Thursday, January 31, 2008


Today the kids celebrate Carnival at the school. They were so excited, that all 5 of my kids were up at 5:30am. That was waaaay too early for me.

So we had to get the customes out, the make up on and all the great food they had to take for their class parties packed. Oh, and we can't forget the glitter hairspray that is now all over my house. And I have to mention, we sprayed it outside and it is still all over the place.

Shantal is a clown, Spencer a cowboy (a boy and his gun), Hannah a fairy and Emma just had to join in and wanted to go to school too. She put on a ballerina outfit. I made her wear tights and a shirt because it just is too darn cold. And then of course, Emma wanted make up just like everyone else.

I can't wait for them to get home from school and see how everything went. So I am sure there will be another update later. Just had to post these pictures for Grandma and Grandpa.

And then for all those who don't know what Carnival is, I wrote all about it last year here on the blog. You can check it out here: Carnival Blog Entry

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Photos

These are "mini schnecken". they are my lastest thing that is hindering me losing weight. They are yummy!

Emma and Ian wearing the backpacks that the kids wear here. They are called "tornister". Look how huge they are!

Shantal giving Emma a piggy back ride.

Hannah got this mini twister game at McDonald's. She slept the night at a friends house last friday while I had my d&c. They took her and she was so very happy. She has wanted a Twister game for a few months now.

I took this picture tonight. I love it. Spencer is such a great big brother to Ian. And they love playing in the shower together.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Un-Titled Post

hmmmm, Blogger always asks me what my titles are going to be. And I can never figure out what an appropriate title would be for what I am going to post about. This one is no different. I'll just jump in with typing and see what kind of title I come up with.

So, the last entry I posted here was photos. I said I had more photos and I would add them the next day. Well, Here I am a week later, and still no update. Well, I know why I haven't updated, but the world does not. I have wondered about the idea of posting about it here on my blog. And the thing is, I started this blog for me and for my family overseas (well, I guess I am the one who went overseas. But you know what I mean). And so to keep them updated, I am going to post about it. And then, all others who are now avid readers and those who stumble upon this enjoy the read. lol

So, as most know, I have had a pretty bad case of Anemia this past year. Back in May when I saw my doctor, he had blood drawn and was astounded at my hemoglobin level. He couldn't believe I was alive. Since then, I get blood drawn every few months. I am supposed to get a b12 shot every other week and I take Iron pills once a day and also vitamins with iron.

One and a half weeks ago, I went in and they did blood again to see where I am at, how I am progressing. I went back for my results last Tuesday (remember, the last time I posted). Come to find out, my hemoglobin level is improving ever so slowly. But improving. There was another thing (this german stuff gets me as I don't understand everything the doctor says) that also was improving. But one thing was not getting better. Matter of fact, it was getting worse.

My doctor was pretty baffled. So he began to ask me about my monthly cycles. And since having Ian 1 1/2 years ago and the d&c afterwards for part of the placenta being left inside, I have had it pretty bad. I chalked it up to having 5 kids and my body changing. It never occured to me that something might be wrong. He sent me Wednesday to see a Gynocologist who did an ultrasound and decided that my doctor was right. I needed to have a d&c again to clean me out.

So on Friday last week, I had a d&c. But he has told me that won't fix my problem. I will have to have this done a few times a year. That with the fact I am done having kids and wanted to get my tubes tied, he decided it was best if I have a hysterectomy. It was a little hard at first for me to swallow. I am 38 years old. I am not that old. And I have always thought that was for you know, older people. And this would mean no more kids. Now, like I just said, I am done. I wanted my tubes tied. But this is really final. I just didn't expect it at all.

So, next Tuesday, I will be admitted to the hospital and having Surgery on Wednesday. They don't play around here in Germany. When they decide to do something, they do it right away. He actually wanted me to have the surgery this week. But, I told him it was just too soon. I have 5 kids and need some time to organize things here first. And I will be in the hospital for 7 days he says.

I do have my mother in law coming out here to help with the kids. She will arrive towards the end of my hospital stay. Thank goodness for cheaper airfares right now and her willingness to come out. I know it will take some time to heal even after I get released from the hospital. So it will be nice to have her here. From what I hear, the way that it is being done, 3 weeks looks like the recovery time. But of course, everyone is different. So we will see.

So there you have it. Still no appropriate title has jumped out at me. Now you see why I can't figure out a title for this blog entry?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Photo A Day

Here are some more pictures I have taken over the last week. I have more but will upload them tomorrow.

Emma, she is just so cute. 2 1/2 years old

Emma just wants to give Ian a Kiss. Is that so wrong?

Ian has a fascination with Mom and Dad's shoes.

Every Saturday, I like to make the kids a special breakfast. Here we are having Waffles.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Talk a Mommy, Mommy!

The title was Emma's request to Tamara on Saturday when we had a German couple over for dinner. Translated it means: "talk the way you normally talk, mommy." During the evening with our friends Tamara naturally spoke German and when she would turn to Emma she would stay in German mode and speak German to Emma as well.

This did not sit well with Emma. In trying to make sense of her world, she has learned that Mommy speaks English and that Daddy speaks German. If that changes suddenly, her world is a bit upside down.

Her expression for telling us that the world was now upside down, and that we should right the ship was just so adorable. "Talk a Mommy!" is what she repeatedly said to Tamara whenever Tamara spoke German to her. It was a tender moment, especially after the past week of bilingual discovery that Emma has had.

We have also described the day in Episode 22 of our Living in Germany podcast.

Basement is Keller on German

Emma has been on a tear lately with realizing that there are two languages. Not sure what triggered it. Her age is definitely a factor. At church she and Ian started going to Nursery in Primary (Primarvereinigung [PV]). Here in German Nursery is called Kindergarten and our congregation is mainly German, so the teachers naturally speak German. That's her first big experience, i.e., direct constant interaction, with German outside of the home. Maybe it's something else I'm not thinking of.

At any rate she has been noticing the differences in the two languages quite a bit more this week. After proclaiming that Dark is not Dunkel early last week, she began telling me that "basement is Keller on German (or sometimes on Deutsch)." For those who know German, you may theorize, as I did, that the "on German" phrasing Emma used comes from the German phrase "wie heißt das auf Deutsch?" Or, it is a simple mixing up of the prepositions. Regardless, the German preposition auf can be used to mean both in and on.

It is amazing to watch her mind make sense of a bilingual world. Not being an expert on the subject I just enjoy watching her growth. I know it will be hard and maybe she will struggle in both languages, but there are many hard things in life. I think that Emma's awareness of the two languages is simply a sign that she will make it through the bilingual experience alright.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's Dark Not dunkel

Ah, Emma. Her world is so fun and simple. She is so excited about things and it brings such joy to the heart to be with her. When she almost tackles me after I come in the door and screams "daddy, daddy, daddy" all the way to the door. That is truly amazing.

We went shopping yesterday and she helped me carry some of the groceries home. It was a very nice time. Her exuberance gushes over into all around her. On the way home at about 5:00 p.m., dusk was turning into a night sky and Emma noted that it was dark.

Without me saying anything, she started telling me, or herself, or anyone who might be around. "It's dark. not dunkel." Then she repeated the statement, with emphasis. "Dark. Not dunkel."

This is most cute because they are really just the same word in two different languages. Most of the time Emma just easily switches from English to German in her understanding, but every now and then a word just won't go in. The word dunkel is one of them. She refuses to assign this German word to the English word dark. Hard to say why that is, but it is very adorable to watch her learn.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Missing Me

So Gardner informed me over the weekend that he thinks the bloggers are missing me. That is his way of telling me I need to update. I was showing him some pictures I took recently and he decided I needed to put them here on the blog.
What I am doing is trying to improve my photography skills (which I must admit are little to none). And I took on a challenge to take a photo a day. That is 365 pictures this year. Well, I have already skipped one day. But, I am just picking myself back up and still shooting. Because for me, it is all about improvement and if I gave up, then I wouldn't improve at all. Plus, I am capturing the little things that normally I wouldn't take pictures of. And that is fun to see.
So, I will start to upload those photos I am taking here. Perhaps once a week in one blog entry. Here are some of the pictures I have taken since January 1st.

These are in no particular order since Blogger tends to upload in whatever order it decides and I am too lazy to move them around.

Ian does not like a binky at all. But he will carry his empty bottle around and have it in his mouth through out the day. I found him with two the other day. I guess it is true....Two is better than one!

Every Friday is Friday Family Movie Night. The kids look forward to it and this past friday was Aladin, Kind of Theives. It was in German, Of course, since we now have German TV access.

Saturday I went Grocery Shopping like I do every week. I hit up two different Grocery Stores and this is what I came home with. In Germany, they don't have the plastic bags unless you pay for them. They run 10 cents to 25 cents depending on the size. Everyone brings their own bags and baskets. This here that you see cost around 230 Euros.

Carnival Costumes went on sale Monday. I got a few hats that were 2.99 euros each. The kids had fun with them.

We have been teaching Ian Sign Language. He is giving the sign for eat. He wanted what Gardner had in his hand.

Ian had been sick for the past week and a half and did a whole lot of crying and not very much sleeping.

One thing that stopped Ian from crying was putting on Gardner's shoes and walking around the room. If you look close enough, you can still see the tears in Ian's eyes.

Emma was being cute one night. I couldn't help but snap a picture.

The last day of the kid's Christmas break, the older kids decided to have a tea party with Shantal's tea set. I thought about a picture as they were washing their dishes....IN THE BATHROOM SINK.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Date With Mom

Well, tonight was Shantal's turn to go out with Tamara and something amazing happened along the way.

The background is that in about October I started taking the kids out on dates so that we could spend time together and do something fun. I work long hours here in Germany and see the kids only rarely during the week. Since then I rotated, so that every 2 or 3 weeks one of the older kids would have a date with Dad. We decided over the holidays that Tamara should do the same with the children.

So tonight was Shantal's turn and they were planning on seeing the moving Enchanted (Verwünscht). As they looked up the movie times at our local theater, Emma came onto the scene.

When Emma realized what Shantal and Tamara were discussing, i.e., a date with Mom, she became sad (she was a bit tired today) and whiny. She said. I want to go on a date with Mom! When do I get to go on a date with mom? Can I go? I think she then began to cry.

It caught me by surprise, because we had never discussed "dates with Dad or Mom" with Emma. But she knew that she was missing out on something really fun and wanted to participate. I sure underestimate the kids sometimes.

Emma and Tamara decided to go on a date before Shantal and Mom. The other kids then thought that all of the dates would be today, which naturally was not possible. Emma and Mom walked down to the "Frische Markt" and bought an ice cream cone. Then they walked back together. It was reported by a very enthusiastic 2.5 year old that the ice cream was cold.

Shantal and mom were equally excited when they returned from the movies this evening. It brought a great spirit of peace into our home. I'm glad we have started this tradition and hope to continue with the "dates".

Monday, January 7, 2008

Mission Viejo students take religious classes before school

About 200 Mormon youth gather at 6:30 a.m. everyday before school reads the article.

Among the Latter-day Saints this is called Early Morning Seminary. We affectionately called it "cemetery" in my house growing up, because you felt about 1/2 dead on your way out the door. I wasn't always excited to go, but was always glad I went. I really enjoyed my freshman and sophomore years in high school where my dad would drive me to seminary. He would tell me about stuff and we would plan our activities and talk about wrestling matches coming up. It was very cool.

I've had the opportunity to participate in the seminary program twice in my life. Once as a student and once as a teacher. As a teacher I remember asking myself why are these students so tired all the time? Naturally, because they were up so early. But I didn't realize how tired I was until i let the kids teach one week. After I would sit down I was 1/2 asleep after about 2 minutes. It took a lot of work to stay awake in the seat. I didn't wonder about their tiredness after that much more.

I wonder what type of a seminary experience my children will have. Will Shantal begin in Germany? Only time will tell.

read more | digg story

German TV

Well, we finally did it. We went out and bought an antenna and receiver to be able to watch German television. Tamara has talked about it for a while and asked me how to do it, and why I don't hook up the satellite, and doesn't Emma need to learn German, etc. Here's how are adventure turned out.

We hooked up the satellite first, but found that we could only receive Italian, Egyptian, Arabic, Spanish, and a couple of Swiss German channels. According to my research, the satellite is apparently pointing in the wrong direction and must just be moved slightly. A bit too adventurous for me given the satellite's location on the roof and not knowing which way to move, etc.

So, then I looked into what is called DVB-T (Digital Video Broadbrand - Terrestrial). It's the new version of rabbit ears antennas available here in Germany, and must be used with a DVB-T receiver (kind of like a cable box). I bought the cheapest antenna and receiver available (about 50 € total) and hooked it up. It works. Well, most of the channels work most of the time. We might try a fancier antenna.

The great thing for me was that the kids were not overly excited. They have still turned off the TV without too much complaining and found many other things to do around the house when we've asked them. I was worried they would just be stuck in front of the thing all day and night now with live TV, but they weren't, which made me very happy.

For further background, we have had a TV for the last year, but only with a DVD and VCR and no connection to live TV. And the kids know several movies by heart, and get excited to borrow "new" DVDs from friends. But they have also learned to do other things around the house and enjoyed playing with friends, etc. And jobs have come first.

So, I'm glad we waited a year and learned to live without live TV, and think life will now also be OK with the TV. This reminded me of a great quote about modern media I read in a book by Michael Crichton entitled Airframe, first published in 1996. Since the book was written over a decade ago, the quote is even more fitting today.

" 'Fact is,' Amos said, 'everything's changing. Used to be - in the old days - the media image roughly corresponded to reality. But now it's all reversed. The media image is the reality, and by comparison day-to-day life seems to lack excitement. So now day-to-day life is false, and the media image is true. Sometimes I look around my living room, and the most real thing in the room is the television. It's bright and vivid, and the rest of my life looks drab. So I turn the damn thing off. That does it every time. Get my life back.' "

Good night, and good luck

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Visit to the Temple

Well, I'm back into blogging mode now after the holidays and right before I start back to work on Monday. I'm going to write about our family trip to the temple in Frankfurt.

First off, four unexpected things happened, that were very surprising and very cool.
1) my old missionary companion from the Hamburg area was at the temple with his wife and four children.
It was amazing to speak to that friend. We knew each other for only three short months in Düsseldorf some 17 years ago and saw him once last easter and it is like talking to a brother or a father. It is uncanny how close we feel after all those years. It reassures me that the Lord is somehow looking out for us. He has a 6 month tour of duty in Bosnia (I think) for Nato starting in May, so It may be another year before we see them again.

2) the kids friends from Norway (lived in Düsseldorf the last 10 months) were at the temple and played with the kids.
I know how hard it is to leave friends behind, or how hard it is to find friends at all. Our kids have left many friends behind and had many friends leave them in the last 24 months. So, seeing the kids' good friends one more time was very nice.

3) We met a friend from Duisburg whose son is going on a mission to Denver, Colorado where Tamara and I lived for 5 years.
That was great. It helped us get to know the family better and we were able to give them some valuable information about Colorado to their boy. He leaves for the Missionary Training Center at the end of January.

4) Hannah lost her tooth (and the tooth fairy found her at the temple too).
Hannah still gets excited about the tooth fairy and Santa, although she is starting to figure things out a bit. Something about Santa using the same wrapping paper as mom came up this year.

The best part of the visit was the peace and calm that came over our family. It has stayed with us since and been a great blessing.

We expected to find peace at the temple, but it was better than we hoped and worth mentioning. Before going I told the kids to look for this peace and think about how they could bring the peace back to our home. Here are a few examples of how the peace touched our family as we stayed in the temple youth hostel:

  • Shantal and Spencer voluntarily made all of the beds while I was bringing luggage and food into the kitchen and our room
  • Hannah slept next to Shantal on the top bunk (normally Hannah wants Shantal in another family)
  • Hannah let Spencer teach her some German (normally they bicker over who is right and who knows more, etc.)
  • Emma slept with Spencer (normally only Shantal can do anything for Emma)
  • Emma didn't push Ian's buttons so much (i.e., make him scream, because it's oh so much fun)
It was a very nice way to spend the days after Christmas. We are very grateful that they have a hostel, because it is easier than organizing a babysitter and gives the children a first hand look at the peace that is available in the house of the Lord.

March 2007