Sunday, December 30, 2007

Gathering Around the Glow of the XO

This computer was a gift to the boys from my Aunt Gee-Gee. It's rightful heir was the little tyke staring intently at the screen, but his parents deemed his attention span too short for that sort of thing and so it was offered to my three. It's an educational computer that uses all open-source software. Max has discovered a few of its limits, but I'm encouraging him to google all he can on the computer to see if he can eventually get a few of the websites he likes to work. We think we downloaded a version of flashplayer but we don't know how to get it installed and working. It's Linus-based operating system is foreign to us.

So I suggested that for now we just use it as it was intended--instead of trying to make it like a computer he already knew--to just accept it as an entirely new kind of computer. And we are making ground that way. He has already composed a few melodies using its music-making software, and the twins have spent literally hours video-taping themselves with its built in camera (sorry, we don't know how to send these anywhere else, or even what kind of format they're saved in). Ben and Milo have sore abdominal muscles from laughing hysterically at themselves. Milo has also used the music software.

We do know there is a way to upload the word processing files to a site that will save them in a format that his teacher can receive. We will master this when the need arises. Many thanks to Aunt Gee-Gee for her generosity and to Cousin A, who took the picture and thought of suggesting my kids as a recipient.

Today we had a quiet Sunday. Ben, Milo, and I headed off to church and left the coughing and hacking Max and the confuzzled and snot-ridden Chris at home. They looked very handsome in their new white shirts and ties. Hopefully by next Sunday I'll have their new pants hemmed and they'll look snazzy indeed. I realized as I got them dressed that I'd forgotten about their church shoes. I probably won't get that fixed until Easter now.

By dinner time Chris had showered and shaved and taken dayquil, so since it was our turn to feed the missionaries, he went and got them and managed to stay upright and conscious for the whole time they were here. Right now he's on the couch attempting to read the human resources manual of his new company, but I'm guessing he'll be reading it again tomorrow.

I'm grateful for two more days of Christmas vacation. I really like having the kids around and I've really liked the opportunity to sleep in, nap, and go to bed early, LOL. I tend to be sort of chronically sleep deprived and I can say I have definitely NOT been sleep deprived this week. What's the opposite of sleep deprivation? Sleep abundance? I wish you could store extra sleep for use later. I'd feel much better if I could know the extra sleep could be stashed away for future use.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Check Me Out!

I am so totally on vacation. Yesterday I thought I was due to start another batch of workwork for Client du jour, (du many years, actually) so in a panic and a bit of New Year's mania (I am so ready to kick 2007 to the curb. Not that I'm not grateful for its spiritual bonanza, but I'd really like to be able to pay bills in a more timely fashion. Just sayin'.) I dug in and dug out my office from it's volcanic ashes of writing-gigs past. I threw away four trash bags of materials from this year's projects (technically, I bagged them up and then called Chris to haul them away. He was sweet about it.)

Then I took the pile of "things to do something about" and went through that. Next, I updated the wipe-off calendar over my desk and the kitchen calendar and my desk calendar, which also doubles as a "due dates" calendar. Then I balanced both checkbooks, paid a ton of bills, and then, surprise, it was night and still no fedex package. So I pulled out the schedule again, realized that I'd gone up a line on the tiny little excel chart that was the master schedule and that I'm not due to start working again until the 2nd!

So today I did a meal plan for the next week, put together a shopping list, and took the kids to Target to spend their Target gift cards (and then we went grocery shopping, of course). Since Santa brought me a new sewing machine, I got a sewing kit to go with it. It comes with a bunch of thread (LOL, I had to search for the right term for that: yarn? string? What's that sewing stuff called? Oh, yeah! Thread. Right.) When I got home I spent 20 minutes going through all the notions that came with the machine and my new kit. I felt like a little girl lining up all the tiny shoes that came with her new Barbie. "Oooo! Lookit this little brushy thing!"

So instead of working half of each day for the next five days, I get to, well, clean my house and knit and sew--which I think is a fine trade off. My mother did most of my laundry while she was here, so a significant portion of the "mess" in the living room is just putting away clean laundry.

Speaking of domestic stuff--another gift I received for Christmas is a new iron. Our old one was a Black and Decker work-horse that still did a pretty decent job of ironing out wrinkles, as long as you weren't too picky about these things. Chris did his homework in researching irons and got me a nice one. Nothing too spendy or flashy--we only have our church clothes and the occasional dressy occasion to iron for. But he was thoughtful enough to get one with a steaming function so that I can also use it for the occasional bit of blocking. I used it on the sample I finished for the yarn shop today. The steaming thing was fast and fun.

My plan for tomorrow is to get Ben and Milo's new church pants hemmed up, Max's old church pants hemmed up, and the living room picked up. That about covers it :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

We had a very nice Christmas day here with G'ma Gaye and G'ma Judy. Emily got a stuffed squeaky squirrel for Christmas and was pretty thrilled with that. The kids got a perfect mix of toys and clothing. (I'm so happy, for we are once again a family with clean socks and underwear for all our boys.)

Ski season starts here in a few weeks, although it looks to be a repeat of last year's early warm January, in which case, ski season will be delayed. G'ma Gaye outfitted the twinks in new gloves, ski goggles, and balaclavas. I had picked up Max's skis from the ski shop yesterday--these were a garage sale find for $10 back in August or September. I had them waxed and they got some other maintenance done to them (grinding the edges or something) and we replaced the outdated binding with new adult bindings. The finished product looks much nicer than the pair I paid $10 for, LOL, but then, they're not a $10 pair of skis anymore, either!

A lot of what the kids got this year were things they really needed. With money from my grandmother the kids got new jeans, socks, underwear, pajamas, white dress shirts for church, and sneakers. My sister bought them all snow boots. G'ma Donna and G'ma Gaye both got them t-shirts they loved. G'ma Judy bought them slippers. I knit them all socks. These were all greatly appreciated. There were terrific toys for the boys--transformers, nerf shooters, puppets, and legos. There were wonderful books on warriors, art, animals, and science topics. There were two games for the Wii and two games for the gamecube, and a few controllers to replace the ones that wore out (and Santa brought some spare controllers for the Wii so that the boys can all play at the same time).

I had expected a *very* simple Christmas, as we budgeted mostly for the kids. But I was spoiled. Spoiled, spoiled, spoiled. Thank you, Chris and parents.

We also got the amazing gift of being offered the purchase of my aunt's 2003 Ford Taurus. We took her up on it and will get rid of the Expedition as soon as that is possible.

Tomorrow we're off to visit relatives in Philly for the day and then it's back home to dive back into work, but today was a quiet, peaceful day with good food and family, and we enjoyed it.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bits and Pieces

For the past few winters we've put together goodie boxes for friends and extended family for Christmas. We've done this in part because the things are yummy and in part because it meant we could put together something nicer with the funds available.

This year I was having a heck of a time coming up with ideas for what to put in the box. Everything was either too hard to put together or too expensive to ship. I was reluctant to go with a box of cookies because that is so "done." In the end though, that's what we went with. I already had most of the ingredients in food storage and the kids love our cookie cookbook, so.

But the baking gods were in a foul mood. The first two cookies and a bar recipe went great. But I didn't put the boxes "up" enough and Emily ate all but a few over night. (And lived to tell about it.) I couldn't get back to baking again until Thursday because of workwork (and having some bug on Thursday) and the first thing I did was ruin 6 lbs of fudge. I quit and tried again on Friday. Finally, things started going better.

On Thursday Milo stayed home from school because he was sick. He sent his classmates a note:

He's still got a cough, but doesn't seem particularly sick anymore. However, Ben and I are sharing a new cold and I really just wanted to lay on a couch, whine, and knit, but I have guests coming all afternoon tomorrow (one set coming at 1pm for a quick visit on their way out of town, another set coming at 2pm) so we needed groceries.

This means the gift boxes/bags are nearly done.

We also received today a special delivery.

That is Snowball and Hoodie. We're rat sitting until their owner gets back from Christmas vacation. I'm a little nervous about having a dog who gets lavishly praised for killing vermin in the same house with two ratty-pets. So they're staying in Max's room for the duration and the door to his room is to remain firmly closed. Nevertheless, I'll be praying for them just in case. Having them here is a little like vacationing in Mexico. It could go well, or then again, it could go very badly.

Christmas knitting has gone relatively well. I don't know if I'll finish the last item in time for Christmas, but I did finish Oliver's mittens. I think they turned out very cute.

So did the piano teacher's mittens:

I'd better get back to work on Max's sweater.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's a Mad Life. A Good Life, but a Crazy One

My brother-in-law is in the process of raising funds for a black box theatre in Columbia, Missouri. He is a busy guy. In an earlier version he did spontaneous Shakespeare. He had to cut it, but it's too much fun to miss.

I ran my PAC meeting Monday night. We approved the purchase of new swings for the school and the purchase of two urns for coffee and hot water. That was fun.

We interrupt this blog for breaking news! Chris has a new job!! He starts January 2nd in the management team of a local furniture company! He got the Offer yesterday but there were questions to be asked and he has signed the revised offer! We'll have new, better, GOBS cheaper health insurance WITH OUR SAME DOCTORS on January 1st!

Please. Everybody get up OUT of your chairs and dance with me!

Our new totally out of debt (except for the 1st mortgage) goal: December 2009. That's HELOC, car loan, and all. We hope to have everything except the HELOC killed in one year. No new toys! No shopping sprees for us! We won't be going out and getting cable. (Although we will probably buy more vegetables. What is wrong with this planet? Why are tomatoes more expensive than beef?) In 2008 we're buying back our FREEDOM.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Our Weekend

I'm sorry it's been so long since I blogged. The last two weeks have had crushing workloads and so much to do personally and I just haven't had the time. Let me at least catch you up on the most joyous weekend I've have since, oh, maybe my wedding (my kids were all born on weekdays ;)

It is HARD to sit down and type at the computer today because I am floating so HIGH off the ground.

The service for the baptism was the most beautiful I have ever been to. There were some snags. Thursday night Chris learned I could talk on ANY gospel topic instead of just baptism and so he urged me to say whatever was in my heart. Friday was so full with getting the house ready and grocery shopping for the Potluck and other preparations--plus the arrival of our friends and enjoying their company and young children-- I didn't sit down to write until about 10:30 and at midnight I gave up and just shut the computer down.

The baptism was at 10 am, so in the morning we were up and 'at 'em. Max, Chris, and Gaye took most of the potluck stuff to the church and plugged in the crockpot and hung out to greet people with the missionaries. I took the twinkies to the grocery store to pick up dh's cake and get a few more 2 liter bottles of drinks. Our friends went over to one of the local hotels to pick up another dear friend who had arrived from Ohio and they met us at the church, too.

Approximately 70 members of the ward, including some of their children, were there. Plus either the missionaries or Relief Society or SOMEONE had already set up all the tables in the cultural hall. My friend from Vermont, Sarah, and her mother (from Ohio) had both attended my baptism. So we had asked Sarah to give the invocation. I felt warmth on my head and was calmed while she spoke. There's no other way to describe it, but all the worry about getting everything done just melted away. I have to say I was blessed to not think about work ALL DAY.

We sang "Because I have been given much," and then I bore my testimony. It went fine. I don't know what I said but everybody cried and said it was perfect later. Everybody cried through the whole service, honestly. Brother Penn gave a terrific talk on the Holy Ghost. We all crammed into the area where the baptismal font is. The tiny little room seemed to stretch and make room for everyone. The Bishop baptized Chris and when Chris came back up my twins laughed with joy--I hadn't thought to tell them to stay quiet during the baptism--they're normally good at being quiet when they're supposed to be quiet, but they are very happy little people and laugh often and easily. But it was okay. It was so clearly a laugh of delight.

We returned to the chapel and Bro. Penn opened the mike to testimonies. Four people spoke and they were sooo wonderful. One speaker talked about the joyous memories the occasion brought back for him as his wife had joined the church during their fourth year of marriage. He talked about what that day had meant to them and the good things that had happened within his family since then. Another speaker talked about his reaction to hearing the twins laugh. A third speaker talked about a recent experience she had had with hearing the Holy Ghost during a time of need. The fourth speaker (Sarah's husband, Justin) spoke about the way his love for the scriptures has grown since his conversion a decade ago. (He knows Chris struggles with the language in the scriptures, but also knows Chris is determined to get past that.) Chris and the Bishop returned at this point, so the Elders' Quorum president gave a talk welcoming Chris to the Elders' Quorum, and that was fun because he got to have some fun with the fact that Chris had been attending regularly for some time now.

We sang, "Come Follow Me" and Max gave the benediction. He did great. There was much hugging and congratulating and more tears and then we set up the food, fed everyone, visited, told stories, enjoyed each other's company, and smiled a lot. I was really glad Gaye was with us. She had a good time and I could NEVER have done a good job telling her exactly what it was like. You really had to be there.

I was really glad I'd gotten the full sheet cake, LOL! Anyway everyone helped clean up and we went home with our out-of-town friends. At the potluck other members of that same family joined us, and so now we had 9 members of that family. We went back to our house with my mom-and-law and visited for the rest of the afternoon. Sarah and I made dinner for Chris's 38th birthday and we grown-ups stayed up late talking. (Somewhere in there I washed the kids' Sunday clothing so they could wear them again to church today.) Happy Birthday, Chris!

This morning we got up and got dressed again. We'd had freezing rain, so Justin struggled, but somehow managed to get his car packed up in spite of a layer of ice everywhere. I had given Chris a leather quad as a birthday/baptism gift, which meant I got my scriptures back (he had swiped mine many months ago, but it's not like I was going to insist he give them back, LOL.). It didn't last long. Max took them to Sunday school. Maybe if Santa brings him some scriptures, too, I'll get to keep mine. At any rate, we got to church on time. Everyone was still feeling the glow from yesterday. It was like no time had passed since the baptism. They confirmed Chris a member, and bestowed upon him the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then the ward sustained Chris as a member of the ward. Then they proposed that the ward sustain Chris as a priest and we did that. (Max loved that. Oh, heck, *I* loved that.) Then we sang the Sacrament hymn and the Sacrament was blessed and passed. Chris then bore his testimony, beginning with the fact that never had bread tasted so sweet.

And then Chris joined us back in the pews and the rest of meeting was a sort of ordinary Christmas Season Sacrament meeting. A violinist and a pianist did a special music piece and there were two brief talks and then it was time to say Goodbye to our Vermont Friends. (They had stayed to witness and participate in the Confirmation.) I hope they made it back safely home. I did a few things for my calling, then joined Chris in Gospel Principles. Interestingly, I'm not fond of being called on to give any of the opening or closing prayers because I just get so nervous, but noone else offered to close, so I did. And as I walked in the door of Relief Society, I was immediately pounced upon to give the opening prayer by someone to whom I couldn't say no, LOL. So I did.

After Relief Society, we rounded up the boys and met at the Bishop's office to witness Chris being ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood.

Who knew this day would come? But it did and it is sooooo sweet.

When I got home from church though, I lay down next to Chris on the couch and didn't wake until four hours later. I was tired!!