Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas Tag

Ok, I guess I have been tagged which means I am supposedto do this questioneer thing, thanks Julie. I was going to totally ignore it but since it is sort of like a game and I am a stickler about rules of games I feel I must comply. So, here it is.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both, I like to mix it up.

2. Real tree or artificial? Hmm, by choice would always do real but to be practical we have artificial.

3. When do you put up the tree? After Thanksgiving

4. When do you take the tree down? Right after the 1st of the year.

5. Do you like egg nog? Yep, but not the fat free kind they sell in the store, it scares me. If it is fat free then it can't really be egg nog, it is just nog and that is wrong.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I don't really know. I do remember when I got my Cabage Patch Doll. I had seen it on my moms bed before Christmas and told my sis and she told my mom who then bought this really ugly doll (I know Cabage patch dolls are really ugly but at the time I loved them). When we opened the gifts I could not understand where the CPdoll was and everyone said I must have seen this ugly one and mistaken it for a CPdoll. Then after I sat and moped and even cried a little the brought it out. I still say it was a very cruel trick but my dark side can see the amusement in it.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Carl, he always says he doesn't need anything.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My kids, they are even excited when I buy them new socks at the store so Christmas is the best thing in the world. Does that indicate they are deprived? I am just happy they are so appreciative.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Not yet.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I have done both.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Lets see, my mom used to wrap everything she bought arround Cristmas so I think I got tightts or socks one year. She also used to wrap parts to present seperatly like the batteries and stuff so we would have more to open. I guess I am not as appreciative as my kids. We always got other great stuff though.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Elf

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Ocotober or November.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No. I did get a recycled present for our wedding though. When we opened the gift there was another card inside the box with someone else's name. I don't know who gave it to us but I still remember the gift.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Hmmm, what must be at every Holiday dinner are my dads rolls, they are awesome and it isn't a Shull holiday without them.

16. Lights on the tree? Yes, but white only. I cannot stand colored lights!!! (Keeping Julie's answer for this one)

17. Favorite Christmas song? There are so many.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We open one in the evening from a family member, it is our tradition. Santa comes at night so how could we open presents before Christmas morning? duh!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Commercials they try to be all sentimental and it really bugs me. Especially the car commercials. Who is seriously buying a car for someone for Christmas. I know it happens but it seems really unlikely.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? My tree is green, gold and red.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Crown roast, it is so pretty and festive looking. I also like Prime rib.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Carl to be home and to know where we are going to be for the next couple of years. Yes, it was supposed to be set but now some things are up in the air again. Also I think I want Wii fit, anyone have a review of it for me?

26. Who I tag: I wouldn't do this except it is here so I feel it is part of the rules and therefore I am required to comply. So I tag Ally and Katie.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Carl wrote a letter about his trip and I thought I would post it for everyone.

Hi all, Well I am in the Horn of Africa, have been for the last week or so. It is really interesting. I flew in on a military flight from Bahrain. From the air I saw the water looked really nice, which with a diving addiction like mine really is a good sign. Then we hit land, I have never seen so much trash in my life. The people here live in squaller, actually I think that they live in a level below squaller. In order to keep the inhabitants in line they condone the use of cot, which is a fairly powerful cross between meth and weed. It comes in the form of green leaves that they much on like a huge dip of chewing tobacco. Lovely I know. The government uses this as a form of crowd suppression since they have around 60% unemployment. The American base is pretty interesting in and of itself. It had been raining for several days before I arrived so everything was muddy, there are not roads on the base, just dirt paths that are purely suggestions. The whole base is on the flight line that is shared with the french and us. So we get twice the number of jets, and the French Mirage is really loud. I am living in a shipping container with a bed and an A/C, the conditions are only slightly better than Eric's. When I got to the first container (CLU) there was a sign on the window that said "Military Working Dog", I thought that was weird and I went in, and sure enough there was a crate and someone else's stuff. I close the door and head back to the housing office and get a new CLU (Yes you can insert any pun you want here). This CLU was full of water there was about 1-2 inches on the floor. Apparently the Navy overlooked the fact that there is a rainy season here. We got busy working, I have a new employee working here and I came to train her. I was able to go out into town to the Bizarre. That was a lot of fun. I picked up some African goods. Kraus you are right, if you have been to one bizarre, you have been to them all. Kraus you would be super proud of me, I bartered with people and got it so low that they called me a Russian, because the Americans would have payed higher prices. I got a chess set for little Carl, he is learning it in school and has taken a keen liking to it. I got the girls some figurines, and for us a carved Rhino. Since the place closes down on Veteran Day, I signed up to feed my addiction and go diving. We did two exceptional dives, who would have know there was such good diving here. After the dives we went snorkeling with whale sharks, that is right whale sharks. They migrate through this time of year. I was able to swim with a juvenile only about 12 feet in length and another about 20 feet in length. It was truly amazing to be so close to such a large fish. They are completely docile, one even got kicked in the head by and unsuspecting swimmer. I have some not so good pics of the whale shark that I will be posting to the blog when I get back to civilization. I am heading back to Bahrain in the morning and hoping to be home by Thanksgiving. I love you all, Carl

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

One of the reasons I came home when I did was so that I could be able to vote. We got in late last night and with the time difference and the excitement of seeing their toys again I gave in and let the kids stay up a little late. I had a whole list of things to do today, most importantly vote but I also kind of needed to get groceries since the only thing in my cupboard was grey poupon (which expired in 2006), beans and some teddy grahams. Okay, there was some other stuff but it is two years old. When I woke up the kids were still sleeping so I thought I could have the sitter come, I would run and vote and then get a few groceries and come home to feed the kids. I arrive at the school and go to the line, which is the middle of the real line, it goes down the hall and starts on the other side of the school. When I get to the end of the line a sweet man is giving a speech about how it will probably be three hours and there is nothing that can be done about it so please do not get angry while waiting. So I start the day there. Since as aforementioned there were no groceries in the house I only grabbed a coke that Carl had left when he was here last and that was my breakfast. I was still in line when lunch came and still in line four hours after arriving, I could smell McDonald's from down the street and my stomach actually craved it, I know almost as bad as just a coke for breakfast. There was a woman a few spots ahead of me who had potato chips and I had to keep myself from pouncing on them, and I really don't like potato chips. In line I was with two other women from our subdivision so it was nice to meet neighbors. I was really impressed with how calm everyone was, there was grumbling but I was also a grumbler and felt it was understandable as four and a half hours in line crept upon us. There were women in line with their children, I was so impressed with them. My children would have been running around in circles after the first ten minutes and these kids behind me were so good for their mom, I really must be doing something wrong. I felt bad for some who came and saw the line, heard how long it would take and said they could not do it and chose to leave. But mostly I was impressed by those who felt it was important enough to call work and just let them know that they were going to be longer than planned because they had to vote. I finally got to vote and left almost five hours after getting into line. Lightheaded from nothing to eat and stressed to return my rental car I had driven from the Jacksonville airport to Charleston I went to Cathy's house and she came with me and gave me a ride home where I then got into the van to drive to the grocery store and finally pick up some much needed groceries and pizza for the kids for dinner. Thankfully they had eaten while I was gone since my awesome sitter Shelby realized when I did not come home (I don't have a cellphone or any phone for that matter yet) she should get food for them and had her sister walk over cereal and milk for breakfast and then Cathy who finished voting before me brought over popcorn and apple juice for them. I get in the van and back up , hearing some strange noises and feeling the car is driving funny I stop to investigate. Now, this is a car Carl bought while here, a month ago, this is the first time I am driving it.....ever. I get out and look around and see that the back tire is completely flat. I park it and take Carl's truck instead. I get to the pizza place to order and realize I don't have my wallet....back to home get the wallet back to pizza and groceries. It is now six thirty and up til now I still have only had one coke all day so I started getting light headed and dizzy. Deciding it was time to get home and eat I picked up just the essentials and went home with pizza. Shelby, my sitter had called her dad and he filled up my tire so now I just have to see if it was a fluke or if it will be flat again tomorrow when I have to take them to school to register. The kids ate, I ate and now they are showered and in bed and I am now debating whether I should start the daunting task of unpacking and laundry or just fall into bed and pass out leaving these mundane tasks to tomorrow.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Carl at his best

I came across these pictures and I just had to share them. A little back story is necessary though. Carl's mother likes roosters, they are evident all through her kitchen, there are a lot of them everywhere. There is one rooster in particular that sits on the middle of the island in the kitchen and Carl swears that they were told that if they broke it they had better head to Mexico to hide. Well, of course this encourages him to make a joke of it, good thing his mom has a really great sense of humor. I think his vandalising the rooster started before I even met him but in the course of our marriage I have seen cheese whiz hanging from, dolls sitting on, hats added to this rooster. When we would go to his parents house he would always be planning something and then he would wait and see how long it took for mom to notice, I think that was the most fun for him. One time he even tried to plan to move the rooster off of the island into another room and put a really tacky ugly one up and then "accidentally" smash it. I put the kibosh on that one, I didn't want to risk something really happening to it if it was moved, I don't know how much I would like hiding in Mexico. On our last visit Carl arrived before us and when I came in the rooster was already trussed up, here are the results.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Leaves all arround

Madison spent the day outside helping Grandpa with the leaves. He would make the piles to take to the goats and she would disperse them. She had the best time. She tried to share the fun with the cat but he just would not appreciate it.

Then the kids came home from school and seeing the leaves they all ran and played in them.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall Festival

The next Holiday outing was the kids Fall Festival at school. It was in the gym which was really crowded. After doing Ha-Na's hair Madison begged me to make hers curly. I worked with a curling iron and got it all done which lasted all of an hour before it fell straight again. She always cries about her straight hair while I always hated my curls. I guess we always want what we don't have. We first went to the cake walk and were informed that the kids cake was one of the first that was taken. They won 2nd place in the 3rd grade entry for the cake. They had so much fun playing the games and especially liked the hayride around Kamiah. At the end we took them through the haunted house (which was actually the stage). Madison said it was her favorite part of the festival (I think it was actually the fact that Grandpa was holding her as she went through). They all had a great time and especially liked showing off their costumes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween contd.

The kids school had a cake decorating contest. They were both really excited about it so I said I would make one cake and they could decorate it together. My mom and I Macgyvered (sp?) together a pan out of a colander parchment paper and nonstick spray since they don't bake and had nothing to do it in. It worked and I gave the kids supplies and let them go crazy.

I did have to tie my hands up so I would not take over, I did give verbal suggestions but in reply received eye rolling. OK, they did take some of them. The buckle at the front was Carl's idea, he said it was a must.

We will find out tomorrow if it won anything, it will be added to the cake walk they are having at the fall festival for the school tomorrow. The kids get to wear their finished (yeah) costumes to the festival. I am going to try to keep them away from the cake walk though, we leave next week and there is no way I want the pressure of finishing a cake before Wednesday.

OK, I could probably eat it in one sitting but I really shouldn't. We already have two half gallons of ice cream that have to be eaten, the kids are so excited, dessert every night until we go.

I finally figured out how to do the whole video thing, here is the kids dancing at the Halloween square dance.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Halloween has begun!!!!

This is probably my most favorite holiday. I think because it is the start of the holiday season and I have so many childhood memories of decorating our house and getting our costumes ready. The season really starts to feel like fall which is my favorite time of the year. Then when we would get home from trick or treating my mom would make homemade doughnuts and read us scary stories while we sip apple cider in front of the fireplace.

Being in Bahrain I was not able to do much for Halloween, there are no pumpkins for an affordable price and very few decorations and of course no trick or treating or parties for the kids, until I decided to throw one last year. I love the holidays and especially decorating but with moving around like we have we have had not really been able to do that because we are not in a place long enough, we live in a hotel or are out of the country. So, this year I was determined my kids were going to experience the holiday season in full force. I started first by deciding to make their costumes, the girls are princesses and Carl was going to be a knight but changed his mind at the last minute when he saw a cape that grandma has and wants to be Dracula. That is less work for me so I said sure.

For Halloween itself we will actually be in Seattle where we will try to go to a farm and do a corn maze and a hay ride at the pumpkin patch, trunk or treat at my friends ward party, stop by my brothers party at his house and then take the kids trick or treating. We are sooo looking forward to all this fun but we even got to start it early. My parents have been square dancing for years (they are really disappointed none of their kids took it up but there seems to be a chance for the grand kids) and they were having one for Halloween. My mom decorates for all the dances and she did a great job for this one. As aforementioned I have been making the girls costumes, I wasn't quite finished but they were done enough and mom and dad wanted to show of their grand kids to their friends. They danced and had the best time showing off their costumes.

Tonight for Family Home Evening we decided to carve pumpkins that a friend of my parents gave us, decorate the house and decorate Halloween cupcakes. I was so sad that Carl was missing everything. My mom read fun Halloween stories and we sang songs. When it was winding down Carl called on Skype from Kuwait and the kids sang him Halloween songs and we walked around with the computer so he could see all the decorations and the pumpkins they carved, it really made the night great. Hooray for Skype!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Going home

We have decided it is time to go home to South Carolina and wait for Carl to join us there. We will be heading back at the beginning of November. We have had such a great time with my mom and dad and we will really miss them. I am excited to be at my own house and see my new car that Carl bought for me while he was there.

We went to Seattle a couple of weeks ago and had a great time. I was able to see my family and hang out with Julie. Brad and Kim were so nice to let us stay with them and feed us all week. We enjoyed it so much that we are going again at the end of the month to spend Halloween with them before we fly out. I am really excited to see them and see their spooky decorations, they really go all out.

While there I hurt my back somehow and it keeps getting worse. We had my dads sister come with her husband, sons, and grand kids this weekend and I cooked for them which increasingly stressed my back. I had so much fun seeing my cousins, it had been years , and especially visiting with my aunt and uncle. Right now I am working on relaxing and letting my back heal. Laying down is the only way that it does not cause intense pain but I am not capable of just laying down all the time. I find myself getting fidgety and try to get up which is the most painful of movements. Once I finally get up it gets worse and worse til I have to lay down and take medication again. I have had consistent back pain for years but usually that was in my neck, shoulders, upper back area. This is in my lower back although I think the stress and tension in my upper back may be contributing to the lower back pain.

Other than the above pain I am doing well. I love that the weather has cooled and I get to wear fall clothes, those are my favorites, I love layers. I have been working on the kids Halloween costumes, I am almost finished with Ha-Na's and will do Madison's this week. I am looking forward to going home and I am already thinking about what I will do in the house. I am especially anxious to have a date of when Carl will join us, he is working really hard at getting finished in Bahrain and getting his orders back to Charleston finished.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lumberjack Days

I took the kids, Laurel and Mathew to Lumberjack days in Orifino today and they had a blast. There was a parade in the morning and I think that anyone who had a truck and a sign in the tiny city was in the parade. The kids loved it since they threw candy to the kids. When the Obama/Biden float came through an awkward silence and then it seemed that collectively the crowd refused to acknowledge the floats exhistance. Later the McCain/Palin float arrived to shouts and cheers, it is obvious where this area stands.

Ha-Na was particularly fierce about racing for and obtaining the candy. One time she got a candy and from a distance I saw her look at it, consider for a moment then pop it in her mouth.....there was no wrapper, I cringed.

Carl was very sweet and after getting one for himself he made sure his sisters were getting some and then when he saw they had some he started giving what he picked up to others.

Madison was using her wiles and when she did not get any would put a really sad look on her face and scan the crowd with it. People would quickly scrounge and get her a piece. After that we had a greasy carnival lunch and then took the kids on rides.

They had a blast and especially liked the Ferris wheel much to my annoyance. It is my least favorite ride and I had to go on to accompany Madison. I let them play one game that was a for sure win so they each got a prize and we went home.
Laurel and Mathew were troopers, Mathew stayed in his stroller the whole time and Laurel was a great sport as we walked around.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Who could abandon this?

In true April at her parents style I found a dog. As a kid I was always bringing home dogs I found on my paper route and then we would find their home or find them a new home. This morning when I was running out of the garage with Madison to catch up with the kids who had already started down to meet the bus I step out of the garage and there is the cutest little beagle. She walks right up to Madison and lets her pet her. She then follows us down to the road. My parents place is on six acres out of town, not really close to anything. We called the rescue places and vets in the area and apparently they said that so far no one has reported her missing and that it is very normal here for people to just abandon dogs when they move and that they very rarely have a home. We are falling in love with her already. She is so well behaved and just lets Madison and Mathew pet her all over, I think the cats may even give her a chance. Her ribs are sticking out pretty well so we don't think she hasn't eaten for a while and when dad went and got food for her she gobbled it super fast. Her snout and belly look really red like a rash or scratches or something so we are trying to figure out what that is. I gave her a bath because as much as I love dogs I will not touch them if they reek. She is all shiny now and we will keep her here while we wait for someone to claim her. If I knew we were going to live in Charleston I would take her in a heartbeat, she is soooo sweet and just the right size. I really can't imagine anyone abandoning such a dog but it happens which breaks my heart. I am trying not to fall too much in love with the dog but my dad and mom are taken to her so I think if she needs a home for true they will keep her for their own, although I think they would rather I take her and then they could just see her when they visit. I am going out now to take pictures and I will post them so you can all see her. We are trying to find something to call her since we don't want to refer to her just as the dog, we are all going to weigh in but would appreciate any suggestions.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Your my Huckleberry

Mom bought a gallon of Huckleberries and I was so excited. We planned to make huckleberry pie which I had always heard of but never thought I would be able to make (where to you get huckleberries from ?) They have a really strong flavor so we combined them with some wild apples growing on their property that are really awesome. Wow! That pie was tasty. Ha-Na was licking her plate clean and I didn't even try to stop her. Mom says they grow in the mountains so they can't grow them, but for a woman who found a variety of peach, kiwi, grapes, pecans ect that will grow in northern Idaho I bet she can find a Huckleberry that can grow in the valley of the mountains here.

The smartest kids in class

The kids had their first day and they really were thrilled to be back in school.

Carl came home to let us know he was dubbed the smartest in class by the other students. It has something to do with his talking about stalagmites and the other kids not knowing what those were. He got a project assignment right away, we were to collect ten bugs and mount them. Everyone in the house got in on the collecting and even Madison came running upstairs with a tissue in her hand so excited about catching a spider for Carl's collection. My mom and I helped him put it together and it looked really good. His teacher said she would pick the best three to present at the county fair and Carl's was picked. He was so excited. They also were picking a student counsel and they had to give a one minute speech about why they would be good. Carl came home and told me about it and told me about his speech. He stood up and said that they should vote for him because the scriptures are by his side and he makes his decisions based on them and they are his favorite thing. He did not get picked though showing that religion apparently has no place in politics at any level. I told him he would be my pick though every day. He has also started teaching himself to play piano. I went downstairs and he was clinking on it and reading my old piano book from when I was a kid. Today he came running to me to let me know that he can now read the notes with out the letters on them. I have him set up for piano lessons now since I think I better take advantage of his enthusiasm. He practices all the time on his own.

Ha-Na started school and it came out they felt she should go to kindergarten because of the the large age difference between her and the other kids. She came home and told me what they were doing in kindergarten and I asked her what she thought of it and she said it is all "Easy, peasy, lemon easy." I sure hope this teacher keeps her active for her own sake. She does like that they have a rest time and wants to take her blankie to school with her. The first grade teacher gave me their workbook to do at home with her and is sending work to Ha-Na's teacher to send home for her to do also. She is very busy with all the work but she loves a challenge.

Madison is having a great time at home with us and she loves walking the goats with me. She gave a talk in church today and did a great job, she loves being in front of the people. We saw some mice outside and in the garage and in the grain for the goats so we decided it would be good to get some cats. We took Madison and she helped pick out two farm kittens. They have been hours of entertainment for the girls and they are actually really great cats and that is saying a lot coming from me. I just hope they get to be good mousers so they can earn their keep.


When we arrived at my parents we could see there was a lot to do. My mom is an incredible gardener and the people that stayed at their house while they were gone pretty much did nothing and her beautiful gardens were overtaken with weeds and grass. It was heartbreaking. Carl got right to work helping my dad with stuff around their yard.

We planned a camping trip on the river and had a blast. We fished and tubed on the river. The kids were really great, I was so worried about how they would be for a four day camping trip. I was thrilled to do dutch oven cooking again and mom and dad said they never ate so well outside the house. I was really happy that Carl had such a great time, he was always a little reticent when I would suggest camping. Carl, Dad and I went fly fishing and had fun doing catch and release for trout.

We got out the guns and Lil' Carl had his first shooting lesson and did really well, he takes after his dad, what a crack shot. Carl only had two weeks here he left far too early. While he was here he called work and was informed that they don't want him to stay in Bahrain, he had set it all up and the need him elsewhere. Of course we don't yet know where elsewhere is.

After Carl left Brad and Kim came with Corrie and her cousin Haley. We went camping with the girls and had some fun cookouts. It was a lot of fun tubing down the river with them. I got to spend a couple of days with Brad which was really awesome.

I went down to pick up James and Alice's kids in Pocatello, I told them a story about James about an hour into the ride and the rest of the time they begged me for more. They came to spend the week with us. We took them fishing, to the water park, had cookouts and just had a lot of fun. Carl and Jake really had a great time. Dad made all the kids wooden swords and shields and the kids decorated them and then had great battles. Alissa, Ha-Na and Madison really loved doing all the girl stuff together. Ashley played games with us when the little ones went to sleep and we looked for pictures and things of her dads we could share with her. I had a great time cooking with Ashley, she really loves to cook and we have so much fun experimenting in the kitchen. While the kids were here I saw so much of James in each of them, Jake has his smile and stubbornness, Alissa is his spitting image and has his energy and Ashley his kindness and sense of adventure.

I went to Arizona and got to see Carl for a few days which was really great after a month apart. When I got there we started really considering moving back to the west and maybe even Arizona. We would really like to be close to family again. We went to the temple which was wonderful to return after two years (for me) since there is no temple in Bahrain. We went to see Carl's grandmother and it was really special. Her memory has been increasingly failing and we did not know if she would recognize us but she did Carl and loved seeing the kids. She did not know who I was, I sure miss Grammy. She and I used to go shopping together and then out to lunch at least once a week after Lil' Carl was born. Carl's parents planned a really fun activity for all the family focused around the Olympics, we had a blast and the kids were in heaven. Carl left too soon and I spent the rest of my time shopping and visiting with his sisters. Stacy took us to her water park, Katie took us to her outlets and amazed me with her canning.

I returned back to my parents because I decided to stay here while Carl travels and finishes in Bahrain. The day after I arrive the kids are starting school and my niece Laurel and her son Mathew are coming to stay for a month.

So, we are in flux once again and have no idea of what is to happen but as I taught the sunbeams today in church "Home is where you are loved." I guess I should feel very blessed because by that sentiment our family has many homes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On the road again

We went to see Joe and Krissy for one more night and had a fun time going out to an adults only dinner. We traveled the next day to Pocatello ID and were lucky enough that Carl's cousin we having her baby blessed and we were able to see most of his Aunt Carolin's kids and Carl could spend time catching up with his cousins. It was especially nice for me to meet Allie, I had spoken to her on the phone and communicated through blogs. We then drove that evening to Alice's and were able to meet her husband Sherman. I was thrilled to see Alice smile so much and the kids truly love him. I hope to get to know him better as he becomes part of our family. It was wonderful to see Alice and James' kids, our kids were so sad when we left that night. We got to see them for a couple of hours the next day before we hit the road again. I was disappointed not to see Alice for longer, I love hanging out with her.

We then hit the road and I had been going back and forth about whether to go to Arco to James' grave. Many of you know I am still in denial, I pretend he is just out of the country stationed somewhere, not really gone at all. I kid myself that it hurts less that way. I kept telling myself that it didn't matter if I went by his grave, he isn't really there and he wont care. Carl was so supportive and said whatever I wanted to do was fine. Finally I knew that I needed to go, mostly for myself, this is my chance (who knows when I will be this close to Arco again?) and it is a step to acceptance. We went to the store and picked out flowers, which was strange, how to you pick out flowers for a man. Frankly James would rather have a half gallon of ice cream over flowers any day but I did not think they would appreciate melted ice cream all over his headstone. We drove and as we went I could feel that detestable knot tightening and growing, it feels as if it climbs in my chest and up my throat. I found it quickly when we got there and I bawled. It has been five years almost and I could not control the flow of tears. The kids helped me put the flowers there and then Carl took them to the car and gave me time alone. I don't know if it will ever get easier, I really miss him. I am grateful for the gospel, I know he is busy and is truly on a new mission but I miss him.

We left from there and drove to my parents house, it was a beautiful drive and no one threw up which for us makes a very successful road trip. We saw beautiful deer all along the way, I am still shocked we did not hit any as the sun set but Carl was careful and he has a talent of spotting wildlife.

When we arrived we were so happy to know we were at the spot we would stay for a whole six weeks (at least the kids and I. I was especially happy to see my parents, it has been two years.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Family, family, and more family

We arrived in SLC and were met by April's brother Joe and two of his kids. He was so nice to bring a picnic lunch and we went to Temple Square ate and enjoyed our visit there. I was really excited to see all the changes since I was a missionary there. There are so many that I can't begin to list them, all for the good though. We stayed at his house that night and had fun playing games with the family and enjoying Diana's brownies.

The next morning we were up and off to the eagerly anticipated Agren Reunion. It was so great to see everyone when we arrived and were busy catching up after being apart for so long. We were given a tour and best of all visited with the Agren Clan. Later that night everyone went swimming and then we dumped the kids in bed. lil Carl was so excited to be with all his boy cousins, he has so many famales arround him that he took every opportunity to hang out with the boys.

We had family pictures, I don't know why but this is always a cause of great stress for me. I am much happier being behind the camera. We had a great time going to the Oympic Park and I was in heaven with all the excitement there. Eric (my bro in law) and I went down the bobsled run and it was really fun. I think my favorate thing were the ziplines. I was really impressed at lil Carl's bravery, he went on everything he was heavy enough to do. Ha-Na and Madison also went on the one ride they could do twice and wanted to go more, I love that my kids like thrills.

Other events included Thanksgiving point, 4th of July pancake breakfast, and Hiking. The girls had a great party with everything including a merry go round and the boys went jet skiing.

We of course went diving in Utah, how could it be an Agren holiday without diving? Carl loved that his sisters and his Dad joined him and I loved working with Jess.

Helga was so great to provide most of the meals for us and I was so amazed at her ability to put together meals for that many people and it looked so effortless. I am always impressed when the Agrens get together and everyone gets along and has so much fun, what a family.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back to DC

We were sad to leave our great friends in Charleston but off we must go to our next stop. Carl had meetings in DC so we decided to tag along and have some fun while he was holed up in meetings.

We had learned from the trip down and bought a dvd/tv player for the kids in the car, thus having less bathroom stops from a bored Madison.

During the week the kids and I saw the Museum of natural history, one of the favorate things there was the butterfly room. They were facinated by all the different species and they kept landing on Ha-Na (I am sure she gave them some encouragment).

We had a lot of fun at the National zoo. It was quite the endevor to do that zoo alone with three kids. If you have been you know that the zoo is spread out so walking from one exhibit to another is a ways. Add to that the hills and I got quite the workout. madison had one of her famous falls in which she scraped her knee and blood was dribbling down her leg and she was shrieking not to be touched (she does not want comforting when hurt, she wants to be left alone in her dramatic performance). I stood by as she shrieked and ran arround in circles as other zoo patrons watched on horrified by the terrible mother (thats me) stood by while her poor child was hurt. Of course any who tried to give the comfort that I was so callously withholding was met with angry shrieks of "don't look at me, go away." When we came out of the bird area I saw a large animal moving in the bushes with no gate. As I looked closer I saw that it was a deer, the kids were so excited. It was maybe ten feet from us munching on the bushes. Apparently they feel very safe there and the zoo allows them to come and go from there, later we saw a little fawn.

We met with Carl at night after his meetings and went to eat. It was a lot of fun. We all went together to see the National Documents, and the Museum of air and space (although it closed soon after we were there). On Saturday we went to the Baltimore Aquarium. It was fun although we were not overly impressed, they seemed to have more lizards, frogs and snakes than fish. The kids really loved the dolphin show though, especially Ha-Na.

Next stop: SLC Utah

Friday, June 27, 2008

South Calackylacky

Just to let you know the title of the blog was chosen by Carl, he has always refered to South Carolina that way, my husband is a hoot.

We are a family who likes our space. I love my Tahoe, not just love but adore (and not just because it only costs me $19 to fill up in Bahrain. I love the tahoe because my kids can sit in the third row and I don't really feel like there are kids in the car with me when I am driving because I really can't make out what they are arguing about back there. When Carl arrived with the Kia Sportage I was thrilled that our luggage would fit. As we made our way from DC to SC I was overwhelmed by the beuty of the drive. The trees have never looked so lush and alive, every stream and lake stunned me. The kids were just as excited about the trees and flowers. Carl being the pesimist (which is soooo unlike him) stated that he would give it an hour before we got bored of the scenery. For me it still is not old but he was about right for the kids. It soon became he is touching me, she is looking at me, I want what he has, she smells like throw up (granted that was carl talking about Ha-Na and I had only been able to wash her blankie in the tub with a bar of soap and let it drip dry in the hotel since the airplane upchuck so she probably did). The car literally began to feel like it was shrinking around me, the sides were compressing every moment and with every obnoxious utterance from the children. We tried the license plate game but they were too young for that. Then we tried singing songs but each one (the hams that they are) wanted to sing the song all by themselves at the same time (I know even as I type this it makes no sense). To make it all the better since Madison was bored and wanted out of the car, every 30-45 minutes she had to go to the bathroom. It was an 8 hour drive and we stopped at least 6 times. I really missed my car, especially the tv for the kids entertainment, I really don't know how my parents did it with seven kids in a car from Washington to Utah so often.

We made it to our house and it looked so inviting. Entering I really felt like we had come home and I could not bear that we were going to be leaving in a week. All my furniture and things we had left, my kitchen and my pans. And most of all our books, the kids books, my books I wanted to take everything back with me. I went to the backyard to look at the grass I had put in the month before we left (I did not know we were leaving till 3 weeks before we did) it was so green and plush and beautiful. I went out and walked arround the yard we had lanscaped and put so much into, it was lovely. Carl then reminded me that we had a plan. I thought about it and decided I would enjoy it for the week and then continue on with the adventure of life. They are just things and I have lived without it for two years so I don't really need any of it and it will be there if and when we come back or want to ship it.

We called our friends and stopped by the Gomez's to say hello and let Carl see Aidan. They still totally clicked. We then went to the Wiley's (Cathy's yard is still amazing, wow can she get flowers to grow) and set up for them to come over and play rook (we used to play with them every weekend night for hours).

During the week we worked on getting all of us used to the time difference, it pretty much took the whole week. We had doctors appointments for the kids and I and just had a lot of fun with our friends. It was really nice to reconect, we have such great friends and we have really, really missed them. It was great to catch up with Jen and to see Cathy's new art. We shared pictures of our diving trips with Cathy and hope she can use some of them for her art, she is soooo incredible. Carl had a great time catching up with Todd and was sorry not to be able to go fishing with him, next time. The kids were thrilled to see Samantha and Shelby and Madison even seemed to remember them.

I was thrilled that my brother Andy came to see us. He had to leave late Friday, got caught up in traffic because of an accident and finally got to us on Saturday. We had a blast, he brought Lauren, Micheal and Anne with him. The kids loved seeing their cousins, they especially liked it when it started to rain and they moved pinestraw to make mud and slid down the hill, I was not as thrilled when they started to come in the house. I had a lot of fun playing DDR with Andy and Lauren. We also played a lot of nertz with them (much to Carls dismay). I really appreciatted him coming all that way and he even brought me Graters ice cream (it is soooo awesome). I missed being able to see Leslie and Andrew, I hope on our next trip.

We spent a day at the beach with the Gomez family, it was a blast. I love South Carolina beaches the water the sand everything is so beautiful. The kids had a great time building sand castles, more so after I stopped trying to "help". My helping entails telling them just how it should be and then when it doesn't look right I take it over and let them watch me do it the way that I think is just right. I know I am a control freak but admitting it is the first step to recovery. I laid back on my towel and just relaxed while listening to to the kids having a great time. We left after a few hours as we had to get the house ready to be vacated and pack up for the next day's drive back to DC. Little Carl was distraught not to be able to destroy the sand castle (the gomez's were staying and Aidan was still working on it) since he thinks that is the only good thing about building it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Coming to America

We have been planning this trip to the States for so long that I can't really believe it is here. We got the kids up at three in the morning (they were actually pretty excited for the hour) and went to the airport. I was flying alone with the kids as Carl was not leaving til the next day.

The flight from Bahrain to Qatar went really well and then we had a short layover. I was really happy at the airport when little Carl found there was a kids area and they entertained themselves most of the time there. Our flight was at 10:45 and boarding was supposed to be at 10:00. Arround 9:30 I thought it would be a good idea to get in line and get through early. When I got to the gate I was surprised to see huge lines. First we had to get into a line to get our passports checked, then get into another line to pick up checked passports then to go through a security check and last to get our tickets checked before boarding the flight. With three kids who are very active this was a hectic process. Once I gave my tickets I was informed that I could not take Madisons carseat on the plane even though they had let me have it on the previous flight. With having all three kids I was depending on her being strapped in so as not to be running after her during the 14 hour flight. As sad as it sounds as I argued with the attendent and she insisted I could not have it I had to hold back tears of frustration.

The flight started out as usual, when we got to our seats of course there was a whole family sitting where the girls and I were supposed to be. I then had to be the shrew and insist they move seats rather than I taking theirs (which is what they were insisiting on) since carl was sitting accross the isle from the seats we were supposed to be in and I wanted to be close to him. Once we were in the air the kids were loving the on demand (madison refuses to wear headphones so she was watching with no sound).

For the first half of the flight things were going really well, excepting Madison running all over and taking off her seat belt every two minutes. The flight attendants were irritated by this but I was not apoligetic since it was their decision not to have her seat on the plane. After 9 hours and a few times closing her eyes she finally fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion. Ha-Na had a great time and then started saying her stomach was not feeling well, my anxiety shot through the roof. Ha-Na is our puker, and I imediately began grasping at ways to waylay what was to happen. After sipping some water she closed her eyes and I thought all was well. With the two girls asleep I looked accross the isle at Carl and saw that he too had drifted off. I decided I would give them a few minutes and then try to get some sleep myself since I had been up more than 24 hours. Just as I was gettting comfortable Ha-Na opens her eyes and begins to puke. Not just a little urp but full on puking over and over. All I could do was put my hand in front of her to guide the puke to stay on her and not all over the seat since she is washable and the seat was to be with us the rest of the flight. We then cleaned her up and changed clothes. She felt a little better but now she was up so I also was required to be awake. Madison soon woke up and decided that she definately was not supposed to be in her seat, most especially did not need a seatbelt on and that if she were required to stay in the seat the only acceptable position was her legs hanging out in the isle. Of course thirty minutes before landing the kids all fell fast asleep again and when it was time to leave the plane had no intention of using their own legs. I then carried our bags on one arm, had Madison draped over the other and had a childs hand in each of mine. And entered America in Washington DC.

It took an hour and a half to get our luggage and then we went out to meet the shuttle to the hotel. I must prefice this with the following: I was now going on being awake for 30 hours, frazzled from above experiences and ok, I have to admit I am not the most observent person in the best of situations. I see a shuttle come up that I thought read Dulles Embassy Suites. I get on the shuttle happy to be finally coming to the end of the day and looking forward to lying down on a bed and letting the kids go crazy in the hotel room. The first thing that I noticed was that there were a lot of people on the shuttle with airport ID. Then after 20 minutes we entered a large parking area. As I reaad the signs I see that we are in the Dulles Employee Parking lot. What was really written on the shuttle was "Dulles Employee Shuttle." I had to do the walk of shame to the front of the shuttle and explain to the driver my mistake and let him know that we would be returning to the airport with him. I could not tell whether he was ammused or annoyed and frankly at that moment I did not have the energy to care. After at least 30 minutes of stopping at every letter in the parking lot we were on our way back to the airport. Another 20 minute drive we get off, wait at least 30 minutes and finally we get onto the right shuttle. (I made sure to tell Carl which shuttle we were looking for so that he would help me from making that mistake again.) We got to the hotel, to the room, ordered pizza and then we all four collapsed into bed.

At 3:00 am all three kids come into my room to annouce that it is morning and they are awake. I do understand that in Bahrain time it was 10:00am so it was understandable but in my exhaustion I did not have the patience to be considerate of this. I ordered them all back to bed and then was able to sleep till about 4:30am at which point my body decided it too was awake. I hung out with the kids til breakfast and then took them swimming in the pool. We came back to the room and I was determined to keep the kids and myself awake so that we could get used to the time as quickly as possible. Carl was to arrive that evening and I thought I should keep them up til then. The kids wanted to watch tv and were doing so till about four when Madison came in and wanted to be in bed with me and watch me play computer games (this was my attempt at keeping myself awake)within minutes she was out and no ammount of tickling and nudging would get even an eye flicker out of her. Carl then came in and asked if he could watch me play my game, he also informed me that Ha-Na had fallen asleep watching tv. Carl lasted another 20 minutes and he too was lost to fairy dust and dreams. I was able to stay awake til Carl arrived at seven and we moved the kids to their bed and then gladly allowed ourselves to fall asleep.

The kids again woke up at three in the morning and this time excited to see daddy would not return to bed. We finally admited there was no use to holding onto the belief that we could ink out a bit more shut eye and got up to start packing. We got the bags ready packed into the car and as soon as breakfast was available we ate and set out on our way to Charleston.......

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Kasab Diving

For Carls birthday I bought him tickets to Dubai. We went this last week and had an awesome time. We left late at night and got in arround midnight then got a car and started to drive to Kasab, Oman. We arrived arround three in the morning, got a couple of hours sleep and then woke up at eight to go diving.

Our first dive of the day was to a place Cat Eye Island. We both forgot our skins but did not think it a big deal at first because the water was so warm. Soon after entering the water my skin started to feel irritated. Carl was signaling to me that there were jelly fish and I kept looking for them, until my eyes adjusted. There were jellies all right, millions of little tiny ones everywhere and they were stinging every part of exposed sking including our lips. There were a few times when the water cleared of them but then they would come again in swarms. Carl got stung really bad on his knee and my lips were really burning by the end of the dive. The dive itself was definitely not worth the sacrifice of comfort, there was a lot of sand between anything else. We did spot a green sea turtle though which is always nice.

Our next dive was at Eagle bay, this was by far a better dive. First of all there were not the hordes of jellies previously experienced but best of all we saw a leopard shark. We were so excited, it came swimming by and then was gone. Sharks always swim by us so fast we can't get a picture. Really I think it is that we are so excited that we forget about the cameral altogether until it is too late. This dive was much better for coral and animal life also.

We went into town to find something to eat and found that town consists of one block. We decided on a restraunt once it opened and discovered we like chicken makboos, it was really good. It was also very economical, with that came a salad, water and we also ordered some curry and it came with bread all for the great price of 2 OMR.

We decided to do a night dive Kosmi wreck which ended up being really great. The wreck was small but there were lots of holes and openings to look in. There was an enormous lion fish, it was beautiful. There were also smaller ones that really liked our flashlights, they used the light to see fish to atack, the large one went after a fish from our light while we were there. Then one of the smaller fish decided he liked the light so followed us and got a little too close for comfort. In fact, Carl was using his light for some pictures, when I came upon him I saw that a lion fish was poised right at his head but he was looking elsewhere so he did not see it. I pulled him away and we decided to stay clear of the lion fish. Something else that really liked our light were some neon worms, that is the only way to explain them, they were twirling all arround the light. The ship was small so after an hour and seeing everything we thought there was to see, we ended the dive.

After a good nights sleep we woke and headed off for our second day of diving. Our first dive was not our favorate, a lot of sand again between coral. Our next dive at Pee Pee beach was really great, we loved it. It was quite shallow but the coral was really beautiful and neverending. We came upon some area where the coral were like walls fallen against each other, it was really cool, we could swim through and arround. There were really large pufferfish, eels and sea urchins everywhere. At one point we saw another green turtle and swam with it for a while, as that one left we turned and saw one twice as big, it swim near us and then took off.

The next morning we went to Dubai, we had heard how great it was but we were not so impressed, it pretty much looked like any big city you would see anywhere and the airport that was said to be so nice was really lacking to us. My reccomendation of the places we have been thus far would be to visit Oman, it is lovely, keeps their culture and the people are really friendly.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Returning (for the summer at least)

We are making a summer long visit to the states. We are going to be in a few places so we wanted to list them out so that if any our friends and family are in those same places we can see you. We are going to be in Washington D.C., Charleston SC, SLC Utah, Idaho, and Mesa AZ. Carl will be with us everywhere except for Arizona. We look forward to seeing as many of you as we can.

I guess it is apparent from the above that Carl's work wants him in Bahrain for a while longer, at least that is the plan for right now. It gives us the opportunity to travel to be with him and see other areas of the Middle East that we have not yet explored. We are also thrilled to stay in our branch, we have the best branch. We are even getting a new family from Kuwait with six kids, our primary will almost double.

It seems everything in life is constantly changing, I pray everyday that our changes will be to our benefit and to those arround us. There is a childrens book about chameleons and the chameleon is sad because he keeps changing color so he sets out to find somewhere to stay that will keep him the same color. He then finds another chameleon and expresses his sadness about always changing and they decide that they could stay together and change together and then at least they will have a companion in their change. I look at our little family that way. Our situation is always in flux but we are in flux together which makes it great. Finding wisdom in childrens stories, very motherly but childrens book are my main source of reading these days.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Khor Rori, Last day in Salalah

In the morning April was treated to the spa and Carl took the kids to the room. Of course a morning with dad intales cartoons, funny faces and lots of tickling.

We then went to Khor Rori and had an awesome experience seeing the likely place Lehi and his family came to and showed great faith by setting off accross the ocean to follow the Lords commandments. On some of the walls they had ancient script that had no translation there. I was curious to know what it said.

On the way back to the Hotel we drove up to Wadi Durbat and again we were in awe seeing what they saw when entering the land through the mountains.

Afterwards we went to the hotel and swam for the last time and sadly prepared to leave.

Carl and I went out to dinner at one of the Chineese restraunts we had seen in the area and no, the pluthera of Chinese restraunts did not indicate that there was actually good Chinese food in the area. At least not at that place, we miss good Chinese food.

Mirbat Oman (north of Salalah) Diving

We decided to leave the kids at the hotel for this dive (they were really tired out) and we went to Mirbat to do some shore diving. The view was incredible and we felt like we were in pareadise, probably because we were. We went to one called the Aquarium reef and it was just as it's name states, fish were everywhere and we even spotted the critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtle and swam with it for a while.

The second dive was fun but we did not see as many fish. We did get to see a lion fish and a scorpion fish, Carl thankfully kept his distance as he has a tendency to get close to the aquatic life. He did not stay as far away from the spiny lobster we saw later.

This day's dive was our best to date. Lets see if Musandam can compare next week.

Ancient ruins and fruit stands

One of the kids favorate things about the trip was the hotel. They especially liked the breakfast at the hotel, all you can eat is a favorate for them, especially lil Carl. On this day we went to the Frankincense museum and saw the Maritime museum (there were no pictures allowed but you will have to take our word for it that it was awesome). The ruins of Al-Baleed are there on the shore. It correlates with the time of the brother of Jared's group.

We then went by one of the fruit stands. There were all kinds of varietys of coconuts and bannanas. We all tried the coconut juice (no one liked it) and then we really loved the small coconuts they had, they were really sweet. The kids especially like the mini bananas and the green ones (they are ripe, really, I was shocked).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Snorkeling and Diving

We brought the kids to the beach on the next day and set them up to snorkel while we went diving. Our pictures were quite green that day but we saw some really cool eels. After we took them to get some grilled camel which they gobbled up.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A day in the water

We spent a whole day in the water. We hung out at the hotel during the morning and afternoon having a great time at the beach and in the pool. Carl loves body surfing and the girls had a great time finding snails in the sand.

Carl and I then did a late dive from a boat. It was a great dive although the visibility was not the best. We really loved seeing the octopus. After the dive we enjoyed some grilled camel meat from a vendor by the boats.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Camels camels everywhere

We decided to drive up the mountains to see Job's tomb and thought a good way to entertain the kids was to offer a prize for the first person to spot a camel. Carl ended up being the first one. We then went on to see many, many camels. For the rest of the trip we continued to see camels everywhere. They put on their hazards when the camels are on the road and stop traffic. It happens a lot.

On the way up to Jobs tomb we saw some baby camels on the side of the road and of course not realizing we would be seeing many, many more had to get pictures. There were some guys in a car and I could not figure out what they were doing on the side of the road watching the camels since they were locals. We then realized they were herding the camels from their car, just sitting there talking on their cell phone and drinking sodas. I'm not kidding they were following the camels in their car and if the camels got into the road they would get out and urge them off with a stick.

We then saw more camels off the side later and wanted pictures with them. As we were posing the kids for pictures some women in the distance started yelling at us so I figure they were the camels keepers and we were bothering them so off we went again.

We finally made it to Job's tomb. Inside the mausoleum is a big square on the ground covered by cloth which is where he lies. On the wall were different pages from the koran. Through a window we could see his praying grounds. At the entrance was a box where you took off the top and inside are the impressions of his footprint. He had very large feet.

We had to do a car switch (our rental decided that it did not need to go into any specific gear) and then we were on our way again. The blowholes are by caves that aren't really caves but an over hang, it was fun and we saw a sea turtle swimming in the bay. Since we were not in the Karif season (which is in the summer) it was dry and there was just a little mist coming out the blowholes. The best part was the beach in that area. It was really beautiful We had fun body surfing since there were better waves than at the hotel beach. Carl and I kept going out a little further to get the best rush on the wave. We got caught up by a big wave which flipped me arround and I hit my head and shoulder (the skin on my shoulder is just now starting to look a little normal and is still a little painful to touch. The first thing I thought was "Crap I better not be hurt and mess up diving." I was fine, just banged up and we went back to the hotel soon after.

Friday, April 18, 2008


On our way.....

We had been looking forward to this trip for so long, and now we were finally going. At airports here they make us wrap the carseat and they did such an excessivly thorough job we had to take a picture.

We arrived in Salalah in the afternoon. It was really lovely. Here is the view from our rooms, I love the coconut palms. This first day we hung out at the hotel with the kids, played at the beautiful beach and enjoyed the slide at the pool. After the kids went to bed we drove arround a little and were surprised at the number of Chinese restraunts in the area. If there are that many maybe one of them would be good (we really miss good chinese food).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

We had the most fun........

I know many of you just had your spring breaks and vacations but the Agrens feel confident in declaring that we had the most fun of anyone on any vacation. In fact, our trip to Oman was so incredible that instead of giving one huge blog I will break it up into several blogs. We just got home tonight so once I get the pictures off the camera I will add them to the posts, please be patient, I will probably overshare but I want to get all the info down before I lose the details in memory.

Our first day was our flight to Sharjah(UAE), followed by a six hour layover.

We then flew to Muscat(Oman). The first thing we noticed were the mountains, we have really missed mountains in Bahrain. At night they light up some of them with colored lights whichs goes along with the arabic tendency to bedazzle everything, really, seriously. We then went to the hotel that we had booked sight unseen, there is a reason there were no pictures of the rooms on the internet.

Yes it really was that bad, even little Carl made comments about it as being a junkyard (our kids are really spoiled with hotels). But since we were just sleeping there that night then getting up in the morning and going to Salalah it worked fine. (To be continued)