Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Prayer

Lord of heaven, we come to worship and celebrate you. For in your wisdom, grace and mercy you sent us Jesus, the Savior of our souls. Lord, though no gift would ever be enough to show how thankful and grateful we are, we humbly offer you ourselves. Right here. Right now, as we worship the King of Kings, we give you our hearts, minds and faith. With you in our lives, we proclaim to the world that you are the loving God of all creation.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Here are some pictures from our 1st bi-annual Christmas Eve all family (except Daddy) sled:Hey look: I managed to get 2/3 of the children to look at me and smile!

Cody is digging in the snow. I'm not sure why.This is an action shot. Believe it or not.Caleb got fed up with the cold and decided to walk home.

And here's a bonus Feed My Starving Children shot. Cody's manning the chicken and veggie station while Logan is holding the bag on the funnel. I'm not sure who the kid doing the soy and rice is--that's why I didn't feel bad cutting him in half when I cropped the photo.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hooked on Cable

At the risk of sounding like my Dad (raving)...

This headline from the front page of the Pioneer Press Sunday (12/21/08) Business section caught my eye:
Hooked on Cable

Under the headline read: "We detest the bills, but we love the programs. Comcast [the major cable TV provider in the Twin Cities] says it's a great value, but alternatives are few. Is there really a choice?"

Uh, yes, there is a choice! When did cable TV become a necessity? I suppose it was probably while we were living in WV, where we couldn't get cable TV, or over the air TV either for that matter. I didn't read the entire article, but right in the first few paragraphs there's a quote from Gene Kimmelman, "vice president of federal and international affairs for Comsumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, and vociferous critic of the cable industry." He said, "for better or worse, television has become an essential service." Huh. Essential. Just like food, water, shelter, air...

I guess this just underlines one more way in which my values differ from those of most of my neighbors. This alarms me, that people really feel like they don't have a choice when it comes to cable, that people really see cable TV as essential. There is always a choice--those complainers just don't like any of the choices available. One more sign of the times. One more thing that makes me feel like a foreigner in a strange land.

So here's a quote from the chief complainer from this article, Peggy Briarty, a 72 year old retiree: "with the stock market and the bailout on Wall Street? And they have the guts to raise their prices?" Right. Because, Ms. Briarty, people like you are willing to pay. Comcast is in business, not to provide a public service, but to make money. When you complainers decide to put your money where your mouth is, on a widespread basis, prices will fall. Why is that so difficult to understand?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Vindication

Those of you who know me well, know that I consider myself to be a crusader against entropy. Sometimes it seems like my entire life is spent battling disorder and chaos, and I get so tired sometimes. It is never ending, and I often feel like I am the only person in my household making an effort in that direction (I know it's not true--Scott does a fair amount of entropy battling as well). I also often feel like entropy is winning. I was, therefore, pleased yesterday, when as I was reading along in my latest mystery novel, Exit Wounds by J.A. Jance, I read these words: "Dealing with the constant barrage [of paperwork] was much like the thankless task of doing housework--it could be completed on a temporary basis but it was never actually finished."

Finally, someone who understands, even if she's only a fictional character!

Jesus' birthday

Just wanted to share part of the conversation Logan and I shared this morning, as he was standing by the Christmas tree, checking out the gifts that appeared there yesterday.

Me: Do you know why we celebrate Christmas?
Logan: Uh...no.
M: Because it's Jesus' birthday.
L: Oh...yeah [giggle]. But that's so sad.
M: Why?
L: Because Jesus can't come. He's invisible.
[Tera's brain screaming: teachable moment! and how ironic--that's just what I've been thinking]
M: Well, that's the nice thing. All you have to do is ask Jesus to live in your heart and then He will always be with you.
[Pause as Logan thinks about that]
L: OK
M: Do you think we should have a cake for Jesus?
L: No. Cupcakes. [pause again] But Jesus can't have any. He's invisible.
M: Well, maybe we can have one for Him.

It's probably a good thing that I didn't think to say, well, if Jesus is living inside you, when you have a cupcake, Jesus is having a cupcake. I think that would have confused the issue. :-)

He's a thinker, that Logan.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Logan lost his first tooth this morning. Don't worry--he found it again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What do you give the Guy who has everything?

A few times during past weeks, one of the announcers on the radio station I listen to the most has posed this scenario: imagine that you go to a birthday party, and everyone there receives gifts, except the birthday boy. The implication is that this is exactly what we've done with Christmas, which is, after all, a celebration of Christ's birth. I remember thinking about that and mentioning it in one of our past Christmas newsletters, but the first thing I thought when I heard about this birthday party was, "but what do you give the Guy who has everything?" (I think that comes from the Christmas musical I was in when I was 7 or 8: there was a song that went, "what can we give to the King? Give to the One who has everything?") I think we've probably all been in that situation, right?




The question remains, what can I, a lowly, imperfect, unworthy human, give to the One who gave me everything I have? What could I possibly have, that God, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, could want? This Christmas, we, along with my husband's family, bought gifts for a family we don't know, who are unable to buy their own Christmas presents. We did this because we are Christ-followers, but is this really a gift for Jesus? We tend to give more money to charities around Christmas time as well. We do this because we are Christ-followers, but is that really a gift for Jesus? I suppose, based on Jesus' words in Matthew 25:40: "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me," we can say these gifts are for Jesus, but I think what Jesus really wants for His birthday is...us. Our very lives. Our hearts, minds, and souls. Everything we have and everything we are. As Margie Palatini wrote in Mooseltoe, it's "so simple. So easy. So...perfectly perfect." Right?



Unfortunately, Moose's Christmas preparations didn't turn out to be so simple, so easy, or so perfectly perfect, and that happens with our gift to our Savior as well. We have the perfect gift to give to our King, and it is so simple, but so often we mess it up anyway. It is so much easier to give Jesus the parts of our lives we feel good about, or feel comfortable giving up control over, and to hoard to ourselves the darker places, or the things that bring us earthly security. We pick and choose the parts of our gift for Jesus, rather than surrendering all.



So, my friends, what gift will you bring to Jesus this Christmas? What are you gonna give the Guy who has everything?

. . . . . . . . . . . .


Here's what Caleb looked like when we returned from the bus stop this morning. And, by the way, he did not eat his socks today--he couldn't get to 'em.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Socks and left-handed box tops

I think Caleb ate his socks this morning. It was -8 when it was time to go out to the bus stop, so we took the mobile bus shelter. I know that I put socks on Caleb before placing him in his mobile bus shelter restraint, but when we got back to the house, the socks were nowhere to be found. I checked in all the usual places: each side of the restraint, underneath Caleb, on the floor of the bus shelter. Nothing. In case you were wondering, I did feed him this morning (something other than socks, that is)...
. . . . . . . . .
Have you ever noticed that the little scissors picture on the box tops for education coupons is oriented for a left-handed person? No, you probably haven't noticed. Well, it is. It always bothers me a little bit as I cut in the opposite direction than that indicated by the scissor icon.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Personalized: the saga continues

So remember when I said, "I'm not sure how they could mess that [a blank something for me to personally personalize] up?" Well, they managed to mess it up. Now I have 4 (or maybe it's 5--I've lost count) personalized somethings all misspelled in the same way. I haven't called yet this time, because I'm a little afraid of what I might do or say on the phone, like burst into tears or start screaming at the poor customer service person who has the misfortune to answer my call. I also am not quite sure what I want them to do to make this up to me. I really, really don't want 5 (or 6) of these things. I just want one. Actually, I don't even want one--I want someone else to have one.

The thing is, because of the way it's written, the incorrect letter can easily be changed to the correct letter, especially on two of the somethings. Part of me says, "let it go. Just change it on one of those and give that to the person." The other part of me says, "no, I ordered a personalized something. I spelled it right. They are obligated to give me what I ordered."

It's funny, yesterday, Logan asked me if he could put the latest something on our Christmas tree. I said, "sure, why not?" You see, all of our Christmas ornaments are keepsakes, meaning that they remind us of something or someone. And whenever we put this misspelled personalized something on our Christmas tree, we will definitely remember this story, which, even though I'm in the throes of it, I've got to admit is at least slightly funny. I can envision, if I keep pursuing this, finally getting the correct one next Christmas...

Stay tuned...

Christmas cards

I love going to the mailbox at this time of year, because the Christmas cards are arriving. It's always nicer to go to the mailbox when there's mail in actual envelopes addressed to us by name that is not someone telling us to pay up. We used to send our Christmas cards out the day after Thanksgiving, but those days are long past. There are too many other things going on in my life to devote time to Christmas cards that early in the year. It looks like no one else is sending their cards that early anymore either, at least among our friends.
I have one complaint about Christmas cards, and I'm not sure that I should mention it in this space, because I'm planning to include my blog address in our Christmas card this year, and someone might be offended, but oh well. Caution to the wind (which is quite nasty today) and all that. The problem I have with Christmas cards is the ones on which the people just sign their names and send them off. For many of the people with whom we exchange Christmas cards, this is the only time we hear from each other all year. I honestly feel like, what's the point in sending us a card if you're not going to take the time to tell us how you've been? Yes, from your card we can tell that you're still alive. We can figure out if you've moved to a new location. If you sign an additional name to your card, it's a pretty good bet that you've added a new person (or sometimes dog) to your family. But if you're getting a Christmas card from me, it's because I care about you, and if I care about you, I want to know what you've been up to, how you're doing. (Let me add that I really don't mind when those of you with whom I communicate regularly just sign your names to your cards, because I know how you've been and what you've been up to--it's just the people that I don't hear from regularly).

Christmas newsletters get a bad rap, I think mostly because people tend to share only the good stuff in them, making everyone's lives seem incredibly, overwhelmingly wonderful, and sometimes sounding boastful, but I love 'em. I just lap them up. Can't get enough of them. Read them multiple times. Because it makes me feel connected to the sender. And that, my friends, is the point of sending Christmas cards, at least in my mind: connecting with friends and family, and rekindling those relationships that have been neglected all year.
. . . . . . . . . .
It was a busy weekend for us. Cody had a birthday party Friday after school, so he rode the bus home from school to a friend's house and the friend's mom drove the boys to the party for Extreme Bowling (everything glowed in the dark--how fun!). After the party, she dropped Cody and Derek off at our house for a sleepover. In the morning everyone went sledding or snowboarding, and then we all headed off for bowling with the Cub Scouts (not extreme). After that we headed home and Logan and I went to work on our gingerbread house (I'm not sure what the older boys were doing except that it most likely included nerf guns). I also set up my Willow Tree Nativity. Derek went home around 5. Sunday the 3 oldest boys headed outside to try to scrape some of the ice off the driveway in anticipation of the expected 50 degree temperature drop. Sunday night Caleb learned how to slide down our little 3' slide by himself,
(notice how few Christmas ornaments are on the bottom of the tree...)
and we watched the Survivor finale (I called it--Sue won the last immunity challenge). Now today, it was 7 degrees below zero when I woke up, and the wind chills are in the 20-30 degrees below zero range. The high today is supposed to be -1. Bracing.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Migration

Our Christmas ornaments are migrating up our tree, as Caleb takes them off the bottom, and we put them back higher hoping he won't be able to reach them :-)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Experiment and what Caleb's been up to



Cody recently received a chemistry set as a gift, and decided to do the experiment where you use vinegar and baking soda to blow up a balloon. The kid is hooked. He now tells me that he wants to be a scientist (in the water, so he can still SCUBA for a living) when he grows up.

What this book suggests, that I don't recall ever doing before, is after you fill the balloon with the CO2 from the reaction, fill two other balloons with regular air and helium, and then compare them. We noticed right away that the CO2 balloon was much heavier than the room air balloon. We didn't actually fill one with helium, but we know from prior experience that it would have been lighter. We also noticed that the balloon got really cold as it filled with CO2. That makes this an endothermic reaction. I always thought it was exothermic (meaning that it gives off heat), probably because when people are making model volcanos, this is the stuff they use for the lava (see, I remember a little more p-chem, but I'm pretty sure I don't remember it from Leslie Leifer's class).

I'm so glad that Cody is curious and interesting in finding out more about how things work.
. . . . . . . . . . .
Here's what Caleb's been up to lately. We're gonna blame this one on cousin Joshua, even though it's not really his fault. It was inevitable, really...

Yes, he's cleaning the table with one of his many toothbrushes.

He's not strong enough to pull the chair away from the table, so he gets stuck.

Ready for some grub.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hint for "Hunt"

Hey--those of you who receive my blogs via email, go to my blog webpage to view a video of Casting Crowns singing their beautiful Christmas carol, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. Reading the words is powerful, but listening to it will give you chills. Just scroll down to the end of the entry entitled "The Hunt."

Our family is feeling better. Logan and I started throwing up within half an hour of each other on Saturday, so we're really all done now. I'm really glad that I got sick on Saturday (as opposed to a week day), because it gave Scott a chance to do my job for a day. I think we've both come out of the experience appreciating each other more.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Hunt

One of our favorite parts of getting ready for Christmas is going Christmas tree hunting. Here are some of our pictures from our successful outing on Sunday.
On our way to Leverty's Traditional Trees in Houlton, we saw several folks traveling south with 500 pointers on the roofs of their vehicles, so we knew we were getting close to good huntin' grounds. To pass the time, we made up a little song. It went like this (sort of to the tune of O Christmas Tree):
It's Christmas day, it's Christmas day,
we're gonna catch a big one.
[silence--that was Caleb's part]
fa la la la la la la la la
Ummm

It's a fun little song, doncha think? Kinda catchy.

When we arrived, we set off. Luckily, those trees don't move very fast, because we're not very speedy all bundled up in our snow gear.

Here's a picture of our tree in the wild...

And here's a picture after we felled it...
After all that hard hunting we decided to take a hay ride,
drink some hot apple cider,
and sit by the fire (but I didn't get a picture of that).

After we returned home, we turned on the Christmas carols, ate popcorn, and drank hot chocolate to celebrate our successful hunt. Everyone was eager to help put our trophy on display. Here is Caleb explaining the best way to get it in.


Logan helped with the lights

Everything was going well, until we had a minor set-back.

But we overcame all obstacles, and it was time for the ornaments. Here are the first few going on the tree.Let me leave you with the words of my new favorite Christmas song: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns

I heard the bells on Christmas day; Their old familiar carols play; And mild and sweet their songs repeat; Of peace on earth good will to men

And the bells are ringing; Like a choir they're singing; In my heart I hear them; Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head; There is no peace on earth I said; For hate is strong and mocks the song; Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing; Like a choir singing; Does anybody hear them?; Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep; God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail; With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way; The world revolved from night to day; A voice, a chime, a chant sublime, Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they're ringing; Like a choir they're singing; And with our hearts we'll hear them; Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they're ringing?; The life the angels singing; Open up your heart and hear them; Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, Peace on earth; Peace on earth, Good will to men...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fourth time's a charm?

I am now the proud owner of three personalized somethings, all spelled wrong in the same way. It was a surreal, "you have got to be kidding me" moment when I opened the third today. It's not as if it's that difficult. Only one letter different, and they'd have it right. So this time, when I called, I asked them to just send a blank one, and I'll write on it myself, which makes me a little mad. They ought to be able to get it right in three tries or less, doncha think? It's got me second guessing, though...I'm wondering if I have it spelled wrong. Maybe all this time I've been mistaken on the spelling... (nope, I just checked: I've got it right, unless, of course, the Dad doesn't know how to spell the name either (did you notice how cleverly I avoided revealing the person's gender? Sneaky, I am.))

When I talk to the customer service people, they all sound so apologetic: "oh, I'm so sorry to hear that," they say. I try to comfort them, or at least make them feel not as bad, or maybe just demonstrate my own good-will and lack of animosity by telling them, "well, I think it's more commonly spelled that way," but now that I've thought about it some more (and believe me, I've thought about it), I really don't think that's the case. They're just not paying attention.
I'm told my blank something will arrive by December 15. I'll keep you posted. I'm not sure how they could mess that up...

Sickness update

Now the big one is sick. We're in dire straits around here, because my husband never gets sick. This morning as the four youngest members of our family were sitting around the breakfast table, the oldest child (AKA patient 0), said, "so, who's next?" The middle child and I looked at each other and together exclaimed, "not me!" So, it's settled. No one else is getting sick.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sick


Here's a picture of Caleb in happier times...if there's something to climb into, he'll climb into it and give us this big proud grin of accomplishment.

Now the little one is sick. In the range of normal every day non-life threatening kid sicknesses, there's not much that's worse than a vomiting child who can't or won't aim for a bowl. Unfortunately, I must now give up any pretence that the oldest child was a victim of food poisoning (I was hoping really hard): it's just a matter of time until the middle child gets sick, too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Personalized

So I ordered a personalized something for someone for Christmas, and they've spelled the name wrong the same way twice now. They're putting a rush on it for me this time. They really ought to put a spell-checker on it this time. I always thought that they had more than one person checking those things before they leave the warehouse. If that's true, at least 4 people have made the same mistake. If it happens again, I'm just going to have them send me a plain one. I must say, though, customer service has been excellent.

Excitement--warning: content is graphic

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled blog (which was to include pictures and videos from our Thanksgiving holiday) to bring you this announcement:

We had a little bit of excitement around here last night. Cody was home sick from school on Tuesday, vomitting, but felt well enough to go to basketball practice. And he was fine, until about 15 minutes in, when he fainted and fell chin first into the floor, opening up quite a gash, and causing his ear to bleed. Well, three paramedics, a random racketball player, several basketball parents and YMCA staff, three nurses, one doctor, an EKG, blood tests, IV, cat scan, chest x-ray, and four stitches later, he's fine. Wants to go back to school.You can see the bandage on Cody's chin, plus some EKG leads, the IV spot in his arm, and the hospital bracelet. I took a picture of Cody's stitches, too, but it came out blurry, and that's just a bit too graphic to include, I think.
Cody wanted me to take a picture of his bloody shirt.

Things to be thankful for (regarding this incident):

This happened less than 2 miles from the emergency room. Both Scott and I were in town and present at the time. It was Cody rather than Logan or Caleb (neither of whom would have handled it nearly as well) who got hurt. It happened in 2008, so we still have a chance of not meeting our (huge) medical insurance deductible for three years in a row. We have medical insurance, so we will enjoy discounts on Cody's care, and we've met our deductible for 2008, so we won't have to pay 100% of the remaining cost. The doctor was great with Cody. The nurses were, too. Darcy was home, answered her phone, and was able to come pick up Caleb and Logan and take them home with her. Cody seems none the worse for wear, and he'll have an interesting story to tell.
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