Sunday, December 8, 2013
Oops! I accidently posted this before I even wrote a thing. For some of you, that may have been a very happy mistake! Too bad - I'm writing now!
Friday was our annual Neustaedter family gathering. We haven't been able to part of this lovely event for a whole lot of years. Now for some of you, you may be thinking that we were rather fortunate! But with my family, you'd be wrong. They are seriously wonderful people. And fun. And caring.... and all that other good stuff too. I am so very blessed to be a part of this family. The only thing bad about it was that so few people were there. Back in the day when we used to be able to go, there were many more people around. Now, however, too many people live far away. Sniff sniff. I think, by following our very good example, they should move back.
I'm sure this is the case for most family gatherings - there is always way too much food. As per tradition, after our full ham dinner and dessert (including but not limited to the very popular, traditional cream of wheat pudding with strawberries and whipped cream made by Auntie Phyllis), a smorgasbord of candies and chocolates are put out. The usual suspects: jelly slices, turtles, and ammonia cookies (yes, made with real ammonia and they are fantastic.... the white cookies with light pink icing. Another Auntie Phyl specialty. I hadn't had one in YEARS and it was sooooo good!). I will say that grandma's fudge/chocolate, toasted coconut homemade marshmallows, raspberry drops and chocolate rosettes were noticeably missing. Those all have a very distinct association with my Grandma, I think for the next gathering I'm going to need to make them. I hope I remember!
Mom, being a celiac type person had to make her own version of lemon meringue pie. One very large one for everyone else, one little baby one for her.
Between dessert and treats we have a program and Christmas present games. My uncle who was in charge of the gathering this year asked Eric to share the devotional. It wasn't very Christmasy, but it was very good (Uncle Waldo asked him to share something that related to Christmas in Costa Rica or Ecuador). He started talking about how people put "drops" into each others' buckets (encouragements) and how that makes them able to then put drops into others' buckets as well (the idea is taken from Cade and Lucy's school where they are encouraged to be bucket fillers and not dippers). He used me as an example - how people poured into me and then eventually I could, especially after meeting him!, could pour into others. That took us to Ecuador and he shared a specific situation about one of the Casa G boys, Miguel, and how he was able to put drops into the bucket of some stranger in the jungle and share the love of Christ. It really was a beautifully told story and a great encouragement. I was pretty darn proud of my man!
There was singing, complete with song sheets, thanks to Uncle Al. I believe he is usually the song sheet guy, and cousin MJ in the pianist (and a pretty amazing one at that).
Then the performances! Ah, the performances. I remember them so very well. My sister Jann, our cousin Mark and I singing Heirlooms by Amy Grant.... Or, of course, singing or saying whatever little bit we had to do at our school Christmas program. Even if we only said "'S' is for the shining star that pointed the way to Jesus" or something of that nature, we still performed and were applauded. Good times. The boys, Jesse, Cade and Cole (known as the noodle-heads)* would have nothing to do with nonsense, but the girls (younger ones, of course - heavens!... no teenagers!) were enthusiastically involved. Lucy already talked about her performance with Riley (Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber)*. Shandy (also a noodle head) did a solo and Brooklyn, Timaya and Mia (I'm completely blanking on their names right now)* did a very whacky trio with Timaya using her creepy voice.
*all naming credit goes to my darling sister Kim.
(side note: Is this weird trend in your area? Kids wearing mis-matched socks? It is all the rage here....)
The it was gift time. The kids brought $5 gifts and play the unwrapping, steal-it-if-you-want-it game.
Timaya had #1 so she could steal any gift she wanted. She stole Cade's tin of pirouette cookies. Cade got stuck with the sidewalk chalk that we brought. Here he was trying to love her enough for her to give the cookies back to him. She didn't. It all turned out okay though as Cade decide the chalk was great, as long as he had a chalk board to go with it. Guess what I made this past weekend? Yup, a chalkboard for Cade's room.
Then it was the adults turn - some game with upped antes - $10 gifts (we live wildly). Eric stole a Sharper Image yo-yo from my cousin and I got a polar bear cookie jar (which the kids LOVE!) filled with my mom's oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (the kids can have the jar - just stay away from my cookies!!).
After all of that eating, laughing and talking, it was shortly time for good-bye. Since a great deal of my relatives spend time in the south over winter, it was goodbye for a while.
I'm not sure if they still do an annual Easter gathering, but I sure hope so!!
on friday was St. Nicholas day which we got all this stuff. I got earrings,nail polish,chocolate balls,chocolate coins, and two candy canes.
cade got a beverage holder, keychain light, chocolate balls, chocolate coins,and two candy canes. again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mia has the same thing as me. Maddy has panties ha ha ha ha ha ha ha nail polish, and all the chocolate things.Again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On saturday me and my family went to a family gathering.(my mom's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
me and my cousin riley sang christmas song's for people to have christmas cheer in their heart's.(which was fun for us.)la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la la.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
There will be a lot of these.... I hope. Days where the kids have an extra day off from school (some inservice or something like that), it is mild out, there is a lot of fresh snow, and their cousins are around - coming over to play. Those things make our temporary life here on earth enjoyable.
(I have had to remind myself of this temporal life today - I have allowed myself to get worked up about dumb things like renting a house with issues instead of owning, having someone buy the nice second hand sectional I really wanted before we could, stuff like that. Stuff that, in light of eternity with Christ, is absolute rubbish).
This face reflects a morning of good, snowy fun. Icy hair, rosy cheeks and chin - partly from cold, partly from exertion from making a snow man and a fort. Melted snow drops on that cute, perfect little nose. Love.
Mia, Timaya and Cade got going on a snow fort and before that, Cade, Mia and Lucy man our first snowman, but Lucy came in already before the picture was taken.
And I finished up some of the decorating outside. The old rusted milk can I bought for a dollar this summer at a garage sale. The bushel baskets were from garage sales as well. The garlands and wreath (may gussy it up yet) were thrift store snags. The skis were a wonderful gift from Opa, John. I love them so much! The greenery I cut from Brent and Glenda's and our bushes. The rest? Skates, sled, ribbons and scarves (tied to look like ribbons).... all stuff I kept in storage at Chris and Val's for the past four years. And I am so so so happy to have them again. Ridiculous to be so giddy over little girls skates and such? Eric may think so, but deep down inside, I know he loves it too. Very deep. If nothing else, he likes it because he sees how much I'm loving my snowy winter Christmasy decorating.
Originally the sled with the skates was on the door (and before that, I believe was on Val's door for several Christmases, and before that, was on my door in California for several Christmases, and before that..... spread out at various second hand stores.). Since everyone was having a bit of a hard time getting in and out of the house (small entry way), I conceded and moved it off to the side. I little begrudgingly, but I did it. The wreath at least covers up the not-so-very-attractive "no soliciting" sign that is stuck on the door.
The snowman appreciates it too. He is the appointed sentinel over the house (and the decor). We could have used him to protect Cade's pumpkin on Halloween night. Sadly, Snowy the Sentinel (I'm sure Lucy has already named him something crazy creative like "Snowy the Snowman") has a chilly head and frosty neck, as he was later disrobed in order to keep the kids warm. I think I have another hat and scarf in my bin of goodies where all of my skates and such were. We'll take care of him.
I've been a busy little beaver. Burning down the house is only one activity.
While I was in Ecuador, Eric took the kids (with a little encouragement from my mom) to my mom's friends' to pick apples. I really really wanted to pick them (and take pictures of the beautiful, apple laden branches) but just ran out of time. And then it was getting cold, so it needed to happen. Well, under a great amount of duress, apparently, the kids went with Eric. Once they were there picking, they had a great time. And they picked a whole lot of apples, let me tell you!
They are gorgeous little crab apples and they are so tasty. Firm, tart and a lovely colour to boot (I've begun to spell the Canadian way, once again!). The kids have been taking them to school in the lunch boxes, we've been munching them, but there are so many that I need to get to chopping them, freezing them and making delicious treats with them. My mommy even came over to help me get started - but I still have a long way to go!
Apple sauce was one of the tasty treats on the docket.
My mom bought and kept a huge amount of cinnamon candy hearts, from valentine's day, for me for this purpose. It is the only flavoring and sweetening needed. And if your apples aren't already gorgeous and red (I keep the peel on), they add lovely colour. This apple sauce did not need any red added but they got it anyway.
So now on to burning down the house….
Mia had her two cousins, Brooklyn and Timaya, over for night. Being the wonderful mother and aunt I am, I made corn dogs. Instead of using regular hot dogs, Eric suggested using smokies. Good call, except…… First, the casing needs to be peeled as it may be great for bbqing, but is not so good for corn dogging. Second, I need to get a little more practice in using an electric stove. It has been a lot of years since I've used anything but gas. Well, electric takes a while to heat up, but when it is hot, it stays hot! So my oil got hot eventually but then I couldn't cool it down. So the corn dogs got a little darkish. And sheesh, this house does not ventilate! The smell of frying and burned fried food is not so great. We opened the window (thankfully only slightly below freezing), burned smelly candles and turned on fans. The kids adjourned to one of the bedrooms because their eyes were burning…..
Then, a little while later, Eric and I went to look at a table to buy. When we got home it was even stinkier and more smokey than before. It was horrible. So we reopened the windows, lit the candles and all that. Finally after about 5 minutes, I notice the smell is stronger in the kitchen and I realize - duh - that I had put sweet potato fries in the oven and completely forgot about them. Augh! I was really impressing my nieces at this point.
Thankfully the house didn't really burn down, but it sure took a while to smell good again. And the kids had a good evening and morning in spite of my mistakes.
All the cuttle worm yahoos.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
There was a huge explosion in our house this morning. It was crazy - I thought we might all die.
All of a sudden the kids were screaming, freaking out and going crazy. Cade ran into our room yelling. I thought I might poop my bed. Actually, I hardly stirred for a bit because I was so crazy tired from having Lucy in bed with me, making me sweat and stealing my blanket. Under normal circumstances I would probably have been joining them with the screams, cries of joy and all that. But my brain and body were both revolting to waking up early after a bad night. Both Eric and I made it out of bed and I tried to clear the goop from my eyes WHILE taking pictures. Thank goodness for auto focus.
Mia - the first snow angel of the year.
There was so much excitement that breakfast was abandoned. No, I did not make them pancakes. No, they did not make their own pancakes. Leftovers. Yup.
By the time I got my snow gear on, the kids were gone to their cousins. This whole ordeal started when cousin Brooklyn showed up at our door with snow pants for Mia, telling them about the snow. So they followed her to her house. Thankfully, they are not hard to track down in freshly fallen snow!
Tons of Canada geese could be heard flying - finally heading south. I learned from Eric, who learned from my uncle that they don't head south because of the cold, they head out when snow falls because they can't find food any more. This is proof…. first day of real snow (we've had little bits here and there that melted right away), and they are out-a-here!
I found them in the church parking lot between our house and the cousins'…. having a grand ol' time.
Brooklyn also won the neighborhood contest for the Giesbrechts. First real snowfall - the first family to get a snowman made wins. They get the trophy-Christmas ornament and then the neighbors get together for hot chocolate, etc. for the awarding of the ornament. I can't even begin to tell you how very very much I want to be part of a neighborhood like that. It almost aches.
Their neighbor across the street, and older gentleman, started making his snowman, even after congratulating the Giesbrechts for their win. You still need to make a snowman after all! I love that spirit - even if you are older, tired and have to shovel your driveway, you still take time to make your snowman! After I left, their other neighbors tried to steal their snowman for their own, but Cade spotted them and the kids caught them! Snowman saved.
I would be failing if I did not show the downside of snow…. aside from the snow, of course. Shoveling. Eric had to get out there and work his booty off. Especially difficult as the driveway of our rental is gravel. A gravel driveway is not a shovel friendly driveway.
Once the kids were back home, they decided that our house needed to look more wintery, so they threw snowballs at the windows to snow-it-up a little.
You may notice bits of Christmas decorations here and there. Yup - lots of it is up. Pretty excited about that. Still have the tree and a few other things to do yet. Loving it!
Today was Christmas Eve, Christmas Day weather - what I pray for every year (even some years when I didn't live in a snowy climate!). Now that the first snow is taken care of, we need to move on to the first blizzard! Yahoo….. as long as you are cozy at home, of course.
Soon we are heading out to Winnipeg for our first diving in the snowy, slippery conditions (especially since we went to bed while it was raining and woke up to snow…. that means the rain water froze before getting covered with snow - not the best driving conditions). Should be interesting.