Friday, December 31, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth!

My most vivid memory of Disneyland from when I was a child was being absolutely terrorized on "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". I have no idea if that ride is really as horrible as I thought it was, but it seriously traumatized me for life. I don't remember much else about Disneyland as a child, except that one ride. Now, of course, I've been to Disneyland several times as I got older and had a much more pleasant experience, which is why we decided to take our family there. Disneyland is something every child ought to experience. Just not "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride". We started planning this trip a couple of months ago, but we didn't tell the kids about it till about 2 weeks before we left. I didn't want to be answering the question of, "When are we going to Disneyland," every day for 2 months. The kids were pretty excited about going, but they had no frame of reference, they had no idea what Disneyland was all about, so they weren't overly excited. And, if the second day had been like the first day, I think they would never want to go to Disneyland again.
Our first day there was Tuesday, December 28 and apparently, the whole rest of the world decided to go to because there were so many people there I could hardly breathe. We found out later that they had to shut the gates at 10:00am there were so many people there. We stood in line for well over an hour for "Small World" and the "Nemo Submarine Ride".
It was horrible. I couldn't enjoy the ambience that Disney is famous for because I was so busy trying to keep an eye (and a hand) on my kids and try not to run into anyone. It was all pushing and shoving and just a total nightmare. The second day it rained.
However, that was a blessing because there probably half as many people there. It only rained till noon and then in the afternoon the sun came out and it was a beautiful day.
We went to California Adventure, which was fun, though there's still a lot of construction going on. The kids had a great time on the Ferris Wheel and we saw both "A Bugs Life" and a Muppets presentation in 3-D. Missy Lou loved it. She kept reaching out trying to touch the butterflies floating in front of her face. Duh-duh hated it and I had to take him out of the Muppets show after a few minutes. But we did see Minnie Mouse and that was lots of fun!
The rest of the day was great. We went back to Disneyland and the crowds had diminished. We walked right on to "Small World" with scarcely a five minute wait. By the end of the second day, I can say we had done Disneyland proud and had a wonderful time.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just a little teaser!

I got my pictures downloaded, but it's late and I don't feel like writing a whole post. So... here's a little teaser for you!

A good time was had by all!

Family Vacation

We're back from Disneyland. Woohoo! I didn't mention earlier that we were going to Disneyland because as we all know, robbers stalk blogs, looking for people who mention they are going to be out of town and then somehow they find their homes and break in and steal things. So, in the interest of keeping all of our not-terribly-expensive-or-high-tech belongings safe, I decided to keep our trip a secret until we came home. But, now I can say it, "WE WENT TO DISNEYLAND!" Over the next few days I will blog about it and post some pictures. I also got a new camera for Christmas and I do know how to use it, but I'm still learning how to down load the pictures on to my computer and then I'll have to figure out how to get them on to my blog. As I told someone previously, I am technologically apathetic. I don't really care about I-anythings, or aps or blue dental applicances or anything like that. I use technology as I have to and if I want to post pictures on my blog then I'm going to have to figure it out. But, suffice it to say, we are home and as Hubby said, "We didn't get into any accidents and we didn't lose any children so our trip was a success!"
Talk to you later! I have laundry to do!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!


Well, it's over. It's done. Christmas 2010. The presents have all been unwrapped.
We've gotten trucks and more trucks, legos, dinosaurs, basketballs and soccer balls, new cameras and Walkmen. We've gotten fancy shoes and glittery dresses and Barbies.The songs have been sung. The candles have been lit. The cookies delivered.
Cousins have been played with and grandparents hugged!It's been a good day and a good Christmas and I'm ready to go to bed now!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gingerbread Party!


Tuesday we had a Gingerbread House Decorating Party for the kids at church. I have never before decorated a gingerbread house, but I figure, hey, how hard can it be? So, I made all the pieces for the houses and Monday Kayla (the Children's Ministries Assistant) helped me glue them together with Royal Icing. We figured we'd better do that part ourselves. The kids could just decorate. So, we put together 14 houses in a little over an hour and then Tuesday the kids came and decorated them.
We had 15 kids come to the party. (I know, you're thinking to yourself, 15 kids, and they only had 14 houses. Well, when I found out about the extra kids, I threw together a couple of houses the night before. I'm just glad I made A LOT of house parts)


It was a great time. They were all so creative with their houses and no one crushed their house (which is one thing I was afraid of) and no one got sick on candy (I don't think) and all had a good time. When we were done with the houses we played some games, learned how to make snowflakes and ate sack lunches. All in all, I would say the party was a success.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A little rain won't kill 'em!


I finally just let them go. It's raining lightly, but.... they're driving me insane. Insane, I tell you. Poor Bubba. Everything he's tried today gets a big fat "NO!" from me. From batting around a balloon with a toy frying pan, to wrestling on the floor with Duh-duh who is squealing and yelling, "No! Stop Bubba! No!", to getting down every board game we have, distributing the pieces all over the room and then leaving. I finally told him, "Get your shoes on and go outside." "I don't want to!" "No, it's not an option! GO!" I told Missy Lou to get her shoes on and go outside, too. She actually didn't protest.
So, he's got a rope and a piece of board tied to it. He's on top of the fort and he's holding on to the rope and Missy Lou is swinging on the board. Oh, I take that back. It's not raining lightly. It's just plain raining.
But, it's peaceful in here. Especially since I sent Duh-duh to his room for.... hmm! Why did I send him to his room? I don't remember. Whatever the case, I'm sure he deserved it. Now I can go take my flat zwiebachs out of the oven. I made a huge batch because I'm giving them away at my in-laws for gifts and they all turned out flat. It's the weather. I'm just going to have to make some more tomorrow. It's supposed to be dry tomorrow. And, just so you know.... every single room in my entire house is a disaster area. Really. There's not an inch of usable counter space in my kitchen. My bedroom has a pathway from the door to the bed to the bathroom. The living room is strewn with trucks and Duplos. Hmm.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Cantata!

I'm singing in a Christmas Cantata this weekend. Yes, it is true. It's one of those little known facts about me - I love singing choral music. My church and another church in town are joining forces (and choirs, they are both very small) and putting on a little musical. When I first heard about it from our music director at church, I dismissed it. Since we don't go to church in our town, I knew that attending the rehearsals would be difficult and a long drive. But, then, our choir director told me that there was a song in it for kids and would that be something our church kids could do? I said I'd talk to the parents and they were all agreeable, so I said, "Sure, the kids could do one song!" and we started rehearsing that song. Well, somehow or another, I got talked into attending a choir rehearsal and then it was all over. I was in like Flinn! Attending rehearsals isn't convenient, but there's only been about four of them, so we could put up with that. And I've been loving the music. The words are so profound and the melodies are beautiful. Each week it seems like a different song touches me. Last Wednesday I was driving to practice and was singing, "Creation Sings the Father's Song" at the top of my lungs and missed my turn. I had to drive another 1/2 mile till I could turn around, and then I was late. So, tonight is the dress rehearsal and then Saturday night we're putting on the Cantata at the Methodist Church and then Sunday night it's at our church, the Presbyterian Church. It's been a good thing for me and I think I'm going to miss it when it's over!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Living and Dying!

There are two of life's events that really get me to thinking. Weddings and funerals. Those are two of the biggest events in a person's life. Weddings and funerals are about family and relationships. They are about who you are as a person. Today I went to a funeral. It was my cousin's funeral. Well, my cousin's husband's funeral. And, as usual, it got me thinking, contemplating, being pensive. A funeral is when all your chips are cashed in, the stubble is burned and you find out what you were really made of, how you impacted the lives of others, what they thought was important about you. The only bad thing is, you aren't there to see it. Or maybe that is a good thing. As is the case with most funerals I go to, I sit there thinking about what other people are going to say about me. And I wonder, do I spend my time wisely? We are only budgeted a certain amount of time here on earth, and unlike my monetary budget, I have no idea how much I have. With that in mind, do I spend the time I'm given on worthwhile things or do I fritter it away with nothing to show for it?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If Necessity is the Mother of Invention....

then boredom is the mother of creativity. And that's just what happened to Bubba this afternoon. I've heard tell that children who's lives are overscheduled lose their sense of creativity and the ability to entertain themselves. Children who go from school to sports to music lessons to drama to therapy and then finally home to bed, and never have any free time lose the ability to figure out what to do with themselves. Makes sense to me. If you're always being told what to do, then when you're not being told what to do you won't have the slightest idea what to do. And then kids get into trouble! So, it's been our goal to try not to let the kids get overscheduled. The homeschooling lifestyle really lends itself to that because we get finished with school several hours earlier than everyone else and even though the kids have church activities and sports, they still have a lot of free time.
So, this leads us to today and to Bubba. Generally, he never likes to go outside by himself, but today I guess he didn't want to play dollhouse with the other two, so he wandered outside. He found a piece of rope and a small board and came up with this contraption.
He attached the board to a rope and then attached the rope to his scooter.
And voila', it sweeps up the leaves. Pretty nifty, isn't it?




Monday, December 13, 2010

Thinking Things Through! Part 1.

This was an incredibly busy weekend. I really hate it when that happens. From Friday afternoon till Sunday night we were going from this to that to the other. I had a mammogram on Friday afternoon, then we had a Christmas banquet for the foster agency of which we are a part (I'm trying good grammer here. You're not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, but sometimes it's really hard to figure out how to write it.) Saturday we had two soccer games and Hubby had to go to a funeral sandwiched in between the soccer games. Saturday night we had dinner with our Adoption Support Group. Sunday the kids had their Children's Christmas Program at church and then Sunday night we went to my parents' church for the Children's Christmas Program there. So, yeah! It was a busy weekend. And a though provoking one, too.

I think the biggest thing that impacted me was the soccer tournament. When we signed up we thought it was just Saturday. But then after our second game on Saturday we found out that it was going on on Sunday, too, and that the Chivas would be playing. That was like a punch in the gut. We hoped and hoped that their game wouldn't be in the morning, but it was, 8:00. So, when we found out, we told Bubba's coach that he wouldn't be able to make the game. It shouldn't have been a hard decision to make, but it was. We were right there where the pleasures of the world and all it has to offer intersected with our committment to God, and corporate worship with His people being a priority in our life. When I was growing up, sometimes there were things scheduled during church time - either Wednesday night or Sunday night - and we didn't go to them because "we weren't going to miss church." I started getting a little resentful of church because I really wanted to go to those things and the pat answer, "we weren't going to miss church" didn't really do it for me. So, right then and there I was troubled because I didn't want to be legalistic and I really didn't want my kid to become resentful of our church going. Sunday morning I really prayed about it during my early morning devotions. The Lord brought this verse to my attention. "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food." Isaiah 55:2. And it made me think of what we "spend our money on and labor for". While soccer is good and fun on a Saturday morning, it's not going to satisfy for long. It's not nourishing bread for our soul. It's candy. Nothing wrong with a little, but definitely not for the long term. So, during breakfast that morning I explained to Bubba why he wasn't going to participate in the game and I read him that verse and told him how our relationship with God is what will truly bring us happiness and satisfaction in life and that attending church is showing God that He is first in our life and that we want to go and worship with other believers. I think he understood. He listened and looked thoughtful. He didn't get upset that he wasn't going to play. I know we made the right decision regarding that game and I hope I was able to explain our reasons to Bubba in a way that was genuine to him, and not just some pat answer of, "Well, that's just what we do!"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Score Doesn't Always Tell the Whole Story!

Today was the day of the soccer tournament in our small town. There were teams there from all over the Valley playing. It's an all-star tournament and about half of Bubba's team was chosen to play and then they added a couple other kids from other teams who wanted to play, too. It was a lot of fun watching them play. This morning at 8:00 was Bubba's first game. Those kids played hard and they played well. They passed and communicated and really did a good job, but they lost 1-0. However, I don't believe the score really told how well the teams played. For one thing, the other team's point came because one of our team members kicked the ball and it bounced off the face of the opposing team, into our goal. Now, yes, our goalie should have been paying a little more attention, but still.... they didn't actually make the goal. For another thing.... we almost scored a goal. We should have. It was a.... questionable call by the ref. Now, we are good sports and we submit to the calls of the referee because he is the authority on the field but still....
The second game they played was at 11:45 and we lost that game, too. Fair and square. However, we only lost 1-0 again and we were not outplayed. The kids played hard and someone has to win. The other team scored in about the last minute of the game.

We have loved watching Bubba play, especially these last 2 weeks of the post-season. He has improved tremendously. So has the team. He's really gotten his head in the game and he is probably one of the most aggressive players. He just bumps up against the other team and takes the ball from them. He's a great defender. (I told Hubby, it's because he can finally bump up against someone and play rough and not make them cry! lol)
They have another game tomorrow. We're not sure when. It's disappointing when they schedule games for Sunday. We won't go if it's in the morning. I told Bubba that we need to show God we put Him first in our life by not doing other things instead of worshipping Him when it's church time. It's a hard decision. It's hard for me, too. It's incredible to see your kid do well on the sports field and I really want to watch him play again. We don't know for sure their game is in the morning. We're waiting for the coach to call. But, even if he played his last games for the year this morning, that's ok. What a way to end the soccer season! Go Chivas!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More traditions!

Another big Christmas tradition around here is making peppernuts. Now, if you asked a group of people what a peppernut was, they'd all probably say it's a little spicy Christmas cookie. But, if you asked someone to bake up their recipe, and then you asked someone else to make a batch from their recipe, and then you asked 138 more people to bake up a batch of their recipe you know what? You'd have 140 different cookies. Some of them wildly different. Now, my peppernut recipe turns out a hard, crunchy, spicy cookie that is utterly addictive, especially when eaten with a hot cup of coffee or tea. This summer I made up a batch of my Grandma's peppernuts for a contest we had at our family reunion and they turned out a lighter color, not spicy, softer in texture and they had little candied fruits in them. I am convinced that there are as many peppernut recipes as there are Mennonite Grandmas.
So, to make mine, you mix up a batch of dough. My dough has dark Karo syrup, and cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and allspice for the spices. The dough is pretty stiff. Then, you make little snakes like this. And then cut them up and put them on the cookie sheet.
This is what they look like after they're baked. They're brown and crunchy and spicy. Very good!
Don't you agree, Duh-Duh?
(Don't mind him. He's got a sinus infection. I gave him a peppernut and told him to eat it and smile like you really loved it. This is as good as he was able to do. Poor kid! We did go to the dr. this afternoon and Daddy's supposed to pick up the antibiotic on his way home. He'll be good as new tomorrow!)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Traditions!

I love traditions. When I was little, Christmas always meant getting a live pine tree from the Christmas tree farm. I know my mom didn't like that kind of tree so much, but the smell of fresh pine always said, "Christmas" to me. And even now, the combination of chocolate, fresh peanuts and oranges reminds me of the Christmas bags we used to get at the children's Christmas Eve program at church. We'd go to church that evening and then drive to Grandma's after for our family Christmas with the cousins and spend the night there at Grandma's house. My brother and I would sit in the back seat with our Christmas bags full of peanuts, an apple, an orange and a little bag filled with chocolate/peanut clusters and fruit gems. It was so hard not to eat them and we'd sneak a bite now and then even though we'd been told not to.

Well, now that I have children of my own, we're working on our own traditions. For a couple of years we'd been getting live trees, but got tired of that, so we got a fake one. One of our family traditions is decorating the tree. Daddy puts it together first...
and then the kids all get a pile of ornaments to hang up. It looks pretty funny actually, because there are areas where there are just hords of ornaments and then lots of bald spots. I put up my Dickens Village and the kids love that as well. They want to know where the horse and carriage are, and they always want to know which one is my new one. I get a new one from my mom every year for my birthday. This year it is the lock shop.
Some people are very intentional about starting traditions, but I'm not one of those people. I can't keep up with that. But, it's interesting that traditions often just happen, whether we really intend to or not and I'm seeing that the kids latch on to those and love them.
As an adult, they aren't that significant to me, as they probably weren't to my parents, but I see it as being significant to my kids, and for that I will try to carry on the traditions.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Zwiebach


You know, I just gotta thank my Mennonite fore-mothers for inventing this stuff. Zwiebach. No, no, no, it's not that dried bread you get at the store for teething babies. I'm talking about real zwiebach. "Zwie" means two and "bach" means bun, so zwiebach is "two-buns" quite literally. I make it all the time and we've been eating it all the time. This morning, the kids had scrambled eggs and zwiebach with butter and jam. For lunch, we had.... you guessed it. Zwiebach sandwiches. That would be zwiebach with a piece of lunch meat and cheese. Zwiebach is also good with butter and jam for dinner. I'm telling you, we could eat this stuff three times a day, and sometimes we do. I thought about going cross-cultural and having some zwiebach with a little hummus on it, but I didn't get that far today. But one thing I know for sure... I am thankful for zwiebach!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Parade

I'm really bummed that I forgot my camera last night because we went to our small town's annual Christmas Electrical Farm Equipment Parade. Yes, you read that right - Electrical Farm Equipment Parade. You see, waaaay back in the day, when I was a child and dinosaurs roamed the earth, our small town had a regular Christmas parade. Then, sometime between then and now, they quit it because of lack of interest. Then, several years ago, I want to say maybe 10 (I could be very wrong here, but it doesn't really matter) some farmers decided to decorate their tractors and spray rigs with Christmas lights and have a parade and now we have the Electrical Farm Equipment Parade. It's great. They have school busses and fire trucks and tractors and front loaders and spray rigs and this great big humongous.... I have no idea what it was but it was some sort of earth mover type thingie all covered with Christmas lights, driving down main street. Of course the high school band is there, and there are the 4-H floats and a neighboring town sent a float representing their Chamber of Commerce, and the local dance studio was in it, and the dancing horse club. It's quite the big deal. The six blocks of down town were packed with spectators and it was quite the evening. The kids, of course, sat on the curb and scrounged for the candy that got thrown out from the floats. We were sitting a little farther down the parade route this year and they didn't get quite as much candy as last year. Or maybe it's the economy... Whatever. They were a little disappointed to only get 3 mini-candy canes each. But, whatever the case, we all had a great time last night and now everyone is tired and grouchy because we got to bed late. And that's why everyone is taking a nap now. Well, not me. I'm drinking a cup of coffee.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Randomness

Random thing #1 - The kids are sick. Bubba started running a fever Saturday night. I knew he'd overdone it on Friday with the cousins over. It was cold. He was running around outside all day long in shorts and a t-shirt. And barefoot. He's had an asthma flare-up, and probably a touch of bronchitis. Duh-duh's been sneezin' and coughin' and clearning his throat and just not feeling well at all. Missy Lou isn't quite so sick, but she's out of sorts. So, I've been keeping them inside all week and it's actually been ok. We've been building Lincoln Log villages and that's been kind of fun.

Random thing #2 - Leftovers. We still have a little turkey left from Thanksgiving. I'm sick of turkey soup and turkey sandwiches. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of turkey to begin with. Last night I made Turkey a la King. I found it in the Betty Crocker Cookbook. I just love Betty. You really can't go wrong with anything in that cookbook. Anyhow, I looked up turkey and Turkey a la King looked doable. The kids actually liked it. It's kind of a thick white sauce with diced green peppers and pimiento to make it colorful and turkey and mushrooms in it and you serve it over toast triangles.

Random thing #3 - There isn't really any Random thing #3. I'm sorry this is such a boring post. I really outdid myself last month and now today.... I got nothin'! I think it's because I made phone calls today. I hate making phone calls. It really takes a lot out of me. Seriously. I had to make four calls and I only got three of them done. I just couldn't do the fourth one. Maybe tomorrow.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have something a little more interesting to say besides letting you in on all my neuroses.