31 December 2014

Binggeli Christmas

I swear 100% that I wrote this post entirely, but somehow it is no longer here.  Hmmmm . . .  it is a mystery.

Anyway, the short story is that James had to work on Christmas.  And the stars aligned for 5 of the 6 Binggeli children to be in town at some point during the week of Christmas so we hosted an early festivus at our house on Monday, the 22nd.

It was great!  We had ham and potatoes and hot chocolate.  We did a short nativity program and a white elephant exchange.  The siblings exchanged gifts and the kids got to open some gifts.  Glen, Jason's roommate, turned himself into a blanket burrito and the kids attacked him.

It was a great night!

28 December 2014

It's A Small World in Lithuania

When I got home from church today I saw that there was a text from Jame's sister Alicia and here is the picture from the text!  It totally made my day.  I, of course, forwarded it to my mom and sister and they loved it too!

The crazy thing about this photo is that the woman and her daughter who are in it were totally with my brother on Christmas and came in to talk to us briefly while Skyping.  How crazy is that!!!

So here's the story.  Basically, Alicia is visiting with Stacy and her family in Idaho.  Stacy has a brother named Jess who served a mission in Lithuania.  He was talking to some members who he has remained in contact with and they knew my brother.

Here is a completely made up version of the conversation as I imagined it:

Jess: Hey, I'm talking to people from Lithuania
Alicia: Hey, my sister-in-law's brother is there. 
Jess: Oh, that's cool!
Alicia:  I wonder if they know him.
Jess: I don't know.  Let me ask.  . . . . Hey look!  They do!  They just sent me this picture of him!
Alicia: Wow, that is the coolest thing I've heard all day.  Text me that picture so I can send it to Haley.

Their names are Svitrigaile and Rimute!

In other brother news, not only did we get to talk to him this week, but we also got to open the package he sent to us all!

The kids got some weird bobbly-rock toys, a candy bar, and a squishy thing.
James, Ross, and my dad got a Lithuanian tie.
My mom, Annie, and I got Lithuanian scarves.
Each family - Petersens, Howdens, and Binggelis - got an official Lithuanian family banner, a cd, and a chocolate bar.

The significance of the banner is that people use them for weddings, funerals, and other special occasions.  Willie had them made at a banner shop for us!  They are pretty neat!

Travis and Carla Wedding

My cousin Travis got married yesterday.  He married Carla and she is from Peru.  We actually met her at our Petersen Family Christmas party last year, so they've dated for a while.

This is my blog so I can write what I want, right?  It was a little disappointing that Travis is now my second returned missionary cousin in the last few months who has chosen to not get married in the temple.  I don't understand the choice and I wish it was different, but I do sincerely wish them the best of luck in their marriage.  Marriage is not an easy thing by any means.  In fact, some days it actually can be pretty sucky and I can't imagine getting through it successfully without the blessings of the temple gluing a family together.  That is my statement and I'm sticking to it.

Anyway, my Aunt Karen tried to make the wedding experience as nice as she possibly could and she did an excellent job.  Everything from the table decorations to the name cards and party favors were very nice and I'm sure she put a lot of effort into it all.  The ceremony was on the first floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and then there was a nice luncheon afterwards on the 9th floor.

Here are some lovely photos of the day!

Travis waiting for the bride

Petersen family members present for the day

My dad, cousin Russ, LeeAnn, Karen, Paul, and Gregg

My dad's Aunt Deloris and Uncle Bob were in attendance at the wedding.  They are the last of the older generation in the Petersen Family.  Deloris is my Grandpa Petersen's sister.  She had two sons with her husband before Bob.  One of them died just out of high school and the other one is Russ (Peterson with an "on").  He is an artist who lives in NYC and I met him one other time that I can recall.  It was at my Great Grandma Petersen's funeral when I was in 9th grade.  He was visiting Bob and Deloris for Christmas this year and decided to attend the wedding as well.

27 December 2014

Christmas 2014


Christmas is by far my most favorite holiday.  However, I think that I like December 1st-24th more than I even like December 25th.  I think the holiday is so much fun to prepare for.  I like trying to come up with gift ideas.  I like to keep a list and try to stay in my budget.  I like to be busy with family celebrations, programs, and other crazy things to do.  I like the world to be a happy place!

With that said, here is actually how we spent our Christmas!

We began on Christmas Eve at Grandpa Huber's house.  My mom did most of the food and it was great!  We had a little program enhanced with some David Aruchuleta and Church sponsored nativity videos.

Christmas morning was super EARLY this year (though for 2 very good reasons).
1.  James had to work and leaves around 6:15 a.m.
2.  We had to be at my mom's by 7:00 a.m. to hear from Elder Petersen.

James and I got up and all the way ready around 5:00 a.m.  We woke the kids up around 5:30.  They got to briefly play with their Santa Claus gifts and open a couple of gifts from mom and dad.  James left.  The kids got shoes and coats on and we headed in the pitch dark Christmas to my mom's house.  

Molly was a bit of a stinker on Monday night and again on Christmas Eve with some small gifts she received, vocally expressing her disapproval of the gifts.  We had a nice little chat about how to graciously accept gifts even if you don't particularly care for what's in them.  Santa Claus noticed the behavior and also left a note for her (and Jack).  I think it worked!

I had to take a picture on the way to my mom's house.  It was SOOOO dark!  We literally passed about 3 cars and I think we only saw 2-3 houses with lights on inside.   It was a very dark and cold way to start our Christmas.

Once inside my mom's well-lit, active, and warm house, we got to Skype with WILLIE!!  When we finally connected he waved both hands in the air and said, "Hellooooo!"  He looks great!  He's doing great!  He has a funny accent and drifted back and forth between English, Lithuanian, and some crazy Russian guy.  He finally got his "trainee" that he has been waiting on for quite a while (he was sent home from the MTC for a knee injury), so we got to meet him - Elder Turley - as well as Elder Norman and some crazy Lithuanian lady and her daughter who came in the room a few times.

We found out the call had to be that early in the morning because the missionaries had to be home by 6:00 p.m. due to the increased number of crazy drunk people out in the city on Christmas night.

We got to talk to him until almost 8:00 a.m. which meant it was about 5:00 p.m. his time.

It was just great!  He is so excited.  He is doing so well.  He is being a great missionary!

After the phone call, we got breakfast together (mostly my mom and Ross).  We had Waffle Love waffles and a few other fixin's.  Everything tasted delicious.  After breakfast, the kidlets got dressed and we opened gifts.  My mom got all of the kids (even Quinner and Jack) headphones.  At one point, I think they were all 5 plugged into a device and it got really quiet.

Next, we ventured back to Grandpa Huber's to get food stuff set up out there.  We were the first to arrive and only visited for a couple of hours and then hit the road.

The kids and I came home and all three of us had a nice winter's nap.  When we all woke up, we went and played outside in the snow, ate a plate of french fries for dinner, waited for our dad to come home, Skyped with Grandma and Grandpa Binggeli, and then visited with my mom and dad one more time when they came to our house to give James his gifts.  We opened the last of our gifts leftover from that morning and just enjoyed a nice, snowy night.

Merry Christmas to all!

23 December 2014

Another Christmassy Weekend

'Twas the weekend before Christmas and parties did abound.  We ate with our plates then tummies full, to each we became more round . . . .

Saturday . . . 

We had the annual Huber Family Christmas Progressive Party, though this year did not include any progressiveness.  My aunt Cindy hosted it and many people brought food.  The food was delicious and Cindy was an excellent host.  Huber family parties don't seem to be the energy, synergy, excitement, and glee of those from my youth.  There are a variety of factors, but mainly I would say it is due to the difficulty of getting 62 people (all but 7 were there if I counted right) together with the same priorities, values, and interests.  That is probably an impossible task and gets more impossible as people get older (including the young ones) and more set in their own ideas.  

I forgot to take any pictures at the party.

I finally got some presents wrapped!  Phew.

Sunday . . . 

On Sunday morning, I was getting ready for church.  Molly hadn't had a bath yet (and fell asleep and stayed in her clothes after Saturday's party) when she suddenly showed up at the bathroom door saying, "What's your order ma'am?"  She had put her jacket, a hat, and her shoes on.  She'd grabbed a notepad and a pencil and wanted me to order food.  I just happened to have my phone in the bathroom because I was listening to Christmas music while getting ready, so I was able to get a picture.  This daughter of mine is totally coo-coo.  She brought my [pretend] food back a couple of minutes later.  She was pushing the plateful in her baby's stroller and as she handed it to me said, "Mom, here's some grapes, but we're pretending they are fries because I can't find any fries."

We went to church, of course, and then we came home.  After a short time we headed north to the Petersen Family Christmas Party.  This tradition is hosted on a rotating schedule and this year it was at my Aunt LeeAnn's house in Roy.  For one year only, LeeAnn, as executive over Petersen Christmas traditions, decided that we would not be having the traditional Petersen Christmas Morning Breakfast this year.  In lieu of that, the family party menu was scones, ham, scrambled eggs, and of course, honey butter.  The food was delicious and I ate my weight in scones.  We still draw names in this family and after cleaning up breakfast/dinner we distributed gifts and opened them one at a time from youngest to oldest, per tradition.   It was a lot of fun!  

I only took 2 pictures at this party.

22 December 2014

Jack 2.5 year checkup

I am slow on blogging, but during the 1st week of December, Jack had his 2.5 year old checkup with Dr. Havlik.  It went fine.  He passed all of the developmental questions with flying colors.  

Weight - 31 pounds 2 ounces (79th percentile)
Height - 37 inches (67th percentile)
BMI - 16 (42nd percentile)

Side Note: I am an average sized person in a family of big people, thus I often feel short.  James is an average sized person in a family of smaller people, thus often feeling very tall, but giving my kids super short genes.  I like tall and I hope my kids are at least my height (though I doubt they will be super tall).  Both of them started out as big, off-the-chart babies, but have become much more averaged-sized children.  I just want them both to be on the taller side of life.  Using the prediction that you double boys heights at age 2, Jack should be about 6'.  That's good.  Using the prediction that you double a girls height at 18 months, Molly will only be about 5'5".  Sigh. Maybe she'll stretch a big more than that.  It's ok. She'll survive even if she's short.

Back to Jack . . . 

The developmental milestones included things like kicking a ball, throwing overhand, using a certain number of words, putting on or taking off parts of clothing independently, walking up stairs without assistance, etc.

Doctor Havlik is, of course, very thorough (which is why we like him).  He said Jack looks perfect and was impressed with his verbal skills, but mentioned that he thought one of his eyelids didn't open all the way when he was getting him to follow a flashlight with his eyes.  I didn't really think much of this, but mentioned it to James and he thinks he has the same condition and so does his dad.  Weird.  

Otherwsie, Dr. Havlik did ask if Jack had any interest in using the bathroom and I said that we had tried it before and it didn't go so well.  He said that he finds the best strategy for boys is to say, "he won't be toilet trained until he's 5" and then be very pleasantly surprised when he does actually figure it out before then.

Jack was super cooperative.  Dr. Havlik is a good doctor.  

21 December 2014

Christmassy weekend

'Twas 2 weekends before Christmas and parties were planned, come one come all they say, no one will be banned . . .

On Saturday the 13th, the kids and I loaded up the car to head north to Plain City where we attended the Binggeli Family Christmas Party.  James' Aunt Joyce was actually the party planner, but it was hosted by Aunt Suzanne in her large garage.  Suzanne has a small farm in Plain City with some horses and a dog.  The party was Mexican Fiesta Christmas themed and even included a tractor strung pinata for the kids to beat down.

Jack enjoyed the Doritos.

The only LaRon Binggeli's who were able to come are mostly in this picture - Mary, LaRon, Jason (and roommate Glen), Haley, Molly, and Jack.  

The kids love Uncle Jason and he is a great distraction for them.  Sometimes at family gatherings I feel like I should be paying him babysitting fees.

Molly and Jack played with a nativity set between many other party games.  You can see "pin the beard on Santa" taped to the door and I think, "balance the ornaments on the wrapping paper tubes" was going on to the  right of the photo.

We loaded back into the car.  The kids both fell asleep and I stressfully listened to Utah play Kansas on the radio.  They were down by 21 after halftime and came back to lead, then tie, they lose by a few at the end.  It was a crazy, but totally good effort ball game.

We were only home for a couple of hours before we went to the next party - the Ward Christmas Party.  I don't know that we would have gone (especially without James), but we did because I was asked to play the piano for the primary's short musical number.  Molly sang her guts out and Jack got to sit on the piano bench with me.  I made him promise before that he cwould not play on the piano while I was.  He said he'd be good, but of course, it was too tempting and at one (only one) point in the song, he reached his little ET finger up and played a wrong note.  I told him no, but he just giggled at me.

This boy is Jaylen.  He is in our primary class and is a little bit of a stinker.  We always seem to be mad at him or we are bribing him with candy to be good.  He must not dislike us that much because he made a special trip over to say hi to us at the ward party.

Jack took this picture of Molly.

Molly took this picture of me.

Jack found his twin at the ward party.  This boy is Easton and they usually get a pretty good game of catch going in the nursery on Sundays.

On Sunday morning we headed in town to the Tabernacle Choir Christmas Program with special guest Santino Fontana (Prince Hans) and the Sesame Street Muppets (Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Elmo, etc.)  The Church dropped the age limit in order to allow kids to come see the program.  We thought Molly would like it, but she got bored and was a bit of a stinker.  In her defense, the program was pretty long and we were high up in the balcony where she really didn't understand what we were doing other than just watching a program on TV.  Oh well.  Maybe we will go again sometime.  

We just happened to luck out and get tickets this year.  We had 4 and hadn't put much thought into what to do with the 4th ticket until we found at that my sister's in-laws had given her 4 that they weren't going to use.  My sister was also only going to use 3 of hers, so my dad went and sat with her and my mom went and sat with us.  It was good.  

18 December 2014

Santa claus

Once upon a time, my mom was in charge of her ward's Christmas dinner on a Friday night.  We went.

Santa Claus (aka Bishop Baker with sunglasses on) was there and Molly was actually brave enough to sit on his lap (and give him the note she made for him at school).  She told him she wanted an ice cream maker.  Jack was too nervous to sit on his lap, but he did take a candy cane and say that he wanted a dinosaur.

Once upon a time my children played with shaving cream at school and I took Jack's picture.

Once upon a time, the kids had their annual Christmas program.  They were all dappered up and looked splendid.  

Molly wanted to sit on Santa's lap again after the school program.  This time she told him that she wanted an ice cream maker (at least she was consistent). Jack was too nervous to sit on his lap, but he took a candy cane again and said he wanted a dinosaur (at least he's consistent, too).


We went to the dentist.  Molly has been several times now.  Jack went for the first time.  Everyone was well-behaved and cooperated as they should. For that, I was pleased.  Molly had 5 cavities.  For that, I was totally unprepared.  We brush teeth.  I'm not a candy grinch by any means, but it's not like my kids have the diet of Buddy the Elf either.  How could this happen?   I have no idea.  

Our dentist is way overkill on the prizes.  This visit, the kids both got a mask.  Molly can add it to her superhero cape and t-shirt.  

We went back two days later to get the cavities fixed.  They gave me some potent solution for her to drink an hour before the appointment.  She got the laughing gas, also.  She got the novocaine.  I was expecting the worst from this little drama queen, but her appointment came and went without a hitch. She was a little groggy from the solution and kept asking about where the helicopters at the hospital park, but otherwise didn't do much comical.  I was worried, too, that when the novocaine wore off that she would be in pain, but she was fine and dandy.  I couldn't believe how easy it was.  

Don't try to take her to karate.  Don't try to put her shoes on if the seam of the sock is slightly skewed.  Don't interrupt her when she's talking.  Don't think she'll like the Sesame Street characters at the Tabernacle Choir concert.  But, by all means, take her to the dentist.  She'll love it!  (She is as complicated as and so much like her dad sometimes, I don't know if I'll ever understand her . . .  but I love her!)

16 December 2014


I just checked my school e-mail and my inbox included three unfortunate messages.  One was from a student who will be gone this week after a diagnosis with a weird form of mono.  There was one about a kid who had an emergency appendectomy over the weekend.  Then, there was one more about a kid who doesn't come much who found out over the weekend he has some kind of terminal abdominal cancer.  Holy cow and terrible Merry Christmas.

It has been quite a medical year with the students from room 223 at Murray High and it is only December.  Here is a list (in no particular order) of things going on with my own students (that I'm aware of).

  • 2 cases of mono
  • 2 appendectomies - 1 appendix is now a mono girl and 1 appendix is a kid who nearly cut off his thumb over the summer
  • 1 terminal cancer
  • 1 strange infection (yet to be determined) for a super nice A student who now hasn't been to school since before Thanksgiving.
  • 1 strange infection that caused a student's ear drums to both rupture and now has been diagnosed with permanent hearing loss and will likely be deaf soon
  • 2 suicide attempts resulting in hospitalizations - one of these came the day after a kid had melted down in my class and I still feel bad about it
  • 2 cases of extreme anxiety - one resulted in a hospitalization and one resulted in the student no longer attending school
  • 1 case of a student with anorexia
These medical situations are in addition to  . . .
  • a student who lives with an abusive dad and had a meltdown in my class last week
  • 2 students who were living in a motel until mid November when they finally got an apartment (with no furniture)
  • a student who stopped attending school because she and her dad were kicked out of their house and she had no way to get from wherever they were staying to school (the school got her a Trax Fair pass)
  • A student who's mother died
I also have a co-worker who's daughter-in-law has kidney failure and had to deliver a 1 pound baby as a result.  The woman is now on dialysis every other day and the baby has had a heart surgery and will obviously be hospitalized for a long time.

There is also, not to mention, James' cousin who's little boy has been battling brain cancer and then their house burned down.

With that list of very unfortunate circumstances, here is my perspective:

Several weeks ago I went for a very exciting (note sarcasm) annual exam with my doctor (actually a PA in my doctor's office because it is impossible to see my doctor unless you are actually having a baby).  The PA found what she thought were several "lumps" and I had to schedule a diagnostic mammogram.  I had to wait about two weeks for the appointment and during that two weeks I was a little bit silently freaked out.  It turned out to be nothing and so I was able to stop worrying and move on with life.  I'm sure this has happened to lots of other people, but for a couple of weeks it was a very personal series of crazy "what if's" in my brain every time I thought about it.  I don't really want to make a big deal about it other than to point out that the idea that "maybe I have cancer," was able to put a clearer perspective on things.  Am I living life the way you should be?  Am I doing all I can to be a good person?  Am I living life to the fullest?

I am so grateful for the life that I do have, my family, and my interactions and experiences with others.  My life is far from perfect but it is a pretty good one.  I am grateful for economic stability.  I am grateful for reason and rationalization.  I am grateful for healthy children.

Our bishop gave a talk in church recently where he repeated something his mother always said.  Basically it was that, "if everyone put their problems in a basket, we would all end up taking our own problems right back out."  

Sometimes life is sucky, but we should be grateful for our own problems.  There is always someone worse off than you.  Try to remember that, especially at Christmas time.  You never know what the people around you may be going through.  Be nice to everyone.  Be kind.  Be grateful for what you have and are given.

That's it.

07 December 2014

Zoo Lights

For some reason, this post insists on being published out of order.  So, for a few of my loyal readers, here is Zoo Lights


03 December 2014

Utah Ball Game Pictures

The #25 Utes are playing #9 Wichita State tonight.  It was a 9:00 p.m. start so just the menfolks got to go.  It has been the most incredibly exciting Utah game I have seen in years.  I keep silently shaking my fist in the air and standing up to jump around.  The Utes were down 10-0 at the start and then got up by as many as 9 in the 2nd half.  We are now in overtime and I am about to lose my mind!!!!!!

In the meantime, here are some photos from a game on Saturday night.  It wasn't very exciting and it wasn't at all crowded.

Update . . .  
Utah WINS! over Wichita State 69-68
Sold out crowd?!?  Why doesn't that crowd come to every game?!?