Thursday, December 22, 2011

There ought to be stupidity interventions...

Sometimes I feel like I ought to hand over my decision making to someone else. I feel that by doing so, my life would surely run smoother and I would avoid foolish choices. An example - For years,  I have had a nagging feeling that I really ought to finish my Bachelor's degree. I was foiled by meeting E, moving to the US, having children, and moving again. I have tried to quell the feeling by doing all kinds of other things, including becoming an esthetician, but I haven't quite been able to shake the desire to graduate from college. Then earlier this year, I had the brilliant notion that I could finish my degree through BYU (my college) online. Now I am left with the lingering question of why there aren't interventions for stupid decisions such as going back to school while the kids are small and the husband is never home! I was reasonably busy and somewhat stressed before. Now I am a basket case. I am only taking one class at a time and it is still killing me. I am stressing out about the class, about getting homework done and most recently about missing quite a few questions on a test. (This is obviously stress in addition to all the usual stuff I can find to stress out about...) I kind of want to quit...but then I don't want to be a quitter - or teach my kids that it is okay to quit when things get hard. On the other hand I may be replacing my sanity with a degree...Provided I actually manage to finish.
It doesn't help that I am a bit of a crazy perfectionist and stress out to the nth degree if I don't do well on a test. I do realize that I am totally broken - I just don't know how to shut up the perfectionist in my head....I wonder if they have medications for trying to get all the answers right, all the time?

I am completely aware that people do time-consuming, stressful and difficult things all the time. I have just misplaced the ability to do them with grace. Which brings me back to this - why didn't anyone stop me? And would someone like to make my decisions for me from now on?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

October Snow Storm. Or: The Year They Cancelled Halloween

It may be that I needed a bit of distance from this experience in order to write about it. Or it may be that I have just been busy trying to catch up to my life since it happened, but in any case, I think it's about time that I document our freak October snow storm that turned our usual life upside down for a good week or so.

October 29th was a Saturday and the meteorologists were promising a snow storm. I have to admit, I took it with a (large) grain of salt. First of all, it was October -- how bad could it really get? Second, our area has been known to cry wolf and cancel all kinds of things at the threat of a snow storm and then end up with a flurry. It did start to snow around noon and I figured I better head out and do errands in case it did end up getting worse. After stopping at a few stores, I realized it was coming down kind of hard, but I couldn't imagine it would be any worse than a usual Nor'Easter (That's what they call the big snow storms out here..) so I finished up and started towards home.
It is usually a ten minute drive and about five minutes into it, I was seriously questioning my decision as the third alternative street I tried was closed because of fallen branches and downed power lines. I went beyond questioning to seriously fearing for my life when a branch broke ahead of me and what looked like a power line fell onto the road. I stepped on my brakes and could just close my eyes as my brakes locked and my car continued to glide forward in the snow... It turned out to be a line of snow off a power line - thus shaped to look just like it, though I'm pretty sure it aged me right there regardless. I have never been more grateful to make it home than I was that day. E was out shoveling and I went straight to the stove to make hot chocolate for everyone. (Although if I were a drinker, that is not where I would have gone first!)

About half an hour after I arrived home, we lost power, which wasn't really a surprise after seeing the devastation the snow was causing. What was a surprise was when the power didn't come back on after a few hours. Or a few days. The first couple of days we were dealing with it pretty well. We lost power for 48 hours with Hurricane Irene in August and figured we'd be back up again soon this time too. However, the destruction statewide was much greater with Winter Storm Alfred, as our storm was named. The snow was extremely wet and heavy and it landed on branches that still had most of their leaves on them. Snow that would normally have fallen through onto the ground, was being held up by the leaves instead and the combined weight of leaves and snow proved too much for many many trees.

When the 48 hours came and went and there was no end in sight, it got harder to cope. It was cold outside and our (otherwise) awesome plaster walls kept the cold inside the house as well. And it was so bloody dark! I'm not sure what got to me the most - the cold or the dark. At night we were okay. We bundled everyone up in warm clothes and under heavy Scandinavian down comforters, so we were warm enough when we were in bed. As soon as we left bed, we were miserable though. Little S would cry when she got up, she was that cold, and the rest of us just became sluggish. It is amazing how you can actually tell that your brain is slowing down when you are freezing. We made it through the next couple of days mostly by leaving the house as much as possible and visiting friends and family. Even if they didn't have power either, it was much less miserable when it wasn't just me and the kids all by our lonesome. E was at his nice (heated) office and worked till after 10pm...(I may have been suspicious of his motives for staying late but would probably have done the same if the alternative had been reading by candlelight under the covers while your nose was freezing...)
Tuesday night we returned home and as I tucked the kiddos into their cold beds (the boys together at this point) I noticed the thermostat downstairs:

Yes, that reads 48º Fahrenheit. Which is 8.9º Celsius. Inside the house. I had been trying to just stick it out, thinking that power had to return any minute, but seeing the temperature that low, combined with the power company's vague promise of power returning maybe within a week, was enough. Little S was crying, L was coughing and I threw in the towel. The next morning I packed up the kids and drove to VA to stay with E's sister. Even with an 11 hour car drive, it was so very much worth it.

We ended up having a wonderful visit in VA and enjoyed the 60º+ weather tremendously. For weeks afterwards I felt immense gratitude every time I flipped a switch and it worked. I get that we are blessed and our few powerless days are nothing compared to what others go through for years and years. I am so grateful for the blessings of power. And light. And warm feet! And most of all, that in all the devastation that hit our state that week, that we (and our home) were safe. I am so so grateful for that!

A few pictures, mostly from our neighborhood. I wish I had my camera with me as we saw some areas that were worse than this.

Snowfall after 3 hours (the driveway has already been shoveled):  
Our yard Sunday - thankfully we didn't have any downed power lines on our property!

Trying to stay warm (I spent one evening literally reading up against the grate and I was still cold...):
 Power lines down:
 Many, many trees looked like this:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Scarecrow Parade Revisited

A nearby town has an annual scarecrow parade - local shops and companies decorate scarecrows and line them up on Main Street each fall. I went once when S was about 18 months old and have had the intention to go back each year since. This year was the first time we actually made it back there. Twice! I went with little monkey S for playgroup and then I took all the kids this Saturday. It was not as impressive as I remembered but we had a wonderful time regardless. Here's an overload of pictures from our trip out there:

And just for fun...Who allowed S to grow up so quickly?!?



Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple of My Eye

One of my favorite fall activities in New England is apple picking. I haven't been able to find a day when we could all go together this year, but baby S and I went a few weeks ago for playgroup and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. S especially enjoyed sampling apples -- several of the ones that made it home had little tiny toothmarks in them, which I at least hope are hers...:)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

End of Summer/ First Day of School

There are some blogs who at this time of year emerge with glorious photos and almost minute-by-minute (perky) accounts of all the fun that was had every waking moment all summer long by the entire family. I suppose I fall just on the far side of cynical; far enough to doubt the statements of non-stop fun, at least a little bit. Because I have just emerged from a summer with three kids, no camps and for a good part of it an overseas dad. (Well, technically we were the ones overseas, but that's not the point.) Certainly, we've had some great times. In fact we have had many, many wonderful experiences this summer and I have enjoyed spending time with my monkeys. And then there were the times I thought this summer would never end, the times where I was beyond exhausted, the bickering was non-stop and somehow someone convinced my children that my sole purpose in life was being their entertainer/ servant.
September 1, I felt a twinge of sadness for another summer gone by -- no matter what I do, those boys just won't stop growing older so quickly -- and I felt relief that school was starting. I have to confess, as they happily strode off to school on their first day, I was happy too. Don't get me wrong here - I LOVE my children. They love me. And we all love each other more when we are not together every second of every day.
So here's to another school year begun! May it be glorious and fun-filled and great. May we all learn many good things, and meet many kind people. And mostly, may we enjoy and love each other much - even if we don't have minute-by-minute accounts of fun to show for it!

P.S. OK, so in spite of my actual happiness at being back in a routine, it is indeed with a tiny bit of trepidation that I send my boys out in the world. I always worry about the blows that can wound a little heart. I know they need to grow though, and that I can't protect them from the world, so I try not to let my fears rub off on them. L actually started Kindergarten this year, and it warms my heart to watch him happily dance off to learn, make new friends and be at the same school as his older brother. He is so eager to learn and I am so thrilled to see his joy. And S is suddenly so big - too cool to hug us goodbye outside of school ( - whatever!) and yet still my sweet baby. have a fantastic year monkeys! I love you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Light Summer Nights

For those of you who wonder what summer nights really look like in Denmark...The ipod is there for proof of time - 22:18 is 10:18pm. No photoshopping involved.
Welcome to Scandinavia!

Kerteminde Cherry Festival, July 2011

A few of my favorite moments from the Cherry Festival in Kerteminde... (There were many to choose from!)

S having her first encounter with cherry soft ice from what may be one of the best ice cream places in the world:

At the marina:

P.S. Dear Family, I miss you. Please come over soon!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wedding Bells

This summer my little sister got married and I was lucky enough to be there for her and her wonderful guy's big day. They were radiating with joy and it was such a blessing to be a part of their celebration.

A few shots from their special day...

Elsker dig Søster! Og velkommen i vores (vanvittige) familie, Aan. :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summertime Update

We are still in Denmark and loving it! Time is flying by in strange surreal spurts and I am battling an urge to mourn our departure already. I tell myself that most people only go away for the amount of time we still have left here, but alas, my heart isn't easily fooled by logic...I still hate leaving my family so far away! It's funny, but every time we get here I think, I must have been off my rocker to leave my home and invade someone else's for the massive amount of time we stay for. And then as our departure time approaches, I wonder why we didn't stay longer. There are still so many things I want to do, the kids are enjoying life here and are finally more comfortable in Danish, it's such a joy to see my family and my children interact, and we've only gained a combined 50 pounds by being here -- we're clearly not ready to leave! (It's also something like 9000 degrees back home which doesn't exactly make me want to jump for joy. Unless I could bottle that and save it for January...Hmmm, something to consider.)
In any case, pictures and such will follow when I return home - if anyone who isn't here with me is even still reading this . :) Otherwise I assume blogging for journal keeping purposes is still fully acceptable.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Homeward Bound

Off to the homeland with the munchkins tomorrow for six and a half weeks. Yay. I can't wait to see my family again!!
Someone please pray my sanity makes it there too and isn't left somewhere over the Atlantic...Traveling with three is making me a bit (!) nervous. Provided we aren't ejected with a parachute mid-flight, I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is Weirdness Hereditary?

A few snapshots of the oddness around here:

Baby S chasing neighborhood boys, sporting L's helmet that she insisted on wearing. Maybe Toadette will be her new blog name...

Toadette loading a nerf gun. She does it remarkably well.  Should I be worried?

I don't even know what is going on here. But there you go - this is our home on a daily basis:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Good Days and Bad...

It has been a crazy month at the homestead...We have had some hard times - my fabulous grandma passed away - and some amazing times - I passed a final and E's sister got married. I have been a little overwhelmed by it all, not knowing where to even begin blogging. I wanted to honor my grandmother with a post and felt that blogging about anything else would seem trivial and make her passing seem inconsequential. The days went by in a flurry of activities and events and just day-to-day stuff, I couldn't wrap my mind around a post I felt would show my grandma the attention she deserves and so I just didn't blog anything.

Meanwhile, as I was feeling the guilt of not putting up a post for her while still not recording the other events and happenings in our lives, I clearly heard the voice of my grandmother in my head - several times. This is a woman, who was always outspoken and didn't sugar coat anything - and I am pretty sure her response to my lack of recording family memories because I couldn't think of the words to honor her would be blunt and possibly include the word stupid. With that, I have decided that I will post a post (heh) for her when I have the mental capacity to sit down and put it together the way I feel it should be. In the meantime, I will record some of the many great things we have been experiencing...

Last things first, S started scouts in May. An American scouting tradition is the "pinewood derby." Basically, each scout is given a small block of wood (approx. 7"x1.75"x1.25" or 18x5x3cm) and has to carve a car from that block, add wheels, and optionally weights to make the car go faster. Then the scouts race their cars down a track. I think I may have mentioned my feelings about woodworking on this blog at one time or another and I have to confess that I may have been hoping we would miss the derby this year.

Imagine my joy when we didn't miss it at all...I went through several stages of grief about this entire event, staring with despair (how will I ever help S with this?), then annoyance (I can't believe I have to figure out how to carve a car!), then anger (this is so foolish - aren't kids punished enough for their parents shortcomings?!) and then I remembered our secret weapon: E's dad is a genius when it comes to building stuff. (Not genetic, in case you are wondering why I would have been the one yielding the saw and not my dear husband...who has a lot of great skills, none of them involving tools.) Hoping for the best and remembering that grandpa once built an actual car, we went to him wooden block in hand and it turned out to be a great experience for S. He and Grandpa researched and worked on the car for hours and hours. S was so happy to be able to do this with his grandpa and I was so happy I didn't have to... As it turned out it was very fortuitous that they were at Grandpa's house, because when they were missing an axle for the car, Grandma somehow managed to find an old car with a useable axle in the basement. It was a great process for S and in the end, we all had a blast at the pinewood derby.

As a funny side-note, we all spent quite a bit of energy talking to S about the importance of participating and having fun even when you don't win. We spoke of the slim chances of winning and how in his father's scouting life, their family had only ever had one winning car. It was all to absolutely no avail. In spite of a couple of close heats, Green Lightning won the race for S's age group. The bar is set for next year's race.
Hey Grandpa, are you busy then??!

The boys ready to watch the race:

And the cars are off! Notice Green Lightning take an early lead:

It was so fast it went over the barrier at the end:

A few of the local scouts. What a handsome crew:

Proud S, sporting his ribbon and car:

Thanks Grandpa. You rock.