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Archive for October, 2008

There were two holidays I wanted my children to really experience the American way while living in Sweden: Halloween and Independence Day. We always celebrated a milder version of the holidays in Sweden, but I must confess I looked forward to my kids’ reactions to an American-style Halloween and the fanfare and celebration of Independence Day. I still need to write about our amazing Independence Day in Boston. But since we’ve already started to party for Halloween, you’ll just have to deal with this Halloween entry.

What isn’t there to love about Halloween? Costumes, candy, trick-or-treat, decorations, parties, spook alleys. . . Seriously, the fun just never seems to stop. Our Halloween festivities officially began this Sunday when our little village held a parade for the kids. The volunteer fire department blocked the roads from traffic and the kids marched down the street to the clubhouse where there were a spook alley, lots of treats, and a hayride. The boys were the 3 minty ninjas. Okay, I realize that mint is not a color for the traditional ninja, but that is the result of 100 % polyester and dye. A dark green was not to be had. The boys didn’t seem to mind the hue of their costumes and had a wonderful time making up great ninja moves while marching on the street. The little nugget was a very cute duck. She was pretty bewildered by her costume but patiently endured it anyway.

Yesterday we carved pumpkins and escaped with only two knicked fingers. I think that is a pretty good record when you consider the number of small boys wielding sharp knives.

This evening we went to a party at church where the youth had organized trick or treating in the classrooms and a variety of games. The kids had so much fun! My favorite part was watching the little nugget experience and grasp trick-or-treating. I walked with her to the first classroom. She gazed fearfully at the dark rooms with dim lighting. I nudged her gently, “say trick or treat or quack, quack.” She mutely stared at the people watching her. They held out a candy to her. Astonished, she grasped the candy and clutched it tightly in her little fist. At the second door, she still wasn’t sure what to expect. I gently coached her to speak. “Tricky treat,” she murmered and was delighted to receive candy for her labors. Her thank-you came easily and she ran eagerly to the next door. She had the routine down and enjoyed the process of asking for and receiving little candies.

Our Friday is packed full of activities from the trunk-or-treat at the school during the day to trick-or-treating in the early evening and then a blow-out Halloween party at a friend’s house.

The best part of this experience is that it has turned out to be great. I kept promising my kids that they would really have a wonderful time and so far it has been magical!

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Stumped

After weeks of ignoring the grocery store with disdain, I finally succumbed to the bare screams coming from my pathetically empty cupboards and actually went grocery shopping. As is my usual style, I went all out. My freezer, refrigerator and shelves are all now bulging with nutritious and delicious ingredients just waiting to be mixed up into tempting concoctions that will feed my family. The irony is that with all this abundance, I can’t settle on a particular dish to make this evening. It has to be something from the freezer because things are falling out when you open the door. And time is running out before the kids start crying and hanging on my legs begging for food. Ah. . . the delight of having choices.

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But life has been much to busy to even sit down at the computer for a few moments. I’ve barely had time to delete the incoming emails cluttering my inbox. I’m reading the important ones from friends and deleting the freecycle messages.

I did want to update and write that I am doing MUCH better. I mentioned a few weeks ago how unbalanced I have been healthwise which has rippled out to every other area of my life. Fortunately, after a visit with an excellent endocronologist and a prescription for synthetic thyroid, I feel like a completely new person. I find my outlook on life is much sunnier and my ability to function as a mother, wife, and homemaker has increased dramatically.

Just to explain how badly my body was doing, I have some numbers. Normal levels for the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) range between .5 to 5.0.  My test levels showed that my TSH was 78. My TSH was shooting everything it had at my thyroid and I was suffering. I feel so stupid that I let it go for so long and have learned a valuable lesson. Never, ever run out of thyroid medication and make sure to have a doctor to manage that care.

And finally, as a plea to all my friends out there. I know many of you have young children and you feel tired. Many of you have discounted that fatigue because of small children. But if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms in conjunction with fatigue, please, please go to the doctor and ask to be tested for hypothyroidism. This often goes undiagnosed and there really is treatment that can help.

Here are the symptoms:

  • Coarse and thinning hair.
  • Dry skin.
  • Brittle nails.
  • A yellowish tint to the skin.
  • Slow body movements.
  • Cold skin.
  • Inability to tolerate cold.
  • Feeling tired, sluggish, or weak.
  • Memory problems, depression, or difficulty concentrating.
  • Constipation.
  • Heavy or irregular menstrual periods that may last longer than 5 to 7 days.

Other, less common symptoms may include:

  • An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter).
  • Modest weight gain, often 10 lb or less.
  • Swelling of the arms, hands, legs, and feet, and facial puffiness, particularly around the eyes.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Muscle aches and cramps.

Life is too short to allow these symptoms to curtail one’s enjoyment of life and family.

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A to Z tag

A-Z Tagged

A- Attached Or Single: Attached
B- Best Friend: Brent

C- Cake Or Pie: Cake
D- Day Of Choice: Tuesday
E- Essential Item: Toilet Paper

F- Favorite Color: I’m very partial to blue

G- Greatest Accomplishment: mothering four children

H- Hometown: Cody, WY
I- Indulgences: homemade pasta or Anton Berg’s dark chocolate Ghana origins
J- January Or July: July, I’m a summer girl. Sweden pretty  much cured me of liking winter.
K- Kids: 3 boys and 1 girl
L- Life is Incomplete without: family and friends
M- Marriage Date: Feb. 14, 1998 (and not because I’m a Valentine’s Day fanatic, it was just one of the few three day weekends in the winter semester at BYU)
N- Number of Siblings: 7 sisters
O- Oranges or Apples: Apples, oranges make my mouth hurt

P-Phobias or Fears: stairs
Q-Quotes: I don’t need Oprah to help me to vote, thank you very much.
R- Reason to Smile: a quiet, clean house
S- Season: Fall
T- Tag five friends: Nicole, Chelsea, Trisha, Tiffani, Julie
U-Unknown Fact about Me: I like riding trains.
V- Very favorite store: Michael’s
W- Worst Habit: procrastinating
X- X-ray or Ultra sound: Ultra Sound
Y-Your Favorite Food: homemade ravioli
Z- Your Zodiac sign: Aries

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Autumn in New York

Just one of many delicious apples!

Just one of many delicious apples!

I saw this charming flower and pumpkin stand north of our home.

I saw this charming flower and pumpkin stand north of our home.

I hope that song is playing in your head now. If not, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqPNHGkQl5M should get you in the mood. The video is about 6 minutes long, so feel free to listen to the first part and then skip to the end.

Apple picking is a big activity in Westchester county. I’ve heard about it a number of times throughout the year and had marked it as a must-do activity.

We went to the Wilkins farm, rented a long pole to reach the upper branches, and took our green reusable grocery bag to a lovely orchard. The kids enjoyed the tractor ride to the orchard.

Apple picking is really very simple. You pick low-hanging apples off the branches. You use the pole for the higher apples.  There is something so lovely and delightful about being outside, among the trees and grass as you pick the delicious apples. We picked a half-bushel and then rode back to stand to return our pole. The apples were so sweet and delicious. In the evening, dh tried his hand at making apple cider by hand. He managed it. We had a lovely apple crisp. For breakfast this morning, I made a Swedish oven pancake and dh made a delicious warm apple sauce as a topping. If anyone is interested in the recipe let me know.

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Isn't this a pretty picture? I would love to have it for my wall.

Isn

Swedish meatballs, mmmmm, yummy!
Swedish meatballs, mmmmm, yummy!
Look at those prices! I saved 40 cents a gallon today.

Look at those prices! I saved 40 cents a gallon today.

My kids have a holiday from school and so we decided to visit Ikea. When I told my boys, the youngest started shouting, “we’re going back to Sweden!!!!!!” I felt so bad when I had to explain that we are actually going to New Jersey, another state, to go to Ikea. Still we managed to have a great trip, even if we weren’t flying across the country to our beloved Sweden.

Everyone, including myself, was really excited to go inside the store. After dropping off two of the kids, we ran over to peruse the Swedish food market to see what we wanted to get. There was an entire crate of ballerina cookies and singoalla cookies. They blackberry saft, meatballs, lingonsylt, bilar, läkerol, pepperkakor (gingersnaps), etc. I forgot to mention the knäckebröd, the Swedish crispbread that we love so much. The most delightful snack in the world is a knäckebröd with butter, cheese and sliced cucumber. The selection was much better than we had anticipated so I mentally marked the items I wanted and we got around to the business of shopping.

I discovered that Sweden really has become a part of us, because we all felt homesick after seeing favorite items that we used or loved playing with in Sweden. The bright colors of the Swedish flag, Swedish words written on the products, and familar layout of the store made us feel at home, as if we had actually flown back to Sweden.

A visit to Ikea is never complete without a stop at the Ikea restaurant. (I’m actually struggling to write this in English because my brain keeps throwing in Swedish words to describe the experience.) We had the quintessential Swedish meatballs. I was a bit dissapointed with the mashed potatoes as we are used to eating boiled potatoes in Sweden at Ikea. But the gravy was just as good as I remembered and the tart bite of lignonberry really livened up the meatballs. Ah. . . good times.

After eating, we all had to use the restroom and I was again reminded of another favorite of mine at Ikea: family restrooms. It was so nice to actually stay together and not worry about the boys in a different restroom. I also saw this beautiful picture of the woman and child. It was beautiful. I sure wish I could buy it, but I can wait.

So my first reason to move to New Jersey may be the close proximity to Ikea. When I’m feeling homesick, it might just cure those Swedish blues. The second reason to move to New Jersey came as we needed to fill up our gas tank. The gas was 40 cents cheaper in New Jersey. In New York, gas is running around $3.69/gallon or higher. We paid $3.29 a gallon in New Jersey Hence the picture.

Gas prices and Ikea. . . could we have any stronger reasons to move?

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