Saturday, February 28, 2009

February in Review

Jacob has been gone all weekend on an overnight basketball trip... so I can't sleep. Here goes... my memories (and pictures to go with them) of February.

It has been a long month (thank goodness it's only 28 days!) and I won't hide the fact that I'm glad it's over. There have been some struggles, some cold weather and many plain ol' blah kind of days. But when I look back on my camera, we actually did manage to do some fun stuff. So here's to the fun stuff in February (and even the not-so-fun)!

Reading Carnival at SoHi
Feb. 7

Jacob was gone on a basketball trip so I determined not to sit at home and be bored with the kids all day. We decided to round up a bunch of friends and go to the Reading Carnival at Soldotna High School. It's basically a bunch of volunteers from different schools and other organizations that got together in a high school gym to celebrate and promote reading. Our good friends Tate and Owen came with us and Holly and her kids met us there. The kids got to meet and take pictures with Clifford the big red dog (he wasn't so big!) and the Cat in the Hat. They jumped in a funhouse, had their faces painted, won yummy cupcakes in a cakewalk, made dinosaur fossils, played bingo and won lots of books, bought some other books for 25 cents each (yeah!) and had fun running around in the commons area. It was so much fun that we ended up staying for about three hours instead of the planned one hour! We walked away with baggies full of goodies and books and lots of energy spent. All in all, a very successful outing!

Girls' Night Out and Hives

The same night, I got a babysitter and went out to dinner with a couple of girl friends. We went to a restaurant that I'd never been to (what? a good restaurant in Kenai/Soldotna? what a wonderful discovery!). I shared a really good salad and pizza with Holly. We should have stopped there, but being as this was GNO, we decided that dessert was a must. So Cold Stone Creamery it was. I had an extremely chocolatey ice cream (couldn't have packed in more chocolate if they tried) and I loved every bite of it. Funny stories were told, laughs were shared and great times were had. Unfortunately, the fun stopped there!

At about 2:00 that morning, I woke up itching like crazy. I talked myself out of going to the mirror to take a look, but when I got up later that next morning, I was covered with hives. COVERED! I suffered through them for the day, stayed home from Church on Sunday, loaded myself up on Benadryl and slept all day (literally). Then on Monday, the hives were on my lips and this worried me. I did snap a picture of myself, because it was actually quite comical (I looked like a Botox experiment gone way bad!), but my pride is keeping me from posting it! Jacob stayed home from work and took me to the doctor, who kept me "on watch" in his office for several hours. He sent Jacob running to the store two separate times to get some other medication in me immediately. He was concerned that the hives would spread in to my mouth and cause some more serious problems. After Singulair, Zyrtec and Zantac, the hives finally started to go down a bit. I came away with a bunch of medication (even an Epi pen!) but no real diagnosis.

I've had these hives periodically since I was a young teenager but nobody (including an allergist, a rheumatologist and even a biopsy) has been able to figure them out. The last time I had them was when I was pregnant with Ziya (about as far along as I am now). I do have a very slight allergy to oranges and chocolate, but I usually ignore this because I love both and constantly eat both and never have a reaction to either. My only thought is that the weird pregnancy hormones do make me react to these foods. The Cold Stone chocolate dessert may have been what put me over the edge (oops!).

Anyway, this has been one of the main reasons February has been such a yucky month for me. The hives stayed pretty bad for about a week and a half. They've gotten better, but I've just now (at the end of the month) been able to stop taking Benadryl and the other meds daily to keep them at bay. Translation: I feel like I've sleepwalked through the entire month... just barely functioning. No fun at all!

Valentine's Day Celebrating
February 12-14
Rachel hosted a Valentine's Day party for Abe's preschool kids and their siblings. The kids had a great time. They got to make a Valentine card for me (very sweet), they sang some songs and exchanged Valentines. Ziya was excited for the lollipops and Abe was excited for the pictures of Superman on his Valentine's folder.


Ammon got to go on a really fun field trip for Valentine's Day. They went to a senior home to sing friendship songs and then they went to the rink for some ice skating. I packed a lunch for Abe, Ziya and me and we went to watch for a while. It was hilarious! There were kids who have skated for one or two years and now play hockey - so they were out doing tricks, going fast and skating circles around everybody else. Then there were other kids who were terrified to step out onto the ice (thank goodness for lots of parent volunteers!). Ammon was right in the middle. He was excited to try it, but he had a hard time (he's only been ice skating once before and that was last year sometime). He got a hold of a glider (kind of like a walker for the ice) and this helped a ton. By the time we left though, he'd abandoned the glider and was doing great on his own. I love the videos because they show how much he learned in just about an hour and a half! Now he's constantly asking if we can go ice skating. I think that with basketball season ending today (the 28th), Jacob might just have some more free time to take him. They'll both love it. Now we just need to get Abe brave enough to try it (it may not have been a good thing for him to see so many of Ammon's classmates come off the ice in tears after falling).

These are the Valentines I got from my kids. They (the kids and the Valentines) are so super sweet. Abraham says his is a Spiderman Valentine because he chose red and blue!

We worked hard on our school Valentines this year. Ammon and Abe each made word searches with the names of all the kids in their classes. We printed them on pretty heart paper and attached these to pink rice krispies treats cut in the shape of hearts. It was time-consuming (we started about a week early on a day when they didn't have school because of parent-teacher conferences) but the end result was worth it! I found the idea for the word searches online and it was perfect (especially for Ammon) because he was concerned about giving girls cards that said "Be Mine" or other corny stuff like that. Funny, huh?

On Friday night, we took the kids to the Winter Carnival at Ammon's school. I volunteered to help, so I got to sit at a table and sell tickets at the entrance. Jacob was a great papi and took all three kids to do all the different activities. They had fun eating lots of sugar, fishing for treats, catching rubber duckies in a pond, bowling, eating more sugar, throwing darts at balloons, throwing cream pies at their soccer coach's face, getting Ammon's hair painted and doing a cake walk. Oh, did I mention how much sugar they had? They each won a dessert in the cake walk (Ammon chose an apple pie, Abe chose some cupcakes with Super Bowl rings on them and Ziya thankfully chose some breakfast muffins). I did get to leave my table and join my family for a while. We had a fun time. It's good to get out and just let our kids be kids.

Jacob and I got to go out to a nice dinner for our Valentine's date. We had some delicious steak, king crab, a baked potato and a really great salad with a dill dressing that took me back to Germany (long story). For dessert we enjoyed juicy strawberries dipped in chocolate with some sparkling cider. It was soooo nice to go out on a real date (it had been waaayyy too long). We talked about basketball, our kids, our future and lots of in-between stuff (not in that order!). After dinner, we went to the church so that I could practice my hymns on the organ for church the next day. Jacob noticed that the chapel was a mess, so he pulled out the vacuum and got to work while I practiced. This may have been my favorite part of our date. We were both doing what we are all asked to do, serve. Even when ours was a small and simple service, it felt so good to end our Valentine's celebrating this way.

Kenai Kardinals Basketball
December '08 - February 28, 2009

This part really deserves its own post... it has, after all, consumed much of our lives for most of the past couple of months! For his third year now, Jacob coached Kenai's freshman or "C" basketball team. A couple of the boys he coached last year, but for the most part, it was a new team. They just finished their season earlier today in Palmer. I think their overall record is 12 and 4, which pleased Jacob. They had two tough losses just last week. In both games they were behind terribly (and embarrassingly) and then made amazing comebacks... only to lose by two or three points. It literally hurt me to watch these games! I was worried that they were heading towards a sour end to their season. However, on this weekend's trip to Colony and Palmer, this bold little "C" team was the only team out of their high school's six teams to come away with victories! I just talked to Jacob a few hours ago and he sounded so happy. He said the boys just had a great time playing ball... and he had a great time coaching them. A happy ending to a happy season after all - whew!

I'll admit that I've done my fair share of complaining about this coaching thing. It's tough to have Jacob gone so much. However, I'm convinced that it's really good for him to end his teaching days with positive interactions with students (versus the not-so-positive interactions he faces all day working with sometimes resistant students). I also have to constantly remind myself that my own children enjoy going to the games, cheering for their papi, eating concession stands junk food and running around on the stage (or playing with mami on the bleachers, in Ziya's case). Jacob and I have also talked about how good it is for our boys to be around high school athletes who practice and play hard at their sport. Now he gets a whole week off (oooooh la la!) before track and field starts where he'll be coaching the high jumpers again. We've yet to decide if this (coaching) is something that we want to keep on doing (certainly not three sports in one year - NEVER AGAIN!)... but for now, GO KARDS!!!

Random Acts of Cuteness
Throughout the Month

The student council at Ammon's school designated a "Dress-up-as-your-favorite-book-character day." Ammon wanted to be Darth Vader or Batman ("but I have books that they are part of!" was his argument). After much ingenious parenting, we talked him into choosing something a little more academic. He and Abraham both absolutely love and fall to pieces laughing over Skippyjon Jones books by Judy Schachner. Alright, alright... so the cat is white and not black and his ears really should be a lot bigger - but can you see that cool tail I made him? He had a really fun time wearing his "costume" to school. He also took the book with him to school and was proud that the teacher chose to read it to the entire class -- highlighting his own costume.

My sweet little Abraham is always fighting to find his niche. We have been giving Ammon a lot of praise because he is really becoming a good little reader (and taking much pride in this, I might add). Well, just the other day, Abraham got out his puzzles and practiced and practiced putting them together over and over again until he got quite fast at them. Now he is constantly reminding us how good he is at doing puzzles. "Do you want to watch me do them again?" is his newest plea. "I'm really good at puzzles!"

Our little Ziya is just a hoot. One night after her bath, I told her it was time to read some books - and then I got busy getting Ammon and Abe out of their showers. When I came back out to the living room, this is what I found. Ziya must've gotten tired of waiting for me, so she started her own "reading." She got out her huge blanket and her doll bassinet and stroller, each with one or two babies in them, and she started reading to them... the new Downeast Outfitters catalog that just came in the mail. Hmmmmm... what is she teaching these wee little babes of hers???

Marissa Turns 14! February 22
Our niece turned 14 on the 22nd. When I met Marissa, she was only 5 years old. I remember that Jacob invited me along (it was just our second date) on an uncle/niece date that he had with her. We took her to the Del Amo Mall and went to the Disney Store where we spent a long time playing with stuffed animals and looking at princess dresses. Then we took her to eat at a Panda Express type of restaurant in the mall and she loved it! Another fun memory I have of her when she was so little is of a drive to Santa Paula - about two hours because of Los Angeles traffic. She sang to us the entire way! I was amazed that she knew so many songs! Now she's in 8th grade and she won't sing for us anymore. But she's an amazingly bright and beautiful young woman. Jacob secretly "spies" on her by talking to her teachers whenever he runs into them at district meetings. They all say the same thing about her: that girl is a real genius with artistic talent that they have not seen in many students that age. Happy 14th Birthday Marissa!

Lights Out = Family Fun at the Beach
February 23
On Monday at about 2:30 in the afternoon, the electricity went out in most of Kenai. I was taking a nap with Ziya and Abe and I wouldn't even have known except that tenants started calling me and ringing the doorbell (darn them!). Jacob, on the other hand, was a the Rec Center getting ready to start his basketball practice. In a gym with no windows, this wasn't possible - so he sent all the boys home and came home himself. After picking Ammon up from school at 3:40, we were at a loss for what to do. We are never all together at home that early in the day. The sun was shining and it was actually a pretty warm day (a whoppin' 30 degrees or so), so we decided to put on our snow gear and head down to the beach to play on the ice glaciers.

It was beautiful down there. There was some recently fallen snow on the ground, so it wasn't as slick and treacherous as the last time I went with the kids. Ammon and Abraham went straight to the water's edge, which had me pretty nervous. The thought of one of them slipping on a patch of ice and falling in to that freezing cold water just about did me in. I quickly informed Jacob that I would take good care of Ziya while he did all the water rescuing! Fortunately, everybody managed to stay dry. We jumped from glacier to glacier, broke off huge icicles that hung from them, made a slide out of a glacier edge for Ziya to go down about 100 times in a row, snapped pictures and just had some good 'ol family fun.


I'm Back!

Illness, laziness, dumbness, busy-ness... whatever "ness" it is, I just haven't been blogging. However, just earlier today, I survived a Stake Relief Society speaking assignment that has been eating all my free brain time. I feel like a free woman now! I no longer have to constantly think "I really should be working on my talk instead of doing this!" So now, I'm working on a mega-long February-in-review post. And just today, I talked to my talented friend Leaca, about my banner. So she designed this new one for me (she's also the way cool photographer of the way cool pictures of my family). Once again, yay for talented and motivating friends!