Friday, November 30, 2007

Things to do

This weekend, I'll be getting the tree up & starting on decorating the house. Since we got such a large tree, I think I'll make a big, ol' wreath for the front of the house (I have one from Carolyn for the front door). This big one will have lights in it & stuff. If there are still enough boughs left, I'll make a swag too. Really, it's not that hard. If you wear gardening gloves while you work, you don't even get too sticky with sap.

Sunday is already First Advent, and I'd like to have the other Advent calendars & stuff up around the house too. The kids will do the chocolate ones, but I also have a wall hanging. I tend to buy my advent wreath candles after the season, so I usually have a decent set to use the next year ;)

If you've never made a wreath & want to give it a try, here's a nice little site to help: How to make an evergreen wreath
They have links for swags & stuff there too.

If I can manage it, I might get some baking in too... I want to do our Open House on the 16th, so I need to start scheduling my time to get everything ready for that. The cleaning is what takes the most time. Trevor might be able to help since he comes home on the 8th! Yay!

Here's a stupid song stuck in my head now:

Happy Holidays,
Happy Holidays.
While the merry bells keep ringing, may your every wish come true...
Happy Holidays,
Happy Holidays.
May the calendar keep bringing Happy Holidays to you.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Carolyn thought I should have put "Wheeeee!" in here.
It was more like "Get out of the way, Mom!"

Tree Hunt 2007

The other Thanksgiving tradition for us is the Tree Hunt on the Saturday following Thanksgiving - no matter what the weather is like, we all get our $5 permits to cut any tree we want. We were lucky this year again with the sunshine & enough snow to play in, but not so much as to make the driving too scary.
It's usually scary enough anyway, but we're in a caravan of 5+ cars, and someone will pull you out if you get stuck. This year, I'm wearing temporary crowns until my regular ones are done, so I can't bite down hard. I asked Lee to please drive extra slow and not play around with skidding & stuff so I wouldn't clench my teeth. Every time the truck seemed to slide a little, Diana (who also doesn't care for sliding cars) would say, "Dad! Mom's teeth!!"
This year we brought along Trevor's friend, Christy (in the fushia). I think she had a good time. Connor loved the snow, eating it, playing in it, laying in it, and the fire. What could be better?

We had chili, veggie hot dogs, cupcakes, chips, hot chocolate, and just a ton of other food. Some years the guys actually struggle with chains & pushing cars out of ice or whatnot, but it was pretty smooth this year & they didn't have to do that. The only work you had was finding, cutting & dragging your tree back to your car :)

We got a massive tree - the lower branches will be used for making a wreath & garland - any extras I'll just put in my flowerboxes out front. We also got a tree for some friends here in town that couldn't join us this year - maybe next year!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

Whew! This was a busy one for us!

Lee is still working pretty hard on setting up new workstations at work and he was leaving at 5:00 am and getting home at 11:00 pm -- long days! I had Tuesday & Wednesday off, so I spent Tuesday doing house stuff, and Wednesday doing shopping and cooking stuff. Since Lee couldn't help, it was up to me to do "our" share of the potluck stuff.

I made a double recipe of the green bean casserole (which I continue to love - yum!) as well as a double recipe of the Stuffing Balls (Stuffing Dumplings? -- anything but Turkey Balls). If you haven't had them before, they are a nice change from the typical stuffing/dressing at Thanksgiving. Our family kind of uses them as the center of the meal, since we're not eating the turkey because it goes great with the Mushroom Gravy (which I also made) and the mashed potatoes, etc.

Diana wasn't feeling all that great, so I put on some CD's and just got busy. The Stuffing Balls actually take a bit of doing, since there's a lot of chopping, measuring, cooking and such involved. I told Lee's nephew Jeff that he and his girlfriend, Amber, should just come from Eugene to our house next year to spend the night before Thanksgiving. Then Amber can help me, and Jeff & Lee can hang out and laugh a lot - because that's what they usually do anyway.

So after 3 Madonna CD's and the Greatest Hits of Barry Manilow, I was all done and I packed everything up to take in the morning.

We left the house on Thanksgiving morning around 9:00 to head down to Mom & Pop's place. We wanted a chance to visit with them before the bigger gathering, and we needed to use the oven! Trevor was going to be coming in at 1:00 downtown, and if there had been any problem with him getting on the shuttle from K. Falls, we would have been close enough to be able to drive out & get him if necessary - however, we didn't need the Plan B, since he was ready & waiting at the bus depot when we got there at 12:50. He'd actually arrived already at 12:30 (note for next time...).

He looked a little shaggy, but still healthy and happy. Turned out the regular busses in K. Falls don't run on Thanksgiving, so he'd walked 4 miles with his luggage to the bus depot! Once he got there, he recognized another student from OIT. That kid had taken a taxi - maybe next time he & Trevor can split the $10 fare :)

In any case, we got Trevor, went back to the folks' to get Diana & Connor and the hot-out-of-the-oven Stuffing Balls and green bean casserole (I would nuke the gravy at Donna's), and off we went to Donna's house.

We had a good crowd once again - 30ish people, I think. Lots of food of course - besides what I'd brought there were chips & dips & veggies to munch beforehand, and the traditional fare with the turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, regular stuffing, turkey gravy and a big salad bar-style set up, and rolls & butter.

Everyone ate their fill! Dessert was mostly pies - apple, pumpkin, pecan & Myrna made a bourbon pecan pie with chocolate that was a nice addition - make that again next year, Myrna!

Connor had eaten all of Grandpa's muffins and jello before we made it to Donna's, so he only had bread & butter & then ice cream for dessert. He led the family grace, however, which was very nice that everyone let him do that - he gets such a big kick out of people following him, vs. the other way around :) Thanks everyone.

I didn't get any photos, even though I had my camera. We also forgot Diana's nut order form, so we couldn't deliver the nuts we had, since we didn't know who got what (duh). So I ordered some nice smelly candles from Daniel for his school :)

Then I drove home while everyone else in the car snoozed (typical).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Macy's Celebration of Caring

Every year, I go to this event at our little Macy's. I say "little" because it must be one of the smallest Macy's stores in existence. We are a small town, although we serve one of the largest counties in Oregon. Pretty much anyone that decides to open a chain store or restaurant here figures out maybe they should have made it a little bigger... Case in point, we still have a K-Mart!

This event takes place the Monday before Thanksgiving. It's put on by the United Way, which I typically don't support because I don't like what happened with them in California when I worked with disabled people who relied on United Way support. If you don't recall, it had to do with the administration of the non-profit organization squirreling away a LOT of money for themselves.

At this event, however, you are able to designate the funds from your tickets to go to your favorite organization and it stays right here in our area. So the three tickets I bought each sent $15 directly to Girl Scouts. A percentage of the shopping proceeds go to the United Way as well - I don't typically do that much shopping, but I always do a little. They offer their "day after Thanksgiving" prices at the event - I can't figure out how they priced anything, but it was always lower than I expected (Diana's $48 jeans were $19.98 after sale & discounts).

Then there are all the local wineries and restaurants and caterers all along the aisles, and you eat while you shop. There are also free chair massages and then a big drawing at the end of the night. I've never had my name drawn, but after 6 years of doing this, I should be up pretty soon, right? Right? They have a lot of nice Macy's items (luggage, pots & pans, perfumes, hotel robes - most things at least $100 in value) and then at the end they draw for a $250 and a $500 shopping spree. It's just a fun night. Not Lee's deal, so I usually hook up with a friend. The last couple of times it's been my friend, Kathe. She had a lot of nice suggestions for Diana's stuff :)

Diana, by the way, has decided to be more of a young lady. She got her hair cut last weekend, and she's wanting to wear more fashionable clothes than the t-shirts & boy's cargo pants she's been wearing. She's never been the frilly lacey kind of girl, and this is a nice change. I will post a photo of her new 'do soon. Very cute!

My Folks got me the coolest toys!

So cool, in fact, that there are nostalgic sites dedicated to how great they were!

I posted a comment on Robert's blog, and then decided to see if I could find a photo of the toy I mentioned in the comment.

So here's this whole thing dedicated to one of my favorite toys. Hee! Mattel in the good ol' days. Baby Go Bye Bye (Currently $50 on eBay!)

This is my other favorite doll: Swingy
I woke up the morning of my 8th (I think) birthday with this doll on my nightstand, with a little banner between her hands that said "Happy Birthday Tina!"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Connor & Christmas

Yesterday, I got a call from Connor's teacher. He was very upset when it was time to go home, because he thought school was over. He was hugging his teacher and didn't want to get on the bus. I think he got mixed up with the Thanksgiving Break idea. I reassured him once I got him off the bus the break was only for a week, and then he would go to school again.

Once we got home, I took him to the family calendar, showed him today's date, when Thanksgiving is, and all the way through Christmas. At that point, he focused on what he is hoping he gets for Christmas. He wants Star Wars, episodes 1-3. We have 4-6 and he has watched them repeatedly, but he really wants Anakin Skywalker -- especially The Revenge of the Sith.

This is mostly due to Lego Star Wars for the X-box. Connor rocks at that game. Because of playing that, he's interested in the story behind the characters he runs around. And our family has all been assigned characters too. Connor is Anakin. The rest of us are bad guys - ? I'm Darth Sidious. Don't ask why - I have no clue.

A few things that bug me about this picture: First, it looks like Luke has droids for children, and second, shouldn't they be alongside Luke, since Anakin made C-3PO? And R2D2 was there before Luke too...

Luke shouldn't have Owen & Beru under him, and they're listed as "Adoptive Parents," but Luke called them "aunt" and "uncle." And which one was related to Anakin... Beru or Owen? If it's Owen, why isn't the last name Skywalker? Why am I thinking Anakin had a brother?

Okay - went to Wikipedia & got that resolved - no wonder I was confused :) Lars, Owen on Wikipedia

Whatever - Connor will be getting the Trilogy for Christmas. And maybe a Ben Ten watch...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Trevor's Christmas list

I was on IM with Trevor the other day, and I asked him to think about what would be good for Christmas ideas for us (within reason).

His first ideas were a car, and an x-box 360 (I told him I didn't even BUY a lottery ticket...).

Then last night, he says he wants a motorcycle helmet. A black one. With the full visor.

You'd probably think, hmmm. He must be thinking about getting a motorcycle. No. He doesn't want a moped or anything like that either.

It looks like a space helmet. That's why he wants it.

I think he'll be getting socks & underwear.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day / Remembrance Day

I missed the parade again this year. Diana also missed it this time (first time in about 11 years!) because she had to babysit Connor for me while I was having my crowns done (ugh). Believe me, I would have preferred the parade, even in the rain!

It's also Remembrance Day in Canada today, and since I'm Canadian, I thought I should include that in my post.

I would like to thank everyone who has served their country. I appreciate your sacrifices for my freedom. Thank you.

Thanks especially Pop, Kraig, Jim & Renee. :)

I spent a lot of the day in Warsong Gulch in World of Warcraft, trying to ignore the feeling coming back into my mouth. I can open my mouth maybe 1/2 an inch right now. Soup for dinner :/

Friday, November 09, 2007


This year, I'm responsible for making/getting my own Christmas cookies. In years past, my dad has either brought or shipped a large container of the homemade cookies he made out of his mom's handwritten cookbook. My dad isn't in a place to do that sort of thing this year. He typically would start baking in October, because german Lebkuchen has to actually "ripen" in an airtight container for at least a couple of weeks. It's better if you wait a couple of months. I know it sounds odd, but that's how you do it.

I went online and ordered my Lebkuchen the other day. I did NOT get this:

It's on sale, but I'm afraid $99.00 for cookies is a bit spendy!
I ordered my favorite Lebkuchen though, along with some german chocolates & other treats. I just don't do a good job on Lebkuchen - mine are always undercooked or overcooked, and they never go from the rock-hard right after they're baked to the soft-chewy after they've been in their tins.
I will be making meringue cookies, however. Those go pretty fast. The main ingredients are nuts (almonds, hazelnuts) and meringue! They crush really easy, so I'll wait until a little before Christmas to make those.
I will be making my Stollen (German Christmas bread) pretty soon, because I need to send some to Carolyn. Connie & my folks can get it up in Canada, if my mom doesn't decide to make her own anyway.
Before any of that though, pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Liberty decided to scrounge through our trash over the last couple of days. She made a huge mess.

Part of that is because I think the bags we're using are too thin (although they are "Hefty") and she can smell through them. The other part is because no one is doing a paper route anymore, so she's not getting a walk 6 days a week as she did before.

In order to remedy that, I'm going to try to take her on a little 20-minute walk in the mornings now, so she gets a little attention and doesn't feel the need to rummage through the trash as much.

While I'm picking up the trash all over the yard, I'm thinking about (for who knows what reason) our friend Tim noting that he feels he doesn't pay enough taxes. Maybe because our property tax is due shortly, and it kind of squeezes us in November. Tim happens to be in a tax bracket that's up there, and he doesn't think the 'rich' are sharing as much as they should.

My next thought was if I had the money to share more, would I want it taxed for the government to sort out, or would I want to 'share' it my way? I'd probably want to see a more direct result of my money being put to use, so I doubt I'd opt for higher taxes.

That lead me to dang, if we won the lottery and actually had a huge amount of money, besides paying off anything we owed, covering tuition for colleges, etc., what else would I want to do? Our standard of living would go up, but really, that's not a whole lot. Landscaping the backyard (as I'm picking up old coffee filters & grounds), putting in central heating, new roof & stuff - that's all kind of short-term, and not all that spendy, compared to just buying a house on the river, I suppose. I like my house though - I don't want to move.

I think I'd like to see something better happen for families in our area for their kids. There are plenty of kids around here who get their nutrition at school breakfast & lunch in the free program. They may or may not get dinner at home. They may or may not have anyone to help them do homework at home. They may or may not have an actual location to call home. These are the same kids that will (mostly) wind up doing drugs, dropping out, and spending time in jail.

Lee's thought was to build Elementary School dormitories for these kids. There would be a safe place (away from drugs & crime) with responsible, educated adults on site to help with homework and life skills. Parents would be encouraged to visit, and then be able to take the kids on weekends. For parents without jobs, and living in motels or campgrounds, this would be a very welcome option. For parents more interested in making meth, this would be a great option. For parents in jail - obviously. Those are all situations happening in schools. It's not the majority, of course, but enough that the free lunch program exists and we have schools in our district that 70% of the kids qualify.

The obvious benefit for the kids besides safety & health would be the comfort of a home with people that care who are invested in the kids. If their own parents are not able to be "good parents" this would be an alternative.

A recent study at the University of Michigan cited: After examining a range of other factors that could affect both educational success and substance use, the researchers report: "Among the most important are parents' level of education, parents' involvement in homework, and the presence of two parents in the home. These factors all influence how well a student does in school, and they also influence -- both directly and indirectly -- whether a student uses drugs."

How would you ever get something like this done via the government? It would never happen. But privately funded? As long as you've got your liability insurance - you're good.

Too bad I'm not personally in a position to get anything like this going. But it would be cool, huh?

And if the dog messes with the trash again, she's just gonna have to hang out in her kennel. Who knows what other things I'd contemplate if I have to pick up the whole dang yard in the cold again?