Saturday, February 26, 2011

Getting here and hanging out.

All these pictures are from my not-so-nice camera. I have yet to get my nice one back, but I know that some of you have been asking for pictures, so here is some of what we have:

The plane that took us to Deutschland!

Came all the way here and all my kids want to do is play video games.

Logan is king of the hotel room.

Finally got out! Wiesbaden city center.

This is actually a casino in the background.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Expecting It Makes It Easier.... Right?

I have moved enough in the past ten years that I have been able to start seeing a pattern in every one of my moves. The adrenaline kicks in before the move and it becomes a whirlwind of activity and then I drive in to our hotel where we will be staying until we find our new "for now" home. And then the crash happens. I become useless for at least a day or two... I mean I can take care of my kids, etc, but with all the big decisions I become useless. It is like I go into a sort of hibernation. At that point, it all hits me. I have no local friends. I have no one to trade off babysitting with. I need to hunt down different stores just to get the stuff we normally use in day-to-day life. Even taking the dogs out to go the bathroom becomes much more of a process than it was before. (Me and the kids in a hotel room day after day with no repreive from each other doesn't help the atmosphere.) It takes a few days for me to want to really venture beyond my local area.

Then, I remember how much I hate hotel rooms... I have spent well over nine months of my life in them in the past decade (not including vacations). I develop a viceral hatred of fast food, since that is what we have been having to eat for weeks and weeks on end. Someone inevitably gets sick.. and probably a dog too, for good measure (both did, indeed, happen).

After about a week, it gets better and we start to learn a lot of the ins and outs of where we are and start meeting people (thank goodness for church!) and begin to build a life where we are all over again. I know what is going to happen and that is SUPPOSED to make it easier since you know it is normal and is going to end soon, but maybe due to the culture difference and the lack of convenient transportation, it has been much harder here. I know that all this will just take more time to adjust to than I have been used to, and I am grateful that we moved to Germany since I am familiar with the area and a little of the language. That has CERTAINLY made things easier. It is just the adjusting period that stinks and I am right smack dab in the middle of it. We wanted this, I remind myself. BAH!!! Breathe deep and keep moving. Decompression over.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What We Did In The Meantime: Aaron's Visit

Aaron, my brother, came to southern Arizona for a day to visit with us and it was awesome to see him and three of his kiddos. We saw Tombstone again...

and went hiking at Coronado NM.

We were up so high, we could see into Mexico.

It was very windy.

Micheal and Logan as conquistadors.

Had to put these up, since two years ago I took the same exact pictures of Reagan and Chase. They are getting big!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What We Did In the Meantime: Tombstone

We also went to Tombstone with my parents when they visited in January.
I thought this was pretty good. I read it to Logan and his eyes got really big.
We have been to Tombstone MANY times and this was our first stagecoach ride and tour.

Chase kept saying during the ride, "This is the best day EVER!" You never know what is going to make their day.

My kids always think the highlight is Johnny Bones and all the instruments that he lets you play with him. I love this guy... he is nutsy.

Playing with good ol' Johnny.

Love ya, Tombstone!

What We Did In The Meantime: Queen Mine Tour

When my parents came to visit in January, we went to Bisbee and toured the Queen Mine, that had gold, silver and copper deposits. We went quite a ways underground on a mine train car... (now I can check that one off my "What I have to do to become Indiana Jones" list).
Lights on hard hats are where it's at this season. Wahoo....Mom is lovin' the new fashion!! (By the way, one of the greatest pictures EVER!!) Kids all ready to go into the mine.
Chase was the only one "brave" enough to try out the miner toliet. Sweet....

What We Did In The Meantime: Christmas and Houston

Between moving from Utah and moving to Germany. We spent some significant time back in Sierra Vista, AZ. Here are a few of the highlights:

In November:

We drove six hours to see a cactus. Yes, I am serious. Here are the kids at Organ Pipe Catus NM.

We enjoyed fondue. Reagan especially.
In December, we had Christmas like the rest of you. Minature, plane-approved toys only!

Right after Christmas, we went on a last-minute trip to Houston to visit my brother.... and went ice skating! The kids all did really well, but Logan took to it and was soon out with the adults without any walker. I was having a heart attack, LOL.

We went to the Houston NASA Space Center. Apparently, Chase is being a "scary" astronaut here.We went to the park to enjoy the Houston weather since we were not going to be in good weather for long.

We climbed rock walls... although Logan freaked after this picture and would go no further.

We got a fabulous babysitter and went out on the town to enjoy some awesome BBQ and blackberry cobbler.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Diane's Favorite Things of 2010!!!

I always love hearing about other women’s’ “discoveries” that make life better or easier for them. Magazines and Oprah do this kind of stuff all the time, but I don’t really know how much they are paid for their product placement and would much rather have an honest opinion of a woman I know. Hence the decision to do my own version of Oprah’s favorite things… welcome to Diane’s Favorite Things from 2010! (Here is where you are supposed to scream and go into seizure-like hysterics.) Hopefully some of you will create your own so I can see some of the things that you were excited to find this past year.

9. Archer Farms Italian Soda. This is an unashamed plea for people to start buying this stuff so they will bring back the full line that they used to have. This is a delicious soda that is a great accompaniment to a nice dinner. I get the lemon soda when we grill salmon and we LOVE it. There used to be a blueberry pomegranate and strawberry pomegranate, but now there is just strawberry pomegranate (which is really good, I just miss the variety). They have a blood orange flavor that also has a really clean, refreshing flavor. Try this the next time you head to Target. SAVE THE ITALIAN SODA! (And please ship some to Deutchland....) 8. Amazing Grass. Sounds like something they called marijuana in the 70’s, huh? This basically is a powder that you can add to your juices, smoothies, milk or water. The powder itself is made from dehydrated veggies and fruits… nothing else. It is chalked full of vitamins. And while it is definitely not as good as eating fresh fruits and veggies, it helps you get to your almost unattainable 5-7 servings a day. You can get powders that are chocolate, berry, or mango flavored. The only downside is that it doesn’t dissolve fully in liquid and will always have some powder at the end of the drink. Smoothies are really the best thing to put this in. 7. Liberty’s Kids. This is a cartoon series that highlights the American Revolution through the eyes of three children who lived through it. They work for Benjamin Franklin’s printing press and are miraculously always in the middle of every major happening of the Revolution. Funny how that happens. The kids learn about key figures in the Revolution and American history. They also touch on issues of slavery and individual rights in a way kids can understand. I have had discussion with my kids about some important subjects, like slavery, because of this show. I became a fan of this series when I found my kids giving Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” speech (and I mean, the speech… not just the line) and knew that it was Patrick Henry that gave it. Logan loves talking about General George Washington. Those DVDs are gold as far as I am concerned. 6. Clarisonic Brush. Most of you know what this is so I don’t need to say much just that it works just like it says. I use Retin-A on my face at night and a lower concentration of Retin-A during the day. Needless to say, I have a lot to exfoliate everyday and this little tool does the job. You can use it in the shower and it needs recharging every two weeks or so. The only negative is that you have to pay for new brushes every three months (though I find that if I soak it in a bleach/water solution that will extend the life of the brush) and that could set you back $20 a brush. There are less expensive options out there now, though I don’t know how they stack up. I really like the waterproof recharging stand feature. You never have to open it up to change batteries and you can start recharging it while it is wet. 5. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. A little background here: I knew for a year that I was going to homeschool Logan for a least part of his Kindergarten year and knowing that this year was setting a foundation of reading skills for the rest of his life, I became obsessed with finding a reading curriculum that would help a child who had no interest in reading. I bought flash cards, games, books, and even enrolled him in an expensive summer reading program. After wasting a bunch of time, effort and hundreds of dollars, I found a book that made all the difference. It worked so well with Logan that I started with Reagan and she caught on quite fast. It is to be noted that while the lessons are brief and easy in the beginning, they do not end that way. The end result? In a few months, Logan went from not reading at all, to a second grade reading level when he finished the last lesson. (I think age, inclination and sticking to it also made a difference as well, of course, but the book was the best program I had come across and all my children will learn to read from this book! Best of all, all you need is the book and a piece of paper for the lesson, no cards or extra books to buy as with other reading programs. Simple and only $15!!! 4. African Black Soap. Honestly, 3, 4 and 5 are all really tied. I love all of them and don’t go a day without them. I am trying to slowly change the products I use to more natural, less chemical riddled products. I change each product after a lot of research and couple trial runs. One big thing I always look for is that it is not a new natural product. Ones that have been around of decades or even centuries usually wok much better, in my experience, than something a guy mixed together a month ago and added crappy lavender oil to cover the smell. This was one of my big winners. I have very acne prone skin… VERY. As in, if I forget to wash my skin one night (almost never), get stressed, use an unfriendly product and it is breakout city! (And this is after I went through a full course of accutane!) I have tried almost every acne product out there, over-the-counter and prescription. I have read books on acne treatment and skin care philosophies… all because I have horrible skin. I wanted to try this product because it has been used for quite a long time, has less than five ingredients (all of which I could pronounce), it was inexpensive (I wince at what I have shelled out for a skin care bottle) and many people who used it loved it. This soap is ugly and not something I would look at and say “Oh baby, let me put that all over my face!” Especially since I am so crazy about what I do put on my face. I must say though, this soap is AWESOME! It cleans my skin and doesn’t over dry. My acne (I started using is during a particularly fun stress breakout.) responded immediately. You only use a small amount, it lathers really well and this chunk will last me an awful long time. I actually have one in my food storage and 72 hour kit. 3. Apple Cider Vinegar. I do not love how this tastes or smells, but I love what it does! Blake, who is very sensitive to smells, has to make a comment every time I open this bottle, but I will keep opening it! I drink 2 teaspoons ACV in 8 ounces of water and raw honey to taste every morning (two weeks on and one week off). I feel like it has really helped me feel more alert during the day and I have more energy. I am the first person to admit that it might be the placebo effect, but hey, it works either way! I have also put a cotton pad soaked with the stuff on a wart on Reagan’s foot at night for about two weeks, covered with duct tape and then just a band aid on during the day. I didn’t know what wart treatments were too harsh for a four-year-old and we were far away from our pediatrician at the time, so I went with the least invasive method. The wart turned black all the way thorough the root and died. It took about two weeks for the wart to dry up a fall of, but it was gone and no gaping holes and blistered skin that I experienced in my childhood from treatments where the wart always came back. It has been a few months and no new warts. I use ACV in a hair rinse I use and a shine spray I use on Reagan’s hair. I also put it in the dogs’ water every so often. It is a staple in my house now and I keep finding new uses for it. (I am talking about the real, organic stuff here.) 2. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I use coconut oil ALL the time now. It is not just for cooking either (though I suggest using it in fried brown rice and cut the soy sauce by a ¼ and then you have a light, yummy fried rice). I also use it as a lotion. It started with Chase’s eczema and me trying different products to not aggravate it and keep it in check. I tried all the staple lotions for sensitive skin and eczema and none of them were that great, though some helped more than others, but all of them were pricey $$. The doctor gave me a steroid ointment which I was too afraid to use unless it really started getting bad and Chase was cracking and bleeding. I started using coconut oil on him after every bath and giving him Noni juice (supposed to help with allergies). His skin started clearing up. Noni juice became too pricey to continue to I slowly stopped using that and still his skin was better. Score! As of right now, Chase does not have a trace of eczema on him and I use it on all my kids now and myself. Although coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is a plant-based saturated fat and does not work in your body as a meat-based saturated fat. There are people who claim that using coconut oil has aided in bring down their cholesterol, but I have no first-hand experience in that happening. What we know about fats now verses 20 years ago really tells us that coconut oil should be given another look.

1. Amazon's Kindle. Oh, dear, dear, Kindle… how do I love thee?! I shall compose thee a sonnet though it could never give full voice to the way you have changed me… I love to read and I love to keep those books to reread… no joke, it is not unusual for me to read a book 3 times. How else do you get all the nuances of a story or argument?! Blake and my house, on the other hand, hates the clutter and really, if I keep buying books at this rate, I will be on hoarders when I am forty-five and my kids will be too embarrassed to bring their friends over because their mom is the crazy book lady. All of this is beside the fact that we have to move every three years minimum and the packers are starting to hate me even after I buy them pizza. Last time they had to come back for another day of packing because they had to bring more book boxes from their warehouse. No joke. Though I am pretty sure they were just ill-prepared… they had walked through my house a few days before after all. This is what I have to tell myself when the guilt comes. I have had two kindles. I had a DX (which I passed onto my Dad since I needed one that would work in Europe) and now I have a third-generation. I miss the big screen of the DX, but that is about it. The third-generation is about ¼ inch thick, fast and I can fit it in my purse. In a few seconds I can download a book I want and start reading (this is also a negative, since that instant gratification is never good for the pocket book). I have downloaded the scriptures at church and looked up cookbooks that friends were talking about. On trips I would often bring a stack of books that would take up a large amount of space… now all I have to bring is my Kindle. It has made a world of difference to my mobile lifestyle! It also has a slow internet that I use in a pinch if I don’t want to go home to look something up or have sent my Kindle a document that I didn’t want to bother printing out but needed. It goes everywhere with me. It is my one, my only, my precious…..