Saturday, December 31, 2005

Insert favorite rainy day quote here

Yup, it's raining here. Rained all day yesterday and is still raining. Our backyard is waterlogged and the patio has standing water from about 4 feet out the back door, all the way out into the yard. Glad we don't own this house.

Brian has already written about our day yesterday, so I'm not going to repeat it. I will say I was not impressed with Benihana and am missing our old haunt in Omaha, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse. We'll have to keep looking for good hibachi/teppanyaki here, I guess. And as far as my impression of The Ringer, it was mildly entertaining. Not worth a full-price admission, probably worth a rental.

The boys get to brave the rain for today's Raiders/Giants game in Oakland. According to the forecast at Weather Underground, the rain may stop before or at least during the game. So maybe they won't get soaked. They're taking along our Mickey ponchos from one of our long-ago Disney World trips, just in case. That's about as close as we come to having rain gear in this house.

Not sure what the girls and I will do for fun this afternoon. We'll come up with something.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

What's on my mind

As I tried to think of something to write about tonight, the only thing that really comes to mind is this wonderful birthday card Noah received today. Oh, it was accompanied by gifts, but for me, the card outshined them all. You see, this card was from his best friend back in Nebraska. Not only had he taken the time to remember Noah's birthday, he took the time to sign the card with a personal note. "Wish you could still be here. Love, Logan" It took every ounce of self-control I had to not burst out in tears when I read that. Ok, so I'm sitting here crying as I type this. Is there any better gift than to know you are loved and missed? I am so glad Noah has Logan for a friend, and that they are not letting the miles separate them in any other way than physically.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Spit and polish(ed)

Today Emily and I were treated to manicures and pedicures at a day spa in Napa. Santa left us each gift certificates in our stocking, and we wasted no time in getting appointments. There is nothing like a good foot/hand massage. Like tickling, it's just not something you can do to yourself. I wish I could just set up regular appointments for my hands and feet (oh heck, I wouldn't mind an all-over rubdown as well!).

Plans are shaping up for the birthday weekend. Right now, it looks like we'll be spending Friday in Sacramento... shopping, dining, perhaps seeing a movie and/or doing a little sightseeing. Then on Saturday, Brian and the boys will be taking in the Oakland Raiders/NY Giants game. Or it may just be Brian and Noah. Joel keeps changing his mind. Whoever stays behind with me will get to do something fun here around home. Noah is excited because they are going to ride the BART to the stadium. We drive past a BART station every time we go to and from church, and he has always been interested in it. Maybe I'll get a chance to ride the BART before we leave CA, too.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The early bird catches the worm

Well, not really worms, but then I'm not a bird, either! I took advantage of my early-morning nature to head to the base exchange for its 8 a.m. post-Christmas opening this morning. I was not unrewarded. I left with 4 new Hallmark ornaments, 2 boxes of Christmas cards for next year (I wish Christmas was next week, so I could send them out now), and 8 rolls of Hallmark Christmas paper. I love the Hallmark wrapping paper... so easy to cut. I also scored 2 more sweet finds:

This Mary Engelbreit Santa

and this Lenox Christmas bell:

It's been a very nice day with the kids. They've been playing with their new things. Joel says his favorite gifts were his Leapster and the Harry Potter Lego set (the Graveyard Duel). I had a great time helping him put the Lego stuff together. I could seriously get hooked on that stuff! Halle's favorites were her Leapster and Easy Bake Oven. Noah liked his Batcave and Batman figures, plus the ESPN Shot Block basketball set. And Emily... well, she said her IHome was "sweet." That's a real compliment coming from her.

Now we need to prepare for Emily and Noah's birthdays (both on Friday). We're still scratching our heads about deciding what we're going to do.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas Eve meme

Seems like just about everyone is doing this meme, and since I don't have much else to write about today, figured I'd jump in!

1. Hot Chocolate or apple cider? Hot chocolate (especially if it's Starbuck's Peppermint Hot Chocolate!)

2. Turkey or Ham? For Christmas dinner? Neither. I usually make lasagna, although this year it will be manicotti.

3. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree? Fake and prelit. No more fights putting on the lights!! We tried real a few times, but Brian couldn't decorate without breaking out into a rash.

4. Decorations on the outside of your house? Just a simple prelit greenery swag over the front door.

5. Snowball fights or sleddin'? Neither. I make the hot chocolate and warm socks for those people who do.

6. Do you enjoy going downtown shopping? Sometimes

7. Favorite Christmas song? Too many to name

8. How do you feel about Christmas movies? Bring 'em on!

10. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? Before Thanksgiving.

1i. Stockings before or after presents? Before - as soon as we wake up!

12. Carolers, do you or do you not watch and listen to them? Do people really do that anymore? I'd listen if they did. Better yet, I'd go do it if I had someone to do it with!

13. Go to someone else's house or they come to you? Sometimes we get to spend time with friends at our house or theirs, but usually it is just us.

14. Do you read the Christmas Story? If so when? We listen to Linus read it.

15. What do you do after presents and dinner? Play.

16. What is your favorite holiday smell? Peppermint

17. Ice skating or walking around the mall? The mall.

18. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day? The kids usually get to open one thing on Christmas Eve.

19. Favorite Christmas memory? Any good memory is a favorite.

20. Favorite Part about winter? Emily and Noah's birthdays, just 5 days after Christmas

21. Ever been kissed under mistletoe? No, we've never had mistletoe at our house.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The day approaches

Brian is out finishing his shopping. We're waiting for him to get home so we can all go see Cheaper By the Dozen 2. Sometime either before or after the movie, we want to get haircuts for the boys. Then it will be a typical evening here at home, with a little bit of holiday preparation thrown in. We haven't wrapped the bulk of the kids' gifts yet, so we still have that left to do. Then I need to make a couple of batches of fudge to take to a Christmas Eve gathering at the home of Brian's boss/partner. I will also be making those stuffed mushrooms I made last weekend, but that is a "do the prep work just before leaving/bake them when you get there" kind of thing.

This will be one of the first Christmases on a Sunday that I can remember. It will be interesting to see how it goes, considering my kids aren't the "wake-up-Mom-and-Dad-at-an-ungodly-hour" kind of kids. Most Christmases, I sit around waiting for them to wake up! But this Sunday, we'll have to make sure everyone is up, presents are opened, and everyone is ready to leave the house by 9:15 so we can make the 35-minute drive to church. Should make for some {interesting} video footage. (Donna, notice the brackets?) I wonder if I should hide the video camera....

No White Christmas for us here... The song is more like "I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas." Those of you with white stuff, enjoy it for us.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A little something extra

No, this isn't a good something extra, at least not for someone out there who wanted to send something to a friend. Let me 'splain. Last Wednesday, I took 3 wrapped gifts to the UPS Store located so conveniently a mile from my house. I filled out the paperwork to have these 3 gifts packed and shipped to my best friend's home in Nebraska. Today I received an email from her, telling me that the package arrived, but that there were *4* gifts in the box. In addition to what I intended to send her, lying on top of everything else in the box was a mailing tube with an art print in it. Handwritten on the outside of the tube: "To Roy and Jill---From Jasmine, Mikki, Sherry & Me." Now I don't know who Jasmine, Mikki, Sherry, and me are, but I can only bet they would not be too happy to know that Roy and Jill did not receive their art print. I made 2 different phone calls to the store today and still haven't gotten the situation cleared up. Tomorrow I am taking the boys for a haircut just a couple of storefronts down from the UPS place, so I will try to handle it face to face. I think I'll be doing my own packing for now and using the USPS. My friend's package she sent here cost less to send and got here faster.


When I take the time to hunt down the USB cable to the camera (ok, I doubt I really have to hunt; it's probably in the camera bag), I'll upload a picture of the gingerbread house that Brian and the 3 youngest kids made last night. They did a great job. Now the kids are counting the days till they can demolish eat it.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Sights and sounds of the season

As I sit here, I can hear Brian and Emily laughing as they play PlayStation together. The 3 youngest have been engaged in various activities; earlier, I could hear them singing Away in a Manger together. Noah came and asked me to play it on the piano and I had to transpose it downward 3 steps in order for him to sing it. He's not quite 10, but he is already losing that "boy choir" voice.

Behind me in Emily's room, I can hear Summer giving her exercise wheel a workout. Campbell is lounging in the living room watching all the various goings-on with a somewhat interested gaze.

The house is still relatively clean, thanks to everyone's hard work over the weekend. It makes for a peaceful night. No silent nights in this house, but all is calm and bright.


Yesterday morning's Christmas program went pretty well. There were a few glitches (such as a couple of praise team altos .... who shall remain nameless .... not being able to see their music in the dark and having to hum/mumble (humble?) a few words of Mary Did You Know?), but as Jarrod and Rick put it, the cute factor of the preschoolers helped to obscure those foibles. Joel even had a little featured spot on one song, being that he is just about the only 5-year-old who can snap his fingers like a pro. He helped out the Harbour Lights Preschoolers on The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy.

My favorite parts yesterday were Jarrod's telling of the story in simple, modern language. It was very powerful. And Tom's portrayal of Simeon was moving, as well.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Work and play

You know the saying, "All work and no play make Jack (Jill) a dull boy (girl)?" Suffice it to say that life here has been anything but dull. There was plenty of work over the past couple of days, but it culminated in an evening of fun here at the old homestead.

Yesterday was spent with schoolwork, shopping, and cooking (snickerdoodles, peppermint treats, and chocolate peppermint fudge). Today I was out and about at 9, getting my hair cut and colored, then came home and made more fudge, this time the regular chocolate version with walnuts. Did some cleaning and picking up, then I had to run to the store again while Brian did his bit of cleaning on the house. By the time I got back, it was time to make crockpot cocoa and start getting the treats laid out on the trays. I set out some cheese and Ritz crackers and made stuffed mushrooms. (These mushrooms are unbelievably easy to make.... take some baby portabellas, remove the stems, wash & dry, and spoon in some Philly Cream Cheese with Chives and Onion. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.)

The company started arriving right on time. We spent the first hour or so just shootin' the breeze and snacking a bit. Then we got down to the serious business of fun. We were able to play 2 games of Apples to Apples before it was time for Rick and Virginia, Jarrod and Lauren, and Doug, Melody, and Suzy to make their 45-minute or so drive back to their homes. There was much laughter.... I'm still chuckling that hairball was chosen as the best answer for sexy. Jim, do you think that beats Meredith's mischievous mold choice for weirdest/funniest winning answer?

2 of the families that were originally coming weren't able to make it tonight. But I have plates of goodies for them.... So although they missed out on the fun, they still get something yummy.

Now for some sleep. Tomorrow is our Christmas program at church, and I'm "on." Wouldn't do for me to be yawning up front!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wherein things that are supposed to work, do

Yep, that's right. The dishwasher is operational once more. It was another blown fuse in the dishwasher and the repairman (different guy than last time) said he didn't know if it was the same one or not. He said if it was, we could have just gotten a bad fuse. Or.... there is a deeper problem with the dishwasher. Well, as long as it holds out past all the baking tomorrow. I'm thankful I don't have to pay for the repairs!

A few weeks ago, we bought a new steam cleaner. Today was its inaugural use. I cleaned the floor in Emily's room and in our living/dining room. It wasn't fast work, by any means... but it wasn't hard, either. I'm pleased with the results. I still need to do the other 4 bedrooms, but there's no big hurry.

I managed to get all but a few of our Christmas letters addressed today. I'll finish the rest tonight or in the morning, then tomorrow I'll take them to the post office. Tomorrow will also be baking day. I haven't decided everything I'll make yet, but snickerdoodles and peppermint rice krispie snacks are 2 definite treats.

Still humming that AWB song, but my stress level is much lower. Funny, I have more people coming Saturday night than I originally thought (12 instead of 4), but that just makes things more exciting, not more stressful. I'm weird that way.

I got work, work to do...

If you recognize the song lyric, please realize I am not really that old. I had an older brother who liked Average White Band. I think that song and Pick Up the Pieces are probably the only 2 songs I would recognize. I think the latter was often played at the roller rink when I was in 5th or 6th grade.

But back to the post title. I do have work to do, trying to get ready for a little gathering here this weekend. Of the 6 couples/families we invited, 2 couples are coming and 1 family has not given me their answer yet. So it could be a very small gathering, or it could be a bit bigger, given that the one family is a family of 7. Anyhow, all the daily stuff (school and mounds of laundry) keeps me from attacking the special stuff I want to do. It's frustrating. Add to that the fact that the dishwasher went on the fritz again... But Sears is coming out in the morning to look at it again. Seems like the same thing, which was a blown fuse inside the dishwasher. Makes me wonder what is causing it to blow and if it will just blow again if the technician replaces it. I need a functioning dishwasher this weekend. It's no fun using extra dishes and having to wash by hand. So once he gets it working, I can spend Friday baking cookies and making treats.

We are nearly done with our shopping. I thought we were done, but an inventory done last night revealed that the boys could use 1 or 2 more things. I need to find a couple of things for Brian as well. Hopefully I can do that by early next week.

For now, I've got sleep, sleep to do.....

Monday, December 12, 2005

Is someone really listening?

I don't know if any of you have heard my cable TV rant, but someone out there must have heard... or someone else who thinks a whole lot like me was able to get through to the cable companies. Check out this article. By spring, we might be able to subscribe to "family-friendly" tiers, or use "a la carte" pricing, something I have often said we needed. No word on the costs, yet. But if the options are right... maybe our family will enter the cable world again.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

He's not a tame lion

Oh. My. Word. That had to be one of the best movies we've seen this year! The kids were all fantastic in their roles... they really seemed like brothers and sisters. Liam Neeson was awesome as the voice of Aslan. When I think of some of Christ's words now, that is the voice I hear speaking. Gentle, yet commanding. Warm, inviting, but with authority. Gives me shivers (in a good way!)

We have the BBC version of this movie, but I know we'll be adding this new one when it is released on DVD. The special effects were so well done, the scenery was amazing, and the acting was superb. Yes, there were a few changes from the book, but on the whole, it was fairly faithful. The kids are already asking for new movies of the next books. And my husband, who has never read any of them, is ready to start now.

If you weren't planning on seeing it, GO. If you were planning, but haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for???

Friday, December 09, 2005

Further up and further in

Well, we were supposed to be treated to a free showing of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on base last night, but the base theater was already full to capacity 1 hour before the show was to begin, so we missed out. After we got home, I went to Fandango's site to get us tickets for a show today. The kids and I are meeting hubby at a local theater in a little over an hour from now. We are so ready.

Tomorrow, we'll be going to Sacramento to see a Christmas musical. I've been looking forward to this for about a month or so. I hope the kids enjoy it, too.


I was listening to Christmas music in the car the other day and realized I left something off my list of things I want to do before I die. I want to go on a sleigh ride... a real one, with a horse-drawn sleigh, lots of snow, and a big blanket to snuggle up under while riding out under the stars. Something like the one in Holiday Inn, my most favorite Christmas movie of all times.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Seven Sevens and a reason to celebrate

I was tagged by Carrie to do this meme:

1. Seven things to do before I die:-
Settle down near friends
Get to a healthy weight
See all my children grown and serving God
See a Broadway musical on Broadway
Grow old with my husband
Become a grandma
Mentor young women at church

2. Seven things I cannot do:-
Stop singing
Stop reading
Stop checking my email
Drive a stick shift
Sleep late
Play Spades or other bidding card games
Clean house as well as my husband

3. Seven things that attract me to my husband:
He has a great sense of humor and loves to laugh with me.
He is thoughtful of me and others.
He works hard to provide for our family and tells others that I work just as hard.
His smile
He puts up with my shortcomings, but encourages me to be my best.
He cleans house better than me.
****Not for public viewing****

4. Seven things I say most often:
Get off the computer.
I have to run to the store...
Turn that down!
Just a minute.
We need to start school.
Wake up, little Rosebud, wake up....
I love you.

5. Seven books (or series) I love:
The Chronicles of Narnia
To Kill a Mockingbird
Hinds' Feet on High Places
Lightning, Dean Koontz
Peculiar People, Richard Soule
Not My Will, Francena Arnold
The Bible

6. Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time):
Holiday Inn
Return to Me
Fools Rush In
Mr. Holland's Opus
Fiddler on the Roof
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
You've Got Mail (well, if I had it, I'd watch it)

7. Seven people I want to join in, too:
Grace (it would be a great beginning to your blog!!)

Oh, and that reason to celebrate??? Sears is coming to fix the dishwasher today!!! Those of us getting dishpan hands are quite thankful.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Musical memories

Many of the memories I carry around in my head have music associated with them in some way. Christmas memories are no different. I've been totally digging this XM station I found this past week. It plays "traditional" Christmas music, the stuff I grew up hearing as a child. Johnny Mathis, Ray Conniff, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Perry Como..... you get the picture. You can't imagine the peaceful feeling I get hearing these old songs. And believe me, I can use all the peace I can get! Christmas sure does change as one gets older.... I kinda miss the days when it was just a special time of year in which everyone was nice to everybody else and you might find a couple of hoped-for surprises under the tree. Now it just seems to be a time when the kids are waiting to see their wishlists fulfilled.


On a totally unrelated note: have I ever said how much I dislike my DSL connection and wireless router??? I don't know which is to blame for all the troubles we've had with our IP address resetting and the router ceasing to function, but I've about had it. Thankfully it is MY computer that has the DSL modem by it, so I have my access to the internet protected, but that just means until we get things fixed around here (the Linksys guy says we can replace our router since we only bought it this past spring... but we have to find the receipt first. Ack. I don't think that's happening), I'll have to share. Methinks we'll have to spring for the new router ourselves, if at all.

Twinkle twinkle little lights

One of my favorite things in the holiday season is to just sit and look at the Christmas tree after it is lit up and decorated. I love the look of a tree covered in white/clear lights. Emily keeps urging us to go multi-colored, but I really prefer the white ones. I grew up decorating my family's tree with multi-colored lights (remember those big bulbs that got hot and actually screwed in?) and certainly didn't mind them then, but when I started noticing the all-white trees, I was taken in, and knew that's what I wanted when I had my own tree. I do want to thank the person who invented pre-lit trees, though. Because of him/her, hubby and I were able to do away with one family tradition I wasn't sad to see go: the annual fight while stringing lights on the Christmas tree. Tree decorating is much less stressful now, mostly limited to keeping the kids from breaking ornaments as they help decorate. This year, the breakages were limited to the parents.... I mean, the parents were the only one who broke anything! I think we had a total of 3 mishaps. I dropped one ornament (thankfully not anything with great sentimental value), one had a broken piece when we unwrapped it from its bubble wrap in its box, and the star fell out of Minnie's hand when Brian was putting her on the tree (I tried to repair those last 2, and haven't checked to see if I was successful or not). If the family room floor had carpet instead of ceramic tile, we would have only had the last 2 mishaps.

The 3 youngest asked to sleep in the family room with the Christmas tree last night, so they are slumbering away in there. It is quite a peaceful scene, one that will probably be repeated several times before the tree is packed away after the holidays. I might just do it myself.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Getting into the groove

Last night's Art Fair was a lot of fun. Halle did quite well for her first time in the limelight. She did pause for a moment after the first couple of lines of her poem, but instead of getting flustered, she just giggled a moment, remembered her place, and continued on. She got a chuckle from the audience at that giggle and then a good burst of applause at the end. One of the high school girls later told me that Halle was just "so cute I wanted to hug her." Noah also did very well with his poem. I was worried he would mumble, but he didn't... and his last line was rewarded with the hoped-for laugh from the audience. There were several good performances last night; some violin duets, piano performances, a martial arts demonstration, and one 9th-grade boy did a couple of vocals that were quite good. He did a DC Talk song, What If I Stumble, and also Mary, Did You Know? There were also 2 small groups of girls who did some ASL performances, one to O Come All Ye Faithful and the other to Breath of Heaven. Music interpreted in ASL is beautiful to watch.

Plans for today are to do some chores around the house, then take the kids out shopping for their annual Christmas ornament. Once we get back from that, we'll put up the tree and decorate the house. Hopefully I'll have time to make some Christmas snacks as well.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Holiday hap'nins thus far

So far, today is shaping up to be rather productive. I've already made a batch of Crispy Peppermint Treats this morning. These are to take to today's setup for our homeschool group art fair and program time (which is tomorrow night). Noah and Halle are each reciting poems for the program time. I've worked with Noah on his (a short piece by Shel Silverstein), and will go over Halle's in a bit. She is doing a little poem I remember memorizing when I was around her age, called Mice. Do kids in school still memorize poems very much? I seem to remember doing it quite a bit when I was a kid.

No other plans for this weekend yet.... but next weekend we'll be going to see a Christmas musical in Sacramento. I'm looking forward to it!

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