Thursday, December 28, 2006

Night at the Museum

Fun movie. If you haven't seen anything about it, it's Ben Stiller in a museum of Natural History that comes alive at night. There was only one thing that bothers me about it now, and I wonder if that got edited out or something. Nice effects & funny.

We had some tickets left over from the Talent Show, so the girl scouts wanted to see that one. Unfortunately, we got those tickets in May. When I went to get them yesterday, they'd expired. At least they weren't our Prize from the show. They were some leftovers because the troop that won the movies had less people than the tickets we were donated. But still... grr.

So we went to a matinee & paid out of troop funds ($5.25 per person). We just didn't get treats while we were there. Then we went by Taco Bell & got some dinner. Those girls LOVE Taco Bell. I'm not sure why, but if you have to have fast food, at least it's cheap!

We had dessert leftover from Christmas - a nice Black Forest Cake from Safeway. Neither Mary or Renee had ever had that kind of cake. I think that's what Renee will have when she gets married. She really liked the cake.

I had told the girls we'd do a sleepover during the break from school. I thought I'd made sure everyone could be there, but we were still short Amanda :/ She came later, after her babysitting job. I went to bed around 11:00, and Amanda wasn't here yet. I see her truck in the driveway, so she must have showed up eventually! I have no clue what time the girls got to sleep.

I'll leave them alone. Then we have to go pick up our actual Prize from the Talent Show - a 3 gallon tub of ice cream from our famous dairy - the girls want cookie dough flavor. We have a certificate that expires on the 31st - I don't want to waste that one too!!


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Merry Christmas! Part 2

Once everyone has come into the Christmas Room, they all figure out where their pile of stuff is, and then we all settle down

First, we read the Christmas story. This year we read out of the Bible, but Connor wasn't too interested - I think we need a version with pictures or something.

Then, we sing Christmas Carols. This year, Connor learned a bunch of traditional songs at school, altho not necessarily hymn-style songs. So we sang Jingle Bells, and Rudolph, and we jumped to the end of the 12 Days of Christmas (we sang 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, then 8, then 12). But we always have to sing Silent Night, because that's my favorite one.

After the songs are sung, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas with hugs & kisses. Then everyone gets to their spot and the presents are opened. This year we started with Connor, and then he directed the rest of us. It was very cute.

Trevor got an MP3 player and Warcraft for his computer. We play the online version already, but he likes the history of the game, so he's playing the previous version. Diana loaded it onto her computer too.

Diana got the backpack she'll need when she travels to Germany in the summer. She also got a Full Metal Alchemist movie gift pack, but it's not the one she wanted with the extras, so we'll have to return that and get the right one.

Connor got that humidifier I mentioned in a previous post, and a Hot Wheels set. He also got the Ice Age movies, an x-box car racing game, and some Sponge Bob Christmas episodes on DVD.

I got a nice new cushy robe, bath stuff & chocolate. Lee got a movie, Weird Al's new CD, a coupon for comics, and a gift card for Subway. Everyone also got Canadian 2010 Olympic stuff from my folks (yay!). Too cool.

On Saturday, we'll be meeting up with Lee's family in Medford, and do the gift exchange there. So we still have a little Christmas to go... In the meantime, we have our plates of cookies, and we're enjoying vacation!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas! Part 1

This is the nativity puzzle I got from my dad years ago. I like the plant behind the stable part, because it looks like a palm tree. The green fir trees are from Celeste.. Those have to be at least 13 years old now...

Another difference between the American and German Christmas - everyone has their spot, and the presents are piled there next to their plates with goodies. You can find your spot by reading the namecard on the plate. Or sometimes we pass out the namecards before everything is set up, and you pick your own spot.
These are our "teller" from Christmas Eve. Thank you Papi for all the wonderful cookies! I only added the orange & apple, nuts & some See's Candies. It smelled soooooo good!

Lee took the kids to see the Festival of Lights, and I got to hear the radio version of A Christmas Carol while I was setting up. And my mom & dad called right after I got everything ready & was just sitting around waiting for my family to get home :)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Links change

I had to remove Zaphod's because it wasn't loading anymore. And I added Friese Disease (Lee came up with that a long time ago!!).


Friday, December 22, 2006

Connor & Christmas

This is the first year he's really 'into' it. Last year, he noted the changes in decor, but pretty much went about his business doing his usual stuff. We were in Canada for Christmas last year, so he was way more into being at Omi & Opa's house, hanging out with cousins, and being outside & about in Kelowna.

Now he's an 8-year old with language-delay autism, and Christmas is a big thing. He's excited about something he knows is coming, although he might not yet have the language to express why he's excited.

He has been dutifully opening every day on his chocolate advent calendar. This year, he's even eating the chocolate (he used to give them to me). He has seen the gifts collecting under the tree, and he'll say "Don't open it!" We always add on "until Christmas!" in case he has decided they are NEVER to be opened.

He's been especially bubbly and active since we got out of school on vacation. Some of that is just due to being home instead of in school, but I think part of it is excitement. I think he's really looking forward to the holiday, and it's pretty cool.

When we asked him what he wants for Christmas, he said "gifts." Okay, that's not a lot of help. Actually, he really has everything he likes, and it's kind of a trick to find something he'll be excited about. He has a couple of movies he wants, and I got him (of all things) a "Magic Mist" humidifier. There's a store in the mall that sells these - they look like a lamp thing with bubbling mist coming out of the glass bowl. He likes to blow on the mist. I figured what the heck, we have a gas stove heating the room and it's dry - a misting humidifier wouldn't be a bad thing. We'll see what he thinks.

Someone suggested showing him the toy catalog for Wal-Mart or K-Mart, but I think that's too much at once. He doesn't really play so much with the toys he gets. Maybe a little, but he'd rather play x-box, or play on my computer.

The older two suggested a remote control car, but again, I don't know how long that would last as a toy either. He doesn't always play with his toys the way they are intended - I'm going to chalk that one up to Lee, who "recreated" plastic animals - I'm pretty sure the makers didn't intend their toys to be melted & stuck to other animals...

I wish I could have caught Connor in the apex of the jumps, but my camera is a little slow. He gets good air on those mini trams :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Open House

Every year we do an Open House and invite pretty much everyone we know. We have the people that come pretty much every year, and then whoever else has time on that day. It's meant as a little break from the mad rush of the holidays, and it's not supposed to be something anyone has to stress over :)

This year we had over 30 people come thru in the 4-hour time span we were "open." Lee's mom & dad were able to come (I don't think they've missed many), and this year they came with Kraig & Nancy. Donna & Jim came with their grandkids, Rita & James. Connor had to share his xbox a bit, which was hard for him, but also a good lesson.

We also had a number of ladies from the TOPS club come. I almost feel guilty about the type of food I have out, since we're all watching our weight, but since it's a buffet snacky-type deal, and there ARE veggies, I don't worry too much. TOPS is all about self-managing your weight. It's not a diet plan, and you're supposed to be able to make good choices based on the stuff you learn at the meetings.

We also had neighbors come, which is always funny to me, because we don't seem to get a lot of time to talk to each other thru the year. It tends to be more along the lines of taking care of each other's pets when we're on vacation, and the occasional happening in the neighborhood that we meet in the street and talk about (why is there an ambulance at their house?).

And then of course, there are the other folks we invited. People from school or work, mostly. And again, we never really know who will be able to make it, and it's a nice surprise to see who does. Some people bring a little gift, and that's also a nice surprise. Trevor's friend Christy came, and her mom brought us a bag with wine that I will open on Christmas Eve, I think :)

For our part, once the Open House starts, we all get to relax & have fun. But up until then, our house is a whirlwind of cleaning and cooking. Trevor spent a good 8 hours in his bedroom, because it was just that bad! I think we got 3 large trash bags of stuff out of his room. Why does he even keep boxes from trading cards? He has larger boxes and folders to hold the cards!

Anyway, the food we had out this time consisted of:
Trevor's fudge
Diana's Spritz cookies
Chocolate-dipped pretzel rods
Stollen (German Christmas bread)
Rice Krispie treats
Potato chips
Spinach dip in a sourdough bowl
Dragon's Breath dip
Garden dip
Curry dip
Various crackers
Veggie tray
Cheese cubes (cheddar & pepperjack)
Beefstick (that was a gift - we're vegetarian)
This is the aftermath.
I think next year, we'll stick with just 2 dips. This time I'd gotten the Dragon's Breath, Garden & Curry dips at the craft fair, and we wanted to try them. Usually it's just onion dip.
We had so many veggies left, I made soup with them. I just chopped up the bell peppers, celery and cauliflower, added onion and potatos with some water, butter & milk, and it turned out really nice. We ate it with the other sourdough round.
Fun stuff & now that everything is over, I can relax except for the last-minute holiday stuff -- like shopping with the kids since neither of the older ones have done any of that yet! But we're out of school, so it's all good :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kooky Girls

Last night we did a group gift exchange thing with our scouts.

We meet at the Dollar Tree, and everyone has $5 to spend. If you are participating, you fill out a little card with your interests & favorite colors & such. Then the names go in a hat, everyone takes a name, and off they go through the store. A lot of the girls choose a stocking or bag as part of the gift to present it nicely.

Then we all go to a local diner to get french fries and hot chocolate, and trade the gifts. After the gift exchange & everyone has eaten, the girls all piled into a church van that another leader was driving, and they went to see our local "Festival of Lights" at the big park outside of town.

We had thought about doing a sleepover after that, but we want to include seeing a movie when we do that, and the one we want to see isn't out yet (Night at the Museum).

Mary got a play police officer set from her exchange person. She had Diana as her exchange person, and got Diana the same thing as part of her gift. Heh. They are just kooky girls.

School-made presents

Now that the families in our classroom have gotten their gifts, I can share....

This year, we wanted to have the students help to make something for their families - pretty standard for elementary school (In fact, Connor brought home some stuff as well, which we'll open on Christmas Eve).

We were thinking about it in October/November, when there were a lot of leaves coming down. I had seen clay leaf bowls in the past, and I thought those should be pretty good to have our kids make. Our kids can do hand-over-hand stuff, like pressing the leaf into the clay.

However, none of the staff in our room has had a lot of experience with clay. We had to pick the brain of the teacher who does that a lot. But all the supplies & the kiln were available to us, so we plowed ahead.

First thing we discovered, it's hard to knead clay for all six students. Usually when a teacher does a clay project, the LAST thing she has to worry about is the clay being kneaded. Kids love that. But our class can't do that, so we had to do it for them.

Then rolling out the clay was the next thing. One lady on our staff put the clay between two trays, and we had one of our students run over the trays in his wheelchair to flatten it :)

The kids did get their finger impressions into the clay, along with pressing leaves into them. We made a few different sizes, because we weren't sure how thick or thin the clay should even be.

Wonder of wonders, all the pieces made it through the first firing without cracking or breaking! We did more hand-over-hand to let the kids paint their leaves. The thing with glaze for ceramics tho, you really don't know what color you're going to get judging by what the glaze looks like before you fire. I mean, the one labeled "blue" is a soft pink color when it's in the jar!

So we weren't sure what we'd get once the pieces were fired. But we were all happy they turned out! There was only one piece that when you put one kind of glaze on another, the top one didn't get shiny - it's all rough. And that combo didn't work. And other glazes more or less went over the "trim" glaze, so it wound up all one color instead of three colors. But even so, it was neat.

Click on the photo to see it in a bigger window. We were happy with how these turned out, and the families were too!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Contact Lenses

Diana had to wait until our bathroom was finished before we'd let her get contact lenses. I also didn't mind waiting until she was 16. You need to take care of those things!! Anyway, since both Lee & I use contact lenses, with all five of us sharing the other bathroom before, there just wasn't room for the STUFF. Now that Lee & I are in our own bathroom, the whole medicine cabinet is available, so there's room.

Diana got soft lenses to try out for a week. Her "real" ones will be in on Monday. She had to start with 4 hours the first day, then 5 the next, and now she's up to 7 hours. She'll probably start wearing them to school once the break is over.

Trevor is completely happy with his glasses.

Connor just likes making "big eyes" for the camera.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Choir Concert

Last night, after our Girl Scout meeting (which wasn't really a "meeting" so much as having Renee over to visit...) we went to the High School for their Christmas Concert to support one of the scouts, Mary.

Mary was on stage almost the whole night. She is in the A Cappela as well as the Chamber Choir. Her boyfriend sat in the same row that Diana, Renee & I sat. So we were the "Mary Cheering Section."

Mary likes to look at the audience when she sings. I was always taught to look only at the choir director for my years in high school & college. I guess it's different now. Diana & Renee were saying something about looking at the "red spot."

In any case, Mary spent a lot of time trying not to laugh, because she kept looking at Diana & Renee, who were being goofy, and trying to make her laugh. Good thing Mary didn't have any solos this time around.

When it got to the sing-a-long portion, Renee & Diana were very loud on the echos for Rudolph. LIKE A LIGHTBULB! LIKE A FLASHLIGHT! LIKE PINOCCHIO! LIKE MONOPOLY! LIKE COLUMBUS!

They sing different echoes here than where I grew up. MY Rudolph wanted to play football, not monopoly. And his nose glowed like a lightbulb both times. And for some reason, the name he was called was "Fudge-face" - I have no clue where that came from.

It was a fun concert. I'm glad I went and got my Secret Santa scarf knitted the rest of the way.


Monday, December 11, 2006

My Mirror

This is the mirror my sister, Connie, made me while we were in Canada over the summer.

We hung it up in the new bathroom over the weekend, and it looks pretty neat in there.

The wall outlet behind me is supposed to be covered by a cabinet later on, but it hasn't been built yet.

Thanks Connie!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Ba-who Doray, Ba-who Doray

Easy snowmen:

Take a tube sock. Make a base from cardboard or pressboard and put in the toe of the sock. Put about 3/4 to a cup of rice or beans in to make a heavy enough base. Stuff the rest of the sock with batting, up to the change in ribbing on the sock. Tie a knot at the ribbing change. Fold back over the top of the sock to make a cap. Tie off two sections to make a snowman shape. Attach decorations, like button eyes, pipe cleaner nose, and fabric scraps for scarves.

Place around your Christmas tree and sing like the Who's in Whoville. Ba-who doray, ba-who doray, welcome Christmas, Christmastime!
And I'm paraphrasing. I don't know what those Who's are even singing...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Happy St. Nicklaus!

Another German tradition in my family is St. Nicklaus. Carolyn & I actually kept this going for each other waaaay longer than we were supposed to, but hey, it was fun!

In Germany, St. Nicklaus comes on his Saint's Day (check your Catholic Calendar - all saints have a specific day). So kids put out their boots on the night of the 5th, so St. Nicklaus can fill them with either goodies or coal, depending on the kids' behavior.

Trevor & Diana also get to celebrate St. Nicklaus in their German classes at the high school :)
It's not a huge gift time, just some goodies and a smaller gift. But this saves us from having to wake up early on Christmas Day. We celebrate Christ's birth on Christmas Eve, with all the candles lit and the tree lights shining. My family has pretty much celebrated this way since we found out that's what our parents did in Germany. Somehow, it's just a little more special to me when we're all dressed nice for the evening, vs. pajamas at the crack of dawn. But that's my personal preference. And my husband's & kids too.

We save Christmas Day for the big dinner & enjoying the company of friends & family.

In Germany, there are also multiple days of Christmas (like the Twelve Days of Christmas song). We don't do that part. After Christmas Day, we do one more celebration with family and do a gift exchange, and then it's New Year's and back to school!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Denkt Euch....

That means "Just Think" (more or less), and it starts a poem my mom used to tell us when we were younger. It's about seeing the Christchild bringing a sack of goodies through the snow, and at the end, it says, "it smelled like apples and nuts!" which was a special treat at Christmastime.

My dad sent us his cookies (yay!!!). Every year, he makes an assortment, using the recipes handed down from his mom. It's a lot of work & we sooooooo appreciate it!

Connor is really getting excited about Christmas this year. He's jumping out of bed in the morning to open another door on his Advent Calendar. Last weekend we put up the tree & the lights outside. Connor insisted on getting the stockings hung and putting lights on the tree as well. I'm glad he doesn't remember the rest of the decorations! I'm still trying to tidy up to get ready for our Open House!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Tree Lighting Ceremony

Last Sunday, a crowd gathered in front of the courthouse down town for our tree lighting ceremony. Diana had gotten a call from a fellow GAPP member, asking if she could help volunteer, so I dropped her off at 4:45. I showed up at 5:30. The ceremony started at 6:00. Carolers were already singing when I arrived, and they were from the community college, so it was pretty good.
Next up were the High School Choirs. Some of their carols still needed some work, but that's High School. It was fun.
The Emcee for the evening was Ross, our Postmaster. He's a kick. He likes to sing too - he'll be singing carols when you go in & drop off your packages & mail. He also sings Karaoke around town. Hee.
Then a county commissioner read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and a poem about a Christmas Tree was read. And then a little girl got to hit the switch and the tree & courthouse lights all came on.
Then Santa appeared at the top of the courthouse, and he came down to see the kids.
This all would have been just a tad more enjoyable if I hadn't been freezing. I was dressed pretty warm, but just standing for an hour and some, you get cold. Diana was wearing Converse-style tennis shoes, and her feet were just completely numb.
After everything was over, we came home & Lee had made chili-mac for dinner. Diana wanted to put her feet in it. :P

Friday, December 01, 2006

Christmas Season

We have a nice little community where we live. It's very different from where Lee & I were raised. We try to participate in the "small town" stuff to the best of our ability, whether it's parades downtown, or something like this.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, there's a tree-lighting ceremony in front of our courthouse downtown. The tree is usually pretty nice. We're surrounded by trees here, after all & a few years back, one from our forest was selected as the National Christmas Tree.

This year, the church across the street from the courthouse also had a live nativity, right next to the sidewalk. It was about 30 degrees outside, and that's a baby - not a doll. Don't worry, it looked like they had shifts of about 20 minutes, so none of the nativity members would freeze. I think it was the same donkey for the whole 2 hours...

The tree itself will be a different entry, since Diana & I were freezing after it was finally lit!