August 4, 2015

House of Order

We are officially back to our old routine, and it feels really good.

Well, I guess TOMORROW we'll officially be back, but we kick started it tonight.

It's been a really weird few months around here, and I am happy to say that it is over! Tonight, we had Family Home Evening for the first time in FOREVER. Our theme was routines, and having a house of order. To start, we had a reminder of how FHE is run... you know, prayer, opening song, family business, and all that. I even have a new assignment wheel, and we went over what is expected for each item. Our FHE jobs are: Conducting, Prayers, Music, Lesson, Activity, and Treat. We also will have a scripture to study and memorize each month.

And speaking of scriptures, BAM! Morning routine. The whole house will be up bright and early at 6:30 am. In the past, we have tried doing scriptures at all sorts of different times. But now that the kids are getting older, and we have evening activities, and after school stuff, and board meetings, the only feasible time that we are all together is first thing in the morning, SO, we now have this:

Morning Routine

1. Rise and Shine

  • 6:30 AM = GET OUT OF BED
  • Say your morning prayers
  • Make your bed 
  • Use the restroom

2. Family Prayer & Scripture Study

  • 6:45 AM – Don’t be late!

3. Get Ready 

  • 7:00 AM – Breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Wash your face
  • Brush your hair
  • Brush your teeth

4. Get Your Stuff Together

  • Homework signed
  • Lunch packed
  • Backpack zipped and ready to go

5. Ready to Go!

We also have an "Afternoon thru Bedtime Routine". It covers your options for a productive afternoon. The kids have this chunk of time when they need to get things done. There are their daily responsibilities, plus they will have to do their reading, practice their instruments, do their homework, and etc. We went over different consequences for their choices, because we needed reminders. For example, if you don't do your homework, because you decided to play with your friends all afternoon, GREAT! But you're not staying up late to finish. You can choose to wake up earlier, or you can tell your teacher that you didn't get it done. But it's not MY problem, or Dad's. 

We also went over what to do when you get home. Hang up your backpack. Put your lunchbox by the kitchen sink. WASH YOUR GERMY HANDS. (Momma's body can't handle all the extra germs from the monkey bars and bathroom doors. Bleh!) 

We also went over snacking and reminded people that the kitchen closes at FOUR. Snacking all the live long day does not fly. Plus, I have the weirdo kids that eat all the dinner ingredients instead of the actual "snacks" that are in the pantry. No joke, Thaddeus ate a pint of grape tomatoes and a couple of the roma tomatoes that I needed for dinner. I mean, I knew he would eat some, but I thought he would perchance limit it to one a day. Meanwhile, Taylor is eating all the carrots, Blayne is chomping down on cheese, and Daniel is eating the ham that was going to be used for our sandwiches for lunch. It's not a problem, it's just that I need them to eat the stupid granola bars already!

Anyways, I'm getting away from myself. 

As we were going over all of our routines and expectations, Miss Taylor's hand kept shooting up in the air asking all sorts of hypothetical questions. Troy was sniggering behind his hand, meanwhile I am trying to keep a straight face as I answer yet another question about a possible loophole. 

I tell you what, people, it is the loopholes that kill you. 

Here's a perfect example, after school, you are to come straight home. But I had to put in the stipulation that you have to come home UNLESS prior arrangements have been made with a parent. But not with "A" parent. Prior arrangements have to be made, and agreed upon, with YOUR parent, as in: me and Troy, AND the other child's parent. 

I swear to you people, my children would be the greatest lawyers in the world. They would find the loophole in a mass murder case. 

At any rate, we will be UP and AT 'EM bright and early.,, Lord, give me strength. 

July 31, 2015

Sometimes I spend 3/4 of a month out of town...

Well, July has been absolutely crazy for our little family.

We made a surprise trip to Yuma, Arizona over Fourth of July weekend to visit my sister, Sarah, who was blessing her newest addition, lucky baby number seven. Of course, since we haven't been to Arizona for a number of years, we sort of meandered our way through.  Our first stop was Flagstaff, to visit with my sister Verity and her family. Then we headed down to Payson to say hello to my sister Meredith. Friday night, we stayed with Troy's parents, and his brother Matt came over with his family to visit.

Saturday, we met up with my parents. We went to visit our Grandma-Great Christensen, who I haven't seen in a few years. She was not doing well at all. She had fallen the day before, and she was in a lot of pain. We chatted for a while, and the kids all said hello and gave her a kiss. Troy and my dad were able to give her a blessing, and she seemed to be more restful afterwards. We got her as comfortable as we could, and she sort of nodded off to sleep, so we left.

We then caravaned down to Yuma to surprise the Claridge family. It was lots of fun to meet up with our cute cousins, and I got to meet a few of them for the first time. (Living a few thousand miles away makes family visits hard.) We stayed at a nearby casino, and they were having all sorts of festivities for the Fourth. My family went to a demolition derby, then we went swimming (and hot tubbing), followed by fireworks. It was a pretty sweet night.

Sunday, baby boy Claridge was blessed, then we had a nice luncheon, then we drove back to Mesa to stay with my parents overnight.

On Monday, July 6th, we headed home. Not long after crossing the border to New Mexico, we received a phone call telling us that Grandma-Great had passed away. I feel like she waited to see me and my family one last time before she could go... She has been hanging on for quite awhile now, and had had a few close calls, but she always pulled through. It makes me wish we had come to see her sooner, so that she could have died sooner. It's one of those things that you'll just never have a clear answer to, but it just feels right in your heart.

So we got back to New Mexico, just in time to unpack, wash all the laundry, then re-pack to head right back.

My sister Berit and her three children drove to our house (it's kind-of in the middle... we're a good pit stop) later that week. They stayed with us for a few days, then we all drove to Arizona. Berit's husband wasn't able to come (army rules), and Troy wasn't able to come either. So we split up my big kids, and gave people assigned seats and shifts, and had them give the baby a bottle and keep the little cousins happy in the car. It worked out pretty well. (Also: Berit's baby girl LOVES me... in fact, she preferred me to Berit a lot of the time, and it was hilarious. It also made me feel special, because I love babies and kids, and would have had a million more if I could have.)

Also: Berit's kids are stinking adorable. I love them, and want to steal them to my house.

At any rate, we were back in Arizona for the funeral of our wonderful Grandma-Great Christensen, which means that it was a mini family reunion. My kids got to meet all the people they've only heard stories about, and it was fun for them to meet all of their GramEE's sisters. (And since my mom is the baby of her family, her sisters are older, and my kids were making hilarious observations about everyone's ages as they tried to figure out which cousin belonged to which sister.)

The funeral was Saturday, July 18th, and it was a beautiful service. We all wore PINK because that was Grandma's favorite color in the world. The grandsons sang, then all the grandchildren sang. Her casket was gorgeous. It was white, with gold trim, and clusters of pink flowers. It suited Grandma to a tea.

Then it was time to go home.

Except that because of all the driving, and the Arizona heat, and a few other things, my body decided to poop out.  I had a full blown MS relapse, and by the time the funeral was ending, my right leg was totally numb (and my wonderful canes and crutches were in New Mexico), as was half of my face. I had vision loss in my right eye, and the wonderful metallic tasting thing that happens every now and then. PLUS! I got wicked vertigo, and the shakes. My tremors were so bad that I couldn't even walk without help, and forget about driving.

I called my doctor, but, you know, she's in VIRGINIA. Because I just moved to NM, and I haven't met with my doctor yet. I have an appointment! But I'm not an official patient. I went to an ER, and they wanted to admit me, except that I didn't want that... because how long would they keep me there? What was the plan? What would I do with my kids? It was so stupid. And it was a huge fiasco trying to coordinate having a nurse just come and do a catheter at the hotel with the meds, so instead, I got put on MASSIVE doses of oral steroids, and anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics. Plus, I was told to double some of my regular meds to help with the nerve pain and tremors. Basically, I was a holy mess of a person, and laid on the couch at my parents house while my children fetched me ice packs and cold drinks.

After a few days on the meds, I was much, much better. And a lot of Arizona schools had already started, which meant that all their school supplies were on sale for super cheap. So I downloaded our supply lists, and we got EVERYTHING we needed. Plus, everyone got new jeans and some new shirts. And Troy told me to get snow gear for people if I could.... well, BOY HOWDY DID I! I went to a couple of thrift stores and got snowboard pants for everyone, AND boots, AND gloves. I still need another pair of men's snow boots size 7, but we are pretty much ready for winter.

And now, it's the last day of the month, and I'm behind in my school work, and the kids school starts in two weeks, but at least we're ready!

July 20, 2015

Taylor's Baptism

Taylor was baptized the day before we moved. Things were a little crazy around here, but OH WELL. My parents, Dennis and Marilyn Ellsworth, came to town to attend this special event. (Then they helped us move across the country!)

Even though we had a lot going on, we made sure to STOP the crazy train a few hours before the baptism so that we could relax and get ready. Taylor wore her hair up in a beautiful braided crown, which came in very handy during the dunking. ;)

Taylor got a beautiful white dress to wear, to help remember the covenants she would be making, and because it's tradition.

Here are some of our favorite pictures of Miss Taylor.