Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Animals, Animals, Animals.

I wish I had more to share. Searched for all the pictures I've taken in the last few weeks, and came up with things like this:

Sammy had gross feet after escaping under the fence and running around in the mud after a heavy rain.

Now that I'm mostly using a smartphone to take pictures, most of the photo-worthy moments, I go to grab the device and.... bam. Dead battery. We dumb phone users only have to charge once a week.

I have been taking a lot of photos of these cats that we've been fostering since the hurricane. It's frustrating because they freak out when they are on display in the cages at petco, but at home they are the nicest cats ever. The president of the rescue group has decided to adopt the one that behaves worse at adoptions, but I'm sad about them being split up.

Angela has been dressing herself lately.... much to my frustration. I try to offer recommendations, but no. She won't hear a word against an outfit once she has decided upon it.

This is my view of Angela for 1 1/2 to 2 hours every school day as we take Natalie to school, back home, to school to pick up, then back home, plus any other errands or activities that we have to go to in a given day.

Angela like to have her hair braided these days so that she doesn't have to brush it as much. She likes to collect eggs with me in the afternoon, be pushed on the swing, eat candy, and play with baby dolls. She is deathly allergic to playing by herself.

Speaking of chickens, we got a few more. They are pretty neat, but seem to have really disrupted the social order of the flock and introduced a lot of stress because suddenly hardly any of them are laying eggs. They are pretty much done with their seasonal molt, but between 11 chickens, we only see 1-3 eggs per day. I wonder if they are laying their eggs somewhere hidden in the yard or if one of the chickens is eating the eggs. It happens.

Natalie has been getting much better at reading and writing. She is also giving gymnastics a try, which she seems to like and has gotten better at in just a few classes, even though she seems like the only real beginner in the group. Her current passions involve going to school early for free school breakfast (poptarts or a cinnamon roll, juice and chocolate milk- no wonder kids cant sit still in class these days!), spreading art supplies and projects all over every horizontal surface in the kitchen and dining room, watching pokemon and complaining that her stomach hurts.

She's been struggling lately with the nervous habit of spitting or wiping her spit on her clothes.  I find it disgustingly unhygienic and antisocial. I am very frustrated. Her teacher has talked to me about it multiple times. We have tried many punishments, taken away priveledges and talked to her a million times. I am now offering her money bribes to have a dry shirt when I pick her up at school. Her shirt is constantly soaked, she smells bad and she's getting a pretty bad rash around her mouth. 

Veterans day meant a day off for both Micah and Natalie, so we went to watch kids while some friends visited the temple and spent a few hours at Hollywood Studios. We talked the girls into going on Tower of Terror. I didn't realize that it was quite so scary, not having gone on the ride myself! Lesson learned-try it yourself before you pressure your kids to do something.

Upon returning from scout activity Saturday morning, Micah noticed this guy in our front lawn. He returned it to the creek a few houses down.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Halloween Spooktacular

Old picture, but this was Micah for about 48 hours before hurricane Irma

Natalie has joined chess club at school. She has only gone one week, but is excited to go back.

Only a couple of weeks left of soccer!

Which is too bad, because watching these kids warm up by trying to run backwards tends to be the highlight of my week.

We took the kids up to the Seaworld Halloween Spooktacular last weekend and had a great time.

 Though, we had no idea that the antatrctica ride would be so cold

Natalie's feelings on the Penguins

Mornings are rough

They finally returned and collected our yard waste from the hurricane! Yay!

Angela hates playing alone and I am getting tired of her endless expectation that I be her play companion. Gonna need to invite more friends over to play, I guess.
We did our annual murder mystery dinner- a western themed game this time- and it was AWESOME. Had one couple from Micah's work and 2 couples from church join us for a boot-stompin', horse-wranglin', (IBC Root) beer-chuggin' good time.

On Saturday, we went to see the My Little Pony movie. Angela said it was the best movie ever. Natalie thought it was a little too scary. We also went to a community fall festival yesterday and got some candy, took a hay ride and played some games. This coming weekend, we have our church trunk-or-treat and Natalie's school fall party. And maybe a 5k.

Natalie got her first term report card and did really well in some areas- like math and science and reading categories. She got low marks, however, in some areas in the "social/emotional development" and "learning skills" categories,  like "is attentive", and "comprehends information through listening". Her teacher has been in touch with us about some recurring issues stemming from Natalie not paying attention to directions or her surroundings. So, hopefully, she can grow in those areas through the year.

Today was the primary program at church. Natalie said her part very well and was adorable. She didn't do too much singing but had some pretty enthusiastic dance moves during most of the songs. She was beside a boy who kept making guns with his hands and shooting at the music leader, so Natalie's choreography wasn't too distracting.

I've been having ups and downs with my calling in relief society. Many of our snow bird seasonal members are returning, activities are picking up for the holidays and January will bring a brand new lesson format for us to coordinate. It's mostly overwhelming and exhausting, though there are small moments that are inspiring and I feel it an opportunity to serve. Though, honestly, I half wish that I were inactive/antagonistic towards the church because, frustratingly, those are the individuals who get all the help, support and attention. It would be nice for someone to care about nourishing active members. I'm still doing zumba on Mondays at the church and our group has grown steadily, so it gives me something to look forward to at the start of every week.

Micah is starting preseason wrestling practices at Melbourne Highschool and plans to volunteer regularly with them again this winter. His deacons quorum has grown now to a whopping group of 3 boys (up from ZERO not too far back) and the scouts program continues to be a bane that draws his time and attention to managerial matters and approval from adult parties with little stake in the boys'  lives instead of just planning and executing activities that would be valuable and enjoyable for the young men.

Monday, October 2, 2017


This whole having-elementary-school kids thing is exhausting! For all involved!

Here she is in her school uniform on the first day of school! Shirt and belt are mandated, bottoms must be among a couple of variations approved by the school and shoes need to be solid black, brown or white. The knee-high socks were her own design inspiration.

Natalie had a great start to the school year, then once the first few weeks of honeymoon phase were over, she didn't want to go back, but now she accepts that it's an every-day-thing and seems to really enjoy it. Her teacher is wonderful and she's excited about all the stuff she's learning. She does come home pretty mentally and emotionally exhausted, though, and we're having lots of breakdowns between returning from school and Daddy coming home from work. Angela is finishing her last session of swim lessons for the year and joy school is going well. Angela thinks it's awesome that Mommy is home with her all afternoon and believes that my sole endeavor during those hours each day should be to sit beside her on the floor and help her do puzzles. Angela has been having a little trouble falling asleep in the car ride to pick Natalie up for school- it's a 45 minute round trip! Car loop so far has been rough but bearable and getting better- seems things have sped up a lot since the first week now that everybody knows the system. In the mornings, we sometimes park at the post office down the street and walk up to the school. She had breakfast at the cafeteria last week for Take Your Dad to Breakfast day and enjoyed it so much, she wants to eat school breakfast every day, which is awesome, cause it's free. Lunch is also free for a month as a relief effort folowing Hurricane Irma, but I don't want her in the habit. Instead, I pack her nutritious lunches so that she can throw them away and complain how starving she is.

This is Natalie choosing between options that I offered on how to get to school from the post office. She labeled her and Angela. They are working on labeling things in school and it's awesome. She now draws pictures with all kinds of 'kid words' pointing to the different things, like a My Little Pony scene with labels for 'ranbodath', 'spic', and 'tilitsprcl' (rainbowdash, spike and twighlight sparkle). There's a lovely one of 'mom' working in the kitchen, surrounded by 'cuvrb's, a 'senk' and an 'uvin', with the 'silleg' overhead and a 'windo' in the back. I love seeing her making connections between sounds and writing!

I have an obligation to do 10 hours of volunteer work each semester at Natalie's school and between my Dad, sister and a friend from church, I have submitted almost 300 box tops, enough to count for a little over 7 hours of service.

Getting the kids to cooperate proves an energy-sucking task as always
I have some more pictures on a phone, but I can't convince it to communicate with my computer to download the pictures.  Micah will help me figure it out when we get some time. It's been a busy few weeks!

Before Hurricane Irma, we got pretty well prepared- stocked with essentials to last us a while in case of catastrophic infrastructure collapse, most of our ground-level windows boarded up and all the potential projectiles from the yard stowed in the shed. We spent the storm with my Mom at her place in Tavares, FL. It was nice to spend the time with some company. It was stressful, but I felt pretty peaceful that everything would be alright. We went back home the day after the storm and our power had already been restored- many of our friends- and even our neighbors 2 doors down- had no power for 5 or 6 days. And it was HOT. I'm SO grateful we didn't have to go without air conditioning. We had quite a lot of tree debris- two medium trees down and lots of branches, but the house managed pretty well. Lost one fascia panel from the roof over the back porch. One additional issue that we didn't notice- 2 of our windows have shifted a bit around the edges and now have big cracks where the frames meet the house. We need to get some foaming caulk or something to seal it up, but haven't gotten around to it. This weekend we had a huge rain system move through, dropping over 10", and things were already so wet, it hasn't drained well. We've got big puddles all over the yard. I'm just grateful that we didn't have any flooding- LOTS of people we know around here have water damage inside their houses from the hurricane. We've spent a lot of our weekends cleaning up the yard and helping others who have made volunteer requests through Mormon Helping Hands, then yesterday Micah went out to Orlando for a conferance and will spend the week there. I am just doing my best to keep up with the kids, the house and the animals. We've got 2 cats that I agreed to take during the hurricane because their normal foster had to evacuate and couldn't take them, then she came home to a lot of damage, so they have stayed with us. They're pretty sweet, for cats.

All the chickens survived the storm, but then just last night, I arrived home late around 9:30 and went to lock up the chickens and one of them was gone, feathers were all over the coop, so we lost one more. The reddish one with the white tail, Speck. She was one from our first batch, so she was nearly 2 years old, a decent life for a chicken. Angela is certain that a polar bear snatched her. I can't bring myself to disappoint her by insisting that polar bears don't live here. I wish polar bears lived here. That would mean it was cold. There's just something about sweating in the 93* sun in October that makes you yearn to be farther north.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The End of an Era

In less than 3 weeks, I will have a child in school. No more doing whatever we want, whenever we want.  From now on our schedule will revolve around the public school calendar!
We're trying to live it up the last few weeks, but it is so oppressively hot that everything must revolve around pools, beach or air conditioned spaces! A couple of weeks back, we tried to go to a waterpark in Orlando but it was full to capacity, so we went to Seaworld instead- I just about died, it was so hot and muggy. I nearly cried when we didn't get splashed during the shamu show. We have been bowling, going to the library, the movies and the mall a lot. We get to buy Natalie's school uniform this week- I'm going to just get her 2 pairs and hope that they have a used uniform sale soon, because it's almost $30 for a top and bottom and they have to be purchased through this one supplier because they are embroidered with the school logo. I also tried to order all of Natalie's school supplies through walmart grocery pickup to avoid the crowds, but ended up with a few issues- mostly things not being the correct size because the descriptions of the products aren't always very detailed.

Work has been busy, with recent new staff members and lots of returning customers, which is good! I'm trying to take a step back and work a bit less while I get used to Natalie being in school. Hopefully we'll get to enjoy a couple of Saturdays at the beach or doing some other fun family trips. Not sure how free we'll really be, though- even on the Saturdays when I don't work, we still have kittens to take to petco in the afternoon! We've got 3 little boys right now who we've been 'growing'- should be neutered shortly and then put up for adoption. This one like to tease Sammy.

I've been going crazy lately, bouncing between frenzied eagerness to do things, to stay busy and active and entertain my kids; and hopeless exhaustion, discouragement over the constant messes, the interruptions, the perpetual lack of time or space for private relaxation. Maybe the start of school will ease the tension, maybe not. We're trying to decide what, if any, activities we should let the kids do outside of Kindergarten for Natalie- more swimming lessons, gymnastics, dance, etc. Our evenings would fill up quickly. I'm also concerned with how I'm going to keep Angela entertained- she has always had Natalie to play with, so I'm worried that she will demand my attention even more while Natalie's at school. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Here are a few photos from Micah's phone capturing the past few months, including last week's trip to the Orlando Science Center, some disneyworld visits in May, our trip to NC for spring break, our visit in SC with Jenkins cousins, Memorial day trip to Bathtub Reef with friends and Natalie's preschool graduation.

Micah performing with his homeskillet, Belle

Don't tell the IRS, buuuuuuut I think there are 2 pots of gold in our back yard.

This is why I have not felt well-rested in 5 years