Friday, December 27, 2013

The Rest of the Day

The rest of Christmas Day was spent downloading videos, music and podcasts.

Playing new games.

Making food (in my new sweater--thanks, Mom!).

The old hat (with the red 3DS) teaching the newby (with the blue 3DS).

Daddy taking a picture of his Russian nesting dolls.  More on that another time.

Creating magic gardens.
Did you have one of these when you were a kid?  I did and I remember it being one of the coolest things ever.  It hasn't gotten less-cool even though I am 30 years older.

And playing with the new bubble machine.

We had a busy Christmas Eve with visiting family.  Everyone was exhausted from three days of late nights/busy days, we decided to stay home on Christmas Day.  It was a nice relaxing day of enjoying our new gifts.

Christmas Morning

My dear baby and I were awake until 2:30 on Christmas morning.  (He was upset about something and I think it had to do with the new tooth he debuted.)  Needless to say, I was tired when it was time to get up for presents.  Because our house is long and skinny with the bedrooms on either end, the kids couldn't leave the room (they all sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve) to wake us up without going through the living room.  
 Entering the living room unsupervised is strictly forbidden because Dad and I don't want to miss that magic moment. 
To get around the problem, Isaac sent a text to Justin's phone.  Our old ways are dying out!

Santa had a bit of a hard time, but he managed to get a crazy deal on Isaac's first Apple product.  
He will never be the same.
Parenthetically, this ipod nano can hold thousands of songs, play full-length movies, and display pictures, among other things.  It is smaller than a credit card.  If you had told me that would be possible to teenage me, holding my CD Walkman that only played CD's and performed no other feat, I would never have believed you.  Sometimes I wonder what technology a sci-fi writer is imaging up right now will be fully available in 10, 15, 20 years.

I dislike Barbie's for 99 reasons of varying value, but I don't mind the Kelly dolls.
This particular child wants Barbie's so much, but knows I will never buy them for her.  
She didn't know about Kelly dolls!

Eliza had a stuffed animal that she loved, loved, loved.  About a year before we moved, "Elephy" disappeared, never to be seen again.  Her younger sister drew her name for Christmas and was intent on finding another Elephy.  She succeeded.

She was so excited for Christmas because she knew how much Eliza missed that special toy.
After the joy and the squeals, Dad quietly spoke up.  
"Now that Elephy has been replaced, I can tell you what happened to the original.  I found it in the grass on the side of our old house.  It was all wet and moldy so I threw it away."
He had never even told ME the truth behind the mysterious disappearance!

Another sister gift success story.  I love how my girl's face is mimicking the face of the model on the box.

Just as we were nearing the end of opening gifts, Baby Boy woke up.  There was no way I was waking him up after our rough night!  He didn't mind missing the early morning excitement.

Baby's first Superman.  I am so happy to have a boy in our home again!

Oh, behind him is my gift: a wet saw.  Let's get this house project going already!

It was a fun morning and the children were all so grateful for their gifts.

Not long after this photo was taken, I took a three hour nap.  Nothing could have been better!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Procrastination in the House of No Secrets

Last year I bought everyone's Christmas Eve pajamas.  Even with sales and deals, I spent a lot of money on pajamas and I felt guilty about it all year!  I can sew, dang it!  This year, I watched the ads until I found a cute set of king size flannel sheets for $18.  That is a lot of material and the flannel is so much thicker than what you could find at the fabric store (or you would be paying at least $10 per yard for it).  So, I found this great deal on material
and there it sat
for weeks.

Finally, on Christmas Eve, I sewed.  See, part of the problem is that I live in a house of no secrets.  Two of my daughters sleep in the dining room refashioned into a bed room.  It has no fourth wall and certainly no door to be closed.  I couldn't figure out how to be clandestine about the task.  I gave up and sewed the dang things right in plain sight.  I even had the girls try them on.

Anytime a question was asked, I just stuck to my story that I was making a tablecloth.
(Yes, an owl tablecloth with sleeves and a waist.  I know they didn't question my explanation.)

Did she finish in time?  Well, yes and no.  Two girls received a complete set and two more girls got pajama pants with the promise of a top at some point in their lives.  

$18 and I haven't even used half of the material.  After the last two tops are completed, I'll have used just over half.  Was it worth the insanity?  Jury's still out.
But they turned out cute.  :)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Almost Here

Christmas is almost here.

Requests have been made.

I just want to go to bed.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

In Route

He is on his way home.  I'm not especially nervous about something terrible happening when my son flies without me, but I am anxious that a flight will be delayed which will cause him to miss his connection or some other situation where a mom would come in handy.  When Isaac flies, I am checking the internet frequently.  He can't contact me, but I can watch him, so to speak.

One of my favorite tools is a sight called  My mom introduced me to it several years ago and it is my best friend while Isaac is in the not-always-friendly skies.  This is what it looks like:

At first glance it looks overwhelming and useless, but once you zoom in, it becomes a treasure trove of information.  You can follow a flight in real time, check that particular route's statistics (such-and-such flight was on time three times this week, on time twice and late twice), study up on connecting airports and more.

Right now, for instance, I know that he is flying over Warsaw which means he is about 3/4 of the way from Moscow to Zurich.  His flight took off about five minutes early and looks like it will be about that early landing.  This is important information because his layover is only 55 minutes--cutting it close for an unfamiliar airport in a foreign country, but it was better than a 19 hour layover!  I know the airplane that will be taking him to the United States has arrived and is at the gate.  All of this means I can go to bed and feel confident that all will be well.

Since we can't always communicate when he is traveling, it is nice for me to know about where he is, how his flights are going and whether or not he's going to have to run to get to his next gate.  It is also a good way for me to know when to jump in my car to go pick him up from the airport!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bad Dream

I had such a bad dream last night.  I dreamed that we finally got to start our house and our builder worked crazy fast.  In just a few weeks, the house was all but done.  We went to visit it and it was just was we wanted.  (Yes, I dreamed a real-life version of the house plans--I know them by heart!)  As we walked from room to room, I clapped my hands and got so excited, but I also had a pit in my stomach.

Brett (our builder) had built the house in the wrong city.  We were now a 45 minute commute from Justin's work, in a busy neighborhood, and in another state entirely.  I was trying, very diplomatically, to ask him why he hadn't built on the land we owned, in the location we wanted.  He never replied, just continued to point out the that he found the trim we wanted and that the gas stove was all ready to be installed.  "It is all perfect!  I just wish it was in Idaho!"

I know I'm being unreasonably picky, but I want to live here.

Even though it was a dream wherein my house was nearly done, I am glad it was just a dream!

Friday, December 20, 2013


I tend to do most of the Christmas shopping in our house.  This is mostly because most of the Christmas Shopping happens online and also because my husband, you know, works and all.  So every year, I try to reserve some of the shopping for later in the season so Justin can pick out some of the gifts for our children.

Since our darling boy is still frequently physically attached to me, he came with us.

I can't stand it.  He is too irresistible!

Besides some major sewing, we are done with our Christmas shopping.  FUN, but also a bit of a chore.
There are other delights to the season.  Our eight year old, for instance, was in a little Charlie Brown's Christmas play.  Even with the simplicity of the production, I still teared up when the children began quoting the story of the Christ Child from the Bible.  We need so much more of that!   

I do quite a bit of driving since we live rurally.  I've made a point of really listening to the Christmas songs that play on the radio.  Over the course of one week, I heard only two songs that even referred to Baby Jesus:  Oh, Holy Night and Little Drummer Boy.  Where are Silent Night, Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, or even Mary Did You Know?  I have NO PROBLEM with Santa and snow and Rudolf, but things have gotten out of hand this year.
Maybe it's just me.

I'm grateful that my daughter plays the piano and that she plays many of the reverent and sacred Christmas songs.
Eliza, getting some help on the keyboard.
Today was baking day, which was perfect because it was also snowing day.  We had soft, gentle flakes falling most of the day.  Such a wonderful way to spend time with my children.

Frosting!  For those of you who will receive plates of cookies, please know that my children have strict sanitary policies while helping with the baking.  :)

And that wraps up another busy season-specific day.  What joy these children bring.  I cannot think of anything better to do with my life.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

First Semester: Check.

Isaac just posted this picture on Facebook.  Today was the final exam for end of semester grading.  It is a great deal of stress for the teacher and students.  It is what they work toward every day for weeks and months and is really a big deal.

After first semester final exam.  Isaac is on the far left.
Knowing the exam was today, we prayed for him at test time--just like we did the entire time his dad was in school.  He said it went well and that he felt like he did the best he could do.
(He has no idea when he'll find out his grade.)

In addition, he got to dance on THE stage a couple of days ago.  It was a dream come true.

And now?  Now he gets to come home to me.  
It will take 24 hours of traveling, but he will be home for Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Official Permission

After a few snafus, we are one MAJOR step closer to moving out of our cardboard house.

We have a building permit from the county!!

Building site--currently being mowed by our goats, Phineas and Ferb--
and me.  I'm excited.
The last two puzzle pieces are financing and weather.  We are close on the first and it is a gorgeous (if cold) December day today, so the second looks promising.

I'll keep you posted.

Merry Christmas!! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Small Miracle

I have been battling a cold for the last week or so.  It isn't a bad one and it hasn't sidelined me much, but one of my symptoms was a sore throat.  This morning, I woke up without much of a voice . . .

and I was supposed to sing a solo in church.

Church didn't begin until 12:30 so I had time.  Having been a singer all of my life, I have a few tricks up my sleeve.  I tried them.  Each time I ran through the song, my voice cracked, jumped or just plain stopped.  I was nervous, to say the least.  My song was to be near the end, about an hour into the service.  There was a constant prayer streaming heavenward the whole time.  When it was my turn, I leaned over to my girls and whispered, "Pray for your mama."  They did.

When I am singing in church, my main hope is to bring the Holy Spirit into the meeting.  I want to testify through my talent, to help members of the congregation, Spirit to spirit, identify truth.  Music can say things where words alone fail.  If I sang poorly or if my voice jumped or cracked obviously, the only thing people would remember was that flub.  I don't want people to remember my voice; I want them to remember how they felt about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ while I sang.  In other words, my desire is to be a vessel.  A vessel that is spilling its contents is not exactly doing its job!

Many years ago, I was in a production of Secret Garden and I got laryngitis days before the performances.  I remember talking to the music director before the dress rehearsal, "The good news is that I have a voice.  The bad news is that it is very weak."  His advice was to sing as correctly as I knew how--by not being lazy in my technique, I was successful.  I applied that advice today.

My song went just how I wanted it to go.

Please don't mistake my happiness with pride.  My happiness is with the small miracle that Heavenly Father offered to me today.  My prayers and those of my little family were heard and, somehow, my voice obeyed my will.  By the closing hymn, my voice was back to performing the way it had been doing all morning and tonight, I am mostly mute.  But for that moment, I was able to testify of the blessed Babe, His mother, Mary, and His Father.

My Father.

Friday, December 13, 2013


This is my oldest girl.  She is 12 and is kind of remarkable--and I would think so even if I weren't her mom.  Being her mom, I like to think I know her pretty well.  However, she recently got braces and I am seeing a whole new Eliza.

My mom said it the other day, though she didn't know she was describing my girl.  Mom said, "I am a happy and content adult and I don't think I would have been if I hadn't been able to get braces."
See, Eliza's personality is much like my mom's.  Eliza used to be very shy; she has worked her way out of her shell, for the most part, but she is still a taciturn person (except late at night--then she is plain ol' chatty!).  My grandparents found a way to get braces for my mother when they saw her hiding her smile.  Her smile is  now my mother's trademark!  If we'd waited much longer, I think we would have begun to see our girl hide her smile and slowly slink back into her shell.

Instead, almost instantly and certainly before the braces could do much to change her smile, she found a new confidence.  She smiles more easily, is more animated and is, well, happier.

That is a treasure worth more than the correct bite promised.

Eliza serenading Christmas shoppers at our local mall.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

No More Muscles

When I was about 9 months pregnant with my newest baby, my son (the ballet dancer) said, "Hey, Mom.  Try this!  Have you ever tried to sit up without using your stomach muscles?"  Ha.  Ha.  Very funny, dear boy.  Welcome to the life of the pregnant woman.

And, it turns out, the no-longer pregnant-but-have-been-several-times woman.

I'm finally back down to my pre-pregnancy weight, but there is no tone in any muscle in my body.  Flabby, flab, flab, flop.  I have no strength, I have no definition, and I wobble when I walk/dance/jump/jog/laugh.

Enter Determined Daughter.  She made a goal to become more physically fit and challenged me to do it with her.  Do not judge me when I tell you that I had to google "What the heck is a burpee?" (Please, people, couldn't we come up with a better name than burpee?  Honestly.  How uncouth.) and "What the heck is a Russian Twist?" and "What the heck is a V-up?"  

In other news, I bought all of the ingredients to make my annual Christmas Treat Platters . . . this evening.


Change of Plans

This is our third Christmas season back home.  There is a darling Bavarian town about a three hour drive away that is always fully decorated for Christmas.  Justin and I were married the day before Thanksgiving and honeymooned in Leavenworth.  While we were there, the town was getting all decked out for the holidays.  
It was enchanting.  
Ever since we moved closer, I've wanted to take the children to the town.  It feels so festive and I wanted them to be introduced.  This year, I decided, we were going!  I put it on the calendar weeks ago and made sure there were no interfering appointments.

Then, this happened.

So that was that.  
By the time we were ready to roll, there was no way we could make the trip and see the town.  
I was disappointed, but there wasn't anything I could do about it.  Instead of wallowing, I decided we were going on a field trip regardless.  We went to see the eagles.

I did not take this photo, but it is from the visitor's info about our local eagles.
It was very cool!  We saw several both in trees and in flight.  We saw some birds fishing for the Kokanee Salmon that populate the lake this time of year.  We watched the huge birds until the sun set, with its brilliant oranges and pinks, then wandered our way back home by way of fully decorated neighborhoods.

It wasn't Leavenworth, but it was a great Plan B.
We'll go someday, kids!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Too Tired

My baby is sick.  
Nothing serious or even long-term, but sick enough to want me to hold him always and nurse him forever.  Most of the time, I don't mind doing it--in fact, I enjoy nurturing my sick children.  He is the most precious thing, but our very restless sleeping has taken its toll.  
I'm tired.
Yet, here it is, nearly midnight, and I am wide awake.  
Chubby baby boy is fast asleep, my bed is warm and soft, the house is basically tidy, the laundry is basically caught up and you'd think I could sink right into that peaceful place.
But, no.
My independent brain has decided now is a great time to blink between the four websites I visit, searching for something new and interesting 
and finding nothing.
I don't want to start the Christmas Eve sewing project that I desperately need to start.  It is too late at night to begin a project like that.
 Usually, when I'm awake late at night, I have Isaac to visit with on Facebook or Skype.  He is exactly 12 hours ahead of us so it is right in the middle of the day for him.
But his internet bill is due and he didn't get down to the kiosk to pay it yet.
So, I'll finish my drawling and post these darling pictures of our very busy boy from a couple of days ago when he wasn't feeling cruddy.

This face will brighten anyone's mood.
It doesn't really help me sleep, but it sure makes me happy!

Aaand . . . 
there he is, waking up.  Oh, well.  I wasn't doing anything anyway.
"Coming, baby!"

Monday, December 9, 2013

Having Fun

Isaac is having a great experience in Russia.  Not always a great time, but certainly a great experience.  
The sheer nature of ballet, being an art of young bodies, forces the dancers to take life seriously much of the time.  They have to have the poise, determination, work ethic and fortitude of a much older person or, quite frankly, they wouldn't survive the training.  They endure pressures that would break many an adult.

That is why pictures like this make me so happy.

Play, children, play!!

Snowball to the face.

 "Look what I have prepared for you:  Snow."

Of course, they are still dancers.  
And as such, if you know one at all, dancers will dance.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


I buy the newspaper.  Just one.  I am a couponer, but am by no means a crazy couponer.  In other words, I clip for the things I buy--or other things I'd like to buy, but can't make myself pay full-price for.  As long as I'm saving enough in coupons to justify my purchasing of the newspaper, I figure I'm getting the local news for free.

One of the other reasons I like the paper is so I can scour the ads.  When there is a particular purchase that I need to make, especially a high priced item, I watch the ads for weeks to familiarize myself with the price range of the item in question.  When an ideal, extra-low price is advertised, I buy.

Then, and this is where I think I'm a bit broken, I keep watching the ads.  For weeks.  If the price goes down, I kick myself.  That, I gloat, rarely happens.  I'm pretty sure the real reason I continue watching the ads is to revel in my awesomeness.  Knowing I got the best deal of the century strokes my pride better than few other things.

"You know the dohickey I bought last month?  I haven't seen it for less than 40% more than what I paid."

"That's great, honey," says the ever-patient man by my side.

"No, listen.  You need to understand how amazing I am.  I've been watching the ads and I've checked online and you CAN'T find if for less than what I paid!"

Poor guy.  Other wives must talk about the most interesting things.  Me?  I just tell him how many ways I've spent his money that day.

Does anyone else do this?  Why can't I buy something and let well-enough alone?

But, seriously.  I got the best deals for my kids' Christmas presents . . . last month!


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Grateful We're Not Freezing

As many of you across the western United States, we have been experiencing frigid temperatures this week.

Our little trailer has very thin walls and the furnace has been burning nearly non-stop.  We have to keep the bathroom cabinets open, water dripping from the faucets and the washer and dryer going continually to keep the trailer's undersides warm enough to prevent freezing pipes.
Even with those preventative measures, we've had a couple of close calls--frozen, but not so frozen that the expanding ice busted the pipes.

Jack Frost has definitely enjoyed decorating our windows this week.
The designs he has created look like sculpted ice paintings--
much too expensive for the lowly walls they embellish.  

But, do you know what I keep thinking?  I keep thinking about how BLESSED we are to have this crappy, cold trailer.  It has made it possible for us to send our son to Russia,  to take Isaac to Florida and San Francisco and to bring a sister with us for each ballet jaunt, to pay our sometimes crushing medical bills and student loan payments, to enroll the children in piano, art, and theater classes and to live on our beautiful spot of land.

In addition to all of those things, it is keeping us warm and protected; 
nothing like a winter storm to make you appreciate your shelter!

And, at the very least, these sub-zero temperatures should be taking care of last summer's bee problem!