Friday, December 29, 2006

Time sure flies

Wow... we're over halfway done with the trip, and this is the first time when the spirit and flesh were willing to sit and post at the same time! Christmas Day was quite rainy here, but it didn't stop us from riding a bit at the Magic Kingdom.

The next day, we gave ourselves permission to sleep in and recover from the redeye flight of the previous morning. Once we were up and about, we headed for Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, the new ride my thrill-seekers were hoping to ride (Expedition Everest) was having mechanical difficulties, so they didn't get to try it out. But we did all ride Dinosaur together and the 2 youngest and I were able to catch the new musical show about Finding Nemo. Because we got to the park rather late, the crowds were already picking up and making navigating difficult (not to mention making the lines longer), so we switched parks and went back to the Magic Kingdom again. We were meeting friends there for dinner later, anyway, so needed to go there eventually. After dinner, we rode rides together and then watched the 9pm fireworks show.

Wednesday morning saw us up bright and early and off to Epcot. We were able to meet up with our friends again and ride Soarin' and Test Track together. We did a bit more touring together until they had to leave for their dinner reservations. Here's a picture of us our friends took that day. Note the sweatshirts; we didn't need them too badly afer that day!

The crowds once again were getting thick and heavy by the afternoon and we left there to come back to the room for a bit. My feet were in agony and I was limping along pretty slowly; Brian threatened to get me a scooter for the next day. We wound up staying at the hotel for the rest of the night. I spent the better part of the evening in bed; Brian took the younger kids to the arcade, where they had a blast. They came back loaded down with whoopee cushions and stuffed animals.

Thursday was a much better day. My feet were feeling almost back to normal and walking was no longer a torturous procedure. We went to MGM-Studios and were there for the rope drop shortly before 8am. The crowds were very light. Brian and the big kids headed for the thrill rides (Tower of Terror and Rock 'n Roller Coaster) while I went to Muppetvision 3-D with Halle and Joel. There were about 30 people in the theater for our show. Afterwards, the 3 of us were able to reunite with our friends for a few more rides. Then we split up for a bit and met back at Prime Time Cafe for lunch. It was there that I learned that Emily lost her cell phone on the rollercoaster (never fear... a phone call to Lost and Found today revealed that it was recovered and we can pick it up at our convenience). Shortly after lunch, we decided to head back here for a rest and then off to Downtown Disney for dinner and shopping. While we were there, Emily discovered her room key/charge card was missing. Thankfully, all it took was a phone call to the front desk to get the card deactivated so that no one could make fraudulent charges to our account.

Today we were back at the Magic Kingdom. We got up early and went to the early opening for Disney hotel guests... 7am. Again, we split up; the little'uns and I went to Fantasyland and rode Snow White's Scary Adventures, Peter Pan's Flight, the carousel (twice), Dumbo, and saw Mickey's Philharmagic show. We had all that accomplished before the park opened to regular guests. We met up with the others and rode Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and then went to Frontierland for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. After that, the boys and I went back to Mickey's Philharmagic, since Noah had never seen it. It was still a walk-on; other rides in other parts of the park were gathering long lines. After meeting up with Brian and the others again, we split up in the usual way. The kids and I rode a couple more rides and then were able to see a Captain Jack Sparrow impersonator, who did a really good job. Joel was conscripted into his service by taking an oath and received a nice little scroll souvenir. After this was over, we had some lunch and then met up with the others to watch the 12:30 parade. Then Halle and I came back to the room while the boys got haircuts at the barber shop on Main Street.

Tonight we are having dinner with friends at Chef Mickey's. We may head into the park again afterwards... or not. Tomorrow is Noah's and Emily's birthday (11 and 15). We'll probably be doing Animal Kingdom again in the morning. We have dinner reservations at Epcot at Le Cellier in the Canada pavilion, then a midnight fireworks cruise on Bay Lake. I'm guessing we'll try to rest up a bit between dinner and fireworks.

I'll try to get some pictures uploaded soon.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Heading out soon

We're outta here in about 2 hours to head to the airport. We're on a sold-out red-eye from Sacramento to Orlando, via Dallas. Let's hope everyone sleeps so we aren't too worn out tomorrow when we get to Orlando. We'll be "doing" Animal Kingdom first, since we won't be arriving at WDW till shortly before noon, and figure it will be the easiest (least crowded) park to get into on Christmas Day.

I'm hoping to be able to post a "picture of the day" at the end of each day; we'll have to see how that pans out. The kids all have new cameras for Christmas so they can take their own pictures of the trip as well. Maybe they can make scrapbooks after we get back.

Hope everyone has a merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Nearly there

Amazingly enough, I was able to get everything wrapped Wednesday night. I got a few things done while Noah and Brian were at his football game (the first one I missed), and then everything else done after dinner. I finished up around 11:00pm. Brian enjoyed an evening on the couch with the kids, playing Playstation and watching TV... something he doesn't usually get to do enough of. There were a few panic moments while wrapping when 2 important gifts couldn't be located. Turned out that when Brian was moving everything from the first hiding spot to the 2nd, he left a couple behind. I was quite relieved... I'm not sure how easy it would have been to find those presents in the store just 5 days before Christmas!

I had another hearing aid checkup yesterday and had more changes to the program... based on my feedback from the last couple weeks of use, the technician changed the algorithm they were using to process the sounds. What a difference! She even gave me a program I can use to help cut down the piercing quality my kids' voices tend to have (they have probably been talking so loudly all these years to make up for me not hearing them... it will take a while for them to learn to speak at a normal volume).

Today Emily has a 1/2 day at school. We have a few errands to run in the morning (stock up on batteries from Sam's/Costcos, dog treats from PetSmart), then friends are coming by in the afternoon to pick up the rat so they can watch her while we're gone to Florida. Afterwards, we will probably take in the new Night at the Museum movie.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Whittling away at the list

So now that the baking is done (btw, Joel says I make "great" snickerdoodles), I need to move on to the next thing on the list: gift wrapping. This is an especially urgent detail, seeing as how we are "doing Christmas" a couple of days early. Regular readers might remember that we are spending the holidays at Walt Disney World... we fly out at 0 dark 30 Christmas morning. So in order to give the kids a chance to enjoy their gifts before we leave, Santa will be coming Friday night so that the kids may open presents Saturday morning. So far, nothing is wrapped. I'm hoping to get most of it done tonight. Thankfully we kept things simpler this year than in years past, but I still have 4 kids to wrap for, so it will still take a little time to accomplish the task.

Saturday has the potential to be a bit hectic... I have to take the dog to the kennel, Noah has a football game, and I have a hair appointment in the afternoon. Then of course we'll be getting started on the packing for the trip. Orlando in December is always tricky... the days can be quite pleasant, but the evenings might be downright chilly! Or it could be cool the entire day/night.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Do you smell what I smell?

I have spent the better part of today making cookies. I started off the day mixing up dough for Candy Cane Cookies. This dough has to be divided in half and one of the halves is colored red. Then it must chill before being rolled into ropes and twisted together, baked, then brushed with egg white and sprinkled with a sugar/crushed peppermint candy mixture. After I mixed that dough, I made Monster Cookies. The name comes from the fact that the traditional way to make them is by using an ice cream scoop of dough for each cookie... hence you get a "monster"-sized cookie. I made more normal-sized ones, which meant I was making/baking until about 2:30 this afternoon. The main ingredients in these cookies are eggs, butter, peanut butter, m&ms, chocolate chips, and oatmeal. I wound up with somewhere between 10-12 dozen of these.

I started "assembling" the candy cane cookies in the late afternoon. I only made around 4-5 dozen of them, but it is a little tedious, so took a while. I had to finish up after dinner. Then I baked them, taking the last batch out around 8. I just finished cleaning up the kitchen a little while ago.

Tomorrow I plan to make Snickerdoodles. Those are one of Brian's favorite cookies, and ones that the kids all like as well. After those are done, I'd just like to pass out for a couple of days...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Things to think about... and a little fun

I've come across some interesting things this week related to Christmas. One has to do with the whole Santa thing. Shaun Groves wrote an interesting "interview with himself" regarding why and how he and his wife "slayed Santa". As the parent of 4, only one of which still believes, I find it really thought-provoking and wish I'd heard of something like this sooner.

And then there is this video entitled Christmas and Capitalism: 1st Christmas in America. The young boys in it are missionary children who were born in Africa and had never experienced an American Christmas before.

Sure makes you think, doesn't it?
And a little fun I found at Beaner's: Elf Yourself!

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm still here

We just kept busy over the weekend... Friday night, Halle spent the night with a friend and the boys and I went to see Unaccompanied Minors. We enjoyed it; it was surprisingly better than I expected it to be. Then Noah had a football game Saturday (they won!) and we had to meet Halle and her friend's family to get her and her things back home. We spent part of Saturday night getting the house picked up, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry... Then Sunday was church, and we were blessed to get to spend time with some friends who came over to hang out. Each of the 3 younger kids had someone his/her age to play with, and I had adult conversation. What could be better??

Today was filled with more laundry and redoing a lot of the housework I did on Saturday. The kids and I also had to get out and meet someone from church to give her some Christmas cards Emily had signed for her. She hired Em to sign cards for her Mary Kay customers and stuff them in envelopes. We got home from doing that just a half-hour before time to head out to pick Emily up from school. Then Halle and Joel both had gymnastics.

Brian is on his way home from St. Louis (according to the airline's website, his plane is taxiing to the gate right now). He was able to accomplish quite a bit while he was there... getting his mother's things out of the house she was sharing with her ex-husband (looooong story there; suffice it to say it was one of many bad choices made), having powers of attorney drawn up for medical/financial decisions, decorating his mom's room for Christmas... He will probably tell about his trip on his blog when he has time; I feel like it is his story to tell, since it is his mom and his family.

Tomorrow night we have Emily's school's choir Christmas concert. There will be the middle school and high school choirs performing. It's no ordinary concert, though... they will be serving dessert. We have to buy tickets at $15 a pop for adults, $10 for students. Ouch! I wonder how many other private schools charge for choir concerts?

Friday, December 08, 2006

I promised

So I really should be cleaning house, but before I do, here is the fun stuff I promised.

While browsing The Disney Blog the other day, I found this YouTube gem:

Interesting parodies of the Mac/PC commercials here. I find them quite amusing, although I do have mixed feelings.

And lastly, for a little holiday mirth... a little something Emily and I heard on XMas Special 107 (XM Radio) yesterday morning. Hear it in streaming audio if you go here) I'd give it a PG13 rating.

Buttcracker Suite

(Parody of Nutcracker Suite)

“Thong March”

What a delightful gift idea
Magical shorts that disappear
Buy your loved one this noel
The kind of gift you can’t resell
Because it kind of smells
If someone else has tried it on

You could be dancing cheek to cheek
Wiggle the string play hide and seek
Buy your workmate or your boss
The proctologic dental floss
That really works a hair across
His astronomic bum

“Dance of the Plumber Fairy”

See the repair man go
Tink-a-tink, tink-a-tink, tink-a-tink
Working on the sink
Bending way down low
See the big tool belt go
Slippy-slip, slippy-slip, slippy-slip
Sliding down his hip
Say it isn’t so
See the rear cleavage go
Peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo
Cheekie sneaking through

See ya at so ‘n so
See the plumber
Doesn’t even show
What a bummer
Get a dial tone
Called a number
On the telephone
Hire someone else

“Wedgie Dance”

Spin around and stretch and lunge
And Leap!
Do a kick and shake your buns
And fix those wedgies everyone
Let’s go!

Double dip and somersault
Then Split!
Shuffle back and twist and fall
And fix those wedgies
Fix those wedgies
Let’s go people
Fix those wedgies

Cracks are flyin’ just keep pryin’
And pull
Pull hard!
And pull
Pull hard!
And pull
Pull hard those leotards!

“Waltz of the Buttcrackers”

Please just say no to crack
When you spot butt crack attack
You can see a trucker change a tire
Or a cable worker fix a wire
Let him know his bottom line is looking out
Somehow you don’t admire it

So everybody please just say no to crack
Give all those crack backs a sack
If you see a plumber show a breach
Or a tubby hubby on a beach
Sneak right up behind his back and strike a match and drop the burning sulfur right between his cheeks

Because as sure as pants and men surround us
Cracks are all around us
Slacks fall to the ground as
Miles and miles of spoil going up and down

Don’t be unbound near a crowd get a grip
Fix your drawers
Every Fall ride along take ‘em back
To the stores

Show some class and hide that massive astronomic butt crack

Get in the truck
Cover the crack
Gimme the thong
Hurry along

Buttcracker’s joys are sweet

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Brian is in MO now... he flew out early this morning (12:30 a.m.) to be with his mom and siblings as his mom gets accustomed to her new living situation. They have placed her in a skilled nursing facility (why does that sound better than "nursing home"?) and right now, she doesn't realize that this will probably not be a short term arrangement. However, they aren't going to let her know this at this point, so she'll be more motivated to work with her therapists.

Basically she only has the use of her right arm at this time. The stroke took out her left side. She needs help to even sit up in bed. Time will tell if she'll regain any function, but considering her history and her MS...

Tomorrow I'll post something fun. We need some humor around here now!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

And now it begins

Brian's mom had a stroke last night. We don't know a whole lot yet, other than it has affected her left side, the side that used to be her best side (she has multiple sclerosis and her right leg was pretty much shot before this). She can't move her left leg or arm, but can wiggle her toes on her left foot. Her left face droops and her speech is slurred, but Brian was able to understand her on the phone last night. His brother and sister both live in the area, so they are handling things for now. He may have to head back there this weekend.

All this comes after he and his mom had been discussing the need for her to find a new living situation... some place that could offer her assistance and care. I suppose this rather forces her hand. We were hoping to be able to get plans in place ahead of time and not because a crisis had occurred. Not to be, I suppose.

Prayers are appreciated.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

30 days in a row

I actually was able to make a post a day this month... amazing. There were quite a few days I probably wouldn't have written anything had it not been for trying to make the goal. Too bad other goals in my life aren't so easily achieved!

We put up the tree tonight, but that's as far as we got. There is one whole row of branches that is not lighting up, plus about 3 branches on the bottom row. (This is a pre-lit tree.) Brian will try to figure out what's up with them tomorrow or Saturday and then we'll finish decorating the tree.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pass me my crown and scepter

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


It's only 9:15, but I am already ready for bed. Last night I actually fell asleep during Heroes. Thankfully I only missed a few minutes; I would have been totally upset if I'd slept through it all. It was so cool to get to see all the backstory of the previous 6 months. It explained a lot without giving up the rest of the story.

What's your must-see TV?

Monday, November 27, 2006

What a deal

If I hadn't already preferred PetSmart to PetCo, I would certainly be changing my allegiance now. Campbell ran out of dog food this morning, so I had to go get more. After walking up and down the aisles at PetSmart and finding no trace of his usual food, I talked to one of the associates, who discovered that they were no longer going to be carrying it. The manager on duty decided to check the storeroom to see if they had any, and found 1 20-lb. bag and 6 4.5-lb. ones. She gave me a 75% discount!! I walked out with almost 50 pounds of dog food for under $20! Now that's customer service. I'll definitely keep shopping there.

What's the best deal you ever got?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Getting back into the routine

After a long week off, it's time to get the kids back on schedule, beginning with their normal bedtimes tonight. It's going to be good for us all. I know I've been staying up entirely too late and getting up much too early.

Made a dent in those movies, although I can't give a decision on my opinion of The Second Chance, since the disk had several bad spots in it and then refused to give up the last 2 scenes. I'll be checking to see if Blockbuster has another copy, or they can refund me the rental on that one.

Happy last week of November, y'all!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

You title it

Thanks to my early morning nature, I was able to get in some reading before the kids got up (and some afterwards)... I finished Robin Cook's Crisis and Diane Mott Davidson's Dark Tort. Then it was time to get Halle ready for the birthday party she was attending. I dropped her off and then had almost 2 hours to do a little shopping/browsing. I grabbed a burger and fries at Mel's Diner and then went to the Vacaville Premium Outlets. My mission there was to find a pair of sunglasses to replace my old pair that were bent and looked crooked on my face. Thankfully, there was a Sunglasses World outlet and I found just the thing. I wanted to browse PacSun, but that section of the shopping center was packed... I couldn't find a single open parking spot. So that was about the extent of my shopping. (Grace, I needed you there for some motivation.)

Fast forward to tonight... We've had dinner and the kids are all bathed and ready to settle in for the evening. The kids have a movie to watch: Spymate, and I'm hoping to watch The Second Chance. I also managed to find Disc One of the first season of House, and Memoirs of a Geisha. (I certainly won't watch all those tonight, but I can probably get them done in the next few days.)

Fabulous Friday

Well, the mother-in-law has arrived safely back in St. Louis and things are getting back to normal here. It was a good thing I hadn't planned on hitting the early-morning sales today; Brian needed my van to take his mom to the airport and his SUV had a flat tire (turned out to be an easily repaired nail puncture.... the tire place fixed it for FREE!). I didn't let that stop me from getting a little bit of Christmas shopping done online, though.

After he got home from San Francisco, I did make a run to Target to get a birthday present for a party Halle is going to tomorrow. The toy department was quite busy, but I was able to get in and out just about as quickly as I normally do.

I also stopped by the Verizon Wireless store to investigate options for possibly getting Emily a new phone for Christmas/birthday. When we got our phones a year-and-a-half ago, the phone she got was pretty basic (no camera). I found the perfect phone; the sales associate said it was just released today. It's not even at the manufacturer's website yet. Only problem is to get her a new phone right now, we would have to pay full retail on it, which is over $300. She can upgrade the first week of April and it will probably cost less than 1/2 that, with the $100 upgrade credit we'll get and whatever rebate special they'll be running at the time. Now, try to convince her she can wait until April! Anyhow, the phone seems very cool; I may upgrade mine to that one in April as well.

We took the kids to see Deck the Halls tonight. My advice: wait till video or 2nd run theater. There were so many times during the movie that I kept thinking that all I was watching was two grown men being mean to each other... and not even in a believable way. I just could not suspend belief long enough to get much enjoyment out of it. The Home Alone movies were more believable. It was sad to see Kristin Chenoweth waste her talent in this movie.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

There were 16 people in our home for Thanksgiving dinner today, counting the 6 in my immediate family. Things were a little hectic at one point, just trying to coordinate getting the food set up and ready, but once we did, it went well. We put the extra leaves in the dining room table and managed to fit all 16 of us around it. We had the 2 junior students from Brian's program here, along with their families/significant others, plus Brian's partner from work. One of the students and his family hung around afterwards and played Apples to Apples with us; part of the time our kids and theirs were playing together around the house... the girls were playing Donkey Konga and at one point the boys were all working on paper airplanes. Their oldest son is very good at folding planes and can create his own designs quite easily. It was fun to watch him. Our kids have a great time with these kids... what is so cool is that their 3 kids are the same sexes/ages as our youngest 3, so they are pretty much ideal playmates.

We've completed the cleanup and are just enjoying decompressing from the day. We'll probably wind up playing Apples to Apples and/or Scrabble again before bedtime.

Hope everyone had a great day today!

Ready or not

It has been another day of errands and things to get done. I made one last run to the commissary, hoping to get some baby bella mushrooms to make stuffed mushrooms tomorrow, but they were out. I went ahead and got a few other things I needed and then stopped by the Class Six (base liquor store) for my $1.05 cent airline bottle of Jim Beam, needed for the currant jelly/butter/bourbon glaze I use on my turkey. The cashier looked at me when I handed her the bottle and said, "Is that it?" When I replied in the affirmative, she replied, "That's not enough." I guess she was expecting me to spent $94 like the guy in front of me, with a case of Coors, a few bottles of wine, and some vodka. When I explained we didn't drink, she said, "Oh, you're using it for cooking." I guess since I wasn't buying for drinking purposes, she didn't hold me to a minimum purchase!

Anyhow, I stopped in at Safeway on the way home... no whole baby bellas there, either, but I did score some crimini that I think will work just as well. I will remove the stems and then fill them with onion and chive cream cheese before popping them in the oven for a few minutes.

After I got home, I set to work making coconut pies and dinner rolls. I made 2 coconut pies and mixed up the dough for the rolls. I'll shape and bake those tomorrow. As I was working on the pies, Brian called and said he realized we didn't have enough chairs for tomorrow. So on the way to Noah's football game tonight, I went to Sam's Club and picked up 4 extra folding chairs (Sam's isn't actually "on the way", but I went there first and arrived about 5 minutes before the game started).

Tonight's game was a good one. I think we lost, but it was only by 1 or 2 touchdowns. It was obvious how hard the kids have been practicing this week. Noah did a great job rushing the opposing team's quarterback; you could see how it rattled him to have Noah on him, and several times Noah nearly got his flag before he could throw the ball. I swear, flag football is harder than tackle. Sacking someone would be much easier than trying to pull his flag. We have a break until next Wednesday night.

Hope everyone has a great day tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Soundtrack of My Life as told by iTunes

Found this most excellent meme at WonderDawg's:

Here's how it works:

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool and no disclaimers allowed.

Opening Credits: My God Reigns - Zoe Group

Waking Up: Bless the Lord - Won By One

First Day At School: Here is My Heart - True Lift

Falling In Love: Once in a Very Blue Moon- Nanci Griffith

Fight Song: Think About That- Won By One

Breaking Up: Hope to Carry On - Caedmon's Call

Prom: I'm Not That Girl - Idina Menzel

Mental Breakdown: Daybreak - Barry Manilow

Driving: Soarin' Over California Theme (from Disneyland)

Flashback: For the First Time - Mark Harris

Getting Back Together: We Are the Body of Christ - Zoe Group

Wedding: If Not for Christ - FFH

Birth of Child: The Heart of Worship - Matt Redman

Final Battle: Walk by Faith - Jeremy Camp

Death Scene: Look Yourself - Apologetix

Funeral Song: Pray for Faith - Won By One

End Credits: Can't Smile Without You- Barry Manilow

Let me know if you do it!

Save the cheerleader, save the world

OK, how many of you out there are watching Heroes? This has got to be the best show on television this season. Tonight's episode was nothing short of awesome. This show makes Mondays worthwhile.

In other news, word is that Disney is making a sequel to the popular National Treasure movie. I am sure we'll be heading to the theater for that one when it is released.

And now a meme I found at Carrie's:

1. How old were you when you learned to read and who taught you?
I have no idea how I learned to read; even my mom isn't sure how I learned, but I was reading the Little House on the Prairie books before I went to kindergarten.

2. Did you own any books as a child? If so, what’s the first one that you remember owning? If not, do you recall any of the first titles that you borrowed from the library?
Tons of books... I don't remember first one, but I was a huge Trixie Belden fan. One of the first books I remember getting from the library was Susan and Her Classic Convertible, by W.E. Butterworth; that and The Nickel-Plated Beauty, by Patricia Beatty.

3. What’s the first book that you bought with your own money?
Not sure, but probably a Trixie Belden book.

4. Were you a re-reader as a child? If so, which book did you re-read most often?
Most emphatically yes. I reread my Trixie Belden books and also all of the Chronicles of Narnia

5. What’s the first adult book that captured your interest and how old were you when you read it?
Unfortunately, probably Helter Skelter. My aunt had a copy on her bookshelf and I spent a lot of unsupervised time at her house. I was probably 9 or 10.

6. Are there children’s books that you passed by as a child that you have learned to love as an adult? Which ones?
I can’t think of any.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Not much to say 'bout today except that it was one of the more restful Sunday afternoons we've had in a while. We didn't do much after getting home from church but hang out. I folded a little laundry and Brian and I played some Scrabble with his mom. The kids watched tv and played with each other until bedtime.

We're taking the week off from school since Emily has the week off. It will be interesting to see what our days will be like without the structure.

Happy Feet

Things didn't go quite as scheduled today. My mother-in-law's flight was canceled and the airline rebooked her on a much later flight due to arrive at 7:30pm. The nice thing about that was that Brian was able to go to Noah's football game. It was another loss, but the kids had a good time. We found out that the other teams in the league were all handpicked by the coaches amd all have a full roster. Our team is made up of the "left-overs." Personally, I think the guy in charge of the league should have just divided the kids up evenly. We only have 7 kids on our team, while the other teams have at least 10. It makes it hard for the kids to practice without a full defense or offense to play against.

I took the kids to see Happy Feet shortly before Brian left to pick up his mom. It was a cute movie. The music was great, and Robin Williams was fun in his 2 roles (one a Hispanic Adelie penguin and the other a Rockhopper who seemed to be channeling Barry White).

Brian and his mom made it back here a little after 9pm... long enough for the kids to greet her and visit a bit before heading to bed. I think the rest of us will be ready for bed soon.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A streetcar and desire

So the kids had a great time on the field trip today. We rode on 2 different trains, one of which was really a streetcar. I think the boys' favorite part of the ride was seeing a dead cow in one of the pastures we passed by. It was quite large and was being used as a roosting spot for some very large scavengers. Thankfully they weren't scavenging at the time. Of course, that probably would have just made it even more interesting for the boys!

We went for lunch with some other homeschoolers from the field trip and I was enjoying visiting with the other parents so much that I was a little behind in getting to school to pick up Emily. Then it took so long to get through the carpool line that I had just enough time to drop her, Halle, and Joel off at home before taking Noah to football practice at 4. He had practice until around 5:45.

Then it was home and back out to a "Parents' Night Out" at Halle and Joel's gymnastics gym; the young ones had been asking to go all week, so Brian and I obliged them and had some nice time alone this evening (a rare thing!). Emily was off at the movies and to spend the night with her best friend.

Tomorrow, Brian and Halle will head to San Francisco to pick up his mom at the airport. Joel and Noah are staying behind because Noah has a football game.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cha-ching and choo-choos

Today I received the statement from TriCare (the military's health insurance) showing me what the tab was for my hearing aids. They were billed $6K for them. Ouch! Of course, they didn't pay that much... their actual cost was "only" $3600. Needless to say, I have given my kids the whole "don't touch the hearing aids" speech now. Now I'm curious as to how much more the "top-of-the-line" hearing aids (just one step above mine) are, and who actually gets to get them. Definitely not military dependents or retirees!

Tomorrow the kids and I are going on a field trip to the Western Railway Museum. This field trip would usually cost around $5 a person, but someone has donated this trip to the base homeschooling group for free. The trip will include a ride (10 miles round trip) on a restored historic electric rail car. I think the kids will really enjoy this.

Print and fold

I just finished publishing (via printer) and folding 80 graduation invitations for my husband's graduating anesthesia students. Now that I have that out of the way, the next order of business will be to design and create the program for the graduation ceremony. Actually, I will probably use the design I created last year. All I'll have to do is edit some graphics and then update the order, names, etc. It shouldn't be as complicated as it was the first time. Thank goodness!

Noah had his first flag football game of the season tonight. I am so glad he is able to have fun no matter what the outcome, because it was almost a total skunk. I think we managed 1 touchdown, while the other team scored around 10. However, it turns out the other team is one that has been playing together for a few years and they also have had 4 practices before this first game. Let's see... our kids just met each other last Thursday and had one practice together. I guess anyone would agree that puts them at a slight disadvantage. We're hoping for another practice Friday afternoon, as they have another game on Saturday.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's always something

I'm enjoying my newfound space here in the office/schoolroom. Still a little more organizing and arranging to do, but having the extra space here at my desk has made a huge difference. I'm able to keep the books I am reading to the kids here in the bottom file drawer of the desk, rather than in a big stack on the desktop. That alone has made the change worth it.

This afternoon was insanely busier than I wanted it to be. Noah was on Brian's laptop when he began getting some virus notifications... turns out they were fake notifications designed to get people to download some other antivirus program. Somehow these got past Brian's Norton Internet Security (I'm assuming Noah inadvertently "allowed" access to the programs). We've been working most of the evening to find and/or eliminate the problems with a minimum of success. Neither Norton nor SpySweeper have been able to eradicate the nasty little buggers. It looks like we'll be taking the laptop to the Geek Squad. Cha-ching! Thankfully my computer is still safe (as far as we know... no funny stuff on here). I truly believe there should be a special spot in hell reserved for people who design viruses and other malicious computer bugs.

We also had to run out to Office Max to hunt down some note card paper so I can make the invitations for the graduation ceremony of Brian's senior anesthesia students. We're running a bit behind this year in getting it done. We got home from getting the notecards and I began to make the changes to last year's invitations. That was quick enough, but then I discovered that my card-making program (Print Shop Publisher 20) doesn't have this particular Avery card in its listing of templates. It looks like we'll need to return the ones we got and get something else. *Sigh* It's always something.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pay it forward

I just realized this morning that Emily is off of school the whole week next week for Thanksgiving. Brian's mom is flying in this Saturday morning and will be here until the day after Thanksgiving. She will enjoy having the kids around. I guess I will have to decide whether or not my homeschooled ones will have the entire week off as well.

Here's a cool commercial from the YouTube vault:

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I've discovered a new (to me) Christian author recently. A few weeks ago, while Emily was at youth group, I spent my time at Barnes & Noble and was able to read a book called One Tuesday Morning, by Karen Kingsbury. It was a very powerful and moving book, centered on 2 families affected by the 9/11 tragedy. This weekend I picked up an anthology containing 3 books in one by her and have managed to read 1 of them, Where Yesterday Lives. It did not disappoint. I think I enjoy her writing as much as Francine Rivers.

I'm also currently reading and taking notes on the book Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell. He has some really thought-provoking ideas.

My husband surprised me while I was out this weekend. He rearranged the schoolroom/office for me, moving in the large desk that used to be out in the living room for me. I did not have enough room or storage in the small desk I was using in here. It looks really good.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Friendly conversation

There's nothing like conversation with friends. I was able to spend some time with a new friend this week and feel hopeful that we will be an encouragement to each other as we both cope with living in a place that is very unlike what we are used to and would like.

I've had conversations with old friends who make me feel so lucky and so blessed to be able to call them friends. It's funny that I was nearly 40 years old before discovering true friendship... and once I discovered it, I marvel at how I lived without it before. My hope is that everyone has someone they call a true friend.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Video fever

It's a slow news day around here, so enjoy these gems from YouTube:

  1. Kissing prank
  2. PETA activist meets mutated rat

Hopefully I'll have something tomorrow.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

That toddlin' town

Just got back a little while ago from a meeting with Emily's choir director. Her choir will be taking a trip to Chicago next May. It sounds like they are going to have a great time. They'll get to see Wicked, possibly take in a Cubs game, visit Shedd Aquarium and Lincoln Park Zoo, tour Moody Bible Institute and sing there, and maybe even take a "gangster tour." I will be so jealous... I've never been to Chicago (unless you count the airport).

Noah also had his first flag football practice of the season earlier tonight. His coaches seem very nice, and I saw a familiar face among one of the moms there. Her son played Little League this summer (on an opposing team) and we had chatted a few times at games then. It's nice when there is at least one familiar face in a new situation. Anyhow, they have gotten a late start this season and their first game is next Wednesday night. I can't believe they are going to play so soon!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Talking to teachers

Up until this year, parent/teacher conferences consisted of me talking to myself (ok, for 3 of my kids, they still do). But tonight I got to experience something altogether different. Emily's teachers all had overwhelmingly positive things to say about her (except for her Bible teacher, whom she refers to as the absent-minded professor.... he was a bit more general and vague in his comments). As I mentioned in the last post, we were already well aware of her academic progress (all A's) and what we wanted to learn tonight was more of what her teachers see in her personally. Basically they all see her as a very outgoing and positive person. Her web design/graphic arts teacher said that she works very quickly and usually completes in about half a class period what it takes most other students 2 class periods to do, but that Emily spends a great deal of her free time helping others. She also said that in addition to being gifted in this area, she is also good at teaching others... she doesn't do their work for them, but is good at explaining and instructing. She is hoping Emily will have room in her schedule next year to be a teaching assistant for her. Her algebra teacher seems to have a very good opinion of Emily as well; she's impressed with how well Emily made the transition from homeschooling and with the way the work in her class has started to "click" for her. All of Em's instructors said pretty much the same thing: that she is a respectful person, cheerful, and that she seems to have made friends with a good group of kids. It was good to hear nice things about her. It's nice to know someone else thinks I have a good kid, too.

The coolest thing about tonight was that her web design teacher prayed with us before we left her table. I am so glad we are able to send Emily to this school. It has been a very good thing for her and for our family.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Get with the program

I had a follow-up visit at the hearing center today to see how my hearing aids were working for me this week. We tweaked the settings a bit, plus got a second program added to it for listening to/singing music. I'm looking forward to seeing how it works at church this weekend. It already made a big difference in listening to the radio in the car. I am able to turn the volume down if I switch to my "music" program on the aids. Plus I can hear myself sing better as well. We're going to give it a couple of weeks more before doing another evaluation and tweaking.

Tomorrow afternoon we'll be heading to Emily's school for parent/teacher conferences. I'm really looking forward to hearing what they have to say. I already know how she's doing academically; I'm more interested in their impressions of her character and person.

What's your tribe?

In honor of the elections:

(Click for link)

No big surprise here. I think the bulk of my answers pegged me as "red." I skipped the alcoholic beverage questions, as I didn't have an answer for those.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Clean team

I have to confess I am not much of a housekeeper. I like a neat house, and can pick up and put things away, but when it comes to actually cleaning, I'm not going to win any awards. Brian, on the other hand, is a cleaning machine. He is good at it. He may not be fast, but I guarantee that if he cleans something, it will be clean when he is done. This little difference we have makes it difficult when it comes to enlisting the kids' help in maintaining household cleanliness. We just don't have the same standards. Nor does he have a wealth of time to spend teaching the kids what he would like to have done. That's why this book looks so appealing:

If you click on the link, you'll be able to see a few pages from the book. The author is selling it in combo with another step-by-step book to help kids clean their bedroom. That's certainly another area we could use some improvement in as well.

I'll be sure to report on it if we decide to try it out.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dinner and music

Tonight was the Annual Fund Dinner for Emily's school. It marks the kickoff of fundraising for her school for the year, and also provides an opportunity to honor students, faculty, and community members for their achievements and for their support of the school. We were treated to some great jazz music by the school's jazz band and Emily's choir performed at the end of the evening. Unfortunately, the choir had to cut its performance short because the event ran longer than anticipated. It certainly served to whet my appetite for more, though.

We shared a table with one other parent and 3 teachers from the school. None of the teachers are currently teaching Emily, although one of them is her class advisor. I'm hoping that for next year's dinner, we'll actually know someone that we can plan ahead to share a table with.

Emily's algebra teacher did tell me how well Emily is doing in her class (not that I didn't already know), and how good it makes her feel to hear a student tell her "This is easy!" I'm just glad Emily isn't hating math any longer.

Friday, November 03, 2006

They shoot horses, don't they?

I got to spend part of my Friday morning in the family practice clinic waiting room. Back on the 16th, the day we had Halle's birthday party, I took a hard fall in the garage. It made a scrape on my leg and a left a large swollen area that has remained tender all this time. Last night Brian happened to notice it was developing a red area and suggested I get an appointment this morning. Our suspicions of cellulitis (not to be confused with cellulite) were shared by the doctor, who prescribed an antibiotic for me to take for the next 10 days. I was actually hoping he'd just give me a shot so I wouldn't have to worry about remembering to pop a pill every few hours, even moreso once he told me I had to take them 4 times a day.

After Brian got home from work, we took the kids to see Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause. While I don't think it was as good as the first two, I still enjoyed it... as did the kids. Once again, we just don't agree with the critics.

Speaking of movies, Blockbuster has implemented the coolest program yet. Now Blockbuster Online subscribers can return their movies to their local Blockbuster and exchange them immediately for free rentals in the store. No more having to wait for the DVD to reach the distribution center through the mail (unless you really want to) in order to get another movie. Go here to see the info. We switched from Netflix to Blockbuster Online over a year ago and have been much happier with the service; this new feature is gravy.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

It finally rains in Northern California

(Anyone recognize the song nod in that post title?)

Yep, rain has finally returned to our neck of the woods. It was a pretty soggy day today; heading to school to pick up Emily this afternoon, I couldn't go much faster than 45 on the interstate without seriously impeding my visibility. We had to miss our scheduled park day because of the rain as well. If next week brings a repeat of this kind of weather (which wouldn't be unheard of), we'll find a fun indoor activity: either bowling on base or free play at our gymnastics center.

Big school news in our house is that Joel is reading "short a" words now. I've been having him listen to words and write/spell them for a few weeks, but now he is transferring that to reading the words without having already heard them spoken out loud. He's pretty happy with himself. Joel is actually the first one I've taught to read without using "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." I think this is mostly because he has been talking about letter sounds for quite a while, so I figured the typical phonic approach used in Sonlight's language arts program would work just as well for him.

I'm being paged to watch a movie with Brian and the kids.... for those who are interested, it's Hoot. I'll leave you with a final link for fun (I have to spread out my fun links now, to give me blog fodder for NaBloPoMo): "So is it really just a gross habit or gold worth digging for after all? Ultimately, that's a pick you'll have to make on your own." Anyone willing to test this out? Hat tip to Thumper for this one!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

National Blog Posting Month

Think it can be done? I'm going to give it a shot. This might mean some pretty short posts on some days, but what the hey. It's all for fun.

Hopefully I will have Halloween pictures of the kids to post soon. I have to find the cable to hook the camera up to the computer first.

Meanwhile, life keeps moving along at its usual breakneck speed here. It seemed especially hectic today, probably because the kids were hopped up on as many forms of sugar as you can possibly imagine. Thankfully now that it is bedtime, the effects appear to have worn off.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The lame walk, the blind see, and the deaf hear

In this case, those are all the same person: me. I received 3 phone calls today, the first 2 within 30 minutes of each other. The first was from the local Fleet Feet store to let me know the shoes I ordered about a month ago had come in. My current pair of tennis shoes fit very poorly and were actually a bit too big; plus I have been having a lot of heel pain on one foot (basically plantar fasciitis). The folks there were able to fit me with a good orthotic insert to help with the heel pain, plus a shoe that is suited to my particular walking style. The difference in how these shoes feel on my feet as compared to my old ones is like night and day.

Call number 2 was from the optical store. My replacement contact lens arrived this morning. My peripheral vision has returned!

The final call was about an hour or so later… this one was from the local hearing center. I was recently approved for hearing aids to treat a hearing loss that I’ve actually had since I was a child. So as of this afternoon, I am hearing sounds I may have never heard before, or at least ones I haven’t heard in a long time. I’ll be wearing them for a week and then going back to see if we need to make any adjustments to the program. These hearing aids are high-tech… they are basically mini-computers. We can hook them up to a computer while they are in my ears in order to figure out what the best settings will be. After that, I don’t have to mess with them at all… they automatically adjust to all different kinds of noise situations. Cool, huh?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Falling back

The kids are all bathed and in bed for the night. It should be pretty easy to wake them up in the morning, since they'll be getting an extra hour of rest. I'm really looking forward to that hour (if my automatic body alarm will let me have it).

We had a good day today. I took the younger kids to see Flicka, and they all enjoyed it. Most reviewers didn't care for it, so of course, I liked it. I guess when it comes to movies, I'm just not too hard to please. I liked seeing Tim McGraw... since I never saw Friday Night Lights, this was my first time seeing him on the big screen. I just hated that we didn't get to hear him sing until the movie was over. My Little Girl is the neatest song.

Noah spent a good part of the evening at the piano; he is starting to take an interest in it. I guess it's time to look for a teacher. One more thing to add to our schedule! Hopefully I can find one that does daytime lessons... maybe even one that comes to us. That would be ideal. Halle is asking for lessons as well. I think it will be neat to have kids playing the piano again (Emily took 3 years of lessons and then quit.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Straight Up

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for agreeing to review it here on my blog.

Straight Up is a book about 2 women (cousins) dealing with the losses life has handled them in very different ways. Georgia is a musician, the daughter of a deceased jazz pianist; her cousin Fairly is an interior designer whose parents were killed in a car crash while she was in college. The book is told in first-person narrative throughout most of it, jumping back and forth between Fairly and Georgia, with occasional third-person prose about characters named Clarissa and Mary Margaret.

I had high hopes for this book. After all, one of the main characters was a musician, and I love music. It really wasn't one of those books that grabs a person right away. By the author's own admission she shies "away from the 'bang out of the starting gate' formula," feeling that it gives the reader a "chance to get to know the character a bit more." I'll have to admit that the first person narrative does enable a person to see the characters perhaps more deeply than in a book written in the omniscient third person. One of my favorite parts of the book was a very simple 2-line statement by one of the characters:

People see me as a birdbath.
I am a well.
Maybe it was because I related to that particular characterization. But that was about all I could relate to. I couldn't connect with much else in the characters' lives.

I did have a hard time getting into the book, but by about 1/3 of the way through, I knew I had to finish it. However, this isn't a book with a neat and tidy ending, where all your questions get answered. I probably had as many questions after I finished as I had when I started. I can't say I hated the book, but it also didn't leave me wanting to tell all my friends to read it.

Apparently, I am in the minority. The bulk of the reviews I read at Amazon are full of accolades and high praise. This isn't one I'll be rereading, as I am often prone to doing with favorite reads.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

TGIF (almost)

Can I say I am really glad the weekend is almost here? Even though it will be a weekend with no hubby (the one moonlighting weekend he does a month), I am looking forward to having at least one day where there are no *have to* things to do. No driving to school, no school at home, some easy no-fuss meals, time to read some books or play games with the kids....

Tomorrow we were going to go see the tall ships, but the 2 other families who were going to go with us can't make it any longer, so we probably aren't going to go now. Unless I wake up feeling quite different about it, anyhow.

It has been an incredibly long week. Brian had some majorly long days at work, not even getting home until 7pm or later on several of them (that is pretty late, considering he gets there before 6am). Lots of stressful things going on there. Then I went and lost a contact lens yesterday morning. So now I'm wearing my glasses and wishing mightily that I could just have LASIK done on my badly near-sighted eyes. I hate my peripheral vision being nothing but a blur.

Oh, I did get to see The Prestige this week... now there's a movie that has you scratching your head a bit! I love Christian Bales; he was great. Hugh Jackman wasn't half bad, either. And Michael Caine rarely disappoints. Two unexpected pleasures: David Bowie in a totally un-Ziggy Stardust role and Andy Serkis, decidedly un-Gollumlike.

Here's some stuff I've come across in the last week or so:

Monday, October 23, 2006

Moving on up

We just got back from Halle and Joel's gymnastics class, where Halle was given her "promotion certificate" to the next level class. We were both very excited, because we had no clue she was that close to moving up. Honestly, had she had her usual instructor tonight, she probably wouldn't have; but tonight's fill-in coach was 100% better in terms of really working with her in the areas that she'd been struggling with. Her regular instructor just tended to move on to other skills without really helping Halle out. I'm not sure who her new instructor will be, but I hope she's more like the one she had tonight. The other great thing about moving up is that it reunites her with a classmate who had moved into the new level tonight. The girls are quite thrilled at getting to be together again.

Backing up a bit to Saturday.... I know I've already blogged about Halle's party, but I forgot to mention one gift. One of the neighbor kids gave her a Happy Bunny shirt. Anyone familiar with Happy Bunny knows he is known for rather insulting comments. This one said, "It's not my fault your icky." A fairly mild insult as Happy Bunny insults go... what had me gaping in shock was the fact that this shirt was mass-produced with such a glaring spelling error! Yeah, I tend to be a stickler for that kind of stuff. Like the shirt I saw at Mervyn's last Christmastime that said, "Santa's disapointed in me." Wow. I am just amazed at how spelling has deteriorated. I guess newspapers don't even rely on spell-check these days... a headline last week mentioned "Tukey Day." So now you know one of my pet peeves.

Big news here is that we may get to go tour a "tall ship" later this week. There will be a couple of them docked in Rio Vista later this week and part of next. One of them was used as The Interceptor in Pirates of the Caribbean. The kids are looking forward to it.

Time to do a little picking up before getting the kids in bed. Then I can settle in to watch my favorite new show of the season, Heroes. Sorry Lost fans, but Heroes beats your show all to pieces. If you haven't had a chance to see it yet, there are "2-minute replays" at the website to bring you up to speed; plus the latest episode is available in its entirety.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Another Saturday night

But I guess I should back up a bit, since I haven't posted since Wednesday.

Before I knew it, it was Friday. The younger kids were looking for something fun to do after school, so Brian was going to take them to the "jump house." Unfortunately, it was closed, so they opted for bowling. Meanwhile, I picked up Emily from school and made a stop at PetSmart to get food and bedding for the rat. While I was in the store, she was making phone calls to her friends in Antioch, arranging a night at the movies. So Friday night found Brian and the 3 youngest going out for pizza and getting movies/games at Blockbuster, while I drove about an hour to Antioch so Emily could watch The Grudge 2 with Sam and Dan (Samantha and Daniella). Thankfully, there was something I wanted to see starting just 5 minutes before their movie. I got to watch Man of the Year. It was pretty fun. Robin Williams' character really was likeable, despite some of his liberal leanings. The whole message about how politics and government representation has become more about owing favors to special interest groups and less about doing what those being represented need is certainly one I can agree with.

I spent the first part of this morning folding a couple of baskets of laundry. As I folded, I watched The Lake House. Good movie... I figured out part of the puzzle before it was revealed, but that didn't take away from the enjoyment. After the laundry was done, I had just enough time to shower and take Emily shopping for a costume for "Costume Day" for Spirit Week at school next week. From there, we headed to the gymnastics gym for Halle's birthday party. None of Halle's friends from church made the drive over, but we did have 4 kids from our street, a friend from her gymnastics class, and a brother and sister pair we have gotten to know recently through meeting online and at bowling. That made for a total of 10 kids running and playing in the gym. They all had a great time and I felt good for Halle that she had such a nice turnout.

Later in the evening, Halle and Noah accompanied me and Brian to the duck pond on base to feed the ducks and geese and take a walk around it. We came home and ate leftovers for dinner and then managed to hang a few pictures in the family room before time to help the little ones with their Saturday night baths.

I'm ready to take it easy for the rest of the night.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Where has it gone?

I can’t believe I haven’t been back to write since the weekend. Guess that’s some indication of how time has been flying around here. Between running here and there, I haven’t had much time for more than the basics: school, laundry, church (not necessarily in that order).

Math is the big hit here this week. All of the kids are diving into new lessons with eagerness. We’re still in the ancient Middle East (Assyrians and Babylonians) this week in history. The boys were quite interested in the bloodthirsty Assyrian kings and liked the story of Sennacherib’s and his army dying mysteriously in their sleep. We finished up a study of birds and began mammals today, with our first lesson on apes. Everyone now knows how to tell the difference between a monkey and an ape. Our read-aloud book is about an English missionary to China named Gladys Aylward. Of course, the boys’ favorite parts so far have been the beheadings. Boys.

Tuesday night I attended another Parent Information Night held by Emily’s English teacher. I’d love to join a book club with this lady. She would be so much fun, not to mention a fount of knowledge. The kids have just begun reading William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies. I remember reading it my senior year in high school. It rather surprises me that the kids are reading it as freshmen, but from all I learned last night, they will get so much more out of it than I ever did (and I *loved* lit class). Because she can teach from a Christian perspective, there is just so much more her students will get to discuss and process.

Tonight was praise team rehearsal. Now that we are short a tenor, I have been filling in that spot. Some songs are a bit tough for me, as they are just a tad low. I’m missing singing alto, but all this low singing is actually helping out my higher range. I should be able to sub for just about any part but bass now.

Meanwhile, when I get a chance, I try to read a few pages (or more of some books I got in the mail over the weekend: The Sisters Grimm: Fairytale Detectives (actually, I already finished this one), The Sisters Grimm: The Unusual Suspects, The Lambkins (finished), and Contagious Joy (that one is one I got as part of my membership in the Women of Faith Association).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Feels like old times

The kids and I had a good day yesterday. Emily had an early out day (11:30 a.m.) and we drove thru Burger King on the way home. Once we finished lunch, the kids and I got the main floor of the house picked up and vacuumed, and cleaned the kitchen table and counters. This was all stuff I needed to do during the week, but just didn’t get done because of all the other running around we were doing. Seems like all I could manage to keep up this week was laundry.

Brian was having a really long day at work, so we had to leave for the Country Fair at Em’s school before he got home. It was very windy and chilly, but the kids didn’t complain. Emily was working a shift at the arm wrestling booth; I didn’t get a chance to see her do her thing. The kids played a few games, including a basketball shooting game where they each walked off with a goldfish prize. Guess we’ll be headed to PetSmart later for some food and a bowl. Right now, they are in one of my Southern Living hurricanes. (I imagine my friend Martha, who sells Southern Living at Home, would be somewhat amused at that.) Brian met us there shortly after 6 and I had to leave by 6:30, as I was going to a Mary Kay gathering on base at 7.

Now this is the fun part. The whole reason I was going to this Mary Kay thing is that a friend from back home in Omaha was here for it. She is a sales director and has consultants all over the place, including a brand new one here on base. She called me earlier this week to tell me she was coming out to California this weekend and wondered if I was anywhere near where she was going to be. Needless to say, we were both pretty thrilled to find out she was going to be just 15 minutes from my house! I was able to bring her back to our house after the evening was over to visit for a bit, and then took her back to her hotel. Now Robin has earned the title of first Omaha guest in our home. It was so much fun to see her; I felt like I was my old self around her and had a ball chatting and laughing. It was the first time I felt like that while being here in California.

Brian and the 2 big kids have already left for their day at Six Flags Marine World with the church youth group. I’ll be taking the younger 2 to the movies later. We’ll grab the fish food and accessories on our way home.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Is it Friday yet?

It has been one hectic week; I’m ready for the weekend. Brian is going to Six Flags with the 2 older kids on Saturday, while I’ll be looking for something fun to occupy the younger ones. They’re asking to see Open Season again; for lack of anything else, we might just do that.

Had a nice dinner at Benihana tonight. It was a little disappointing, coming just 2 months after a great meal at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse when we were in Omaha. The food wasn’t quite as flavorful. Joel was looking for the “fire”… the chef told him they aren’t allowed to do that at this restaurant; they have to remodel before they can make flames on the grill.

For your weekend enjoyment:

YouTube is still a source of humor and amazement. What do you want to be when you grow up? And how about Pachelbel’s Canon in D…. on the electric guitar, no less.

While we’re on the subject of music, check out this “Young Person’s Guide to the Chorus.” Hat tip to Clarissa for this one.

From the food files: Philip posts that “anything’s good when you deep fry it.” Does that really apply to Coca-Cola? And at the Dark M&M website, a fun game that involves using pictorial clues to identify 50 “dark” movies. I found 48 on my own and had to Google for the last 2.

I’m still scratching my head at this “outreach” idea. Thanks to Mike the EyeGuy.

Seen at A Room of My Own, a nifty art education and appreciation game. I’ve been looking for one of these; thanks for mentioning it.

VeryMom is just organizing her stuff with JOYS (Just Organize Your Stuff). Looks very interesting. Now who will come and do it for me?

And last, but not least: With the new regulations on liquids and gels, what’s the final word on what you can take in your carryon luggage when you’re flying the friendly skies?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Happy Hump Day

Sorry I haven't posted since the weekend. We've been going 90-to-nothing here.... running Em to school, coming home and doing school here, going to playzones and parks, heading off to gymnastics classes...

So tomorrow is Halle's birthday. We are having a small family celebration tomorrow night, going to Concord to the Benihana there. Then next weekend, Halle is having a party at the gymnastics gym. Hopefully she'll have a good turnout for that. I know it will be more fun for her than if only a very few are able to come. I still haven't wrapped the gifts for tomorrow night; I guess I will get started on that before I go to bed tonight.


Every now and then, I think to look at my blog stats to see where people are visiting from and what kind of search strings have led unsuspecting searchers to my site. I think this string I found the other day (from Sunday, Oct. 8) has to be the best one yet: "how to unstick mating dogs." Whoever the poor soul in Cleveland, Ohio, was.... I sure hope they solved that problem. Sorry I wasn't much help. I'm still trying to figure out just why that search landed you here to begin with!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Weekend recap

It's been a nice weekend. I got most of the shopping for Halle done yesterday; there may be one more thing left to get before Thursday. While I was out (or in the house working on other stuff) Brian and the 3 younger kids worked out in the backyard. Incredibly, they were able to get the entire yard covered with the mulch. They even left a small space for a flower garden. They may work on it tomorrow.

Today we welcomed 2 new shepherds and 5 deacons to our church. I believe each of these men will serve wholeheartedly and welcome the chance to learn from them.

We changed things up a bit tonight and I got to take Emily to youth group while Brian stayed home with the others. I used the time alone to go to Barnes & Noble and read a bit. I read almost all of Velvet Elvis, but stopped just a few chapters from the end. I'm supposed to be borrowing this book from a friend and want to take notes as I read it the next time. Then I picked out a couple of books for Halle (Judy Moody, M.D.) and Noah (Harry Houdini, Master of Magic) before heading out to pick up Emily.

Tomorrow the kids and I are meeting up with our old backyard neighbors at a "jump house" (place with a bunch of inflatable bounce houses) and to lunch. We'll pick Em up from school on our way home from all that. Then we'll have gymnastics in the evening. Mondays are always a little hectic.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday night lights

Emily is at her first high school football game tonight. I'll be picking her up in a little while. She's bringing a friend from school home to spend the night, and then tomorrow I'll be taking them to the mall. I'll probably do some shopping for Halle's birthday while I'm out. We've only managed to find one thing for her so far.

We had 12 yards of bark/mulch delivered to the driveway today. That will be the other big weekend chore. Thankfully it is a long weekend for Brian. He has Monday off, so he can work on the yard then if he still needs to. I have no idea how long it will take to move that much bark from the driveway to the back yard.

I've discovered that we aren't getting all the emails from Emily's school. I don't know why, but they aren't making it to us and we're missing out on a lot of information. Case in point: the Annual Fund dinner that is being held in a month. We knew it was coming up, but didn't know when tickets went on sale. Apparently, they have been on sale for a while already and today was the last day for the $10/couple discount. This was in a weekly bulletin email sent out last Thursday... one we didn't get, but that Emily's friend's mom forwarded to me this evening. I know the emails aren't going to our spam folders. I'm not sure what's up, but I will be checking into it next week.

Time to go pick up Emily.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It takes a little rain

Yesterday marked the first rainfall since May. It was nice... it wasn't a downpour, but a very light rain. Just enough to get things a little wet. I sure am glad we're getting some bark to cover the back yard this weekend, though. We need to get it done before the big rains hit and we wind up with a gigantic mud-wrestling pit in the back. Brian's bonus pay came through this week and we'll be using some of it to cover that expense. The rest is earmarked for debt reduction.

Tomorrow an a/c repair company is coming to look at our a/c units. Apparently there is a drain that comes out one side of the house that was/is leaking rusty-colored water. It has stained the outside wall of the house and the concrete walk directly underneath that drainspout. Thankfully, we don't have to pay for this visit/repair. I am interested in finding out the cause, though.

Hoping to find time for something fun this weekend. Brian has Monday off because of Columbus Day. It will be nice to have him around.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Spare me

The kids and I went bowling this afternoon after school. We met another homeschooling mom and her 3 kids at the base bowling alley. This was our first time meeting and the kids seemed to hit it off well. I only bowled 1 game, while the kids bowled 2. I am definitely out of practice! I did manage to get a couple of strikes and a spare, but also threw several gutter balls. If there's one thing I am, it's consistently inconsistent. Anyhow, hopefully we'll be able to get together once a week or so with them for the kids to hang out together, even if it's just to play at the park.

I did get the dog from this morning returned to his owner. It turns out he isn't new after all. The only reason we didn't know he existed before the last few days is that he is usually in some kind of cage outside. His owner thinks he has figured out a way out of it. We'll be fortifying our side of the fence in case this continues.

Mending fences

Well, I guess it's not really a fence that needs to be mended... more like the ground beneath it. When I went out in the backyard with Campbell this morning, we had a "guest" waiting for us. Apparently some neighbors behind us got a new pet recently and yesterday he and Campbell were trying to get to know each other under the fence. We filled in an area with rock/boulders where the dogs had been digging to get to each other. I'm guessing these folks must have left their guy out last night, which gave him lots of uninterrupted time to create a new way over here. He's a tiny fellow.... looks to be a Miniature Pinscher. It wasn't light out enough for me to see where he could have gotten in at and lights aren't on in that house, so I don't feel like I can go over to their house yet. He won't let me pick him up (well, he did once, but then starting yelping and biting at my hands). So Campbell has to stay out of the backyard until I can find a way to return this guy to his family.

It's always something.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Busy, birthdays, boring....

It's been a busy few days. Sundays are always full because of church and youth group; Mondays are busy due to Brian's lay counselor class and Halle & Joel's gymnastics classes. Today was less busy as far as "things" go, but still plenty of stuff to do once we finished with school for the day. I got a load of laundry folded and put away, plus made lunch for everyone, cleaned the kitchen, and vacuumed the downstairs carpet. Got all that done before 2:30, when we left to pick Emily up from school.

Halle's birthday is coming up in a little over a week. We still need to shop for her. Thoughtful child that she is, she has provided us with a list. Most prominent on the list are assorted Pixel Chix items. Hopefully we'll be able to attend to this matter by this weekend.

You can wake up and go back to what you were doing now.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


Yesterday was Ashton Kutcher movie day. The young ones got to see Open Season in the afternoon after we finished school. They liked it alright. I though it was OK. I would have rather taken a nap. My favorite part was getting to listen to Billy Connolly as the voice of McSquizzy the Squirrel.

After Brian got home from work, we all headed out to see The Guardian. Good story, a little long. Glad there was popcorn to keep Joel entertained. I think Ashton Kutcher showed he can handle a serious role here. Kevin Costner was... well, Kevin Costner. Never disappointing.

I was so wiped out by the time we got home, that I went to bed almost immediately. I was asleep by 10.

Today will be full of household stuff, plus a hair appointment for me in the afternoon.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Last I heard...

Seen at Zoot's... thought it looked like fun!

You go to Google and type in your name along with the phrase "last I heard he/she was" and see what you get. Find out what you're up to these days...

Last I heard, she was taking massage therapy classes at night. Ooh, that sounds like fun, but I'd rather be getting than giving.

Last I heard, she was living in Iowa. Let's make that one state west.

Last I heard, she was no longer teaching. Obviously, that is so not true.

Last I heard, she was still hangin' on, but barely... Ssssshhhh! It's a secret!

Last I heard she was quite far ahead in the polls. I'm not sure what polls that would be. That one scares me.

The last I heard she was pregnant again. Bite your tongue!

Last I heard she was going to go be a cop. Cop, mom... what's the difference?


After a weekend with just me and the kids, I am so happy to have my husband back home. He was up in Sacramento this weekend, doing the moonlighting thing. Then he left straight from work yesterday to go to his lay counselor class in Brentwood. Since he doesn't get home from that until around 10:30, Emily is the only one of the kids who got to see him last night. He's hoping to get off early today so he can get some good daddy-kid time in.

Tonight I have a "parent information night" at Emily's school. This is hosted by her English teacher. Each quarter when they start a new book, she gives parents a chance to find out what the kids will be covering; we will get a handout that shows their reading/quiz/test schedule, plus she'll give a synopsis of the book and go over the themes they'll be discussing. It's a little something to help us have intelligent discussion with our kid over what they're reading. This quarter's book: Romeo and Juliet. The book at the left is the one they are using. Emily said her teacher wasn't thrilled with it, but it was the cheapest edition they could get. Apparently, the "plain English" portion is a bit more descriptive than one might like. After all, we know Shakespeare didn't write kiddie lit!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Book bug

We've had a bit of a busy week around here, what with running one kid to school in the morning and then rushing back home to start our schoolday here. Add to that various other commitments (gymnastics, Wed. evening church, grocery shopping, etc.) I keep meeting myself coming and going, it seems. I'm hoping for a more relaxed weekend. It should be, since I won't need to get groceries or run any other major errands that I can think of. It will be lovely if we can just sit right here until time to go to church on Sunday morning.

I was talking to a friend on the phone today about going to Barnes & Noble the other night and not buying anything... and wishing I had. (We're watching our spending a little bit right now.) She came up with a great idea for those of us who want to read Christian literature (fiction or nonfiction), which is often nearly impossible to find in public libraries. Wouldn't it be cool if someone developed a rental system for these books kind of like the one NetFlix and have developed for movies? I think that would totally rock! Then if you really liked the book and wanted to spend the money on it, you could buy it. Sure could save someone for feeling like they wasted good money on a bad read. So who's going to start up this enterprise?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

To everything there is a season

So today we said goodbye to Jarrod and Lauren. They're beginning a new chapter in their lives together as he takes a new ministry position in Texas at the Riverside Church of Christ there. It was definitely a bittersweet time with emotions on both ends of the spectrum. I'm very excited for them and know that they will both be a blessing to the people in Texas. But at the same time, I will miss having them in our lives. They've been so accepting and welcoming to us since we arrived here in California; I had begun to think of Jarrod as a much wiser little brother. Dealing with their departure is a little tough; I'm still trying to heal from our move last year. I know good things will come of it all, though. Maybe I've finally convinced Jarrod to start blogging!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Everyone's Hero

Joel had a great day today. He was the first one up and ran to me saying, "Today's my birthday!" I tried to convince him that today was Saturday and that he slept through his birthday, but he wouldn't buy it. It was good for a few minutes of laughter and teasing, though. Mornings with him are usually full of teasing, like when he asks for breakfast and I tell him, "Nope, today's an odd-numbered day; you only get breakfast on even-numbered days." So of course, he wasn't buying my "slept-through-your-birthday" scam.

Joel opened his presents after Brian got home from work. He was quite thrilled with everything. I played another sneaky trick by hiding the GameCube game inside one of his PoTC toys. He got quite a kick out of that. He and Noah have spent quite a bit of time playing it tonight.

We did go to Godfather's for pizza and then off to see Everyone's Hero. I can't say enough good things about this movie. It was a true G-rated film, with a message of "keep swinging" to encourage kids to never give up. My kids thought it was great.

Everyone was too full from dinner and movie snacks to eat cake tonight. However, we did sing Happy Birthday, light the candles, and have Joel blow them out; we'll eat some tomorrow.

Tomorrow looks to be busy. We plan on going to a Kidfest in downtown Vacaville, plus Halle is invited to a birthday sleepover over in Antioch tomorrow. Brian and I were hoping to finally go out to dinner to celebrate our 20th anniversary (we'd only be a month late if we do it tomorrow). We'll have to see if we can fit it in.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Twas the night before a birthday

Joel has been keeping the countdown for over 2 months now, keeping track of the days till his birthday. Tonight, he said he was in a hurry for bedtime to come, because then his birthday would be here when he woke up. Smart thinking! Needless to say, when bedtime rolled around, we heard no whining or complaining. (Actually, we rarely hear any from him... he's usually fairly ready for bed by then.)

In a little while, we'll pull out the gifts from hiding and get them wrapped. He's having a Pirates of the Caribbean kind of birthday, with the majority of his gifts being related to that movie (some PoTC jigsaw puzzles and Jack Sparrow dress-up clothes/sword). He's also getting a Star Wars LEGO game for the GameCube. Brian also went to Raley's earlier this afternoon to order a PoTC cake for tomorrow. I think Joel will be pretty happy with his birthday.

Tomorrow is also the day Emily returns from her 2-night retreat with her school. I'm looking forward to hearing how it was. I'm sure she will have plenty of stories to tell!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tuesday stuff

Fun times today... the kids' new math books arrived yesterday afternoon, so Halle and Joel both got to start work in them today (Noah has a couple more lessons to get through before he gets to dive into his new one.). Joel absolutely loved his book; he is doing Math-U-See's Alpha book this year. Halle is doing the Beta one, and Noah will be starting Delta.

Emily is getting ready to go on a 2-night retreat with her school tomorrow. They leave in the morning and will get back by Friday afternoon. It sounds like she will have fun. She plans on playing paintball while there. Sure wish I could see that!

Things are gearing up for Joel's 6th birthday this Friday. He hasn't decided where he wants to eat for dinner yet. I'm guessing he is going to wind up choosing Godfather's Pizza. Maybe we'll go to the movies that evening as well.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I remember

We were on our way to Disney World to celebrate my youngest’s first birthday. We left Dayton, OH early that morning and landed at Newark around 8 a.m. After we arrived at our departure gate, we went to find drinks/breakfast for everyone. On our way back, I remember looking out the window and remarking to my husband, “That looks like the Empire State Building.” (At this point, I had no idea we were so close to NYC.) As we got a little closer to the end of the terminal, we could see a large crowd gathering around the windows. The first tower had just been hit. We could see the smoke billowing from the building.

At this point, we had no clue as to whether this was an accident or intentional. Seeing the second tower hit a few minutes later seemed to answer this question for us. From somewhere overhead, an announcement was made that all flights were “delayed”; shortly afterwards, that was amended to “canceled.” It shames me to remember that my initial reaction was a selfish thought of how our vacation had been ruined. I think at that point, all I could really think about was *my* family and how the events had immediately impacted us. All I knew was what I could see from my vantage point across the river; I had no news coverage or commentary to tell me anything more.

We had nothing to do but stand/sit and watch until the loudspeakers boomed once more, announcing the evacuation of the airport. We joined a mass exodus to the airport grounds, carrying/pulling our carryon luggage, including a large carseat. We had 2 kids in arms and 2 walking, and we were trying desperately to keep an eye on the 2 walking so that we wouldn’t get separated, when we heard a voice next to us say, “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure they don’t get lost.” A very nice gentleman could see we had quite a bit to handle and helped us keep the kids close by us on the trek outside.

Once outside, we sat on the ground for what seemed an eternity. I have no clue how long it was; it may have only been an hour or so. However long it was, we were finally told that we couldn’t stay there indefinitely, but that everyone had to leave the airport grounds. To say the situation was stressful was an understatement. Here we were in a strange city at least 600 miles from our home… and we needed to find a way back. The lines for buses were horrendous, the taxi lines even more so. Brian noticed a man with a sign that said, “limo” on it and asked the man if he had room for us. He asked us what we needed, and we told him we needed to find a rental van or a place to stay for the night. He said he could help us with that. So began our introduction to Reggie Jackson.

It turns out that Reggie was a retired NYPD officer. He led us to his Mercedes sedan and loaded our things into the trunk. He drove us to one rental place, which wanted $200 for a van that they wanted returned to that office the next day. We really didn’t want to stay in Newark… we wanted to get *home*. He drove us to yet another place (it seemed to take forever) and waited while Brian talked with the rental agents there. We were able to get a reasonable rate there (and a van we could actually drive to OH, rather than just around Newark), and Reggie helped load our things. He’d spent at least 3 hours with us by this time. When Brian asked him how much we owed him, Reggie said, “$20.” We were overwhelmed at his generosity, and thankfully we were able to get him to take a little bit more than that. I think we count Reggie as our 9/11 hero. Things certainly would have turned out a little differently without him.

We only made it to Western PA that evening before stopping for the night. There were detours because of supposed bomb threats on bridges. We were still not sure of everything going on. Somehow I think that hearing the news on the radio was different than actually seeing it on television. We made it back to Dayton the following evening. Our luggage made it there that weekend. We weren’t sure when we’d attempt air travel as a family again… we bought our luggage-totin’ Yukon XL on the 20th of September.

Brian’s leave was canceled and he went back to work at the base hospital on Thursday. We were thankful that he wasn’t deployed anywhere until much later; he spent 3 months in Oman that next March through June. By the next year, our family is flying together again.

5 years later, we remember the day we all wish had never happened.

Related Posts with Thumbnails