Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year’s Resolutions

I decided to take a little trip down memory lane and see what I posted as my New Year’s Resolutions for 2010. Here’s a little flashback:

Project 365/Photo-of-the-Day…NOT! I tried that in 2009. I did not succeed. What I did succeed at is overloading my computer memory with literally 1000’s of pictures I will never use. What I also succeeded at was learning LOTS about my camera. That is the part I LOVED about the project. I used my camera, and especially my new DSLR a TON and I learned so much. My photos are getting better and I am loving this hobby SO much. So, my resolution regarding photography is to continue to take tons of pictures and learn even more about photography and get better and better. That is so much less pressure than the PotD!

So, I did take lots of photos and I am learning that I need to learn even more!

Eat less. Move more. Doesn’t get any simpler than that. Doesn’t get any tougher than that, either.

Maybe I should try that one again in 2011. Perhaps it’ll be easier now that I have a treadmill. I don’t think I ever blogged about that, but I did get a used one from someone at Ed’s work who ever-so-coincidentally was selling one the day after I told Ed I wanted one. It’s pretty nice and everyone is enjoying it thus far.

Make my 2009 blog into a book.

I honestly did look into that one and tried it. I didn’t like the options or the cost. So, I’ve decided instead that when I finally catch up in scrapbooking to the time in which I began to blog, I will print some of the blogs as the journaling for the scrapbooks and use the same pictures.

Try to implement a new weekly feature on my blog.

I started with “Gratituesday”. That didn’t stick very well. Not that I wasn’t grateful. I was. I just forgot it was Tuesday most of the time.

Continue trying to save more money and spend less by using coupons and by… staying home more. Is that the key?

Okay, I tried the couponing. I just don’t have the time necessary to really do couponing well. I also don’t have the storage space. So, I’ve toned down my couponing and am happy with the middle-of-the-road route I’ve found. Print and save coupons I know I will use within a rather short time period – no stockpiling 16 containers of a random shampoo that were only 16 cents each, but that I have no idea if I will like. Shop sales and plan meals accordingly.

Pray more. Read my Bible more. Be more encouraging. Clean more. Get more organized. Get caught up on scrapbooking. Spend more time with my children. Spend more time with my husband. Spend more time with my family and friends and neighbors.

Sigh. Those all have to stay on this year’s list.

Figure out a way to add about 20 hours to every day.

Uh. Yeah. That obviously didn’t happen.

So, what will my resolutions be for 2011? I don’t think I’m going to make any. I’ll just break them in two weeks. I do have some goals and some hopes and dreams and prayers and such. I’ve read some blogs where people have a “word” for the year. Like “gratitude” or “hope” or “fill-in-the-blank”. I can’t figure out what I would have my word be. It could be











So, I’m not gonna choose a word, either. The only way to encompass all the hopes and dreams and goals, etc. is to strive to do what God calls me to do each and every day. And to ask forgiveness when I fail and to do all these things humbly and with a servant heart.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The new office

So, just about two weeks ago, Ed’s company moved into the historic Flatiron Building downtown. Moving day was on the first official day of Christmas break, so I took the girls to the library, then to do a few errands, and then to visit the office before meeting some friends for shopping at the mall.



The view from Ed’s 7th floor office – looking southeast towards downtown Bellingham. On a clear day he can see the top of Mt. Baker.


Yes, he has 3 monitors.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Light Night!

Every year, one of the Advent activities we do as a family is drive around the county and look at Christmas lights. It’s one of our favorites because the girls never know when it’s going to be – we just draw the tag from the Advent Calendar and if it says “Drive around and look at Christmas Lights”, then we head out the door right then and there! Usually, this trip also involves dinner at Sonic Burger, which always makes me want to visit Sonic Burger once a week. Thank goodness it’s about 25 minutes from our house!


Some of my favorite lights are at the entrance to town.



My girls in the van as we’re cruising through town.

Back Tracking

I suddenly realized I never posted this:


Whoa, look at that! It’s a picture of me! A few weeks ago we attended Ed’s work company Christmas party. It’s always fun and this year was no exception. We enjoyed good food, good company, good humor (a comedian), and extremely good dessert. Unfortunately, we did not win a good door prize, or any door prize at all for that matter. Maybe some year...

In Ed’s 16 years with the company, I think we’ve only missed one Christmas party. For the past many years, I’ve been amazed at all the people I don’t know since the company has been blessed and experienced great growth. In fact, this year, as we were waiting in the lobby for a friend, I saw a bunch of “young people” who were obviously going to a Christmas party in the hotel. I thought to myself, “There must be another party here tonight because those kids don’t look like Logos employees.” They had funny colored hair and weird outfits. But guess what. They were Logos employees. I saw them at the Christmas party.

I think I’m getting old.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Staying Chronological

I badly want to begin to post some Christmas pictures, but I decided it’d be better to stay chronological. Otherwise I will confuse myself.

Right after school got out for Christmas break, we had some friends over for dinner and games. We wanted to finally beat the kids in our new game “Beat the Parents”, which the kids have won every time we have played. We thought our friends could help.


We posed for pictures before the game started. We were trying to look tough, but us girls were laughing, so we were having a hard time looking tough.


The kids were serious about winning.

So, we thought maybe the parents would win this time. We had our friends to help and they’re older and more treacherous.

Plus, I know they don’t flinch at cheating and I figured we might need to cheat in order to win.

Guess what, cheaters never prosper.

And the game, “Beat the Parents” is rigged.

And you should never think about your answer. You should just say the first thing that comes to mind and go with it.

After the non-helpful parents and tiny children left, their oldest daughter stayed to spend the night. Shhhh, don’t tell these girls I posted this picture.


Their skin was GORGEOUS!

Christmas break is so much fun!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


The gang’s all here! Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last day of school, 2010

Last week Friday was the last day of school for the year 2010! The morning began with the K-4 Christmas program, for which people arrive 70 minutes early in order to secure a good seat. Yes, I will admit to being one of those people. But, at least I actually sit there to reserve my seats. Other people come in, string some ribbon across a bunch of seats, or put “Reserved” on paper and tape it to the chairs and then LEAVE! There’s something just wrong with that. If you’re gonna get good seats and reserve them, I say, you gotta do the time and sit there. It’s not actually that awful. The moms bring coffee and everyone chats. Then the kids start to walk in with their capes and bows and all the crazy moms (yes, I am also one of those) go up to the front to get pictures. I’m sure that someone took a picture of all the moms taking pictures. It’s pretty funny to see.


I only have one in a cape and a bow this year. But she’s a cutie.


That’s Becca with her friend whispering in her ear. They did a fair bit of that. And then the boy in front is the boy who calls my daughter his girlfriend. He’s saving his money to buy her a house. Good boy.


She did watch the director when she was singing, though!


Then it was time for classroom parties! Decorating Christmas cookies and eating them was obviously a highlight!




There’s that boy again. I {heart} him.


Then they made angels with ice cream cones, frosting, pretzels, tootsie pops, and a life saver. So cute.


Bethany’s class was playing Christmas bingo with M&M’s when I visited. I think she was having fun.

After the day was done, we headed home for an afternoon together before heading out to a concert up in Canada. More on that to come later…

Basketball, snowflakes, and a teacher

Completely random title, I know. But it’s a blog post with those things in it. I find myself here, at 4:00 in the afternoon, on the day in which chaos begins for Christmas break, finally DONE with everything. I hope. And so, I thought I would try to get a bit caught up on the blogging and the pictures. Here goes…

Sarah’s 2nd to last basketball game was against our neighbor’s school. These neighbors have 3 daughters, in the same grades as our 3 oldest daughters. And their oldest plays basketball, so Sarah and A got to play against each other.

It was a nasty game, honestly. The first quarter started out all right, a little scrappy, and some poor refereeing, but we were ahead 13-0. The second quarter got physical. And the refereeing got worse. And by half time it was 13-13. So the third quarter was even nastier and by the end of the fourth quarter, we had a girl with a broken finger and another who had been tripped and landed on her face on the gym floor and was in tears. Our girls aren’t physical ball players. And those opponent’s were. We managed to scrape out a win, but it wasn’t a fun experience. I think Sarah enjoyed playing with her friend, but she wasn’t sure how to react to the rough play. She said afterward, “I didn’t know whether to be rough back or to just totally back off.” Let me just say, she chose back off. Sarah is not aggressive by nature and to get into that is just not her style.

But, at the beginning of the second quarter, Sarah and A were both on the court and stood next to each other during a foul shot.


Sarah’s last basketball game was much better, even though they lost. She played “C” team and they showed some real progress in that game. They executed their plays and really handled the ball much better than at the beginning of the season. It was a super-fun game because near the end the coach called for a new play that started with Sarah taking the ball down the court, passing it off about halfway down, two more passes, and then back to Sarah in the middle of the key for the shot. Sarah added her own little “fake” to the beginning of the play, which fooled the opponents every time, so it was really fun to watch. It took 3 tries before Sarah made the shot, but when she came out of the game, her coach gave her a high-five and said, “That was brilliant!” It was just a really fun game.



One of our Advent activities is always cutting out and decorating snowflakes.


That paper must be really hard to cut through!


And cutting a proper snowflake takes intense concentration, you know.


But everyone was happy in the end!

Sarah didn’t make a snowflake that night because she had too much homework. Our Advent calendar is getting harder every year as the girls grow older and busier and have more homework. We may have to change how we do things with that…we’ll see what genius idea I come up with next year.


Elise and her teacher, my mom. They’re pretty good buddies.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Various Christmas Programs

The girls are in bed, we’ve had a good day together, Ed’s working on the computer, and so I thought I’d get a few pictures posted so that I am not SO far behind!


Elise singing with her StoryHour friends at my Wednesday morning Bible Study. And yes, all those children were as distracted as they look.


Last week Sunday evening was the multi-church Cantata in town. It was beautiful, as usual. My dad is in the Calvin College tie there.



This year there was a youth choir, which Sarah & Bethany both sang in. Loved it!


Sarah’s choir concert was about a week and a half ago or so. Can you find Sarah? That was a joke. Of course you can find her because I circled her face. She’s not singing here, but it’s the best picture I have under those lighting circumstances. Their choir was really pretty good and that’s all thanks to an awesome director and musician. The boys in their too-long-ties crack me up! Junior High kids are so awesome.

The whole concert was wonderful, as it included all of the high school choirs and they ended with “Peace, Peace” which is one of my favorite songs from having sung it in choir in our former church for 10 years at our Christmas Candlelight Service. Ed & I had decided that I would go to the choir concert while he stayed home with the little girls and he would go to the band concert the following week while I stayed home with the little girls. I think I definitely got the better concert. Next year, it’ll be his turn to attend the choir concert.


Sarah’s band concert was this past Tuesday. Ed took a couple pictures and again, I think there is some video, which we’ll have to work on getting online.



Elise had two preschool programs this year because she goes to two different classes. The Wednesday program was great and the kids were totally into it.

The Thursday program was really hilarious, though. One little boy, as expected, did not want to sing. That was all right. Another little boy, who has sung in two preschool programs previously, suddenly decided he wasn’t going to sing and spent the entire program on his dad’s lap with his hands over his ears. Another little boy first decided he didn’t like all the parents taking pictures and started ordering them to stop taking pictures of him. Then, during the singing, he slapped his head to the beat, and when all the parents clapped at the end of each song, he did his best Elvis impersonation and said, “Thank you, thank you very much!” I am quite sure it was the most out of control program that ever has been at my mother’s preschool.

There’s video, but I’m not sure I should post it…

Anyhoo, then, after all the other parents and preschoolers and grandparents left, we gave my mom her present of brandy beans and she promptly ate two. She deserved them. Trust me.

Elise was none-too-thrilled with the uncooperative little boys, as you can imagine. Plus, the little girl next to her was sitting in a different seat than when they had practiced, which was very concerning to Elise. She thought she needed to inform her teacher of all the mis-doings of the other students. She can be quite bossy when she thinks she needs to be. Of course, we all know that’s because she has to vie for attention in this house with 3 big sisters around all the time.


She did cooperate and smiled and waved for my picture, at least.

All right, my 15 minutes on the computer are up for now and I am current on Christmas program pictures until this past Friday. I still have some basketball stories to tell and pictures to post. Hope to get to that before Wednesday afternoon, but we’ll see how the to-do list for Monday and Tuesday pan out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I have a lot to blog about

but very little time. It's been a busy week and even though Christmas vacation begins at noon on Friday, there is A LOT to do between now and when the fun begins next week Wednesday. There's the finishing of the Christmas shopping, wrapping, creating, mailing, & baking. There's concerts to go to, friends to hang out with, church to attend, and a house to clean. There's laundry to do, little girls to love, books to be read, photos to edit, cooking, straightening, and general tidying. There's dinners to make, stories to tell, performances to prepare for, and, well, you get the idea. When all of these crucial things are finished, I will get caught up on the blogging...I promise!! In the meantime, I sincerely pray you all enjoy this Christmas season, remembering the real reason we celebrate. I intend to focus on that and on my loved ones for the next many days. And if there happens to be a time when Aunt Julie is so overcome by the sweetness of the photograph of a nephew, a picture may pop up on this blog. And if one of my amazing daughters says something wonderful, you may get to read about it. But I don't plan on spending time organizing pictures and writing clever blogs for the next several days. Possibly even a couple weeks. We'll all survive.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

And the winner is…

…going to be announced after this brief message from our sponsor.

Don’t you just hate it when TV shows do that? We watched the finale of “The Biggest Loser” last night (it was on while we did 1000 other things) and while as amazing as the weight loss on that show is, it’s really annoying that it takes 2 whole hours for about 10 minutes of weight comparisons.

Now, I was rather disappointed in the response to this giveaway. Seriously. Six people? Six? I KNOW there are more of you who read this blog. So I came up with 3 reasons why you might not have entered this amazing giveaway.

a. You are family and think you’re not eligible; plus you think I will make you anything you want on my Silhouette anyway. Well, you are eligible, but you’re probably right.

b. You don’t like the giveaway. Sorry, I don’t have anything to say to that. What’s wrong with free coffee?

c. You’re a silent blog stalker and you don’t actually want me to know you’ve read my blog every day for 2.5 years. I know you’re out there. There’s probably 1000 of you at least.

Oh, I just thought of a 4th reason. Maybe

d. You’ve tried to leave a comment, but you’re just not computer literate enough. All I have to say about that is, well, just call Ed next time.

All right, all right. So, I just wrote ALL six names on little papers and folded them up.

All the girls came over and mixed them up on my counter.

Bethany drew a name.

And the winner is…







I just have to draw this out because there are TWO of you who REALLY, REALLY wanted to win.

And ONE of the two of you won.

But Dee, it’s not you. Sorry.



It’s your MOM!!

Congratulations, Alice! I’m so glad you won! Send me an email and let me know what you’re thinking you want my cool Silhouette to cut for you. And it has to be for YOU. Don’t let Dee talk you into making something for her. She’ll try, you know. I’ll get your address from your granddaughter and send you your Starbucks card.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Something so exciting!

I know, I know, this is my third post in one day. But I just had to write one more tonight before I went to bed, because this is probably the single most exciting post I will ever write!

No, I am not pregnant.

This post, that you are reading right now, is the 500th post on Five Girls and Their Guy!!!!! Can you believe that? Amazing.

What I can’t figure out is why, after FIVE HUNDRED posts, am I not getting to be on the Today Show like Pioneer Woman?

I decided it must be because I don’t do giveaways. Did you know that LOTS of blogs do giveaways? Of course, most of the time, those giveaways aren’t actually from the blogger, they’re from companies, which contact the blogger to give away their stuff as a promotional items.

Funny, no company has ever contacted me. Huh.

But, you are lucky readers because I am going to do a giveaway ON MY OWN with no sponsors. How’s that for a cool blogger?

To be entered in the giveaway in honor of my 500th blog post, you must:

a. Leave me a comment on this post and it must be signed with your name so I know who you are if you win.


b. Send me an email, again with your name so I know who you are if you win.

Oh, did you want to know what I am giving away?

I’ve been thinking about this since about blog post #453, so I’ve got something good, I promise. At least, I think it’s good. And since this is my blog and my giveaway, then that’s all that matters, right? Right?

So, I’m going to give away a Starbucks gift card worth 500 pennies! Wow is right!

PLUS I am going to make the winner anything he/she wants, using this little beauty that I bought myself Ed bought me for Christmas (a little early):

That, my friends, is a Silhouette SD. Anything you can create on your computer and print using a printer, it can CUT OUT! It can cut vinyl, tattoo paper, cardstock, iron-on paper, etc. A. Maze. Zing! So, if you are the winner of my giveaway, you will get to choose whatever you want that I will cut for you! Of course, it has to be something that will actually fit in that thing, so no more than 12” wide, and you have to pretty much create it yourself. I don’t have hours to spend designing some masterpiece for you. If you want an entire cardstock sheet cut with little itty bitty snowflakes, cool. If you want some vinyl words that say “Laundry Goes Here”, that’s FABULOUS! You get the idea? Okay, so, please leave a comment or send me an email (no, you don’t get entered twice if you do both) and I will enter you in the giveaway.

Oh, AND, In your comment or email, you must tell me what blog post has been your favorite of the 500 posts that I have written. AND you must leave your full name.

The deadline for entry is Tuesday, Dec. 14 at midnight, PST. I will draw a winner probably on Wednesday evening and will announce that winner right here on this blog! Good luck and thanks for being such faithful readers.

O Christmas Tree, 2010 Edition

Today was the annual traditional trek to the tree farm with my parents to cut down our Christmas tree. Only, it didn’t end up to be very traditional…

We decided to try a new-to-us, cheaper, tree farm. We should have known, cheaper=not-so-nice. It seems you get what you pay for with Christmas trees as well.

However, during our little jaunt around the ugly tree farm, Becca had a fun discovery!



Wow! That was cool. A perfect little birdie nest. It made our stop so very worthwhile.

We decided to stop at the next tree farm up the road a ways. These trees were very nice. And very expensive. Again, you get what you pay for.

We continued our journey farther up into the mountains and ended at the place we all know & love, which we have gone to almost every year of my life and almost every year of my children’s lives.

As we got out of the truck my dad asked Ed to go get an extra saw. Ed heads towards Dad’s truck. A little light goes on in my head.

Uh, honey, what did you do with that saw Dad gave you at the first tree farm?

Put it in Dad’s truck.

Uh, yeah, honey? That saw wasn’t Dad’s.


Apparently we (accidentally) stole a saw from the ugly tree farm with the birdie nest.

On to the hunt.

We very quickly found two perfect trees at an expected price and proceeded to consume hot cocoa and donuts in the cabin before heading home (with a little side trip to return the stolen saw).

We have kind of a weird tradition in our family. After taking the family picture by the tree we are about to cut down, somebody gets held up over the top of the tree to be the “angel” on the tree. Well, this year, we spiced things up a bit (there I go again, being all spontaneous).


Mom & Dad’s tree. Thanks, Mom, for pointing it out. I wasn’t sure we would know which tree was yours otherwise.


This happened after somebody (I don’t know who) said, “I think that Grandma should be the angel on the tree this year!”

And then…


This next one is my favorite…


And finally, the angel, on top of, sort of, the tree…


Sarah was the official “tree-holder".”


Our turn…



There. I’m the angel, too. Feel better now, Mom?



That was after the donuts and hot cocoa in the cabin. Don’t they all look happy, warm, and like they’re about to go into a sugar coma?

After an afternoon of running around with various and sundry errands, a dinner of pizza, and baths, we finally got to decorate our tree this evening! They were so excited!


Everyone is digging into their personal ornament box to see which ornaments I will allow on this year’s tree. I always have rules…otherwise our tree would fall over with the sheer weight of all the ornaments.




Every year one of the girls gets to put the angel on the top of the tree when we’re done decorating as well. This year was Elise’s turn!


Some favorite ornaments this year:


I got eight of these old antique beauties at a garage sale last spring. I don’t remember how much I paid for them, but not very much. You could ask my friend Tamara, she’d probably remember.


This year Ed & I gave each of the girls one of these angel ornaments. Because they’re our angels. Awwwwww.

Also, they were white, cute, and $1 each.


The finished product. So beautiful. I love Christmas trees!