Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Angel Tree

Back a few weeks ago, I told the kids we were going to donate a certain amount to the angel tree and they could each pick a child to sponsor. I don't think they really understood because as we were looking at the pictures of the children Samuel said, "Wow! They're really cheap can we get one?" After I explained, Catherine found Kristen. Samuel found Dennis, but he really thought Aaron was cute too. What about Elliott? He decided to use his own money to help more kids because getting them families was more important than a toy for himself. So he chose Sasha and Derek, too. I was really moved and on we went thinking occassionally about them. Today when I got the mail I got a package from RR. In it were ornaments for each of the children we sponsored. It hit me so hard how important it was what we'd done (not becasue we're so great or sent a ton of money. It's all of us working together to bring them home). Yes, I know they need families. Yes, I know we're bringing Hannah home soon. But when I saw their pictures and saw so much more clearly these precious little ones, it made me cry. I still am. I'm honored that even though we're not able to have them physically with us, they're there on our tree this year and hopefully in someone's home next year.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Adoption rumblings

Nothing official yet, but there are things in the works for another family our case is tied to. It's very exciting to finally hear that something is happening. We're secretly hoping and talking about what could be... Hoping to have news very soon for all.
We got Hannah's stocking up- the biggest of them all. However, Catherine dropped the usb connector down a tiny hole in the wall, so no way of posting pictures. :(

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Week in review

I tried to post earlier in the week and blogger wouldn't save, so I guess that saved you readers a few days of little family details you can live without. Here's our week in a nut shell.
Monday, after freezing outside, the kids went back in the dark to enjoy more time on the trampoline and sledding across the ice (Catherine pulled herself while she leaned over the front of the sled!) and didn't come in until their cheeks were so rosy and hopped into a warm bath! Tuesday we went to the Urbans for some fun and more time outside. When Caleb wouldn't nap in Ava's crib, he and I left to get a nap and to fold the mountain of laundry on our couch. Charissa lent me Nacho Libre, so I watched while I folded. Oh my,that was so funny! That night Buddy and I watched together and laughed so hard! Even when I got up to when Caleb woke up crying, I was laughing thinking of the scenes ahead. The next day, buddy was telling the kids about "the Lord's chips" and they got such a kick out of it. The kids and I watched yesterday and enjoyed it as much the 4th time as the 1st! A good rent if you need a laugh. Thanks Urbans!
Last week we watched Princess Bride, which is one of my all time favorites, and the kids really enjoyed it. I'm glad I have others who are willing to pull it out and watch more frequently than my other movie partner!
Wednesday we did more baking, for us this time, and drove to spend the night with Buddy. He's been blessed with so much work during this time of waiting for Hannah and we've missed him. It was a great adventure where the kids got to be with him for a bit while I got into the hotel room and ordered dinner. We played Uno and watched the Nutcracker on TV while we ate dinner. Do nice to be able to spend that time together. Buddy usually comes in and kisses me good bye while I'm still sleeping, but we all got to sleep til the same time. Samuel got to spend more time at his shop while Catherine and I picked up the room. Alas, one of my knitting needles didn't make it home with us! I've finished 6 for giving and really hoped to finish at least one more this weekend. Good thing Hobby Lobby is so close!
I'm a pretty frugal person and really like to get a good deal. When I saw Linen's and Things going out of business, I waited and waited and finally got our bookshelf and a few other things. I decided to go back to get more shelf liner and saw a few other fun things while I was there, but decided not to do anything then. Well, when I saw everything 70-80%, I was game to just go peek. Things I've been wanting and needing were sooo cheap! I got excited because God knows I'd like to have them, knows what we need to be doing with our $, and cares enough to provide things that are good quality for a very low price. I kept telling the kids how awesome God is. We could have paid the same price for these things elsewhere and they not last long, but now they'll last a very long time. We got covers for our couch and love seat, very nice blankets for our beds and guests, a new comforter set for our bed, a dining set (chair covers, napkins, table cloths, chargers, place card holders) that will be great for a birthday party we're having in a few weeks and for Christmas dinner, new wash cloths, and many other things that are exciting. I'm so thankful! One of the things we got for Buddy is a big mug that's a soup bowl. We had the funnest set several years ago and he broke both of them. Last night he was mentioning how much he missed them. Little did he know, there's one under the tree for him!
Buddy is working in town this afternoon, so we'll head over to the jobsite to spend some time together. Then possibly to a Christmas program tonight. We'll see how the timing goes.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Oh my! We don't have a thermometer or a scale at our house, which is ok with me. I just looked at weather.com and it's 19 degrees and feels like 4!!!! The kids are back out, though, and I need to get some hot chocolate going.

ice day

Thanks, Kerry, for the invite to FL! It does sound lovely to me. The kids decided to go out in it and jump on the trampoline. Sadly, we gave away the snow pants Samuel had grown out of and have yet to replace them! Many layers and retry's later (oh, he can only find one of his snow boots!) they were out with a friend, freezing their tails, but enjoying 30 minutes of crisp winter weather.
This morning, Buddy left for work and came back about 30 minutes later. He had gone about 1 mile to the on ramp, cars were backed up going 2 mph. He came home and got to spend some time with us, help out with dirty diapers and cleaning up the kitchen, and got to be part of school. They joys of homeschool, weather does not affect it! We did keep it short and did some more baking and delivered to some neighbors. Sadly, I'm out of flour and eggs and will have to think of something else to do. I need to make soup for dinner, it's one of those nights!
I put our SUV on autotrader.com and have spent far too long looking for our next vehicle. I'm really leaning toward a Suburban for the space, especially with travelling. It'll come

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Don't we look organized and somewhat official?
Catherine's creation yesterday. It made it safely home with only 2 pieces of candy falling off!

Well, after a second try, I see the need for instant, not quick acting yeast when the recipe says instant. However, everyone enjoyed it this time, so I'll look a little closer when I'm shopping and get it right. Third time...
We took the kids to see the Children's Nutcracker today. Since Catherine is in ballet, this was fun for her. Buddy wasn't sure what kind of production it would be, but it turned out to be very nice, with some really great dancers. At the end, Catherine thought it was kind of loud and lots of clapping, but the smiles throughout told the real story. I'm sure we'll be seeing dancing of a similar sort for a while. Samuel's favorite part was the mice and soldiers fighting. The canon went off and the soldiers fell down. There was also some sword fighting.
Mom and dad watched Caleb, which was the first in a long time since we rarely get our schedules working to get times when they're available. When I went to pick him up, he was sound asleep on my mom's chest. Too bad I didn't have my camera! They keep commenting on how much he's growing. He eats a little over 1 cup of oatmeal every morning for breakfast, amazingly. He's such a cute boy and was playing to get attention, which they enjoyed. We were thankful for 2 things- they were available and that they had that special time with just him. They're getting ready to move, so they had to put that prep work aside for a bit.
As I type, the ice is pelting our house! Last year we spent almost a week at my parents' because our electricity was out. I'm trusting this is going to be over quickly. Maybe it's time to start watching the news! Too bad I didn't get more eggs, we could have bake-fest tomorrow!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pictures from the Christmas ballet recital. Can you see why she wanted to take the tutu home?

I didn't get to the bread today, (try this family friendly version, thanks Mary) but the kids and I did get coconut cake made for our nearly 90 year old neighbor lady, her favorite. We also got sugar coated gingerbread twists made for friends' gifts. Both C & S had play dates and C's friend's dad asked if baking was part of homeschool curriculum. I told him, absolutely! It's fractions, following directions and planning. Yeah, planning is big, especially since I didn't read that I had to chill the dough for 2 hours- smack dab in the middle of play dates! I hadn't ever done anything like this, so I didn't realize how much time it took time to do the cutting, rolling, twisting, egg washing, sugar sprinkling. However, the results are well worth it. (That's egg wash on the edges because I don't have a brush and used a spoon!
We had happy friends who are glad we homeschool! Another thing we did today was go to Linens and Things. They're going out of business and I've been watching their sale % go down. In we went to find a jumbo muffin pan and I came out with a new bookcase! I've wanted one for our homescool books, which are piling on the kitchen counter. I was trying to not spend much money and didn't see anything I liked for a good deal. What a blessing to find it for $45 and it's pretty! Samuel and Caleb helped me put it together. I'll finish tomorrow, but I really need a drill to make it go faster than hand driving screws with no pre-drilled holes.
Tomorrow we'll go to our town's Christmas parade and then head to my parents to make gingerbread houses and relax. I might try that bread recipe in the am, after I'm very sure I've read the directions and have a good understanding of time frames!
We drove home from the play date last night and saw so many pretty houses with their lights. Caleb kept saying "Hi" in this really soft, high pitched voice and had the biggest smile when he saw lights. Made us all laugh.
Adoption news: We have to be really thankful that God is on our side. I heard tonight again the scripture that God places the lonely in families, which was very encouraging. I wish I could share details, but the best thing to say is that someone we needed to help us on the US side (not the agency, but government) who, in the past was not helpful, has made a turn around and is advocating strongly for us. I continue to believe it will be soon that we hear something and we will have our little girl where she belongs- in our home. There are 3 of us families effected by the way things are going and it's been a challenge at times to be patient. Please pray for these other families, too as they wait out the conclusion of their adoptions.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A few fun updates. Today we went to the Urbans and joined with another hs family for a Christmas party. We had 14 children from ages 10 years to 15 months. We got to decorate cookies, made ornaments from hand prints, acted out the Christmas story (during which my video camera battery died!,) had a great snack, and some good old running around outside time. The kids all behaved very well, only 2 ornaments were broken and no one was hurt. I must say the little ones did much better on this than on the turkey project!
While we were there, 2 of the girls were playing piano. Almost as soon as we got home, Catherine started asking me to give her a lesson. I took for 8 years, play rarely, and about pulled my hair out when Samuel took last year. However, Catherine has always enjoyed singing and music and she seemed ready. So, we sat down with S's old books and had a little lesson. She was so pleased with herself and did really well. I told her that Samuel used to play each song 5 times. "Can I do that?" Of course! Granted, it's the first day, but she's so excited! She has a little notebook and was writing down the notes and what they were worth. this may be a little easier than I anticipated!
Samuel has had some challenges with multiplication tables, but does ok counting by 5's, 3's, etc. Charissa lent us a book that is so awesome! I don't have it in front of me, but it's stories in pictures with the factors and products. One time through the book and he could tell me all but one of the answers. I need to get the lower numbers at some point, because this is amazing! I'm looking forward to much easier times at the kitchen table.
On another note, S has never wanted to be called anything but Samuel and gets kind of irritated if you do (although he has no problem calling other people things besides their chosen name.) However, the other day he told Caleb he could call S "Bubba."
Caleb has begun giving us kisses and making the sound to go with it. It's so sweet, except he didn't want to kiss his daddy! It may have something to do with the stubble issue.
A friend had eye surgery and is supposed to take it easy, so we brought dinner to her tonight. Catherine wanted to eat with her and she said it was fine. Her parents had left this morning and she was a little lonely. Ha! We are the cure for that! Caleb has no inhibitions and was quite pleased to check out the cat food, garage can, and pull anything he could off the coffe table. It was a nice visit and she was very sweet about it, but I'm sure it's a little wearing when you're not used to such an active little explorer. She did say we warmed her tummy and her heart, which I'm thankful for.
Cranberry jelly does NOT make everything better. The bread I made was awful! Caleb kept eating it and grabbing every piece I missed, though. I'm not ready to give up yet, although I did buy a loaf at WalMart today! Mary, who would knock Martha Stewart's socks off, sent a nice recipe that I'm excited to try. Here's a little warning, though. If you're going to make this with your kids, be aware there are some words we don't use in this house included in the direction. I'll let you know the results! http://steamykitchen.com/blog/2007/09/10/no-knead-bread-revisited/

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Great ambitions

After our trip to Great Harvest Bread , I thought it would be so cool to make bread for our family. My mom and I used to do it together when I was growing up, so I thought it would be a neat thing for the kids to do with me. We have a Vita Mix already, so when I saw the dry container that grinds grain for you, I bought it. I went to Whole Foods, bought my grain and organic yeast and got excited. After the kids were in bed tonight, I opened the recipe book, ground my grain, mixed my yeast and added it, flipped the switch a few times like it said. It said to let the dough rest. I did for about 5 minutes and flipped the switch a few more times and poured it into the pan. Funny thing was, the directions said it would be a ball and mine was a bit runny. I followed exact amounts and timing for switch flipping! It said to let it rise 35 minutes until it was even with the top of the pan. Let's just say mine was not showing signs of doing anything! I pulled out the yeast package and it said to let it rest 1 hour, knead, let it rise 1-2 hours, etc. Let me just say, I did not want to be up that late and baked it as is. It didn't do much of anything, but we'll chalk it up to experience and see if I can improve a bit next time. I'm sure with cranberry jelly, it'll be just fine!

We got some videos!

Yesterday we received 2 short videos of Hannah! We also got about 6 pictures of her-oh my, she's growing up! I know God and people are working to bring this to a quick close and so I'm thankful. Wish I could share with you the video- she's so pleased with herself and her accomplishments that she's showing us. Imagine the leaps and bounds once she's home...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Date night

Tonight Catherine had her little Christmas ballet recital. They were dressed as angels with white tutus and wings that had glitter on them. Sadly, they were rented and we couldn't take them home with us. She did well and enjoyed herself. Pictures will follow.
After we got home, our babysitter came and I joined Buddy for an ORU basketball game. I'm so thankful we took advantage of it last time and went with the Urbans, who unfortunately couldn't come this time. It was a great game and so nice to share something totally out of our normal routine with each other. I guess that's why date nights are so good for you. I think there's one more before the end of the year that we'd like to take the kids to, minus Caleb. We were amazed at how many older people were there- it's loud and has crazy college kids dressed up and very full of spirit!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A few of my favorite things

...watching Caleb reach for Samuel to pat his hair while we're driving and seeing him lean in for a snuggle with Catherine at the same time.
...finding organic treats for my kids and hearing them exclaim about the wonders of candy canes that are made with sucanot and jello that has no animal parts and squishes around in their mouths (1st time today. Caleb couldn't quite figure it out and spit it out for quite a few tries and eventually ate some while he was in the tub.)
...a husband who comes home from a very long day yesterday, a full 7 hours of work, 2 hours of driving today, and puts up Christmas lights outside, runs to WalMart to get more so we can finish the last 5 feet, and then has a slumber party with them in the living room so they can sleep on the sofa sleeper.
...hearing my children cheer for Caleb as he takes more steps
...wrestling/tickling on the floor with the kids
...seeing compassion in Caleb for his sister- when he saw her tears tonight over having daddy and S gone and no friends to play with, ponted to her face. I said, "yes, sissy is sad. Go give her a hug" went over to her to give her a hug, then sat down and snuggled in her lap. (I got a picture but Catherine begged me not to put it on the blog.)
...hearing Samuel suggest he and Catherine rake up all the leaves in our yard to surprise daddy "and maybe he'll pay us!"
...working with S&C on an art project after we got home from the museum as we explored a new way to express ourselves. They behaved so well today while we were out and I praised them several times and told them how great it was to have them acting so nicely and how much I enjoyed our time together. Catherine's response- "we're honoring God with our work."

Friday, December 5, 2008

A day on the road

Today was a funny day. Usually, Buddy works about an hour away, but today was installing right in our town! He'd spent the night away so he could get up early and get to it. the kids and I planned a little surprise and met him at the job site with some treats and smiling faces. We planned to stay for a short while so we could get back to school work, but ended up staying for over an hour. I must say, it's really neat seeing his handiwork. As I told one of the other contractors, I get to wash his dirty clothes and that's about all I see, usually. We came back so Caleb could nap, did the majority of school, turned around to take lunch to Buddy and his helper and had a picnic in one of the bedrooms! (The house is new construction, so there's no carpet down and the wood floors aren't stained, so it's not a big deal if we have a few crumbs.) Back home for the rest of school and laundry, a failed nap for Caleb, then we were back over to the house to bring some papers to Buddy. They were planning on installing at another house tonight, but hadn't had dinner, so back on the road to Panera for our dinner and got some for the guys. Spent some time while they were eating and helped troubleshoot, then back home. It felt like we were gone as much as we were home, but we were all thankful to have that time with Buddy.
I had intended to take the kids to a Christmas program that, I'm sure, wouldn't have been fabulous. However, I didn't have a babysitter and the older 2 had some attitude issues that were less than becoming. So, change of plans for us, which ended up being fine since we had dinner out and more time with daddy.
Tomorrow should be a much better day attitude-wise or we'll miss out on some more fun I've planned.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Field trip day

On Tuesday the Urbans and we had a field trip planned for the George Washington Carver Monument. Amanda came to watch the 3 youngest, which let the rest of us pile into one vehicle. I forgot how long it would take, but it was a good 2 hrs and the kids did fine. We were so happy it had warmed up while we drove, because we had to eat outside and it was windy! There was a really nice movie about GWC's life and what kind of a man he was. Then we got to see really neat things from his life. Seeing the bill of sale for his mother was really eye opening for us. There was a hands on area for the kids to look at nature and appreciate it in a different light. We saw a typical school room from that era, which the kids enjoyed.
When the kids finished 6 activities, they got badges to be Jr. rangers. They had to take an oath and were very pleased.

There was a nature walk where we got to see his birthplace and where he spent much of his time. Before we went, we read a book called "The Man Who Talked with the Flowers." It was a little challenging for the kids to understand, but so eye opening about overcoming adversity and the potential we overlook and ignore. Imagine if we took time as he did to meet with God each day for direction and then did it! He was so humble and caring, such a pure spirit. I'd like to be like him. Interestingly, we were reading a book exploring creation and in Job 12:8 it says "Speak to the earth and it will teach you." It's not just for GWC, it's for us if we'll believe it. I encourage you to look him up and learn more about him, it's an amazing, inspiring story.

When we got home, Caleb was so happy to see me and wanted to be held, not out of my sight. Funny thing, he wouldn't walk for me, but as soon as Buddy got home, he walked to him! We watched Wall-E after the kids went to bed and I knitted. What a nice cozy time together, which I enjoyed. We need to do this more often.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Questions

My friend Kristi emailed this, but I don't think I've ever responded to one of these, passed on recipes or anything like that. This is a big step, but I'm sharing with all for her sake! If you'd like, share on your blog and let me know!

Christmas Questions
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both, but mostly bags
2. Real tree or Artificial? Fake for the past 8 or 9 Christmases, although I was feeling pretty nostalic about the scent and all
3. When do you put up the tree? Usually the day after Thanksgiving, but had to wait til the Sunday after when Buddy could get it down for us.
4. When do you take the tree down? New Years day, but sometimes feel like I'm so ready to get my house back I can hardly wait!
5. Do you like eggnog? Sometimes, but I don't like things really sweet
6. Favorite gift received as a child? a sewing machine
7. Hardest person to buy for? my dad
8. Easiest person to buy for? Kids
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes- 3-1 in the kids room, 1 on the piano, 1 on the entertainment
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Last year I did nothing, this year it'll be mailed, probably a picture (I was hoping it would be an adoption announcement)
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? can't remember one I really didn't like. I'll have to think on that
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Don't have one
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually early December, although I started in November
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Sadly, yes
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? muffins or cinnamon rolls for breakfast
16. Lights on the tree? Yes, wrapped and wrapped around the tree
17. Favorite Christmas song? Mary Did You Know, Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel by Margaret Becker
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? stay home (Buddy has a Santa suit and we make the kids stay in bed til Santa visits, then we can go get presents)
20.What's on your tree top Angel or a star? had an angel Buddy didn't like, so back to a star
21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? One Christmas Eve and the rest the morning of
22 . Most annoying thing about this time of the year? the pressure to buy, buy, buy and all the rushing and traffic
23. Favorite Ornament theme or color? They're mostly from each year of marraige/life with no theme at all
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? probably sweet potato casserole again
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? a little girl to be with her family

Monday, December 1, 2008

Budding artist

Today we made a poster about cockatoos for Samuel's cub scout project. After we were done and getting ready for dance, Caleb found the markers and was intent on using them- leaning over and marking very intentionally on paper that was also left on the floor. Thankfully, the covers were all on!
After we got done with dinner, he found another stray, so I rescued some huge coloring books we were going to recycle to see what he'd do. He had such a great time! I had had suspicions about which hand would be dominant and it appears he's very right handed. Who knows, it may change tomorrow, but he was very serious about holding with his right hand.
Here's a more finished picture with contributions by Catherine and myself. This may have to be a keeper.

Kid moments

Caleb took his first steps yesterday! It was so cool that Buddy was here and C walked to him for his first steps! That didn't happen with the 1st 2, so this was quite monumental. Funny thing was after that he spent quite a bit of time bear crawling (hands and legs straight) around the house. Buddy says he could win a medal in the 100 yard crawl! I was calling "Catherine Ruth" while I was feeding him the other day and he said "aaa ooo." It's going to be flood gates opening when he finally says something!
We were driving around on Friday, I think and Steven Curtis Chapman was singing a song which I realized was from an orphan's viewpoint. Of course, I was moved by it and told the kids what it was. Catherine said, "I want an orphan for Christmas." That is the sentiment of all of us here. Click here to see what we heard and then go to Reece's Rainbow to help sponsor an orphan who could be helped so much by a little help from each of us.
Well, a very belated Happy Thanksgiving to all. We spent a nice day with our family and ate a bunch, but didn't overstuff. We happily took leftovers home and ate for the next 2 days on the great stuff. Of course, I failed to make enough sweet potato casserole to last more than one left over meal. I do have the recipe, so I could make it again! I made a blueberry pie for the first time and was pleased to hear that it was a hit with all. I also made a wild rice cranberry dressing which was tastey for us Minnesotans.

Before we went to mom and dad's, we went to the house Buddy is working on. We met the cabinet guy who happened to be a Christian. It was very sweet to hear he knew Buddy was a believer as soon as he introduced himself. We had such a nice conversation about how good God is to us and how He cares for us so well. The fact that they both had to do a bit of work on that day was cause for thanksgiving, know God has given them both work in spite of what we hear about the economy.

I've been happily knitting away and have finished 3 scarves. The first went to Catherine, the 2nd we can bless someone with, the 3rd I started with yarn that is a bit more challenging than I anticipated with kneedles much smaller than I had been using, so it's in my sewing box to be torn apart later or finished, as I feel led! The 4th goes to Samuel and he is quite pleased to have "boy colors" on his scarf (I accidently ended up with an extra stitch somehow, so it's a little wider than I planned.) Ok, now that they are done, I can go on to the ones we'd like to gift to others.

Yesterday we finally got all the decorations down from the shed loft. Buddy does the heavy work and the rest of us do the decorating. As you can see, we don't have a theme, just a family memory assortment. I have ornaments for each year from when I was a little girl, a family ornament since we were first married, and one for each Christmas for each child. Plus all the crafty ones they've made in school and some here at home. The kids put most of the ornaments on the tree and did a pretty good job. Buddy got to top it with the star and Caleb was able to take an ornament or 2 off when he got close.

We'd had a train for several year, but it bit the dust last year, so we got one on sale and have been anticipating Christmas so we could get it out this year. If you look closely, Samuel put his special touches on it.

We have to go get batteries today so it'll sing to us, but it's been fun even with manuel power!

We had the fireplace going, Christmas carols playing, and a balsam fir candle burning (to mask the dusty smell of the tree) and had such a nice time! The kids asked me what my favorite part was and it's really listening to the kids ooh and ah! over all the ornaments and decorations. They have lights up around the ceiling in their room, a nativity scene, dolls and tiny trees on their dressers.

Caleb gets such a kick out of climbing on the hearth. It's a little concerning to Buddy, but he knows how to turn around to get down, which I think is so smart of him! The fire in the fireplace was a lot of fun for him, plus the stocking were quite fun for him to look at. Excuse the leftover dinner on his belly.

Well, back to a "normal" week of school and getting the house back in order after decorating! We woke this morning to a dusting of snow on the roof and some on the ground. We're hopeful for a much warmer day for our field trip tomorrow!