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Christmas day we hopped a ferry across the Sound to spend Christmas day with extended family. It was freezing but gorgeous as we walked out to the end of the dock in Indianola.

Here are my gorgeous children at the end of the dock.




It's been a wonderful Christmas day. Last night we went to my sister's house for a bit, then to Lance's sister's house. There was much eating and much ripping of decorative paper.

I'm thankful for family and friends. I'm grateful for the birth of Jesus Christ and all that it means to mankind.

Ho Ho Ho Cough Cough Ho

It started with a tickle in my throat Saturday night and by Sunday morning I could sing bass---if I were so inclined. I had to scramble to get someone to teach my Sunbeam class at church and then I went to bed the for most of the day.

Ack. Sick during my holiday break isn't on my list of things to do.

I managed to get some pain pills and migraine meds in this morning so I could go with the family to get Santa pictures taken. This is our 20th consecutive year having them done. I love looking at them each Christmas to see how they've grown.



After we finished we went to get ornaments for each child as is our tradition and then Lance had to get to work. I took the kids out for something to eat and then we went to the Aquarium down on the waterfront for a bit. It was nice to be with all four kids--it happens so seldom these days.

I love my children.

Scum Sucking Excuses for Human Beings

Yes, there I said it.

I'm angry. Very.

My son has worked very hard, saved his money and dreamed of getting a car. He got one last month. It's not new--it's a 1991--but it's his and he did it all by himself. We were very proud of him for doing this on his own. He's taking care of his insurance and everything. He couldn't afford comprehensive on it just yet but he got insurance that he could afford.

Last night some pieces of human garbage smashed open his car, ripped out his stereo, all his speakers and all the Christmas presents he'd purchased for his sisters.

I've never seen him so upset. It's reduced me to tears.

I hope karma bites these thugs in a big way and soon.

Sometimes I wonder...

Why I became a Spanish teacher in the first place.

In one of my classes, I have 15 students, all kindergartners to 2nd graders. This is a lively and noisy class---full of energy and spunk.

what did Lou say to Mary Tyler Moore? Oh yeah, "I hate spunk"

I don't hate it but I'm sometimes having a difficult time getting them to wind down a bit.

Like yesterday. We learned about Muñeco de nieve. We learned the vocab for the snow, the hat, eyes, mouth, boots, mittens yada yada yada. One student took it upon himself to get creative and drew an anatomically correct snowman, then proceeded to race around the room showing the penis to all the other children while yelling the word.

Two other students came to me and, pointing to two other students, said "THEY SAID THE S WORD!!" Their little faces were full of horror, so I stepped over to the two alleged users of the bad word and and asked them if they'd used the bad word.

They hung their little heads and conf…

Old Old Old

As I was driving Alli to school this morning, I was eyeing some black gloves sitting on the console. I knew she didn't have any mittens on and so I asked her if she wanted to wear them. Heck, *I* wanted to wear them as the temperature gauge on my rearview mirror kept flashing 'ice' and then '18 degrees'. It was cold.

Alli told me that she didn't need the gloves, she was fine.

"Is it warm in your classrooms?"
"Yeah, they keep the heat on. You probably didn't even have heat in your schools when you were a kid"
"Well duh. That was so long ago we didn't even have classrooms. We met in caves and drew hieroglyphics on the walls."
"I believe it!"

Earlier in the drive we were going past a sharp incline that led up to some houses and she said, "Remember that old guy that was climbing up there the other day? Wasn't that weird?"

I agreed that it was a bit odd.

"I hate old people"

I then mentioned to…

Adopt a Homeless Guy...

We drive a lot during the day. It's simply the nature of our lives and jobs that we have to spend a great deal of our time burning fossil fuel. Most of my time is spent driving around Shoreline.

There's this guy we always see there. He's usually standing by the freeway exit ramp with a cardboard sign. We don't know his name but we call him Rasta Man because he has dreadlocks and he's usually smiling and laughing and singing to himself. We think he lives in the woods by the golf course there, but we're not sure.

When we can, we have given him some food or bottles of water during the hot weather.

Today the temperatures dipped into the teens and everything was frozen over. I was so grateful to get into my suburban and sit on heated seats.

We came across Rasta Man as we were driving the kids to school. Lance and I decided to swing back around and get him some hot chocolate. After we handed it to him, I asked him if he was hungry too.

"Yes Ma'am,&…

Not so blond and not so happy

About five or six months ago I thought I was smart enough (and cute enough and darn it people like me!) to dye my very own hair. I mean, it couldn't be that hard, could it?

I'd done it before but apparently this time I went a shade too far and landed in the RED ZONE. Actually, it was more of the ORANGE ZONE than the RED ZONE. This is not a zone anyone wishes to be unless your name is Carrot Top and you want to get beaten up on playgrounds.

So I went to my friend Anita and had to start phase one of fixing my horrendous error. I saw her again this past week and here's the result. It's not so blond, it's really not so orange and it's back to the color I wanted. Here's the result....I took this last night with my cell phone so it's kinda fuzzy.



That's tne Not So Blond part.

The Not So Happy part goes like this...


What is WRONG with people? Why are they so mean and cruel? They honk like they're in New York, they give you the one finger wave, the…

C-c-c-c-c-cold

It's freezing---literally---here.

So Lance thought it was time to remove the air conditioning unit from our bedroom window. Which means there is no window in the window at this time.

Last night was an exercise in avoiding hypothermia.

Just so you know? Covering a window in plastic won't keep out the cold.

Who knew?

Today's itinerary involves replacing the window so we're not all found frozen together in the morning.

Not that huddling together for warmth isn't fun...but you know.

People

People make me crazy.

Sometimes I think I would seriously be happy living on a sandy beach somewhere with no other PEOPLE around.

Judgmental, cranky, irritating people. People who can't help but put in their two cents worth on everything you do. People who, oh just for the halibut, enjoy engaging in lengthy conversations about you because ....well, just because.

I'm not even sure I'd take my dog, as she's on my nerves right now.

Oh yeah....Fa la la la....la la la friggin' la!

On the plus side today, I spent some time with my two youngest daughters. We went to the gym and swam laps then we went up to Alderwood and I bought myself some unmentionables with my birthday money (Thanks Mom and Dad!) Then I treated my girls to a dinner at Red Lobster. Just the three of us. We ate, we laughed and we had a wonderful time.

And not ONCE during the entire evening did the waitress question my parenting skills or my clothing. I'm also fairly certain that my waitress didn&…

Thankful

Despite what many of you may think---I am thankful for many things in my life. Many, many things. Even the hard things that have made me stronger, though I might not have seen it at the time. It's never fun going through the refiners fire but it's always worth it.

I'm grateful for my husband. He's the kindest, most gentle man on the planet. We have been through a great deal in our marriage and he's either a glutton for punishment or he really loves me because he's still by my side. He's always been a hard worker and good provider for the family. I love him.

I'm thankful for my oldest daughter Stephanie--or Tep as the kids call her. Nearly 21 years ago she made me a mommy for the first time. She taught me the real meaning of love and how you can absolutely love another person so much that you would literally walk through fire for them. I admire her dedication to her physical health and I'm grateful that she's beginning to see the benefits…

If it weren't for bad luck...

Are you old enough to remember the show Hee Haw? There was this little shtick they did about bad luck. It goes something like this:



Sometimes our life is like an episode of Hee Haw.

A few weeks ago our small car was sitting there minding it's own business and someone ran into it. Not only did they run into it, they ran off. A hit and run that totaled the car, according to our insurance company. It also rendered the driver's side door permanently stuck closed. Anyone driving the car has to climb in the passenger side to, clamber over the console and plop into the driver's seat. It's a lovely gymnastic adventure--especially if you're wearing a dress.

Last night at work the car was hit again. This time someone at hubby's work hit it in the front right corner, popping the door permanently OPEN.

At least this time the guy left a note with his insurance info on it.

Not that it's going to do us any good.

Sweet Souls

Monday Lance and I had a delicious and delightful meeting at Children's Hospital to talk about how we were indentured to them for the remainder of our natural lives due to Allison's recent week long incarceration there. I think they'd like a part of us after we pass on as well, but I'm not quite sure how that's going to to work out.

After we finished there we stopped by to visit Peggy--she of the Pt/ot department and Ashley's dearest friend there at the hospital.

(We love her too)

Peggy was with a lady and her grandson at the time and before we'd arrived they'd apparently been talking about us. Now of course we know why our ears were burning.

Barbara and her grandson Kyle were here from Idaho and Kyle has a lot of the same issues as Ashley and so they invited us to come visit them at their hotel on Tuesday night and spend some time in the pool and visiting. There was talk of pizza and root beer and thus I was rendered incapable of saying no.

When we…

Escape

After a rather horrifying week, we decided to pull up stakes and head to the mountains in search of white powdery escape.

In other words...snow.

I love this child more than I can ever put into words. Behold..my Alli.



We went to Steven's Pass where we discovered some snow...but not enough for our liking.

Lance and Ashley seemed to enjoy it.




They went down small hills in inner tubes and landed hard. Thankfully there was no breaking of bones, just a jarring of the heads and spinal columns.

After sliding around for a bit, we went to Leavenworth. Oh we love Leavenworth.



We loved it so much that we spent the night. Ashley ran up to our room on the the third floor and yelled down the from the balcony to us as we were gathering our gear, "Our room is FANTASTIC! It has EVERYTHING!!" She was so excited.

And by 'everything', she must have meant two queen sized beds, a tv, a bathroom and a couch. It was everything we needed.

We discovered that playing in the snow r…

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I drive around a lot. I mean A LOT. I spend so much time in my vehicle that I've contemplated putting in a kitchen and a bathroom to make it more comfortable for me. I also tend to keep a box of protein bars with me as I don't get to come home during the day most of the time. Plus, I go to the gym twice a day and I get hungry and don't want to visit a fast food restaurant because it would nullify the effects of going to the gym.

I told you that to tell you this.

Last night I took my girls to their church activities. As we pulled up to a corner, there was a homeless man with a cardboard sign. I've seen him there before and I've given him a protein bar before. He was very nice and gracious and thanked me.

Not this time.

Alli was in the passenger seat so I asked her to hand it to him. She was reluctant, but put her window down, held it out and said "Sir? would you like a bar?"

He came over to us and said that he doesn't often drink hard whiskey …

Heaven for seven hours or so...

And by heaven I mean the beach cabin. We went over after church so Lance's Dad could work on his back. The girls and I headed straight for the cabin where I built a pretty good campfire, if I do say so myself.

We made some hobo stew and walked the sand.


We watched the moon rise....



We watched the ferries glide back and forth across the Sound...



We saw something almost as rare! A smile from Alli!



We also had Grandpa Doug join us for some stew and laughs. I have many, many more pictures. Seems I somehow managed to take about 92 of 'em but I'm tired and it's late and I think I'll go crawl into bed and enjoy the smell of the campfire in my hair.

Boo!

Today was full of goblins and angels and a major headache for me. Not that the costumed-candy-begging-hordes gave me a headache. It's just I had one and couldn't get rid of it all day. I still went out with the kids to look for sweets.

Ashley got all decked out, including her fingernails.



After I spent all that time gluing the spiderwebby nails to her, she said "I can't DO anything with these things on! Why do people like them? How can they DO anything?"

I told her that the price you pay for beauty is sometimes not being able to do anything productive. Ha! She ripped them all off right there.

Smart girl.

We went to the Trunk or Treat in the church parking lot and there were so many adorable little people there, all decked out in various costumes. Here's my niece Nicole, Alli and her friend Mercedes.



Ashley was cold so she put her coat on.



Lance and Ashley handed out candy from the back of our suburban.





After the Trunk or Treat, we went TRICK or treatin…

You know you're not feeling right when...

..you do silly, distracted things. Like...oh, I don't know, maybe putting a fortune cookie in your mouth before you realize you forgot to take out the fortune.

For the record? That little paper thingy does not taste good.

Also, that finger I thought was sprained, really isn't. It's broken. I have to wear the splint forever now because I've damaged my poor lil digit with all my attempts to bend it when it should have been kept straight. This really cuts into my typing speed.

I took the girls to the gym this afternoon to see if it would make me feel better. Lance and I went there this morning as well but there was no exercise involved. We simply lowered ourselves gently into the jacuzzi and sat there. We were full of the pathetic.

I exercised this afternoon. It did nothing to drive my cold/flu away.

On the plus side? The kitchen is now spotless for the night. Or until The Boy decides to have a bowl of cereal. It's been about an hour since our penne pasta …

The Speech

This is the speech I gave today for Wonderland Developmental Center's 40th Anniversary Celebration in a large ballroom in the convention center.

Frist I want to tell you about a little girl named Cheri Lee, born in the late fifties. She was born healthy and beautiful. Big blue eyes, bright blond curls and she loved to run. Then one day she became terribly ill. Seizure after seizure and then apparently a stroke. She was placed in a bed. Her parents were told to put her in an institution. She was never given therapy or moved. She lay in a bed. For years she lay in a bed. Back then they didn't know you had to move so she lay in her bed.

When I was seven months along with our fourth child, something odd happened. I felt my baby girl within me do something she'd never done before. I felt her have a seizure.

At the time I didn't know it was a seizure---but it felt that way to me.

Then I felt...nothing.

For two days I did everything I could possibly do to make th…

People

Some I like...some I could do without. I try to follow what I'm taught about 'love one another as I have loved you' and that whole 'do unto others' thing too. Some people push your buttons until you're ready to pop. I've found myself posting on boards in less-than stellar behavior when some forum people intentionally nit-pick and argue the most ridiculous points. I stop myself and I stop myself and then....I just post what pops into my head. It may be wickedly clever and sarcastic--but it's probably not the nicest thing to do.

Like I said...I know the Golden Rule and attempt to abide by it.

Some people make it harder than others. Still, I do try.

However one person on this planet today really pushed my buttons.

No, it wasn't one of my teenagers--they've been remarkably well behaved of late.

It was the person who hit my husband's car and caved in the driver's side door and then left. They didn't leave a note, they didn't …

It's raining, it's pouring....

The old man is snoring. Well, he might be. I can't tell from here.

It's been a busy week at Rancho Troeppl. Seems we hit the ground running on Monday and haven't stopped to take a breath. It's always a busy week for me during parent teacher conferences as I rush to dozens of interpreting appointments all over the district. I feel like a ping pong ball.

Also, are any of you experiencing this? There is a ratty white panel van parked on our street. It's dirty, beat up and now it has a flat tire. As I walk the dog in the morning and evening I don't get a good feeling.

A neighbor called last night to warn me that there is someone living in it.

This isn't the first time this has happened here. There have been cars, mobile homes and trailers that have, for a time, lodged themselves on our street and been called home to the homeless.

Last night as Ashley and I walked Cassie, I told her that this sort of thing just never happened on our street when I was a…

Isaac and Papa Bob

I foolishly agreed to watch my great nephew this weekend. When I say 'foolishly' I mean that my pea brain had forgotten just how time intensive and sleep-depriving these small humans can be. Not to mention the odoriferous offerings ejected from their nether regions.

I got no sleep last night as the wee one 'slept' with me. He woke up well before six a.m. and he was singing. How could you get mad at that? The answer is that you couldn't. It was so sweet. He snuggled in next to me and even when he discovered that I wasn't his mommy, he was fine.

Here he is playing with his Papa Bob. I'd love to go take a nap but my father says that he's too old to watch kids. I dunno....look at this and tell me he's not doing a bang up job!

Ashley's Birthday

Has it been that long since I've been pregnant? The calendar says yes...my heart says it isn't possible that my baby is so old.

I think she had a good day yesterday--despite some small disappointments. Mommy had to work late interpreting and couldn't call to say I was going to be late. Daddy picked her up at school and Alli baked her birthday cake after school. I helped her decorate it when I got home.




Rosie loves her duckies and so her theme, if you will, was chock full of duckies. From her cake to her balloons. She's a duckie lover.

Daddy and I took her to get her birthday present, a new iPod. Pink. At least I think it's pink. She was thrilled. Then later her cousins and Aunt and Uncle came over. We sang happy birthday to her and she blew out candles.



Her Auntie gave her little ducky non-slip decal thingies for the bathtub. I loved this idea and gift as getting her in and out of the tub is a tricky business with her balance issues. Thanks Auntie Juli…

Zooooooooooooo and Aquairium and birthdays oh my!

Spontaneity has been the name of the game for us lately. We generally go to the pool after school every day (and I go in the morning as well) but the other day I surprised the girls with a trip to the zoo.

Actually we've gone twice in the past week. Once with Steph and Ash and then the second time with Ash and Alli. I walked my feet off. It was fun each time---but the two experiences were markedly different. One visit was on a Saturday and the place was jammed with people. The second visit was in the afternoon on a weekday and there was virtually no one there but us and the animals.

I liked the second visit the best. Here's a slide show of our time there with Ash and Alli. Don't expect any pictures of me. You know better than that.



This past weekend Lance finally had some time off and we took full advantage of his time with us. We were all sort of sick with colds and not feeling so well but we managed to enjoy ourselves.

We began with a yummy waffle and sausage…

Los Pinguos!

Since the concert last week I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of their cd that I ordered and it came!

Lance brought it out to the school and I played it for my Spanish class. In fact we sang and danced to it the entire time. Here's the song we picked that the kids are going to learn and perform at the Expo for their parents. They're so excited.

Turn up your speakers. I dare you not to chair dance to this!



My Los Pinguos obsession has infected my girls and my husband. I thought they might not enjoy it as they don't fully understand the language, but they love it as well! Yay! Makes it nicer that I can have the cd blasting away in the stereo when we drive around.

And boy do we drive around. I've been keeping up my twice-a-week gym visits. I've got an ugly cold right now and don't feel so well, but I did manage to drag myself to the pool this morning, hubby in tow. He wanted to stay in bed but he went anyway. He went right to the hot tub but di…

Getting Something Off My Chest...

I've been thinking lately.

Don't worry, I haven't hurt myself. I'm thinking small thoughts and taking it slow. I'd like to avoid an a brain hemorrhage.

I've not always been the best person I could be. I've made mistakes in my life and have not been the best example of my faith and who I should be. If I've ever done anything to hurt or harm anyone reading these words (you know who you are) I'm sorry. I truly am.

I'd like to think that I'm more mature now...better at being who I'm supposed to be but I still sometimes stumble. I'm so far from perfect that I can't even see Perfect from where I am.

I'd like to think I'm on the right path though. I am trying.

Anyway...I just wanted to get that off my chest.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled life.

Weekend Wow!

Usually the weekends are sort of ho-hum because Lance is working.

This weekend was delightfully different. I've been feeling better since I've been going to the gym twice a day and so I feel more inclined to go out in public. (Yes, I know, hush)

Friday morning as I was listening to the radio I heard a group on an early talk show that was going to be playing at The Triple Door that evening. They were a group from Argentina calld Los Pinguos. They sounded incredible on the radio and so I mentioned it to Stephanie. She said she'd like to go with me.

So we went and took Alli with us after we dropped Ashley off. It was AMAZING!! I so wanted to get up and dance but Stephanie wouldn't. Ok, truth be told I probably wouldn't have anyway. Not only were these guys amazing musicians, they were gorgeous. My apologies for the picture, it was dark and it was taken with my cell phone.


All the way home Stephanie kept saying, "I want one of those.....I want one of t…

Busy

I know, I know. I haven't updated my blog recently.

I have no excuse except that I've been busy running children everywhere under the sun, teaching and going to the gym twice a day.

Yeah, you read that correctly. Weird, huh?

We drop the girls off at school, then hubby and I hit the pool. Then later in the day when I pick the girls up from school, I go back with them. We're really getting our money's worth out of our membership dues in towel and water usage.

So, life is busy but it's good.

I'd write more but I've got to pick up the girls and then hit the gym. Again.

Toodles!

My Boyz

Technically, I only have one boy. The Boy. The man-child I gave birth to 18 years ago.

But I also have two other boys. Not mine by birth, but mine by heart. Dillon and Daniel. We spent some time with them on Saturday after going to my niece's son's fifth birthday. (that was a mouthful)

They live down where we used to live so we don't see them on a daily basis as we once did. We don't have sleepovers anymore and we miss that. Here are my two other boys and my two youngest girls.

SCONES!!

Oh, and teeth.

Yesterday Lance and I dropped the girls off at their respective schools and turned our faithful gas guzzling steed south. I had a date with a bespectacled gentleman who wields sharp instruments and loud drills.

I had cracked off half of my temporary crown and needed to have the permanent one put on.

So, we drove.

It was not only my date-with-a-dentist day, but the first day of the Puyallup Fair. To my husband this means only one thing: SCONES!.

We devised a delightful plan as we hurtled south at speeds approaching non-legal limits. We would arrive early enough for us to stop, get into the fair free (First day of the fair is free day before noon), get our hand stamped so we could get back in later after my appointment and buy fair scones. It was a good plan. A yummy plan. A plan that involved food. A plan that made us happy.

Apparently it made about five hundred billion other people happy as well.

The first sign of how our morning was about to go was the four w…

Divide myself into three...

If only it were possible to do just that.

But I can't. Wish I could. I have three places to be tonight---PTA Meeting, Band/Orchestra orientation for fifth graders and another meeting half way across town. Now...to pick and choose.

I have a lot of nights like this and I wish there were two of us to take on these things. I wish Lance didn't work the shift he does. Don't get me wrong--I'm grateful he's got a good job. I am.

I'm just a little weary of feeling like a single parent.

What I Learned with the Sunbeams Today

The Sunbeams are four year old darlings at church and I was asked to sit in on their class and help today.

I learned that Sister Perry is a wonderful Sunbeam teacher with lots of patience and love for her little class.



She taught us about forgiveness and told the story of Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers. Joseph forgave his brothers for what they did to him and we should forgive those who have done something wrong to us.

The best part? Coloring! We colored little finger puppets of Joseph and his brothers.



I helped some of the kids color theirs and then we taped them up and voila! Finger puppets!



I can understand why the kids love Sister Perry and why she loves them. The little ones are sooooo sweet and fun. Little Liam sat on my lap through the last two hours of Sharing Time and Singing Time. I was in heaven.

I think I'd like to be a Sunbeam Teacher.

Back to School!

Yes, I know it was three days ago and I haven't updated my blog for over a week and I'd apologize but I got blogged-out by writing every day for three weeks during Ashley's Children's Hospital escapades.

Two of our four children went back to school this week! They've both been so excited about starting up and seeing their friends and getting back on a schedule. I was thrilled for them (and to be back on a schedule again as well!) That and going back to work myself. :)

Before we left for school, Lance gave each of the girls a father's blessing. He blessed them with the ability to make good choices in friendships this year and to follow the spirit in all that they do. It was a special experience for us and I'm thankful I have a husband who holds the priesthood.

Because they went at different times, I took Ashley in the morning. Here's our newly minted 5th grader, decked out in her Van's shoes, shirt and jacket.



Isn't she adorable?



Our Alli…