Friday, December 31, 2010

I Can't Stop

Happy New Year,
from the (oh-so-handsome) Grasshoppers

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Day

Here's a top secret Christmas tradition we have.
Because surely nobody else in the world has thought of this one.
Ha ha ha ha ha.

We save boxes for wrapping gifts.
Partly because it's easier to wrap a box than something random and pointy.
And to disguise the gift.
And because we're just weird classy like that.

So that, when Kerry opens a gift wrapped in a Disney box
we can all sing out,
It's just a box!
You know, in case he had a fleeting thought that
someone had actually bought him size 4 Disney Princess shoes.
Some boxes have been passed around for years.
But this year's special attraction were the little boxes that
miniature lights come in.

It's a box!

Wyatt may be mostly growing out of toys, but there was one he mentioned repeatedly,
and Gramma and Grampa came through.

Likewise, Gunnar.

Tate, who was so fixated on plastic soldiers he didn't ask for a Nerf gun,
was momentarily disappointed,
but contented himself with boxes and bags
until - to his joy - he received more toy soldiers.
And money.
Money is always good.

And then, the big finish,
Civil War Reproduction Muskets,
complete with caps.
 Because what is Christmas without munitions.

Ho ho ho.

Christmas Morning At Home

I love Christmas morning at home, with the boys in their new jammies.
On Christmas Eve they get to open one gift.
It is always new jammies.
That's so they will look somewhat presentable on Christmas morning in their jammies.
Aren't they cute?

I may be a little bit biased.

No opening anything until Mom and Dad are up.
And no waking Mom and Dad up until 7am.
Of course, we are already awake.
Because we hear them downstairs preparing the song.

Then, at the stroke of 7am they come to our bedroom and serenade us,
with a Christmas carol they have mangled modified.
Something wonderfully creative and original, like,

(Sing to the tune of Joy to the World...)

It's seven o'clock,
so come downstairs!
So we,
can open
And so on.
The creative genius is amazing.

They get to open their stocking gits right away, which means trinkets and candy.
Because there just isn't enough sugar at Christmas already.

Then we have breakfast, and everybody gets dressed,
and we have Christmas devotions.

Then gifts.

And I love that we are home at Christmas and there is no hurry.

This is the formerly mentioned "tambourine" I had to search seven stores to find.
And there were only two left.

Tate wanted more soldiers so badly that he refused to even share any other wishes,
for fear they would edge out his soldiers.
Actually, he wanted two things.
Soldiers, and another bunny.
He got "bunny money".

Wyatt is reaching that hard-to-shop-for age of mostly growing out of toys,
but not being terribly excited about clothing or practical gifts.
Fortunately, he did appreciate the coolness and significance of this gift.

We open our gifts and play with them for awhile.
And then we go to Grampa and Gramma's house.

Christmas Eve

I love Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

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,
the Prince of Peace.


Monday, December 20, 2010

And It Came To Pass...

We know the plot, and we know the characters.

Mary.  Joseph.  A baby.  Shepherds.  Wise men.  An evil king.  And angels.  A host of angels.

And we know all their lines.  In fact, though we all use more modern translations, many of us still mentally narrate this story in the old King James words.

And it came to pass
the city of David
great with child
the days were accomplished
she should be delivered
her firstborn son
in swaddling clothes
in a manger
no room for them in the inn
shepherds abiding in the field
keeping watch over their flocks
by night
And lo, the angel of the Lord
the glory of the Lord
shone round about them,
 and they were sore afraid
Fear not!
Good tidings
of great joy
to all people
And suddenly
a multitude
heavenly host
Glory to God!
the babe, lying in a manger

And I think, of all the stories in Bible,
this one is best told by children.

Mine were happy to help.
A wise man with his myrrh, Herod-the-king, and a shepherd.

 An adorable shepherd, accessorized by his craft-clever Sunday School teacher.

I love how all the kids participate.
From the preschool 'stars', who twinkle enthusiastically...

... and are sometimes overwhelmed with the attention they're receiving...

... to the primary shepherds...

...and angels

... and the middle grade wise men, and Mary and Joseph...

... and Herod, who is enjoying having his Wise Man brother bow down to him.

 And even the high-schoolers, pictured at the top, narrating,
and Away-in-a-manger-ing with the little ones.

Now it really feels like Christmas.

Simple Woman 12-20-10

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, December 20, 2010

Outside my window...  a dusting of snow!  Not enough to play in, much to the boys' disappointment, but enough to look pretty.

I am thinking...  we are finally on Christmas break.  The kids' Christmas program last night made it seem official, somehow :D

I am thankful for...  Grampa Grasshopper, outside in this cold weather, working on forms to pour concrete steps up to Kerry's office.  (Remember the hole Kerry had made last summer?  Yah.  We're looking forward to NOT having an obstacle course in and out of the garage...)  Also, Kerry has some work - yay!  And Christmas is only five days away.  Woo-hoo!

I am praying for...  attitudes.

I am creating...  just a couple more little secrets.

I am going...  to stay home, do a little sewing, a little baking... ho hum.

I am hoping...  well, the boys are hoping for a white Christmas.

I am hearing...  Grampa Grasshopper sawing and hammering, the washer and the dryer both going, and the boys doing something with Legos.

I am remembering...  warm summer days at the lake.

From the learning rooms...  silence.  We are taking a break :D  The boys have done some cleaning chores this morning and now get free time.

From the kitchen...  hmm, what to make for dinner?  Maybe some sweet and sour chicken.

Around the house...  I haven't posted pics of our Christmassy house, because it looks a lot like last year.  It always does.  Lots of lights.  Lots of candles.  And a REAL tree :D

On my mind...  just a couple things I want to make.  Oh how I love finding easy tutorials online!

Noticing that...  though I've been preparing the boys for months to be content with a "smaller" Christmas this year, there are a lot of presents under the tree...

Pondering these words...
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 the Lord!

One of my favorite things...  the way angels preface every message with, Don't panic!
Because, clearly, they realize that their 'visitee' is about to.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  hoping to have some friends over, if we can get ahold of them.  Looking forward to Christmas Eve here, and then the candle-light Christmas Eve service at church.  Christmas morning here, and then up to my parents', just 10 minutes away.

Here is a picture I am sharing...

Christmas elves, heading out around the neighborhood :D

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Day So Far, or Another Benefit of Homeschooling

We are in the throes of our version of winter, here in the Pacific Northwest - weeks on end of temps in the 30s and 40s, ridiculously short hours of daylight, made even shorter by the heavy clouds and incessant rain.  With the occasional addition (this morning) of variety, in the form of thunder, lightning, and pounding hail, so loud that even Tate could hear it.  Awesome.  

And if there's one thing I hate more than going all over town in those lovely conditions, it's doing it with hordes and throngs and multitudes of soggy and irritable people.  (There's a reason they call it the Shopping Maul...)

So hurray for homeschooling, and hurray for a husband who works out of the home (well, the garage, but he's here anyway), and hurray for boys that are old enough and responsible enough that I can give them a pile of independent work, a kitchen timer, and leave.  (Work for an hour, play for a half hour.  Lather, rinse, repeat.)  And go do my shopping while most folks are at work, or getting their kids to school.

Sure they would have gotten more done if I had been here, but I got more done, shopping without them.  And - you know - shopping for them.  So having them along would've cramped my style.  Because they're way past falling for the old tambourine evasion.

I'm sure they've had a lot (a LOT) of Lego time today.  I'm sure it has some educational value.  Although all I can hear through the closed door of the family room is Wyatt saying Constipated! over and over, and laughing maniacally.  (And my mom was just the other day commenting on how mature he's getting...)

So, in other words, it's a basically normal day, here in the Testosterzone. 

And I have some more wrapping to do.  :D

Monday, December 13, 2010

Simple Woman 12-13-10

Simple Woman

For Today, December 13, 2010

Outside my window...  fog.  Which probably means a clear sky above it, and - possibly - the first glimpse of that long-lost shiny yellow orb.

I am thinking...  less than two weeks until Christmas (!) and what is left to do...

I am thankful for...  Kerry has some work (!), the absolutely joyful funeral/memorial service yesterday, and our local police... strange happenings in the neighborhood last night.

I am praying for...  a bloggy friend's son's surgery tomorrow, work to continue to come in,
and the boys (in general).

I am wearing...  not-leaving-the-house sweats.

I am creating...  still some Christmas secrets, but less, as I realize I really don't like sewing with a deadline.  Hmmm, creative options?

I am going...  still hoping to get Christmas cards out early this week... might be a pipe dream.  Couple more Christmas gifts to find, and lots of cookie-making :D

I am reading...  between books (myself), reading Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze to the boys.

I am hoping...  to get over this cold!  (Feeling better, but not all the way better...)

I am hearing...  the furnace, the washer, the dryer, and clickety tappity.

I am remembering...  people we hope to have over.  Christmas is a time of hospitality.

From the learning rooms...  converting metric/standard measurements, French Indochina, sit/set, rise/raise, lie/lay, identifying prime numbers, bene/bon (root words), simple machines (physics), and the last emperor of China.

From the kitchen...  thawing some pork for dinner, made molasses cookies last night, and the cupboards are full to over-flowing from recent Costco run.

Around the house...  Christmas everywhere :D  The last big thing was the boys' tree, with all their own ornaments on it.  But I think the wreath is still sitting on a chair in the dining room.  Nobody uses the front door!

On my mind...  prioritizing...

Noticing that...  we are almost, almost, to the shortest day of the year.  *sigh*

One of my favorite things...  coming home from the funeral yesterday to find the boys, full of testosterone and bluster, and armed with random items from the garage, ready to defend themselves from the unknown.  (Kerry was home with them, by the way.)

A few plans for the rest of the week...  I have grand hopes (delusions?) of having a full and productive school week.  This may not happen.  And it will be my fault if it doesn't ;D  We'd like to have another family or two over for dinner and/or evening.  Saturday we get together with my dad's side of the family - lots of food and fun, no gifts.  Then Sunday evening is the kids' Christmas program at church.  I know I've mentioned before how much I appreciate how low-key it is.  (They rehearsed the first time, yesterday.)  I have a shepherd (Gunnar), a wise man (Tate), and HerodtheKing (Wyatt).

Here is a picture I am sharing...

 Last year's program.
All my boys are visible, if you know where to look.
Gunnar is easy to find... he's glowing.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hurray for PTO Days

And grandparents that like to have their grandsons around :D

While the boys whooped it up with Grampa (shooting the .22 at spinach cans, apparently) and Gramma (playing games and watching videos), I sniffed and sneezed my way through eight (eight, I tell ya!) stores, checking items off my list.  Although I was feeling very pathetic last night, I actually had more energy today than I had dared to hope.  The grace of God, my friends.

Okay, here's a little "Grasshopper Family" story.  You know how families have code words?  Well, we had tambourine.  If one of them would ask me what I got Gramma for Christmas?  A tambourine!  Uncle Dave?  A tambourine!  And, no, we don't come from a long line of gypsies, but c'mon... we all know how well kids keep secrets.

Thankfully, those days have (mostly?) passed.  But just in case one of my boys would actually read my blog (doubtful, but possible), I'm telling you my good news in code.

I was looking for, among other things, a very specific tambourine that one of my little grasshoppers is pining for.  And, to my shock and dismay, struck out at the first SIX stores.  (Really?  Can it be that popular?)  But finally, at store number seven, a roaming vendor pitching new windows (hello, we remodeled the whole house just five years ago, and our windows are fine, thank you very much... or thag you very buch), found me that tambourine!  There were only two left.  Apparently it's a "limited edition".

But, even better, I had a great gift idea for all three boys.  (A tambourine!)  I'll tell ya after Christmas.  Anyway, I was prepared to spend up to $20 each.  But - ta daaaa - found just what I wanted (okay, a little smaller than I wanted, but really fine), on sale for $5 each. 

And, I got home with enough of the afternoon left to get most of the tambourines wrapped and under the tree.  I'm not done, but there's light at the end of the tunnel ;D

Thursday, December 9, 2010


It's 3pm.  We're done with school for the week.  Hallelujah.

I've been looking forward to the boys' PTO day tomorrow, hoping to get more Christmas prep done.  Like, shopping for the boys without them with me.  But my body is apparently going on strike.  The cold that the boys have been passing around for a couple of weeks has apparently caught up with me.  Fabulous.  (  /sarcasm )

Let me just say this.  It's miserable not to be able to breathe through your nose.  At all.

And poor Tate!  It's hard enough for him to hear and comprehend as it is, but I had to give him a spelling test today and he had no idea what I was saying half the time!  He can't distinguish m from n anyway.  And now my m's sound like b's.  Lovely.  So making sounds like baking.  (Or braking.  Or breaking.  Whatever.)

Thag you very buch.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Last Saturday... Part 3 and 4

And now, welcome to the wonderfulness of small town America.
In this case, small Dutch town America, having its annual Lighted Christmas Parade.
With the temperature hovering between hypothermia and frostbite, we threw on a few more layers.

Gunnar, always an opportunist, snagged an empty stroller for a chair.
And I love how fashionista Adia is keeping the wind out of her eyes with goggles...
swimming goggles.

I think these guys took the award for the Best Lighted Truck.
No, I'm not kidding.
I'm not sure what relationship exists between the semi, the airplane, and the (out-of-the-photo) sleigh that followed, but they were all well lit.

 The local fire departments were well represented.
I think the Grinch was on one of the trucks, but it was kind of hard to see in the dark.
(Note - a boy on your lap keeps you warmer.)

 Being a farming community, the parade looked a lot like this...

and this.
(Bonus points if you know what this is!)

And given the way our eyes were streaming from the cold wind,
this photo is a lot like I remember the parade.

But this was my favorite.
It's a pun.
 D'ya get it?

It's the Deere, pulling the sleigh.

Unfortunately, Kerry got no pics of the post-parade party, which was warm, friendly, fun,
and featured at least five different hot drinks, if I remember right.

Last Saturday... Part 2

Then off to Messiah.

It's hard to get a good picture of people while they're singing.
Especially if you're sitting right behind the penguin director.

What you can almost see, is a sixty-six voice choir, and a fifteen piece chamber orchestra.

You can tell, the audience loved it.

Last Saturday... Part 1

Remember the busy day?

It started here, at Tuba Christmas.

I had guessed about 50 tubas, which - it turns out - was an exaggeration.
There were 42.
That's a lot.
The biggest ever, for our town.

And they're festive tuba folk!

The audience loved it,
although one member of the audience...

I'm not tired, Mama, just the sun was in my eyes.

Simple Woman 12-7-10

Simple Woman

For Today, December 7, 2010

Outside my window...  the rain has stopped, but everything is shiny and wet.  The light wind is bringing more clouds.

I am thinking...  making a list, checking it twice...

I am thankful for...  money to pay this month's bills, boys playing quietly, and the smell of fir floating through the house.  Ahhhhh :D

I am praying for...  more work for Kerry.

I am wearing...  jeans, t-shirt, Christmas shirt (just a blue shirt with a Christmas tree on the pocket), two pairs of socks, and slippers.

I am creating...  still not telling :D

I am going...  to get through today's school work, read to the boys, and decorate the tree!

I am reading...  The Shadow Spinner, by Susan Fletcher, to the boys.  Kind of an odd pick (for boys), involving Sharhazad (of the 2001 tales) and a harem, but very adventurous.  They're liking it.  Also read The Penderwicks (also about girls, but reasonably appealing to boys), The Land I Lost (Vietnam), and When My Name Was Keoko (about the Japanese occupation of Korea).  And I think they've all just read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

I am hoping...  as always, to get three times as much stuff done as is humanly possible.  *sigh*

I am hearing...  silence.  Should I be worried?

I am remembering...  something I must order online today...

From the learning rooms...  measurement conversions (standard/metric), the messy Balkan history leading up to WWI, prepositional phrases as adverbs and adjectives, division, mater/pater, Korea and Japan and Manchuria, and writing paragraphs.

From the kitchen...  hmmm, must think of a good idea.  Probably with hamburger.  (eyes roll)

Around the house...  Christmas!  Once I get the tree decorated we can get the last two storage totes back to the garage, and then everything will look/feel so much better :D

On my mind...  Pearl Harbor Day, today.

Noticing that...  the days are so very, very short.  Still dark at 8am, and dusk by 4pm.

Pondering these words...  God and sinners reconciled.

One of my favorite things...  the wonderful, spicy, citrus-y, fir smell of Christmas tree,
all through the house.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  no more evening rehearsals!  When the days are dark like this, I'd much rather just stay home.  But... must make a Costco "stock-up" run, and must do a bit more Christmas shopping.

Here is a picture I am sharing...


Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Good Kind of Tired

I feel like I've been in a whirlwind, the last week or so.

When I was younger it seemed like everything worked itself up to fever pitch right before and up until Christmas.  And then "they" (whoever "they" are) realized that was a scheduling problem, and shifted it all to the first week of December.

Or maybe it's just me...

After traveling to Oregon and back, we jumped into a busy homeschool week, plus decorating the house, and had a wonderful visit from our friends, home for the holidays from Zambia, and finally got to meet their adopted daughter.  Then the weekend...

I had the first Messiah performance Friday night.  Went wonderfully.  The place was absolutely packed and we didn't make any egregious mistakes.  I know I missed an entrance, but I'd rather that than come in where I shouldn't!

And then Saturday... was it just yesterday?

*  Kerry's Tuba Christmas, in the morning, had more tuba players than ever before!  I didn't get a count, but looked like nearly fifty.  That's a lot of oom-pah!

*  Second performance of Messiah in the afternoon - not quite SRO, like the night before, but still pretty packed.  And, again, went well.  Especially considering we're a bunch of amateurs.  Farmers, janitors, doctors, students, and seniors (some over 80!), all volunteers.

*  The Dutch farming community near us has a Lighted Christmas Parade each year, and this was our first year to go.  Fun!  Cold, windy fun.  Lots of horses, tractors, and farm equipment.  Loved the big green lighted tractors with giant antlers pulling a sleigh... get it?  The (rein) Deere?  And the kids loved the people throwing candy.  Win-win.

*  That was followed by a Christmas party at our friends' house :D  Hot drinks (just the thing after a cold, cold parade), treats, and lots of friends.  And LOTS of kids.  And everyone got along, which is double-plus-win.  (Um, I mean the kids all got along, without getting wild and crazy and all sugared up, which is always possible.  Of course the grown-ups all got along.)

*  And about 8:45, sitting in Cutzi's very cozy, warm, and festive living room, I was just done.  My flannel sheets were calling to me, like Homer's Sirens, and we had to call it a night.  There may be pictures later, but right now I'm just too pooped.  But it's the good kind of tired.  ;D

Thursday, December 2, 2010


The house is (mostly) decorated.
Hope to get a tree on Sunday :D
And we are all-systems-go for Christmas.

But I can't "leave" Thanksgiving without posting this...

... the Thankful Tree.

The boys and I cut out the leaves at home,
and I made the tree trunk out of grocery bags when we got to Oregon.
Gramma found a bowl to hold all the blank leaves, tape, and pens.
And this was the happy result.

Granparines that are so genarous as to take our hole famliy to disnyland
Wiser Chapel
friends and famlliiy
good presentshel leders (unlike obama :( )
good food
Mr. blue-green-gray eyes, always offering to help, diligent worker, student of history, Tate
fine cooking
a house
my mom and dad
dinner - in this case Thanksgiving dinner
Mr. sparkly-blue-eyes, full of compassion and hugs, loves-to-play-games, a good agate-picker, Gunnar
spring break
rain - not snow - for traveling
pets like Podger bunny
this wondurful world God created
the Oragun coast
water or other drinks!
pumpkin pie
walks on the beach
Mr. growing-up-so-fast-I-can-hardly-believe-it, deep voice, needs a shave, 8th grade, brown eyed wonder, Wyatt
wondurful grandparens, aunts, uncles, parens, and cousins
trips to the Oregon Coast
the generosity of others
my job
safe travel
good food that mom makes
food and shelter and my mom and dad
this wondurful earth God made us
food and family
canndy, ice cream, brownies, cookies, moowiches and other desserts
blue sky
 Grampa and Dave safely here
good food that Tami makes
spring brake, cummer vacation, xmas brake, holoday braks, weekends, and pto days
good food that Grandma makes

and on the top, over everything else...