Saturday, April 28, 2007

Going To The Land Of TheTulips

So, we have a movie that my kids really like. It is called, The Best Two Years. It's about these four mormon Missionaries from America who go to Holland to share their religion to the people in Holland for 2 years.

Well, today we ventured out and drove 2 1/2 hours to visit the Land of Tulips. We first went to Keukenhof. It is a garden of what else....Tulips. It was really beautiful. And the kids really did well.

We walked around and saw the flowers. We saw windmills, the kids climbed trees, played in wooden shoes, played on a playground, enjoyed a petting zoo (especially Emma chasing a duck!). We stayed about 2 hours and did not even see the whole gardens. It was kind of hard because Emma has learned this past week how to unbuckle herself from the stroller and climb out while we are moving. So we left and headed somewhere she could run and play.

A good 10 minute drive and we were at the sea. It is called the North Sea (we believe anyway!). The kids really had a good time. I did not get a lot of pictures since I was busy breastfeeding Ian. But, while I was doing that, I watched Gardner with the kids. The three older kids put on their swimsuits, but Emma's never got on her. Well, she fell in. Of course, she did not mind at all. The water was a bit cold and there was a big cool breeze there. It was funny because the kids kept complaining about the salt that got on their lips. They kept spitting trying to get rid of it. We have taken the kids many times to the Lakes up in Wisconsin, but they are not salty like the Sea or Ocean.

We stayed there about one and a half hours. We knew we needed to get going because of the two small kids. We stopped by McDonald's on the way home so the kids could eat dinner. Gardner was real excited once we hit the Germany border, because then there was no speed limit again. Here is proof of how fast our van can get up to. It could go faster, but I don't know how much faster since the speedometer does not go much higher.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Spencer's Bad Day

As many of you know, Spencer has problems everyday at school. He gets beat up more often than not. Well, maybe not “beat up” but people pick on him, hit him, push him, call him names, tell him he is stupid, and so on and so forth. My only feeling is that yesterday, Spencer had had enough.

I went to pick the kids up from school like I most often do. And Shantal came out saying Spencer had a bad day again and would not come out from the school. So I gathered up all the rest of the kids and we went in looking for Spencer. As I started to walk through the gate of the school, his teacher was coming out looking for me.

Spencer said he refused to come home. But at the same time, his teacher told me that he said he would never be in school again. He took his pencil and crossed out his name on everything in the classroom. After trying to find out what was wrong, me simply hugging him and him running and throwing his head against the walls at the school, I finally got him to the car. It took a lot of strength as he was fighting me almost the whole way.

On the drive home, he kept telling me what kind of an idiot he was and how stupid he was. He told me that he has the worst life ever.

When we arrived home, he said he was not coming in. I told him we needed to go in and eat. He told me he was never eating again. That he was going to die. Once again, I got him inside the house where I said we are going to have lunch. He said, I am going to kill myself. I’ll just get a knife from the kitchen.

That is when I grabbed him, got him to the couch and sat with him for almost 2 hours.

His demeanor was something I had never seen before as he was going through this. He finally got to the point he was normal again. The same Spencer I know. But that took 2 hours for me to stay right there with him and talking to him. So hard when I have 4 other kids demanding my attention and time. Basically, Someone was with Spencer at all times yesterday.

At one point, he said that he would be in Satan's power and the rest of us would be with God.

It breaks my heart so much to watch and see how sad he is. He is only 8 years old. How in the world does an 8 year old come up with this and how am I supposed to handle it? I take it totally serious. Every time I don’t think I have enough tears left, more come. How is a mother supposed to handle knowing her child prefers to die. And how do I know how serious he is about actually caring out a plan he has made? He is 8 for crying out loud!

Gardner gave Spencer a blessing last night. Spencer did not get to bed until 11pm. And then he was one of the first ones up at 6:45 saying he did not want to go to school. Gardner and I had already decided to keep him home today. If nothing else, because he was up so late. I went in and talked to his teacher this morning and she agreed it was good he stay home. But we are also thinking he needs to get in and see a Psychologist.

I would consider home schooling Spencer, as I know Spencer could still learn from here at home. Shantal or Hannah would not be such good candidates for that at this point. But, it is not allowed here in Germany. Spencer has asked to change schools, but that is also not an option. There are no other Elementary Schools in the area. We live in such a small village.

Gardner did call a couple parents last night who Spencer has had problems with. The one parent was happy that Gardner called and their son called last night to apologize. The other parent was annoyed that Gardner called and did not know what she could do to help. And her son is one of the biggest problems. Not just with Spencer but with the whole class. She said maybe if Spencer was afraid to go to school because of her son, then she might be able to do something. DUH! That angered me.

Anyway, I know you are all waiting to hear what happened and how he is doing. I’ll keep you posted on his progress.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Our Trip To Hamburg

So, over Easter weekend, we took a trip up north. We drove 4 hours to Hamburg, Germany. Gardner had a companion from his mission that lives up there, so we went to visit him. Gardner had not seen him in over 15 years. Gardner kept saying he wondered what the grown up Elder Volz was like. And we found out.

We got there Saturday night around 7pm. We actually drove into town earlier. Perhaps as early as 6pm. But we were looking all around for some flowers. It is a thing here in Germany to always show up places with flowers. I did not think the flowers would survive the trip with so many kids in such a crowded van for such a long period of time. But, since it was Easter the next day, everything was closed. We looked and looked and looked and ended up showing up without flowers.

Elder Volz is married and has 4 kids. One is 14, 12, 8 and 5 months old. Their kids got along GREAT with our kids. That was so nice to see. And of course, Shantal was happy to hear that they had no dogs. We did not find out ahead of time and so she was real worried about that.

On Easter, it was definately a non-traditional easter for us. There was no Easter Bunny that came, no Easter Dinner. We went to church in the morning and then they had a potluck lunch at the church afterwards. We ended up leaving before the Volz's and went to see a Castle in Ahrensburg. Emma and Ian both fell asleep in the van, so Gardner stayed with them while I walked around the castle with the older 3 kids.

We went back to the Volz's house and decided to go on a walk in the forest which was right across the street from their house. Once we got further into the forest, Mariam, the mom and I hide chocolate. The kids all had fun looking for it. Unfortunately, my camera battery died right before this and I got no pictures.

We were going to do a big Fire Monday before we left but we ended up with Rain. Gardner helped fix their computer in the morning and we stayed for lunch. Before we headed home, we got some pictures from another Castle, in Tremsbuettel. And we also found flowers and took them back to their house as a thank you.

That same 4 hour car ride took 6 1/2 hours to get home. We did stop for lunch at one point. But the biggest problem was traffic. There was so much. And once we got going, we really were moving. Can you imagine how long of a trip it would of been had I had to go 65 miles an hour the whole way? I love the autobahn and the no speed limit! I drove part way home and I personally got up to 105 miles per hour. And yes, cars were STILL passing me by.

We had a good time and hope to go back sometime. I'd love to see more things and do more things up in that area. But because our trip was so short and it was Easter, there was no time for other things.

I did make a video of our time up there. There is a link to our Hamburg, Germany video to the right under Our Family Videos. Just click on the one you want to see.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Park

We went to the Park today that is across the street from our house. Here are a few pictures I was able to get. I must say....they are sure cute kids!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Circle Journals Part 2

Well, I need to get to bed. So I am only uploading my newest Circle Journal Pages I completed. I got 4 done tonight.

Here is Kathie B's Circle Journal. She is doing an album where each page has a letter of the alphabet. It is called an A - Z album for her son. I had K and L.

This is Connie's Growing Up Boys CJ pages. Her theme is School. I had 3rd grade. I need to cut a number 3 out tomorrow still.

This is for Andrea. She is also doing an A - Z album. I had K and X.

And lastly, this is Trudi's Garden themed CJ.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Learning German

On two occasions today I had to translate from German into English when I was talking to development teams in English in Sweden.

I assume this is a normal part of language acquisition, but it is frustrating that the brain doesn't just keep everything straight for you and that it takes so much work. The worst part is that it seems so easy when you watch other people seamlessly transition from one language to another.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Scrapbooking----Circle Journals

So, I have gotten some scrapbooking done this past week while Gardner was home. I am participating in something called a Circle Journal with some friends. How it works is we each create a layout for each others albums. We choose our own themes and then everyone makes a layout for it and then we exchange them. When I get them all back, I have a completed album where all my friends made pages for it. Well, I actually have to add my pictures, but that is it. It works great because then I have all different styles in an album. As you can see by some of my pages, I can make the same page for a lot of them and it is OK because they are going in different albums. So here they all are:

These are Kim's Tropical Vacations Pages:

And these are Dawn's Tropical Vacation pages:

These are Kathy R's Pages for her Mom Album. It has three tags on the second page where she can add additional photos or add journaling.

This is for Melissa and Her Dog Album:

Dannelle's Baby Shower Album. The second page has a pocket where she can put cards. The first page has a pull out tab where she can add journaling.

Kathy H is getting a Disney Autograph Album for when her family goes to Disney World. There are four tags where the characters are able to sign their names.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Easter Break

So, we are well into the first week of Easter Break. Tomorrow is Good Friday, which is a Holiday here. Everything will be closed until Tuesday. Of course, there is Easter and then Easter Monday. Gardner took this whole week off of work. We really have not done anything in the ways of traveling or site seeing. Gardner did get our German Taxes done though. He is at the tax office as we speak turning them in.

Hannah has gone to Kindergarten everyday this week. There are not that many kids there. Not even half. There are only 3 teachers instead of 5. The great thing is, since there are not that many kids, they have been letting big brother and sisters come in. So on Tuesday, Shantal spent the morning with Hannah in Kindergarten. And then Yesterday, Spencer spent the morning there and even stayed for lunch. They both get a turn to go back next week.

So the other night, I made Reibekuchen. Or should I say, I attempted to make them. Reibekuchen is a big thing here in Germany. It is a pototo Pancake. Well, I swore that night, I would never make them again. I will settle for paying a little bit more money and buy them already done. Gardner and the kids like them. I even got all three of the bigger kids to try applesauce (which they don't like). The Germans eat their Reibekuchen with applesauce.

I actually worked on some scrapbooking this past week. I have pulled my sorry big butt away from the computer and moved it over to my scrap table (my big butt, not the computer) at night. I am working on an album and I have made up 10 page kits. For those that don't know what a page kit is, I have all the paper picked out for a page, I have it cut to size, all the embellishments (accents for the page) I want to include PLUS, I drew up a layout idea on paper and have all that inside a ziplock bag. All I have left to do is to put each piece where it goes on the paper. That is the easy part. It takes me so long to decide what to do with each page. So I am excited to actually have the hard part out of the way. Putting the finishing touches on the page to make it complete is the fun part to me. When I actually finish these pages, I will be including them for all to see.

Ian.....Let's talk about Ian. Have I ever mentioned the Great Wall of China that we have made in our living room? Our stairs from the dining room into the living room are two steps high and go from wall to wall . Meaning, there is no gate that we could use to keep Ian off the stairs. So, we have made what we call, the Great Wall of China. It consists of one pack n play, 3 Kitchen Chairs, two toy buckets, one kids rocking chair and one laundry basket. It is a pain to get up and down the stairs when I want, but it keeps Ian away. The reason we came up with this is because I went into the basement to do a load of laundry. When I came back, Ian had climbed up the two steps and was almost to the basement stairs. My heart sank when I realized it was not much further until he would of toppled all the way down the marble stairs.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Daumen Lutscher

Some of you are probably wondering about my title.....what exactly is a Daumen Lutscher? What does it mean? Well......let me show you. This is a Daumen Lutscher!

Yes, our Ian is a Daumen Lutscher. Daumen Lutscher means Thumb Sucker. It is funny, because everywhere I go, everyone says....ah, Daumen Lutscher. I sure have learned those two words these past few weeks. Seems that Ian always has that thumb in his mouth. And he is not partial to one thumb. He exchanges them constantly.

Poor Ian. Last night, we had friends over and they were leaving. So we all walked away to say good-bye at the door. Gardner walked a way from Emma and Ian for 10 seconds. Emma had picked up Ian and dropped him on a toy. If you look close enough, you can see a red line going from left to right across his whole head.

So, Hannah.....She is learning how to read. It is so fun to listen to her trying to sound out words. We read every night from the scriptures and she has picked up these words so far: the, and, of, god, it, that, I, a. I decided I am going to make flash cards to help her. She is so excited and wants to read everything she sees.

The kids are on a two week break from school. I told Hannah on Friday morning that it was her last day for a few weeks. Kindergarten still meets, but usually when the Elementary School is out, I keep Hannah home as well. Hannah was sad and said she wanted to be at school. I was so excited to hear this. So today, Hannah went to school. Gardner took the van to work today so I walked to pick up Hannah. We passed a bakery on the way home. Her prize for walking was a donut with chocolate frosting. The chocolate was melting, because it was warm in the shop. Here is Hannah walking down the street:

Speaking of the Bakery, Here are two pictures of things found at the bakery. This first one is called an Apfelringe (Apple Ring). Oh man, it is soooo very Yummy! I have to stay away from this particular bakery because I will buy one if I stop in. It costs 1 Euro 30 Cents. YUM, YUM, YUM! The second picture is of a Brotchen. I was talking to my sister, Coleen, this past weekend and mentioned a Brotchen. She did not know what one was, so I figured, it could be a common question among those who have never been to Germany. Brotchens are very popular here. It is like a hard, Crunchy Roll on the outside. But the inside is soft. Tastes great with Butter and Cheese. An average cost for a Brotchen is 25 cents.

Oh, yes.....remember I showed you Friday, the potted plant that Hannah made at school. There was barely anything sprouting out of the soil. Well, here we are on Monday.....3 days later. Look at it now. They call this Easter Grass. Crazy how fast it grows.

And then, of course, I mentioned the funny sign about the Frogs. This is a sign that means, Caution! Frogs! Still waiting to see those frogs on the road. I'll let you know when I find one.

Gardner went to Ikea today and "scored a sweet deal" in the scratch n dent area. We got a bed for when we have guests come to visit. So now you all know, we are ready for anyone who wants to stop by. Hotel Wheeler is now up and running, thanks to the Generousity of Gardner's parents!

March 2007