Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

In just one hour, 2007 will come to an end and we will begin 2008. We are ushering in this new year in the ICU at Children's.

Alan received the call for transplant at 2:30 am December 30th and came out of surgery around 7pm that night. Recovery so far is going pretty well. If you are interested in his updates check out the link in my sidebar called Alan's Medical Updates.

Happy New Year to you all!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods, Grandma came to us

Ok. This is the last of the What I Did On My Christmas Vacation posts. This blog will soon be back to reporting our regularly scheduled lives. By the end of this post, in fact!

Since Alan could be called to transplant at any day, we can't venture the 3 1/2 hours in the other direction to go visit Grandma & Grandpa Rick. We didn't go see them last year since Alan was just a month old at Christmas, and then soon after that was all the liver stuff, so we haven't been to Grandma's house since... ummm... (calculating).... basically.... a really long time. So anyway... Grandpa had to work so Grandma hit the road on Boxing Day and came to spend a couple of days with us.

First things first, everyone opened presents:
Ya think Dale liked what Grandma brought? (Hint: a giant smile followed this gasp)
Sorry for catching Grandma's mouth in a funny position. She was reading the tag. "TO Grandma, from Dale..."
A fun time was had by all. At least those on this end of things. ;)

It was back to just the 4 of us by lunchtime today, and we decided it would be in everyone's best interest if we got out for a while. The week before Christmas and New Year's is notoriously the longest week of the year. Add to that the fact that it is too cold to go outside, and oh yeah... waiting on the call for a transplant and we're about to climb the walls around here!

So after lunch we headed out to go shopping. Greg and I each had a gift card from his mom we were ready to spend, plus some other stuff we wanted to do. I got to go first, and was very pleased with my finds! I was especially glad to be able to throw in a new necklace/earring set.

Greg was next. He got himself a new pair of shoes for work. On the way out of the store we did a little extra shopping for a new workshirt or two for him, and this is where things somehow suddenly went awry.

A whining baby, some miscommunication & assumptions, & those darn waiting-for-transplant nerves joined forces and we ended up ... out-of-sorts with each other. It wasn't enough to be a fight, but it sure was ... something.

We left the store with shoes only, no shirts. We got into the van, still discussing the whole thing, but not really communicating much of anything. You know... going in verbal cirlces.

So the verbal circles turned to real circles as we left the parking lot, still going over the whole shirt/no-shirt debacle while severely miscommunicating about where we were going next. We drove in one huge circle, stopping halfway to park and regroup. In our dumb luck, Alan had gone to sleep while we drove, so we went back to the store and I went in and picked out two shirts. What had been so confusing suddenly turned simple, and I was in and out in less than 5 minutes. Whew! We both felt better after that.

Greg dropped me off at the bookstore and he and the boys did some man-shopping. Alan was even able to get in a decent nap during it all! By the time they picked me back up, we were all getting hungry. We all could have made it home except for Alan, and since we hadn't packed any snacks for him, we decided to get something to eat before heading home. Too bad for us, huh? ;)

We went to CiCi's for a pizza buffet. Alan ate great: he had the topping off 3 slices of sausage pizza! Greg had filled a drink for Alan and I was dripping his water to him through a straw. I noticed he seemed to be extra thirsty because he kept asking for more. Upon closer inspection I found out Alan wasn't drinking water at all. It was Sprite! No wonder he was loving it so much! Lol.

When we first sat down to eat, I said I was not leaving there until I got a cinnamon roll, because they are just that good. The pizza is fine, but the cinnamon rolls? Oh YUM. Just as they were putting out a fresh pan, Dale was ready for dessert. Greg helped him go through the line again and they brought back cinnamon rolls for all of us. Not too much later, I went back for another slice or two of pizza. By the time I had finished my seconds and reached for my cinnamon roll I was shocked to find them all gone! Dale had eaten every one of them! And of course, the pan on the buffet was empty as well. *Sigh* I should have learned from this trip to CiCi's not to put my cinnamon roll on the same plate as Dale's. Eat mine once, shame on you; eat it twice, shame on me! (isn't that how that saying goes?) And even though I had said I wasn't leaving without a cinnamon roll, I decided to go without, because at the rate they were restocking the buffet tonight, we just might still be sitting there waiting!

Alan has turned into a pretty whiny traveler. The ride home tonight was no exception. A little over halfway home I was so surprised to see Dale had fallen asleep! He hardly ever falls asleep in the car! And the stinker Alan made it all the way without sleeping a wink. Here was the state of things in the backseat when we got home:
A rarity, indeed!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Day, part 2

After lunch we headed over to my parents' house for presents. Before anything, of course, there was more posing for pictures. Not many though. We wouldn't torture Dale like that. ;) Making him wait until after lunch was bad enough! :) Do you like my parents' "tree"? It's fresh greenery, and they bought it at Alan's benefit auction a couple of weeks ago. This is the first time in 30 year they haven't put up a tree, but this was a beautiful substitute!

Dale has really been into puzzles lately and received several as gifts. He's pretty good at them, but this one came apart as it came out of the package, and what 4 yr old has time for jig-saw puzzles in the middle of opening presents?! I mean, really. Good job, Dad. Thanks for pitching in. ;)
...and.... opened! A really neat game from Dale's aunt, Kristin. You take turns hanging little plastic monkeys on a tree and try not to be the one to make the tree fall down. Think a combination of Barrel of Monkeys, Jenga, & the book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. :)
My mom and me, wearing the gift she made me! I was am so excited! It's only thanks to the blogging world that I know aprons are actually fashionable, especially in the stay-at-home-mom realm. I felt so good when I put it on! Although I did have to laugh at myself wearing an apron and a string of pearls! ;) lol!
Now this, this is the way to spend the last moments of your Christmas Day. We had spent days looking forward to doing just this:
And hopefully we'll be able to get in some more quality time just like this before the break is over. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christma Day, part 1

Okay. Christmas Day.
Alan woke up at 6am and obviously wasn't going back to sleep, so while he was still in a good mood, we actually WOKE UP Dale around 7:00.
After looking over all the goodies Santa brought and enjoying them throughout the morning, we had Christmas dinner at our house. We kept it simple and were so glad we did! Ham, sweet potatoes, garlic green beans, macaroni & cheese, and pear-lime jello. Ok, so it doesn't sound simple typed out, but really - it was. We sat Dale at the "kid table". It'll be a lot more fun when he's not the only kid at the kid table, but he didn't seem to mind, lol.
This could be a pic of Alan eating any day of the year, but it really was Christmas dinner.

Christmas Eve

I have several pics I want to share from our Christmas, so I'm going to divide it into 2 or 3 posts. First up we have my contribution to our Christmas Eve family get-together. This has always been my favorite gathering of the Holidays, at least as far as food is concerned. We have a huge buffet of all types of appetizers, sandwiches, & desserts. In 20+ years, I have never been disappointed! :)
This year, my aunt and her daughter did most of the work, and I only needed to bring one thing. I chose
Mini Jello Trifle Bites. Greg said it best: they got more points for presentation than taste. They were good, but not like "oh wow - hand me another one good." Anyway... they were fun. Cousins posing on the stairs:
The four of us:
Dale & Alan. The stairs were a way-fun place for pictures. Don't worry, there is a very strong and very quick pair of Gramps-hands just off camera (or more likely, cropped out of the pic, lol) waiting to catch any unsteady babies. :)
We drove through a major lights display on the way home, and got a picture of Dale with Jumbo Santa just hours before the not-so-jumbo Santa would be making his visit.

For more pics and some fun details of our Christmas, be sure and visit my sister's blog!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Seeing the Christmas Story in a new way

As you may or may not know, 2007 has been a pretty rough year for our family. Just two weeks into the year, Alan was diagnosed with a rare liver disease and underwent a corrective surgery. He was 10 weeks old. We stayed in the hospital 15 days.

Around the same time, Greg began to go through a lot of trials at work. A lot of things weren’t right. “Unfair” seems a rather childish and mild way to put it, but without going into details, “unfair” will have to do.

We often found ourselves wondering “why now?” Wouldn’t just one of these problems be enough?

2007 also brought hardships to our siblings and parents and their families. And because we love them, we hurt along with them, just like they hurt with us. Soon, we found out Alan would need to be listed for transplant. We felt the pain of another blow, and again we wondered “why?” Why do these things keep coming? What will be next?

I say all this, not to play “poor us” or complain, but to share the following thoughts with you. It is a familiar story, but suddenly this week, I saw it in a new way.

Over 2000 years ago, an innocent, unmarried young woman suddenly found her world shaken to its very core. Weeks before she was to be married, she found out she was pregnant. Even though she was completely pure. Oh the shock she must have felt. The fear. Thousands of questions and scenarios doubtlessly played through her mind. But Mary accepted these things. She trusted God. She told Him she was His servant, and then she submitted herself to His will.

But that didn’t mean there wasn’t heartache. And questions. And tears. And strains on relationships.

First there was the relationship between Mary and Joseph. Even if Mary never knew Joseph considered divorcing her, she had to wonder. And fear. And surely it grieved Joseph to think of divorcing Mary. That couldn’t have been an easy decision. His heart must have hurt deep inside him to think of losing Mary, and wondering what she had done. Had she betrayed him?

Then there were relationships with parents, siblings, family, friends & neighbors. Surely there was gossip. And surely Mary & Joseph and their families were aware of it. If you have been pregnant, you know how long 9 months can be. This was the daily life of this couple and their family. There wasn’t a day that went by that some question or decision or wondering came to mind. Of course, at the same time, there was much joy. A baby! Not only a baby, but the Son of God! A visit from an angel! I am certain Mary and Joseph found themselves on a roller-coaster of emotions (although something tells me that’s not how they described it ;) ).

And then, each time they found themselves accepting and dealing and moving forward with obedience, they were dealt another blow.

You must go to Bethlehem. Late in the pregnancy. Long, difficult travel. No mother, aunts, sisters to be there with you for your first birth.

You must stay in a stable. No bed, no comforts.

You must travel to Egypt. Traveling with a young child. Not going back to family, for them to kiss and cuddle your first-born child, of whom you are so proud.

We are used to seeing this story condensed down to a few passages. But this was their life. We hear it and read it, and we know how it all worked out. They didn’t know. They had each day. One day at a time. Without a doubt they struggled: with decisions, with fears, with trusting God through it all. And when history looks back on the story of Jesus’ birth, we don’t see those daily struggles. The conversations. The heartaches. Those are all washed away with time, and what is left to shine through is God’s perfect plan. God knew Mary and Joseph’s hearts. He knew the questions in their minds. And surely he loved them as much as he did his own Son that he had entrusted to them for such a little while. The Son whose life would one day be given for them, and for us. He hurt when they hurt. He provided peace when they had questions, and joy when they had fears.

In 2000 years, God has not changed. When we are mired down and seemingly surrounded by troubles, He provides peace when we have questions, and joy when we have fears. He has provided a Savior who came as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem to offer us eternal life. And to give us an eternal perspective. This life and all its struggles is temporary. Threaded through it all is His perfect plan, and someday, when we are spending eternity with Him in heaven, we will look back, and that is all we will see. That, and the most remarkable, unending love ever known.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The first day of....


Well..... the calendar says so, anyway. :)
But not the weather. It was a beautiful warm, sunny, mild day. The high was near 70! It was also Greg's first day home for Christmas break.

I sent Dale to play outside a lot trying to explain that one day soon the days would all be too cold and rainy. This afternoon all 4 of us headed out for a walk. It was so nice!

Supper was late, quick & easy, but that is ok, because I impressed myself with the Best Tuna Patties ever! And since I was so proud of them, I will share with you here. :)

Best Tuna Patties Ever
1 egg, beaten
1 can tuna, drained
1/4 cup prepared bread crumbs
1 tablespoon onion, chopped finely
1/2 celerly stalk, chopped finely
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp real mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients. Heat 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine on medium-high in large skillet. Cook thoroughly, until golden on both sides. Makes about 5 patties. (I also added a little wheat germ in with the bread crumbs, just 'cause I had some. Added great texture!)

Earlier in the day I had talked through the Christmas story with Dale while we were working in the kitchen. So, over our Best Tuna Patties Ever (with macaroni & cheese and fresh veggies w/dip) I asked Dale to tell it to Daddy.

Dale started his telling the the Christmas story with Mary, who was a "very nice woman." One day an angel came to Mary while she was cleaning the table. It was made of wood. The angel told her she was going to have a baby.

Then an angel came to Joseph in a dream and.... "what did he tell him?"

I refreshed Dale's memory: the angel told Joseph it was ok to go ahead and get married to Mary.

Dale picked back up with his story:
"Joseph was excited."

Then they went to Bethlehem and there wasn't any room in the motel. So they met a man that let them stay in his stable (that's like a barn). He was a farmer.

Then it was time for the baby Jesus to be born.

Then Joseph and Mary went to the "store builded close to a tree." They bought a fire truck suit
(for the baby). It had a red fire truck on it with the number zero. It had black stripes and at the bottom it said "Be Cool."

Nearby, there were shepherds "watching towards" their sheep. And angel appeared to them to tell them Jesus had been born, and the shepherds went all the way to the farm to worship him.

There you have it.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

And Be Cool.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Discussion Time!

Someone sent me a very interesting article to read, with a question to ponder:
Does this article (or the points made within) present a feminist viewpoint, or is it accurate?

Yes, I am implying by the wording of my question that a feminist viewpoint would be inaccurate.

I would copy and paste the article here, but I don't want anyone searching for this particular subject to come upon my blog and high-jack our conversation. So I am just posting the link.

The article is about the Disney Daughter-of-a-queen line of goods and how it could just very well be the ruination of America's little girls.

So if you have the time, go read the article and then come back and leave a comment with your thoughts. Feminist? Accurate? Agree? Disagree? What do you think?

And from what I know about the people that comment here I don't expect any less, but I feel I need to say.... Let's all be nice! :) lol

Here's the article:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Everybody knows the tv and some avocadoes help to make the season bright.

Thanks for all your comments - so far I'm still feeling good! :)

I wanted to show you a pic of our wonderful parenting after a sick day. After keeping Dale quarantined to his room all day, we finally let him out around supper time last night. He and Alan were both pretty restless, Greg and I were both tired, and there was still lots to do to wrap up the day before bedtime.

What you see here is Alan, in nothing but a diaper, watching tv. In the middle right is Dale, with his face just inches from the tv. On the left is our rather large pile of freshly laundered bedding. And, so no one is left out, yes, that is Lightening McQueen in the center, making his big racing debut. :) Right out of a parenting how-to manual, I tell ya!

Below, with nothing to do with sick days or parenting, is a bit of quirky Christmas decorating I wanted to share. I haven't really done much this year, for various reasons which I will not get into here (it has a lot to with liver disease and 2007 basically being the year from you-know-where). But, we are getting in the Christmas spirit here and there. I bought myself a large Christmas-scented candle (cinnamon, I think?) and put it on my cake plate in the center of the table. At one point I came across some silver beads in one of our Christmas boxes and added those to the mix.

And then one day I was putting away groceries and found myself wondering what to do with the 3 avocados I had bought for a great sale price (even though they weren't on my list and I as-yet did not have a plan for but I love avocados so I bought them anyway) that needed some time to ripen. I didn't really want them just laying around on the counter, and as I noticed their beautiful green color I thought of the perfect festive place for them!

Why not?

And the avocados were delicious, by the way. :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

And the countdown begins....

Updating to say now Alan has "it". Whatever "it" is.

That is 3 out of 4 people in this house.

So if you don't hear from me for a while, you'll know I got "it" too.

Or maybe "It" got me?

And a partridge in a pear tree

Oh, my friends. It was not a pretty night.

It didn't start out that way. It started out very pretty. Let's dwell on that for a moment:

Beautiful Christmas program at church. Greg and I got to do our Silent Night duet on trumpet and piano. It is by far my favorite thing I have ever played on piano. Ever. It makes me feel so musical, and like I have more skill than I actually do, lol. Plus it is just such a nice arrangement to listen to. :) The choir sang some specials and there were some great soloists. The kids all got up and sang Away in a Manger. This made me realize there are reasons to love going to a small church.

Dale got up to sing with the kids, even though he hadn't been with them for one practice. I watched him sing the entire first verse. I wasn't sure if he knew it or not, but he sang right with them, just like he knew what he was doing.

That is, until they got to the second verse. I felt so bad for him... I think he might have been embarassed. He didn't know the words and he started to wiggle around some and look around and he scooted all the way back against the steps behind him. But he recovered just fine. And I was still proud of him. :)

After church we got together for a (mostly) impromptu suppery/snacky gathering with my parents and grandparents. We basically just put out what Christmas goodies we have made so far, with a few extras. Good food, good time.

We got both boys into bed fairly easily, and that's where things started to go not-so-good.

I turned my lamp off between 11:45 and 12:00. That is late for me. At 12:30 Greg woke me up. "Dale is throwing up."

Boy, a statement like that can really get you moving.

So we go in together to see what we can do for/with Dale. At 12:35, Alan woke up. And threw up. Oh no. This cannot be happening.

I will spare you all the gory details, but Dale probably threw up at least 15 times between 12:30 last night and 8:30 this morning. At least.

I took night duty, thinking Greg would still go to work, but when Alan woke up (and threw up) at 5:30, it was clear this was not a day I could face alone.

Thankfully, Alan has been pretty much himself today, and kept his stomach contents to himself. I have charge of Alan, and Greg is taking care of Dale. Greg also puts the dirty laundry (which we suddenly have lots of) in the washer, and I take it from there. Pretty good teamwork, if you ask me.

Now if I could only clean the bathroom and get a nap....

And to leave you with more pleasant thoughts.... another Christmas video! :) I ran across this one on another blog and I just think it is so fun!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Windchills & PJ's & puttering in the kitchen. And still with nothing to say!

I can't believe y'all aren't commenting on Frosty. I love those kids in that video! When she shouts, "Look at Frosty go!" and then those kids jump up and say "WHEEE!" that seriously cracks me up.

And I need the laughter. Today has been one of the WEIRDEST days. Greg was up a couple of times in the night inspecting my toilet-cleaning up close and personal like. Poor Greg. Between being aware of his troulbes and being up with Alan a couple of times and all the thunder and stuff I felt kind of like I had been hit by a truck this morning. Can't imagine how Greg felt.

Anyway, breakfast and laziness helped and it's been a good day - just not like one I have very often. Greg has been here, but mostly slept. Alan is sleeping now. Dale and I made cookies (and I took pictures! to share later).

And here is the part that I should NOT tell... we are all still in our pajamas! Yikes! It has just been the coldest, windiest, blusteriest day ever. Or at least this winter.... which is very young.

And guess what else? No sooner than I had typed the words "Alan is sleeping now" he woke up.

Oh well. It was a nice long nap, anyway. :)

But the interruption has caused me to forget some of what I was going to blog about. I know there was more. I did have at least somewhat of a purpose when I sat down and started typing. Now it's just turned into some really bad rambling, lol.

Oh well, again. Off to come up with something warm and yummy for supper!

Frosty Fun

Traveling with strength

If you are in need of some material (in addition to your Bible, of course) for a daily devotion, I highly recommend Charles Spurgeon's Morning by Morning. Each day you are given a scripture passage and then Spurgeon's thoughts on it. It is always thought-provoking, and often very encouraging. I have been amazed at the depth he can pack into a one-page (or less) devotion. I love that each day is a short read, (for one thing, that leaves more time to read the surrounding scripture verses), but at the same time, it isn't like other 'short' devotions I have read. When I read one of these, I usually want to read it again to make sure I have gathered up all of his points, and even then it is something you want to take with you through the day to think on and pray about.

And what got me started on this little Spurgeon info-mercial (lol) was the devotion I read this morning. The scripture reference was Psalm 84:7 "They go from strength to strength." My first thought - what or who is "they"? My first guess was God's mercies.

Nope. Not this time. After reading through the passage (it took twice - this one was a toughie! .... or maybe I just wasn't good and awake, lol)... anway, it turns out from verse 5 "they" is 'the man whose strength is in thee [God]'.

Definitely pays to read things in context.

Spurgeon then points out that when we are walking somewhere, we start out strong and get weaker and weaker. We start fresh and full of energy but before long we have to rest. Eventually we get up again and "painfully persue our weary way".

But as a Christian, our journeys don't have to be this way because we always have access to "fresh supplies of grace." Through time, as we trust in God's strength, even if we don't travel as fast or as "buoyantly" as we once did, but we are much "stronger in all that constitutes real power." From Isaiah - "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength."

Spurgeon goes on to say, "Fretful spirits sit down and trouble themselves about the future." They lament going from troubles to troubles. Spurgeon says, "Very true, O thou of little faith, but thou goest from strength to strength also."

I have seen people facing problems who have been unhappy with the concept of "God never gives you more than you can handle." I guess have issues with that statement too. First of all, given as a pat answer to someone facing troubles, it is not helpful. Second, we can handle no troubles on our own. When we try this we end up 'faint and weary' and stumble a lot. But when we wait on God for our strength, then we travel through or troulbes from "strength to strength". So maybe the little saying should be "God never gives you more than He can handle", and given out with encouragement and gentle instruction on how to lean on His strength.

Anyway, today's devotion was one of many I have found relevant and encouraging, and I wanted to share it.

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I. Am. Stunned.

Many, many months ago, Greg and I redecorated our bathroom. When it got to the point of painting the walls we took the curtains down, of course.

And, they... stayed down. For a long, long time. Much longer than I would care to admit. For a while I tackily thumbtacked a sheet over the window, just to feel semi-private, since it is the bathroom, and you sometimes need to be.... you know... not clothed. (For the record, due to several things, I think our bathroom window can't really be seen by the outside world, but still....)

Off and on for weeks and weeks on end I have searched for the hardware to rehang those curtains. You know - the little brackets you screw into the wall and the L shaped rod on each end slips over them? I couldn't find them anywhere, and I could never remember to buy any.

And so.... the bathroom window has remained curtainless, and the curtains have stayed on their rod, draped over one end of the desk in our bedroom.


And then tonight, Greg and I were working together putting away some laundry and things in the bedroom. I had moved the curtains onto the bed with the laundry, and as Greg picked them up and started gathering the fabric on each end to thread the two pieces of the rod back together, I lamented to him the fact that I have NOT been able to find those brackets!

He held up each piece as he put them back together and said......

"It's a tension rod."

And I. Was. Speechless.

I never knew.

Speechless, I tell you! With mouth agape!

And he never knew I never knew.

I could do nothing but stutter.

And watch Greg hang the curtains. Instantly. No hardware required.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas, for the 4 & under set

As promised... pictures! First, the cookies. Even though the cookies themselves were from a new recipe, the egg yolk painting is something I have done before. All the way back to when I was a little girl, I'm pretty sure. I really like that method because it makes such vibrant cookies, and I think it is not quite as messy as tinted powdered sugar. I did use a powdered sugar glaze for the snowmen and on the wreaths & trees, but still. Here is a small sampling of our afternoon's work (not that there are that many still laying around): Yes, there is one Rudolph the red-nosed/red-tailed reindeer. And yes, Mr. Green Hat Frosty originally had 2 mittened hands. We didn't go to great pains for bee-utiful cookies. It was all for the process, you see? The journey, not the destination. Because some of those cookies had a very short life. :)

Moving on...
I want to show you some pics of what has to be one of the most pitiful Christmas trees I've seen. Doesn't look that bad, eh? Click on the pic. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Did you see that big wad of lights right there in the front? Did you notice they weren't even all lit? And how about all those ornaments at the top? And never mind the tree is oddly... caged.
Poor Angel. Beautiful as she is, she seems rather sad to be reigning over this mess.

Okay - yes. This is our tree. But before you start feeling sorry for us, you should know there are a couple of boxes of wonderful ornaments that won't be coming out this Christmas. I just didn't feel up to constant monitoring and hand-slapping. So, our tree is pretty ummm... hands on this Christmas. Dale and I made the salt-dough ornaments a couple of weeks ago, and I went ahead and hung a few icicles to fill it out and give at least a little continuity. Because as much as I am trying to be laid back, that tree was really bugging me. Now it is at least tolerable. :)

Oh, and the play pen: that's to keep the thing standing up. We did it the year Dale was 16 months old and it worked great. I actually decorated the tree that year. Maybe there is a difference in understanding 'no' between 13 months and 16 months? Who knows. So maybe we can't lay under the tree and look up through its branches at all the pretty lights, but hey - at least no one will find themselves laying under the tree as it tumbles down on top of them, right?

On to more holiday fun at our house...

this website from this entry at my blog-friend Keri Mae's site. (look! They made cookies, too!)

Dale loved it! He got right to work building all sorts of snowmen.
But my favorite, hands down, is the one Dale named "The Fighting Coach".
(as in: he coaches fighting, not as in: he is a coach that fights).

Not sure if this has something to do with boxing or weight lifting, or what, but any way you look at it, this is a snowman with personality!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cookies, shoppin', workin', & more

Made some cookies.
Did some shopping.
Wrote some notes.
Surfed the 'net.

Oh details, details.
Here they are:

Dale and I made the cookies Sunday afternoon. They were Christmas sugar cookie cut-outs. I don't think I have ever ever ever used the same roll & cut sugar cookie recipe twice. This year I made these from Pioneer Woman. I have only recently (as in about 5 days ago) started reading Pioneer Woman, but she is funny. And appears to cook good food. So Dale and I cut trees & wreaths & reindeer & 2 different shapes of snowmen, and painted them all with an egg-yolk paint and then added some finishing touches with a powdered sugar glaze and some sprinkly things. Great fun. And yummy cookies, even if they were a bit crumbly. But, you know, that's how the .... oh never mind. And yes! I took a picture of some of our little treats.

But there's a story to that, too.

Greg and I received a nice little bit of Christmas money from a generous family member and decided to plunk it all down on a laptop. Yippee! Our desktop has been limping along pathetically for a while now, and makes us pretty nervous now and then that it has reached it's end. It's gotten pretty cranky in it's age. We try to treat it very gently. Ha. So anyway, we have a new laptop! I'm particularly excited about being able to take it to the hospital with us, and it has been great for those times when I must hold and hold and hold Alan.

I don't have my camera software on it yet. And this is where I am typing the blog tonight, sooo... no pics. Maybe tomorrow? Okay? Okay.

On to the shopping.

Had to make a run for some prescription refills. My mom went along with us. Dale needs a new coat. He has a nice windbreaker type, but needs something for when the temps dip below 50. Cuz, you know, 45 is so very cold.

We went to 3 pretty major clothing stores and found the same thing in each: racks full of winter coats warm enough to keep preschool size abominable snow children warm! In a blizzard! And did you notice I said racks FULL of them? It doesn't GET that cold here. Well, ok - so about 2 days out of the year it gets really, frigidly cold, but that is what hot chocolate, long underwear, and 17 layers of clothes are for. I just wanted a medium-weight coat to keep my kiddo warm in the high 30's to mid 40's. Really.
I have turned to the internet for my shopping and there are some promising things turning up. I'll keep you posted.

Happily, I did have some success in some little shopping ventures I managed to work in along side the coat hunt. Some of them were gifts for people who read this blog, so I will not elaborate. But I CAN tell you Mom pointed me in the direction of some very nice black pumps on clearance for $8. And I was actually in NEED of black pumps. Spectacular.

And I also came home with a festive little shirt for Christmas. I was going to be all cool and link to it here, but the store's website didn't have the same color pattern, and I didn't want to be all "well, it's like this but its not" so I just won't link it after all. It is black and red and V-neck and has sparkles and a sash. How's that? I'm already planning how I can get the most mileage out of it before the holidays are over. It took a little work to find it, but it was worth it. :)

And then we came home and blahblahblah and had an afternoon and blahblahblah and after supper I left the boys at home w/Greg and went over to my parents' for some peace and quiet and some put-your-head-down-and-work-real-hard-time.

Last Saturday our church hosted an incredible fundraiser for Alan's medical expenses. I'll tell you all about it sometime. With pictures. For now, all that is relevant is that I have 80-100 thank you notes to write. Whoa. So Mom helped me work my way through the lists and address and all that good stuff. We're about a third of the way done. Maybe more. We agreed to meet again tomorrow and continue. In the meantime, I will be headed to the store for more cards and the good ol' USPS to drop about $50 on stamps. Whoa.

And finally.... came home and got online (does anybody really say "surf the net" anymore?) while nursing Alan to sleep. Mom and I had talked about kids having a lot to do with making it really seem like Christmas and that brought up an Oak Ridge Boys song. I keep wanting to say "old" Oak Ridge Boys song, but it's not like they have any new ones. Hmm. Anyway, I remember it because my mom had it on a record when I was growing up. I looked up the lyrics a little while ago, and it is the first time I've seen them since I've been a parent. It is so much more meaningful as a parent. It is sweet before, but down-right touching after you "get it".

I cried! So maybe I've been a little more emotional lately (stress (even if you don't realize it is there) can do that to you). Anyway, it's a precious song. I'm going to go pray over my boys and try not to cry. :)
And I leave you with the lyrics:

Thank God for Kids
by The Oak Ridge Boys
album: Country Christmas Eve [Capitol] (1995), Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 [MCA] (1984), Christmas With the Oak Ridge Boys [MCA] (1985), The Collection [MCA] (1992), Christmas with the Oak Ridge Boys (1982), Christmas with the Oak Ridge Boys [Universal] (1995), I'll Be Home for Christmas [Liberty] (2001), Colors [Word Entertainment] (2003), Oak Ridge Boys Collection, Vol. 1 [MCA] (1992)

If it weren't for kids have you ever thought
There wouldn't be no Santa Claus
Or look what the stork just brought
Thank God for kids.

And we'd all live in a quiet house
With-out Big Bird or Mickey Mouse
And Kool Aid on the couch
Thank God for kids.

Thank God for kids, there's magic for a while
A special kind of sunshine in a smile
Do you ever stop to think or wonder why
The nearest thing to heaven is a child.

When you get down on your knees tonight
To thank the Lord for His guiding light
And pray they turn out right
Thank God for kids.

Daddy, how does this thing fly?
And a hundred other where's and why's
You really don't know but you try
Thank God for kids.

When you look down in those trusting eyes
That look to you, you realize
There's a love that you can't buy
Thank God for kids...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Polar Not-So-Express

As much as we would like to, we have not been able to establish much of any kind of routines with Alan. Therefore, things are constantly changing. Something will work for a few weeks and then, sometimes all of a sudden, it doesn't work any more and we find something different.

Our current setup involves a lot of me sitting in the recliner nursing Alan to sleep, and often just holding him while he sleeps. This lends itself to a lot of tv watching. I have gotten back to my 'love' of a few years ago, Food Network. The past week or so I've also done a lot of channel surfing and found some Christmas specials.

Last night was one of those times. I came along just as the ending credits of The Polar Express. Even though I'm not a big movie watcher I've always been interested in seeing that one. Not only is it Christmas, but it's Tom Hanks! I really like him as an actor. I don't know what he is like in real life or where he stands on major issues, but I am ok with that. When most (all) of your movie watching is either what is shown on tv or what you borrow from the library for free, it's not like I personally am funding anyone. Oh anyway. Where was I.... oh yes - Tom Hanks. Some of my favorites?
Joe vs. the Volcano

Sleepless In Seattle
Apollo 13

You've Got Mail
That Thing You Do
Not such a big fan of The Green Mile, haven't seen Catch Me if You Can...... I'm sure I"m forgetting some, but listing Tom Hanks movies wasn't even the point of this post. In fact, I have veered pretty far from the where I began and the intended point of this post. Which was:

The Polar Express.
As soon as the credits finished rolling, it ran again on the same channel, so Greg and I stuck around to watch. First of all, the animation is amazing! Wow! It was fun to watch just for that! And, it being Christmas and Tom Hanks and a really cool train, the story line sucked us in pretty easily too.

However. This being run on tv meant there were a LOT of commercials. Almost as much commercial as there was movie. And it being the second showing of the night meant it was going to be pretty late finishing up. And we value our sleep around here. So, we decided to call it a night without finishing the movie. We figured that in "real" movie time we were only a half hour or so into it. We did like it enough that we both agreed we want to check it out from the library in the next week or so and watch it uninterrupted. Well - uninterrupted by commercials at least. Around here, an uninterrupted evening is pretty much unheard of.

My question for you is: Have you seen The Polar Express? What did you think? Don't give anything away, though! Remember - I haven't seen the whole thing yet!

What is your must-see Christmas movie or tv show?

Friday, December 7, 2007

I forgot to take pictures, but soon you will thank me for that.

The characters:
My Dad, aka "Gramps"

The scene:
transplant clinic office

The time:
Thursday, Noon

The story:
The three of us arrived at straight-up noon, a full half hour before the appointment. We had just had lunch in the hospital cafeteria, which wasn't bad at all. The waiting room at the clinic has recently been updated with some really cool toys that hang on the walls and do stuff. I'll have to get pictures of those sometime. Gramps and I were taking turns entertaining Alan with the toys on the wall that do stuff, while he looked and reached, all while sitting in his stroller.

I'm not sure whether it was my eyes or my nose that first alerted me to the problem. My best recollection is that it was simultaneous. Just as I spotted the tell-tale half circle of wetness coming up from Alan's waistband, my nose told me this was not going to be good. Upon a quick closer inspection, I find that the wetness is also spreading down one leg. Oh, dear.

Fortunately, I had packed an entire set of extra clothes. Unfortunately, they were in the van, in the parking garage, a full 7 minute walk away. Gramps sets out for the clothes, while I turn to do something with the child. I knew the bathroom across the hall had one of those plastic fold-down baby-changers, but

#1 - Cleanliness? ew
#2 - This is a big baby, with a big mess, who is unlikely to hold still for more than 10 seconds (on a good day)

The office is not fully staffed from their lunch break yet, and only one lady is behind the window. Her back is turned, so I start tap-tapping.
I am person very hesitant to interrupt or inconvenience anyone, so when she doesn't turn around, I assume I haven't been tapping loud enough and I pick it up some. Tap-tap. And then some more.
All the while, Alan is standing in his stroller, with me bent over him so he can chew my necklace. I"m not sure how we got to this little arrangement, but there's not much more I can do but to keep it up at this point. He isn't going to stay happy long, and I certainly can't hold him!

Office lady swivels in her chair to reach for a file and I see she is on the phone. Oops.
And then I hear her say Alan's name. At least I'm rudely interrupting a phone call about my own kid.

Finally a nurse's aid passes through and I'm able to ask her if I can use an exam room.
No problem. Excellent! I lay Alan down and begin stripping him.
That's all I'll say. Ew.

All my tap-tapping must have taken longer than I thought, because I am just finishing Alan's bottom half when Gramps reappears with the change of clothes. Just in time, because now I need to take the shirt off. Up, over the head, and.... EW. What was supposed to be in the diaper but was on the inside of the shirt is now smeared up to Alan's shoulder blades. Ew.

And this is one of the many reasons we were in an exam room and not a public restroom. All I had to do was turn to the really cool 12-18 inch deep sink and plop my naked, soiled baby down in it. Couldn't have been better. Well, actually, it would have been a lot better if I would have pre-heated the water. Most babies don't like cold baths. Mine turns out to be no exception. But some (cold) running water and a few squirts of anti-bacterial handsoap and Alan is a new man. With plenty of time to spare before our appointment. :) See? I told you you'd be glad there were no pictures. :)

And the writing of this little drama has just reminded me.... those clothes are still in a bag in the bottom of the stroller.

BooMama's Soup-Tacular

I got pretty excited a few days ago when I saw BooMama was having this soup carnival. I had just made my very own Baked Potato soup a couple of days before, and I was very proud of that soup. So proud in fact, that I was surprised my blog readers weren't clamoring for the recipe. (Even though approximately half of my 4 readers had been at my house to eat the soup.) Ahh, but pride goes before a fall, doesn't it? And not one commentor asked for my soup recipe. *SIGH*

But then! A soup carnival! Someone was interested in hearing my soup recipe! Or at least soup recipes in general.
And then, today, I go over to BooMama's to see how the carnvial is going and get ready to post my entry, and I'll be darn if BooMama herself hadn't posted a recipe that is very similar to mine, and even uses the CROCK POT! I love using my crock pot! I start to read the recipe. Ahhh yes, but mine uses BACON. And then, at the end, I see.... so does BooMama's. *SIGH* again.
But, so I can get it out of my head, and since I'm due for a blog post anyway, and in spite of the fact that my last post included recipes, I am forging ahead. Here it is, friends:

Baked Potato Soup
4-6 medium baking potatoes, cut in chunks
1 small onion, chopped
2 c. water
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pound (1 pkg) bacon
8 oz half & half
Place potatoes with water and onion in large pot. Salt lightly. Simmer, covered, until potatoes are soft. Meanwhile, fry bacon until crisp. Add mushroom soup and half & half to potatoes, along with 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp paprika, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder. Add 2-3 (or 4-5) inches of a velveeta block, cut in chunks. Simmer & stir until potatoes begin to fall apart and cheese is melted. Serve with crumbled bacon.
Note: I would very easily substitue the half and half with a combination of milk and sour cream. I just had the half and half on hand and wanted to use it before it went bad. :)
Now - go here and find yourself some soup recipes. And have a souper winter! :) (sorry - couldn't help myself) ;-)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday - What to Fix!?

Today is a themed WFMW:

It's 5:15 pm, the kids are hungry, you have a headache, hubby is almost home, and the pantry has three things in it. What is your BEST last-minute meal recipe? Share with everybody this week. We'll call it Works-For-Me Wednesday: The What-Do-I-Fix? Edition.

My best creativity sometimes comes from situations like these. Of course, when asked to remember those recipes later, either to make again or for purposes such as today's blog, I can never remember exactly what it was I pulled from a hat.

But, after some thinking, I can at least share these two:

Spaghetti Bolognese - The first time I tried this recipe, I looked at what went into it and looked at the finished product and felt very skeptical. It looked like plain ol' spaghetti to me! But at first taste, I knew it was different. It tasted like "real food" and not something out of a can! And I have actually made it more than one time. Quite a statement, coming from me! :)

Spaghetti Bolognese

8 oz. spaghetti
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
4 Tbsp. tomato paste
4 Tbsp. Italian Dressing
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

COOK pasta as directed on package.
MEANWHILE, combine meat, onions and garlic in large nonstick skillet; cook on medium heat 5 min. or until onions are crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and dressing. Bring to boil; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
DRAIN pasta; place in large serving bowl. Add meat sauce; mix lightly. Sprinkle with the cheese.

Okay, okay, I know - that is way more than 3 ingredients. But I have never put in the tomato paste, because I never keep tomato paste on hand. And I even made it without the beef one night because I didn't have any. SO - this recipe is flexible, and most of what it calls for are pantry staples.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos - another recipe that had me raising my eyebrows, but I tried it anyway and it has turned into one of our favorites!

Bake a couple of sweet potatoes in the microwave (I suppose a can of well-drained sweet potatoes would work as well, I've just never tried it). Drain a can of black beans. Combine beans and potatoes in large skillet and mash together. Add a cup or so of salsa and some cumin to taste. Heat through and spread on flour tortillas. Good with Monterrey Jack cheese or cilantro, but only if you have them on hand. ;)

For more quick-fix, few ingredient, last-minute recipes, head over to Rocks in my Dryer!
Edited to add:
There is also our other favorite last minute meal: Breakfast for supper! Pancakes or waffles are our favorites. Scramble some eggs, and you've got a meal! :)

Getting stuff done

Monday, Alan woke me up really early. As I sat in the wee hours thinking of all I wanted to get done, I met up with my old friend, the To Do List. I made a nice list and got to work.

And stayed at work!

I really got a lot done, and felt good about it.

So, Tuesday morning, it wasn't quite as early, but my friend To Do List had helped me so much the day before, I decided to try again.

Here was my list:

Work in the kitchen (cleaning, etc) for about 20 minutes
Christmas Cards
Blog entry
Make Spaghetti Salad

At the end of the day, this is what my list looked like:

Work in the kitchen
Laundry - 1 load done
Christmas Cards
Blog entry
Spaghetti Salad

It's all about priorities really. :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Once upon a time...

....I was a Once-a-day blogger.

I have learned that once you have been a regular Once-a-day blogger, the 2 or 3 people that read your blog (Hi mom!) notice when you miss a day. Or two. Or three. You know.

I don't know why I feel I have run out of things to say. I think I feel the need to be funny, and let me tell you - some days it takes a lot of effort to take the ins & outs of our everyday life and spin it into an amusing tale. Don't get me wrong, I love my life, and I find joy and humor in just about every day. I think what must be lacking is .... ummmm.... I don't know... writing skills?
See! I'm laughing already, just picturing myself as a .... "writer". Look! More giggles! :) Lol. Skills or not, blogging is fun, so I will continue. And looking for the funny in the mundane-ness of our everyday lives is good for everybody. Don't you think?
So.... on to bloggy stuff....

Don't tell Dale, but last night was our town's annual Christmas parade. He missed not one but TWO opportunities to be in the parade because of his very tough and very lingering cold. One of those chances was to ride in PawPaw's 1929 Model A. That's what he's done the last two years. AND, the Model A has won 1st prize for decorated car the past 2 years. Unfortunately, due to some lighting issues (as in, there weren't any) it didn't place this year. Or maybe it wasn't the missing lights.... maybe it was the missing passenger! ;)

Dale & Nana - Parade 2005

Most years after the Christmas parade we all get together for a bowl of chili. Usually at Nana's house. But since no one from our house would be in or at the parade, and because this year seems to be a year of veering from or altering our usual traditions, I volunteered to host everyone for a bowl of something hot.

But not chili. My chili attempts are not fool-proof yet. I had a close call on a pot last week that I saved with some very fancy kitchen footwork I was very proud of, but this didn't make me confident enough to host a chili get-together. Not hardly.

So instead I served Baked Potato Soup, which I think was a hit. And for dessert, Fresh Cranberry Bars with cream cheese icing. Oh, the cranberry bars. They didn't even last 24 hours. YUM.

And in an abrupt subject change of blogging randomness, here is a pic of the boys from this morning.

Alan discovered that with a missing couch cushion, he can climb up by himself! He loves it!

Usually we like to keep all of our couch cushions you know - on the couch, but due to an unforunate incident involving a small child with a really bad cough, some potato soup, and some GRAPE JUICE, the couch cushion spent the night in the bathtub.

My deepest apologies to those of you who were trying to enjoy some cranberry bars when the unfortunate couch cushion incident occurred. Did I mention it is a really bad cough?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dancing in the aisles

After a couple of days, Dale's runny nose turned into a cough & cold. When he woke up coughing an hour or so after bedtime last night, I dosed him up with some cold medicine.

This morning, he woke up kind of hoarse and before long was asking to take his vitamin.

I keep a bottle of children's chewables, but we aren't regular about taking them or anything. It is usually when he thinks about it and asks for one, so I didn't think much about him asking for one this morning.

A little while later I passed by and saw him just sitting on the couch. I asked him what he was doing, and he said, in his scratchy little voice:

"I'm just sittin' here. I thought my vitamin might help my mouth talk like it used to talk, but it didn't."

I gave him some juice, but that didn't help much either. Later he decided to try a nap to see if that would 'fix it' and disappeared into his room for a little while (this was all before 8:30 this morning). I guess a nap was boring, because pretty soon he was back to the couch for a 'rest' to see if that would help.

He eventually either gave up or got used to it and forgot because he's still hoarse now. Poor kid.
I'm sure he doesn't feel completely good, but we went grocery shopping earlier today, and he felt good enough to dance along to the sample CD clips in the candles/frames/decor aisle at WalMart. Besides, dancing doesn't require any voice at all! And silly me... I danced along with him. I just couldn't resist. :)