Sebastian’s Flat Stanley Goes on Many Adventures!

Dear Mrs. Graef’s class,

I hope you enjoy the pictures we took of Flat Stanley’s journey here in Monterey, California!  It’s a beautiful place with lots of fun things to do.  What is your favorite thing Stanley did while he was here?

Sebastian, we miss you and can’t wait to see you when you come visit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Chris, Britta, Taiten, Kaia, and Kekoa


Flat Stanley came to us on St. Patrick’s day.  We dressed him up and ate yummy Irish food.


Flat Stanley helped make cookies.


Flat Stanley met a local artist, John Burton.  He has received many awards and his art is even in museums all over the place!  (



We found a natural bench for Flat Stanley to take a rest during a really long walk.


Flat Stanley babysat Channing for a little while, he’s a great helper!  Channing’s mom is recovering from an injury and we get to take care of him during the day, fun!


Flat Stanley, and his new friend Lizard, slide down together.


Flat Stanley found a missing letter and decided to fix it.  Can you tell which letter is missing?


Flat Stanley is pretending to be “Where’s Waldo” in this picture.  Can you find him in this Palm tree?


Flat Stanley thought this statue was pretty.  We also thought it looks a little bit like a LOT of frosting on a cupcake.  It did not taste good.


This man calls himself the Rockstar of Homeless People.  He was fun to talk to.


We were worried that Flat Stanley might become a snack for this seagull, but he was not afraid to take a picture with him.



This is a monument on Cannery Row, a very famous road in Monterey.


This is John Steinbeck.  He is a famous author.  You probably don’t know who he is, but when you are in High School you will read some of his books.  He lived in this area and wrote about it too.


Flat Stanley was hungry and wanted to eat some shrimp.  This one was way too big!  (Also pictured: Taiten)


After the shrimp, Flat Stanley dove into this pile of candy.  Yummy dessert!


Flat Stanley loved the Thomas Kinkade gallery.  Thomas Kinkade painted a lot of very beautiful paintings.


This is a scene from a book written by John Steinbeck called “Cannery Row.”  It’s named after that famous street.  (Also pictured: Taiten, Kaia and Kekoa.)


Flat Stanley’s last adventure in Monterey was to the beach!  He loved building sand castles and walking in the waves.

Nov/Dev Move Broken Items

If you look at our inventory sheets they say that everything we own was damaged, completely broken, and dirty.  These notations were added to the sheet after we signed off.  We would not have signed it if it said everything was already broken.  Talk about questionable ethics!   They also said our piano was basically destroyed before they moved it.

Movers chose to throw our things in boxes without padding sometimes.  Not impressed.  No wonder so many things got ruined.

Notice how they pack heirloom paintings that were painted by Chris’ late Grandmother.  We are really sad about this one.

Butterfly Express Detox Days 1-3 Report

After Christmas I felt really icky because of all the delicious, rich food I have been eating for two weeks straight.  Nearly every year after Christmas I decide to do a detox of one type or another to come back to balance after the “good” food of the holidays.

Sometimes I do the Dr. Christopher’s juice cleanse, I’ve done that one many times since I took their Family Herbalist course in 2009 or 2010, I can’t remember for sure.  Other times I drink a lot of green smoothies for a while.

This time I wanted to try the Butterfly Express Detox with tinctures.  You can find their method by going to THIS website and scrolling down to Herbs/Salves and clicking on “Doing a Cleanse Right.”  It opens in a PDF so I wanted to share that PDF and also the way to find it.

I have been using BE essential oils exclusively since 2009 when I became a Footzone therapist.  I love this company, I love these oils.  I could rave about them forever, but I digress…

I chose this cleanse because it’s new for me, I believe in this company, and it’s not expensive.  I bought the 4 tinctures they recommend and also the Blessed Water Detox #1 and it cost about $40 including shipping.  I really wanted to do the Green Smoothie Girl detox, but it’s far outside of my budget with prices up to over $400!  Someday I will do it because it sounds amazing, but it will have to be after our finances recover more.

I have been doing the detox for three days now and here is my report.

Day 1

3pm. Box arrives from Butterfly Express with my tinctures!  I open them up and take a dose (10-15 drops) of each.  It’s disgusting!  But so are all tinctures and I know this is good for me.

5pm. My ears itch! I am insanely thirsty and I have to pee A LOT!

6:30pm. Ears aren’t itchy anymore.  I’m a normal amount of thirsty and symptoms are wearing off.

Day 2

8am. I take a dose of each tincture.  The taste seems worse than the day before. Soldiering on.

10am. My ears itch again!  I wonder what is going on with them… yeast? fungus?  Not sure…  very thirsty still and still diuresing.

11:30am.  Ears are back to normal again.  Huh.

2pm. Feeling little pangs near my gall bladder.  It has acted up in minor ways before, I’m glad the detox is working with it.  A couple years ago I had some medical testing and found out there weren’t stones in it, but there is sludge, which can be stones in the making.

The rest of the day is normal.  We go on an overnight trip and I forgot to pack my tinctures.

Day 3

7am wake up and out of bed, my aches and pains are less than usual in the morning, especially considering I slept poorly on a crummy hotel bed.

4pm. Returned home and took the tinctures. They are really gross and I don’t think they will grow on me.  I have started pre-filling the droppers and taking them rapid fire and downing a ton of water afterwards.

5pm really thirsty again, I’m making sure to rehydrate after the weekend of hiking and driving a lot.  Started to have more BMs after this dose as well (sorry for TMI, but I’m trying to chronicle this detox for my own recollection and I’m sharing all).

6pm.  As usual, I have itchy ears.  I emailed BE to ask what they think it might be.  Waiting on a reply.

9:30pm Gall bladder pangs again.  Kind of a dull achy feel, not an attack.  Applying energy work to encourage it to heal.


I am eating cleaner on this detox.  I’ve cut way back on my sugar intake.  I abstained from added sugar for the first two days and ate a brownie on day three (New Year’s Eve party with the kids).  I am eating more whole foods and less wheat as well.  I am not eliminating anything from my diet 100% but I am cleaning it up to aid the detox.  I am drinking a green smoothie a day and most days I make green juices as well.

I have added rebounder workouts, crunches (which always help my back pain), and more stretching.  I’m trying to spend more time outdoors, especially going on walks and hikes with the family.

Two Apple recipes from the 1880s

As part of homeschool this year I decided to read aloud “The Work and the Glory” books, which is a series about the restoration of the gospel, and also about a fictitious family in the early 1800s.

In this book we have learned a lot about life back then including many descriptions of chores and machinery.  Today in our reading they mention “Apple Cheese” which is made almost entirely out of apple pulp.  I have never heard of such a thing and decided to look it up.  There is surprisingly little about it!  I found one recipe published in a California newspaper from 1880.  The directions are not the same as the ones in the book, but it’s as close as I could get from searching for 20 minutes online.

Turns out Apple Cheese is not cheese at all!

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Also included in the newspaper was a recipe for Apple Fritters.  Yum…

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I think I might make both of these sometime soon since it’s apple season!

Birthday week

It’s my birthday week so I am up to my usual shenanigans.  I like to see how far I can stretch it out.  Last week I pulled, “But it’s my birthday next week…” and it worked!

This week I am incorrigible.  Chris even said, “I know it’s your birthday year, but could you help me shuck corn?”  I had to laugh, and I did help him shuck it.

I love my birthday!  I’m actually doing something for my birthday this year, which almost never happens.  I’m going to the temple with whoever can make themselves free, afterwards I’m having lunch with whatever people can stay.  Kind of an informal party, but I’m looking forward to it.

That night is the Father-Son Stake campout so Chris is taking off with the boys, leaving Kaia and I alone for the night and the next morning.  Girls only fun is the best!  Kaia and I will have a blast.


Aaaaand it’s Ethiopia!!!

(Ethiopia) - Addis Ababa - The Highest capital of Africa.jpg

We got the email this week that we will be assigned to the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for one year.  We will leave in one year, after Chris completes his French course.  The funny thing is, they don’t speak French in Ethiopia!

I have more questions than I have answers, but they sent us a 95 page document with a lot of answers.  Here are some of them.

*As far as church goes there are three branches, two of them in Addis Ababa.  None of them are held in English, but a very nice lady who used to live there told me that they provided them with translators sometimes.  Our closest temple is either across the African continent or in Italy.  Either way it requires passports, visas, plane tickets and an extended stay away from home.  Monthly temple attendance will no longer be possible.

*They suggest we hire a day guard, a maid, a cook, maybe a driver or even a nanny.  It’s important to support locals.  I have heard that this is suggested before, but I saw it today in writing.  As much as I don’t enjoy housework, it will be very strange having someone else doing it for me.  I will never hire a nanny, I like my kids too much to have someone else raising them!

*We can ship our car there if we want to, it will take 3-6 months to arrive. It’s also extremely expensive to fix a car that breaks down because American parts are hard to find.  We have a while to decide if the independence is worth the hassle (international drivers license, extra insurance fees, breaking down in unsavory places etc).


*Local things to do.  I took this directly from the manual they sent to us:  “Many people enjoy going camping on the weekends. You can rent campsites and camping equipment from the embassy recreation center at Lake Lagano.  Other activities include tennis, golf, horseback riding, craft classes (mosaics, quilting), children’s cooking, American movies, running clubs, soccer, piano, swimming, aerobics classes (spinning, yoga, pilates, etc.), game drives, dinner parties and visits to a local water/amusement park.”

*We will have a mailing address that is safe to use.  I wasn’t sure about this.  The mail goes through the embassy, and we can pick up our mail there when it arrives.  We won’t have a house address where we can receive mail.  I can even continue to order from Amazon.

And lastly, a HUGE list of things we cannot easily get in Addis Ababa, and what they recommend we do about it.  What could you live without?  What can WE live without?  I guess we will find out in a year!  For those of you know Taiten and Kaia…  I worry about them too with this list!

  • Freeze cheese and bring it in your luggage, cheeses you are familiar with are VERY hard to find here
  • Juice (especially if you have children that consume a lot of juice)
  • Olive oil
  • Other cooking oils (they are sometimes available but much more expensive here)
  • Snacks (such as crackers, chips, cookies, microwave pop-corn, fruit snacks, etc) ßThese things don’t exist here outside of the commissary, which is generally well-stocked but very expensive
  • Cold or hot cereals (also available here but not in all the varieties available in the US)
  • Canned beans (black, refried, etc)
  • White and brown sugar
  • Crisco
  • Wheat flour (white flour is easy to find here)
  • Pepperoni or other shelf-stable meats
  • Baking supplies (baking soda, baking powder, boxed cake or brownie mixes)
  • Powdered milk (milk is sometimes available here but it can sell out all across the city, and what you can find is generally low-quality and frequently already spoiled upon purchase)
  • Powdered drinks (Gatorade or Pedialyte is very useful when you are suffering from intestinal upsets; a common problem here)
  • Steak sauce/mayo/ketchup/mustard/salad dressing and other desired specific condiments
  • Chocolate chips
  • Cornmeal
  • Pancake mix and maple syrup
  • Jelly or Jam
  • Peanut butter
  • Salsa
  • Spices
  • Pickles
  • Horseradish
  • S. stamps (you can mail through the pouch or Mail Angel here, and you can buy stamps from the commissary)
  • Plastic kitchen garbage bags
  • Ziploc bags
  • Cosmetics
  • Preferred brands of toiletries
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Baby milk formula
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Over the counter medications like Claritin, Benadryl, Tylenol, Motrin, cold and cough, anti-itch, bug repellant, feminine care products, contact solution, anti-fungal creams, sunscreen (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • A year’s supply of contacts
  • Extra prescription eye glasses
  • Quality sunglasses
  • Laundry soap and dryer sheets (especially important if you have an allergy because specialty products are not available outside the commissary)
  • Cleaning supplies (sometimes available here, but not in US strengths)
  • Towels, sheets, pillow cases, wash clothes
  • Toys & games
  • DVDs and Blu-rays
  • Aluminum foil
  • Books (They are very expensive here but they are easy to ship from Amazon)
  • Spare tires (at least two) for your POV—best case scenario with a rim already mounted (tires are expensive here and flats are common)
  • An uninterruptable power supply (UPS) or two for your electronics (frequent power outages can play havoc with your electronic equipment)
  • Power strips for your 110V electronics
  • Additional transformers (also you may consider buying 3000W or 5000W transformers if you have a lot of electronics or powerful kitchen appliances, because the embassy transformers only go up to 1600W)