Tuesday, December 30, 2008


We had a great Christmas.  And, we even had a few surprises up our old sleeves!  LOL.  You think we surprised them?
Daniella gets a (very inexpensive) MP3 player that she wasn't expecting.  She LOVES to listen to music.
A (not quite so inexpensive) Kodak Easy Share for our budding photographer that she didn't expect, and it's PINK, too.  This was so funny.  I have to show you the lead up to it.
We have an old box just like this that is in our "boxes" bag that we keep to wrap gifts in. So, when she opened it, she said very casually and silly, "Oh, look.  I got a Kodak camera."

See in the next one, the box is just laying on the floor, she has the book for it in her hand, but she still has no clue!

Then....ba da ding!  She actually looks at it, and the light bulb comes on!

Still in shock

And, then, pure giddiness.

Even Briana is happy at her surprise of a winter windshield cover.  LOL.

Ashley with earrings and some money attached from her Aunt Lara.

Marissa and Daniella with Gram and the candle they gave her.

Loving on Pop.

Nick, my parents' 11 year old (?) Golden Retriever can't seem to figure out what all the fuss is about.

I've seen a super closeness, personal jokes and all, between these two the last few weeks.

Our new Christmas jammies

Blessings abound.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Time to Start Packing

We had a wonderful Christmas celebration.   We did our advent throughout the previous couple of weeks ~ we had to double up, because we got a late start~, and the week before Christmas we did What God Wants For Christmas from Family Life, finishing up on Christmas Day.  Marissa and Daniella enjoy that, and Daniella had forgotten what the "surprise" was, so it was fun to see her open the last box.   My parents came on the 23rd, and we've just enjoyed a laid back time, for the most part.  Remember how I said I had done no  baking?  I made up for it.  Whew. 
   Now it's time to finish quickly cleaning it all up, wash all the clothes, and pack our bags.  Jan. 1, we're headed to Disney World!  What was I thinking?!  LOL.  The girls are major excited, and I think between Christmas and the trip, Marissa has been on overload!  Briana is going back late to her classes (she doesn't get any kind of grade or credit for them; "just" experience.) and going with us.  I haven't been able to get into it so far, but as I'm typing, I'm getting a little excited!  I know once all the work is done, and we're there, we'll have a great time.  We should have internet access at least part of the time, so I'll be checking in. 
   My newest entertainment is Facebook.  I really had no desire for one until Ashley started finding all of these old high school friends of mine!  I joined a couple of weeks ago, and it has been really neat to reconnect with so many people.  It's better and different than a class reunion, mainly because most of my friends were in different classes, not my own.  You also don't have to worry about what you're going to wear, or what your hair looks like!  LOL.    I'd have to say, more than old friends, I'm addicted to a game on there called PathWords....thanks to Maria.   That girl can find some words fast!  Last night I went to sleep spelling words in my mind's eye.  I can't catch her, though. 
   I'm off to do laundry, clean house, and start tackling what I can get packed.  We're taking our pop up and staying in Fort Wilderness Campground.....$43 a night right now, compared to their peak rate of $96 a night.  Can you believe it?  For a campsite!  It's actually cheaper than the off site campgrounds this time of year.  It's  a great campground,  and still cheaper than a motel, plus we don't have to eat out breakfast. This time of year, the park closes at 8:00 most nights, so we also just eat a late snack, then come back to the camper and eat a quick dinner~soup ready to heat up, sub sandwiches, fruit and veggies, etc.  That saves a ton of money and nutrition.  I'm really talking myself into being excited here!  Not about the food, just thinking about being there. 
  Alright.  I did say I needed to go get busy, didn't I?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Cheer

Last week, Ashley, Briana, and my mom returned for their second year to work at the Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child distribution center in Charlotte, NC.   They worked 6 1/2 hours, and did most everything this time~took money out, checked the boxes for inappropriate items, added small toys to those that needed replacements or didn't have much to start with, and packed inspected boxes into crates.  They had a blast, and are already planning next year.

All 4 girls made a "gingerbread" house this week (It's technically a Graham Cracker house!). 

See the little candles that Briana added in the windows?

Back view.  Marissa added a string of outdoor lights.  : )

Friday night James and I went to the Deacon and Staff Christmas dinner, which was surprisingly fun. LOL.  I got to talk to some friends. 
Ashley's and Briana's praise dance team "performed", for lack of a better word, at church this morning to the song "Here With Us", and Daniella and Marissa have been asked, along with 2 other children, to sing with an adult quartet tonight.  Such a neat experience for them. 
As I type, I am listening to our Elvis Christmas CD.  : )  I grew up listening to Elvis, and although, I don't listen to his music now, the Christmas album is fun. (And, if you put on any of his other music, I could probably still sing right along with most all of it!  My dad was quite the fan!) 
I have done absolutely NO baking so far.  Actually, truth be told, Ashley probably usually does most of it.  I wonder what's wrong with her??!! : )  Gotta get her busy.  ..........Update:  I helped Marissa and Daniella bake, cut-out, and decorate sugar cookies this afternoon!
Tomorrow is a little last minute shopping for some stocking stuffers, and if the weather is good we will be going to Dollywood on Tuesday to see their Christmas shows and lights.  My mom and dad will be coming in on Tuesday, also.
I wish all of my friends here a wonderful, blessed, and merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Spelling Bee and the Nutcracker

It's beyond me how James and I, who avoid an audience, ended up with 4 girls who love one! 
Last night, we watched Marissa and Daniella in the children's musical The Christmas County Spelling Bee at church.  Since we know they don't get it from us, is it okay to brag?  LOL.  That Marissa has a beautiful voice.  She had 2 solos, which were both good, but the last one left me speechless.  She was also the main speaker of the play and did a *terrific* job.  She had a ton of lines to memorize, plus acting them out with gusto!  : )

Daniella did great, too.  She had a solo, and sang out loud and clear (we have some speech issues), had some lines, and as a contestant in the spelling bee, she remembered the spelling of some hard words for her~ fortress and restore.  She was so cute doing all the little dance moves.  She was also a cheerleader.

Here are pictures of Briana in the Nutcracker last weekend.  It was so good, and I got to go to 3 performances.  I love to watch her dance.

Party Scene.  Love the wig?

Spanish Duet

Waltz of the Flowers

Briana with her ballet master and mistress.  He played Drosselmeyer.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Angel Heard What?

When you read this, sing it to, "Angels We Have Heard on High."  As I lay down with Daniella tonight, she said, "I love this song!  Angels we have heard a lie.  Peeking in the joyous night."  It continued with an interesting combination of words that I couldn't even begin to remember!  LOL.  I love listening to little children misunderstand songs! : ) 
  When Ashley and Briana were little, one of them popped up during Silent Night, and asked what a "holy infantso" was.  They both thought it was an infantso. 
  One of them also thought, in We Wish You a Merry Christmas, that instead of having some figgy pudding, they were having piggy pudding. 
  In one of the verses of Deck the Halls, I can remember as a child, wondering who Don and Merry were....."Don we now our gay apparel."  And, "Follow me in merry measure."  (I thought it was "follow me AND Merry Measure.")
   Not a Christmas song, but in the song "El Shaddai", where it says, "I will praise and lift you high", Briana used to sing, "I will praise you in July."  I don't know what she thought she was supposed to do in the other 1 1 months. 
  There have been plenty more I'm sure, but my all time favorite misunderstood song line...(Okay.  I might be seriously injured for sharing this!)....When Ashley was 4 or 5, The Little Mermaid was her favorite movie.  Do you know the song, "Look at this stuff.  Isn't it neat? Wouldn't you think my collection complete?"  When it got to the part, "You want thingamabobs.  I've got 20!"  Ashley would confidently ring out, "You wanna peek at my bobs?  I've got 20!" 
Turning out all of the lights except for the Christmas tree, and gathering around the tree singing carols is one of our favorite traditions.  As soon as Briana gets here and settled we'll start belting out more songs~sometimes off key, sometimes the wrong words, and sometimes verses all out of order, but always with joy and fun and happy memories. 
  We had a great time watching Briana in the Nutcracker.  She did so well, and had audience members singling her out after the show during the meet and greet to tell her how they watched her, and how graceful she was, and what a beautiful dancer she is.  I got to attend 3 of the performances.  It was so fun.  We got back home last night, and today I have been working on some Christmas list stuff, and finishing the decorating that I didn't get to before we left. 
  Briana, my mom, and my dad are coming tomorrow afternoon.  Then Thurs. morning Ashley and Briana are going with them to Charlotte, N.C.  The girls and my mom are going to work again at the Operation Christmas Child Center.  Two years ago when they went, they checked boxes for inappropriate gifts.  We don't know yet what they will do this time.  After they get back, Briana will be home for 5 weeks!! 
   Yes, the sickness still continues.  I am, I think, finally starting to have some improvement.  I feel pretty sure I've had a sinus infection, but couldn't get to the dr.  I'm better, but not well just yet.  If it's not cleared out by Thurs., I'll go in.  I'm on day nine.  Sunday, Daniella got sick with it again.  This is now her 2nd round.  That makes 3 of them that have had it twice. 
"Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth."  Psalm 96:1

Friday, December 5, 2008

Our Christmas Angel

Daniella had her first ever ballet performance Thanksgiving weekend.  She has been longing to take lessons since she was about 4.  She started finally this year at a Christian ballet/praise dance studio.  I thought she might explode before she got to the stage last week.  Here are a few shots of her performance.

Rocking baby Jesus~
This is beginning my 19th year as a dance mom.  It looks like I could have a long way to go!  They danced at Fantasy of Trees, which is a fund raiser for Children's Hospital.  Beforehand, we looked at some of the trees, and after the dance, we looked a some WOW gingerbread houses and made a craft.

She's really getting into her work~

We're off now to see Briana dance in the Nutcracker. 

Monday, December 1, 2008


In spite of Marissa and Daniella being sick, we had a great Thanksgiving Day. 
Are you keeping up here?  Since Oct. 30, James has been sick twice.  The first time with a throat infection, sinus infection, infection in both eyes, and infection in both ears, almost causing his eardrum to rupture.  Yes, all at the same time.  After being well about a week, he got horrible chest congestion, and was sick a week with that.  He's better now, but still coughing.  Marissa has been sick twice.  The first time, remember, nothing would make her stop coughing.  The 2nd time was a head cold again, little coughing.  Ashley got sick a couple of weeks ago, and stayed on the couch for almost a week. She's better, but still stuffy.  Daniella got the cold at the same time Marissa got it the 2nd time.  Poor Briana came home for her Thanksgiving break, and they made her sick!  She's feeling a little better today ~Monday(and had to go back today).  And ta da!  After surviving an entire month without getting any of it, today I wake up with it.  Lord, PLEASE let this be the last round of it!!  We are hardly ever sick anymore, so this has been an experience.
We have Thanksgiving traditions that the girls all enjoy.  We don't eat our big meal until evening.  We got up and all piled on the couch to watch the Macy's parade.  Afterwards, some of them watched at least parts of the dog show while I started a blueberry cobbler and some other things that had not been done the day before.  While the turkey was in the oven, we went out to have our annual leaf sledding.  It's always a lot of fun.

They sled into a huge pile of leaves at the bottom of the hill.  Can you see Daniella's head about to go under?  She's sitting there in front of Marissa.

Rolling down the hill


Throughout the day, we add things we are thankful for to the cornacopia.

After a yummy dinner that everyone helped with, we watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  LOL.  That's not a part of our normal traditions, but we had fun watching it.  Even SOMEONE who said it was going to be dumb did an awful lot of giggling over it.  : ) 
Thanksgiving is one of our favorite days. 
The Christmas tree is going up tonight.  More simple traditions and memories.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Be Careful What You Ask

Denise interviewed 3 of her children, and their answers just cracked me up.  I asked her if I could borrow her questions, and this is what I got:
Marissa's answers~ 
1. What is something Mom always says to you?  Marissa quit
2. What makes Mom happy? giving her hugs
3. What makes Mom sad? when she can't scrapbook
4. How does Mom make you laugh? when she tickles me
5. What was Mom like as a child? she lived in the old days
6. When is Mom's birthday? June something, I think
7. How tall is Mom? 6'2"~"just a random guess"
8. What is Mom's favorite thing to do? blog  

9. What does Mom do when you're not around?  scrapbook, blog, read, clean house
10. If your Mom becomes famous, what will it be for? "cooking ~ some mistakes may occur"
11. What is Mom really good at? reading
12. What is Mom not very good at? (snickers and giggles) "I've got several things in mind. Running...you run slow"
13. What does Mom do for a job? clean the house
14. What is Mom's favorite food? beef noodle casserole ("beef noodly stuff")
15. What makes you happy about Mom? when we cook together
16. If Mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Minnie Mouse
17. What do you and Mom do together?  read, work puzzles
18. How are you and Mom alike? We like Extreme Home Makeover and the Waltons
19. How are you and Mom different? She likes to watch decorating shows
20. How do you know Mommy loves you? She tells me. 
Just for the record, I watch a decorating show maybe twice a month.  And, I'm tall, but not close to 6'2".  LOL. 
Daniella's answers~
1. What is something Mom always says to you?  Pick up your toys
2. What makes Mom happy?  when I'm happy with my sister
3. What makes Mom sad? being sick
4. How does Mom make you laugh? tell funny jokes
5. What was Mom like as a child? a baby
6. When is Mom's birthday? April?  I don't know.
7. How tall is Mom? 3 feet
8. What is Mom's favorite thing to do?  play games with us
9. What does Mom do when you're not around?  pick up our toys  (she wishes!)
10. If your Mom becomes famous, what will it be for? being a star
11. What is Mom really good at? cooking
12. What is Mom not very good at? sewing
13. What does Mom do for a job? make us work                      (ROFL)
14. What is Mom's favorite food?  banana and peanut butter    
15. What makes you happy about Mom?  that you're the best mother in the whole world
16. If Mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Mickey Mouse
17. What do you and Mom do together?  puzzles, schoolwork
18. How are you and Mom alike? women
19. How are you and Mom different? we don't have the same skin
20. How do you know Mommy loves you?   because she takes good care of us
Interview your kiddos if you dare!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


We finished our butterfly lapbooks several weeks ago, and they had a great time working on them.  This one was different, because it's the first time I've just kind of made up our own.  I used information and some ideas from http://www.enchantedlearning.com/Home.html and www.homeschoolshare.com, and some I just totally made up.  In addition to the activities in the pictures, we also did a stained glass butterfly craft, which had mixed results, and a symmetrical butterfly craft.  Both were hits. 

LOL.  She's still adding little butterflies to the front of hers.  She's had a ball doing that. 
Okay, this picture also encompasses several other projects!  You'll see the canner that I wasn't actually using to can....we were using it to heat up the apples to to make applesauce that was canned in the waterbath canner.  There's also the electric cooler plugged in to get ready for our camping trip, a jigsaw puzzle on the table that Marissa and I were working on, and a crossword puzzle that Ashley was working.  We may be a little cluttered, but we're always learning!  : )

We're about to start on The 12 Days of Christmas lapbook that I was able to get for free for being a TOS subscriber.  Yes, I know the 12 days of Christmas are after Christmas, but I know me well enough to know that the days right after Christmas will not be spent doing a lapbook, besides the fact that we're going out of town on the 1st.  We also have one more trip out of town to see Briana in the Nutcracker, and between that, decorating, wrapping, baking.....I think I'd do well to start now! 
Thanks for all of the encouragment and advice for Marissa.  We are cough free for several days now.  Now Ashley is sick.  : (  but no cough yet.  We do pass around little head colds in the winter, but it is very unusual for us to have such hard sicknesses.  James being sick was the first time in years that someone in our family has been on anitbiotics.  I hope it's not a sign of the winter to come!