Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I did it.

I finally joined facebook. Yuck. Actually, it's very cool, but I have spent way too much time on it already and I've only been a member for about 13 hours. I had to do it because my brothers and sisters-in-law are on and they apparently chat to each other sometimes and I could not be left out of that! :) Anyway, come be my friend on facebook!

This week we are hanging out, playing with friends, catching up on stuff around the house, etc. Hopefully on New Year's Day we'll do some shopping and by Friday we'll take down the Christmas stuff and start to get ourselves geared up for going back to school. Much of the snow has turned to slush and it will be more typical winter weather for a while now...upper 30's and lower 40's, rain, wind, etc. I saw tulips at the store today, though, so the hope of spring is here!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas is over...

And it was wonderful. Click on this link First Folder Christmas 2008 for the first installment of 128 Christmas photos from the last 10 days. My apologies to those of you reading who don't care to see 128 photos. My thanks to those of you who actually look at all 128 photos! Enjoy!

Friday, December 26, 2008

I forgot a few...

*The Melted Lamp
*Key vs. King

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Highlights thus far

My brothers and their families have been here for almost a week now. It's awesome. A couple bad things...my laptop AND my camera both are toast...the snow cancelled many of our planned activities...BUT! Here's a list of highlights (My family will understand them all immediately. The rest of you will have to ask if you want more explanation.)

*Happy baby
*No, I want WINE!
*A four-month-old giggle
*Tractor Tipping
*A very white Christmas
*Wii bowling
*Musical performances
*My mother throwing snowballs
*Eat your food, Josh
*Eat your food, Elise
*Walk-in fridge
*Less is more

There are more things and I'm sure that in our last two days together there will be more to come. I just wanted to get some thoughts posted before it all becomes a blur. I'm so thankful that my brothers and their families both came home this year for Christmas and that we had so much time together with Mom & Dad. It's awesome. Pictures to come in a few days....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It is the morning of Christmas Eve and Ed & I are about to head back to Lynden for the day. The girls spent the night at my parents, which they have been doing every night for about 5 nights now. We "keep going home", as Elise says. We did stay two nights at my parents when the wintry weather prevented us from wanting to drive home.

And now this morning it's a winter wonderland out there again. Probably 3 inches of snow fell during the night and it's so beautiful. It is a beautiful snow fall. I just hope we can get to Lynden OK this morning. I packed enough stuff for everyone for 3 days...just in case! I have friends flying out to the midwest and to CA before the weekend and I will be praying for you and your travels! It's been a crazy holiday travel experience for many people already. I pray you get where you are going. My brothers and their families don't fly out until Sunday and by Saturday it's supposed to be raining again, so we're hopeful they'll make it home OK.

Anyway, I wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! May you enjoy these days and truly believe "Emmanuel" (God with us) came for you.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Day!

No school for anyone in Whatcom County today. We've got drifts of snow! Click here for a web album of fun snow pictures!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Concerts and Snow: Another long post, sorry!

First off, it's snowing! It started in earnest this morning sometime after 10:00. I had to drive home from Coffee Break in it and it was a little scary because the snow was blowing around so much that it was hard to see. Now the kids are being dismissed from school 35 minutes early so that the buses can get everyone home before dark. It's supposed to keep snowing until morning, which means...probably either a delay or no school tomorrow. Not good. My brother & his family are flying in from CA tonight...yikes. And tomorrow is supposed to be Becca's preschool program. And Friday is Bethany's school program and I know they need to practice tomorrow. With the wind that has returned, it's not the prettiest snow, though Becca did notice this cool feature between our sliding glass door and the screen door:


Can you see the spider web covered in snow? Wild.

Here's more snow pictures:


That's the backyard. It's starting to drift pretty good, and you can't really see, but the snow is coming down basically sideways.



It's all fuzzy white because of all the blowing snow. So anyway, we ask for prayers for safety for the kids as they come home from school and for my parents driving to pick up M&S&J and for safety for their flight also!

Onto concerts: last night was the 5th - 8th grade instrumental Christmas concert at school. It was really quite good - for middle schoolers, they do a great job and they have a great director. It was just really long. I think if every group (of which there were 7) had done 3 songs instead of 4, it would have been much more tolerable in length. It was really close to two hours, which is pushing it  just a bit.

Sarah is in the 5th grade band and plays the flute and she is doing great. She loves it and we are proud of the progress she's made in 3 short months! I have very fond memories of various band experiences and good friends that I made through sharing a stand, so I hope she can experience the same thing. Here's a picture from her concert last night:


She's right there on the right, in the black and white. Her friend Hannah is in the red. I have some video too, so maybe if Ed is snowed in tomorrow he can figure out how to post it. :)

And today Becca's class sang to the women at Coffee Break. Aren't they all so cute?


Becca was really nervous last night, so we had to make up some signals to give each other when she came in, which she thought was very cool. She's been giving me the signals all day long. Pulling on the ear lobe means "I love you" and touching the nose means "hi" and twisting your necklace means "I wish you a Merry Christmas." She plans to do it again tomorrow at her preschool program...if we have school, anyway.

I have video of this too, so we'll see if we can shrink down and get it online. In the meantime, enjoy whatever winter weather you are having and I hope you're ready for Christmas because pretty much, it's here!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Places we went, people we saw

So now it is Monday morning and the busy weekend is over! It was absolutely exhausting and absolutely wonderful. Truly. Fair warning before you continue: THIS IS A LONG POST! Here's the recap:

Saturday morning Bethany & Becca had Sunday School practice for their program which is on the 21st. That was from 9:00 - 10:30. Sarah had a basketball game at 10:00, so we all went to town, dropped off the girls at practice, talked to some people, got some Starbucks coffee, and then headed to the game. Sarah's team did not win, but Sarah did get a basket (unfortunately that was during the 15 minutes I left her game in order to pick up Bethany & Becca from their practice!) I'm sure her coach will have some specific things to work on at their basketball practice this Thursday. We are looking forward to her next game this coming Saturday because my entire family will be here to watch and cheer her on!

Anyway, after the practice and the game were over, we headed home for lunch and a change of clothes. Everyone got a bit dressed up and I curled the girls' hair for the piano & violin recital that was at 2:00 at the high school. Bethany was first up with her violin solo, accompanied by me. She played Minuet by Boccherini, which is the last song in Susuki Book Two!



She had really good tone on her violin at the recital and I was very relieved because the last couple of weeks had been a bit of a struggle. I thought she had peaked on the song already and wouldn't be able to do well at the recital. But she always seems to shine in a performance setting and Saturday was no different!

A bit later Bethany played her piano pieces - this was her first piano performance! She played "From a Wigwam" and "The Pet Parade" from John Thompson Book One & Two. She is doing really well on the piano and enjoys it, too.


Then came Sarah on piano. She played "Theme from Liebestraume" by Lizst and "Tiger Beetle Boogie" by someone...can't remember. But she loves that song and nailed it at the recital.



My camera battery was running low, so I didn't get video from the recital. I think their teacher's husband video-taped them, so we'll have to try to get a hold of that and see if we can post it.

Next up was an hour at home before dinner and then another change of clothes and off to Bethany's recital for CMT (Children's Musical Theater). There are 65 kids in about 6 different singing groups and each group had a Christmas song that they sang. It was a really wonderful concert. Bethany's group sang "Silver Bells" on their own and then there were two songs that all 65 kids sang. This CMT has been a wonderful experience for Bethany. Sarah did it last year, but this year decided to try an art class and that's been going well for her, too. She was feeling like she missed CMT a lot when we were at the concert, though.



This is Becca and her friend Sam. They got to sit on the floor right in front of the singing kids because there weren't enough chairs for all the adults. Sam's sister also sings in CMT and she is a true performer. I love to watch and listen to her sing - she has a natural stage grace and a beautiful voice that I am sure will only improve as she grows older.


Here's Bethany with her CMT teacher:


We love Mrs. Dean!

So, that was Saturday...ready for Sunday?

Actually, Sunday was not so crazy...except for the continuing wind storm around here. Man, it's cold and wild! Anyway, Sunday School, church, lunch at my mom's...then some crazy running around by my dad and Ed to help set up risers at church and then rehearsal for their Christmas Cantata. At 5:15 I was supposed to get the kids into the van and head to church to save seats for the 6:00 p.m. Cantata service. That's when I discovered I didn't have any keys for the van! I thought mine were in my purse, but they weren't, and of course Ed had his keys in his coat pocket, even though he wasn't driving. So, my mom called my grandma and she came to pick up my mom. I put all the kids into my mom's car (with no car seats!) and drove to church. The girls were a bit nervous...all but Elise, of course. She thought it was great fun. But, we made it and got good seats for the service. Our friends joined us and my mom and Grandma arrived safely also. A little bit into the service, the pastor made an announcement that a car had its lights on...guess who? My mother. She had driven my grandma's car to church, which is old and doesn't have automatic lights and she didn't even think to turn off the lights! And so that was pretty much my fault, too, because my mother never would have driven Grandma's car if I had had my keys! Aah!

But the service and the cantata...oooh. So amazing. To borrow a phrase from a friend's blog: it was a little taste of heaven. The service began with the choir and the congregation singing "Angels We Have Heard On High", accompanied by the orchestra. That's my favorite Christmas song, anyway, but it was just so...I can't even describe it. Beautiful and incredible and soul-touching. So, I was already emotional before the cantata started. During the short sermon, both Becca & Elise fell asleep on my lap, so I did have a bit of a falling-asleep-leg-problem, but it didn't matter. The concert was so great. The choir started with "Angels from the Realms of Glory" which isn't usually one of my favorite carols, but somehow, this arrangement, with the orchestra and all the harmony...man, there were angels in that room, I am sure. I was watching Ed and was just overcome with the feeling that his mom was there, watching him sing and praise and just helping him through it all.

And the cantata continued and it was all such beautiful music that stirred my soul to praise and thanksgiving for the Christ child. So thank you, to everyone who participated and created such a beautiful event to the glory of God.

I am now encouraged and ready to finish up my to-do stuff for the Christmas season, greet my brothers, sisters-in-law, and nephews this week, and enjoy celebrating Christmas with them and my family & friends. May God bless you as you celebrate as well!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Super-Duper Family Fun Night!

We began with





which was tasty & fun!

Then the girls did their practicing for tomorrow's recitals, did homework, and sort of cleaned up the house. Ed brought Chinese home for dinner, which was actually pretty good! Everyone liked it, even Becca!

Showers & baths were next followed by the SURPRISES! Here's the first one:


We hopped in the van in our jammies, robes, and slippers to drive around and look at Christmas lights! We went through the county, up to Lynden, almost to Canada, back through Lynden, and then back home again through the county. Here's one of our favorite displays:


That's on the Van Dyk Road, if anyone is wondering. It reminds us of the Nativity that my grandma used to have. Beautiful.

This was next:


That's the girls drinking hot cocoa and watching "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?" - the guy you see on the screen was doing fairly well, despite definitely not being smarter than a 5th grader. He was getting saved by his 5th grade helpers a lot. The show ended before we knew if he was out or not.

This was Elise by the time we got home from looking at lights:


I even got cuddle time!


And last but definitely not least, the grand finale of Super-Duper Family Fun Night:


Sleeping by the Christmas tree with the tree lights on!

I highly recommend instituting your own Super-Duper Family Fun Night in the near future. :) And tomorrow begins a crazy 48 hours of non-stop "places to go and people to see" so I'll be back...later...as long as we don't lose power with the big "storm" that is on its way. Supposedly it's going to get colder than it has in over 50 years. Whatever. I'll let ya know...it would be nice to have a little snow, but just a little to make the world feel Christmasy.

My list

Today is going to be a busy day. It's 6:36 a.m. as I'm writing this and I've got to make my list so that I can get everything done. Here's what I've got going on (and this is in addition to the "regular" stuff like make lunches, read to the girls, help Elise play with playdough, etc.)
1. start sloppy joes in crockpot for hot lunch for Sarah's class.
2. laundry
3. finish baking cut-out Christmas cookies with Becca & Elise, but save the frosting and decorating for later
4. more laundry stuff
5. finish baking two more pans of goodies (and then ALL my baking for the season will be done! And it's a lot this year...)
6. more laundry stuff
7. bring Becca & Elise to friend Lea's to play so that I can go serve hot lunch to Sarah's class, then come home
8. call for hair cut
9. more laundry stuff
10. finish anything above that isn't yet done
11. work on unfinished Christmas gift projects
12. get the last few Christmas cards addressed and mailed
13. after S&B are home, frost and decorate cookies; have snack
14. yell at everyone for the next hour to keep working on their piano/violin/flute/homework/chores
15. eat dinner (hopefully something Ed brings home...when would I make dinner with this list?)

Tonight I am planning a super-duper-family-fun event. I hope everyone else thinks it's fun. :) I'll write about the details later, but basically it's an evening at home with just us because this weekend is fuller than full of places to go and people to see and I want to have just us before that happens. I feel like maybe I'm living in a Dr. Suess book lately. Hopefully tonight will help.

Today we are also remembering my mother-in-law, Ed's mom, the girls' Grandma Freeman. Today is the one-year anniversary of her passing and we miss her a lot. Have you ever heard that song "Christmas Shoes" on the radio? The one where the man is telling the story of the little boy who is buying the red shoes for his mommy on Christmas Eve because she "might meet Jesus tonight." Oh. Gets me every time. And the radio station plays it a lot. But it always reminds me that Mom F. is in a better place; she is with Jesus, in the glory of God, completely whole and completely without pain and suffering, and she'll be there when the rest of us join her someday. I am so thankful for that confidence and comfort.

Have a wonderful December 12. Only 13 days 'til Christmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Elf Yourself

Okay, I just had to finally try this. I've seen a couple friends do it in years past, I know a couple people who did it this year, so I just had to give it a try. Hopefully this link BALL ELVES will show you the girls as elves doing a little dance. The download might be a little slow...good luck!

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I know it's close to Christmas when I have new pictures of our traditional visit to the tree farm and of decorating the tree! We went on Saturday afternoon to get the tree and while it wasn't cold, it was pretty muddy. We had a good time and trudged around for quite a while to find just the perfect tree. I'm sure when you see the pictures you'll agree that we choose well!

Saturday evening we went to some friends who live on Front St. in town to watch the lighted parade. It was really good this year! A lot of people from church gather there to watch the parade and it's very fun to have all the dads and kids outside and the moms and babies inside watching through their large picture window in their living room! We always have a great time.

So, it was Sunday afternoon before we got around to decorating the tree...actually, it was more like Sunday evening. Ed & I had such a time getting the tree to stand up straight and not fall over. I don't know what the problem was, but now every time anyone touches the tree, I'm just sure it's going to crash. Then we had a lot of trouble with the lights, but finally it was ready for the girls to begin to put on ornaments! Hooray!

So, I have a ton of pictures of the tree and that whole process at this web album which you can view by clicking here. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Playdates and Snowflakes

Today (Tuesday) my friends Amy & Dee came over to play (aka scrapbook). We are doing this once or twice a month on Tuesdays, rotating playing hostess. Today was my turn and it was my bright idea to take a walk and get coffee before we started. The walk started out fine, and we even went a little extra to see Amy's sister's new house which is close to ours. Then it got cold.

And then it started to rain.

And the walk seemed to take forever.

So we didn't have as much time to scrapbook as we normally do. But, it was girlfriend time, so we cherished every minute anyway.

This is Elise, Sam (Dee's son), and Becca playing at our house this afternoon. I love how they're all lined up, playing together, but each in their own little world. I love those 3 kids there.


Now that it's the Advent Season, we're using the Advent calendar I created. Each day has a pocket with a tag inside. Each tag has an activity written on it for each day. Tonight was "make paper snowflakes." Usually I strategically plan that activity for a night when I am gone and Ed is home because he is the master paper snowflake maker! But somehow I messed that up and tonight, when Ed was gone, working late, and I was home with the girls, "make paper snowflakes" was on the tag. So, we made paper snowflakes. It was pretty fun...

...though two-year-olds, scissors, glitter, and glue all mixed together make a bit of a mess. I'm not sure I will ever get the glitter out of the grooves on the dining room table...or out of the carpet...or out of the sliding glass door track...

So, the snowflakes may not be hexagonal as they would have been had Ed been here directing the craft, but the girls are proud of their work. Enjoy!





And yes, Elise actually cut her own snowflake all by herself.