Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!


I know this will sound bizarre, but Halloween has already come and gone for Ohio! Actually, they call it "Beggar's Night" here. Instead of everyone Trick-or-Treating on the night of October 31st, the area is divided and each is assigned a different night to "beg" for candy on the week of Halloween.

Us non-native Ohians are seriously puzzled by this. As we were going door to door in our neighborhood yesterday, I finally heard some theories. Supposedly, a LOOONG time ago, there was a big problem with hoodlums causing trouble on Halloween. In an attempt to deal with the problem and make the occasion safer for the young Trick-or-Treaters, it was decided to have various nights before Halloween designated for the treat gathering.

The second reason is that Ohians are SO passionate about football, they will do anything to make sure nothing will keep them from attending a game, even Halloween. I wouldn't be surprised if that reason is true.

Tuesday was our ward's Trunk-or-Treat, which I was in charge of. Unfortunately, I came down with the stomach flu, so I couldn't go, but freinds took Gregory and Charla for me, but I was SO disappointed not to go!

SO, we were assigned October 30th to go "begging". I bundled my kids up, sending Charla into a screaming fit when I forced a turtleneck under her Belle dress. It took a while, but she eventually let it go (about 1/2 hour later). I actually had Teletubby costumes for all three, but (who's really surprised?) at the last minute Charla maintained her "Princess" status and refused to be La-La.


We went with another family. Their girls match Gregory and Charla in age... it's so cute to see such great, little friends.

Leora was sedated by her juice cup for pretty much the whole thing. I didn't even bring her bucket along. Boy, I remember taking 1 1/2 month old Gregory Trick-or-Treating and definitely bringing his bucket!

By the end, the kids were losing steam fast.

They trudged up a few last driveways before calling it a night.

(the frustration of trying to pick up candy with Teletubby paws)

It was a great night! The kids got some great candy (and lots we won't be keeping). It was a relief to finally put them to bed! On to Christmas!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Forecast I Never Saw in Tucson

I'd never even HEARD of snow showers until today! I didn't see any snow myself, but I would totally believe the prediction. It was a chilly, wet day!!

Granted, I loved it. I guess I'm still that deranged Arizonan who lives for rainy, gloomy, overcast days. What can I say... I prefer long sleeves and cuddling on the couch, over lying sprawled out, fans everywhere, sweating.

"You Know What You Are, Mama..?"

About the time we started teaching Gregory his most basic manners, Fred made a special effort to drive home one rule:

Ladies First.

I think Gregory understood a long time ago, although he still resists at times. Well, tonight I was wrapping up some things upstairs and told him to go ahead downstairs and that I'd meet him in a minute.

I heard him make it about half way down and then he quickly thump back up the stairs. He had his hands neatly folded behind his back and politely asked me, "You know what you are, mama?"

I wasn't sure where he was going with this, so I asked him to tell me.

"You're a LADY! And ladies go first! So I will wait until you are done to go down the stairs."

YAY for Fred!

How I Told Fred

To be honest, I didn't think I was pregnant before I took the test. In the past there were little clues that tipped me off, some bigger than others. But this time- NOTHING, besides being "late"... which wouldn't be too weird.

So when I took the test, more out of curiosity than hope, I was a little taken aback! Now I had to scramble to come up with some clever way to tell Fred! Considering that my husband was "in on" the fact that we were trying to conceive, I had to think really hard about how I could tell him creatively without him immediately catching on... Yes, I'm cheesy. Heck, how many times do you get to tell your husband he's going to be a dad for the 4th time?

We already had a babysitter lined up so I could take him out early for his birthday, since I wouldn't be able to take him out ON his birthday due to work. I ran to the base travel information office and grabbed a handful of brochures for various destinations like Disney World, Sea World, etc.

At home I made up my own.
(front/back)

(inside)

When we got to the restaurant, we ordered and then had to wait. That was my opportunity!

I worked up to it casually, explaining that I had crunched some numbers and figured out that if we started saving now, we could surely do something really great for our 7th anniversary (also my due date). So I handed him one brochure at a time. He was genuinely excited, perusing each one thoughtfully.

I handed him my homemade one last. If you click on the pictures, you should be able to view them full-size. Basically, it was a tri-fold, the front 2 covers toted it like a resort, but I worded it carefully. I could tell he looked a little puzzled that I'd pick a brochure up that was so obviously less flashy compared to the others.

Inside is a picture of a hospital room. At first he tried to figure it out. Then it was exactly like I hoped it would be. His mouth dropped open, his eyes huge. He looked at me in excited disbelief. My eyes were already flooding... I'll blame the hormones. Finally he asked, "Are you... pregnant!?"

I could only grin and nod. He stretched across the table and gave me a kiss. Perfect. I was so light-headed with the excitement he was radiating. He admitted he had NO idea I was working up to THIS, and said it was the best thing he could imagine doing in May.

How We Told the Family

Being far away from family (and even if we were still in Tucson) we had to be creative with how we broke our pregnancy news.

Telling my family was simple and sweet. I called my mom on her birthday, September 17th (I found out on Gregory's birthday, September 15th) and asked her, "What happened on your birthday exactly 20 years ago today?" She didn't hesitate.

"That morning I found out I was pregnant with Lars, and crawled back in bed. Then your father invited the whole branch over to wake me up by singing happy birthday to me in my room and then we all ate breakfast." (We were stationed at the Naval Base in Rota, Spain)

So I told her, "Well, I can't cram the ward in your room for birthday breakfast, but I can tell you that you're going to have another grandbaby." It just seemed perfect.

So I swore them to secrecy, because I had big plans for telling Fred's family. I had come up with it long before we got pregnant and it had "Olsen" written all over it...

I wanted it to be a total surprise, but hoped that my method of deliverance wouldn't make them suspect. Eric's birthday on October 18th was perfect. Sending a package then wouldn't be suspicious, and I'm sure they figured any pregnancy announcement would come at Christmas, like it has in the past.

I kept the First Response box that my test came in AND the individual foil wrapper the pee stick itself came in. Then I grabbed 2 popsicle sticks and wrote on one, "Yes, we're pregnant, too" (my sister-in-law is 7 weeks ahead of me). On another I wrote, "You didn't REALLY think I'd send you the actual pee stick, did you?" I taped them together, written sides facing out, trying to imitate the shape of a real pregnancy test.

My in-laws are huge duct tape fans, so I first "sealed" the foil wrapper containing my popsicle sticks with a piece of duct tape. I put it in the original box, wrapped that first in paper and then in duct tape (so not to rip away the box's labels when he unwrapped it).

My sisters-in-law were awesome. They schemed with me and were ready with the camera when it was birthday party time. They also called both Fred and I on cell phones so we could "be there" for it.

Without further a due, here's the video of Fred's family finding out about our #4:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chilly Ohians

So, temperatures in Ohio have plummeted. 2 weeks ago it was still fairly warm, hanging around the mid-lower 80's (still 50-80% humidity).

Well, sometime last week we got a tiny bit of rain and the warm weather was gone for good! Now when I walk Gregory to the bus stop at 8:15, there's a layer of frost on everything. The first day I noticed it, was as I was walking back home from the bus stop, through the carpet of leaves. I realized each beautiful leaf was glistening with a million tiny ice crystals. Breathtaking!

(I didn't take the pictures, but that's how it looks)

This morning I finally checked the actual temperature. When I take Gregory to the bus, it's under 40! That's certainly new for me... and it's still Fall! Winter is going to be a whole new experience... but we're excited for it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

9 Weeks Along and 9 Weeks to Go

Yesterday marked my 9th week of pregnancy AND made it exactly 9 weeks until Fred gets home!

I spent a good chunk of the day baking Halloween cookies. Some are for Lars, the rest to door-bell ditch later that night. We had some little friends over to help. I had to keep getting on Gregory's case for treating the cookie dough like play dough. Kids.

We also baked cupcakes to deliver with the cookies. When I was a kid my very favorite treat to make was this cupcake recipe that you followed and then when they were cooled enough, you rolled up tiny messages and secretly stuck them in the cupcakes. I had no trouble finding cheesy Halloween riddles to print out and Gregory had a blast rolling them up and jamming them inside the cupcakes. We included a warning to "check your cupcake" before diving in.

When it came time to do the doorbell ditching, Gregory was put out that he didn't get to do it, but I promised him he'll get to do it next year when papa is here to help.

All in all, it was a fun day. Let's just say, I was ready to turn in shortly after the kids did, which is rare!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Leora Walking" Video Clip

I tried to attach this to the post about FHE, but my internet was running slow. I didn't got good video of her laughing, but now the world can see her totter around!


video

Monday, October 20, 2008

Elder Uncle Lars for FHE

For those who don't know, my brother Lars has been called to serve in the Germany Munich/Austria Mission. Of course it was special considering that my mom is from there, but the really neat part is that it's the same mission my dad served in!! My dad met my mom at church a couple years later while on exchange with the German Navy.

Lars has been at the MTC for several weeks now and is having the time of his life (not surprising). I got a letter from him today and got excited. Of course it was mostly because I was glad he had responded to mine, but also because it was my inspiration for FHE!

We sang "I Hope They Call Me On A Mission" for both opening and closing songs. Gregory actually volunteered to say the opening prayer, which is a HUGE deal because for some reason he always declines when it's prayer time. I quickly read and expounded on Alma 43:1-2, which basically explains in a nutshell the nature of missionaries and missionary work.

Then we trucked on over to the dining table and the kids dictated letters to Lars. They were adorable! If people want, I'll post them. I taped Leora's paper to the table and let her have at it with a marker (brave, I know).

Gregory and Charla also got to color theirs. Charla's cracked me up. She very enthusiastically explained that she was drawing all the members of the Jensen family. She would point to a scribble and declare who it was. "Uncle Lars, Anja, Dora, Oma, mama, papa, etc..." Fred is the pink scribble.

Then Gregory helped mix sugar cookie dough. When he gets home from school tomorrow we'll bake some cookies and then mail them, along with the letters, to Elder Uncle Lars.

Again, I was pleasantly surprised how smoothly it all went. I was also impressed at all the things Gregory named that missionaries do: pray, tell people about the Book of Mormon, work, go to church, sing... He didn't mention "eat".

Anyways, we're all super psyched for Lars. He'll get to spend Christmas actually in the mission field! I think it's safe to say we're all a little jealous. At least our Christmas will (well, might) be white!

In addition to our lesson, the Halloween Cookie Phantom struck and we found a gift bag of treats on our front step. You might say the kids were excited. Maybe the incentive of getting a piece of candy and blowing bubbles after FHE helped keep those kids in line.

I think Leora enjoyed the bubbles most. I wish I had been able to grab some footage of her when they first started blowing bubbles to her. She squealed with delight, laughing like a cute little hyena.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Defeated

Some sad news...

We didn't make "Yard of the Month."

And just to make it awkward, our neighbors across the street got it! She's my visiting teaching companion and friend, so it's not like I'm bitter... just confused. They have 3 cute pumpkins on their porch and a string of lights over the door. That's it.

(view from our front porch)

I'm starting to suspect that the award goes to the best-kept yard. Theirs is always nicely mown (is that a word?) and they've planted pretty little flowers under the window. It's definitely very nice... I was just surprised :P

I guess I needed humbling.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Good Things That Come in 6

6 consecutive days of (paid) vacation
6 legs, if you're an insect
6 figure income
6 slices of Godiva cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory
6 friends over for game night
6 inches of snow, if you're 10 or younger (and me still!.. haven't experienced it yet)
6 blog post comments
6 (or more) hours of sleep
6 (or less) dishes to wash
6 gallons of gas for under $20
6 days until Fred gets home (instead of the 66 we have left today)
6th of February (my birthday)

and best of all...

6 Ohio Olsen's!!

YES! The 4th baby Ohio Olsen will be joining our little family at the end of May 2009! In fact, our due date is May 25th, on our 7th wedding anniversary (I'd rather not share my anniversary with a child, but who delivers ON their due date anyways, right?).

I'm just almost 9 weeks along, so we've still got a long way to go, but I'm looking forward to wearing Winter Maternity clothes for the first time ever- I have 1 August and 2 September babies! So far pregnancy has been uncommonly kind to me. I am certain that is a direct blessing from God in light of Fred being gone. May it continue!

Taking the Princess Obsession Too Far

I bought this little dress from a thrift store and altered it to be a froofy pink princess dress for Charla. She loves it. We went to the Cincinnati Zoo today and even though the high was only 60 she wore that dress and her Cinderella slippers for the whole 3 hours, not giving into a jacket until the last 20 minutes.

Well, this evening she took the whole obsession too far... I caught her stuffing the chest of her dress with balled up (clean) wet wipes!! I snatched them out and firmly told her we don't cram wet wipes into our dresses.

Inside I was panicking thinking, "AAAH! I'm not supposed to deal with this sort of thing until she's at least 11!!!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Who's on First....

Gregory brings home a different book every day. They are simple books that the kids practice at school and then have to read at home at least 3 times. His teacher said it can be to anyone, even the family cat, but he has to read the book 3 times to someone.

Tonight's book was titled, "Time for School." The teacher has explained that the kids are basically memorizing the books, but they have to follow the words with a finger as they read, developing word recognition. Occasionally Gregory is going off memory and replaces a word with another one. This time he was reading the title and tried saying, "What Time is School."

I wouldn't let him continue reading the book until he read the title correctly. I pointed to the first word, "Time" and asked, "What is that word?"

He said, "What."

I said, "No honey, let's sound it out... 'T-I-M-E.' What does that say?"

"What."

This went on for a couple minutes before I realized that no matter how I approached it, I was using the word "what" in reference to "Time" and he thought I was TELLING him "what" was the first word. In the end I simply told him that the first word was "time" and we moved on.

When he read it again, he got it right. I couldn't help thinking of Abbott and Costello.

Carrots and Division

We had steamed carrots with dinner tonight. Gregory's not a big veggie fan, so I tried hyping up the carrots by telling him about their "Secret Power" to help him see in the dark. He seemed mildly intrigued, but wasted no time trying to talk his way out of eating the 3 measly carrots on his plate.

Finally I gave him the option of eating all 3 or just 2. Of course he went for 2. So he reluctantly picked up his carrot. Then he grins. He breaks it in half and eats both halves at once. Then he announces that he ate 2 carrots. Nice try, Einstein.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Why You Should Always Clean Up After Breakfast

This morning I made pancakes for the kids. Instead of pouring the syrup over the pancakes, we pour syrup into a measuring cup so they can dip their pancakes in it.

Well, I had forgotten to clear away the syrup-filled measuring cup. I undressed Leora for lunch, plopped her in her booster seat, and turned to grab her baked potato. When I turned back she had dumped the syrup on the table and was happily licking it up!

I groaned, but reached for the camera before I grabbed the washcloth. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and let me have it when I took it away.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Going for "Yard of the Month"

The people who manage the properties here choose a "Yard of the Month" each month. All I know is that if chosen, you get a sign out front of your house that says, "Yard of the Month". Maybe there's more... who knows.

I found this out last week when in a part of the neighborhood I don't usually see and I saw the sign. PROJECT TIME!

I already had some ideas for the yard, but now they were set in motion! With just a cheap bundle of wooden stakes, some nails, and using the decoarations I've used to imitate fall INSIDE my house for years, I threw together what you see.

I also found out from a neighbor that a farm down the road was selling bales of straw and bundles of corn husks (I was corrected by the farmer, "Corn SOCKS"... but I figure most people think they're husks) for $5 a piece. So we lined the back of the van with a tarp and picked up one of each.

The kids loved the farm. It wasn't one you'd go tour. Just a private farm. But they had some animals freely roaming, so the kids had fun trying to catch them. We had just gone to a huge commercial farm with a petting zoo, the previous weekend, so they figured this was the same.

It was getting dark as I finally plugged in the light strings. PERFECT!

Even if we don't get "Yard of the Month" I love how it turned out. We'll see if I figure out how to add some scarecrows to it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Foggy Morning

Wednesday morning I peeked out my bedroom window and could barely make out the house across the street. The whole area was blanketed in fog. I'm sure most readers will balk at the pictures, saying they've seen MUCH thicker fog, but it was still a neat effect.

It had already thinned out a bit by the time I snapped the pictures, but it stuck around for most of the morning.

This is the first true fall I've ever experienced and I absolutely love it. This area is simply beautiful.

Yesterday my GPS took me onto this rural road that cut across some countryside. The trees are all vibrant yellow, red, orange and some still green. Fields are either ripe for harvesting or just have been. I was driving through a wooded area and saw an awesome sight. Apparently I was passing an Amish farm. At least a dozen young people were gathered on bales of hay being instructed by an adult, all dressed like they'd just stepped out of the 18th century. SO cool.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Baby is WALKING!!!

Yesterday Leora took her first true steps!

She's been standing for months and walks freely along things, but last night she actually walked several steps to me! She was absolutely beaming, clapping for herself as the kids and I cheered her on. I'm SO proud of her!

I would put up video, but can't find the cable to connect the camera to the computer.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

YAY For Tucson Thrift Stores!

Last year I came across a real find at a local thrift store in Tucson. It was a rain cover for a double jogging stroller. Not just any stroller- for our model! I reasoned that anywhere the military sent us, would likely get more rain than Tucson, so I bought the cover.

It rained all last night and into the morning, so I pulled it out. It was great! The walk to the bus stop didn't get the girls one bit wet... the same could not be said for me. Oh well, I still LOVE the rain!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Clever Men and Their Treadmills

So my friend just posted this on her blog and I feel I should share the laughs... or at least amusement. These guys are nuts!

Monday, October 6, 2008

FHE: The USofA

For FHE (Family Home Evening) tonight I thought it would be a good idea to give the kids an idea of where Fred is, although I realize it's a pretty abstract concept for little children.

Every month we get an animated video in the mail from LDS Living Scriptures. We've accumulated a good collection of stories about Book of Mormon, Bible, and latter-day Heroes. We have one about Christopher Columbus, so I put that on for the kids while I printed out stuff for the lesson.

I got my hands on a globe at Goodwill this morning for $0.99. It doesn't have a stand, but you can still read everything fine. I printed out a map of the US with labeled states and then individual copies of the US with just the outlined states for the kids to color. I also opened up the Book of Mormon to 1 Nephi where it talks about Christopher Columbus being inspired to search West, finding the Americas.

By a sheer miracle I was able to get my restless crew to the table. They survived a song and prayer. Then, to my surprise, they actually enjoyed learning (briefly) about how Christopher Columbus found America despite the current popular belief. A special touch I hadn't anticipated was showing them where Spain was on the Globe and telling them about how their Opa was stationed there, so I lived there when I was little. They loved that part. The globe was an awesome visual, and ironically, I hadn't even considered what we were going to do for FHE when I bought it. Another one of those tender mercies :)

I let them help arrange the pieces of the map in the right order. Gregory had a blast finding Ohio and Arizona and Mississippi. Even when it was all over, he was still able to find those states.

(his unfinished masterpiece)

All 3 enjoyed coloring their maps of the US. Gregory's is now proudly displayed on our fridge. We wrapped it all up with Gregory's favorite, chocolate pudding. Despite the mayhem that has ruled my house most of the day, FHE was actually really nice.