Thursday, December 31, 2009

and so this was Christmas . . .

some random highlights:

- my mom sewed matching pajama pants for the kids and they looked adorable
- we got the set of Harry Potter books (thanks to Swagbucks, we got a lot of them for FREE!)
- Elisabeth loves her play-doh and pack of 12 lip-glosses
- the boys got some more video games, which makes them happy
- we gave Abigail Zac's ipod shuffle, and she is excited beyond words
- we had a fun time at our family get together
- and I got PARCHEESI, which I was really hoping for this year

Anyway - that's just a little bit of our Christmas day for you.

Have a Happy New Year's!!! (our 2 oldest are intent on staying up til midnight tonight - we'll see how that goes) Cheers :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ballet Showcase

Abigail's ballet studio put on a little Christmas showcase at the studio, just showing some of the things they have learned and a short routine they put together for each class. She did a great job and looked so beautiful and graceful.
(I wish I could include a video but blogger isn't letting me. Grrr . . . )

Monday, December 28, 2009

food, glorious food

So you may remember last year when I posted about the delicious authentic german food that I found at, right? (and I would link to it, of course, but it's over in my private archives and I don't want to take the time to repost it right now). Well.

We have decided to maybe hopefully start that yummy german dinner as a new annual Christmas family tradition!! This year we made it for Christmas eve - and I decided to show you some pictures of the feast this time (forgive the truly awful photos. Obviously, I have absolutely zero experience in photographing food. But, you get the idea at least.)

So, here we have the spaetzle (noodles) with Gouda cheese and ham:

This year we made pork schnitzel instead of bratwurst. It was so good!!
And the best homemade brotchen (rolls) ever!

Here is the semmel knoedel (bread dumplings)
(perhaps my all-time favorite German dish)

And kartoffelsalat (potato salad)

And Gurkensalat (cucumber salad)

I've decided I like this feast even better than Thanksgiving. And a disclaimer: the only things that I made from scratch were the schnitzel and the brotchen. The rest came from a box or spice mixes that I got from the But, to me, that is pretty authentic because they are the identical brands that I bought and used during my time in Germany. I practically have to restrain myself from moaning "mmmm . . . yummm . . ." with every bite. :)
So anyway - eventually I will post about Christmas day and backtrack to catch up on the recitals and such that happened before the break. Don't you worry. :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

This is the Place at Christmastime

This year my little sister scored free admission vouchers for the Candlelight Christmas at the This is the Place Heritage Park. She invited us to come along with her and her boyfriend, my mom, and my niece Chelsea.
We've never been there, and they have also special things going on for the Candlelight Christmas, so it was a lot of fun. They had things such as a "train" decorated in swags of evergreens to ride,

an old-fashioned Father Christmas to visit

real live Reindeer to see and pet

and the entire Pioneer village decorated as it would have been in Pioneer days.

We saw a printing press and a print of one of the first Christmas cards, a family making handmade candles by candlelight, and a cute puppet show in the Town Meeting Hall. There was also a beautiful live Nativity in a barn, with live animals.
There were some other things that we didn't get to see. But with all the real candles in the buildings, and bonfires out on the walkways (and with a child who was hell-bent on destruction), we were getting rather nervous (and cold) so we didn't try to see it all. You would think that 6 adults could easily manage our 4 children. But, ah no. Not ours. (sigh) We sure did appreciate everyone's patience and help, though.
And thanks again to Heather for a fun evening for free! :) Such a neat place to visit for Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

I never did send out Christmas cards, so consider this our Season's Greetings!!

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

(more later)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lights at Temple Square

This year we made it to Salt Lake to meet my mom and see the lights at Temple Square, which we haven't done in a few years (click if you want to read a little of what that's all about). We saw the life-size Nativity statues, and walked around. Hopefully the kids enjoyed it. Samuel was in a hyper mood, running around, climbing on everything, and insisting on going the opposite direction from where we were going (into the mass crowds of people). Zac and I were exasperated and we left sooner than we would have otherwise (it was also frrrr -eezing cold). But such is our life.

At least I like to look at the nice pictures I took. Then I can imagine it was the peaceful, serene and beautiful excursion that we might dream it could be.

(p.s. Click here if you are curious to read more about the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Temples)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas preview

Here's what Christmastime is looking like at our house so far:

Those are ice ornaments hanging on our back porch swing. They were kind of fun - but much harder to remove from the cookie cutters than I would have thought.

Anyway - I will probably mostly stick to posting just pictures and quick summaries of our activities this week. I am going to try not to think too much for the next week or so. What a relief! :)
(Some things I still need to post:
- Isaac's piano recital
- School Inspirations contest
- Abigail's ballet showcase)
And be looking forward to my end of the year Reading Round-Up!!
(PS - yesterday Elisabeth opened a Christmas present - the only one of hers under the tree. And, as it turns out, it'll be the LAST present of hers that will make it under the tree before Christmas morning. Little stinker.)
Hope you all have a wonderful week and a terrific Christmas (or whatever other holiday you may choose to celebrate this time of year).
And happy Winter Solstice! From here on out, winter is making a slow, slow retreat and the sunny days are making an equally slow return. Winter mostly feels impossibly long to me. But welcoming the return of days that are longer than the night is worth celebrating for today!
see ya . . .

Sunday, December 20, 2009

12 Years Ago . . .

Zac enjoyed eating breakfast for the last time with this great group of guys (courtesy of Joel's grandparents, if I am remembering correctly):

I woke up sporting this absolutely amazing ensemble:

And we met at the Bountiful Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints where we were married.
12 Years.
Happy Anniversary Zac.

Friday, December 18, 2009

And the WINNER IS . . .

Congratulations!! :)

The random number generator at spat out Numeral 4 - and you were the 4th commenter on the Christmas giveaway post!

So please email me your mailing address and I will pass on the info and your muffin pan will be on it's way! YAY!

Thanks everyone for playing along! That was a lot of fun and I felt anxious for all of you as I put in the numbers for the random generator.

And of course a huge thanks to CSN stores for sponsoring this giveaway for me!! I'm not sure what I did exactly to deserve such a fun surprise, but I am very grateful.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

automatic underwear dispenser - and other tidbits

So, this morning I discovered that somebody installed an automatic underwear dispenser in the boys' room and I didn't even know it.
It's deceptively simple. You merely open the dresser drawer seen here:

And, ta da! The pair of underwear falls out onto the floor!


In other news:

Elisabeth has been getting in lots of trouble lately. No big surprise, really. One day not long ago, she colored her fingernails with a red magic marker. I'm really not sure if she was trying to make them look pretty or just scary. Because it turned out looking kind of like freaky bloody fingertips. Today she found some of the christmas stocking candy and raided it while I was in the shower. She cut off some of her hair the other day (inconspicuously, thankfully!). She has dismantled pieces of our artificial christmas tree and scattered it around the room. And she keeps having accidents wetting her pants nearly every day. Every. Single. Day. She is just so independent, it doesn't even seem to faze her. She just changes her clothes, and goes on her merry way, and leaves the wet things on the floor somewhere for me to find later. It's driving me crazy. She may have potty-trained earlier than the other kids, but the other kids hardly ever had accidents once we considered them "trained." Elisabeth, however, continues to surprise us with her own way of doing things. Grrrrrr. . .

- I won the Thanksgiving Point Membership from the giveaway on MormonMommyBlogs!! I know I mentioned it on Facebook, but I am really just so excited. I honestly couldn't believe it!!

- I have been a bit stressed lately. I've mentioned that, right? Along with the normal day to day stresses, we have the added mounting stress of Christmas preparations. We finished nearly all of our shopping for the kids a month ago, but then it occured to me that I forgot some small details - like shopping for Zac and our parents and stockings - and I still want to do some fun holiday type activities. And I still haven't decided whether to send out Christmas cards or not? Etc. etc. etc. I know there is a lot of buzz about reducing holiday stress, simplifying, toning things down and all of that, but really I just do the best I can. It will always be a little stressful. For me, at least. Maybe it's just because I am so easily thrown off kilter. Who knows. But I may as well accept it, I think. And then last week I thought that there was a possibility that something might have been going on with me physically that should not have been going on. And if it had been going on, not only would it have been unexpected and unprepared for, but it could also have been dangerous and even life-threatening. So that was quite worrisome. But it was unfounded. So that's good at least. And Zac is getting a pay cut come Jan 1st along with an increase in health care costs, and I cannot foresee any way at all that we can come up with the rather large chunk of money to make up the upcoming deficit in our monthly budget. I try not to think about it too much. But it is quite stressful (maybe I'll post more on that later and get your ideas on major budget stretching). And then there has been an extremely difficult situation going on with my extended family. Because of the people involved and the nature of the circumstances, I cannot talk about it (which is torture for me) but it has been very very difficult for me and I have had to make some heart-wrenching decisions. Anyway - so if you live near me and have seen me and I've seemed a little out of it or distracted, that is most likely the reason why. And if you haven't noticed, then I guess I am better at hiding things than I thought. And I guess sometimes that's a good thing. I had to kind of push these personal things aside for a bit so I could get that giveaway out there (even though I felt even slightly dishonest for posting something so lively when I really didn't feel like it) and to try to get other things done. It's hard for me to pretend that I am doing well when I am not (you may have noticed). So I guess that's why I'm confessing now.

Anyway - I think that's all my tidbits for today. I'll let you know if I think of anything else.

Of course.


until then . . .

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Don't forget the enter the Christmas GIVEAWAY!!

If you haven't already, you have until Thurs night (that's TOMORROW) 11:59 PM, MST.

You won't want to miss out on your chance for free stuff, now would you? (yes, really, I'm talking to YOU!)

Thanks for reading and good luck. :)

Happy Happy Birthday!

So, Zac's Birthday is this month (remember we don't identify the actual date on the blog)! :)

In celebration I thought I would share these pictures of the first of his birthdays that we shared as a married couple. Does he even look any different?!? (hint: the correct answer is YES!) We had been married almost a year. I was pregnant with Abigail. We were poor college students living in a very old apartment and Zac was working nights from 10 pm - 2 am and going to school during the day. I was getting ready to start my final internship, my last semester before graduating.
And, yes, as you can see, I gave Zac a candy bar, an umbrella, and a toothbrush for his birthday.
It makes me laugh to remember how I stood in line at the college bookstore to have these items gift wrapped for him (and the nice old lady at the counter just smiled kindly at me). I won the cake at a church service auction, so I didn't make it either.
Ah, good times. :)

I love this guy so much. Now that I think we have officially entered our "mid-30's" I am looking forward to the years to come. We have come a long way and it's been a wonderful ride.

Happy Birthday Zac.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What is up with this?!?

Just wondering if anyone can help me out.

Everytime I try to put in a hyperlink, it is adding before the http I am trying to include! And then of course the links don't work. It's getting very frustrating.

It doesn't show it when I type it in, but then when I publish the post and test out the link, it does it to me.

I've never had this problem before so I have no idea why it's happening.
Anyway - so bear with me as I try to figure out this obnoxious problem. So sorry!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Merry Christmas to YOU!! (My First GIVEAWAY!)

A crazy thing happened to me the other day. I got an email from a promotion person from CSN stores, as seen here.

offering to do a small giveaway or product to review on my blog site! I am not even kidding.

And, you may know, I am a sucker for free stuff. So I was really really tempted to get myself a free little something to review on here . . . but then . . . you know, with it being Christmas and all, I thought I would share a little love and goodwill and give something away to YOU!!!

You, my dear faithful readers, however small in numbers, deserve it after all. You put up with my groanings and complainings, endure my babblings and musings, pretend that I'm interesting, contribute your thoughts and insights, and boost my vain ambitions to "have friends and influence people."

I thank you. This blog has been a life-saver for me in many ways and it would be nothing at all if no one read it. Seriously.

So, here's the deal. Here are the items which are being offered as a GIVEAWAY!! (I am just so excited!!!) One LUCKY WINNER will win ONE OF THESE products of their choosing:

1. SilverStone Simply Baking Nonstick Carbon Steel 12 Cup Muffin Pan 2. SilverStone Simply Baking Nonstick Carbon Steel 11" x 17" Cookie Sheet 3. Guidecraft Set 9 Mini Unit Blocks

4. Wild Republic Really Wild Bingo 5. Le Creuset Multi-colored Pinch Bowls (Set of 4) (1/4 cup size)
6. Mindscope Octacube 3D Puzzle

In your comment to me, merely mention which product you would like, if you win. I will use a random number generator to choose a winner, and as long as you live within the US or Canada, I will pass on your shipping info to my friendly contact at CSN stores and THEY WILL SHIP IT DIRECTLY TO YOU! (my apologies to Kelli, the only regular reader I know of outside the US) :)


And, as most blog giveaways seem to do, if you post about this little giveaway on your blog, with a link back to this post, then you can receive a second entry into the drawing. Just leave another comment. OHH, YES!!!

The only catch is that you really must leave a comment on my actual blog. So if you are reading this on Facebook or email or elsewhere, click on the little spot that says "view original post" (or something to that effect) and it will take you directly to the blog where you can leave a comment. You can even comment anonymously (well, I do actually have to know who you are - but you are not required to have an account of any kind to do so). Any questions??

You have until midnight this Thursday night, Dec 18 2009 to enter. I will announce the winner Friday morning and then, if you're lucky, you might even get your prize by Christmas!! YAY!

Free Stuff, Free Stuff!!! :)

And be sure to check out some of these CSN affilliated online stores:

There's some great stuff!

Christmas Decorations


Toys and Games

PS - ANYONE is certainly invited to enter - even if this is the first time you've ever visited my blog. You don't have to be a "regular faithful" reader. Just to clarify. :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

at least this is over with

I met with the "team" at Isaac's school yesterday: the school director, his teacher, the speech therapist, and the sp ed coordinator. Am I the only one who finds meeting with a school team intimidating? Someday I am going to take the "expert advice" and take along an advocate with me to these meetings so I don't feel so outnumbered. But so far, even the thought of finding someone I am comfortable bringing to these meetings has overwhelmed me. Oh well.

The point of the meeting was to discuss my objection to Isaac being kicked out of speech therapy without sufficient reason last year. So I requested more data proving that his speech issues aren't "adversely affecting his educational performance" (the requirement of the IDEA sp ed law to qualify for services).

Well, I won't go into all the details, but I knew going in that they were going to do all they could to prove to me he didn't need speech, and since I have already expended a lot of energy in even putting up this fight to begin with (it's taken almost 3 mos. of pushing to get this meeting set up), I had decided that I wasn't going to continue fighting. It was enough for me that I made my point. I still think it's unfair that they kicked him out before he had accomplished his IEP goals. And I still don't think that the data they showed to me is truly sufficient in proving that his speech isn't affecting him socially and in other areas besides academics (all that they proved to me was that it isn't affecting him academically which is really only a portion of what "educational performance" includes). Sigh. But anyway - they did provide me with more data than they had to begin with. And they will (hopefully) work with him a little informally and help him fix the last few articulation problems he has and officially "graduate" him from speech, since he didn't get to do that last year (and Abigail got a certificate and huge candy bar when she graduated from her speech therapy. yeah).

My final advice in this matter, though, is this:
If anyone in a similar situation is presented with a decision that you haven't been prepared to make, take the paperwork, do some research, think about it, but DON'T SIGN ANYTHING UNTIL YOU ARE SURE (no one informed me beforehand last year that they wanted to kick him out of speech and I felt sort of pressured at the meeting to sign the agreement to take him out. The biggest mistake I've made in this process.) It might not have made any difference in the end. But it would have been a lot simpler to make all the arguments before agreeing to anything.

So, as always, I only hope someone might be able to learn from my mistakes.

Oh, just one more item of venting: the principal stated in her letter of opinion that "articulation problems would affect the student's spelling performance." And they had a stack of all Isaac's 100% spelling tests to back up their view. And I don't know where she got that from, but it just doesn't sit right with me. All the kid has to do is memorize the spelling words!!! Would speech issues really be reflected in that?? My unqualified, unprofessional (but still somewhat experienced) opinion is that that's a load of crap. I might have to do a bit of research into that to make myself feel better.

But anyway . . .
I'm done now. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

newest news

So, today Samuel had a hearing test and follow-up at the ENT. For the last year or so (?) he has had abnormal tympanogram results (which measures the air volume in the ear canal) in one ear ever since that tube fell out. I am still figuring out what that means exactly. But she wanted to see if it was affecting his hearing - and to make a long story short, it is. In that ear he has a 20 db conductive hearing loss, which in his case is being caused by the ear drum not having normal mobility (I think).

She said that we could put another set of tubes in (the 4th ones) - which would equalize the air pressure and allow the ear drum to move properly again. But the only way to determine if that will be effective is to do it. In other words, we won't know for sure if it will even help until after it's done. yikes. And she agreed that she is reluctant to do surgery without knowing for sure that it is necessary.

So our plan for now is for him to come back in 8 wks and check his hearing again to see if it remains the same and then go from there.

A 20 db hearing loss is the very edge of mild hearing loss, and it is only in one ear (I think) - so it's not a major thing, I guess. Except that with all of his speech issues, we sure do want him hearing well so that he can learn to speak well. It's kind of important, don't you think? So I was quite disappointed to find out that he isn't hearing as well as he should.

Other than that, he and Elisabeth were positively monsters in the dr office - twice when I was talking to the receptionist (before and after our appt), I had to interrupt her to get Samuel to either A. stop screaming and pushing his sister, B. chase after them out the front door to get them to come back in because I wasn't ready to leave yet.

And then I made the BIG mistake of taking them to the store where I hoped to pick up just a couple things for Christmas and they ran around the aisles and climbed up shelves etc etc. And then after we got back home, they proceeded to continue getting into trouble ALL DAY LONG.

Tomorrow I am meeting with Isaac's school director to discuss test results relating to how they kicked him out of speech therapy last year.

And that's what I'm up to. There are also some other things stressing me out considerably right now that I can't talk about.

So, in a nutshell, I'm just a wee bit stressed out. Cheers . . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

trees in snow

one of those days when the sky and snow look about the same. . .
It sure is cold out there! (high temp today about 16)
Anyone have some good ideas to keep kids happily occupied through this long winter?!? And activites for myself to help me endure it?
Because I am just really not looking forward to this . . .

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Trying to Win a Giveaway!

MormonMommyBlogs is hosting a holiday giveaway and they are giving away a year's membership to Thanksgiving Point! We had a membership last year and loved it but we're afraid we won't be able to afford it again this year.
So this would be perfect if I could win a membership! Another year of the Dinosaur Museum, Children's Garden, Farm Country, and the Gardens . . . sigh . . . it would be wonderful.

Anyhow, to get an extra entry in the giveaway I needed to post it on my blog.

So here we are.

MormonMommyBlogs Thanksgiving Point Giveaway

(I've entered several giveaways before and have never won anything! I'm really hoping this might be my first. It's worth a shot!) :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

and also going crazy

I bought some books from a scholastic book order a couple months ago, and I stuck them somewhere to save for Christmas. And now, I Cannot. Find. Them. Anywhere.

I checked all the usual spots - the top of my closet, under the bed, in my drawers, in the storage room - and they are just nowhere to be found. ARGH!!!

I know the kids won't miss the books if somehow I just never find them.

But I feel like I'm losing my mind!!!

(just thought you should know)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

confused once again

are you surprised? nah, don't be.

I am stuck once again in a circle of questions regarding diagnoses, labeling, whether to seek help, where to turn for help, what is helpful and what is not. I have been trying to talk to whomever I come in contact with who might have experience with this stuff, or might have an opinion, or advice or anything. And I am sometimes surprised, sometimes enlightened, sometimes baffled, sometimes relieved at their responses.

The reality is that it is a personal decision. It's a tough call. And I start to think about one child and what they might need, and then am distracted in my thoughts by wondering about a different child, and then come back to what I need to be doing differently in my life to better meet my children's needs, and then I end up confused, overwhelmed, and anxious. Getting nowhere.

For those who might be new to the sagas:

I have one child who most probably has inattentive-ADHD, one with speech issues and odd social quirks (and hand-flapping), one diagnosed with expressive language disorder, ADHD-combined type, and anxiety disorder, and one who at this point we are just defining as a "very difficult temperament."

Anyway - there were a lot of things I could write about. Different ideas and perspectives I have heard about recently.

But this morning I came across this quote that I did want to share:

There are two ways to study butterflies: chase them
with nets and inspect their dead bodies, or sit quietly
in a garden and watch them dance among the


And it just struck me.

That is exactly the quandary, isn't it? Because there are things to be learned from each type of study, aren't there? Is one really better than the other?

And I want to be able to sit quietly and just enjoy my children. I do. But I want someone to give me answers as well.

And these butterflies flit away so quickly and I just can't seem to grasp onto anything. I just don't know what to do.
I wish I knew what to do.
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