Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Luke!!!

Luke turned 11 years old today! He asked for cheesecake again, and we brought that to Bible study last night, along with a host of other goodies.

I had a little bit of leftover peanut butter cup filling from Christmas in the freezer, plus I had some caramel that I never did use at Christmas, so I spent the afternoon making candies. Since the cake/chocolate supply shop closed (boo-hoo), I just bought some Wilton choclate coating discs from Michaels. I was not very impressed with them. They didn't melt very smoothly, and they just glooped together. I had some paramount crystals (fat, sort of like crisco) so I added that, but it never really smoothed out to my satisfaction. Oh well. I guess I will have to start ordering Merckens chocolate online.

We also brought rice krispie treats for those like Nathan and Amanda, who don't like cheesecake, and for Caleb, who is allergic. I had a little bit of pink frosting left over in the fridge from Faith's birthday, so I frosted the treats with that. I told Luke they were to honor Faith's birthday, since we didn't bring a cake to Bible study for her, so he would not be insulted that we were bringing pink treats to his birthday celebration!

Here is a closer look at the cheesecake, in all its yummy goodness. It has snickers bars chopped up inside it, as well as sprinkled on top, and chocolate syrup drizzled over the top. Very tasty!!

Today we went out to CiCi's Pizza for lunch to celebrate. CiCi's was having an anniversary celebration this month, where everyone ate for $3.99. Since tomorrow was the last day, we thought it was a good time to take advantage of that deal!

For his birthday dinner, Luke requested chicken salad on croissants, and we also had Sunchips and cut-up orange slices. Easy and lighter, after our big meal!

After dinner, Luke opened his presents. He got a new basketball, a Toby Mac CD, a "How to Draw Star Wars Clone Wars" book from Grandpa and Grandma B., and a Scrabble Slam card game and a very challenging 3-d globe puzzle from Grandma and Grandpa G.! He was also very thrilled to get an Amazon gift card from Aunt Amy and Uncle Jason, and some money from Uncle Dan and Aunt Melinda, so he is looking forward to figuring out what exactly he will get with this largesse!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rib Fest!

Tonight we had ribs for dinner. LOTS of ribs. Nathan has been agitating for us to have ribs for quite awhile now. I have not been as excited about it because frankly, ribs aren't my favorite. Really messy, and mainly a barbeque-y taste. Meh. But they are his absolute favorite, and he always orders them in restaurants of possible. He has already forewarned me that ribs was going to his request for his birthday dinner, so we needed to figure out how to make them before that day came!

Ribs were on sale this week at our local grocery store for $1.99 a pound, so I bought 2 racks--over 12 pounds total! Back when we had thought we were moving overseas, Nathan a nd I had culled a bunch of really old Taste of Home magazines, tearing out any recipe we thought we might try at some later point. We also tore out every single rib recipe we saw. We sorted through those this afternoon and discovered there were 2 basic trains of thought as to how to cook ribs. One side says to just put them in a pan and roast them for a long time. The other side says to boil them first and then roast them for a little while longer. We decided to do a taste test.

So, one rack I cut into smaller pieces and boiled for 1 hour with some onion and vinegar (not sure what the vinegar did, but the recipe said to add it . . .). Then I put the pieces in a pan, covered them with barbeque sauce (we just used Kraft Hickory or something--I did not feel like making my own), covered the pan with foil, and roasted them at 325 for 1 1/2 hours more.

The second rack I put in my huge roasting pan bone-side down. I sprinkled garlic, salt, and pepper on them, covered them with foil, and roasted them at 350 for 2 hours. Then I drained the fat and poured barbeque sauce over them and roasted them for 30 more minutes, covered.

The general consensus was . . . they were both delicious! Well, Caleb actually didn't like either one, but he said it was because he doesn't like barbeque sauce. The thing was, these ribs really didn't taste a lot like barbeque sauce, unless you put some on your plate and dipped pieces into it. They had a very good flavor! The other boys and Bob liked the ones that were roasted the whole time better. They were indeed incredibly tender. I couldn't even lift the rack onto a platter without the bones just falling out. This made it not so messy to eat because you weren't wrestling with bones and gnawing on them, much to Nathan's disappointment, LOL.

The ones that were also boiled were very good as well. I think I might have prefered them just a tiny bit, but since it was certainly easier to just roast them the whole time, I am just fine with that method being the winner, LOL. They were not quite as tender, in that the bones didnt jsut slide out quite like the other ones did. They were still very tender, however.

Out of those 12 pounds of ribs, I would say we have maybe 1/4 of it left over. Definitely not enough for another meal. We have some big rib-eaters! Even Faith had thirds! What a piggy! She doesn't usually love plain meat, so you can see these must have been good. I'm just glad we have found a winner of a recipe this far before Nathan's birthday. Of course, he's going to say we need to keep practicing . . .

Speaking of birthdays, tonight I'll be making the cheesecake for us to take to Bible study tomorrow night to celebrate Luke's birthday! We are also planning on making a few peanut butter cups and caramels. This afternoon, after CC, we headed down to the cake and candy supply store, which is about 30 minutes away. We drove up and saw to our great disappointment that it has closed! Oh no! I guess I'll have to start ordering my chocolate over the internet. I ran over to Michaels later this afternoon and picked up a few bags of their Wilton chocolate discs. I guess we'll see how they compare in quality with the ones I usually use. Of course, when you are talking homemade peanut butter cups and caramels, who really cares?! I'm sure they'll still be yummy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

3 Big Girls!

Faith had her 1 year well-baby appointment on Monday. Bob went into work late so I didn't have to take all the kids, which was really nice. Bethesda has actually moved things around, and now they are seeing well-baby patients on a completely different floor, in a separate area. This area had bigger rooms than the regular pediatric rooms, so we would have fit better, had we all gone!

We again saw Faith's regular doctor, which was nice. She knows us, and in fact, she told me that when she saw our name on her list of patients, she was excited to see us again! She said she tells everyone about this family with 7 kids, where the kids sit quietly in the office, taking turns giving the little ones snacks, LOL. Faith has plumped up to 18 pounds, 7 ounces, which is the 9th percentile! The doctor was happy about this, but she said usually babies lose a little bit in percentile between 9 months and a year. I said that was probably because many babies are just learning to crawl around then, so they become more active, whereas Faith has been crawling since 5 months, and walking for 6 weeks. She had her big fall off the charts back at her 6th month check-up--after she started crawling and being more active! Plus, now Faith is eating all table food and enjoying it much more than baby food. I can't remember exactly how long she was, but she was in something like the 43rd percentile for that.

The doctor started asking all these questions about how I shop for food, and whether I make a ton of food ahead of time or what. I told her how we shop at the commissary every 6 weeks, with stops at Sams, Wegmans, and local grocery stores in between for fresh produce, milk, and sale stuff. Since I had just gone to the commissary last week, I told her how Thursday afternoon I had cut up 2 round roasts in chunks for burgundy beef, cut up some meat in strips for stir-fries and put them in marinade, cooked and cut up a ton of chicken for casseroles and soups, and browned a ton of ground beef for whatever. All that meat I froze, and now it's ready for me to just pull out to put in the crockpot or to deal with in the afternoon. Having the meat all ready to go really cuts down on meal prep time. Of course, the night before our trip I had to sit down and make a list of all the recipes I wanted to have over the course of the next 6 weeks, and make sure all the ingredients for those recipes were either in the pantry or on my commissary list, so it does take a little bit of planning. But I can't deal with making the whole meal ahead of time and freezing it right now. I'd run out of freezer space, for one thing. It would just be so much food! Plus, that seems like it would take too much time. Just preparing the meat is a good compromise! The doctor thought it was all a great idea, so that was nice. We had a nice visit, and it was even more pleasant because there were not 6 other little bodies in the room!

Grace is a big girl because we can officially say she is potty-trained! Yay! She got her toenails painted Tuesday. While this was not a big incentive for her to become potty-trained, like it was for Anna, she was certainly happy to have it done! I ran to Target on the way home from dropping the boys off at their co-op, and I bought a new bottle of nail polish in a lavender-y shade, since purple is Grace's favorite color. Anna got her toenails painted as well (did you even doubt?!). Grace is having no problems with pooping in the little potty. She hasn't made the switch to the big potty, but I don't even care, LOL. It's all better than washing out poopy panties! She is peeing on regular public toilets as well, so that is a big relief. I am still going to put her in a pull-up for Classical Conversations tomorrow, since that is such a long day for her, but she was dry for it all last week, and that was without going on the big potty, even though she tried a few times!

Monday, February 22, 2010

New Mixer

This is our new mixer! It's a Electrolux Magic Mill DLX Assistent. It has a huge capacity, which I have not even begun to test! I made a small recipe of 2 loaves of bread, and I've made a few big batches of cookie dough. Tonight I made mashed potatoes. I really, really like this mixer. It is different from a typical mixer, like my old KitchenAid. The motor is on the bottom, and the bowl itself is what spins. There is an arm that comes down into the bowl, with a round beater-thing on the end. Then there is a plastic scraper-thing that continually scrapes everything off the sides. I also have a dough hook that attaches in the same hole as the scraper, and also connects to the arm. Most expert DLX users seem to agree that you really don't need the dough hook. The other paddle-beater-thing is supposed to mimic hand-kneading and mixing, and it makes a really good quality bread. This mixer is made in Sweden, but apparently American bakers feel that bread can't be made without a dough hook, so they include one. There is also a smaller plastic bowl and a set of wire wisks for beating eggs.
You can see the scraper on the left and the beater thing on the right. I fix the beater thing however far away from the side I want it, usually pretty close, and then I can manually move it into the middle if I think there is something there that needs to be better incorporated into the dough, and the arm swings back to wherever I locked it.

On the first picture you can see that there are 2 knobs. The one on the left turns it on. I can either click it to just "on", or I can click it farther to the left and choose a time. I can set it to mix my bread dough for 8 minutes, for example, and then it shuts off. The knob on the right is a power knob, so I can just crank up the power if it seems like it is struggling. I guess this is what you use when you are making 12 loaves of whole wheat bread, or some other huge thing. I certainly haven't needed any extra power for the little things I have done--things which totally strained the motor on my KitchenAid!

You can buy a ton of attachments for this thing--grain flaker, sausage-extruder, meat grinder, grain mill, pasta maker, blender, grater, cookie press, etc. Here is a youtube link for a demonstration video. This first part is 9 minutes long and shows most of the attachments. It's really cool how a lot of them hook into the machine--you turn the machine on its side! Here is the link for the second part of the demo video, which is only 5 minutes long.
So hopefully this appliance will last us a very long time!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Busy, Busy!

Well, you can tell our sno-cation is over by the sad lack of blogging. Yes, we are back to real life here. This past week was the last week of basketball for both Nathan and Luke. Nathan has been playing on a jr. high team from a Christian homeschool co-op. Several friends from our other co-ops were also on the team, and Nathan has had a really fun season with them. They played in their end-of-season tournament, so they had games Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Then they also played in a little tournament at a near-by Christian school on Saturday. The host school played the weakest team (and won handily) at 9:30. Then Nathan's team played another homeschool team at 10:45. Nathan's team lost to this team twice during the regular season in 2 close games, but they were able to beat this team on Wednesday in the first of their playoff games. So the other team was out for blood. It was a really fast-paced and close game, but Nathan's team lost. So then Nathan's team turned around and played the other losing team at 12:00! Even though the other team really was a weaker game, the score was closer than you might think because everyone was tired! Plus, Nathan's coach let all the non-starters play most of the game because he's a really nice guy who is not out to blow other teams away. The host team played the team that beat Nathan at 1:15--and guess what? They won by a huge margin! The other team was exhausted from the game against Nathan's team, and they didn't have many subs at all. The whole thing was a little rigged! Still, a fun day of basketball. I enjoyed visiting with several of the other moms, including one from the losing team, who we used to go to church with.

Luke had his last Upward basketball game on Saturday afternoon at 3:00. He is on a good team, coached by the dad of someone in our co-op. His team was undefeated! (Not that that matters in Upward, LOL) He definitely enjoyed all the winning, and he was a big part of his team's success. He was very faithful to practice his shots outside--at least until the hoop was surrounded by many feet of snow.

Grace has been progressing very well with her potty-training, I am pleased to announce. She has not had an accident for several days. Although she still does not like to use public toilets, she can hold it a really, really long time, so she hasn't even gone in her pull-up when we've been out. I put her in a pull-up when we went to the commissary Wednesday (we finally did have to stock up again after all our snow storms!), for all the basketball games, and for church today. Otherwise she's been in underwear. She is still resistant to pooping on the potty, but lately she was holding it in as opposed to going in her underwear. Now that obviously is not a workable long-term plan either, so I was very thrilled when she said she had to go last night and pooped on the potty with me not promting her. Hopefully this will get more comfortable for her, and we won't be dealing with big constipation issues. Those are no fun!

Another big project of the past week has been preparing for a house appraisal. We decided to try to refinance, since we locked in a great rate. Also, we got our tax assessment for our house, which was a ridiculous amount. We figured, even if our house doesn't appraise for what it needs to, then we will show our appraisal to the county, and they will have to lower our assessment! We can't lose! LOL, we really would like to refinance, so we'll see what happens. Bob got busy finishing up a bunch of these little projects around the house, and the rest of us cleaned. The dining room, in particular, was still an absolute mess from all the December new carpet/tile/paint work. It got easy to just throw every loose end thing from around the rest of the house in the dining room on top of all the stuff that never got moved back to wherever it came from, and it all looked pretty messy. When Bob talked to the appraisers last week, they said they were going to come oout next Saturday. They were running behind because of all the snow, but that didn't leave us enough time before our rate lock ran out. So then they said they would work up in Monday. But yesterday afternoon they called right after I left to go too a baby shower and said they were going to come today, Sunday, between 8:00 and 10:45!! Ack! Bob and I stayed up VERY late last night finishing up the cleaning, and for Bob, finishing up some painting. The good news is that we had small group over at our house right after church, and the house has never looked cleaner! The appraisers actually called at 7:30 this morning to say they were on their way. They arrived at 8:00, before the kids even had a chance to mess things up! Anna and Grace were still asleep, in fact. I just opened their door, and they slumbered through the whole thing, LOL. So we don't know how we did, but at least the house is clean.

One thing that put a very somber spin on this whole week was a phone call I got on Wednesday afternoon as I was taking Nathan to one of his basketball games. It was my friend Christine from church. She has 2 little girls, and back in May 2007, before the birth of her first daughter, she came over to talk about labor and delivery. Since then, we've become good friends. Her 2 daughters are about the same ages as Grace and Faith. Two weeks ago, right as the first blizzard was starting, she was in terrible abdominal pain. Another friend from church, who is an ER doctor took her to the ER while her husband stayed with the girls. It turned out that she had a large ovarian cyst, which had ruptured. She had immediate surgery, and the doctors couldn't save the ovary. She got the biopsy report on the ovarian cyst on Wednesday, and it was cancerous, so she has ovarian cancer. This was a tremendous shock to everyone, including her doctor. She has had 2 appointments with oncologists this weekend, and she is facing major abdominal surgery next week, where they move all the organs around to see exactly where if anywhere the cancer has spread, and where they want to do a complete hysterectomy. Then she will start chemo. If the cancer is an early stage, then they will give her maybe 2 weeks to recover from the surgery, although it is going to be so major that she won't be able to lift anything for 6 weeks. If it is more serious, then they will start chemo immediately, and they will do the chemo every week, instead of every 3 weeks. I just can't imagine how dreadful this is going to be. We are all praying fervently that the cancer is first stage and hasn't spread. But no matter what, she is going to feel so terrible for so long, and it is going to be so hard for her and her beautiful girls. Please pray for Christine, Jeremy, Anna, and Bethan. Life can change in such an instant.

Friday, February 12, 2010


This has been such a fun week! Today is the first day since last Friday that Bob had to go to work. Let me just say that is absolutely unprecedented! The federal government has just been shut down, and so we have had a wonderful, relaxing week here at home. Bob has been able to get a lot of little projects done around the house, including repainting our bedroom. He went to work today, but don't worry--Monday is Presidents' Day, so he'll have a 3 day weekend to recuperate from this one day of work, LOL.

We managed to do a week of school last week. No snow days here! Well, that's not totally true. We did do a little bit less some days, so the boys could go out before and after lunch. Still, we got a lot accomplished. As my friend Christine said, we were actually "homeschooling" this past week, instead of running around to our 2 different co-ops! Very nice! It was so refreshing not to have anywhere to go. Many board games were also played, and much time was spent outside.

Bob and I did sneak out to Walmart and Sams on Tuesday to get more milk before the second storm hit, but other than that, we have been homebound. Of course, now that the snow is over, I am ready to be out and about again, LOL. Bible study was canceled tonight because the L's don't have anywhere for anyone to park at their house. I was looking forward to conversation with other people not in my immediate family!

Our big project during this time at home has been potty-training Grace. We started this back in October, but then she got sick and was totally not interested after she got better. Being gone 2 days a week was not conducive to working with her on it, plus I was totally stressed out with the tin whistle/CC tutoring/teaching the Egypt unit at TNT before Christmas that I could hardly think straight, much less worry about potty-training. So we just let that go. In the new year, she has gone on the big potty sometimes, but never on her own accord.

Well, once the second snowstorm started, and I realized CC would be canceled on Thursday, I knew immediately that this was our window of opportunity! We put Grace in panties on Tuesday, and she did really well, even pooping on the little potty 2 times (first time for that particular accomplishment, woo-hoo!). Wednesday she did a little worse, having a few pee accidents and one very messy poop accident, where I eventually just put her in the shower and hosed off her legs, LOL. (This was not a popular decision.) Thursday was a terrible day, where she had multiple accidents of both kinds, and I was very frustrated with her. The boys were tired of it as well, and they suggested we just put her back in diapers. Bob pointed out that it would be awkward explaining the diapers to Grace's future husband, so we should just push on and help her get rid of them, LOL. I am happy to report that today has been a much better day, with no accidents of either kind. Yay! Maybe we have turned a corner. I can only hope so.

After potty-training Anna, I was ready to say definitively that girls were much easier to potty-train than boys, but now I can only say that--some people are harder than others. And Grace is one of those, LOL. That's the good thing about having multiple children--whenever you think that you've figured out something, another one comes along and shows you that you really don't know what you're talking about! Keeps one humble . . .

Monday, February 08, 2010

Happy First Birthday, Faith!

I can't believe it's been a year since we were rushing to Bethesda, barely making it in time for her delivery! I have been soooo glad I'm not waiting to go into labor this time this year, with all the snow! I don't think we would have made it!
We had cake and ice cream after dinner tonight. No special cake--just a plain old 9x13 with pink frosting. Well, it was a "funfetti" cake, which always brings back fun memories! Amy and I used to always make funfetti cupcakes in college. Yum!
Faith is such a joy to have in our family! She is so sweet, and she is definitely adored by all her siblings. I was just thinking a few days ago how fortunate she is to have so many people who love her! Wherever her older brothers and sisters are, that is right where she wants to be. Now that she can climb stools with ease, she pretty much IS wherever they are!

Here we are--the 2 birthday girls! I don't mind sharing a pink cake with such a cutie!

Best Birthday Ever!!

I had such a great birthday yesterday! Several people on my Facebook page asked if I had enjoyed all the snow they ordered for me, and the answer is definitely "Yes"!! I am still a Colorado girl, and I really miss the winters out there!

Bob and I went cross-country skiing after breakfast around our neighborhood, and we had such a great time! A plow had come and plowed one path down each road, but he couldn't get all the way down to the pavement. This meant the road was like a perfect groomed trail! The boys couldn't believe we had skis down in our basement all this time, and they never knew about it. I think it always messes with them a bit to realize that we had a thriving life, with varied interests, before any of them came about, LOL.

I did bundle Faith up this time and take her out. As you can see from this picture, she was not impressed.
But we kept pulling her around, stopping to talk to several of our neighbors, and eventually I noticed her head dropping more and more. Yes, she fell asleep out there! It must not have been that bad, LOL. She looked like a little princess, being pulled around in her baby sled. So cute!

The boys sledded and played a while, but we told them that in order for us to get over to the McC's house, where we had planned to watch the Super Bowl, the driveway had to be cleared. This was very motivating, but as you can see from the picture, they had a lot of work ahead of them! The snowplow came back to our street, and after he was pretty much done with the street and cul-de-sac, he came to our house and plowed the end of the driveway, where it meets the street. This was an immense amount of snow by itself, and I am sure he saved us an hour of shoveling! We were very thankful!

So we were housebound no longer, and we were able to go to the McC's house, where we had a very fun time. Christine even baked a cake--of course, it was a football one, but still! There were supposed to be 2 other families there, but they live in a more rural area, and there was no way they could get there. If they had come, however, there would have been 26 kids and 8 adults. We're a fertile bunch, LOL.

All in all, an absolutely wonderful birthday!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Fun in the Snow!

Here are 2 little snow bunnies! Grace actually didn't spend too much time outside. She didn't like floundering around in the snow, and she didn't want to sled, so . . . I didn't bother getting Faith all dressed up at all. I knew she wouldn't like it, and she could have gotten lost in it!
Lots of sledding was done. Here is Anna with Bob. There should be snow for plenty more days of sledding! The boys went out in the morning, after lunch, and some went out again before dinner. I was SOOO glad the dryer was hooked up and working so I could pop everything in the dryer between trips outside! All their stuff was absolutely dripping each time they came in!

I dug out my cross-country skis from the basement. We got them when we lived in Colorado, and we used to really enjoy skiing together! There was just too much snow for me, though. It wasn't hard enough on top, and I just kept sinking down. Tomorrow it will probably be better, when it's not so fresh. It was fun though! Bob and I actually talked about both of us going out tonight after dinner. But then we sat down on the couch and realized we were both totally exhausted from all the shoveling, and there is no way on earth we would be able to cross-country ski at all tonight! Maybe tomorrow!

Down at the end of the cul-de-sac, on the hill where the boys sled, there are 4-5 evergreen trees. The boys discovered that the snow on the branches made the branches bow down to the ground, so they could hide under there. They called these "tree-pees". Nathan and Luke shared the biggest one, and then Caleb, Jonathan, and Anna each had their own. The picture above is of Nathan and Luke's. Can you see them peeking out of the bottom? Here is a closer look at them:

We're all looking forward to more fun tomorrow! So far our electricity has stayed on, although the L's just lost theirs not too long ago. We had lots of hot chocolate, and I baked chocolate chip cookies as well! What a fun day!

Winter Wonderland

The snow started sticking around 2:00 yesterday afternoon. It accumulated very slowly, however, because the temperature was still around 38 degrees. It was such wet, heavy snow. I kept up with the shoveling because I knew it would be crazy if I didn't. Bob and I shoveled for the last time around 11:00 PM. We also shoveled off the deck, or most of it anyway--we left intact the area around our yardstick so we could keep track of how much snow we got. (But then I later read that you are SUPPOSED to keep track accurately by measuring every 6 hours, then clearing away the snow and starting over. This prevents compaction of the snow on the bottom. Oh well.) When we cleared the deck, we shoveled off around 12 inches.

It continued to snow all through the night at a rate of 1-3 inches per hour. It was really coming down! It snowed pretty steadily all day long as well. In the end, we got over 30 inches. Here is what our street looked like before lunch. I'm standing in the cul-de-sac looking up the street towards our house. The second big tree on the right is ours.

Here are our vans. I was very glad they were in the driveway! We joked that the big van looks like one of those vans for handicapped people, where you can stand up inside! As you can see from the driveway, we pretty much gave up on shoveling it. There was at least 12 more inches of snow in the driveway this morning, and it was so tiring trying to shovel it all! It was so heavy! Finally we did the walkway up to the front door, and that was a big enough undertaking. We ended up just shoveling off the top layer of snow off most of the driveway and calling it a day.

Our mailbox looks like Marge Simpson in her old age, LOL. The snow comes all the way up to the box part.
Here is a picture of the deck, out our back door. You can kind of see the line where we shoveled to last night. Our yardstick is just to the right of this picture. You can't even really see it anymore. It's almost totally buried.

This is looking across the street at our neighbors' house. You can see the damage this storm did to their trees with all the wet, heavy snow. The tree in their front yard just sort of collapsed. Then the tree in their side yard fell forward, but I think it may spring back. Then one of their neighbors' trees fell against the side of their house. We definitely have some tree damage in the back yard, including one tree which looks like it is just being held up by another tree. Several large branches are down too. I guess we'll deal with that after some of this melts! We can hardly get around to the backyard now, without floudering around in thigh-deep snow!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Storm Preparations

We are all settled in here at home, waiting to be snowed in. Let's see if this winter storm actually lives up to all the hype! Forecasters are predicting massive amounts of snow. So far we have about 5 inches, I would say, although about an inch of that is left over from the last snow. I've been keeping up with the forecast on the Capitol Weather Gang site , where they are predicting snowfall of 1-3 inches an hour for the night. To get ready for all this expected snow, we of course made some preparations last week.

1. I went to Sams and Walmart on Tuesday. Actually, this was just a happy coincidence, because Luke, Caleb, and Jonathan were at co-op, and Nathan was at home with the girls, so it was a good time to do my regularly scheduled shopping. It just seems like I was really organized and avoided all the crowds! Of course, I had to go BACK to Walmart Thursday, however. This was because Wednesday night Caleb, God bless him, called down while getting ready for bed to announce that he was out of Zyrtec. I told him we should have several more bottles in the closet in his bathroom because the last time I bought some, I bought like 6 bottles. Nope--those were all gone. I asked if ALL the medicine in the last bottle was also gone. Yep--totally empty. Grrrr. I was quite frustrated. I asked rather pointed questions about how the Zyrtec fairy was supposed to know to bring us more Zyrtec if he never. told. anyone. he was running out of bottles. Good grief. So anyhow I had to brave crazy Walmart crowds of people getting bread so I could get Zyrtec! Six more bottles!

2. I cleaned out one side of the garage so we could move my van inside. We haven't had my van inside since um . . . late spring? Early summer? A long time, anyhow. The last time we had a huge snowfall, when we were in PA, we had my van in the driveway, Bob's van in the street where we usually park the big van, and we were of course in the big van. Bob's van was totally buried from the snowplow, and it took about a week before we could get it out. So I decided that this time we would put my van in the garage so we would have room in the driveway for both Bob's van and the big van. Plus, this means less driveway to shovel. The big van takes up a lot of driveway real estate!

3. I did 6 loads of laundry, and we found all the flashlights. So we have clean clothes, plus light to see by when putting them on, in case of a power outage. Since this snow is so very wet and heavy, I wouldn't be surprised if that did happen. Our lights have flickered a few times, but they stayed on so far. The boys think that would be very exciting, but I think it would get cold in here! Plus, I like hot food.

Hmmmm . . . I guess that's all we've done. I baked banana bread, and Bob and I made sure to lay in plenty of ice cream supplies when we were out Wednesday night (we had a romantic date at Home Depot). So we're definitely set. The kids have all already been out playing outside, and they are looking forward to a weekend of snowy fun! The last time it snowed, I mentioned on my Facebook page that I was getting out the beach towels to deal with all the wet mess. A friend of mine who lives in Colorado said that she puts down an old plastic lined tablecloth on the floor with the plastic side down. I thought that was a great idea! We actually have an old tablecloth like that, which we use for picnics when the ground is wet. So I have brought that in, and it is in full use now. Keep the snow coming! We're ready!

P.S. If you have read this far, then let me fill you in on what we decided about the assignment. After much angst and going back and forth, we decided we would stay here and not move. Bob resubmitted his paperwork, faxing it is twice just to make sure. Nathan asked, "If the papers come back again, then will we move?" LOL, I guess that would for sure be a clear sign!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Did God just say, "No"?!?

So Bob put in his papers to retire back on Jan. 10, and his work told him he would retire on Aug. 1 of this year. We've been talking about possible jobs, and I've figured out roughly how homeschooling is going to work next year. But then last week Bob started getting some puzzling calls from USJFCOM down in Suffolk--the place they gave us orders to. One guy left a message saying he was our sponsor, and another Col. called 3 times, trying to "nail down when we'd be getting there". Hmmm . . . did they not get the memo? Bob is retiring!

But then Bob called AFPC, and they wanted to know why Bob hadn't responded to their assignment notification email, which they sent to him on 21 Jan. Well, Bob never received any such email, and he also told them that he had already submitted his papers. It turns out that doesn't matter. He has to respond to this assignment notification email by sending in his paperwork to AFPC--THAT is how you start the retirement process. And then it also turns out that when the people at Bob's work updated Bob's unclassified email address back in May, they miss-spelled our last name. They put 2 L's in it, next to each other, which definitely doesn't jump out as a mis-spelling. Just looks sort of blurry. So who knows how many other unclassified emails he has been missing over the past several months?!

Anyhow, the gist of it is that he didn't receive the email, and as far as AFPC cares, we are scheduled to report down in Suffolk on May 31. We have until tomorrow to decide (again) if Bob is going to put in his papers. Ack! We already made this decision! But now it seems that God has batted this back into our laps. Is he saying, "Try again--you picked the wrong option"?! Humanly speaking, there don't seem to be many pluses about moving. All the hassle, but it's only a few hours away. No new culture or different scenery. Farther from my parents, Amy, and Bob's family. No homeschool network. No church family. No close friends.

So why does it keep coming back again and again? What on earth? We just don't know. And if we don't go, are we really screwing up? I had just told my friend Christine that I didn't want to homeschool through jr. high/high school by myself (as we discussed this new co-op we were going to do together)--and now I would be, since it takes about a year to get involved and even to see what options would work for our family in a new place. So is this going to be a big testing time? Ack! At this point, I really would much rather stay here. I'm excited about this co-op next year (I was planning on blogging about it after a planning meeting next Sunday, but maybe it will be a moot point). The boys are worried about not being able to play sports (or, in Luke's case, the problem of playing sports with no one they know, LOL). But even he came and said that although he definitely doesn't want to move, he can't think of a good reason not to. And thats the rub--we want to be where God wants us to be, believing that he knows best for our family. But is he using this admittedly weird set of circumstances to tell us to go? Other than the circumstances, there really is not any other thing drawing us down there. None at all. So if we don't go, are we being disobedient? I just don't know. We are praying for wisdom and clear direction--but maybe God has already given that? I just don't know.