Monday, December 29, 2008

Connor gets a Trampoline for Christmas!

Thanks to Steve & AnnaMarie, Robert & Celeste, Shoo & Pam, Carolyn & Carl, Scatman & Paula, Mike F. I promise, Connor will most definitely get the most use out of this trampoline as humanly possible! Thank you SO much!

Whoo Hooo! Trampoline!!!

This is a BIG trampoline!

Trevor had to trim away some branches from the apple tree :)

You have to attach the springs in the right order.

Connor absolutely LOVES it! He is wearing wool socks with fleece socks that have grippy spots on the bottom so he won't slip as much. I think it was 40 degrees at the most.

Our feet all got a little muddy. It's been raining pretty much non-stop since Christmas until today - our first day dry enough to put up the trampoline.

Video clip to come...

Kiester Family Christmas & Bunco!

Totems! A new family tradition!

Those handsome Wulff boys.

Thanks for hosting everyone Myrna & Doug - you have a great place to have us all at once :)

With Lee's folks, Rita & Bill.
The Kiesters. (Kraig, Donna, Rita, Bill, Karen, Myrna, Lee).
Diana & Trevor were the 'two turtle doves' among other parts to the 12 Days of Christmas carol.

Connor & Grandma.

The cousins, ages 17, 18, 19.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I am liking this pretty well. Lee got it for me for Christmas, and it's a sweet little camera. He got a 4 gig memory card for it as well, so it has plenty of room for video besides just the photos :) Sweet!

I still need to read thru the booklet, but I have the basics down so far. Connor really likes the to watch himself on the videos.

I still need to download the software & set up my new pictures on my system, and then I should be able to add more photos on my blog again.

And just for those camera fans - a big feature for me was the viewfinder option, so I don't have to use the screen to take the photos if I want to save batteries. Those screens suck up juice pretty quick, and batteries just last a lot longer if you're not using the screen :) I do plan on getting a charger down the road, but the AA batteries work fine in the meantime. And I really don't even need the 8.0 megapixels - my old one took most shots at 3.5 and I thought they were sharper than my old 35mm anyway, even zoomed in close.

Whew! I'm so relieved to have a camera again! Thanks sweetie :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Meine Freunde & Verwandschaft!

This is for my friends & relatives in Germany who got a Christmas card telling them to check out my blog...

Viele Liebe Gruesse aus Oregon! Wir haben schon in letzter Zeit Schnee, und es soll vielleicht einen "White Christmas" bei uns geben!

Ich muss mich entschuldigen, dass ich nicht einen Brief mit meiner Karte geschickt habe, aber wenn ich zu lange gewartet habe, wuerde die Karten nicht mit Weihnachten angekommen.

Und ich muss mich auch fuer meinen Deutsch entschuldigen - Leider ist es nur wenig dass ich eigentlich Deutsch spreche, deshalb wir kommt es nicht so einfach.

Ich wollte nur sagen, es gibt viele Fotos von meiner Familie auf diesen Blog, aber mann muss durch die "archives" schauen. Ein Link am rechte Seite zeigen auch einen Slideshow von mein Vater's Memorial. Carolyn hat auch einen Blog mit ihre Familie Fotos, es heisst "Keeka."

Fuer uns war das Jahr sehr kommisch. Es war Diana's letztes Jahr bei Oberschule, und sie war auch irgendwie gewahlt fuer einen Show auf MTV. Es zeigt noch nicht in Kanada oder Europa, aber wenn ich hoere dass es geht, werde ich wenigstens einen email senden. Meine Mutter & Connie mussten es auf DVD sehen, die wir selbst gemacht und geschickt haben. Es war ein sehr schoenes Show, und ich hoffe ihr habt die Chance es anzuschauen.

Zur gleicher Zeit wurde mein Vater viel schlimmer mit seinen Krebs, und er ist im Mai gestorben. Die naechste Woche sind wir alle nach Kelowna gegangen fuer die Memorial. Die Foto auf unsere Weihnachtskarte ist von dieser Zeit. Meine Mutter geht es so gut wie moeglich. Ich bin sehr froh dass Connie und ihre Kinder wohnen so nahr, und dass Mami besonders mit der kleine Aaron ganz beschaeftigt ist.

Ich bin auch sehr froh dass Carolyn & ich konnte zusammen an Papi's 80 Geburtstagsfeier in Oktober, und Trevor und ich waren wieder zum Besuch waehrend Fruehlingsferien in Maerz.

In August hatten wir unsere Austauchstudentin, Leonie, wieder zum Besuch, diesmal mit ihre Eltern. Juergen & Martina haben einen Reisefahrt durch Oregon gemacht, und Leonie ist mit uns wahrend der Zeit geblieben. Die Maedchen hatten so viel Spass zusammen. Am Ende von Leonie's Zeit bei uns sind wir alle nach Kalifornien gefahren, eine 20-Jahrige Treffen zu machen bei unsere Freunde von unseren Gang. Wenn ihr uns von '83-88 besucht haben, dann kennt ihr diesen Gang. Ich glaube es gibt einen Slideshow davon auf "Lee's Tidbits." Wir hatten alle ganz viel Spass.

Diana ist jetzt an der Uni von Oregon, und studiert Gesellschaft und Japanisch. Sie konnte auch Deutsch studieren, und ich hoffe sie nimmt die Chance in Deutschland ein Semester zu verbringen - es ist nicht schwierig sowas zu machen. Trevor ist dieses Jahr wieder zu Hause, und studiert bei unsere College. Connor ist jetzt in der 5. Schuljahr, und geht an Junior High School naechtes Jahr.

Lee war ohne Arbeit von ende Januar bis November. Es ist wirklich furchbar hier mit 11.7% ohne Arbeit in unsere Gegend. Lee is gluecklich dass er wieder etwas gefunden hat - er arbeitet bei unsere Bibliotek, und es ist nahr genug dass er laufen oder Fahrrad fahren kann.

Ich arbeite immernoch mit die sehr behinderten Kinder, wir haben drei neue Kindergartner dieses Jahr. Es soll noch mehr naechtes Jahr geben, und wir werden sehen wie das geht!

Also, alles Liebe, und wenn ihr einen "comment" lassen moechten, bitte sehr! Es freut mich wenn ich weiss Jemand meinen Blog liesst!

:) Tina

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

We had a very nice Open House on Sunday. The weather mostly cooperated, and it was only rainy - the mountain passes were all clear & safe, so we were able to have family from Grants Pass & Central Point make it as well.

I don't have any photos, but the snack table held:

Trevor's sourdough bread & spinach dip
Cranberry salsa & pita chips
Queso & tortilla chips
Veggie tray & onion dip
Lay's "Get your smile on" (Connor's wish)
Nacho Cheese Doritos
Trevor's fudge
Diana's spritz cookies
my stollen (german almond Christmas bread)
Rice Krispie treats (also Connor's wish)
Hershey kisses
Peanut M&M's

Lee made most of the dips.

We had family as I mentioned, friends from TOPS, neighbors, and friends from church. The kids had some friends over as well. This time around it went in some short spurts of about 6-8 people at a time, and we got the chance to just sit and talk a little more this year. We never know who will show, but pretty much anyone we know is invited :)

I think everyone had a good time, and we're still nibbling on the leftovers :) My favorite is the cranberry salsa. I should have made copies of the recipe. It's really pretty and tasty, and I will probably post that later...

Then on Monday I stayed in bed most of the day & read "Twilight." I'm hoping Diana & I can catch a matinee of the movie before the vacation time is over :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Getting ready for Open House

On Sunday, we're doing our annual Open House to visit with family, friends & neighbors. We never know who will show up. We have done this every year since we lived in a rental on Ridge Street back when...

Since both Trevor & Diana are home from college, I gave them each a list of things to do around the house to help out. I still need to go and check how well they did - my level of 'clean' and their's can be very different - heh. I got all the curtains washed while Trevor was cleaning windows for me.

Today I'll try to get the last of my cards out, and tidy up around the house again. Tonight we'll do the final shopping. Tomorrow is the final cleaning day plus any final baking, dip-making, fudge making, etc. It's also the final decorating of the living room & tree. Busy! At the end of the day, I'll wash the floors. It's kind of my last thing before I fall into bed.

Sunday after church we'll set things out and see what the weather does & who can make it!

My favorite thing about Open House is that it makes me DONE a few days before Christmas. I can just focus on my family and enjoy the season once the Open House snacks are set out :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Last night, around 11:30pm, it started to snow. Connor woke me up this morning, saying, "It's snow!" and I half-expected to see a few inches covering everything, but it was only just enough to make a crust of snow on the lawn & cars - the road was just wet.

Well NOW it's really coming down in big, fluffy, flakes - these are the size of a silver dollar or bigger. I'm thinking it's not just gonna be a crust of snow in about 20 minutes...

Lee walked to work this morning - maybe he should have brought his Canadian Kamik boots?

I'll have to borrow a kid's camera & take some pix once Connor gets out there :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

A whole family again (for a few weeks anyway...)

This is the photo I would have used on my Christmas card, if it wouldn't have been quite so dark. The flash wasn't bright enough, and although Diana tried to photoshop it brighter, we wound up a little too blotchy-faced to put on our card. Oh well. It was a good try. I used a different photo for the Christmas card instead (which should be underway pretty soon depending on Walmart...).

In any case, I drove up and got Diana today from her place. I had her park her bike in her room and we got some Taco Bell after stopping at Trader Joe's for a couple of things. The drive was just rainy - we beat the big storm that's supposed to hit either later tonight or tomorrow. And then more storm comes in on Sunday. There's a good chance for delayed start to school or complete snow days next week. One day showed the low being 25 degrees, and the high being 26. Hee. Yep - that's cold.

I'm glad to have my girl back home with us again for the break. She has a few things planned - she'll check in on the High School this week - hang out in German class with her favorite teacher and then go the Japanese Club meeting in the afternoon. She might go camping on the coast with a friend if we can work it in. Then we also need to get cousin Daniel over for a visit as well.

I weighed in at TOPS almost 4 pounds under my goal, so I am good to enjoy myself here & there. I have a recipe for cranberry salsa I'm looking forward to trying. w00t!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Connor & the Bible

Connor really loves reading through Trevor's old copy of the New Catholic Picture Bible. It was given to Trevor when we lived in Garden Grove by his preschool teacher as a birthday gift. I think Trevor was five when he got it.

I like this particular picture Bible because it uses the old-style illustrations. They don't hold anything back - When Christ wears the crown of thorns, there's blood dripping down his face, etc.

This type of illustration is much better for Connor, vs. the cutesy-cartoony style illustrations that are more prevalent today. I'd have a tough time finding a cartoony bug-eyed illustration of Christ depicting His trials, like the scourging at the pillar. For Connor to understand things like "suffering" - the illustrations really do need to be accurately visual.

So the illustrations of Christ on the cross are rather vivid, but that's how Connor will learn about His suffering and sacrifice best.

However, last Sunday at Sacramental Prep class, they were working on the Annunciation (When the angel Gabriel tells Mary she's going to bear the son of God), the Visitation (When Mary goes to visit her much older, pregnant cousin Elizabeth), and the Nativity (which hopefully anyone reading this blog already knows even if they are not catholic).

The stories were read to the kids, and then the teachers brought out some dioramas with figures of the main characters in the stories. After the story was done, I took Connor over to the teacher to have him get a closer look at the Visitation. I pointed to the figure of Elizabeth, and showed Connor her big tummy. I didn't know if he'd gotten the fact that she was pregnant from it being read to him.

I said, (pointing to Elizabeth's tummy) "Connor, what is that?" I figured his response could be anything from "she's fat" to "Push the baby out!" But I was surprised.

He said, "That's the baby John the Baptist."

The teacher raised her eyebrows and said, "Boy, he really knows his Bible stories!" Hopefully it helped her see that Connor might not seem like he's getting stuff - but he is exposed to everything we can get for him, and he *is* getting it.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


I thought someone would have mentioned the fact that there were two laptops on the table while I was making the stollen.

Both Trevor & Diana had homework to do, so I just had them move down to the end of the table & I tried to keep the flour from flyng their direction.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Making Stollen

I baked stollen yesterday. I love a nice stollen. Diana will take one to college with her, and another is going to Carolyn because she apparently can't bake her own (?). Well, I do doctor mine up a bit, and she likes the way I do it. I'll make more later, maybe even today...

My mom's recipe is made in the mostly traditional way - we don't get 'quark' here, so you wind up mashing cottage cheese through a sieve. This recipe is already converted to US measurements, vs. the European weighing everything by grams (which is actually more consistent, especially with dry ingredients).

Start off by sifting 3 cups flour with a tablespoon of baking powder onto a large cutting board. Build up into a mound and create a depression in the middle.

Crack 2 eggs into the middle, and cut a stick of softened butter around the rim of the depression.
Add a cup of sugar around the top, and then use the sieve again to mash 1 cup cottage cheese over the top.
The recipe calls for a Tbsp of rum, and a tsp. of vanilla. I overdo both of those a bit, because I like them. I also add another tsp. or so of Almond extract.

Next you use a pastry cutter or even a knife to blend the dough together.

Once its coarsely blended, work it with your hands into a ball.

The last bit is the zest from a lemon and the almonds. The original recipe is for 4 oz. blanched ground almonds. I grind up about 2 cups of regular raw almonds. I like the color and coarseness of the almonds that way better - plus a lot more almond!

If I wanted to get really fancy, I could wrap the dough around a tube of marzipan here, but I haven't tried that yet. Maybe some day.

Once the lemon and almonds have been kneaded in, I split the dough in half. The original recipe calls for making one big loaf, but it will sometimes spread out a bit far, and I don't want a biscotti. So I flatten the dough to about 1/2 inch thick, and fold in half.

These bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes. Immediately after taking out of the oven, rub about 1/4 stick of butter on the hot stollen, and then sift powdered sugar on top of that - thick as possible.

Stollen will keep for a long time, wrapped in plastic wrap and foil. It's great with just butter, or plain. Whatever you like.
This is not actually for Christmas alone. It's also for Advent, which begins tonight :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm thankful my family is safe & together.
I'm thankful Lee & I are both working.
I'm thankful Trevor & Diana have their college funding covered this year.
I'm thankful Connor brings us so much joy. I'm thankful we have family to gather & celebrate with over the next few days. I'm thankful for all our friends & loved ones.
But I won't be eating turkey. In Connor's words, "Not eat it. Just pet the turkey. It's soft."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Macy's fun

This isn't a photo from last night, but I did actually wear that jacket (with the suit dress it goes to).
This is my friend, Kathe, who got the tickets to do the Macy's Day of Caring yesterday with me. This is an event that benefits United Way and the agencies they support (for our tickets, the total goes to Girl Scouts).
We sampled wines & foods from local wineries & restaurants, had our little chair massages, and crossed our fingers for the door prizes. We're pretty sure that we are jinxing each other, because we never get called on any prizes - but we always stick it out to the end -just in case! Well, there are the $250 and $500 shopping sprees they give away, which would be worth it to know...
The attendence looked like it was down this year. Not as many vendors either, really. The prices are sale-on-sale, but I was good & didn't charge anything this time around. I only saw stuff for me anyway, and last year I saw more for Diana. It's still fun to look, and Kathe got herself a cute jacket & top.
Thanks Kathe for letting me join you again - maybe next year we'll be lucky with the door prizes!

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Scale

As most regular readers of this blog know, I am a member of a TOPS club (Take Off Pounds Sensibly). By regularly attending meetings on Thursday evenings, I managed to get my weight down to goal, and I have passed the 5-year mark now on maintaining my goal weight (they even listed my name in the TOPS Club magazine!).

Besides the weekly weigh-ins & meetings, I weigh myself at home every day. I try to get my biking workout in at least 5 days a week, and I have a pretty consistent menu to keep myself where I want to be. Since I have a 10-lb leeway I'm supposed to stay in, I kind of gauge my food choices based on where I land on the scale in the morning. For instance, if I'm higher than I want, I'll add more time to the bike workout, and make sure I opt for no-fat snacks if I get hungry between meals.

Since the holidays are coming, I've actually trimmed down a bit so I can sample a little more than normal. I intend to have some pumpkin pie & drink a little 'cheer' here & there.

So on Friday, I stepped on the scale and it didn't work. It was a digital with a lithium battery, and I guess it died. This morning I called the number on the bottom, and they are saying it should be under warranty, and they'll replace the battery for free. However, I don't know that it actually IS under warranty. I think I've had it longer than five years, and its quite possible that once I ship it to Missouri, I'll get a call saying it will cost 'X' to replace the battery after all (plus the cost of sending it there, and then if they charge me to return it). So I have a few variables here and I don't know what the actual cost would be.

Or I can go to Wal-Mart and get this one for under $20. And it comes with a replaceable lithium battery, so when this one dies, I wouldn't have to ship it somewhere...

Plus I can get this TODAY and be aware of where I am weight-wise during the holidays, vs. wait 3 weeks for my other scale to come home.

I think I'm going to Wal-Mart.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Missing a camera

Heh. It really affects my blog posting, doesn't it? I don't like grabbing pictures off the web just to spice up my blog - I like photos that I took!

So, stuff that's been going on here:

Trevor did his ice cream chemistry project and it turned out great. There were a few students who didn't want to try the ice cream, but the teacher did, and most of the students liked it. Trevor said it was definitely the most impressive project compared to the other students who just had a powerpoint or they ran out of time or offered chunks of cheese (because their project was making cheese but it didn't turn out -lol). So, hopefully he got an A on that...

Both Trevor & Diana are working out their next term classes. Diana did a 2-year plan and it looks like she's going forward with the Japanese but will not be doing any German classes. Of course, that all may change, but she really has a nice, solid foundation with the german, and I think if she even joins the German Club and speaks it here & there, it will come back. She got past the point of having to translate from English to German in her head, and was able to THINK in German. With me, I just need to be exposed to it again for a bit, and it all comes back. I would still like her to do the overseas study in Germany, and then she'd really be solid with it. Maybe a summer session? We'll talk about it...

Lee also got funding from the local community college. He was hoping to take classes if he couldn't land something. Now that he has, he will look at evening and/or online classes. Anything that makes him a better candidate for more jobs.

He likes the job he got pretty well so far. I love that he's able to walk to & from home and can come home for lunch. Our budget is just extremely tight right now. On the plus side, we're using up stuff in the cupboard that we forgot was there... lol. We should be okay as long as we're careful. I will probably have to go to virtual Christmas Cards this year for a lot of our friends vs. the card in the mail - and just send cards to people I can't reach online.

Then again, I have found Facebook works pretty well for something like that. I can post a nice family picture & people can just print that off themselves... I am enjoying the connections on Facebook too. This week I reconnected with a very good friend from my old neighborhood, who I lost touch with years ago. She just got to watch the MADE episode & saw a lot of Carolyn & me in Diana. Way cool. And I love that she thought I hadn't aged at all - hee. She looks like a model, herself :)

I did have a little hiccup with Connor this week. It rained a lot, and he typically plays on the swing at recess. I guess that was not an option, so he was told he couldn't swing (weather doesn't matter to him) and he wound up with a meltdown & I was called at my job. *sigh*
I talked to him on the phone while I'm in a classroom with one of my students, disrupting THAT classroom, and that doesn't work well. Next week we have conferences, and I'll have to see if we can figure out something better.

I'm glad I have the week off from school & can get some stuff done around the house. I have some sewing to do, and lots of cleaning. On Wednesday I can go and pick up Diana for the 4-day holiday & I'm really looking forward to being with family for Thanksgiving. We will have to miss the Tree Hunt this year since Lee is working on Saturday, but I'm hoping if we give our tag to someone, they can cut us one down too.

The boys & I are probably going to an Advent potluck this afternoon too...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Diana's doing fine

Seriously, I am so lucky that Diana is the opposite of Trevor when it comes to communication. I get information closer to a 'best friend' level than a 'mom' level. Which can be pretty funny sometimes.

She is doing well so far being on her own in college. Her grades are good, and she was very excited when she scored a 9.5/10 on an essay she was very worried about while writing. She saw the grad student assistant twice on it before she submitted it!

The work study job is going well and she's very happy to have a little extra money for the things she likes.

We chat on messenger pretty much daily - I love technology!! We also both have Facebook accounts now, and I'm able to keep up not only with Diana, the other girl scouts (except Renee - but she's blogging so we're good), and other people I know - but I have also reconnected with different people from High School. There are a couple of very good friends from Choir days, various other people I recall their names, all the way down to a guy I knew in 2nd grade. Ha. It's funny. Oh - and the MADE camera people are also on there :P Oh - and some old friends from Asheron's Call, as well.

This week, Diana was thinking about classes for next term. Her Intro to Business class has been kind of confusing to her - mostly because it's all new stuff. I explained that Intro classes are typically a broad overview of a subject, and as you take more classes, things will be repeated and discussed in more depth, so just go with the flow for now. Her passion remains Anime/Manga, but a business background gets you pretty much anywhere you want to go if you're aiming for some kind of work with people.

Her current classes amount to 18 units - plus 9 hours work-study per week. That's a heavy load. She wants to try for 16 units this next term, and ease up a little. This time around it was so high because she was part of a freshman interest group (FIG), and there were two general-ed courses plus a study group, which combined for 9 units. Plus Japanese (5) and Business 101 (4).

She wants to continue with Japanese (5), and I think I convinced her to stick with Business (4), plus a Writing class (3?)this term, and then she interviewed and was accepted to do some kind of a sewing class (3-4?). She brought in the cat hat she'd created, and I guess knew her way around a sewing machine enough to qualify. I think they make costumes? I'm not sure, but she was very excited about that one.

I expect the Japanese to become more tough as she goes - it's already pretty intense, but she has been trying to teach herself since Jr. High, so she has a lot of fundamental stuff already in place. Her business class this next time will be Economics, which she thinks she'll 'get' more. :) I told her if she needs help, Uncle Robert is just an email away (hope you don't mind, Robert).

I haven't SEEN her for a month now. I would have gone up to visit & go shopping with her last weekend, but the van thing happened. I couldn't find anyone already heading up to Eugene to bum a ride from, so we'll have to wait until the van is done next week, I guess.

She has class through the afternoon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so I'll go and pick her up at that time anyway. Then I can check out Cost Plus and see if they have any Contessas left. Those are my very favorite german-imported Lebkuchen cookies.

Diana has a ride for the trip back to Eugene with a friend from Girl Scouts.

Oh - on the social end, she has a guy friend... She's still in front of her computer doing homework or drawing a lot of the time. She's also planning a Spring Break trip to visit a friend in Washington.

And her MADE episode aired again and she had to answer fanmail. And I guess the episode is being viewed by people in her FIG which is fine, but also a little awkward. Oh well. heh.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Connor Story

Today one of the gals that substitutes for us dropped by to visit. She's an older lady, and she has also worked as a sub at Connor's school. A few years ago while she worked with Connor, he decided her name was "White" - her hair is all white.

She's a very nice, mostly retired lady who has been around our school system with special needs kids for a very long time.

The last time she worked at Connor's school, she saw him and got his attention.

She asked, "Connor, do you remember me?"

He said, "Yeah."

She asked, "What's my name?"

He looked at her intently, and then said, "Old lady."

Don't worry - she laughed pretty good about that one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Frustratingly Healthy

I have spent most of my Veteran's Day going through my file cabinet.

For the past few years, I've opted to do a Flex-Spending medical account via pre-tax deductions from my paycheck.

I figured this was a good idea - I only take $50 out per month, and then at the end of the year, I submit the records to get my $600 pre-tax money back. Or at least that's how its gone the last few years. After all, Trevor has a prescription that's covered under this plan that costs $60 a month. No worries, right?

Wrong. Our beloved son has 'forgotten' to take his ADHD medication it turns out, about 2/3rds of the time! Gah! I realize now that the urge to throttle him has not been completely unwarranted - and no, I didn't throttle him.

Okay, so I start looking through the receipts of stuff and find we've paid over $600 in medical bills this year. Oh but wait, the bills from January & February are for services rendered in DECEMBER - which is not in the 'plan year.'

I have very decent insurance through work, and mostly everything other than the odd co-pay here & there is covered.

Connor did have the ER visit for the puncture in his foot, but that's only $190.00 out of pocket. And I can't seem to find the original bill, just the balance forward, which is not going to work for proof of payment. Ugh. So we will have to contact the hospital & get an accounting for that.

There was a bill for $1,900.00, but that was for Diana's screening for MADE, and we didn't pay that (altho it doesn't show that anywhere on the billing....). I think they might ask why she needed an echocardiogram if we submit that one :P

What a mess.

I'm sure somewhere/somehow we have managed to spend $600 total on things that qualify. It's just going to take time to go through all the receipts to find the Theraflu and Ibuprofen purchases. Lee is going to the pharmacies to see if they can give us a breakdown of the accounts for us - that works too. Lee's prescription is only $6/month, but that's $72 for the year...

On the plus side, knowing we're so healthy that we didn't incur a lot of expenses over the year is kind of nice. And I do have all the receipts...

Thank You Veterans

Thank you especially Bill, Jim & Kraig from our family.
Thank you for your service, Renee & Justin (and the rest of San Diego Naval Base).

Friday, November 07, 2008

Not as old as I thought

I went thru the files and found the odometer reading last done on the van. It hasn't even hit the 120K mark, so we're going to go ahead and fix it and keep it. The new tranny comes with a three-year warranty, and once we know what we're looking at income-wise, we can see if we can trade it in for a smaller car maybe next year.

I did check around on Craigslist, but anything in our price range looks kind of scary. I feel better about fixing the one with a history we know.

Since making the decision, I feel better. Hopefully we're making the best choice.

I gotta say, though - driving the big old beast of a truck is NOT my thing. We got it really cheaply, just to be a move-stuff-around & emergency car. Until now, it's been used once or twice a month for dump runs, and when the other car was busy and one of us needed to do something further away.

The van should be done in a couple of weeks...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Whaddya want first, the good news or the bad news?

I'll do bad news first:

Our van died. *sigh* It was a good van. It carted around girl scouts to many camping trips, and lugged case after case to cookie sales. It traveled up to Canada, and practically down to Mexico (Julian). It was more familiar with going north than south, though :)

I don't know how many miles it had on it when we got it used, but we took it up to the 200K mark. Which is probably why the transmission was trying to use two gears at once. The technical term would be "shredding the engine."

So, our dilemma is do we want to sink $3,500 into putting in a rebuilt transmission (and taking the chance on something else falling apart in a very used-up car)? Or should we just sell it off and go with one car for a while? We have a big ol' truck which we don't use a whole lot, but it works great.

Trevor uses his bike & public transportation. I would be taking Connor with me to my job, which is only about 2-3 miles away from our house. And Lee is close enough to just walk to work.

That's the good news! Lee got a job at the county library. He starts tomorrow. He'll be doing computer tech stuff for them. We are very happy about this, since it took since February to happen. He also was trying for another job at the same time, and there were 70 applicants that were called in to be tested from who knows how many actual applications -- for 2 positions.

So, yeah - it's tough out there. This job is tied to the whole county system, so Lee has a good chance of being able to transfer up to better positions over time, vs. coming in from outside the system. This job is Tuesday through Saturday, which will be a different kind of schedule for us.

We'll check and see how the benefits compare to what I'm getting right now, and go with the better deal. My insurance has changed 3 times in the 3 years I've worked at my job, and our doctors/dentists, etc. are typically covered regardless.

The other thing we'll have to assess is what the budget looks like after a few paychecks, and see how long it will take to be able to get a second car - something smaller, this time. I don't have a troop anymore, and it's mostly just Lee, Trevor, Connor and I right now.

Way to go, Lee!!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Connor & Church update

As stated before, Connor is going through Sacramental Preparation classes at church right now so he can do First Reconciliation & First Communion.

Boy, this kid has to be the most motivated kid to receive the Holy Eucharist ever. Every single week he tries to get it. He's going through classes that he really has a hard time comprehending, just so that he can get his 'daily bread.'

In church, he is very proud about having almost learned the Lord's Prayer. He has the biggest grin on his face while we're saying it as a congregation and he gets to participate. Good stuff.

Today however, for some reason the picture of Christ ascending into heaven after the Resurrection made an impact. In the Child's Picture Bible we have, it shows Christ with his arms raised, looking up to heaven, and floating in the sky.

It took us a while to figure out why Connor kept raising his arms up open & high, with his head back (we're all sitting quietly in the first row, of course). Eventually Lee told him, "Connor, you're not ascending. Put your arms down."


No, I don't know what the rest of people at church thought of this :P

And I wrote my dad's name on the banner at the altar to remember those who have died in the last year - today being the Feast of Remembrance.


No - I didn't vote for anything in Canada. I don't live there. If I did, I'd vote & live with the results.

Lee always votes early. We have the mail-in ballot, and he goes thru everything in the pamphlet and does his thing. He doesn't usually discuss it with me. Fine with me.

Diana is pretty stressed at school, and was really very busy with writing essays, studying Japanese, and the rest of what comes with carrying 18 units & doing 10 hours work-study a week. She told me she was just able to vote for president, since she didn't have the time to go through everything and try to figure it out her first go around with voting. I just said, hey, do what you've got to do.

Trevor spent a good six hours going over EVERYTHING in the pamphlets for every measure on the ballot for our area. He was reading ALL the measures for the entire county until we told him he couldn't vote on issue for cities outside our own anyway.

He had to most trouble trying to vote for a position on a Land Management board. There were three candidates, and none of them had taken the time to write a little about themselves for the voter pamphlet. So all he had were three names, and no information. In a case like that, what do you do? Eeny meeny miny mo?

He did have a good laugh about one of the candidates for the Senate that was on the ballot. The guy had qualifications like "painted a sign" and his occupation included "being there for my mother." The guy looks about 60. I guess his mom will vote for him. Trevor did not.

The whole afternoon, Trevor kept coming in to ask Lee questions about the issues. Lee explained about fiscal impact and the terms of the measures, and to see who was backing what. If you don't agree with the organization backing the measure, you probably want to vote no.

Lee was very careful not to tell Trevor what to vote for - but hopefully Trevor learned about finding the information and coming to his own conclusions.

We have one measure I hope passes - that home improvements less than $35,000 would not require you to go through all the permit processes currently in place. You still need to have all the information in case you want to sell your house, and the electrical still needs to be signed off, but you don't have to wait for inspectors throughout the whole process, like we did with our addon bedroom (which would have qualified and gone faster, probably).

We hope to do a carport, add on a new room, and extend the living room out a bit eventually. All those would be under the new guidelines if the measure passes. :)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Camera

I have figured out that I need to use the flash or else everything turns out fuzzy. Kind of like the faces in "The Ring."

This is a no-name camera I'm borrowing from Trevor, who got it from Diana, who got it from the lawyer she worked for when he bought himself a "real" camera. Diana since also got a "real" camera.

Connor's Plan for Halloween

He's 10 now, and it's taken a while to get him into the swing of this festivity. The first time we took him out to trick-or-treat, he walked right into some old guy's house as soon as the man opened the door! (because that's what you do when you ring the bell and visit someone, right?).

As soon as it became October this year, he was already excited about Halloween. He understands the calendar pretty well, so I could tell him it would be on the 31st, and he'd have to wait until then to trick-or-treat.

Figuring out what he wanted to dress as was a little more difficult. When I asked him about it earlier in the month, he said "knight" - or I thought he did. He said "night" meaning Halloween happens at night. Oh well.

So we went through a bunch of options - doctor, tiger, knight, etc. He came up with Cowboy Connor on his own (maybe because he was Cowboy Connor last year too?). I don't know, but we were set with that. One of the gals that substitutes for us at school brought in some real spurs that her daughter wore to barrel-race. He didn't wear those to school :P And to trick-or-treat, he needed a mustache - he got out the mascara on his own for that too.

Trevor stayed home to pass out candy. Well, the deal was he could have whatever was left. I think three kids made it all the way up our hill.... So Trevor got a lot of 3 Muskateers & Snickers.

As you can see below, we were assigned our pumpkin faces. We had no school for a Teacher Work day on the 31st, so in the afternoon, we took care of the pumpkin stuff. Then in the evening, we went to the Neewollah Parade downtown as usual. Connor clinked along in his spurs and a lot of folks noticed them :)

After the parade, Connor wanted to go door to door along the really decked-out houses on Douglas. These folks are in homes from the 30's & 40's, with switch-back stairs and big porches and lots of room to set tombstones, fog machines & all kinds of other decor. The fog kind of drifts down to the road to add to the creepiness. The people who live there are great about dressing up and it's a lot of fun :)

Then we had to find a train. Connor was talking about the train all day. I think he meant the little train we took at the Camp Millenium (for kids with cancer) fundraiser. However, that little amusement park (with leftover Santa's Village stuff, ironically) had already finished up last week - I don't think they realized everyone was off school on actual Halloween - doh.

However, we do have another family attraction - Wildlife Safari. For the second year, they have opened up on Halloween night to do various booths and fun stuff sponsored by banks & stuff from the area. And they have a train. It was $3 admission with a can of food for the food bank, and all the stuff inside was covered with admission.

We went straight to the train, of course. It's a pretty short ride, but it satisfied Connor's need for a train ride. He also got to decorate a cookie, I got the last caramel apple (yay!!) and we did the little trick-or-treat as well. There was a bounce house, and some games to play and you could see some of the animals as well in their enclosures.

Once we went through that stuff, Connor was ready to come home. Yay!

Halloween Pumpkins

Connor had a plan for pumpkin carving this year.
He assigned us all faces for our pumpkins. It it possible he was working on different emotions or expressions as part of his therapy at school... I don't know.
In any case, we went to the pumpkin patch and walked through the field to get 3 additional pumpkins. I already had one I'd brought from school. It was leftover from 'texture play.' Ew.
Dad was assigned "big smile."

Trevor was assigned the "mad" face.

Connor had a typical pumpkin face.
Mom had to do "love" eyes - 'like a heart.'

I wonder if cousin Daniel got to do his "proud" faced pumpkin?