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Archive for December, 2012

Our Christmas

Our Christmas was a treat!  A short treat, but maybe that made it more treasurable knowing it was only for hours even though this mom would love days with both kids here.    K worked both 12/24 and 12/26 but she was able to leave a bit after 2 on Monday.  Her goal was to make it for our church service at 5.  Instead with not much traffic she made it all the way to the house by 4:15 and then we all rode to church together.   (She & Phil drive more like Gpa R than the apple trees they fell nearest.)

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After having help with getting the bacon-wrapped turkey into the oven, we opened gifts.  The kids decided to stop what could become a circus when they are 40 y/o and have families of their own so they made a new rule and went with a $10 gift to each other.  And  since they knew they’d just give each other gift cards, they took the funny route.  After having emails, phone calls, and texts from both of them that $10 wasn’t enough…. (argh!! from them & me!)…. I made a mom decision and told them they can increase to $20 next year.  The gifts were still fun & funny and better for their budgets.  🙂

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We had quit stockings a few years ago for the kids but Phil had an itch so bought stocking stuffers for K, JP, and me, put them in paper grocery sacks and taped one of our socks to the bag.   I also have 2 new necklaces, the food processor that goes with my Bosch mixer, a new outfit, new couch pillows, and a powerful handheld vac.  🙂

I posted this first photo of my first wrapped gift on FB… all accomplished by 11:20 on Christmas Eve morning…. #rolleyes… and here is the rest of the story and the fun the box provided.   Seriously, boxes are the best gift!!  (In photo 3, K is standing up! … and maybe Phil thinks this is trouble waiting to happen?????)

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It is a locking gun cabinet for JP’s room and for all our safety.   I think it is so appropriate that it sits beside his nursery cross-stitch with his birth info.  LOL!!  I will redo his room sometime but K’s is first in line for the paint brush.

Hardly ever do our dogs get Christmas presents… however, that birthday thing that happened to Phil this spring has made for lots of changes in him.  One was that he wanted to buy Nina a dog bed.  I INSISTED on less expensive and EASILY washable.  He relented and got what I chose.  Here is her day in photos.  Now she loves it and was on it this morning when she came in with Phil.  Her feet are covered in ice balls every morning now so she is off the bed waiting for it to dry out.  Again.

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I did ask for a casual family photo.  This is what I got first…

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But the good photo is above at the beginning of this post.  Amazingly, the dog knew to watch the blinking light on my timer.   So funny!   With the BIG dog in front, I about lost my husband in the photo.  That’s a first!  I love my fun family.

The peach-berry cobbler was much improved over the one I did at Thanksgiving, thanks to Sarah R & Sue Ellen.  Dinner menu stayed the same and is easy.  Tons of leftovers for my freezer and K has Christmas dinner for lunches every day the rest of the week.  P & JP will see it for suppers this week.

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Throughout the day, JP had 3 movies for us to see.  Of course, the TV decided to be pesky so in lieu of the 4 of us watching TV on my bed #hairraising!, we put JP’s honkin’ big computer monitor on a card table and watched from the couch.  We, hard-working women, took naps during the afternoon showing.  🙂   (I’m still hoping I get a new TV out of this pesky mess.   JP has good electronics connections.  #bigcheesygrin)

Wanna see my new necklaces?  🙂  (I’m home alone and most importantly without my fashion daughter so this is the best you’ll get….)

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The one on the left is from a friend and is all our family birthstones but in hearts.   (Order your own birthstone jewelry here.   But check out the rest of her offerings as well.  I ordered from her in CA on Friday and the package arrived on Monday in IL!!)   The right side, Phil chose all.by.himself. and is interlocking rings.   🙂   I love them both!!

I hope you had a day just like you wanted.  I did… my family. together.  Just us.  ♥

{The plan was for K to head back late afternoon on Christmas Day but being young and energetic, she stayed here last night and awakened at 4:40 to be out the door by 5:15 and was there in time to open the business at 7:30.  She did miss a chance to make a Starbucks drive-thru but I suggested sending a driver out to get one!!  🙂   The car was mostly packed last night and our roads are clean now.  I’m sure the trip back in wasn’t hard except early & fast.  But we did get to enjoy yesterday evening with her still here.}

p.s.   I am going to try to catch up but writing backwards so I think there will be 3 or 4 “new” posts coming with dates farther back than this one.  I hope you come back!  🙂

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But that became our lot & joy last Thursday.   We expected to awaken to a few inches of snow but instead it rained all morning!!  JP & I made a trip to town and those 6 miles west of us had some snow; just covered but some grass still peeking out.

At 12:00 noon, the power went out.

At 12:05, the rain was more like sn’ain than rain.

At 12:15, it was SNOW!  Horizontal to the ground.

At 12:30, we had near zero visibility, had gone to barely 1/2 mile to not being able to even the edge of our yard that fast.

(Now if I had known in foresight, I’d have a long & photoless blog post for you, I would have been like my gf, LM, and videotaped the blizzard tho she had better visibility at her house so probably more interesting than mine would have been….)

Assuming we were going to be cold soon and long and my men had come in for lunch at noon, Phil started the generator.  We gathered a pitcher of water (cuz we usually don’t run the generator for days at a time, but let it rest here & there), had warm lunches, gathered candles and flashlights.  At our house, the generator is for the livestock first and we use a bit of it.  Minimum lights, Phil can put the furnace on 1/3 power, no large appliance use, etc.

At 4, we still had terrible conditions outside but the driveway alarm went off to our own alarms… WHO could make it here?  A dear, young lady came to the door and Phil promptly said, “Come in!”   She was asking if they could wait a bit as they could not see one bit of road.   Yes, they were welcome to come in.  She said, “We have our 4 kids with us.”  I got up to let her know there was a wife here and said the children were fine but she’d have to help me child-proof.  It was all fine as they were ages 6 – 15, so no toddlers to eat unedibles or konk heads on the coffee table.

We will call the parents P & M for the rest of the story.   They told us they were on their way home from a family funeral and only had 20 more mins in a normal day to get home.  The dear ones were scared stiff.  They only saw our old rusty mailbox and hoped there was something down this unplowed lane to go with the mailbox.  Normally you can see us from the highway with all the buildings and bins and of course, we see the cars on the highway.   We asked about P’s work and that was my next clue to my 2nd question.  I asked, “Do you homeschool your children?”  JP quickly said he graduated here.  Their answer was yes and it was a delight to see their eyes light up with kindred spirits and their countenance seemed to relax a smidgen.   She asked if we were Christians too, and more ease came with our hearty answer yes!  After less than an hour of visiting, I knew we had new friends sitting here and we also knew they were spending the night.

By later evening, we knew that our highway was closed 1 mile to the west of us and 5 miles to the east of us; both places with jack-knifed semi-trucks.  No one was going anywhere until morning after some clean-up crews came.

I told them I had one room with a queen bed but hardwood floor (so not too fun for sleeping bags) and the living room.  We’d work out details closer to bedtime.

My plan the day before had been to start a crock pot of split pea & ham soup at bedtime and freeze it Thursday morning  to send home with Keturah on Christmas.   But I didn’t have a reply from my personal cooking advisor (SER) until the morning so just started the pot on Thursday morning.   So there before us, was a crock of soup.  I also had 1/2 pan of lasagna and 1/2 loaf of bread plus cheese, ham, & roast beef for sandwiches.  M said they all would eat the soup and I was shocked that these 4 children would all eat split pea soup.

M & daughter helped with picking up the kitchen, washing extra bowls, while I deboned the ham.  About that time, nearing 6 p.m, Phil noticed “at least 2 sets of headlights” stuck at “our corner” (1/2 mile away) so was taking the tractor.  Maybe more were coming.  If one van brought me 6 people, 2 or more cars could really fill us up!  I had a mom-to-mom convo with M and she agreed the soup was thick and we could add a quart of broth.  I brought up 2 qts from the freezer and 1 was just a nice addition.  It still wasn’t watery.

Their son lit up when he saw lights from the shed!  “Is THAT the tractor?”  I explained that the 3 lights across the top were the lights in the building but the 2 bigger lights were for the tractor.  I don’t know where our binoculars were at the time but I think he would have been glued to the window or been thrilled if he was dressed to ride along.  (All were in their best clothes and thankfully their last meal was the delicious and plentiful dinner after the service.)

The children & JP were watching our outside camera from the computer and one told me there were 3 men and 3 pick-up trucks that had come to the driveway.   All had been stuck in the ditches but Phil had pulled them out.  Yes, 4-wheel drive trucks and one with a plow.  Buried in the snow.

S was the first to come in, trying to get home (20 more mins) from the tire plant and kept running into closed roads so was this far out of his way already.  He said he didn’t need soup but enjoyed the bowl that was placed before him.  About half an hour later, B returned as he was going to try to get home (same 20 more mins) when he first got here.   He also said he didn’t need soup until I put the bowl in front of him and said to scoot his chair to the table!  🙂  Yes, both older than me but seriously, I’m not letting you not eat supper!  Surely if Jesus can feed 5,000 men, he can help my plain ol’ soup feed 11.

S got a pair of Phil’s pants to change into as he was soaked thru from trying to dig himself out.  Everyone checked in with their loved ones.

In hindsight, I wish I had thought that M & I could have made a big batch of biscuits to go with the soup but it seemed I was spinning enough plates and not quite all the hostessing abilities were rising to the top.   P & M provided dessert (you know dessert is a rarity here…) of CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES!!!  Oh my dear, such delight!   JP could hardly stand it!  🙂   They were also VERY smart in that they travel with their OWN coffee and willingly offered us some of their home-roasted coffee beans.   I said we didn’t touch the stuff but I did have a coffee maker and filter.  My guests are warned ahead of time to bring their own coffee grounds.  They had a hand grinder and traveling coffee press so were happy as larks.   (Oh, I can’t imagine their dismay if they had had to go both evening and morning without their warm cups!)

We used my mom’s old organ bench to hold 3 kids on one side of the table and squandered folding chairs to go with the kitchen chairs for the rest of us.  We totalled 11 around our small table made for 6 and it was delightful!

S & B, the men that came in separately later, were being manly frustrated at not making it home AND staying in someone’s home!!  With their additions, the sleeping arrangements changed.  JP would sleep with us, S & B each had JP’s and K’s rooms, and the family kept together in the living room.  Phil got out the queen air bed & our (only 3) sleeping bags while JP ran the vacuum.   But it wasn’t bedtime and I figured we had a long evening of visiting with new friends to go.   P & JP went outside to carry containers of diesel by hand to the tractor from the pump that runs on electricity normally so needed pumped by hand.  :p   It took them quite awhile but we all chatted, some dozed, and I tapped in to my mom’s side of story-telling.  “To make a long story longer, ask Joan.”  (But I hear now, one could also ask Margaret and Evie and get the same result!  🙂  )

Then time flew by and it was WAY past bedtime for all of us bigs & littles.  JP moved a foam mattress cover to our room and I got him 2 of his kid quilts.  I gathered all the stray pillows that are in K’s room.  The kids’ beds had plenty of covers for the men so I then dug in piles in K’s room for all the larger quilts for the family.  I hope they had enough as later I thought of 2 more I could have brought out to them.  The parents and oldest shared the sectional (L-shaped) couch that has 2 ends with recliners, not made for men taller than Phil.   P is much taller; the poor guy, probably woke up bent in weird places.

I wish I had a photo to share of the 3 littles tucked into bed the long way on the air mattress.   I’ve not had sleeping babes here in a long time.  So darling!!!

At 4 a.m., I heard one man and then #2 man head out the garage door.  I knew they wouldn’t have the endurance to not try to get going early.  Far be it from them to accept breakfast from me as well!  Both headed west and found the highway blocked 1 mile away as we had been told.  M assured me that all of her family would be pleased with oatmeal.   That was easy and I got out the pan & oats and she did the rest!  I was so thankful to have her sweetness and helpfulness in the house.  And have I mentioned their 4 children are perfect angels?  Treasures!!

At 9 a.m., Phil went to the corner again as more vehicles were in ditches.  He found S!  In the ditch, again!  We assume he tried to go west to go home, couldn’t, so returned to try to get to work.  He didn’t.

After breakfast, I gave them a quick studio tour downstairs.   Now see there… I should have thought of that for our evening entertainment!  My mom is really a fine hostess and taught us well.   I just skipped a few important things with the impromptu guests.

P had his van warmed and loaded and they headed out just around 10.  A string of cars had just gone by so I’m sure they continued home with them.   We heard that snow plows from 2 counties to the east of us were digging out our road.

About noon on Friday, Phil took the tractor to our neighbor, Mark’s, to dig out his driveway.  Mark works about 30 miles to the east and travels this highway twice daily; knows it like the back of his hand like we do.  However, he would have gone by around 3 Thursday afternoon and he had NO idea where he was driving.  On the road, off the road, his lane, or the other man’s lane.  My heart broke again for this family that came an hour after Mark had gone passed.

We kept the generator going all night with the guests here.   On Friday, Phil would shut it off for a few hours here & there and boy did the house get cold fast!  My alpaca socks from K (a few years ago) were mighty helpful!  #cozy

Friday, with a bit of sunshine I got some photos while I was bored with no electricity…..

the apple tree by the kitchen had big sugar puffs on the branches  (see Nina in the background?)

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and out the west window

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Finally, at 8 p.m. Friday night, we noticed the neighbor’s outside lights had come on!!  Yeah!  Phil gleefully came back in after shutting off the generator, put the furnace back to full power, turned up the thermostat, and even turned on the Christmas tree lights!  Ahhh…..

I spent Saturday washing sheets & pillowcases and redoing the beds and nearly ignored that I was no where near ready for Christmas to come!  I hope we get to see P & M and family again.  They are so very kind and just a delight!

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Birthday Meet-Up

We have found that meeting Miss K 1/2 hr from her house, saves us the worst part of the traffic, is really a short ride for her, and not too long for us at about 1 1/2 hrs on our side.

For her birthday, we met there at a big mall.   She had found a restaurant she’d like to go to and we met there just before noon.  After a YUMMY slow & leisurely lunch with great conversation, we moved to a bench in the mall to chat and people watch.  Really for the 2nd Sunday before Christmas, it wasn’t busy!

I made them give me a photo.  🙂

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Because I had K make our reservations, she told them it wasn’t a special occasion!  Hmpf!  She would melt into the floor, as would her father, if anyone had come to sing to her.

Earlier we had Amazon ship her a ribbonwork book (out of print but borrowed frequently from the library by K) and a cast iron Dutch oven.   She was thrilled.

Sunday is her day for church, laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking for the week.  So since I was messing with her only day off, I had several meals in freezer bowls for her as well as a bag of chili.  Plus we always make sure she orders more food than normal so she has extra to take home.  We made a few stops outside the mall but that traffic was horrendous, it was drizzly and cold, so we all headed back to our homes.  K still got some things done and we weren’t gone too late for Phil to get chores done in a timely manner.

She keeps having wonderful birthdays making it harder for me to claim that I’m really 29!  She still won’t pass me for a couple of years.  😉

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A Visit to Ohio

The week after Thanksgiving (on 11/29), I took the jaunt/journey to Ohio to visit my parents at my brother & SIL’s.   We had 2 full days planned; finish making jammies for my mom and soapmaking class for my SIL.  Of course, there had been a surprise so I did some driving for a doctor visit and xrays but was happy to tuck my parents in each afternoon for naps and be there to help out a tiny bit.

But midst it all, I did get my mom’s custom made pajamas done.  How could I not?  She had been counting down the days from the week before.  She was so excited to have them that next night!   (Imagine a 6 y/o on Christmas morning that just opened her MOST longed-for gift.)   I have a photo but will only show you a snippet of the fabric; she’d be mortified if I posted a photo of her in her jammies. I would be mortified, too,  if you did that of me!  🙂

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She requested flannel, a button-up top, and pants.  I delivered.  I used quilt shop flannel to be thicker & warmer.  She said they are cozy!!   🙂

On Saturday, B & SIL had to cram all their weekend jobs into one day.  It was a lovely day for the beginning of December so a good day to cut the Christmas tree.  Here Bruce is estimating how tall to cut the tree but that is hard to decipher with the background of trees.  At  last count, I thought our dad had planted 120 trees on his city cul-de-sac yard.  There are plenty of good trees to choose from each year.  They keep the tree on the deck which I think is a brilliant idea.  No mess inside, minimal decorations, and every one loves watching the birds enjoy it.

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The soap was made, delicious meals by SIL enjoyed, and we had a wonderful time together!  Mom is being THE most patient and loving wife as she cares so much for dad right now.  What else would one do after 63 years of marriage?   I’m sorry I can’t make little quick trip visits out there more often.  I have the longest drive and we realized that Phil & I are the only ones without paid vacation days.

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I quickly set my camera on a stack of books and used the timer for our photo together.  I know now that I needed more books in my pile!  🙂  Yes, they are holding hands.  ♥

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