Thursday, August 31, 2017

New School Year 2017

School has started back up here in North Carolina.  We have 6 kids in school this year, which is just crazy to me!  And oh, the bus.  Last year buses caused great stress in my life.  That middle school bus was my undoing.  I moaned and groaned over how frustrated I was about that situation.  It was NEVER consistent about what time it would show up.  Technically, it was a 6:42 bus time.  But, from day to day it would show up anywhere between 6:28-6:50.  Can I tell you how stressful that is for me?  Since the bus stop is a few blocks away, I was not comfortable having Ellie walk alone in the dark.  So I would drive her over and wait for the bus.  Far too often we would realize we had missed the bus and would chase that stinkin' bus all over the route.  Typically we would have to leave the neighborhood to go find it.  Then I had to rush back and get Tommy to his bus stop a block away.  Then I would rush back to get the rest of the kids ready and out the door to their bus stop.  So much morning stress!  I wrote a letter a few weeks ago requesting they move all 3 stops to the intersection at the head of our street (a few houses from us).  I was summarily ignored and everything remained the same.  Well, today we pulled out the military card and requested some changes be made.  Did you know that public schools get government money for having military kids attend?  Apparently it's a pretty significant chunk of change, which is supposed to help support the military kids.  I totally used that today and so far I've had success with one bus.  Anna's bus will now come to the same intersection as the elementary school.  Now we just need to get that middle school bus to cooperate.  We won't let it go this year.  We will take it as high as it needs to go to get change.  Here's hoping it happens sooner than later (I have every confidence we will make it happen- it's just a matter of when).

But otherwise- so far, so good.  Ellie and Katie seem to be doing great with Middle School.  Ellie said band and jazz band were a bit stressful the first couple days, as it was all very new to her.  But I think she's getting the hang of it and once she is comfortable she will really enjoy herself.  In band they started her out on mallets, but apparently he moved her over to the keyboard to play the tuba part?  He has a keyboard that can play any instrument, so she's supplementing tuba.  I find that quite amusing.  Then in jazz band she is playing the piano with another girl.  They are splitting the bass and treble parts, as both girls are at fairly beginner levels.  It'll be a great way for her to really pick up piano quickly.  Katie loves being in middle school.  She is transitioning amazingly well.  It helps that she has friends in her classes and feels confident in what she is doing.  I love seeing how excited she is to follow in Ellie's footsteps.  They pick out their clothes together, make their lunches together, have coordinating binders, the same shoes (with school uniforms it's hard to get too original), and get to ride the bus together.  It really is fun to watch.

Anna is doing great so far with Kindergarten.  The way the school started out the year was quite creative.  On Monday, half of each Kinder class went to school and learned the ropes.  Then Tuesday the other half attended.  Today was the first day the full classes met.  This allowed the kids the opportunity to learn everything without the full class, which is great for the teachers, I'm sure!  I admit, I'm still a little nervous, but I think Anna will do okay.  After the open house the week before I was really concerned about Anna.  I almost cried multiple times as my confident girl closed farther and farther into herself as we met her teacher, the principle, the guidance, counselor, etc.  She even asked me to pick her up at one point.  She clearly felt out of her element there.  I was convinced I would cry big tears as I put her on the bus that first day.  But when she walked right up and onto the bus without a care, I knew she would be amazing and I only felt a small twinge of sadness and a big feeling of proud for that girl.  Sure, that first day as she was coming off the bus, the driver told me that Anna was having a hard time being willing to share her seat.  But I just smiled and said we would talk about it.  We do a lot of talking with Anna about making good choices.  But today (her 2nd day of school) Anna proudly got off the bus and told me she shared her seat.  It made me very proud of her and excited that she is finding worth in making others happy and following directions.  I hope that's happening in the classroom as well.  Anna is such a sweetheart, but with just a lot of personality and opinions.  If she puts her mind to it, that kid will conquer the world!

Tommy, Ryan and Sarah have great teachers this year.  Tommy is my sweetheart, and he has the sweetest teacher this year.  I know he will feel loved and that is perfect for him.  Ryan's teacher seems spunky and excited about her students, which is exactly what Ryan needs.  He tends to be really hard on himself, so he needs a cheerleader that will give him that positive reinforcement.  Sarah has the same teacher that Katie had last year and I really liked her.  I think Sarah will excel this year.  She has a positive attitude about school and loves to be a helper, which leads to teachers adoring her.

Evelyn is a little out of sorts.  Today was a rough day for her.  I think that being home alone is a little disconcerting.  She's had playmates all summer long and being here alone with me just doesn't feel right to her!  I'm hoping we can get into a good rhythm and really enjoy each other.  She is just so much fun to be around!

The biggest thing around here is Steve being bishop.  What a big responsibility!  It's been only 1 1/2 weeks and already he's deep in the mire.  Dealing with callings and welfare and have been the biggest things so far.  I know Steve will do his best and will be blessed in this calling.  I have every confidence that he will do his best to follow the Lord's will.  It'll be neat to watch him grow in this calling.  It was a late night tonight, though.  He didn't get home until 11:00!  I was already in bed, so after waking up and chatting for a bit, I'm wide awake and thought this a great opportunity to get some things written down!

Our fridge went out 2 weeks ago and still isn't fixed.  We had someone come do a diagnostic, order parts, and repairmen showed up today to fix the fridge, only find out that the first guy mis-diagnosed the issue.  So they have to order more parts and they're saying another 2 weeks before they can come back and fix it!  I'm grateful we have 2 fridges out in the garage to compensate for what we're missing inside!  We are all definitely ready to have the food a little more accessible, though.

I guess it's time for me to make some goals for this school year.  Since Evelyn still takes naps, I have a few hours a day to get things done.  This is something I'll really ponder on and see what I come up with.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

International Models

We heard before we got here that American kids are popular here in Korea for modeling.  I think my kids are rather adorable, so I sent in photos and info a couple months after we arrived and got settled.  Anna was picked up rather quickly and did a couple photo shoots, then it was quiet for awhile.  I will do a post about those gigs at some point, as there are aspects I don't want to forget.  But for now I am just super excited that I finally see proof of one of Anna's sessions.  A lot of the time we don't get to see final product.

For this particular shoot Anna was cast as a little boy.  The short curly hair and her height were her strong points.  I wasn't so sure while dressing her and watching her hair get "poofed" by the stylist, but I think her photos turned out amazing!  This was about 6 months ago- she seems so much younger!
She makes a pretty cute boy, huh?

the website is
Click on the photo on the right
Choose "collection"  then "season catalog" and then you can scroll through the photos.  The last 3 pages (that she is on) are probably my favorite.

While it is sometimes a pain and exhausting, it is also rather rewarding.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I'm working on it

I am actually working to update this blog.  I have a couple posts almost done and will publish soon :)

Battalion Christmas Social and a song

Steve's work had a social that was held the first day of Christmas break.  It snowed like crazy that morning and after slipping and sliding all over the place, we picked up Steve and made our way to the social.  They were having a talent show, and I decided that we need to bring more of Jesus Christ into the season for everyone, so I convinced my kids to sing this beautiful song for everyone there.  It's a song that was in the Friend a couple years back.  The kids learned it for primary and I fell in love with the music and especially the words.

Check this link below:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Accident

This has been sort of a heavy day for me today.  Steve got hold of me right before we were leaving for the bus and told me that he had been in an accident.  He texted and said he was "broad-sided.  Van is pretty messed up.  I'm ok though my ear is ringing."  So I'm thinking that the van is pretty scratched up and we'll have to get it cleaned up eventually.  I got the kids to the bus stop and had my neighbor, Julie drive me over with the insurance card.  This is what I saw...

All side airbags deployed, which explained the ringing in Steve's ears

Here's the truck that hit Steve  That driver was okay as well.

Bunch of MPs standing around with Steve looking like they're important.  See that crosswalk?  That's where the accident happened.

More than anything I was dumbfounded.  I found Steve and gave him a hug then took some pictures.  Steve said he didn't even see the guy coming.  And even after he was hit, he was a bit disoriented and drove about 100 meters down the road before stopping.  All the airbags on that side of the car deployed, which smacked Steve in the head.  He thinks the noise and the impact of the bags are why his ear was ringing so much.

After a few minutes of standing around with Steve we took the kids home to feed them breakfast.  I then called my parents to just talk it out, especially since Dad had something similar happen to him a few years back.

It was a good 2 hours of dealing with Korean and Military MPs and their paperwork before he came home.  He actually drove the van home, which was amazing.  Obviously we aren't taking it anywhere else!  But then he had to turn right back around and go to work, so I didn't even to get to talk to him.  I think I probably could have used just a few minutes alone to chat with him to settle myself down.  But work doesn't stop here and he had a meeting to get to.

A little bit later I got a phone call from Ellie wondering if Steve was okay.  And that's when I remembered that our kids' bus drove right past this scene on their way to school today!  They had to look over and see the flashing lights and their dad standing next to a rather beat-up car.  I reassured her and then not long after I got a call from Ryan's teacher.  Ryan had told her that his dad had been sent away in an ambulance and he was so incredibly upset.  Oh, it brought tears to my eyes to picture my sweet boy going through his morning thinking his dad was seriously injured!  After calming him down I emailed the other two teachers to explain things for Katie and Sarah.

Here is why it has weighed heavy on my mind:
- Steve could have been really, really hurt this morning.  That makes me sad and a bit frightened.  I'm rather fond of Steve and I don't like to even go there, but this morning I felt it.  We all know very well how dangerous it is to drive in Korea and are extremely vigilant.  But even so, Steve was still hit.  And this could have ended a lot worse.  So many scenarios ran through my mind.  What if the kids were in the car?  What if the guy was going just a little bit faster?  What if... what if...?
- We are now without any mode of transportation whatsoever.  Steve's motorcyle died last week and I've been driving him to work each day.  Now we are truly without a vehicle.  And with the rules on post about how many cars you're allowed to drive, we technically don't have permission to buy a new one yet.
- We have a pretty heavy deductible on that car.  We're still waiting to see what the insurance decides to do with the van, but this van is supposed to last us!!  
- I had plans and things to do today that were squelched and required phone calls and emails and just an overall disruption of my life.  I'm supposed to go to Seoul tomorrow and now I have to take the bus with two kids and it's just a huge inconvenience.

I don't know if those were all different points, but regardless, my emotions were raw all day and I don't like feeling so down and discouraged.  I love Steve.  I am incredibly grateful that he had angels watching over him this morning that kept him safe from harm.  This is certainly not something I wanted to have to deal with ever... let alone in Korea... but here we are and I know we'll be blessed one way or another.

Steve is feeling sore tonight and I have a feeling it'll be a lot worse tomorrow.  He will be checked out by a doctor tomorrow to be sure there's no significant damage, too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Three Blind Mice

Mouse rice.  That's what the exterminator called it when he saw all the mouse droppings under my kitchen sink.  (He spoke very few English words.)  I had heard reports of mice in the neighborhood.  But we were new in the house and I kept things clean.  We would be fine.  Yeah... not so much.  Within 24 hours of the "sticky traps" being placed we had caught our first mouse.  I didn't think having mice bothered me all that much as long as I couldn't see them.  I was wrong.  As soon as I saw that mouse and 100% knew those little guys were running around my house I was not okay.  Kinda gave me the heebie-jeebies.  I had Steve place the trap outside so I didn't have to look at that poor mouse.  We accidentally left it out all night and by morning it was gone.  I had visions of some poor animal roaming the neighborhood with a very sticky trap on its face after going for the mouse.  I really hope not.  We caught another mouse the next day and called the mouse man to come remove him for us and place a couple more traps.  Two days later we caught mouse #3.  Ewww!

It has now been a full week and all I have caught on my sticky traps are millipedes and baby spiders.  I really hope it stays that way!!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


This is something I wrote as I was sitting in the hotel room on Camp Humphreys...

June 26, 2014

I want to remember that every night at 2200 while we were in lodging they played "Taps" and it never failed to move me.  The way it echoed on the still night air was hauntingly beautiful to me.  I will miss hearing that song of remembrance every night when we move off post.  I am grateful for all those who sacrificed so that we get to call America a land of freedom.

Poor Anna

Written back in May...

We have had a great time being in Utah thus far.

Anna has had a bit of a rough time though.  To start off, her sleeping was way off.  She was waking up between 4:45-5:45 for the first few days and would not go back to sleep.  I am most definitely NOT a happy camper that early in the morning.  On top of that, two days after we arrived she was riding a "plasma car" and it went rolling down the end of the driveway and dumped her right on her face.  She scraped her chin, lip and nose.  Thankfully she's a tough cookie.  The next day she and Tommy came down with a really bad cough/runny nose.  It was waking both kids up at night, which was rough on Mom as well.  Two days later Anna was out riding on the tricycle with the girls and I heard a huge scream.  She had fallen off that bike as well and not only scratched her chin and nose, but managed to put two huge bite marks on her lip as well as bloody knuckles.  Her lip was extremely swollen for a couple days after that.  We kept the pacifier in to help her avoid chewing on the lip.  Ouch!  Lots more blood that time.  And then another two days later?  She started teething- 4 teeth at once.  Poor Anna couldn't catch a break!  As of today we have a residual runny nose, but the crabbiness and waking up multiple times a night has ended.

Thoughts on Simplifying

So I had heard the idea of having just 5 basic outfits for your kids.  That would mean less laundry and therefore less stress.  If something got a little dirty- just spot clean it and put it back in the drawer.

HA!  I laugh at your concept.  I lived with those 5 outfits for almost 6 weeks with my kids when we were in Utah and it was a huge pain!  I felt like I was doing laundry all the time to keep up.  And just a little dirty?  Ha!  What kid only gets a little dirty?  I'm sorry- but I prefer having enough clothes on hand so that if I don't feel like doing laundry for a week, we can all still survive.

The end

Thoughts on Korea

We have been in Korea for 4 weeks now.  Kind of crazy that much time has gone by already.  We are finally getting settled in, too.  We are mostly out of our boxes, and once we finish ordering furniture (mostly shelving for the kitchen) I think we will be very comfortable.

Some things I've noticed already about being here:

I like living a bit more simply.  We didn't bring very many of the kids' toys with us.  Mostly legos, tinker toys, and magnetic blocks.  Then the girls brought their dolls and each child chose just a couple favorite other toys.  Extremely minimal.  And I have noticed that they play with the toys ALL the time!  We've had legos for years.  They have been played more in the last 2 weeks than they have in the 4 years we've had them.  And their dolls have appeared!  I had given up on dolls, as the girls NEVER played with them.  I'm hoping this means I can start making doll clothes again :)  It is just nice to know that when I ask the kids to clean up, it is not beyond what they are capable of achieving.  The house is smaller than our last, and with fewer belongings it doesn't feel too much that way.

I never truly lived in a humid climate.  (And I grew up in Illinois.)  Jim-a-nee!  It is so incredibly humid here!  We have only stand-alone air conditioners in the house.  One in the downstairs living area, one in the upstairs living area, and one in our bedroom.  We keep them at 25C (77 F) during the day and typically 24C (75 F) at night.  It has been a huge adjustment, as we were always 68-70 degree folk!  We purchased a dehumidifier yesterday, which takes the humidity level down to about 60%, but it has made an enormous difference in the way the house feels.  We filled a huge bucket full of water just in the last 20 hours of use.  And there's plenty more to be had!  Especially with monsoon season upon us, it is just very wet here.  Basically I just always feel clammy.  I am sure we will all adjust.

Humidity has done amazing things to Anna's curls!  I LOVE those curls!

There are lots of bugs- especially mosquitoes.  We live fairly close to a river, so we are especially bombarded with these blood suckers.  Poor Ellie has been their favorite treat, too.  After doing fireworks on the 3rd and 4th, she counted 16 bites on one foot and 12 on the other.  It took 4 full days before she wasn't completely miserable with the itching!

Ellie's feet.  There are just as many on the other side!

checking out the river by our house

The branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is amazing.  Before we even moved here I was getting messages from the sisters here showing willingness to give advice and assistance.  And it hasn't ended.  We got a lead on a house to rent right next door to the Relief Society President and there are 2 other LDS families in this same neighborhood.  Another huge blessing- lots and lots of kids to play with!

The Korean people are the friendliest I have ever met.  Ever.  They just love children and are constantly coming up to the kids and giving them hugs and talking to them and smiling and just overall happy to see them.  We go through the gate on post and the gate guards are the sweetest men.  They are excited to say hello and talk about how Steve must be "a rich man" to have so many kids.  We have learned only a few Korean words so far, but I hope to improve our language skills significantly while here.

There is very little wasted space.  All around where we live are rice fields.  But you'll notice on a small stretch on the side of the road one row of corn, or beans, or some other produce.  Every little patch of available ground is being used and I love it!  Just the other day I went to enter an on-ramp and thought that I had missed the turn and accidentally drove into a farmer's field, as the whole ramp was surrounded by crops.

There is quite a bit of pollution and dust in the air.  It is constantly hazy here.  I hear it blows over from China- the desert sands and the pollution from the cities.  It is really quite unfortunate, but it makes for some amazing sunsets.  This is just out my dining room window and really doesn't do it justice, but trust me- the sun is always red when it sets and I am always in awe.

sunset over the river near our house

Traffic laws are more like suggestions.  Red light?  Just figure out if anyone coming- if not- go right ahead.  Ryan is already picking up on the "traffic lights as suggestions" rule.  I also still need to get used the kph vs the mph.  I'm getting there.

There is much to do in this beautiful country and I hope we are able to do many of the amazing things available to us.  And I hope I do a better job documenting it!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Katie's ailments

I have other drafts in the works, but thought I'd add this.

I'm doing this on my phone- I may have to go back in and fix later.  Hmmm- my picture didn't work. I'll add that soon.

Katie's leg on day 2 of her ailment
We have had a roller coaster of a couple days. Yesterday Katie woke up with pain in her knee. She couldn't bend it and it was extremely swollen. We took her to the clinic after lunch and they decided to send her up to Osan (where my cousin Suzy is) to have the pediatric ortho doctor check her out. I got in the ambulance for transfer (more of a converted minivan here), Steve went house hunting and the rest of the kids went home with a sister in the branch I had only known through Facebook (thank you for saving the day, FB). We left Camp Humphreys at about 3pm. After seeing multiple doctors, getting blood tests and a whole lot of waiting we were discharged at 7:00. The diagnosis was bursitis and they prescribed ibuprofen and an ace bandage to keep the swelling down.  We had to take a shuttle bus back down to Humphreys and the next one didn't leave until 8:10, so Katie and I got some Chili's to-go. Yes- the Air Force has a Chili's on their base. Not fair!!

This morning we had to head back up to Osan for a re-check with Dr. Finkbone. Yes- that's really his name. How could he not go into ortho?

Anyway- that sweet sister who took care of my kids last night drove the kids and me back up to Osan- about a 30-45 minute drive, depending on traffic. (Steve was in Seoul for a work meeting and to pick up our van).  Katie got a clean bill of health and we were sent on our way. I did notice some bumps on her leg, but thought the compression bandage had just blown some capillaries.

Fast forward 4 hours and her leg was looking tons worse- like the picture. I called the doctor here and she said to come back in for more tests. So- they did a strep test, Lyme disease test and urinalysis to rule out possibilities.

This is a very small clinic. I had all 6 kids and we were quite popular. Anyway- one of the nurses saw her leg, took a pic and showed her boss, who, while serving as a flight surgeon here in Korea, is actual a pediatrician. He knew right away what it was.

Katie had an autoimmune reaction known as Henoch Schonlein Purpura, or HSP. Basically her body decided to fight itself and this is how it manifested. I read that it can last up to a month before symptoms go away. So, she has been prescribed ibuprofen and just to wait it out.

I'm grateful that it was nothing worse and as long as there are no complications, all will be well.

Whew- Korea has been rough so far medically for our family!  A serious stomach bug plaguing us for the first week and now this.

We are hoping to choose a house tomorrow and will let you know.

Advice- should we pick a house because it has great neighbors and a so-so house, or a great house with unknown neighbors?  I can't decide!

We chose the house with the amazing neighbors and I couldn't be happier.
Katie had 2 days of severe stomach cramping (more symptoms) and the rash went away within those 2 days. 
She will be seen for the next year to get her blood pressure checked and do a urinalysis to be sure her kidneys were not affected, which is another possible side effect of HSP.  First it was once a week, now we're at twice a month and then it will go to every 2 months.  They will get to know us well at that clinic!

Monday, March 17, 2014


Spring Break is this week and so Tuesday Steve and I leave for San Diego to do the STEM outreach again.  Sister Mitchell will be staying with the kids for the week, so I'm sure she could use extra prayers!  I am really excited for the break.  I have felt quite a bit of stress lately with the move and very needy children and I'm hoping this week will be just what I need to keep me going strong.  Not to say I don't love my kids, because I most certainly do.  I just need a reset occasionally :)  

Speaking of the move, we are currently in a holding pattern.  After the initial rush of getting doctor appointments and paperwork taken care of for passports and such, we are just waiting for Steve's official orders to come through.  Once we receive those (with hopefully his permission for command sponsorship) we can finally schedule transportation and get that all taken care of.  At this point it looks like we might be moving out of here the very beginning of May to offer us a chance to spend time with family in Idaho/Utah before leaving for 2 years.  Steve will stay here and finish up finals and meet up with us around May 20th.  

There's some big news for Steve this past week.  His invention has been created and documented and he submitted his "kickstarter" campaign last night.  We are waiting for their approval for it to go live, but I am super excited about everything he has done.  All the designing, picture taking, video creating and editing and everything else that has gone into this project has been extremely time-consuming but also extremely gratifying for him.  It makes me happy to see how excited he is.  I will keep you posted on how it all pans out.  Apparently at the Academy Awards Ellen Degeneres did a skit about taking selfies and her one complaint was that her arms weren't long enough.  Steve's invention solves that problem and he sent her a letter suggesting she try it out.  It would be a great boost if she picked it up!  His slogan:  "Arms are too short; free your selfies."  I think it's very clever!   

Hard to believe we're leaving West Point soon.  This has been an amazing place to live and we will miss our great friends terribly.  

I hope by this time next week I will be relaxed, tan and ready to tackle more of life's craziness.  The greatest thing to tackle the next week: Katie's baptism!  Her birthday is March 21st, but since we will be gone we will do her baptism on the 29th.  Brings me to tears just thinking about it.  Mom is being wonderful and sewing the dress for Katie and I can't wait to see how it turns out.  My mother is extremely talented and detail-oriented, so I have no doubt it will be beautiful!  

Monday, February 24, 2014

More Korea

So, I guess the biggest news around here is that we have our RFO (request for orders) for Korea.  We need to be there by June 14th, but since they don't like to work weekends (apparently) we have to be there by the 12th.  Our plan is to stay here through graduation then be on our way West.  We'll spend time in Utah and Idaho visiting family, then we'll head overseas.  It's becoming quite overwhelming for me.  We'll probably try to send our household goods as soon as the end of April, so I'm feeling pressure to figure out what we want to take and what to place in storage.  I filled out passport info and everyone had their passport pictures taken (8 sets of paperwork took all afternoon!) 

A funny story about the passport photos...  We drove down to the building, and walked in with our umbrellas (pouring rain, of course).  We got inside and Ryan ran to the stairwell yelling, "is this Korea?"  Yeah- I think we need to discuss it a little better with him!  Then when it was time to take photos Ryan did a very straight-faced grin.  I encouraged him to maybe show a little teeth so it looked like a real smile.  After seeing his interpretation we went back to the smirk!  Ryan sure keeps us laughing. 

Tommy's latest thing is to walk around telling people, "I like you."  It's a wonderful thing to hear and I think a great quality to encourage- expressing affection to those around you.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

January picture collage

These are a little older, but some fun times with the fam...

The girls decided that trying on Dad's clothes would be fun.  I was amused.

Anna finally has enough hair for pigtails!  hooray!

Anna is my snow bunny.  She LOVES to be outside and eating the snow!

Tommy isn't a huge fan of the snow.  The igloo is just the beginning of the enormous snow tunnel I mentioned.  We had a ton more snow after this beginning and they were able to expand over 10 feet back into the snow mountain.  That was a lot of digging!  Huh... just realized I doubled up a picture.  Oh well.

Update 2-16-14

The weather here has been crazy this month.  We have had more snow days than I can remember. Just in the last 4 days we've had 3 heavy days of snow, with an accumulation of over 2 feet of snow.  The snow drifts are pretty insane!  I will send some pictures of the huge mounds of snow. My back is feeling the strain of all the shoveling!  The snow plows haven't been able to keep up with it, either.  We're still driving around on 1-lane roads, waiting for them to finish clearing them up. The kids have also dug through the huge mountain and have entrances at both ends now.  One cool thing that happened, that I've never witnessed before, was a thundersnow.  All the sudden there was lightning and thunder- while it was snowing!  Seriously one of the coolest things I've ever seen and heard.  And the lightning seemed even brighter, as it reflected off the enormous amount of snow outside.  Very cool.  

Anna has had some fun things going on.  She still doesn't say many words.  Her first official word, which she said only last week, was "mom".  Awwww... so sweet, right?  It comes out more like, "Mummm".  She was standing in front of Steve and me the other day trying to get my attention to be picked up.  Steve reached out and said, "come here, Anna."  She squealed, gave him a dirty look, and continued to fuss at me with her arms outstretched.  Then Steve said, "you want to go to Mommy?"  She immediately put on a smile and reached out to be held.  I think I'm the favorite around here. :)  Anna nods her head yes and no, can say "all done" (more like, aaaa-dah, with her arms in the air) and jabbers all day long.  She LOVES getting dressed, especially for going outside.  She is extremely adept at putting arms and legs where they belong, which is really impressive for her age.  She absolutely loves the snow and eating it is her favorite part.  She did have a mishap the other night.  Steve and I were out on a date and we got a text from Ellie telling us Anna had just fallen out of bad and had a cut on her eye.  Apparently she decided going to bed was lame, so she attempting climbing out on her own.  Unfortunately there was a toy on the floor, which she smacked with her cheek and eye.  Thankfully it was just bruised and nothing more serious.  She's a tough cookie, though.  

Tommy and Anna fight constantly over the real estate known as Mom.  It's actually quite amusing to watch them fight, push, and yell at each other.  Lots of time Anna gets her way, just because she can yell the loudest.  Tommy is still super snuggly, so it's definitely a good fight still.  We are still working on potty training him.  He is doing much better, but I'm still convinced he'll still be in diapers in college.  Okay, not really.  

Ryan is funny as ever.  The other day he had gotten in trouble for something and was sulking a bit.  Steve was at the table and started whistling a tune.  Ryan looked over at him, and with a scowl stated, "I am not going to dance to your song."  Um... okay.  He's such a rebel.  For his birthday he got some Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle weapons and we've seen lots of action with the sais and swords.  We were at a birthday party yesterday and at the end there was face painting.  Ryan had a lion painted on his face, and I sent him to look at himself in the mirror once it was done.  Next thing I know, I hear an enormous "ROAR" coming from the bathroom.  He ran around the house for the next 15 minutes roaring at everyone he came in contact with.  Seriously hilarious.  Of course, it might have had something to do with the two huge servings of cotton candy he had just consumed...

Sarah is doing great.  She has a friend that lives behind us that she plays with every day.  We've decided the two of them get along so well because Sarah can be a bit bossy and her little friend will go along with anything Sarah wants to do.  But on the same token, Sarah is extremely generous and empathetic and does her best to make her friend happy.  We will miss them when we move from here.  

Katie is still my little rebel.  She just likes to push buttons whenever possible.  She adores Anna and really tries to be helpful, but in the end Anna just gets annoyed and starts yelling.  Katie is my interior decorator and looks forward to each holiday so she can pull out those decorations and make the house beautiful.  She made all sorts of great little Valentine crafts this year that were quite impressive.  She definitely has that creative bug. 

Ellie and Katie are both doing great in gymnastics.  Ellie puts a little bit more effort into it, so she is improving a bit faster, but the two of them have made huge strides this year.  It's fun to watch them do the cool tricks on the bars and trampoline.  Both girls are proud of the fact that they can climb the rope all the way to the top- an impressive feat.  Ellie has made friends with a new girl that moved in whose dad is a cadet chaplain.  They're a perfect match and it's a friendship that again will be hard to let go.  

Speaking of moving on... we have our unofficial orders.  We found out that we're headed to Daegue, Korea next.  I was a bit shocked at first, but now we're getting really excited about this new adventure.  We've heard amazing things about this post and are looking forward to cool experiences.  My only regret is that we won't be stateside when everyone returns home.  I had really hoped to have the chance to come see everyone after missions.  I suppose it will just be postponed for a year.  

I mentioned last week about Tyler's baptism.  He is now your year-group, so you may get the chance to get to know him pretty well!  It has been really cool watching him learn and grow in the gospel.  His baptism was great, with just a couple hick-ups (we accidentally left Steve's change of clothes at home, so he had to borrow Brother Mitchell's fleece jacket afterwards.)  I assume you can picture just how large that jacket was on Steve...  But Tyler's parents drove down to support him, even though they weren't super excited about him being baptized.  It was just neat to see how many people were there to help welcome him in to the fold.  

I taught in Young Women's today about the plan of salvation and used a lot of the info from "Preach My Gospel."  It was a great reminder of our real purpose here on Earth and that even though some days seem mundane, there is a beautiful goal at the end that we are striving towards.  

pictures to come...