Sunday, December 31, 2006

Whirlwind week

Saturday, Dec. 23rd - drove to Northern CA where my family lives.

Sunday, Dec. 24th - church service, then time spent in the hospital with my mom.

Monday, Dec. 25th - We brought Christmas to the hospital - even complete with a Christmas tree! We opened presents at the hospital, decorated Mom's room, and even brought in Christmas dinner. It was a rather unusual way of celebrating, but I actually really enjoyed it. It was good to be able to bring Christmas to Mom, since she couldn't be home.

Tuesday, Dec. 26th - Sarah tried on her wedding dress for the first time since $400 worth of alterations in Massachusetts. Panic ensued, as the dress didn't fit AT ALL. Sarah and I spent the day finding a seamstress who could help, then ordering a cake and trying to find someone who could do flowers on seriously short notice! We did find the most wonderful seamstresses ever! They were Russian or Ukranian, we think, and our encounter with them sounded something like this:

"russianrussianrussianrussianrussianrussianrussian-not good!-russianrussianrussian-darts?-russianrussianrussianrussian-not good, because you have breasts!!!-russianrussianrussianrussianrussianrussian-we fix; come back tomorrow at four"

It really was rather funny. :) They did speak English as well, and were able to explain to us pretty thoroughly what they could do. I was impressed at their ability, and thankfully they came through and delivered a beautifully fitting dress by Thursday morning!

Wednesday, Dec. 27th - Jonathan and I spent the morning out and about, shopping for supplies for Sarah's wedding and sweaters for Mom and I to wear to the wedding. Nothing went as planned, and we barely made it home in the afternoon in time to clean up and get ready for the Skinners (Sarah's about-to-be in-laws) who were coming over for dinner. Thankfully, I have two wonderful brothers who also came home in time to help clean and cook. I think it would have been pretty disastrous if they hadn't been around to help - adrenaline can only carry you so far when you're eight months pregnant, and I had been seriously pushing the limits!

Thursday, Dec. 28th - Sarah's wedding day!! More errands in the morning - dress shoes and socks and a tie for Christopher, slips for Mom and I (did you know that Penneys doesn't carry slips?! Ack, neither did I!!!) supplies for the punch at the reception - then down to the hospital just in time to mix up the punch with Uncle Gary's help and change into my dress for the wedding.

The wedding was just amazing. The hospital staff just bent over backward to make it wonderful for Sarah - one of the hospital administrators even did her hair for her!! The wedding itself was held in a little garden, the reception was in a conference room, and they opened up a boardroom and brought in a full-length mirror so Sarah could get dressed elsewhere than a bathroom (which was what she had been expecting to do!) We had forgotten to get extra flowers to put on the cake, so someone found burgandy tipped carnations in the hospital gift shop and sprinkled the petals over the cake. There was just so much excitement and goodwill and true caring from the hospital staff - it was wonderful.

Sarah and Nathan's pastor flew out from Massachusetts to marry them. A trio of musicians volunteered to play (including Sarah's very first violin teacher - how cool is that?) Nearly fifty people attended, even on such short notice! An artistic friend from Mom and Dad's church took care of decorating everything, and she did a beautiful job. It certainly wasn't the wedding that Sarah and Nathan had planned...but it was lovely and (I thought) about as perfect as you could have under the circumstances.

Mom looked absolutely lovely. We had bought her a really pretty dusty pink skirt and top a few months ago when she was still down in the Sutter Roseville hospital, in the hopes that it could work as a mother of the bride dress. And it sure did! She wore it with a cute black hat and a dark purple/burgandy shawl that a friend had crocheted for her - it really looked good. I thought it was funny that after all the stress of "what to wear to the wedding", and "should both mothers try to match" and the end they did match (completely by accident!) and in complementary colors to those that Sarah had chosen for her decorations. Even my dress ended up being burgandy, which is what she had chosen for her bridesmaid's dresses!

Jonathan did carry in the rings - although Gabe had to carry in Jonathan! It was really cute, though - he handed the pillow off to Sarah without fussing about relinquishing it at all. :)

In a way, I'm selfishly glad for how it turned out. I wasn't going to be able to go to her wedding, being too pregnant to fly across the country. So it was honestly nice to be able to be there and be part of it, even though the circumstances that made it so are sad. I got to be a stand-in bridesmaid, in a way - fix her train, hold her bouquet - and I had been really sad that I couldn't do that for her in Pennsylvania.

There were a couple of news crews there, videotaping the wedding. The hospital had asked if they could have a journalist there...and somehow that turned into a journalist and three tv crews. :) Sarah and Nathan handled it really really well, though. One of the camera journalists was incredibly nice. He actually stayed in the background like he was supposed to, and during the reception he pulled me aside and asked permission (again - he had already gotten hospital permission) to use some of the footage of Mom in his story. I said that it was ok if they were GOOD pictures - and that the earlier footage would probably be better since by the reception she was getting very tired. He assured me that he would only use flattering pictures, and that he would make the story as tasteful and beautiful as he could. I was so impressed with him - I walked away from speaking with him actually convinced that he did care about respecting us in that way, and that he would do a nice job. You can see the result for yourself here...isn't it beautifully done?? :)

Friday, December 29th - I did a mountain of laundry (and by mountain, I really mean mountain!!) and deep cleaned the refrigerator so Dad and Christopher would be able to know what food was available. When mom isn't there using up leftovers and keeping track of such things, interesting science experiments develop in the back of the fridge! My brother and I cleaned up the house again, this time because Jonathan's fiance's parents were going to come over. Little Jonathan went down for a nap in the early afternoon, and completely by accident, so did I. :) I guess you can only burn midnight oil for so long before it catches up with you! So our visit with Mom ended up being in the evening over dinner instead of in the afternoon. Then back home to go through bills and medical paperwork with Dad, and make and eat apple crisp at Christopher's request.

Saturday, December 30th - Breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa to give them one more chance to see all of us and enjoy little Jonathan. Then one more visit to the hospital to see Mom. It was hard to leave, knowing that I can't come back for probably at least two months. I've been close with Mom since I've been married, and while I wished we could visit more often, it didn't bother me too much that I did most of my catching up with her over the phone. Somehow having her in the hospital, and not really able to talk on the phone, has made it much more difficult for me to deal with how far away from her I am. I think this is probably extra difficult, too, since I was planning to have her be with me when Thomas is born, and obviously that won't be happening now. It is strange to think that next time I see her, I'll have a newborn baby on the outside, instead of inside!

And now we're home, having done the drive in two days this time. I'm glad - 8th month pregnancy is not a nice time to do cross-country driving. Besides, Thomas seems to have chosen a very low and not quite ideal position to hang out in right now, which is causing some pretty intense pelvic pain. Not the nicest thing for driving long distances in the car!!

We got home around 2pm today and my wonderful husband let me go straight to bed while he watched Jonathan. Isn't he nice? :) AND he took Jonathan to video games with the guys so that I could keep resting. Hence the time to write this very long post. ;)

And now to bed! No midnight partying for this girl!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cute things my son has been doing lately...

Saying "bess-you!" whenever anyone sneezes or coughs. He also says it to himself when he sneezes or coughs.

Running around the room, wooden airplane held over his head, making airplane noises. I don't think anyone showed him how to do this - he just decided it would be fun!

Spinning in circles just because. He giggles while doing it and then gets so dizzy he can't walk in a straight line, and often falls over.

Advent activities are probably mostly over for this year, since we'll be leaving very early tomorrow to drive up north to my parents' house for Christmas. We'll be there for about a week, since we're staying for my sister's first (of two!) weddings. So this is probably my last post for awhile, unless Jonathan does something just too cute to keep to myself. :)

So enjoy the rest of Advent, and an early "Merry Christmas" to you all!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Recipes - enjoy!

Devil's Food Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2/3 c. butter
1 package (18.25 oz) devil's food cake mix
2 c. peanut butter chips (I used a combination of pb chips and choc. chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat the eggs, vanilla, and shortening with 1/2 of the cake mix until light and fluffy (it should change to a lighter color as more air is beaten in). Mix in the remaining cake mix and the peanut butter chips. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfulls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 11 minutes in preheated oven. REmove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Spiced Nuts
(from Pam Moothart)

2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cream of tarter
1 t. vanilla
1 lb. walnut halves or pieces

Combine all except nuts in large saucepan. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, bring ingredients to boil over high heat. Continue boiling over high heat until firm ball stage (250 degrees) is reached (at least 5 minutes). Turn heat to simmer and stir in nuts. Stir until mixture sugars all the nuts. Turn onto a flat surface covered with wax paper and separate the nuts with the spoon. Let cool completely.

A note on this one: If you get impatient and don't let the sugar syrup get all the way to 250 degrees, it won't work quite right and your nuts will be sticky instead of sugared.

Peanut Brittle
This isn't my favorite peanut brittle, but it is a good second best. My favorite recipe isn't mine, so sadly I can't share it right now.

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 c. salted peanuts
1 t. butter
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda

Butter a cookie sheet. Combine sugar and corn syrup and cook until soft ball stage (or a little more) is reached. Stir in peanuts and cook to 300 degrees (hard crack). Remove from heat and immediately add butter and vanilla; stir. Then stir in baking soda until light and foamy. Pour onto cookie sheet and spread thin. Cool completely, then break into pieces.

Cranberry Oat Cookies

2/3 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1 1/4 c. dried cranberries
1 c. chopped pecans
2/3 c. vanilla or white chocolate chips

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Combine the dry ingredients; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Drop by tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

18th day of Advent

We have had such a lovely morning. I so enjoy baking!

These are the cookies that we baked yesterday:

And here are this morning's achievements:

Spiced nuts (Gabe's family's tradition)

Peanut brittle

Oatmeal cranberry cookies (check out how beautiful the dough is!)

And the resulting cookie (oh my, they are amazing!!)

Jonathan enjoyed playing in the sink...

And "washing" the dishes for me...

We sure had a good time together!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

17th day of Advent

Christmas cookies!!

One of the things that I really wanted to do this Advent season was to make Christmas cookies for some various neighbors and acquaintances. For one thing, I love baking. And since Gabe doesn't eat many sweets, and I shouldn't eat very many sweets, it makes baking during most of the year rather pointless. Also, making cookie plates for the neighbors is a tradition my mom has done every year for as long as I can remember. I like it, and I want to continue it.

So, today I completed one batch of Christmas cookies, and got another batch of dough ready in the refrigerator (it has to chill before I can actually make them). I also chose a third recipe to make tomorrow, and ran out to the store this evening to get two last minute ingredients that I thought I had but didn't. :) It was lots of fun. Jonathan played in the sink while I baked and thoroughly enjoyed licking the spoons. And I got to give Christmas cookies to the UPS man who delivered a package today, which just made me happy. Yay for Advent. :)

16th day of Advent

Last night Jonathan inexplicably fell asleep at 5:30pm. It was actually really funny, because we couldn't believe that he was really ready to go to sleep for the night. So we took him inside (he had fallen asleep in the car) and tried to convince him that he really wasn't sleepy. He hardly wiggled - just put his head down on Gabe's shoulder and ignored us. After a few minutes of that we gave up and decided to put him in his pjs. I've never seen anything quite like it - we manhandled him out of his clothes, into his pajamas, and he never even opened his eyes! Once he giggled in his sleep and rather fuzzily said "tummy", but even that didn't really wake him up.

So we put our tired little boy to bed, and Gabe and I had a lovely evening to ourselves. :)

Our Advent activity was to snuggle together on the couch, and Gabe read the next installment of The Twenty-four Days before Christmas to me. Simple and perfect for an unexpectedly childless evening. :)


This morning, while reading through morning prayer, I got rather a wake-up call to remember my blessings. Let me give you some background.

When I woke up this morning, it was on the wrong side of bed. I was tired, grumpy, depressed, and prone to tears over everything. The house was (is) a mess, I had (have) too much on my to-do list, taking care of Jonathan is, well, hard get the idea. I sat down and cried and felt very sorry for myself.

Gabe reminded me that I needed to do morning prayer - particularly this morning. (He didn't say it quite like that, but I think he may have been thinking it!) And while I was praying, God brought to mind something that happened yesterday.

Jonathan and I were walking around the Sam's Club shopping area, waiting for our car to have two tires replaced. I was kind of grumpy yesterday, too, having spent far too long on my feet and really wishing that we didn't have to spend $136 on new tires. As we walked by McDonalds, Jonathan saw a little dog and got very excited. Normally, if someone is out walking their dog, we'll go over and say hello so he can see the dog (and pet it, if the owner says ok). But this dog belonged to a homeless man...and usually I sort of avoid them. I'm not quite sure why it is that they make me nervous, but they generally do.

But this man was different. He was really, really, really old. I'd say at least in his seventies. Everything he owned, including his little dog, was held in an old baby stroller. And it wasn't the hodgepodge of junk that you usually see in homeless men's shopping carts - he gave the impression that he was trying to be somewhat orderly with what little he had. It was a cold day and his little dog (also ancient - 17 years old!) was carefully wrapped up in a corner of his sleeping bag. So we walked over and said hello. I didn't catch the man's name - his voice was querelous with age and I didn't like asking him to repeat himself too much. But I did catch that his dog's name is Ruby, and it was very clear that she is pretty much all he's living for right now. All the love that he ought to give and be given by family, friends...has all been lavished on this tiny dog, who loves him right back.

I asked him if I could help him in any way - buy him a meal, whatever - and he said "Thank you, that would be very kind." So Jonathan and I bought him a meal at McDonalds, petted and admired the dog for a few more minutes, said "God bless you", and then walked away. I didn't want to be a nuisance and intrude on his...privacy, space, I don't know...but I felt awful walking away from him. One meal was all I knew to give him, and it is so pathetically little. Where does he sleep at night? What does he do when it is so cold in the mornings that you can see your breath in the air? What wouldn't he give for a home of his own? I wish I could do more for him.
And so this morning, in the midst of my grumpiness, God pointed out that I have more blessings than I know what to do with. And so I will praise him:

For my messy home, because I have a home, and I have things in it to make it messy.
For my husband who is not here with me right now, because he is at work loving us by providing us money to live on.
For my children, who will hopefully be around when I am old to love and care for me, and whom I can love and care for right now.
For warmth and light so that we can be comfortable.
For healthy food.
For the errands I need to do today, because they represent our ability to give gifts at Christmastime, and for the car that will carry me to do those errands.
For the laundry that must be done today, because it means that we have clean and warm clothing.

The house is a mess. I have too many errands to do today. I am pregnant and tired, and it is reasonable to occasionally cry over this fact. But I have also been blessed beyond measure, and it this that I will choose to dwell on while I wash the dishes and do the laundry this morning.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

14th and 15th days of Advent

You know, weekends just aren't conducive to extra Advent activities. We've had a very good weekend with lots of time together as a family, lots of long-put-off chores getting done, and lots of good food eaten. Oh, and I bought a gorgeous maternity dress to wear to Sarah's wedding, which makes me happy. The fact that it was on clearance for $20 also makes me happy. :)

We also went to church this morning and heard a really really good sermon. Fr. David talked about how John the Baptist didn't tell the people who came to him, "sell everything you have and give the money away" or "take a year off work to go on pilgrimage". Those are the sorts of things that it is quite easy to justify not doing. After all, you just can't afford to take a year off work! Instead, John told the tax collectors to be honest. He told the soldiers (from the occupying army, no less!!) to be satisfied with their pay and not to take things from the people by force. He told "the crowd" simply to be generous. All things that are, well, easy to do. You certainly can't argue that he's asking too much! Only when you try to live them out day to day, they're kind of hard.

John told the people how to live to prepare for the coming of the Christ. We're not in such a different situation now, really. We, too, are preparing for Christ's coming, and we are to do so in the same simple ways. Be generous. Be honest. Be content. And in doing so, I find that it is much easier also to follow Paul's exhortation to the Philipians (another of this week's lessons) to "Rejoice in the Lord always."

Come to think of it, maybe enjoying and thinking about an Advent sermon counts as an Advent activity. :)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Playing the piano

Gabe spent lots of time getting this ready for me tonight...only to have youtube stretch the video into fuzziness. My poor thwarted husband! So it isn't very clear, but you can still get the idea and enjoy the cuteness.

13th day of Advent

Last night we had Christmas early, so that we could get together with Gabe's family as well as mine (we're driving up to visit my family next Saturday). I rather like getting to have Christmas twice. :)

Phillip, Gabe's brother, covered himself in glory by driving out to pick Jonathan and me up. The drive to get us wasn't too bad, I guess, but the drive back to their house took 2.5 hours. It should have taken about half that. Poor Phillip. He was so gracious about it, though.

During the car ride, Jonathan drank an entire cup of juice and an entire cup of milk. When we got there and I took him out of his car seat, I discovered, that he was wearing the (hopefully) one diaper in the package that was, um, not functioning correctly. His clothes were soaked. And I really mean soaked. So he got to play "naked!!!!" for awhile while we washed his clothes.

The only thing that he likes more than being "naked!!!!", I think, are the snowmen in this picture. You press their hands and they sing and dance. They sang and danced for most of the evening. :)

True to toddler form, the bows and paper were more interesting than the gifts inside. You can't see it very well here, but Jonathan has a bow on top of his head.

Isn't he cute?

More fun with paper...this particular picture was captured in the midst of many giggles.

My handsome husband, just because it is such a good picture of him. :)

Oh yes, a good time was definitely had by all!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

12th day of Advent

Gingerbread houses!

Christina hosted mom's group at her house today, instead of our usual park setting. She made gingerbread house pieces and icing for all of us, and the rest of the moms brought various small candies to use for decorations.

Making gingerbread houses with lots of toddlers is quite the experience. :) Some of the older toddlers were quite interested and wanted to be very involved. Others (mine included) were much more interested in tasting the icing. And the m&ms. And the red hots. And the licorice. And the gumdrops. Jonathan actually decided he didn't like the candies...which was a good thing because he liked the icing a lot. Every time I used it to put pieces together or add a decoration, he needed a taste. Sometimes he needed two tastes. I gave up worrying about how much sugar he was consuming! :)

Our house fell apart at least three times in the course of building/decorating it. It was pretty warm today (only in southern California can you make candy houses outside in December!) and the icing was melting a bit. So when small toddler fingers pushed candies onto the roof, said roof was quite likely to collapse. It was so much fun, though, and we did manage to keep it together long enough to get a picture!

Once the kids lost interest in the houses, they went straight for the sandbox.

They were having so much fun!

We have such an amazing group of moms and kids. Sometimes I'll read in magazines about difficulties in mommy groups - differences of opinion on discipline, sharing, etc. And so often when you put lots of women together, you can get some yucky cattiness and such. But we just don't have any of that. All the women are warm, thoughtful, caring people. We work together well when toddlers refuse to share with each other. No one is offended if our methods of discipline differ slightly. Basically we love God and we love each other and we love our kids, and so our weekly meetings are wonderfully fun and relaxing and enjoyable. I always look forward to Thursdays.

My husband just informed me that it is getting late. As usual, he is correct. Every morning I ask him to make me go to bed on time, and every evening I ignore his advice and stay up late. :)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

11th day of Advent

This evening all four of us squeezed onto the piano bench and we sang Advent carols together. Jonathan is just now starting to enjoy singing at the piano – sometimes he’ll climb up on the piano bench, page through the hymnal, and ask me to “sing it?” His attention span is pretty short, but it was a lot of fun tonight anyway. Old hymns are pretty amazing, and we found a few unfamiliar ones tonight that we really enjoyed.

After that we meant to put Jonathan to bed. But putting on pajamas led to tummy kisses, and then Jonathan wanted to kiss our tummies, too. So we all ended up on our bed together, with kisses and hugs and tickles and snuggles liberally distributed to everyone.

Bedtime ended up being a little later than planned…but for such a lovely reason!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

10th day of Advent

Today we raided the Christmas closet. The main reason was to get out our little Nativity set. My sister made this for me some years ago. I keep hoping she'll make some more figures to round out the set - aren't they just perfect?

Of course, opening the Christmas closet means that you have to see what else is in there. And wrapping paper makes you think of all those gifts in the gift drawer. So you need to open the gift drawer, too.

And there are lots of gifts to be wrapped. And you don't want to be wrapping them all at the last minute, do you? Because that takes the fun out of it.

So we wrapped a few presents. :)

Jonathan got his own scraps of ribbon and paper, and made himself useful by rubbing his finger over every piece of tape that I put on the packages. :)

Aren't they pretty?

The 9th day of Advent...

got skipped.

I babysat a 5 month old all morning, did something (I'm sure I did something, I just can't remember what!) in the early afternoon, and then babysat a 2 year old and a 9 month old in the late afternoon.

Then Jonathan, who was at that point the. most. overstimulated. child that I have ever seen, fell apart completely and got put to bed, even before Daddy arrived home. :(

Some days just aren't conducive to holiday spirit.
This is how I feel when I'm pregnant. Kim just says it so much better than I can. :)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

8th day of Advent

Today's Advent activity: going to church!

This Sunday was particularly sweet for me, since it has been over a month since I was last at Blessed Sacrament. In fact, the last two months have been crazy in terms of church attendance.

October 22nd - on vacation visiting my family
October 29th - sick
November 5th - in church, I think!
November 12th - visiting Mom in the hospital
November 19th - home with a sick Jonathan :(
November 26th - Thanksgiving/visiting Mom in the hospital
December 3rd - in bed with a migraine

Every now and then Satan fills my head with these niggling little doubts about being in a liturgical church. It is so repetitive. It can get boring. Who really cares about all these old fashioned words anyway? Your mind is wandering're not getting anything out of this (to this last one, I answer: that's not the point anyway!)

But all it takes to remind me of how very much I love the liturgy and our church in particular is to be away for a few weeks. I miss communion, I miss the sense of familial love, I miss seeing the crucifix and feeling the cold of the holy water and smelling the candles. I miss sitting next to Gabe and reading the old words together and knowing that there is deep, deep meaning in them, even if I can't always pay perfect attention to the prayers. I miss holding my son on my lap, carrying him up to the communion rail with us for a blessing and his own little piece of wafer, and watching him sit on Gabe's shoulders at the end of the service and learn to bow when the cross goes by.

There is a deep goodness and beauty and holiness in the mass at Blessed Sacrament. There is a sense of enfolding love from the people of God. There is experiential knowledge of God's best gift to us - the grace of his son's coming. In this season of Advent, as we await his coming in glory, I am grateful to have a place like this to call home.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Why the world needs better math teachers

This is a long video. But it is worth listening to the end. You just won't believe it until you hear it. Basically, this man is trying to explain to Verizon customer service representatives that he has been overcharged - because they quoted him a price of 0.002 CENTS per KB and then charged him 0.002 DOLLARS per KB. And evidently this is way too hard for any of the supervisors and managers to understand. :)

7th day of Advent

We didn't do much for Advent today, but I'm going to say that what we did counts anyway (all in the name of not stressing over Christmas preparations!) See, this is me being balanced. Please take note that it does happen on occasion. ;)

Anyway, today we went to Penney's and got a family Christmas photo taken. We got charged nearly twice as much as I was expecting (darn the fine print and nebulous terms!!!) but the photos are really really nice. Unfortunately, they won't be in until December 23rd, after 1pm. And we'll be half-way to Northern California by then. Oh well. We're just going to send out our Christmas cards during the Twelve Days of Christmas this year. I planned it that way. On purpose. Yes.

Friday, December 08, 2006

6th day of Advent

This morning we put on some of my favorite Christmas music, got out all the celophane bags and ribbon and tape and other various Christmasy fun things, and went to work. We packaged up all the homemade candy so it is ready to mail or hand out this weekend. Yay! It actually took longer than I had expected, but we had so much fun doing it! Jonathan was completely happy with his very own Christmas bag, filled with little candy canes and lots of little scraps of curled ribbon. Actually, every time I cut a piece of ribbon for my own work, he needed one too.

Tomorrow we'll go buy some more ribbon. :)

Update on Mom

Thank you for your continued prayers for my mom and family. Here is a bit more current information:

Mom is doing better. Not great, but better. She's been moved to a "transitional care" hospital - out of the trauma intensive care unit at last! She has a trach tube with a lever on it that allows just a little air to move past her vocal cords when you turn it on. This allows her to actually talk (well, whisper!) to Dad when she isn't too tired. It is great to know that all the important parts that make her Sandy are still working. She has her sense of humor, she has all her memories, she's very much herself. She is also able to move her fingers and toes very slightly now, which is good. She tells Dad that she can only do one thing at a time - it is very hard for her to do anything - so she can't talk and move her fingers at the same time, for example.

She'll be in transitional care until she's strong enough to enter an intensive rehab center. She needs to be able to handle 3 hours (minimum) of therapy a day, and right now she's not even close to that. So please pray that she'll recover strength really quickly and be able to transfer soon.

From there we have no idea how long it will take or how much movement she'll regain. I'm trying not to think too much about that, and just focus on the tremendously good news that her mind and personality are ok, and be grateful for each little improvement.

Thank you for praying!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

5th day of Advent

Christmas lights! We actually hung Christmas lights today!

This is a big deal because I have never done this before. When I was a kid I lived out in the middle of nowhere, in a very tall two-story house. It would have been an amazing chore to hang lights, and no one would have seen them anyway. So we didn't. And I guess I never really missed them.

But wow, it is fun to do it now! And Jonathan is in heaven. His favorite phrase now is "turn on!" so we have lots of conversations about how the Christmas lights only turn on when it is dark. :)

Sorry for the fuzziness of the photos - it is hard to take good pictures in the dark!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

4th day of Advent

This evening before Jonathan went to bed, we all sat down on the couch together. First Jonathan got to open a window on his Advent calendar card. This is a very big deal. He had been looking forward to it all day. :) Then Gabe read the first few pages of The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas out loud to us. Jonathan's attention span really isn't long enough for this book yet, so he got up part way through and prowled around the family room. But I thoroughly enjoyed it! For some reason that book just says "Christmas is coming!" to is one of my favorite childhood Christmas traditions.

Tomorrow the plan is to put up outdoor Christmas lights!!!

As requested...

The candy recipes we used. :) The caramel recipe is from Jessica, and the fudge recipe is from becca.

(as we made them) from The Wycliffe International Cookbook:

Combine and cook to firm ball stage (244 F):
-1 c. butter
-2 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
-1 1/4 c. sweetened condensed milk, cream or milk
-1 c. light corn syrup

Remove from heat, and immediately stir in:
-1 t. vanilla
-1 t. finely shredded orange peel.

Quickly pour caramel mixture into buttered, foil-lined 9x9 pan. When firm use foil to lift out of pan. Use buttered knife (or kitchen shears) to cut candy into 1-inch squares.


3 cups sugar
3/4 cups butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
12 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate (you can use 1/2 semi-sweet and 1/2 dark or bittersweet chocolate for a more chocolatey taste)
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla (sometimes I add more--also, other flavors could be used too)
1 cup chopped walnuts (if you like nutty fudge)

Heat sugar, butter and milk to rolling boil over medium heat (234F on thermometer). Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and marshmallow creme until melted. Stir in vanilla and nuts. Pour into greased 9x13 pan and allow to cool.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I'm making an attempt at doing something Advent/Christmas related for each day of Advent this year. I know that Jonathan is still pretty little and won't remember it, but I think I'm doing it more for me this year anyway. And because I want to get in the habit, so that when he is old enough, it won't be so hard to fit these things in!

I have such great memories of Christmas preparations with my family. On the first day of December we made a numbered chain out of construction paper. Then each night, we'd take off one chain link, excitedly announce "X more days until Christmas!" and Mom would tell us which fun Christmas event we'd do that night. Sometimes it was making paper snowflakes, sometimes getting out Christmas decorations, sometimes drinking eggnog, sometimes reading from The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas. Sometimes it meant bundling up and going to Victorian Christmas in town, or driving around and looking at all the Christmas lights. Whatever it was, it was always fun!

So this year, I'm attempting to do something of the sort. :) Not in the evenings, particularly, because evenings tend to be short with Gabe getting home late a lot. But the goal is to do something. And maybe if I try to update what we've done on my blog, we'll have a better chance of actually accomplishing the goal. :)

So far it has been fun!

December 3rd (first Sunday of Advent): The Advent candles are set up, and a wreath is on the front door. And Jessica and becca and I spent 6 hours making candy for Christmas presents. (Oh wow, is it ever good!)

December 4th: late night eggnog with Gabe. :)

December 5th: Jonathan and I washed the sliding glass window together and then put up vinyl clings (thank you, Grandma M!)

Note how toddlers do not place stickers upright. And how (mostly) ok I am with that. ;)