Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter Is Sure Settling In!

The past couple of weeks have been busy between getting settled with Kate home again and winter weather disrupting our routines a few times. Kate has begun work with a "friend-of-a-friend" who owns an internet-based retail business. She has been packing orders for shipment and enjoys the flexible hours. She is still filling out applications for "real jobs" to sustain her until she is finished with the application and preparation process with Mission to the World. Once that process is complete she will be jetting off to (hopefully) Berlin to intern with a Missionary family there, possibly this spring.

We've spoken to Nathaniel several times and, as expected, his adjustment to Hawaiian life has been painless. He has received the Christmas gifts that we ordered for him- yet still can't get the math of the time differences straight. When he texted the news that he'd gotten his packages I'd just fallen asleep. The phone going off on the bedside table caused an adrenaline surge that shot me out of bed! Still, I'll take that any day over wondering if he got his gifts and how he liked them. This year he'll be able to be on the phone with us when he opens his presents instead of in Iraq emailing us about them!

Last week we celebrated Isaac's 10th birthday! It's hard to believe that our baby is already in the double digits. Since he has lately become quite the carnivore, we took him to Texas Roadhouse for dinner where he chose his own steak before we were seated- and ate all twelve ounces of it- medium well! The next night we took one of his friends to play laser tag; Jim and the girls played along as well. Now that Jim has experienced Laser Quest, I have a feeling it won't be long before the kids talk him into it again!

Saturday the 15th was our Church's Christmas Brunch for which I've been planning the menu and organizing volunteers to cook. This has been happening annually for a number of years with the exception of last year. So I've never been to one, yet have been hearing the stories for the entire year we've lived here. When Annie, who hosts and coordinates the brunch, asked me if I'd be willing to help I said, "of course"! But being in charge of the food was more than a little intimidating. Fortunately our church is blessed with many willing volunteers and good cooks. So I give all the credit for the success of the food to this group of ladies. I chose what I like to eat, (my primary talent) and they did the cooking!

The cool thing about the brunch though, is that we once again had Andree Seu come speak to us.! She spoke at our retreat in September and I have been reading her articles in World Magazine for years. Her writing touches my heart and listening to her speak gives me a voice for when I read her each week. So very down to earth, she spoke on joy. When God promises us the fruit of the Spirit it isn't for someday, it is for today. As Christians we need to exercise "muscular faith" and take hold of those promises now- regardless of the circumstances. Before she spoke I had the "joy' of introducing Kate to her, as Andree had been at L'Abri in the 70's. They discussed the changes that have apparently seeped in since the passing of the founder, Frances Schaeffer. What a treat for Kate to talk to someone who already knew what L'Abri was and had been there in the "glory years".

Meanwhile we have had a bit of snow and a whole lot of ice. Two ice storms disrupted power- most recently for the whole day this past Sunday. School was delayed once and yesterday I canceled school for our family because we'd spent the night with friends and it was simply too hectic to get everyone to the right places in time! The ice storms have damaged many of our trees, breaking branches and toppling whole trees even! We are still hoping for some real snow that stays so we can go sledding. It's funny though, after the storm has passed and the sun breaks through, all of the trees look like crystals blazing in the sunshine! And once the melting starts it's as if Aslan has returned to Narnia!

Finally, Erin has recently announced that she is now a vegetarian... sniff. Yes. Evidently her health teacher had a class on just where our meat comes from and the various processes it goes through and the additives with which it is, um, altered/ polluted/ poisoned (?), and decided that she'll consume it no more! For health reasons, of course. I'd like to get a hold of that propaganda-pushing health teacher and... well, maybe not. So mealtimes have an added dimension, and I have to think more in planning! (Not more thinking! Nooooo!) She's determined though, and ridicule is not allowed. She is my one athlete and far be it from me to discourage self-discipline and the desire for healthy habits.

That's all for now. I hope to be posting more often- we'll see! Cheerio!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And the Time Flew...

(Please note that I published 4 posts today, so scroll down to see the rest!)

The rest of our time with Nathaniel was a bit more calm and sane, yet also short. He and Jim were able to indulge in the traditional Pennsylvania pastime and go hunting with our friend Ed Wisniewski and his son Edward. While they came home empty-handed, (as Jim tells it, they "took the guns for a walk...") they still had a bunch of "manly" fun.
Isaac's teacher invited Nathaniel to come speak to her class. He did this last year, so was prepared with a slide show of photos from Iraq as well as a Google Earth presentation of where in the world he's been with the Army. The trip over the top of the globe from Iraq to Hawaii was particularly impressive...

Christmas tree time! We hauled ourselves out in the cold to pick a couple of trees to put up for the holiday and were very pleased with the available selection. Bekah chose the big tree this year as I found our smaller tree.

Since our main tree is in a back room of the house we decided to put up a smaller tree in one of the front windows "for the people". I enjoy seeing Christmas trees lit in houses as we drive by in December and wanted to have one visible here as well. Our little tree is perfect for the lighter ornaments and frees up space on the larger tree so it's not as crowded. And it's so cute too!

Kate brought home an ornament she bought for the family while in Germany. She also has a suitcase full of gifts that she has been excitedly alluding to for a couple of months now and is wrapping them as I type!

Milo has had the funniest reaction to the Christmas trees. Having been an outdoor cat most of his life, this is his first year indoors for Christmas. He looked at us like we'd gone mad when we brought the trees in. Then, as he investigated further and watched us decorating the trees he decided that they must be for him, and is now delighted with his trees covered in toys! He now spends most of each day underneath the trees napping, taking an occasional waking period to bat at the ornaments within his reach. Silly boy...

As we decorated the trees Bekah got a fire going in the fireplace and Isaac brought out the S'mores fixin's!

All set for the holiday. Merry December everyone!

Thanksgiving part 3

On Saturday we had our friends Rick and Sharon Phillips and their family come visit for a too-short few hours. Rick was our Pastor in Florida, Sharon my dear friend, and our kids were all friends and/or babysitters! This past year they moved from Florida to South Carolina, so we suddenly have even more in common! Sharon's family isn't far from us, so they were able to stop by after their family Thanksgiving. What a blessing to share an afternoon together.

After lunch and playing with the bunnies indoors we all went outside to explore and play!

Getting this bunch to hold still for a photo is a challenge!

47 attempts later...

Sharing stories of the Army and missions...

This has convinced us to step up our work on the basement and the guest room we have planned. Having this much company come in one and a half weeks was exhausting but a blessing. Once we have a better space to offer we hope to do a lot more of this!

Thanksgiving part 2

Okay, on with the next phase!

Mom, Fred and Caroline left on Tuesday morning and our good friend Ernie Gibson arrived! Ernie drove up from Coral Springs to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. Ernie belonged to our Bible Study small group, taught Isaac's class on Wednesday nights at church and went to West Virginia with us on a Mission trip in 2005. Getting to see him here was such a treat.

Ernie helped Isaac rake up leaves in the lower yard. Weird,... raking leaves a week after shoveling snow...

Ernie was also a huge help getting our new tabletop ready for the feast! Finally, we can have everyone at one table!

One with Ernie...
...and one with me!

For "Black Friday" we didn't head for any old mall, we did it up right! We went shopping at the Green Dragon Flea Market!
Ernie found just what his freezing Florida ears needed!
Having Ernie visit was a real treat and he has an open invitation to return. I'm sure he'll wait until it's warmer though!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving part 1

What an eventful few weeks! Skipping to the best part, we have Nathaniel and Kate home with us now, safe and sound. Between the spectacular beauty of the Autumn woods, to the fuzzy cuteness of our baby bunnies; from the joy of having our kids home to the revolving door of family and friends coming to visit, it's been a great time.

Our bunnies, now three weeks old, are old enough to come out and play. The kids bring them in daily for cuddle sessions- are these little guys ever going to be hand tame! They are adorable!

Nathaniel arrived home on Friday the 16th, ... (wearing the t-shirt I got for his birthday)

(Haikus are easy
But sometimes they don't make sense

... and was followed closely by the arrival of my Mom, her husband Fred and his granddaughter Caroline who drove them all this way from Texas. Family reunion time!

Kate flew home on Saturday the 17th and we all greeted her at the airport with hugs, kisses and flowers. She is so glad to be home!
Sunday night it actually began to snow! By Monday morning there was enough snow that the kids had a two hour delay for school. Did they stay snuggled warm in their beds? No! At 6:30 they were begging to go outside with their sleds! Good grief!

We did more cooking and eating out with company here than is probably wise to do so close to Thanksgiving- but it's just a whole week of Thanksgiving as far as we're concerned! We had to make Kate and Nathaniel's favorite dish, Chicken Scarpariello. I'd never had a chance to make it for Mom so the timing was perfect!
We had a terrific visit with Mom, Fred and Caroline. Monday night we said goodbye since they'd be leaving in the morning. There never seems to be enough time for these visits, but we sure packed a lot into this one!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Is Autumn Ever Here!

Wow- but it's been chilly out lately! Perfect for that fall feeling! The leaves are still spectacular and the air, when dry, is crisp and just snapping with "Enjoy it while you can!" We had a gloriously beautiful weekend, almost a week of rain, then the sun came back out. I took the girls out for a drive on Saturday to look for sunshine, pumpkins, and countryside loveliness, and we found them! Sunday Jim and I took the kids and Vali for a walk in Nolde Forest. It was so beautiful, so very beautiful. We weren't the only ones out, lots of folks had the same idea. It was neat seeing other families out, bundled up and enjoying the wonders of the Autumn woods...

Wednesday, being Halloween, the kids had a half-day at school. Once home, Erin and Isaac were taking care of some outdoor chores when they discovered that Erin's rabbits had a litter of babies! The little bunnies are still blind and naked, and two were already "lost", but seven are alive and well! we cleaned out their box and gave them a nesting box. Though it's cold outside, every time we check them their nest of fur that the mother ripped from her belly for them is quite warm and cozy.

Once the rabbits were cared for the kids dressed up for trick-or-treating. Bekah and Erin were mimes and Isaac was an arctic explorer- Sir Earnest Shackelton, when he could remember the name... The group of kids who live right around us all went together down Fawn drive where the residents of the neighborhood all have their "candy posts" set up at the ends of their driveways. It's a regular costume parade, and downhill all the way!

Now to deal with all of the candy!

Enjoy the slide show!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wonderfully Busy Weekend, Relaxing Week

What a whirlwind! So many things were happening this weekend, but they were all wonderful. I was blessed to go with several ladies from church to Westminster Theological Seminary for a "Women in the Word" Seminar, in which we learned to better read and study Scripture for the purpose of leading Bible studies for others. We were each in a different group, meeting women from all over who are lovers of the Word of God and hungry to learn more.

Here I am with my friends from church, Sharon, Sharon, Annie, (me), and June.

And here's my group, representing NYC, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and other areas nearby.
I left the seminar early, (sniff) in order to get home in time to see Bekah to a friend's home to dress for the homecoming dance. She and her friends primped and giggled as they got ready. Once they were photo-prepared I took a couple of shots and left for the next activity...
Tha annual Covenant Church Fall Fest! Not nearly as cold as last year, but the square dancing was just as fun!

Knowing those with whom we are dancing helps some too!

The past couple of days I've gone exploring with my "walking buddy", Heidi, to better familiarize myself with the area. I'm doing intensive research so that we can be better hosts for friends who come to visit. There is so much to see around here! First, and probably most memorable, stop- the Amish pretzel factory! I was privileged to go into the back where the girls were twisting pretzels and learned that it's not as easy as it looks! They were all so sweet.

Heidi and I took my empty pots to Wayside Produce for Esther, another Amish friend of Heidi's, to fill with gorgeous mums. Esther does all of Heidi's potting for her and she does it right. I also picked up some produce to add to dinner.

The weather is finally cool enough to leave the windows open for the lovely breeze. Milo, formerly a wild-in-the-woods boy, loves to sit and enjoy the sounds and smells.

Day two of our exploration- apple trees in harvest!

This market stand had all the makings for harvest-time decor.

tiny pumpkins!

Honor system cider sales. The Amish farmer who sets his cider out for passers-by to purchase doesn't have a direct line of sight from his house to this spot on the road. He's sold his cider this way for years.

What a splendid view!

That's all for now. This weekend we'll get the kids out for some pretzels and pumpkins.
Golly, I love fall!