Ransom Family

Random Ramblings and Happenings

May 2017

The quilt Olivia made over Spring Break with Grandma Mary was in the quilt show in Pendleton this month.  It’s SO pretty!  She did a great job and is lucky to have a talented Grandma to teach her useful skills.
My mom and I went to an author signing about an hour away to meet Wanda Brunstetter.  She writes a lot of Amish romances, which are clean, spiritual, and fun to read.  My mom started reading her books because there were some set in a quilt shop and lent that series to me and since then I’ve checked almost all of her books out at our local library.  It was a fun little roadtrip.
I had another road trip to see my cousin to cut my hair this month.  She did some highlights for me and thinned it out a little so it lays nicely and chopped off several inches.  I’ve been wearing it straight more often this month.
My mother in law had a big crafting party at her mountain home the day before Mother’s Day.  Andy drove me up there and then took Vincent and Abby with him to go and see some sites and drive around.  I made these HOME letters that have a different O for each season (Snowman/Flower/Watermelon/Pumpkin) and they each even have another little seasonal thing to go with them.  I made it for my buddy Ally.  She was going to come, but has been under the weather a lot of the last few months and just couldn’t do it.
George made a delicious lunch for all of us crafty ladies.
I had a nice Mother’s Day morning.  Elizabeth made me some breakfast and Abby and Vincent helped her.  They all gave me nice cards and little gifts from school and church.
The youth took Primary over for the third hour so our teachers and presidency could go to Relief Society.  We had an excellent lesson all about the Savior.  I decided that if I could only go to one RS lesson a year, that was the perfect one!
We ate an early dinner and headed to Walla Walla to visit my mom.  
One of my brothers brought his three kids and my sister came over with her two boys.
It was a little too much for the living room at my parents and most of us ended up at the park a block or so away to let the kids play.  It reminded me of playing baseball in our backyard as a kid on Sunday evenings when the weather was nice.
Elizabeth said she’d play if I batted too.  I think I surprised her when I agreed.  I hit the first pitch even in my dress and without playing for a few decades.  Unfortunately, it was a fly ball right to my nearly professional nephew who caught it, but I hit it!
A nice picture with Grandma Mary and nine of her 21 grandchildren.
The elementary school had a volunteer breakfast the morning of the PTA Carnival.  The classes all made signs that said thank you and I found the hand Abby colored.
They had a photo booth that we had to try out.
And then I went home for a half hour nap before going with a friend to pick up ALL of the food for the concessions at the carnival.  It completely filled my Hyundai Veracruz. I made all of the back seats flat and Amanda even had the nacho cheese cans by her feet in the passenger seat at the end.  I helped in the concessions during the carnival.
Olivia has been practicing “Love at Home” with three other girls (two violists and two flutists) and a young lady who accompanied them on the piano.  They shared their song at the rest home when our ward was in charge of a Sunday evening service.

I know you want a video.  Go HERE to watch it. (This is with just two practices all together.)  They also played the last Sunday in May during Sacrament Meeting at church.
I thought that it would be fun to go on a hike as a family on a Monday evening since Andy, Elizabeth, and I need to make sure we are ready for the Trek this summer.  I heard that Candy Mountain trail was new and a little easier than Badger Mountain’s hike (which is mostly hard for me because one of the sides starts with a HUGE section of stairs).  We parked where Google said the trailhead was and started up.  We quickly figured out that this wasn’t quite as easy as advertised and actually wasn’t even the right trail!  The path we went on was a service road that firetrucks use if the mountain catches on fire or to do other maintenance at the top.  We forged on anyway.  Vincent, Olivia, and Abby are fast little hikers.
When he could see the top metal satellite/radio tower sticking up and we were close to the real trail, Andy told Olivia we’d meet them at the top and to wait there.  We took the winding path that led us mostly to the other side of the mountain (and lost Elizabeth somewhere along the way because she didn’t keep up and didn’t know where we went when I thought she was going to just give up and walk back to the car).  When Andy and I got to the top, no one was there and we couldn’t see the kids.  I thought I spotted Elizabeth at the car, but when I zoomed in with my camera, she wasn’t there.  Andy went back down the steep path (and I should have too!) to check on them (they were all at the car when he got down and they were just fine.)  I decided I wanted to try out the real path, so I went down the other way.  It took longer even going down because of all of the switchbacks and distance.  Eventually I shot out at the parking lot and started walking along the road to meet up with Andy and the kids and the car.  I left my phone at the house charging so it was just me and all peaceful and beautiful, but I wished I’d had it so I could call Andy and tell him where the parking lot was.  I walked a few more miles before I got to a gas station (where they wouldn’t let me use their phone) and borrowed a phone from a nice guy who was buying something there.  Andy and the kids had been waiting at the car for about 45 minutes for me to get there assuming the parking lot was closer or that I’d be there soon.  Needless to say, this was not the most successful hiking trip and everyone was GRUMPY when I got back to the car.
Andy and I hiked the real trail the next day without the kids and it was a nice, smooth, gradual climb with gravel trail and good weather.  My legs were sore though since I hiked so much the previous day.
And Wednesday the Young Women in our ward had a 5K Color Run to celebrate their Personal Progress.  They invited parents to come and Olivia threw some of the color along the path.  Elizabeth asked me to walk with her (and then ditched me for two other walkers and they were just ahead of me). This is the before picture when everyone was fresh and clean.  I don’t have the after one yet.  Everyone had a great time though!
Vincent is doing well in 3rd grade.  He and a buddy of his from church/cub scouts both memorized all of their multiplication facts.
With this nice weather comes a lot of testing for third graders.  As a treat their teacher did a bunch of fun things for them in the afternoons.  They each got sunglasses one day, outside chalk time for math another day, and reading outside.
We went to Rollarena for a school skate night early in the month.  Vincent and two of his friends hung out a lot there.  He’s getting really fast!
Another funny Vincent thing was that he wanted to give some of his donation at church to the Dearings (a family we know).  That’s not quite how those work… but I had to take a picture and send it to them.
Elizabeth and Abby were both featured artists in a school district art exhibit held at Washington State University Tri-Cities this month.  Their art teachers decided which works to add to the show.
I asked Elizabeth to stand next to her self portrait and try to make the same face.  She’s quite the artist!
She drew this portrait of Chief Joseph too.  I liked her detail.
Abby drew and colored the fish WAY up at the top of the area designated for our school.
Close up of the cutest fish ever.
We had Rory with us to go out and check out the art from students in our school district.
Abby was the only one who wanted a picture by the WSU in flowers.  I teased on Facebook that the clover in the front of the WSU sign spells out Cougars (their mascot).  Look really close!
No, no it doesn’t….
Abby’s kindergarten class had ladybug day.  The older three kids all had the same teacher, so I kind of know what to expect.  Elizabeth’s Ladybug Day HERE. Olivia’s Day HERE.  Vincent’s Day HERE.
They sang cute songs about ladybugs and showed a bunch of things they learned about ladybugs and then had a little snack and Abby and I read an adorable Ladybug book.
Abby REALLY liked singing!
Saturday I took Vincent and Elizabeth to the local library where they tried out for a local fanfilm of a Zelda story the son of one of my friend’s wrote.  I’ll let you know what comes of their audition sometime this summer.
Monday was Memorial Day.  I went to work in the morning and in the afternoon we headed over to Pasco where the traveling Vietnam memorial wall was set up.  I had no idea how many names were on the wall.  I thought each line was one person, but each line is several people!
I love this country and I’m so grateful to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Some cool military trucks were set up.  Abby pretended to drive this one.
We are in front of a medic van.  The big black things between Abby and Vincent are walkie-talkies.  They are very big!
There are Veteran Memorials all around the park here.
One of our kids said they felt sad seeing all those names on the wall.  We told them that what they are feeling is a good thing because that means they know that it’s important to remember them and appreciate them.
We dropped off a bag full of Hot Wheel cars and Polly Pockets to a friend’s house on the way home.  She has a nephew on a mission in Africa and the missionary sees kids playing with Hot Wheels in the dirt there, sometimes even without wheels!  What happy little souls he must be meeting there.  Anyway, they are collecting small toys for the missionary to give away to kids while he’s out so we went through all of our small collections and found a lot to give away to kids who need them.
And after all the good stuff, we headed to Jason and Ally’s for a Birthday BBQ Swimming Party.  It was a great day for swimming.  I like their pool because in the afternoon there is a part in the shade and part in the sun, so if you get too hot in the sun you can move to the shade (mostly for me with fair skin since I don’t want to burn.)
Vincent can do little backwards somersaults now in the pool.
Elizabeth and Olivia played a bunch of games together and were laughing and having a good time.
Abby isn’t super confident in the water so we borrowed a swim float for her to wear to kick around the pool.
Happy birthday, Jason!  Thanks for the BBQ Ally!
Olivia likes their dog Demi.  Demi doesn’t like the pool much.
Last week I took the kids over to Ally’s pool to swim one day after school when it was really hot.  I got the kids all sunscreened and blew up the giant shark a neighbor gave us and when Abby tried out the shark, it tipped her right off.  Olivia and Rory were on one side of it and couldn’t get to Abby (who wasn’t wearing the vest then) so Ally jumped in to rescue her.
We decided the whale needed more air and a spotter to help steady it.
Abby even tried again a little later.  Rory helped her out with her special horse trainer skills.
In other news, I’ve given my notice at Kohl’s.  I’m too stressed out there and I’m frustrated by a lot of things and a part-time job shouldn’t be this hard both on my body and well-being.  I’ve decided to stay home with the kids this summer and reevaluate in the fall what I want to do/if I want to work.  I’m excited to play more this summer with the kids and be together!  I just have a few shifts left before I say, “Adios!” to Kohl’s (at least working there.  I’ll still shop there because I love the deals!)
Olivia had a final sixth grade orchestra concert tonight (the last day in May).  She was in the middle in the back though so I couldn’t see her during the performance this time, just her bow moving as she played.  This is the most I saw of her face just before they started.
I caught her afterwards.  They did a great job!  She’s always improving.  We have arranged with a high schooler we know to teach her and a friend this summer once a week.  She’s excited about that!
Video clip of the first song HERE.
Second song HERE.
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April 2017 Part Two: 2 Weddings and a Funeral + Reunion

I’m super sad that these went together.  Like shocked and still cannot think very hard about that last one without crying, but I’m grateful for the beautiful reminders of the blessings of the Temple Sealing promises that helped me so much this month.

Andy’s cousin on his mom’s side was married Easter Weekend in the Columbia River Temple (a cousin’s son was married the previous day in San Diego as well).

Congratulations to Sammi and Donald! (We weren’t actually there when they came out because we had to hurry to the Easter Egg Hunt for our ward).

I did get a nice picture of Andy and I in front of our Columbia River Temple though.

There was SO much fun dancing at the reception.  Three of our kids danced nearly the whole time.
Andy and I joined them too.
Felt pretty good to be out there dancing!
So many people having so much fun doing big group dances.

Andy’s cousin on his dad’s side was married in Logan, Utah Temple the following weekend. My mom was kind enough to come over and hang out with the kids for Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday so we could get away without the kids. She blogged a little about it here.

I left the kids each a little list of chores to do while Grandma was here.  They didn’t do much of it, but they got a good report from Grandma.  (I made them finish the chores over the next few days after school.)

Andy and I went over to the Logan Temple early on Saturday morning to do a session before the sealing.
Gary and Tricia have eight children.  This is their picture with ALL of their kids, spouses, and grandkids so far.
Congratulations to Jason and Jennie!
We drove home the Sunday after the wedding.  It was pretty rainy during parts of the drive, but Andy and I had a good time visiting and singing along with the songs on the stereo.

One of my sweet cousins who was only 25 years old passed away due to complications with pneumonia.  I’m still confused about how that happens to someone so young and full of life, but regardless, it happened and her husband and three beautiful daughters under five years old are left without their wife and mother.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sitting, child and stripes

One time our Crowther family went bowling. I can’t remember why or when, but I know we had a good time.  I always had fun anytime we were able to hang out with our cousins.  Picture below with Brenda and Shannon (I’m that young one in the striped shirt.)

Shannon was so talented.  She excelled in sports and music and was an excellent seamstress.  She made her own wedding dress and also made dresses for her daughters on many occasions.  These sweet dresses were made for Easter just a few weeks ago using the same fabric for each, but a different pattern. I think these girls are so beautiful and sweet and my heart aches for them.

We had a Crowther reunion planned for the last weekend in April since last November.  We met at a local park and ate lunch and the kids played and played while everyone caught up with each other.  One of the benefits of having 25 grandchildren in your family is always having someone with a kid the same age as your kid.
One of my cousins brought water bottle rockets.  Elizabeth helped out the younger kids by holding the bottle down while someone else pumped so it could fly farther, even though that meant she had most of the water shot at her too.
Vincent on the pump.
An audience.
Abby made good friends again with Shannon’s little girl.  We had them over on Olivia’s birthday last summer while their mom went to a college class and then hung out longer at a local park.  I asked the two older girls if they remembered coming to play at our house and at the rainbow park and they both acted like they remember.  I really hope they remember things from this stage in their lives.

There were open tennis courts at the park too.  That kept the kids busy.
There are 25 grandkids on my dad’s side.  18 are pictured.  One was at a ball game for a child just a few miles away by the time we took the picture.  Others weren’t able to get away this weekend.
But we did leave a space for Shannon, who I’m sure was there in spirit.  We lined up in age order, just like old times.
April 30th is the day Grandpa and Grandma Crowther were married which is why this weekend was chosen. Picture of everyone at the Crowther reunion.  Quite a crew and this probably isn’t even half of our big family now.  We always miss those who aren’t able to make it though.
Just for fun, I cropped this picture my aunt took of a group because I like how cute my husband is.
I have LOVED being in the Temple often this month.  Twice for weddings and two others for ordinances.  In the midst of trials, the spirit of the Temple can bring great joy and peace.  I need to spend more time there.
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April 2017 Part One: Track and Crafts and Easter and Clot Trot

Don’t those go together?  No?  Okay… Too much going on in April to make just one post. Even divided into two, this will be kind of long…

Elizabeth started track at her middle school this year.  She is able to sign up for four events at each track meet.  So far she is sticking with shot put, discus, high jump, and the 100 meter dash.  She is learning a lot and trying her best, but mostly just having a great time with friends on the team.

I may have said the same thing on the post last month, but these are new pictures.  She did get a track sweatshirt and I bought her some leggings.

Throwing the discus.  Her discus coach is behind her on the field.  Luckily, she didn’t hit him.
Trying out the high jump…still hasn’t made it over the bar.
I took Vincent and Abby with me to Elizabeth’s track meet the end of April and she offered Abby a piggy-back ride.

Elizabeth and Olivia were able to spend the second part of Spring Break visiting Grandma Mary at Grandma Quilting Camp. My mom designed the blocks and taught them how to make them.  They chose fabric from her collection and arranged the blocks on the quilt in their own order. My mom’s blog about it here and here.

Olivia was quilting the whole day before quilt camp started making four patch squares to be added to a larger quilt later.

Olivia finished the top of her quilt and even helped Grandma start quilting it.  It’s going to be at a quilt show the first week in May.  Elizabeth decided to make extra blocks, so her’s isn’t quite done yet.

While the older girls were away, we had a playdate with some friends. We met them at a park and they played for a few hours. It was awesome.

And then Abby came home and decided to start a flower stand in the front yard where she can sell flowers.  She likes to make up songs too.

Olivia helped to arrange an Easter Egg Hunt for our Primary kids to fulfill one of her Faith in God requirements.  It was on the Saturday before Easter and was pretty well attended. Several Primary kids came over Tuesday afternoon to help fill the eggs and some showed up early to help hide the eggs as well.  I even invited the missionaries to help with that. Olivia planned a few games too.  (This is NOT all the kids who were there.  We had about 40 kids.)

Abby with one of her Easter Eggs.
The Easter Bunny left baskets for our family.
After church we fed the sister missionaries.  I made them special Easter Baskets.  One of them said at her house their baskets were always hidden and they had to find them and she asked if we could hide it for her.  The kids hid them outside before dinner. We took a few pictures too.  Since it was after church, we aren’t all still in church clothes.
Andy would like me to mention that if he’d known we were going to take a family photo, he would have put his tie back on.
Our sister missionaries with their Easter Baskets.

We were able to attend the TENTH annual Clot Trot.  We have been to all of them since they started and because of that, Sam Smith (Andy’s former boss whose son started the Clot Trot as a Boy Scout Eagle project), asked us to be on the news with him the day before.  Andy was gone on a trip for work and couldn’t join us, but I took the kids (SO early in the morning).

The news station wanted us to meet them at the park at six am.  Then there was an emergency, so the anchor who was set up there ended up having to pack up and hurry to the more important story and we went to the news station (we didn’t go to the park first though since Sam sent me a text).  She asked me why we do the Clot Trot each year and I babbled about something like to support Sam and his son initially but also because it’s fun and we can learn more about blood disorders like Hemophilia which is what Aaron has.  Then she asked Abby which race she was going to run: the 10K, the 5K, or the mile.  Abby told her she didn’t know what any of those were.  I answered for her that we usually do the mile.

Miss Washington was at the news studio for a piece that morning too.  We were able to meet her and chat for a little bit before it was our turn.  She’s very nice and is busy with a lot of different things: college, work, and pageant stuff.  She just competed for Miss America and got third runner up.

Just for fun I made up a little timeline of all of our Clot Trot pictures through the years.

I think Andy and Abby are the only ones who haven’t been to all of them.  Some years one or the other of us aren’t pictured, but I think Andy missed two: one due to work (that Sam sent him on) and the other because the run was on a Tuesday and so was mutual.  Abby hasn’t been to all of them because she wasn’t born yet when it started.  Vincent was an infant the first year, but we don’t have a picture of that.

We always like seeing the fire truck Sam owns.

Andy and I drove that old truck in a county fair parade when we were first married and had a local cheer group behind us doing a M-I-C-K-E-Y cheer for hours.  And it was very hot.  Anytime we were too sick of them cheering, we’d pull the siren.

Our family picture for the tenth Clot Trot.

Just the kids in front of the fire truck.

I took Olivia and two of her friends from orchestra to an orchestra concert for Barrage8.  They are a fun band of violins, viola, bass, and guitar along with drums who dance while they play beautiful and fun songs.  They sing as well.  It was a lot of fun to take these girls to the concert.
Vincent’s still taking piano lessons.  I took this photo during one of them.  Audrey Clark is an excellent piano teacher.  He’s learning a lot and sounding better and better all the time.
Morning with Mom at Jason Lee Elementary School.  We had donuts and juice.  So fun.
Our elementary book fair had a fun family event last week.  They had face painting, a book walk, fishing pond, guessing jars, and a few giveaways along with the book fair.  The kids had a great time and brought home several new books each.
The house of our neighbor who passed away last year has been sold.  We are looking forward to meeting our new neighbors soon.
Because Andy and I have been asked to be Pa and Ma on trek again this summer and because of back pain and chiropractic rehab, I’m trying to be better at getting outside and walking more.  Olivia is always quick to be my walking buddy, especially if I tell her we’ll have time to watch “The Voice” on Hulu afterwards.
Between all of that was plenty of school, work, and church callings and the rest of the story which is in Part Two coming up.
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March 2017

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

SO much going on in March!

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

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

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

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

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

Belle was in the foyer before the show.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the detail on that shield!

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

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

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

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

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

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February 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abby and Olivia.

Abby.

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Back to School

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

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

It’s good to agree to give a talk.

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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January 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Picture of their duet.

Vincent’s hymn.

All those ribbons they earned!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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