and visited the Friday night we were there (and exchanged birthday gifts all around so everyone had a little something because that’s easier than mailing all of it.)

Saturday we went to the Tacoma Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

Vincent liked the touching pools.  He loved this stingray.

Olivia was very helpful with Emma and Sami helped her too.
Daphne and Abby.  Such good cousin bonding time!
Most of the kids in the basement of the aquarium.  Sami and Emma stayed outside with Sara to rest.
One of the favorite sea creatures in our visit.
Asian Elephant viewing.
We saw a lot of other animals and had a really fun time hanging out with Sara’s family.  Our kids all get along so well.
Cousin picture with all of them at the end!
We had a really quick trip with six hours on the way there and around 5 1/2 on the way home, but it was worth the visit and time spent with family.
The next week was PROJECT WEEK!
I started with cleaning the carpet in the living room which needed it desperately.  A nice refresh is so much easier since I own the machine, but it’s still hard to carve out the time to do it. I LOVE clean, fresh carpets.
Next up was the countertop refinish.  I used a dark gray automotive primer spray paint first to cover up the old white formica and then used gray hammered finish spray paint to finish it off.  We used several layers waiting a few days between for the final layers.
The only real trouble was that the dark spray paint didn’t stay in the counter area.  It liked to go on the floor and then be tracked around the kitchen.  We did some major mopping afterwards, but the kitchen still has some paint residue and so does the bathtub.  I need to do some more scrubbing.
Because this is just the extra counter in our family room and won’t be wiped daily like our kitchen counters, this finish works well.  I LOVE the way it looks with our black countertop base I painted in June.
Project #3 for the week was painting the living room and hallway.  I invited a friend over to help me choose a color for this room and she thought gray would look nice.  (I liked the tan too, but it was there when we bought the house 11 years ago, so it was time to update).
I spent one afternoon filling in holes and cleaning.  Another morning taping and starting to paint the hallway (with Elizabeth who was home sick that day).
Changing the colors!
Progress! I love it!  I ended up doing two layers of paint throughout to make sure it covered everything.  It looks even better now that the tape is off and the room is put back together.  The paint does have a blue tint to it, but I still love it!

The next week (and the reason for Project Week) I started a new job at Fountain Books.  It’s a LDS based bookstore with books-of course, music, beautiful pictures, home decor, and more.  I’m working very part-time so far and really, really liking it.  The store is only open Monday-Saturday from 10-6 and no major holidays.  The music is peaceful and nice and the customers are polite and kind and don’t make messes like in other retail environments.  I’m getting the hang of how things are arranged and being trained how to do everything.  My mom came to visit me on my first day because she was in town and took my picture for me out in front.  (The sun was shining and I couldn’t keep my eyes open…)

Abby was invited to a friend’s really awesome Pottery Painting birthday party. These girls have good time together!
Great way to have a party with so many kids.
Abby painted a ladybug box.  Once it goes in the kiln the colors darken and get shiny.  It looks great now.
Elizabeth and Olivia had a Young Women’s Evening of Excellence to show some of their talents and hobbies and some of the projects they have worked on throughout the year.

 

The elementary school had a skate night so I took Vincent and Abby to that.  These two know how to skate pretty well!
We played my Grandma Zora’s Scrabble game at our weekly game night with friends at the end of September.  I looked at the date on the box and it was copyright in 1953.  My dad was born in 1954 and I think that this could have possibly been a wedding gift. It has been around a long time and Grandma played many, many games with it.  We played with her often when we stopped by to visit because Andy likes Scrabble too.
I thought of Grandma almost immediately when I got my letters.  I can remember playing with her when Andy and I were freshly married and her telling me, “If you have an E, you could play it here.”  I got to open the game with sleeve and I beat a few guys at game night by kind of a lot.  Thanks Grandma for all of the tips and encouragement! Great memories.  We are nearing the two year mark of her passing and I still think of her nearly every day and try to think about what she would do in situations and how kind and loving she was to everyone.
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August 2017

Andy headed to Oakland, California for work for the first week of August.  He visited the Oakland Temple where his parents were married.
While Andy was gone, a friend who sells Mary Kay was looking for friends who wanted to do facials.  She had a goal to do 60 facials in August, so I offered a few of our faces.  This is the charcoal mask, but it wipes right off with a rag instead of the ones that you have to peel off and it hurts, but this one has the same benefit as the other one.  (We had our neighbor friend over a lot of August.)
These three girls did some blue masks Olivia bought that same day in the morning.
That same day I decided it was the day to finally paint Vincent’s room and get it organized.  Vincent and Abby helped to wash down the walls that they spent a lot of time drawing on.  They seemed to enjoy it a little too much…
But we got it wiped down and taped off and then Olivia and our neighbor Ally helped me with all the painting.

I ran out of the rest of the can of paint we had before we could do a second coat on the door (covering fingernail polish), but everything else looks fresh and clean.

I bought some shelves on Amazon to replace the armoire that was in this room when we moved in.  It was broken and overloaded.  I switched this up a little more after the picture too.  I sewed up a curtain and bought some boxes that didn’t have diapers on them and moved Vincent’s hanging clothes to the end of his bed by the other cabinet.

I started a little job at the mall working for a friend who started a company there, but after just a few times, it just wasn’t a good fit for me.  I worked there for about a month very part-time and gave my notice after I interviewed somewhere else and was hired.  I’ll tell more about that in the September update when I start there.  I am really excited about it.

Andy’s Aunt Tricia came into town and asked us to get together with her and her boys who are the same age as Elizabeth and Olivia.  We met at Howard Amon Park and had a picnic and they all played.

We considered going to the wading pool at Howard Amon, but decided that these kids would like the river more, so we headed down the road to Leslie Groves and played in the river in the swimming area.   They like to hang out together and it was great to visit with them!

Our ward campout was the second weekend in August.  We went to Crow Butte State Park.  The Sunday School Presidency was in charge of the campout, so that means that our friend Nathan as the President and Andy as the Counselor planned the campout.  The spot was great.  It was sunny and nice all afternoon on the Friday.  Several families came to camp, but others canceled due to the smoke in the air that made it hard to breathe for a month in summer this year.
Crow Butte has a fantastic playground.  There was a fun zipline and climbing rocks and slide that had rods that you rolled down and cool swings.  Everyone loved it, from two year olds to teenagers.

 I took the kids down to play in the water Friday afternoon and took other pictures on Friday night, but somehow accidentally deleted them from my camera when I was shifting them to my computer, so I don’t have all that I wanted.

I did get a picture of some of the kids playing at the playground.

 These main three kids in this picture are all in the same grade, so I plan on saving this photo for when they are seniors. (Our ward has a senior honor night where they talk about the graduates and have a slideshow.)

 Abby wanted to make faces too.  She kept trying to jump off this tall rock.  I seriously had to tell her not to jump several times after I noticed her bouncing and counting down to jump.

After dinner we made a circle to visit with the Bishop and his wife when they came up for a short visit and the older kids played a fun game in the middle.  We ate treats too.

It got really windy that night.  Here is Nathan’s tent that was right out our tent window with Elizabeth in the background working on their tent (their tent fell apart when both of them got out) and another family in our ward whose tent collapsed on them.):

 Really, really windy!  It slowed down enough for us to pack up everything, which was done by 7am.  While we finished packing Vincent and Abby found some stick bugs to play with.

 They really like bugs.

 I helped with the quantities of food for the breakfast that was planned. They originally wanted to have a hot meal, but the plan for the grill fell through, so they decided to do a cold breakfast.  There were a total of 70 people who signed up saying they would be at the campout, but when I went shopping with Andy and Nathan, we happened to run into two people there who said the smoke was too bad for their family to camp.  We planned for about 50 and 25 people were actually there, so we had PLENTY for everyone who came to make sure they ate enough and plenty to send home and we were still under budget.

We had big muffins, packages of mini muffins for kids, mandarin oranges, bagels and cream cheese, bananas, cold cereal, milk, juice,  and chocolate milk.  Everyone said they liked it.

We had a short devotional that morning over our breakfast and then finished packing up before heading to the playground again.  We walked down to the playground from our big group site and it started to rain, so we didn’t play long and we hurried home.

We had a friend over to play one day and Vincent made her a special mask like his and Abby’s masks.  She thought it was fun too and said she wants to be this for Halloween now.

 Two of my out-of-town brothers came into town so we had a reunion and whole family picture time.

Tuesday they all came to Tri-Cities and Janessa’s husband Jes gave us a tour of the Life Flight helicopter and airplane that are only a few miles from our house.  Luckily, they didn’t have to leave on an emergency call while we were there.

There were a lot of us out there.  Milton’s family wasn’t in town yet, but the rest of us were there.  Someone posted a picture of us out there next to the plane and put it on Twitter.

Abby and Vincent in the helicopter.

I invited everyone over to our house for sandwiches and fruit for lunch after the tour.
Olivia showed Caleb her violin and let him try it out.
We got to meet our youngest niece, Anna. She’s lucky and has four brothers and a sister to play with in Wyoming.
We headed over to Joe’s house to play in their backyard before dinner.
It was good to see and visit with my brother Jeff.  It’s been too long since we had a visit.
The kids played on a blowup waterslide, pool, playground set, trampoline, and drove around these fun battery powered cars.  I think we successfully wore them out.

We took a day off from the fun because we had a lot of things going on Wednesday in our family, especially in the evening.  We had Pack Meeting for Vincent’s Cub Scouts, a Trek Fireside for Andy, Elizabeth, and I with the stake, Olivia had a violin lesson with a friend, and it was good to have a little break to rest.

That Thursday we had our big family pictures.

Janessa took a selfie of us during pictures. It’s so great to have a sister!

Each of our families picked a color to wear for the picture.  Green for Milton’s.  Blue for Joe’s.  Black for us.  Red for Brant’s.  Gray for Jeff and his girlfriend.  Navy for Janessa’s. And my parents wore purple.

There are 34 people in this picture.  14 adults and 20 of 21 grandchildren (Jeff’s son lives in Ohio.)

The photographer took a photo of our family too.  Abby was sad because she had to put her sticks down she was playing with.  She was inconsolable.

Picture of all of the grandkids with grandparents.

And all of the adults (plus my mom trying to picture take the picture taker.)  There’s a better one of this…

Abby and Derek are very close in age and sat on the hanging branch before the picture.

Andy worked Thursday in Walla Walla at the library so he could come over for the picture and then join us again for dinner.

After pictures we headed to a waterpark to play.  They had big slides to go down and a smaller kid area, a warm pool, and a fairly deep laned pool, as well as a section with diving boards.  There was something for everyone.

This lilypad across the pool was very popular.  It was hard for people to stand up on it to run across unless they weighed very little.  Vincent opted to crawl across.

We had dinner at my sister’s house in Walla Walla and said goodbye to everyone that night since they were headed home the next day.

We had a Sunday that I was the only regular one in the Primary Presidency/ Chorister/ Pianist group.  Except for we planned subs for the pianist and chorister and they ended up being able to come afterall.  That made life easier for me!  One reason people were out of town was to get in a better location for The Total Eclipse was that next day.  Andy took Olivia and Vincent up to the Mountain to meet his parent’s and go with them to find a better spot to see the Eclipse.

Elizabeth needed to pick up her high school schedule, so we stayed in town where we still had a 96% eclipse.

Elizabeth in front of her new school!

The new seminary teacher at Elizabeth’s high school is in our ward and they were going to be at the seminary building to meet students that morning, so I asked if Abby could hang out with them while I went with Elizabeth to pick up her schedule.  We told our friends across the street where we’d be so they could use our extra two pair of special eclipse glasses so we had parking lot eclipse party after they got their schedules.

Abby caught a grasshopper that freaked the other kids out.

This one is my favorite.

Elizabeth with our neighbor friend who goes to the high school with her.

Me and my oldest and youngest girls.  The crescent shapes on the ground are the moon shadows.  It was slightly darker and got chilly as the moon covered the sun.  The light on the shed behind us came on as it got darker.

Elizabeth and our neighbor friend again.

She opened some of the gifts from Vincent and Abby the night before.  She saved some for later.  Vincent and Abby have been wrapping up trinkets from around the house in napkins and paper towels all month for Olivia and put them in a laundry basket. Note the big pile of gifts in front of her.

Olivia made birthday invitations that were cupcake boxes with a balloon with the invite inside along with a cute poem and a doily on top of the box with each girl’s name.  She invited ten friends and nine were able to make it (the other planned on coming, but had a last minute family trip.)

Olivia made all of the decorations.  She combined three plastic tablecloths into a backdrop, made that cute arrow banner across the backdrop, and even made those cute reversible bags hanging from the hooks in the top of the picture to give to each of her friends.  She stitched every stitch.  I just bought the fabric.

She asked for these fun photo props and took a picture with each friend.

We fed them an easy lunch of taquitos, tatertots, and pop along with chips and pretzels.

Close up of the cute bags Olivia made.  She found the pattern on Pinterest and figured out just how much fabric she’d need and picked out complimentary fabrics and did all the work.  We put a pencil and a notebook and some candy inside.

The girls played Apples to Apples and decided that the green cards you won described your future husband, so that was pretty funny.  They didn’t want to win the green card “Disgusting” for some reason, but they all tried really hard to win that “Handsome” card.  Very fun and nice girls!

Olivia asked for cupcake cheesecakes for her cake.  That was nice and easy.  She loves those!

Olivia had them play a circle question game where they all sat on each other’s laps.  So funny!

Happy 12th birthday, Olivia!!!

 

 Olivia started some more volleyball training to be ready for the season for two hours a day (even on her 12th birthday). She made the 7th Grade A Team which is exciting because I know she’s been working really hard at learning how to play volleyball and she gets to practice right after school instead of coming home for a bit and going back to the school to practice.

 Olivia had to go pick up her schedule before school started too. We took a few girls on our block who are in her grade with us. It’s nice to have friends close by.

Olivia by her school. She’s excited for seventh grade!

I took the girls out for some ice cream after we picked up schedules.

Olivia was officially welcomed into the Beehives in Young Women’s at church.
Elizabeth had to go to a Freshman Day at the high school Monday, but Tuesday we got a partial group picture with Vincent, Olivia, and Elizabeth. (Abby was still asleep.)
Vincent in front of his school. He’s a fourth grader this year.

 We had a conference with Abby’s first grade teacher (and so did all of the other families) before they had the kindergarten and first graders come to school.

She was really ready to go to school on Thursday!

 For mutual the first week of school, our ward was invited to the stake center building’s mutual for a dance.  Our girls both invited a friend to go with them and they all had a fantastic time and asked about the next dance already. (In our church and stake 12-13 year old’s don’t normally go to dances, but they make a few exceptions a year for the back to school dance, Halloween dance, and Valentine’s dance. 14 year old’s and older have monthly regional dances they are invited to.)

 We have had a very busy end to our summer and have had a wonderful time with family and friends and each other, but we are so excited that school is back in session now!  I love the routine, even though Elizabeth and Olivia both have zero hour classes that start at 6:55 and 7am, which means I have to wake up EARLY and it also means I’ve been trying to go to bed earlier than 2am now.

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