Friday, October 30, 2009

spooky stories

I just finished reading Dracula for the first time recently. Thought Halloween would be the perfect time, if any, to read it. And it was.
So I thought that, in the spirit of Halloween and all things spooky, creepy and unexplainable, I'd share a spooky story of my own.

It's a true story. Here I am, apparently very happy about some free bread someone gave us, as a missionary for my church in a small town in Southern Germany, sometime in the summer of 1996: I won't go into too much detail about what life as a missionary was like right now, but for the purposes of the story, I must explain that we work and live in companionships, together 24 hrs a day, every single day of the week.

In this particular city, I lived alone with my companion in a high rise apartment building, like the one you see here (taken from our window). We lived on something like the 15th floor.

It was basically a one room apartment. It had a small entry with the bathroom and a closet, then one big room where we had our 2 beds, 2 desks, another closet, a shelving unit that we used as our pantry, and an ironing board. Then there was a corner of the room, no bigger than a closet, which was our "kitchen" comprising of a smallish fridge, a sink, stovetop, and a small clothes washing machine. That was it. Our entire living quarters.
So, our days were typically spent out and about teaching people or trying to find people to teach. And we'd come home for lunch and then go out again, working until dinnertime, out again, and back by 10:30 for bed. A fairly simple schedule.
But one day, we came home at lunchtime and I walked into our "kitchen" and . . . . . found . . . . . .
Dummm . . . de . . . dum . . . dum.
A bowl and a bottle of vitamins upright and sitting in the middle of the floor.
Somewhat surprised, I asked my companion, "did you put these things on the floor?!?"
And she said something like "what?!? no!!"
And then we both stood and stared at it for awhile (and I took a picture).
Because, you see, these items were previously on top of the fridge. We had a dish drying rack up there where the bowl was and then somewhere next to that was this bottle of vitamins.
But how (?) did they fall and land upright perfectly centered in the tile squares?!? And if they did fall, how did it not knock anything else over either?!?
So, suffice it to say, it. freaked. me. out.
We put the things back up where they were, and tried for some time to reenact this scene, trying to see how likely it might be for them to fall to the floor and land this way. But. We could not, no matter how many times, get them both to land upright like that. The vitamin bottle was much more likely to bounce and roll. And the bowl just couldn't fall that far from the fridge.
And remember, we are on the 15th floor, so someone coming in our window or some such thing was very nearly impossible. We lived alone and no one else we had contact with knew where we lived. Our door was locked and bolted when we left and returned and it showed no evidence of any entrance.
And I had been within sight of my companion from the time we left until the time we returned and I found this.
We did call the mission president and our other local mission leaders to let them know that this was really freaking us out, and to make sure none of them had traveled from other cities and somehow gotten into our apt. without our knowing (obviously very unlikely). They did everything they could to reassure us and make sure we felt safe again (including coming over to our apartment and checking things out for us) and that was that.
We never did figure out what had happened. Perhaps it really was just some strange coincidence that they fell like that. Perhaps my companion really was a much better liar and prankster than I would ever think her. Or perhaps. It was an unsolved mystery. An unseen force. Something . . . . dark and sinister. Something spooky. Ooooohhhh.
Or maybe not.
But at any rate, I was much relieved to be transferred to a new city and not have to worry about it any more.
What about you? Any true spooky stories you'd like to share?
(and as a side note: I am feeling much better, although still not completely recovered. Elisabeth is still running a fever. Samuel is coughing terribly. Isaac is coughing, but not as bad as Samuel. And Abigail is feeling a lot better - the only one who never ran a fever. Yet. So we are at the stage where the little ones are still feeling bad enough to be grumpy, whiny, clingy and demanding all day long, but feeling well enough to torture and antagonize each other. A lovely combination. Happy Halloween. I haven't decided yet who will be going trick-or-treating yet, but we will dress them all up and take pictures at any rate. So, adios until then.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

first snowfall

We're still sick and it's really all my brain can handle right now . . .
The End.

Monday, October 26, 2009

sickie update

Let's see.
I started with a wheezy cough with itchy tickles in my lungs on Sat.
Sun I started running a fever, with achiness, dizziness, fatigue and all of that. And a really really monster headache.
Today I still feel awful and Elisabeth has a fever and cough today.
I think Samuel's fever has gone but he is still coughing up a storm and has a rain faucet for a nose, so he is still home from school.
Isaac and Abigail are still coughing - but otherwise doing better.

So I guess I can't say for sure if it's the swine flu or not. It's possible that we all had it and just presented with different symptoms. Or that we've all gotten some different viruses, includingsome of us with swine flu. Or maybe just something else completely. The nurse said it didn't really matter what it was, exactly, since it's treated the same, until you get pneumonia or some other complication. Me, I kind of like to know what I'm dealing with.
But it's all very confusing unless you actually test for the flu - and our doc said they aren't testing for it right now. So. It seemed like the nurse said cough and fever is assumed to be swine flu - but the CDC website said you can have swine flu and actually not have a fever.

At any rate, we are all pretty much sick. Zac is still hanging in there. No fever or cough yet, but feeling drained.

I guess I knew that taking care of sickie Samuel was bound to do me in. He was sleeping in my bed for 3 days and not letting me move more than a foot away from him. No matter how much I washed my hands or extra vitamin C or whatnot, I'm not sure I stood a chance. What's a mom to do, really?

I'm just hoping we make it through the day today intact.

So our house is pretty much quarantined, but I will happily accept more movies to watch, or get well cards anytime. Just leave it on my doorstep (I won't be answering the doorbell). :)

more later . . .

Sunday, October 25, 2009

ok, enough about us

I know you all have just been dying to know how our sweet mini-lop bunny, Leia, is doing. And I know I don't mention her nearly enough.
(there she is in the above pictures, right after we got her in May)

And actually, she is now over 6 months old and is considered full-grown! That is momentous, isn't it? She has grown a lot!

And yes, we are all still enjoying her quite a bit. We have had to do some readjustments with her cage, as she makes a bigger mess than we anticipated (she sprays pee further out than her drop-tray - and she manages to get hay everywhere). But some oil drip pans underneath her cage have mostly contained the mess.

Abigail takes her outside to graze and get exercise on most days. I am still hoping to someday get an outdoor hutch and rabbit run for her to spend some more time outside.

But for anyone considering a bunny, I'd have to say she is a pretty fun pet, actually. We love our bun. :)

Friday, October 23, 2009


So, Samuel got home from school yesterday at lunchtime, climbed up on my lap and laid his head down, and basically hasn't moved since. He has had a fever of somewhere up to 103, and a cough, and runny nose.

I called the Dr. this morning just to see if they would want him to come in, and they said a sudden fever and cough is pretty much assumed to be swine flu but they aren't testing for it and don't want you to come in unless you are in a high risk category or having respiratory distress. Also, because the other kids didn't really run fevers (if they did, it was more mild and short-lived), they probably did not have the flu.

So now I am trying to decide if the rest of us need to avoid other people as well, even if we're not having symptoms, or if we're not transmitting the disease until we actually come down with it. I tried to call the Dr. back but was on hold for 10 min and still "number 3 in line" so I thought I'd try again later.

Oh, and the swine flu, by the way, typically lasts for about SEVEN DAYS (according to the pediatrician). Like, in your bed, sick as a dog, for 7 days. So it looks like the fun has just begun.

As for me, I have a terrible headache behind my eyes and across the bridge of my nose (?), but not very much congestion, so I don't know what's going on with me. And I am very very sleepy.

And Isaac woke up a couple times during the night with a headache so bad it was making him nauseous - so he's home resting again today.
Abigail is still coughing but insists she is "fine."
Elisabeth feels left out of all the attention, I think, and keeps claiming that she's "sick, too" - but she really isn't.
And Zac went to work today, but might come home early.

And that's today's wellness update.
Is there a doctor in the house? Anyone want to offer their unqualified medical advice?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

photo of the week

I saw this cool mushroom on my walk yesterday and went back with my camera to snap a pic.

Have you noticed anything interesting lately?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


(photo found on flickr)

Well, for the record, we have begun the yearly ritual of passing around illnesses. Elisabeth started the festivities with a runny nose, so she stayed home from church nursery on Sunday just to avoid passing it to any other innocent little ones. Then Abigail developed a nasty cough that kept her up for a few hours Mon night so she stayed home from school on Tues. And then last night, Isaac was up with the worst croup we've ever encountered. For a couple minutes, we considered the emergency room, but then he started to breathe a little better in the steam of the bathroom, so we held off. And he stayed home sick today.

Zac stayed home from work today, too. He and I have both had off and on headaches and just generally feeling drained. We've been getting to bed at what we consider "early" (about 10:00) - but still wake up feeling like we're dragging. I guess it could have something to do with the children we have been tending at all hours of the night. But, still. I just need a wee bit more energy to get through my days. I really do.

I suppose we should consider ourselves fortunate that we have not yet gotten the swine flu, nor any other variety of flu for that matter. I considered getting the vaccine for at least myself and maybe Abigail since we are both asthmatic. But right now it is only being distributed at the County Health Dept, which is about an hr. away, and then you have to wait in line for hours, and then they might be out of doses by the time you get there, and they close at 4 pm. Right. So I'm not sure if we'll make it to do that.

But there have been cases of swine flu at the school, and in our neighborhood and in our church congregation. I am still not quite clear on how concerned we should be about it.

Some things I've learned, though, as I've researched my kids' coughs and everything trying to self-diagnose, of course:

1. The swine flu is primarily a respiratory disease. Sometimes, it can include gastrointestinal symptoms, but not usually.

2. And one of the key clues as to whether it's flu or a cold is that the flu comes on all of a sudden, where within a few hrs. you have a fever, cough, aches, chills and feel pretty miserable. A cold develops more gradually, over a few days. This was what made me conclude that my kids have colds and not the flu.

(just so you know) :)

Anyway, hopefully we will all be feeling better soon.

And in the meantime there are some fascinating photos of drains out there, you know, for anyone looking.

Thanks for reading . . .

Monday, October 19, 2009

Isaac Update

(once again, I can't seem to be able to move pictures around and it's driving me crazy - oh well)

With Isaac's 8th birthday last April, he was able to join our church group's cub scout pack. Pretty soon after, he earned his bobcat award. The month after he got the actual badge they had him come up and he got to have his "bobcat stripes" painted on his face.

He didn't look particularly happy about getting stripes painted on his face, but he was a pretty good sport about it. And we forgot our camera (since we didn't actually know anything about this stripe-thing), so thanks to Jen M. for the pics. :)

And here he is showing off his uniform, once we finally got all the patches put on (it took quite awhile to get them all and then actually put them on).

And Isaac also played soccer this season.

His last game we finally bribed him with candy to get him to run around the field more. We told him he had to keep running anytime he moved on the field. It seemed to have worked, since he got in at the ball quite a bit more and seemed to actually be enjoying himself, instead of just moping around and speed-walking along the defense (compare the first picture with the second).
I have serious issues with paying kids for goals, which seems to be pretty common around here. But I do want him to do his best. And have fun. And be a good team player. Which means actually being engaged in the game. So that's what we were trying to encourage and reward.

Anyway - it was a pretty good soccer season!
(we are relieved to have a bit of a break from it, though. 2 soccer practices and 2 soccer games a week really takes a chunk out of our time. hehe)
And for the record, I don't have anything against girls playing soccer. Just with time and money constraints, we've told Abigail she has to make a choice. And she'd rather do ballet. We'll see what Elisabeth decides.
So for now, it's just the boys. Which is fine with me. :)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

ok, it's official

Alrighty. The old blog is now officially "private." And I just want to make it clear that I will no longer be updating that blog at all. It will just be there so I can access my archives. And family members and friends who have some desire to dig back through my old posts are welcome to ask for an invite to view that blog (I just use your email address to invite you).

Anyway - so that's that.

And here we are.

On my google reader I can still see that I have lost some subscribers in this transition, but I hope I will gain them back eventually (subscribers being those that use google reader to get blog updates). It saddens me and I don't know where these lovely readers have gone, but at this point, I am just moving forward with this plan and hoping for the best.

And if you were expecting some sort of change in how I post, or the quality of my posts, or something, well . . . you will be disappointed. This is just the same old stuff, same old me, same old everything . . . just a change in privacy policy.

So, once again, welcome to our life. Come be a fly on our wall, take a seat, hide in the corner, keep your judgements kind and compassionate, because what you see is what you get . . . enjoy. :)

PS - and have I failed to mention how much comments mean to me? Perhaps now would be a good time to mention that without comments, I sometimes feel like I'm babbling to a blank wall. I know someone out there is reading this, but if you don't ever leave a comment, a thought, a smile, a "mm . . . hmm" and a nod, then it's as if there is just silence on the other end of the phone line. Awkward. Confusing. Disappointing. You know what I mean.
So, leave me comments. Thanks. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Devil's Kitchen

Most everyone familiar with the state of Utah knows we have National Parks on the Southern part full of this magnificent red rock. But did you know about this red rock canyon right here up the Nebo Loop?
I did not know.

But since it was just a half-mile hike off the main loop road leading to an overlook, of course we had to go see it.
I don't think any of the kids have been to the red rock parks, or remember it. Frankly, canyons, high ledges and active children combined together inspires nothing but terror in my heart. I value my sanity more than the experience of exposing them to red rock. Beautiful though it may be.
So, this was fun to see. As we were turning to go back up the trail, Isaac lingered behind saying, "I just want to stay a couple more minutes . . . it's just soo beautiful here." Such a sensitive boy with an artistic eye. :)
So that was our little side adventure. Such fun.

driving along the Nebo Loop

Well, when I was searching online awhile ago looking for the best drives to see the fall leaves in the mountains here (and trying to win Swagbucks, of course), I discovered that the Nebo Loop is on the registry of National Scenic Byways and I've been waiting ever since for a free day to go up and drive it. I've never been up those mountains and I was determined to make it happen. But with soccer games every saturday, it seemed I was going to have to wait until the leaves were all gone.

But then. Zac took yesterday off work to spend the day with us since all the kids are out for a 2 day "fall break." And so off we went!! It took us about 4 hrs. or so to do the drive and stop at various points to enjoy the scenery.

It was so gorgeous.

And I took lots and lots of pictures.

And I made Zac stop at just about every pull-out so I could take more pictures.

All the world seemed silent and peaceful. We only saw a couple other cars the entire time.

And I was thrilled to have the kids out in nature. As I walked along with Abigail, she remarked how beautiful everything was with all 5 senses; you could smell the fallen pine needles and fall leaves, taste the air as you breathe, hear the rustle of the aspens and the overall quiet, feel the crisp air, and see everything. I think it rejuvenated all of us.

There is Mt. Nebo in the distance. It is the highest peak on the Wasatch Front at over 11,000 Ft.

And more lovely fall foliage.

Anyway - it was a great day. We also took a little side hike to a place called The Devil's Kitchen. But I'll put those pictures in another post. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

my thoughts exactly

(photo I found on the web somewhere last year)

oh, I just can't help myself. I have to share this link to a post today on one of my favorite blogs:
autumn, hunkering down, crisp air, cozy blankets, sweaters, herbal tea, nature's grand finale before the quiet of winter. I love it, love it, love it.

And this post at Eyeblog says it all.
Also, take the link she gives to the definition of the Danish lingo, hygge. That is my type of thing, to be sure.
As a side note, we had a wonderful rainy day all day today and I felt energized and peaceful and profoundly happy. Rain in the fall, temps in the 60's = happy me. :)

Samuel Update

Well, I seem to be having a problem with "dragging and dropping" photos to move them around, so these aren't in the order I wanted but it will have to do.

First, last week I took Samuel and Elisabeth to the Farm Country at Thanksgiving Point and Samuel actually rode the pony ride!! This is the first time he's done it since I can remember. He is usually frightened by it. But I was so excited that he seemed to gather his courage and decide to do it! He was nervous at first and clung to my shirt (and he still made me walk along side of him) - but he did let me walk ahead a minute to snap this picture, and doesn't he look proud of himself! :)

He also played soccer again this season. And he did really well!! He happily ran around on the field (remember last year he wouldn't even go on the field unless Zac or I was standing by him?). So it was a definite improvement. And he had a great coach who encouraged him to kick the ball and gave him lots of praise for every effort, which was great.

He even scored a goal his last game!! It was in the wrong goal, but nevertheless, we celebrated big time!! hehehe.
(oh and in the above pic, I accidentally left the camera on the color accent mode and Zac didn't realize it as he took pictures. He didn't even know the camera could do that, so it didn't occur to him that maybe it was unusual for the blue to show up so much!)

And here he is posing with his medal. He is such a crack-up sometimes, always making goofy poses. I know I often grumble about all the problems he can cause with his extra energy and uncooperative-ness, but really he has such a hilarious personality. It's really hard to get him to comply with much of anything we want him to do, but when he is happy and doing his own thing, there's just no way to contain his giddiness. So we are happy when he is happy, for the most part. :)
His teachers at school say they love him, and his church teachers say he says funny things. I wonder sometimes what he may be hiding behind his silliness (getting attention that way instead of contributing meaningfully) - but I am trying extra hard to appreciate him for his fun and spirited traits lately. I wouldn't ever want to change that about him.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reading Round-Up: July, August and September

Whew!! How did these 3 months fly by? Have you been wondering when I would talk about books again? Well, here it is. Finally.

Here are the books I have read since my last round-up:

1. Recovering Charles - Jason F. Wright
2. Maybe (Maybe Not) - Robert Fulghum
3. You will Dream New Dreams - Kim Schive
4. The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
5. Into the Wild - Sarah Beth Durst
6. Across the River and Into the Trees - Earnest Hemingway
7. Spilling Clarence (reread) - Anne Ursu
8. Refuge - Terry Tempest Williams
9. The Year my Son and I were Born - Kathryn Lynard Soper
10. The Parents Guide to Speech and Language Problems - Debbie Feit
11. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmaska Orczy
12. Inkdeath - Cornelia Funke
13. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
14. To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
15. Circle of Friends - Maeve Binchy
16. Mississippi Trial, 1955 - Chris Crowe
17. The Complete IEP Guide - Lawrence Siegel
18. A Northern Light - Jennifer Donnelly
19. Follow the River - James Alexander Thom
20. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
21. The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life - Steve Leveen
22. The Martian Child - David Gerrold
23. Inkspell - Cornelia Funke
24. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe

And some superlatives:

Best book made into a movie - The Martian Child

Best book about reading - The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life :)

Biggest heart-wrenching adventure - Follow the River

my favorite classic - The Scarlet Pimpernel

Best books for parents of children with special needs:
Really, I have to highly recommend all 3 of these. The Complete IEP Guide is an ESSENTIAL handbook for the IEP process. The Year my Son and I Were Born is the first-hand account of an mom's first year with a child with Down's Syndrome. It was incredibly moving.
And then You Will Dream New Dreams is an anthology of essays written by parents in various stages of raising a child with special needs. These essays articulated so beautifully the full range of emotions this process and journey entails. For me, it was something I really needed to read right now.

The book furthest removed from my usual reading: Refuge (a lot about birds and ecology - interesting, but not really in the subjects dearest to my heart).

Best Youth Fantasy - Into the Wild
I was very impressed with this book! It was so fun.

Best by one of my favorite authors - Maybe (Maybe Not)

And my highest recommendations for general good reading:
Circle of Friends
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
and the Inkheart books

We also discussed Spilling Clarence for book club this month. I thought we had an interesting discussion about the fickle nature of memories. How tainted our views of history can be (personally and as a society) because it all depends on how we remember them. Why some things are remembered and why others forgotten. And how our memories remembered and forgotten shape who we are and keep us sane. I just found it all fascinating. Although I admit I am endlessly fascinated by brain science in the first place, so I can understand why not everyone would find it as interesting as I did. But I do think it was a good book for discussion.

Have you read anything good lately? Have you read any of these?
Any of these sound good to you?

Monday, October 12, 2009

And one more Public Service Announcement

ok, there seems to be some more confusion, so allow me to clarify.

I will be taking some of the posts off of the old blog, editing them for privacy, and then reposting them on this blog. Just here and there, a little over time, until maybe eventually everything from the old blog can be found again here. Maybe. I will probably start with the most recent posts and then maybe move back through categories or something. I don't know for sure. But if you see some posts and think, didn't I already read this? Yes, yes, you did.

Your big clue will be that I will put {reposting} in the title. So you know it's being {reposted}.

So, once again, the ones that say {reposting} in the title are not new, and you're not just having random brain misfirings (otherwise known as deja vu). You're not crazy (I'm just the crazy one for starting all this craziness!).

Boy, this starting over business is more complicated than one would think! But, I think it will be worth it in the end. Hang in there with me, pretty please.

Any other questions?!? :)
ok, carry on . . .


There are no other words for this.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

a movie to see

I don't usually review movies. But I do try to write about things that affect me. Tonight we watched this movie. And although this isn't an "escape from reality"-type movie and it is difficult to watch in many respects, I think that everyone should see it. Have you seen it?

Taking Chance is a movie that made me think about honor, courage, respect, sacrifice. Made me stop and think about war, and my sons, and marines and soldiers everywhere, in a way that I never have before. And sometimes it's good to think about things.

I will admit I think I cried more than I possibly ever have during a movie.

Regardless of what you may think about the US government or policies, military, or stances on any current conflicts - rent this one and see it.

Like a producer said in the behind the scenes, it is important for us all to know that this journey takes place. It's just important for us all to know.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lookie what I can do!

Well, I was going to do a random friday and tell you all sorts of random tidbits. But I've run out of time. It is now 4:25 in the afternoon and I need to take a shower (finally), start dinner, and get everyone ready to go to Samuel's last soccer game tonight!

But just real quick: today I learned about some nifty new features on my camera! ("new" as in, I didn't know about them before)

First: The Super Macro
(which allows for super close-ups!)

And second: The Color Accent (pick a color to accent, and the rest is B&W).

Someday, I'm actually going to learn how to use my camera. That is my goal, you know.
And for those that may not know, but might be interested, my camera is a Canon Powershot S5 IS. It isn't an SLR - but I still think it's pretty cool. And it has some neat features. :)
So anyway - that's (some of) my news for the day. Have a Happy Friday

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


A very generous family in our broadly termed "neighborhood" set up a free "choose and pick pumpkin patch" this year, so we went over to check it out! They ask only that those who pick a pumpkin make a contribution to the Perpetual Education Fund for our church. Easy enough! So each of the kids got to pick out their own pumpkin and they were very excited. Much more fun than digging through a bin at the grocery store. :)
I've been having a sort of stressful week this week, and my brain is muddled and befuddled, but hopefully I'll have more to say next week.
And a reminder to my bookclub friends - tomorrow, my house, 7:00! Hope to see you here.

Just taking a little Poll

Are you and your family going to get the swine flu vaccine, the seasonal flu vaccine, or both?

Why or Why Not?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

animal safari

I spent a little time yesterday playing toy animals with Elisabeth. And taking these pictures made me smile.

I also discovered we had no less than 8 toy giraffes.
That's a lot of giraffes.
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