Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Finger Lickin' Good

Our New Year's Eve tradition: finger food. Doesn't matter what it is, just the fact that you can dig in with your fingers. Some years I have spent copious amounts of time in the kitchen preparing the comestibles...not this year...this year we went by Costco and were lured into excessive spending by the taste testers....yum. My favorite is the Mango and Peach Salsa. Artichoke Parmesan Dip was a close second. It looks like New Years Day meals are taken care of too.

Happy New Year!!

Word of the Day


–noun, plural -mas.

1.a person or thing detested or loathed: That subject is anathema to him.
2.a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction.
3.a formal ecclesiastical curse involving excommunication.
4.any imprecation of divine punishment.
5.a curse; execration.

The snow mixed in with the rain this morning is anathema to me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thank You for Your Patience.

I would like to thank Daniel for his patience. He still hasn't received his main Christmas present and he's handling the wait like a trooper. UPS was supposed to deliver it a week ago yesterday. The bad weather and high volume of packages at this time of year conspired against Danny getting his present yet. Too bad it wasn't shipped by FedEx. Our packages from them made it here yesterday. We did get one UPS delivered package yesterday - so we know they're still out there somewhere. I'm not sure if they deliver on New Year's Eve...they definitely don't on New Years we have a chance perhaps tomorrow or Friday. They don't do Saturday's either.

Monday, December 29, 2008

As ye sew, so shall ye reap.

First of all, I blame Suzanne.

I didn't intend to make a blessing outfit for Zachery. I'm not all that crazy about sewing tiny little baby boy clothes. I planned on being a good aunt and buying a darling little outfit.
Weeks ago when I told Suzanne that Keira had opted for a blessing outfit for the baby instead of a birthday gift she suggested that I wait until AFTER Christmas to get it - that way I stood a better chance of getting a good sale price. That made sense since the store I planned on looking for an outfit tends to be very spendy. Little did I realize that Strasburg Children is no longer at our outlet mall - Tommy Hilfiger expanded into their space. I quickly checked out Gymboree, OshKosh, Children's Place, Nautica Kids and Carter's. Some cute clothes, but nothing suitable for a blessing. Tried Kohls and Ross. Bowed to the inevitable and went to Jo-Ann's.

Six hours later....


Taking Down the Tree.

I've taken down the ornaments - but I need Steve to go get the storage boxes.

On Christmas day Danny declared that we should leave the tree up until we got ALL of the Christmas presents (we still have at least 3 or 4 outstanding ). I said it's coming down Monday. It would be great if the stars and the UPS trucks would align and everything get here today - but either way, the tree's on its way down. I've taken off the ornaments and garland, Danny helped me take off the colored lights - all that's left is for Steve to take it apart and put it in the storage box.

Our old tree was much more of a pain to put up and take down. We gave it to Stephanie and Cory, but I think I must have some residual guilt, because we went over and set it up for them AND took it down - and by "we" I mean Steve and Alex with a little help from Danny and me.

This was our second year with this tree - I have really enjoyed the compactness and ease of assembly - and it looks good even with nothing on it. If only that could be said of all of us.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Second Hand News

Steve sent an email to our newspaper on Friday night. The gist of it was that we hadn't received our paper in a week...Saturday afternoon guess what? They brought us a week's worth of papers. Great. Who wants a week's worth of papers? We've had to subsist on television and internet for a week - so we pretty much have heard the highlights already. The only thing to do was to read a weeks worth of comics and then recycle the papers.

Did I mention we haven't had garbage or recycling picked up for weeks? Both cans are already overfull and we've started storing the extra bags in the garage. I feel a bit like Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout....

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would not take the garbage out! She'd scour the pots and scrape the pans, Candy the yams and spice the hams, And though her daddy would scream and shout, She simply would not take the garbage out.

And so it piled up to the ceilings: Coffee grounds, potato peelings, Brown bananas, rotten peas, Chunks of sour cottage cheese. It filled the can, it covered the floor, It cracked the window and blocked the door With bacon rinds and chicken bones, Drippy ends of ice cream cones, Prune pits, peach pits, orange peel, Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal, Pizza crusts and withered greens, Soggy beans and tangerines, Crusts of black burned buttered toast, Gristly bits of beefy roasts. . .

The garbage rolled on down the hall, It raised the roof, it broke the wall. . . Greasy napkins, cookie crumbs, Globs of gooey bubble gum, Cellophane from green baloney, Rubbery blubbery macaroni, Peanut butter, caked and dry, Curdled milk and crusts of pie, Moldy melons, dried-up mustard, Eggshells mixed with lemon custard, Cold french fried and rancid meat, Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat. At last the garbage reached so high That it finally touched the sky.

And all the neighbors moved away, And none of her friends would come to play. And finally Sarah Cynthia Stout said, "OK, I'll take the garbage out!" But then, of course, it was too late. . . The garbage reached across the state, From New York to the Golden Gate. And there, in the garbage she did hate, Poor Sarah met an awful fate, That I cannot now relate Because the hour is much too late. But children, remember Sarah Stout And always take the garbage out!
-Shel Silverstein

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Slush Puppies

Pavement! I can see pavement! It's still pretty sloppy out, but I can see pavement!

Stephanie just called and invited us to have dinner at her house this evening - so that gives me a reason to leave the house - besides the fact that I need to do at least a little grocery shopping.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Think Warm Thoughts.

We were supposed to have warmer weather today. It was supposed to rain.

The weather hovered just above freezing. The rain was snow....

I'm expecting better (meaning warmer) weather tomorrow. I really need to do a little grocery shopping, but I'm going to stay grounded until I can see at least a little pavement in front of my house.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

The 3-D card that Andrew sent us from Japan. Very fun.

We had a lovely quiet Christmas. Lounged around in our pj's, watched movies, put together a puzzle, played Wii, and watched the snow come down fast and furious this morning, then melt a little the rest of the day.

Here's hoping tomorrow is more of the same. Well, less snowing and more melting, otherwise the same. And maybe the garbage will be picked up - since they haven't come in over 2 weeks. And Daniel would like the UPS guy to drop something off......

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's already Christmas in Japan.

We called Elder Andrew this afternoon at 4pm. It was 9am in Japan. We had a whole hour to talk before he had to get off the phone so that his companion's family could call.

Steve spent $20 this morning on an international phone card. The thing is good for about 360 minutes. We figure that will pretty much last us his entire mission. He seems to be doing fine. You heard me. Fine. He does want a new camera - a smaller one. I asked him if that's what he wants us to get him for his birthday - he said he'd buy it there. Duh. Smaller camera... you think he could find one there?

I Looked Out the Window and What Did I See?

And now, we dance.

Twas the day before Christmas...

I think I'll do a load of laundry this morning - get my pajamas washed and ready to be lived in. I don't really have a lot of stuff that I have to do today - as I mentioned yesterday, my shopping is is the wrapping...

Most of my house is clean. Okay, okay, I could work on cleaning off my desk (as usual) - but how fun is that?

I don't have a ton of cooking to do.

I think I'll write a list of topics/questions for our phone call to Japan this afternoon - just in case my mind goes totally blank while talking to Andrew. I don't want our conversation to go like this:

"How are you?"
"Fine. How are you?"

After making that list I may see about cleaning off the outside steps - just in case the UPS, FedEx or the mailman decide to brave the snow and deliver packages (we have several Christmas presents that haven't been delivered because of weather).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hunkering Down...

On the street where I live.

I'm done Christmas shopping.

I'm done grocery shopping.

I've taken Daniel to the orthodontist.

I am not going to go out and risk my life driving around town until the streets are clear. Or at least a lot clearer than they are right now.

I usually don't drive on the snow and ice around here, but we had already rescheduled Daniel's orthodontist appointment once because of weather, I didn't want to do it again. Besides, I thought that the roads would be slushy when I got down off the hill. Wrong. So wrong. The freeway was fine, but once off of that all bets were off. It was slippery, icy, rutted, and crowded with holiday shoppers. I narrowly avoided running into a *&@!!! idiot who ran a stop sign, then stopped in front of me on a busy street to find out why I had the nerve to honk my horn (which I did because I had no traction to stop and an oncoming truck in the other lane). Yes, I may have yelled at him (not directly - but his window was down...), I may or may not have called him an idiot...okay, okay, I'm not proud of myself, and for punishment I will ground myself from driving for at least 2 days. Probably more.

Christmas Ornaments

Every year we try to give our children their own new ornament for the Christmas tree. Some years we buy them, sometimes we make them. This year we made them. I saw some similar ornaments at the store, and realized that I already had everything I needed to make them at home. Sweet.

Monday, December 22, 2008

We've Got Mail.

No. The mail was NOT delivered to our mailbox. Steve went to the post office and asked for it. It was a surprisingly small bundle for this time of year and for the amount of days ...oh well, I feel a little more connected. I might try tomorrow - but only because Danny has an orthodontist appointment about 2 blocks from the post office. If I make it to our orthodontist office, I may as well hit the post office too.

I haven't driven for a week now - I pretty much avoid driving on icy roads around here, but I will just have to bite the bullet and give it a try tomorrow. I wish Danny's appointment was closer to noon (it's at 8:50 am) - it's supposed to be a little warmer tomorrow - maybe the roads would be a little better given a little more time.

We went out this evening and delivered Christmas goodies to several families. One family lives at the top of a long, slightly steep cul-de-sac. Danny took the treats up and the dad (Aaron) opened the door, then put his shoes on to come out to talk to us. First he asked us how we got up there....hmmm...we're sitting in our van, while it's running....hmm....then he warned us to be really careful going down because he had had trouble negotiating it in his four wheel drive Suburban. Then he asked us not to tell his kids that we had driven up there, because then they would think he was a snow wimp. We made it down just fine, and now we get to call Aaron a "snow wimp". Teasing. The gift that keeps on giving.

Awesome Uncles

Alex and Danny spent at least an hour yesterday constructing a sledding slope in our back yard - for the grandkids. Then they spent at least an hour playing outside with the grandkids. Trevor has been desperately wanting to go sledding - and they live down in the flat part of town - no slopes at all. We have plenty of slopes up here, but most of them are on the streets - and I really didn't want to have the kids sledding around cars - they are a little too young for that. With the addition to our existing slope in the backyard Trevor ended up a happy camper.

Somewhere under this snow is the ruler that Danny had stuck in the snow to measure how deep it was getting. We had about 10 1/2 inches last night before I went to bed, and now we have at least a little bit over a foot of snow. No one showed up for Steve's vanpool this morning - so he's alone again...I may have him stop at the post office on the way home this afternoon and see if there is any way we could get our mail. We haven't gotten any mail since last Tuesday, and it's not looking good for getting any today or tomorrow...I miss getting the paper too...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Says "Christmas" to You?

Christmas is all about tradition at our house. There are certain things that seem necessary (of course they really aren't...) in order for it to be "Christmas".

On Christmas Eve we get together and read the Christmas story in Luke, chapter 2.

Next, Christmas Eve pajamas. Every Christmas Eve our kids get new pajamas (or at least pajama bottoms). That's the one gift that they get to unwrap on Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning starts with stockings. A long time ago we made it a family tradition that our kids get breakfast in their stockings. It was all part of the parental plan to enable us to sleep in just a little. Our theory was that if they had breakfast in their stocking, we wouldn't have to get up and make it for them. What constitutes Christmas morning breakfast? Nearly all of the menu items are changeable except for one thing. They must have a single serving box of breakfast cereal. It's the only time of the year that they get them. Besides breakfast in the stockings, they also get a "Hot Wheels". The kind you can get on sale for less than a dollar. Any leftover space in the stocking is usually taken up with new toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, etc...

Steve and I used to have a rule that the kids were not allowed to knock on our bedroom door until 7am. That's not as much of a problem now - with older kids it's more of a challenge to get everyone up by 7 or 8 - plus, we're not usually up so late on Christmas Eve wrapping presents and waiting for 6 kids to go to sleep.

Opening presents: every year at least one person will get a jigsaw puzzle - or it might be a family gift. Whatever. The point is that during Christmas vacation we get to put together a puzzle.

Pretty much everything else is optional. I like to spend the day in Christmas dinner is generally casual. I might cook a turkey or ham - just because they're easy...but instead of all the trimmings we're more likely to have a sandwich bar...

What says "Christmas" to you?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dig Deeper

On Thursday, Danny went with Steve and I as we braved the icy roads to go shopping. He doesn't usually want to go shopping with us, so why the unusual trip? He wasn't doing any Christmas shopping, no, he was searching for a snow shovel. Turns out all the stores that carry snow shovels in Marysville and surrounding areas were already bought out. He came home a very disappointed shopper.

Yesterday my little entrepreneur went door to door in our neighborhood until he found someone home that had a snow shovel, and he asked to borrow it. Then he proceeded to spend about 4 hours shoveling snow (mostly our driveway). I was very impressed. He never asked to be paid for it, he just worked away on it. Danny was finished by the time Steve got home from work. Steve praised him, told him what a good job he had done and how nice it was that he had shoveled the driveway. Danny then proceeds to hint (broadly) that since he had done all that shoveling, maybe he should get that big ticket item he wants for Christmas.

On one hand, I'm very impressed with the initiative he showed in going door to door looking for a shovel. I'm pretty sure none of my other kids would have ever done that (too embarrassing). I'm also impressed at the hours of work - he really stuck to it.

On the other hand, well...let's just say that we have a ready made FHE lesson on the true meaning of Christmas coming up this week.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Cold and Sunny.

It was 17' this morning when Steve went off to work. He was the only one in his van pool to go in today - 1 out of a possible 12.

Good "news"? Our morning paper was delivered today! Now, if only the post office and FedEx will get their acts together and put some chains on...

We're expecting snow again tomorrow evening and Sunday- I'm pretty sure the stuff we have won't be gone - not with highs in the 20's. Last Sunday we only had a couple inches or so - and some wards in our stake cancelled or abbreviated their services(not ours - we met). I'm guessing we might have more wards cancel this week - they've already cancelled the stake Christmas concert.

I did get out yesterday (with Steve at the wheel) - we're stocked up enough for the next week - I even picked up a ham for Christmas and the ingredients for our traditional Christmas morning sticky buns.

Let it snow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snowed In

It doesn't take too much snow for us to be snowed in. I know that those of you in Idaho, Colorado and Utah think that we're wimps. Truth is, we are snow wimps, but with reason.

Steve worked from home today (we love having the "virtual office" option). Danny had school as usual (that's what you get when you attend a "virtual academy"). Nathan did get bundled up and walked to work (3 miles away). I'm not sure how he's planning to get home - or if he will find a place down in the lower part of town - Stephanie lives about 1 1/2 miles from his work - he could beg a hide-a-bed from her...

I didn't leave the house today...and it doesn't look too promising for going out tomorrow either. I'm wondering if yesterday was the last day of seminary for the year. I'm glad that Steve and I pretty much finished our Christmas shopping - I need to go to the grocery store sometime before Christmas Eve, otherwise, I'm good.

Warm fuzzy blanket, fire in the fireplace, a cup of hot chocolate and a book. I'm good.

Santa's Workshop

I had a flash of brilliance this morning. Brilliance.

Steve and I are pretty much done with Christmas shopping. Time to wrap presents. Usually I end up wrapping on my bed - which is not ideal - it's a too soft. My other option is on the floor in my office. These places have something in common. I have to do a lot of bending to wrap presents and I end up with an aching back.

Not this year. I have a six foot long folding table - I haven't bothered much with using the adjustable settings on the legs - but it does extend to counter height. Nice. No more bending, and I have a surface that's large enough for rolls of wrapping paper.


Cherry on top? It's snowing again outside - so it looks a lot more like Christmas than it usually does around here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Poetry on Ice...

WAVA hosted an ice skating party at the Comcast Arena today. We went. The boys skated, I took the pictures.
Danny made a gingerbread barn and silo for the event. He didn't win...but I think his showed great sophistication - and restraint. He made the pattern for all of the pieces. Many of the others were from kits - ours was homemade gingerbread. Also, a lot of the other entries looked like they had taken a direct hit from a candy cannon.

Danny was out on the ice longer than anyone else in our group. He gave it a good try. Not sure that we'll be signing him up for the Olympics any time soon, but he enjoyed himself.

This was Alex and Kaith's first time on the ice also. Alex got to where he could let go of the wall. Kaith held on to Grandpa as if his life depended on it. He told Steve that he was done after about 10 or 15 feet. Steve helped him go 3 or 4 laps.

Our Man in Japan

Dear Family and Friends,

No one asked questions this week so this`ll probably be a short email. And I did receive the package, thanks.

Well last week after doing email a member took us out to eat at an all-you-can-eat KFC. It was filling but they had a disappointingly small selection of food. I wouldn`t recommend it. Tuesday evening through Wednesday evening I went on an exchange back in Okamachi, my last area, I enjoyed it. There was a miscommunication about which train station we were meeting at so the exchange ended at 8:30 PM after English class instead of at 5:30 PM.

Brother Soga the previous ward mission leader who sells insurance still helps us often. Last week while he was doing his door to door sales he ran across a former investigator who we`re back in contact with now. And also once when he was doing his door to door sales the person said she didn`t speak Japanese and so he asked if English was alright and then introduced himself as a member of the church and invited her to meet with us.

Today an English class student who isn`t a member took us to a really nice all you can eat restaurant. It was really good and had a ton of different Japanese and Western foods.

Some interesting things I guess since I`m already out of things to talk about. In Japanese the Celestial, Terrestial, and Telestial Kingdoms are called the Sun, Moon, and Star kingdom. There`s no word for tithing in Japanese so it`s called the law of one tenth. Song translations aren`t exact for example I am a Child of God goes:

God`s children, me and you.
Overflowing charity/mercy is given to me
Help and guide me please.
So I can return to God`s presence.

That`s from memory so it could be a little off.Well I will email again on Christmas probably. Christmas Eve for all of you. Please write.


Elder Andrew West

Monday, December 15, 2008

Failure to Plan.

We had a little snow over the weekend. A couple of inches. Not too much, but along with it we had some unusually cold temperatures (cold for us). Our high today is only supposed to be in the 20's and the low is around 17 degrees. So what? So the school district decided to have 2 hour late start this morning. Thankfully a friend of mine was scheduled to sub in Alex's seminary class and she found out about the late start and called me (at 5:15am). We only have seminary on days when the kids go to school on time - so that means that I had to call 10 families this morning at about 5:30am. It's a fun call to make:

Them: (very sleepy sounding) hello...
Me: I'm calling to let you know that since school is on 2 hour late start we won't be having seminary.
Them: (wide awake and very chipper sounding) really??...thank you!

I had to leave a message at two houses - one of which is our seminary principal. I talked to him last night - he called me because I had a question about our "snow day" protocol. He said that he would work on it and we (all the teachers) would discuss it this morning. Oops. Too late. I talked to a couple of the other teachers this morning and we each offered to call one other teacher to make sure that they knew. The one that I talked to knew, but he wasn't going to call his students - he expected them to find out for themselves and if they didn't, they would be punished by showing up to a closed church. Ouch.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

First Snow, Act II

It's really quite cold here. The snow continued a bit overnight-we may not have much accumulation, but the weather is supposed to remain below freezing for the next 3 days - so it's not too likely to melt.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A rose by any other name...

A couple of weeks ago Steve and I were browsing around Costco and walked by the seasonal plants. We found some "amaryllis" bulbs and there you go...

My only regret is that the flowers are definitely orange-ish. Not quite the Christmas red that I was hoping for, but that's okay, any plant that can survive my brown thumb can bloom any color it want to.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tube Time

In December I fall prey to a weakness of mine. Weakness? She has a weakness? Say it isn't so...yes, I love to watch Christmas movies. Not only do I love to watch them, I am not overly discriminating when it comes to quality. Made for tv movies are generally not my "cup of cocoa" - but during December, I throw caution to the winds.

I'm not sure exactly what is so appealing about them - often, very often, they are poorly made, heavily cliched, and badly cast. The one thing that most of them have in common is a happy ending. I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

Favorite Christmas movies:
We're No Angels.
It's A Wonderful Life.
A Christmas Carol (various adaptations, including but not limited to "A Muppet Christmas Carol", the Albert Finney version "Scrooge" and the Patrick Stewart version - I love the thought of Captain Picard as Ebeneezer Scrooge)
Elf. I'm not a Will Ferrell fan, but this I like.
If You Believe (a young Hayden Panterrie plays in this one)
A Season for Miracles
The Santa Clause (the first one)

Not so favorites:

The Santa Clause sequels...but I'll still watch them
Jingle All the Way. Arnold and Sinbad in a Christmas movie? Who thought that was a good idea?
Scrooged. Well, I like parts of this one - but it's a little too dark and edgy PLUS they swear...

Last but not least...

The Bishop's Wife. In some ways this is a great movie, after all it has Cary Grant in it. BUT - he plays a sort of romantic lead - and the bishop's wife is, after all, the bishop's WIFE. Given the choice would you go with a very prim, proper and repressed David Niven or Cary Grant? See - I don't like the idea of being tempted into infidelity by an angel...and Cary Grant is nothing if not tempting...oh, and now he's an angel...

What's your favorite holiday show?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Yes, that is a marshmallow tied to a die cast truck. And that's all I'm going to say about today's science experiment.

It's been a year since the Borg Queen assimilated me into the collective. 552 blog posts later I'm happy to have been assimilated. Mostly because I count this as my journal and I've never been good at keeping a journal. Until now.

Our Very Own Fancy Nancy

When Stephanie asked Miriam what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday Miriam asked for a "papillon" cake. Papillon is a fancy word that means butterfly (in French).