Monday, December 13, 2010

Another attempt at catching up

I realized a couple of weeks ago how many pictures I have that I haven't posted and how many stories I haven't told ... and then another few weeks passed and the number grew!  I posted a bunch of pictures onto facebook, so in an attempt to catch up more quickly, I will just be posting the link to the facebook albums here with a little synopsis of each.

After our trip to the Smokies, we had a birthday party for Joel at home.  I put a picture or two up on the blog, but there are many more here if you want to see 5 year olds celebrating like Iron Man.

Before Thanksgiving, our city has a holiday parade that has become a tradition for us.  I think we all enjoy watching the parade, although the boys probably enjoy the candy more.  We were able to go again this year, and while I didn't get too many pictures of the parade this year, we did get a family picture with Santa.  We also ran into some friends and had fun visiting (adults) and playing (kids) with them after the parade while we were checking out the booths and activities.

Evan's school had a lot going on for Thanksgiving for this year.  All of the second-graders in the school decorate a turkey and then the school votes on the best one.  With all of the traveling and partying we did between Halloween and Joel's birthday, I completely forgot about Evan's turkey.  Thankfully someone reminded me the day it was due (after Evan was at school).  I was able to "magically" guess how he would want to decorate the turkey and start cutting out some supplies that morning.  (My good friend helped by punching out some letters for us to use, too!)  I then picked him up from school at lunchtime and he missed lunch and recess to put it together.  He also added a few details of his own.

The day before Thanksgiving was the big feast, complete with a visit from a Pilgrim couple and Squanto.  They talked about life in the colonies and the Indian village around the time of the first Thanksgiving.  They also demonstrated how to plant corn.  That was also the day of a school-wide Run for the Cures (kind of like a turkey trot).  I hung out with all of the grades a little to take pictures.  Basically I was at the school most of the day taking pictures of one thing or the other before we left for Mississippi for Thanksgiving.

Somewhere in there was an awards assembly for the second six weeks.  Evan got an award for all A's and a Pearson Pride award.  All of those things have a picture or two represented here.

We traveled to Mississippi to have Thanksgiving with my family there.  We saw more people in my family this year at Thanksgiving than we have in a long time!  It was great!  Of course, I didn't get pictures of many of them.  Both of my brothers were there and that was really nice.  If only all of my nieces and nephews had been there, too!  I did get a few pictures from some of our fun (but not black Friday shopping) and I borrowed some from one of my cousins.

Joel is continuing to amaze us with his Lego skills.  He can now follow the directions with the kits, but he will also look at a picture and figure out his own way to make it.  That is all he wants for Christmas this year, too.  Our house runneth over!

We are prepping for Christmas, but I think we are mostly done.  I have a few more things to do around the house before I host a cookie exchange for my Bible study group on Wednesday, but that is mostly cleaning.  I have been working on my sewing skills some as I prepare Christmas decorations, but I will have to share those pictures later.  For now, I need to go and finish some cleaning and organizing.  Then I can do some more of the "fun" stuff later today and maybe have more to share!
Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Birthday to my baby!

Tomorrow my baby will be celebrating his 5th birthday.  He has been celebrating for over a week now, but that's not really the point. 

It's hard to believe that he is 5 already!  It seems like just yesterday I looked like this:

And then Joel looked like this:

 And our family looked like this:

But, that wasn't yesterday ... that was FIVE WHOLE YEARS AGO!!!!

Today, Joel looks more like this:

Oh, no!  That's Iron Man!  Joel looks more like this:

Joel has had 2 birthday celebrations so far.  Last Saturday he had a party in Chattanooga with family, and this past Saturday he had one at our house with some friends from school.  On his birthday he will also be taking a special snack to school.  What a full week of birthday celebrations!  And now that it is almost over he has started planning what he wants for Christmas and for his next birthday.  Time never stands still!

Fall in the Smokies

I know that's not a very original title for this post, but I don't care.  Because I got to go the Smokies this year in the fall!!!  I have been wanting to do that again for years, but something kept coming up to prevent it from happening.  We planned a trip this year (as in recent years), and I sat back and held my breath to see if we could finally make it happen.  The Monday before we were going to leave (on Thursday morning) Evan came home from school saying he felt sick.  Then he threw up.  I began to get worried.  He threw up one more time, but no one else got sick!!!  In our family, this seems to be a small miracle.

So, we headed to the mountains on Thursday!  We stopped over for the night outside of Nashville and made it into Chattanooga around lunchtime the next day.  We had a relaxing afternoon with some family, and then Evan and I saw some more family that night at my nephew Nathan's last high school football game.  I had never gotten to see him play football, so I was very excited that I was getting to see this game.  I was not so excited when he went down with an injury with one minute to go in the 3rd quarter.  When he didn't get up I got even less excited.  He ended being taken to the hospital and was diagnosed with a broken back.  The injury is more like broken ribs, as it is where the ribs connect to the spine that is broken.  He could move around, but was in pain.  Thankfully, he should heal in a few weeks and be back to sports (specifically, basketball).
The next morning, we had a family birthday party for Joel at a park.  Joel's birthday is fairly close to Thanksgiving so family doesn't get to visit often for his birthday.  I was excited that he got to celebrate with his cousins this year.  Of course, they couldn't all make it, but we had quite a few people there! 

We were planning on going to a trunk or treat that afternoon, but everyone was having so much fun playing in the park, that we just got some pizzas and stayed at the park longer.

We went to visit the laid up football player that afternoon, and from there some of us went trunk-or-treating.  Joel's only objection to this trip was that he wouldn't be home for trick-or-treating, but we took our costumes and got candy so that made it better.  We went to two churches and had a lot of fun.  They had games, candy, and real food, too, so the parents were pretty happy, too.

The next day we went higher into the mountains.  We hiked up a trail (about 1 mile) to visit a waterfall.  Everyone did great!  Joel got a little tired and upset toward the end, so he was carried the last little bit.

After the hike we went to my favorite mountain store - The Apple Barn!  I had an apple dumpling for the first time and it was so good!  I also bought some goodies to make my own apple goodies at home.  I can't wait to get busy with those!

We still had lots of daylight when we finished at The Apple Barn, so we headed back up the mountain to Cades Cove.  We were on the lookout for bears, but we just saw some turkeys and some deer.  Normally when we go there we see lots of does and fawns, but this time we saw several bucks.  We got pretty close to them, too.
The next day we started our trip back.  We were able to see one of my older nephews, Shane, in his college town on our way out.  We too him out to eat at Mello Mushroom, which I had heard about, but never visited.  The pizza was great and the company was, too!  I am so glad that worked out!

We spent the night in Little Rock and had a rainy drive back to our house the next day.  It was rainy, and I slept, but we were safe!  We had a great time and I am so thankful that we got to see everyone and make this trip.  It just makes me wish I lived closer to my family, though.
Thursday, October 14, 2010

This and that

I haven't shared a funny kid story in a while, so here is one about Joel.  The other night he told me that his dad had drank all of my water.  I said, "Ohhhh, I am gonna have to have a little talk with him."  A few minutes later, Joel told his dad that I was going to be talking to him about drinking my water.  His dad gave him a little grief for ratting him out, in good fun.  The next morning the first thing Joel said to his dad was, "Did Mom have a talk with you last night about her water?"  I got a laugh out of that.  At least one of my guys is looking out for me!  ;-)

Evan got new glasses this week!  It was a good thing we had ordered them last week because his current pair had been badly battered over the last year and finally broke on Saturday.  He was having to wear a really old back-up pair that was hurting his nose.  I was looking forward to the new frames because the legs are so much sturdier!  And the part over the ear is a neat material that looks comfortable, but also has a little grip to it.  I am hoping it will keep them from falling forward even if they get loose.  Evan liked the new frames for an entirely different reason.  He thinks the design looks like Clone Troopers' helmets.  I think they look pretty cool, too.

Last night I made chicken and dumplings for the first time ever.  I can't believe I call myself a southern cook and had never made those before.  Actually I can believe it.  I watched my granny and mom make dough from scratch and the thought of doing that was very intimidating.  I used a recipe from Southern Plate that called for canned biscuits for the dumplings.  It was much easier and turned out pretty good.  Not like I remember from my childhood, but I think I need to work on the technique some more.

And, I have injured my pinkie toe in a freak shopping accident.  I kicked a wheel on a shopping cart and cut my toe and lost part of my toenail.  Now, I have kicked many a shopping cart wheel (on accident, of course) and never had anything like this happen before.  I was in Ikea when this happened and happened to already be on my way to the bathroom.  I tried to clean it up, but loose toe nails bleed a lot.  I was able to get it mostly clean and then I got some assistance from the really nice and helpful Ikea employees.  Someone came to me with a first aid kit and doctored me up, too.  I was able to finish shopping and get back in time to get Evan from school.  Then I propped it up for most of the night.  Today I am going to try to work out.  I will let you know how it goes. 
Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin ... it's what for dinner!

When we went to the pumpkin patch the other day, I bought several pie pumpkins for cooking up.  I have only recently decided that I like pumpkin and I like it mostly in breads and cookies, but I have been wanting to branch out and try something new.  One of my friends passed along a pumpkin penne recipe and I finally made it this weekend.  Since I have been reading so many food blogs, I decided to take some pictures to share, too.

I didn't take any pictures of the pumpkin before I cut it up, but I added a similar one to this picture in case you weren't sure of the size of a pie pumpkin.  I cut the pumpkin up, put it in a bowl, added two inches of water and cooked it in the microwave.  I also washed and saved some of the seeds for roasting.
Joel had to jump into the picture and "smell" the pumpkin. 

 Once the pumpkin is cooked, you can scoop it out with a regular spoon.  Sometimes you can pull the shell off, too.  It was still a little hot so I opted for the spoon.

 Once you have all of the insides scooped out, you can use an immersion blender to mash it.  My little pumpkin made 3 cups of mashed pumpkin.  I only needed 2 cups for the pasta, so I will be making some pumpkin cookies soon.

This is what the pasta looked like!  If only we could smell it, too!  Steve and I liked it.  The pumpkin had a mild flavor in this dish. The boys did not like this, but I think it's because they heard that there was pumpkin in it before they tasted it.  

The sauce looks a little lighter in this picture, but that brings up an interesting point about cooking with fresh pumpkin.  It is not the same color as canned pumpkin.  I am not sure why that is true, but just know that your dishes will have a slightly lighter color if using fresh pumpkin.

I think that we will be having our leftovers of this dish tonight.  The first time I served it with ham.  Tonight we are going to try it with turkey meatballs.  I am also going to add a little nutmeg to my serving tonight to see what that does. I will let you know how the pumpkin cookies turn out, too.  ;-)
Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday morning reflections

My morning did not start off as I had imagined it would.  In the midst of trying to unload the dishwasher and get Evan ready for school, Joel threw me a curveball.  He went outside and found the bags of "stuff" that are waiting for a charity pick-up.  In one of the bags he found a small, stuffed Snoopy.  It was some sort of freebie that Steve had picked up at work.  It had gotten played with a little when it first came to our house, but it was quickly forgotten and had been sitting in the stuffed animal tub for a couple of years.  However, when Joel saw it this morning, he apparently decided that it was a pretty cool toy and asked if he could keep it.  I was in the middle of a couple of different things and trying to answer questions from Evan and Joel at the same time so I gave him a curt "no".  He asked again and got the same reply.  At this point something strange seemed to happen.  Evan went outside to wait for his ride, and I thought Joel had joined him.  But I also had an idea that Joel had gone somewhere and was crying.  I couldn't tell for sure, so I kept on with my task but with an ear turned to the mysterious but quiet sound he was making.  After a minute or two I decided to investigate, and found Joel in his room with a red and tear-stained face.  Yep, he was crying for the stuffed animal that he probably hadn't even known was there until he found it in the give-away pile.  I sat beside him and we talked about it.  He said that he hadn't been playing with it because he couldn't find it.  I thought that was interesting, but not interesting enough to retrieve the animal from the bag.  I assured him that we still had a Snoopy and that we had kept many more animals than we were giving away.  He seemed to be calming down a little, but was still upset so I asked if he wanted to lie down with me.  He did and we had a little "timeout" together in his bed.  By the time we got up (just a few minutes later) he was smiling and laughing - and he hasn't mentioned the small Snoopy again.

As I went back to my interrupted task of unloading the dishwasher I was thinking about what had happened and a few ideas - or lessons - began to surface:

1. Joel really might have been crying because of the curtness of my answer.  I wasn't looking at him or focusing on him and I really wasn't very nice.  I was being pretty dismissive.  I know I don't like to be treated like that so why would I not expect it to bother my 4-year-old.

2. To make things right with Joel, I just needed to take some time out, focus on him, listen to him, be there, and hold him.  I really didn't try to reason with him about giving the animal away.  I didn't decide that we could keep it.  But I hugged him, rubbed his back, and held him. (We probably could have avoided the whole situation if I had given him that focus earlier on.  But I also don't think he will be in therapy years down the road because of this incident.)

3. I wonder how many times I respond to God the way Joel responded to my "cleaning out" this morning.  It felt so good last night to think about all of the "stuff" that had been cluttering our house that was going to be gone today.  I knew there was more to get rid of, but it was nice to know that some of the clutter would be gone.  None of this stuff was really bad, but it wasn't useful for our family any more.  I wonder how many times God wants to de-clutter my life, but I resist.  I cry out and hang on to stuff, not because it is useful to me or others, but because it is mine.  This could be a whole other post (which I have been thinking about for some time), but let me summarize with this realization: Everything belongs to God; He has entrusted me with some things, but He is still the owner

So, what does God want to remove from my life that I don't really need?  I am not sure, but I hope to spend some time over the next few days being quiet before Him and listening.  I might be surprised at what I hear, but I hope that I am open to hearing what He has to say.
Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pumpkin Patch Time

The boys were out of school Monday and Tuesday, and since our weather has been so nice I decided to fill that time with some outdoor activities.  We took a trip to the local pumpkin patch on Monday to pick out our pumpkins and play in the hay maze.

We also took Evan to the eye doctor, visited the Lego store, and ordered a new pair of glasses for Evan.  By the time we got home it was too late to do anything with the pumpkins.  Tuesday was a stay-at-home and rest day, so we used some of that time for painting the smaller pumpkins that the boys picked out.  They also got some bigger pumpkins that I think we might carve.  That will be for another day, though.
Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday afternoon football

 While the games on tv were great yesterday, I think my favorite game was the one that was taking place in my backyard.  Joel started out as the coach.
 But then at some point he decided to switch to basketball.
 He was really good with the whistle, though!
 It looks like Evan is going to miss this catch.
 But he doesn't!
 He is sort of taunting his dad with his catch.
 And he is having fun running the ball back.
Joel decided to forgo the basketball to play football with the rest of the guys.
 Steve even blocked for him
 But Evan managed to tackle him anyway (probably because Joel would backtrack to keep the play going longer).
But Joel was a good tackler, too - even when the "tacklee" didn't have the ball.

Ahhh, fall and football season are here!  And I love it!!!
Saturday, September 25, 2010

Like Dandelion Dust

I have been a Karen Kingsbury fan for a long time.  I have read every one of her novels and I have cried at least once with each one.  I have also laughed out loud a fair amount, too.  I was excited to hear her talk years ago about one of her novels being made into a movie.  Tonight I was even more excited to see Like Dandelion Dust on its opening night!  (It is only open in a few cities currently and you can click on the link above to see if it is in your town yet.)  This is a very emotional movie, though - take tissues and don't wear mascara.  And don't say that I didn't warn you.  I think only one person in our viewing claimed to have not cried, and he did say that he enjoyed the film.  He just doesn't cry.

Tonight's viewing was "extra-fun" thanks to the fact that one of the stars, Cole Hauser, was in attendance and greeting fans.  We were one of the last few to meet him before the movie started, so we were a little rushed and didn't get autographs. 

However, in the category of "ask and you shall receive", I asked him if we would be able to buy the things on the table after the movie.  He replied that he thought it was all free.  I was specifically interested in a shirt that I saw so I said, "Even the shirts?"  He looked at the shirt and handed it to me and told me to take it.  I asked, "Are you sure?"  He said yes, so I took it!  Too bad I couldn't get his autograph on it, though.

We had a Q&A time with Cole Hauser, Chad Gundersen, and Chris Morrow after the movie and that was a lot of fun, too.  I didn't have any questions, but I enjoyed hearing them discuss the process of making the movie.  So, it was a great night out with some girlfriends!  And you really need to make plans to see this movie if at all possible!
Sunday, September 19, 2010

Joel's Premiere in Concert

Joel has decided to take up drumming recently. He drums on anything and everything. This morning I went to both services of church, and Steve and the boys stayed home for the first service. During that time Steve and Joel played some music together (Steve on guitar and Joel on drums), and Steve told Joel that he was "very good". That encouragement must have meant a lot to Joel because he repeated it to me a couple of times. And he decided to put on a concert tonight! I thought it was for me, but then I saw that there were others in attendance, too.

The Audience

This is Grandpa ...

with his cup of coffee - conveniently located behind his back

Joel on the triangle

... and on the drums
(and winking to avoid the flash from the camera - maybe that's why they are banned in concerts)

Legos in a box as a rainstick
(his own creation)

My favorite technique - drumming on his belly

After the concert, Joel passed out food and drinks to his audience.
What a great host!
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Are you ready ...

For some football?!?


We are!


And Evan, especially, is!

And it's a good thing because tonight was the first game of his new season.
They have a lot more players on their team than they need, so he didn't play the whole game.

When he was in, he played quarterback on offense.

And he had his first completed pass in a real game! (He ended the game with a total of 2 completed passes.)
He also was a good blocker for this running back, who scored on this play.

Unfortunately, the scorekeepers said we lost by 1 point. The rules (like extra points) and the referee's calls were a little confusing to me, so I had thought we won - or tied. Oh, well. As we tell Evan, the point is to have fun, do your best, and be a good sport. And Evan seemed to accomplish all 3 tonight. GOOOOOOOOOOOOO GATORS ... and EVAN!

*Not the University of Florida Gators, but the LakePointe Sports Gators.
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