Monday, December 29, 2008


So, finally the pictures from our trip to Tarzan. Of course the pictures aren't really stellar. You are not allowed to take pictures anywhere in the theater, but I had to take my camera anyway and do my best. I wanted something to document the event. It was an absolute hit for the kids and something I am sure they will not forget. This picture was taken in the lobby by the poster advertisement for the show.

This is an actual picture of Kerchak (Tarzan's ape father) from the musical.

We pressed our luck and made the kids stand on the side of the auditorium during the break to take their picture. The whole background was done in jungle green. They actually tolerated us taking a few pictures and then very nicely informed us we weren't allowed to have a camera in there.
I think the hardest thing for the kids is knowing that they can't just go back and watch it again. They still listen almost daily to the music. They have all memorized ALL the songs. Jeffrey will often not walk somewhere, but get down on all fours and swing like a monkey. All of them hang from Niklas' bunkbed to practice swinging like the monkeys from Tarzan. Niklas and Jeffrey are both dreaming of getting to play the lead as the child Tarzan someday. (They believe if they practice enough there is a chance.) It has become somewhat of a small obsession. It was really an amazing musical and it was a night of fantasy and dreams come true. Thanks Phil Collins for the great music and Disney for the time old tale of Tarzan.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Did you know that on the eve of the 6th of December in Germany, the children polish and shine their shoes and put them out for Nikolaus to fill with candy and maybe a small present?

This is how my kids put their shoes out for Nikolaus. (They didn't put out their shined church shoes this year - Jeffrey for one did NOT want any other shoe but his CARS crock. I chose to not fight this battle and agreed they could pick whichever shoe they wanted. Tori chose her new boots. She is starting to get interested in styles of clothing and shoes and will occasionally let me know that she needs this or that. The boots were a this or that. Tyler loves his Nikes and Niklas doesn't have any other shoes right now to choose from. He has outgrown everything else and since he can't really wear anything else besides boots due to the weather, I haven't bought him anything.)

This is what their boots looked like filled this year. Generally they just get something really small - like maybe a new Hot Wheels car, a little bit of chocolate (because they get chocolate EVERYWHERE this time of year) a mandarine orange and that's it. This year they got tickets to the new musical TARZAN. (Another blog later.)

And here are the happy children the next morning. Tori is holding the Tarzan CD. The kids haven't stopped listening to it still.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I have had this idea, with the cultural differences, since summer, even before I actual started writing my blog, but there are always so many things to blog about, that I haven't started yet. I took this picture a couple of days ago though and I promised myself I was going to start.

My "Cultural Quips" will just be little things that I think might be interesting to anyone wanting to know a little more about Germany (or about where I live - since it is the same).

So... Cultural Quip #1:
NUTS, NUTS, NUTS, I don't know why, but here you can buy hazel nuts and almonds that are chopped, ground, blanched and sliced, but walnuts, pecans and cashews are available only whole. It makes all that Christmas baking increase by one step. Not that it is a big deal to chop nuts, but it is a small convenience to just be able to buy them already chopped.

(DISCLAIMER: my cultural quips are from MY viewpoint - all entries under this heading are by no means LAW. For example, I have lived here for 12 years now and have never seen chopped walnuts, but maybe I am not aware of where I could find them. It could also be, like in America as well, that in other regions/states chopped walnuts might be readily available. I speak from MY experiences in the region where I live - near Hannover in Lower Saxony.)


I wouldn't want any of you to think I am still not showering, so I thought I better get this two part post finished.

We are back in business after just 6 short days. It was supposed to be done over the weekend, but all in all I guess I can't complain that it didn't take longer. (Oh wait, yes I can complain just a bit, because I was in America for 3 1/2 weeks and the house was basically empty. If you ask me, it REALLY should have been taken care of then and I wouldn't have had all this hassle the week before Christmas. (Dust everywhere, all the tools and construction things blocking my hallway for a week, everything that was in the bathroom temporarily in my bedroom etc.) I hope I can get over this, because it irritates me everytime I think about it. Maybe blogging about it, will help me get past it. lol.

Our bathroom is not yet completely finished (minor details), but as you can see from the photo, it is at least functional. Although we probably have a few centimeters less of actual floor space due to the addition of the tub, the room itself feels much bigger because the big shower walls are no longer there and that really opens this tiny room up. The whiter/lighter color of course makes it feel bigger too.

The kids have been in heaven taking baths as often as I will let them. Jeffrey of course now has a middle ear infection from it. (Any time he gets in the water he has one. He has holes in both of his ears from the tubes coming out.) So, needless to say, he will not be bathing again without his ear plugs. So, tell me, what do you think? I'd say it's a definite improvement over what it was, wouldn't you.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I thought I would add a song to this post that fits well to Benny and I, but after MUCH time of trying to figure out how, I will just post the lyrics for now... (I won't give up on the song.)

by Shania Twain:
Looks like we made it
Look how far we've come my baby
We mighta took the long way
We knew we'd get there someday

They said, "I bet they'll never make it"
But just look at us holding on
We're still together still going strong

(You're still the one)
You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're still the one I want for life
(You're still the one)
You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss good night

Ain't nothin' better
We beat the odds together
[ Shania Twain Lyrics are found on ]
I'm glad we didn't listen
Look at what we would be missin'

They said, "I bet they'll never make it"
But just look at us holding on
We're still together still going strong

After 12 years, Benny is still the one! He is incredible. He loves us so much, he works so hard to take care of us, he is smart, he never complains, he loves our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, he is creative at finding ways to make an extra dime, he is talented and capable of fixing things, I could go on and on.

In remembrance of our wedding day I add this picture - Darilyn requested to see it and it fits to this post.

People in picture: LtoR, Elder and Sister Gene R. Cook; Benjamin and Quinn; Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf; Elder Neil L. Anderson and Sister Kathy Anderson

Added to on Dec. 30th...
I had someone ask why the "Brethren" were at my reception - here was the answer I sent her: Love to tell you the short version story of how I had so many of the "Brethren" at my reception. The picture is actually missing four others - the temple president for the Frankfurt Temple - he and his wife were there too. I lived just 10 minutes from the Frankfurt Temple at that time and the ward house is on the temple grounds. I worked for the Western Europe Area Presidency in Germany in 1996. Since I was young, I babysat a lot too for the Brethren while they were traveling missions etc. So, being so far from home for all of us, (except Elder Uchtdorf) when I got married, they all came. They were kind of like my side of the family for me, since only my mom and sister made it over. Elder Bruce D. Porter and his wife Susan are missing too. (He was serving in the Eastern Europe Area Presidency) Working for these incredible men and meeting their families as well, was a choice experience that I will always treasure.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


No this is not another blogger game and no that isn't Tyler, it's Jeffrey. This is a picture of what I could get of our bathroom (because it is so small) almost 4 years ago shortly after we moved in. Please notice the fine porcelain shower basin and sink that match the salmon color wall tiles. All of the finest products and workmanship - of it's time... about 20 years ago.

Two weeks before I flew to America our toilet broke. Besides that, although you can't see it in the picture, the ceiling of the bathroom after 4 years of intensive showering is moldy, the tiles on the floor were loose and broken, the shower doors were ready to fall out, the sink was ready to come off the wall and the landlord finally had pitty and said they would re-do the whole bathroom. YIPPEE

EXCEPT... it is our only BATHroom. We now have not had a shower since Friday and I am tired of running up the stairs to pee on the kids toilet. I have a construcion zone in my hallway that everyone walks through to get to any part of the house and various bags of powder and electric tools that are potential accidents waiting to happen with a 2 year old around. Needless to say I am about bonkers! This post will be continued...

Monday, December 8, 2008


I figured this was definitely worth a quick blog.... I just called my student loan company to find out what balance is left owing on my loan. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Merry Christmas to me!!!! The very nice lady on the phone said "CONGRATULATIONS, you have a balance of $41,80 which will be deducted by quick pay from your account on Dec. 15th and it looks like you are ALL DONE!!!"

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I know I have kept many of you in suspense for some time now. My apologies and the worst part of it is, that this post will probably not be awe inspiring or anything much better than mediocre and I am sorry to have built up such expectations only to let you down even harder. But here goes anyway...

1) In keeping with the season, I only like red and gold ornaments on my tree! No exceptions, I won't even put up kids art unless it is red or gold. I choose the angel for the top of my tree, as the family I grew up in did so too. I do not see the "new star" being more significant in the Christmas story than the angel heralding the birth. Therefore, to each his own. I won't think less of you for having a star just because I don't. And I still believe in Santa Claus.

2) I openly admit to liking country music and that I used to even teach line dancing. Someday I will start something like that here and see how it catches on.

3) 1 in 10,000 babies born are born with the Mercedes of all heart diseases - Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrom or HLHS for short. It's like winning the lottery or something - and I got lucky! On September 19, 2002 Jeffrey was born and on his 4th day of life was diagnosed with HLHS and almost pronounced dead as well, because it was found so late.

4) I love to organize and be organized! I have tips for anyone and everyone on how to organize and save time and money better. When I see a mess I visualize the best solution on how to sort, alphabetize or just plain clean up, as well as what kind of container, shelf or whatever will aid in this task. It makes me absurdly happy knowing I have gotten rid of clutter somewhere.

5) My husband and I share an uncommon (I think) love for PIZZA. We eat Pizza at least once a week at our house, but we COULD eat it every day. I think a large portion of our attraction for each other lies in this shared pleasure.

6) This summer I had corn rows put in the top front of my hair. It was peer pressure and I caved. My neice Kali was here and she was with us in Italy and she really wanted to have it done, but wanted me to go first, so being the cool aunt that I am, I did it too. I would have to say it was the coolest summer "do", but hurt sooo bad to have done, that I don't think I could ever do it again.

7) When I was 4 months pregnant with Tori, Benjamin and I were chosen from 6,000 couples to be on a TV game show to win a house. To make a long story short, we didn't get the house, but we won 15,000 DM and a coconut door mat. It was really a "crazy" experienc.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Jeffrey lost his very first tooth yesterday. He was sooo excited that the tooth fairy could now bring him money too. (Niklas is hard to beat in the tooth losing department and Jeffrey has been watching his example with some envy for years now.)Yesterday, before he lost the tooth he said he was too sick to go to Kindergarten for the day. Ten minutes later he came down and showed me that he had lost his tooth. As the realization dawned on him that he would not be able to share this great news with his friends if he didn't go, one could literally watch the recovery happen. All of a sudden he was feeling quite better and definitely wanted to go to Kindergarten.

Friday, November 21, 2008


After 4 flights and over 24 hours of traveling we arrived back home and made it through the first day and the first night ok, probably because we were so exhausted. But day two was really tough. The kids literally dropped in the middle of the day and were up in the night because they were so hungry. Here's what that day looked like...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I have finally reached the last of my best of. The very first thing we did after we landed in Salt Lake was to go watch my neice's and nephew's last water polo meet. And one of the last things we did before we left was a swim meet too. I really enjoyed watching them and participating in a relatively big part of their lives.

As we are avid sports fans, although none of our children swim competitively, we are not strangers to competition. Jeffrey jumped right in to it - almost literally. By the time our visit was over, the entire swim team, probably most of the cheer team and most sideline observers knew who Jeffrey was. He can cheer with the best of them and has an enthusiasm for sports that is not hampered by him only having half a heart. The fact that he could cheer on his cousins of all people, of course tripled his enthusiasm. Go Kali Go!! he yelled with all his might over the sound of the blaring music and cheering audience.

For me, I am interested in sports photography. It is not my favorite, but there seems to be a demand for it here for our local papers and for the sports and teams my kids play on. Oft times I am confused with someone from the press due to the size of my camera. I find it quite a challenge to get really good action shots, so here are a few of my attempts at the kid's water polo meet, before I upgraded my camera.

Kira goes for the ball.

Kyle moves to quick and injures his shoulder.

Is there such a term as "Swimmer's Shoulder" - something like "Tennis Elbow"?

The world's greatest fan! GO JEFFREY - we are your fan.

Kali in posession.

Mom and Dad are avid swim supporters.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Bella was a novelty for my little boys. We don't have a dog anymore (Benny's parent's dog passed away in summer) and I don't think they've really been around a puppy before. She wasn't so big as to give them a scare if she came up to them and they could get their arms around her. Jeffrey assumed a caregiver role and was always concerned about her food and water. Just today he told me he wanted to fly back to America to visit Bella. She sure made a lasting impression.


Although they had forcast snow for the weekend we flew into Salt Lake, it turned out to be soooo gorgeous that I never even pulled out our winter coats. At times short sleeves and shorts were even enough. It was so GREAT!! Here are some of the beautiful pictures of fall...


Although her due date wasn't supposed to be until after I left the US, Reni surprised us all by going into labor early (10 days - gee could it have helped any that we painted the whole upstairs together just 2 days before?) and delivering the smallest baby she's had yet. On that point especially I am extremely happy for her. I think ALL of the other kids were around 10 pounders. Thaddeus Ray Kimball was born on October 24th, 2008 at 1:48pm. He weighed in at 6lbs 14oz and 21in long. We do forgive you Reni for not making it to the "White House Reunion", we did miss you though. I still can't believe that an hour before you are supposed to be there you call and let us know you are in labor and about 2 hours later you call again to let us know the baby was there. We sure appreciated being in the close loop on all the happenings. We are all happy everything went so well too (especially since you are in the middle of about nowhere having a home birth.)

A very beautiful baby - 9 days old.

Lot's of "mommy kisses" as they are known at our house. (There are butterfly kisses and Eskimo kisses and mommy kisses.)

Auntie Gusti gets her turn to hold Thaddeus.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


As far as holidays go, Halloween is one of my favorites. There is really very little stress involved, no huge meals to prepare, no traditions that MUST be preserved, pretty low-key. You get to dress up and dress your kids up and dress your dog up if you want - or have one. You get candy for free and can scream at anything you want to or might find scary. You can stay up really late with a good excuse and watch scary movies or even "Thriller" videos. lol

Here's my very scary skeleton Tyler, too bad you could never tell that some of his face paint GLOWED in the dark - or it was supposed to. (His gloves did though.)

Add Ninja Jeffrey and Witch Bella and you have a foto nightmare. I don't know how many pictures I shot trying to get them all still.

Here's Ninja Jeffrey being really tough.

And here's Hippie Gusti with her Witch Bella. Doesn't she look more like an indian to you? lol

Saturday, November 15, 2008


We love to be entertained!! But making our own entertainment can be even better than putting on a DVD. Grandpa Rex has built a flight simulator in the spare bedroom and Jeffrey and Kyle had an especially great time playing in it. It was actually a little too advanced for Jeffrey to "fly", so Rex put in virtual skiing for him, which I didn't know till later. He called it ice skating the rest of the time though. Really had me confused, I had no idea why he kept wanting to go back to some house to ice skate.Jeffrey and Grandpa Rex winning the ski race.

Jeffrey on drums. He actually spent about an hour "practicing" by himself. He was so into it that his face was beet red by the time he was done.

Ally, Kali and Riley rockin out.

Jeffrey on base.

Rock Band with the cousins! Asher, Kira, Jeffrey, Kenzi and Kyle

Too bad I didn't get any pictures of Gusti and I or us with the Ally and Anita, but that would have been asking a lot to have someone stay up THAT late just to take our pictures. Keep on rockin ladies!


I don't have to add much more to the title, it was JUST GREAT!! to see some of my old roommates from BYU. Some of us hadn't seen each other in almost 10 years. Crazy how time as flown by. I would still say college was one of the greatest times of my life and you all played a huge role in that. I am so glad to still have you as friends and after all these years to hang out for a couple of hours or a couple of days and it is like no time has passed at all. Thanks for coming and visiting me and I can't wait to see you all again.

Gusti, Reni, Robyn, me

Jamie, Gusti, Ally, Anita, Deanna, me

Anita, Sierra (behind), Kelli, me, Paisley (front)

Anne, me

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I must say, having a photographer as a sister, I guess I'm glad I love to take pictures, talk about pictures, look at pictures, I even don't mind letting Gusti take my picture. So we did a lot of the above and it was FUN.

Here's Gusti at her best... determined to do everything possible for "the one perfect shot."

Here's Tyler in "action". I'm working on my "action shots", getting warmed up for the upcoming soccer season.

This picture looked better in full size, but I'm to tired to take it out, so enjoy.

We really enjoyed the day at Wheeler Farm with all the kids. I didn't get a copy of those pictures home with me though, so here's one of just Tyler and Jeffrey.

I helped Anita start a blog, so I helped her with her picture too. I thought it turned out great!

Gusti's pumpkins were truly amazing. We couldn't lift them by ourselves, so it makes me wonder how many people were involved in steeling them from her porch steps the night after Halloween. At least they were considerate enough to wait for Halloween to be over.

Credit to Gusti on these incredible pictures. I could be an advertisement for fresh fall laundry soap or something. Truly talented!

I loved this picture too.