Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Recap

Our Christmases are always filled with precious memories.  (No, not the cheesy figurines.)  Precious memories and, well, peculiar ones.  Probably because my whole family is just a bit off-kilter.

Do you mean to tell me that other families don't pass their gifts around so everyone can smell them?  Or openly discuss the possibility that gits of special bath soap may reflect a deficiency in one's bathing habits?  Or, as my cousin did after lunch, heave oneself onto the couch face down muttering,

"The food-baby.  If I lay on it, maybe it will go away."

And then there are the gift-opening traditions.  We open one gift at a time, so it won't be a free-for-all, and so that people (especially smaller people) can properly demonstrate gratitude.  Also to give my mom time to carefully collect the bows that are nice enough to be used again.  And again.  And again.  And the boxes.  When my Nana was still living you might receive a gift, wrapped in a box that was older than you were.  Possibly from a store that had closed in the 1950's.

Ahhh.  Good times.

Actually, they are good times.  The boys heartily proclaimed this the best Christmas ever.  And they're right.  Every Christmas is the best one ever.  And it's not just the gifts, either, though we like them ;D

You see, we view the holidays as an opportunity to spend time together.  With each other.  Sitting around the living room, (or standing around the array of cookies in the kitchen, more likely), finding out what's been going on in each others' lives.  That's what we do when we have company over, too.  Talk together.  Get to know each other better.  Find out what they've been doing, what they think about things, what's important.  Some people think we're kind of weird (probably true), but I think

conversation is a dying art that needs to be revived :D

But now that Christmas is over, I am SO ready to move on.  In fact - don't hate me - I took the tree down the day after Christmas.  Had we not been trekking down to the in-laws the following day I might have waited a bit.  But coming home yesterday, which felt like eons after Christmas, I knew I'd want it all gone.  And after three days in the bottom of a valley, in non-stop pouring rain, even more so.

I love Christmas.  Just about everything to do with it.  And the decorations are part of the joy and celebration.  Now, I don't want to tart up my house until truckers stop to ask if Earlene is working this shift, but we do like things festive.  Yet as much as I love it, it wears on me after awhile.  When you add the piles of gifts we've received (wonderful gifts!) it's all just too much visual clutter.

Time to shift to winter mode.  Move things away from the windows so as much light as possible can come in.  Clear off all the surfaces.  Give the house a winter-y look.  Time for things to be new and fresh and clean.

There may be no snow outside, but inside sparkles with joy. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Confession

Every year I think I'm going to do Christmas better.  

I'll get my shopping done earlier.
I'll make more gifts.
I'll send out a Thanksgiving letter instead of a Christmas card.
I'll decorate with what I love and purge what I don't.
I'll have more people over.

And there will be peace, and joy, and cookies for everyone, right?

But in the real world, we have a weekend SAREX campout (seriously, who plans this in cold, dark northern latitudes in December?), choir practice, CAP squadron meetings, youth-group, a PTO day (hallelujah!), Tuba Christmas, Messiah performances, 20 or so relatives to lunch, the kids' Christmas program at the Chapel, and one boy with new glasses, and homeschool, and laundry, and a living room full of boys playing Risk.

And Christmas is four days away and they've eaten every Christmas cookie I've made.  And I'm still trying to get Christmas cards addressed, wrap the last few presents, and find the best picture of the boys to give the in-laws, out of the five thousand or so (no kidding) I took on vacation.

So it's not exactly sleep in heavenly peace around here.

But neither was the first Christmas, was it?

A crisis pregnancy.  An unplanned road trip.  And how far is it from Nazareth to Bethlehem?  About a hundred miles?  Really?  Nine months pregnant and riding a donkey for a hundred miles?  With no place to stay?  No comfort.  No guest towels.  No room service.  No privacy.  A baby, born in a barn.  No epidural.  No crib.  No Pampers.  And unexpected company!  Shepherds, foreigners (at least they brought gifts!), angels.  No, not exactly sleep in heavenly peace.

But it is Joy to the World.

We rejoice.  We celebrate.  We sing.  And we light candles and drip wax on our fingers. 

And we stumble imperfectly through it all, because...

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.


Lift up your heads,
O ye gates,
and be lifted up,
ye everlasting doors;

and the King of Glory
shall come in.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Not Very Christmassy, But Real Life

There are reasons I don't go out to the garage very often.  Here you see a few of them.  (No, I don't mean The Boy.)

That makes my head want to explode.

This... well... what can I say.  It's the Testosterzone.

This, on the other hand, makes my heart sing.  Gunnar loves to take things apart and see what's inside.  He usually remembers to ask first, because - Lord have mercy - he is not so much into putting it all back together.  But, as Kerry's fax machine went belly up, he can have at it.

He doesn't just smash things, as we sometimes enjoy, but really takes them apart carefully.  Then he brings me his treasures ;D

Monday, December 19, 2011

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, December 19, 2011

Outside my window...  still dark.

I am thinking...  what a whirlwind of a week we've just had!  All good, but kind of crazy.  Pics coming soon.

I am thankful for...  the kids' Christmas program last night.  Fun.  Low-key.  No stress.  All the kids, from preschool to high school, do their part.  And how cute are the little toddlers in their white angel outfits, with tinsel in their hair?  Or little curly shepherds' beards?  And hearing Luke 2 read by boys and girls in a motley collection of bathrobes?  Now that's what I call a good Christmas program :D

I am praying for...  peace and joy :D

I am wearing...  jeans, white mock-T, black and white and red snowflake sweater.

I am creating...  hmmm, working towards the peace and joy!

I am going...  to get Wyatt going on some school work, and to make cookies with the other two.  Yes, we are on break, but somebody has let himself get behind in science and history.  And yes, I know we're homeschoolers and flexible and all that, but I don't want procrastination to take root and flourish.

I am reading...  still finishing The Sign of the Beaver, and also reading Christmas books every night, as is our tradition.  We have a lot of Christmas traditions.  If you're interested, I've put links to them under the tab, above.

I am remembering...  Christmas 2008, when we had a LOT of snow.  So much snow we couldn't drive up Grandpa and Grandma's driveway, and hiked up, pulling presents on plastic toboggans, as Grandpa shuttled us up on a borrowed ATV.  The boys keep hoping for a repeat!

From the learning rooms...  just Wyatt, plugging away.

From the kitchen...  a few more cookies, and (probably) meatballs for dinner.

Around the house...  happy, happy, happy Christmas things.

Something I want to remember for later...  we had a crowd here on Saturday.  A fun crowd.  My dad's side of the family.  I put a Sharpie out by the (plastic) cold-drink cups so everyone could write their name on theirs.  (Yes, we do that.)  Grandma asked Gunnar to get her some juice, and he labeled her cup, "best grandma ever".  Yep.

On my mind...  am I missing anything???  Because it seems like maybe I can relax.

Noticing that...  my boys... I love them... but they talk All. The.  Time.

Pondering these words...  

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.

One of my favorite things...  feeling ready.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  ironically, a few appointments for the boys.  Check ups, etc.

Here is a picture I am sharing...  

The elves, heading out on a Cookie Mission.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


In the spirit of holiday sharing, Wyatt and Tate brought home germs from last weekend's bivouac.  I may or may not be coming down with something.  If I am, I'm in denial.

Do. Not. Have. Time.

But I did get a Christmas letter written, get presents wrapped and under the tree (and - more importantly - out of my office), and started making treats today.  Tate, always VERY motivated to help, dipped an entire (large) bag of pretzels in white chocolate. And yes, I know it's not actually chocolate, but almond bark, really?  It's vanilla.  One of the mysteries of life, I guess.

Which reminded me of something else I want to dip... truffles.  No, not the fancy kind (I leave that to my sister).  Noooo, I've been waiting for Candy-cane Joe-joes.  You know, like mint oreos, but much, much better.  (Trader Joe's have bits of crushed candy cane in them.  Yum.)  We want Joe-joe truffles.  And I had to act fast, before certain family members (*ahem*  Kerry) eat all four boxes. 

Then when the older boys went off to youth group, Gunnar insisted on making gingerbread men, which he doesn't even really like all that well, but somehow he felt they were necessary.  And would you believe it, I don't have a gingerbread man cookie cutter?  Went to borrow one from my neighbor and she didn't either!  But she loaned us her Easter bunny cookie cutter which worked great.  With some minor modifications.  I rolled and cut out the cookies and Gunnar ripped off their ears and reshaped their heads.  He liked that part best.  As he dried and put away the dishes I mixed up a double batch of mint meringues.  No rolling, not cutting.  Just mix them up, put them in a hot oven, turn it off, and leave them in all night - easy squeezy.  That's my kind of cookie.

Now, to get said Christmas letter into cards, envelopes addressed, stamped, etc.

How hard can that be, right?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, December 12, 2011

Outside my window...  a glorious, sunny, frosty day.  I soak up light whenever I can get it, because we'll probably have clouds and rain later in the week.

I am thinking...  I think, I really think, I'm done Christmas shopping.  One gift card left to pick up at the grocery store doesn't count ;D  Hallelujah!

I am thankful for...  see above.  Now free to do more important (and fun!) things :D

I am praying for...  a man from church just diagnosed with leukemia, work for Kerry, peace and joy in the house.

I am creating...  good gracious, if you could see my office... well... I'm creating a MESS.  I've been wrapping in here and there is stuff EVERYWHERE.  No one else is allowed in.  But soon, very soon, I'll be done wrapping and can tidy up!

I am going...  to make Christmas treats this week :D

I am reading...  The Sign of the Beaver, with the boys.

I am hoping...  to have friends over before Christmas.

I am hearing...  the furnace blowing, ahhhhhhh.

I am remembering...  all my good intentions to have things done early - like gift-shopping and writing a Christmas letter.

From the learning rooms...  I left the boys home today, with their schoolwork, and went shopping with Grandma Grasshopper.  I love that they're old enough to do that now, once in awhile.  Not sure how much they got done, but anything is better than nothing.

From the kitchen...  ummmm, must think of something :o\

Around the house...  I love Christmas decorations.  I love my nativities.  I love candles.  I love Christmas music.  And I love the smell of my Christmas tree.

Something I want to remember later...  how much Gunnar misses his brothers when they're gone.  He does NOT like to sleep in the bedroom alone!

On my mind...  can't wait to find out if I'm going to have a niece or a nephew!

Noticing that...  how much Gunnar likes the words "hence" and "thus".  He reads a lot.

Pondering these words... 

let heaven and nature sing!

One of my favorite things...  hearing my boys sing Christmas carols.  Even the ones that don't exactly follow the notes on the page ;D

A few plans for the rest of the week...  choir practice tonight, CAP tomorrow, youthgroup on Wednesday, friends coming to dinner on Thursday, PTO day Friday (!), and a big family gathering on Saturday - here.  Whew!

Here is a picture I am sharing... 

Is it over-sharing to show a picture of our bedroom?  I love my bed... the soft, flannel sheets and the big down comforter... they call to me on these dark, cold winter nights.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Weekend

You'd think with two boys gone all weekend that life would be... I don't know... two thirds simpler?

Not exactly.

It's good to have them home. 
Along with their noise,
their activity,
their appetites,
and their piles of dirty laundry.

Friday, December 9, 2011

True Confessions

Well, well, well.  Another day, another boggling.

It doesn't take much.  I'm easily boggled lately.  I could blame the boybarians.  Or hormones.  Or just about anything.  Today, how about Stuff-Mart?

I went out Christmas shopping this morning.  Again.  And even though it was a work day, and - compared to a weekend - not really very crowded, it still felt kind of crazy.  So many people.  So much stuff.  You know, I've figured it out.  What it comes down to is just


That's it.  Really, I'm good for about two, three, maybe four hours until my eyes glaze over and I get a headache.  (I know, I know, first world problems...)

Anyone else?  Am I the only one with matching chromosomes who doesn't feel very merry about Christmas shopping?  And then, of course, I feel guilty about that.  Because it's not as if I'm being forced into buying obligation-gifts for a bunch of people I could care less about.  This is my family!  I love them!  I want to give them good things!  I'm just not a shopping-as-recreation kind of gal.

Still.  I had a list.  I worked the list.  I made progress.  So that was good.

Actually, here's the funny thing.  The best thing I found today was for... me :D  I didn't mean to be shopping for me, but as long as I was in Value Village (looking for stuff for Gunnar to take apart), I might as well keep my eyes open, right?  (You would, wouldn't you?)  And I was rewarded with this:

An LL Bean Christmas sweater.  For twelve bucks.  Granted, it won't look quite like that on me, given that I'm not that tall, nor that skinny, and - duh - I have hair, but still... love it!  Funny thing is, when I got home and looked at it again I became convinced that someone I know has this very sweater. But who?

So after my slightly overwhelming shopping expedition, I arrived back home and helped Wyatt and Tate get their stuff organized for The Bivouac.  Which they're all excited about.  And here, again, I'm boggled.  Because I, for one, would not be excited about a weekend campout in December.  What they're going to accomplish in roughly seven hours of daylight, with a projected high temp of 42F (that's about 5.5C, my friends), I have no idea.  I hope it's not treating hypothermia.  I'll let you know, when they get back.

In the mean time, I have presents to wrap :D

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


A plea to my fellow mothers of boybarians:

With two boy having only recently entered the teen years, I'm by no means an expert on this whole taming wild carnivores parenting adolescents gig.  But there's one thing that bugs me no end every time I run into certain friends of my boys.


Too much hair.  Too long.  Too shaggy.  Too girly.

Yes.  I realize there are bigger issues.  Drugs.  Promiscuity.  Violence.  I get it.  But honestly, take it from someone who lived through the seventies.  The groovy shaggy look is a sad mess. 

We all know what is the natural focus of the teen years.  ME.  ME.  MEAnd hair in his eyes and covering his face allows him to avoid relating to others through eye-to-eye contact.  Besides, he's too busy cocking his head at just the right angle, and flipping the hair almost-but-not-quite out of his eyes.  It's annoying enough to watch a girl constantly fidgeting with her hair, but a boy?  Twice as bad.  Awful.  Help him rise above the narcissism.

And for heaven's sake, help him look like a young man.  You may have found his curls adorable as a toddler, but it's time to lose the effeminate look.

It all 'clicked' with me as I've been driving the boys to their CAP meetings, and interacting with the other cadets there.  You see, at CAP there are (*gasp!*) grooming standards.  Not only are all the cadets and officers in uniform, they are also all neat and tidy.  They look up, meet my eyes, and greet me.  And it doesn't hurt that they unfailingly call me "Ma'am", and jump up to hold the door open, too.

Sure, their behavior matters more than their appearance, but don't you think there's some interplay there?  Maybe a lot?  And let me assure you, as an adult, it's much easier to approach and interact with a young man who has a fresh, clean, open face than one who is ungroomed, immature, and unmanly.

There are things you do for his own good, whether he likes it or not.  Keep his hair short.

Wednesday Brain Dump

1.  Remind the boys that today is Pearl Harbor Day; don't forget.

2.  Listen every morning as Gunnar announces how many days are left until Christmas.  Appreciate that he's excited, but nearly have heart failure on a daily basis, given my level of unpreparedness.  Try to smile, cheerfully.

3.  Achieve this with more difficulty, these last couple of days due to "girl issues".  'Nuff said.  Ugh.

4.  Have managed to get the tree decorated while boys gone at CAP.  Pictures soon eventually.  Normally love doing this, but this time... mustering will-power to leave the couch, hot drink, and heating pad takes more effort.

5.  Am conquering the lethargy, aided by occasional doses of Nutella,  so dangerously good it should probably be a controlled-substance.

6.  Have convinced Wyatt to join me in the chapel's Christmas Choir.  Discovered he's a bass!  Who knew?  Am surprised he agreed to come at all, a situation helped greatly by the choir director's sense of humor as well as after-practice reward = ice cream.

7.  Must dig through gift box and see if that helps the preparedness situation any.

8.  Remember why I'm doing this...  :D

Monday, December 5, 2011

In Which We Get Our Christmas Tree

Today was The Day. 

The perfect day to get the tree.
Not raining is always good, and today was sunny and cold.
School can wait.

We can see Mt. Baker, along the way to the tree farm.

And we go by this church, which I like for the traditional look and the graveyard on both sides.

The view from the tree farm... acres and acres of firs, surrounded by mountains.
That's Mt. Baker, hiding in the clouds.

And the Twin Sisters poke their heads over the foothills across the river.

But we are all about finding the perfect tree.
Wyatt scouts them out.

Tate is just happy to be there, finding the Perfect Tree.

Yes!  This is the one!

Gunnar concurs.

Tate and Gunnar use the Swedish saw like a cross-cut saw,
and have the lower branches trimmed and the tree down in minutes.

We've been coming to this same lot for ever.
Any size Douglas Fir, twenty-five bucks.

 Not to mention, hot cider, cookies, and candy canes in the office, by the wood stove :D

We've got it in, up, and lighted.
Ornaments tomorrow.

*Happy sigh!*

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, December 5, 2011

Outside my window...  still dark.  Oh these short winter days!  Looks like it will be cold and clear.

I am thinking...  about Christmas gifts and shopping left to do.

I am thankful for...  a big crowd at Tuba Christmas (fun!), and both Messiah performances went well.  A couple of odd quirks, like the lights in the sanctuary all going off briefly in the middle of one of the solos (huh?) but we carried on.

I am praying for...  us, Christmas, focus amid the hustle and bustle.

I am going...  to get two boys out of bed, to get our day going.  Can you guess which two are still sleeping?

I am reading...  The Courage of Sarah Noble, and Captured! with the boys. as we talk about the relationship between the colonists and the Native Americans.

I am hoping...  to get a Christmas tree, today or tomorrow!

I am hearing...  the washer and dryer.  I often throw a load in the wash before bed, to dry in the morning, or start one in the morning when I get up.  Or, when it's been a busy weekend, both.

I am remembering...  wishing for snow, like my boys do now.

From the learning rooms...  Wyatt - experiments with water, algebra equations with exponents, reading Tom Sawyer, and the Presidents leading up to the Civil War.  Tate - has set himself a goal of getting a week ahead in his school work, so is working steadily on all his language assignments each morning.  He's also studying geology (three categories of rock - can you name them?), volume of solids, and going to write a research paper on an event in American history.  Gunnar - multiplying three-digit by two-digit numbers with carrying, working steadily on is language assignments, excited about primeval reptiles (studying aquatic Zoology this year), and - with Tate - we are reading about the Colonists and the Indians (Native Americans).

From the kitchen...  about to put a roast and some veggies in the crock pot.  Yum!

Around the house...  I scaled down some of our decorations this year.  I'd rather have less out that I really like, than everything I've ever gotten.  Lots of candles, though :D

Something I want to remember...  how determined Tate is to impress and/or please those in authority over him.  And the way Gunnar comes cheerfully to Messiah and then sleeps through the first half.

On my mind...  if I'm going to get any Christmas cards out this year, I'd better write a letter!

Noticing that...  I still have not put away the spoils of Friday's shopping expedition.  Oops.

Pondering these words...  let earth receive her king.

One of my favorite things...  how well twinkly lights, candles, and Christmas music go with a hot cup of cocoa.  Speaking of Christmas music, though, my friend Dan has re-posted some interesting thoughts on O Holy Night, a carol that never really sat right with me.  Read why, here.

A few plans for the rest of the week...  just when I thought Monday night rehearsals were done, our church is going to have a Christmas choir, so three more Monday evenings to go!  Boys have CAP on Tuesday, then I think we can coast a bit :D  But they have a bivouac this weekend.  I'm a bit boggled by that, as I'm not sure what they intend to accomplish by
camping out in December when there is a grand total
of about seven hours of daylight to work with
but they boys want to go, and I'm assuming it's SAR-related.  Crazy, though.

Here is a picture I am sharing...

About 42 tubas at Tuba Christmas!

And 70 Messiah singers, including - at the far end of the first row - a ten-year-old soprano.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday Brain Dump

Because I'm too tired to form coherent thoughts longer than a paragraph.

1.  Yes, it has been a crazy week,  thanks for asking.  Yes we did have something going on nearly every single day.  Why people live like that on a regular basis is beyond me.

2.  But this week is an exception, and it was lots of fun things, including Tuba Christmas (biggest ever, in our town, with forty-two tubas), two Messiah performance, some Christmas shopping, as well as CAP, youthgroup, rehearsals, etc.

3.  Tate had his eyes tested, and *surprise!* has inherited the family tendency to near-sightedness.  This came as a shock to Tate, who continues to insist he sees just fine, in spite of the fact that when the eye doctor asked him to read the lowest row of letters he could make out, he started with the top row.  And made mistakes.

Tate is such an emotionally solid/stable kid, it surprised me that he was so upset.  Could be that compounded with his hearing loss, he just can't stand that another system is malfunctioning.  Though I have assured him that glasses are much simpler than HA's.  Hearing aids can amplify sound, but they can't "fix" your hearing the way glasses can truly correct your vision.

Also, he seemed to think that needing glasses would automatically exclude him from lots of job opportunities.  I have no idea where he got that idea, and assured him that I couldn't think of any.  (At least, not any that his hearing loss doesn't already affect, like joining the military.)

I hope I've been able to reassure him on that front.  About the only things I said that might have cheered him up were:
     *  Lots of people think that glasses make you look more intelligent, and
     *  Hey!  Your glasses will probably help a lot next time you go hunting.

I think I hit pay dirt with that last one.

4.  Wyatt and Gunnar get their eyes tested later this month, and if family history plays out, Tate may not be alone...

5.  Tate also has appointments this month with his regular doc, (just a check up), and his audiologist at Seattle Children's.  I'm totally embarrassed to realize it has been so long *cough* a year and a half *cough* since we were down there.  Just go ahead and tattoo a big "L" on my forehead.  Good grief. 

I'm hoping his hearing aid needs maintenance, because something has definitely changed.  Getting a lot more huh?  Of course, he's getting to the age where he doesn't want to admit he didn't hear something.  And/or he doesn't know what he missed.

6.  If there is a shopping disability, I think I have it.  I know, the stereotype is that women love to shop.  I must be missing the gene.  I want to give gifts to my family.  Good gifts.  Because I love them (my family, I mean!)  And, yes, I am doing some of my shopping online.  I'm just not very good at shopping.  In any venue.

7.  Good thing tomorrow is Sunday, because I need a day of rest.  Exhaustion and hormones are catching up with me.  But if I get my school planning done for this week, maybe we can get out and get a Christmas tree :D

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gunnar Wonders

In the (old, Boris Karloff cartoon version)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas,
why is Max, the dog,

the only living thing with ears?

Maybe that explains all the noise the Grinch hates.

Seen On A Sweatshirt

... of a 12 or 13 year old boy.

Who buys this for their kids?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Goose Is Getting Fat

Christmas is coming, and guess what I've been doing?
  • Wrapping twenty-four Christmas books.
  • Tying seventy-two little candies on our candy-strips.
  • And down-loading a new set of Advent devotions. (Already started.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gunnar Wonders

If there's no death in heaven,
and there's going to be a lot of feasting,
will there be any meat?

Because, really,
would it be heaven without meat?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, November 28, 2011

Outside my window...  bare branches, green cedars, firs, and hemlocks, and some blue sky peeking through the clouds.

I am thinking...  still in (happy) shock over my brother's good news (post below), and working through the details of this very busy week.

I am thankful for...  good weather this morning for Gunnar, who is at a birthday party involving horseback riding, for a new niece of nephew coming next June, a wonderful Thanksgiving and family to celebrate with, and that tonight is our last Messiah rehearsal.

I am praying for...  my aunt recovering from pneumonia, friends coming home from Africa this week, and boys shifting back into school mode (ugh).

I am wearing...  jeans, purple sweater, warm blue socks, and slippers.

I am going...  to fold Mt. Laundry and clear off the pile on my desk before it breeds and multiplies ;D

I am reading...  with the boys, The Magic Tunnel, a story about the British takeover of New Amsterdam.

I am hoping...  Gunnar has a fun time at the party, Wyatt gets his work done cheerfully (I can dream, can't I?), and Kerry keeps busy with work.

I am hearing...  silence, the boys are doing school work.

I am remembering...  the "kids' table".  When I was growing up and my grandparents lived in this house, we nearly always came here for Thanksgiving.  There were ten of us and we would've been a tight squeeze around the dining room table, so instead, my Nana always set up a card table in the living room for us four kids.  And you never, ever graduated from the kids' table.  Ever

It became a running joke that my Nana never "got".  By the time I was married and having my own kids we had started celebrating Thanksgiving at my parents' house.  Though by then we needed two tables, they were "integrated" :D

Now, when I set up two long tables together for this Thanksgiving, I had the boys put name cards at each place, and gave them free reign as to where to put people, and guess what they did?  Put all the kids down at one end, "So we can talk to each other, Mama."

All righty then!

From the learning rooms...  working through Sequential Spelling with Tate and Gunnar (very, very helpful); Tate begins Geology this week (having finished Fossils), Gunnar is learning about "dinosaur fish", Wyatt is reviewing the layers of the atmosphere; Tate and Gunnar reading about the early colonies - contrasting Jamestown with Plymouth, Wyatt reading about the Lewis and Clark Expedition; and math - multiplying by two numbers  ie 128 x 36 (Gunnar), order of operations (Tate), and exponential numbers (Wyatt); and the usual round of grammar, writing, hand-writing, etc.

From the kitchen...  my last Messiah rehearsal tonight so I won't be here for dinner.  I'm thinking turkey taquitos for lunch :D

Around the house...  I've put out some Christmas things but won't have time/energy to get a tree until early next week.  Still, I've got candles, and lights, and Christmas music on the CD player :D

Something I want to remember for later...  Tate will get up at 6am, read his Bible, do his CAP exercises (push ups, sit ups, etc.), and then start on his school work before his brothers are even awake.  That boy is going to go far!

On my mind...  how to manage Christmas gifts this year... hmmm.

Noticing that...  Tate shaved for the first time this Thanksgiving!

Pondering these words...  And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed...

One of my favorite things...  boys getting along with each other :D

A few plans for the rest of the week...  Monday rehearsal, Tuesday CAP, Wednesday youthgroup (aptly named None the Wiser), Thursday deep breaths, Friday Messiah performance, Saturday Tuba Christmas and second Messiah performance, and Sunday...  a much-needed rest!

Here is a picture I am sharing...

They look so little!
We'll take a new one this year :D

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Joy and Surprise

It's a joy to have so much to be thankful for.  Our homes, our health, a house full of family even if we're elbow to elbow around the tables.  And the food?  Oh, too good for words, and plenty of it!

And the surprise?  Well, see if you can figure it out.  Here's a pic of all seventeen of us :D

Nimrod, A Mighty Hunter Before the Lord

Grandpa Grasshopper, aka "Nimrod", went elk hunting with a friend, way up north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and boy did he get a big one.  You can't see all the tines, but it's an eight-by-eight.

You can better see the size of the animal in this picture.  They estimate it weighed around 1100 pounds.  That's a lot of meat!

Well done, Grandpa Grasshopper!

Veteran's Day

Catching up on some bloggy "housekeeping"...

November 11th Tate woke up, giddy with excitement.  Aunt Tami and Uncle Dave met at our house for brunch, and then I delivered them to the airport, to launch Tate's 13-year Disney Extravaganza.  More about that later.

Meanwhile, Wyatt and several of the other CAP cadets met at the cemetery to place flags for Veterans Day.  That's Wyatt, sliding a flag out of the van.

The weather quickly deteriorated, but the work continued.  (Wyatt in red.)

I don't know if you can see how hard it's raining in the picture, but I hope you can see their smiles.

Well done.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Repast / Repost

Just lounging around the house today, doing math...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Houston, We Are All Systems Go For Lunch

It's been another productive day, but I'll spare you the recital of items cleaned, dusted, baked, and painted.  Yes, painted.  I don't normally go to such lengths when family is coming over, but we were on a roll.

Also, I realize that you've got bigger things to do than hang on every detail of what the boy-barians and I got done today ;D

But I'll tell you the best thing about today.  (Besides Wyatt volunteering to scrub the roofing tar that got tracked in off the mudroom floor, because let me tell you, that was a job.)

We went to Thanksgiving Service at church. 

We sang familiar Thanksgiving hymns.  We prayed.  We read a Psalm.  And some of our people bared their souls, and told what God has been doing there.  I wish you could have heard.  You would have laughed.  Harry, who has basically died five or six times, told us about his heart, which he calls Hazel (because she's like an unfaithful ex-wife) and is now augmented by Hamlet (the pig valve).  And how he's not afraid to die, and he's thankful for every single day.

And Barb, who lives on a farm in the woods, that had no electricity or running water.  And then her husband died.  And her neighbors helped her, and loved her into the church, and fed her the Living Word.  And the church built her an addition to her house, with modern conveniences.

And there were more.  Dave, a really smart guy with everything going for him, but without God.  And Nate, whose wife decided they should visit the chapel because it looked cute and had flowers outside.  And they stayed, and grew, and the chapel paid his way through seminary and is helping him plant a church.

And in the midst of the flurry of preparations, we slow down to give thanks.

Thanks for our families.  Thanks for our health.  Thanks for salvation and forgiveness and grace.  Thanks for God's continuing, inexplicable provision in these unstable times.  And thanks for so much more.  Thanks for our friends.  Thanks for our church.

PB&J, I have to tell you this:  The boys spent a long time cutting out paper leaves for our thankful tree.  And cutting isn't exactly one of Gunnar's strong suits, if you know what I mean.  But after I said we had enough, Gunnar found a scrap of purple paper (his favorite color) and cut one more leaf.  A really special maple leaf, with lots of detail.  He's put several leaves on the tree already, but he's been saving that one for something really special.  Driving home tonight he told me, Mama, I know what I'm going to put on my purple leaf - the chapel.

And to you.  You readers.  Friends.  I have to tell you, I am thankful for you :D  Thankful for the friends I have found through this crazy technology.  Thankful for the ways you encourage me and inspire me and make me laugh.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.  Hebrews 13:15

Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More From The Minions And Me

Progress :D  Good has been done here, today...

Peeling and chopping 10+ pounds of potatoes.
  • Did our little bit of school work.
  • Baked turkey - yes, I do it ahead.  It tastes just as good and frees up the oven.
  • Made two large mashed potato casseroles.
  • Tidied and dusted the living room
  • Dusted the dining room light and tables
  • Cleaned/disinfected all light switches and door knobs
  • Cleaned the fish bowl  (Jack is much happier.)
  • Cleaned and organized the fridge - gotta make room.
  • Cleaned the stove.
  • Cut out paper "thankful tree" and a bazillion leaves.
  • Scraped disgusting blackened grout from behind the kitchen sink, and Kerry regrouted.
  • Made tomorrow's list :D
And all, for some unknown reason, on about three hours of sleep.  Why???  I don't know.  Came home from Messiah last night and just couldn't turn my brain off.  Not tossing and turning in anxiety or sickness, just laying (lying?) in bed, listening to the wind howl, and the music in my head.

Until about 4am.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Salute and Execute


The minions and I have:

  • Done our bit of school work for the day
  • Cleaned the two downstairs bathrooms
  • Cleaned the bunny hutch
  • Dusted the dressers and bunk-beds (between all the rails and dowels)
  • Tidied the DVDs back onto their shelves
  • Washed all the cabinet fronts in the kitchen
  • Cleared off the clutter-shelf
  • Stowed Tate's birthday cards and gifts
  •            and
  • Cleaned the oven
Pats on backs all around, and off to fun evening activities :D

Grasshopper Days

Grasshopper Days

For today, November 21, 2011

Outside my window...  clouds, wind, and rain.  Nearly all the beautiful leaves are now brown, wet, and on the ground.  Strangely, we have some kind of vortex that attracts all the big soggy ones to the landing right by the back door.  Why?

I am thinking...  making mental lists for the days leading up to Thanksgiving!  What needs to be cleaned, how many chairs do we need to borrow, what can I make ahead, who is bringing what...  time to put the minions to work ;D

I am thankful for...  Kerry got a kinda-sorta job working as a "drafting slave" (his joking term) for another architect.  It's part time so he can still keep doing any projects he gets on the side.  Yay!

I am praying for...  the job to work out well for both of them, my Aunt Myrna who has pneumonia, friends coming home from Zambia soon.

I am wearing...  grubbies.  Sweats.  Going to be doing more cleaning today ;D

I am creating...  a holiday celebration.

I am going...  to make a chore schedule for the boys and me, so we can be as relaxed as possible with sixteen around the table :D

I am reading...  Almost Home, having just finished Madaleine Takes Command.  I'm reading a lot of historical fiction (and some non-fiction) with Tate and Gunnar this year... not always exactly in order, but going along with our history studies.  Almost Home is the story of a (real) girl who came over on the Mayflower, while Madaleine Takes Command is a must-read for you Canadians.  It's the true story of a fourteen-year-old girl who holds the fort for a WEEK against Iroquois attack.

I am hoping...  for a grace-filled holiday.

I am hearing...  just the wind, and lots of it.

I am remembering...  the first time we had Thanksgiving here at this house we were still in the throes of remodeling.  Our furniture had been stored in a large truck in the driveway.  Two days before Thanksgiving the contractor had a table-saw set up in my living room and was cutting and installing floor trim.  The day before Thanksgiving I was basically following him from trim piece to trim piece, shop-vaccing the dining room and living room and then trying to get furniture back in and a bit of decorating done.  Oh, and the garbage disposal clogged while I was running a load of laundry, and greasy, turkey-scented water poured out all over the kitchen and mud-room floors.  I had to get a plumber in.  Awesome.

From the learning rooms...  we are on Holiday School Schedule this week, which means a minimum of actual academic school work and lots of... hmmm... what shall I cal it?
  • Occupational Ed?  Prepare for a job in house-keeping, home-maintenance, and food service.
  • Home Ec, or whatever the PC term for that is now?  Learn time-management, food preparation, and budgeting.
  • Social Studies?  Learn your cultural history!
  • Religion?  Definitely!
  • Community Service?  Yes, definitely learning to serve others.
  • Hospitality?  A required course.
There.  Now I feel better about the fact that the math books are in the closet ;D

From the kitchen...  baked chicken sandwiches for lunch.  The closest I can come to a McChicken, and therefore (in the boys' eyes) heaven ;D

Around the house...  cleaning, cleaning, cleaning!

Something I want to remember for later...  how happy flannel sheets make the boys!

On my mind...  the aforementioned lists.

Noticing that...  it's so much better now that the boys are old enough to be truly helpful.  Whew!

Pondering these words...  When I do stuff, stuff gets done.  Deep and profound, (snort).

One of my favorite things...  clean surfaces, WOOT!

A few plans for the rest of the week...  
  • Monday - begin (minimal) school work and cleaning, Kerry takes boys to Boys Club and I go to Messiah rehearsal
  • Tuesday - continue Holiday School, Wyatt and Tate have CAP
  • Wednesday - make green bean and mashed potato casseroles (those are two separate things),  and bake the turkey (yes, the day before), set up tables, remind boys of their hosting responsibilities.
  • Thursday - dinner at 1:30.  Then, because it's so good, again in the evening.
  • Friday - organize any leftovers and start putting away fall decorations.  Put minions to work moving furniture and cleaning around, behind, and under.
  • Saturday - start thinking Christmas (!), also potluck and game movie night at church.  Can you believe there are folks who haven't yet seen The Princess Bride?
  • Sunday - church, breathe, rest :D

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It's Hunting Season

Oh, you thought hunting season was over?  

Well....  it's turkey season, now.

No, I don't go out hunting these.

This is more my speed :D

Of course, it's not without its risks...

But we've avoided disaster so far :D

The biggest trick is fitting them into the freezer.  "Them" you may be asking?  Yes, THEM.  I get four or five (or six) each year.  Why not?  They're easy to cook, delicious, and who says they're just for Thanksgiving?  I'll bake a turkey, serve it for dinner, and freeze the left-overs to use in recipes that call for chicken.

And they're on sale!

I don't know about where you are, but here?  If you're local, run right down to Cost Cutter or Food Pavilion.  If you don't have a coupon, ask at customer service and they'll give you one :D  Spend twenty-five dollars on other groceries (in the blink of an eye, in this house) and you'll get:

A box of stuffing mix
A can of chicken broth
A can of green beans
A can of cream of mushroom soup
A can of cranberry sauce
A packet of turkey gravy mix
A dozen fresh rolls
A five-pound bag of potatoes
A turkey, up to twenty pounds

for twenty bucks.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas Baked Turkey Taquitos, turkey pot pie, turkey-salad sandwiches, turkey enchiladas...

What do you do with your leftovers?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

In Which We Are All Cozy

It's That Time...

... the time to CLEAN!

It's a bright, sunny morning, I'm full of energy, and I feel a Blitz coming on.  (Especially with company coming for Thanksgiving, just around the corner.)  I mobilized the boys and we began to attack the upstairs, pulling tubs from under the beds, stripping all the sheets, moving laundry from washer to dryer, chasing dust bunnies elephants, mopping...

... and then the phone rang.  CAP needs volunteers at the Heritage Flight Museum, on kinda short notice.  Like right now.  And there went two of my household slaves helpers. 

Little do they know that I have NOT planned any regular schoolwork next week.  Oh, we'll do a bit of academics, but we're on Holiday Schedule all week, which means they will clean, wash, cook, scour, bake, and generally help me prepare for Thanksgiving.

And I'll be really thankful!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Woke Up This Morning To...

... snow!  Just a dusting, but pretty white trees at Grandpa and Grandma Grasshopper's house, for the boys' PTO day :D