Monday, September 29, 2008

My feet hurt

My feet hurt. I don’t know how far we walked today, but it must have been at least 4 miles. According to all my research the best park for today was Epcot. So we headed out the door 2 minutes before schedule at 8.13am. When we got to the parking gate, I realized I left the tickets in the trunk. Only when I went to retrieve them, they were not there. I got all stressed, and started sweating. I did barely remember that I had taken “The Folder” out of the bag. So we headed back to the hotel. Now we were off schedule! Turns out that when you plan to be at the park 30 minutes early, you can still get there around opening time, even if you have to go back to your hotel for your tickets. Disaster diverted.

I had read somewhere that right opening time is a great time to meet some characters at the character spot. So we headed over there (after I quickly ran to get a “Soarin” Fastpass). We had to wait for only 5 minutes, before we could see Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Belle. My kids were going crazy!!! Even other parents and cast members were just laughing at the excitement of the kids. I was not prepared at all. We had bought some scrapbooks for autographs, but I had only gotten out 1 page. Well, since there were 5 characters, I needed 5 sheets. I was also manning the camera and trying to make sure the kids waited their turn and didn’t maul Goofy. When we finally made it out of there, it felt like I just ran a 10 mile race.

After the aquarium and Soarin, we headed over to the World Showcase. I made some passports for the kids, to be signed at each country. They also give the kids a mask they can decorate at each “Kidcot center”. I was surprised at how much they got into the mask thing, especially Sterling. About half-way through the countries, my feet started to complaining, so we decided to forego some of the live shows (that we would have had to wait for) and just proceeded all the way around the lake.

We met up with our friends in Norway, and rode the boat ride. Winter was going crazy over Braden. Braden is about a year older, and she just couldn’t stop hanging on him. It was fun, but crazy to try and rangle 7! Kids. We got back to the hotel by 4.30, and Joe and I have a dinner date tonight. The kids will stay with Tiffani’s sisters, and we get to enjoy Epcot for a few hours with adults only.

I am definitely wearing different shoes tonight, because my rip-off Walmart crocks are not agreeing with my feet right now.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

6 orphaned kittens

My cat had her 2nd litter of cats almost 4 weeks ago. A pretty big litter this time: 6 kittens. She was being a great momma cat, until a few days ago when she disappeared. I have no idea what happened to her. I don't know if she got sick of being a mom, and just left, or if something killed her. Either way,... I'm stuck with 6 kittens that are not weaned, and are crying like crazy.I didn't actually consciously realize the momma cat was gone, until I went to put the chickens up tonight and I could hear yelling coming from the shop. I started calling the momma cat and put food out, but nothing. Then I decided that it was time to bring the kittens inside and try to feed them.

They are too young to really drink from a bowl. I don't have any provisions, so my friend suggested trying to feed them with a syringe. Some of the kittens are pretty good at this, but others totally don't get it. Since they are still so little, they have the need to suck, and have started sucking on each other. They seem to prefer one poor kitten, and I keep pulling her out of the pack, so they don't damage her skin or anything.

Joe is supposed to bring some kitten nipples home, and I hope that stops them from screaming so loud! They just won't stop! I feel sad for them, and yet can't really help them. On top of all this, we are leaving on our vacation in just 2 days. What am I going to do with them?? I need to find a foster mom cat, or just take them to the vet or something.

Update: A super nice lady from my church said she will take care of my kittens until we get back from vacation!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hair Salon

When I was 14, me and my friend Carla started cutting each other's hair. Mostly we just did trims, but I found that I enjoyed it, and that I had natural talent. In addition to my cutting my girlfriends' hair, I started cutting guy friends', my dad's, and missionaries hair as well.

Now that I have my own family I cut all of their hair. When Joe and I were dating I started cutting his hair. The only time it really mattered that I wasn't a professional was the day before our wedding. I let Joe talk me into doing it a different way, that his friends used, and I ended up cutting the sides way too short. This will be evident for the rest of my life, each time I look at our wedding photos.

I don't know exactly how much money I save each year by cutting my family's hair, but probably at least $150. Usually I still get my own hair cut at a salon, but after some disappointing cuts, I decided to just do it myself. So one day last week, I set up a chair in the bathroom, and converted it into a salon.

First I cut my own hair. I think I need to cut off a little more, because I was too conservative and still have some split ends. I just used 2 mirrors, and used similar techniques that hair dressers use (pulling my hair straight down etc). Then it was Sterling's turn. He and Winter had school pictures coming up, so he just got a quick trim. I let Winter take some pictures for me. It's funny to see what goes on behind my back!
The wallpaper is off in our bathroom, but we still haven't textured or painted

Then I cut Winter's hair. She really wanted me to cut a bob, but I decided to just trim about 5 inches instead. That way, I had less of a chance of messing up right before pictures. Now she still wants me to cut it off, so I might do that later this week.

Ginger and Joe still need to get their cut. Joe has been complaining about his hair. I think it looks better when it's a little longer on him. I just love those curls that show up when it's really long on toop. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Brain Tumor

We are in the middle of some scary times right now. A few years ago, my mom was diagnosed with having a small tumor near her brain. It was small enough, that the doctors wanted to wait and see what happened. They waited, and this year it had grown considerably. She has looked into several methods of treatment (laser, surgery), and has decided to go ahead with surgery.

America has the best doctors in the World. A ear clinic in Los Angeles California has the best doctors, who have the most experience with these kind of surgeries. My mom will have her surgery there on October 16th. There are many risks associated with this surgery. Some of the most common problems include loss of hearing, balance problems, and facial parallelization.

I want to be able to be there with her. I'm not sure if I'll go before the surgery, or after, but I am so blessed to be able to go and visit with her for a few days. My sister Wendy, from Boise, will also be there, so that's an added bonus. We can use all your prayers for a successful surgery.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Mailbox

Our old mailbox finally hit the dust. It needed to be replaced when we first moved here, but it was just so cute. It was a red mailbox in the shape of a barn. What you can't see in this picture is how it was held together with duct tape. Also, because of the angle, it was the perfect container to catch rainwater, and soak it up if there was mail in it. The second to last big storm blew the door off, making the above problem even more severe. Hurricane Ike took care of it. The whole post got ripped out of the ground, and pieces of mailbox strewn around.

After about a week without a mailbox, I got a nice shiny black one at Lowes. I picked, what looked like a medium size. It's actually quite big, which will be good, because there are times we don't get the mail for days. I also got some nice big number and letter stickers, so next time people visit our house, they will actually be able to see our house number.

Joe's dad has graciously offered to help me make a sign to dangle above the mailbox. He is a very talented woodworker, and I am looking through patterns of scroll saw designs. It will be so nice!

pictures will follow

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Adopt a Highway

Our church has adopted a 1-mile stretch of highway going north and south from the building. I have lived in other wards that did this, but I have to admit I never helped out to keep it maintained. This morning the bishop asked Joe to represent the bishopric (he is the executive secretary). So, even though we have plenty of projects around our own house -including trash pickup- we headed over to Bonham.
As expected, the crowd was much smaller than at the pioneer breakfast a few months ago. We stuffed the kids full of sugar, pulled on our cute orange vests, grabbed a bunch of trash bags, and set off. The kids stayed behind at the church with some very unfortunate young women.We were dropped off at the far end of the stretch of road, and started making our way back. I was on one side of the road with a few teenagers. They made me feel so old and out of touch. Or maybe just grown up? They were being silly, and also stupid. I probably used to be much worse. Like I said: Old!

The after we met the other group half-way, we crossed the road and started heading back to the other group. Joe was with this other group, and apparently they picked up every single little piece of trash. He said he got to the point where he picked up every single piece, yet these 2 women kept lagging behind picking up even more (that wasn't even visible to the naked eye)

When we were almost done, a man stopped on the side of the road. He asked us if we were from that church up the road? He then thanked us for cleaning up, and proceeded to offer us a donation. He wasn't talking to me, but I was wondering what I would have said. On the one hand you don't want to accept, because it's just a service we are doing; but on the other hand you don't want to offend them either. The church member accepted the donation ($20), and said thanks.

I think this highway clean up was a great way to show the folks here in Texas that we are good Christian people. I have never lived in a place where I have heard so many people say that the LDS church isn't Christian. We believe in Christ, doesn't that define Christianity? Anyways, we had a good time, and I'm sure I will feel it in my legs tomorrow, from bending over and squatting.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Look Familiar?

I usually don't mind folding laundry. It's actually one of my favorite household chores. Reason? Because it's something I can do while watching TV, and it's clean. No germs, stains, filth, or wet rags involved. I just don't like it when it gets to this point. ( I think this is 5 or 6 big loads worth)

For the past few weeks I took a break from my coupon shopping, and delved into Disney research. As a result, my coupon binder was a mess. I still had to cut out several weeks worth of coupons, and sort them all into their appropriate sections of the binder. So instead of folding laundry while watching TV, I did coupons. I guess I need to watch more TV.....

Just as a bonus, a cute picture of Ginger brushing her teeth, in front of the mountains of laundry

When all is Quiet

When all is quiet in the house, and has been for a while, a mother starts to wonder. Something's not right. Usually my services are requested at least every 2 minutes, if not more. There is yelling, whining, crying, or sometimes even happy playing noises. But when it's quiet.... that means trouble. It means that the child(ren) know they are doing something they are not supposed to be doing. Their objective is to keep mom away, only they don't realize that by being completely quiet, they inadvertently alarm mom.

Yesterday, while the big kids were at school, such a quiet moment occurred. Ginger plays very nicely by herself, but like any other kid, she does make noise. So I went to check it out. This is what I found.I had the choice between getting mad, and setting some rules to keep the mess to a minimum. Since I wasn't in the mood to give her a bath right then, I decided to put a towel on the floor, and one on the counter, and let her play. I told her she wasn't allowed to add any more water to the sink, and to make sure not to splash (too much). She was happy as a clam as she "washed" everyones toothbrushes, and any other little things laying around in the bathroom.

Farm Baby

When we moved to this house in the country last year, Ginger wasn't 2 years old yet. This is the only life that she remembers. She is so tough.
  • If she falls, she'll only cry if she's really hurt.
  • If there's a spider in the house, she gets a (butter)knife from the drawer and squishes it.
  • She then picks up the remnants of the spider, and throws them in the trash - with bare hands
  • Ginger loves all the farm things
Feeding Chickens
Climbing haystacks
Loving the Cats
Catching Fish
Helping Dad with Chores on the motorcycleWe love our little Farm Baby!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Romantic Gazebo

A few days ago I got a call from a potential client for my Harp business. She found my website in a google search, and saw that I had gone to BYU. I guess her brother went there too, which she liked. I am playing for her wedding on October 11th. I'm excited, because it will be at a beautiful setting. The ceremony is in Highland Park, and the reception is in a mansion in down town Dallas. I have to say I'm a little jealous of the bride. I mean, who doesn't want to get married in a place like this?I am really hoping to kick start my business into high gear, and start doing at least 1 wedding a month. I hope that with networking this won't be too difficult to achieve. I just feel so blessed to be able to do something I love, and make some extra money doing it!

Communication and Technology

It's still early.
Before 8 am.
The phone rings.
My mind starts working.
Who is this?
Is something wrong with my kids?
Is someone in my family sick?
Was there some sort of accident?
Are they going to give us a kid?
I pick up, and say hello.
I hear "hello?"
It takes me a second, but then realize I know this voice.
Where from?
Ah! It's my uncle.... from Switzerland.
He has never called me before (when I say never, I mean never)
Is he coming to Texas to visit?
Did someone die?

Luckily nothing of that sort happened. He was actually worried about us, because of hurricane Ike, and called to make sure we are okay. This was so thoughtful. I think about family members and friends back in Europe all the time, but it never came to mind that they might be thinking about me too. Thanks!

Today's technology helps us tremendously with keeping in touch with loved ones. They are only 1 phone call, email, or text message away. The only downside is, that we often choose the easiest method of communication. (for me this is email) When was the last time I wrote someone a letter, or called a family member or friend on the phone? It's been too long.

Just as an update, the Ike tropical storm brought about 2" of rain, and some pretty hard winds. The only thing damaged was our mailbox. It was on it's way out anyways. It was held together by ducktape, lost it's door the last storm, and was a little crooked. Now it just lays there. On the ground. I guess I should do something about it before the mailman comes today, and wonders what to do with all of our "important" mail.

Sweater weather?

It felt wonderfully cool out last night, so we took advantage of the opportunity, and opened all the windows. Growing up in Holland, I have come to like sleeping in a cool room. Even if it gets up to 90 in the summer, it still cools off to 60 at night. Here in Texas.... not so much. During July and August, it goes down from about 105 to 80 degrees, meaning you still have to run the AC all night long.

This morning when I got up to get the kids ready for school (6.15am), I actually felt cold. I loved it. I grabbed a sweater and some socks (what are those things?) and am enjoying this a lot. The kids thought it was fun too, to be able to wear sweaters to the bus stop. Sterling put on one of his new sweaters, and was so excited about the hoody, and the pockets. He looks like a real bandit. Of course I realize that this cool temperature will only last a few hours, until the sun starts beating on the house, but heh, it's fun while it lasts.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Front Teeth

Winter is officially a first grader. Her front teeth have been loose for a while, she even had started eating in special ways to keep them in there.Last week her first front tooth finally made it out. Not without a little help though. Joe was getting impatient with the slow progress, and decided to give it a good yank. It started bleeding and poor Winter was freaking out. The freaking out soon turned in to excitement though, when she realized that she could gross her mom out with wiggling it back and forth 180 degrees.

I never thought I was sensitive to this kind of stuff, but that was just so gross! At one point she had her whole tooth turned around backward. After that it didn't take much to get it all the way out, but then it was still gross. You could totally see the root hanging out of the hole. Also, the hole is so HUGE! you could fit 2 or 3 teeth in that spot. Now, if she looses her other front tooth it would be even bigger. Let's just hope that doesn't happen before picture day this Friday.

According to Winter, her teacher laughed and rolled around on the floor when Winter showed her. I have to take this information with a grain of salt, since I really can't imagine her teacher rolling and laughing on the floor. Winter is also happy to inform you the tooth fairy found her tooth, and gave her a dollar for it!

Ongoing at the farm

I realized it has been a long time since I posted any pictures. Here are some random ones

The kids took a nap with Joe, but he left half-way through. See the Joe sized hole?Winter worked on loosing her first front toothWe had a fun pool party on Labor day with the Morphises and the Morelands from PlanoJoe caught a pretty good size bass from our lake, which we enjoyed for dinner that night. (like the hair do?)

Obsessive compulsive disorder

Maybe I have some kind of disease, like obsessive compulsive disorder. Whenever I start doing some silly little ritual, or any other thing, I can't stop. I will spend hours on mindless, wasteful activities, as well as good activities including:
- cutting split ends of my hair
- plucking my leg hairs 1 by 1
- reading 4 vampire books in 4 days
- planning and researching vacations, products, and generally anything else that I get excited about
- comparing product prices for days, when I'm shopping. For example, I just purchased a new video camera on Ebay. I spent about 3 day trying to figure out which type, model, and brand to get. Then I spent another few days bidding, losing, bidding some more, and eventually buying one. Now if only it would get here already.
- Some times I go through a sewing phase, where I won't stop until the item is finished. Other hobbies have the same effect on me.

Whenever I get really excited about something, I start doing happy dances. I guess I do it often enough, that my kids now do the same thing when they get really excited about something. It includes clapping, dancing, squealing, and barely able to contain myself from leaping and screaming for joy.

The problem with this obsessive compulsive behavior is, that I lay aside any and all other responsibilities. (except of course taking care of my babies). Other non-essential things like cleaning, cooking, bathing, and such go to the waste side. Just think about all the other stuff I could done, if I could balance my life a little better! And if only I could become obsessive compulsive about cleaning, cooking, and service! Then I would truly be super mom.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Living in Texas brings Hurricane watches with it. We aren't close enough to the coast to actually be in the middle of the hurricane, but we are close enough to get a good tropical storm out of it. Hurricane Ike hit Galveston and Houston early this morning, and did considerable damage. I feel bad for all of those people that had to leave their home, and just hope they would find it back in 1 piece.

The one clear effect the hurricane has here in North Texas, is a hike in gas prices. Thursday as I went into town, I saw gas for $3.39. I didn't really have time to get any, so on Friday afternoon I went to get some, and it had already jumped to $3.48. I thought I just needed to get to that other gas station, so I just put $50 in the suburban (about half full). By Friday night it was up to $3.59. Since I have a half a tank, I decided to just wait until I'm on empty again. Today on the news they showed that the gas is currently $3.99 at some gas stations, and that others have totally run out.

This just goes to show how much control the gas stations have over the price of gas. If they could sell it for $3.39 two days ago, it didn't all of a sudden cost them $0.60/gallon more now. They don't expect the prices to get back to normal for at least a few days, if not a few weeks. I guess I won't be driving much in the next few days/weeks!

Our area is supposed to get 2-4" of rain, with 40-60 miles/hour winds. We had 1 really bad storm in the spring, that tore off parts of houses and sheds, but I have no idea whether that storm was more or less severe than this one. I guess we can just hope for the best, and stay inside. When I just went outside a few minutes ago, the rain was coming down consistently, but not pouring yet. I'm just glad we don't live closer to the coast, where hurricanes keep hitting, year after year.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Plenty of schedules

Who knew that you could spend days, weeks, even months planning your Disney vacation? Apparently there are things that need to be planned exactly 180 days in advance, like character meals etc. We won't do any of those, but I can't imagine calling at 7am on the dot, 6 months before the vacation. The advantage of our off-season trip (no, the kids don't have vacation, but they are in kindergarten and first grade) is that the parks should be less crowded.

I subscribed to this really cool program Ridemax, that helps you plan out your days at the parks. It tells you which rides to do first, and where to get the fastpasses. They also have a lot of 'secrets' and other useful tips. After doing all of this, it makes me wonder how anyone can have fun/do it all, without the planning. The main difference is that I will never wait more than 15 minutes for any ride. That should help with the fun level.

We'll be at Disney for 5 days. Each day we go to a different park, except Friday, when we go to the Magic Kingdom again. We usually go home for naps and lunch, to rejuvinate. The only day we won't do that is when we go to the Animal Kingdom. That park closes earlier (5pm) so you have to cram everything in one sitting.

Anyways, just wanted to update everyone why I haven't written much lately. Also looking at a new video camera on ebay, and souvenirs on outlet stores (so I don't have to pay $25 per T-shirt at the park)

Will trade Sheep for Disney tickets

Do you think anyone would reply to an ad with that title? I don't think so. But that's essentially what we did today. We had some sheep, that we didn't want anymore. Someone else wanted them. They gave us money. We used that money to buy Disney tickets. Pretty cool.

Our animal herd has slowly been getting smaller, and morphing a little. Current count:
1 dog
8 cats (girl cat just had 6 kittens last week)
6 goats
3 cows
1 turkey
31 chickens: 6 roosters, and about 25 hens

So now we are pretty close to our goal. We'll get rid of the kittens, eat the rooster turkey for Thanksgiving, and kill 2 more roosters.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

one extreme to the other

After not doing any kind of exercise for months, I have swung the opposite way in the past 2 days. Yesterday I decided I should really start doing my step video again, so I did that for 30 minutes. I used to be able to do it for over an hour, but I guess I have to build up to that again.

This morning I went to the Gym with my mother-in-law. We went into this really cool "cinema workout" room which has a bunch of machines (eliptical, treadmill, bikes). The room is set up like a movie theater, with a large screen and surround sound. It's almost pitch black, and there are 6-8 rows of machines. The Bourne Identity was the movie that was playing. We watched the last 30 minutes of it, and then the first 30 minutes. I think if I worked out there a lot, I would go right as the movie started, so I could watch the whole thing. (maybe not quite that long).

After an hour of eliptical, I had some lunch and a 15 minute nap. Then it was off to volleyball. When we first got here, I played with Plano 8th ward (in-laws ward). We had a lot of fun last year! So my friend Tobi invited me to come back and practice with them. The tournament will be in October, hopefully I can participate in that too.

Now the only thing my legs want to do is sit. Put my feet up. Maybe tomorrow they won't even work at all...

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I got an email from our adoption worker today, all it said was: You're verified!

When we arrived in Texas a little over a year ago, Joe and I started getting serious about our desires to adopt. We started our application process with LDS family services right away. We filled out the mountain of paperwork, and attended hours upon hours of "training". It took us only a few months to get everything done, and by January we were waiting. By the time April hit, we had reconsidered our options. We felt that since we already have 3 children, we would let those couples without kids, have the opportunity to adopt the much sought-after newborns.

I started researching Texas foster care adoption. Instead of going straight through CPS, we decided it would be better to choose a private agency to do our homestudy. It turns out, that the private agencies have much more time and less of a case load. I first emailed Pathways at the end of April. I signed up for their 5 full days of training immediately. We took our training in June. In the beginning of July, we had our homestudy. From this point on, we had done everything in our power and all we could do was wait. Our worker told us that the homestudy would be written up in July, and that we should be verified by the end of July, or at the latest the first week of August. I guess several people went on vacation in August, which is why we are just now, the first week of September, verified.

Now the real waiting begins. We have no idea how long it will take before we get a call with a potential placement. It could be tomorrow, or in 6 months. We are pretty age specific (under 1), but are very open to most other aspects (gender, race etc). Most of the time I am very patient, but then I have a weak moment once in a while, when I can't stop fantasizing about what kind of child we might be able to care for.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


My ward put me in charge of the creche. What's that you say? I had never heard of it before I moved to Texas. For a week in December, our building has literally hundreds of nativity scenes setup. People from all faiths contribute and attend. On Friday night our ward has a little 45 minute program. Yep, 45 minutes. That would seem long. But it turns out that with all the different musicians to consider, the time fills up rather fast.

I have never organized such a program, so I automatically thought first of my cousin Remy. Remy is an uber-talented singer, organizer, and overall musical wiz. He was kind enough to send me a plethora of information and ideas. Now I just need to try and make everything fit in the time frame, and assign different pieces to different people.

Some are quite willing, other totally not. I have to say I am amazed at how many people refuse flat-out to participate. Since our ward is so small, I have limited resources as to musically talented people to begin with. The other thing that is tricky, is that the previous director used several other people from other churches. This is great, but I still want to make sure the program flows and fits together, so I need to carefully assign music to them. I think that in the past they have just been able to do whatever they want, and I just don't work like that.

Now I have my general program ready, and need to start contacting participants. Some won't be a problem, others will. Now I just need to practice... a lot!

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