Sunday, December 31, 2006

Looking Back

I was thinking back over this past year. I'm not really a very sentimental person, but I do like to remember. Here are some of the things I was thinking about:

New big purchases in '06: a new garbage disposal in January, and a new refrigerator in March. It was the winter of failing kitchen appliances! We also got a new photo printer sometime in the summer. We bought it from good friends of ours, and I thought it seemed like quite an unnecessary luxury. It's turned out to be very handy to have, and we are actually printing out some of our digital pictures. Also, we bought our nice, full, tall new Christmas tree this December. I love looking at it! And our last big purchase, snuck in right before the deadline, was our new minivan. Hopefully that will last for many years to come. It's nice to drive, although it still feels so unfamiliar, like I'm cheating on the old Odyssey, LOL.

New children: Anna was born on March 28, and it has been a lot of fun having a little girl around. I was putting those crazy white tight things on her this morning before church, and she was not liking it, and I thought about how she will be doing this for years to come (or not, if she is a stay-at-home mom like me who hates such things, LOL). Anyhow, I was reflecting on how clothes for boys are much more comfortable, and I guess she might as well learn this fact sooner rather than later!

Of course, we also had the surprise realization that another child, um, happened this year, and would be born next year. That has certainly caused a lot of reflection on God's perfect timing and things of that nature. It's also made me really tired. And not very motivated. To do really anything. It's always hard to deal with your own limitations! I foresee next year to be another year of "stretching", especially in how I view my time. I realized this morning during our sermon how selfishly I regard my time, always wanting to keep back some for myself, and often resenting many demands made on what I consider "my time". I think with the birth of this next baby, God will be giving me more opportunity to learn to sacrifice my time with a good attitude!

New church: Speaking of this morning's sermon, we have started going to a new church this past month. After going to our old church for 2 years, and feeling like we were fitting in, all of a sudden the pastor started moving the church in a real different direction this past August as far as spiritual gifts are concerned. It was startling, but we thought at first we could maybe be a moderating influence. Then he preached a sermon in October where he said basically, that we couldn't question the "values" of the church. It would be like going to your neighbor's house and telling them to rearrange their furniture. No, if it bothered us so much, then we shouldn't go to their house. So we pretty much felt like he was talking to us, and people like us, who had been questioning this new emphasis, and that he was telling us to find another church. That was difficult to hear, but there is nothing like clear direction! My brother found a church for us online that we hadn't even considered, and we have really, really been enjoying it. The pastor is young, but he is well-read and preaches the Word with authority. His sermons are very thought-provoking and dig to a deeper level of application. I was just telling Bob this morning that I used to look forward to going to church to hopefully get to know people better, but I had a hard time keeping my mind from wandering off during the sermons. With this church, I look forward to going to hear what the pastor is going to say about the topic, and I haven't had any trouble with my mind wandering! He is a very engaging speaker. In fact, I think that if my brother were a preacher, this is how he would come across (does that make you want to come visit, Dan and Melinda? LOL!) So we are looking forward to the new year in this church.

New routine: Usually one might make a New Year's resolution to start exercising, but for me, I started exercing pretty faithfully as soon as I could after Anna was born because I was horrified at the loose amount of doughy flesh remaining around my middle. Well, that never really went anywhere, although I lost all my pregnancy weight this summer. Sigh. But then my waist started expanding again, so I kicked up the exercising another notch. Then I took the pregnancy test and realized it would continue expanding, but my new fear is gestational diabetes. So since September, I have been faithfully exercising at least 5 times a week. "Wow!" you might think. "You must look great!" Well, no. I still look like I am in my third trimester, and people do tell me this, so I know it is true. And I realistically hold out no hope that the weight and especially inches will magically fall off after this birth either. But hopefully I will ward off gestational diabetes for another pregnancy, LOL. I will say that I am not sure exactly how I will fit in exercise after the new baby is born, though. We'll have to see how that all shakes out.

Hmmm. I'm sure there are more things, but right now I need to go make a 7-layer dip for our New Year's Eve party tonight. The L's always have a party at their house, and it is the highlight of the year for the boys! Confetti! Noisemakers! Tons of food! Sparkling apple cider! Well, actually only some of the boys like that, but still . . . it's a night to anticipate! We actually count down at 9:00, so the kids can be in bed at a fairly decent hour. Believe me, starting the new year with crabby kids is not a real fun thing, nor a real good omen! I'm looking forward to see where God leads us this next year, and where He leads you as well! Thanks for reading my blog! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Success for the Castle Stonemason Guild

Bob's mom and dad gave us some money for the boys, and one thing I bought for Nathan and Luke was this 608 piece 3-D castle puzzle. It said for ages 12 and up, but I knew they really liked puzzles, especially Luke, so I wasn't too worried. Well, it turned out to be a bit tricky, and we were quite glad to have Grandpa, the expert puzzle stonemason, to help! Luke really got into it, and he and Grandpa spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday in the dining room, hard at work, while Nathan kind of flitted in and out. They worked steadily on the puzzle until yesterday (Thursday), when they completed it! Yay! It is really so neat-looking. I want a tour, LOL. We took pictures from all angles so we could successfully reconstruct it again with a little more ease, although Luke says we are never taking it apart! Puzzles are a great way to spend Christmas break!

It's Here!!!

Our new Sienna is here and in our garage! Bob and I drove up to Maryland Thursday to pick it up and to drop off the old Camry. Imagine--Carmax gave us $1200 for our '95 Camry with 165,000 miles, frame damage, and a leprous paint condition!

It was so nice that the van came in while my parents were still here. We were able to leave Anna and the boys at home with them. Although if we had to take them, it would not have been all bad. Carmax has a kids room with an attendant, so you can drop your kids off there for up to 2 hours! We did that while we were looking a few weeks ago, and the boys had a great time. There was a ball pit and everything!

We were very impressed with our Carmax experience. We paid just a few hundred dollars over invoice on a brand new car, and there was no negotiations, haggling, stress, etc. It was so nice. I heartily recommend them!! There aren't very many Carmax new car dealers. I think there was maybe only one other Toyota one in the whole country. We were very fortunate that this one was so close to us!

The Sienna is very nice to drive, and it has that lovely new car smell. This afternoon I moved all the carseats, books, toys, etc. over from the Odyssey. That was so hard to do! All that clutter . . . sigh. I did go through everything, but still, whatever you put in a new vehicle makes it look junkier! The boys are looking forward to riding in it, but their maiden voyage isn't going to be until church on Sunday, I think.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I hope you had a wonderful day celebrating the birth of Jesus!

I haven't been blogging because we've just been having too much fun! My parents drove in Thursday night, in time for dinner, and we've been having a wonderful visit. Saturday we all went over to the L's house for a Christmas dinner along with the other 2 couples in our Bible study. Elizabeth made a ham and a turkey, and we all brought sides and desserts. It was a great time of eating and visiting. We came at 2:00 and didn't go home until almost 8:00!

Sunday morning we went to church and then out to eat at Olive Garden. We went back that night for the Christmas Eve service, a traditional one of lessons and carols. I really enjoy those services, where you sing ALL the carols and hear so much Scripture! It was a really special time.

Yesterday Grandpa and Grandma made potatoes and eggs for a special Christmas breakfast, and then the boys opened their stockings. After that, Anna had to take a nap, so we held off on presents until she woke back up again. I was planning on exercising and then showering while she slept, but I was just so tired that I fell asleep again--so much for exercise! I did get a shower in before Anna woke up, and we opened presents around noon. Nathan and Luke had picked out the present from their Aunt Rose to open first because they had ascertained that it sounded like it might be Legos. And it was--a Star Wars interceptor, so they were incredibly happy and could have stopped right there. But we kept on, and they got a lot of nice presents--games, books, and puzzles mostly. Lots of neat stuff!

I was thrilled to get a new rice cooker from my mom and dad. I love the one I have now, which we got as a wedding present, but it only cooks 6 cups of rice, maximum. This one cooks from 4-24 cups! I also got some books from my Amazon wish list, which I am THRILLED with! I stayed up last night to read The Making of Pride and Prejudice , which tells in great detail and with lots of pictures how the great BBC miniseries was made. Fascinating! Thanks, Amy!! Next on my list to read is A Visit With the Tomboy Bride about Harriet Fish Backus, who wrote a fascinating book about her life as a new bride at the Tomboy Mine above Telluride. Before we left Colorado we spent a few days in Telluride and drove up to the mine because I was so intrigued by the book! And let me tell you, that was a harrowing drive. Bob had to peel his fingers off the steering wheel of our 4x4 Pathfinder once we made it up there! Anyhow, this book is by a historian who had a long correspondence with Mrs. Backus, and it includes more insights into her life. I can't wait! Thanks, Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim!!

After presents, I worked on dinner, which we ate at a normal dinner time. We had ham, potatoes, green beans with almonds, sweet potato biscuits, and strawberry jello salad. After we cleaned up from that, we read the Christmas story, moving the characters around on a felt background we have. Then we had our birthday party for Jesus, complete with chocolate cake and ice cream. I was so full I couldn't see how I would ever eat another bite! And yet, somehow I made room for breakfast this morning, LOL.

So we had wonderful day! The boys were completely fried--they went to bed at 8:30, and Jonathan didn't wake up until 9:30 this morning! There were some "lack of sharing and honoring" incidents yesterday, but so far today has been better, as far as attitudes go. I'm sure all the sleep was helpful! The boys are all downstairs in the basement now, building things with legos and bionicles. It looks like it will be a quiet day! I can hope anyhow . . .

Friday, December 22, 2006

Some Christmas Humor

Here's something to make you laugh: the Cavalcade of Bad Nativities . There are 3 pages, so take your time and enjoy them all!

I actually spent quite a bit of time searching for a little nativity set this year because I thought it would make a nice little present for someone on my list. My mom gave us several years ago a very classic set in bisque. It wasn't very expensive, and it looks timeless. I had no such luck this year. In fact, it appears that the Christian bookstore is the ONLY place where you can even think about getting anything remotely religious, like a nativity set, and this year they were mainly into nativity snow globes and other shall we say "non-timeless" nativity options. One set looked like it could have been on the Cavalcade, as it appeared to be made up of garden gnomes, the ones with the big floppy hats. Weird. Maybe next year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Cards

I am pleased to tell you that today I am putting the last of our Christmas cards in the mailbox! Finally! I absolutely LOVE getting Christmas letters--the longer and newsier, the better! I guess we just don't have "braggy" friends, because I love getting updated on dear friends who we were once stationed with, and who we might not see again this side of heaven. I usually make a trip back to Ohio in February, and while home, I read through all my parents' Christmas letters (hundreds, LOL) to see what's happening with people who I knew a long time ago or just haven't kept up with. I guess I just like knowing what's going on and seeing pictures!

This year I had a hard time getting inspired to actually WRITE ours, however. Finally Bob and I cranked something out, but it is pretty blah, to be honest--we had a baby, and all the kids are one year older, LOL. Now, as we are reading all the other newsletters coming in, we keep thinking of things we meant to say--"I should have said that I was a soccer coach!" "I meant to say something about our summer Revolutionary War party!" Ah well. Next year, I shall have to note interesting things each month as they happen so we can write a fascinatingly brilliant newsletter, LOL.

Actually, that brings me to my next point. Every year at this time, I have to painstakingly update by hand my address book. That is because I have a system. Here's how it works. During the year, as we get change of address emails, I make a mental note, which I promptly forget all about. Then, when December rolls around and I am ready to start addressing cards, I look at an entry in my book, and something faintly jingles in my brian--"Weren't they PCSing this summer? Hmm, I bet they have a new address." So then I have to search through all my back emails, saved on my computer (thankfully I rarely delete anything personal, LOL), and as a last resort, email my dad to ask if they have the new address (they have a better system, LOL). So every Christmas I resolve to update my computer address book (last current probably at least 4 years ago, which means practically EVERYONE on it will have moved!) and then faithfully enter in all changes as they come throughout the year. And yet, each year I have the same routine and the same little black address book. Ahh, the comfort of a system, even a not very good one! And my experiences here make me quite leary that I will actually be noting interesting things to put in the Christmas letter each month, LOL!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

And it looks like . . .

. . . another girl! I had my 20 week ultrasound today, and it was a much better experience than my last ultrasound . It was at a different place, and this tech was an older lady who had been doing this for quite a few years. She was friendly and talked all the way through it. She gave us some "4-D" pictures--those are so neat! It really looks like a baby, not just a fuzzy ghost-alien! The baby was pretty active again, and fairly modest, so there was no clear, legs-splayed shot of things, but we all 3 agreed that it looked like girl parts in there. Now . . . for a name. Just to remind you, here's our naming algorithm: Bible name for the first name, with no first initials repeated. And we've used up N, L, C, J, and A. Middle name will be for someone in the family or a close friend. We're open to "Biblical character quality names" too, like Grace or Hope. So feel free to send us your suggestions! : )

Monday, December 18, 2006

We're Expecting!!!

A new minivan, that is. The due date is right around the first of the year. As I've said before, although we absolutely love our 2000 Honda Odyssey, and it has served us faithfully these past almost 7 years, when the new baby comes we will simply no longer all fit in it. We knew we wanted to get an 8-seat Toyota Sienna, and we (mainly Bob, LOL) had been watching to see when the new ones would come out. They finally arrived in showrooms, so yesterday afternoon we drove up to Maryland, to the Carmax Toyota dealership there. They had exactly one new 8 seat Sienna there, and we wanted to look at it. It was a silvery color, which we liked, but it had running boards, which we didn't like. I can totally see the boys jumping on them all the time and breaking them off. But they have another one coming in a few weeks that is also silver, but does not have running boards. So we put down a deposit! How exciting!

I had pretty much resigned myself to only having one automatic sliding door, but as it turns out, the new ones have both doors automatic! Yay! That makes getting a new Sienna, as opposed to last year's, worth it to me. After having both be automatic on the Odyssey all these years, it probably would have taken some getting used to, although that would have been a pretty minor complaint, LOL.

So to recap: we're getting a LE in "Silver Shadow Pearl". Bob thought that getting another silver minivan meant that we were "boring" but I said, "Hey, why fight it? I like things to be the same! I KNOW I'm boring!" LOL!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Little Things

We're all better now I think. I saw a little article in the Times this morning about how a norovirus has hit Catholic University, making lots of students sick with vomiting and diarrhea right during finals. I'm assuming that's what is going around here too, and I am VERY thankful that neither I, nor the boys, have to worry about being sick disprupting tests or anything else vitally important!

Bob stayed home sick yesterday, which is not a good thing in and of itself, but it did allow me to do my one hour glucose tolerance test in the morning and also go to the commissary with just Nathan. You know, it is still a long trip, but I was amazed at how much less tired I felt without having to make sure Caleb and Jonathan were always on the right side of the aisle, and someone was pushing Anna, but not running into the shelves with her, and keeping Anna from fussing. Nice!

It was an especially good trip because the commissary had the old style of Playtex nipples. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but I have always used the Playtex drop-in bottles for all my babies. Since I haven't had to do bottles for all that long with any of them, I really like not having to sterilize bottles all the time. Anyhow, when I started Anna on her bottles, I realized that some of the nipples I already had were getting old, so I threw them away and went shopping for new ones. Oh no! Playtex totally redesigned their nipples, and now they are these weenie, squishy things that Anna hates. So I have just been using the old ones I have left and washing them all the time. When I saw that the commissary had the old kind, I was so excited! We bought 6 packages of 2, I think (leaving a token one package for anyone else who might be searching, LOL), so that should cover us for the rest of Anna's bottle time, plus if we have another baby. Whew! Like I said, it's the little things in life . . .

Bob had already taken today off as leave. This morning our co-op is having their Christmas skating party, and he took Nathan and Luke. Caleb chose to stay home, since Joel McC was coming over to play while Christine took her other 3 boys to the party. So Anna is napping, and Caleb, Joanthan, and Joel are all down in the basement, happily playing with Bionicles with no older brothers to tell them how to do things. LOL! I'm having a nice, relaxing morning on the computer. Ahhh.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A day of naps and videos . . .

. . . but not of washing sheets, comforters, and pillows, thankfully. We basically laid around all day, eating banana, rice, applesauce, and toast. No one threw up! Yay! We're all feeling better now except Bob, who came home early from work because he felt crummy. So, I think we might live, LOL.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Falling Behind

So I mentioned on my last post that I was somewhat behind on my laundry. . . Last night both Nathan and Luke threw up, in their beds of course. Today Jonathan threw up once in my bed and once in his. Anna has diarrhea and has blown out several outfits. Others have variously struggled through out the day with diarrhea. I was queasy all day but hoped that my stomach would be able to struggle through it all, even while being surrounded by various bodily waste products. A little while ago I lost that battle, although thankfully I am old enough to search out the nearest trash can and not mess up the bed! I was in the kitchen and couldn't make it to the bathroom so had to puke in the trash can. Here's how it went:

Me: (Blech)

Caleb wanders in: Did you ever get me the applesauce I asked for?

Me: (Blech) Go away.

Jonathan wanders in: I want applesauce. Can I have a bowl of applesauce? Hey, what are you doing?

Me: Throwing up.

Jonathan and Caleb: When are you going to get my applesauce?

Lesson learned: Always try to make it into the bathroom if you are hoping for a bit of privacy.

And now I am REALLY far behind on laundry.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Good Visit

We had a good visit with Bob's family this weekend. Bob's 80 year old dad had the quadruple bypass back in early November, and he is doing really well! He's back home and getting around with a cane, and he's able to get up and down the stairs with no problem, a good thing considering that's where the bathroom is! He also seems to be a lot softer--not quite so vinegar-y--and he also is showing a lot more appreciation for Bob's mom, which is always a great thing. Nathan and Luke enjoyed playing pinochle and learning hearts with him.

Before we left, Bob's sister Ann had emailed me that she was planning on bringing up all the fixings for Christmas dinner to cook for them when she comes up in a few weeks. I thought that was a great idea and decided that I would also bring up a meal for them. So Friday night I made up a huge stockpot full of beef barley soup, a big pan of cornbread, and Nathan made oatmeal cookies. We also brought a bag of salad. I put the soup in 2 gallon ziploc bags in our cooler and just heated it up there for dinner. It was a big hit! Two of BOb's brothers and their familes also were there to eat, and there was only a small tupperware tub left by the end of the evening. I can't believe I haven't come up with this idea before! It solves all our problems--it's a lot of work for Bob's mom to cook for all of us, and there often is not much that Caleb can eat. So now my plan is to always bring up a meal when we come.

This weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas turned out to be a great time to go traveling. The roads were empty, as was the hotel! I guess everyone was Christmas shopping. We exchanged gifts with Bob's family this weekend, requiring me to be really organized and get it all done early. The good thing is that now I am pretty much done with shopping! Yay! I actually like breaking up the gift-giving, at least for the boys. They are having a really fun day playing the games they got--Sorry, Operation, and Battletank (like Battleship but with tanks). Caleb and Jonathan got up early to play with a little pirate set they received.

Needless to say, we aren't doing school today. I was really tired last night when we got home, and I knew I was behind on stuff like laundry. Then when Anna woke up, she had spit up all over her crib sometime during the night, so her laundry got moved to the front of the queue. She continued increasing my laundry load by blowing out 2 outfits. Grr. I got to thinking, however, and realized that it probably is all my fault. I gave her some waffle yesterday at the Comfort Inn, and I think she is actually reacting a little. Her face is all sort of blotchy, which clued me in. So now I will move to "Caleb" protocols regarding food in strange places, and hopefully we won't have any more problems.

And before I go switch out laundry loads, here's a random thought to ponder. There are several different ways for us to go to Bob's parents' house, and this weekend we went on a portion of US 40 through south PA both going and coming. This leads us right by a big resort called Nemacolin . Now I ask you--what does that name conjure up to you? An upscale woodlands resort, complete with a polo field? Or intestinal worms? As it turns out, "Nemacolin" was an Indian chief who blazed a trial through the Laurel Mountains many, many years ago, but all I can think of are nematodes, which are roundworms, many of which infect humans, such as pinworms, hookworms, and trichinella (you know, the ones in pork). Put that with "colin", albeit spelled differently, but it doesn't make me much want to visit, much less eat their food. I should bring my own soup, LOL.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Second Appointment

I had another doctor appointment today, this time with the other doctor in the practice. She also seemed nice, and everything seems like it's going just fine. She wants me to take a glucose tolerance test next week, the one-hour one. I wasn't too surprised by that, considering I am at a pretty high risk for developing gestational diabetes. Both my mom and aunt have type 2 diabetes, this is my sixth pregnancy, and I have had 2 babies over 9 pounds. I'm surprised I didn't have to take an early test with the last pregnancy, to be honest. Not something to look forward to, though. Bleh.

One thing I thought was a little odd was you know how doctors always have those drug company posters lining their walls? Well, the ones in this exam room were all for some form of birth control! There was a big one comparing 3 different kinds of permanent sterilization, and some more with various kinds of birth control pills, etc. Weird. I like the ones with developing babies on them! Then, during the appointment, she had to ask all the questions about all my previous pregnancies, since we didn't cover that in my last "probationary" appointment, LOL.

Doctor: "Are you considering some form of permanent sterilazation when you are done with this pregnancy?"

Me: "Umm, no."

Doctor: "Well, will you be considering changing to some form of more reliable birth control?"

Me: "Umm, no, not really."

Doctor: "Well, you realize you are at a greater risk for uterine rupture, hemorrhage, etc., since you've had so many children."

Me: "Hmmm."

Doctor: "Is this going to be your last baby?"

Me: "I really don't know! Maybe, maybe not. We'll have to see."

Geesh! Enough with the sterilization talk! It makes me want to commit to singlehandedly driving up the birthrate over here! So I'm thinking that these doctors are maybe not big proponents of big families, LOL. I mean, really. I'm sure that women who have large families do have a slightly greater risk of those things, but I personally know a lot of women with many more kids than me, and they have all been fine. In fact, my friend Christine, to whom I was relating the conversation, said that she grew up in Irish Catholic Boston, where almost everyone she knew had 8-9 kids, and she didn't know anyone who had any of those issues! Oh well. It's not like I can change doctors, LOL, or that military doctors would be any better about this issue. But then I got this Elizabeth Elliot devotional in my email today, and it actually spoke to some of these issues, although from the perspective of a worried grandmother.

When I learned that my daughter Valerie was expecting number five, my insides tied themselves in knots.
Val and Walt were both very peaceful about it, willing to receive this child as they had received the others--as a gift from the Lord, remembering His words, "Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me" (Luke 9:48, NIV). But my imagination ran to the future and its seeming impossibilities--"Poor dear Val. She has her hands more than full. What will she do with five?" Before she was married Valerie had told me that she hoped the Lord would give her six. I had smiled to myself, thinking she would probably revise that number after the first three or four. Practical considerations rose like thunderclouds in my mind. Money. Another room to be built onto the house. Homeschooling (Valerie was teaching two already!) How would the new child receive the attention he needed? Etc., etc.

Then I began to look at the advantages. I was one of six children myself, and loved growing up in a big family. Children learn early what it means to help and to share, to take responsibility and to make sacrifices, to give place to others, to cooperate and deny themselves. Why all this turmoil in my soul? Well, because I loved my child! She was tired! Her hands were full! Maybe later, maybe when the others were old enough to help more, maybe... O Lord!

I tried to talk to God about it. Breakfast time came, we ate, washed dishes, school began in the children's schoolroom, and I went to my room, my heart churning. What does one do?

I write this because troubled young women have come to me not understanding their mothers' reactions to the news of another baby. Was it resentment? Did they not love the grandchildren they had? Why would they not want more? Was it nothing but a meddle-some yen to run their children's lives? Was it a revelation of a worse attitude--an unwillingness to let God be God?

It was this last question that I knew I must wrestle with as I knelt in the bedroom. Most things that trouble us deeply come down to that. I had to bring each of my wrong responses definitely and specifically to God, lay them honestly before Him (He already knew exactly what I was thinking), confess my pride and silliness, and then, just as definitely accept His sovereign and loving will for Valerie, for her family, and for me as the granny. Only God knew how many countless others, even in future generations, He had in mind in bringing this particular child into the Shepard family. He was granting this family the privilege of offering sacrifices for Him, participating in His grand designs. YES, LORD. Your will is my conscious choice. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.

Even though the feelings don't evaporate at once, they have been surrendered, and the Lord knows what to do with them. Mine had to be surrendered over and over again, but He took them, and over the next few days He transformed them. And when the news of Number Six was broken to me two years later, I was able to say Thank You, Lord, and to add that tiny unknown one to my prayer list.

Evangeline Mary, born November 9, 1988, was lovingly welcomed by all.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

In the Christmas Spirit . . .

I thought you all might like to see our new tree in all its glory. SO much nicer that our old one!! We decorated right after Thanksgiving, but I never got around to decorating anywhere else--up the bannister, in the kitchen, etc. I left the rest of my boxes upstairs behind the couch, ready for when I got motivated. Well, I have finally admitted to myself that isn't going to happen this year! I don't want to put anything else up, and I don't want to take anything else down! Call me Scrooge, LOL. So now I am taking my boxes back downstairs.

I thought Anna might be really tempted by the tree, but so far she has pretty much ignored it. What she DOES go for is the wooden "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" that sits on our hearth. My grandma and grandpa gave that to us many years ago, and it is so cute. Anna thinks so too and can hardly keep her hands off it. She also had some troubles keeping away from presents at Bible study over at the L's house. You will notice a conspicuous lack of any sort of presents under our tree. I figure why fight the battle right now? That can wait, at least until I have Christmas letters out, etc.!

Tonight, as soon as Bob came home, I left to brave the mall sans kids. Wow, I am so not a shopper. The mall looked very festive though, I must admit. Anyhow, I am happy to say that I think I am all done with my shopping. Yay! Now to wrap everything. I need to get packages boxed up to send out, and we are going up to visit Bob's family this weekend, so we need to get those all wrapped up too. Busy night! Bob's going to help wrap while watching the Steelers game.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

We did it!

We got all our chocolates made this weekend! In a rare feat, the fillings and the chocolate ran out at the same time. Amazing! Actually the real amazing thing was how much we got done, and how much more quickly it went with Nathan helping. We blew right through 6 pounds of chocolate! He is past the "I'm helping by stirring" stage and could actually DO stuff that helped. On Sunday we were using both light and dark chocolate, so he could paint one flat of molds with one kind of chocolate while I did another with the other kind. It was great! And it was so much more fun to have someone right there to talk with the whole time. By the end of the day, the other boys had drifted into the kitchen and were doing various things to help too (a lot of stirring, LOL), so it was a real family activity. Maybe we'll do this more often now that I realize it's fun and goes pretty quickly! We do have to make more for our neighbors and friends here, so we are planning another trip to the store for more chocolate (got to get the good "Merckens" wafers!). Nathan is ready to do that today, or even yesterday, LOL. I'm thinking maybe next week. And for those who were curious about the new filling recipe--I liked it alright. I really liked the maple flavored filling, but the peppermint was just okay. I prefer the other filling recipe for that, I think. I had to sample several chocolates to make sure though, LOL! We have been eating the "irregulars" after dinner each night--it adds a touch of class to this eating establishment to end with a chocolate!

In the middle of our chocolate frenzy on Sunday, we went to our next door neighbor's house for a neighborhood children's Christmas party. Dr. Joe and his wife Stella are older, with 11 grandchildren. He loves to tell stories, using lots of different voices and expression. For Christmas he has made up a ton of stories about Christmas trees of various colors, kind of like fairy tales, with morals in them. They're good! The boys really love the party and look forward to it. It's a fun neighborhood tradition. I enjoy the time afterward to visit with our neighbors! This year the family from whom we bought our house also were able to come. They are a Mormon family with 5 kids, and they are about the nicest people you could meet. It was fun to catch up with them. They moved farther out west into a house with more land and a HUGE kitchen. Yes, the kitchen is the only part of this house that I don't really like either, so I can totally see why they moved. Well, that and the fact that they made $500,000 profit on this house since they were the original owners. Wow. I, um, don't think we'll be making that kind of profit when we move, LOL. Too bad!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

What we did today . . .

. . . Make chocolates! We made 70 peanut butter cups, and 48 caramels. Tomorrow we have peppermint patties and maple filled ones on the agenda, but since we haven't yet painted the molds or made the filling, I'm not sure how much we'll actually get done. Yummy!!!

When I was pregnant with Luke, my next door neighbor Pam invited me to a candy-making class at a local store. It was held on Saturday mornings between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was so much fun! So now I try to make chocolates every few years or so. This year I had a helper! Nathan was quite intrigued by the process, which even lured him away from college football this afternoon, LOL.

I finally found a candy supply store in this general area (Fairfax, actually), and so we went there Friday afternoon after picking up a medicine refill at the clinic, which is also down that way. Of course, I forgot one crucial ingredient for the centers, invert sugar, so I'm going to try a different recipe. We'll see how that works out. Of course, if it fails, we shall have no choice but to eat the evidence. That's just the way we are around here--sacrificial. LOL!