Friday, December 31, 2010

Halfway Through the Dark

1. The Christmas episode of Doctor Who was called A Christmas Carol and it was really good. It was loosely based on Dickens' story but the major theme was this is the time to celebrate because we are halfway through the dark: winter is half-over. As I was driving around town yesterday running my usual errands (while my children played with two of their favorite baby-sitters), I realized the sun was waiting just a little bit before it started to set, later than last week. These are the things that encourage me, deep in the dark of winter. 

2. This has been the best Christmas vacation I can remember when we have stayed home. The children and I have done a few things (we spent Tuesday cleaning house; yes, I did most of the work but they helped some) but mostly we've sat around and relaxed. They've played on their computers, they've played in the snow, and Alex has gone through a whole ton of paper drawing his "books" (creating his own versions of his favorite books; his artistic abilities are definitely progressing) which is why I buy 50% recycled paper and recycle all his scraps when he's done. I was certainly sad to miss Christmas in San Diego with the rest of my family, but with the foot of snow we got here on Sunday, it would have been difficult to fly back with so many airports in uproar. I must admit I am enjoying the peace and quiet. 

3. We spent Christmas Eve at Leah's house and had the best time with her family and the Alfords. Ben Alford is a few months older than Miranda and they play really well together, and, of course, there is the puppy for Alex to play with. Then we turned on the Wii and Alex absolutely killed everyone else in bowling. I ate too much and we stayed up way too late, but it was wonderful. 

4. Because the children didn't get to bed until 9:30 pm on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day was a little dicey. Miranda crashed for a nap about 3 and Alex was grumpy all afternoon, but we enjoyed a great morning watching them open all their presents and Marshall's parents came over to help us eat an excellent roast beast (a la Seuss' The Grinch) with amazing gravy. And real mashed potatoes, fresh broccoli and amazing lemon pie. Yum!

5. Last week I was making my way through Buffy, the Vampire Slayer's Season 4. Well, about 2/3 of the way through the season, I suddenly felt nostalgic for the first and second seasons, so I went back to the beginning and am now halfway through Season 2. I don't know if I'll make it through all 7 seasons, but it is excellent to stitch by. Here's my progress:

6. Last movie update for 2010:

March 12
Green Zone
(never managed to see it-we were too sick to go out when my folks were visiting for Easter; just got the DVD from the library and now it is waiting on the server to be watched)
April 2
Clash of the Titans
(poor reviews; may see it on video)
April 23
The Losers
(saw it by myself and really liked it)
May 7
Iron Man 2
(loved it!)
May 14
Robin Hood
(it received poor reviews so we did not see it)
May 28
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
(went to see it by myself and enjoyed it more than I expected to)
June 11
The A-Team
(we saw it together and while I liked it, I think I liked The Losers better)
June 18
Toy Story 3
(we liked it but since we were older when the series started, we've rather identified with Andy's mother rather than him, so it did not effect us so much)
June 23
Knight & Day
(I would echo Ebert's review of this film)
July 14
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
(I enjoyed it)
July 16
(We both enjoyed it)
July 23
(sitting on the server and waiting to be watched)
August 13
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
(a very strange movie; I think I liked it)
October 15
(It was fun but there was a very high body count. The casting was excellent, though.)
November 19
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)
(good but sad, like the book)
December 10
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader 
(I liked it but wasn't bowled over)
December 17
Tron: Legacy (We saw it in 3D and liked it; would like to see it again)

But, as I was recently telling my brother, I haven't seen a film since Star Trek that I absolutely loved. Even just listening to the soundtrack makes me happy. 

Speaking (writing) of movies, my favorite show on our local NPR station is Radio Times with Mary Moss-Coane and yesterday she did her annual end of the year movie wrap-up, which I always enjoy. I rarely see all of the "best" movies of the year, but I still enjoy the reviews.

And, just in case you wanted to see my list for 2011, here it is in it's preliminary state:

January 14
Green Hornet
April 1
Source Code (Duncan Jones' new movie; we loved Moon)
April 29
Fast Five (I have this strange weakness for Vin Diesel)
May 6
Thor (Who doesn't want to see Kenneth Branagh do a super-hero movie?)
June 3
X-Men: First Class (It could be good, like X-2 was)
June 17
Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds was very compelling in The Proposal so I want to give him a chance)
June 24
Cars 2 (Cars is my favorite Pixar Film so I have high hopes for the next one; it also may be the first movie our kids actually see in the theatre)
July 1
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (My husband has already announced I will be seeing this alone; he hated the other two while I kinda liked them)
July 15
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
July 22
Captain America: The First Avenger (Chris Evans was one of the best things in The Losers and Scott Pilgrim and I'm interested to see if he can pull this off)
July 29
Cowboys & Aliens (Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in a western with aliens and all the early buzz is good!)

7. A few other links for you, in case you've missed them:
And here's Jen. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

1. Jen isn't posting today (hence the different picture at the top, which for those not in the know, shows my children with my father right after Thanksgiving) but certain family members (also pictured at the top) get a little snippy when I skip a week, so here's your 7 things. Also, I realized when I skipped the day after Thanksgiving, I had serious difficulties the following Friday trying to sum up two weeks in one post.

2. I think I miss my family. I've been down all week, drowning my sorrows in Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Season 4. (I picked Season 4 as it's the least angsty of them all. And Knight and Day reminded me how appealing Marc Blucas is.) And I was reminded again how much I love the show. But I still miss my family, who are celebrating together in San Diego.

That isn't to say that Marshall's family isn't wonderful, because they are. When some of my girlfriends complain about conflicts with their mothers-in-law, I simply say, "I have the best mother-in-law in the world." And I do. We will be joining them at Leah's house tonight to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and share cake together and then tomorrow, Marshall's parents will come over to enjoy a roast beast with us.

It doesn't help, though, that my favorite Christmas music is still the 3 albums First Call made in 1985, 1987, and 1995. They are my father's favorites, too. So I've switched to the Webber family favorite, which is a little cheerier. At least it's been sunny every morning, so I can get started on the day well. It's just that when the sun starts setting at 3 pm, all my energy for the day goes with it and I huddle with my laptop and watch Buffy. At least I know, in Buffy-speak, why I'm all bad moody.

3. Speaking of huddling over laptops, we've been kinda a technology obsessed crew lately. Marshall's been out late a lot of nights (working or helping at church) so in the hours before the kids go to bed and after we've all had dinner, Alex, Miranda and I have all been sitting in front of a computer all by ourselves. Unplugging the TV for all these weeks was a good idea, really.

4. I already have a pile of thank you's to write and really want to get them out into the mail today, since tomorrow will double the amount that need doing. As always, our friends and family have been really generous. I just need to get started on acknowledging it.

5. If you missed the link earlier, here's our family 2010 Christmas letter.

6. And if you've yet to order a copy of my mother's new book, here is your regular reminder. :) I still have 4 copies of my mother's book available for purchase, if you are a local fan. 

Or, if you are a long-distance fan, you can find it here.

7.  All of my fudge is made and almost completely distributed, but I haven't wrapped any presents for the kids yet. I guess that's what we'll be doing tonight after they fall asleep. I hope I can find all of them. Because my children cannot leave any present left out in the open alone, they have been hidden all over my room and especially in the closet. And all of Mimi and Pop-Pop's gifts, delivered yesterday, are in the shed. I actually had to stop myself from buying them more gifts this year. They are so cute and happy when opening presents. This is the first year that Christmas has really been something both children have looked forward to. It almost feels normal.

Hopefully, next year we will be able to do it with the extended family in San Diego. Then we really will be passing for normal.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's Up! It's Up!

Our annual Christmas letter is finally done and posted. Find it here. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

One Week Before Christmas? Seriously?

1. I really should write these things on Thursdays, when I have all this free time, instead of Friday mornings, when I'm all in a rush. One of these days I will plan ahead, really. :)

2. Last weekend went really well, in spite of all our activity. Our fabulous babysitter was able to bring her equally fabulous fiance along, which thrilled both kids. When all their teachers, aides, child care workers, etc. are female, a cool and loving male who wants to spend time with them is simply awesome.

3. Brief movie update:
Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader: It was good, but not fabulous. I recommend it, but it just doesn't have the same emotional impact of the first film. But, then, I suppose it is difficult to top the resurrection of Christ.
Knight and Day and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: I was in the mood for fluffy films earlier this week. I would echo Ebert's review of the first one; the second one I watched to see Shane West, who I've really been enjoying in Nikita.
Le Pact des Loups: I remember when it first came out, I had wanted to see it but was a little afraid of the gore-factor. Well, it is an excellent film that reminds me, once again, of my second favorite line from Buffy: "It's not about right; it's not about wrong. It's about power." Also, there were some plot similarities to The Ghost and the Darkness (which scared me terribly when I saw it in 1997; I would classify that film in the category of one of the scariest movies I've ever seen) but that may be simply because they are both "hunting the beast" type movies.
Tron: Legacy: While it has received middling reviews, we are still off to see it tonight in 3D.

4. It snowed only a very slight amount yesterday (quarter of an inch?), but it was enough to snarl up the roads all over the Delaware Valley for hours. My dear husband was stuck in his car for hours, inching along on roads laced with black ice.

But for my children, it was a wonderful excuse to get out the new snow boots, find their gloves and mittens, and play in the backyard for the first time in weeks.

5. Page 8 is nearing completion. I won't have time tonight, but I hope to be moving on to page 9 before Christmas. Here is a reminder of what the finished product looks like.

6. My parents arrived safely in Southern California yesterday to attend the wedding of a friend and then celebrate Christmas with assorted family and friends. I do wish we could join them but am relieved not to be flying this year.

7. And if you've yet to order a copy of my mother's new book, here is your regular reminder. :) I still have 4 copies of my mother's book available for purchase, if you are a local fan. 

Or, if you are a long-distance fan, you can find it here.

Bonus 8. I know I promised to post our Christmas letter days ago. Well, once again, life happened and we got a little behind. We should have it done over the weekend so keep your eyes on this space!

And here's Jen.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Very Busy Friday

1. It's not even 11:30 am and I've already blitzed around town: dropped off my nephew's birthday present, shopped at Wegman's, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco & Shop Rite. Somehow, I lolly-gag around on Thursdays, going back to bed after the buses pick up the children, sitting around all afternoon playing on Facebook, instead of working though my To Do list so that Friday won't be such a full day. Ah, well, it was an efficient morning.

2. My mother helped me to make fudge and find containers for it before she left so I have already dispensed it to all of Alex & Miranda's teachers, aides and therapists at school. His total was 9 people and hers was 12. But in the name of Christ, I bless them all! A small box of fudge is only a token gift to acknowledge all they do for us.

3. We have a busy weekend planned. Tonight we have a sitter for the kids so we can attend the Youth Ministry Christmas party (the only event all year I make my husband attend and socialize with all of my peeps and their spouses from Youth Ministry) even though he's already a little partied out since the SIG Christmas party was last night (staff only). Saturday night, our sitter is coming back (after spending her week mired in finals--bless her!) so we can go out, just the two of us, have a nice dinner and see The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. So far it's getting middling reviews, but we haven't decided whether or not to see it in 3D. Ebert advises against it.

4. My parents returned safely to Madison, WI, last weekend and we miss them already, but it was a great visit. They leave for southern CA in a few days to attend the wedding of the daughter of a good friend, spend time with my brothers and their wives (perhaps there will be some tiling of a kitchen floor involved--stay tuned for pictures of another of my father's tiling masterpieces!), and then head down to San Diego to settle in with my Aunt Katie and her family for a great Christmas together. We are sorry to miss it but have no regrets about declining to fly with Miranda.

5. Both kids were fighting off colds this week but, praise God, they never got sick enough to miss a day of school. Neither of them have been absent a day yet this school year, which is a miracle. God is good! Now if I can just convince Miranda that noses should be wiped with tissues (instead of blankets, towels, sleeves, floors, etc.) life would be a little easier. Silly woozle.

6. I still have 4 copies of my mother's book available for purchase, if you are a local fan. 

Or, if you are a long-distance fan, you can find it here.

7. Our Christmas letter is written and should be posted sometime in the next few days. I will have a link here as well as on Facebook early next week. We have so much to be thankful for this year, especially when it was a tough year for much of our family and many of our friends. But God continues to answer our prayers, small and large, and we are delighted when our experiences bless others. Say it with me: God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good!

And here's Jen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

First Friday of Advent

1. So Jen took last Friday off and so did I because ever since my parents arrived on November 20th, we have been running around like crazy people. We celebrated Thanksgiving at Marshall's sister's house and enjoyed a wonderful family time, giving thanks for Marshall's mom's recovery from heart surgery and that we could all be together again. Then on Sunday night we celebrated Alex & Miranda's birthdays late (their birthdays are October 4 and 30 respectively) so that both sets of Grandparents could be here to sing our kids into their new years. You can see pictures here.

2. I have been promising a new progress picture of my cross stitch for weeks and finally have one for you. I finished page 7 and started page 8.

I continue to be impressed with how beautifully the pattern turns into art.

3. My mother is still here but my father has been in Toronto since Monday night. So we decided to put the tree up on Sunday night, after the birthday party, since the children were still jazzed up from playing with their cousins (and dark chocolate cupcakes) and both children, for the first time, helped to decorate the tree. Now, this means all the nice and breakable ornaments are still safely in their boxes in the closet, but the tree is still beautiful. You can see pictures of that here.

4. Last Friday we left both kids at Aunt Leah's house and the four of us adults went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. We went to the 10 am showing, first of the day, and then Marshall and my father continued to work on the living room remodel. The room is inhabitable, including new furniture, but the bookshelves are still in the process of being built. Life keeps intervening in my husband's project; for example, right now he's home in bed with a bad chest cold. Still, our life is not boring.

5. Last week we had our conference with Miranda's teacher and yesterday I met with Alex's to learn that both children are doing well. Miranda has come so far in speech therapy that we now have to teach her when NOT to talk. Alex continues to excel academically but still has behavioral quirks to get under control. They both need to work on reading comprehension, but we can do that together.

6. Alex is completely enamoured of Brian and Leah's new puppy, Ruby. His favorite thing to say about her is "She likes to lick me."

She is a very sweet tempered dog; I enjoy her company as well.

7. Now I understand why Jen does these posts every Friday. Trying to sum up two weeks of events is difficult.

Bonus 8. My mother did her first large group event to introduce her book to my women's Bible study group on Wednesday morning and it was just awesome to hear her speak about Bathsheba, reference the scriptures from 2nd Samuel, and share her writing process with my friends.

If you haven't already ordered a copy for yourself, do so now! You can find it available here. I still have 10 copies available for sale leftover from her talk on Wednesday. If you're local, let me know if you are interested.

And here's Jen.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Great Friday!

1. My folks, aka Grandma and Grandpa, arrive tomorrow for a 2 week visit. Hooray! We're going to celebrate Thanksgiving with lots of food at my sister-in-law's house, my father will help Marshall finish the living room project and do lots of other fun little things together. A trip to the Aquarium perhaps, a littleHarry Potter, playing in leaf piles (our neighborhood leaf pickup starts Monday so there are lots of great piles all over the streets), and Crazy 8's. Miranda learned how to play Concentration (aka Memory) two weeks ago and now beats me regularly. Mimi gave her some Crazy 8's cards earlier this week and she's learning how to play.

2. Speaking of leaf piles, my children wanted to "help" me rake the leaves to the curb this week and this is the first time Alex really did help. Miranda was there for the company but Alex was a significant asset. I'll have to remember that for next year.

3. The living room is accessible again, which the children are enjoying. The worst of the mess is cleaned up even though the project isn't finished. Still, I like the chocolate brown walls and Marshall is looking at Craig's list for new couches. Our children are kinda hard on furniture; they bounce a lot. I'm sorry I don't have pictures yet. I'll put some up in the next few days.

4. Miranda pretty much potty trained herself in 2 weeks. It's weird. Alex was a several year process. She still wears a pull up at night but half the time that's dry, too. Her teacher was right: take away the pull ups and make her wear underwear and just deal with the mess. It worked. I think I'm still in shock.

5. I have finished with whatever illnesses have been plaguing me for the last 6-7 weeks and am now just back to allergies. I'm tired because Miranda's sleep pattern in the last week has been irregular, but not sick. This also seems weird.

6. Not having a television throughout the remodeling process has been a great thing for the kids. I think I missed it the most, and that was primarily because it made watching the World Series a lot more complicated. They can still watch their programs on the laptop, which they do on occasion, but they are watching less than half what they used to. I'm sure this is healthy for them even if it made my life more difficult. And making them eat dinner at the table is actually easier now. We'll see if it lasts after the house it restored to rights.

7. Miranda seems to be growing more and less flexible as she gets older. We can talk about what we're doing and where we're going with a lot more ease and I can now make more than on stop on an errand run with her in tow, which I haven't done since she was an infant. But if she's upset about something or tired, she doesn't want to go out, no way, and most times, it's not worth dragging her. I guess this just means her development is starting to follow a more "normal" pattern; it's just delayed. Strange. When your first kid is diagnosed with autism, you never know what to expect for any subsequent child. Ah, well, parenting is an adventure.

Sorry there are no photos today. I am weary from leaf raking.

And here's Jen.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fudge & Cookies Fund Raising for Haiti Trip

Friends in the SIG Community,

We are helping our friend, Mark Olson, raise funds for his trip with other members of our faith community, Hope Church, in January, 2011, to Haiti. The purpose of the trip "will be building a home for a needy family, providing some local water and food distribution and help deliver water purification units for an effort to aid in bringing safe drinking water back to the Haitians." More information about it can be found on our church's website here.

Since we know SIG friends are already fans of our fudge and oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bars (officially known as Baylis Bars, named for the woman who invented them), we thought we would offer portions of said goodies for an absurdly large price (this is a fund-raiser, after all) with all monies going directly to the Haiti trip.

An 8 x 8 " pan of Baylis Bars will be $10.00.

A small loaf pan of fudge (weighs a little more than 1 lb.) will be $15.00. The available flavors are plain chocolate fudge, mint-chocolate fudge, and peanut butter fudge.

Orders can be made in person, through the comments section of this blog page, on Marshall's Facebook page or through his Gmail account (

All payments should be made electronically through Hope's Egiving online mechanism. WARNING: The page DOES NOT work in Firefox. Our abject apologies. Please use Chrome or Internet Explorer.

Pay for your goodies here. Feel free to use the Guest Transaction option so that you don't have to bother with registering a login and password. Once you have made your payment, please forward your payment confirmation to Marshall's email, and we will begin processing your order asap. Delivery will be in person on all normal working days.

Thank you!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Different Friday

1. My mother's book launch is tomorrow in Madison, WI, and I am so sorry to miss it. My life is just too complicated right now to try to extract myself and leave town, for anything. It was a huge gift to me that my husband took a week off of work in July so I could fly to California for my brother's wedding. The largish consolation prize is that my parents will be here next Saturday, the 20th, for a 2 week visit. So, if you haven't already, order your copy of Bathsheba's Lament now and she'll sign it for you while she's here.

2. Speaking of books you should buy, my dear friend Kimberlee Conway Ireton has a great post today about her excellent book, The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year, which has it's 2 year anniversary today. Or you could post a comment on her blog and have a chance of winning a free copy. It makes a great Christmas gift, or housewarming gift, or birthday gift....

3. Movie Update:

March 12
Green Zone (never managed to see it-we were too sick to go out when my folks were visiting for Easter; just got the DVD from the library and now it is waiting on the server to be watched)
April 2
Clash of the Titans (poor reviews; may see it on video)
April 23
The Losers (saw it by myself and really liked it)
May 7
Iron Man 2 (loved it!)
May 14
Robin Hood (it has received poor reviews so we do not plan to see it)
May 28
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (went to see it by myself and enjoyed it more than I expected to)
June 11
The A-Team (we saw it together and while I liked it, I think I liked The Losers better)
June 18
Toy Story 3 (we liked it but since we were older when the series started, we've rather identified with Andy's mother rather than him, so it did not effect us so much)
June 23
Knight & Day (never managed to sneak out and see it)
July 14
The Sorcerer's Apprentice (I enjoyed it)
July 16
Inception (We both enjoyed it)
July 23
Salt (still would like to see it)
August 13
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (It's now out on DVD so I need to find someone to borrow it from)
October 15
Red (got a sitter this afternoon and went to see it by myself; it was fun but there was a very high body count. The casting was excellent, though.)

Upcoming movies
November 19
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)
December 10
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
December 17
Tron: Legacy

I should probably start arranging for sitters for those last 3 movies because we will want to see them together. 

4. I developed a throat infection this week so am back on medication, a new antibiotic. It seems to be helping a great deal, though, but I am sooooooooo tired of being sick. This is just ridiculous!

5. We had a great time at the Adventure Aquarium last Friday and while I tried to take a bunch of pictures of my children petting baby sharks and sting wrays, watching large sharks and turtles swim by and marveling at the jellyfish, none of them came out. I need to work on how to take photos in a dim setting with a lot of reflective surfaces.

6. For some strange reason, last Saturday I starting watching the British series Being Human which is about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost who share a house in Bristol. I was already coming down with whatever new bug is living in my throat and wanted something different. It certainly is that, but it's also well-written. Not as good as Sherlock, but still worth watching.

7. I took Miranda with me to Wegman's the other day and they had cut tulips for sale (which I find almost impossible to resist unless there are live ones blooming in my yard at that exact moment) and we had to have a discussion and compromise over what color flowers to buy. She wanted purple and I wanted orange and so we settled on red. It was a very interesting conversation and not one I had expected to have with her. It's like we can see her verbal and mental skills expand on an almost daily basis.

And here's Jen.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Good Friday

1. Most of my family is right now gathering in the Bay area in California for the memorial service tomorrow morning for my uncle, Michael Murphy. There is a wonderful obituary here. I am so thankful God gave us all the years with Mike that he did and then took him home.

2. On a lighter note, even though Alex & Miranda have had 3 days off of school this week, we have had a great week. I usually dread this week every year since both kids hate to be out of school and off our regular schedule but I've been able to keep them moving and going places and (sometimes) doing fun things and everyone has gone to bed happy every night. That's a miracle, truly. God is gracious.

3. Speaking (writing) of God's graciousness, earlier this morning I took Alex for his yearly blood-work appointment. I thought I had made arrangements to leave Miranda with a sitter (but I messed that up) so I had to take both kids with me on short notice. Usually , I dread this for weeks because it takes several people to hold him down while the nurse takes his blood, but he was remarkably well behaved, didn't fight us, didn't hurt us, and recovered quickly. Yes, it hurt, but he's okay. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I've arranged to take both kids with our friend Ashley to the Adventure Aquarium this afternoon. Our yearly membership starts today!

4. Yesterday I was finally able to meet my sister-in-law's new puppy, Ruby. I took both kids over to Leah's to play with Lilly and Ruby, who is this tiny ball of fluff but so adorable and sweet and we had a great time. I am such a dog person and being 2 years now without a dog is breaking my heart. But life is too full right now to take in another creature. Soon, Lord, please. I want a dog. Well, what I really want is my dog back. But, barring that, I want a new greyhound. Someday.

Here's Havoc during the glory days of the early 2000's. Man, I miss this dog.

5. I have been making great progress on my cross stitch lately, in spite of all the crazy upheaval in our house. See the photo below.

6. Hope's Youth Ministry this weekend is starting a new program called Inner Mission. I will be leading a small group called "Praying for Each Other" with three high school sophomores and I am so excited! A whole hour to share and pray together every Sunday night. It's going to be one of my favorite hours of the week!

7. Alex has been helping to put Miranda to bed. Here he is reading my favorite book, Tiger Can't Sleep, to her on Wednesday night:

I know my children make me crazy on a regular basis, but this week, they have been especially sweet and cuddly and I am so grateful to God for blessing our lives.

And here's Jen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lilies Progress Picture

I finished Page 6 tonight and wanted to share with the world how beautiful this design is turning out. The original is here. A reminder to any new readers, there is no white thread used anywhere in this design. It's all about shading.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Wrap Up

I know, I know, it's Monday. But I wanted to post some pictures for my blog readers and other assorted family members to see how well our costuming efforts turned out.

First of all, a major CONGRATULATIONS to Marshall for finishing all of his work in The Pit of Despair (aka, the crawlspace under the house) right before Trick or Treating was scheduled at 5 pm. The sistering of the joists that needed to be done is now done and while there are a few other improvements he'd like to make down there, they will wait for another time. Marshall would like me to add that working down there is like wriggling around in a very dirty (a fine, dry dirt that gets everywhere), very tightly cut coffin, less than 12 inches tall.

So, after cleaning himself up, he set himself to working on Alex's makeup. It's so handy to have a husband with a background in theatre.

Alex had an aide when he was in the preschool class at Springville who would paint his face several times a year as a special treat, so he is well trained for this procedure. And, probably, far more patient with it than I would be.

The finished product picture is at the top. As you can see, Miranda opted for the red dress, so we were well coordinated, color-wise. Here we are walking up and down the street.

This is actually the first time all 4 of us have been Trick or Treating together. Alex's first year was when Miranda was a year old and she and I had the stomach flu. Then the year after that it was a week-day and Daddy had to work. Last year I had a bronchial infection so Mimi came and joined Marshall for the special day. So, finally, in 2010, we were able to do it all together. And we had a good time. For about 10 houses. And then Miranda decided she was tired. So Marshall took her home. And then Alex found something he liked much better than candy: leaf piles!

He jumped in every one we passed. (The leaves only began falling in our neighborhood in the last week so this was his first opportunity. He's going to want to go for a walk every day after school from now until they're all picked up in December to explore each and every one of them.)

I think Miranda's favorite part was handing out candy to the Trick or Treaters who came to our door. Cheerful little woozle.

It's our policy to let both kids dress up in their costumes for the whole year following Halloween as often as they like, as long as they are playing in the house. It gives them joy and stimulates their imaginative skills, so it's win-win for us. I'm just hoping the princess dress will go through the washing machine without a lot of hassle. Maybe turning it inside-out is the key.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Black Friday

1. We are grieving this Friday as my uncle Mike has finally lost his battle to cancer and passed out of this life. I have so many sweet and funny memories of him and his generous love for our extended family. He was beloved of his family and friends and respected by many. He will be missed.

2. I was able to attend Halloween parties in both classes today. It was a lot of fun and a good way to remember that life goes on, in spite of our grief.

Miranda before she got on the bus this morning. And she did the pose naturally. Sheesh.

I was so pleased to see Miss Barbara, Miranda's teacher, in a matching costume. She is the best!

As soon as we came home, she wanted to switch to her other costume. (The blue dress was a gift from her friend Charlotte; I had purchased the red one for the occasion and saved it especially for this weekend.)

Alex in the costume parade with his teacher, Miss Pam.

Alex steals Miss Pam's wig and gives me a great smile!

And here they are together, preparing for Trick or Treating on Sunday afternoon.

3. I have been watching the World Series this week and making great progress on my cross stitch. Of course, my heart is breaking for the Rangers, but I always feel bad for the losing team. I'm not a big baseball fan but I enjoy the World Series because it's always good baseball; that is, it's not usually boring. Here's a progress picture for you to admire:

 4. I have finally seem to have beat back the skin infection and and feeling more like myself. I'm also very tired of steroids. I have 5 more days before I can have a glass of wine.

5. The children really had a roller coaster week. Alex had two really bad days at school, bad enough all I could do was weep and pray. On really good days, he can explain why he is upset. On bad days, he just breaks things. Or people. Or tries to. And Miranda's sleep schedule got off at the same time so she's been napping and then staying up until 10 pm or going to bed early and getting up for a snack at 3 am. Ugh. Still, more time in prayer is always a good thing.

6. Marshall's remodeling project has hit a few snags this week but we are praying for a productive weekend with some help from his dad. This is the crawl under the house and reinforce the floor part. Yuk. You couldn't get me to go down there for anything. The plans for the built-in bookcases look wonderful, though, and most of the materials are waiting expectantly in the shed.

7. Last weekend was productive in terms of furniture acquisition. We purchased a used dining room set that really fits the style of our house, Alex got his own roll-top desk and Miranda got a dresser with a pull-down shelf of her own for drawing and puzzles. And both come with more storage, something we are always lacking.

Bonus 8. If you missed my mention of it in the last few weeks, my mother's book is now in print!

If you haven't already ordered a copy for yourself, do so now! You can find it available here. If you live in South Jersey, the author will be visiting for Thanksgiving and will be happy to sign your copies in person!

And here's Jen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Another Friday on (New) Steroids

1. My skin is still infected with something, although now we know it's not fungal. I saw my doctor again on Wednesday night and he gave me new steroids to try. If these don't work, he's going to do a biopsy and send me to a specialist. On top of it I have a nasty cold that I've been trying to beat back with resting every moment possible, which means I only just changed out of my pajamas today for the first time since Saturday. (I did put on clean pajamas every other day after showering; the bus drivers' are used to my wardrobe by now since I'm rarely dressed before the buses come in the morning.)

2. Last week's steroids were peppy and helped me power through my week of little sleep; this week, not so much. I still have the "my head's not quite in the right place" feeling without any other benefit. Or maybe it's just the cold virus taking over my brain.

3. Did you know steroids make you hungry all the time? I made the mistake of buying Halloween candy last week. Half of it is now gone. This is ridiculous.

4. Both kids had decent weeks at school and Marshall continues to patch and sand the wallboard in the living room. He borrowed a truck from a friend for the weekend and spent all of today buying and transporting large pieces of lumber and molding.

5. Thank goodness I have a college student helping me with the kids this afternoon or I wouldn't have anything to show for my week except clean piles of laundry and a lot of dirty pajamas (mine). All the necessities get done during bad weeks like this (children are fed, bathed, clothed, etc. and even if I don't manage to make dinner, there is plenty of food from which my husband can scavenge) but I end the week with the same messes in the same rooms we started with on Monday, and that is frustrating. Maybe I'll try some high octane caffeine tomorrow and see if that's enough to move me forward in the cleaning department.

6. I was able to read John Sherrill's They Speak With Other Tongues this week (or most of it--need to finish the last 20 pages) as part of my preparation for leading an informal seminar on prayer for the Youth Group starting at the beginning of November. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it as a great primer for the how's, why's, when's and where's about speaking in tongues.

7. If you missed my mention of it in the last few weeks, my mother's book is now in print!

If you haven't already ordered a copy for yourself, do so now! You can find it available here. If you live in South Jersey, the author will be visiting for Thanksgiving and will be happy to sign your copies in person!

Do not, under any circumstances, miss out on reading Jen's post today. It's disturbingly hilarious!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday on Steroids

1. I have the plague. Or, rather, the staph infection my doctor thought I had last week (4 days of a nasty antibiotic Thurs-Sun) really wasn't since it kept spreading further down my body so the second diagnosis was a fungal infection and here's 2 different steroids to take for a week. Thankfully, the polka-dotted Sarah is fading slowly but life on steroids is well, a little weird. I was trying to describe it to my poor husband the other night while he was repairing drywall damage in the living room that I was a different kind of crazy this week because of the meds; somehow, he didn't find that very comforting. For example, this week, my brain is always a little off-balance and my eyes have difficulty focusing and I get hot flashes after taking one of the drugs. Too weird. However, there have been some useful side-effects...

2. Since I was nearly sleepless on Monday because of the steroids and on Tuesday because Alex was having a bad night, I was kept upright almost entirely by my medication on Wednesday, even going so far as to travel to and from church in the dark (I took the back roads which are very familiar and drove a lot more slowly than usual) for a Youth Ministry Team Meeting. It was amazing. And this morning I disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled the interior of the refrigerator. I can't decide if that was because of the steroids, the fact that we've spent much of the last week moving and sorting and cleaning half of our possessions and I just got into that groove, or this is how I'm coping with the stress of this remodeling project. Whatever the reason, my fridge looks and smells good for the first time in a while.

3. Also, since I had a sitter for the afternoon to entertain the children so I could get stuff done (like run those niggling kinds of errands where you have to scour 4 or 5 stores looking for one thing--this is why I do so much shopping online now!) I knew I had time to clean the fridge. Although, I did go out and do some grocery shopping after the fridge and before Miranda's bus (the reason the fridge was so easy to clean is that it was more than half empty) but I ran into a friend at Wegman's and chatted for a while and so didn't get home quite in time for the bus. I met the bus at the end of our block, feeling just a little foolish. Still, Miranda wasn't upset and neither was the driver, so no harm done.

4. Also, on Wednesday, I joined Alex's class on a trip to the farm for a wagon ride, pick a pumpkin to take home, and run through the corn maze as fast as possible (he did the latter without any help from me). It was a fun trip and I continue to be impressed with his teacher.

You can see more Fall pictures here. I will be making the same trip to the same farm on Monday with Miranda's class.

5. If you missed my mention of it in the last few weeks, my mother's book is now in print!

If you haven't already ordered a copy for yourself, do so now! You can find it available here. My autographed copy arrived today--happy reading! If you live in South Jersey, the author will be visiting for Thanksgiving and will be happy to sign your copies in person!

6. The remodel project has slowed down a little bit (moving furniture and hundreds of books is an exciting way to start and great for satisfying my need to clean something that is actually dirty) but repairing drywall and spackling--which is what Marshall's been doing since then--doesn't make for good pictures. Sorry. Here, however, is Miranda at the entrance to the living room, which is obviously barred from small persons to as not to irritate Daddy the remodeling artist:

7. The week has gone remarkably well, now that I reflect upon it, considering I have been ill for at least 10 days with a creeping fungus (okay, ewww) and we have upset both children by rearranging every room but the kitchen and bathroom. God is gracious, every day.

Bonus 8. Mimi the Great is feeling well enough to come up and visit tomorrow for lunch. Woohoo! She will not be driving herself, so have no fear. Marshall and I make really good chauffeurs.

And here's Jen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Living Room Remodel - Part 1

A blog post? On Monday? Is everything okay at the Webber house? (Well, I have a fungal infection on my skin that turned me in to Polka-Dotted Sarah, but there will be no pictures of that!) Marshall is turning our living room into a place we all like to inhabit (instead of a place where the children play and Marshall and I avoid because it looks so well-worn) and I'm going to try to document the process on my blog. So here we go!

On Thursday night, Marshall and I moved 2 bookshelves and their contents to the front room. One bookcase had been residing in the corner of our bedroom while the other was in the corner of the living room. Now they are all 3 stacked together.

Back before we had children, the room that is now Miranda's was our library, full of books and a couch for reading. Of course, the couch belonged to the dog and always smelled like him, but still, it was very pleasant.

Part of the reason for the remodel of our living room is to build in bookshelves so that we can put the contents of 6 different free-standing bookshelves into our built-in shelves. This is one of those corners that will be transformed into a book shelf:

The blue chair has been moved out to the street; there will be no room for an easy chair in that corner once the bookshelves have been built.

This is where the kids' computer table resided. Obviously, it's been over-decorated. This will be repaired and I'm going to be putting a trash can here as well because when we moved the couches, this is what we found:

Yes, that is a pair of Alex's underwear among the toy cars, papers, chew toys, cheerios, crackers and 3 tons of cheese stix wrappers. Apparently, every time Alex got himself a cheese stick, he would tuck the wrapper behind the couch. It was really gross. I picked up all the large stuff with gloves before I vacuumed the crumbs.

Alex gets to have the kids' computer and the family printer in his room on the little table, but we unplug it at bedtime so he doesn't sneak in more Dr. Seuss on You Tube after hours.

Emptying bookcases and moving them from here to there:
and here

to there
That would be the television behind the green sheet.
And now it's a blank wall.

The couches are up on their ends to take up as little space as possible, which, of course, makes a good place for reading for small persons:

Yes, I know, Alex has a silly picture smile.

And, of course, you need to steam clean the carpet before you start a new project because the sooner you can get out the stains of lime yogurt and white grape juice, the better.

A good start, all in all, for our first weekend on the project.