Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008


I hope you all had a beautiful and delicious Thanksgiving! We had a great day at my parents house. The picture above shows a pumpkin centerpiece the girls made for our table decorations.

This next picture is Becca with my Uncle Jim. He's checking out the turkey that she made in preschool this past week. Uncle Jim always asks the girls to give him "some skin" and they are finally all not too shy to do it!


The girls are opening a pre-Christmas gift from my Aunt Nancy. She always spoils them and they just love it!


Nancy shows Elise how her snowman-mommy gets kisses from the snowman-baby. So cute. Becca got a momma penguin and baby penguin that do the same thing. They hook together and it makes a kissing sound.


Aunt Nancy, Becca, and Bethany worked on some Thanksgiving word puzzles for quite a while in the afternoon. Sarah finished hers in a jiffy, which is why she isn't in the picture.


We finished the evening with a game of Rummikub. Bethany & I were on a team. We didn't have any luck at all. Bethany was a good sport, though; look how she's still all smiley even though our entire rack is FULL of tiles and we haven't yet been able to get 30 points so that we can lay down.


In fact, this was what our rack looked like one round before the end. On our next turn, we picked a "smiley face" (wild card) and so we were going to be able to play during the next round. Unfortunately, Dad & Sarah went out on their next turn so we NEVER had the chance to play. However, just for fun, Bethany and I laid out our 30 points and then started filling in the rest of our tiles on the other runs and sets on the table. We managed to COMPLETELY EMPTY our rack! It's a good thing Dad & Sarah went out when they did or we would have won in ONE TURN! :)


Below is a picture of the Advent Calendar that I made with the girls' help today, the day after Thanksgiving. Each day of December has a little tag in the pocket with whatever special thing we're doing that day written on it. Some are as simple as "take a walk" or "drink hot cocoa" and some are as exciting as "M&S&J arrive" or "R&J&E arrive" and some are as crazy busy as "Christmas program practice, basketball game, get tree, violin/piano recital, CMT recital." It'll be fun, every minute of it all!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sling Chute

Back in October our friends took their two older kids to an indoor waterpark down south of Seattle, while we took care of their then 4-month old daughter. We had the best time taking care of that little girl and she was so good! I hope we get to do it again, someday!

Anyway, while they were in Seattle they also went to the Science Center and they brought back a "Sling Chute" as a thank you for our family for taking care of the baby. Finally last week we had a chance to go outside and see how it works. It's not easy, but the basic idea is that there's a parachute stuffed inside a plastic ball that you throw up into the sky and when it starts coming down, the parachute pops out of the ball and you watch it float down. Pretty cool. Here are some pictures of the festivities:

This is the first try. Ed is giving the sling chute some good spin before tossing it up in the air. All the girls plus a neighbor girl are out in the field watching.

It didn't go very high this time, but we got to see the chute in action. Sarah was the official "chute chaser."
Oooh - here's a good one!

Now it's Bethany's turn. I love how Ed is blocking himself from any potential danger as she swings the chute around and into the air!
Again, Sarah the chute-chaser is on the job!
Wow - another good one!

And this is what it looks like when it lands in the field. It was a pretty fun gift. Thanks, Hiemstra's. Come on over and you can try it out yourself!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Who says newer is better?

Last night we had Parent/Teacher Conferences at school and the girls went to play at my parents' house for the hour we were gone. Dad took these pictures of ALL FOUR of them playing so nicely together with the very old Fisher-Price town that I played with when I was little. A toy that captures the attention of a 10-year-old, 8-year-old, 5-year-old, and 2-year old. Amazing. Classic toys never lose their charm, I guess.

And of course, both Sarah & Bethany had glowing reviews from their teachers. I hate to brag, but since this is my blog, I'll do it anyway. Both teachers talked about how respectful and sweet the girls are, both to other students and to them as teachers. Sarah's progress report was quite impressive, actually. In all her homework and tests since the last report card, she had nothing listed that was lower than a 95! And Bethany's teacher repeatedly told us that Bethany is very conscientious about her work and always strives to do her best. Both the girls get "used" by the teachers to sit by certain kids to enrich relationships or to keep other kids in line. I remember as a teacher having students like that and they are a dream. We are very proud of both Sarah & Bethany! They are turning into wonderful young women with caring hearts, gentle spirits, good work habits, and smart little heads.

Today we're going to do some baking to get ready for Christmas and also do some Thanksgiving prep (ie: make a jello salad). Maybe we'll even have time to work on the Advent Calendar! I love having this week off from school. It's just so fun to have a week where nothing much is going on and I can hang out and have fun with my girls and not have anything that we "have" to do!

Monday night we went swimming up at the wave pool in Canada with some friends and we had a great time! As usual, Elise was fearless in the pool. She went running into the pool, threw herself into the water, and spun herself around and around, tummy to back, tummy to back. She wears this inflatable inner tube that hangs from her shoulders so she always ends up upright. Currently she's not allowed in the water without it - she's too fearless and her mother is too fearful. Anyway, all of us had fun swimming and then we continued the celebration with ice cream and then the friends' daughter who is Bethany's friend spent the night. They had such fun playing on Tuesday morning. We really have to try to get together with that family more often!

We do have church this evening - I love having our Thanksgiving Eve Service instead of a Thanksgiving morning service. We truly get more out of the church service than when it's on Thanksgiving morning. Plus, it makes Thanksgiving a much more relaxed day!
Happy Thanksgiving to anyone who is reading this! May your day be blessed.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stories In Hand

I'm taking an online digital scrapbooking/writing/family heritage type class through It's been pretty cool so far. The first few days were creating a binder and a tablet on which to record memories and special moments and to jot down notes about things in my life so that I can later record it on my blog or in a journal or in a scrapbook. (See my post entitled "A Whole Week?" and scroll down to see the binder.)

My most recent writing assignment is to write about a memory from when my "children were little." As I was going through the "sparks" (which are questions given to us from the class that are printed inside the binder) I recalled a particular instance with Sarah when she was about 20 months old. Since Christmas is coming, I thought it would be fitting to do this writing assignment as a blog post to get you all in the mood for gift-giving!

That is the introduction. Stay tuned to my blog over the next day or two for the actual written assignment.

A year ago today

It was on this day in 2007 that we kissed and hugged Ed's mom good-bye for the last time on this earth. The brain cancer that had attacked her 4 1/2 years earlier was stronger than any treatments and even though our visit with her that Thanksgiving week lifted her spirits, the cancer was terrible and God allowed her suffering to end and took her home to be with Him on Dec. 12, 2007. I remember when we said good-bye to her that Friday morning after Thanksgiving, there was hope that she would receive some radiation and maybe hold off the progression of the cancer for a time. But in our hearts I think we knew we would not see her on this side of heaven again. I'll never forget what Ed said when he said good-bye to her. I don't think I'll write it here, but it was exactly what an oldest son should say to his mom when he knows he is saying good-bye. We miss you a lot, Mom/Grandma, but we know that you are in the presence of God's glory and we will see you again someday.

This picture was taken on her best day while we were visiting during the week of Thanksgiving. Her spirits were up and the time that she & the girls spent together is cherished by everyone.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Learn something new every day

Today I learned how to change the date on my blog post so that the date at the top is the date I publish the post and not the date that I started writing the post! Thanks, tech-hubby!

Also I learned that the movie that Arnold Schwarzenegger is in that he is forced to be part of some game or something is called "The Running Man." I haven't seen the movie, but for some reason, that I can't remember now, we were talking about it at my girls-morning-out breakfast (with my friends from church) and no one could remember the name of the movie. But, my California-boy husband did! :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Prayer Request and birthdays...

First off, a prayer request for one of my GEMS Counselors who is having surgery down south this morning. It's going to be a long day and a long recovery process for her, but it is all for good.

Happy Birthday to my friend Tami's little girl who was 3 this past Wednesday! I wish we lived closer so we could get to know you better...but I know you'll be a great big sister this spring!

Happy Birthday to my friend Beth's daughter who was 12 yesterday! I can't believe it. I'm so glad this year is going better for you. Your gift will be on its way in about a week...after Sarah gets a chance to work on a card. :)

Happy Birthday to my friend Shelly's daughter who is 3 today and to my friend Lea's son who is 1 today! Your moms are good friends of mine and I hope as you guys grow up our families will continue to be friends.

Today is my (Julie) birthday! I'd like to thank my mom for giving me life on this day, 35 years ago. My mom is great, everybody thinks so, especially me. I'm a better mom every day because of her. Thanks, Mom.

This picture is from either her birthday or Mother's Day - I'm not sure which because those two events are so close together. Anyway, here she is with all my girls, who love their grandma.

I shared this birthday for 21 years with my Grandpa DeJong. He's been gone a long time now, but he is still missed.

Have a great day, everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


So my husband told me about this website,, where you can listen to any song they have, in its entirety, for free, once. They have just about as much as itunes, only there you can listen to about 30 seconds of any song as many times as you want, but you don't get to pick which 30 seconds. Anyway, has been Ed's new entertainment at work. He's currently listening to every arrangement of "The Messiah" that he can find. He loves that music and I know he finds it inspiring, so I'm sure it's benefiting the creative aspects of his coding.

But anyway, so last night I was vegging out on the couch, watching a show I rarely watch because it's really pretty awful, but the song they were playing at the end was "Mad about You" by Belinda Carlisle! Man, if that didn't bring back memories! I loved that song. And "Circle in the Sand" that she sang, too. So I made Ed sign me up for so we could listen to "Circle in the Sand". The whole thing was pretty cool. We listened to a few other oldies that we thought of and made fun of each other for knowing certain songs and not knowing others. Pretty fun.

I wonder if has the Smurf theme song: "La la la la la la la la la la la la."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Swingin' in the Sun

Today we had the pleasure of having Becca's best friend Sam over to play. (He's also in the running for my future son-in-law. That'll depend on the college of choice.) It was a beautiful day, so we got to go outside and play on the swings for a while. I was pushing my two little girls for a long time, but Sam said he didn't need a push; he could do it himself. They were basically having contests to see who could swing the highest. All 3 of them were giggling so hard for a while I could hardly believe that no one fell off a swing. We had such a good time out was great.
Don't they just all look like the world couldn't be better? I love it!

I love this next one. Becca's throwing her head back she's laughing so hard!
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Proverbs for Parents and other random thoughts

These are from the December issue of Parenting Magazine:

A Binky in the hand is worth two under the car seat.
Wow. Or under the crib.

All's well that ends in a nap.
Especially if mom gets a nap, too.

I paid $1.93/gallon for gas today. When was the last time you paid less than $2/gallon for gas? I'll tell you. March 2004. The national average in the United States was LESS than $2/gallon for gas. My source? The trusty Internet.

Tonight at GEMS I did a lesson on worry and peace with my 8th graders. It was a typical lesson, though the girls really shared a lot and it was some seriously good bonding time. Then they got to go on the traditional outing for this McDonalds. Why McDonald's? Well, the slogan for this lesson is "Don't worry, Eat a McFlurry!" I did teach them to pray first and eat ice cream second. I promise. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A whole week?

I can hardly believe it's been a whole week since my last blog entry. What have I been doing with myself, anyway? Let's see...
Elise was sick...
Bethany was sick...
Becca was sick...
I was sick...
So yeah, that pretty much sums up my week. It wasn't a horrible sickness, thank goodness! Just fevers, feeling crummy, and a bit of a sore throat. And it only took about a day to get over the fever and feeling crummy part of it, so it wasn't so bad.
What else...
The girls didn't have school this past Tuesday for Veteran's Day so we had plans to get our chores done in the morning, make applesauce in the afternoon, and maybe go shopping and out to dinner in the evening. Well...the applesauce adventure kind of fell apart on us. I started with two batches in the morning using my friend's "Squeezo Strainer." Basically, you cook the apple slices (you don't even have to peel them!) and then put them in the strainer, turn the crank, and out comes applesauce. The peels go out the end. You add sugar & cinnamon and then either can them in a hot water bath or freeze. I freeze. But anyway, I decided to try this route because I was getting tired of my crock-pot option and my hands were sick of peeling apples. After two batches, the strainer needed to be cleaned out. As I was doing that, I dropped a metal washer into the sink. I immediately turned off the water and fished around for it, but couldn't find it. I figured it was gone, but I could probably replace it. I finished cleaning and then proceeded to run the garbage disposal. Bad idea. I heard the washer jumping around in there and quick turned off the garbage disposal. But too late. The disposal was jammed and wouldn't work at all. I thought I had broken it forever. I packed up the Squeezo and pretty much sulked around the rest of the day.
Of course, when my genius husband came home, it took him all of 5 minutes to find the washer, get it out, and reset the garbage disposal, which wasn't actually broken; it had just turned itself off as a SAFETY FEATURE! The friends that loaned us the Squeezo had also e-mailed me back with some advice (as he is also a genius about everything mechanical), but Ed had pretty much already taken care of everything. So, thankfully, no more sulking necessary and no new garbage disposal purchase was necessary! I still haven't gotten to the rest of the applesauce, though.
What else happened this week? Hmm....Bible Study, Ed worked late, orthodontist appointments (Bethany had her initial consult, but thankfully the orthodontist said she has to wait a year before she can start her 24+ months of head gear and braces), shopping at the mall on Friday night, and...
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at our house!!! Today it was beautiful weather, so, after doing a bunch of stuff in town, I sent Ed out to put up the Christmas lights! No, we won't turn them on yet, but Ed was very thankful to put them up in 50 degree weather rather than 35 degree weather like it will probably be in a couple weeks! Here are some pictures for your enjoyment! For some reason, they got uploaded in backwards order, so you're starting with the end of the project and working your way forward...just FYI. ;)

This is a picture of another project I've been working's an online digital scrapbooking/writing/journaling/family heritage kind of class and so far it's been mostly about assembling this little binder. More to come on this in the next couple of weeks, I'm sure...
These are some glimpses of some Christmas secrets I am working on...though I doubt any of you that are reading this will get's for teacher gifts and such...

Oh, and this is a picture of the lawn as we were trying to organize the Christmas lights and figure out which ones worked, which ones didn't, which ones were new, which ones were old, which ones didn't match, etc.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It just isn't fair... much fun I had today! Around noon I was able to get away from the house and the chores and headed off for some holiday fun! My first stop was "Full Circle", which is a consignment store here in Everson. They were hosting a Holiday Gift Fair with tons of vendors - quite a lot for Everson, actually! I bought the girls some cute bracelets that benefit the American Cancer Society, so that was cool. That was their little treat I brought for them when I got home for doing their chores without me today. :) My next stop was "Treasury of Memories" in Bellingham. That has to be my favorite place of all time. It's a scrapbooking store, but it is so much more! I love it. Today I initially worked on some Christmas secrets (!!!) and then did some shopping. At 2:00 the real fun began! I was able to be part of their Holiday Open House and I made all the projects you can see here. That was so super fun. I know you're all wondering now which cute project I'm giving to YOU this year! ;)
While I was waiting in line at each of the craft tables, I saw lots more fun holiday crafting ideas and had to do a tad more shopping for both me and for Christmas secrets before heading for home.
Oh, and did I mention the food? Yum. The gals that work of Treasury of Memories can bake some good stuff! They had these bacony, cheesy, eggy, bready litte bites of goodness and then my favorite Christmas cookies of all time. I never make them because they're time-consuming and I would eat every last one, but they are yummy! You can view their recipe and make some for me here.
I came home and things were pretty well under control, thanks to the guiding hand of my wonderful husband. Unfortunately, we finally found the reason for Elise's general grumpiness lately...she must be sick. She was running a fever this evening of over 100 before we got some Motrin in her. We shall see how she is doing in the morning.
I'll leave you with some cute pictures of my girls from our Harvest Party at church last weekend for Reformation Day!
Unfortunately, you can't see Elise's "Island Girl" costume in this picture. She was adorable.

Becca was not about to stick her hand inside that pumpkin to pull the slime out. But she, as is typical of her style lately, is dressed as a princess.
Bethany was cool doing her own pumpkin. She was dressed as Dorothy.
And of course Sarah handled the pumpkin well. She was dressed as Nim from the movie "Nim's Island." If you haven't seen it, you should.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jen!

My sister-in-law Jen is having a birthday on Wednesday, November 5, which is either tomorrow or today, depending on when you read this. I'm writing on Tuesday evening. :) Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JEN!!! I got inspired by my friend Dee to write about people on their birthdays. I started with Becca, so I'm going to try to do all family members for the next year, but I make no promises. ;)
Jen is a great sister-in-law! She married my brother, so she's definitely got a patient heart. I remember that she & my brother played their violins at our wedding and it was awesome! They had given us a little preview of the songs they were working on, but then surprised us with a very upbeat version of "Turkey in the Straw" and it was awesome. I've never seen their fingers and elbows move so fast! (I always think of them whenever I hear "Turkey in the Straw", which is rather frequently because one of our children's music CD's has John Lithgow (I think) singing that song on it.) The night before the wedding Jen spent the night on a mattress on the floor of my room and I remember talking and giggling with her quite a lot that night. She even told me my brother was a good kisser! :P
We've had a lot of fun together at family outings and vacations together over the years and though we've never been fortunate enough to live close to each other, she is a good friend and a great aunt to my girls. This picture is pretty recent - of her with my brother and their new baby Elias. I think I've posted this picture before, after Elias was born, so I made it B&W this time, just for something different. Anyway, I hope you have a great birthday, Jen! And we'll be praying for a safe flight to Maryland for you & Elias on Thursday! I hope your visit is relaxing and wonderful!

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