Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"The Nativity"- performed by The Olsen's

For FHE yesterday we carried on a Jensen family tradition. Every year, for as long as I can remember, the family has acted out the Nativity story right before Christmas. All three of my children have played the part of baby Jesus, since they were still infants for their first Christmas.

I was surprised how much our little ones enjoyed acting out the story. Even Leora was enthusiastic, just following everyone around.

Fred - Donkey, shephard
Debbie - narrater, inn keeper
Gregory - Joseph
Charla - Mary
Leora - Angel

A long, long time ago Mary and Joseph had to walk a long, long way to Bethlehem. The Baby Jesus was in Mary's tummy, and was almost ready to be born, so she had to ride on a donkey.

When they got to Bethlehem, it was very busy. When they tried to find an inn (or hotel) to stay at, all the inn keepers told them that all the rooms were full. One nice inn keeper took them to a stable to stay. It was smelly and there were animals, but it was warm.

That night baby Jesus was born. Mary wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger. Joseph watched out to keep them safe.

Not far away, there were shephards watching their sheep. Suddenly, an angel appeared to them! She told them not to be scared, but that she had great news that would make them very happy. In Bethlehem a king was born named Jesus Christ. She told him where to find Him, and then there were hundreds of angels who were so excited that they were singing.

The shephards went to see the baby Jesus. They loved Him and then went back to Bethlehem to tell everyone what they had seen.
(Gregory refused to switch roles from Joseph to Wise Man, so we just told about the 3 Kings finding the baby Jesus by following the star).

They were all so reverent and cooperative! It was a great evening :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shout-Out to Uncle David

Gregory's class had its "Winter" party today. He came home with a backpack full of goodies. The first he insisted eating was a package of Lego fruit snacks. As you can see, he put them to good use before scarfing them down.
Another cute thing he brought home was a baggie of oats mixed with some red and green sprinkles. It came with a note that instructs to sprinkle the "reindeer food" on your lawn the night before Christmas, so Santa's reindeer can enjoy a snack while he makes his delivery.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reverent Baby

About a month ago, Leora started kneeling with us at family prayer every night, all on her own. It's so cute- she looks so tiny!

The other night Leora ate dinner early, so she was wondering around the table when Gregory sat down to eat. As always, I announced that we needed to bless the food.

Without missing a beat, Leora stopped and dropped to her knees, her little hands folded on her lap. It was adorable!!

Salt is My Best Friend

I always laughed at the signs in Tucson before the bridges that warn, "Ice forms on bridge first." I always thought, "WHAT ice?" Let me tell you, in Ohio you don't need bridges for ice... driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, door mats, grass- they all work, too.

We had steady rain yesterday. Instead of absorbing or evaporating, it steadily formed a 1/2 inch layer of ice by the evening. I didn't discover this until I sent Gregory to put the recycables out by the trashcan outside. I always challenge him to run as fast as he can, so he won't get too cold. Well, he took one leaping step out the front door and ended up slipping and skidding several feet, all sprawled out- wipe out! He was first in shock and then cried... poor lil' guy.

I had an appointment at 9:00 this morning at the church. I was TERRIFIED to drive there. I called ahead and was assured that the roads were well salted, but they warned that the church parking lot was a solid sheet of ice. Well, they were right about both. Driving there was fine, but navigating the parking lot was a trip. Even more entertaining was watching people walking on it- me included. I never wiped out, but by the time I was done, my nerves were shot!

I wanted to lock myself up in my house for the rest of the day, but I had promised to go to a cookie exchange up the street. Driving 5 houses up seemed silly, so I bundled my girls and buckled them securely in the stroller. We somehow made it there, and later back, without falling, but I slipped often, even on the grass.

I still don't mind the cold, but I can live without the ice. When it melts I'll be making a visit to Walmart to get ice for my driveway.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Survived!

This past Friday evening was our ward's Christmas Dinner... and I was in charge.

I've been warned by many people that this is the "big to-do" of the year. I imagine it's like that in most wards, but this is my first time even being on an activities committee, let alone calling the shots! I'm blessed with a great group of ladies on my committee, including the previous Activities Chair. I would have been lost without them!

I spent 3 evenings before the dinner putting up decorations, in an attempt to limit the Friday stress as much as possible. I'm glad I did! It was nice to have a creative outlet at my own pace.

I wanted to try to pull a bit of a spiritual theme into the evening, so the posters said, "He Came to Save All Men." We encouraged people to bring international side dishes and desserts. I hoped there would be a good response, considering that at least 1/3 of the ward is military and plenty of the men are RM's. Plus, so many of us are descendants of immigrants, so I hoped some would have family dishes to share.

My committee and I prepared 200 servings of chicken, 3 hams, 30 pounds of rice and a couple gallons of gravy. The rolls, salads, sides, and desserts were all potluck. The amount of potluck was perfect and we had extra meat and rice. We were going off last year's attendance, which I think was on a Saturday, so it didn't compete with as many work parties.

I got really lucky finding decorations at Good Will and the Dollar Tree. I bought a bunch of old National Geographics from the thrift store. I cut out and matted about 40 pictures of people from various countries.

The building has its own projector, so I made a slideshow of labeled pictures of people from around the world that ran continuously through dinner. I made a seperate mix of music that we played over the PA. The version I uploaded on YouTube is quicker and I added music with it.

In an attempt to control the inevitable running, screaming kids, I arranged for one of the Young Women to do an ornament craft with the kids in the nursery when they were done eating. It worked out pretty nicely, and she also completed one of her Young Women projects :)

The Primary planned on the kids doing the Nativity, but the children were so wired, they just managed to get them in costumes and sing a couple songs. To close we sang "Silent Night". I had printed out the lyrics for the 1st verse in English, French, Spanish and German. I challenged them to attempt singing one of the foreign languages. During the song I realized I hadn't asked anyone to say the closing prayer so I nudged the guy next to me and he graciously stepped up.

I had dreaded the clean-up so much, that I didn't even plan it before-hand. I was relieved when many, many people stuck around and helped. Some were with me until we closed the doors. I had pawned off Gregory and Charla to different families (my LIFESAVERS!), but I knew Leora would refuse to go to anyone, so I stuck her in my baby back-pack. She was content there, except when I had to take things out to the car. It was snowing.

Miraculously, all was said and done an hour after it ended! By the time I had collected my children and dragged myself into the house I was utterly exhausted! The mounting stress had landed me with a fierce cold earlier that week, that had evolved into an ear infection, so I was a little disoriented for most of the night. I somehow managed to get my kids in bed and drag myself to the couch to fall, blissfully, to sleep!

All in all, I'd say it was a success. People enjoyed it, so that's what mattered most. On Sunday the Bishop acknowledged me and told the congregation to thank me :P I was just relieved to not get any complaints! Maybe everyone just felt bad for the pregnant mom with 3 kids whose hubby was gone. I wouldn't mind doing it again next year, assuming those conditions will be better :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Royal Snack, Not-Cotton Candy, and "I'm 'Cleaning' My Room"

I thought I'd roll 3 cute posts into 1 :) My girls crack me up...

Pretzel sticks are a popular snack in our home. A couple days ago I asked Charla what she'd like for a snack.

"Prince-els," she replied.

I asked, "PRETZELS?"

She arrogantly stuck her nose up, closed her eyes and corrected me, "No. PRINCE-ELS." How silly of me to offer a princess anything else.


Leora was helping me with the laundry today. She did well throwing dirty clothes in the hamper and was excited about moving loads from the washer to the dryer to the basket. I was almost finished transferring a load when I noticed her face.

It looked disgusted. I fished my finger through her mouth and pulled out a wad of lint. She must have scooped out a little handful and popped it in her mouth. I never realized how much lint looks like cotton candy. Apparently the taste doesn't compare.


I had just finished dressing the girls after bathtime, so we were all in their bedroom, almost ready for bed. Then Charla announced, "I'm cleaning my room!"

I was pleased that she had decided to pick up the stuffed animals and few scattered clothes, but then laughed when I realized she meant it literally. She had grabbed a wet wipe and was very vigorously "cleaning" the walls, Leora's crib, the dresser.... I must say, she was thorough.
But it's still cluttered.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pulling the Blonde/Pregnant Card

You can all stop feeling sorry for me, point your fingers and laugh.

Yes, I found the pictures, tucked neatly away in the file I created for my Ward calling, which was, by the way, nowhere NEAR the "My Pictures" file, so I'm still blaming the PC for the mistake.

I still don't trust the computer, but at least I have the pictures back- I've not been so lucky in the past.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Never Trust Your Camera's Memory Card

So, I told the computer to copy-and-paste a couple hundred pics from my camera to "My Pictures" on the hard drive. It went through the motions, so when it was "complete" I deleted the pictures I had just transferred from the memory card, so it would be ready for a few more hundred. Bad idea.

I went to sift through the pictures and, low and behold, not a single one had transferred. And now they were GONE. I checked every single folder on the dumb pc. Finally, I walked away from the computer (so that I wouldn't throw it through the window) and had a good cry. Of course, every picture anyone takes is a one-of-a-kind, but these were so precious to me...

All the pictures of us celebrating German Christmas traditions. In Germany the kids put their shoes out on December 5th and (if they've been good) they find surprises in their shoes the next morning. I had the greatest shots of Gregory's excitement when he found his stuffed shoe and unwrapped the surprise. Then later of him putting the puzzle together that he had unwrapped and proudly showing it off. Now the puzzle is put away and isn't the fun new thing anymore.

Every Sunday in December, leading up to Christmas Eve, Germans everywhere have a decorated wreath with 4 taper candles. On the first Sunday of the month you light one candle and talk about the Christmas story. The next Sunday you light 2 candles and tell the story again, repeating the motions the next Sunday with 3 candles and so on. The kids had been unnaturally cooperative for this first lighting. They helped set up a nativity scene and enthusiastically read the story of Christ's birth with me from the large picture book. Again, so many perfect pictures, now GONE.

I had pictures of Gregory romping around in the snow and the cat stalking him in the back yard.

Pictures of the girls dancing with delight when I set up their 4-foot pre-lit PINK Christmas tree (I had a moment of weakness a couple months ago and gave in to the $20 tree). Leora and Charla were so thrilled about the tree, that neither got annoyed with the other over decorating (or in Leora's case, un-decorating) it. A rare moment of love and cooperation (and a ridiculously tacky tree) caught on camera, now LOST.

Cute shots of the kids in various poses they'd fallen asleep in.

The cat being accused of snatching an egg. Gregory claims that Cinders stole an egg from the open carton up on the kitchen counter. When I arrived at the scene, she was happily licking up the raw egg, now broken on the floor. I snapped the greatest shot of her looking guiltily at the camera while lapping up the runny yoke (yuck). I was going to ask whether others thought she looked like she had committed the crime. Now we'll never know.

Charla's preschool class went on a field trip to Krispy Kreme. The staff let them play with the dough and everyone got a free donut (from different dough, of course). The kids were so flippin' cute in their Krispy Kreme hats, and excited, watching the conveyer belt of donuts in various stages of preparation. Leora got to enjoy one, too. Now just a memory.

I had this great shot of Leora examining the fireplace burning on the TV screen. I bet I could try to re-take it, but the novelty of it is gone.

That's just what I can remember. There were so many more, each so sweet and precious to me. SO, everyone learn from MY miserable experience: NEVER trust your PC with your memory stick. ALWAYS double check. ugh.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Snow Play

Little snowflakes have been softly falling since last night, so by now everything is under a blanket of feathery snow. Seriously, the snow is virtually like dust.

Gregory had bugged me all day to go outside. I finally gave in and went out with him while the girls napped. It was so cute watching him stomp around in the shallow snow. We had fun dumping the ice out of toys and finding little "treasures" frozen inside the icy blocks.

Our neighbors have this great swing set they let my kids use. While our yard is practically perfect, theirs extends just a few feet from the house before plunging down several yards. I'd HATE to have to mow that lawn. Well, that neat swing set is set up so when you go down the slide, you end up sliding all the way down the hill.

So how could Gregory resist?

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Glasses and a Laugh for Twilighters

So, about a month ago Leora snapped off the left post of my glasses. I've managed with just one, until the 2nd one had had it and just fell off on its own last week. Since then I've been walking around like a geek, my right post scotch-taped onto the frame. So, I took my updated perscription to Walmart and ordered the cheapest frames I could stand (why do they even MAKE some of those hideous things??).

I picked up the new pair this evening on my way to a friend's Christmas party. When I put them on, everything was suddenly bizarrely sharp and in focus... it made me a little dizzy! Then, being the obsessive dork I am, I related it to that part in the final Twilight book when Bella has been morphed into a vampire and how acutely strong her vision is when she opens her eyes for the first time. I laughed out loud at myself.
Well, I won't complain about better lenses, even if it reminds me that brain might need an adjustment, too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What Charla Thinks of Celebrities

On Sunday I managed to pick up "America's Funniest Home Videos" on our TV. I LOVED watching that show growing up- it was worlds better with Bob Saget. Sure enough, the kids loved it. I was disappointed that most of the show was poking fun at people getting hurt, but the funny animal stuff sent Gregory hyperventilating, he was laughing so hard.

What really cracked me up was Charla's remark to a commercial. It was to let people know that Britney Spears would be on the Morning Show the next day. There were clips of Britney and it ended with her telling people to watch her.
Charla giggled and said, "That's a SILLY Barbie!"

I'd have to agree.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Only Date Night for 12 Weeks

Fred being home has been WONDERFUL! We've stuffed every day with fun family stuff (post to follow). My only worry is how the kids will cope when Fred goes back to Mississippi tomorrow. Luckily it will only be 3 more weeks until he comes home.

Good friends of ours (he was Fred's covert ride home from the airport) were kind enough to watch our kids for us for several hours, so we could go on a date tonight. We went out to this ritzy outdoor mall 15 minutes from home called, "The Greene." I felt a little out of place among all the sophisticated stores, but it's beautifully decorated for the Holidays and it has 2 vitally important attractions: a movie theatre and The Cheesecake Factory.

(I generally avoid pictures of my derier, but I didn't know Fred was taking it, and it captures the square nicely)
My sweet hubby humored me by taking me to see "Twilight" again. And yes, it was much better the second time... for both of us, I think. I could fill him in on what the movie left out and there weren't nearly as many swooning 14-year old's this time.
Then we walked to the restaurant. It was about a 30 minute wait, so we perused the square, admiring the gorgeous decorations and commenting on how much we love living here. We're so blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the country (decorations aside), even though it was about 33 degrees.

The restaurant had a waiting area outside complete with heating towers. We were the only ones out there for a while, so when a fun Christmas song came on, Fred pulled me close and we started dancing to it! It was so fun! A group of teenagers walking by went, "AW!" and were taking pictures of us. I LOVE my man!

The food was great and we ordered our cheesecake to go (my Godiva chocolate cheesecake is calling me from the fridge).

It was SUCH an awesome evening! Thank you to those who helped make it possible! Now I'm gonna go cuddle with my hubby as much as I can before I have to say "goodbye" again tomorrow at 7:00am :(

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sorry, Ladies

This is to inform all that the greatest man on Earth is taken... he's mine!

I'd consigned myself to my first Thanksgiving away from not only family, but my hubby, too. I was sad about it, but this is what we signed up for, and at least he's not deployed and we get him for Christmas.

Last week he told me about a gift he was mailing me. He explained that I would get a series of e-mails, but not to open any of them until he said it was "time." For a fleeting moment I thought he might be coming to visit me and that all the fuss about timing would be around his flight schedule. When he explained on Monday that I'd have to wait until the kids were in bed to start the e-mails, I knew I'd been foolish hoping for a visit.

I made sure the kids were in bed by 8:30 last night and anxiously waited. The mailman had delivered a fairly small package that day, but I was under strict orders from Fred not to open them until he gave the "go." He had insisted it was something I've always wanted. Looking at the small, insignificant package, I had NO idea what could possibly be in it that I've "always wanted."

Finally he sent me an instant message online giving me permission to open the first e-mail, which was telling me to be sure the kids were asleep and reminding me NOT to open the gift yet. Done.

So Fred said I could open the 2nd e-mail. It gave me instructions:
1. Get changed into something very comfortable, such as warm pajamas
2. Grab a warm blanket
3. Make some hot chocolate
4. Turn the lights low in the living room
5. Open the package and proceed to ‘E-mail #3’
6. DO NOT read the letters, yet (the package had 2 letters in it)

He instant messaged me to take as long as I needed to feel totally relaxed. I felt a little funny, but I did as told to get comfy. I finally opened the package and found a DVD and a CD. The CD was Josh Groban's Christmas CD, "Noel". Yes, I really have wanted that one.

The DVD was so unexpected. I've always expressed how badly I want a house with a fireplace. Yes, I know all the hazards and mess they can be, but some of my fondest childhood memories are of sitting near my parents' glowing fireplace, chucking our Christmas wrapping paper into it, cooking chestnuts, warming up by the fire after Christmas caroling, and just the ambiance only a crackling fire can create. So, you pop in this DVD and can select whether to watch a crackling fire full screen, morphing your television into a mantle, or you can view a full fire place, tastefully adorned in holly. You can also opt to watch it with the natural crackling and popping, or with a lovely arrangment of soft instrumental Christmas music.

SO, my instructions were to turn on the fire without the music and turn on the Josh Groban CD, while sipping my hot chocolate and snuggling the cat (I swear the cat was in on it). I was to listen to the first 2 tracks and then open the #1 letter from the package during the 3rd song.

The 3rd song is Josh Groban's adaptation of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" with parts of the song consisting of expressions of love from deployed servicemen to their families. Of course I burst into tears, not for myself, but thinking about all the families and servicemen spending the Holidays apart.

The letter was so sweet. He wistfully told me how much he misses and loves me, often feeling lonely and wishing I was with him. He even made a few adorable comparisons to Twilight's Edward and Bella's feelings for each other. It made me laugh through the tears.

I was then to call him. He didn't answer the first time, which mildly annoyed me, so I tried again a couple minutes later. This time he answered and asked what I thought. I started crying again and he certainly sounded pleased with himself. I told him he's the most wonderful man in the world and that he was right: he had given me something I've always wanted (the "fireplace").

He said I could open the final letter. I struggled to get the tape off #2 and finally opened it to read:

"Please rescue your poor freezing hubbycicle out back! L-l-l-l-l-l-ove!"

I was too stunned for a moment to do anything. I started saying, "NOOOO, no way... no way." I finally got up and turned on the back porch light, opening the blinds. AND there he was, grinning at me! I was SO SHOCKED! I managed to open the door and fell into his arms sobbing. I just couldn't take it all in!

When he kissed me, I teased him that even though he'd been waiting in the cold, his lips weren't icy like Edward's. He laughed and explained he'd only been back there about 1 minute.

Here's how his scheme had worked:
He arranged with our friend Kaylon to pretend to be Fred, instant messaging me with Fred's IM name. He was on the phone with Kaylon, telling him exactly was to type to me, so I NEVER suspected anything on that end.

When Kaylon had told me to "take my time" it was because our friend, who picked up Fred from the airport, missed a turn on the way home. Unlike most logical places in the US, in Ohio when you miss a turn, it may be miles before you can backtrack, so they suddenly didn't know how long it would take to get home.

When I called Fred the time he didn't pick up, it was because he wasn't close enough yet. Our friend drove like crazy and managed to drop Fred off just a couple minutes before I opened that final letter. So Fred never got the chance to get truly icy.

SO, I cuddled with him on the couch in disbelief until we dragged ourselves to bed. I was still not convinced the whole thing wasn't a dream. I had talked myself out of hoping for this!!

This morning was so sweet. When Gregory came in to wake me, he was (obviously) surprised and delighted to find his papa, and crawled right in bed with us, hugging Fred excitedly. The girls were excited, too, although Leora's still warming up to him. They made waffles all together. It's been such a WONDERFUL morning!

SO, as I began, sorry ladies, but the greatest guy in the world is taken... and he's mine.

This is from Good Morning America. It's not the complete song as it is on the CD, but it's definitely worth watching, as they recognize several families and the artist expresses his love for the troops.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Time-Out Buddy

When Gregory goes in time-out, he calms down fast, wanting to get over with it so he can go play again. Not Charla.

She screamed for a solid 45 minutes this evening. I went to find Leora to settle her in for dinner. This is where I found her. She was pleasantly sitting next to Charla, who was screaming on the top of her lungs. She looked like a tiny little support group. I think it may have been aggravating Charla more than anything. Me taking pictures certainly didn't help her mood either.

I just noticed in the picture that someone colored that door to the garage. Where's the Magic Eraser..?

MY Twilight Post

Several weeks ago I finally succumed to that addiction that has swept the nation, and much of the world.


The books are, well, amazing. I hope somebody does some kind of research on why it appeals so much, not just to the swooning 14-year old's, but to pretty much every young mom who picks it up.

And despite the small demographic it specifically caters to (females ages 12-30ish), I saw a handful of women in line for the movie who had long left the "young mom" stage, just as eagerly anticipating the film as the 15-year olds behind us. There were also a nice number of guys, probably trying to prove just how deep their devotion is to their obsessive girl friends/wives.

I went with my visiting teachers to the 10:20pm showing (I think we'll count it as their visit this month, since we chatted in line for 1 1/2 hours). I'm really good friends with them. We were about 30 people from the front of the line. It was entertaining (and pathetic) watching the neurotic 13-year olds trying to cut in line and then lingering around us hoping to squeeze in. We formed a solid wall of bodies to block them. It was so funny :P

ANYWAYS, about the movie itself...

Personally, I enjoyed it. I didn't realize that until after I got home and thought it over. OF COURSE, as with any book-to-movie there were disappointements, some worse than others. Thankfully the audience wasn't screaming and swooning the whole time. I think I'd like to see it again, and take it in more as a movie than as a visual representation of the beloved book. There were some additions to the movie I LOVED, which was unexpected :)

Regardless of the movie, I still LOVE the books. I'm happy for the author that it's been such a tremendous success (she even made a cameo appearance in the movie!). I just hope she still makes her 3 boys earn their mission money on their own.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Adapting AZ Driving Survival

People who live in Arizona have probably heard about "ideas" that can make driving in the scorching heat more bearable...

NEVER get a black car
NEVER have leather seats
NEVER buy a convertable and leave the roof down
ALWAYS park in the shade, no matter how far from destination
When the Car overheats, do the Arizona 4/60... 4 windows down, 60 mph
Driving with oven mitts is genius

Now that it snows, I certainly wouldn't leave my convertible's top down... actually, I'd never even consider GETTING a convertible- it would never fit 4 car seats :P

Tonight I went with a couple friends to see the 10:20 showing of "Twilight", so I drove my sitter home at 1:00am. Luckily I found a great coat at Good Will for $4.00, but my hands were ACHING with the cold- it was about 22 degrees. I laughed out loud when the remedy I thought of first was, "Oooh, I should grab oven mitts!"

Never mind gloves.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Exactly 30% Done

Pregnancy is divided into either:
40 weeks
9 months
3 trimesters
(FEELS like 10 years)

Well, I was bored one day, so I figured out EXACTLY how long each trimester is: 93.3 days or 13.3 weeks.

Which means, today I am EXACTLY one third done.

Cheesy, I know.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Little Nature Artist

(This was taken with a filter application on the camera itself... no other editing... I love my camera!)

Our leaves all fell off our tree at least a month ago. They weren't nearly as interesting as the leaves on the tree across the street. Those leaves had turned a BRILLIANT red for a couple weeks, and then all fell off pretty much in one day, about a week ago.

Since then, every day Gregory walks home from school, he grabs a handful of pretty, red leaves for me. It's just so darn cute! I didn't want to throw them away, so we're garnishing a candle with them. It's just so sweet how every day he proudly marches into the house with the new addition of leaves. I'll be sad when the Pikes finally rake them up and toss them.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Video From 1st Snow

Teaching About Bullying... the WRONG Way

My kids' favorite books right now are the "Little Critter" books, by Mercer Mayer. They're simple, have cute illustrations and always teach a good lesson. I also like that there's a wide variety, so I don't stuck with the same book every night!

Last night Gregory grabbed one we hadn't read yet. It's called, "Just a Bully." I've loved every Critter book before that, so I didn't hesitate reading it for bedtime. Near the end of the book I wish I hadn't.

The story is about the same Critter who is in all the books. This time he defends his little sister from a bully. The bully then starts harrassing him. For most of the story, Critter acts like I hope my child would act- no retaliation, no fighting... he never stoops to the bully's level. At one point he asks as adult for help, but it just makes the bullying worse. In the end the bully hits him and the Critter starts fighting back (after his sister had encouraged to punch the bully the night before). The principal breaks it up and the bully gets in trouble. When Critter gets on the bus all the other Critters give him hi-5's, applauding him. When the bully gets on the bus, the little sister calls him a "fat head" and pushes him down.

The final "moral of the story" is to "stand up for yourself."

I was appalled. I wish I hadn't read it to my kids. We talked about it and I asked what Gregory thought about Critter's behavior. He didn't agree with it (thank goodness), but I still hated the fact that I'd read him a story about his favorite storybook character acting like that.

I considered later how else it should have ended. I know Fred dealt with bullying and, to my knowledge, never fought back. It didn't get better. But he never stooped to their level. Gregory has had to deal with bullies on the bus already. We've always firmly told him to ignore them and focus on something else.
On Amazon.com I read reviews on the books. Most parents were also dismayed, but a few applauded the book, happy that someone is finally taking a "realistic" approach to bullying and insisting that the parents opposed to the book obviously never dealt with being bullied as children.

I welcome any insight on this topic. Did the book have a point about "standing up for yourself" and just didn't present it well? How do you teach a young child to stand up for themselves without adopting the same negative attributes that the bullies have? Or should they just take it all and suffer?

I would hope my son trusts me and his teachers enough to always tell us if he's being bullied, and I hope we'd know how to address the issue so it's taken care of. That darn free agency! It's such a shame that small children sometimes have to suffer because other children misuse that agency.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I LOVE the rain. Even though it was in the low 40's last night, I slept with the window open so I could listen to it. So I was happy, when it was still raining this morning.

The kids were watching the rain at the front door when Gregory exclaimed, "IT'S SNOWING!!"

For some reason I was skeptical, but sure enough, when I peeked outside, big, white flurries were softly falling. I was SURE it would just last a for a couple minutes before the rain would take over, so I threw some boots and jackets on the kids, over their PJ's, and let them go nuts outside.

They had a BLAST. It had been near 60 yesterday, so the ground was too warm for the snow to stick. Charla was scooping up handfuls of water from a puddle, trying to throw it like snow. She cracks me up.
Leora was VERY impatient watching them. I finally managed to get a pair of Charla's boots on her and let her loose. She was DELIGHTED. The boots were way to big for her, so she fell many times, but never once even whimpered. Her tiny hands were red with the cold, but she was just so ecstatic about the white stuff falling all around her, she seemed completely unphased by the cold.
What's funny is that I would take a run of pictures, go to upload them, only to see the snow had picked up some more. So I'd take out the memory card, run out, take some more pictures, and do it again.
By the time I dragged the kids inside, the snow was really coming down (by my standards, I'm sure). The view down the street was obstructed by the snowfall. Leora was downright furious with me for making her come inside. She screamed at the storm door, watching the snow coming down, until I scooped her up, changed her and put her down for a nap.

The kids spent a long time sitting on the windowsill, watching in awe. There was eventually a thin blanket of snow on everything, but now the wind has picked up, the rain took over, and the snow is gone.

It sure was a fun morning! We'll see how long the snow is magical to the kids. I hope for a long time, although the pleading to go back out into the falling snow did get a little wearing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

1/2 Way

Today Fred is 1/2 done with his training. It's surreal that he hasn't been home for 5 1/2 weeks, but luckily time seems to be speeding up. Probably because Chistmas is 6 weeks away and I am in charge of the Ward Christmas party.

SO, 5 1/2 more weeks to go!

Pajama/Disney Movies/Twilight Day

I'm usually pretty functional and productive (I suppose that's subjective). Today calls for chilly rains and I did my grocery shopping yesterday, so today the girls and I are staying in our PJ's, watching Disney movies (and Teletubbies) and I'll be re-reading some more Twilight (during Teletubbies).

This is the kind of thing I would dream about SOMEDAY doing, back when I was stuck in Zero Hour in high school, or starting my shift at Walmart. Considering my kids' foul moods lately and lack of husband, I plan on enjoying today :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Looking for a HEAVY Maternity Coat

I still won't say I want the Tucson July heat back. But I will admit it's cold.

Ohio is weird. I watched the evening news here for the first time tonight... mostly because it doesn't come on until 11:00 AT NIGHT. I was mainly interested in the weather forecast. I believed them when they predicted it will be 25 degrees when Gregory goes to the bus stop, and that there's a 60% chance of snow this weekend.

For the first time in my life I'm looking for a heavy, wool coat. Someone should start a business renting out maternity coats, since if I buy one now, I HOPEFULLY will never need it again (meaning, if we don't have more kids, I BETTER not be able to fill out a coat meant for a huge, pregnant belly!).


Old Navy has a wool blend coat for $70 online. I don't even know if that's a good price for a coat. I welcome insight on this topic!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

11 1/2 Weeks Along

Pregnancy has the weirdest was of warping my perception of time.

I feel like I've been pregnant for years already, and I AM less than 2 weeks from my 2nd trimester, but seeing the number "11 1/2" makes it seem like I just got pregnant! It's frustrating.

Anyways, I went to a party at Fred's Commander's house this evening and got a little dressed up. I haven't taken an official "pregnancy pic" yet, so this will do. Most "normal" people don't show during their first trimester, but you can count on plenty of people congratulating me on my "twins" by the time I hit my 3rd trimester... NO, we only saw 1 baby in there.

I'm at that awkward point where I can't wear my regular pants anymore, but I'm not showing enough for a stranger to have the courage to ask if I'm pregnant. I'll be wishing I was still like this in a couple months!

On a side note, I want to give a shout-out to my sis-in-law who just found out she's having a girl! YAY!!!!!! She's 7 weeks ahead of me with her first. That will make 5 Olsen girls and 1 Olsen boy, my Gregory. We'll find out in May whether he maintains that title.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Little Airman

Tonight at the dinner table Gregory suddenly burst into song. He was belting out the Air Force's song, "Into the Wild Blue Yonder."

We've sung it before, but this was a first solo for him! He sang it probably 1/2 a dozen times before everyone was done eating and I managed to get him on video. He wasn't quite as animated when he knew I was recording, but it still melts my heart anyways.

Yesterday he told me he built an Air Force base in his bedroom out of Lego's. My little Air Force brat!

I've included a Youtube video of the song being performed, in case you can't really follow all the lyrics from Gregory's performance. It's a nice arrangement. All the videos with cool graphics were actually set to the original Air Force fight song back when it was the Army Air Corp (a LOOONG time ago). The lyrics have been slightly modified since the Air Force was created as a separate branch of the military.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Baby #4's First Picture and a Name

I finally had my first prenatal appointment this week. I was pleasantly surprised when the doc rolled in an ultrasound machine. Even after 3 previous babies, I forget how perfectly formed they are at just 10 weeks! Baby's heart looked great. The baby kept stretching and wriggling. It never ceases to amaze me.

The 2 pictures they gave me don't do it justice (do they ever?), but for the ultrasound illiterate I tried to label baby parts. It still takes some imagination.


We have some exciting news that will surely drive our parents insane:

We're not finding out the baby's gender! Well, until birth at least. We figure we've got everything for a boy or a girl, and since this is probably our Omega, it's our last chance for that kind of surprise.

My only hesitation was in light of Gregory's enthusiasm over this baby. We've had to prod him with his sisters, but this time he's so excited. He kisses my tummy good bye at the bus stop and kisses it again when he gets off the bus AND "good night"... without ANY encouragement! I think it has a lot to do with several of his friends recently welcoming babies into their families.

I considered that he would like to know whether he's expecting a brother or a sister, since he actually seems to care this time. I also was a little leery of calling the baby an "it" for 8 months. Well, Gregory solved all that.

It occurred to me to ask him what we should name the baby while he or she is in my tummy. He concentrated for a while. Then his face lit up (a bit mischievously, I might add) and he sad, "Cindy-Lou!" (we've been watching "The Grinch"). I wasn't sold at first, but then I realized "Lou" by itself can go either way!

SO, for the pregnancy, we're referring to #4 as "Baby Lou."

1996 Election Flashback

I cleaned out my garage today so we can park the van in it, considering the layer of ice that claims my vehicle most mornings these days. Like most big-time clean-up jobs, I came across a few forgotten treasures.

(I should have taken a before pic, but maybe it's better I didn't... it was embarrassing)

The best (aside from my lost closet organizer and some clothespins) was this birthday card Fred received WAAAAY back in 1996. I'm sure there are virtually identical ones fitting this election year, but I still got a good laugh out of this one. I was in Junior High for that election!

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!!