Monday, November 30, 2009

It made me so happy!

I found my new favorite store today. Okay, so it’s no Treasury of Memories, but since they went and closed their retail store, I had no place to go to look at pretty paper and pens and ribbon and such. No place full of eye candy. Sure, there’s Michael’s and JoAnn’s, but those are big chain stores. No friendly service. No cutesy samples or original kits. No open house with yummy treats. Just your basic craft stores. But NOW, now I have found a new favorite place! Stampadoodle. Lovely store. Friendly service. Die cut machines. A HUGE rack full of gorgeous ribbons. Pretty, pretty paper. STAMPS! It’s a stamper’s dream, for sure. I’m not a stamper, and it’s definitely missing the scrapbooking/paper crafting portion of things, but it is surely a good substitute. If you’re a paper and pen lover like I am, check it out!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Catching Up

Wow. I have quite a few photos to share!

_MG_5305 Last week was Becca’s Thanksgiving Feast in Kindergarten. Here I am with my little pilgrim. It was a fun event. The Kindergarteners amazed everyone by reciting all of Psalm 100 for memory! Loved that.

_MG_5306 It was quite a feast, complete with venison sausage, popcorn, and Indian Pudding for dessert!

Sarah played a duet with a friend in church on Thanksgiving Eve – I love that we have church on Thanksgiving Eve – and I haven’t gotten the pictures from my friend yet, but I’ll post when I do. They did a great job and plan to play the duet again at the Christmas recital in December. It’s really fun having kids who are playing real, grown-up music now.

_MG_5323 Since we had no family around for Thanksgiving this year, we invited a couple from Ed’s work over for Thanksgiving dinner who also had no family around this year. A lot of games were played…

_MG_5341 And a lot of food was consumed…

_MG_5346 That is one of my new favorite desserts. Cookie Apple Cobbler. YUMMY. It was a good day.

Black Friday was observed by Ed.

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See. He’s wearing black. And actually, we did no shopping on Black Friday. We took full advantage of the warmish winter day and put up Christmas lights, cleaned up around the yard, and did lots of odds and ends both indoors and out. The girls played outside quite a bit _MG_5357 and we ended the day with a pizza dinner with some of our oldest friends._MG_5360As you can see, they are not actually old. They are just friends that we have had for…well…since before that tall kid on the right was born. When did he get that tall, anyway? It was a wonderful evening spent together and their daughter even spent the night so the fun was extended…at least for the girls. :)

_MG_5369 On Saturday, Ed hauled out the boxes of Christmas decorations and I proceeded to make a big mess in the house

_MG_5363  until all the decorating (other than the tree, which we will cut down at a later date yet to be determined) was complete.

Today after church and a very simple dinner (so glad to not eat leftovers once again) Ed finished fixing the Christmas lights (we had some length issues), and there were a couple strands leftover, so when Ed suggested to the girls that they might like to hang them up in their room, they jumped right up!

_MG_5371 _MG_5375_MG_5376Not sure what’s going on with the blue reflector spots, but whatever. It adds to the magic and mystery of the season, right? Can you imagine a more wonderful thing to a child than falling asleep with Christmas lights hanging above your bed? Do you remember the nights as a child falling asleep on the floor by the Christmas tree?  It’s magical and beautiful and wonder-full. As long as I can impress upon them the reason why we put up lights…to show that Jesus is the light of the world…and as long as the Scripture we read at dinner tonight…when Jesus talks about US being the salt and the light of the earth…becomes so much engrained in their hearts that they cannot help but shine for Jesus as they continue to grow…well…then…some of my most sincere and deepest prayers for them will have been answered.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I'm sure you had to be here.

It was hilarious, but I'm sure that as I write the story, something of the hilarity will be lost in the translation.

Tonight at dinner, I noticed that Bethany was wearing a different shirt than she was this morning. I had no idea when she changed or why. I said, "Is that different shirt you're wearing?" She started to giggle. And you know what happens when Bethany giggles. It's kind of (very) hard for her to stop the giggling. Anyway, she says "Because my sleeve got wet" and I ask how her sleeve got wet (why I asked that, I do not know). She answers that she turned the water on and stuck her arm under the water. By now all of us, except for Ed, are giggling. I think Ed is just not sure what to do when the five girls in this house get the giggles all at the same time. So I can just tell that there is a lot more to this story and I ask Bethany, through the laughing, to further explain why and how her sleeve got wet. So she tells me, giggling the whole time, that she had hair wrapped around her tongue and it was stuck and so she thought...maybe water would get it off.

Seriously.

I cannot control the giggles - I am now laughing so hard that I am crying and what's even funnier to me is that everyone else has stopped laughing because they are aghast at the fact that I can hardly stay on the chair I am laughing so hard. Apparently I need to laugh more.

Like I said, I'm sure you had to be here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No creative juices

I’ve got some things to say and some pictures to show, but there’s no creativity flowing through me as to how to do it. So. This’ll be boring. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

My birthday dinner: we got Chinese take-out from the new place in town. Pretty good. Tons of food, except for skimpy amounts of rice.

Gifts: Ed brought gifts from New Orleans. Apparently it was pretty tough to find unique gifts that were not also obscene. That’s the Big Easy for ya.

_MG_5299-1 Listography book was not from New Orleans. That was for my birthday. I love lists. Almost as much as I love chocolate. The chocolate Baby Gator was for me. Does my DH know what I like or what? He also bought them for the girls, but they each had to share and I got my own. I like that, too. The Praline Sauce was Ed’s gift to himself. He had it on ice cream last night and enjoyed it very much. It also says it’s great on pancakes and baked brie, so I guess we’ll have to try that out, too.

Also for my birthday, Ed bought me a diffuser for my pop-up flash, so now I don’t have to use tin foil! I’ll get some test pictures up here soon. I took some last night, but they’re not looking right on this background, so I’ll try something with a bit more contrast in color later.

That’s all. Boring. I know. I warned you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Voting Day

There is limited time to take action here, folks. I am undecided as to my birthday dinner location for Tuesday evening. I need YOUR vote! There is a poll to the right of this post and you have very few hours to make your voice heard, so go and vote and/or leave a comment!

Clarification for those choosing "Other" - this is a family birthday dinner. All four of my kids will be there.

Second Update: The polls have closed. There was not really a consensus. Thanks a lot, people. It was a three-way tie between 3 places. I am pretty sure I've decided on some kind of take-out, but...I'll let you know.

Monday List

I have so much to do today - I'm hoping that if I actually post a to-do list publicly, I'll be more motivated to get it done...so...here goes!

1. Laundry - as much as possible
2. Call Tami
3. Bring hot lunch to Sarah's class
4. Finish prepping GEMS
5. Seriously clean/organize/dust/rearrange family room
6. Work on Christmas surprises
7. Play with/teach/read to Elise
8. Walk if it's not raining
9. Make sure everything's ready for Ed to come home tonight!

Sheesh...I better get moving...
Update: Laundry - check! Call Tami - check! Hot lunch - check! GEMS prep - check! Family Room - uh-oh! Christmas surprises - check! Elise - check! Walk - check! Ready for Ed - still got a bit to do there. So, not too bad. Maybe I should post a list every day to hold myself accountable!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sa-WEET Sarah! Plus a couple other sweet things…

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We are so proud of Sarah and the 6th graders! They put on an awesome musical with the help of an awesome music teacher. What a great way to begin the Christmas season! Those girls with Sarah are the girls she sang in a quartet with for one of the songs.

_MG_4867 Sarah singing in the choir. She sang her heart out to the Lord the whole night. It was so thrilling to watch. I cried through most of the show.

_MG_4916 Sarah’s quartet singing. On the night of the performance, Sarah absolutely nailed her solo part – the best she had ever done! I had intended to video her, but when I turned on the camera, the screen blinked back at me “No Memory Card.” AAAHHH! Shoot. Thankfully, the videographer was doing her thing at the evening performance, so eventually we will have video of her awesome singing.

_MG_5186 Sarah and her dad with the flowers he brought for her after the matinee performance.

_MG_5188 Sarah & her sisters after the evening performance.

_MG_5206Basketball started today – Sarah had 4 points, a rebound, and a couple steals! Way to go! The game was a bit sloppy overall, but it was the first game and they’ve only had 3 practices, so I think her team has potential!

_MG_5221 Sarah’s artwork also won a poster and program contest for their school musical. Here’s Sarah with her poster!

_MG_5223 Hm. Heavenly. I was so excited when I went to Trader Joe’s on Friday and discovered one of my very favorite Christmas treats had arrived on the shelves. They are DELecTaBle. If there weren’t so many in the box I would never share them. They are worth a trip to Trader Joe’s even if that’s the only thing you’re going for. Of course, you have to enjoy dark chocolate, but surely if you are my friend and you are reading this, you also enjoy dark chocolate. Surely.

_MG_5224 And I picked up this fun round chair at the thrift store this week. What a find! We love it…mostly…I find myself setting the timer every 5 minutes so the girls can take turns in it. I’ll be glad when the novelty of it wears off.

Update: Sa-WEET Sarah made me a birthday card this afternoon when she was supposedly doing her homework. She gave me four coupons - one for dusting, one for babysitting, one for her to complete the chore of my choice, and one for breakfast in bed with dad's help. If she just isn't the most amazing kid! Love her.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Little Lambs

Every Wednesday morning, while I go to Bible Study, 3 wonderful women teach all the children in a class called Little Lambs. Elise LOVES to go and sing and play with her friends and listen to the Bible Story. This past Wednesday the children came and sang for all the moms before we went to our small groups. Here’s one of the songs…Elise is in the front, second from the right.

Before you start thinking this child is too precious, listen to what she said at dinner: while trying to convince us that she did not have to eat her food in order to have dessert, which she knows is the rule around here, she said that God said that she didn’t have to eat the last thing on her plate. I said that God did not say that and then she said that God sent a letter of the things that are yucky, so she should not have to eat that. When I told her that eggs were not on the list, she seriously pouted.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Holidays in Hand

I’m taking a free online course from Jessica Sprague. It’s called Holidays in Hand and I hope it’s not going to be just another thing I think about doing and don’t ever finish, or one more thing to make my life crazy. The first assignments have come in…so, here goes…

Assignment 1: Write your Values & Goals So our first exercise is to write our goals down. Put it down in ink (or on your blog) so that you can confirm to yourself what you really want. This will become the foundation of all the (many) decisions you'll make during the next 6 weeks or so. Want to be more worshipful as a family? Write that down. Want to feel more organized about all the holiday stuff?

My values and goals for this holiday season: enjoy my family more, stress less, enjoy the worship and little things more, feel proud of what I have accomplished, (even if I didn’t finish everything on my to-do list), enjoy my friends more, be more encouraging and loving.

There. Nothing I can’t handle, right? Wow. It sure seems like I’m setting myself up for failure with such major goals. I should have said something more like, stay up too late every single night of vacation. That I could probably do. Well, maybe by posting it on my blog and making it public, I’ll really be able to make progress with those values and goals.

Assignment 2: Commit. Find a way to include at least 20 minutes of recording/writing/photographing/savoring/printing/gluing/scrapbooking/remembering/slowing down EVERY DAY in December. This one, I won't lie to you, kind of freaks me out. TWENTY WHOLE MINUTES. I know, right? But it'll be so good, and I'll be doing this right along with you. LOTS of things count toward your tally, and this is a gift that you're giving to you of something that is just about as precious a thing as there is: your time.

Wow. Really? Okay. So. Every day of December I hope to blog about what I did for my 20 minutes of recording/writing/photographing/scrapbooking, etc. I’m looking forward to accomplishing this goal!

Assignment 3: Organize is a bonus. If you did note down that you would like to be more organized, I came across a real treat in my researches: check out Organized Christmas. It's a collection of articles, gift ideas, and printable planner forms you can use to help de-stress the holidays. We'll be reading one article in particular for our class, but they're all great for refocusing on what matters most. :)

Amazingly enough, I have a pretty good system for keeping organized through the holidays. I have a holiday planner where I keep the calendar, gift lists, card lists, recipes, etc. I’ve already been working through it this year and have almost finished creating my original Christmas cards. My gift list is coming along as well. So…I think I can check that one off, as long as I keep it up!

As a side note, I did check out that link for Organized Christmas and it looks massive, but cool if you want to check it out for yourself.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It’s almost over

The break, that is. The girls have had off school since Wednesday, and now the 5-day weekend is almost over. It’s been really nice – we haven’t done too much of anything, but we haven’t been bored either. It’s time to play catch-up with photos…

Last Monday was our Father/Daughter night at GEMS. We had an Amazing Race-type event, which included all our theme night activities revolving around prayer. It was pretty fun and I know S&B&E all had a great time together! This was the bean bag toss.

_MG_4280

One of the days I headed out to a local park to take family pictures for some friends. On the way out, I pulled over to take some pictures of Mt. Baker – so gorgeous that morning! The pictures do not do it justice – mostly because the sun was pointing towards me, but it was a brilliant morning. Those snow geese flew away while I was taking the pictures, but one of these cold days, I am going to use my cool zoom lens to get some great pictures of those magnificent birds. I love it when they show up when the weather turns cold. The eagles, too – I’ll have to see if I can get some great eagle pictures this year with my lens.

_MG_4321

A friend told me about a cool photography trick…using tin foil at a 45 degree angle to the pop-up flash to help diffuse the flash and bounce the light around more – less shadows, not so harsh. Here’s the results…

Picture 1: dark outside+no flash+indoors=blurry picture with bad color.

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Picture 2: dark outside+flash+indoors=clear picture with weird light

_MG_4485

Picture 3: dark outside+flash+indoors+tin foil=better picture

_MG_4487 

I did edit the pictures – I made them all as good as I could get them. Cool deal. Thanks, Melissa!

Have I mentioned the weather? We have had some wild weather these past few days! Cold and…crazy!

_MG_4489 _MG_4494 About this time the neighbor girl and my girls came in from playing outside for some yummy hot chocolate with marshmallows._MG_4488And then the hail/snow/dark came:_MG_4504Within a matter of 10 minutes, we went from early afternoon brightness to this. It was 4:00 in the afternoon! It looked like the dead of winter and we’ve still got about 6 weeks until the shortest day of the year!_MG_4507 After the hail stopped, we could see another storm coming. It ended up going farther north and missing us a bit, but the town northwest of us got quite a covering of the hail/snow mix again!_MG_4508_MG_4516

Busy week ahead: Dress rehearsals for Sarah’s musical and two performances…Ed leaves for New Orleans on Friday morning…plus basketball has begun so there will be a practice and a game…who knows what pictures will be up next!?!?    

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran’s Day!

Today is Veteran’s Day and we have the opportunity to thank and honor all the many, many veterans who served our country and the world, around the world, for the past century. My dad and both my fathers-in-law are all veterans. My dad worked as an army clerk in South Carolina and thankfully had made himself indispensible there so that his superiors never allowed him to be sent to Vietnam or Korea. My father-in-law Erik served on the gun trucks in Vietnam and my father-in-law Jim was an MP in Vietnam. I have more relatives who served in one way or the other and of course relatives of friends and friends of friends who have given or are giving of themselves to serve our country. So thank you for loving our country and for loving others more than yourself and serving in the armed forces.

The Untouchable @ Tullahoma Air Show 2006-05-27 07 by Exothermic.

This is a picture of what I think is the restored gun truck that Erik served on.

Bethany recently wrote an essay for the VFW contest at school on “What Makes our Country Great.” She actually won in her class and will be representing her class in the school competition! Here is her essay:

What Makes our Country Great

Our country is great because of our government. We choose the presidents well, and once we choose them, they have very good rules to help our country. We have fair courts. Judges help solve crime cases and make good decisions.

Soldiers also keep us safe. All the armed forces keep us free, and we thank them. We are thankful for doctors who help wounded soldiers when they could be with their families and not in the war. We especially thank all veterans who kept us safe in the past.

Firefighters, policemen, doctors, and other emergency helpers protect us well. When we call 911, they come to help. The doctors heal our sicknesses and help us feel better. The firefighters save us from fires, and the policemen capture people who break the law. We are protected.

Education makes our country great. We have schools and supplies like paper, computers, and books. We have excellent colleges, libraries, and churches.

Our country is great because of healthy conditions and food. Our water is clean and healthy to drink. Our health is very good because not too many diseases spread around. Our weather is not terrible, and crops and food grow in the good soil. There is enough food for everyone everywhere.

For me, the most important thing is that we are in God’s hands. God is with and protecting everyone, and I’m glad we may choose to follow God. Those are the things that make our country great!

Great job, Bethany!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I have arrived.

Friday night was “Set Night” for Sarah’s 6th grade musical. What that means is that all the director’s ideas for the sets and stage come together and are put into place so that the 6th graders can practice for real 5 more times before the first performance. I decided to thank all the people who were coming to help by baking my mom’s famous chocolate chip cookies. You may remember the Last Time I made them. My girls said they were better than grandma’s. So Friday night was the real test because my dad was going to be at set night and would be eating the cookies.

_MG_3939 They look pretty good, right? Do you know what my dad said about them? He was down the aisle and he held it up in the air and said “Jul! Heir Apparent!”

Wow.

To be heir apparent to the cookie queen according to my dad?  That is as good as it gets. I have arrived. What more could I possibly want out of life?

 

 

 

 

_MG_3932

Hm. Yes. Starbucks.

Starbucks has brought out their seasonal red cups. Along with the red cups come such yummy goodies as Peppermint Mochas and Thanksgiving Blend coffee.

So, two things that made me happy. Starbucks and Heir Apparent.

_MG_3943 A third thing that has made me very happy each and every time I crawl into it lately is my lovely bed. I only wish I could spend more time there.

_MG_3935 Next on the happy list for the week is this cookbook I found at the thrift store’s Christmas open house. I {heart} Gooseberry Patch cookbooks. This one is full of delicious seasonal recipes and ideas for cookie gifts and such. So, if you are on my list of people who will receive baked goods from us this Christmas, you will also benefit from this purchase!

_MG_3936 I’m sure you’re wondering why my broken windmill is on my list of things that make me happy. Well, at first, I was very sad. Our windstorms this week wreaked havoc on my poor windmill. And I {heart} my windmill. But, what made me happy is that my dear husband went out in the pouring down rain when he saw it and he fixed it. I {heart} my husband.

_MG_3959 I was not lying about the pouring down rain.

_MG_3966_MG_3964 It was raining so hard in the middle of the day that it was almost dark outside. I had to turn my ISO waaaaay up on my camera in order to get these pictures…which is why they’re kind of grainy.

_MG_3914 These cuties also helped add to my happiness this week.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jen!

My SIL Jen is celebrating her birthday today! I won’t tell you how old she is except to say that she is younger than me. :P  Over the many years that Jen has been part of our family, we have not had the privilege of actually residing in the same town, but we make the most of all our visits together. Jen is smart and compassionate and is the only woman that ever made my brother smile. I remember the night before Ed & I got married (& I might have blogged this before), she was spending the night in my bedroom, along with a couple of my bridesmaids. I had my nice big double bed all to myself and a bunch of college-aged girls sprawled out on mattresses and blankets on my floor. Good grief. Who did I think I was, the bride? Hee hee.

But I digress. We were having girl-talk late into the night and I remember asking her if my brother was a good kisser. I didn’t even know if they had kissed yet since their relationship was fairly new, but I really wanted to know. Jen giggled just a little and said, “Yes.” It still kinda grosses me out, but I will never forget it. ;)

Jen is now an incredible mom to one of my nephews whom I adore and miss every day. We are so thankful that she & my brother finally took the plunge into parenthood because they are great at it and they made an amazing little boy.

_MG_9775Happy Birthday, Jen! We all love and miss you lots!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Congratulations, Logos!

My dear husband and his co-workers have been working very hard for over 4 years on the latest version of Logos Bible Software. The development of this software involved many, many hours and the end result is a fabulous, completely new, software for pastors, scholars, AND regular folks to aid in Bible Study. Click here for more information! Once you get to that article, click on the link at the top and you can watch a demo. Way to go, Logos!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Reformation Day! (warning: long post)

A day late, I know, but I would be remiss not to mention it. I just didn’t have pictures yesterday because I ran out of space in my laptop’s memory and Ed had to delete some old pictures so I could put the new ones on. So Happy Reformation Day! My children came home on Friday stating that they had in fact discussed Martin Luther that day. Whew. I’m so thankful for those amazing teachers who remember to talk about Martin Luther and the Reformation at the end of October.

I think I’ll go backwards with the photos of the day on this blog, starting with Reformation Day itself. We celebrated here at home with some good old-fashioned pumpkin-carving. And yes, of course we read the “Pumpkin Patch Parable” and discussed the spiritual significance of the activity. And we had fun. That was so great because it’s been a while since we all were at home just simply having fun together.

2009_10_31 After getting very messy carving pumpkins, the girls had their showers and baths and then decided, on the spur of the moment, that they should dress up in order to answer the door for trick-or-treaters. Everything came from their closets or the dress-up box. Those girls made me laugh with their creative get-ups!_MG_3856 Here they are giving me “surprised!” Sarah is a spy-girl. Bethany is Hawaiian Veterinarian Kit, Becca is Cowgirl Samantha, and Elise is a Pooh Bear cheerleader. _MG_3873

Then we made apple cider donuts. If you want the actual recipe, send me an e-mail. For now, here’s the basics:

First mix the dough._MG_3885 Then form the donuts._MG_3887_MG_3888 _MG_3891Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Then deep-fry in vegetable oil._MG_3896_MG_3897  Coat with cinnamon and sugar and enjoy!_MG_3898

Of course, I need more sweets in my house like I need a hole in my head. We still have brownies and cupcakes from various birthday parties, cookies from friends who came over, and Halloween candy! I did something very sneaky with the Halloween candy, though, to try to prevent myself from eating all of it. First of all, I didn’t buy my favorite stuff. Second, all the leftovers went into a Ziplock baggie in the freezer. Hopefully “out of sight, out of mind” will work for my 4:00 snack attacks.

All these activities brought about very sleepy children. I couldn’t resist this precious face:_MG_3903

Backing up through this past week:_MG_3767On Friday I had the pleasure of helping out in Becca’s classroom. We had fun doing crafts together. I’m so blessed that I have my mom here who is willing to watch Elise, yet again, so that I can do more stuff at school.

_MG_3758On Thursday the bridge into town re-opened! Since April, we have been making our way into town via various routes due to this bridge being torn down and redone (and other road construction detours in the county) and we I am so excited about the bridge being open. It makes my commute to school only 10.5 minutes instead of 14.75. I know, 4.25 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but it sure is when there are 3 or 4 round trips in a day! So I was thrilled when I finally got to drive over my bridge again. Yes, I took this picture while driving. As you can see, it was raining. I didn’t want to stop and pull over and get out in the rain. And, as you can see, the bridge isn’t totally done – they still need some guard rails and paint, but it’s traversable and that makes me so happy.

_MG_3709 Also on Thursday Becca had a birthday party with her 3 fellow church girl Kindergarteners. They had a great time!

_MG_3686 On Becca’s birthday we had dinner at a restaurant in town and Becca opened her presents from us there. She was pretty thrilled to get the holiday dress for her American Girl doll. We bought it a whole year ago because Samantha was going “into the archives”, along with all her stuff. It was fun to surprise her with that.

_MG_3681 Our precious girls, who actually behaved in the restaurant once again.

Okay, so there are a couple PotD’s missing. Sue me. Life happens.