Tuesday, September 2, 2014

kids say...

I try to sing to the boys and the girls every night.  The boys get competitive, wanting me to sing their song of choice.  So they alternate nights.  Tonight it was Gregory's turn to pick the song.  He always asks me to come up with something original on the spot, which is something special I love to share with him.

Sometimes Kai isn't very gracious about having to wait until the next night for his turn to pick the song.  Tonight Kai whined and carried on about how he didn't like it when I just sing to Gregory and that it "breaks [his] heart", which he doesn't fully comprehend the meaning of.

He followed me when I left the room tonight and dramatically said, "When you sing those songs to Gregory it... makes my HIPS HURT!"  He put his hands on his thrust out little hips and glowered at me.  I laughed and turned him back towards his bed.

(picture from another night when he fell asleep draped across my leg
while I read a bedtime story to the girls.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A great tutorial a friend of mine sent me.  It was so great to see such a neat, original idea!  I was unimpressed until the last 15 seconds.  I'm glad I watched it all the way through.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kids say....

I post so much on Facebook, but that also means the true gems are easily lost amid all the mundane stuff I share with the world.  Yes, like what I ate that day.

Today Charla was uncommonly motivated to help Leora and Kai with their homework.  As in, this was the first time.  I'll take it!!  She very sweetly helped Leora with her spelling words, one of which was the word, "MALE."

I wish I'd have had a recorder on hand to tell you the exact words they used, but here's as good as I can remember...

Charla: "next word: MALE"
Leora: "M-A-L-E.  What does it mean?"
Charla: "OH!  It means a guy.  Because of the weird thing boys have."
Leora: ".....?"
Charla: "You know, the weird thing between their legs" complete with gestures.
Leora (hesitantly): "ooooh."

And later this evening, after putting them to bed, I overheard Charla telling Leora "facts" about Megatron (a bad Transformer... my girls have huge crushes on Star Scream and Megatron)...

Charla: Did you know, Megatron is 31 years old!
me: hey, I'M 31 years old!
Charla: I know! But he doesn't like brownies.

I'm glad she knows where to draw distinctions.

And to go perfectly with this little snippet, this incredible picture my sister Dora made as a birthday gift for Leora yesterday:

Saturday, February 1, 2014

"Needful Things" List for Craft Swap

I'm participating in my first Swap!  

I needed to list 20 things I can't live without...

1. Rain.  Nothing starts out a day better than the steady thrum and pitter-patter of rain.  Best way to go to sleep, too.  Throw in some rolling thunder and I am in my happy place.  Since I live in scorched Tucson, Arizona we have a thundering rain storm CD that gets LOTS of use.

2. Speaking of wet things, I can't live without my clothes dryer.  When we lived in Ohio I would toss in dry blankets and coats right before stepping out into the winter cold- so cozy!  I also throw a damp towel in to dry while I mix and knead dough for bread.  By the time the dough is ready to rise, the dryer is good and warm- works perfectly every time.

3. And after taking the baked bread out of the oven, I have to enjoy it's steamy yumminess with a tall glass of milk.  I have always loved milk.  I lived in Spain until I was 9.  My mom is German, so we made fairly frequent trips to Germany, where they believe giving a child cold milk will make them sick- they absolutely refused to serve it cold.  yech.

4. And speaking of Germany, while it doesn't happen often, I can't live without trips to that beautiful country.  Being in the military we have access to free flights on military planes, so we've made a couple trips.  I love the food, the weather, the beautiful forests and rivers and hills and mountains.  I love how timeless it feels.  And I love how the German I spoke as a child reemerges.

5. Childhood memories are one thing I cherish most.  My family and I love to reminisce about wonderful, hilarious, crazy times we've shared.  I also love sharing them with my children.  My family is pretty quirky.  OK, right out weird. So we've got tons of inside jokes and love to tease by endlessly quoting each other.

6. But quoting doesn't stop at family members.  If I couldn't quote and reference movies ALL day, I would be virtually mute.  A few years ago my family started this crazy tradition where we compile an enormous selection of quotes and string them together by starting one quote with the last word of the previous quote.  It usually ends in laughing so intense we're reduced to squeaks and tears.  I once visited a family member who doesn't watch many movies.  I got stumped so many times trying to share some insight or illustrate a point.

7.  Speaking of illustrating, that is another passion.  I absolutely NEED paper and pencil.  I've tried my hand at digital drawing and have the tools to do so, but I love the feel of the wooden pencil in my hands, the smell of fresh pencil shavings, the soft grainy sounds of pencil on paper, adjusting the paper so I can lean in and get lost in my work.  I have enjoyed doing commissioned work, but most love drawing for others I care for.

8. While I draw I love listening to books on CD.  I discovered it when the military started moving us and I had to drive one car by myself.  Lately I've been absorbed in the world of the "Outlander" books by Diana Gabaldon.  The reader has such fun inflections in her voice and I love the stories and imagery.  Of course stories like Harry Potter are great, too.

9. Another thing I enjoy doing while listening to books is to sew.  My sewing machine ranks VERY high on my list of needful things! It's ironic since, despite my mom's efforts, I had absolutely NO interest in the hobby until I was married.  Now there's always some project (or 2 or 3) in some state of completion on my machine.  I recently opened up an Esty shop to sell original handmade items, mostly for rambunctious little boys, although I get so many random ideas it keeps branching out into other themes.

10. And while we're on the topic of themes, I've noticed a theme in my movie selections.  I need chick flicks- the funnier, wittier or sappier the better!  When I don't have a book to listen to, I pop in a movie, which often ends up being something like "27 Dresses", "You've Got Mail", "Mona Lisa Smile", "Confessions of a Shopaholic"...  I also really enjoy a good suspense or drama, but I love the cheeriness of a good chick flick.

11. What better way to enjoy a good movie than in comfy fleece pajama pants?  I so very much NEED them.  In fact, I'm wearing the pair my hubby got me for Christmas as I type this up.  At 4:30 in the afternoon.  Yup.  I'm all about the creature comforts!  Which extend to include..

12.  My Jelly Crocs!!  I can't even begin to describe how comfortable these shoes are!  I wear them everywhere.  And they're even cute!

13.  But not as cute as my girls' hair.  I need the tote brimming with hair things I use almost every morning to do up my little princesses' tresses.  My 8-year old used to pull out her hair, to the point that she was almost bald.  She inexplicably stopped when we got her tonsils out 4 years ago.  Since then it's grown in so beautifully I just HAVE to play with it.

14.  Something else I HAVE to play is my piano.  I'm no accomplished pianist, but I love to play.  I often play a bit right before delving into a new project or preparing a presentation, to stimulate my creativity or just sooth my nerves.

15.  Maybe this is uninteresting, but my Kindle also does a great job helping me unwind, mostly at bedtime.  First I use it to read scriptures, and if I'm still too perky to sleep, then I play Spider Solitaire until I nod off.  I don't use it for reading as much as I thought I would, but it's a life saver at church when the kids are all squirrely.  I also love using it to peruse that popular website... what's it called again?... oh yeah

16. PINTEREST!  I know it's not that original either, but how else would I have learned that you can mix 2 parts corn starch with 1 part hair conditioner to make the most amazing, light, good smelling playdough ever!?  It's my main spot to find amazing hair styles to try out on my girls, the best ways to applique, ideas for products to sell, fun gift ideas, and always lots of laughs.

17.  Something else that make me laugh every day are my 2 cats.  Lapiz, the black one, is this lanky, mischievous fiend.  She likes to provoke the other kitty and is only affectionate when she obviously wants something, like food or to wake you up for no apparent reason.  We named the calico Serena because she's just so serene. My brother calls her "Pillow" because she's just so dang plump and soft.  She likes sleeping in the bathroom sink, has the funniest scratchy mew, and she's constantly trying to sneak nibbles of our food.

18.  I can't really blame her, though, especially when it has "I Can't Believe it's Not Butter" spread on it.  yuuummm.....  yeah, I need that stuff every day.

19. My days also need something resembling organization.  I am so NOT type "A", I'm pretty sure I'd be a type "Z" if it existed.  In an attempt to achieve some semblance of order I have cork boards in almost every room.  I pin up permission slips, recipes, photos, ads, the kids' homework and good grades, project ideas, keys, bread, apples, very small rocks, cider, grey gravy, cherries, mud, churches!  oops.. I slipped into a quote.

20.  And finally, rather unrelated to the last "need", I need mountains.  I need to see them, from majestically towering before me, to lovely and steady far away.  I dream of living on one, thick with fresh trees, jagged rocks, wildlife, silent except for the music of rustling leaves, the songs of birds and the gentle thrum and pitter-patter of mountain rain.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

13 Months Overdue

I can hardly believe it's been over a year since I last posted... sounds like a typical journal entry. I shouldn't be so surprised.  If only my blogging skills were as strong as my Facebook skills.

the whole crew Veteran's Day 2013

It's been a big year in the Olsen household.  So let me recount everything that's happened...
HA!  In the words of  Inigo Montoya,
"No, there is too much. Let me sum up"

Fred stayed in Texas until he finished up training in July.

out to eat at Cici's Pizza the day he got home

In February I turned 30.  I got lovely flowers from my hubby, but the accompanying box of chocolates was inedibley chalky.  And that was it.  Most uneventful birthday ever. 

Also in February Gregory's Pinewood Derby car got to race at the next level after winning for his division in our ward.  Granted, he was the only Bear...  We were immensely proud!

Another great surprise in February was Fred sneaking a trip home.  We didn't tell the kids.  In fact, Fred arrived at the annual Renaissance Festival after our eldest got there with an earlier group- the reunion was wonderful.  And we had tons of geeky fun that day...

My brother so rocks his lederhosen he got on his mission in Germany.

The kids and I lived with my family until March when we were able to move into a rental 1 1/2 miles down the road.  I absolutely LOVE this house!  Even though it backs up to a busy road.  But that road pared with our very nice, almost deaf elderly neighbors, means the kids can be as rambunctious as they want to in the back yard!

 Kai posing in the family room the day we got the key

In May Fred and I celebrated 11 years together and 5 years active duty Air Force.  Our youngest also turned 4.  We celebrated with an epic Superman themed birthday party.  The big man himself came and the kids helped him stop the villain from stealing all the birthday presents!  

We somehow survived the summer, spending lots of time at the neighborhood pool.  And Minecraft.  Lots of Minecraft.  We managed to squeeze in a fun camping trip on the mountain by my dad's childhood town, Globe, AZ.

At the neighborhood pool.
Minecraft Legos!

on the mountain top with my dad and several million lady bugs

Probably the biggest perk of the summer (after Fred coming home) was seeing my extended family- this only happens maybe once a year.  For some people only every 4 years.  Cousins came from Utah, Ohio and even China!  We had SUCH a wonderful time- I really have the best family!
my goofy sister taking pictures of our Ohio family

Man, I LOVE these guys!!

I SO wish everyone in this picture had been there, but alas, only the back row.  3 of them live in China and the rest are Utah people.

Leora turned 6 in August.  We had a big family birthday tea party. 

birthday girl center

Also in August, the new school year started up!  The kids started at a new school, which we LOVE!
First Day of school

September is our busy month.
Gregory turned 10.  He had a Minecraft themed birthday party.  Shocker.

Charla was born on Fred's birthday 8 years ago, so it was cause for celebration!  She had a big pirate-themed birthday party, as per Jensen tradition which started with my 8th birthday.
The birthdayers

Kai walking the plank while trying to eat a donut on a string

My dad the pirate.  This is (NO LIE) the costume his mom sewed for him when he played George Washington in high school.  It has served as 8th birthday Pirate costume 7 times now!

My grandparents (the grandma who sewed the costume) getting in the party spirit

Charla was baptized in October with the other kids from our ward who turned 8 in September.  It was a beautiful occasion and we were so happy to have so much family come.  

My sister Anja took absolutely stunning pictures of my girl.

Feeling the love!

Also in October our family got 2 people bigger when the Nicolds sisters, Haile and Kayla, moved in.  They are now official aunts to my kids and we love having them here.
One of many fun mornings.  This time we watched movies late into the night, sleeping in the living room.

Later in the Fall Gregory earned his Bear.

Fred participated in the Tucson Veteran's Day parade by marching with other Airman also stationed here.

In November I had the amazing privilege of being there for the birth of my first nephew, little Caleb.

Also in November I opened up my own Etsy shop I named Fun Duds for Little Dudes, by Debbie Does That.  I sell handmade fun stuff, mostly for little boys.  Since then I've sort of branched out a bit.  I love it!

much is inspired by my little hooligan. 

We enjoyed a great Thanksgiving out in Ajo, AZ with Fred's siblings, their families and his parents.  It was a great day- all the cousins have such a blast whenever they get to see each other.  We wish the ones in Ajo were closer.

Like for most people, December was a bit of a blur.
We decorated the outside with life-size cutouts from the Disney show "Phineas and Ferb".  We plan on adding more characters each year.

There were school performances.
It was so great having family come to support the kiddos!

My brother graduated from the UofA with a bachelors in both History and German!  SO very much proud of him!
Kai was so done by the end of the ceremony!

We celebrated the All-together Olsen family Christmas the Sunday before.  We were all cozy at Fred's parents.  Everyone had a wonderful time.  
note that I have possession of my nephew.  Never mind the deranged expression on my face.  Who knows...

The Olsen brothers proudly sporting the T-shirts our beloved Aunt Sally sent them.

Christmas Eve was wonderful.  We did our traditional German dinner, all dressed up in our Christmas best. 
My mom made all the food and even brought the beautiful dishes we used

As per German tradition, the kids have to either recite a poem or sing a song before they can open their presents.

Blowing out the candles on the Advent wreath that had been lit by the Kristkindl while we drove around looking at Christmas lights and singing fun Christmas songs.

Christmas Day the kids woke up to a 14' trampoline Santa had delivered.  Yeah, they were psyched.  Almost as psyched as I was about getting a swing that is not only beautiful but even lays down into a bed!  YAY!

New Years was nice, too.  The girls were invited to a party just for the 8-11 year old girls from church (but they let Leora come, too).  I stayed for a while and did all the girls' hair up.

Having way too much fun with sparklers.

I love me my man!

Now that we're 1/2 way through January I can stop this post.  I wasn't quite at good as "summing up" as I had intended.  I guess I just realized what a wonderful, eventful year it actually was.  

This year looks to be a big one, too.  Thank goodness we get to share it with those we love most!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Broken Arm, but not Broken Spirit

Let me preempt this by assuring that everything turned out as well as it could have.  I know for absolute certain that the prayers from many loving family and friends helped make it so.

Also, I would have kept people better informed, except that that morning I left my phone at the store by accident, so I was limited to my mom's ancient phone.  But at least it had a camera in it, too.

20 years ago, you constantly heard about children breaking their bones when playing on the monkey bars.  These days it’s another venue: the trampoline.  This past Friday my 5-year old became another statistic. 
Leora, my timid, cautious little Kindergartner  was happily jumping on the big trampoline and came down on her left arm wrong- she didn't even fall OFF.  I wasn't there, but fortunately got home less than 10 minutes later. 

My brother, who had been watching the kids, right away iced Leora’s arm.  We braced her arm by cradling it in an old wrist brace and wrapping it with an Ace bandage.  Her sling was my sparkly pink scarf.  She was screaming and crying while I got everything arranged to take her to the hospital. 

My mom, who’s had almost 30 years of practice at motherhood- 9 years as a grandma- thoughtfully grabbed a few provisions (Leora’s favorite blanket, pillows, a sweater…), and we hauled ourselves to UMC (University Medical Center).  By the time we got there, Leora had not only stopped crying, but was bubbly and happy.  She charmed the triage staff with her giggles and characteristic sweetness.

She was in good spirits for the next hour, until she was called back with another little boy whose arm was in a sling.  But I didn't hear any screaming come from his x-ray room next to us. 
*cue my breaking heart*

Shortly later they took us to a room in the ER.  We met with the attending ER doctor, who upon initial examination seemed fairly confident that Leora had probably just jammed her arm.  It wasn't long before he came back with the x-ray results and news: her arm was broken.

The following 6 hours brought MANY doctors, nurses, and even (thankfully) family to our little room in the children’s ER.  The main concern seemed to be about whether she would have nerve damage.  Various people asked her to show them a “thumb’s up”, an “A-OK sign”, and to cross her middle and pointer finger.  Since those requests usually puzzled her, I had her sign her name for them instead.  They were always delighted.  And she was always able to do it.

Fortunately Leora hadn’t eaten anything since before noon, so when it was determined that surgery was necessary, we didn’t have to put it off.  Another trauma patient needed the pediatric orthopedic specialist, so the doctor was already in the building.  They hoped to get Leora in first, while they prepped the other patient, but in the end the other patient’s needs were greater.

At one point before surgery, we managed to get Fred’s parents and my dad into Leora’s room with me and my mom.   My dad teased that the staff might make Leora leave so there wouldn't be too many people in the room.  The doctor was nice enough to pull up the x-ray scans, and we got to see the break for ourselves.  Leora had looked forward to seeing her arm bones, but by then she was blissfully morphined to sleep, after several hours of whimpering and squirming.

It was so great having family there.  My mom and I were overjoyed that my dad snuck dinner in for the 2 of us.  But more than that, Leora got to see them before she zonked out, getting hugs from all, and even a fluffy bunny from Gramma O’sen.  Before everyone left, the grandpas gave her a blessing, which was also reassuring for me.

They wheeled my little princess into the OR at 11:00 that night, 8 hours after the accident.  I had felt my Heavenly Father’s Love keeping me together through the whole ordeal, but as I had to walk away from the doors to the OR, I was finally overcome with emotion.  I’m so grateful that my mom was there with me.  And that I felt so strongly that my Leora would be OK.

The surgery took about ½ an hour, as they had predicted.  They let us back in to see her at about midnight.  She was resting peacefully, her arm neatly wrapped up, concealing the 2 pins securing her humerus bone (upper arm) so that it will heal correctly over the next 4-6 weeks.  Next week they’ll cast it, once the swelling has gone down.

(we had a great view from our room!  It was beautiful at night, too)

At 1:00am we were finally led to her room.  I was afraid the machines would keep her up, but she was able to drift off and stay asleep until 7:30am.  My mom stayed by her side while I slept a bit on the fold out couch bed thingy.  In the morning they cleared Leora to eat regular food after she kept down liquids just fine.  She enjoyed French toast sticks and a little bowl of grapes.  The grapes were kind of tart, so when we asked if she was going to eat them, she assured us that she’d already eaten one.

Again, the staff was great.  She was her happy little self, if not a bit sleepy.  At first it looked like we might have had to stay the entire day there, but in the end they were able to release us at about noon. 
Her biggest complaint through the whole ordeal wasn’t even her broken arm.  She hated the IV in her right arm and she was very hungry, repeatedly reminding us to take her to Chick-fil-A when it was all over.  Of course, moving her arm was terribly painful, especially before the surgery, but all in all I think it went as well as it could have.

Now for some “highlights” of the experience… or at least moments that made me (and others) smile:

She was a little scared when she met the first doctor.  He was very relaxed and cheerful, so she warmed up to him quickly.  Out of the blue she asked, “Do you have any elevators?”
He chuckled and assured her that they do.  When she asked if she could go on one, he made a deal with her that she could, whenever she finished the picture she was coloring (this was before we knew her arm was broken and that we’d be there for a long time).  The next time she saw him, she immediately asked, “How many elevators are there??”  The next morning she was excited when we assured her that she would get an elevator ride, since we were on the 5th floor.  It was just so sweet to how such a little thing could be such a happy distraction for her.

While waiting for our turn in the OR, Leora started crying more, feeling the pain and fatigue.  In mid sob her eyes fluttered wide open and she brightly asked, “Will I get a pink Christmas tree for Christmas??”  My mom and I seized the distraction, asking her what kind of ornaments we should get, whether we’ll top it with a star or an angel, where we’ll put it… They’re relatively cheap, so we assured her that we’ll have one.

When the night staff got us settled in our room after surgery, they asked if there was anything they could get to help soothe her.  We mentioned her cat obsession, which sent the ladies on a hunt to find anything cat themed.  When she woke up in the morning, she had a little hand sewn kitty in one arm, and her bandaged arm was resting on a pillow that had a pillowcase with a Christmas kitten pattern, that she got to bring home as well.

Throughout the entire ordeal, we made a point of telling people about how much she loves kitties, so she was delighted that everyone wanted to know about her pets, her favorite toys, why she loves cats… it was perfect.

Anyone who knows Leora well, knows she has an intense, irrational fear of dogs.  We’ve tried to help her get over it for years, but it persists.  Well, the staff had already completed the discharge papers, removed her IV and we were preparing to leave, when there was a soft knock and someone opened the door.  In padded a big yellow lab with one of the hospital patient support people.  Of course Leora’s initial reaction was fear, but we convinced her that Morgan was a sweet, gentle dog.  They even got him to lie flat on the floor, except for his tail happily wagging.  Leora bravely pet him a few times.  I was so proud of her, and grateful that their kind gesture didn’t end in a traumatized 5-year old.

(building with the magnetized nuts in a sort of library/activity room in the children's wing) 

The children’s wing of the hospital is incredible.  It’s only about 2 years old, so we hadn’t even known it existed until yesterday.  As when we arrived at the ER the previous day, Leora was in bouncy high spirits when we left the hospital.  She loved every little thing we passed, especially a corridor that was rigged with cameras, so that the projected screen interacted with her whenever she passed close to the wall (i.e. the wall appeared covered in butterflies that would scatter when she came close to the wall).  There were also numerous buttons all throughout.  Some produced sounds, others lights… Her favorite was the button that signaled a model train to emerge from its tunnel and chug around a platform above our heads.  We told her how much her model train enthusiast Uncle Ralph would have loved to see it with her.

As promised, we took her to Chick-fil-A on our way home.  She started expiring as we pulled in to the restaurant, but she still managed to enjoy her waffle fries and a chocolate milk.  She drifted blissfully off to sleep when we got home.  When she woke a few hours later, it was as if she didn’t even have a cast.  I was constantly getting after the kids to calm down so she wouldn’t get accidentally bumped.  She has been bright and happy ever since.

We are so deeply grateful for the love and support from so many dear family and friends- I only wish my loving husband could have been here.  I find it so ironic that Leora ended up being the first child to break a bone, especially compared to her rambunctious siblings.  But it’s also clear that she’ll get through this with the most grace of the bunch.  

“Leora” means “Light or light hearted” in Hebrew.  I don’t think any other name could fit her more perfectly.