Monday, February 20, 2017

It's All About Love

And yet the middle of February is the time of year I love the least.

Partly that's because of Valentine's Day.  I'm not a Valentine's Day person.  Flowers and chocolates and such are nice but I prefer them on a random basis than on a commercially assigned holiday.  But what really has me disliking the holiday are the school celebrations!  Ask any mom of multiple elementary age kids and she'll probably agree!  This year the PX ran out of Valentine's cards by the time we got there and the Germans only do Valentines for adult couples (nice!) so we had to improvise.  That means that I printed hearts on the computer that said "Happy Valentine's Day from _______".  The kids cut them out and glued them to scrap book paper my mom sent for another project about a month ago (THANK YOU GRANDMA!!!) and then decorated with stickers I found.  Fairly painless but it still took the entire afternoon and evening on the day before.  Blech.  Yay for Abby's teacher though who had them decorate boxes at school and Megan knows what she wants and we had the materials to make it quick and easy!  And it turned out cute!!

Then we have the 100th day of school.  UGH.  This usually involves a project displaying 100 of something that is "sure to be fun for the whole family".  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  First, you have to agree on a project.  Then you have to get the materials.  Then you have to put it together.  Not really fun -- especially when you add in counting to 100 several times before it's done. Oh it's delightful.  This year we have the hiccup of not having access to Hobby Lobby (can I just say how much I miss Hobby Lobby?  It's probably the biggest thing I miss but I suppose I'm saving money now . . . ).  So we agreed to use our massive collection of charms and although I did most of the stringing and drew the outline for the person, Abby did a great portion of the work and it turned out cute.  And I'm glad it's done.

February 18th of course is Aaron's birthday.  Megan asked me the morning of when we were taking presents to the hospital.  I love our little service project!  Next year I might have to see if we can do one for a local hospital but this year of course that didn't happen.  I did sew up 50 Beads of Courage bags and ship them out last Tuesday though.  I love being able to help in some small way at least.  

Grandma sent another package (GRANDMA SAVES THE DAY AGAIN!) and the kids enjoyed those snacks while we watched Trolls as a family.  FYI - weird movie.  They like it.  It's weird.  We've all been going through a round of illness the past few weeks -- nothing terrible, just a cold with fever, but Chopper and Abby both have it right now so we didn't do anything special for his birthday.

But we were incredibly blessed by our friend Chad and his wife Christi who went to the cemetery and placed flowers at the grave for us.  It is such a gift especially this first year being away because the honest truth is that we've felt a little like we've left him behind.  

 Oh some fun news though.  I did an online sew along creating this quilt and won the grand prize!!  It was a random drawing of the finished quilts but hey, a prize is a prize and I'm super excited because I don't know what it is!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Megan Turns 9!!

I'm a little amazed that we have a 9 year old.  It's her last year of single digits!  Unfortunately, for her birthday she was sick.  But on the plus side, she got to stay home from school and improved so she still had a great birthday.  It was about 40 degrees here which was a big improvement from what it has been so it felt practically like spring.

We're not doing friend parties this year, just our usual family party.  But we hung streamers and blew up balloons (including the kind you make swords and animals from -- the kids loved that) and it was very festive at home!  Megan chose a salad bar for her birthday dinner and we made a strawberry cake with a homemade vanilla whipped cream icing that turned out really good!  She did the decorating by drawing an owl and lots of sprinkles.  Drawing with icing is a lot harder than it looks!  She loved her presents: legos, books, horses from Grandma Whittacre and tea and peg people to paint from Grandma Gasser.  Even her primary teacher brought her a present!

I tried to get pictures of her smiling -- always a difficult task!

William was really good about NOT blowing out the candles or trying to open her presents!  But he is still struggling with understanding when birthdays come.  We've explained the order of operations for birthdays here -- me, Megan, Aaron, Abby, Daddy, William -- but now he just thinks that since Megan had her birthday that Abby is the next day, etc.

She has been so excited to get packages in the mail!  

Blurry but one of her favorite presents -- she loves this series of books about Warrior cats!

IF this video can be viewed it's great.  Not only did Megan let me video her, it's got great commentary by Abby throughout.  

So at nine years old, Megan is in the third grade and Mrs. Braatz is her teacher.  She also does Gifted and Talented sessions and continues to excel in school, particularly math and language arts.  We've run into a problem with her reading -- her teacher requires that they read within their lexile but it's high enough that a lot of the books within her lexile are too mature for her in content.  So loves the Warrior Cats series and is also reading another animal series about wolves I think.  She's read the first Harry Potter and is working on the second.  She likes them but I don't think she really adores the magical, fantasy genre.  She really continues to like animals and adventure.  I don't think that her art teacher and class push her as much as Mrs. Sutherland did, but she still draws and creates and writes stories as well.  She has really become interested in all things crafty and has tried her hand at loom knitting, sewing, scrapbooking, etc. 
I love watching Megan's personality develop.  She is getting a lot better at speaking in front of people but needs warning and preparation.  She has a great sense of humor but you have to be among the privileged few to see it I think.  She is also very concerned with things being done according to the rules and order of operations which has proved a little difficult when I'm trying to help her with her math but don't understand how she's learning it!  Common core!  She and Abby have been getting very close this year -- we don't have friends to play with close by.  They are all excited to go to England this summer but what she really wants to do is go to France and eat crepes and macaroons!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

January's Adventures

January's adventures have been less about exploration and more about adaptation!  It's kind've nice to have Saturdays where we laze around or accomplish things at home though.  But our biggest adaptation has been to the snow!  Our sources say this has been the worst winter for this area in a few years.  If that's the case, we've been adequately prepared!  I honestly expected this area to get a lot more snow!

First major snowfall!  There hasn't been a single school cancellation but we've had several delayed starts which I think I like even better!  The roads are kept clear very well although there are issues with ice sometimes.  The schools send the kids outside everyday unless the temperature drops below a certain mark.  I love that they give them that outlet and it reminds me of my own elementary school and how much fun winter recess was!  But between days off of school for various reasons (holidays and teacher trainings) and late starts, we've had very little actual school!  I'm not complaining but William is out of the habit and doesn't want to go back now!

We had enough snow to make a great snowman.  We have not had enough snow to convince William that coats are a necessity.  However, one fall in snow with bare hands and he knows now that gloves are a necessity.  So his normal winter outfit is gloves and boots -- no coat.

 Megan decided to pose our snowman picking his nose for the picture.

I've been trying to shop more at German stores -- it actually saves me money.  I particularly love this bread dispenser at Aldi!

I had a great birthday -- a movie with friends from my ward and dessert afterwards, fantastic celebration and presents with the family, and then the next weekend a session at the Freiberg Temple with friends.  It's 2.5-3 hours away so I'm honestly now sure how often we'll get there as a couple.  There are lots of details to work out with that.  But going with a group of ladies for the first time was great.  They have a lot more snow there then we do and there was hardly anyone at the temple.  We expected to have the session in German and wear the translation headphones but they did it in English since we were pretty much it!

So far Germany has been beautiful in all it's seasons and I can't help but stop and take pictures of buildings and scenery.  Only problem is that I am NOT a photographer and can't do justice to what I'm seeing!

Our friend and art teacher from Chavez, Kelly Sutherland, has a book published and she sent a copy of the book and a plush bat to the kids!

I finally finished a quilt for Danny and Denise for Christmas -- these blocks have been sitting around for a long time!  It's a sampler (all the blocks are different) with a turquoise backing. 

If you can see the video, it's William saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  Preschool has been so good for this boy!  We're still having anger management and tantrum issues but he's learning a lot and is becoming a great artist with a lot of focus when he's creating.

Abby got her glasses!  I'm really glad that we went with a local shop.  Not only did they fit them to her face (and they're super cute), but we have 3 years of adjustments and repairs built in!  Since she's already lost them once (left them on the bus but her bus driver held on to them thank goodness!), I think we'll need that!  She wears them all the time, Chopper says her prescription is too powerful for him, but she's still getting used to taking care of them.

I waited at school 10 minutes for him to finish this picture and I wasn't allowed to look until it was done!

February has warmed up slightly (like 5 degrees) so our faces aren't falling off.  What else . . . we got our taxes done and in the process realized that they are not taking taxes out of Chopper's paychecks.  He's gotten that fixed and we were lucky enough that his income here so far was small enough and our refund covered it so we're not having to pay out of pocket.  But we'll definitely be checking that more carefully!  I've spent several days this week attached to a computer planning and booking and searching.  We've got our flights and all of our hotels scheduled for a long vacation in Great Britain this summer!!  We are both so so excited.