Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas Traditions are so much fun and leave so much to be anticipated from year to year. This year however, traditions, went out the door. This year we had our first ever fake tree and I loved it! For starters it was skinny, did not need watered, or lights put on it, we don't have to worry about recycling it and it cost less than a real one!

This year we did not attend Christmas Eve service at our church, instead we had our own service at home. Our service was complete with candle lighting, Christmas Carols, Advent reading, Bible reading and time together as a family. We did stick to our tradition of Tacos on Christmas Eve but alas, no ham was to be found on Christmas Day so we had beef barley soup. It was great because I was able to spend the day with the family instead of in the kitchen.
Mikaela and her boyfriend Duane came for the day and my mom made the trek north as well! I love having my house filled with family. The joy on the children's face is pleasant to watch. This year we had the children draw names and buy for their secret person. This was for several reasons, 1. I did not want lots of cheap toys 2. I wanted the children to have to spend their own hard earned money to buy a thoughtful gift for someone else and 3. they then had a bit more money to spend on each individual item.

I really try hard to keep the focus on Christ and His birth and what that means to us. This season we had a lot of gatherings with our friends, and frankly shopping is much harder than it used to be. I also made a conscience effort to limit my spending. As a result when I was wrapping gifts I realized I had very little for Ruby (like one small gift of dress up shoes from Goodwill). I remembered that I had saved a doll house from Taylor and Ruby had never played with it, I dug it out cleaned it up and wrapped it! It was a hit! I love that I was able to use something we already owned and it did not cost anything.

Mikaela showered the children with gifts! Ruby got beautiful earrings, a wand, dress up shoes, Pixo's, candy jewelery factory and a pink razor phone!
The most priceless quote of the day:
"Mom, it is a good thing we shop at Goodwill!"
"Why is that?"
"Because in the Bible it says: Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Different Christmas Poem

A Different Christmas Poem
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light, I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight. My wife was asleep, her head on my chest, My daughter beside me, angelic in rest. Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white, Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe, Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve. My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep, Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep. In perfect contentment, or so it would seem, So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near, But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear. Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow. My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear, And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night, A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight. A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old, Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold. Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled, Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear, "Come in this moment, it's freezing out here! Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve, You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!" For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift, Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right, I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night." "It's my duty to stand at the front of the line, That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me, I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me. My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December," Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers." My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ', And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while, But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile. Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag, The red, white, and blue... an American flag. I can live through the cold and the being alone, Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet, I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat. I can carry the weight of killing another, Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.. Who stand at the front against any and all, To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
" So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright, Your family is waiting and I'll be all right." "But isn't there something I can do, at the least, "Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast? It seems all too little for all that you've done, For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret, "Just tell us you love us, and never forget. To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone, To stand your own watch, no matter how long. For when we come home, either standing or dead, To know you remember we fought and we bled. Is payment enough, and with that we will trust, That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."
PLEASE, would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S. service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us. LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN 30th Naval Construction Regiment OIC, Logistics Cell One Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Celebrations

Our church is the best about including the children. For the month of December we allowed our children to go to choir practice. Aaron and Erik were the only ones who wanted to go. However we got the CD and practiced all the songs for family worship time. Ruby was excited to get up and sing at the celebration and Aaron and Erik performed very well.

Aaron was the same age as the other children but was at least a head taller than the next child who was his age. Aaron was thrilled to blow the (what is that thing called?) and was even more elated about the spread of desserts to follow. During dessert time we lost Erik after going through the line and discovered him right in the middle of the circle with all the teenage boys!

The church provided the opportunity for people to share their gifts and accomplishments with others. We had a few solos, some amazing drama, poetry, and very talented musicians. I failed to warn my children that I signed them up to recited the Exodus 20:1-17, The Ten Commandments. Considering that they learned it last spring and did not practice they did very well. They only needed a couple of prompts but otherwise got the whole thing word perfect.

I am so happy they are learning early to hide God's Word in their hearts.

We spent a wonderful evening last week with our friends Joe and Betty. Melanie and Steve and their children, Skylar and Chase and Melanie's parents Della and Vern were there as well.
We used to spend a majority of our time with these couples in church, small group and life. Families and circumstances change and we don't spend much time together at all.

It is a true gift to have friends that are comfortable and easy to be with and we can pick up right where we left off. The evening was enjoyable and passed much too quickly. We all were treated to wonderful gifts and an extraordinary meal that Joe prepared.

I cherished more time with Mikaela and our annual attempt at a decent family photo.
It has been a wonderful and busy Christmas Season surrounded by friends and family.

Ho Ho Ho

Who can resist such cute little Santas? I know Jess has adorable pictures of the boys but I am not sure how to get them together.

Brotherly Love!

Honor wouldn't smile for the camera but when I showed him the picture of him on my camera he smiled great big and even held still for 2.8 seconds to look! I guess I need another camera to take a picture of him while he is looking at a picture of himself.

Hey, if I was a good looking as he is, I would smile at pictures of myself too.

This little guy makes the world a brighter place with his smile and kisses (as wet as they are).

Winter Solstice

Today was Winter Solstice, literally translated 'sun-stop'. People used to think the sun stopped on this day because it was up for such a short time. Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, meaning the day with the shortest amount of sunlight. We invited our history buddies over for a lesson on the history of Winter Solstice and different ways it has been celebrated. We learned that our Christmas trees, garland, lights, mistletoe and gift giving all originated from ancient traditions around winter solstice.
We read a great book about winter solstice and I explained using a flashlight and an orange (with an equator and hemispheres) about the autumnal and spring equinox, and the winter and summer solstices.
The children drew pictures and came up with words containing sun. Some of our examples include: sunscreen, sundae, Sunday, sunshine, sundial, sunflower and suntan. When I suggested they look in the dictionary for other ideas Aaron exclaimed, "What a great idea, you are so smart. I never would have thought of that!"
We also learned that the French word for sun is Soliel, and the Spanish word for sun is Sol.

We also had a delicious meal celebrating the coming of longer days! We had Sun Chips, bagels with salami and cream cheese (sun shaped), orange slices (looks like a slice of sun), Cheetos (sunbeams), and peanut butter and celery (representing providing food for the birds during the long winter months).

We made, rather attempted to make a birdhouse covered in birdseed, cheerios strung together and dipped in peanut butter and birdseed.

Then we enjoyed rum cake cup cakes with a candle on them. This represented the the yellow of coming spring and the fire and light from the candle represented the warmth and light we get from the sun!
The highlight of the day for the boys was that I let them try to light the remaining orange peels on fire. The highlight for me was that when the boys were lighting various objects on fire Syndi broke out in song, singing Def Leppard's 'Pyromaniac'!
Taylor hung her bird feeders on a stick she stuck in the ground outside of her bedroom window!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hanukkah Party

Last week Syndiluhu treated us to a Hanukkah Party! I learned so much from her, I always do. The party was complete with a menorah, latkes (which looked more like fried hash browns), and DELICIOUS homemade jelly filled donuts.

We enjoyed Challah bread, and fish sticks as well.
For a more complete explanation of Hanukkah go to Syndi's blog. I must confess that Jess and I were catching up in the kitchen while we were working on the Latkes and I did not listen as close as I should have.

Syndi read a story to the children about Hanukkah and they played a game of Driedel (Syndi made the Driedel pieces herself so they were very authentic. I did know that when the Jewish people were reading their Bibles and a soldier came by, they would quickly put their Bibles away and pull out Driedel and play.

Ruby loves to do anything that the older children are doing and while they were playing Driedle her M&M pieces go so soft and melted that no one else wanted to use them, so Syndi told her to eat her pieces to which she exclaimed, "All of them?" and just in case Syndi was going to change her mind they all immediately went in her mouth!

Syndi is so through that she had typed notes so that she did not forget anything for the party. I wish I was more like that! She even had a Star of David craft for the children to make. They used hot glue and Popsicle sticks, What could be better?
They even got to go home with gold chocolate coins and their own Driedle piece.
I had such a great time and I know the children did too. How much better to learn while having fun and sharing the experience with true friends!

Monday, December 14, 2009

What Can You Do In One and a Half Hours?

After our Keepers and Contenders Meeting today Tami and her children came back to my house. Getting here was an adventure because of all the snow and ice on the roads. When we left our meeting I accidentally spun out then I continued to spin on purpose. Everett was pressuring his mom to copy my 'coolest ever' driving. Unfortunately she did and she knocked out her alignment in the process. To get to my house from the meeting you have to drive on a road where one side is the harbor and the other side consists of big ditches. That is not ideal when the road is snow and ice and the alignment is knocked out but she made it safely. We had lunch and coffee and Taylor and Aaron headed over to Ben's to play in the snow and do some work. Tami offered to take Erik and Ian home with her until scouts tonight and I put Ruby and Libby down for a nap. That left me with........No Children for an hour and a half!!

I was tempted to sit and drink more coffee and read my latest Old Schoolhouse Magazine but I decided to clean instead. I am very happy! I finished washing and drying all my laundry and laid it out so I have no baskets in the living room. I cleaned the table, vacuumed, made my bed and cleaned the bathrooms. I also finished the dishes and ran the dishwasher and cleaned the counters.
My dinner was in the Crockpot (I even sent some home with Tami) because we had a Den Meeting for Cub Scouts tonight. Then I received a phone call that due to the treacherous conditions of the roads Scouts was cancelled! Notice the Joy I feel in that statement. We have an unplanned evening at home and the house is clean!
I hear a Family Game night in the works! I know the boys will be disappointed that they do not get to perform their skits, and songs and receive their awards but it means they will get more next time.
I am just left wondering, where does the toothpaste lid go when it disappears? and How did toothpaste get on the ceiling of the hall?

Friday, December 11, 2009

How Did Dockers Figure This Out?

This is one of the best advertisements I have seen in a very long time! I think I will be buying my husband a pair of these.

If anyone knows how to actually put the ad in my blog please tell me how. I tried for a long time but could not figure it out.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Watch Out Mike Rowe

I try hard to come up with activities for my children to do that are :

  1. Age appropriate
  2. productive
  3. useful/helpful
  4. fun

I know that is a difficult bill to fill. Yesterday I noticed the grease on the cabinets above my stove and decided it was a great job for Ian and Ruby to complete together. Ian on the cabinet cleaning and Ruby rinsing and ringing out his rag. They worked very well together and Ian went above and beyond the call of duty. He cleaned the inside and outside of the microwave and the stove top as well.

Ian showed me the dirty rag and said, "We need to call Mike Rowe, because this is a Dirty Job!"

Now let me tell you that the cabinets are cleaner than if nothing had been done but not as clean as I would have done, that is if I did it. You get the point.
A few more happenings from my day:

?Why would a three year old remove her clothes and pee down the heater vent?

?Why would a seven year old choose to not eat his cauliflower for 31 hours?


We were so excited that my momm, aka Geaba, brought Kimberly, Justin and Sarah up for a visit last week. We headed to the State Park for a walk along the beach. It was very cold and Sarah copied me by putting her 'baby' in her jacket and zipping her up inside. Libby loved being close to me but would not keep her hat on her bald little head.

Justin, Ian and Aaron had a great time conquering the drift wood. They skipped rocks and played many other imaginative games. Erik and Taylor and Kimberly rode scooters and walked along the road.

Aside from the cold we could not have asked for a better day. We even saw some seaweed (that has not been identified yet) that we have never seen before. It was pink and looked like starfish skin (I know not very scientific, but you get the word picture).

It took Geaba a very long time to walk back to the van with the little girls while I stayed and let the boys explore a bit more. We finished up our lattes' and headed home for dinner and games. I am so glad that the children get along so well with their cousins, now if I could just get my hands on their newest cousin......
Breaking News: Both Kimberly and Justin called me tonight (they made separate calls) to inform me that they won first place in their division for their gingerbread creations! Kimberly won for the Golden Gate Bridge that she created and Justin won for his candy castle! They sound amazing and I will post photos of the winning entries if I can. Congratulations to my niece and nephew~ I am so proud of you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Charlotte's Web

Last week we went to a rather pathetic performance of Charlotte's Web. We were disappointed with the lack of creativity in the play but our disappointment was short lived. After the performance we went to Bakers Dozen house for a Charlotte's Web Party! Many of our friends were there. I think we counted 30 children in all!
I cannot remember a time in recent history where I could sit with my friends and drink coffee, eat delicious food, and catch-up while the 30 children played joyfully and without incident. It was a wonderful afternoon.
Before the play I stopped by Tami's house, plugged in my crock pot and added an onion that Tami purchased and diced for me. After the party I stopped by Tami's house picked up my crock pot and headed to Sean's work for dinner before him and Aaron headed to Webelos! We were tired when we got home but it was a good tired.

Our party had manure piles (no bake cookies), Charlotte herself (spider shaped bread), Runts candy (Wilber was a runt), Pigs in a blanket (hot dogs in crescent rolls), Rotten Eggs (deviled eggs), Zuckerman's slop (chex mix), Pigs in mud (chocolate pudding with pink marshmallows), and of course, coffee!

Tami is so creative and we had pin the tail on Wilber and put Charlotte on her Web for our games! Shawn had felt barnyard pieces for each family that was there! What amazing and creative friends I have.
Wonderful children too.
I had planned to reread the book Charlotte's Web and watch the movie but that never came to fruition. We did however, complete a mini unit study on spiders (yuck). Another way to make learning more fun and relevant.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ladies Christmas Party

Friday I was able to Celebrate my friend Betty's Birthday with her and another friend Melanie. We went to a wonderful little cafe called The Daisy Cafe and our waitress was a friend from College that I had not seen in 13 years! It was a joy to celebrate and reconnect. Betty has been part of my life for 19 years! Wow this is really making me feel old.

Then I went home and spent some time with my family and got ready to go to one of my favorite parties of the year! Naomi knows how to throw a fabulous party. Delicious desserts, my favorite was Hilary's Chocolate Brownie Ganash with Peppermint Topping!

All the women bring gift cards and food and we fellowship for hours! I made myself leave at 1:00am because I knew that Sean would not be having fun if Libby woke up and I wasn't home yet.

We do a drawing to choose gift cards and all are fair game to steal (up to 3 times). There is a lot of playful stealing and competition. This year I was number 1 so at the very end I got to choose any card that had not been frozen yet and swap with the owner. I was very pleased with my musical Target gift card.

Naomi also brings us back to the reason for our Celebration and that is Jesus and what he has done in our lives. We all share the joys and sorrows of this past year. I really enjoy the hearts of these women and how much they trust and draw closer to God with each passing year.

I shared that I was especially thankful for the friends that God has chosen to provide me with. For the support and encouragement I receive from all of them, for my family and our health and for the fact that my children and I enjoy being together.

I also shared a story about last week. I was in the middle of cooking dinner, the children were all doing their 'before Papa comes home' chores, we had company over, in other words it was chaotic. Jess called me and said, "What is Ruby doing right now?" I replied, "she's playing babies, and with her kitchen." Jess said,"You know how your daughters like to play babies, they like helping and playing kitchen? You are living their dream. All they want is what you have. They want their own babies, their own kitchen and their own husband. You have that and you get to do what they want."

I think that is the most eye opening statement It gives me proper perspective and