Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Empty Sea (AKA MTC)

Why do we send our young missionaries to the MTC (Empty Sea) to become fishers of men? (teehee!)

No better way to celebrate my mom's birthday than going to tour the new additions to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT! Heather and I and six of our kids joined us on the tour. 


 We learned that the Provo MTC is one of fifteen centers around the world. We got to see the cafeteria, gym, dorms, classrooms, and study areas around the campus.
 The new building has many beautiful murals portraying scenes from the scriptures. Here's two hopeful future sister missionaries! It was also fun to imagine their cousin, Sister Amanda Severson, now serving in Perth, Australia, walking these halls just a couple months ago.
 Two more missionary hopefuls.  These boys are halfway to missionary age (my goodness, where does the time go??) and they loved exploring the maze of halls and rooms throughout the MTC.
 Xochitl's favorite area was this calm studying area. She loved the decor on the walls and the scriptures on the squares--kind of like a treasure hunt for the scriptures. We waited here for a short film in one of the classrooms.
Heather had many great memories of the MTC to share with us. Here she learned Spanish and many principles of gospel teaching for her mission in New Jersey.  I didn't spend time in the MTC before my mission. Our training involved many hours of rehearsal time with the Nauvoo Brass Band.  However, I did spend many hours in the MTC as a BYU student. My upper level Spanish classes required us to volunteer using our language skills, so I decided to go to the Training Resource Center at the MTC and pose as an investigator for the missionaries learning Spanish to practice with. There were some comical moments in the TRC, but more than anything, no matter the reason, the MTC is always filled with the spirit inviting you to try to preach the word to all the world. I know the missionaries that are trained here are called by Heavenly Father to serve His children all around the world. It's a wonderful place! 

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Thursday, July 06, 2017

Big Words

So, what are we doing this summer? We're learning some big words. Like Maxillofacial Surgery and Maxillary Osteotomy.  Jon undertook this adventure to fix his bite and his teeth once and for all! After many months of braces, x-rays, impressions and models, and many classes and consultations...
(It looks like we robbed the pharmacy, but I promise, all of those were prescribed!)
...operation day arrived! The surgery was at the Richmond hospital (not super close to our house, so many thanks to my Beccas and my in-laws for taking turns watching all my kids for a full 24+ hours).

Friday, June 16
Chillin' in pre-op. Jon looks super cool in his temperature controlling surgical gown, I.V. tube, and ... hair net? I'm not totally sure what the purpose of the cap is since he was totally shaved bald anyway...

This is where I said goodbye and headed out to wait. The surgery itself was about two and a half hours.  I saw many nervous families in the O.R. waiting room and didn't want to hang around there too long, so I went out for a walk, grabbed some food, etc... so by the time I got back into the waiting room, I was only there for about 15 min. before Dr. Fallah came out to report that everything had gone as planned, and Jon was slowly coming around from the anesthesia (and yes, I did have to look up how to spell that...). 

And what was the surgical plan exactly? Well, skip ahead if you're squeamish... but here's one surgeon's description:

"The operation is all carried out from the inside of your mouth so that there are no visible scars on the skin of your face. A cut is made through the gum above your upper teeth to gain access to the jawbone. The upper jaw is then cut with a small saw to allow it to be broken in a controlled manner. It is then moved into its new position and held in place with small metal plates and screws. The gum is stitched back into place with dissolvable stitches that can take a fortnight or even longer to fall out."

Sounds fun, right? Needless to say, it was quite a relief to hear that everything had gone well. 

So once all that was done, Jon was moved to a recovery room upstairs. I caught up with him just as the nurses were finishing up getting him settled with ice packs, oxygen and humidifier mask, IV with antibiotics, saline, and morphine, sequential compression devices on his legs, heart rate monitor and blood pressure cuff. Yeah, he was pretty attached to that bed for a while. 
He also had these cool snap thing stuck all over his chest and ribs... I'm not really sure what they were for... some kind of monitoring, I'm sure, but I'd never seen the like... they reminded me of Larry's Snap Circuits Electronics set.  
I felt a little emotional coming into the recovery room, seeing Jon, who is always so capable and strong, in so much pain and hardly able to stay conscious, hardly able to talk with his teeth wired shut. With his eyes barely open, he reached for my hand and squeezed it three times-- our little code for "I Love You."  I pulled up a chair and we settled in for a long night.  
Of course, it felt like every time Jon was just getting to sleep, it would be time for more meds or vitals or vomit or something, so really there wasn't a lot of rest happening. But I did get very creative about sleeping in a folding chair.

Saturday, June 17
Early in the morning, Jon finally felt like getting up and going for a walk (a requirement for dispatch from the hospital), so he got untethered as much as he could and used the IV stand as a sort of walker. After one short lap, he was ready to lie down again and drink some broth, which he said tasted like liquid steak! ...  I guess after eating nothing for over 24 hours, vegetable broth could taste like steak...

Look at that smile! :)
By 11am Saturday, Jon met all the criteria for release from the hospital, so one at a time, all the monitors came off and we were ready to head home.  

Sunday, June 18: Happy Father's Day!
Our reclining couches have been put to good use since the surgery.  Jon was supposed to sleep with his head elevated for two weeks following the operation, so we've had slumber parties in the living room every night! 

Also, for ten days with his teeth wired shut, Jon was on a liquids only diet. My BlenTec was used many times each day, to add some variety to the steady intake of Ensure shakes. Some blended recipes were quite delicious, like Reese's peanut butter milkshakes, apple pie milkshakes, and yogurt smoothies. Some things were good, like seven-layer dip puree, broccoli cheddar soup, and mashed potato soup.  Other things were a little strange, like potato salad soup and BBQ chicken puree (SO NOT RECOMMENDED!) And still other things were downright bizzare--like the gelatinous blob that was created after putting a whole cup of noodles in the BlenTec... Also not recommended... unless you're entering a science fair. 

As an added bit of bonus fun, since all his "food" had to be slurped through his teeth, nothing could be too hot or too cold. So milkshake and soup alike were served at a sort of tepid room temperature. Try drinking something with your teeth clenched shut sometime... it's interesting. And then be grateful that you don't have to do that for ten days straight. 

Tuesday, June 20
As rest improved, so did Jon. By four days post-op, he felt well enough to sit up and strum... and hum a little through clenched teeth. 

Wednesday, June 21
First day out and about! Not even a week after surgery, Jon and I got out walking in the wetlands. 
The smile is getting better :) 

Friday, June 23: One week after surgery
Feeling good enough to play Legos with the kids... and then clean up the Legos with the kids ;)

Sunday, June 25
No pictures, but Jon was brave enough to stand and "sing" with my ward choir (remember his teeth are still wired shut) so Bro. Ross wasn't the only one in the men's section... Everyone in the ward was super impressed! 

Monday, June 26
Best. Day. Ever! The wires holding his jaw shut came off and were replaced with orthodontic rubber bands. The bands are strong and still hold the jaw still, but at least he gets to take them off to eat! 
 Ironically, at Dawna's ortho appointment the same week, she got to start wearing rubber bands too! So nice to share these experiences with daddy! And now he has an even better open-mouth smile!

Jon had a lot of interesting observations about his teeth and jaw once they were unwired. His whole eating structure had changed.  In the past, his front teeth met end to end (this is not ideal) so a lot of chewing happened in the front of his mouth instead of the back. And suddenly, he had to re-learn how to chew--because his incisors were cutting like scissors, as they should, and his back molars were grinding, as they should, but this was a new feeling for him. I got questions such as "Do you chew on both sides of your mouth or just one at a time?" and "What does your tongue do while you're chewing in the back?" Honestly, these were things I'd never thought about and I had an opportunity for introspection on my eating methods... I tend to chew on one side of my mouth at a time, and my tongue acts as a sort of blockade for either side while I chew. Take a moment to consider how you eat. It will be revealing :)

Friday, June 30
A mere fourteen days after surgery, we got out to enjoy the beach! No swimming of course, but a nice dip of the toes and jaunt up and down the shore put him in good spirits! The swelling has improved a lot, the stitches are still hanging around, but overall, this tough guy has made quick work of recovery! He's eating more and getting up and around more each day. Next week it's back to work :( I'm going to miss having my hubby around all the time, but I guess it's time to move on to our next great adventure...
 ...with a great smile! 

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Friday, June 09, 2017

Four for now...

Good morning, four years old! 
Jade wanted to continue our tradition of bringing breakfast in bed for the birthday kid. Pancakes and bacon were her request!
 Jade is a very active girl.  She loves going to open gym at "Nastics-for-day" (aka gymnastics), loves swimming, climbing, and really loves riding her bike--which was upgraded in size for her fourth birthday!

 Jade's other love right now is My Little Pony. She got two new ponies: Cherilee and Applejack, as gifts from her siblings, and then had a somewhat impromptu "Pony Picnic" with some little friends on Friday (who says babysitting can't be fun??). Adelyn, Conrad, Jade, and Sage were the 3/4 year olds, and they were accompanied by siblings Larry, Jack, and Zyna... and Adelyn's mom. The kids enjoyed some coloring, dancing, and "Humpty Dumpty Pony Pie" games.
 Her chosen menu was: PB&J sandwiches, quesadillas, veggies, and mud and worms for dessert :) Thanks to Nana for sending the "4" candle. It went perfectly with everything! Simple, last-minute, but delightful birthday fun!

Also, she's been saying for a while that she'll "climb to the bell" when she turns four. And she did just that! On her fourth birthday, she climbed all the way to the top of the auto-belay at the peak and rang the bell at the top! (movie is a little long... she had quite a few "resting" moments arching her back all the way and tossing her curls...) 


I love this smart, sassy, curly-headed princess of mine! But don't be in too big of a hurry to grow up...

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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

"It's not every day your young [lady] turns eleven..." -Hagrid

...and for that reason, there's nothing else I could possibly do but create a Harry Potter escape room birthday party!

First off, many humble thanks to Angela Ringlein for helping me see this project through to the end and bringing the sparkle and shine to everything there! And many thanks to Miss Hannah Reeves, whose beta testing of the puzzles, riddles, and codes was vital to the success of our escape room! And thank you to the Lock, Paper, Scissors site, which provided an excellent escape room blueprint!  It was a lot of work, but WOW! what a fun and awesome way to spend a couple weeks! (especially if you have an angel of a daughter who's turning 11 and loves Harry Potter :)
(she said we could match...I must still be a cool mom!)
The other secret to our success was the folding/expanding accordion walls in most LDS chapels (not to mention the foyer furniture there also...). Perfect place to put a few bike locks... and a great way to have a progressive room!
I'll do my best to not include any spoilers in my description, in case you want to try our escape room some day... it does require a fair amount of Harry Potter knowledge, as per design, but one HP guru per group is sufficient to succeed.

So, according to "Lock, Paper, Scissors," to make a good escape room, one must "sketch out a story line" for your room to follow... so here's mine: 

"It's an ordinary school night in the Gryffindor common room. Among the students reading, studying, and chatting, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are playing wizard's chess! Now, we all know that Ron is the superior chess player, but we also know that he's the six of seven kids, and his chess set is a hand-me-down that has seen many many games of chess.  As such, just as Ron is about to win, his queen misses Hermione's king... and smashes instead... her time turner! In a whirl of magic and hourglass sand, everyone in the Gryffindor common room is transported one week into the future!  

"You now find Hogwarts School of Wichcraft and Wizardry in an uproar, on the verge of closure, because 6-9 Gryffindor students (depending on the size of your escape room group...) have seemingly vanished for a week! Albus Dumbledore will be announcing the closure just before dinner in the great hall in exactly ONE HOUR! You must get out of the common room, complete all of your missing homework, and make it to the great hall before the announcement is made if you are to save the school!" READY??? GO!!!

The Common Room: 

 Announcement board...
 Arm chairs...
Basket of S.P.E.W socks, bookshelf, and chess game...

Curiosity piqued?? :) So was theirs... 
This is Dawna's birthday escape crew... (we actually ended up running the room four times over the weekend, but this is the only one I took pictures of)


(I loved that many of the kids came in costume!) 

But that's not all... because remember that part about missing a week's worth of classes and having to make up the homework?? Well, enter the...

Hogwart's Classrooms! 

(ok, so it's like 4 classrooms smashed into one little space... deal with it...)
 Looking to the right... (notice the 5 additional locks on the second accordion wall)
Looking to the left... interesting... 

The design of this space turned out to be really fun as the chairs served as a kind of maze they all had to maneuver around as they worked... now for a few close-ups...
Transfiguation (also a mysterious locked chest below the board)
Potions... (actually had a cooler setup later, but missed getting a picture)



Ancient Runes

Divination (it's a crystal ball, ok?)
And... I didn't get any pictures at all of my kids working on this section... lame... note to self: bring a designated photographer next time...

The birthday kids made it through the room in a respectable 1 hour and 10 min., which wasn't enough to save Hogwarts, but plenty for having a great time! I did catch the moment of final escape into the Great Hall (it's not a great video, but I love the excitement of the kids!)


Once they made it through, the kids got to enjoy a lovely Hogwart's dinner, complete with chocolate frogs and heaps of fried chicken :) 

(on a side note... the other groups made it through the escape room in 1 hr. 27 min., 58 min., and 1 hr. 6 min. All the other groups besides the birthday party kids were a mix of kids and adults.  All in all, for my first escape room, I think my timing was pretty good!)

A very happy birthday to my lovely intelligent daring and darling daughter Dawna! Thanks for lighting up my life always, and especially around your 11th birthday! I may have a new obsession now... 

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Baloo the Builder with Bears

For the last three weeks, I got to work with Larry's cub scout pack on their "Baloo the Builder" experience.  I researched some simple woodworking projects and decided on this fun one from Boys Life: Make a Homemade Candy Dispenser.

This experience was somewhat "blind leading the blind," as I have no actual woodworking experience... I'm sure Weston would have been a much better candidate... But we did our best, following along in the Bear Cub handbook... 

Week One
The boys were introduced to some basic tools and learned a little more about them: hammer and claw, saw, sandpaper, and screwdrivers. They learned about pilot holes and why we love them, and learned vocabulary such as Phillips head, thread, and leverage... 

Each of the boys got a "practice block" to try out the different tools, complete with sharpie instructions:)  
The boys learned that the joy of a pilot hole when working with screws... and how to use leverage against a big nail... and learned to be thankful for power saws... and realized that sanding takes  f o r e v e r! 
After practice time was over, they starting building for real! They used a saw to cut pieces of dowel for the pull handle.  
Then they attached the bottom with wood glue, nails, and screws

Week 2: 
The cubs kept sanding, nailing, and screwing, and when everything (except the top) was attached securely, they got to stain their projects to a beautiful cherry... the only problem was... well... after they had dried and we came back the next week...

Week 3: 
SHOULD have been a quick assemble of all the pieces, but the stain made the wood swell or bend or something just enough that most of the slides in the middle no longer fit inside the center... so we spent a LONG time continuing to sand (and a couple I even had to take home and use our planer on them) So, if you are planning to do this, maybe don't do the staining part... 
The jar tops were attached with finishing nails (also kind of a pain to nail into a skinny jar rim; highly recommend a tiny hammer)

But even with a few surprises and setbacks, 5 out of our seven boys were able to take home working candy dispensers after three weeks of work. 






The boys each brought their own treat to share, and we all indulged in Skittles, M&M's, jelly beans, and gumballs!  
Good work, builders!


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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spring Tease

Tomorrow school starts again... spring break is over... A week-long teaser of summer break makes it all the harder to return for six more weeks of school, state testing, and projects.

But it was a fabulous break. We left last Friday for Oregon to visit Aaron and Em. On the way to Central Point, we stopped by Sacramento to see baby Ada, all of two weeks old! And I admit, I did chuckle a little as Weston was describing how Ada was so much different "when she was younger..." How much younger can she get there, Daddy?!?  But it is true that our little ones change so quickly, even before our very eyes...

Anyway, after dinner and baby cuddling, we got on the road again and arrived at 2:30am at Rabun Way and plopped our kids--and ourselves--into bed.

And no more than 5 hours later, a parade of Pokemon loving cousins were running laps around the house having battles, trading posts, and quizzing each other on HP and EX's and etc. And a couple hours after that, we all hit the ground running to our first adventure: and... I can't remember the name of the place--will update later... A little drive, a short hike to the right, and we arrived at a beautiful huge waterfall!


And then back to the left, was the Valley of giant boulders (or something like that--update to real name later...) Lots of fun climbing, exploring, and even sliding to do!


The boulders surrounded a little beach by a raging river of death! ... or some beautiful rapids :) There's something about rivers and rocks and sticks that can keep kids entertained for hours!

And on the same day as that beautiful sunny hike through the woods, we continued up the mountain until we hit SNOW!! Lots of snow! Crater Lake was our lunch destination!
Ever since I saw Emily's post on Instragram, I wanted to do this!! I got to roast hot links in the snow!! I LOVE their little portable fire pit! Dream come true!!!!

Something fun for everyone at Crater Lake! Dawna and Adele busied themselves building a snow fort/palace/mansion: 
Jade found plenty of snow to taste (one of my favorite pictures of the day):
Apparently, snow comes in many delightful flavors... much like ice cream! 

Jon, Adele, and I raced little snowballs down the slope and over the ridge overlooking the lake! Super intense racing...

And to top it all off, we harvested the largest icicles we could get off the roof of the resort! Jon won.
And Jade and Malachi will tell you that icicles also come in many delightful flavors...much like Popsicles! 

And after all this, we weren't even done with our first full day of vacation! Once we returned home from Crater Lake, Aaron and Jon went off to indoor soccer and long distance running, respectively, and Emily and I ate more food :) 

Sunday we slowed down... a little... but still stuffed in as many Easter delights as we could. I got to play in a trio with Adele and Emily at church. Adele and Dawna dyed eggs with the kids while we hid plastic eggs in the house. Then we had a delicious lamb dinner. After that, we did the Easter story in eggs and the kids followed clues to find their Easter presents... yeah, that was our "slow" Easter Sunday...In the midst of all that, Dawna and Adele found a few minutes to serenade us on their instruments:


...a more grown up reprise of their original hit:

LOVE THOSE GIRLS!!! Then and Now... 

Anyway, back to spring break... 
Monday dawned bright and early once more for the big kids. Aaron and Jon, who had originally planned on taking the older kids backpacking but changed plans when rain came, took each of their older three kids on a caving adventure. They had a wonderful day, and hopefully my other contributor to this blog will fill in the details of their adventure... Emily and I had a very relaxing day at home with our little ones. It was a little nostalgic of our Lansing Court days, when all we had was little ones. We almost forgot what to do with them... but they reminded us of what they love to do. So we went to the park, read stories, played music... all the little kid things we miss sometimes with the hustle and bustle of active older kids.  

Tuesday was a celebration our our seven-year-old Xochitl! (Even though she wasn't officially 7 until Wednesday... but really, what kind of birthday is driving home from vacation??) We caught an early matinee of Beauty and the Beast starring Hermione Granger... I mean... Emma Watson :) then headed straight over to the Rrrink for some exciting ice skating! Xochitl is a quick study with anything involving balance, so with a little guidance from Aunt Emily, she was swooshing around the ice in no time! Jade and Larry made good use of the plastic "helpers" and Dawna did quite well after having roller bladed a lot this year. And it's always fun to see what Adele has been working on in her ice skating lessons... and try to copy her... mostly Aunt Deeb just ends up looking foolish... but having fun! 

On the way home from ice skating, Xochitl picked out two ice cream cakes from Cold Stone. Yum!
And we all know the Koberstein tradition of car trouble when traveling I-5... running over the moving dolly with the Quest, tire blow out, car being backed into, hitting a deer... so when Wednesday came and our vacation was almost over, Fate had to hurry and squeeze some car trouble in. Eva's battery was quite dead and decrepit on Wednesday morning. We weren't going nowheres. The car wouldn't start at all! So I called roadside assistance and they offered to tow us to a garage... but I thought it would be easier to just have them replace the battery on the spot. Only problem was... we had to get the battery. My manly main man Jon got on a bike and rode to the auto parts store with a backpack, bought a car battery, and biked home again! This is not an activity for the feint of heart. Those batteries are HEAVY!! He made it back to Rabun way just in time for the mechanic to get to work! And with only minor damage to clothing and sidewalks...All in all, it's one of the kinder car trouble experiences we've had.  All the kids were happily playing with cousins, safely parked in front of Aaron and Em's house :)( ALMOST something to smile about... 

So we got home. And on Friday to finish off our spring break fun, we all enjoyed Larry's "field trip" to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium! Paul and Becca et.al joined us and now we all have annual passes to the aquarium! Many thanks to the thoughtful people there who made the "Family Pass" include two adults and ALL their children! All too often a "family pass" is for two adults and two children, which is pretty much useless for us...

Maybe the Jellyfish are cousins too!
Squids will be squids... We loved the "Tentacles" exhibit!
Playing with light settings on my Pixel XL. I liked this picture of Zyna!

Happy Spring Break!

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