Dano, Melissa, Kennedy, Ethan, Erin, Abigail, and Emily

Dano, Melissa, Kennedy, Ethan, Erin, Abigail, and Emily

12 November 2011

Octoblur

How did this month pass so quickly? To me it seems a little like a blur. Thanks to my calendar and iPhoto, though, I know we were at least on the radar.

Our month began with a weekend of conferences from our church. We listened to eight hours, delayed of course, of talks from our church leaders in Salt Lake City, Utah, as well as music from The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We loved being able to watch again. After moving overseas, it really resonates with me when “those participating around the world” are welcomed. I loved that our children enjoyed listening to every session. I loved that we had my grandmother’s famous cottage cheese pancakes. I hate cottage cheese, but these are sublime!!!

I love that Emily had her first taste of them and wanted more, more, MORE!
I love that Abby loved raspberries with hers (even if she had to play with them first).
I love that Erin loved hers with my first-ever batch of homemade apple butter. It’s fun to live here and get produce from places I’d never expect. Our grapes often come from Greece, our oranges from Egypt, and these raspberries were from Portugal, though the sources change all the time. It’s the fruit imported from USA that is expensive. In Saudi, we could buy a 5 oz box of blueberries for $8 or a pound of cherries for around $30! But that’s another story…


The next day on our way to school we saw some men working on a dirt strip near a field. The previous week we had seen a tractor tilling the ground. They now had several stacks of pallets. As I drove a little slower, I realized each pallet was full of bulbs. They were planting tulips! As seen in the picture, there were so many bulbs!! I think they planted three rows here. Abigail, Emily, and I stopped on the way home from preschool to catch a shot. They gave us a hearty wave and kept on planting. They had to. Look at all those bulbs! (You might have to click on the picture to enlarge it.)They were covered up with dirt the next morning appearing undisturbed as though nothing had happened. We can't wait to see the tulips come up in the spring.
This church is behind the tulip-planters. It is an old church in Wassenaar. We love hearing the bells. I can’t, though, tell what the abundant, red flowers are…maybe poppies. They supply such a vibrant border for the field.


This month Emily attempted to learn to dress herself. She still needs help selecting matching outfits and proper fitting ones, (these are really for the dolls), and finding just the right shoes, but she's showing great fashion initiative!

Kennedy and Ethan participated in the Terry Fox Run at school, a fundraiser for cancer research. The middle school students ran for ninety minutes for a total of 2,988 km and raised 9,654 Euros. Kennedy enjoyed running and walking (and talking) with her friends. Ethan was very pleased (and surprised...as were we!) by his 13 km run.
We found an apple orchard here and went with a few people from the school to find some apples. It was a great little orchard, not quite like our favorite back in Ohio, but it was fun to be out picking apples. Ethan was at soccer practice so missed our fun outing. We picked Elstar apples, a sweet offspring of the Golden Delicious. After one bite, it is decisive…she likes it! We decided this year we’d make caramel apples for the kids’ teachers. Between the four of them they have twenty-eight teachers! I had fun learning how to make them and I think the kids enjoyed giving them to their teachers.
Finally it was Halloween. Halloween. Whew! What a circus it is here! Because we live in an expat community with a traditionally strong American influence, Halloween has become a much-anticipated and celebrated holiday. Here is how it works in Wassenaar. The school basically runs Halloween for the community. You register your child through the Halloween committee’s website. You also register your home if you want it to be placed on the trick-or-treat route. For every child you register to trick-or-treat, you much donate 1200 grams of candy to the Halloween committee. The committee has a theorem for redistributing the candy based on where you live (and how many potential trick-or-treaters you may have).


This year, we only registered three of our children (sorry, Kennedy and Emily!) For those three we had to donate 3600 grams of candy…that’s eight pounds!! (I think Kennedy enjoyed her girls’ movie night with her friend anyway.) One hundred houses were signed up for trick-or-treating, ours being one of them. Thursday night I looked at the map and realized we were the lone house in our neighborhood signed up. I had no idea why!! Not only that, no way would any kids venture over to our neighborhood to trick-or-treat one house. I went to the collection table Friday to pick up my candy and talked to the committee member there. Everyone here is so cheerful and helpful! They told us to take our names off the list and go out and trick-or-treat with our kids! Although, we did have to give back the garbage bag half-full of candy they were going to supplement us with. Frankly, I was shocked their system deemed us worthy of any supplement.


Saturday night came and we took our ladybug, our pioneer, and our Nutty Professor out trick-or-treating.
There were over 1100 kids registered to trick-or-treat in Wassenaar this year! That didn’t include kids from neighboring communities who decided to come join the fun, not knowing you should register (who would think?!). If you didn’t have a map that outlined the addresses of registered homes, you just followed the clumps of costumes to houses with jack-o-lanterns and porch lights. I guess the Dutch who don’t want to participate make sure to keep their porch lights out on Halloween night. Some of our friends on one street had over three hundred kids. Another friend on the reputably busiest street had over seven hundred! Can you imagine? They were supplemented with two garbage bags full of candy to pass out (in addition to what they already bought).

It was a crowded, wonderful community event with perfect weather as well. Our kids have been introduced to some new types of candies and a new style of trick-or-treating.

We have now been here for three months and it has gone quickly! If it doesn’t slow down a little, our next blog may very well be “Novemblur!”

07 November 2011

Abbyism

Lately Abby has been, out of the blue, making remarks such as, “I love Jesus” or “I want to see Jesus” and “I wonder when Jesus is coming again. I think He’s coming soon.” They’ve been very sweet and have ensued some brief but sweet conversations.

On Sunday as we were having our weekly family council she decided to bring this up again, I guess in case He was coming this week. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: Does anyone else have anything they need to discuss?
Abby: I miss Jesus.
Me: Ohhh. Me, too. (polite snickering from other participants who had never heard these interactions)
Abby: I love Jesus. I hope He comes again soon. Do you think He’s coming soon?
Me: I hope not.
Abby: (shock) Why?
Me: (shamefully) Because I’m not ready
Abby: Well, maybe I can just call him. (more snickering)
Me: How would you do that?
Abby: On the phone.
Other participant: You can’t call Jesus on the phone!
Abby: Oh…(pause)…well, I guess I’ll just Skype with Him.

27 October 2011

Happy Birthday, Emily!

Happy Birthday, Emily! After a year of chiding (and rightfully deserved) we have finally taken a family photo and added Emily to our family blog…on her birthday, no less.

We celebrated with our good friends, the Sterris, who gave Emily this wonderfully soft, over-sized pooch.
Emily’s first cake was my first attempt at homemade fondant. I have loved decorating the kids’ birthday cakes over the past several years and look forward to experimenting more with this new medium that has been so intimidating to me. She seemed to love the little ghost and the little candy corn cake Kennedy made for her. Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of it. (very cute!)
We think she was thinking, “Buttercream! Where have you been all my life?!”
Emily definitely makes our home brighter. From the beginning, she has been our “Sunshine.” She is a delightful baby who has easily learned to roll with the crazy schedule this family leads. She is officially classified as a walker, as in up on two legs. (We’ve confused Abby with this, as my sister’s married name is Walker. “She’s not a Walker! She’s a Lister!”) She loves to walk and push her little baby stroller, sometimes with a passenger, sometimes without.
As a one year old, some of the things she loves are:

*Her baby doll and blanket (the pink one with flowers; NOT the pink one with sheep)
*Talking about everything (wa-dubba-dubba, idda bidda, yudda yudda, and a lot of other serious conversational sounds)

*Jewelry (if you’ve got a necklace on, please consider sharing)
*Bananas (Mom loves Oxy Carpet Spray)
*Singing in the car (I think my Hilary Weeks is rubbing off)

*11:30 (we get to pick up Abby from pre-school…wishes it was her school)
*Hanging out with Abby when she’s home (I can see in her eyes that she truly believes she has the best big sisters ever!)

*3:30 (pick up rest of kids…loves, loves! seeing them again)
*Riding around on her little push car and rocking in the boat
*Reading books by herself or with mom or dad or one of the kids

*Talking to the animals during our drives, especially the sheep (she has a very cute “baaa baaa” and is working on “mmmooooo”)
*Playing peek-a-boo around the corners of walls or doors


Not much bothers this little one, but she is completely offended if you try to wipe her nose or put tights on her (as opposed to socks, they are very difficult to take off!)


Ethan was looking at her the other day and I could hear a sigh when he told us, “It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since she was born. It went so fast!”

Tell me about it. So will the next ten…

10 October 2011

Tale of an Odyssey

Whoever has said moving is easy has never truly moved. They’ve not lost boxes in a move. They’ve not had furniture damaged in a move. They’ve not had to learn how to cook or shop in a new place. They’ve not been frustrated by language barriers that hinder progress. They have not had to try to attain new resident status or identification. They have not had to establish themselves in a new health care system. They’ve not had to transition children between schools. Moving is exciting and thrilling, and filled with wonderfully irreplaceable opportunities. Easy - it is not.

As we sorted through boxes and unpacked we discovered that a box “fell off the truck” somewhere between here and Saudi containing and Euro pillow and King pillow that goes with our bedding ensemble. Erin has superbly rearranged the bedding to make it balanced and somewhat symmetric (she knows her mom all too well), but deep down I still know the set is incomplete and I’m frustrated.

In Jeddah as the packers were packing up our things, Dano decided it would be better to send our desktop computer and hard drive via FedEx to arrive at the offices here in The Netherlands within two weeks and not sit in a shipping container for a couple months with risk of being damaged. It never arrived and has fallen into FedEx’s black hole of untraceable boxes. Our entire family is disappointed by this (well, Emily doesn’t seem too bothered) as we occasionally recall things that were on that computer. FedEx doesn’t seem to think it’s their responsibility and is not willing to replace the computer at its full value. Where’s the accountability in that? I really want to tell them, “Then don’t replace it. Simply find it!” We have not ruled out a quick trip to Paris to scavenge their warehouse (the last known whereabouts) to find it ourselves.

Our printer, purchased in Saudi, moved to Holland, loaded with ink cartridges purchased here, won’t work. As it turns out, HP printers are regional specific regarding their ink cartridges. We have to have someone reformat our printer to accept ink cartridges anywhere outside of Saudi Arabia. As Dano says, HP is a global company. Then act like a global company and make your products consumer-friendly for your global customers.

Then there’s our beautiful Odyssey. This was not meant to be a post about a Greek war or tribute to Homer. This is about a Honda purchased February 7th in Ohio. I saw it for the first time in person when I was back in March. The car salesman had delivered it to our home and parked it in our garage. We knew we wanted to pay the extra money to ship a car rather than buy a ridiculously expensive one here that would fit our brood. Dano looked into all the requirements for importing a vehicle. One of them was you must own the vehicle for six months. This was no problem as we’d paid for it in full on February 7th and would be moving to The Netherlands the beginning of August. It would be close but we should be fine. Dano arranged for the shipping and we shipped it from Seattle in July while we were visiting my parents.

We obtained our residence status here in The Netherlands on August 12th, still six months after purchasing our van (and five days). Our van arrived the first week of September. Yea! We were ready and anxious. Then Dano received word that it did not meet the import regulations and we’d be charged the import duty taxes. The Dutch consider ownership to take place once you have registration. In the US, we consider ownership to take place once monetary transaction has been exchanged. For us, that would be February 7th. In the US, title and registration aren’t always immediate. Ours apparently were completed on February 22nd…not six months before our Dutch residency. Therein lies our problem. They’re contending we didn’t own it for six months before importing it (though it didn’t even arrive until September). The penalty: import taxes of 40% of the cost of the vehicle.

Dano and I discussed the worst-case scenario: They deny our petition and we have to pay around $16000 to get our van! That thought was really hard for me to swallow. Then another statement came informing Dano the taxes would be based on the value of the vehicle here, not what we paid. In other words, the value of a Honda Odyssey here is around $115,000 making our taxes due amount to $46,000 to collect our van...double what we paid. I was just upset when he told me this. What kind of skewed system were we working with who wasn’t understanding our situation and being so petty about dates? Clearly on paper, we owned the car six months prior to moving here!

Dano and I have discussed our next worst-case scenarios. They make me too sad and frustrated right now to write. (None of which include any of our children missing a portion of college.)

There are some days when it makes me feel badly for our nearly-new, quite-loved van sitting in a warehouse all alone waiting to be claimed. I know it’s just an inanimate object but somehow, cars become part of our family. I don’t know if anyone else ever feels this way. Sometimes I am certain I hear it calling out to me from far away in Rotterdam….Melissa….Melissa…come and get me!

Hopefully there will be an addendum in the next week or two with a happy ending. Who ever said moving was easy?

02 October 2011

Exciting Opportunities

It’s always fun to have a few treats thrown into a week as opposed to, what my mom would call, snafoos. This week one of these wonderful opportunities was having a special visitor at our school. Kennedy and Ethan were able to participate in a small assembly where Marvin Hamlisch, the incredible, renowned composer spoke and performed several of his great works. They were thoroughly impressed. Ethan was even one of the students selected to ask a question. He was giving a concert in The Hague and staying with some friends whose children attend the school. It was quickly arranged for him to spend a short time talking with a group of students. What an amazing opportunity!! I was quite jealous! I wanted to get Emily and Abigail up from their naps so I could go but thought that could potentially be more of a distraction.

Ethan is enjoying playing on a soccer team again as he made the middle school’s U12 soccer team. They traveled to Hamburg last week. Dano took Erin and Abby to cheer him on whilst Kennedy stayed home to work on loads of homework and help me unpack, a task that is seeming quite daunting this time around. I was sad we weren’t able to go. I think it’s the last time I’ll let Dano zip on over to Germany without me, though. I heard a few too many times how much he loved driving on the autobahn! How easy the trip was because of the autobahn. How it would be so great to have a Porsche to drive on the autobahn. I think when we visit Germany, I’ll be doing the driving and Dano can do the sightseeing.


This week Ethan played against an international school in Waterloo, Belgium. Everytime I think of Waterloo, Belgium, ABBA pops unwittingly into my head and won’t leave! (Waterloo…I was defeated, you won the war. Waterloo…Promise to love you forever more… Now you try to get it out of your head!) Dano was in the States doing my shopping…er… at Greif board meetings this week so I would need to make the drive on my own. Surprisingly I didn’t give it much thought. We grabbed the passports but didn’t even need them crossing the border from The Netherlands into Belgium. Going between EU countries is like crossing statelines. Very simple. Though later when I was speaking on two separate occasions to Dutch people and mentioned our trip to Belgium, they guffawed at our trip and couldn’t imagine driving farther than Rotterdam (45 minutes away) to watch a sports game. Had I mentioned Dano drove to Hamburg to watch a game, they would have thought he was insane!

It was a beautiful drive of two hours. We watched a great soccer match against St. John’s International School. It was such a beautiful day and we were so close to the Waterloo battle site that we decided to take a tour.

I'm not sure why they have a statue of Napolean and not Wellington. Maybe because the Duke has his own small museum on the property. Perhaps this is also why this statue is located in the parking lot across the street from the Waterloo museum.

I didn’t realize I knew so little about the Battle of Waterloo. Okay, yes I did. But now I’m back on the historical track and so are the kids. We all thoroughly enjoyed our two-hour stopover at the local museum. Waterloo is considered one of the greatest battles in European history, marking the end of the French Empire and Napolean’s final defeat. Had they won, we may be working and living in France right now and attempting to learn French rather than Dutch.

We watched two movies, both in French (one of the two official languages in Belgium). Fortunately there were English subtitles. As they were fast and a little technical, I read them to Erin and hoped no one else minded the English narration loudly whispered (with great vivacity, mind you) in the back. We then proceeded outside and hiked Butte de Lion’s 226 steps to the monument erected to the memory of the battle. The kids were also quite pleased to find what had to be a Buckeye tree just before the path.

The lion atop the hill symbolizes peace which caused me and Kennedy to wonder if that’s why many European currencies and crests have a lion on them.
From the hilltop we had a panoramic view of Waterloo’s battlefield and tried to envision what it was like nearly two hundred years ago. So great was the impact of this great victory here in Waterloo that now 124 towns or sites bear the name of Waterloo. Maybe there's one near you! (Many others bear the name of Wellington, leader of the British forces at Waterloo.)
The kids stood under the monument in which is etched the final day of the battle, June 18, 1815.

Although I debated stopping since Dano wouldn’t be able to enjoy it with us, I’m so glad we took the exciting opportunity. We all loved it!

24 September 2011

Our Special Erin

Our sweet Erin turned eight two weeks after moving to The Netherlands. She was sad to leave her friends in Jeddah. She was sad that her plans to be baptized in the Red Sea were not going to be realized. She was sad to think about no family or friends attending her baptism. This in turn made us hurt for her. There was nothing we could do to change the timing. Her birthday was on the fifteenth of August and school began on the seventeenth with new student orientation the week before. As our children have probably heard much too frequently, you put on a happy face and do the best you can.

On our third Sunday at church Erin was baptized. We attend an English-speaking branch of our church located in Leiden. It is made up of a few Americans and several other nationalities.


Erin looked beautiful. She asked Kennedy and me to both give talks. Ethan led the music and, in addition, he, Kennedy and Abby performed a musical number. Erin also gave a wonderful talk on why she was being baptized. Again, it was a day of mixed emotions as none of our extended family members were there, but we felt embraced by our church friends and Dano’s friends from work who also very kindly came. In all there were over seventy people. Erin was surprised and would never have thought there would be so many. I think she felt very loved and special.


We enjoyed a wonderful meal of pulled pork sandwiches and lots of food brought by the members of the branch. We surprised Erin with a flower and candy lei. Since living in Hawaii, it has been tradition to make these for special occasions. I found the local garden/floral shop and special-ordered carnations. When we went to pick them up, they were the size of a nickel. The florist kindly apologized and said they just don’t have carnations or requests for them here. I thought they were a wonderfully universal flower. (They should be!!) Dano and I quickly went for a second choice and found fifty of these daisy-type flowers. Kennedy and I strung them up Sunday morning to make a beautiful lei. (Though I think the candy lei was a bigger hit.)

I am so grateful that anywhere we go, we will have friends waiting at church. I think Erin has learned that.
I am grateful for a daughter that, underneath it all, truly understands it’s not about who is in attendance or where you’re baptized. It’s about the covenants you’re making and following in the footsteps of Jesus.

What a special girl Erin is. How we love her!

14 September 2011

Ma’salama, Jeddah

With the continued growth in Greif and the success of the building of the plant as part of the joint venture in Saudi, Dano has been asked to lead a new business within Greif. It’s an opportunity about which he’s very excited and one our entire family is looking forward to. This new adventure will take us to The Netherlands. Dano and I made a house-hunting and school-selecting trip in February and knew we would feel at home.

However, as with many moves it’s always hard to leave and wonder how the adjustment will impact each family member. There are many things we had grown to love about Jeddah that we will miss and some we will not.

We will miss seeing camels as we make long car drives. (Though we are glad to have cleared up Abby’s confusion that cows are also camels.)

We will not miss the censorship placed on blog posts and knowing e-mails can be read.

We will miss paying only $ .45/gallon of gas. I about choked when I filled up our van this summer and the total was nearly $70! Nothing close to the $15 to top off an empty, gas-guzzling Yukon.

We will not miss sand and dirt on the floors at any given hour regardless of multiple moppings.

We will miss the beautiful January and February weather and swimming during the winter.

We will not miss the scorchers of June and July.

We will miss the beauty of the crowds of white in the airport as everyone is dressed to come to perform Umra in Mecca.

We will miss seeing people stop to pray together during prayer call, even on the side of the road, and hearing Abby say, “Shh! I hear the prayer call! It’s time to pray!”

We will not miss hearing prayer call at 4:30 a.m.

The kids will not miss their uniforms. As for me, after having been a part of a school that requires uniforms, I am sold on the idea.

I will not miss the holes in the floors that pass for toilets.

I will miss the pharmacies where you can have as much prescription medication as you’d like…without a prescription.

I will not miss not being able to drive. I think I confused Abby when I sat in the driver’s seat. The other kids once again this summer complimented me on my driving abilities. For those of you wondering, after several months of not driving, it’s just like riding a bike… The longest I went without driving during our time in Saudi was seven months. Hard to imagine.

I don’t think Dano will miss driving me everywhere, though we did enjoy a lot more time in the car together than ever before. He also will admit he has never shopped more than he did during our time in Jeddah. Fortunately for me, he never complained.

We will miss our friendly guards who were probably more Abby’s friends. We won’t, however, miss armed vehicles and guards with machine guns sitting outside. We appreciated what they did for us.

I will not miss wearing an abbaya. It has taken a little to get used to it. Every now and then I don’t feel quite fully dressed when I am leaving the house. Oddly, though, there is a fondness for it. Perhaps it’s the memories. I can’t help but smile a little when I see a woman in a store or airport wearing an abbaya. I feel we have some kind of bond or that I know a little about her. They happen to be everywhere.

We will not miss the crazy drivers. We didn’t dare say it until we left, but we were amazed we left the country (alive) without being involved in one single traffic incident.

I will miss listening to Carrie Underwood’s song “My Temporary Home” and feeling it was my theme song and will always think of Jeddah fondly when I hear that song.

We will miss all of our wonderful friends. We were blessed to meet wonderful people during our time in Jeddah.

What a great and growing (nearly) two years for our family; filled with irreplaceable memories and opportunities. We look back on Jeddah with fondness and forward to Amsterdam with anticipation. Ma’salama!

(note: this was written the first of August but due to VERY slow internet service in The Netherlands is just now being posted)

27 June 2011

Abbaya Thoughts

Do you remember times as a little child always knowing which legs were your mom's to grab onto? Have you ever had a child mistakenly grab onto your jean-wrapped leg only to realize you weren't his mom? Now imagine a little child here navigating a sea of black clad women especially if their faces are covered! Initially Abby was okay with the women coming up and kissing on her and stroking her golden hair. Then after a few months it started to make her feel, well, we'll just say less than comfortable. However, these are some of the things we'll miss when we leave.

I came across this picture some time ago and found it quite funny probably because it is so true!

We had to give our own version of a family picture. Fortunately for Dano, we are still quite easily discernible.

Abby loves her very own abbya and wanted Emily to wear hers. Yes, Emily has one, too, thanks to my parents.
Erin, loving the green and wondering how she'd blow bubbles with her gum if she had to cover her face.
Kennedy couldn't stop laughing. If she really lived here, though, she wouldn't think it was very funny. Once you start wearing this, it's "goodbye" to co-ed mingling.
Who says this is confining? I say it's freedom!
No more worrying about doing your hair before going out. You only need to worry about eye make-up, and that's only if you're not wearing the part that covers your entire face. Freedom.

Wearing the abbaya cuts back on time spent in the gym as this baby is virtually a sauna suit. Run all your errands while exercising. And when you arrive at your destination, no one will even see your sweat!

Freedom from embarrassing halitosis. Not to mention, those unformidable stray pieces of leftover lunch lodged in your front teeth that no one will tell you about.

There's the awkward "unmentionables" in your nose that, again, no one will tell you about which stay perfectly hidden under a hijab.

Freedom from worrying that someone will notice if you wore the same outfit two or maybe three days in a row. Heck, there have even been a couple of times we've been on the run and I've thrown it on over my pajamas and no one was the wiser! That is a far cry better than what I've been told about other women who in the heat of the summer wear only their skivvies underneath. Freedom!

You don't trip on it that often and your children only step on it when they're not looking. You learn to pick it up getting off escalators (there are even signs to remind us) and getting in cars. When completely covered, you can walk around and no one will even know who you are. You're essentially a black ghost.

So who wouldn't want to wear this? (only forty-three more hours...until real freedom.)

When all is said and done, we think this is what they're really doing under the hijab:

17 June 2011

A Good Heart

We’ve always known Kennedy was a thoughtful girl. We’ve always known she has great potential. As she grows, it is exciting to see this potential take shape.

Last fall after watching the news reports regarding the cholera outbreak in Haiti, Kennedy wanted to do something to help the effort in Haiti. She went to talk to her form head to propose an idea for a fundraiser. She quickly arranged a “Hats off for Haiti” day where students could wear a hat to school if they donated 5 SR (Saudi Riyals). She ended up raising 320 SR which is approximately $85. She was very excited by the response and was glad she was able to help make a small contribution. As her form head gave her jurisdiction of where to donate it, we wired a transfer to the United Way.

Then last month tragedy struck in Joplin. We have some good friends from our Stillwater, OK days who live there. The husband of this family was Dano’s first boss at MerCruiser upon graduating from OSU. We were very concerned about them and everyone else whose lives were devastated by this tornado. As we sat watching everyday and wishing we were closer so we could do more, Kennedy was preparing to take action. She again came up with a fundraiser, got approval, enlisted the help of a couple of friends, and set to work. For three days they sold candy grams.

First notion to consider, fundraisers are not practiced here. Many kids didn’t really understand the concept. Second, most of the kids at school as well as the teachers did not know what candy grams are. Some bought one to be supportive then sent it to themselves.

Kennedy, though, was in her element and loved all of it. She did great with the organizing and the collecting of funds. She and her friends did great delivering the candy grams. It was because of its success that it went for three days. After the notes were all delivered, the candy all eaten, and the money all counted, Kennedy, with the help of her friends, had raised 2011 SR ($535). She is so very thrilled with this outcome. (We are so very proud of her driven desire to initiate charitable causes.) We don’t hope for any more natural disasters. We just hope for more natural leaders like Kennedy. And, when disasters do happen, we know Kennedy will always be first in line to help.

09 June 2011

Like Mother Like Daughter

When I was a little girl I had several bad experiences with eggs that resulted in my pure hate relationship with them. I can recount stories involving eggs scrambled, poached, fried, boiled, and in egg salad sandwiches…all of which end quite badly; in some cases for the egg, but in most cases for me! Actually I can think of two ways I like eggs: in quiche and cookies or cakes. I do like a good Cadbury egg at Easter time as well. But, I digress.

Abigail has turned out to be a very, very picky eater. Her dining repertoire consists of as many foods as I can count on both hands. We are always trying to get her to try new foods, but she is quite reluctant to touch anything to her lips that she is uncertain of. So, while sitting in the Frankfurt Airport lounge we were happy to see her show some interest in a hard-boiled egg. Her original interest, I believe, came because it had been dyed pink for the upcoming Easter holidays. She brought it to us and asked what it was. We told her it was an egg, like what we make quiche with. She is a fellow quiche-lover and an expert egg-cracker when assisting with any baking. Her curiosity piqued, she decided to take a bite. The following photos are of the reaction that ensued.
By the time it was actually shelled, it was too late. She had already traded up for a biscuit and told Erin to get it away from her. (Frankly, I can't blame her.) P-U!

31 May 2011

A Whirlwind Month – Part 2

I don’t know if it was all the work I did ;) , the good feeling our house emits, or just bounteous blessings, but after eight days we were signing a contract on our house! We were very surprised and feel so very, very blessed. We were planning on coming back in the summer and spending a good part of July in Ohio sorting, packing, swimming, and playing with friends. Dano and I immediately began trying to figure out how in the world to make it work…to get out of the house.We decided to cancel our spring break to South Africa and take the entire family back to Ohio instead.

We had our stopover in Dubai, where we enjoyed a wonderful stake conference for our church, then flew out of Dubai on Saturday, April 16. We arrived home late that night. Everyone was sooo happy to be in our home. We didn’t really talk about it being the last time. I think we knew what we were there to do. Unfortunately there was no swimming, but there was basketball, football, kite flying, taco salad, biscuits and gravy, taking in the view out the windows, playing on the playset, running in the rain, kids’ slumber parties in the guest room, lunchtime visits with friends at school, and cleaning. Oh, the joy of cleaning. I think that’s why there was so much of the former…to avoid the cleaning…and the sorting…


In three short days we were able to get it all done (including a trip out to Amish country) and we were (mostly) ready for the packers on Thursday. They packed our overseas shipment on Thursday and Friday. As we had decided to have our own mattresses with us, they were packed and we were left bed-less. We were offered to stay at the Greif homestead, Marycrest Farms.
We had not been able to stay there previously so were very excited to spend the Easter weekend there. I could write an entirely separate blog on the history of this remarkable place. It has such an ambiance that embraces you from the moment you drive through the gates.
It truly felt like another home for us.

The kids enjoyed running down the hills and climbing the trees. It made our two acres seem small and confining. The children were pleased to find a piano in the family room and quickly put it to good use.

They were happy the Easter Bunny found us at Marycrest. He had not been able to find us in Jordan last year.


It was a beautiful Easter day and we were glad to enjoy ham (perfect timing for that!) with our good friends the Porters.

I think this spontaneous trip to Ohio was just what our children needed. They had a great time enjoying friends
(Thanks to the Carters for hosting everyone!)
and
many of the things I wrote about before.

We surely love Ohio and look forward to moving back there…..someday.