Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One last Christmas hurrah... and Happy New Year!

Okay, Daniel is thrilled that he finally knows all the words to Jingle Bells, so I'm going to post it up here for him!

I loved watching his eyes as he sang with such determination. Hanna just sat back and giggled like any big sister would! Oh, and if you'll notice, this is what his crazy hair looks like at the end of the day when we spike it for school!

Our neighborhood is bursting with festivity as our neighbors around us are shooting off fireworks. I suppose this means we'll have a yard full of rocket tops to pick up again, just as we did for 4th of July. Maybe it will give the kids something to do in the morning as John and I do our final loading of the camper!

I've come to the conclusion once again not to resolve to do anything next year special. Every year I try to promise that I'll lose weight, become more organized, and save money. Every year, I seem to fail miserably. So, instead, I'll just say I'll try to be a better steward of my resources, and see how that goes!

Is it possible to be addicted to a hobby?

I didn't know anything could be as mind possessing as fishing used to be, but that is how I am beginning to feel about camping! We've got reservations to go to a campground in Keystone Heights starting tomorrow for two nights. John came home the other day with a cold, and it doesn't seem to be getting much better. We discussed this morning whether or not we should really go, given his illness, and at first we had decided to cancel our trip. After only maybe 30 seconds, John said.."the kids really want to go." I couldn't help but interject.. I REALLY WANT TO GO! I'm not sure if he's aware how obsessed I am with camping these days, especially now that the weather is perfect for the activity! John will be working on Friday, so we decided, since he's not feeling well, it would be best if he came home tomorrow night, after the kids have gone to sleep and I've showered, and he can sleep in the comfort of our own bed, out of the night air, and get up and leave early for work Friday morning. This also ensures that we don't wake up fellow campers by the starting of his diesel truck at 5:30 in the morning, not to mention waking up our children that early in the morning and leaving me to entertain them for a full day! I think this solution will satisfy all of our needs and wants! He'll also be able to go home after work, shower, and then join us Friday evening at the campsite.

The last few days, I've been busy making camping reservations. We have some in place for the weekend before Martin Luther King day, down in O'leno. That looks like a very nice park, and it's not too far away. Over Valentine's day weekend, my mother in law has graciously agreed to keep the kids for the weekend, and John and I are taking the canoe and camper to Little Talbot Island for some fun camping and fishing! Wow.. both favorite hobbies in the same weekend! Could be heaven on earth! We'll take the dog with us, since Grandma is NOT a fan of big dogs! She'll admit our dog is a nice dog, but she doesn't really want to take care of her! That's okay, Callie (the dog) loves camping too!

Now, lately, I've been printing out home pages of several campgrounds in Georgia that I would dearly love to visit. The problem is, I have narrowed it down to three campgrounds, but can't decide which one of these three. The cost is the same per night at each camp. The closest, Stephen Foster, is a 2-1/2 hour drive, the middle one, Magnolia Springs, a 4-1/2 hour drive, and my FAVORITE is 6 hours away! These campgrounds are our pick for spring break, so it's not like we'd be on a short schedule. Our plan is to drive there on Saturday, and return home on Wednesday, allowing us time to be home to attend church services for Maunday Thursday and Good Friday, not to mention Easter. Not even for camping could we EVER skip church on Easter Sunday!

My favorite, Mistletoe State Park, is way up in Georgia on a 72,000 acre lake. The campground is on a peninsula, so they boast 'beautiful sunrise and sunset every day!" Wow! How can I resist that? They have boat rentals available, so if John doesn't want to mess with the canoe that trip, we could rent one while there. Unfortunately, John's not being much help.. he simply said, "pick the one you want to go to." Doesn't he realize I'm so wishy washy, and making big decisions is difficult for me? Has he learned NOTHING in 7 years of marriage, other than "if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"?

These attached pictures are from the online site for Mistletoe. I don't know if I can "walk away" from this chance again. We'd considered this location for Thanksgiving, but being it is such a long drive, and it was the dog's first long trip, as well as ours and the kids with the camper, we kept our distance within 4 hours. Not to mention, Lynn and Dave were hauling their big camper down, and we were trying to keep their traveling to a minimum. I could say with 80% certainty that I'm going to book our time at Mistletoe, but then again, I'm a woman, and might change my mind... again!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our camping may be in jeopardy for the week...

I'm a little bit worried about our plans for camping this week. I've had it planned for about three weeks, we'll be going camping Thursday through Saturday this week. I've been keeping an eye on the weather, and it finally looks like the rain might just stay away on Friday, or be spotty at best! However, John came home from work yesterday and said he felt horrible. Sunday afternoon, he got real quiet, and said he had a headache, and didn't feel so great. He sat quietly for awhile, and went to bed early, and said he was feeling a little better. Until he came home yesterday! He said his headache was back, he was all stuffed up, and his throat was scratchy! Oh no! A cold! There's nothing worse for a cold then sleeping in the night air! He can't be sick! He just can't! He also said, he was probably going to have to work on Friday, but he'd take the work truck to the campground and leave from there. Not a problem! The kids and I will just find ways to entertain ourselves, either playing games or hiking.

He's excited that he's working on a house close to home... it's 20-25 minutes at the most! Much better than the last few months when he was working up in Yulee and Fernandina Beach, and it took him an hour and a half to get home. He's working on a "small home", only about 18000 square feet! No, not a type-o. I didn't add too many zeroes. That really is eighteen thousand square feet! That's like our whole street rolled into one home! Since this "home" is so close, I'm hoping to be able to do a walk through like I sometimes do on the weekends, when he's working on the really cool houses. At least with a home that size, it's work for awhile. I keep hearing John say, "I should have work at least through June, then we'll see." Not sure what that means, or if there's something going on at the shop that I should worry about, but I'm thankful he's got this latest mansion to work on! I certainly will not complain if he tells me he has to work, when there are some people that don't have that opportunity these days.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Make way for the Tooth Fairy!

Santa's come and gone, and our house might have finally calmed down from all of that! However, this evening as I was cooking dinner, Hanna came into the kitchen with blood dripping from the tooth that's been ready to fall out since Thanksgiving, and it was sticking straight out! Eww! We went into the bathroom, and looked in the mirror... I'm bleeding! Mommy, I'm bleeding! I explained, this was normal, and if it didn't hurt, there was nothing to worry about! I grabbed hold of that tooth with a paper towel, gave it one good jerk, and out it came! Yay! The first tooth! She jumped up and down, "My first tooth! Now I'll get a dollar!" I remember the days when a tooth was worth a dime, and that was a big deal! Victoria's first tooth was worth $20, but then she has a single uncle at the time who wanted to impress her. Daddy's just as impressed, but not as wealthy these days, as he'll tell you.. with a wife, two kids and a bigger house!

I couldn't help but laugh, after a big mess occurred in our living room after dinner. One of Daniel's candies in his stocking was a bottle shaped lolly pop, filled with pink sugar. Well, at some point, he unwrapped it, and neglected to put the lid on tightly, and as he dumped his stocking onto my living room floor after dinner, to make his candy choice, the pink sugar made quite a mess! I said, as I was running the vacuum, "I'm not very happy with you at the moment, Daniel." His response, "Will you be happy with me tomorrow?" Well, that pretty much put an end to my "anger", although it was a little frustrating, especially since I've been battling with little black ants in the house these last few days, and didn't want to call my friends at FL Pest Control until after the holidays! This was one of those times, I had to turn my head as I laughed!

Friday, December 26, 2008

The insanity of it all has finally calmed down...

The house has finally calmed down from all the insanity. The kids are in bed, and John is fast asleep in the recliner in the living room. John and I made it home from church around midnight, and sat and talked with our babysitter for a while when on our return. She was unusually talkative, but she had also commented on how Hanna certainly has a lot to say when she got up after we left for church. I think "it" must have rubbed off on Morganne, getting too close to Hanna.

John and I took care of all the assembly on the toys Santa had left for the kids. The basketball hoop and the stroller were really all that needed actual assembly, everything else just needed to be taken out of the boxes. I find it interesting how growing up, when he came to my house, Santa left gifts out under the tree, when he went to John's house, he wrapped everything, unless it was very large. Weird that he did things differently at different houses, isn't it? I finally made it into bed around 2:30am, but John had some wrapping to do. I thought it was pretty funny that he wrapped the 15 inch cast iron skillet, that didn't come in a box.. it was so obvious! He also wrapped my very lovely quilted purse, and.. an "ad lib" gift, he found a "Texas Two-Step" nutcracker, and Daniel picked out a Santa mug for me as well. He completed his wrapping and made it to bed sometime around 3 am. About 3:45, I finally had to go out to the couch, as John's snoring was making me crazy. It was exceptionally loud, and I couldn't rest with all that racket! A few minutes after 5am on CHRISTmas morning, Hanna came bursting through the living room like a deer prancing through a field... "Mommy, Daddy, Santa came! Santa came and filled our stockings and left presents under the tree!" Of course, this being bellowed through the hallways like a song. I sat up quickly on the couch, followed her into our bedroom, and convinced her it was still "middle of the night", and too early to get up just yet. At this time, I returned to our bed, and managed to get about 20 more minutes of sleep, before sensing Hanna standing beside me, just staring at me. "What now, Hanna?" "Is it time to open presents yet?" As tired and frustrated as I was, I also reflected how her pleas sounded so much like many of my childhood CHRISTmas mornings. "It's still too early. We have to wait awhile Hanna, Grandma will be here at 7 o'clock, to watch you and Daniel open presents. We have to go back to sleep." I think she only returned one more time, and the final time after that, it was 5 minutes to 7:00, and I said... "Ok, Grandma's probably going to be here any minute." I think they (Grandma and Uncle Mike) must have been waiting in the driveway, because it seemed that as soon as Hanna turned on the living room light, I heard a tapping on the side-light window, at the front door. As I was brushing my teeth, and trying painfully to get my contacts back into my very tired, dry eyes, Hanna kept bouncing into our bathroom, to inform me what Santa had delivered. "Really", I'd say, "and it does what? Wow, how exciting!" Grandma brought sausage bread and cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and I started the coffee pot, and fed the dog, and the kids were happy to investigate the contents of their stockings. I was amazed at the obvious differences between my children, as they continued to open presents. At one point, Hanna seemed almost as if she were about to hyperventilate. Quickly opening a gift, tossing it aside, and frantically looking around for the next gift. Daniel sat quietly with each gift, and admired it's wrapping, and the box that it came in... and at one point, we had to hurry him a long a little.

When we were finally finished with all of the gift opening, the house was a mess, and the kids were bouncing off the walls. Grandma asked if we were going to go to church, and John and I both answered that we were pretty tired, and we thought we'd lay low this morning, and join them at her house for lunch. Well, Grandma wasn't happy with us one bit. Uncle Mike reminded John, who still has no clue as to when he volunteered, but, Mike reminded him he'd agreed to usher for Christmas morning service. Well, that settled that, and Grandma seemed quite pleased. We made to church a little early, and when we arrived, the only other people there at the time, were our friends Jayne, and her son Brett. Hanna showed off her baby carrier, and the dress Grandma made for her Bitty Baby, to match Hanna's dress. Daniel was happy to bring his slinky (now lost) with him to church. Brett showed us the bionicle he got for Christmas, and Jayne said she was up until midnight, putting it together with him.

After church, the kids went home with Grandma, and John and I returned to our home for him to change, and we put the dog up for the afternoon. She'd been in the backyard when we left for church, but it was now getting close to 80 degrees, and she would rather be inside in the a/c. To be honest, I was dreading lunch at Grandma's, as she'd invited a few elderly people from Moosehaven to join us. In the end, the lady that did join us, was a very pleasant lady. She had a lot to say, but most elder people usually seem more than thrilled to see younger people, and her family lives out of state. When I arrived, I introduced myself to her, and right away she said, "Oh, you must be the one that knows everything about computers and cameras!" She'd gotten a new digital camera from her son for Christmas and needed some help getting it set up. No problem! Of course, I also got to view the 100 photos her daughter had loaded onto her new digital picture frame. Again, I realize older people enjoy the company of young people, and she was a very pleasant lady. I was somewhat frustrated at the start of lunch, when Hanna continued to chant at the table that "broccoli makes you toot!" Grandma was far from amused, let me just say that! John made himself scarce, and left me to be the entertainment for his mother's guest the majority of the afternoon. The kids were finally off to bed for the evening around 8:30 on Christmas night. I fell asleep on the couch shortly there after, and yet.. as tired as I was, I ended up sitting at this computer at 10:30 at night!

My sister and her family came over this afternoon, and we made terriyaki chicken on the grill, and I used the side burner and my new to me wok, and cooked stir fry vegetables. We had more gift exchange, and a lot of chaos, as the kids were wound up on candy and excitement.

So, on the inventory now... Hanna got a Barbie "styling head" doll, a Grayco stroller and baby carrier with doll, Camp Rock dvd, Bratz doll, Beach Barbie, Barbie Mariposa.. and so many others. Daniel received a basketball hoop, hot wheels car crusher, Space Heroes turbo shuttle, a Shake Em Flyer, Shake Em Batman car, space guns, a Bass Pro Shop boat, to hook up to the Bass Pro Humvee he got for his birthday, an incredible hulk, with light up chest, and matching underoos, Speed Racer underwear, they will share the Hungry Hippos game and Don't Break the Ice, and each got a few games, as well as color books, and so many other things. John and I played Hungry Hippos with the kids last night, and it was fun. All four of us laying on the floor, playing a kids game. Daniel couldn't play much, as he was rolling on the floor with laughter, from the games silliness.

Tomorrow is Saturday, and John doesn't have plans to go work at our friends' house. He says he is finished except for a few hours work, once the pump to the well is delivered. Wow! He's been working on that for about a year! Merry Christmas to me and Laurie! We'll have the opportunity to enjoy each others company! John said he and Daniel will go get a haircut tomorrow! A little overdue, but I won't complain! I hope we can get legs on our "chuck box", for our upcoming camping trip next week! John said, he would like to go up to the hospital during the "bowl game", which ever game it is, that the Seminoles will be playing in, and visit with our friend Gordon. Gordy is an older gentleman, who has been a friend of John's family for well over 30 years! Gordy is John's youngest sister's godfather! He fell a few days ago at home, tripping over a vacuum, and broke his hip. He had surgery on Christmas Eve, and is on a slow road to recovery. He was vacuuming to ready his house for a "bowl party" tomorrow, to which we were invited. John's not one to really show signs of concern, but he seems truly bothered that Gordy is in the hospital this time. I think it would ease John a bit, to go and visit him, and of course, as John said.. wear his best "Gator" hat to visit! Although, it's not like John would be wearing any other kind of hat!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

O Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant...

I think I heard this Christmas hymn at least a dozen times today! Each time, I sang along, either at church, or on the radio with a very happy heart! I love Christmas! Not because of the gift giving, and spoiling of my children, and sheer chaos of the commercialized part of the holiday. That part, I hate! It's so stressful! What I love about Christmas is the feeling of my faith bursting through my veins, reminding me with every breath, "God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only son..." What a beautiful thing! I love Christmas carols, but I often have difficulty singing them in their entirety, as I usually choke on the words.

What a wonderful evening we had last night. We made it to the church early, as I'd planned, and began getting things in "order" for the children's CHRISTmas service. Children started coming in on time, at 6:30, those wearing costumes got into those, and others bounced off the walls in our fellowship hall as we anxiously awaited our time to begin. The service went very well. We had one mishap, that to some could have been considered a "disaster", but I figure, when you're dealing with kids, something is going to go differently than originally planned (not wrong) and we just have to adapt. At one point in the service, the 4th -6th graders moved over to the left side of the front of the church, and stood behind the other children. They were there to sing their two songs, and were staying through that particular reading in the service. When it came time to read, one of the "shepherds" whispered, "we don't have it". Uh oh, here it comes. What? What don't you have? "Our papers" he said. Not one of the 4th through 6th graders brought their programs over, with their printed reading in them. We had a few moments of "panic", and some offered to run over to get them. I didn't want the chaos in the middle of the program.. they were getting ready to sing "What Child is This, and Away in a Manger. It's not a time to be preempted by chaos! I said.. "Share!" So, they all adapted beautifully, and the back row, leaned over the middle row, where the 1st through 3rd graders stood, and they made it through their parts. I looked over to my friend Jennifer, who was helping on that side, and we just kind of laughed. What could we do,anyway? Just have to recover, and move on! The kids did an awesome job, and I hope I was able to project my satisfaction to them, when we returned to the fellowship hall afterwards. I was particularly impressed with one of the shepherds. I was hesitant to assign him a part, as I'm never really sure when he'll be "in town"; he lives in Orlando I think, on a regular basis with his father. This is a young man whom I was his Sunday School teacher when he was 3 or 4 years old, and now, here he is in 5th or 6th grade, and reciting a part in the CHRISTmas program. His reading was fantastic. I had no idea he was such a good reader. When the program was over, we passed out "goodie bags", donated by one of our church families, sugared them all up, and hurried home to get our kids into bed. Hanna ate two apples on the way home, and I was a little worried we'd have some repercussions from that, but nothing came about! The apples, did, however, make her already loose tooth, a bit more loose, and made it hurt last night. I cautioned our babysitter that should Hanna come out after we left, and her tooth happened to come out, there is a small ceramic 'box', on the hutch for teeth to await the tooth fairies arrival. Hanna did come out of her room for awhile, and talked the sitters ear off! We have yet to use this box.. perhaps tomorrow. The tooth is so wiggly, it's disgusting! Back and forth, side to side... eww! I've been encouraging her to pull it, and she tries, but it just won't let go! Stubborn tooth, just like it's owner!

We got home at 9:00pm, and our babysitter arrived at 9:25, right on time. John and I hurried out, and made it back to church shortly before 10:00pm. Robert had asked me to be there early, since he and I were playing some preservice music. He and I played Silent Night pre-service, and he sang O Holy Night, accompanied by an elder gentleman, who amazingly plays WITHOUT MUSIC! It was a beautiful evening. I love the 10:30 service. We also played What Child is This, during the offering. It's a candle light service, with 9 lessons and carols. I usually sing my heart out, until I'm hoarse (and I was last night), and end up in tears at some point, thankful for the gift that we have been given by our God. When I arrived at church, there was only the older gentleman, Kurt, standing in front of the parking lot, waiting on Robert. I asked if he was waiting to get in, and he replied that he was. John went on, looking for something to eat, as neither of us had eaten dinner, and he was hungry. He tried stopping at Starbucks for their "holiday cappuccino", but unfortunately for him, they were closed when we got there. He settled for a coffee from the Chevron by the church. When I went into the church, Kurt went to the piano, and I plugged in the Christmas tree. I took some pictures of the tree, and the front of our church, hoping to capture the beauty of the dimly lit altar.

I sat in church this morning, and reflected on all the gifts that I have been given, and especially all the wonderful things in my life that revolve around my church. (Warning, this part is very emotional!) I sat, admiring the altar, in all its CHRISTmas glory. Remembering, my baptism in the fellowship hall, when I was 12 years old, before the chapel was here, and how my family was visiting on summer vacation; we lived in Maryland at the time. I remembered sitting in the church alone, except for one elder, the evening after a special young boy in our church had tragically died, and how my faith grew by leaps and bounds that evening, through all my tears and grief, staring for over an hour, at the stained glass picture of Jesus. His last Christmas on earth, Timmy gave me a pin of the North Star, and I wear it proudly every year through Advent in his memory. I remembered sitting in the late evening service, with my fiance a year later, bursting with joy, for finding a man whom I loved so much, and loved me as well. Shortly after that Christmas, we were married at this altar. A year and a half later, we baptized our first child, Hanna, at this altar, and again a year and a half later, on Christmas morning, we baptized our son, Daniel, at this altar. This beautiful altar! My life has grown so much at this altar, and I was so happy to be sitting there, reflecting on all the gifts in my life, received at this altar, from my Savior, Jesus Christ! Merry Christmas, and Happy Birthday Jesus!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Too many "cats" are getting let out of the bag!

This morning, I was awakened by Hanna, "Mommy, I accidentally opened a present." Hmm.. nobody accidentally opens a present, puts the box in their closet, wrapping paper in the trash, and puts the Barbie under the pillow. I took the Barbie, who has now joined the other unwrapped gifts in my office closet. The box and wrapping paper have been disposed of. She has assured me that there are no other gifts hiding out in her room, and I am certain that she had to do some digging to find a big box to open. I will give it to her tomorrow, and informed her that she will not be opening one gift this evening, as she's already taken that opportunity. I'll let her wonder throughout the day as to whether or not she will be getting the "Mariposa Barbie" she opened.

Last night, John took Daniel shopping with him for my Christmas gifts. John laughed when they came home, and said.. "this boy is a flirt". Well, I already knew that. Apparently, every pretty lady he saw, he made eye contact with and chatted it up. John said, a single guy would love taking this guy out, because he ends up talking to all the ladies. While I was getting him into his Lightning McQueen pj's, Daniel informed me that they went FOUR places, and that they bought me a new purse. Ha! I laughed, and covered his mouth, telling him "NO, don't tell me! Daddy will not take you shopping anymore! It's a secret." Well, he didn't tell me about any other gifts. Although, it wasn't for the lack of trying! Hanna was not allowed this trip, since last year, during advent church service, she leaned over, and said.."Mommy, we bought you a cross necklace at the mall!". Poor John, I guess next year, he'll go alone!

Just now, as I've been typing, I heard the crashing of something in the bathroom. Daniel stuck his head out in the hallway, "Mommy, on an accident, there's a problem." I inquired as to what the problem could be, and he said..."I accidentally spilled the pony tails." The box of Hanna's pony tail holders landed upside down on the bathroom floor, however, it stayed on top of them, keeping them contained in one place. I was imagining as I went towards the bathroom that I would find hundreds of pony tail holders spread around my bathroom, but that was not the case. Shew!

We have a handful of gifts to wrap today, and hopefully neither of my children will remember what they are until they see them being unwrapped. Hopefully the gifts under our tree will remain there until tomorrow morning, when we can all share in the gift exchange. Rather than the secret openings behind closed doors in the dark early hours!

We'll leave our house this evening around 5:45 or 6:00, and head for our church. I'd like to give myself a little extra time to make sure everything is in order for our children's CHRISTmas program, and hope that we have very few surprises. If I've said it once, I've possibly said it a dozen times so far, "I'll throw some balls into the air, and see what comes down, and what I can keep juggling in the air."

Christmas Eve is such a magical night. I'm not referring to Santa, but the wonderful blessing of faith and love, knowing that it is the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. My favorite Christmas Eve memory is from 2004. Daniel was 8 days old, and he and I spent most of our evenings and nights at that time in the recliner in the living room, since I was breast feeding, and it was an every hour or so thing. We were both restless, and went outside at midnight. Just as we were looking at the stars, it was a clear night, I saw the one and only shooting star I have ever seen. I couldn't help but think it must have surely been a special gift, just for me to enjoy with my newborn son, remembering the birth of God's one and only son! Merry Christmas! (now dry your eyes...:P)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Let the count down begin...

I THINK I'm ready for Christmas Eve! I wrapped the kids presents today, knowing that they will be home tomorrow, and not much opportunity for "privacy". They were home all of 15 minutes, when they managed to get into trouble with Dad, because they started pulling presents out from under the tree! As I was sorting what went where, what was who's, and wrapped or not-- for you know who to leave-- shh, it's a secret-- I realized everything said "batteries not included". Ugh! Well, that meant a trip to Wal-Mart. Eww! Two days before Christmas, I have to go to WalMart! It wasn't as bad as I'd expected, but I also gave myself an attitude adjustment prior to going in. I'd been to the post office, and mailed our Christmas cards to family, and remembered I had a few things I had to have.. like toilet paper, so I don't have to go back before the weekend's over, and milk, and some other small things. I seem to have been in a "mexican" mood, as I picked up enchilada sauce, and salsa. I think it's because I couldn't find chicken bouillon, and knew for sure where it was on the hispanic isle. Tomorrow, I will wrap one more thing for John, his brother, his mother, my sister, my brother in law, my niece, and the Sunday school teachers. I still have to look to see if a certain baby stroller needs adult assembly! Anything to help out Santa!

Poor John, he hasn't "started" his shopping, and will have to go there tonight. I've given him a list... The big "LODGE" cast iron skillet in the camping section at WalMart, a "quilted purse", which is on sale at Bealls for 50% off... and coach lights for the front on the house. I wonder if he's got the lights in his truck, or if he's going to pick some up at WalMart or Home Depot. It's possible, he'll pass right over the lights, and concentrate on the skillet and purse. I had to explain to him what exactly a quilted purse is, and I'm not convinced yet that he really knows what one is. I think I'll tell him to let the purse slide, and I'll get myself one later. The item I especially want is the cast iron skillet! For camping, ya know! I got a "bonus gift" yesterday, when I took the dog for a walk, and our neighbor had a box of kitchen items on the curb, marked FREE. In the box was a very nice aluminum wok. Another great item to use both camping, and at home on the grill's side burner.

Yesterday, while in WalMart, I had a funny experience. Much like a "low talker" experience... when someone says something so quiet, you say.. "What?", and can't imagine they actually said something to you. I was standing in front of the paper towels, and an older gentleman was sitting in a motorized scooter. He said in a heavy hispanic accent, "can you tell me what papers are these?" What? Excuse me? I was thinking, is this a trick question? what does he mean? I said, slowly, "They're paper towels." He replied, "what about toilet papers?" Oh.. I'm thinking, this man probably can't read english, or maybe he's close to blind.. because why can a grown man not tell the difference between paper towels, and rolls of toilet paper? I simply said, "they're on the other side of this isle", and he said, "Thank you very much, ma'm'. "yes, sir, I'm glad I could help you! Merry Christmas!" If that's all it takes to make someone's day, in the middle of all the holiday chaos, I'm glad I could spread some joy!

Dashing through the snow...

No, it certainly isn't snowing here! As a matter of fact, it made it up to 70 degrees today. Tomorrow should be mid-70's, and near 80 degrees on Christmas day. I guess the only way to have a "white Christmas", would either travel north (NOT!) or head to the beach, and sit among the white sandy shores.

It's hard to believe it's so warm today, and will be even warmer again tomorrow and the next day. Yesterday, my neighbor and I, accompanied by my mother in law, took our children and my niece Caitlyn around our block, letting them sing Christmas carols. Of course, it was VERY cold, and windy last night, when we went. I wore a t-shirt, hooded sweatshirt, and fleece lined coat, with gloves.. and was cold! It might have been 40 degrees! Brr! Ha! People up north would say, "You sissies!" Yep, that's us! Warm weather sissies. Our other two neighbor families were regretfully not able to join us as caroled, all suffering from scratchy, sore throats, or fevers and germs! We let them remained locked up in their homes, keeping their holiday viruses all to themselves. So, we had 4 children, only one of which could read. We stuck with 3 holiday songs... "We Wish You a Merry Christmas", Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and Jingle Bells. Hanna had to throw in Jolly Old St. Nicholas, every now and then, since she knew it from her school program. They knocked on every door, sang our neighbors a holiday song, wished them a Merry Christmas, and held out a Snowman holiday bag, filled with peppermint candies. Each time, asking our neighbors to please help themselves. It's amazing how just giving a small piece of candy to a neighbor you've never spoken to, can make such a strong impression. Some neighbors returned the favor, with candy canes, and one neighbor even tossed in a $5 bill! I think I'll suggest the kids put it in the "plate" at church, given that they received it spreading CHRISTmas joy!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's beginning to feel like Christmas...

Yesterday morning, as well as this morning during the bible study hour, I lead our church's children, along with our Pastor and many helpers, through our Christmas program. It is coming together beautifully! A few days ago, in frustration I'd stated.. I'm not doing this next year. I say that, but in all likelihood, I will. I can't help myself at times. I love being in the center of it all, yet, I'm not the center of attention. I'm simply in the hub of it all, watching it happen around me. I'm enjoying the spirit of the Christmas season!

After church, John and I dropped the kids off at my sister's house for the afternoon, and made a run to Home Depot to get the parts necessary to fix the pump (but still lacking all the parts, in the end). This is the pump to our irrigation, which you may recall, was damaged in last weekend's birthday party. During church this morning, I discussed this afternoon's tree trimming and caroling party at our church, with my friend, and fellow church member, Amanda. I told her I felt it was "sad" that in the past, it has been typically one family, maybe two, that has come up and decorated the tree. Amanda said I'd inspired her, and that her whole family would attend the confirmation class this afternoon, despite her sinus attack, and they'd join us in the church. She did.. and they did. We were joined by several children, and family members, and in the end, I think we might have had close to 15 people at the church this afternoon for all the events. At 4 o'clock, we had caroling. During the final tree trimmings, I'd considered my part "finished", (I'd climbed the ladder, and put the lights around the tree, and installed the star), so I moved on to background music. I made the decision this afternoon to bring my viola along, and I played Christmas carols while the children continued to add the Chrismons to the Christmas tree. My mother in law was having a fit, from the way the kids were placing the bottom ornaments, and I reminded her, these children had their grandmothers and parents there to supervise, and to just "let it be". If she felt the ornaments were too close in the end, she could straighten them up after everyone else had left the church. The only way to get others to attend this function every year, is to allow it to be enjoyable to all... not a chore.

Finally, everyone was finished, and our church's choir director, Robert showed up with his girlfriend. He was there to play the piano for the Christmas caroling. He and I did our part to entertain and lead everyone in hymns, and what wasn't in the hymnal, I'd brought along my Hal Leonard "Big Book of Christmas Carols", which contained holiday favorites, like O Christmas Tree, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and others.

In the 10 years that I've been a member of my church, this was the first time I'd attended this function, and I'm glad I did. I was completely alone, in that, I didn't have to tend to my children, or worry that my husband felt the activity was "corny". It was pure enjoyment for me! I loved it! When it was time for our chili dinner, I ran to my sister's house, thankfully only 5 minutes away, and picked up the kids, including my soon to be 9 year old niece, Caitlyn. They wanted to come with me, eat some chili, and play on the playground. My sister had fed them dinner at her house, so I told them to go play on the playground, while I enjoyed my chili! I'm glad I made the additional effort to get them, and include my niece. She asked me on the way home, if she could come to church on Christmas Eve. I told her, absolutely, she just needed to ask her mom. I hope my sister will now make the effort to come that evening, and not make up the many excuses why they just can't come to church that night. It's Christmas.. where else should you be, other than church???

A few of my neighbors and I had discussed the idea Friday, of going Christmas caroling tomorrow evening on our street. I think the idea must have leaked out, because this evening, there were people walking around singing carols. I'm wondering now, if we do it, will we look like copy cats? I didn't see them, and hoped intensely that they wouldn't be knocking on our door, as they passed by at 9:00pm. My children were asleep, and I desperately wanted to keep it that way! I'll have to check with my neighbors tomorrow to see who was involved in this evening's event, and if everyone I've contacted still wants to do it. I think it's a great way to spread the good news of our Savior's birth!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Around the world...

Last night, Hanna's school held their "Christmas Around the World". The kindergartners sang Jingle Bells, and Jolly Old St. Nicholas first, followed by two songs by each grade 1st-3rd. When the classes were done performing their songs, they had a "Christmas Around the World" festival in the corridors of the school. I'm not sure how many "stations" there were, as we left after the 4th. The kids were given a "passport" to start, and each country they got a stamp, and made a craft. It was a good idea, however, the execution left a lot to be desired. They wouldn't allow you to start at either end, you had to start at the beginning, which meant all those kids were trying to move from to each station, at about the same speed, and each station was "manned" by only one mother and helper.

It was pure chaos! I hope they rethink their concept next year.

It's actually humorous the way John and I approached it. In the beginning, it was more than I could deal with. Parents pushing their way through the crowd, complete disregard for other children around them. That made me nuts! When it was over, and we were in the hallways, John was having a fit.. too much chaos. By then, I'd simmered down.. although he did motion to me to come wait with him against the wall, and let the kids "do their thing" without me. Sometimes, it's hard to give up that control, and just 'let it be'. The kids had a great time, and that's all that matters. Daniel still doesn't understand that the stocking ornament, although it looks like a cookie, is NOT TO EAT!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Frogs and snails, and puppy dog tails, that's what little boys are made of.

The little man turned 4 yesterday, but I have to tell you first of his birthday party on Sunday. We had a total of 25 people, and only 2 were not "blood related". One little girl was a neighbor, that I think Daniel is sure she could hang the moon, and the other "not blood related", was our dear friend, Carol. Cliff is usually right there with her, but everytime he comes to my house, he has to leave quickly, as all of my animals, mostly the cat dander, give him troubles breathing! We also had an additional "dog", as Bandit joined us around 5:00 when Dave arrived, having been to see the Packers play the Jaguars downtown. My cats were none too thrilled to have that thing in their house!

We had a great time at Daniel's party. There were a total of 25 people, 10 of them being children, aged 3 to 16, and of those 10 children, only one was not a cousin! I think at one time, all of those children, or at least a good portion of them, were on the John Deere car he got for his birthday last year. It now makes a very disturbing noise, and John suggested it might have burned out the gears. We did see at one point a total of 5 children on the thing, the oldest being 13 years old. The John Deer did some damage of it's own, when I think it was the 3 year old cousin, Morgan who was driving, and ran into the pump to the irrigation system. Thank goodness they came into the house and yelled.. "we broke a pipe"! Flipping the breaker to the pump stopped that disaster in it's tracks, until John can find the time to repair that. We had a Spiderman cake, and enjoyed watching him open his presents. Among his many gifts included a Hummer with the Bass Pro Shop Logo on it, a canoe and a little man to drive it, three different Spiderman figurines, one having a scuba tank, and now he can't wait for spring, when we set our pool back up, and he can go swimming with him! Hot Wheels.. oh the Hot Wheels! There's a carry case for up to 7 cars, that shoots them out when selected, a stunt track, a set of 'crazy stunt cars', and my favorite.. the Ice Track! It's a Hot Wheels ice track, that has a motorized section that shoots the cars around the track. So Cool! John and I purchased a race track that has shake em' riders, but I don't think he's nearly as impressed as he is with the Hot Wheels! The dog likes both sets, but is very excited about the ice track as well!

We waited until 5:30, and very few of the 25 people actually left, so we ended up breaking out the Bubba Burgers and hot dogs! During the food preparation, I realized we'd ran out of sodas, so I ran up to the store and picked up a few more 2-liters of Coke, etc. and a bottle of wine for my sister in law. I now have half a bottle of Merlot, that I won't be drinking anytime soon! I do not like Merlot! Everyone finally filtered out of our home around 7:30, and as I walked back through my living room, I found my brother in law's laptop in it's case sitting on my living room floor. John and I quickly found our cell phones, and got a hold of them, as they had left about half an hour before, heading back home to Summerville, SC. Thankfully, they had only made as far as the first exit on I-295 heading north, so John said, turn back and head toward's Mom's, and I'll meet you there! Had John not done that, it would have taken an additional hour and half out of their trip home, and as it was, they returned home shortly after midnight! I would not have wanted to make that drive. We did that once when they first moved up there, and Hanna was a baby. It was all we could do to stay awake on that drive home!

I do believe Daniel enjoyed his birthday party very much, and the festivities carried over to his 'real' birthday on Tuesday, when we took cupcakes to school for his class, and then went out to dinner with our dear friends, Hughey and Leanne, and their children.

Tis the Season to go to The Nutcracker...

Saturday morning, we attended our churh's annual Christmas 4 Kids. We had a great turnout, 40 kids! My friend Kim, usually covers the registration desk at these events, and she was unable to attend this year. Her presence was at the very least, missed by me! I had gotten my wires crossed, and thought it started at 9:00, so I hurried the kids out of the house, so we could be there by 8:45. Turns out, I was wrong, and it didn't start until 9:30, so we threw our efforts in where needed. Since I was there, and the need was as well, I covered the registration desk until we were ready to start. I thought I was doing well, creating name tags for the kids that we already had sheets on. That didn't work too well, since, once the kids came in by the handfuls, I lost track of where I'd put their nametags. Ugh! I said, "that's it! Kim does a much better job, I'm fired!" It didn't really take affect though, as they still needed someone to greet everyone as they came into the church. Kim.. you were great missed! When Pastor was ready to start, another mother, Anna jumped in and took over. I think she did a better job than I did.

When our Christmas program was over, we hurried out of there, over to Grandma's to eat some lunch, and change the kids for The Nutcracker. Grandma had made the kids beautiful matching outfits. Daniel had a vest that matched the jumper for Hanna. Turns out, Grandma also had her wired crossed, and told Lynn and Victoria that the production didn't start until 3pm, rather than 2pm. Lynn and Dave came down for the weekend, and they always try to go to their favorite restaurant, La Napolera, while in town. So, they took the "time" to go eat. Shortly before 1pm, Grandma asked me, "what time to we need to leave?" That's when we realized, she had the wrong time! We needed to leave at 1pm, and Victoria, who was going with us.. wasn't there! I called Lynn, as she said.. we haven't gotten our food yet, we'll cancel our order, and head out!" They made it back, and we were out of there by 1:15.

At 1:58pm, I dropped Grandma and the kids off at the door, while I went and parked. Then hurried across the street in the chilly air, and stood in line at "Will Call" to get the additional ticket I'd reserved for Victoria to join us. I had hoped to get pictures as we entered the lobby, of Daniel and the scenery, and of course, the beautiful Santa they have attend this function every year as well. Sadly, I did not make it on time to do that, and I hope next year, I'll be able to get pictures of him, assuming he wants to go!

So, how did Daniel do at The Nutcracker? Ugh! He enjoyed the first half of the first half! By the end of it, he said.. "is it over? Can we go now?" I explained that it was merely a break, and that we could go potty, and come back for the second half. He was ready to go! He and the little girl beside us had struck up some good conversations during the first half (yes.. DURING), but by the Act II, they were both pretty much done. Victoria wasn't shy about expressing her frustrations with his chatter.. muttering... "shut up!" a few times under her breath. I tried to explain to her, that he was only 4 (nearly) and it was difficult to remain quiet. She wasn't very sympathetic. If you ask Daniel now, he'll tell you, he had an enjoyable time. However, if I heard it once, i think I heard it a dozen times.. I WANT TO GO HOME!

When we returned to Grandma's house, the kids were more than ready to head home. They both fell asleep in the car on the way, and that stirred the grumpiness that followed. I went into Grandma's house, gathered clothes and other belongings from the morning, and off we went...

Friday, December 12, 2008

The lights made it up after all!

Thanks to John, the lights were put up this afternoon. He came home this afternoon around 3:30, and as we were sitting in the living room, I said.. "do you suppose we could get the lights up quick, between the two of us?" He said, "I don't know about quick, but we'll give it a shot." By 5:30, we were done, which was a good thing, because it was getting chilly! I'm glad he was willing to help this year, because the one strand that I swore I replaced last year, had a "dead spot" in the middle of the icicles. I was willing to toss it in the trash, and just go "short" for now, until I could make yet another trip to WalMart to get a another one.. but the electrician that he is, he started digging into his truck, and came out with "dikes", two rolls of electrical tape, and wire nuts. My job was to hold the wire where the lights stopped, until he returned with the "dikes", aka... wire cutters. I still have to figure out how to run power to my candy canes in the front flower bed, but all looks very nice, and John remained quite good spirited about the whole thing. Lesson learned... don't ask him during a football game, as in year's past. This improves the attitude greatly!

I'm off to bed, as we've got to get an early start, up to church for Christmas 4 Kids, and then... dum dum dum dum, dum, dum, dum, dummm... that's supposed to be the melody to the Nutcracker, but of course you can't hear it. Hanna was humming it quite loudly when I picked her up this afternoon, shouting to Mr. Eichorn the principal, "I'm going to see The Nutcracker!"

I hope they have the same Santa this year as last. He was truly a beautiful man, and he is the one I hope to get my pictures with this year! Not the mall!

...stay tuned...

The outside lights will just have to wait...

Hopefully, I will manage to get the outside lights put before Christmas eve. I had all good intentions of doing that today, but I do believe I had a case of food poisoning last night, and that has slowed me down quite a bit today. Yesterday, I had made a stop at Publix to pick up cookies for Hanna's class party today, and I also picked up a small tray of sushi for myself to enjoy while I was working towards getting dinner ready. I suppose, the "positive" to the situation is that I was the only one that ate it, so only I suffered the ill affects last night! I had checked my emails last night, and one of them was a mandatory quarterly meeting for the founder of my company in San Francisco. His email had this comment in it:

"Given the cold economic environment and the Holiday Season, I think my presentation might be titled, “ The Grinch who stole Christmas.”

To be clear, we do not expect massive layoffs at our company, but we absolutely need to make changes to remain financially healthy as an organization."

Well, I certainly didn't know what to think of that, and it really added to the already present sense of anxiety I've been feeling these days, especially with John in construction. I took my thoughts to bed towards this email, and just as I layed down to sleep, my stomach started hurting tremendously. I passed it off as "anxiety" regarding the email from my boss, and hoped the feeling would soon subside once I fell asleep. An hour later, the pains "paid off" and continued for several hours. When John woke up at 4:30, he was surprised that I was awake, and I said I'd never really slept, and told him of the fun I'd been having all night. He asked if I wanted him to stay home, and I said "No, I think my stomach is finally empty. I just have to get the kids off to school, and then I can go to sleep!" I never did go to sleep, and I did have a conversation with a fellow employee this morning, who tried to assure me that we in our department have less to worry about than others. I hope she's right. She's been with the company 5 years, and has a good feel of the vibes that come out of SF.

I'm headed back to WalMart this afternoon, as I realized I forgot to buy a pair of tights for Hanna's dress to the Nutcracker tomorrow, and Daniel is almost out of pull-ups, so I guess I'll make a second trip over there. I think I'll pick up Daniel while I'm so close, and take him with me to pick up Hanna. He'll enjoy that!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bears on Buffalo's ring...

Kids say the funniest things! Remember when your world was shattered when you found out what the lyrics to that song really were!? Tonight, after Hanna had been singing jingle bells, Daniel was singing.. Bears on buffalo's, that's not right, ... bears of buffalo's ring... no, that's not right! Mommy, how does it go? Bells on bobtails ring, making spirits bright, oh what fun... ha ha. Yes, he thought it was bears of buffalo's rings!

Hanna was drawing a picture of a little person, with a red pointy had, like a "Santa's helper", and said.. "Look at the slave's hat!" I ducked my head around the kitchen corner, "did you say, slave?". John said, "no, she said, sleigh." Hanna replied, No, slave! Santa's slave!" Hmm... well, the elf in Rudolf that was banned to Misfit Island was sent away, because he didn't do what he was told. John said, "Santa does kinda 'own' them." Ok, "Hanna, they're elves, not slaves! Santa's helpers are elves. Nobody has slaves."

Tomorrow will be a fun day for Hanna. She gets to wear her pajamas to school for "Polar Express Day". The kindergartners are watching the movie, and having cookies and popcorn, and juice. It should be a lot of fun. She's been talking about it for a week! Of course, Daniel wants to wear his pj's, but they're not having a special occasion. Kinda like the day we started spiking his hair on "funny hair day" at Hanna's school, now he likes his hair spiked for school. I explained that he had to wear his regular clothes, but next week Santa is paying a visit to his school, and won't be going to Hanna's and that will be his special day. OK! He's good with that! Shew!

So, I made the trip over to Grandma's to pick up all the stuff I'd purchased last weekend at Toys R Us. Wow, did I buy some noisy toys! I didn't realize it until I spent 30 minutes in the truck with all those motion activated toys! The roaring and flashing. It made it very difficult to listen to the soundtrack I was playing from Last of the Mohicans. I made it home just in time before the rain started up. Everything but one big item was stuffed into the cab of the truck, and the 'big' thing wouldn't matter if it did get wet, I just didn't want the hassle of wrestling with a wet big box! Once I got all that settled in, I started on my "mission" for the day. To get the inside of my house decorated for Christmas! Isn't it funny, we have to pick everything up, and put all the "loose" stuff back in it's home, vacuum, and then, we drag all the boxes and stuff out, and then there's a mess again! Only this time, it's of all the Christmas stuff that you can't quite figure out where you're going to put it! Just a few more things tomorrow, including the dreaded D-U-S-T-I-N-G, and I'll have the inside set. Tomorrow, I'd like to strive to get the outside done. I thought I'd do it today, but it rained a LOT, so that was not in the cards for the day. We did get the tree up, and the kids had their box of ornaments to put on when they came home from school. Daniel was so excited to help me put the "pine corns" on the tree. I showed him how we could just wedge the branches in between the layers on the pinecones. He thought that was great! Hanna really didn't care one way or another about the pinecones, and had no interest in helping us put them on. Party pooper!

I'm struggling to get my house together not only for the season, but also for Daniel's birthday party on Sunday afternoon, which I won't be home to prepare for Saturday or Sunday until it's time. Saturday the kids and I will head to the church by 8:15, to be ready for Christmas 4 Kids at 9am. When that concludes at noon, we'll head over the Grandma's, eat something for lunch on the way, change clothes, and head downtown to see The Nutcracker. We've made this a "tradition", and this will be Daniel's first year. He's very excited about that!

It should be a fun weekend, but very busy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I envy the innocence of youth!

I envy the innocence of my children. They enjoy the very little things that I tend to overlook this time of year. Daniel loves to look at Christmas lights, and this evening, it was nearly dark by the time we got home at 6:00 from "school". Every house we passed, I heard the "Oh Mommy's", and "Look!", and it was so nice. We passed one house with a nativity scene of only white lights and 'wicker' outline. He said, "oh, that one is so beautiful". He's only 4 years old (on the 16th), and he's remarking on the "beautiful" Christmas decorations. On the radio, a commercial was playing for shipping, and I think the "jingle" is "pack and ship, pack and ship..." to the tune of Jingle Bells. He said, "they don't know how to sing that song. They're wrong! It's jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh much fun, it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh. They don't know it Mommy." I simply agreed, they did not know it, and his version was much nicer.

When we got home, he ran out to play with Hanna and Caleb, who were playing "dinosaur" in the front yard. Caleb was the dinosaur, and he was going to eat the people. Of course, Hanna fell down twice on the driveway, but that drama is a story for another day! When they finally came inside, Daniel made his rounds around the house, stopping as he does these days, at the small side table in the dining room. He said, "these pine corns smell so good! I wish everyone could smell them. I wish Carter, and Brooklyn, and Connor, and Mackenzie could all smell them, they're so good!" Last weekend, on our trip to WalMart, the same trip in which the theft occured from the grocery store, one of our treasures was a bag of scented pine cones, aka pine corns. They are scented with cinnamon. We're waiting until I get the tree up, hopefully tomorrow, to place them in our Christmas tree. As much as I enjoy the smell they add to my dining room, I guess I just put them there and forgot about them. I couldn't help but think this evening, how nice it is that he enjoys them so much. Pine corns that smell like cinnamon.

I suppose, we all just need to take the time, and enjoy the pine corns! We're in such a hurry to get everything done, we forget to take the time out and truly enjoy the "magic" of the season. Enjoying the beauty of the small things, and anticipating the glory of the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It's his birthday you know, just ask Daniel, he'll tell you how it's his (Daniel) birthday, and The Nutcracker, and then Christmas is Jesus' birthday! He asked me the other day if Jesus had a Spiderman cake too!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We had an unusually good morning...

I'm happy to say, we had a great morning today! I'm wondering if it's because Hanna got some quiet one on one time before Daniel woke up. She came into my room around 6:15, and it was way too early to get up, so she crawled into bed with me. John wasn't there, as he's out of the house by 5:30 every morning. I got up around 6:45, got dressed, and was headed out into the living room, when she woke up. We sat on the bed, hugged, snuggled, and talked about how warm and toasty the bed was, compared to the air in the room. We went into the living room together, she let the dog out of her crate, and I got her breakfast ready, and fed the dog. We sat at the table and had some "chat time", before we both wondered if Daniel was going to get out of bed today. Most mornings, I'm pushed out of bed by both my children crawling into my warm, comfy bed, and then battling over who gets to lay against me, or someone's leg is up, and they can't see the TV if it's on. It's more than I need to motivate myself right out of my bed! I woke Daniel up around 7:20, carried him out to the living room, and fixed him a waffle. No fussing, no arguing.. she didn't even mind the clothes I'd picked out for her. When I got home, I took a second to thank God for giving me such a quiet, uneventful morning. These are the mornings I really treasure. I hope that Hanna's morning has carried over into her day. It certainly did yesterday, but that wasn't a good thing!

Yesterday, we had a major 'melt down', as I' d picked out a pair of black jeans, a nice pink long sleeved t-shirt, and a lavendar/pink argyle sweater vest. She looked very cute, but argued for 20 minutes before putting on the jeans. Her favorite jeans are the stretchy denim, and fit tight to her body. The black jeans, fit like jeans, and are somewhat loose around her tummy. "They make look fat!" She's 5 years old, why are we having this dilemma. I said, they didn't and that it's just because she was looking down on them. If she'd take the time to look in the mirror, she'd see that they look fine. They just have a little "growing room". She said, "people are going to say I look weird". At the end of the day, I said, "Did anyone say you looked weird?" She said, "No, and Regan said she liked my clothes!" Gasp! Say it isn't so! She didn't look weird at all! And, yes.. she came home on "orange" yesterday, for being disruptive and talkative, and not doing her work. It didn't surprise me, the morning was horrible.

On a humurous note, and completely off subject, I took the dog for a walk this morning. It's a warm, breezy morning, and I couldn't help but notice a group of Christmas decorations. I use the phrase "Christmas" very lightly, as they really aren't Christmas at all, in my opinion. There's a house in our neighborhood that decorates for the season with an array of blowup decorations.. including a giant Seminole football guy (bluch), a snowman, a Santa, and a globe. These blowup decorations are on a tie out stake, for occasions just like this morning. It was breezy, really, windy. These things were bouncing all over the yard, on their string, held down by one stake. It made me laugh, it looked like they were "frolicing" in the yard. Haha.. that's funny, frolicing decorations. Not Christmas at all, but quite humorous in the end! The kids find them entertaining, however, to me, Christmas decor should emphasize on the glory and beauty, and the gift of the CHRISTmas season, never losing sight that Christ is indeed the reason for the season.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

He had a great time with Grandma

It was nice to see his cheery little face this morning, after Daniel spent the night with Grandma. He was so excited! He had a new pair of Lightning McQueen pj's, the cool kind.. with footies, and he couldn't wait to try them out last night. He said this morning, they were very comfy! I seem to have been magnetized in his absence, however, because he was clinging to me in church. I felt bad, I didn't get to sit with him this morning, and that was what he seemed to really want. I had pre-service music with Robbie, and then the choir sang at the beginning of service. Rather than stir everything up, I decided to leave things "be", and sat in the back with the other choir members after we sang. I knew I'd be going back for post-service music, and didn't want too much disruption. Daniel kept looking back at me, and began rubbing his eyes, and stood there, quietly crying. Grandma just put her hand on his shoulder, and continued to turn him back around. My heart ached for that little boy, and I just wanted to wave to him, "come on back". I knew if I'd tried, Grandma wouldn't have seen my gesture, and he would have ended up in trouble with her. We had a nice reunion after service, with lots of hugs and kisses.

We got home, had lunch and it was time for a nap. Uh oh! The "blankie" was at Grandma's house! Oh no! The tears! "I want my blankie." I promised to go out later, and get it and bring it back home. Grandma called shortly after this realization, and my first words were.. you have the blanket! Oh No! she said, "I'm so sorry!" He woke up, and we brought his suticase out into the livingroom, and got him dressed. His blankie was left on the bed." Grandma realized too, the seriousness of this oversight, and it had to be remedied! I offered a subsitute blanket in it's place for naptime, but it didn't have stars! His blankie has stars! I headed out for 'errands' once he finally settled down, and Grandma's house was one of my many stops. The first stop, was at Publix. I had to order his birthday cake for next Sunday afternoon. I've been hearing the request for a Spiderman birthday cake since Hanna's birthday in May! Okay, Daniel, Spiderman is on order! I also order 2 dozen cupcakes to be picked up the following Monday evening, to take to school on his actual birthday, Tuesday the 16th. I went into the Dollar Store, and found some fun little items for stockings on Christmas Eve. Then, off to Grandma's before heading to Toys R Us. I'd seen an ad on television they were having "the best sale of the season" today and tomorrow, so wanted to see what I could acheive towards my Christmas shopping. Picked up the blankie, and Grandma walked me to the truck. She said, "gee, I wish I could go, but I'm working on Christmas cards. Ya know, they can wait! I'll get my purse, if you don't mind, and tag along!" I'm not real sure, but I suspect I spent more than I would have having Grandma along, but we did get some pretty neat things for Christmas. I stayed below my budget, and managed to get a birthday present (a promised racecar track, shh!) and lots of Christmas gifts for both. It was pretty funny making our way across the parking lot with all of the motion sensored toys in the cart. The bags were flashing, and roaring, and yelling something at us! Guess they'll have to wait til Christmas Eve to go under the tree, or the secret will be out. I was originally going to get a HotWheels racetrack, like the many I'd seen advertised, but Grandma insisted on the Shake 'Em Riders, and track. I think in the end, they'll be much more sturdy, and stand a better chance against a four year old! We picked out an additional shake em Batman car for Christmas. For those not knowing what a "shake em rider" is, it's a car that is operated on shaking. You shake it with all your might, set it down, and let it go! Pretty cool, and saves a fortune on batteries. We already have a Lightning McQueen car from last year. Those contributed to some of the noise, as well as the Shake Em Rider flyer, which was a really cool plane, that you shake the "gun", and then when you push the trigger, it launches a plane, and swooshes and roars. Very Cool! We were deliberating over two toys.. a Planet Hero Turbo Shuttle, or Moon Buggy, and when we pushed the trigger on the shuttle, flames shot out the back, and spun around with lights and sound. We both said in unison.. WOW! That was a done deal! It wasn't real flames, but cloth and had a yellow and orange flashing light. It was cool! I was going to get Hanna an inexpensive "umbrella stroller" for her baby doll, but Grandma talked me into the Graco set with the stroller and car seat, and comes with another baby doll! As long as that baby doesn't "upstage' the Bitty Baby Santa left last Christmas that's okay. I try to keep a continual emphasis on that doll, since she was more than I would usually spend on a baby doll. She's an American Girl doll, and anyone that knows anything about that, knows they're not cheap! Santa was feeling generous last year.

When I finally got home, the kids said.. what'd you buy! Where's the stuff? Hmm... worked out well, stopping by Grandma's.. guess where all the loot is being stored until I take Thursday off, to go over and get it while they're in school! I'll just bring it home, and take it out to the "shed" (my old office out in the backyard) and cover it with a blanket. The kids are not allowed in the shed, and that's one rule they actually abide by. The secret should be well kept out there. Dinner was a quick, Tyson chicken tenders and french fries, and Daniel was reunited with his blankie!

Thank goodness the weekend has come to an end, and Hanna's restriction from yesterday's theft has expired! We are now anxiously awaiting our very busy schedule for next weekend. Saturday we have Christmas for Kids at the church until noon, then we'll head downtown for The Nutcracker. Sunday, after church, we've got the much awaited Birthday party for Daniel, and I'm hoping all of our family that we've invited can make it. We've kept the list "short" this year, and only invited family. It's a tough time of year to get others to commit to time away from it all, people in town, Christmas parties to attend, Christmas shopping that's got to be done... Daniel's birthday...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What should've have been a good start to the day, was not...

Last night, we had a big treat for the kids. After dinner was done, we got baths, brushed teeth and pajamas on, and then I geared up for "movie night". ABC was airing THE GRINCH,(the one with Jim Carey)and I thought the kids would enjoy it. So, I made snow cones from our hand crank machine, and popped some popcorn (I know, brushing teeth was a bit in vain). I laid out a quilt on the floor, and set up pillows so the kids could snuggle down. They enjoyed the movie, and were both asleep by 9:15 on the floor, John and I soon followed somewhere around 9:30. I awoke shortly after 10pm to realize we'd all fallen asleep in the living room!

I was surprised the kids woke reasonably early for a Saturday morning, after such a late night. Taking advantage of that, I told them, let's get dressed, and we'll head off to find a copy of THE GRINCH (so we could see the end) and then we'll head to Winn Dixie to get the coffee I'd been meaning to get all week, not to mention a few other things.. let's not forget food for this evening's big game.. Gators vs Bama! Go Gators! By the way, the Gators won, and are headed to the National Playoffs. We were almost home, when Hanna pulled out a tube of holiday M&M's, and shook it, saying.. "Daniel, look what I have for us to eat later". I think my head turned around so quick, I nearly got whiplash! "WHERE did you get those!?", I demanded. Shea gave them to me! Shea is Hanna's friend 2 doors down, and she hasn't seen her all week. I commented there was no way she would have had a brand new package of candy in her purse all week, and I wouldn't have seen it come out before now. "I swear, Mom, she gave it to me! Why won't you believe me!?" My response, "if you'd had it in your purse, Daniel sat quietly behind Daddy's recliner this morning, and secretly went through your purse. If they had been in there, he'd have pulled them out". Again, she insisted, Shea gave them. I insisted, I thought she'd stolen them. I said, "If I'd taken something from the store, I would go to jail! Stealing is a crime, and it is wrong!" Finally, she said, "well, maybe I took them". "Where? Where did you take them?" She said, well, either Wal-Mart or Winn-Dixie" I'm no dummy! If she'd taken them from Wal-Mart, they would have made their appearance in the truck between Wal-Mart and our stop at Winn-Dixie. I pulled into the first turn around in our neighborhood, and we headed back up to Winn-Dixie. I reiterated that it was against the law, and that a grown up would go to jail for taking them. She said.. "but they are so delicious, and I really wanted them!" "I DON'T CARE! Stealing is a crime! If you want something, you ask for it, and if you've been good, and if we have the money, I will consider purchasing it for you! You don't just take it, because you want it!' Oh, how I went off. My blood was boiling. Stealing! When we got to the parking lot, there happened to be a sherriff's car sitting right in front of the store. I chuckled under my breath, thinking, this will be good! "I don't want to go to jail" she hollered! We walked right past the officer, into the store, to the manager's desk. I walked up to the two ladies at the counter, who I've seen many times shopping at this store. "We're learning a lesson about stealing this morning", I said. The ladies sank a bit. The older lady, who is always very kind to the kids, reached out, as Hanna handed her the candy. "I'm sorry", were the words spoken through the sobs! The lady simply said, "that okay". I was thinking, no not really. It's not okay. The other lady, a young girl, and mother of young children as well, was blushing, and tears came to her eyes. She looked at me, and mouthed the words.. "it's making me cry!" I said, "Please, don't be sympathetic!" Hanna covered her face, and turned into my side. I turned to her and said, "you should be embarrassed! Don't look to me to hide your shame! Stealing is wrong!"

We got to the truck, everyone buckled in, Daniel trying desperately to jump on the "Hanna's bad! bandwagon", but I quickly squelched that. "You be quiet! This is not your place to make comments!" That boy wanted to rub that dirt in so bad...
I turned around and looked at her, "you're grounded. You will not go outside the rest of the day, nor tomorrow." "But, I don't want to be grounded!", she sobbed. "I really don't care! You're grounded. You are going to learn, stealing is a very bad thing. People go to jail for stealing. You will NOT steal!"

We got back home around 9:30, and she tried to make a point, slamming the door into the house. Well, that went over well. NOT! I gave John a call on his cell phone. It was Saturday morning, and he was taking advantage of the "calm" morning, and went over to Brad and Laurie's to try to get as close to finished on their house as he could. I told him what had transpired, and he said "you put her in her room, right?" I said, "No, I didn't want to put my day in the toilet that bad just yet! The day is still quite early!" "Good point", he said. "I'll let IT lie, when I get home then; sounds like you've got it pretty well covered. Hopefully, you've scared her enough, it won't happen again".

It proved to be a difficult day. Caleb came down and wanted to play, and I explained to him that only Daniel could play with him. I was actually thrilled that Daniel got to play with another boy, by himself all day long. The did "boy" things, and seemed to have a good time. Caleb left with a collection of acorns in his pocket. He was collecting the ones with "termite holes" in them. I hope Jenny finds those before she does laundry. They came inside during the game, and I feel confident in saying, they had fun together. When it got dark, Caleb realized he needed to go home. The "rule" is, when it's dark, it's time to go home. I started to walk him home, and as I stepped out, Hanna thought she'd follow. I again, reminded her of her grounding, and she slammed the door. "Hang on, Caleb." I went inside, and sent "Miss Thing" to her room, stating she would not slam the door at me! Caleb made it safely home. Since Hanna was having a difficult day, Grandma offered up to make tonight Daniel's special night, and he could go home with her and spend the night. Wow! That's a big deal for him. His first night alone, away from home. He seemed excited to carry his suitcase out, and gave everyone kisses.
See you in the morning, at Sunday School Daniel! Have a great time at Grandma's!

By the way, we watched "THE GRINCH" 4 times today. I also found the original animated "50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" with Horton Hears a Who on it as well. Daniel commented after lunch, he wanted to watch The Grinch, and I asked which one. He said, "The REAL one, with the tall Grinch". Oh. Well, I said, "for your information, the cartoon is "the real one", and it was around when Mommy was a little girl." To him, the Jim Carey version is the real one, and as long as I recognize that, we'll be just fine.

I can't wait to hear how his visit with Grandma goes.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oh the drama...

Well, yesterday afternoon proved to be very dramatic for Hanna from the minute I picked her up from school. From the minute she got into the truck at parent pick up, she was filled with drama! "I had a bad day". That boy is selling lollipops, and I want one". And the sobbing.. ugh, the sobbing. I asked, how bad the day was.. "I got a note". Uh, a note. Apparently, she spit in someone's face during lunch. "Please don't tell Daddy! I don't want you to tell Daddy!" Why am I any less intimidating that Daddy? I'll never understand this. Our very long 5 minute ride home, and I told her, sit on the couch, and rest a bit, I think you've had a rough day. "I'm HUNGRY!" I turned, and said.. "You don't yell your demands at me, sit and rest a bit, then you can have a snack". Well, this continued and I finally sent her to her room. Then, she continued to kick the door, and yell through it.. "I don't like you!" Well, I wasn't real fond of her at this moment, so the feeling was mutual. She stood in the hallway, "can I come out now?" I said.. you can come out when you've sat in there quietly, and I've decided you can come out!" I finally let her out, but she was not going out to play, she was considered 'grounded', and she was going to rest on the couch! End of story! During all of this, I also had a client, whom I have yet to make verbal contact with, call me. I explained to him the nature of my job, that I work at home, and that, yes, my 5 year old daughter is home in the afternoon.


Shortly after 5pm, we hurried off to pick up Daniel, made a stop first at Wendy's, but determined the line was too long, so we shot across to Burger King, there was only one car in the drivethru. It would be quick.. and I had to be at church by 6:15 for choir practice. Not quick! We sat, and waited, and waited, and waited.. this guy leaned out his window with a LIST! I yelled at the front windshield. "Are you kidding me!?" I heard Daniel pipe in from the back seat, "this guy is taking too long, we're not going to get any food!" I put it in reverse, and we rushed over to the parking lot, and went in. Hurry, hurry, hurry. We went inside, and stood behind one elderly couple. Daniel still commenting.. that guy is stupid! He's taking too long!" Oops, guess I voiced my opinions too long. "Daniel, we don't call people stupid! It's not nice." The lady in front of us was sooo slow making up her mind. Maybe it was just because we were in a hurry. Finally, order complete.. now to pay. They had to dig through her purse and his pockets for exact change.. Come on.. we're in a hurry! Our turn.. we place our order, and hurried to the truck. Oh.. the ladies were nice enough to give Hanna and Daniel free toys from old kids meals. We got two spongebobs! I didn't order a kids meal.. I strategically placed my order.. ONE combo, 2 orders of chicken "crowns", and two small drinks. They get the fries, and I wouldn't have had to have the 'toy battle'. Thankfully, they were both good, and ate all the food on the way, so I gave them the toys!

At church, they were exceptionally good.. before church, during.. and after, during another choir practice. Finally, I had to tell Robbie, I have to go. It's 8:30, my kids are crashing on the pew, and I gotta get them home. They were so good. I'd promised them hot cocoa this morning, if they were good last night, so yes.. they got their cocoa! I had to wake them up at 7:30 this morning, and hurry them through breakfast. I'm surprised the day ended so well, with the dramatic afternoon we had had. Thank GOD for small blessings!

The thieving raccoon...

I think it was Friday night during our camping trip, the kids were in the camper watching a movie, and settling down in their bunk for the evening. I was going back and forth from our camper and Lynn and Dave's, gathering cooking utensils etc., that had been left in their campsite. Upon one of my trips back to our camper, I heard someone playing around in the cooler. My first thought, who's out of bed and messing around outside? The closer I got, I saw him! The raccoon was standing there, holding the cooler's lid up and reaching in for a drink. He pulled out a capri sun pouch, looked at me, and waddled his rather round behind over underneath the truck. I said.. You Thief! Get out of our cooler! He just looked at me, sat down under the backend of the truck, and bit through the pouch. I could hear the sucking as he was drinking its contents. I laughed, and turned back to go get John and Dave. They came over and looked at him, still sitting there, enjoying his drink, then I went into the camper, and told the kids.. "come look at this raccoon." They got a laugh, but I also reiterated.. WE DO NOT TOUCH WILD ANIMALS! I could see it Daniel's eyes; he really wanted to pet it! Hanna of course, had to let out her oh so dramatic shriek! There's an animal in our cooler! I still had time to step into the camper and get the camera to take this picture. I can't believe he didn't run away. When he was finally done, he left the pouch on the ground and waddled off into the darkness. I think the park rangers need to have a chat with this guy about littering!

We instructed the kids from this point, if you're going to get a drink from the cooler, that's fine, just make sure the "thing" on the top clicks when you close it. That "should" keep the raccoon out for the rest of the night.

Later on, when John and I were laying on our bunk, before the rain started, he was sure he heard someone routing around outside, so he went out to check. Nobody there, but to be sure the other cooler (the electric one, that had our meat in it, that didn't have a lock) to be sure it stayed "safe" he set the full propane tank for the grill on top of it. If any critters tried to get in there, hopefully, we'd at least hear the noise of the propane tank being knocked to the ground.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Seashells in the toilet.. not an ordinary day!

Ha ha... what a title, seashells in the toilet. What could that be? Weird! Just weird.

No, not really, just part of our ThanksLiving adventure up at Skidaway Island State Park, in Savannah, GA. John and I, took the kids and the dog, and were joined by his sister, Lynn and her husband Dave, and their daughter Victoria to the state park for Thanksgiving. We spent a very cold Wednesday night before ThanksLiving and stayed through a very rainy Sunday morning. If I had any words of advice for anyone camping in a popup it would be that rain is VERY LOUD during the night on the roof.

So, back to the seashell in the toilet. What? Hanna, Daniel, Victoria and I had taken a hike Saturday morning. Hanna and Daniel made a "pact", since Daniel had two big sticks, they were actually the branches to two big palm frawns, and Hanna had two big seashells, they would each give the other one of what they had, so they'd each have one stick, and one seashell. "That's a good deal". The kids and I returned from our hike, and made a stop at the playground, and a gentleman and his son stopped by and were telling us about the alligator they had at the observation center. It was real, and alive! Cool! The kids wanted to see it, but we had the dogs, I use "dog" loosely with Bandit, as he's a 4-1/2 pound Yorkie, and Callie is a 90 pound Lab! That's a dog! Bandit is a "so-called dog" if you ask me. So, we made a trip back to our campsites, and left the dogs behind so we could go back and see the alligator. Before heading there, we had to stop off at the restroom to ensure Daniel stayed dry during our visit with the gator. Okay, so he went into the stall, did his business.. of course, Daniel being Daniel, he had to stand there, and goof around. "MOMMY! My seashell! It's in the toilet!' Oh brother! It fell in the toilet. Well, this was no ordinary seashell.. it was one of those big flat ones, often used as soap dishes. Now, that seashell was lying in the bottom of the toilet; the toilet Daniel just used. Well, Victoria and Hanna burst into laughter, while Daniel was in a panic and near tears. The seashell was history as far as I was concerned.. but I had a bit of a moral dilemma. If I left that thing in there, it would cause problems for all the other campers throughout the day, and we'd have a shortage of available toilets in Comfort Station #1. What to do... ok, I told Hanna and Victoria to stop the laughing (didn't do any good) and clear the way. I quickly reached into the commode, grabbed that seashell, and tossed it into the garbage can next to the door. Then, quickly plunged my hands under the water, and washed with soap and water up to my elbows VERY THOROUGHLY! Daniel wanted that seashell back. No Way Buddy! I told him.. that thing was in the toilet.. in pee! You can't have it! I could see it in his face.. the wonder.. Mommy's hands went into the pee.. she didn't throw them away, why can't I have my seashell back? You just can't.. sorry Buddy!


Stay tuned, and I'll post our thieving racoon story later on.... same trip!

On the first day of blogging, this is what we said...

Today will start the first of many entries in the Chappell family blog out of "kinko springs". What's Kinko Springs you say. Well, my dear daughter, Hanna, doesn't understand her address as Green Cove Springs, and for over a year, when asked her address, her reply is .. KinkoSprings, FL!

Today is only December 3rd, and we're busily gearing up for Christmas... and anticipating the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. With the Christmas season, also comes the preparations for Daniel's birthday, 9 short days before Christmas. It's a lousy deal have a birthday right before Christmas. Poor little guy, he's going to get shorted every year. Everyone he knows setting aside gifts for Christmas and birthday... and not getting a special day mid year.

This morning was a chilly start, laying heavy frost down on the ground. Hanna thought it had snowed overnight. Daniel's biggest thrill was touching the cold, crunchy grass.

As our lives progress, I'll add our daily anecdotes, stories of our favorite activity these days.. camping, and of course, our Church goings.

Stay tuned... and see what our lives will bring.