I Still Want (to) Hula Hoop!!

Due to a very late bedtime for Abigail given her CCGD concert last night, we are enjoying a light return to schooling on this Monday after the Turkey Day holiday…but I am insisting on the children completing some school work before we turn to other things.  Shortly after assigning Abigail some literature to study, I walked into the living room to this sight…

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And I can’t even bring myself to scold the child because I am so impressed with her creativity….I mean….on my best day, I am hopeless at making the hula hoop stay up around my hips. Heaven forbid I try to hula whilst reading the dictionary….how do kids do it?

CCGD Concert!

Tonight we attended a beautiful Christmas concert! It was Abigail’s first time to sing at the Meyerson Symphony Center with the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas.  The children gave an excellent performance, and we were impressed with the broad range of wonderful music from all six different choirs that sang tonight.  Grammy and Grandy joined us, making the evening even more enjoyable.

It was difficult to take photos inside the symphony hall, but here are a few shots from the evening:

Shot of the pipe organ while we waited for the concert to begin:

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Can you find Abigail in this photo?

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The combined choirs with the directors in front:

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And some close-ups just after:

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I love this shot of our little songbird!

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Cranberries, Popcorn, and Christmas Stories…

Tonight after supper our family gathered ’round the kitchen table to begin our annual reading of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. If you haven’t read it, you must…it’s a wonderful tale that will warm your heart as you contemplate Christmas. We are going to see the play this coming week at the DCT, so we have only a few days in which to finish it.

This year I thought it would be fun to string popcorn and cranberries for the tree while we read our book, and while I figured I’d do the bulk of the stringing, I hoped the kids would be old enough to at least enjoy helping a bit. But I wasn’t sure they could handle the corn and berries without crushing them in an effort to string them into garland.  I shouldn’t have worried….

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In the time it took Jay to read two chapters, I think I strung maybe a foot’s total length of popcorn and cranberries. The rest of the time I was kept busy cutting and finishing the ends of the children’s strings, and threading new needles for them to start new garland. Even little Josiah, who asked very matter-of-factly where his needle and thread were so he could string too, carefully threaded popcorn and berries along with his big siblings, and produced a very pretty little garland of his own.

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I hope we can spend another evening or two stringing garland while we finish the story…but we made a great start tonight and managed 18 3/4 feet of popcorn and berries!

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Thanksgiving 2009

We enjoyed a quiet holiday yesterday. Earlier plans called for us to travel to St. Louis to be with Jay’s brother’s family this year, but several factors led to our staying here instead.  As my sister-in-law recently landed a wonderful new full time job that will begin in just a few days, we’d like to think we made the Thanksgiving weekend simpler and more relaxing for her by not descending upon her household with our large and noisy brood! But it would have been great to see all of them….

Jay’s folks (the Grammy and the Grandy as they are affectionately referred to over here) joined us for a fun and lowkey day. I would like to toot my own horn(e?) just a teensey bit and say that I worked very purposefully to not spend the entire day in the kitchen as I am often wont to do on a holiday, by sheer nature of the beast, er…..feast!!.  Abigail and I made three pies on Wednesday, and I baked our pumpkin bread for next morning’s breakfast that evening.  Jay also mixed up my Grandma Brunone’s celebrated shrimp dip the day before, so even our appetizer/lunch was all set. I still might have gone to bed later than I should have, given I stayed up past 1am feverishly working to hang over 60 little sparkly crystals on our new chandelier that Jay had just installed for me, so it’d be all spiffy for the Thanksgiving meal. But I digress…..

We chose prime rib for our main course instead of the more traditional bird, to simplify the sides for our dinner…if you ever make prime rib, you should try this recipe, it’s fabulous. It’s even more fabulous if you actually follow the directions and take the roast out of the oven at 120 degrees as directed, instead of making the incorrect judgement that it couldn’t possibly be finished cooking to medium rare already, and leaving it in to cook too long as I did! (The flavor was still excellent, even if the inside was a bit darker than we preferred, but next time I’ll follow the recipe more religiously!)

Our day was relaxing and fun; there was playing with and on grandparents:

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Time spent outside in gorgeous, sunny weather:

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Shrimp dip!

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An impressive and competitive game of scrabble:

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An impromptu nap by the littlest guy who was “just so tired of waiting to eat pumpkin pie with whipp-ed cream”….

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The feast!

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After dinner cuddles and snuggles:

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Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Thankfulness

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.

~Psalm 136:1

Procrastination Demonstrated

Alrighty, folks! I admitted to you a couple posts back that I am a self-proclaimed procrastinator. Despite being immensely freeing to admit this truth to the bloggy world, this declaration also explains why I am just today finally posting Halloween pictures of my little Star Wars children.  Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to finish up the last of the Halloween chitter chatter, if not the last of the Halloween candy (four large ziplok bags of which sadly still fill my pantry and often drop out on my feet when I open the door – sigh).

Thanks to Jay’s new job at Epsilon (oh, what a blessing to have income again, folks, after such a long time without!) the children enjoyed not one but two evenings of candy-gathering!!

Epsilon’s many different groups get together and decorate their particular areas of the office in a theme for the kids to come walk-through as they pile tremendous amounts of sweets into their Halloween bags. I wish I had thought to take my camera so I had pictures of some of the creative set-ups to share with you! There was a Dr. Suess-land, Pajama Party, Super Heroes, Circus Time, and many others.

The employees got further into the spirit of it all by dressing up to coordinate with their “sets” and the costumes were really great.

Our kids spent over an hour trick-r-treating with sweet family friends (here is the group of 8 kiddos all decked out):

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and it was a really great time.

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On Saturday the kids donned their Star Wars apparel again, and prepared for a night out around the ‘hood. We enjoyed seeing some of our smallest neighbors first:

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Our sweet-as-anything Mrs. Jean from next door decked out in her Halloween best:

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and then we posed for a few pictures:

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The fearsome Darth Vader:

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Gorgeous blue-eyed Jedi Luke Skywalker:

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Pretty Princess Leia:

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And of course the cutest “Baby Yoda” as the other kids called him…I took about a thousand photos of this munchkin:

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Following in his big brothers’ footsteps, Yoda insisted on staying in character all. night. long. Which meant he ran from house to house all night hunched over Yoda-style (this slowed things down just a bit for the other kids) just like:

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I think we can safely say that Halloween is now officially over…May the Force be with you all!

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Remembering Muffin

This morning, Abigail’s little pet gerbil, Muffin (named for the golden brown color of her fur) passed away. It has been a hard day for my girlie in many ways. The gerbils are the first pets she has had almost sole responsibility for: their cage was in her room, and other than occasional help from her Daddy cleaning the little gerbil house, she has been Muffin and Mitten’s “mommy” and done a great job caring for them for 2 1/2 years!

Here is Abigail in June 2007, soon after she and Jay brought home Muffin and Mittens – I love this shot of her and Muffin:

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Here are the gerbil sisters together:

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After Muffin died, Abigail and I looked at the verses in Matthew 10 where we are told that God cares for each little creature that falls:

29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.

Those verses brought some comfort to her in the midst of her sorrow, but there were tears aplenty all day long.

Jay arrived home early from work so he could dig Muffin’s grave before it was too dark. Abigail carefully chose a casket in which to bury her little fallen pet – this is a box which she loves, it was a gift from her Grammy:

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Our whole family assembled to have a small graveside service, and through tears, each of the children choked out a remembrance of little Muffin:

Abigail remembered that when she and Jay went to the pet store to look at gerbils, that she didn’t choose Muffin; Muffin chose her! by climbing into her open hand and resting there happily as if to say, “I’m yours…please take me home!”

Nicolas mentioned that he always loved Muffin because when he would try to hold her, she wouldn’t run away from him (like Mittens does!).

Jonathan, trying to be brave through his tears, shared the encouraging and wise, “It is very hard when things like this happen, but we must always trust God in what He does, even when we don’t understand.”

For my part, I am not a gerbil lover…but even someone who finds gerbils somewhat icky is moved to tears when their children hurt. So instead of sharing the notion that while I wasn’t a huge Muffin fan, I did actually prefer Muffin to her sister Mittens because to me, Muffin with her golden-honey coloring looked less like a rat…..I reminded Abigail that she helped a tiny creature have a warm, loving, and happy life here on this earth, and that we knew God was pleased with how she loved and cared for one of his smallest parts of creation.  And that though it hurt so much, to draw comfort from the precious times she shared with little Muffin and to be thankful she had such a sweet little pet.

Jay prayed, and we buried Muffin.

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I cannot believe I am sitting here sobbing as I write this…I will close with this last picture of Abigail at Muffin’s graveside. I love that sitting right next to her is another faithful pet.

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Shasha and Lucy stayed near to Abigail all day long in her grief, clearly sensing something was very wrong.  As sad as this picture is, it also makes me thankful, because it reminds me of the goodness God showers upon us when he gives us animals to love and share our lives with.

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Muffin the gerbil has gotten very sick today, and sweet Abigail is fretting over her with tears aplenty. I will not write much tonight, as I want to spend some extra time with my little girl…

More tomorrow.

Eureka! Or Perhaps Better Titled “Banana!”

I am a procrastinator, pure and simple. Why do today what I can put off till tomorrow?? Sad, but true.  Not always, but in many aspects of my life I struggle with procrastination. Or as I prefer to think of it, “Having a lot of amazing ideas of what clever things I will do next time I have nothing else looming to do”.  Hah!

So if you should ever happen to visit my humble casa, one item you will often see on my counters are a group of dark colored (some would call them “rotting”) bananas. Because well, once they get past the point of being edible with breakfast, no one wants to eat them. I of course always have great plans to turn them into banana bread or banana muffins or (our favorite) banana chocolate chip pancakes….tomorrow. And then, the next day. And so on….

Failing to actually set aside time in my day to make the dreamed-of banana bread, I finally toss the now-black bananas into the freezer. Which truly can work – they will last now until I am ready to use them in a recipe! But they always seem to be precariously stored while still in “bunch” form. And inevitably one of these bunches of frozen black bananas will fly off the door shelf when my husband is rummaging in the freezer for something, and hit him in the head, or cause some other equally annoying and painful injury.

Well, as usual, I have had a nice group of blackening bananas adorning my counter for the greater part of a week now. Until tonight when I had a super-fantastic idea:

I peeled the bananas, popped their insides into plastic ziplok baggies, and stuck them all into the freezer.  Just like that. Where they will wait until I am ready to cook them into some delicious bakedy-goodness of some variety.

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No longer will I have ugly black bananas on the counter. No more frightening freezer fruit projectiles to injure my sweet husband when he forages for ice cream. I think I have hit on something fabulous, and because I like all of you so much, Dear Readers, I had to share this revelation with you.

So, how long do you suppose it will take me in the future to start procrastinating about actually peeling and freezing the overripe bananas that grace my kitchen counters?  Hmmmmm…..let’s just not go there tonight!