Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Dear Friends and Family!

Since we are here, and you are there, we have had a very calm and uneventful day. No family gatherings, no big meals, no places to go. In some ways its nice to lounge around in PJs all day and play with the new toys, or read the new books. In other ways, its a little boring. Consequently, I actually have time to write a blog. Which helps me feel connected to you, and share our Christmas Day.

The festivities started out this week with Glory of Zion's Festival of Lights. For three nights the Garden was lit up with thousands of colored lights, there were singers on two different stages, and lots of tasty food and hot drinks. We went on Wednesday night to just enjoy it as a family-although Sam ran off immediately, which is why you won't see him in the photos. We also went on Friday, and Madeline played Christmas carols on her violin while I helped children do a craft inside the dining hall. Here we are, minus Sam, and also I got a picture with Lisa, who I work with. We share an office, and we got a big kick out of the idea that we should put a framed photo of ourselves on each of our desks. Or, pass them out to the other members of the staff. A bit of overkill.

Last night we went to our Christmas Eve service. We met a couple from New Mexico who had flown in just for the service, and then were flying back today. They brought his mother with them, and I think a brother. They were from East LA and La Puente originally, so that was fun. They have been watching GOZ on the web for a few years, and have attended at least one of the conferences. I was pretty blown away by them being there, just for the service.

It was a good service. They sang "Mary Did You Know?" and thanks to David Shack telling me about "Vader Did You Know?" on youtube, we all had trouble keeping a straight face during that one. Our worship leader, John, sang his traditional "Herod" song where he dresses up and wears a kingly hat and struts around being the bad guy. He has a very good villan laugh. This year four of the college girls danced with him and acted as the chorus and as characters in the song. It's just not a Glory of Zion Christmas without Herod. Everyone was given a candle on the way in so at the end we all lit them off those around us, and held them in the dark for quite a while. I was slightly nervous about all the little kids holding candles; Sam being one of them. He loved it, and kept blowing out his candle and relighting it on our. We made it through that without incident that I know of.

On the way home we thought it would be fun to drive through Wendy's, but it and all the other restaurants were closed. So we came home and made fried tortilla chip nachos. Yum.

This morning we had lots of fun opening presents. William got a 4 ball bowling bag and a baseball mitt, Madeline got a Kindle, Abby got an ipod touch, Sam got a Mario game and baseball equipment, and I got a pretty platter, a trivet and a smaller cast iron enamel pot.

I made cinnamon pull apart bread and a hash brown egg casserole yesterday so this morning I just had to pop them in the oven while we opened our presents. They were done just as we got hungry so we feasted with coffee and sparkling apple cider. It was good. We didn't need another meal until 5 this evening. By that time I was ready to cook again, so I made split pea soup in my cast iron enamel pot, and a cheese ball with veggies. Fun holiday food. We have learned that since EVERYTHING is closed on Christmas its almost like an ice storm. Get ready with plenty of good food beforehand so that the long day at home is extra fun. I bought a lot of fun food this last week and the urge to leave the house and forage for something more interesting has been minimal. On some Christmases past we could be found at Jack in the Box, because it was the ONLY place open. I didn't really want to do that again. So this year, when the urge to get out struck, we just took the dogs on a walk, and then came back feeling refreshed. And so did they.

We love you, miss you, and hope you have had a wonderful day celebrating Jesus' birthday! Thank you for your gifts, cards and photos. We feel blessed and we wish you a very Merry Christmas. XOXO

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


This year is the first in a few that we didn't have a Harvest Festival at church. That was nice for me, since I'm usually involved in making the festival happen. So this time we got to relax and go trick-or-treating with the neighbors.

Madeline and Sam dressed up as a cowgirl and cowboy (mostly because they were given boots by some friends) and Abbie dressed up as a fairy (because she was loaned wings by a friend.) Will wore his favorite pirate hat with his graduation gown...I'm not sure what he was. And I wore my normal mom costume. I also made a great taco soup with ground pork, chicken broth, leeks, hominy, diced tomatoes, black beans, bell pepper, chili and cumin. I wanted to make sure we had some kind of healthy protein in us before the candyfest began.

We leashed up the dogs, gathered three of Sam's friends and one of Abbie's and walked the neighborhood. The kids walked/ran about twice as far as me because they kept running back and forth across the street to all the houses. Madeline finally lost the war against thirst and an ensuing cramp, and staggered back home with her candy. We dropped off the little boys and Abbie's friend, and then Will had the brillant idea of driving to the neighborhood next to ours to see what they could do. Boy, was it worth it! Sam and Abbie came home with twice as much candy as Madeline. We separated all chocolate from the candy, and bagged it up in gallon ziplocks. You can see that we now have five gallons of candy in our home. Madeline was kind of bummed that she didn't push through for that extra gallon of candy, but really didn't want it that bad. Sam was allowed to sleep in Abbie's room so that they could barter with each other for favorite pieces. They love to drive a hard bargain, and we had to shut them down about 45 minutes after they went to bed. Sam ended up with the full sized Crunch bar, and Abbie got 5 smaller pieces for that one. I'm hoping that traded more than that, but they were both happy. I finished up the night eating the only non-candy treats: goldfish crackers and pretzles that Abbie got from someone. That, and some Earl Grey tea finished off the night nicely for me. Happy Halloween!

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School

Its that time of year again! This year we've got one child at each school. Sam's in 4th, Abbie is in 7th, and Madeline's in 9th. The schools start about 30 minutes apart; without the buses I'd be driving all morning! Thankfully the bus stops right around the corner.

Sam wanted me to walk with him and go a bit early so that he could play at the little park for a minute. Abbie didn't want me to come at all, even though I promised to kiss her at home and just hold her hand while we walked. Madeline wanted me to drive her the 2 blocks because her backpack was super heavy and she was a bundle of nerves. So I did the sending off three different ways. To each his own.

Then I went back home to enjoy my Monday alone. First one in three months. I loaded the dishwasher, moved some laundry....and went back to bed. I slept soundly until 11 am, and woke up feeling great! What a luxury.

At noon I left the house to run errands and had a lovely time wandering around Target for a few items. Then, fortified by a large iced tea, I came home and cleaned (including dusting) the livingroom.

Pretty soon everyone began getting home and it was all about snacks and school stories. Will only had 3 kids in his class....Sam's teacher doesn't yell and is strict about the rules....Abbie had a big schedule drama that meant she'd have to eat with the 8th graders (that'll get fixed)....and Madeline was able to visit her locker between classes and didn't have to carry all her books at one. It was a good day; the beginning of a good year.
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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Summer Fun

Lots has happened this summer: the kids' big trip to CA for Camp Grandma, two birthday parties so far, and our church's move from our rented facilty to our new purchased building. Also, we've had 37 days of 100+ temps and no rain so far, and the 10 day forcast doesn't offer any hope for a break.

I thought I'd post photos of Sam and Abbie's birthday parties, for fun. Sam's birthday came first, and this year he invited three friends. They even spent the night. It went well; they really wanted to play their nintendos together, and I'd say it was one of the more low maintenance parties we've had. Here they are decorating cakes. We also went swimming in our neighborhood pool, as a way to get cool and drain off some energy. Happy Birthday Sam!

Yesterday we had Abbie's party. She invited 8 friends; it was not a slumber party! Madeline introduced us to a really fun game she played at another party. We divide up into teams and design dresses with newspaper and packing tape. It is really fun, and all the girls get to be creative. At the end we lined them all up and awarded three first place awards in three different categories: Party girl, Classic, Scarlett O'Hara. Maybe you can guess which was which.

We also swam and ate dinner and had a water balloon toss. Much fun was had by all. Happy Birthday Abbie!

On the GOZ front, we moved at the end of July into the 215,000 sq ft building that we are purchasing. Only a portion of it is finished, so right now there is no nursery or children's ministry during service. I am enjoying a break from the weekly pressure of making sure that all the teachers are in place for the babies. But I'm taking this time to pray and plan and recruit for when we open back up with the permanant nurseries. We've got a beautiful garden to wander in, and the dining hall building is up and running. Each week before service we are having "Warrior Practice" where the elementary aged kids come to worship, hear the Lord's voice for themselves, and hear the Lord's voice for a friend. It is such a neat exercise. Today we prayed for each other, and one of the dads who was there too. I'm enjoying getting to go to that, and to service with my kids!

This week we begin pre-registering our kids for school. Madeline will be in High School this year! Ahh! That happened fast. I think she'll enjoy it, if she doesn't stress out too much about her school work. She's been taking violin lessons this summer. I think we'll continue them during school too. They make such a difference in the little things.

Abbie is not going to do band this year. We decided that Drama and Art are more her style, so she's going to participate in the school plays. I think she's a natural actor, and her lungs are extra large, which we learned when she was able to hold a note on her baritone longer than anyone else in band. I'm not too surprised, and this skill carries over quite nicely to vocal projection, which will serve her well on the stage. :-)

Sam does less, of course...those elementary days were good! But we'll be watching to see where his interests lie. Two more years of elementary for him, and then off to middle school. Last year he got really good at reading, so this year should be good. Although 4th grade can be more challenging.

Will starts his job back up this week, with the first day of training on Tuesday. It feels like this summer has flown so fast. Maybe because we didn't do a month long trip like last year. But I'm looking forward to the structure and cooler weather that fall brings. Maybe I'll even get back into planning menus. Summer kind of throws everything off track.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Monthly Update

Well, whether you're ready or not, I'm doing my monthly blog entry. Actually, what really happens is that I look at blogs on my phone, but can't comment or post very easily.

May is the busiest month for the family. The kids have field trips, practices, performances, special school event etc. And Will has the same for his school. So we're running like crazy. The girls are in The Wizard of Oz at their school tomorrow and Friday. It's their first theatrical debut (outside of church.) Some of our friends are going to come watch with us. I'm looking forward to this production! We also have orchestra and band concerts next week. Poor Sam simply has a school festival next Friday, and we'll see if we make it to that. He wasn't quite as interested when I told him that he'd have to spend his allowance on tickets.

Abigail was in "The Miss Lindy Show" that we do for the children's ministry at our church. It has gone churchwide, so now you can watch on the GOZ website. She plays young Miss Lindy interviewing Joshua, Caleb and Onan the first time they are getting ready to go into the Promised Land. The next show is 40 years later when they are finally going in. Its really cute, and if you want to see it, click here. Then you will need to sign in. The show is on the GOZTV tab in the black bar at the top. I hope you can watch it! The one with Moses is really funny too. Actually, they're all good. You'll see me in the audience of "Angelo, the Angel of Death." Its really silly, but fun.

I'm looking forward to summer, slowing down a bit and relaxing. Meanwhile, we'll take each day as it comes, and try to get enough sleep.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

God's provision

Some of you may have seen the garden we made last weekend on Will's blog. It was a lot of hard work, but turned out great. So, we got it all built, put in lots of dirt, and finally planted seeds and small plants. We made a kind of fence with stakes and twine to keep the dogs out. Hooray!

On Monday I got home from grocery shopping to discover Dolce sitting in the garden. She had broken through the fence, and had dug herself a hole. I was so mad! I dragged her out, spanked her with a spatula and so on. Later, Mander did the same thing. So he got spanked too. Ugly. Thank God they didn't take out the 5 tomato plants or Abbie's flowers.

They did the same thing on Tuesday. More spankings. They just can't resist the manure and cool dirt. That night Will and I prayed, and gave the garden to God.

Today at work, Pam informed me that there was firewood to collect at the new church property. We'd gotten some other wood one time, do she knew about our scavenging ways. I told her about the dogs, and she said we should make a stronger fence, and also a dirt patch for them. So we added Home Depot to the list of places to go. But we really didn't want to spend more on this project.

When we got to the land we found the wood in a pile of things to remove. And there, in the pile was a bunch of old chicken wire! And also, there was some old metal strips with stakes that had been used to make raised beds! So instead of wood, we filled the back of the van with stuff for the garden. Now all we need to buy is dirt and everyone will be happy.

What was doubly amazing about all this is that Madeline's violin bow broke yesterday at school. I called the store where we bought it, with warranty, and the guy I spoke to (the manager, it seems) told me to bring it down and they'd exchange it for free. So off we went. When we got to the store someone else was working. He said we'd have to pay $250 for a new wasn't covered by the warranty...and so on, with the opposite I'd been told. I just kept repeating what I'd been told, including that the new bow was waiting for us behind the counter. He went and looked, and there it was, with instructions to exchange it for free. He was baffled, and said he'd never seen that happen before.

So apparently we had two miracles last night. Worth about 300+ dollars. Thank you God!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A Day in the Life--Ice day 3

We're enjoying our forced vacation while we wait for the ice to melt. Today is the first day that we've had reliable phone and internet access. I've been able to text, and update facebook at times, but that is about it.

Tuesday night brought the storm and an arctic cold front that coated the streets with 2 inches of ice. The temperature dropped, and has held steady at about 15 degrees ever since. So, until we get above freezing, the roads are icy and everyone is staying home.

We did take an adventure drive on Wednesday. 10 miles per hour to see if we could get a movie at Redbox, which was frozen, of course. But we had fun driving our heavy van for 40 minutes.

The pipes in the kitchen froze, but we remembered to keep the bathroom faucets dripping, so we have water. We just bring it into the kitchen in jugs for dishwashing, tea making etc. The washer and dryer work, so I've been keeping up on the laundry. I'm doing two loads for my neighbor right now, because her pipes to the washer froze. She also got me eggs, milk, butter, and soda at the store yesterday when she ventured out. So we're helping each other.

I have been chuckling to myself at the irony of our lifestyle. We require a direct opposition to nature at all times in order to live "normally." Electricity and communication facilitate a disconnection from the outside world that is really kind of scary when faced with the lack. I saw a headline about how people were so upset about the rolling brownouts we had yesterday. I guess they just don't realize how lucky they are not to lose electricity completely.

Here are photos of things we've been doing lately: video games, movies, blogs, laundry. reading. Dolce seems to be reading Dumbo. And Madeline too. Roosevelt is happiest with Madeline scratching his ears

Will updated Abigail and Sam's blogs, so just click on the new links here.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Seeing mom's blog inspired me to just slap a bunch of photos up with descriptions. Getting the photos ready is the biggest hurdle for me. So I sat down today and downloaded all the photos from my phone, and getting them organized. I also changed my blog format in honor of the new year. I'm always inspired by January and get all excited about cleaning. This year I took photos of the kids in the nursery and made collages for the teachers. Here I am reading a book to Lisa's daughter one Sunday morning.

Here are some pre-Christmas festivities...We went to the Denton tree-lighting event in early December with friends. Our church does a living nativity every year, so we had to see everyone there. This was the first year it wasn't freezing cold, so it sounded like fun.

I went to Sam's Christmas performance, and watched the kids sing. It was hard to get a photo of him with his class because he was always behind other kids. But I got some good ones afterwards.

I made Aunt Boo Boo's sugared walnuts this year for everyone at the office and friends. I made a total of 50 of these little boxes-they held 1 cup of nuts each. Unfortunately I deleted some of the best photos, but these give you an idea.

The DeHarts came to visit for the week of Christmas. We had a great time, and they left Christmas afternoon. On Christmas Eve we invited three other families over, and had a big feast and a Dollar store white elephant gift exchange. I made pulled pork sandwiches with a huge pork shoulder. Here are the dog's enjoying their Christmas treat: the big bones.

Dan and Jacquie gave Sam an elaborate marble maze thing. It took all Christmas day to build. Thank heavens Dan was here!!

We were given ticket to the Army vs. SMU football game, so we went; It was the first time the kids had been to a live game, which is kind of sad here in Texas. We had a great time, and ate nachos, soda, peanuts and pretzles and cheese. We parked in the neighborhood around SMU, and I loved seeing the beautiful houses. That was worth the drive for me!

On New Year's Eve we went to our church's First Fruits celebration. Everyone was given noise makers, and we had a great time worshiping and celebrating. Robert Heidler gave a very interesting talk about the Jewish month that starts on January 6th. But that ended at 9:00, and what to do next?? For the last few years we've had a big conference over the New Year's holiday, and fit in celebrations with the Petersens when we could. So this year we were at loose ends. However, it worked out that Chuck sent and invitation to all the bowlers to come to the bowling alley where he'd gotten three lanes for the night. It turned out that the bowling alley was sponsering a party, complete with champagne and sparkling cider, and breakfast after midnight. So, that's what we did. The kids and Will bowled, I talked to people, and it was very festive.