Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Amazing Isabelle

Isabelle never ceases to amuse us. This morning we were laying in bed and Isabelle thought it was time to get up. She was standing at the end of our bed with something in her hand (I forget what) and she waves it around and says, "alla ka zam!" and points it at us. Of course nothing happens so she says, "Oh, I forgot, my magic is pretend."

You can't make this stuff up.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Morning Traditions

Family traditions are a wonderful part of Christmas. They are a major part of creating the anticipation and joy which is such a part of the holiday for children. Waiting for the day you will do the same thing you did last year. Singing that special song or eating that special food, reading the Christmas story, getting out the special decorations. As a child it is so special. Then you get married and become a parent and instead experiencing the traditions you you have to create them for your family. In those early years that task can be overwhelming but once you have a routine creating them can bring you as much joy as experiencing them.

Our traditions are a mixture of both our families and a few of our own. OK mostly they are just from my family and our own. I am working on adding a few of John's though. My family has lots of Christmas traditions on Christmas eve. My grandma had us over every year and did exactly the same thing every year. She kept the activities moving and made all us kids feel part of the party, actually like we were the whole reason for the party. Although Grandma has been gone for a few years we all still find a day in the Christmas season to get together and continue Grandmas traditions. But in my family, with my kids, Christmas morning is just for us and carrying on the traditions started in my family is so special to me.



My parents had beautiful stockings hand knit for our family with our names and the year they were made on them when we were little and with each new family member they have had a new one made with the year they came into the family. My husband's has the year we were married and my children the year they were born. I love to shop for fun things to fill them with for my children. Finding out what was in them each year was one of the joys of Christmas. It was never full of fancy or expensive things but always something fun. Notepads, pencils, lip gloss. It didn't matter the excitement of pulling out gift after gift and reaching down to the bottom of the stocking was the joy of the morning. We would come down to bigger gifts as well but the stockings were where the excitement lived for me. I love watching my children do the same thing.




But I can't help thinking of my mom every Christmas morning as I sit in my pj's wearing no make-up, hair everywhere, teeth unbrushed. Every Christmas she would complain about how bad she looked and would try to avoid getting her picture taken or ask us to wait for her to fix her hair before we opened gifts. It might not be very Christmasy but it was part of the morning tradition. Now I am the mom and, let's face it, Christmas morning pictures are not pretty. So I carry on the tradition, if only in my mind, of wanting to avoid the camera and wondering if I can get up early enough to get my face washed and hair done before my family starts opening gifts. Yet if I did, you would all be deprived of pictures like this of me showing off both of my new tea hats:


And we wouldn't want that. :)

The Endometriosis Diet

Since January is a time to start and restart new healthier habits in your life I have decided to jump on the bandwagon and improve my health with a special diet designed to control my endometriosis.

I was officially diagnosed with Endometriosis about 5 years ago when we were trying to get pregnant with our mid life crisis. While the doctor who diagnosed me didn't know alot about it (typical), once I did some research on endo my entire life started making sense. I feel certain I have had it since I was about 14. That was the year I started having the pain. At the time it was related more to intestinal issues and I never put together that I was experiencing it on a monthly basis. A few years before my diagnosis we had made some major changes in our diet due to the discovery of a dairy intolerance in Jake. It significantly improved my health as well and so I was feeling pretty good when I got the diagnosis. However, over the past 5 years as we have become more lax with our healthy diet I have noticed an increase in my pain level during the month as well as developing a significant amount of fatigue surrounding my period. I have learned to keep moving when I feel this way and get what needs done done but my mind is in a fog and I lose the joy of my tasks. It is time to make some changes

I am a bit of a natural girl. I have considered taking some prescription drugs or going on the pill to elimnate my periods all together but I am uncomfortable with solving this problem by covering it up or dumping hormones into my already out of whack hormones body. However, the pain is to great to take nothing so Advil is my friend. I take a large dose when I get my period and maintain the level with regular refreshers for 3 days. Several months ago I found an endometriosis diet that attempts to balance hormones and inflamation naturally and finally made the decision to start the diet after my next period which was coincidentally due to come around the first of the year. Well as luck would have it my body decided to have a 3 week cycle this month and my period came on Christmas Eve, Merry Christmas! I was at Walgreen's on Christmas morning buying tampons, thank you Walgreen's employees. The parking lot was full.

You can read the Endo Diet in detail if you wish but the summary is that I will be eliminating: dairy, caffeine, sugar, wheat, processed foods, soy, alcohol, red meat, limiting eggs and fried foods. I have done the dairy free thing in the past and am still mostly dairy free so that doesn't worry me and I haven't had caffeine in years so I am good there. I will miss my glass of wine at Bunco and Margaritas at my sisters in the summer but can probably survive without those. Red meat, fine, I like veggie burgers and we mostly eat chicken anyway. What I am really nervous about is the wheat and sugar. I have never eliminated those successfully. I tried to get rid of sugar one time but I sort of cheated by using a bunch of other sugars besides white sugar. Maple syrup and sucanant were my friend. And one time we considered trying to do a month of wheat free. I think I made it 3 days before deciding I didn't have a wheat allergy.

I have been chatting with friends who have been successful at similar diets in their lives and reading up on it. All seem to agree that planning is the key to this type of diet. I need to be bringing my food places, eating meals before parties so I am not hungry and planning menus and shopping so I am not tempted to pick up something quick. I had hoped to get a weeks worth of menus planned tonight to start the week right but my brain is still a little foggy and so I just planned tomorrows food. I was excited to realize I could do breakfast and lunch with food I already eat regularly. A smoothie for breakfast and a salad for lunch. Today I had a salad with lunch and just put oil and vinegar on it instead of dressing and loved it so already one problem solved. I was looking online and came across a recipe for wild rice salmon patties at Glutton Free Mommy which I am going to try for dinner tomorrow night with some veggies. That means tomorrow I will have to get recipes for the rest of the week done but I know that I can follow the diet for one day.

I know this will be challenging but I am ready for the change. I am ready to have energy to raise my family, care for my home and love my husband. To be able to think clearly all month long and not have to put projects on hold. To not be gripped with fear when I get to work and realize I ran out of the house without taking a second dose of drugs and I feel the pain returning. Not living in fear that I will forget to take an evening dose and will wake up in the middle of the night in gripping pain. I am ready to take control and get my life back.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Santa Pictures

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are trying to be frugal this year. So it would stand to reason that I would not want to spend alot of money getting my daughter's picture taken with Santa. Yet somehow reason never plays into tradition.

As a reminder to those of you who came to my Christmas Home Tour, I have pictures of Jake with Santa from age 1 through 8 when the jig was up and he knew Santa wasn't real. It is sort of a silly tradition but those pictures are some of my favorite Christmas decorations as I have a chance to see my little boy grow up with Santa year after year. Jake enjoyed the tradition as well and always went right up to him, sat on his lap and smiled for the picture. We often wondered if we should take his lack of separation anxiety personally but it really made it easy for us at times like this.




Isabelle and I were off to visit Santa when she was 9 months old. I couldn't wait to create new memories with her. Of course at 9 months she didn't want to sit on Santa's lap but they put her in a little chair on the floor in front of Santa, got her smiling and then Santa crawled up behind her and got in the picture. I loved the picture. The next year I got her on his lap but didn't get a smile. She just sat clutching her blanket and waiting for it to be over. Since I am just trying to capture a moment I don't dress the kids up or worry about the perfect picture so I was happy just to get the right look of the picture.

Last year she sat on Santa's lap but cried. So our picture has a crying Isabelle once again clutching the blanket. And once again I am happy with the picture because it is capturing that moment and has the consistent look of all the other Santa pictures.

This year Isabelle is a little older and wiser. She admires herself in the pictures of years past noticing how much fluffier and pinker her blanket used to look and laughing at herself for crying on Santa's lap. We talk about her doing it again this year and she is all about it. Until we get there. As soon as we got near the Santa line she started freaking out. Grandma was with and we tried to calm her down. There would be no picture of her sitting on Santa's lap crying unless we surgically removed her from my body and glued her down to Santa's lap. We were the only ones in line so tried to calm her down and managed to get her to sit on Grandma's lap while Grandma sat next to Santa. The picture was cute but my tradition doesn't have Grandma or me in it just my child. I needed Isabelle with Santa. So they suggested as with the first picture that we just get Isabelle to pose and then Santa will sneak up behind her. That picture is also nice and has a charm all its own but doesn't have the right look. No Santa chair in the background. Just trees and Santa. But we are just trying to capture a moment and this is what we got this year at this moment so, I bought the tree picture and Grandma bought the grandma picture and we went home.



Now I have spent $14 on a picture and Grandma has spent another $14 on her picture to fill my tradition and I really don't have alot of $14 to toss around so of course you know that I want to have another one taken. Each time Isabelle and I were at the mall I would have a little internal battle with myself. I would consider trying to get a new one (you don't have to buy if they don't turn out) and then would tell myself I don't need a new one because I have captured the moment and I don't need to spend the money on something so frivolous. (we all know how this is going to end)

Yesterday Mom and I brought Isabelle downtown to see the Christmas display at Dayton's (Oh I mean Macy's).



Isabelle was totally enthralled with the display and so after lunch we made a second trip through. At the end of the display is a line to see Santa. The first time through we skipped past it to the gift shop ,which is at the end of all good tours. :) The second time through Isabelle suddenly announces that she wants to see Santa and she isn't going to cry. She seemed so sure and excited that I decided to get in line. Mom was feeling a little impatient about standing in line for what was sure to be a waste of time as Isabelle once again would freak out. But this was my chance to get another picture! Oh, I mean Isabelle is asking. I can't say no can I? I did it for her.

Well wouldn't you know I walked up to Santa, Isabelle got into his lap, smiled a big smile for the camera and then chatted with him giving me time to get my camera out and snap one of my own pictures of the two of them. So I forked over another $10 (at least it was a cheaper Santa) and $38 later my perfect Santa picture joined the collection on my shelf.





Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Potty Presents


Isabelle learning to go potty

I have a wonderful 4-1/2 year old nephew named John (not to be confused with my wonderful husband named John). He was potty trained promptly at 2 years old as all my brother's children have been. However, he has a little problem flushing number two. Each time I use the bathroom while visiting I find a little something in the toilet. And each time John comes to visit me I find something in my toilet. It has sort of became a joke between my sister-in-law and me as it happens with such frequency.

Well now I have a potty trained princess and often hear "mommy, I need my BUTT wiped" floating across the house. However, she is now trying to wipe herself so I am not alerted to all bathroom breaks. So now I am finding my own surprises in the toilet even when John hasn't come to visit.

So my question for the day is, "Why"? Why can't they flush the toilet? How is this skill not being passed on in our potty training techniques? My SIL coached me through potty training and I did exactly what she told me to successfully potty train at 2 years and 2 weeks old. One has to wonder if there is something missing in her method since we both have the same resulting lack of flushing. (do you like how I am passing the buck here?) Were we too focused on getting it in the potty and not focused enough on the after care of doing their business? And now that I have missed teaching this skill is the window closed for learning this skill? Will Isabelle and John be forever forgetting to flush the toilet and leaving annoying deposits everywhere they go? Will the part of their brain that does this atrophy from lack of use? Is there a special support group for parents and children with this disability? Will they have to hang out with the other socially outcasted non-flushers in jr. high? As they grow up will their college roommates and then spouses be flushing the toilet for them? Only time will tell.

Monday, December 15, 2008

2008 Christmas Tour of Homes

BooMama is hosting a Christmas Tour of Homes over at her site and I couldn't resist participating.

Welcome to my home. The weather dropped some beautiful snow at my doorstep last night just for you:



But it is really cold so don't stay out long.

This year I wanted to keep my decorations pretty simple and I didn't want to buy anything new. I stuck with the traditional red and green color palate and I am happy with the simple but festive results:

The tree:



The Piano:



The Mantle:



Our stockings are a family tradition. My parents had them made when I was 5 and then when I married they had a new one made for John, much longer than mine. Each new family member has gotten a matching stocking and each new stocking seems to be a little longer until our original ones are looking a little sad. I still love my original stocking and the memories of my sister and I wearing them around the house when we were little but apparently my brother was feeling a little left out in his family so this year he and his wife will be getting new ones that say "mom" and "dad".

The TV Cabinet:



This is something new I created. A few years ago a friend and I did a table decorating presentation and we made these pots which I have loved since. I had these flat evergreen things which I just stuck into the foam in the pots and then put in a couple little picks at the bottom so it looks fuller than it really is and I am very happy with how it turned out. Our wise men are hanging out with them until Epiphany when they finally get to the baby Jesus.

The Nativities:





I love nativity sets, there are so many different kinds and they are so beautiful. I have two out this year. The traditional one and the kid one. Currently Isabelle's fabric set is sitting on the shelf with the videos. Everyone has been banished from the stable so that the DVDs can hang out. Of course despite having her own I find mine looking a little different each day.

The shelf in the dining room:





One of my favorite traditions at Christmas is the picture with Santa. I love looking at the pictures of Jake over the years and seeing him grow. It started because my mom had a free coupon a couple years in a row to get a picture done and the tradition was started. We brought Jake every year until he stopped believing. So I was excited to do it again with Isabelle after she was born. However, she doesn't think this tradition is quite as much fun as Jake did. Last year she was crying in the picture and this year she wouldn't even get near Santa. I ended up with two pictures, one with her sitting on Grandma's lap and one where Santa snuck up behind and got in the photo. Well maybe next year...

Finally I wanted to share a couple special gifts from my grandpa. He was crafty in his retirement and made some fun things. I love my reindeer complete with red light bulb nose under the tree and my ceramic Christmas tree. It is in Isabelle's room this year as a night light and after being told that if it moves I will take it out she has been very careful and is enjoying having her own tree in her room.





Thanks for coming to visit. I wish you a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Christ.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fiesta Ware

Have I mentioned I love dishes? I love them. I don't know why but they make me very, very happy. I don't need more. That is not the point. The point is that I can dress a table with many different looks to follow any whim I might have. The point is that the shelves in my kitchen cabinet haven't cracked under the weight of the dishes yet. The point is that I am sure I can squeeze 4 more sets of dishes in there somewhere.

Ravings of a mad housewife is having a contest and giving away 4 sets of Fiesta Ware. Well you know I would love to win and if I tell you all about it I get an extra 3 entries.

I am not afraid of a little competition so go ahead and check it out.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Evolution of the Christmas Party

Year One: In an effort to help Jake make friends and develop a bit of a social life we decided to have a Christmas party for him. There were only a few boys there but it was fun and we felt we started something. We ate, had them bring a white elephant exchange gift and watched a movie setting the tone of all future parties. This was the year before digital entered our life so you will just have to imagine what it was like.

Year Two: Jake was at a new school and discovered girls. With a little fear and trembling we let him invite girls even though it was only 6th grade. 2 girls came and John and I had so much fun watching the other boys try to figure out what to do with this new situation, how to socialize with girls. We kept our usual format of food, games and movie. We discovered that between every activity you feed them and it keeps everything moving.



Year Three: 7th grade came and none of the girls could make it so we were back to all boys. It is a great age in boy world, one boy said the party was better than the year before because there were no girls and another said it wasn't as fun because there were no girls. John and I still enjoyed the party, watching Jake interact with his friends and getting a little glimpse into the world of young boys. We were a well oiled party machine and everything went smoothly.



Year Four: By 8th grade we had young men rather than boys attending our party and there was no question that it would only be fun if the girls came. And the girls came, I think it was equal number girls and boys. This year Jake had a girlfriend for the first time and Jake's best friend Jaxon surprised us by bringing his girlfriend (apparently he and Jake had agreed to this but forgot to tell John and I). It was another great party and John and I continued to thouroughly love the parties, sitting in the kitchen at the top of the stairs listening to their conversations and popping our heads in to say hi.



Year Five: This year everything seems to be changing in Jake's life and so it seemed the party needed to as well. He is at a new school again so there is a new friendship circle to draw from. We took a little more of a hands off approach this year. I let him invite about 35 kids through facebook, normally I limit to a managable 10ish kids. And we planned no activities. I rented no movie. The party started a little later and went a little later so I didn't need to feed them dinner. We had a few chips and just a couple pizzas to graze on. However, Jake did request we continue the fondu we have always done so we bought chocolate fondu. I tried not to panic too much when I learned that 12 kids said they were coming and 18 kids had rsvp'd "maybe". What does that mean?! Do I plan food for them or not? Should I move the furniture out of the family room to make space for another 20 kids or not? And then I learned from other parties Jake had gone to this fall that they liked to dance, we have not had dancing before. John and I don't dance. How does that work? I did force something new on Jake, a photo backdrop. Pictures get posted on facebook, I thought there should be a fun background to pose for the pictures. After moving all the furniture against the walls and putting Isabelle's toys in another room I spent most of my time on this and feel it turned out pretty well and was enjoyed by all. Jake spent most of his day preparing the music playlist for the party and figuring out how to play it through the speakers in our dvd player since we have no fancy stero system or Ipod speakers or whatever people do these days.

People started arriving a little before 7 and by 8pm the party was in full swing, after panicking about a potential 30 kids we ended up with a managable 15. John and I were busy preparing food which gave us ample excuse to go visit the party. Luckily some of Jake's friends like us and encouraged us to come down so we didn't have to seem too stalkeresque going back and forth. The new kids got used to the fact that we were there and I was going to keep taking pictures of them and we all relaxed. Around 8:30 I sent them all out to go Christmas Caroling at a neighbor's. They enthusiastically ran out the door to do so but got sidetracked on the block long walk to her house and ended up caroling at someone elses house they knew and then taking a long circular walk home. It wasn't quite what I hoped but I think they enjoyed it and maybe we started a new tradition that can be better organized next year. When they got home we finished up the fondu and served that and then it was hanging out downstairs, playing truth or dare which they encouraged us to play (they dared us to reinact John's proposal. It wasn't too tough, "here, want this?"), more music and then a little guitar hero as people started leaving to finish the night off.

We learned a few things. Jake's new friends are as nice and fun as his old friends, John and I are still cool, I don't need as much food for a 7pm party as I need for a 5pm party (anyone hungry for pizza or chocolate fondu?), all the cool people wear black converse tennis shoes, we might need to figure out a stereo system now that we have a teenager and most importantly...my photo background rocked! :)






Friday, December 12, 2008

Finding Financial Contentment

John and I are entering a frugal stage of our lives. Between starting a new business and saving for Africa our money is tight. We have been in a frugal (sometime referred to as "poor") place in our lives before so we know something of it. This time I hope it is different.

When Jake was a baby we were poor. We paid our bills, bought food and sat at home staring at the walls because that was all we could do. Those early years of marriage and parenting were filled with discontentment. I had the perception that everyone else was doing better than us and wondered if we would ever move forward.
One day I was taking a walk with my mom and complaining about this fact and she contemplatively wondered why we didn't think that was enough. The "we" she referred to wasn't John and I but "we" as a culture. It helped me change my perspective. Especially as we prepare to go to Africa I can't help but think how much we really do have compared to people who in fact cannot pay bills and put food on the table. I am preparing to cut out of my budget things like new art work or a shower curtain for the house, multiple summer camps for my son, vacations, dinners at restaurants, salon hair cuts and coloring, high priced coffee... you know, the necessities in life.

This time I am a little excited about it. The challenge of living on less money and saying no to impulse purchases because I believe in John's new business and am excited to watch the balance of the Africa fund grow. I have come to realize that our friends are also just doing their best and getting by and I can't allow myself to make comparisons. I have learned that financial success does not come by accident but by careful planning. I have learned that God will always be there for me and supply all my needs and even a few of my wants and that I only have to trust him. I am learning to be content. I know it won't be easy, right now I feel like I make impulsive purchases every day and am a little afraid to leave the house. But I have a goal, I have a plan and I hope I have supportive friends and family members that will encourage me throughout the next year.

A few Africa Details: We need to raise approximately $16,000 to pay for the trip and cover our expenses while John isn't working. $2,000 down, $14,000 to go. I can't wait to see God perform miracles in our lives this year growing a business, providing work for me, giving us the energy to keep up with it all and providing in His perfect way.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Rising Star

I guess after a week of not blogging I have alot of catching up to do. I feel I may be saying too much about my mid life crisis and not enough about the folly of my youth. So here is a post all about him

Jake is an amazing kid. He is totally his own person. He has a strong sense of who he is, what he thinks and what he wants in life and is very hard to shake. He has a strong foundation of faith which continues to grow. He is becoming the Godly man I have been praying for since he was a little boy

One of his passions seems to be acting. While I often thought about signing him up for an acting class when he was little I was still surprised a few years ago when he decided to do a stand up comedy routine for his school's talent show. I was afraid to go see it I was so nervous for him. I sat in the audience with my mouth hanging open as I watched this confident young man stand before a crowd delivering punchline after punchline and even doing a few unplanned extra jokes during set up for the final number. I noticed as I was reviewing my past Christmas cards that 2 years in a row I wrote, "we sat in the audience wondering who this kid was", in response to seeing him acting in the school play. I think we are finally getting used to seeing him on stage, although I still get a little nervous for him.



This year he moved to the big time, from a school of 150 students to a school of about 1300 students with a professional theater. Getting a lead in the school play with 150 while still an achievement is a little easier than getting a part in a play at such a large school. Yet Jake not only got a part but got a named part. The practice schedule was a little grueling but finally opening night came Thursday. Night one was John's family, night two was my family and finally Saturday night we went along with Jake's girlfriend, another friend from his old school and more of my family. His part was tailor made for him. The school "hottie" with a little too much confidence had girls following him around giggling. Jake barely had to act. Britta was rolling on the floor laughing wondering how they could have cast him so perfectly. Jake did a great job in his first large scale production. We all played some roll as John and I both helped on one of the committees. John helped build the set and I served food when practices went late.




Spencer, Jake and Britta

Not to be outdone, While we were waiting for Jake to change the crew put on some music while cleaning up and Isabelle got on stage for her own performance. (John built this part of the set)


video

An Award for Me

My new cyber friend Cathy at Semi-Happy Homemaker has given me a very nice award. I am not totally sure what to think. I am enjoying this new blog world and meeting people like Cathy who make me feel like I am not alone in the world.



Now, I am supposed to pass this wonderful award along to eight very deserving bloggers! "These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

And, the winners are:

1. GEMS to Bragg about
2. The Wolfe Cubs
3. Just Breath
4. Boo Mama
5. mckmama
6. kingdom mama
7. Frugal Granola
8. City Girl Country World

Christmas Traditions

You would think that after 18 years of marriage we would be a well oiled machine of family traditions all our own. I would love that to be true, it isn't as if we haven't tried, we do have a few.

When I was growing up we did everything the same every year. One of my favorites thing to do was decorate for the holiday. I still remember the excitement of opening up the wrapped packages and finding all the treasures of Christmas. The ornaments with my name on them, the ceramic set of Christmas carolers. The kissing Santa and Mrs. Claus. I also remember that mom would make us fill the tree with lots of boring red balls before she would let us put on the fun ornament. It was a special day to decorate while listening to Christmas music on the record player. Our favorites were The Chipmunks and Andy Williams. I still feel warm and happy when I hear them play.



So of course in my family I want that to be special too. Each year I am excited to get out the decorations and re-live that experience. I force my family to join in my Christmas spirit as I play Christmas music loudly in the house and warm up the hot chocolate. John plays the part of the typical father by fighting each year with the Christmas lights. We had a brief reprieve from the fighting when we bought a pre-lit tree but now that it is a few years old and the bulbs are burning out the battle has resumed.

This year though as I was frolicking in the bliss of all our Christmas decorations my husband commented that this was my tradition and his family tradition was making cookies.

Imagine breaks squealing to a stop. Christmas cookies? Yes I knew that his mom had done the whole Christmas cookie baking thing back in the day and yes a few times John had made some cookies for us at Christmas but I had just never thought about it. Wasn't he in love with the decorating as much as I am? Plus, I hate to bake cookies. I have mastered one cookie recipe, snickerdoodles, and that is all I do.



Well not one to deprive my husband of his tradition I planned a cookie baking day on Sunday after church. It was particularly handy since I am going to a cookie exchange (although I swear this wasn't my ulterior motive :-)). So we made those cornflake wreath things for my exchange and then John called his mom for his favorite cookie recipe and we made those. And by we I mean John and Isabelle. I tried to help, I ate dough, but I really more enjoyed watching them work together. Isabelle loved it. In the end we had several yummy cookies decorated enthusiastically by Isabelle and just maybe a new tradition at Christmas.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Not Me Monday



Time for "Not Me Monday". Click on the link above to check out what others are "not" doing.

I did not think up some good ones for LAST Monday and then forget to post them and now a week later have no idea what they were.

I did not go to Jake's school conferences with Isabelle and let her run around the cafeteria in her socks while I talked with all his teachers.
I did not discover that he has a C- first quarter in the class that is normally his strongest.
His Government teacher did not tell me he was surprised Jake only had a B+ in the class and wonder what had gone wrong the last few weeks.
I did not spend too long "discussing" with Jake how much more important his grades were than the school play.

I did not forget my cell phone, Isabelle's ear muffs and scarf at the school after conferences. I did not have John text Jake to pick them up after play practice. Jake did not decide that since the text was sent 2 hours earlier I probably already came back and got them and so he did not come home without ever even checking. Jake would never do that because I have raised him to be so responsible.

I did not get a call from a friend while "discussing" Jake's grades with him. She did not leave a message asking me to call her back on her cell phone. I did not realize that I only have her cell number in my cell phone and couldn't look it up on caller ID because our cordless phone has NOT been lost for over a week somewhere in our house and the wall phone caller ID is NOT out of batteries. That would just be unorganized and I am much more on top of my life than that. This did not cause me to stop what I was doing and drive up to the school just to get my phone and return her call. And since I was so kind to do that, she did not not answer the phone.

I did not shamelessly beg one of Jake's new friends from school to accept my facebook friend request so that I could comment on the photos she is posting of Jake and the others in the play even though she told Jake she has a "no parents" policy. She did not finally accept my request nor did she warn me that "some material may be inappropriate for parental viewing". I am not asking myself if I should be worried or if I should continue to trust my son and my excellent parenting. :)

I did not order a coffee at Caribou on Wednesday and accidentally forget to have them make it a Decaf which did not cause me to be shaking for 3 hours that afternoon and wondering why I even bother to drink the calorie laden things. I did not wonder between that and the 6 pounds I have gained since this summer if possibly I need to stop eating so much junk and get back to actually planning dinner and making it rather than just eating junk and ordering out.

I am not seriously considering applying for a 5-9am job even though I am not a morning person.

I did not think that I wouldn't be able to come up with so much stuff for this post off the top of my head.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Thanksgiving Table

While everyone loves to write about what a lovely time that had during the holidays with family and what wonderful food they ate, and yes we had a lovely time and ate wonderful food, I would rather chat about the table.

I love dishes. I have several dishes. I have my every day dishes, christmas dishes, a variety of tea dishes, old every day dishes I can't part with, a set of antique dishes I am collecting and wedding china which, unlike many people, I use regularly, no special occasion required. I don't know why I love them. They just make me happy. Now to really optimize my dishes I need beautiful table decorations to go with them.

I have done some table decorating with a friend over the past couple years. We stand in her basement and set pretend tables in preparation. I stand there and tell her we need different color or sizes of dishes or we need something tall or blue or whatever and she pulls any abstract thing I declare out of a secret compartment somewhere in her house and we create magical tabletops. I have done similar with my sister decorating the tops of her cabinets. I just tell her I need something tall and silver or green and flat and she comes up with something just right.

So anyway, back to Thanksgiving. I went over to my mom's on Wednesday to create a table masterpiece with no money. I brought my antique Fire King Peach Luster dishes since the color is so Thanksgivingie. A friend had given me a magazine picture with my dishes and they had used a pinkish table cloth with them so I asked my mom if she had something like that. She pulled out a burgandy table cloth that was perfect. We ran a brown sheer fabric down the center. I had brought salad plates thinking they might look nice on top of my mom's wedding china which is white with a blue border and silver edge. We put the whole thing on top of a silver charger plate. It did look nice but was missing something, the centerpiece to tie it all together. Down to my mom's storage closet we went to raid her decorations. We needed something blue, a vase or something. We found candles and pinecones and litte houses, anything that went with the color scheme and then back up we went. The only blue thing we found was a short blue vase that was perfect except for the pink petunias stuck in them. We decided we didn't like the flowers anyway so cut the heads off (the stems were glued to the bottom of the vase) and jammed in some apple things, added some pine cones, a brown bird statue and tied the whole table together in one spot, it was small but did the job. After that everything else fell together, little candle holders, tall candle holders, pinecones and pheasant feathers rounded out the look. Yes the food was good but my favorite part of Thanksgiving was looking at the table.

The bad color in these pictures will help you understand why I need my camera back from the repair shop and John wants a new work camera.




Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Need Africa

Next summer I am going to Africa. I don't know how yet. I am trusting God to work out the details while I try to be faithful with where I think he is leading me. Something that scares me a little but in a good way. Today I was lurking around in strangers blogs when I came across this post by a woman who went to Africa after begging God to never send her there. Thought I would share:

I need Africa

I posted a comment there you could find but I will cut and paste for you. Read her post first.

My comments:

Wonderful post. I actually am having the opposite where I felt God preparing me for Africa since my son was 5, starting first with simply a desire to take a family trip and then realizing it would have to be a mission, and have been amazed to see him unveil the plan over the last 9 years. 5 years ago we joined an Anglican Mission in America (AMIA) church which is a mission organization out of Africa, something my Baptist upbringing never would have imagined. I immediately knew this was how God would send me to Africa although I didn’t know the details at the time. Now we are planning a mission trip to Kenya summer 2009 and the entire family is planning to go.

As we have worked with some Africans in our church to plan the trip I have gotten this exact sense, that I need to go more than they need me there. Yes they need the financial help we will bring and the work we will do and the hope our presence gives but they also understand what it will do for us and how much we will change. They want us to go for us as much as for Africa. So I try not to feel too guilty that I am doing this because I really want to see Africa and worry that I might get more out of it than I give

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Afternoon fun

Thought you needed to see the pics of the tea party:


Isabelle and Sofie

John

Lilia

Sofie

Isabelle


Sofie apparently had a wonderful tea party at a friends home recently with pink tea. I didn't have pink but did recently buy a chocolate tea which she felt would work. Isabelle and I have been cruising along with plain tea with ice in it for quite some time but today the more experienced Sofie changed everything when she announced that I was supposed to give them sugar and a spoon to stir for the tea. Of course I do whatever my precious neice says and so they all had a spoonful of sugar in their tea which caused them to drink several cups. I am hoping Isabelle will forget the sugar but let's face it, who forgets sugar?

What if I had 4 children?



I am watching my 2 neices and nephew, Sofie, John and Lilia, today. Their mom is on bed rest with number 4. I always imagined I would have 3 or 4 children in rapid succession as my sister and sister in law have done and while I praise God that did not happen in my life I enjoy the opportunity to play mom of 4 sometimes.

The first thing Sofie announced when she arrived was that she was hungry and needed breakfast. So I made oatmeal all around. They all ate a little but were excited to get playing. We have different toys than them so the first few hours are pretty easy and I don't see them at all. I spent about an hour Instant Messaging with my sister while they took all the toys out downstairs. Eventually they got hungry and came up. Isabelle then discovered much to her disappointment that Lilia had gone around to all the bowls of oatmeal and finished off everyones breakfast. She reminds me of Goldilocks only less picky.

John, Isabelle and Lilia were playing some game running around the kitchen, living room, dining room circle (why do kids love that so much?) and Lilia, the youngest, was amusing me. First she found a fuzzy scarf and was wearing it around singing like she was a lounge singer with a fancy boa around her neck. Then a little later in true youngest child mode John and Isabelle were running away from her and she was chasing them saying, "nana nana boo boo." Oh how her life will be changing next week when she turns into another middle child.

Somehow while I was trying to get Jake out the door and get them lunch half a plate of chocolate chip cookies disappeared. Well Sofie must have special cookie radar because she had been downstairs watching a movie but suddenly appeared to get her share of the cookie caper.

While they are eating I hear Isabelle say to them, "thank you for coming to my house today". Such a good little hostess. It really is easy to take care of 4 children when they are all so well behaved. I would even consider daycare if I knew I could get kids that had already been whipped into shape like these 3. Will Julia be able to maintain her excellent parenting skills once a 4th comes into their life? I suspect so. What she may lack at times in energy and motivation she will always make up for in raw stubborn determination and stick-to-itness. (I love you Julia :))

Sofie ate after the others because she was finishing a movie. I was sitting with her and when she was done commented on what a good eater she is. She said, "yeah but do you know Nathan and David?" (other cousins)Yes I told her. "Nathan is 10 and he is a really good eater. He eats EVERYTHING on his plate." (way to go Angie)

My plan for the day was to let them play in the morning and then be more structured with some activities in the afternoon. So after lunch I broke out the paints. I felt like a pre-school teacher getting paint shirts on everyone, finding a paint brush for everyone and making up blue and red paint bowls for everyone (except Lilia who I told could only have one color in the spill proof container). I am always only half organized so while I was able to make it happen I really have blue finger paint and red powdered paint that I had to mix up. What do they care? And I dug through the goodwill pile and John's work shirts for paint shirts. Then I got out the princess/cars coloring cut outs I found in the dollar section at Target and they did that for a while. Finally when the were done with that they wanted to go outside. While I wouldn't have planned this I was happy to send them out. I managed to find hat and gloves for all of them and even had boots for Lilia. That is when I finally went to dig the camera out of my husbands work bag. I cleaned up the paint and marker stuff while watching them out the window. I was noticing how John and Sofie were taking turns pushing Lilia. I was thinking/laughing how while Isabelle would be old enough to take a turn it would never occur to my special second only child to do such a thing. Well just when you think you know your children they surprise you because a few minutes later I looked out and saw Isabelle pushing Lilia. Maybe there is hope after all. :)

Outside didn't last long since it is only 20 degrees out and back they all came. I looked at the clock and it was only 12:30! It felt like 2:30. As I am talking out loud to myself about the time Sofie kindly informs me that they have quiet time at 12:30 and Lilia takes a nap. So I lay Lilia on my bed and she doesn't get up and goes to sleep and the other 3 go in Isabelle's room and are playing quietly. How does Julia do it?

Now I do have a few other plans. I have those games in the game closet to pull out, Isabelle has been wanting to play them with John and Sofie since we first learned them. And no trip to my house would be complete if I didn't have a tea party. Now they have already filled up on cookies but that won't stop me from giving them more. And then I figure it will be time for a movie or TV or something.

Now while it has mostly gone smoothly and I love having them here, I am glad I don't do it every day. Here are a few things I can put off until tomorrow since they aren't all mine:

Grocery Shopping
Picking up popcorn at the scout office
cleaning my house
Christmas shopping
Basically think only about myself and blog and IM with my sister all morning--Oh wait I did that one while they were here...


Well it has been an hour of quiet time. I wonder how long it normally lasts. I think I hear Lilia so I suppose I should move from my computer and get back on mom of 4 duty once again.

I am woman hear me roar!