Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

We took it kind of easy for Halloween this year, but we did go to our church's trunk or treat. Our ward is in a small town, and some people brought horse drawn wagons. There were also fun games, face painting, and way too much candy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Joe works from home most days, and for the past year he has been shoved in a corner of our bedroom. There are several inconveniences associated with this located. First, my bedroom is never tidy. Even if I clean all my things, make the bed, and vacuum, there is still a huge paper mess in that one corner.

Our house has 4 bedrooms. One is ours, one the girls' and one Sterling's. That leaves us with one spare room. We have been using that spare room for a playroom since we moved in. However, I have noticed that the kids rarely play in there. I don't know why, but they always feel compelled to bring their toys and crafts into the family room/kitchen. Other than housing the toys and a guest futon, it was sitting mostly idle.

The girls were previously in a room that has the original laminate floor in it. We originally planned to build out the upstairs, and turn that room into the new mud/laundry room, so I didn't want to put carpet in, when we would be changing the floors anyways. After a year of living in a half finished house, I have decided we are not even touching the upstairs until the downstairs is done (probably won't be until the day we list the house for sale).

So a few days ago I was thinking about the configuration, and considering giving Joe his own office in the old playroom. I wasn't too excited about that option, because that room is the biggest "kids" room, and it has carpet. Joe hates carpet under his office chair. And I hate it that the girls room has the laminate. Then, all of a sudden, I had an epiphany. If I changed the girls' room into Joe's office, and moved the girls into the old playroom. Everyone got what they wanted. Joe gets wood, the girls carpet. The girls room is big enough for all their furniture, and most of the toys.

As with many projects, this one turned out to be a lot more work than I originally thought. The first thing that took forever was moving the beds and other furniture into the girls' new room. I had to take apart their bunk beds, and reassemble them again. I also had to get rid of a bunch of toys (which is good), so there would be space for all of them in their room.

I got the girls moved into their new room on Tuesday, and yesterday I was supposed to work on putting Joe's office together. But I also had a bunch of laundry, and miscellaneous household things to do, so I took a day off. Today I had to get back to work.

A while ago I started painting the girls' room pink. After about half the room I decided I didn't like that shade of pink, and kind of just stopped. Joe doesn't want a half pink office. I wonder why. So I pulled out the paint and supplies, and got to work. Let me just quickly say that our ladder had been stored in the chicken coop, and I have NOT enjoyed the aroma of chicken poop all day!

I have been working all day (6 hours straight so far), and I needed a break! My neck and back hurt, and I'm sure I won't be able to walk tomorrow. I know, I'm pathetically out of shape. So now that I had a quick blog break, I better get back in there and finish the job, or it will never get done!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Out the door

I haven't had much bloggy inspiration lately. I don't know if that's because I am just at home, doing my regular thing, or what. I guess whenever other people tell me they just don't know what to write on their blog, I just tell them to write about every day life. So that's what I'll do today, focusing on getting the kids ready for school. Even though it seems so boring to me now (maybe 30 years from now it will be interesting to read)

Today I dragged myself out of bed at 6.20am, after Sterling came into my room to tell me it was time to get up. I always set my own alarm too, but promptly hit the snooze button, because I know I can rely on my little man. I then proceeded to drag Winter out of Bed, pick out her clothes, and head to the kitchen.

I give the kids cereal, slap together some sandwiches, ask them where their lunch boxes are, and clean out the nasty yesterday's cups. I switch the old/not so frozen blue ice, for frozen ice. I try to find a healthy, yet easy snack, and put their lunch boxes together.

Then I look in their folders, and find a gazillion papers that the school sends home with my kids. I can only imagine how much paper they go through every day. I used to just throw most of it away, but now I save any piece that still has a white back, so I can use it to print coupons on. I only keep true art work, no worksheets, coloring pages. Once in a while I'll save a test, so I can document how truly smart my wonderful kids are.

By this time the kids are usually done with breakfast, and I send them into the bathroom to brush their teeth and hair. Then come the socks. For some reason my kids don't consider socks part of an outfit so I have to nag them over and over to actually put them on.

Now I look at the clock. At the beginning of the year, the bus arrived around 6.56 most days. But then there was the occassional day that it came at 6.54am. After the kids missed the bus a few times, I just made it the rule to send them out by 6.48am. But, now that it has gotten darker (it's still pitch black when the bus gets here), and the bus consistently has been coming at 6.57 or later, I take the risk of early arrival missing, and send them out at 6.52am. I know, this is all very precise, but I have to be that way, or else they would miss the bus every day.

As soon as that thing drives away, I asses my tiredness. If I didn't go to bed until after 11pm, I usually jump back in bed, and sleep for another hour or 2. Ginger sometimes joins me, which is nice. The only downside to going back to bed after I got up, is that I feel tired most of the rest of the day. By the time the kids get back at 3.45pm, I usually wonder where the time went.

Monday, October 27, 2008


My camera has the ability to shoot RAW images. This means you have a lot more flexibility in editing photos on the computer. I never had attempted to use RAW in the last 2 years of owning my camera, because I was scared. I was scared of the unknown. I had no idea if it would be hard to edit RAW images, and I didn't even look into it.

It turns out... it's super easy to edit RAW images! All this time I could have had much more control over the quality of pictures I turned out. The only downside to RAW is that the images are about 10 MB each. What will probably happen in the future is that I will shoot most of my snapshots in normal JPEG form, and use RAW for more important photos.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Brand new on the inside

My husband is amazing. He can perty much fix anything he sets his mind to. He is currently at the tail end of refitting our 1994 geo metro with a new engine, oil pump, clutch, and other main components. What started as a $400 project, quickly grew into a $1100 project. But alas, it should run like a Ferrari (ok maybe not), but it should run as good as new.Tonight Joe's brother Josh came over to help him install the new engine. It might be light enough to carry, but it's a whole other ballgame when you try to lift and slowly lower it, far away from your body.
Joe had complained to me that the only pictures I even take of him are of him sitting around, making funny faces, so I ran out to the shop and shot some quick pics.
Josh just got out of a 5 year contract with the navy, and is an awesome sonar tech. He brought one of his old uniforms to work in. Both Joe and I thought it was super cool, and think it would be even cooler if Joe could get one too. (he has ruined too many pants and shirts working on greasy cars!)

First Placement request

Just minutes ago, I got an email from our adoption agency with the profile of a little girl that is available for adoption. My heart started racing, and I couldn't hardly wait for the (super slow) Word document to open. Then I was sad, because the girl is the same age as Ginger. We don't want to make this adoption process too difficult for our other kids, so we have decided to only adopt a child that is younger than our other children. Hopefully we'll get another placement request soon!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blanch them!

What do you do when you can buy 20 lbs of baby carrots for $5.80? Blanch, and freeze them! Target had their Green Giant baby carrots for sale for $1.29/lb last week. I also had a $1.00 target coupon, which can be printed as many times as you want. This made each 1 lb. bag $0.29!! The thing is: we just don't eat that many carrots.

So I went to the wonderful world of knowledge: Google. Type in"freeze carrots", and it gives you roughly 854,000 results. Usually the first page or two will have the answer to any question you might have. I found out that in order to preserve the freshness of a carrot, while frozen, it needs to be blanched. Blanching kills the enzyme that breaks down vitamins and nutrients over time.

I bought 20 bags of carrots right before I left to LA, and then ran out of time. Today, I finally decided to move Blanching to the top of my priority list. I got out all the bowls I own, my whole ice-maker bucket thing, and other necessary tools. Here's what you need to do if you ever end up with 20 lbs of carrots in your fridge

  1. Boil a large pot of water, and dump some carrots in (I did 2 lbs at a time). They only need to blanch for about 5 minutes
  2. Take them out of the boiling water, and dump them into a bowl with ice water. Keep adding more ice, as the ice melts - 5 minutes again -- By the way, it took ALL the ice from my ice maker to do 14lbs of carrots
  3. Drain them in a strainer
  4. Dry them with a towel
  5. Put them in freezer ziplocks, or better yet, into Foodsaver bags. My poor Foodsaver was used a few times right after purchased but then hasn't been used for probably 5 years. Each time I was decluttering I thought about getting rid of that thing, and now I was sure glad I hadn't.
  6. Realize that you should be more creative than just freezer carrots, and decide to make "Crockpot Sunday dinner packets".
  7. Be bummed that you don't have any potatoes, and that you'll have to wait 3 days until your next trip into town.
So the end result is 6 baggies in their nice Foodsaver baggies, and 2 big ziplock bags full of blanched carrots, back in the fridge... waiting for their potato companions. And the other 6 lbs? We had clam chowder tonight, the kids bring them to school as snacks, I snack on them, and we still have 2lbs of fresh carrots in the fridge.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Family portrait

Wow, every time we get family pictures taken, I am so glad we won't have to do THAT for another year! It has been 2 years since we took our family picture, and an email from our foster care agency got me in high gear for getting an updated one. My problem is that I don't want to revert back to Walmart pictures, when I know I can take much better photos. It is a little tricky though to take pictures of yourself.

We drove the truck out into the upper 40, with the couch in the back. We circled around the long way, to make sure none of the grasses that we wanted in the picture would be smashed. Then I set up the tripod in the back of the truck bed, and connected my remote control. The only problem was that the remote only has a 10' cord, so we had to stay sort of close, and we had to make sure you can't see the cord in the photo. (I think for future family photos, I'll have to invest in a cordless remote control) Since we needed some time in between pressing the button and actually being ready for the photo, I had to set my camera to the delayed setting, which makes for a very long "cheese" each time.

I have to say the results were a bit disappointing. Most photos were out of focus. Some were way off-center, and the few that were left after that also had slim pickins. Either one of the kids was picking their nose, holding a stick, looking the other way, or closing their eyes. In the end I only have 2 half-decent photos left. After playing around with photoshop a bit, this is what I came up withNot too bad, but not too good either. At least everyone is smiling, and I think I am bound to have Sterling doing some weird thing for at least the next 3 years. Ah well, maybe next year we'll have better luck. For now, this will have to do, and I'll have to look at it in a picture frame for at least a year.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Ginger!

It's hard to believe my "baby" is now 3 years old!! Ginger is such a big girl, and loved all of her presents. We had a small party with just our family, because Joe's parents couldn't come. I think that was the first time in 5 years that we celebrated a birthday without any additional family. (in Boise we had Wendy and Brian, and for a while my parents as well). We have almost a whole 9x13 chocolate cake with chocolate frosting left, and if I didn't just start on my diet, I would probably eat the whole thing myself. Instead, I have to think of a good way to dispose of it. I have considered feeding it to the chickens, throwing it in the trash, or sending it to school for Winter to hand out in class.

In lieu of Ginger's birthday, I decided to retrieve some kittens from the people that took them in almost a month ago. They live in Honey Grove, which is 45 minutes north east from. You thought we lived out in boonie land? Not anything compared to them. And the craziest thing is that the husband commutes into Addison, which is 2 hours each way, and has done this for the past 15 years.
The Brooks have had an explosion of kittens, and they have even lost track of how many they have. (they guess around 20). I picked out one of the kittens that I gave them. She is a calico, and has a really pretty light grey color. We also got a boy kitten, which is white, with large gray spots - like a cow. His eye is a little infected, but we are hoping to clear that up soon. I am really a sucker for kittens, and even though these are outside cats, one of them is currently sleeping on my lap.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

(Un)necessary Censorship

Last night was the night we had tickets to go see Jimmy Kimmel Live. The show is taped right in the middle of the tourist area, on Hollywood blvd. Earlier in the day, we had gone down there and walked around with Kenzie (Wendy's daughter). So when we were taking the train, we thought we were pros and weren't paying as much attention as we should. We were running a little late, and missed the first train. After waiting for 8 minutes (long for the train), we got on the train. Well, there are 2 different trains, and 1 of them does NOT go to Hollywood. When the train stopped, they made everyone get out and security guards checked the train. We thought it was just a security check, so when the train started going the opposite direction we were very comfused. We soon found out from other passengers that we had gotten on the wrong train, and that we now had to go back 2 stops, to transfer to the right line.

Because we didn't want to miss another train, we bolted from the train, ran down the stairs, and jumped into the train. Almost like a guy from the movies that is getting chased by the evil guys. I think I have anxiety issues, because we got there 30 minutes before the show, and were in a good spot in line, but I still worried the whole time that we wouldn't get in. We did get in, and actually got to sit on the front row, right next to the middle isle, where Jimmy does his monolog.

They let you into the studio about 30 minutes before they start taping, and have some guy do the warm-up entertaining. Part of the warm-up was a talent show, and people that participated got a Jimmy kimmel T-shirt. I really wanted to get a shirt. The other people that did talents did some pretty dumb ones, so I figured I would get up and sing in Dutch, and tell them I know how to pluck a chicken. Well, the guy has a big potty mouth, and many times needed some censorship. I guess I am not used to hearing swearing anymore. When I told him I can pluck a chicken, he said: "you can what?? you can *** a chicken??". I was sooo embarassed. But I just sang "lang zal ze leven" and did a very silly, embarassing dance at the same time, and got my shirt.

Last night I learned something new about myself. I do not like to talk to people I don't know, and especially not to ask them for favors or anything. I would much rather go on stage, make a fool of myself in front of a huge group, than talk to someone face-to-face, and have that potential for rejection. Wendy is so much bolder! Ben Stein was on the show, and talking about North Idaho, so she did a little scream. I thought she was going to get in trouble, and was a little embarrased (sorry Wendy). But after the show was over, Ben asked who was from Idaho, and came to talk to her and shook her hand. Cool. Then, after the show, she went up to the security guard to ask if there was any way we could meet Jimmy. I just could never do that. I am just afraid they will get mad at me, or plain laugh at me. No one laughed at her, and just nicely told her to wait in the alley if we wanted to have a chance of seeing him. (we didn't by the way)

The hospital is located in kind of a seedy part of town, and after gettting off the train, we had to wait for the bus to take us from the train station to the hospital. There were cops parked along the street (never a good sign), and we even spotted a few helicopters that were searching for someone. Add in some sirens, fake ID sellers, and dirty stores, and you kind of get the idea. I am usually not really nervous or scared about being out at night, and secretly laugh at people that are worried about going outside alone in places like Boise, but this was different. Pretty much the only people who were walking around were men, and this one crazy lady. I didn't have anything valuable on me, but I still didn't want to get mugged. (again, we didnt' by the way)

Friday, October 17, 2008

I saw Stars

After visiting with my mom this morning in the ICU, Wendy and I headed out to see the stars in Hollywood. We jumped on the bus, and then the train, and asked some girls where to get off. They told us Hollywood/Vine, so we did and started walking. The stars were lining the sidewalk, but we were obviously not in the tourist area. We passed some interesting costume shops, and questionable figures, but finally got to the better area.
Next to the Kodak theater, Oceanspray was doing a promotion. They were giving away free Craisins and Juice, and had a fountain area filled with cranberries.We also saw batman, superman, Marilyn Monroe, and several other "stars". The funnest thing for me though, was to go to the Egyptian theater and see the hand and footprints of celebrities.After a while we headed back to the hotel, to see my mom again. We were actually able to talk to her for the first time. She was smiling, and telling us how boring it was. This is a good sign, because that means she's not out of it constantly. Later this afternoon she gets moved to a regular room, and out of ICU.

Wendy and I have tickets to see Jimmy Kimmel live today, so everyone tune in and see if you can see a sweep of the top of our heads when they pan over the audience. Joe, you better record this for me!! (He'll forget, so if anyone else wants to do it, that would be great) We don't have to be there until 6pm, so that's much beter than our Conan experience back in New York! And we have actual tickets, so we have a much higher chance of actually getting in.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quick Update

Mom's surgery is over, and it was successful. It took about 5 hours of surgery, but the tumor is gone. There were no complications, although only time can tell whether her hearing will recover completely. I was able to see her in the Intensive Care, but she was still under. She'll be in the ICU until tomorrow afternoon, after which she'll have to stay in a regular room for some time.

Here she is just 2 days after surgery

And a week or so later

Too early

My mom had to check in at the hospital at 5am this morning. They used my cell phone to set their alarm, and at 4.40am they couldn't figure out how to turn it off. My phone is kind of annoying, because if you push any button besides the "dismiss" button, the alarm will keep going off every 10 minutes or so. So I got up and helped them turn it off.

In Texas it's 2 hours later, so even though it was only 4.40am here, my internal timer told me it was 6.40am (which is after my regular rising time, because I have to get the kids off to school). Since Wendy and I can't really go into the hospital with her after they admit her, we decided to stay behind at the guest "hotel". Being wide awake, I decided to head to the lunchroom, which has 2 computers in it. I am very thankful that I can have access to the internet, because that's the way I stay connected.

Using dial-up, after having had DSL for the past 2 years, really makes me appreciate my fast internet at home. Sometimes I get annoyed when my internet doesn't pop up immediately, but after using this computer I realize it's still WAY faster than dial-up. With dial-up you just have to be ready to zone out for a few minutes each time you try to access a new web page.

So now, an hour later, it's still too early to officially wake up, but my stomach is growling because it's past my regular breakfast time. Of course, by getting up this early, I'll have to pay tonight when I don't go to bed 2 hours earlier than normal. Somehow I'll have to try and squeeze some sleep in at some time.

warning: surgery details
My mom's surgery should be over between 11am and 1pm, which is when we find out how it went. There are no sort of updates during the surgery. The main side affect my mom is trying to prevent is loss of hearing in the ear they are operating on. The hearing nerve is very sensitive, and easily damaged. First thing, they make an insicion of the skin in the shape of a question mark (almost more like a "C"). Then they pull that skin back, kind of like a flap, leaving the hair on it intact. Next, they have to get into the skull, so they can actually remove the tumor. It takes them 3 hours just to drill part of her skull off (a little piece about an inch in diameter as I understand it) so they can access the area they are operating on. Then they will get the nerves out of the way (the balance nerve, hearing nerve, and facial muscle nerve). Then the neuro surgeon comes in and actually takes the tumor out one tiny piece at a time. After it has been removed, they replace the piece of skull, and cover it with titanium mesh, and secure it in place with a bunch of tiny screws. The skin gets put back in place, and voila.

It really amazes me to think about all the medical advances we have. Even just 50 years ago, a person with a tumor like my mom's, would just get sicker and sicker, until one day they would keel over and die. Now, we have a big chance of total recovery. I am so glad to have a Heavenly Father that loves us, and helps us through these tough times. He has blessed all of us with a sense of peace about this whole thing. I hope that everything goes well, and of course, that my mom will come out of surgery without any side effects. Either way, she and and my dad, and me too, know this is the right thing to do, and that she is in the best hands possible.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dumped some juice

I made my way over to LA. The trip was very pleasant and non-stressful. After going through security, I had about 40 minutes to kill. Rather than sitting around, I came up with the idea to curl my hair. So I plugged in my curling iron in the restrooms and took my time curling it. The only problem was that after I was done, the curling iron was steaming hot. Since I didn't want to sit in the bathroom for the next 20 minutes, I just unplugged it and took it into the terminal. I'm sure some people gave me some funny looks, but who cares... I looked fabulous! (just kidding)

The flight was non-stop, which made for a much more pleasant trip. If it hadn't been for the fact that I spilled my juice all over my lap in the middle of the flight, I might even say it was a great flight. I sat next to a larger man, and sat in a small chair (especially compared to first class), but the flight wasn't too long. Luckily after I dumped the juice all over me, I was able to change my pants since I only had a carry-on bag.

The lady sitting next to me had never flown before. This is such a foreign idea to me. I have no idea how many times I have flown. I probably started before I was a year old, and have flown about once a year since (some years more, some less). I can't even imagine what it would be like to not fly for the first time until I was 30.

I met my sister Wendy at the airport, her flight was delayed a little. We agreed to meet at the baggage claim, and after I got there, she called me to ask where I was. I told her I was at baggage claim4, and she told me she was there too, and couldn't see me. We were confused, and after a minute we realize we were standing 5 feet away from each other, facing opposite directions. Ha, ha, very funny.

We took the shuttle to the metro stop, and then on 3 different metros to the hospital. It's fun to see all the variety of folks that live out here. Leonard doesn't have as much variety. My dad met us at the metro stop at the hospital, and we made the 0.5 mile trek uphill. Wendy had practically packed her whole house, and my poor dad was the one who had to pull it up the hill. It was great to see my parents again.

My mom is doing super, under the circumstances, and her spirits are high. She is having surgery here in LA, because this is where the best doctors are. Her tumor is in ear canal, and is about 0.3" around, and the doctors have a lot of experience. They do about 300 of these operations a year, versus 70 in Holland. Tomorrow is the big day, and we're all keeping up high hopes that she'll have minimal side effects.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stocked up

After not having gone (real) grocery shopping in at least 3 weeks, it was nice to fill up my cupboards and fridge again. This morning my empty fridge begged me to clean it, so I gave it a quick wipe down. It's amazing how dirty it was. I just never realized it. I think it's because we always open the fridge with a purpose. You open it, get something out, and close it.

We had our quarterly foster home review, although it seemed pointless, since we don't currently have any children placed in our home. The questions we were asked included: do you discipline foster kids in the right way, are you submitting school report cards, etc. Even when we do have a child, we shouldn't have to deal with these issues, since he/she will be under school age.

The adoption worker's visit promted a quick pickup/cleanup of the house. I have to admit that I never quite know how much to clean. If it's not clean enough, they won't want to place with us. If it's too clean, and smells clean, they get suspicious. I guess if it's too clean, they think it's normally filthy and that you just did a major clean. So I went for the middle ground. I picked up most toys, but not all. I swept the floors, wiped the counters, and gave the bathroom a quick wipe-down as well. Turns out, she didn't even look at any of that.

Good news for Joe: I leave him with a stocked fridge/pantry, and a clean house. My flight leaves in the middle of the day, which I planned on purpose. I didn't want to get up at zero-dark-thirty, and also didn't want to arrive late at night. Especially because I have to take the metro from the airport to the hospital once I get there. So tomorrow I should be able to take it easy, get packed, and drive to the airport. I plan to bring some good magazines to read, and maybe even wear some make-up, to look half-decent.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Next on the list

I feel like my to-do lists have kept getting longer, and longer. Every time I check off 1 item, 2 more need to be added. This has been a very busy month. First the vacation, then the wedding, and now I have to try and get ready for my trip to LA. After I get back from that, I should be able to regroup. There are things to sell on ebay, laundry to be done, groceries to shop, photo albums to be made etc.

For some reason the elementary school chose today as their teacher day, so the kids are home all day. This makes it even harder to get organized and get things done. For example, I was going to go grocery shopping today, but I learned my lesson this summer, and won't do that ever again. So instead, the kids helped me clip 2 weeks worth of coupons and now I'll get my bills paid. I will also do other things that aren't influenced by kids, such as laundry. Then, I'll spend some time helping the kids with homework later today, and try to do some planning for the trip.

Since I had kids my brain is kind of mushy. If I have something important to do, and don't write it down, I can totally forget. Even if I think I would never. Or, I'll get all panicky, because I'm sure I'm forgetting something when I'm not. So I make my lists, and Joe gets to make fun of me. I have to admit that sometimes I go a little overboard, but that's better than the alternative!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Uncle Josh

Uncle Josh is back from the Navy and came out to our house for a visit.  The kids really took to him as shown in this image:

Saturday, October 11, 2008


The kids are definitely familiar with just how food ends up on the table.  We kinda like keeping them in the loop on that sort of thing.  They've seen chickens & fish slaughtered, they know we ate one of our goats (even though they didn't see the details.)  It is just a bit strange though how interested they are in death.  In fact today, while we had some of the Angora goats in the shop subdued for shearing, the kids kept asking if we were going to kill them and why not...maybe we need to rethink our strategy...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Music Stand

Since I am playing the harp at a super fancy wedding held at the nicest mansion in the metroplex, I started thinking a bit more about my ensemble. I need to fix the zipper on my nice satin skirt. Make sure I am dolled up and looking pretty, and somehow prevent having to take my music stand

I am not the kind of musician that just learns a bunch of songs by heart. I need the security of having my music in front of me. I have owned this music stand for probably 18 years, and it has done it's job all that time. However, it's just plain ugly. Here's this beautiful instrument, with an ugly piece of metal next to it.

I started looking at nice wooden music stands online, and found this super cool website of "Mister Standman". This guy works from C'Ordelane Idaho, in the middle of the mountains. His shop is a little cabin, surrounded by beautiful pine trees. I really like his work, but it so happens that my father-in-law is also a very talented woodworker.

Wouldn't it be so much cooler to design the scroll work myself, and have my father-in-law make it for me? I thought so. So I dug up my large pad of paper, clipboard, and pencils from the college days out of the shop. I used Standman's designs as inspiration, and started drawing. It was fun. I did a lot of erasing, cutting, re-doing and starting over. I got frustrated, and then excited when it turned out perfectly. Isn't it funny that when you have a hobby/interest that you haven't done in a while, you forget how much you enjoy it? Same thing happened when I welded that coat rack for my friend.

After getting my kids on the bus this morning, I headed down to Plano, to go to the wood store with dad. It so happens that my brother-in-law Josh just got out of the Navy, and his is staying with them. So that was an added bonus, to visit with him. I had kind of an idea of what color I wanted the stand to be, I wanted to match the harp. With some pictures in hand (actually camera), I showed dad, and he knew right away that it was maple. Off to the store we went.

The wood store is like a Joanns for men. If you haven't sewn before, you look at all that fabric and wonder how the heck anything useful can come out of it. But as you start sewing, and get some experience, the store isn't as frightening anymore. I had the same feeling here. All I saw was planks of wood, tools I don't know how to use, and cool tools.

Dad had his little supply list in hand, which he just whooped up in no time. We started looking at different kinds of maple. My harp has some "tiger striped" maple on the soundboard, which is really pretty. We found a piece of wood that had some of the same features. Then we picked out an accent color for some trim. There are so many different kinds of wood! I think we ended up picking some wood name Cambodia, or something like that.

Now dad has the challenge to see if he can finish this stand by Saturday. If he does it, he is officially a miracle worker. I really wish I could be around to see the whole process, but unfortunately I really need to be at home practicing, so I can sound as good as I will look :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

First Class

Our return flight left at 6 am. This means we should have been at the airport at 4.45am. We woke up at 4.46am. We frantically ran around the hotel room, and started throwing our things in the suitcase. Luckily I had packed most of our things the day before, but there were still several things strewn about.

It was totally my fault too. The night before, I had a major headache, so I just went to bed without any more packing. I did set the alarm for 3.45am, but I was so tired that when it went off, I just turned it off, and went back to sleep.

When we arrived at the airport at 5.35am, they told us we were too late to check our luggage in. The next flight out was only an hour later, so we were put on standby for that. No problem there. We had 5 seats next to each other, and I even used 3 other chairs to sleep on for most of the flight.

In Chicago our luck wasn't so good. The next flight wasn't for another 4 hours, and it was pretty much booked. We were put on the standby line again, and waited. The crew couldn't help us at all until all passengers had boarded the plane. Joe found out he had a few free upgrades to first-class, because of all the flying he does for work. So they told us we could upgrade 3 tickets, and that the other 2 people might not be able to come.

By some stroke of luck or God sent help, 2 passengers didn't show up to board on time. They gave them the final notice twice, and when they didn't show, they gave us their seats. I was sooo relieved. The next flight would have been another 8 hours later. I can't entertain my tired kids for that long on 2 movies!

Joe was so nice, and let me take the first-class ticket. Sterling and Ginger also sat by me, and Winter flew in coach with Joe. It was nice to be up front with the ritzy people, except that I was stressed the whole way about any noise my kids made.

When the Stewardess came with a little silver platter with rolled up towels Sterlings asks: "What's that for?". I just chuckled, because I thought these things are only offered in movies. We washed our hands, and Ginger her face as well and settled in.

Not a moment after the double beep, the stewardess jumped out of her seat. She brought us little table clothes, and got the same question out of Sterling. Apparently when you fly first-class, the germy tray table is not usable without a tablecloth.

Even though all the regular folks only got sodas, we were offered a nice snack box with a variety of foods including crackers, salami, cookies, chips, craisins, and some others. (I think these snack boxes can be purchased by coach passengers for $5). Since my husband let me sit up in front, I thought I better take care of him, and sent him a few snack as well.Even though the seat was comfortable, we got a nice snack, and a warm towel, this experience has taught me a few things about first-class. First, it's stressful to sit there with young kids. Second, it's not worth the extra fare for domestic flights. I was expecting more. I was expecting a private tv screen. I thought I would have some kind of footrest to get my feet up. I thought they would hang a curtain between me and the 3rd-class passengers in the back (just kidding)

The only time I think first-class would be a good investment, is for intercontinental flights. These aircrafts (especially British Airways) take good care of their first-class citizens (I mean flyers). They get chairs that lay flat, luxurious meals, personal tv screens, private bathrooms, and curtains!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Creeping up

This Saturday's Wedding has really crept up to me. I guess it has something to do with the fact that we were gone all last week, but still. When you play 3 hours a day, when you are not used to that, you will get blisters. My fingers have a little bit of calous on them, but not enough for that much playing. So I tape them up while I practice, so I'll be able to play blister-free the day of the event.

So things are pretty much back to normal at the house. I have a laundry list of things I am supposed to be doing. I am only getting a few of them done. Chickens need to be fed, cats cuddled, and kids sent off to school at 6.15 in the morning. Maybe some day I'll become smart and go to bed at 10pm, so I won't be waisted the next day.

Whenever I come back from vacation I get the photo book bug. There are several years I haven't done yet, and I decided to pick 2007 as my next project. My sister-in-law Nancy pointed me towards, where you can "slurp" your blog entries into a book. You can then add other pictures and text, so you can have a complete account of your life all tied together in 1 book. I decided that instead of doing this non-stop for 2 days, I would just do a few pages a day, so I can actually keep my house together/clean (I cleaned it top to bottom before the trip). Speaking of.. I should put a load of laundry in the washer...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bad turned into good

Our friends Dave and Tiffani Judd own a timeshare at the Mystic Dunes Resort and Golf Club. When we started planning our vacation together, we decided to stay at the same resort, so it would be easier to get together for things like swimming, and just getting together.

As part of our resort package, we had to take a "tour" of the property. I think everyone has been to one of these timeshare sales tours at one point of their lives. The last time we had been to one, was 8 years ago, when we were still in college. We went to get free dinner gift cards. This time we had to go to get a "special" rate for the hotel.

As we were waiting for the tour to start, we were fed lunch. I'm sure this was to put us at ease or something. As we were waiting we were thinking of all sorts of fun ways to go through the presentation. One was for me to play the dumb blonde. Turns out, I just don't know how to act stupid (not that I'm brilliant or anything). So we decided to just be nice instead.

I was very apperhensive about the sales person we would get, because honestly I can't stand abbrasive sales men that are rude or like to try and guilt-trip me into anything. We were lucky, and ended up with a nice female sales representative name Sophia. Sophia is from Venezuela. She was telling us all about her trip to Boise Idaho, and how she loved it there.

When it came time to tell her we wouldn't be buying a timeshare that would have cost us "only" $12,000 + $800 per year, we explained to her that we are just not like most people. We don't have cable, rarely go out to eat, have 1 low car payment, don't go on dates to avoid babysitting fees, etc, etc.

So we told her we are kind of weird, and had also mentioned earlier that we loved Utah for its mountains. So she asked if we are mormon. When we told her that we are, it was funny to see her reaction. She said: "but Mormons are weird, you are not!", and "but they wear long-sleeved white shirts with white tennis shoes". I'm not sure where the white shirts with tennis shoes came from, but it was so funny.

This all happened towards the end of the sales presentation, and she set all the timeshare paperwork and said "forget about this, let's talk about you!". So we talked about the bible, and she told us she grew up as a Catholic, but now is just reading the bible on her own, so she can figure out for herself what is true. We told her we also believe in the bible, and told her a few things that are different in our church.

Looking back, we should have been better missionaries, because she was genuinely interested in the "mormon faith". The time wasn't right though, and I hope we left her with a positive feeling about the church. These are times I wish I knew better what to say, and not be afraid to share the beliefs I have.

Relaxing by the Pool

Somewhere in the jam-packed schedule, we found a little block of time to go swimming at the resort. We hadn't spent very much time with Dave and Tiffani, so this was the perfect opportunity to hang out and relax a bit.
I'm afraid I have become a real mom. I didn't even get in the water!! I did get my feet wet, but mostly just sat on the side lines on the lawnchair. I remember not understanding when I was a kid, why my mom wouldn't get in. Swimming is so fun! Yet, as a mom, it's also fun to just relax and sit on a lawnchair. When you get in the water, you get wet. When you get wet, you have to dry off. That's just annoying sometimes. Oh, how lame do I sound?!
Stewart is Ginger's age, and when we went out the gate to go back to the hotel, he tried to come out with us. Tiffani was still in the poolyard, so we made him stay in, but he was still hanging out at the gate and trying to get out. I got him to kiss Ginger through the fence, which was super cute!

Special Safari

All my research suggested to get to the parks early. So every day we got up between 7.00am and 7.15am, so we could make it to the parking lot 30 minutes before opening time. When we were getting up that early, and getting ready, it really seemed crazy. Am I crazy? That was until we started driving to the park, and when we got closer to the World, other people were doing the same thing. At least I'm not the only crazy one.

This reminded me of Black Friday. Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving, and the best shopping day of the year. The stores bank on crazy people like me that get up at 4 in the morning, to be at the store at 5am (or earlier if it opens earlier). Whenever I have gone shopping on Black Friday, I felt half insane getting up in the middle of the night, that is UNTIL I see that hundreds of other people do the same thing.

Thursday we went to the Animal Kingdom, and this is where my craziness paid off the most. 15 minutes before opening time they let people into the parks, but not all the way in. You can go to the end of Main Street, or in this case to the base of the tree of life. Even though we weren't the first ones at the park, Joe was able to jump to the beginning of a line, when they opened another turnstile. I am an adrenaline junky, and being at the front of the pack of people, really gets it pumping. I pushed the double (monster) stroller with all my might, and got to the rope first.

As we were waiting for the rest of the park the open, a park ranger asked us what we were going to see first. The Safari was the first thing on our list because the animals are most active first thing in the morning. So we told him we were off to the Safari, and he asked if we had been on one before. Joe and I have, when we worked at Disney, but the kids never had. Then he asked if we would like to be the first family on the safari. We were excited, and Yes, of course we wanted to be on the first safari.

He opened up the rope for us, and closed it back behind us. He led us across the park and to the safari entrance. I thought we would just be part of the first bus load, but it turned out we WERE the first bus load. We were on this huge 60 person bus/truck, all alone with the driver and the tour guide. The first safari is awesome! There were lots of animals in the middle of the road. A herd of rhinos were sitting on the road, and mozied on off after a while. At one point we came to a narrow part of the road, and some wildebeest were in the way. They squeezed passed the truck, and we could have touched them if we had stuck our hands out. There were ducks in the fake mud-ruts, and a gorilla 10 feet away from us.

After getting off the truck, we were presented with a special "Honorary Family" certificate. Also, we were given a special Fastpass that allowed us to come back to the safari any time, all day long, and use the Fastpass to skip the line. Unfortunately we had so many other things planned for the day, that we never did make it back there.

The moral of the story: I might be crazy, but it was totally worth it!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Different kind of Trip

The first time I Remember going to Disney was when I was 17 (I went before that, but can't remember the details). My parents let me bring my closest girlfriend Evelien. Being teenagers, Evelien, my brother Carlo, and I wanted to do different things than my then 6 year old sister. We took off by ourselves and rode roller coasters pretty much all day, while my parents took my little sister to the princess shows.
Sterling and Winter are big enough to go on pretty much all rides, including roller coasters, but they are still small enough that they love all the "little kid" shows too. I really enjoyed seeing some new shows, but mostly seeing the expression on the kids' faces.
From the terror on Sterling's face when we were in the "Tower of Pain", to the sheer joy seeing all the animals in "It's a small World". Turns out that "It's a small world" is actually enjoyable to kids. Both Joe and I find it rather painful to go through (slow, boring, annoying etc), but the kids' reaction actually made it fun.

One of the shows geared to small children is "Story Time with Belle". There's a little grove next to Cinderella's castle, where Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) comes out and acts out her story. This one is super fun for kids, because Belle picks kids from the audience to play out the different characters. Sterling was picked to be Maurice (the dad). He just had this great big grin on his face the whole time.

Off my feet

After a week of walking, I'm finally off my feet. We got back from DisneyWorld today, and had a fabulous time. I have a lot of things I want to write down, but I don't think I'm even going to try to do it cronologically. The kids did pretty good overall, and didn't have too many meltdowns. Now I just need a vacation to get over this vacation :)

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