Saturday, November 30, 2013


Sometimes when I make Sophia angry she draws a picture to let me know how she feels. Here is one from today:

She handed this folded up paper to me after I told her she had to clean up her toys, then ran off. I called her back to ask her to explain the picture to me. I always do this because (though I never show her) I love to see her soulful little look as she seriously says, "That's a picture of you and me when you broke my heart, Mom."

I like how I'm smiling in this picture, rejoicing in my daughter's pain.

You will be happy to know that she cleaned up her mess, and then we did some Christmas coloring and decorating. She did not seem irreparably damaged.

Hooray for Christmas and hooray for the worst month of 2013 being over!

Friday, November 29, 2013

A list

Well, this is the first day that blogging every night really feels like a pain. Let's do a list. Lately I have been noticing that while I go through phases of things I like, there are a few things I always like, or at least, always come back to. Here is a list of things that seem to be forever loved by Anna Lewis:

1. Acapella music (This is what made me think of it today.)
2. Chicken nuggets
3. Dar Williams
3. Paper collages
4. Footy Pajamas (admittedly there was a 24 hiatus but we are now embarrassingly reunited)
5. Reading books in bed
6. Uno
7. Reading good books out loud (not picture books---I don't like people looking over my shoulder when I read, even if that's the point.)
8. Dipping peanut butter sandwiches in cocoa.
9.Being a passenger in a car.
10. Going out to eat
11. Movie theaters
12. Living in foreign places (This is different that traveling. I only sometimes like traveling.)
13. Leaning against heaters
14. Garlic bread
15. Lists

Happy penultimate day of November everyone!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Not the Thanksgiving story you were expecting

Well it's Thanksgiving. I should list what I am thankful for. I am thankful that I have never been surprised by a torrential downpour of urine on my head.

Oh wait. No, I can't say that...because it happened to me today.

Jojo is potty trained. It took her almost the whole five months Chris was gone, but she finally got the hang of it and is pretty reliable. But today was a little weird, being Thanksgiving. We spent most of the day at the church and there were so many exciting things going on that she forgot to go potty and I forgot to remind her. After we returned home Jojo went upstairs while I was doing something downstairs with Gracie. To give you some background, we have a very steep, open,circular staircase in between our two floors. Here's the best picture I can find of it.
 I heard a nervous voice cry, "MOM! I have to go potty!" I advised her to go to the bathroom. There was silence, then the anguished cry of a small soul who has been overpowered by her bladder--it's a sad cry of panic, embarrassment, and shame. It is quite a pitiful sound. "Mom! I'm peeing right now!"

I called out that I was coming and I rushed up to try to get her to the toilet to prevent some of the damage. But she was at the very top of the stairs, and right when I got to the bottom step, the dam burst and a whole stinky, warm, deluge of urine drenched me. I think she had not peed in some time. Perhaps a week.

I couldn't believe it. I sputtered and burst out laughing. All I could think was, "But it's Thanksgiving!" The best is that Sophie was leaving a message on Trish's cell phone so whole thing might very well be captured in audio.

Later, I told my mom what had happened and when she stopped laughing at me she said, "Well at least you have something to write about for your blog tonight." True. Another thing crossed of my stuff-I-never-would-have-put-on-my-bucket-list. This is right up there with brushing my teeth with Desitin that one time.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Turkey email

I just wrote an incredibly awkward email to a German friend explaining why, even though I had said I would, I could not buy her a turkey.

When she asked this afternoon, I had told her I would immediately. I should talk more slowly to give myself time to feel if something is wrong or right before I agree to it.  The problem is, it's illegal to shop for non-eligible people at the commissary. There are custom/duty/tax laws that require this. But... it's illegal in a way that everyone ignores. In fact, the church breaks it on a regular basis out here, using commissary bought goods for all the activities. I have broken this law before by buying gifts for friends. I have not the slightest twinge in my conscience about those times. even now that I have carefully examined them again. BUT. This time when I said yes, I felt bad. Real bad. Bad in a way that cannot be ignored. So after trying to figure my way around it, I realized I was in a place I have been before, where I can either willfully ignore the Holy Ghost, or write an embarrassing email.

Out of sad experience I knew that a turkey was not worth ignoring the Holy Ghost so I wrote the email. Thank goodness for email so I didn't have to say that in person.

(FYI I think the reason the Holy Ghost pricked up his ears on this one was that I would not have bought her the turkey by myself--it was just an unrelated-to-me business request.)

Anyway, I feel awkward now, but not BAD.

I am not particularly adept at  revelation. However, there are a few things that I have learned however about my interaction with the divine (speaking for myself and not the church as a whole):

1. Revelation is sometimes portrayed of as something you have to be still and quiet to receive. It's something that requires a certain degree of open-ness,  preparation, or worthiness. This is true for me when I have questions I am trying to get answered like-- Is the church true? Should I marry Chris Lewis? What was the deal with Polygamy? However, this is never the case with the most common revelation I get which is,
"NO. YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG. CHANGE." Seriously there is no still small voice for me when God says no. I can't sweep this kind of revelation under the rug. I would like to know if this is true for anyone else.

As a parent this makes sense to me. As long as my kid is reasonably happy playing in the yard I am content to let her make her own choices and learn from them--I'll help her if she asks. But if she starts heading to the street I am going to start yelling. Not that there is yelling going on. It's more like an uncomfortable inky pressure that get's darker and heavier the longer it lasts. Good luck with that image.

Also, good luck keeping the commandments.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I am bad at baking.

I really am. I just realized it tonight. I'm 32 and I always thought I was okay at baking but I did such a miserable job tonight that it made me think back to all my other baking projects and I realized this: I am bad at baking. I simply can't commit to taking the cookies out before they are a little burned. I never trust the recipe/timer. They always look underdone. So I wait and then I burn them. I just made two batches of cookies for the Christmas Market (Snickerdoodle and chocolate chip). Half of them are burned. I didn't want to tell her at the time, but I was talking to Becky while I baked, and I kind of think some of them were her fault. Becky. For shame.

Also guess who called me just as I was burning my last batch? Chris! He's in Kandahar now! No more missions! No more MRE's! No more tents! The chance of death has greatly diminished for him! Hooray! It was so good to talk to him. I have been getting a lot of calls lately about his coming home and they have been making me nervous, because whenever THE ARMY calls me there is always the possibility they have some bad news about Chris. So it's nice to see his face again, you know, to make sure it's still there.

Also, I thought Chris was coming home next Thursday, but it looks like it will be a few days later. So I'm not cleaning the house for a few more days.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Waterproof mascara: a lot of commitment

The truth is, my life is boring right now. I am in complete waiting mode. Chris comes home next week. NEXT WEEK. I was trying to think of interesting things I have been thinking about...but I haven't been thinking interesting things. Only planning. Silly, unimportant planning. What I'm going to wear, what the girls are going to wear. What we're going to have for dinner--something super delicious that I can make beforehand. If he comes home at midnight, should I wake up the girls and take them (there's a little ceremony) or should I just get a sitter?  Should I skip naps so the girls go to sleep early or be super diligent about naps so that they aren't wrecks (silly question: super diligent. If they don't get their naps they don't sleep soundly).

Also, this is silly, but I am trying to constantly remind myself that Chris is taller than me. Every time I see Chris after a long absence I am always shocked that he is not my size. I think this is because I think of him very much like a part of me. Not in a creep way. In a nice way. And apparently not a tall way. Anyway, finding him a different size that he is in my mind always intimidates me a little. (Just so you know, people taller than me don't intimidate me. Just when unexpectedly tall people.) It doesn't last long, but I am trying to eliminate it.

I am also debating whether to wear mascara when we go get him. On the one hand, I look better in mascara and it makes things feel fancy. On the other hand, I am going to cry and I don't want to look like a raccoon. On a third hand, I am going to cry which will make me look terrible no  matter what. On the fourth hand, nobody will care. I don't really trust waterproof mascara.That seems like a lot of commitment. There is no apparent way to get it off.

I have five blog posts left, and I don't know how many different ways I can write the same thing: I miss my friend.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Next year Sophia will graduate kindergarten and go to Grundschule. It is making everyone a little nervous. Putting American preschool age kids and kindergarten age kids into German kindergartens is not the norm out here for soldier's families, but it is not uncommon. Apparently putting your kid into first grade is more rare. 

Sophie had her first getting-ready-for-school appointment a couple weeks ago. She had a hearing and speaking test thing. The lady from the county who came and did it for all the kids was a bit of a jerk. I knew this without understanding most of what she said. It was confirmed later to me by the headmistress who told me that she was a "hard woman." Soapy did great. Well, she did great for what she understood. In the past four months Sophia has really started speaking a lot of German. I give credit to her tutor and her countless (ahem, educational) hours in front of the German TV. But she doesn't know the words for the shapes in German. I didn't even think of that. 

Still the jerk lady told me that Sophie worked hard and tried to do everything, even when she didn't quite understand what was going on. This made me proud. That kid TRIES. What a great kid. 

I was a little worried because before Sophie had her exam, her little stubborn, and devoted friend Jasmine had hers. Her mother and I have hung out a couple times and she was telling me that Jerk-lady had told her that Jasmine couldn't start school until she learned how to roll her R's. Wut. Man Sophie can't even say her R's. Who am I kidding, I can barely say my R's. I suspect we have some kind of speech therapy in our future (I went for quite a few years. It's how I cured my listhp.), but before she starts school?!

It turns out, I needn't have worried. The lady either didn't pay attention or just put it down to her cool American accent. It didn't come up.

I have a meeting on Wednesday with the headmistress of the Grundschule (just up the road from the Kindergarten) on Wednesday to talk over the philosophy of the school. They are worried because some schools offer special help for students with German as a second language, but this school is tiny, in tiny tiny Konigstein and they don't have those services. This also makes me nervous. I'm not worried about her falling behind--we'll be working together so when we do go back to the states she'll be okay with reading and writing in English.  I am just worried she will feel dumb. First grade should be exciting. I want her to like it...

I don't know. It makes me a little nervous. We'll see how the meeting goes on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Letter to Santa

A couple nights ago Sophia and Jojo asked for my help in writing letters to Santa. There are a couple things I want to talk about in this post, and any one of them could be a whole post, but I don't really want to examine any of them in detail, so we're just doing a list.

1. I need to teach my daughters the proper way to write letters. One does not simply start letters, "I want..."

2. I never realized the many layers of deception behind the idea of Santa Claus. I thought I could just kind of gloss over it. I did not realize I would be interrogated about him. The lies I have told! What's his favorite color? What's he doing right now? How do the reindeer fly? How did he and Mrs. Claus meet? Was it a beautiful wedding? It's a web of deceit I am almost not comfortable with. Almost. Also, to my own credit, two years ago I told Sophia that the Easter Bunny wasn't real. She decided to not believe me. I TRIED. Also, if I were going to write more about this I would say something about the powerful, historical tradition of children believing in things that aren't real. But I am too undedicated tonight.

3. Sophia knows what she wants for Christmas:

A hairstyle Barbie
A snow globe
A wedding Barbie
Other specific Barbies with elaborate names/descriptions I can't be bothered to type
Bunkbeds for her baby dolls
To fly for real
To live with all the Disney Princesses
An Ariel outfit.
4. Jojo only wanted one thing:
A baby doll that pees (Don't worry everyone, we definitely have this one covered.)

5. When I pressed her a bit more she asked for,
a canopy for her bed and
NOT to fly

5. No, I don't know why Jojo has decided she does not want to fly for Christmas, but she thought about it quite a bit before she told me this.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Deployment Prayer

I know filming prayers is a little sketchy...wait, no it's not. They do it in General Conference all the time. Well, it felt kind of sketchy. Anyway, I filmed Sophie's dinner prayer tonight. The parts about Chris are very specific and have been said at every prayer in our house for the past five months. Seriously, EVERY PRAYER. She said an almost identical one the night he left and not much has changed since. If someone forgets to bless Daddy, one of the girls catches it and demands the prayer be re-said. A couple months ago, right after the Sacrament prayer Jojo jumped off her seat and said, "He forgot Daddy, Mom. He has to say it again."

Also--some context to the weird setting-- as a celebration for a day of no vomits, and because we got the tree up today, we had a picnic on our living room floor for dinner. We even moved Gracie's high chair into the living room for the occasion. That's why Soapy is praying on the ground.

Proof that we got our tree up.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I've got nothing for you...almost

Well, it's been a long day. So many exciting smells in my house. And by exciting I mean disgusting. So I really have nothing for you...except this cute picture of a cat I just stole off the internet.  Awwww...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Christmas postponed

Remember how Sophie threw up last night? Well, she continued to throw up every hour. I got out a bunch of quilts and made a little bed on her floor so I could be close by. The good news is that she is now a profi at throwing up without getting it on herself. This is a good skill for a kid to have.

So of course we were wrecked the next morning, and she was still throwing up. I got my awesome neighbor Martina to sit with her while I took Jojo to school. It turns out I shouldn't have bothered because they handed Jojo back to me later, in new clothes, because now she is sick too. Oh, and now I am sick too, but I haven't thrown up yet, so I have that going for me.

Here's the thing though--I don't mind this part of motherhood. In fact I think I really get this part of being a parent. I get frustrated with a lot of parenting. Part of this is that a lot of parenting is annoying, and another part is that it is hard for me (and I suspect most people) to keep the eternal perspective of parenting in front of me all the time. For example, I just read Bridget's post for today and I found myself huddled over the computer in a cringe as I remembered what colicky babies are like. That wasn't even the subject of the post, it was just mentioned. Oh the horror. For real, that is a dark part of life. Good luck, Bridget.

But a sick kid,who needs her mom---I get it. I don't even mind. I am glad to be there. Which is really good, because this house is full of sick kids lately. So, I am not sure how much sleep I am going to get tonight (good news, Sophie hasn't thrown up this evening yet), but I will be fine. It doesn't even make me extra sad that Chris isn't here to help even. It feels run of the mill, a normal parenting task, like packing a snack for school.

Speaking of Chris, he had his last day of internet today. He hasn't been able to Skype for about a week, and he won't be able to use internet until he's back at Kandahar. Also, he only has MRE's to eat. Which are really really gross. This is sad for him, but happy for me because it means he will be home so soon! And he isn't going on any missions anymore, which is also good news.

So that's it, oh, except the title: Christmas postponed. Sickness kind of killed our Christmas plans. But we did get the wreath on the door, so at least our neighbors know we share Christmas solidarity with them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I know I have already used this as a title this month but I am in the Christmas Spirit. I practically AM the Spirit of Christmas Present. I have been fighting the urge to decorate because it is not even Thanksgiving. I wouldn't care but I desperately want my village to think I am cool. Sometimes people who decorate too early are not cool.

Usually I am only a little impatient but Christmas is coming early this year for us (seriously compared to the first week of December, Christmas kind of seems not as big a deal) so it seems almost criminal to wait. I finally set myself down yesterday and decided that when our across the street neighbors decorated then we could decorate. FYI they are the kings of decorating for every season. They do an amazing job. They would never decorate inappropriately.

Imagine my delight when we drove home from ballet today and saw all our neighbors out decorating their yard for Christmas! I was jubilant! Maybe that's the only time I have ever written that word, but it is accurate. Tomorrow I am going to start decorating. I am going to hand my doorway wreath, and my newly acquired  garlands. I am going to hang up my window stars. I am going to deck the halls! Okay, I only have one hall so I am going to deck the hall! So much decking! Deck deck deck!

Also, Soapy just threw up. And maybe has conjunctivitis. I hope she feels like doing a lot of decking tomorrow because she is probably not going to school.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Today, a Catholic Priest exorcised my television

So about a month ago our German TV sort of busted. It wasn't exactly broken, but for all intents and purposes it was broken. I don't want to go into details because it sort of makes me look like an idiot, because I couldn't fix it. But I couldn't. This was, of course, sad because German TV is the only way I can rationalize the copious amounts of time I try to spend away from my children. They are learning German via Phineas und Ferb, it's okay to abandon them, right?

I really did try to fix it. I read the whole manual. I pressed ALL THE BUTTONS on both remotes. But nothing worked. Who do you even go to for help with a broken-but-not-really tv?

I'll tell you who: The Catholic Church.

When we went to Gerda's (the kindergarten headmistress's) house I offhandedly mentioned my problem to her. She said she knew just the person who could help me-- her friend, a Catholic Priest. And today, they drove over together and after much hemming, hawing,  and button pressing---fixed my television! That's right two people who have no reason to care about the electronics of my house got together and drove from Auerbach to my house to fix a silly problem. God is good. People are kind.

I can't tell you who was more delighted, me, Gerda or the priest. They were sincerely happy to serve me. So many smiles. I tried to pay him, but he of course refused, so I gave him a plate of pumpkin chocolate cookies, which maybe Germans hate. 

And now I have a serious soft spot for the Catholic church. Seriously, other than my own, Catholicism is my favorite religion. Good people, those Catholics. Except for the Spanish Inquisition---but I think we all know that was unexpected...

(hahahahahaha I'm so funny)

Hooray for German television, the Catholic church, and especially, kind people.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Not a proportional response

So all day long I have felt really guilty about not going to church today. We had our one primary practice before the primary program today, and they REALLY could have used my help, but I didn't show up. I feel like a total jerk. Why did I not go? Because Jojo was sick. She threw up right as she was going down the stairs to get into the car. I cleaned her up and, she seemed better and I really thought I should go to church anyway so we all piled in the car...and she threw up again half way there. So we gave up and came home where we spent our day eating applesauce and toast and reading The Princess and the Goblin.

I had an excellent reason to stay home but I still felt super guilty. Unecessarily guilty. It's not like primary programs are the end of the world. It's not like I am not totally replaceable as a primary program helper...but still. The guilt. 

It always bothers me when my emotions don't match up with my reality. When I am  really sad for silly reasons or lose my temper over nothing. I know everyone does it but it makes me feel terribly unbalanced. Also, I feel, in some ways it diminishes my credibility. (I'm not sure with whom, because I usually don't talk about it much.) It's such an adolescent thing. Such a stereotypically, sexist girl thing. To be consumed by unprovoked emotion, especially when it is related to my period (which frankly it often is).

I think it's totally normal, it but also manifests in mental illness sometimes.There was a girl I met at the eating disorder clinic who told me this weird thing. Her eating disorder was really the least of her problems. She did this thing where anytime she heard about people doing something awful, she felt like she had done it. For example if she was watching the news about a mother who had beaten her baby, she felt like she was that person. Even though logically she knew she hadn't she felt the guilt and the badness of it. What a horrible thing. It made her work triply hard to be a good person. She was really young, college age, and was a straight A student who had already been a Relief SOciety President multiple times. She said she was spending her whole life trying to prove she was the person she felt like. She was really sad all the time and always trying to hide it. It was kind of heartbreaking to watch.

Now that I think about it, you can see this illogical emotion(I wish I knew a more accurate term) a lot in depression. Sometimes instead of feeling more strongly than the situation merits you feel less. I've done that, in fact I use it as a measurement for when I am really depressed. Things that normally I would be excited about or that would make me laugh leave me feeling...nothing. And sometimes I can't imagine being happy. Not that I am sad either, just nothing. Luckily for me I have always been on the mild side of this. Have you already read Hyperbole and a Half's depression posts? You should. They are pretty tragic and educational. Always a good mix.

Anyway now I am thinking about depression and feeling dark and moody, which is not where I particularly wanted to go this evening. Luckily, LUCKILY, this is just a result of PMS and not severe depression. Wow, I am so lucky for that. Depression is a scary thing. I encourage you all to think more about depression and to learn some warning signs for yourself and for others. Because depression is sooooo sneaky. It sneaks up on you and you think it's part of your personality. You think that it's just the way you are. But that's a lie, it's no more a part of you than a cold. The good news is that unlike a common cold, there are treatments for it. Things you can do yourself and things other people can do for you. 

The end.

p.s. Can anyone identify where the title comes from?

Saturday, November 16, 2013


I tell you what, the small animal show was not as charming this year as it was last year. I think it was because I actually knew there would be no rabbit races. Or maybe it was this freaky rabbit man that greeted us. 

The girls had a great time and I actually knew a lot of people who came. In fact I was baffled by the large turnout. I saw quite a few people there who I know for a FACT do not own rabbits or ducks or geese or chickens. There were quite a few of the old widows in our town there. I don't know what the draw is. Also, they did not look surprised at all to see me there, and I don't know what that means either.

Still the girls had an awesome time. There were some very pretty chickens there with brown feathers with black outlines. And there were quite a few roosters that were at least twice as big as Gracie. We were all a little scared of them. And there were a few chickens that looked like they were covered in really soft, white rabbit fur. No joke I had to look twice to make sure they weren't rabbits.

We saw no bloody eggs this year but some guy gave us these chicken trading cards so I feel that was a step up.

All in all, the girls were pretty delighted/frightened and I was bored/frightened. 

I would like to leave you with this inspirational meme I came across:

Friday, November 15, 2013

It feels so right to be here with you, oohhh.

We tried to memorize the first song of High School Musical tonight. Well, actually first we tried to memorize a different song from one of the shows: "You are the music in me." Jojo picked it and it's pretty catchy-- but once I got the lyrics in front of me I realized they didn't actually make sense. I'm not going to have my daughters memorize nonsense.

Instead, we just went with the first song which happens to be "The start of something new." I now have the first verse and chorus memorized and I think Sophie might as well--but it's hard to tell. It turns out you can't sing High School Musical without dancing to it. And when you are dancing you have to concentrate on your amazing twirls so you can only sing every three words. 

So, the memorization may have not been a success, but it turned into a wild dance party, and anything that turns into a wild dance party, in our house, pretty much counts a success. So...we'll probably be doing it again.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Welcome to Ikea!

Over the past few months I have been getting real furniture for the older girls room. Their furniture used to consist of two plastic sets of drawers, Jojo's toddlers bed, and two army-loaned mattresses stacked on each other that we called Sophie's bed. Now, because I love Ikea and I love bunkbeds, this is what their room looks like.

This is Sophie's bed. The little cover thing came for free when I bought one of the bunkbeds off the equivalent of Craigslist here. I thought it would be a problem only having one--but Jojo doesn't like the dark so she didn't want it.

And here is Jojo's side. At night time I sit on the bench made by their drawers and lean against the heater while I read Little House on the Prairie to them. Well, while I USED to read Little House on the Prairie to them. We just finished tonight. We also started Little House in the Big Woods.

And here, is me being brilliant. The area under Jojo's bed is kind of dark. Eventually, I am going to go to Ikea again and buy two more mattresses (and some hot dogs) for the bottom bunks. I'm also going to make little curtains for them. I wanted some kind of light...but I didn't want them to bang their heads on it or burn their fingers on the bulb...then I remembered we have a bunch of Christmas lights I got on clearance last year. Problem solved! I am so smart and goodlooking.

Also, speaking of me being an awesome mom (probably better than all of you), now that Sophie is kind of on a roll memorizing stuff, I want her to memorize more. We memorized the first article of faith today (Seriously, it's so easy for her. I can't decide if she's just a genius (probably smarter than your kids) or I am just very bad at memorizing (I am horrific at memorizing). But either way, I figure memorizing things is something that as a society we do less and less, and I think is a valuable tool. Also, it's cool to memorize things.

But the articles of faith are a) kind of boring and b) something tons of people are going to have her memorize. I thought poetry might be a cool way to start. For about five minutes I had a little daydream about my girls belting out Tyger Tyger. But...the poetry for kids is boring to me, and the poetry I like is boring for kids. Maybe we will just do songs, actually. I don't need to make this into something hard. We'll do ones they like. In other words---we are going to memorize all of High School Musical 1, 2 and 3.

Also, do you remember when I posted about the book Eleanor and Park? Well, the author has written two other books and I have now read both of them. Ohmygoodnesssogood. Yesterday I was in a bit of a funk because I finished her last book and another one doesn't come out until next JULY. That is forever. I can't bring myself to read anything else, it's just going to depress me until I can forget for a little bit how awesome her book are. I wish I hadn't read them so fast. 

Also, I am having a real problem caring about other people lately. I can't imagine why I should care about anything when CHRIS IS COMING HOME!  Who cares about primary programs, doing laundry, getting Sophia registered for school next year, talking to other humans? Who cares about life after December? Not me. I try to care. But it's like trying to focus on something really far away. Your eyes get tired and you pick something easier to CHRIS COMING HOME!

This post has rambled long enough.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

No more Skype

So the base that Chris is stationed at is closing down. Slowly more and more of the contracted services have been closing. Their laundry service was the first to go (at least that Chris mentioned), then their meals got a lot simpler, then lunch was eliminated completely-- they just have MRE's. Today the gym closed down, which made him super sad because he works out a lot to de-stress. Today was also the last day they will have individual internet, so it's the last day we were able to Skype.

For me this was sad but mostly good. I only have three weeks until I see him and the closer it gets the harder the waiting seems to be. If I don't see him, it's easier to forget that I am waiting for him. It's sad not to be able to tell him every single little unimportant part of my day (which I think is a definite bonus in having a spouse), but it's three weeks. No big deal.

However, it was kind of a huge blow to Sophia. I'd been prepping her, but each time I reminded her she burst into tears. I swear that kid feels every emotion three times as strongly as other people. She understands days and weeks and months, but it doesn't matter. Those times FEEL longer as a kid. All she can focus on is she won't be able to talk to her dad tomorrow or the next day.

So, sad Skype night.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I've been picking people's Christmas presents out today. It is both fun and stressful. I really like giving gifts. Trying to figure out what people would like, ESPECIALLY when the people don't even know themselves is very...sleuthy. Which is not a word but still works.  I like the challenge.

The easiest person to buy a present for is Sophia, my five year old.  Mostly, because she already knows and has specifically told me, but also because she is a clear glass of water when it comes to likes and dislikes.

Jojo, my three year old, is harder. She has no idea what she likes, so that's one thing, but also what her sister likes affects what she likes, but not always in the same way. For example if Sophie likes pink(and she does) some days this means that Jojo likes pink too and other days it means Jojo likes black.

But, actually, I've pretty much bought all three of my daughters presents this year already--with the exception of some doll beds that I'm going to make. Today, I was shopping for my sister-in-law Alison's present, as well as presents for my brother Matt, and his family. The bad news Ali, is that a lot of the things on your Pinterest board are no longer for sale so you might want to update them. The good news is I found a cool present that Chris and I both like for you so you don't have to update your board. So that is awesome.

My brother Matt's family is a little trickier. He's in Pakistan; what's a good gift for someone in Pakistan? He already has a gun. Also I am not really sure what to get his kids ages 8 and 10. I am thinking Shrinky Dinks. Are those cool? Is there another gift you recommend/

Also, I need to get some Christmas music. I am taking recommendations. What are you favorite Christmas Albums?

Also since this kind of a random post anyway, here's a picture from tonight.

 Skype is such a huge part of my life now. I never thought it would be, but it is so normal now. That will change in a couple daysbecause they shut down the internet at Chris's base soon, and he comes home in less than a month! Whoop Whoop!

When I think about and talk about Christmas,  that is all I am really thinking about.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Martinstag and Laternefest!

There are two churches in our town. There is a Catholic church and an Evangelist church. Last year the Martinstag celebration was held in the Catholic church and this year it was held in the Evangelist church. This is interesting because  Evangelists don't have saints but as one of my neighbors pointed out to me, everyone and everything has been here a long time and everything gets a little mixed up. If you look the picture above you'll notice that the background doesn't look like an evangelist church anyway, because it's actually an old Catholic church building converted to an evangelist church. 

That is where Sophia gave her first church talk. And she rocked it. I was super proud. Not a hesitation. She gave her little part in a clear voice and smiled big right at me when both her parts were done.  She felt like such a superstar all night because she did so well. Here's a video of her saying her first little part. You probably can't even hear it, but I was so proud I had to include it.

Walking with lanterns.

This little girl was dressed up unconvincingly as St. Martin. I was not fooled.

Singing wit Jamin, Sophia's best friend.

I don't know what dinosaur cookies have to do with St Martin's day, but the girls loved them.

I saw this on our walk home: beam me up Scotty!

See the blatant hero worship in Gracie's eyes?

This girls wants to be exactly like her sisters.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Well, at least it is still Sunday in the U.S.

I forgot to post before I went to bed. I'm only up now because Jojo woke up and started crying because her blanket wasn't on her straight. (Sometimes kids are jerks.) At least I remembered I needed to post.

Here are some items of significance:

1. After a whole year, Jojo is finally potty-trained!

2. Sophia has memorized her lines for Laternefest perfectly which is  good because it's tomorrow.

3. We were also give her part for the Primary program today. When I told her about it she asked if it was in German. When I said no she said, "It will be sooo easy!" True.

4. Gracie just woke up again. For the fourth time tonight. She has a cold.

5. I am wearing my footie pajamas again.

Happy Veteran's Day.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I guess I just got a little carried away

So, as I was taking my pumpkin chocolate chip cookies out of the oven today, I realized that I had quite a few sweet things in my house. Let me catalog them for you

1. half a batch of the aforementioned cookies (the other half is still dough)
2. a pumpkin pie
3. a whole cake
4. a tub of ice cream
5. a package of cinnamon ice cream stars (I have never had these before. They looked intriguing which is why we have them.)
6. a large bowl full of leftover Halloween candy

Now is the part where I tell you about the party we are about to have/recently had that explains these things. Nope. We haven't done anything with friends in days. This has somehow just...accumulated. It's crazy too, because I don't even like ice cream. And I don't mind pumpkin, but I don't ever crave it. And yet...

I don't know how this even happened. I also don't know whether to feel delighted or disgusted.

Also--side note--thanks to Laura Ingalls Wilder my daughters are terrified of Indians. Well, Native Americans, but they don't know them by that name. Whenever they are trying to scare me, they pretend to be Indians. Sophie was looking in a Playmobil catalog and came across a cute little Indian girl figure with a baby on her back. She looked at me with wide eyes and whispered, "Look Mom! Scary!" Awesome.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Eleanor and Park

I  finished reading Eleanor & Park early this afternoon. I really loved reading this book! The author, despite being named Rainbow, did a spectacular job. So many times as I was reading I thought, "Look at that! She got it exactly right here! This situation she describes, that's perfect, that's exactly how it is!" I was so impressed with her ability to capture the moment that it wasn't until I finished the book that I realized ...I had never experienced the moments she was describing. I shouldn't be able to know if she did a good job or not. I have never been an Asian boy who has sometimes wants to wear eyeliner. Or a big, curly-haired girl who has a desperate and explosive home life.  I don't have much in common with the characters in this book at all, other than I also went to high school. But, by the way, I know she got it spot on. Like the way, even though I know very little about gymnastics, I know when a gymnast nails it.

It reminded me of this book I read by J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters, and Seymour, an Introduction (get over the long double title, it's an excellent book). In it the narrator describes a little girl that walks up to this family looking so sweet and perfect one of the boys in the family, who likes the little girl a lot and is good friends with her, throws a rock at her face. Now that's a terrible thing to do, but when I read it, I totally understood why someone might do such a thing. I might have even done it myself. (Side note, I've thought a lot about why he threw the rock, and here is my conclusion: I think it was because she looked so perfect he was compelled to--the same way we are all a little compelled to step into freshly fallen snow. It's so beautiful we just have to be a part of it, even if the only way to do so is by destroying it.)

That, is what I think of as good writing: when you can stick a stranger into a situation that is totally foreign to them and get them to understand it through another person's eyes. A good author can sink the reader into another person, suspend their disbelief enough to have them feel totally differently about a situation than they normally would--not indefinitely, but enough for the story. Man what talent. And what a gift. This is why reading is such a big deal. You can never be someone else, you can't really, truly understand someone else. Tennessee Williams said we are all sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins. But a book...a book so much more than a movie, or a play, or a conversation requires you to come as close as language allows. We are so lucky to have books.

Well this is a rambling post. I love books. This was a fun one.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thank you and a confession

So first of all I would like to thank you guys for your suggestions to me. When you suggested books I went online and requested every one that I hadn't read from the library. I admit I am not really excited to have to look my librarian in the face when I pick of the snogging one. They're Germans though, so maybe they won't know what snogging means?

Also,  I like the idea of the pumpkin cookies for the Christmas sale. I also really like the fruit pizza idea for the big-end-of-the-year-fancy-cakes school party. I am going to have to think about doing an American flag on them. I'm not sure if that would make them awesome or too 'Murica here. Having an army base nearby taints the idea of American stuff here in a way that is different than in a more diverse place like Sharjah. However, I just realized that a lot of how I think non-Americans view the US comes from my mission--which was in Greece during the post 9-11 Bush years. Not the best time/place to be an American. Especially a missionary American. I may have to update my views of foreign opinions of the USA.

Anyway, here is my confession: I am sitting here, typing this wearing footie pajamas. I am one of those people who is always cold. Every so often before Chris deployed, I would tell him how cold I was going to be with him gone, so he ordered me some blue, penguin-covered pajamas. I thought they were a bit of a gag gift at first. But in the past five nights I have worn them four times. I look...ridiculous, but I am so warm. Jojo and Soapy think they are really cool. I hope that is still true in ten years because I kind of love how these feel. Maybe I will buy a Snuggie next. Here is a picture of me wearing my pajamas.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Some repeats

So if you blog only one month a year, every year, you are bound to get some repeated themes. There's usually Halloween recaps and Thanksgiving posts, but this year we also have two other holidays to celebrate: Laternefest and the Kleintieraustellung. If you remember, last year I was super excited for Laternefest and it ended up being super boring and full of crying baby at the the end. This year, I had decided that we were just going to skip the whole boring Catholic church service, and just jump into the parade at the end which would make Laternefest last a total of 15 minutes for us. But it turns out that since Sophia is now five and a Vorschulkind, she has a part in the program. So not only do we have to go, we have to prepare for the Catholic service. Since Sophie was too nervous to give her part in the primary program last year, her first participation in a church program will be in German in a Catholic church celebrating St. Martin's Day.

Every child has one little line to say. Except for one kid, who has two lines. And that kid is Sophia.
That's right. They gave the one non-German twice as much to say as everyone else. I really don't know why. Sophia asked if it was because she was the only smart kid in her class. I told her that wasn't true, but I hmay have led her to believe that she has a better memory than any of her peers. Partly because she really does have a great memory, and partly because it 's really hard to memorize something in a different language, especially when you can't read. And the German words are not ones she is ncecessarily familiar with from the playground. But we've been working on them. She's memorized one and the other one is a lot easier, so she should get it soom. Laternefest/St Martinstag is on Monday so we have some time still. It will be exciting...boring.

Also this month is the Kleintieraustellung. This is not actually a holiday. Okay, it's not a holiday at all. It's just a small animal show for people who buy livestock. But we went last year and randomly had an awesome time.  I thought it was  a one time event in Konigstein, but yesterday the sign popped up again! So unless something happens we will go later this month. Maybe we will see another bloody egg.

Oh, and I just remembered, our town is having a Christmas Market and we're selling cookies to raise money for the Kindergarten so I have to make cookies again that are beautiful and American so that everyone will love me and my country. I am thinking of snickerdoodles this year. Thoughts? Last year I did those hershey kiss and peanutbutter ones.

Those are the little things I am looking forward to this month.

Also as I was finding the posts for those links above, I came across my favorite knock knock joke, and it's still pretty funny. Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I have this friend named Jessi Duncan (formerly Jessi Lewis). I may have mentioned her on this blog before. We met in college when she and my brother were in the same gymnastic class. This should be a blog post about her. We had some hilarious times together. I could write about the time she dropped her cell phone in the cement mixer. I could write about how she and I joined BYU's poetry club together, partly because we liked poetry but mostly because of a boy. She moved in a lot more circles than I did and she told me a lot of interesting things about being a black Mormon, a black girl at BYU, and a black girl marrying a white boy. I loved hanging out with her and haveing surreal experiences with her other friends, who were always so unusual. Some had unusual names like Big Mama and John Wayne, but they were regular people, except they were usually more beautiful than regular people. Sometimes she went by the nickname "The great Atlantic Sea Squirrel" I don't know why. I could write about how she was friends with more people that I even knew---no joke I've never met anyone more social in my life-- and I couldn't believe with all those friends she had, she wanted to hang out with me. When I got married and she came back off her mission she carefully investigated, then wholeheartedly approved of Chris and became a staple in our apartment.

She married this gentle and funny photographer/social worker named Brayden, and went off to live in Arkansas. They have three little boys, all who are super close in age to my little girls. I don't think they have more than a few months between their ages. Their middle boy, Ben. is only a few days older than Jojo. We have definitely talked about having a triple wedding in the temple. Good genes, and we'd save money!

So, the title of this blog post kind of gives it away that this is not just a nostalgic post about Jessi. I'm glad it gives it away, because leukemia is enough of a surprise, we don't need a stupid blog post sneaking it in behind our backs. Ben was just officially diagnosed with leukemia yesterday. I haven't seen Jessi in about two years but I have been bursting into tears off an on for the last two days.

I can't even...I've been reading about AML, which is the kind he has, online and...oh man, it is really not good. 

It's so strange too---my life is awesome right now. I am right on the brink of having all my dreams come true. I am really happy. I think about my life and the little things that take up my day, and I'm content and excited And then I'll remember that Ben has Leukemia and I will just start crying. It is so strange that humans can feel so happy and hopeful and horrified and sad within seconds--and go back and forth between the two. I hope Jessi and Brayden have some kind of relief like that too, some kind of break where they can feel happiness and humor...but when I try to imagine it, it's hard. I can't really, but humans do that right? You can't be sad all the time, just like you can't be happy all the time.

Anyway, I am trying to figure out how to help. I am praying a lot, and would ask you to say a prayer too for Ben Duncan. And I am sending a package with a gift card to pizza place (or maybe I'll just send the equivalent money because that seems more practical) and then a couple Advent calendars so that Ben can have something Christmasy that is not edible--because the Chemo will probably make him not so hungry. Any other ideas on what would help? I don't know what would help him or his parents.

Anyway sorry for the sadness. This is why I hate sad books now. There is so much sadness in other places, why invent more for books? Why invent anything but joy? Please pray for Ben.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Best blog post of the year

Chris is coming home for Christmas! His deployment ends early and he'll be home in December!

p.s. When I searched google images for "happiest day of my life" this picture popped up. I don't think picture accurately depicts my immediate feelings, but I'm not sure when I will have an appropriate time to post this so I thought I better 
do it now.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

High School Musical

Have you seen this show? If not, you should see it. I unabashedly endorse High School Musical. In fact, I love it.

I'm not being sarcastic. I first watched it soon after Chris and I got married, when I was working in an eating disorder clinic. It was Friday night, which was movie night. Despite making fun of it, the girls had voted almost unanimously to rent High School Musical.

A little bit of back story: for a lot of the girls at the center, eating disorders were ways of coping with uncontrollable things in their lives, like mental illness and, mostly, sexual abuse. About 75% of the girls at the center at that time had been sexually assaulted. This was a live in, super intensive clinic, so this definitely doesn't apply to eating disorders in general. These are cases so extreme these girls were unable to leave and not allowed to pee with the door closed. (Side note, I have seen a lot of girls pee.) Also, I am no expert on eating disorders. I am just telling a story here.

So anyway, the eating disorder gave them a way to control something in a world that mostly controlled them. The disorder was a crutch that helped them get through their lives. The center worked hard to help the girls get rid of the disorder. It is a really great facility. The problem is that when you take away someone's crutch, they are going to fall. A lot. And that particular Friday there was a lot of falling going on.

It was a horrific day. The girls and women had been breaking down right and left. There is always a little heartbreak going on in the center--it's a hard place. But that day was the hardest I had ever seen.

Everyone was either crying or extremely gloomy that evening as we went down to the basement lounge. There was always a snack in the evening but for movie night the snack was optional and this evening practically no one took anything for snack. So you know things were bad. Anyway, then we put on High School Musical and suddenly, there were Troy and Gabriela singing their little hearts out about basketball, and high school crushes, and being yourself. Such lovely superficiality! We came out of that movie and the whole mood of the floor had shifted. Girls were giggling, everyone was smiling. It didn't solve any problems but it gave everyone a break. I really think that High School Musical was an answer to so many prayers that evening.

It's just this innocent little love story and don't-be-afraid-to-be-yourself story. And there is dancing and singing. So much silly dancing and singing. There is even dancing with basketballs. So ridiculous and delightful.

I feel like you are making fun of me a little in your heads. Stop it. This show has great merit.

I didn't mean to go off into this tangent from my past about the eating disorder clinic. Mostly I meant to tell you that Soapy saw a preview for it and asked who those "beautiful dancers" were and if we could see the movie. So I got it from the library and you should have seen Sophie's face during the first song. She kept saying, "They are singing so beautifully, Mama! So beautiful!" Here's the song. And here's a picture of them singing the song.

We have watched High School Musical 1 and 2 several times now. I think that maybe Soapy was born to watch this show. It is so fun. Perhaps more fun has been all the High School Musical Dance parties we've been having. I also am quite pleased with Sophie's inward struggle to understand how the blonde,
Barbie-esque girl who wears pink and glitter and sparkles is the villain (okay, as close to the villain as there is in this show). I think it is helping build her character.

In conclusion, High School Musical is awesome. At least I think I can count on Ali to agree with me...unless she has out grown it. Happy Sunday.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


A few things happened today that I feel are worthy of note:

1. We had cream of broccoli soup for dinner. Because it is very green the girls call it "Monster Soup" and are not too excited to eat it. But tonight I hollowed out some brotchen into small bread bowls and they thought that was very cool and ate every drop. So basically I'm the coolest mom in the world. 

2. The head mistress of our kindergarten, Gerda,  had us over for a visit today. When she invited me, she told me she had had a dream that we should come over. I told her that if she had a dream about it we had better come! So we went over and did a little craft with the girls, had a German lunch,  then she made cookies with the older girls while I tried to rock Gracie to sleep. (Side note: Gracie has been kind of sick for a while. We have a doctor's appointment on Monday--I'll keep you posted on how she's doing.) It was really fun. Mostly I think she is just a little horrified by the idea of deployment and wants to help us out. I think this is impressive because it's kind of a big deal to me to invite someone over I don't know very well, and a HUGE deal to invite someone over who doesn't speak my native language. I think she is a pretty quality individual. If I ever think I have a tick on my neck, I may even ask her to investigate.

3. So a few weeks ago the girls and I made the huge and happy switch from reading picture books before bed, to reading Little House on the Prairie. This has seriously changed our lives for the better. Thanks to Bridget for writing about doing it first with her girls so I would think to do it.

I thought it would be too old for them, but they are completely entranced by it. I think they got hooked with the idea of a family of three little girls moving away from their home. We move a lot and we have three little girls so... they saw the connection. Today they lay in their bunk beds for almost an hour while I read to them. FYI I do not usually read to them for an hour. Fifteen minutes MAX is good enough for me, but today I got caught up in the story. Man, that is a compelling book. Everyone had fever n' ague and I suddenly realized I didn't remember when Mary went blind and maybe this was it...and before I knew it almost an hour had gone by. It was refreshing to feel like I was spending quality time with my kids and educating them (you know, teaching them important words like "fiddle" and "wagon box") while at the same time having fun. Sometimes it is hard for me to have fun while spending time with my kids. I love my kids, and I love spending time with them, but sometimes fun is not the appropriate adjective to use. I have long suspected/hoped that the older my kids get the more fun I will be able to have with them. So far this seems to be true.

4. Yesterday I finished reading The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford. I am looking for other book recommendations. Specifically, I'm looking for fiction with a happy ending, or, if it has to be a sad ending, I want it to not be sneaky about it, but to let me know right away. For example, this last book started at the ending and jumped back and forth in time so I knew there was going to be sadness right from the beginning that I could prepare myself for. Any genre will do--- there just can't be any sneaky sadness. And don't judge: I have a Master's in English, I can read what I want.

5. That's all. Happy Saturday.

Friday, November 1, 2013

NABLOPOMO! Also, deployment and tick problems

So it's Nablopomo(National Blog Posting Month) and I am in. That means I'll be posting everyday in November and then most likely not touching my blog until next November.I done this for enough years that I can't stop now. It's become a fun little snapshot of my year.

So, I wanted to write a little bit about what it is like to have your husband deployed to Afghanistan. There are hurdles that no one talks about, and you might not expect. I will tell you about one now:

(Oh, quick recap for my hordes of readers who aren't quite up to date on my life: I'm still living in Germany, Chris is deployed to Afghanistan, and the girls are now ages five, three, and one. I think that is all you need to know for this post. Oh, and the closest Americans I know of live about a 15 minute car ride away.)

A couple months ago I rubbed my neck and felt a weird bump. I did some exploration: not a mole. Something foreign. Maybe a tick? Ticks have been pretty bad this year. We'd been doing a lot of hiking and I'd removed several ticks from myself and the girls. But, there are only so many places you can check yourself without a spouse. I'd actually worried a bit about this and had even considered asking my visiting teachers to tick-check my back at church, but I think that might be weird.

I started to mildly panic at the thought of having a bloodsucking bug on me. I tried to see a reflection of it in  the mirror but I couldn't get a good angle. I tried to take pictures of it with my camera, but it was too close and all I could see was this unfocused black dot.

Finally I make Sophie, who is all of five years old, look at it. "Oh yeah, Mom." She says nonchalantly as she goes back to watching Barbie's Diamond Castle, "That's a bug on your neck."

I could have gone into the Health Clinic, except it was Friday evening and they were closed until Monday. There was no way I was waiting till Monday, or even another minute to get that thing off me. I grabbed the tweezers and tried to figure out where the little sucker's head was. I couldn't figure it out--I couldn't even get a good grip on the monster. I needed outside help, but because of the war in Afghanistan I did not have the resource I needed to removed the monster.

I considered my options, and finally decided to approach my neighbor Martina who used to work in a hospital and so maybe wouldn't mind. I tell you what, until you have tried to explain to someone in a foreign language that you want them to take a tick of your neck, you haven't really lived.

By the way, I chose well. Martina is a superior human being. She didn't even act surprised. She brought me into her house got a light to examine the thing. She even grabbed her son to come and give a second opinion (okay, honestly I could have done without the 12 year old boy being brought into the situation, but beggars can't be choosers). After much serious consultation and some light scratching she told me it was not a tick but maybe some kind of scab over a mole.


So this is why we shouldn't have war, so I don't have to ask perfectly nice people to look at my scabby moles. Sigh. Anyway, Martina was really gracious and said that ticks are really serious and I should always come over to her for stuff like this. I have really great neighbors.

And now I am going to bed satisfied that in my first post for Nablopomo I have managed to include the phrase "scabby moles."