Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Fun

I'm kicking myself because I forgot to mention something really special this Christmas.

My dad surprised us with a family slide show. Remember slides? Before digital cameras? We have boxes and boxes of them. Thousands.

And my dad spent days culling through them and picking out slides from special family events from the mid-60's (when he and my mom got engaged and married), clear up into the 80's. From cute little baby pics to family vacations to holidays to really bad 80's hair. (Ewww!) Hilarious!

Thanks, Dad!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Day... at Grandpa and Grandma's house

You know how the old story goes...

When I was a boy we had to walk to school.
In the snow.
Barefoot.
Uphill.
Both ways.


Well, this is the Christmas my boys can tell their grandkids about.
There was no way we could drive up Grandpa and Grandma's 1.2 mile (old logging road) driveway! You can't tell how steep it is in the pictures, but it gains 600-700' in elevation.
Wyatt and Tate had a can-do attitude.
They were ready to walk the whole way,
pulling our gifts behind them on a toboggan :0)


Well... we were all glad to see Grandpa show up on a borrowed quad-runner. (Nice neighbors!)
Not sure how many trips he made, up and down the hill, but we had 15 for Christmas :0)


Talk about a winter wonderland!


Look at those handsome guys!

Seems like every year we say that this was the best Christmas ever :0)

Christmas Morning... our house

Talk about a picture-perfect Christmas morning... candles glowing, music playing, snow falling, and boys opening presents under the tree...

Gunnar












If Tate could only have gotten one present for Christmas, this is what he would've picked. I'd put money on him having mentioned "Jungle Cutter" every single day since his birthday in early November.

Tater-bliss.







A boy's Christmas just wouldn't be complete without weapons and projectiles. Wyatt likes to hold his sideways, like a cross-bow.

Christmas Eve

Had the family here for Christmas Eve. The plan was to have an early dinner and go to Christmas Eve service at church... but church was canceled, due to snow.

I know, I've been going on and on about the snow, and we have been loving it! (We have a coastal climate and usually get a lot more rain than snow. Really, a lot of rain.) Still, most of us were disappointed not to get to go to Christmas Eve service.

Tate opened our last book - the one he had been strategizing to open on Christmas Eve - "A Night the Stars Danced for Joy". This is the familiar story, from Luke 2, but told from a shepherd family's point of view.

Oh, look at those happy faces! They get to open one or two small gifts on Christmas Eve. (I used to always give them new jammies, so they had something presentable for Christmas morning photos!) This year they each opened a mini Lego kit.

And, since we had already eaten a very early dinner when we got the call that church was canceled, they decided that I needed to open my gift from them. With typical boy logic, they got me the "Prince Caspian" DVD! After our Advent devotion we all watched together. (Two and a half hours long... I had forgotten.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Best Gift

And when we give each other
Christmas gifts in His name,
let us remember
that He has given us the sun
and the moon and the stars,
and the earth with its forests
and mountains and oceans -
and all that lives and moves upon them.
He has given us all that blossoms and bears fruit
- and all that we quarrel about
and all that we have misused -
and to save us from our own foolishness,
from all our sins,
He came down to earth
and gave us
Himself.


- Sigrid Undset, Christmas and Twelfth Night

Advent... Day 23

We are almost there. Almost.

Only two wrapped books left. Wyatt (mostly) graciously chose the book Tate wanted him to choose, so Tate could unwrap the "really special" book tomorrow, on Christmas Eve. Wyatt managed to enjoy "If You Take a Mouse to the Movies" in spite of himself. (rolling eyes)

Going somewhat out of sequence, (at least last night was out of sequence), we read about the shepherds tonight.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

See if you caught this:

After the angels left, what did the shepherds do before they went to Bethlehem?

Tagged

Deborah tagged me for another reading challenge...

Who is your all-time favorite author and why?

Oh boy.
God.
He wrote the Bible.

Who was your first favorite author and why?

Hmmm. As a child I loved the "Little House" books, so I could say Laura Ingalls Wilder. But I think I liked "Tom Sawyer" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" even better, so maybe Samuel Clemens / Mark Twain. I read more Bobbsey Twin books than I care to admit, but Laura Lee Hope was undoubtedly the pen name for many authors, so I won't count "her"!

Do you still consider him/her to be among your favorites?

Well, I've read the "Little House" books to my boys, but not any of the others. No... I have new favorites now :0)

Who is/are the most recent additions to your favorites?

Funny that Deborah mentioned Sally Clarkson. She has written several books I'm enjoying and plan to re-read regularly (The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood, Our 24 Family Ways, Educating the Whole-hearted Child, etc.) And I also enjoy James Herriott, which Deborah mentioned :o)

For fiction, I've read several books by Jamie Langston Turner. Yes, she writes Christian fiction, but her books are not:

A. About the Amish,
B. Completely predictable or
C. Simplistically solved in unrealistic scenarios.

Our book club just read "Hannah Coulter", by Wendell Berry, and now I want to read more of his.

For fiction AND non-fiction, CS Lewis (who doesn't love Narnia?).

For writing style that absolutely transports me, Isak Dinesen (Karen von Blixen-Finecke).


I'm supposed to tag more people, but - being Christmas - I'm not. Have fun with it, if you want!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Advent... Day 22

More. Snow.

Found out yesterday that my sister asked Wyatt (a few weeks back) what he would like for Christmas.

"Well, you can't get this for me, but two weeks of sledding."

He's about to get his wish.

(Little rat! Why didn't he wish for a long family trip to Hawaii?!)



Tate has a plan for opening the remaining books. He has a favorite that he knows is still in there, and he gets to open the last book on Christmas Eve, so he's lobbying his brothers to open the other two. Gunnar was happy to cooperate tonight and got a bonus - I wrapped two books together. "Snowmen at Night" and "Snowmen at Christmas" are fun picture books about the secret adventures of snowmen, while their creators sleep. Apparently they're a lot busier than you thought. Interestingly, the Christmas one mentions them celebrating the birth of a King.

Our devotion tonight was a sad one, remembering Herod's slaughter of the boys of Bethlehem. Very hard for Gunnar's tender little heart.

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

"A voice is heard in Ramah,

weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more."

Advent... Day 21

We had a night full of wise guys and wise men.
You can guess which is which.

*sigh*

Tate opened one of our newer books, "Amahl and the Night Visitors", originally written as an opera (the first to be commissioned for television) and later made into a book. Gian Carlo Menotti (b 1911 in Italy) began composing at age 5 and had written his first opera at age 11! As a child, he was miraculously cured of lameness during a pilgrimage, which inspired this story of the Wise Men's stop-over at a village of shepherds.

Our devotion also focused on the Wise Men.

...the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Christmas traditions...

More fun things that have nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas...



You probably do this too, right? We pile the kids in the car and go look at Christmas lights. Well, in our town you could drive all over, or you could go to the local "55 and Over" retirement-living-manufactured-home-village.
Sort of "one-stop shopping" for looking at Christmas decorations!

This is not the kind of trailer park where everyone has two first names and a car up on blocks in the driveway, but we did see some very interesting decorations this year, what with having more snow than usual.

Which would be any.



We discovered a large, multi-colored octopus is hiding in this yard.




And here you see an example of a large green paramecium about to be absorbed by an even larger and more colorful amoeba.



Look closely. I think we've found its mouth.




Pixie Dust!



These people had waaaay too much fun in the 70's.



Oh, wait. I did that on purpose. Really.




We finished the evening with this classic treat: a toasted pbm.


My mom made this when I was a kid, and I would come in freezing cold from playing in the snow.

Toast a piece of bread lightly.
Spread it with peanut butter.
Sprinkle on mini-marshmallows.
Chocolate chips are optional.
It's pretty darn good without them, but then,
almost everything is better with a little chocolate.
Brown the marshmallows under the broiler.


P.S.
Gunnar begged me to add the following picture.
"Mama! Please put the picture on the blog of my favorite tree, and tell them,
'Gunnar thought this tree was beautiful.' "


What we do all day

Because you're dying to know.


We go up.....



we go down.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Advent... Day 20

Ya gotta love it... more snow.

It's so "Christmassy", the kids' Christmas program may end up being canceled.

*sigh*

I spent nearly all day doing something that really didn't put me in a Christmas mood... balancing the checkbook. Most of my friends think I'm really organized and on top of things.

True confession? I'm not going to tell you how long it's been since I got caught up on this, but I will say that say it took hours. Several hours. Larry Burkett would be very displeased with me. Ugh.

The boys were happy to be in and out of the house... more sledding of course. This isn't related to Christmas at all, but if you want a good winter read aloud, pick up a copy of "Snow Treasure". Adventure, sledding, treasure, N@zis... and, supposedly, based on a true story. (Written by a journalist, in 1942, during WWII.)

Our Christmas book tonight, "The Light of Christmas", I have to confess, is not one of my favorites, and it's hard to say why. Well, maybe it's not that hard... The book is moralistic, but without Christ. It has a "Christian" message, along the lines of the good Samaritan, or "what you've done to the least of them, you've done to Me", but no Jesus.

Kind of funny, because I enjoy silly books, like "Worried Arthur" (the tale of an anxious little penguin, who does not want Santa to miss his house), which has absolutely nothing to do with the true meaning of Christmas. But "The Light of Christmas" is trying too hard to say something profound, while somehow completely missing the point.

Well, maybe I'm being too hard on it. Talked with the boys about the good Samaritan, and moved on to devotions, and the encounter with Anna, in the temple.

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Fictionary #15

Snow-veralls n. pl. : protective waterproof trousers, worn over regular clothes, usually with a bib and shoulder straps.
Usage: "Mom! Please! Help me get my snow-veralls and boots on!"

Invented by my boys, who were appalled at the suggestion that they wear anything that has the word "bib" in it... like "snow bibs".

Friday, December 19, 2008

Advent... Day 19

Brrrrr. 14F and probably dropping. I love having the boys "in" for the evening, candles lit, and stories to read!

Gunnar has such a tender spirit that the book he chose, "Room for a Little One", though written for littler kids, still pleased him. The animals, beginning with Kind Ox, welcome each other and the baby Jesus into the stable.

Tonight's devotion sure was timely. The topic was "patience", something my boys possess only in minute quantities and apparently don't want to waste by using. Ever.

Simeon waited all his life to see the promised Messiah. We get frustrated waiting 2 minutes and 45 seconds for the microwave to pop our popcorn.

*sigh*

We're working on it :0)

Testosterzone #7

Part 1 - Don't Make A Scene:

Heard around my house (or, recently, on the Amtrak train):

I'm making a scene.

or

Wyatt, come help me make a scene!

*sigh*

They don't get why I laugh.



Part 2 - Yes, I Know What My Kids Are Doing:

I mentioned that we live on a hill that is Very Popular for Sledding. Well, after five days of snow, one of our town's two sanding trucks finally made it to our hill. The driver ignored the boys attempt to wave them off and proceeded up the hill, under a barrage of snow-balls. (Yes, I spoke to the boys about that.)

Not easily deterred, the boys have rounded up several neighborhood kids, plastic sleds (for scooping), and shovels, and are diligently working to cover up all the sand. If only they would work that hard for me!


Part 3 - Hurray for husbands

Mine just phoned from the grocery store (to clarify if corn muffin mix is, indeed, the same as corn bread mix). Apparently the local grocery store is a big convention of men, with shopping lists from their wives.


Part 4 - No Sign of the Tooth Fairy Yet

That tooth has taken on a life of its own.

In case you couldn't see it, in all its glory, here's a close-up.

Yikes.

The Equal Mass Law

Okay, this is probably more of a January topic, since that's when everyone seems to get the organizing, de-cluttering bug. But I'm throwing this out there now, because this is another little peculiarity tradition of ours.

Christmas "booty" will be coming in, therefore an equal mass must go out. Otherwise we're drowning in stuff. Now, honestly, we do have a fairly large house, so this is not as critical as it used to be, when the three boys shared a room that was - no kidding - 9'4" x 9'8". But it's still important because clutter in the house causes me stress. So...

It's time to sort again. We did their clothes when the weather changed, so I can check that off my list. Toys come next. We can get rid of things they have outgrown and aren't interested in. And - the hardest for me - books. Well, maybe books can wait. :0)

We're not in the camp that doesn't do gifts. We do. We like gifts - giving and receiving them! But in order to stem the tide of the stuff that comes in, here are a couple of tips that work for us...

1. Keep the "gift circle" small. We exchange gifts with our family. I don't want to squelch my kids' generous impulses, but I also don't want to start a cycle/expectation of exchanging gifts with more and more people each year. If they want to give a friend a gift I'll try to help them make something.

2. Think outside the box. Some of our best gifts have been memberships. We've enjoyed annual memberships to the Zoo and the Science Center in recent years. Didn't ask for those this year because the gas to get there is so expensive. But maybe a gas card to go with it??? Other experiences and activities fall in this category.

3. Tickets. I wouldn't have budgeted money to take the whole family to Cirque d' Soleil. (sp?) But my parents gave us tickets last Christmas and we all went together... in May.

4. Lessons. I'd better keep the kids away from the blog for a few days... they're getting a session of swim lessons from Grandpa and Grandma :0)

5. Subscriptions. I don't want a lot of magazines around the house. I don't have time to read them all (oh the pressure!) and too many women's magazines just cultivate discontent with what we have. But... we have enjoyed and saved (and filed, in a sort of organized way) back-issues of Kids Discover, National Geographic, and a couple of other magazines that we like to look at and (bonus!) we use in homeschool.

6. Think consumables. I don't just mean food, but think of things you use and use up. Candles. A new calendar. Lotion. Gift cards for Happy Meals.

7. Books. Okay, yes, books are stuff. But books are a whole separate category, to me!

Be sure to leave me any of your great ideas in the comments :0)

I may have learned something new

All the really cool bloggers know something I don't... or didn't.

How to say something they meant, but cross it out like they really didn't mean to reveal it.

As in,

My boys are out playing in the snow, in the street, but I'm reading all my favorite blogs and hoping the kids are still alive at the end of the day checking out the window every two minutes to make sure they're safe.


YES!!! It worked!

Thank you Deborah :0)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm not obsessing... really

Okay, so I added a "feedjit" thing a couple of weeks ago.

Because I'm curious.

Actually I'm completely boggled. Some of the locations I recognize. I think I know who is visiting from Wake Forest :0) And Canada :0) And probably Guatemala and Brazil. :0) But others...

Who in the world is logging on from Kerala? Russia? Morocco? Bulgaria? Spain? Turkey? The Philippines? And Cambodia, France, Greece, and China?

Are these people actually interested in our mundane lives? Or are they searching for something else? Something vastly more interesting?

I've heard that you can find out how people are coming to your site, but I don't know how to do that. And I am curious, but trying not to be too curious. I mean, are there actual Herders of Grasshoppers that are looking for some professional networking? Maybe someone is looking for a recipe to cook grasshoppers (protein, right?)

Or what?

Is it time for an intervention?


The Tooth.

It is still there.

(Click on the picture.)

Advent... Day 18

It's getting hard to remember what day it is... probably because today was just about like yesterday. Snow, snow, and more snow. I don't know how many hours the boys were outside, but when they finally did come in they were still warm under all their layers, and their cheeks were rosy all day!

When I was 3 and a half (or maybe 2 and a half?) my grandma taught me to say the whole "Twas the Night Before Christmas" poem. She was really into the whole Santa scene. Huge. Used to talk a relative or even a neighbor into dressing as Santa and showing up on Christmas Eve. With potentially 11 cousins involved, you might imagine that generated a bit of a frenzy. In fact, one year somebody flew over the lake near our house in a small plane with a red light on it.

Yeah. Christmas Eve, 11 kids, lots of cookies and candy, and a Rudolph-sighting.

Lots of adrenaline, my friends, lots of adrenaline.

Now, we don't "do" Santa, but neither do we make a big scene about being anti-Santa. We've told the boys about the historical St. Nicholas, and that Santa is a fun game people play at Christmas, and not to spoil other people's fun, because they are young enough to have friends that still believe. Tate thought it was fun to open our copy of "The Night Before Christmas". We like the illustrations in this version, by Bruce Whatley.

We moved on to a discussion about the difference between the Wise Men's and Herod's reaction to the birth of the King. And, interestingly, read Matthew 2 - one of the few places where an angel is recorded as saying something that doesn't begin with "Fear not". I guess either Joseph was getting used to being visited by angels (?) or the "Fear not" just didn't get recorded. Maybe it's just assumed the angel would start with that.

(Sort of like the old "How does a snow-boarder introduce himself? 'Oh, sorry dude, are you okay?' ")

Fictionary #14

In honor of the winter weather...

Fleezing: Running for your life, in the cold.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advent... Day 17

We did "double duty" today with our books and devotions, after being gone all day yesterday.

Two candies from the candy strip, two books, two devotions, and two Christmas carols.

Gunnar picked out "Snowie Rolie", which was given to him years and years ago. Apparently it's from a cartoon (?) but I'm not familiar with it. Apparently this was a "little kid book" night, as Wyatt proudly presented me with "Bob, and 6 More Christmas Stories", a board book, by Sandra Boynton. This one always cracks me up. I love her silly rhymes and pictures. I think our family favorite, from this book, is:

A Big Box
I need a box,
A really big box.
It's got to be big and wide.
I need a box,
A really big box,
To put your present inside.
I need a box,
A really big box,
As big as I can wish.
I need a box,
A really big box,
So the hippo's ears won't squish.
Oh, here is a box!
A really big box!
The perfect shape and size!
Now where can I find
What I have in mind
For your Christmas Day
surprise?

Yeah. Because we're deep and meaningful like that. ;-)

Had an interesting discussion, with our devotions, about the wise men. How many were there? What did they ride? Did they visit Jesus in the stable? What are our assumptions vs. what do we really know?

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Could anything possibly top all the fun we had yesterday? Maybe a big dump of snow... We saw a few little flakes, driving home last night, and the boys had high hopes, but woke up to a disappointing little dusting of new snow.

I convinced them to jump right into school work and get math out of the way because I didn't want them out there trying to sled (on the icy streets) when people were trying to drive to work. (Moms are so irrational about what's really important!) This was not a popular decision, what with the public schools having Late Arrival because it's taking the buses so much longer to get around.

HA! The boys were rewarded and I was vindicated... as they wrapped up their math and writing, (just as kids were headed past our house, on their way to school), the snow really began to fall.

Could you really study much, with that going on outside the window? Hence, the empty room...

Well, what could I say, but, "I think it's time for homeschool PE!" And out they went. For three hours.

I finally forced them to come inside for lunch, around 1pm. Doesn't tomato soup and toasted cheese sandwiches (for some obscure reason known as "cheesy pleasy" at our house) sound just about perfect? Finished our history study for the week, talked a bit more about Windchill and hypothermia, and turned them loose in time to meet all their friends coming home from school for another three hours of "self directed exercise"... or something like that.

We are The Happenin' Place when it snows. That is, we live on a dead-end road that is the practically-perfect sledding hill. Well, except for that intersection at the bottom. Minor details, people! There are often adults keeping watch over the flocks of kids... and occasionally stopping traffic to let an avalanche of sledders go by.

Don't those look like happy faces?! And boy do they sleep well!

Advent... Day 16 (yesterday)

We surprised the boys, almost. Usually Kerry is the blurter, but this time it was me.

Monday evening: "C'mon Gunnar, pull that tooth out! You don't want to lose it tomorrow, in Seattle." Oops.

Turns out that was quite helpful, as the boys were amazingly cooperative in anticipation of their big day!

They LOVE the train. And isn't it sleek looking? I think they've gotten new seats since the last time we rode. Very comfy. (The boys look happy and engaged. I look like I'm just waking up. Why do I always blink?)









Got to Seattle, took the free underground bus over to Westlake Mall for lunch, and waited in vain for a (broken down) Monorail. Gunnar was disappointed, as he alone has not ridden it. But the boys were all thrilled by our decision to save time by taking a taxi over to the Pacific Science Center. What can I say? They're thrilled by simple things.

I was thrilled by what you don't see in this picture... crowds. That room is usually swarming with people, but not this day. Apparently the snow and icy roads caused the usual school groups to cancel. Yippee for us! Hurray for trains, and a bigger hurray for homeschooling and flexibility :0)

Normally the boys love the science center, and I love that they love the science center, but it starts making me crazy after an hour or so. The crowds, the noise, the keeping track of my kids among the masses. You might've noticed they are all dressed the same - in bright red sweatshirts - so I can pick them out in a crowd. HA! That wasn't necessary after all!

Usually there are swarms, flocks, hordes of people at all the exhibits, but this time the boys could walk right up to almost anything, and take as long as they want to explore. Didn't pay for an IMAX movie, but saw the free planetarium show, and learned to pick out a few constellations. Wyatt got chosen to be a volunteer at the "Physics of Bubbles" display, the best part of which was watching them create and explode Hydrogen-filled bubbles. Yeah. Hydrogen. Remember the Hindenberg?!

Yep, it was a big, fun-filled day. And two taxi rides (the monorail not having been fixed). Who knew cab drivers were so chatty? The first one had nine children, and told us we were "rich"... in children :0) The second regaled us with stories from "Leave It To Beaver", which apparently comes on every day at noon. Two shows. Back to back. And he never misses it. Oooooo-kay!

It was snowing again by the time we got home, but the boys - thankfully - we're too tired to get all giddy about it. They were on their A+ behavior all day, and swooped right into bed when we got home. Well, Gunnar needed a drink of milk first. "Regular milk, mommy. I've had a lot of chocolate milk today." Oh yeah... it was a day full of treats!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Advent... Day 15

Late night tonight... we got a bit of schooling in (like talking about the concept of Wind Chill!) and did a lot of playing in the snow :0)

Have you read "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey"? Yes, it's sentimental, but the boys like the little boy and the transformation of the grumpy, gloomy Mr. Toomey. During devotions they enjoyed finding all the "clues" the angels gave the shepherds about the newborn king. (How to find him, etc.)

Have to get an early start tomorrow...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Advent... Day 14

Sunday... aaaaaahhhhhhh.

Well, getting to church wasn't quite relaxing, due to very icy roads, but this was a Good Day. A much needed Good Day.

So, at Sunday School, all the kids were downstairs, practicing for the Christmas Program. Did I mention they are singing 10 different songs? Why yes, I think I did ;-) The woman directing the program had forgotten the sheet music, and the pianist was flipping through the hymnal, looking for page numbers of the songs they needed. I'm just guessing the kids might've been getting a little squirrelly, so the director said something like, "Well, I forgot some of the music, so this might be a little tricky, but we'll be fine," when she saw Gunnar's little hand go up.

"Um, Miss Tricia? Don't worry. I can sing 'Silent Night'."

Yep. Not a thing to worry about. Gunnar's got your back. And he can sing 'Silent Night'. Okey-dokey.

Clear, cold, and sunny. Hours of sledding. Cozy warm house. Macaroni and cheese. And hot cocoa. Don't forget the hot cocoa. Mmm - hmmmm.

If it's clear where you are, look outside tonight.  Take a good look to the NW for meteors. Apparently we're passing through the remains of an asteroid tonight and tomorrow night.

I didn't stand outside long enough to see anything. We went to evening church and by the time we got out, the temp was about 14F and the wind has been blowing 30-50 mph. I don't know what that works out to, exactly, in wind-chill, but COLD covers it.

Once again Wyatt found exactly the book he was looking for, "Olive the Other Reindeer", by Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold. Olive is a little dog with an identity crisis... she thinks she's a reindeer. Or maybe she's Hard of Hearing? "All of the other reindeer..." becomes "Olive the other reindeer..." And she's off to the North Pole to help Santa. (There's a Valentine's book called "Olive, my love"... same gag.) Cute. Silly. Funny two-dimensional illustrations.

Devotions... good, but nothing to comment on. :0)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Advent... Day 13

We made it.

Four soccer games.
Three
excited boys.
Two
cheese pizzas.
And SNOW!

We have SNOW on the ground, people!

We entered the sportsplex for Wyatt's double-header, leaving behind the world as we know it, and came out to a winter wonderland. Because when we actually get snow, we don't mess around.


No wispy, wimpy, Wisconsin-type snow... where after three days you might accumulate an inch. No. Not here. In fact, our state holds the world record for snow fall. That's right!

I'm just sayin' that there are three very fidgety little boys trying to sleep in the next room.

Gunnar unwrapped "Annika's Secret Wish", by Beverly Lewis. Did you know that in Sweden, finding an almond in your rice pudding on Christmas Eve meant you could make a wish? The pictures in the book make me want to move to Sweden.

A very idealized Sweden.


Our Advent Devotion centered on Joseph's dream, when the angel appeared to him, to reassure him that he should marry Mary. With the boys aged 12, 10, and 7, I danced lightly around Joseph's probably suspicions regarding Mary's pregnancy... something like, "Joseph probably thought she had been loving another man." But Gunnar very matter of factly said, "Yeah, Mom, it has to do with, you know, snuggling in the same bed."

Who knew?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Advent... Day 12

Oh good grief, I am too bushed to feel witty or inspiring... and I know you're all just hanging on my every word. All three of you. ;-)

This is The Peak. Of activity. Sort of.

Because the Open House last weekend just wasn't enough, I offered to host our homeschool Christmas Party today. 8 moms, 23 kids, and 3 hours of mayhem. I mean fun!

There are times, well most of the time, that I am gratefully aware that we have a pretty big house. Today it felt more like a bee-hive. A very, very busy bee-hive. After a "carpet picnic" lunch (who has tables and chairs for 31 people?), we moved into activities, because there was No Way I was going to turn all those kids loose inside my house. (I haven't lost all my sanity. Yet.)

Two moms came prepared with games, and another mom and I had crafts for the kids. I got a fun idea from Deborah, at "A Different Drum", and we made cards shaped like mugs, with an instant cocoa packet and a candy cane inside. A craft that even boys could love :0)

By then the natives were definitely getting restless. God took pity on us, and the rain stopped long enough for me to send all the kids out to run. Maybe this is another confession of weirdness (or maybe other people do this too?) but I made all the kids go outside and run laps around the house. However old you are, I want that many laps. Then, when you're sweaty, you can come back in and have dessert and sing Christmas carols, because this is not a public school and we can do that. (Force the kids to run, give them home-made sugary treats, AND sing songs that actually acknowledge why we celebrate this holiday. It's amazing, but true.)

Then I vacuumed and cleaned up the kitchen, the boys cleaned up the play room and their bedroom, and we sent Kerry out to get Happy Meals for dinner. Because that's the kind of family we are.

Tomorrow... four soccer games, one Ladies Christmas Brunch, and a forecast of actual snow. Now that would send my boys into hyperdrive.

Sunday, blissfully, should - I mean WILL - be a day of rest, which is good, because on Monday we're watching three (fun, lovely, well-behaved) girls for a few hours, having a MIT prayer meeting here, I think I have choir practice (NOT here, but a half-hour drive away), and the "Afictionadas" Book Club, of which I am a fairly new member, is meeting. Here.

And Tuesday we are having an all-day field trip. The boys don't know. I may not tell them until I wake them up that morning. Our homeschool group occasionally gets cheap Amtrak tickets, so we are having a Seattle day. And, thanks to volunteering when the Science Center van visited our local school last spring, we have free day-passes to the Pacific Science Center - a wonderland for my boys. It's an early start, and several hours on the train, but that is part of the fun. For once the journey is as important as the destination... that doesn't happen very often for boys!

So that's what I meant by "this (today and the next few days) is the peak of activity". Whew!

But we're still taking time for books and devotions :0) Kerry read "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" while I put flannel sheets on all the boys' beds. (Bunk beds have their benefits, but heaving a flannel-wrapped comforter onto the top bunk and making everything smooth and snug is a chore.) And then from Who-ville to the hills of Judea, and Mary's visit to Elizabeth. The devotion pointed out something very familiar to kids - when you're going to do something fun and special, you hurry to get ready, right? Well, the text says that Mary "got ready and hurried" to Elizabeth's town. Yes - she was excited about the visit. The boys could relate to that :0)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Advent... Day 11

We had a moment of drama this afternoon. Gunnar went out to the backyard to visit Bartleby (the bunny) and he was GONE! (Bartleby is a Netherlands Dwarf, a little rabbit, and doesn't try to escape even if you set him down.) He looks a lot like this picture... which isn't actually him.

Yesterday the boys had friends over, and had gotten Bartleby out to give him some attention and play with him. When Gunnar - nearly in a panic - said he was missing, I could see that the roof of the cage was propped open. The bunny couldn't jump out, but a dog could've jumped in and carried him off! I thought the boys must've forgotten to close the cage, and - though they denied it - I could see they doubted themselves.

By this time Gunnar was sobbing, at the thought of Bartleby becoming part of the food chain. But, we had a happy ending - Kerry had brought the rabbit into his office. Relief! (And much snuggling of the bunny.)

I've been in a wrapping frenzy this afternoon... on the floor, because my office is just a wee bit untidy, and now my back is protesting and my flannel sheets are calling. So, briefly, Wyatt's turn tonight and (these kids are getting pretty good at finding the book they want!) he came up with Chris Van Allsburg's "The Polar Express". We have loved the book for years, and when it came out as a movie, saw it in 3D at an IMAX theater. Very Cool!

In our devotions we read about the angel Gabriel's visit to Mary, in Luke 1. In an effort to help my boys separate truth from fiction, in this day of cutesy angel trinkets (*ugh*), we've talked about angels being God's warriors as well as His messengers. They are quick to notice that very nearly the first thing every angel is recorded as saying is some variation of, "Fear not!" Check it out for yourself!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advent... Day 10

What a dark, drippy PNW day. We have days, this time of year, where it never seems to truly get light. Even at noon it looks like twilight. Days like this I am such a homebody! Don't want to go anywhere - just want to stay home with my pretty Christmas lights on, a sweet-smelling candle burning, and Christmas music playing.

Once we finished our school work I shut myself in my office, put on Handel's Messiah, and wrapped Christmas presents. The pile seems much smaller this year, which is GOOD.

I think there was some careful analysis of the remaining wrapped books going on... which is fine :0) Gunnar broke out in a victory dance when he opened "The Red Ranger Came Calling"! Yes, it's a "Santa" story, and yes, it's by Berkeley Breathed (the creator of "Bloom County"), but in a very different style. On little Vashon Island (near Seattle), a young doubter dreams of having an "official Buck Tweed, two speed, crime-stopper, star-hopper bicycle". I love the writing style, and the pictures have us all in stitches. Lots of fun!

Fictionary #13

Not from the WaPo contest, I found this one in the meta at the Pyromaniacs blogsite...

Baleful: n. An agricultural measure. "The cow ate a baleful of hay."

With a baleful look in her eye, too, I'll bet.

Thanks to Tom Chantry.

Play With Your Food!



If ya won't eatcher veggies, try this.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Advent... Day 9

Not much to report today. The boys did a great job of jumping right back into school :0) I'm leaving out science (except to finally finish painting our model of the ocean floor) since we only really have three school days. They're excited about our history lessons, because we're talking about Richard the Lionhearted and Prince John... familiar to them from Robin Hood :0) But the other side of that is the introduction of the Magna Carta, and the limits it placed on the monarchy... a big subject for young minds. Wyatt was not only introduced to a strange new concept ('pi') in math today, but did some extra work we ran out of time for last week, willingly, without complaining, while his brothers played. Tate blazed through his math and writing work. And Gunnar is blossoming, more and more, in his reading... even longer words sometimes, like "strength", "scribe", and "caffeine".

So, on to story time... Tate hit the jackpot tonight - our "new" (to us) book, by Jan Brett, called "The Wild Christmas Reindeer". (I think my mom found it at a garage sale.) The story is... kind of fluff, but we enjoy the artwork. Honestly, the book wasn't that impressive, but Jan Brett has a fun website with TONS of free activities, printables, etc.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent... Day 8

Oh good grief... where did this day go? I usually prefer to start the week strong, as far as school goes, and then kind of taper off, but turned that upside down today.

I may be missing a gene somewhere, but I have to confess that I really don't like shopping. Especially not when I feel pressured or hurried (just try shopping with three boys!). And extra-especially not in a crowd. (No, I don't shop on "Black Friday", and it's more out of personal preference than out of protest! No "shopping maul" for me!)

Bright and early Monday morning seemed like a good time to beat the crowds, so off we went. This strategy worked well, as the stores were still fairly quiet, and the boys felt like they were getting a 'privilege', to not be doing school work. AND we had already planned to get together with some friends this afternoon anyway, so it feels like we've had a four day weekend. Not bad :0) I'll be glad to get back to routine tomorrow, though, as the boys were getting rather rambunctious.

They settled right down for our Christmas story, "The Biggest, Best Snowman", by Margery Cuyler. Wyatt (who opened it) was a bit disappointed, as this is a much 'younger' book, but he discovered a secret message in the pictures, which piqued his interest. I think we got this book for 99 cents on a Scholastic book order! It's a great one for the smaller kids, who feel lost in the shadow of bigger kids.

Since we've accumulated more books than I wrap, I thought I would mention a few others. I quit wrapping these poetry books because, although the boys do enjoy reading/hearing them, they kind of felt disappointed if they don't unwrap an actual story. I think I like "At Christmastime" (Valerie Worth / Antonio Frasconi) as much for the woodcut illustrations as the poetry. And the illustrations in "Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" (ill. Susan Jeffers) give a little twist to the classic.

One of my boys' newer favorites (another cheap find from Scholastic!) is the silly-dilly "Where Did They Hide My Presents?", by Alan Katz and David Catrow. This is one of a series, which includes 'classics' like "Take Me out of the Bathtub", and "On Top of the Potty", and has my boys humming and giggling every time they pick it up. You'll find new (silly) words, set to familiar tunes.

"Deck the Halls" becomes "At the malls" (no parking spaces, Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma, can't we go home?) And "O Tannenbaum" is an ode to "Toy Catalogs" (toy catalogs, each morning I inspect 'em. They're volumes of, the stuff I love, that's why I must collect 'em.)

Yes, we want to keep our eyes on Jesus, and not get lost in a frenzy of activities. But, sheesh, not every moment has to be deep and meaningful!

Go ahead, think "Silver Bells" and sing...

Christmas morning
Dad is yawning
'Cause he wrapped gifts all night
There are toys piled to the ceiling
Robots can't talk
Dollies won't walk
All because Dad forgot
The one thing that we need millions of...

Batteries, batteries...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent... Day 7

Ahhh... a relaxing day, after all the activity of yesterday :0)

Church, this morning, really "hit the spot", as Gunnar would say. Our pastor is focusing on the names of Jesus, this advent, and today spoke on our Redeemer. Just as the Israelites were redeemed from slavery in Egypt, we are redeemed from slavery to sin. He brought out the comfort offered in Isaiah 40:1-2. Relief.

We missed church last Sunday, due to our trip to the coast, and the Sunday School classes are preparing for the children's Christmas Program. At our previous (and much larger) church, the Christmas program was a Big Production, which usually involved auditions for major roles, weeks of rehearsals, and (often) learning newer unfamiliar music. Participation was optional, and Wyatt and Tate usually opted out.

What a change, this year :0) There are shepherds, angels, and wisemen. The story is right out of Luke 2. And my boys are enthusiastic about being involved... and they're singing TEN SONGS!

Gunnar has already learned his verses, "And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)... (later) ...And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.." And - I can hardly believe it - Wyatt and Tate are jealous, because he has his own speaking part, and they don't.

Wyatt learned a couple of weeks ago that he would be a shepherd, and volunteered for a speaking part. He was quite disgruntled when Tate announced that his class are also going to be shepherds, and apparently all the shepherds only have one line: "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." Picture Wyatt rolling his eyes and saying, "Yeah, all twenty-five hundred of us." Just a bit of an exaggeration. It's a small church :0)

So I'm trying to console Wyatt, because I know he's disappointed not to be unique, and Tate, because he would like to be a Wise Man (more like a wise-guy!) instead of a shepherd, but inside I'm thrilled because these boys want to be involved and engaged, rather than just being spectators. Because they are becoming part of the church, not just an audience at a show.


Home all afternoon. Kerry and the boys put up the outdoor Christmas lights. Years ago I bought several boxes of blue icicle lights on sale, and had forgotten them. Since it's wet and drippy here, (read "slippery"), and Kerry didn't want to get out the big ladder or go up on the roof, he opted NOT to hang the lights from the eaves, where you would expect to find icicles, but instead strung them up in a horizontal line around the middle of the house, between the first and second floor.

I appreciate the effort, I really do, but I can't help thinking that our house looks like those hippos in tutus, from Fantasia.

Gunnar, thrilled that his turn has come around again, pulled out "An Amish Christmas", by Richard Ammon. Very sweet :0)

In spite of the competition over who gets to light the Advent candles, the devotion went well. Tate launched right into our carol for the evening, "Joy to the World", with such gusto that I hated to stop him. But being unable to match, identify, or join him in the key in which he was singing, I tried to tactfully suggest that maybe we'd better begin again, all together. Whew.

Being grateful

Just in time for the holidays, Gina (at "Chat's with an Old Lady") posted an article on cultivating gratefulness in ourselves and our kids.

Good reading :0)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Random Thought

So, after this whirlwind of a day, I sat down to check my email. The internet is, indeed, a marvelous and fascinating thing. In mere seconds I went from my daily devotion, by Elisabeth Elliott, which included encouraging words of wisdom, such as:

You only know what you have to do today. None of us knows the future. Be faithful today--do your work faithfully, thoroughly, honestly, and gratefully. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:23-24, NIV).

to my weekly newsletter from Worm Farming Secrets, with useful nuggets like this:

In technical terms, worm castings are basically just 'worm poop' - i.e. ingested food that has then passed through the digestive system of the worm. These are the magical little turds that all the plants are raving about.

And those lovely words will carry me off to bed, to dream happy dreams about vermi-compost.

Good night!

Advent... Day 6

Yep, I said Day 4 yesterday... writing about the day before, so today is Day 6 (or Day 7, if you started counting, properly, on Sunday, which we didn't.) Anyway.

Today may have been the highlight of Kerry's Christmas Season. Why? Because it was Tuba Christmas! All over the world, tuba players gather to play Christmas carols. They're benevolent souls, and open their arms to sousaphones and baritones (Kerry's instrument) too, but it's definitely all low brass.

Given that they had all of 1/2 an hour (as a group) to practice, their performance was pretty darn good, and a lot of fun :0) Jingle Bells, modified to include a famous March, is always a crowd pleaser! We invited a LOT of people to come by for a Christmas Open House, afterwards.

That was Kerry's idea. Don't misunderstand, I enjoyed it and was glad to do it. But bear in mind that we arrived home from Oregon on Monday night. Do the math, people. That gave me four days to clean the house, decorate, get a Christmas tree, and prepare cookies, treats, beverages, etc for... how many people are coming?

Not quite everyone we know! But folks from every different part of our lives... family, neighbors, soccer friends, homeschool friends, church friends, tuba friends, etc.

As usual, it all went fine :0) My friends' almost-one-year-old little boy had everyone smiling, a herd of boys had nerf-gun wars upstairs (and nothing got broken and nobody came downstairs crying or bleeding... although in an ironic twist, Tate - who gave Kerry a black eye two weeks ago appears to be developing a shiner he blames on Wyatt), and my dad regaled my in-laws and our contractor-friend in the dining room with stories about horrendous accidents he's had until my mom dragged him away.

We had to "shoo" everyone out late in the afternoon so we could get to Wyatt's soccer game. But by that time... well, I decided to stay home. (We have A LOT of soccer games... I'm trying not to feel guilty!) An hour of peace and quiet at home sounded like just about the best thing I could imagine :0)

So I had a quiet hour at home :0) Wyatt opened our book yesterday, "King Island Christmas" (Jean Rogers/Rie Munoz), set on an island in the Bering Sea. And today, Tate found the Hanukkah book I mentioned, "One Candle", by Eve Bunting. Two sisters tell their grandchildren about secretly celebrating Hanukkah in Buchenwald.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Advent... Day 4

Gunnar opened "The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree", by Gloria Houston, set during WW1, "the Great War", in the Appalachians. Yes, you've probably noticed, we mix Christian books with other Christmas stories. I even have a Hanukkah story, from WW2.


A comment from Leah, about how much the 'littles' understand reminded me of our Advent devotion. The first evening's verses were from Hebrews 1:1-3

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.


That's a lot of big words, for little guys! (And adults :0) ) As we talked through it, we came to through whom he made the universe, and Gunnar immediately quoted,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God... through Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made.

verses he learned for AWANA a year ago! I'm so often amazed at what they DO understand. :0)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Library Elf

Since we're talking about books, I thought I'd share a resource that some of you may be able to use... Library Elf! No, this isn't a Christmas thing, in spite of the name :0)

Library Elf will track the books you have checked out, books you have on reserve, and send you reminders before they are due. Now, my library will do the same thing but, because of their high regard for "privacy", I can only access my kids' accounts if I know their passwords. Which, of course, I do. But then I have to log into four accounts, separately, and who wants to waste time with that?

Library Elf lets me link all of our family accounts and check them all at once, and still identifies whose books are whose. It will even track more than one library, if you use multiple library systems. I just log in, see what is coming due, print out the list, send the boys on a Search and Rescue Mission.

And it's free!!!

Follow the link and you can see if they serve YOUR library. It only takes a couple of minutes (and the numbers off your library card) to set up an account. And they don't send you junk-mail, either. (The only thing I can't do through Library Elf is request/reserve books.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Books

This may be a confession of weirdness, I don't know...

I bought children's books before I had children. Before I was married or even thinking of my own children. I bought children's books because I like them. Well, good ones, like "Where the Wild Things Are", and "Blueberries for Sal". And I really like Christmas books.

Of course, having children was a great excuse to gather a large collection of all kinds of kids' books, but the difficult part is getting around to reading all of them, when every parent knows that kids, especially small kids, want the same book read to them over and over. And the Christmas books are only out for about a month each year. Now I like "The Red Ranger Came Calling" as much as the next person, but I don't want to read it every night.

So, TA-DAAAAAA!

The Christmas Book Basket.

No, those are not all new presents. I take our Christmas books and wrap up our favorite 24, and put them in a basket. Each night a boy gets to select a book to unwrap and read together. (Good thing 24 is divisible by 3!) I often have one new book in the mix, to surprise them.

Gunnar opened the first book, "If You're Missing Baby Jesus", one of my favorites. Wyatt followed, last night, with "Worried Arthur", a fun story for little kids. And tonight, Tate (who likes to be the last one in the rotation), pulled out "The Mitten", which isn't exactly Christmassy, but a good winter story.

I'm trying to get all our Christmas decorations up before the Open House on Saturday. So far so good, but I'm not sure I'll have time to get The Tree up... it may have to wait. This is kind of the boys' table. Their books are underneath. The candle-lamp features Santa on a Christmas train - a gift from the boys back when they were completely obsessed with trains, in general. The picture of the boys is probably from... hmmm... 2003? Gunnar looks pretty little... And of course, in the place of honor, is the Lego Nativity.

Candy Strips

I love traditions, and so do my boys. Especially if candy is involved!

Behold, the Candy Strip!

My grandma made candy strips for my sister and brother and I when we were too young to understand how long 24 days really is. My boys are now the happy heirs of this sweet countdown.

The dwindling row of candy is a visual representation of the passing days. (Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, there is only room to tie on Little Tiny Candies.)

The poem at the top says,

December first 'til Christmas
is the longest time of year,
seems as though old Santa
never will appear.

How many more days 'til Christmas
it's so mighty hard to count,
so this little candy ribbon
will tell you the exact amount.

Untie a candy every night
when the Sandman casts his spell,
and Christmas Eve will be here
by the time you reach the bell!

Advent

We've begun our Advent Devotions (from the Ann Hibbard book I mentioned), and hurray for my boys! They are actually SINGING.

Okay, to be fair, Gunnar sings every day. He chirps, like a happy little bird, and carries a tune pretty well. And Wyatt, if he doesn't think anyone is listening, can sing wonderfully... but usually won't. And with unchanged voices, they're both great little sopranos :0) Tate sings with enthusiasm, however I have to confess that he's a 'monotone'. I don't know if this is a deaf/Hoh thing, but I kind of assume so.

But we sing a Christmas carol, at least a verse of one, with each devotion, and I think my favorite part is that they actually SING.

Our verses from tonight's devotion, from Isaiah,

For to us a child is born,
to us a Son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders.

And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.

Hormones?

Wyatt is 12, but still very much a Boy. Though we're trying to prepare ourselves, and him, he doesn't appear to be right on the verge of adolescence.

Until, maybe, today.

Kerry had to get this picture without raising Wyatt's suspicions, because he's a sensitive soul.

But look.

Look closer.

Is that a zit on his nose?

Yes, I think it is.

Lord have mercy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oregon moments

We arrived in Lincoln City, Oregon, just as the sun had set...
our first view of the ocean.
Aaaaahhhhhh :0)

Yes, this photo was actually taken
IN NOVEMBER!
I think Gunnar just had his coat
on out of habit.

Burning off all that wonderful
kid energy :0)

Home again

We've been thinking of an old Sinatra song...

It's very nice to go trav'ling
But it's oh so nice to come home

I'll put some pics up when I get them. We (my extended family) went to the Oregon coast for Thanksgiving, and just got home last night. Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh :0) Rented a house right on the beach, in Lincoln City. I know, it's not summer, but we were out on the beach at least part of every day, and Sunday was actually warm - the boys were in T-shirts! And - an even bigger bonus - my mom found a house with an INDOOR POOL!

Unless you have little boys you may not realize the significance of that. Thing is, they have a lot of energy.
And it needs an outlet.
It WILL FIND an outlet.
So, rather than bouncing off the walls, they swam.
Every day.
A lot.

Am I thankful???? More than I can say! We have a family that - for the most part - likes to be together, generous parents who footed more than their share of the rental fee, the means to GET to Lincoln City (gas prices fell at just the right time for us!), and abundance - far beyond our needs.

The boys and I made a "Thankful Turkey" out of construction paper, and taped his bare body to a big window, with a pile of paper feathers, crayons and tape beneath him. By the end of our stay he was well-feathered :0)

We forgot our Thankful Leaf Garlands", but finished them today... just it time to start our Advent devotions a day late. If you have small kids, you might like some books I found. Ann Hibbard has written a few series of devotions centered around holidays (eg "Family Celebrations at Christmas", Easter, Thanksgiving, All Saints' Day.) They are fairly short (10 - 20 minutes) and have a little activity for the kids to do each day. This Thanksgiving we studied the lives of Elijah and Elisha, and how God provided for and through them. Each day had a symbol (jars of oil, a raven, etc.) that related to the Bible reading. Instead of putting them on branches (which seems more like a Christmas thing to me) we glued the symbols on colored paper leaves and made a garland of them. The boys really enjoy these devotions :0)

We SHOULD have started the Advent series last night, but arrived home just in time for a soccer game (Wyatt's), no candles to light, and too tired to be "into it". We'll do two this evening :0)

Now I'm scrambling... we are having an Open House this weekend, so I need to squeeze in four days of homeschool, put up all the Christmas decorations, and bake a ton of cookies. I have no idea if 10 people are coming or 100.

But I'm not stressed or anything... (nervous laugh)