Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Well. I've spent a lot of time this month thinking about the blessing I have, the blessing I don't have, the blessings I am afraid to lose, and the blessing I'm not afraid to lose. I have thought about the blessings I have and don't have by choice...and by randomness.

This year has been rough. I hear people say allll the time: "These are difficult times." Hmmm. True. Still...I have a lot to be thankful for.

Just a smattering:

-baskets of clean dry folded laundry
-sunny afternoons
-my cozy little house (while neither grand nor big...its precious to me)
-all the nice working appliances in my home
-my furniture
-2 paid for running cars
-no accidents or major illness while in between insurances
-all the times I have gone to buy food...and done so one way or another
-fabulous schools and teachers for both my children
-all the extras above survival
-coat and shoes
-a portable dvd player
-our computer
-my girls super fun bunk beds
-the fact that even though Neal's job frustrates me and isn't doing what it need to do...he still has it...unlike so many other families
-My precious parents and family
-My precious friends

I am blessed. And thankful. And ready to move beyond weighing blessings against not blessing to a season that is merry and bright. (Well...except that Ellie threw up this morning...and while my Christmas tree is up...we are feeling neither merry or bright...and the car she threw up in CERTAINLY is NOT smelling merry.)

Neal made dressing:

I made 7 layer Jello Salad:

Ladd (my step brother) carving one of the two turkeys we devoured:

The men of course:

The moms put together a pinata -- and had the kids line up:

However, the pinata only made it through 3 kids:

We also did stockings for all these kiddos:

It was a fun weekend. Of course, there was drama here and there...but overall...a good time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Munchkin

Here is my munchkin. She is fun and fabulous and silly and fast and trouble. Oh I love her.

Here is what happens when my munchkin steals my camera. Enjoy her own version of "photography":

Monday, November 3, 2008

I love being a mom. *** Updated!

Last night...Ellie was having trouble settling down and going to sleep. She ended up snuggling with me in my bed for awhile. She was chatting with me and telling me silly things. Then we had the following conversation:

Ellie: Mama...do you know what?
Me: What sweetie?
Ellie: I don't think all boys are yucky.
Me: Really?
Ellie: No. Grammy's Grandpa isn't yucky. And Nana's Grandpa isn't yucky. And Grandpa Leslie isn't yucky. And Papa isn't yucky.
Me: True.
Ellie: But Gideon (a little boy at preschool) he IS yucky. And Austin is yucky too.
Me: Hmmm.
Ellie: But Diego is not yucky. Or Boots. Or Steve and Joe. Or Blue.

Oh may you never ever ever grow out of Diego. May you never ever find the boys in your class to be NOT yucky. :)


Nov 5th

Ellie: Mom, I think maybe Papa is yucky.
Papa: *Across the room eyebrows raise over his book*
Me: Oh...why is he yucky.
Ellie: He just got too much yucky.
Me: Really? Where is his yucky?
Ellie: Deep down in his tummy. Inside.
Me: Hmmm. Maybe you can squish it out.
Neal: *** glaring ***
Ellie: Ok. *skips over to her Papa and pushes his book out of the way...puts two tiny fists on Papa's tuumy and squishes as hard as she can* Ok...now open your mouth so the yucky can come out!
Me and Addy: ***giggling fiercly and watching the whole thing***
Addy: Sometimes I laugh so hard I almost pee my pants. *runs off to the potty*

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's beautiful here.

There are no pictures I can take that would do any tree in my world justice. This morning on my drive to church, I was telling God how cool he was. I'm sure that out here in Kansas-- we can't compare to the scale of the "fall foliage" in like...Virginia. But. The trees we have...can sure hold their own. I saw a tree the other day that was sooo deeply red...it was almost purple. You rock, God. My personal fave is the golden leaves. Our yard is snowing gold. Its so fun.

Addy was trying to catch them while they were falling from the tree today. And then decided she needed a leaf collection. So precious.
However, my big blessing of the day is my laundry. While it sure gets cold here at night, and we have had our first couple of frosts...God has really left a lot of warmth in the day. Such a blessing. Which means...my fairly recent attempts at line drying our laundry has been very fruitful.

I wish I could tell you it was allll about going green. (And to be honest...I will probably never go back to using the dryer 100 percent.) But I started doing that because our last electric bill was absolutely absurd. No one told me that the little town we moved to is NOT on the power grid like the rest of America. No no. They use GAS generators to generate all our electricity. So not only do we have to pay for our expensive electricity...we also pay for the $3 a gallon gas it takes to operate the generators. I about passed out when I saw our bill. It was almost $100 dollars above the bill we received in the peak of summer at our previous home. I am out to cut our bill in half. We'll see.

I have since discovered that I LOVE to hang our laundry outside. We have a fenced in little private area in the back...so its perfect. I enjoy the time outside..even when its cool. I enjoy the rhythm of hanging out the laundry. I love way it all moves in the breeze. I love the smell of the wet woodish clothespins. I love the crunch of the leaves under my feet while I work down the line. And I love the way the laundry smells.

At first I resented it. But now I LOVE it. And I use the dryer on each load 5-10 minutes.

And the lingering warmth outside God is providing is such a huge blessing. The clothes do much better with a little warm breeze and some sun. The cool 50's work ok too...but this is sooo nice.
One Saturday, a friend asked me what I was going to be doing that day.

"Well...its warm and windy. So I'm doing laundry."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Harvest Celebrations: Part 1

I HAVE taken time to enjoy the celebrations of fall and harvest the past few weeks. Those few moments of sheer delight were such welcome breaks during the havoc of October.

The big day was of course Halloween. And I really enjoyed my girls. And Halloween in special time for my mom and I to connect and enjoy the season. And here are the most 2 fabulous reasons why. An angel and a cheerleader. Addy made a beautiful angel...(and I MADE that costume!!!--with some encouragement from my mom!)

And Ellie wanted to be cheerleader like last year. So she was super cute as a little USA cheerleader girl.

The morning started out with this "head" room mom joining Addy's class for a parade around the school. The kids are all so cute and I love being able to check out all the costumes in the light. Then we headed inside for a fun party. One mom had made cute little skeleton cookies. And they made cute little candy corn guys.

I volunteered to spend the day at the school and help out with the Harvest Day Festivities. A friend of mine had her husband give a talk about farming. He had made a really neat video about harvesting soybeans. I had never seen a soybean plant up close. I thought it was really cool. The whole school broke up into groups and went around to centers. The kids got to ride in a horse drawn carriage...take a hay ride through a local park...make a fall snack mix...do a fall dance...make trees...paint huge mural pictures with seeds and beans...sooooooo fun. I got to eat lunch with Addy and have her be my helper sometimes. I loved being at school with her. And I thought the kids were very well behaved and did great! Part of me is regretting not being a teacher. I'm thinking about being a para.

In the evening, we joined my mom for a traditional Halloween dinner of rice cooked in milk with brown sugar and cinnamon on top. MMMMMMMmmmmm. Then we took pictures and headed out to trick or treat with friends. My mom came too, which was a HUGE blessing! We stopped by a church and did "trunk or treat" and then went to the fire station and around a neighborhood. We got LOTS of candy...and a lot of GREAT candy. We hit pay dirt with chocolate. :)

See! I like to call this Snicker Mountain.

And just for fun we sorted it all by flavor!

The silliest part of the night was when Ellie shoved most of a Reese's Cup in her mouth...gagged on it...spit in my hand and said, "Well. That didn't work. I need to try again!"

The girls had a blast and we came home exhausted. It was a fabulous evening.


It is November 1st. Wow. I wasn't sure that I would live through this past October. This last month was a really tough one.

My brother in law RWR gave me a heart attack developing what we thought was West Nile, then Meningitis, then I'm not sure really what they decided. I paced my kitchen floor for several hours until I was sure I didn't need to rush to see him one last time. Goodness.

My dad spent awhile in the hospital battling blood clots in his lungs. Wheeze.

My daughter is battling a nasty round of bronchitis. Worry and Fret.

The economy has ran over my family like a mack truck. Flail.

And many other things that have seldom allowed me a moment to stop sobbing or barfing all over the hem of the Lord's robe. Frankly, I'm amazed to raise my head from his now severely stained garment to discover its November.

And I confess to being quite frustrated lately thinking about the upcoming holiday. Thanksgiving in particular...not sure I can manage to accomplish a grateful feeling this season. Not to mention...there is no Gary and Kim to share it with. Gulp.

So. I have decided to use my blog this season as sort of a blessing journal...a small way to move my weary heart towards healing and fullness.

So...I am on a journey to thanksgiving. Fun.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Election 2008 Thoughts

And here is what Jayme has to say about the election. Except I didn't write it. But if I had...this is what I would have said. I found this over at Our Little Apartment. It is exactly what I have been trying to teach my daughter about the ugliness surrounding this election. And why we have been trying to act different.

"In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change."

- Thich Nhat Hanh

I've had a lot on my mind lately, as I'm sure you do.

I've lost sleep, worried myself sick, and anxiously bit my nails to nubbins.

We're all (around here, anyway) engaged in the election and have been watching the same debates, the same news coverage, and the same TV ads. And, yet, we're more divided than ever.

I have friends and family planted firmly on both sides of the political divide, so I hear both complain about and mock the other "side" - and as many others have lamented, the fact that there are "sides" and we (to have any real chance of our candidate being elected) have to choose between two extremes is insane, anyway.

Whoever gets elected, I don't think our country will go to hell - despite emails, blog posts, videos, and websites I've read that insist otherwise. My dad claims that Barack is a terrorist who will make our country socialist and all freedom will be lost; while my co-worker maintains that McCain doesn't care about the poor or the rest of the world.

*** And I'm not Catholic...but I think it the idea applies to many other church groups as well. jw ********

Being Catholic only further exacerbates the divide - some Catholics ascribe to the One Catholic Way to Vote philosophy, and contend that a vote for Barack is a vote for violence against innocent babies. Other Catholics assert that a vote for McCain is a vote against Catholic Social Teaching.

These positions worry me - not because people disagree, but because of the way they disagree and the way that leads them to treat others.

And it saddens me so. Because I truly want to have a dialogue where we all respectfully discuss what is important to us, what excites us, why we're voting for X, what we hope for the future, and so on - without automatically assuming that someone who is voting for the other guy is an idiot who doesn't care about ______ (fill in: America, terrorists, babies, freedom, homosexuals, etc.).

When I've tried to have an honest and open dialogue with the "other side" this year, I've ended up being shouted at and cried into my ice cream sundae at Friendly's. No joke. That's hard to recover from.

I think the root of much of my frustration is that I feel as though people cling to political parties more than they consider candidates and issues. My 17-year-old cousin proclaimed on Facebook that she's "a [major political party]. Deal with it." People cheered her on: "Yeah! Proclaim it, girl!"

Wha-ha? How can someone, at such a young age - make that kind of weighted decision? To limit your views to a political party when you are 17 years old? That worries me. We're getting to be more polarized earlier and earlier - we're teaching our kids to see the world through our eyes instead of encouraging them to develop their own opinion at all.

Or as one of my friends would say, "Who wants to raise sheep!?"

Sure, it's much easier to just vote how your parents voted. To not examine the issues and to take other people's word for it. Examining and wrestling with issues is hard work. (It's easy to get sidetracked by the crazy 24 hour media circuits - but we've seemed to have forgotten about issues and pretend the candidates are celebrities worthy of gossip and stalking.) As factcheck.org will show - both candidates are misleading like crazy and NEITHER is perfect.
That's hard to swallow - for both sides.

This isn't meant to be a political rant or a "VOTE FOR OBAMA/MCCAIN!" post - merely a "How the heck did we get so darn polarized? And how do we make it stop?"

I, for one, pledge to never, ever vote based on party line. I'll examine each and every candidate I vote for.

Please, lovely, wonderful commenters - play nice if you want to say something, okay? Mwah.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

somebody save me!

Addy: Ellie! Something terrible has happened! The world is in DANGER! We have to save it!!!
Ellie: Ok (running down the hall)...your job is to save it...My job is to go potty.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oh yeah....

I am learning that as my kids get older...I can no longer just expect them to spend their free and empty time just "playing." I mean sure...they will go hang in their room together and play for awhile...but thats no good for all day...or for even the whole time after school. They need something to DO.

I'm scrambbling a little bit to kick my mommyhood up a notch. I am trying to build up an arsenal of activities to direct them to, but I am also facing the challenge of being smack in the middle of a saggy baggy economy AND financial peace. Hmmm. So...I need free activities...with stuff already at home.

I found a really cool website that I have linked on my blog, called "Mom, I'm Bored." It has some great ideas.

It also finally dawned on me that my book loving family should head out to the library. However...even Addy would be the FIRST to tell you that I am terrible at returning books. Once I have a 10 cent fine...I get all nervous and crazy about going back into the library. And then I end up with an 80 dollar fine...and well. Neal doesn't even like me to go IN. I convinced him to let me have another chance...and we headed there last night.

And it was so fun. I knew they had a super fun children's library...but I didn't realize the girls would would run right for books and snuggle down in the overstuffed animals and read for awhile. Or that they had Addy's fave American Girl magazine. Or that they had oodles of puzzles and games. Or that they would have hard to find videos to take home...and books on tape for KIDS...and CD's of fun kids music.

We were hard pressed to keep our take home pile to under 20. And they begged for "reading time" before soccer when we got home. Which was very cool. Oh YEAH!

We came home with a really cool Lynn Cheney book on America...a very funny book about warthogs, a Toot and Puddle book (which of course makes them laugh), a giant book about all the really cool things you can build with legos, a Kit Kittridge book (which we have seen the movie but not the book...so it seems really exciting to read the book now), a book about a little girl who worried about school, a design book for Mommy, a DVD for the grown ups, a DVD for kids (which has several short little stories on it including Chicka Chick Boom Boom), a book on tape for Papa, a book on tape for Mommy from her 888 list, AND a new beloved bookmark for Addy.

Ellie's favorite part is that the children's library is painted to be like a castle...and how cool is that. The elevator door is a castle door and slides open all fun and exciting. We rode it twice.

Oh the treasures.

Duh...now if I can just keep from getting a fine. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Serious thoughts from my children:

We have been watching "The March of the Penguins" at our house.

Addy: (Leaning over the kitchen counter at me...looking quite intense and deep) Mom...the last penguin in the line...has the farthest to go.
Me: Um...well...

And last night since the natives were quite restless we got out the bikes and scooters and headed around our neighborhood to burn some energy. Ellie and Addy like to be in the lead and direct our ride.

Ellie: (Looking intensely over her shoulder at us) Which way next? Left or right?
Neal: LEFT!
Ellie: Ok. (Getting her little feel lined up again on the pedals) Which way is that?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What REALLY happens at church:

When Neal gets to be home before the girls bedtime, it is always his job to put the girls to bed. He loves to use this time to tell them Bible Stories, to work on Bible Knowledge stuff, to sing and pray with them.

Tonight he was talking to them about the purpose of the Bible and the purpose of the Church. I'm pretty sure that he was trying to convey how important God's people are...how important the stories in the Bible are to us...and what we do at church because we are God's people.

Neal: What do we do at church?
Ellie: We eat and sit and sing and listen...ooooh and we PAINT!

Ahhh...how important it is that God's people paint. :)

She came home Sunday with the cutest green painted handprint with the words "God loves me" on it.

Hmmmm...maybe we DO need to paint. :)

Monday, September 22, 2008

fall is coming fall is coming fall is coming

Is anyone besides me sooooo tired of running the AC? Even if it just for a little bit? Anyone sick of sweating while you run the hairdryer???

I am ready for the fullness of fall to envelop me...and remove the last remnants of summer. I am ready for the forecast so stop reading 84 82 81 86 82...and start reading 67 68 70 66 70.

While I was driving around town today...I was wishing wishing wishing for my camera (of course I didn't have it with me.) There are several trees around time with just a patch of red or orange blazing forth. AH-HA! It IS coming!!!!!!! Hopefully later on I can snag some pictures.

Summer is soooooo my least fave season...and it seems to last the longest. Bring on fall...and then the coziness of winter!!!!!!!

(It IS coming right?)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Let me Clarify something:

1. No one ever believes me when I tell them how tough Ellie is.
2. I do not support, sponser, or even like C00rs Light. They were however a sponser for my mother's raquetball tournament at the Club House in Dodge City in 1984...and I got a shirt for it...and cool news...it still fits Ellie...and I love for her to wear it.
3. Tonight while jumping on my bed (which I totally encourage in my house)...Ellie misjudged and whacked her head on the bed frame. These funny shots ensued...and then ended with a return to jumping on my bed. She is TOUGH I tell you!

A post of few words:

I have been struggling with trusting God completely. I believe Lord, help my unbelief. These pictures were all taken in front of my house standing in the street during the flooding issues of the past weekend.
Jayme...this is God. Are you hearing me?