Monday, July 28, 2014


Elissa ages.....

The body is an amazing thing. Mentally I feel about 25 but my body keeps reminding me it is a lot older. Parts keep breaking, I'm getting arthritis, my hair has gone curly. I had been referred to the gynecologist about 18 months ago to help with some of the aging issues. After 6 months the solutions did not work and I was referred on to another to try other options. The second gynecologist felt a hysterectomy would help. I am still kind of young to have such a procedure but being done early meant it could be done via key hole surgery and only need 3 weeks recovery. Most women/Doctors wait and end up with a lot more invasive surgery and 6 weeks recovery. I have had friends who have asked for it and been told no. 

Having more kids in the future was not really a possibility. Related issues had meant that we'd decided that we wouldn't try for any more children after Jewel, and Adam had had a vasectomy to ensure there weren't any accidents.The decision about child bearing had already been made years before at that time, so it wasn't a factor in our thoughts - it was purely a medical issue to decide to go ahead with a hysterectomy.

I was put on a waiting list and received a call days before the YW's camp that I would have surgery on the first day of school term. That took some quick arranging of three weeks cover for me at work and arranging what would be happening in our household. Also I needed to attend the pre-op appointments (pre-op instructions said to rest before hand - ha ha ha - not much chance with the YW Camp preceding the operation).

I had to be hospital at 12:30 last Monday. The surgeons were all very nice and friendly. I remember waking up after the surgery with the family around me.

I then remember sleeping in about 1/2 hour spurts all night. I was on my back with two drips in, a catheter, a bag attached with blood draining into and a air hose up my nose. I had a button in my hand to press for pain relief. I found it hard to sleep in those circumstances.

The next morning I waited till they could remove the catheter, pain drip and air nozzle. Then I was able to get up and shower and start moving around. I was eager to be home soon as possible so did everything I was told. I was moved to the Maternity ward as they needed the surgery bed and the maternity ward was closer to my Gynecologist to visit. I was keeping myself amused by watching the TV show "Call the Midwife" on our laptop which the nurses found funny. Even funnier was that the chart next to my bed read "E Yates" as being the previous occupant of the bed before I was shifted there. I received flowers from my parents that day and more visits from the kids in the evening.  I had another restless night but in the morning they agreed to remove my drips and blood bag.

I now have three weeks rest at home. Adam's in charge of the family, food, transport and cleaning. I have had some flowers from work delivered and two friends dropped by with treats and TV programs to watch. Hopefully I will soon be well enough to sew while resting.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tuggeranong Ward Young Women's Camp 2014

Elissa plans.....

a Ward YW camp. We started playing with this thought soon after I was called as the Young Women's President earlier in the year. We had planned on it all being centred on "Beauty" both internally and externally. We were going to have a speaker from the RS camp speak to the girls about beauty and self esteem. We were also going to have classes on make-up, dressing, manners, hair etc. Unfortunately none of our specialists were available on that day. So the beauty day became a day of service instead.

We had managed to arrange with the Principal of Curtin for us to use the hall at the school for holding it and sleeping at. We had one room set up as a bedroom with a portable interactive white board in there, mattresses (Gym sport mattress), and a table with nail polish and a table with letters to Dannielle on it. We also had set up just outside a table with secret sister arrangements for the girls (they write anonymous notes to the other girls). We ate and played in the main hall and cooked all the food in the kitchen just off there.

It started on Thursday just after lunch. Of course I had been there before 8 to get it all set up. After they first got there we played some sports, jump rope, badminton, dollar scooters and then some more bonding games.

Amy then gave a really good presentation on a book called Beautiful. It is about being beautiful internally by following the rules set out by the town ruler. It is a parable. Someone comes to town and tries to convince the girls to instead wear immodest clothes and judge everyone only on external looks. It was really good and the girls all seemed to enjoy it.

Then we cooked dinner (wraps) and played Wii dance and watched a movie (Suddenly 30).  Then it was bed time. Girls had fun falling asleep. 

Had even more fun the next morning when we woke them up. Of course I had gotten up earlier and cooked them all fresh pancakes. We were going to do Zumba but couldn't get it to work properly so we went for a walk. This was followed by scripture study and preparing talks for the YW sacrament presentation on Sunday. ( we also had lots of singing practices throughout)

Then it was off for a service project. We had planned on workshops on beauty but could not get presenters at the time we needed. We went to Rachel Gregory's house as she is RS president and very pregnant. We kicked her out, then babysit her kids, cleaned her house and cooked her about 6 meals ( a mixture of meatloaf and spaghetti - hubbies request). She was shocked and really appreciated it. It was hard work and by the time we left we were all exhausted.

We had some free time, most of us just collapsed ( me being one of them). Then it was cooking dinner (stir fry ). Then it was a big music practice - Kylie had invited Hayley and Elena over to help as they can add volume on the day.

Then we watched Phantom of the Opera. Everyone enjoyed it but some of us got a bit fed up of those who hadn't seen before asking what was going to happen next. Just watch it!!!!!

Saturday morning back up early (7) for cinnamon and blueberry scrolls. Then clean up, Zumba and a presentation on self esteem on beauty for the girls - this was presented by Kristen who presented at the Relief Society camp earlier this year.. I think it went well. Lunch was pumpkin soup, Mexican soup and fresh bread and Vegemite scrolls. Then a big clean up and me being exhausted at home.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mum's Away = Star Wars and Junk Food

Adam becomes a single dad:

Elissa, Jayde and Minori all headed off for the Ward Young Women's camp on the last Thurs/Fri/Sat of the school holidays, leaving myself to look after Seth and Jewel.

Seeing as the older girls were off having fun, I figured that we'd have a bit of a fun time too - lots of junk food and watching Star Wars movies whilst relaxing around home (at Jewel's request). Dinner on Thursday evening was at the Woden food court and consisted of Ethiopian curries for Seth and I and hamburger for Jewel, followed by watching Star Wars in the evening. Apparently the Ethiopian Flavours kitchen in Woden is the first Ethiopian food court outlet in Australia. The curries were nice.

Photo is from the above linked article. Photo taken by Elesa Kurtz
Friday consisted of winning a Dungeons & Dragons book on Ebay for Seth for $4, a library run, followed by a trip to Fyshwick Markets to go shopping, We started out at the Asian grocery store where we grabbed an array of teats for ourselves - American softdrinks, candy corn, Pringles, etc.. As a curiosity I also grabbed a jar of sliced cactus to add into my lunch salads. I've yet to taste it - I'll let you know my thoughts when I do. This was followed by a quick snack of oregano and sesame pizza before getting our fruit and vegetables for the coming week. Then it was out to Majura to hit up Costco's taste-testers and to do the rest of our shopping. We finished off the trip with a late lunch consisting of Frank & Beanz's delicious chips with an array of dipping sauces. Then it was home to unpack, relax before a family favourite - nachos for dinner, followed by watching The Empire Strikes Back.

Saturday morning it was chore time combined with winning another Ebay auction for a Dungeons & Dragons book for Seth. We then headed out to Queanbeyan to pick up Seth's books, before heading over to help pack up the Young Women's camp and bring a multitude of things from the camp home. We then settled down to another family meal favourite - my chilli, before watching Return of the Jedi in the evening.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Amazing Technicolor Denimcoat

Elissa sews.....

I had an idea. I wanted a winter jacket - full length. I wasn't sure what pattern to use or material. All the patterns for full length jackets are around $30 each ... and material is so expensive. So I decided I would use up a lot of left over denim in the house. Whenever someone wears out denim I never throw it out but put it aside for future use. The time had come to use it. I had never patchworked before but thought it couldn't be too hard. It wasn't - even if not all pieces are lined up exactly - which sometimes had more to do with size of material available than skill levels.

I used the basic layout of another suit jacket pattern I had and then extended it (I wanted a full skirt look in the jacket). I lined the jacket with some flannelette I had bought for Jayde (she wanted a nightie) so I now owe her some material. I also used buttons from a left over project. So besides the material I have to replace for Jayde the jacket was free (oh and all the needles I broke sewing denim).

I am happy with it - still want to make some adjustments (back hem and pockets). It is very warm and comfortable and an original.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Ewok Missionary Teaching Some Mouse Droids

Adam laughs:

Star Wars is a staple "like" in our household, except for Jewel, who has always maintained that she doesn't like it. Thursday last week Jewel announced "I don't ever actually remember watching Star Wars so don't remember if I don't actually like it. Can we watch it?"

Jumping at the chance to brainwash indoctrinate educate Jewel about the Star Wars universe, we watched Star Wars together on Thursday night. She liked it enough to request The Empire Strikes Back on Friday night. This was followed by Return of the Jedi on Saturday night. She's decided that she loves the Star Wars movies, and wants to go to Supanova next year as an Ewok.

During Sacrament meeting at church the following Sunday she was sketching whilst listening to the talks. This is the image that she drew. Star Wars & Church mashup. I am now officially a successful father :)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tobogganing at Perisher

Adam stays warm:

Work for me is busy and I was only able to get limited time off during the school holidays. We decided that we'd use the only day available to go up to the snow together as a family. It had been a number of years since we'd gone up the ski fields, and the recent trip to Corin Forest had whetted our appetites.

We figured that rather than do the usual go up in jeans and warm clothes from home, that we'd  hire snow suits and clothes to keep warm. It turned out to be a good idea. We stopped at Village Ski in Cooma and got outfitted with jacket, pants, boots and gloves for everyone, as well as four toboggans and snow chains for the car. All up it cost us about $250, but we'd arranged with all of the kids that they'd be contributing to the cost of the clothing hire. I compared it to going to Luna Park - we said to them - "If we'd suggested that we'd take them to Luna Park, but they have to pay for their own tickets, they'd do it." In this case, we'll take you tobogganing and you'll pay for your own tickets, which in this instance means paying for your snow gear hire. The kids agreed to this.

There had been good snow cover the preceding weeks, and snow was on the ground not long after we got into the Kosciusko National Park, with good coverage by the time we got up to Perisher. We all suited up - the girls had fun rolling in the snow whilst Seth and I changed - and then made our way into the Perisher Centre to grab ourselves some lunch. The place was busy, and the food was expensive but nice. I even managed to have a faux poutine (chips covered in cheese and gravy), my first take at the Canadian food.

After lunch we went out back into the cold for the obligatory "we're here'photos and to get our toboggans from the car. As we were doing so the wind picked up as it started snowing. Jayde said "It's just like a  blizzard." I pointed out to her that the strong winds that was driving the snow about WAS a blizzard, not LIKE a blizzard.

The toboggan field was near the car park, a small hill on Mt Piper. Fortunately the wind and snow died down not long after we got onto the hill. The kids all started out on the gentler part of the slope, trying to push themselves along the flat part, before eventually getting the hang of it and heading down the slopes. After a bit of confidence building, it graduated into races between each other, and then onto the steeper part of the hill.

Elissa joined in using Seth's toboggan for a while whilst he tried making a snowman near the bottom of the toboggan run. Elissa joined him, and they turned it from a lump of snow into a "snow wombat". Unfortunately the wombat design didn't really show on the photos.

Part of the reason they took a break from tobogganing was an influx of kids onto the toboggan area from a school holiday program, making the hill a bit crowded for a while. About this time the snow and wind picked up again quite strongly - the weather bureau says that with the wind chill it was about minus 8 degrees about that time in Perisher. Only my exposed face was cold thanks to the snow clothes, but my face was FREEZING. You could see the snow being driven across the top of the hill by the wind.

Eventually Seth decided to go check over the other side of the hill from the tobogganing area and it was a fairly clear area amongst trees. There were some nice meter high ridges that Seth figured would make a good snow fort. Elissa let the rest of us know to go around and join him, IT was at this point, the fun drama unfolded.

Jayde could see Seth getting his "snow fort" ready, so she ran up to hide behind a nearby ridge with a snowball, motioning for Minori to follow quietly as well. She started going up on the ridge to attack Seth and realised that Seth could see her. There was a momentary stand off, and Jayde backed down behind the snow ridge. Seth ran up in anticipation and hurled his snowball at her, getting a direct hit on her hip. Jayde then went down in pain, and Elissa had to go over and comfort her. You can see the whole event played out in front of the camera in the photos below, including the final shot of the snowball exploding all over Jayde's left hip.

Prior to being needed to comfort Jayde, Elissa had been busy tickling Jewel.

With Jayde being comforted by Elissa and no longer needing snowball war support, Minori went off to go build herself a proper snowman, and she spent a while making a perfect base. She's had years of practice in the snow back in Japan.

Seth decided that he was going to go off exploring and found himself a large snow covered rock area to climb. Jewel eventually decided to follow him. Jayde meanwhile eventually recovered, and decided to try and drag herself on the toboggan over the snow ... until she fell over one of the snow ridges.

Jewel decided that she was going to pose for some "snowball throwing" photos.

Elissa decided that she was going to make a snowman. It turned out to be a pretty good one too. She and Jewel had appropriated some carrots from snowmen carcasses at the top of the tobogganing hill and put them to good use.

By now however the weather was starting to turn again and it was getting cloudy. Jewel was also complaining that she had a stitch, so we decided on one last toboggan ride for the afternoon. Elissa and Jewel went tandem whilst Seth decided that he'd trying doing his skeleton style.

We rounded off our time in Perisher by packing the toboggans away and heading back into the Perisher Centre for some decadent hot chocolates to warm us up for the drive back.

Then it was a drive back to Cooma, drop off our rental gear, and then reinstating the tradition of gourmet burgers and pizza at The Food Factory in Cooma for dinner before driving back to Canberra.

It was a fun day, and the kids seem sold on doing it again next year. Snow clothing rental is definitely the way to go.