Apr 30, 2015

Earning Merit Badges

Sport had a Court of Honor today and he earned his first 4 merit badges! Two of them are even Eagle-required, so we are very proud of his accomplishments.

He did most of the Personal Management one with his troop after he nearly completed it at a Merit Badge Pow Wow. He also collected Personal Fitness, Aviation, and Digital Technology. It's been fun to watch him work on them. The interesting thing is that he and the Dog Walker have totally different learning styles.

The Dog Walker used the merit badge books and wrote everything down in his own way on white sheets of paper. Sport much prefers the fill-in-the-blank worksheets on meritbadge.com. He has not committed to earning all of them (yet), but I did tell him if he completed 75, I would get him a dog so he could do the dog care badge.

Now I've written it on the blog I guess I'm really committed. Speaking of dogs, Bossy and Gamer's family lost their cute boxer last weekend. She was a sweet dog and super careful with the kids. All she ever did was slobber on them and maybe steal a treat or two. RIP Sadie.

They got a new dog yesterday. Maybe Bossy can put up a pic of him. His name is Damien and he is a Rottweiler like their first dog. They definitely like the big ones!

I'm perfectly content to have the Dog Walker take in dogs now and again. We have my friends' cute little dogs this weekend. The kids love them and practically claim them already.

Maybe Sport and I need to have another chat... ;)


Apr 29, 2015

Guest Blog: Teaching Preschool by Princess

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to teach preschool at the high school. Our high school has a daycare and preschool run by students and this year I took up 1/4 of my schedule so I could do it. (Thank goodness I took gym online already.) When I walked in to preschool the first day and saw all the other teachers I was scared. I mean, they didn't really yell "preschool teacher" to me.

I guess I was quite intimidated for the first couple weeks while we were taught how to be in charge of each child's education. But all that changed when the kids started coming. I didn't do this to be with other teachers, I do it because I love kids and I love making a difference. 

So I help teach everyday, but every tenth time I get to be in charge of all the planning and read the stories and all that jazz. Today was my last day as lead teacher and I wanted to do something memorable, but then again, that's just me. So, with the help of my amazing family I pulled off a pretty fun day of preschool. 

Our theme was the Wild West. After the typical morning routine (calendar, pledge, etc.) We took the roll and I realized two of the teachers had disappeared.  In fact, there was crime a foot. So the kids rode around the school in cowboy hats on little fanoodle ponies that all my sisters helped me make last night. We found wanted posters with Mr. Orange's picture (he kidnapped Ms. Banana). Finally the posters lead us right to the crime scene and the kids saved the damsel in distress.
Snack and story time went smoothly and it was time for rotations. At one center kids did a math worksheet, at another they did a worksheet about the letter Y and made their own wanted posters. Then they designed a cowboy boot, and they got to pan for rocks dyed with gold spray paint. I gave each child a little cowboy hat made of chocolate and sent them home with their horses. I'm going to miss this.

Apr 28, 2015


In our basement we have an unfinished bathroom that we have affectionately named the "toy closet." It is stacked with boxes of toys that we change out every now and again so the kids find something new to play with.

So during this off-track time for my elementary-aged kids, Drama Queen decided to rearrange and dispose of some of the lesser used items. In the process, the kids found some super-fun things that they hadn't seen for a while. One of them was the Tinkertoys.

We had Tinkertoys when I was a kid, but they were wooden and much smaller. The ones they make now are plastic and they have smaller foam-type pieces and even small people so the kids can get very creative. On Sunday afternoon, Baby Doll, Curly, Scout, and Sport decided to make vehicles so they could have a race.

It was amazing to see how different all of their "cars" turned out to be! Sport won most of the races, but mostly because he could push his car the hardest. Curly's had an interesting wheelbase that made it curve almost every time he gave it a shove.

Poor Baby Doll's car kept falling apart until Sport helped her build a more stable one. And Scout's had a single axle in the middle like one of those pump cars from a train track. I love it when they use their imaginations to play together.

Do you remember playing with Tinkertoys as a child?

Apr 27, 2015

Utah Firefighter's Museum

Bossy and Drama Queen took our Girl Scout troop to the Utah Firefighter's Museum on Friday. They had so much fun! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to join them so I can't tell you much other than we have loved it every time we have taken the time to drive to Tooele and visit.

It is full of old fire engines and safety vehicles. It is a fitting memorial to those who gave their lives in this dangerous and difficult profession. I have always been afraid of fire. I'm trying to remember if I have told you those stories... (I'm sure the Dog Walker remembers.)

If not, I promise to share them a little later this week. Hope you had a happy and restful weekend.

Apr 25, 2015

Sweet Saturday

We had such a good day today.

It started out so early! We were preregistered to help at the high school with the Comcast Cares Day of Service and we had to be there between 7 and 8 am. We finally dragged all the kids out and showed up about 7:15. They gave us these fun green t-shirts and fed us donuts and juice for breakfast.

We had a little time to sit around and eat and take selfies before the service projects started at 8:00. We were excited to be assigned to the preschool area since Princess teaches in there. Most of us ended up working on the playground. There were lots of weeds! After 2 1/2 hours of weed pulling, I was tired.

Thankfully, the work was mostly finished and they brought in pizza for lunch (at 10:30). I was glad because I don't think we would have waited around until noon just to eat.

We got home about 11:30 and worked on some Saturday cleaning. Bossy got the kids to plant some flowers in the front yard and I took care of some Tupperware stuff. After a quick trip to the grocery store and an even quicker nap, we got dressed up for the Payson Temple Open House.

It rained during the hour drive to Payson, but I read Caddie Woodlawn to the kids and they were fine. We were soaked by the time we finally got back in the van. The temple is beautiful! My favorite parts were the stained glass windows and the unique paintings. The girls loved the floral designs on most of the furniture and rugs and my sweetie admired the tile.

If you get a minute, hop over to www.lds.org and take a look at the pics. Were weren't allowed any photography inside the temple. Hope you had a sweet Saturday as well.

 More fun pics.

Free Jamba!

Yesterday all these awesome people decided to get in on the free smoothie for Jamba Juice's birthday. They only had the promotion from 9:00 - 11:00 in the morning and since my little ones are off-track, we decided to brave the crowds.

And they were ridiculous.

They were lined up outside the door by at least 30 people. I told Bossy maybe we should just give it up. We could go home and make a smoothie, but she said we were committed and parked the van. So we all piled out to wait in the cold for a while.

It really didn't take that long to get to the door. Unfortunately the line snaked around inside the building too, but at least it was warmer in there. After about 30 minutes we had our treats in hand. They were delicious and worth the wait.

Thanks, Jamba!

Apr 24, 2015

Guest blog: Changes by Bossy

Change is hard, especially when we try to control everything.  After limping along, burnout out at work I left my position at DCFS in the beginning of March.  It was scary and unplanned, but an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort have helped me realize this was the plan.

About five years ago, when our secondary infertility became obvious, Gamer and I had discussed becoming foster parents.  I had just finished my internship with the foster care foundation and I felt strongly that foster care was something we were supposed to do eventually. We knew there was no way to do it without jobs and a bigger apartment.  I had never intended to work for DCFS, but Utah privatized disability care the year I graduated from UVU and suddenly there were thousands of caseworkers looking for work.  I was lucky to get hired by the state four years ago.  My caseload immediately became “my kids” and for the first three years that was enough.  My job enabled us to buy our house and eventually our house led to custody of Fajita.

Then last year, after successfully settling Fajita into our family, I just wanted to adopt every single child in my office.  With escalating urgency I felt I should look for different employment.  As a caseworker it was impossible for me to work for DCFS and provide foster care.  In other words, the people who understood foster care and the issues that stem from it the most are the least able to help in providing permanent homes. 

Foster child coming soon!
But change is scary.  So job postings would be researched, but application deadlines were missed and I continued to dislike my job more and more.  And then everyone in my office was pregnant.  Okay, not everyone, but in the space of three weeks the arrival of four babies on our team of twelve were announced, including my supervisor.  I had already been through one supervisor’s retirement and with planning, the transition was seamless.  The window to get a supervisor hired was less than a month.  I didn’t realize how three months of maternity leave would change that.  My supervisor didn’t even need to tell HR she wasn’t coming back until she had maxed out her leave. And then, the social worker job market stabilized and private companies began hiring again. Everything boiled into a chain reaction of people leaving.  Caseloads soared, documentation was lost, clients were traumatized.  Finally our build supervisor publicly plead no one else would leave until we could hire some new people.  And then six months later, I had a new supervisor. 

To say my new supervisor disliked me from the start would be an understatement.  As my blog name dictates I have a somewhat strong personality and things didn’t work out from the beginning.  Unfortunately, DCFS only allows transfers quarterly and it would be four months before I could put in to transfer to a different location.  When transfer requests opened at the beginning of the year they had added that your current supervisor had to approve the reason for the transfer request.  And I couldn’t bring myself to tactfully submitting my request before the deadline.  Each day at work was dreaded.  Instead of proactively looking for other employment, knowing my supervisor was trying to get me to leave, I dug my heels in and discussed a life-long career in my current position.  I threw myself into being the perfect caseworker.  I was miserable.

Fajita's new digs.
Fortunately God had a plan for me that was not being miserable for the rest of my life.  My supervisor discovered an error I had made during the chaos and used it to build a strong enough argument that I should quit.  So I did, to the shock of many of my friends.  I left without notice.  I cleaned out my office and went home.  On the way I called the agency who promised to hired me if I ever left and I called the agency I had decided would be the best 3rd party to do foster care.  And for the first time in two years I could breathe.

Changes.  Our license has taken a little longer than expected.  Our first placement will arrive when the high school gets out.  We requested they figure out a way for him to continue at his current school to the end of the year.  We will be having weekend visits soon though, so we wanted to get ready. We had to make some changes to our house. Burrito and Taco moved downstairs to share the biggest bedroom with Bean Dip.  Fajita was given the bed we had in storage in the garage so we could give her bed to our placement.  We could be licensed for three children, but we don’t have enough bedrooms.  Until we get another set of bunk beds, we can only have one. 

I have spend the week rearranging and cleaning and setting up bedrooms.  My siblings are off track and we very helpful in taking apart the bunk beds so we could move them downstairs.  Babydoll was so cute learning how to use a socket and unscrewing the bolts for me.  What about you readers?  Any major change coming this summer? 

Burrito's cool new fort.
Mom and I were discussing how to handle foster children on her blog.  We can with permission post photos, but obviously we can’t use their names.  We can’t identify them in a way that indicates they are in foster care either.  We want you all to be able to keep track, but they could be coming and going. We thought about allowing them to pick their blog name, but I don’t think we will have approval to formally introduce them in a post like we have in the past when new members have joined our family.  What do you think readers? 

Apr 23, 2015

Sport's Band Medal

I told you spring was the season of concerts. We were able to see Sport perform tonight with just his own band. Remember last week he did the Monster Concert with all the other elementary schools?

It Utah the elementary bands are pretty small, that's why they come together as a large group. Sport's band has 27 kids in it and a third of them are trumpet players. My favorite song was when the 9 of them played Reveille.(And that's one song down for the Bugling merit badge!)

And I loved the part where they presented Sport and some of his friends with the music medal. It took extra work to qualify for it and I was so proud to see his teacher place the medal around his neck. 

They finished the concert in a totally different way than they ever have before. It is tradition for them to play Let's Go Band with audience participation. Well this time they really had audience participation because they had the students stand in the aisles all around the parents and families. I wish Sport would have been on our side, but at least I had a good view of him.

I can't believe that is his last program as a 6th grader! Next year he will play with the band at the middle school.

Apr 21, 2015

Basketball Video

Tuesday nights are basketball practice for our church team, but since the season is over, we let pretty much anyone play with us. And hang out with us.

So Crafty decided she wanted to make a video on the Ipad of our practice game rather than play (whose kid is this?!) and we thought it would be fun to share it with you. I'm pretty sure you will recognize just about everyone.

Drama Queen says:  Except....its not being very kind tonight and won't upload from the iPad.  So!  Instead, please enjoy this cute commercial Princess made for her marketing class.  I will keep troubleshooting and maybe by morning, we will have both up and running for all our lovely readers.  Thank you and goodnight.  Sincerely, Tech Support.  :P

Drama Queen Update:  Well, it took a good long time, but here it is!  Hope you all enjoy.  :) 

Cardboard House

One thing my sweetie and I have been trying to buy for quite some time is a decent set of patio furniture. Since some of us are big people, we are pretty picky. We wore our last set to shreds, literally. I tried recovering them and we looked for new cushions, but in the end we finally had to put them in a dumpster.

That was several years ago and we have been living with cheap plastic ones since. They are super uncomfortable and have been known to collapse. Most of us of a bigger size reach for the few we have made out of metal, but none of them have cushions of any sort.

Flash forward to our trip to Sam's Club over the weekend. It was late and we were in my sweetie's car. Obviously not planning to make a major purchase.

They were locking the doors when we made up our minds. We called Bossy and Drama Queen and asked them to bring their trucks and we waited for them with our two large boxes in the parking lot. The furniture is awesome and we have spent a couple of evenings enjoying it already.

But even more than the furniture, the kids have enjoyed the boxes! Last night we had a bbq and the kids started working on their house. They were excited to draw on it and cut it and make furniture for it...

It's been so fun and I love watching them use their imaginations. They even put in a skylight! They have worked on it most of the day, adding features and drawings and cutting up more and more cardboard. I have no idea how we are ever going to dispose of it. There is no way it will fit in a dumpster.

Maybe we should slap on a few shingles and some stucco and we could use it as the proverbial "dog house."

Apr 20, 2015

Guest Blog: Girls' Pref by Princess

Yesterday was my last real dance as a high schooler (senior dinner dance doesn’t count). At my school it’s called Girls' Pref but lots of other places call it Sadie's. Long story short, it’s a costume dance and the theme varies from year to year. This year everyone was suppose to dress up from a different decade.

Prima Donna and Joseph
Princess and Daylen
So there were people rocking poodle skirts and leg warmers, some people went as dinosaurs… but we decided to be pioneers. I had this idea quite a while ago and I was so excited. I spent most of the weeks before the dance trying to convince everyone else it was going to be awesome. And it was! My dad made us a delicious dutch oven dinner and we played some games before heading off to the dance.

Fajita and Austin
We didn’t want to be the very first ones there so we drove past the temple first (which seemed very appropriate). We got to the dance about fifteen minutes after it started and stayed for an hour and a half. You know me, I’m a dancer so I always love this part, but the strobe lights were killer and even I was ok (not thrilled, but ok) with leaving early.

We headed back to our house where we made homemade ice cream and watched the Joseph Smith movie.

I am so grateful to live in a place were I feel comfortable expressing my beliefs so publicly and to have such awesome family and friends that were willing to do the same. It was such a neat experience to have a spiritual, but fun day.

One of my favorite parts was when my dad came up and told me that my ancestors were proud of me. Like suddenly, a silly little high school dance becomes a great way to connect with those that came before us. All in all it was a very neat experience.

PS: Making ice cream was tasty, but I think I’m going to stick to cupcakes, they are much more fun and way less stressful.