Thursday, March 22, 2012

I've moved

Change of blog address --
You can now read the latest from So Many Joys at
http://somanyjoys.com/

And yes, those of you who have been around a while know that used to be my blog address. But blogger changed the way you could post to your own domain and I struggled with getting things moved over to wordpress.

Now, it is done. New posts will no longer appear here, but all the old stuff and the new is at So Many Joys Dot Com. Come over! Change your links for your feed readers, too, please.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sowing seeds of gladness (Classroom mgmt in Godly Play)


My three-year-old working with the baptism story during Godly Play.
I wrote recently about a Faces of Easter story in Godly Play that got a little hectic. It's been a little hectic in our classroom lately, and I've been praying about it and trying to figure out what is wrong. I've talked to our priest about dividing the kids by age (a preschool group and a elementary age group) when we move into our new space, but choosing which group I'd do Godly Play with makes me a little sad. I chose this curriculum for my girls, and they'd be in two different classes, then, and chances are, the other class, the one I don't teach, will use a different curriculum, due to the expense of the materials, the training involved, finding a volunteer willing to be trained, etc. And I believe that a few parents in our church aren't Godly Play fans (though, in my opinion, they don't know enough about the program first-hand.)

Last Sunday, I had four kiddos -- my two and two other boys, sons of our theologian-in-residence. One of the boys, who has recently started on a behavior chart at home and in children's chapel, asked me if I'd make him a chart for Godly Play and write down if he "is good." I didn't think much before my response, but I said, "I'll think about making you a chart, but you know what? You are GOOD! God make you, so you are good!" (I could have parralleled that with the creation story, but I didn't think of that on the spot.) So, I agreed to write his mom a letter about what he did during our time together and told all the kids that this would be a good time to sit together and decide what "good behavior" looks like. As we had our feast, we talked about that, taking some examples from our real-time moment together (like use good manners -- prompted by the above pictured three year old putting her pretzels into her water glass, which she had seen another bigger kid do a few weeks ago.) We came up with a nice list, and I rewrote it during response time and had each kid sign it. We were missing quite a few kids, but that will give us the opportunity to revisit our list over the next few weeks and have them sign it. It'll hang in our room on the wall.

One of the items on our list is "Follow our routine." And I think that is going to be most helpful to kids who attend sporadically or are new. I included our routine as well.
1. Prepare for feast
2. Pray
3. Feast
4. Story
5. Response
6. Put materials back in place
7. Be blessed

I hope I am not bring too much of my teacher training in to our room. I want us to work together well, but I don't want to recreate school. School is different for pretty much every family in our church -- we have public schoolers, homeschoolers, charter schoolers, private schoolers (and preschoolers!) I want our time together to be fun, something the kids look forward to and learn from.

I love the conversations God has with me when I seek and listen. As I worried over all of this Sunday evening and Monday morning, Monday afternoon, I watched a friend's kids. I had five kids in my backyard, ranging in ages from almost two to eight -- similar to the age range and numbers on a typical week in Godly Play. We were talking and laughing and learning and growing together. It was truly fun and special, and in that moment, I realized that is what I want in our Godly Play classroom, that is what the kids want. How did it happen? I had a prepared environment set up, we had enough space (we were outside), we talked authentically (not scripted), and I had not preconceived expectations about how the kids responded. I realized that I have been unconsciously turning response time in to an evaluation. Did I get the story across? Do the kids understand it? Are they reflecting thoughtfully? That zaps the fun, for sure!

So, what can I take away? I need to make sure I throughfully and prayerfully prepare our environment. We need to have enough space (working on that one!). I need to let go of my teacher-brain and let the Holy Spirit work through me and the kids and the materials -- let those seeds fall on the fertile ground and do what I can to keep the birds away.


I'm joining Wonderful in an Easter kind of way and Explore and Express with the Lenten Link - Up Party

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thinking in statuses...do you LIKE me?

I've been on my Facebreak for more than three weeks now, and honestly, I don't miss it all that much. I do, though, still find myself thinking of my life in status updates.

One week to Hunger Games!! (I bet that one is really popular right now, and I'd be "liking" those as I saw them pop up if I didn't actually write it myself or post about buying my tickets on presale.)

or

Started Spring Break dreaming of life as a homeschooler. Ended Spring Break on Friday with an oil change and 3:00 HEB trip. I told the lady giving out wine samples at the end of our journey through HEB that she should be giving out full glasses at the entrance. And I decided that I may not have the homeschooling gene in me after all. (this one would get likes from my public school friends and generate a few comments from my homeschooling friends warning me not to shop or get oil changes in the same day with both kids in tow. Stuff you'd think anymama would know!)

I would have also shared this video of Grandma Bindel playing balloon volleyball. She's the one in purple who looks like she's giving the elbow flip-off gesture to the other team.

And there would have been lots of pictures of the girls over spring break...at the farm we visited, at the Alamo and Mission San Jose, at Six Flags, in the bluebonnets...see how busy we are?!

I'm sure Facebook really misses this stereotypical thirty-something over-educated stay-at-home-mom. I'm an archetype.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Blueprint for Building Better Girls

I should learn not to check out books on a whim, but I did last week. Interestingly, the book mentioned The Bell Jar, the last book I read in a funny line about college girls just needing to shed a few tears and flash a copy of The Bell Jar at the student health center in order to get some Valium. I didn't need to even try that -- I had dear Grandma Joyce for that. (Really, she only gave me Valium once. Honest.)

Blueprint for Building Better Girls seemed like a book I'd love -- a character-based compilation of eight female archetypes whose lives and stories intersect. I usually totally dig these kinds of books. This one, though, just didn't click. I didn't connect with any of the characters. I wasn't even interested enough in some of them to notice their connection to others in the book.

I rated it "meh."

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

City of Round Rock, color me impressed!

 
Posted by Picasa

When John and I were house hunting and considering the house we live in now, we were pleased that we'd still be within Austin -- address and city limits. But the longer we live here, the more I realize that I'd be just as proud to call Cedar Park or Round Rock home. Both cities have impressive libraries and programs, and the city parks they have developed recently and the Brushy Creek Regional Trail are amazing.

Today, the girls and I visited Round Rock's newest park -- Play for All -- a park designed with accommodations for children with special needs that is super fun for kids of all abilities.

We spent about an hour and a half there (and the girls certainly would have played longer had time allowed). It's only been open since this weekend, so it was pretty full and I heard comments of amazement from every adult I made eye contact with.

We started at a play pod with a seated merry-go-round, a water-play area, and some kind of rolling conveyer belt-like thing. You climbed onto it and could hold on to bars overhead while you sat bars that rolled. The girls quickly spotted the swings and headed there. They tried out the sensory swings that cocoon you in well and can swing or spin. Then they tried the regular swings, too. There is also a small gated area with a wheelchair accessible swing. After swinging, they made a quick pass through one of the two playscapes (which had quite a variety of activities) before spotting Brushy Creek Village -- a child-sized town that includes a school, a library, a fire station, HEB, a Maxwell car dealership, Seton Hospital, a Wag-a-Bag, and a house. It's a nice little city block complete with stop lights and walk signals. We returned to the city after we explored the rest of the park. There's a nice sand play area, a musical play area, a more woody-type play area, and several cool features. The park will eventually connect with Brushy Creek Regional Trail which runs near our house.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Faces of Easter I


As much as I would love to write this entry about how much I love these Faces of Easter stories and how they allow the kids to enter into such higher level thinking, making text to text connections (and I do feel that way), I am instead going to try to piece together why today's education hour went so poorly.

Maybe it started during feast (which we do at the beginning of our time together because our service is at 4:00 in the evening with education hour following at 5:15. The kids are hungry then and I don't want to leave the feast until the end when the kids are leaving to go right home for dinner.) As I was preparing the kids to pray, reminding them that we're just talking to God and they can say whatever they want -- asking for help with something or for someone, thanking God, saying we're sorry, or just saying that we love God, or just talking, like we do with our friends, one asked me if they could tell God a joke. I said I thought God would love that! We went around our circle praying, and when it came that child's turn, she told God a knock-knock joke. It was sweet, and I actually think it was a nice conversation, but maybe it set the tone for rowdiness the rest of the hour.

Or maybe we have too many kids now and need to form a second class (where will we find a teacher!?) If every kid who comes regularly were there and stayed for education, we'd have fourteen kids ranging from three to ten. That has never happened. Most of the kids come in packages of two (siblings) and we're always missing a couple of families any given Sunday, so I usually have seven or eight kids. Today I had eight. That really is a manageable number, though.

Perhaps it was a bit of chaos that grew from large item connections to the first Face of Easter -- the entire Books of the Bible lesson, the desert, the World Communion lesson -- all big and very interesting stories to explore all out at once when we were still in our circle. I actually think that is when my headache started. Perhaps next week, I'll just have them bring one small item from the story rather than an entire story. But I still loved seeing their connections to the Mother Mary and the Father Joseph and the Word born flesh as a wordless child. They are profound, the kids! Maybe next week I'll bring some ibuprofen and just appreciate the controlled chaos.

Friday, March 02, 2012

From Mammogram to Biopsy results

Ash Wednesday: On the day to remember that "from dust we come and to dust we shall return", I was quite frankly faced with my own mortality. I had a mammogram followed by an ultrasound that showed "asymmetric breast tissue" and microcalcifications. The radiologist, Dr. Young, referred me for a biopsy and MRI. The biopsy is scheduled for next Wednesday morning. We'll schedule the MRI after the biopsy, either immediately (if results are bad) or in another month or so (if results are good) to give the breast tissue time to "settle down" from the biopsy trauma. For the biopsy, a stereotactic biopsy, I'll be numbed with a local, a small incision that will not require stitches will be made, and a small sample will be removed. They'll remove five or six samples.

Thursday: I read "Oh the Places You'll Go!" with Elizabeth today. I was struck by the waiting place. That's where I am right now. It is a "most useless place." I hope this waiting place will help me appreciate my life and value every minute I have with my husband and my girls. That's what I'm going to try to make of this waiting time. Getting bogged down in the what-ifs is not productive.

Weekend: I've been distracted by the busy-ness of life, so I haven't had much time to dwell or worry. Of course, every single daily devotional I've read these past few days has spoken to me about my path, planning (or rather, not planning), trusting God.

Leap Day (AKA Biopsy Day): John and I have both had our dark moments this past week, but today we drove together on a very gray day to the hospital that has housed our happiest times (births of both girls) and most difficult time (loss of second pregnancy). I was greeted by a patient navigator (a breast cancer survivor herself who is placed at the hospital by the Breast Cancer Resource Center). She got John some coffee, escorted me to change into a robe, chatted with me, told me what to expect, answered questions, rubbed my back during the procedure, brought me water, sat with me while I waited for more images, and escorted me to redress. For the procedure, I was lucky enough to have my patient navigator, the doctor, two nurses, and a sales guy in the room! (They have a new machine/new needle/something that this guy was showing them the ins and outs of. According to the nurses, it is a great machine and they love it. Much neater and quicker, which was fine with me since I was on my stomach with one arm over my head and one along my side, with my head turned to the side and an appendage (...is that an appropriate word for it?) sticking through a hole in the table. They numbed me with Lidocain, made a 1/4 inch incision, inserted a probe, and then used the machine and needle to take six samples of tissue including the microcalcifications. Those will be sent to pathology, and we'll get results Friday. I'm not to lift anything for 48 hours (yeah, right!) and am taking Tylenol to keep the soreness at bay. No stitches, just steristrips on the incision. As I stared at the magnified images of my breast on the lighted wall during the procedure (remember, my head was turned to the side the whole time) I pondered that if I weren't on a Facebook break I might post the images of my boob the way people (including myself) post baby ultrasound pictures. Would others find that funny? Not "Boy or Girl?" but rather "Benign or Malignant?" Good times.

HOORAY FOR FRIDAY AND THE JOYOUS NEWS: BENIGN FIBROADENOMA! I hadn't realized how heavy I felt until I heard the news and felt instant relief. I forgot to write in my summary of the procedure that they also inserted a titanium marker where the calcifications were so they can monitor the area. And since I'm in eighth grade (mentally and emotionally still), I think it's pretty funny. TITanium. Say it with a short i. You can't help but laugh.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

An all-time favorite re-read


Years ago (back in my pre-motherhood days), if you asked me my favorite book, I would have said THE BELL JAR by Sylvia Plath. She's dark and disturbed, and the work of fiction is largely autobiographical. While I did not identify with her depression, I did identify with her radical (in her day) view of the chains of motherhood. It was not what I wanted for myself. In fact, if I had lived in a day when birth control was scandalous, I probably would have become depressed as a young woman in my twenties faced with only one option (well, two, if you include becoming a celibate nun.) I did still enjoy the book, and it was interesting for me to read it knowing at one point in my life it had spoken to me so strongly.

To be honest, in my memory, I think I combined The Bell Jar with other works (maybe The Awakening or To the Lighthouse...or something else...not sure) because in my memory, I added an ending where Esther did end up miserable, married with children. I was wondering how I'd interpret that now that I am a mother, but it seems it is an ending I wrote in my own mind. I do need to figure out what I'm confusing it with so I can re-read it, too.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sensory Exploration

Montessori Monday


Posted by PicasaI cleared off the dying Valentine's roses today and let the girls explore them in the backyard. They quickly discovered that, though the outside petals were dry and crunchy, the inside petals were soft and wet. They pulled some tops off to throw as balls. They floated several petals around the yard. They pretended to be Romeo and Juliette (well, we're not quite that literate...Gnomeo and Juliette, actually.)

My roses were already de-thorned, so I just divided them in half and set them on two trays -- one for each girl. I briefly showed my three year old how to pull off one petal at a time, but then I busied myself with other activities and let them explore on their own.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shopping!

I texted John from shopping the other day, and then told him later that we had so much fun he might be in trouble for the next fifteen years. This was really our first shopping trip with the girls having opinions of their clothes and trying things on. So much fun!! I am glad they still like to match some (but not always, was Caroline's request.) And I'm happy I can persuade Caroline into the little girls looks over some of the very grown-up looking dresses in the 7-14 size section. The lesson I learned was to stick with Gymboree and Crazy 8 and avoid Macy's/Dillards.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Face-break

I'm on a Facebook break for Lent. Lent is a time to focus on Christ, a time some choose to give up something that distracts them from their walk with God. Facebook is a big time suck for me. And I realize that I feel obliged to check it daily but that I find very little truly edifying. Sure, I love my friends, but I don't need to know what they ate for dinner or that they are stuck in traffic. I do miss it, but I have spent more time in prayer, more time in the Word, more time reading to my kids, more time talking to individual friends.

I did not announce my leaving. I actually did it spur of the moment last night. I deleted Facebook from my phone first thing in the morning on Ash Wednesday, but I hadn't decided to deactivate my account. When I sat down at my computer last night, though, I just did it.

I am flattered that at least two people noticed my absence pretty quickly. :-) A friend tried to tag me in a post seeking advice about Dysons and emailed me when she could not tag me, wondering what was up. My sister called me to see where I went. I feel loved (or at least valued....or stalked. Take it for what it is.)

Now, the challenge will be not to let Pinterest and Words with Friends fill in that time that is supposed to be filled with God!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent is Lovely

I've said it before. I'll say it again. I enjoy Lent. I like the start of every season, really. But Lent is so deep, so thoughtful, so beautiful. Today, I did a toy rotation and set up our Lenten activities at home and prepped for my children's Sunday School class at St. Julian's.

At Home:
I have recently discovered play sets from Tales of Glory. I've ordered several for use at home in different seasons, but for the beginning of Lent, I have out the Disciples and Jesus on the boat in the sea of Galilee. The playset comes with the story of the calling of the disciples, the "Fishers of Men" story. But the boat and figures can be used to tell the story of Jesus calming the sea and walking on water. I have a picture book of Jesus's life that I'll read along with the playsest the first two weeks of Lent. Then I'll replace that with a felt storyboard of Jesus's miracles. And finally, that will be replaced the week before Holy Week with a Palm Sunday set I ordered from Oriental Trading. I bought their Resurrection scene a few years ago, and while it is not very sturdily made, we have enjoyed playing with it. That set will come out during Holy Week also.


I have a great stash of books about Jesus's life and ministry and Easter. My favorite is My Easter Basket. I'll start with books more focuses on Jesus's life and add to them each week of Lent, adding that one toward the end. I also bought the book Benjamin's Box today to go with our Resurrection Eggs, which I'll bring out during Holy Week.



We'll do our blessing tree again, and I've stocked the basket with new ribbons. The blessing tree starts as a bare branch in a pot. Each evening, one of our family members thanks God for a blessing in our lives and ties a ribbon to the branch. By Easter, we have a "blooming" tree to show us how blessed we are.  I've also put out the Christmas cards we received this past year on our dinner table, and we'll choose one or two at dinner each evening to pray for the family who sent the card.


In Sunday School:
We'll follow the Godly Play Lenten unit and start with the Holy Family story as I change the underlay from the green of ordinary time to the purple of Lent. Then I'll share with the kids the Mystery of Easter using a cross puzzle of six pieces (because Lent is six weeks long -- even longer than Advent! Maybe the mystery of Easter is even more important than Christmas...) One side is purple, but the other side is white -- beautiful, joyous white -- Jesus doesn't stay on that cross or in that tomb! I made our cross using die cut crosses I bought in a pack of 30 at Hobby Lobby (for $1.99, I think.) I colored one side purple with a marker, and then cut it into six pieces. I picked up a small purple tote bag at Hobby Lobby also to keep it in. I took several more of the die cut crosses from the pack and drew in pencil six pieces on each so kids who choose can create their own puzzle to take home. They'll just need to color one side purple and then cut along the lines I drew. I hope they'll share they Mystery of Easter with their families at home! I also found some neat weaving crosses at Hobby Lobby that I'll offer as a response activity during Lent. I know Caroline has really enjoyed paper weaving before, and these came 24 in a package for $8.99. I used my 40 percent off coupon, though, of course! For the rest of Lent, we'll synthesize what we've learned so far this year using the Faces of Easter cards. We did not have education hour on the Sunday we usually do the baptism lesson, so I may do two lessons one of the early weeks of Lent and teach the baptism lesson along with one of the face cards.


I discovered two blogs today that I've added to my Google Reader to help me in my Godly Play planning and practice. And they're hosting a Lenten Link Party that I've decided to join in on. Thank you for having me, Wonderful in an Easter Kind of Way and Explore and Express!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

  
My Pinterest-inspired Valentine creation -- I guess I can't store it in the attic in the Texas heat, though. This was a fun project, but not so much a kid project. The girls helped sort the crayon colors and help the hair dryer for a moment, but the glueing and melting was mostly on me.

We'll have a normal evening at home, but the girls are getting jewelry! I figured I could set the bar high for future beaus. Actually, Caroline is getting some earrings now that she has pierced ears and only two more weeks until she can change them out. Elizabeth is getting a jewelry box (since her sister is not happy about sharing hers.)

John and I are going to a murder mystery dinner Saturday. I'm pretty excited as I've always wanted to do one of these. We have some friends from church in the Round Rock Community Choir, and they are putting it on. It's a high school reunion them. It'll be a good time!

 

Sunday, February 05, 2012

AntWorks Ant Farm




Posted by PicasaHighly recommend it!!

Caroline got hers as a Christmas gift from her aunt/uncle/cousins after putting it on her wishlist from the Lakeshore Learning catalog. This sucka is totally worth the $20! You get the case filled with gel (that serves as the food for the ants) and a blue LED. You mail off for the ants. We were so eager (um...I was) that I didn't read the direction first which recommended putting the ants in the fridge for ten minutes before opening the container they came in so they'd be ... um, chilled. I just took the top off and poured them in, aggressive little buggers. I had to kill one or two for my own survival. One died in transit and his dead little body was integrated into the paths. But boy, these boys work hard! It has been really fascinating to watch how much they work. Their life expectancy is three weeks or so, so I do expect them to expire at any time. They slow down at night now, and I go to bed thinking they might be dead or almost-dead and wake to them moving around again like amazing little worker ants. We all love watching what they're doing!

Updates (AKA blog brain dump)

My friend, Erica, calls these blog brain dumps. I haven't updated in a while, so that's what this will be...catching up.

Elizabeth
After much prayerful consideration (and getting multiple obvious points of guidance that I believe were God-sent) I have pulled Elizabeth out of the Mother's Day Out program she was in. I want to have more time with her, and it wasn't a good match for her or our family. I discovered a one-day-a-week (FREE!) Waldorf-based outdoor program that she'll go to on Tuesdays. I can stay or go, which is nice. That gives us the rest of our week for play dates, play groups, library story time, music class, or whatever else we want to do together. I missed enjoying those activities with her. And really, though many value that time to run errands or take care of business, I found it a burden to drop her at a certain time and stop what I was doing to pick her up at a certain time. She is at an age where I can do most of my "duties" with her in tow, and I'm no longer freelancing, so I don't need the time for (paid) work. I did have to give up volunteering in the library at Caroline's school, but that is not a big deal to me.

Caroline

After having Caroline home for two weeks during her tonsillectomy recovery, I started fantasizing about homeschooling her. There are no problems in the situation we have now -- our neighborhood school is fabulous and she is very happy there. I love the community feel of it. I just dreamed of not being tied to a mandated schedule -- vacationing when we want (cheaper!), sleeping in, doing things together. I've always said I'd do it if I needed to. I just thought for a bit that I *wanted* to. And I worry about third grade or so, when homework is more and testing is over-emphasized. As of now, I feel that I should not worry about what might come but should just continue with what we are doing. I am happy to do it, though, if that is what is best for her, for us. I am open.


Spiritual Life

The best "new" thing lately is my weekly Bible study with friends. I kind of hand-picked some like-minded Christian moms and asked them if they'd want to meet weekly for prayer and Bible study, and they did! And we are! And it is a highlight of the week for all of us. We met ourselves and kind of caught up a bit for a couple of months. Now my priest (not all of us go to St. Julian's) is leading us every other week and we lead ourselves the off weeks as we discuss the coming week's gospel reading from the Lectionary. I love these women and their families. I look up to them and look forward to our time sharing and praying for each other every week. I am learning so much from our discussions. It's me and four friends -- all connected through La Leche League (four of us were Leaders). Between us we have seventeen kids!! (Obviously I am the slacker in the bunch with my wonderful and lovely two.)

For my daily devotional, after seeking input from a few trusted loved ones, chose Jesus Calling. I must admit that many of the decisions I have mentioned here have been influenced with timely readings from there. And, thanks to the suggestions I received, I have devotional materials to last me the next three years! I am also enjoying reading daily encouragement from Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Homemaking
I'm continuing with my weekly dinner swap group -- going on our third year now! I have done quite a bit of decluttering (some thanks to St. Julian's moving in to our own space this summer, giving me a place for toys that need to be culled!) I do feel that I have a handle on decluttering and organization (a never-ending process but one I enjoy) but that I don't have the nitty-gritty deep cleaning mastered. I need to work on that. I am quick to blame the cats, but it seems they aren't planning to die anytime soon and I am just going to have to work in their filth to my cleaning routine.

Fun
I just finished reading Stephen King's newest book. OHMYGOODNESS. He is a genius! It is 850+ pages, and I borrowed it from the library via hold. That means someone else has it on hold after me and I can't recheck. I was a bit nervous about finishing it within the two weeks, but I finished it today and it's not due until Wednesday. :-) I must say, it ended as it should have, though not as I had hoped halfway through. I've added a sidebar to my blog to keep track of what I read this year.

Now that I have finished the book, I can pick back up on season one of Downton Abbey. I watched the first two episodes the night before I picked up the book. And then I had to forgo any television watching to finish the book on my deadline. I am really excited to get back into the series...maybe even catch up and watch it in real time at some point. I'm excited that it's a series I *can* watch in real time since I can't with many (we don't have cable.) I won't have another library book until Wednesday, so that gives me a few nights to get some watching in...perhaps I can finish season one before then.

Oh, and John's party was fun! He LOVED the memory emails (but asked that I not publish them as some were personal...read as embarrassing!). We had about 50 folks here last night for karaoke. Always fun! We ordered the karaoke through http://www.thekaraokechannel.com. Great customer service and an easy at-home-party karaoke. I recommend it! $20 bucks for the set-up plus 48 hours access for our party. Now, I have the equipment, so it's be 4.99 for 48 hours access in the future. Heck yeah, we'll do this again! ANYTIME!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

40 Rocks! (I'm not 40...my husband is.)

Happy, Happy Birthday to my wonderful, gorgeous, and young husband!

I have had a fun time planning this birthday milestone for him. We're celebrating Saturday with a karaoke party at home with about 50 folks -- mostly friends from church and work. Pinterest has made party planning much more of a sport. I made cake balls for the first time -- lemon. I don't love them, so I'm stopping at lemon and just making white cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes (but I'm adding a Hershey Kiss to the center of the chocolate cupcakes as I saw on Pinterest). I did make some Oreo truffles that I saw on Pinterest. They, my friends, are divine. Beyond the sweets, Costco is my go-to caterer for party food. My friend, Erica, designed the logo for me to use on the cupcakes and balls. I saw (on Pinterest, of course) suckers for 30 sucks and was inspired to be more positive. So, I thought 40 Rocks! It goes with our karaoke theme, too. Then I remembered Pop Rocks and had her use that as inspiration for her design. She is fabulous, and I love it! I printed it on cardstock and used my recently-aquired circle punch to punch them out. (I'm going to be using that thing lots more!)

But the MOST EXCITING thing I did for John's special day was contact old friends and loved ones to have them send me a memory of John. I laughed so hard! I smiled from ear to ear hearing over and over again reading what a truly good man he is. The term moral compass came up more than once. But, Beevis and Butthead did, too, so he's a good guy with a sense of humor. That's like perfection, isn't it?

I installed a google add-on, Boomerang, to allow me to set up emails to send to him every twenty minutes throughout the day on his birthday with these special messages. 40 memories from 40 loved ones on his 40th birthday. I'll post the whole list tomorrow for electronic posterity.

For now, I will let you enjoy John's hair. He has good hair, and it seems to bear the brunt of his aging-related crises.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tonsillectomy Recovery

Tuesday/Surgery Day -- I could not believe how well she did today! She was anxiety-free (dare I say, excited) going in to surgery. Coming out was hard for the first five or ten minutes -- she was disoriented and in pain. Once the nurse got her some pain meds, she was better. Ate a popsicle and listened to us read her books during the two hours in recovery. Ate and drank water and played lots with her sister at home. Poppy thought she was doing too much, but I let her play. I was surprised, after stocking up on ice cream and pudding, that she could not have dairy for eight hours post-op and was cautioned not to have too much for a week.

Wednesday/Day 1 -- I woke her twice during the night for water and meds. She did great! Spurts of playing interspersed with movie watching and Wii playing and reading.

Thursday/Day 2 -- Rough start today. I did not wake her for pain meds. She did cry out in pain during the night, but I sent John. He ended up just sleeping with her the rest of the night, but I didn't get up to give her any more pain meds or have her drink water. I went in at 8:30 to give her water and medicine, and she was cranky! She went back to bed and slept until 11and awoke running a low fever. Then she just laid around and watched a movie for a couple of hours. Once she was rehydrated and the pain meds kicked in, she was OK.

Friday/Day 3 -- Again, a rough start to the day, even though I made sure I stayed on top of her pain meds during the night. She slept until 10 when I had to wake her up to go to Elizabeth's three-year well check. She did not want to get up! And getting out to the dr. appt seemed to wear her out. We were going to do a piano lesson make up, but I canceled that as she was not up to it at all. She mostly watched TV all day, did some coloring, took a shower (finally!) I did run out and get a stool softener for her as the pain meds do cause constipation and that was a struggle today. Food staples thus far: vanilla ice cream, refried beans, mac & cheese, and rice & gravy. I need to make some more jello, though that is not a first choice. And she's not a big popsicle fan. She prefers the ones in a tube to the ones on a stick, apparently.

Saturday/Day 4 -- Much better day today! I stayed on top of her water and pain meds last night -- waking twice to dose her. I gave her one more dose of hydrocodone at 9:30 (and woke her up for the day then). She's only had Motrin since then. The problem today is secondary -- as in second...you know, number two. The lack of fiber coupled with the narcotics has caused some uncomfortable constipation. I'm hoping the stool softeners I started last night plus cutting back (or eliminating) the hydrocodone will remedy that soon for her. She is uncomfortable!

Sunday/Day 5 -- She's off the hydrocodone, just on Motrin now. I took her to have her ears pierced, and she has a loose tooth. The tooth bothers her more than her throat now. Church did wear her out, though, and she fell asleep on the drive home before 7pm. I put her in bed. When we woke her at 11 for pain meds, she wanted something to eat, ate a bit, and then went back to bed. She needs lots of sleep right now to help her recovery.

Monday/Day 6-- It was a good enough day that I planned to let Caroline go to school on Tuesday for a few hours. I thought I'd drop her at 9 so she'd be counted as present by the state but so she'd miss PE. Then I'd pick her up at 11:30 before lunch. She went to bed with a loose tooth, but I could not settle myself. I am normally out by 11 -- if not much earlier. But at 11, I wasn't tired. I was wired. I played on the internet and eventually got in bed with my phone with me. At 1:15, Caroline walked in my room with bloody toilet paper held up to her mouth. I gasped and asked if her tooth had fallen out or if it was bleeding or if it was her throat. She opened her mouth and blood poured out. I grabbed a wet washcloth and she ran to the toilet and spent the next fifteen minutes or so vomiting blood. I woke John and called the ENT's office to have the on-call doc paged. It seemed like so much blood. We were told that bleeding happens to some people at 7 to 10 days, but I didn't think it'd happen to Caroline. And I imagined a trickle of blood, like as much as a pulled tooth. Blood filled our toilet, was splattered on the rim and lid, was on the floor. I was about ready to have John just take her to the ER when the doctor called back. He said it looks worse than it is. To have her gargle with ice water and put an ice pack on her throat. We did. It stopped after a few more minutes. We went to bed with her snuggled between us. It was not a restful night.

Tuesday/Day 7 -- After the bleeding episode last night, Caroline coughed up a scab this morning. She was very tired, low energy all day. She didn't want to eat, which made her cranky and tired. She wasn't in much pain but she wasn't herself. Still she plans to give school a try tomorrow. We're planning for a half day.

Wednesday/Day 8 -- This is all dragging out longer than I expected, recovery-wise. Caroline didn't feel up to going to school today, even for a little while. Her pain is not bad. She's still not eating much, though, which seems to have affected her energy. She just has so little energy. She'll have a burst of activity and then need to rest.

Thursday/Day 9 -- Still, low energy. I took Caroline to school this morning just before 9 (not absent!) I had a dentist appointment at 10 and planned to pick her up after that -- just as she was going to lunch. Her teacher called me right after my x-rays to say Caroline was tired. I went ahead and finished my appointment with minimal conversation with the hygienist and got to Caroline's school at 11:15. She was sitting and reading after having rested her head for about ten minutes. After a good lunch, she had energy to play this afternoon. We're trying school tomorrow with a late start again (9 am)

Friday/Day 10 -- I took her to school today again at 9, but today she made it the whole day! She was eating better, had more energy. UNTIL...we sat down for dinner and before she took a bit of food, she told me her mouth tasted like blood. She said it a few times, and she then go up and got a tissue and spit into it. BLOOD! Again! I was calm and stood with her while she gargled with ice water, per doctor's orders earlier in the week. It seemed to take a little longer to stop, but it did. We sat down for dinner, but she just ate ice cream. Then she bled again for a big. Gargle. Stop. Then again. Gargle stop. This time I called the doctor because she'd spent about 40 minutes of the past 90 minutes spitting blood. It was bedtime, and I wanted to know what to expect. At 8:30, two hours after the bleeding started, she laid down in bed for a story, told us she had a stomach-ache and then vomited up lots of clotty blood, just like earlier in the week. Resting now. Still no call back from the doctor on call.

Saturday / Day 11 -- After the bleeding last night, Caroline is back on ice cream and soup. The on-call doc never called back. Not sure what that is about, but I'll mention it at her appointment Tuesday. We just kept her on the couch all day to restrict activity. No more pain meds. We're just watching out for bleeding.

Sunday / Day 12 -- Restricted activity again. Super-soft diet still. No pain meds. Just trying to keep the bleeding away.

Monday / Day 13 -- Back to school (at 9) and moving around as normal, pretty much. Still on soft diet. Pain is a zero, she says.

Tuesday / Day 14 -- She had her two week follow-up this morning, and all looks good. The doctor said that her recovery (the bleeding) was as dramatic as it comes, short of going back to the hospital to have the bleeding areas cauterized. He said to feed her, so since I had not packed Caroline's lunch, we stopped at the store and got her the junkiest lunch possible -- a Lunchable and a bag of Cheetos. She said she wants an apple and carrots for her after-school snack. :-) She'll return to dance this afternoon and get back to her regular school schedule in the morning. The doctor said that she'll probably still have a little pain when she yawns or opens her mouth wide for another week or so. And she still has a little bit of rawness where new skin is growing. Now, to get back to our normal (minus the recurrent strep!)

Friday, January 06, 2012

Birthday Party Time!

Elizabeth's birthday party is tomorrow afternoon. It'll be a simple at-home party with three friends for the three year old. That actually translates to 17 people when you add in her immediate family, Poppy, and her aunt, uncle. and cousins, plus parents and sib of friends. But still, I expect I'll enjoy it more than some of the big shebangs we've had. Live and learn.

She wanted a Super Why party with a princess cake. As much as I avoid Disney Princess stuff, she is getting a Disney Princess cake. After all, the whole premise of Super Why is "we changed the story." And isn't that what Disney does? Take a story in the public domain, sex up the main character, package the story their way, and market, market, market.

Back to the point. Elizabeth and her friends will decorate and color a  cardboard castle and house in Story Book Village, dress up (as their favorite character from the show, a story, or just fancy), play in the castle and houses, have a super-letter scavenger hunt, and eat cake and ice cream. The kids will get their own super capes as party favors. I made them from t-shirts and put iron-on initials on the backs.

The party is from 3 to 5. And then I plan for John and me to be out of here around 6 for our anniversary dinner and night out. Dinner. . . maybe Esther's Follies if we aren't too tired. Dinner and Half-Price Books if we are.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I Spy, You Spy, Let's all play Eye Spy!







Posted by PicasaIt started out as a project for the busy bags at church -- little activities to keep the little ones' hands busy during the quiet times of the service. But, a bottle full of rice does not a quiet activity make, so I decided I'd keep a few for the Godly Play classroom and a couple at home. Elizabeth and I had some lovely conversations this morning as she explored her bottle. Just finding the little items gave me the chance to share our faith and traditions with her. (I added a few more items than originally pictured.)

What you need:
empty water bottle and lid
rice
small items (I've seen these done with items all beginning with the same letter, with themes and without themes)
super glue

How to:
fill a dry, empty bottle halfway with rice
add in your items and shake
add more rice -- to about 3/4 full
seal the lid on with super glue

Play!

Our items have symbolic meaning for our faith.
-- The colored pom poms represent the liturgical seasons and are also symbolic.
Red -- reminds us of the fire of Pentecost and the color of Jesus's blood; it's our feast day color!
Blue -- reminds us of the waters of baptism and of Mary's robes. It is the color of Advent.
Purple -- reminds us of royalty -- of Christ the King. It is the color of Lent.
White -- reminds us of purity, of heaven, of God. It is the color of Christmas and Easter.

-- the dove represents the Holy Spirit -- God is with us. He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit.
-- the candle represents that Jesus is the Light of the World.
-- the Holy Bible represents God's Word, another gift to us.
-- the googly eye reminds us that God sees us always
-- the cross reminds us that Jesus loved us
-- the butterfly is a new creation, just as we are new creations through Christ
-- the ichthys is a symbol that we are Christians
-- the heart reminds us God loves us
-- the music note reminds us to make a joyful noise unto the Lord.


(will try to add pics of Elizabeth playing with the finished product later.)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Hello 2012!

Happy New Year!
I have eschewed resolutions for a while (forever?) as silly traditions. Why not just start a new habit when one feels the need? But this year, I'm in. I overindulged during the holidays, and now it is time to shape up. I overextended myself with activities, and now is the time to tone down.

This is the year of LESS
--eating less
--drinking less
--spending less
-- doing less

This is the year of MORE
-- exercising more
-- praying more
-- reading more

This is the year of NURTURING
-- my relationship with God
-- my relationship with my husband
-- being more present with the girls
-- building *real world*  friendships
-- nurturing myself and my appearance

This is my last full calendar year in my thirties. I need to make sure I spend these last 18 months in my thirties actually looking like I am in my thirties (and not a tired old lady!) That's where the eating and drinking less and exercising more come in. And where nurturing myself and my appearance come in. I can shower daily, put on a bit of makeup and decent clothes and blow dry my hair. Really, I can make the twenty minutes that takes. And the thirty minutes or hour to exercise.

I plan to be more aware of my spending. I am not extravagant by any means, but I can be more aware of where my dollars are going.

I plan to do less -- as in volunteer a little less, delegate a little more, say no. Not feel as though I am the only person who would do whatever it is that needs doing. I am busy. I've spent the last couple of years feeling like the only gift I have to offer the world right now is time. I'm a stay-at-home-mom. I have time. But in offering that time to others, I have neglected my own children -- the reason I am at home. And I have neglected myself. Hearing people say they "don't have time" for things is my pet peeve. Of course they do, they just don't want to use that time for whatever. I looked at how I spend my time and realized that I have this "extra" time I am offering up only because I am not spending time on myself -- exercising and dressing well. I am rushing my kids to and fro, putting them off, to do other things.  This is going to be the hard one, truly.

And I want to spend less time checking in on virtual friends via facebook and more time nurturing real friendships with people. I plan to make more phone calls, write more cards, and make more visits.

I am excited that I am also making time daily with God a priority. I'll have weekly Bible study, in addition to teaching a weekly children's Sunday School. I started today the daily devotional, Jesus Calling. And I plan to read more spiritual books with the fiction I love. Today, I listened to One Thousand Gifts on my three-mile walk/run this morning.  I also want to keep track of the books I read this year. That's not a resolution so much as a reminder to myself.

Right now, I'm reading Winter Garden.

Goodbye 2011

The biggies:
legally changing my last name to Bindel
driving halfway cross country on a ten day family road trip
getting a minivan
John starting work at Tango
Elizabeth weaning
Caroline losing her first tooth

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!





Posted by PicasaThough I was not a perfect performer in Haphazard Happenstances Christmas Blogging Challenge, the challenge did get me back into the habit of updating my blog, which makes me happy. I already have several posts ruminating in my mind for the coming week. But first, here is a bit of my Christmas Joy -- the first ever St. Julian's Live Nativity. I wasn't sure about having it this year, as I thought we should wait until we were in our own space. . . which last Christmas I though would for sure be by now. (Easter, people, Easter is the plan now!) But we have so many kids, and I (selfishly) want my girls to participate in this kind of thing. So we went for it! Oriental Trading gowns provided the base for the angels, shepherds, and Mary and Joseph. Dish towels and fabric scraps served as shepherd / Joseph head pieces. Mary's mom make her beautiful head piece. I found the animal costumes on ebay since I hoped even our babies could participate at least for a photo. The ties for the headpieces were a great deal -- a whole ream (or whatever the word for it is) in the clearance bin at Hobby Lobby marked 1.99. I took it to the clerk to see if that meant per yard. I told her that I felt silly even asking as I'm sure it did. . . but since the whole thing was shrink-wrapped together, I thought I'd check. She took it and asked and came back to say, yep! The whole thing for 1.99! Score! That make the ties for ten shepherds, though we only needed five this year. We can also use rope next year. The angel wings were also a project I stressed over. I made a pattern out of some poster board we had at home and tried them on the girls. They were big and floppy and didn't seem like they'd hold up well. I talked to another mom at church and she said that she thought Michaels or someplace had thicker poster board -- not the foam -- but something that sturdy. So, I checked. No dice. But as I perused the aisle, I found paperboard cutouts of different shapes -- flowers, hearts, and BUTTERFLY WINGS! Perfect. And guess what -- six for $2.99. And, being Michaels, they were buy one get one free. I stapled dollar store garland around them for angelic effect, and we used more garland bobby-pinned to heads for the halos.

The kids were adorable! I am glad we did it and look forward to even bigger next year! For our little starter church who meets in the evenings at another church's facility, I'd say a Christmas Eve pageant of nineteen kiddos is pretty spectacular.

(and did I mention that I am soooo excited that we will be in our own space around Easter?)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Six Flags

We splurged and got family season passes for 2012 to Six Flags. Buying now, we get access the rest of 2011 plus a free parking pass. The girls love roller coasters, and there is quite a bit for them both to ride. We went with my sis and nieces this week and will go with John next week. We'll make a few visits this summer, too!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'll hunt you down. . . it's a family trait

When I hunted down (really not that hard to do with the Internet's power) the address to a house in Round Rock with cool Christmas lights that had "gone viral" on the web this weekend, I was proud of myself for putting to use my headhunting skilz. The more I thought about it, though, I realized that the skills that made me a good headhunter were the same traits that  made my dad an awesome repo man. I hope he's happy to know he taught me something that was quite financially lucrative for me. :-)

You see, my dad was a credit representative for GMAC. That's fancy talk for repo man. He was good at his job. Really good. He was creative and persistent and unintimidated. I love to hear some of his stories (which he does not share often, I think out of respect for people's privacy) of how he found people hiding from their creditors. One of my favorite stories is of how he tracked down a woman who had been renting a trailer from him who skipped out on a few month's rent. When he knocked on her door (at her new secret place), I think she about peed her pants to see him standing there asking for his money. "How'd you find me?" she asked. My observant daddy replied, "Your porch swing." Amazing, isn't he?

Well, I never did anything so insightfully impressive, but I didn't mind following multiple leads to get tidbits of information from varying sources to find the right extension for the right hiring manager for a job req. Or using resumes and voice mail systems to find the right candidate in the right company at the right time for a client. Creativity and persistence.

Now, my skilz might not bring in commission checks that allow us pay cash for a brand new vehicle anymore, but they did give us a few minutes of holiday fun! And I'll share a little with you.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Do you want perfection, or do you want peace?

As I was about to kick myself for missing another day of December blogging, I read these words on a blog I have recently started reading. DO YOU WANT PERFECTION, OR DO YOU WANT PEACE? We can overschedule and try to create all these wonderful, Pinterest-inspired experiences for the holidays, but if it takes away the peace (and sometimes the enjoyment), then it isn't worth it.

May the Peace of God which passes all understanding be with you the rest of this Advent and into the Christmas season.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Toy declutter




I did a major toy purge and rotation Friday. Really, the playroom was out of control with things just tossed in. Really, knowing I was about to reorg and purge, I took to just tossing things in there the past week. I got rid of several items, including a few large ones. I moved "building" type toys that have lots of small pieces (Lincoln Logs, Legos, puzzles) into the closet on a shelf. I figure that way, they are less likely to get pulled out when lots of kids are here, which is when they end up strewn all over. Not pictured here is the Apple //c that John set up for Caroline to learn a little programming. She's in there now "coding." <3

Since Caroline is home only in the afternoons on weekdays  (and usually has ballet or piano or plays outside then), the playroom is mostly for Elizabeth. She loves playing with babies. She loves imaginary play, so she has a dress-up corner, a reading corner (that ends up being where she puts all her babies to bed), and a shelf with other toys. That American Girl doll on the top of the shelf is Caroline's doll, Molly. Elizabeth plays with her more than Caroline does, though. But Elizabeth is getting her own American Girl Bitty Twin doll for Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Advent Meditation and Rejoicing!

First, since I'm linking to my church's blog here, I want to share that we are getting closer and closer to something I've been praying for -- our own space! Lovely space! Space close to my home! We expect to have our first service there on Easter. Alleluia!

On of the seminarians at church spearheaded putting together daily devotionals for Advent, written by members at our church. Mine was today's.
http://stjuliansaustin.blogspot.com/2011/12/december-16th-readings-psalm-95-and.html

As for our family's Advent traditions, I have scaled back from what we've done in the past (with nightly readings and songs and activities.) Instead, I am reading various children's books of the Christmas story with the girls (mostly Elizabeth) throughout the week. Each night, we light our Advent candles at dinner and sing a Christmas carol related to that week's candle (Hope--O Come, O Come Emmanuel; Peace--Silent Night; Joy-Joy to the World!; Love--Away in a Manger.) This is a unique Advent in that week four is a full week since Christmas falls on Sunday. We made our Advent prayer chain again, and are praying nightly for a person we've written on the link. The girls have really enjoyed nights that we've prayed for someone specific to them (teachers, classmates, etc.)

I did bring out the baby Jesus for the nativity set, at Elizabeth's request, but both John and Caroline insisted we put it back away until Christmas. We did. Elizabeth still has her Little People nativity set with baby Jesus in it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Parties, Performances, and Pee -- Oh my!

I think this is the busiest holiday season of my life! Two kids in various programs (really, mostly ONE of them -- what will life be life in three years when they are both over-involved in extracurriculars?

The letter P is a good representation for the month of December 2011 in the Bindel household.

Parties -- birthday parties, school parties, class parties, work parties, church parties (notice those are ALL plural. True!)

Performances -- choir performance(s) -- we skipped one; ballet performances; preschool performances; church pageant (can that count as a performance?)

and Pee -- because my days are filled with "Do you need to go pee pee?" and "I NEED TO GO PEE PEE!" or my least favorite "I already went pee pee." I overheard Elizabeth singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the other day. ". . . as they shouted out to pee!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Anniversary to the ones that made me :-)

Today would be my parent's 43rd wedding anniversary. They only got to enjoy 22 of those years, but in that time, they showed me what a good marriage is. And as my sister celebrates her 15th anniversary in a week and I my 17th in less than a month, I think this is one thing that mommy and daddy can consider themselves successes at.

Some things I learned:

1. You are a united front -- in a successful marriage, it is no longer him and her, it is "us."

2. Separate interests are fine but should not be the majority -- She can have her thing. He can have his. Every now and then. Most of your down time should be together, at home, as a family.

3. It is OK to marry young as long as you GROW UP TOGETHER. My mom was a senior in high school and barely 18 when she married my dad. I was a senior in college and 21 when I married John. Did they stay the same? Did we? No way! But we've grown up together. We've changed together. We've grown closer as we've grown up.

4. As gross as it was when I was 16, it is wonderful that my dad could not pass my mom in the kitchen without grabbing her butt.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

You're either a planner or you make fun of planners

Or at least that's how I feel sometimes. I am a planner. It's survival because I do not do well under stress and pressure. I feel, though, that I have found kindred spirits in my planner nerdiness with my meal swap group. We are about to celebrate two years of swapping dinner.

We plan our weekly menus using a google document where we all record what we'll be bringing the next week. Some of us plan out a month in advance (me). Some plan further. Some just go a couple of weeks out. We swapped meals yesterday for the last time in 2011 and will be off for the holidays. I went ahead Sunday night and created the new 2012 calendar through the end of the first quarter. My meal swap friends did not mock me for this, making fun of me for planning ahead as I am so accustomed. They thanked me. Planners of the world unite!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Milestones


My big girl lost her first tooth tonight. I am not normally sentimental about milestones, but this one seems like such a big deal to me. Her little face will be forever changed. That baby smile is gone! I think, though, the reason I feel this more is that we (and by we, I mean Caroline) have been anticipating this for more than four years now. When her cousin Megan lost her first tooth, Caroline became fascinated with the whole concept. She decided then (around Thanksgiving) that she wanted to be a loose tooth the next Halloween. And she stuck with the idea to be a loose tooth Halloween when she was three. Her first day of preschool when she was four, she came home to tell me someone lost a tooth at school that day. I didn't believe her that a four year old lost a tooth, but sure enough, it happened! And guess what happened the first week of kindergarten. Yup, another classmate lost a tooth. (Funny side note: this friend has a heart condition and has some PE modifications. Caroline told me one day that the coaches walked next to this girl when they ran the track because she has a problem where her teeth fall out easily. A little confused.) Caroline's three same-age cousins (who are actually five to six months younger than she is) have all lost teeth. She's been eagerly waiting, wiggling, insisting her tooth is loose, for a year now. And this week, I finally felt it wiggle, too! All weekend, her tooth has been barely hanging on, and today during Sunday School (where I am her teacher), she pulled it! She is so excited. She told me she could hardly sleep.  She'll awake to two dollar coins.

As I was putting the girls to bed, checking to make sure Caroline had put her tooth out for the tooth fairy (she put it next to her bed in her glasses case as John told her it might get lost under her pillow), Elizabeth asked me, totally seriously, "Mommy, does the tooth fairy bring cake?"

Wishful thinking.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One of my favorite seasonal traditions

Our little family went to see The Nutcracker this afternoon. It's a tradition we started when Caroline was four and Elizabeth almost one -- seeing a local ballet studios production performed at a high school. It's a beautiful, yet affordable and toddler-attention-level friendly performance with some professional dancers and lots of dancers en pointe along with littler dancers, too.

The Nutcracker has been a love of Caroline's since dancers from the Ballet Austin production visited her preschool when she was three and I was pregnant with Elizabeth. She became enamored and would dance at home with her nutcracker. I found a youtube video of the performance, and she watched it over and over again. She determined her unborn sibling would be a boy and that she would dance Clara's part and he Fritz's. Well, she ended up with a little sister that January and we didn't talk much about the Nutcracker again until we went to the next Christmas's production where we saw the Fritz role redefined as "little sister." This year, the bickering scenes seemed especially realistic!

The cherry on the top, though, was that Caroline also got to perform tonight in excerpts from the Nutcracker with her own school's dance troupe at the Zilker Holiday Festival. Elizabeth was disappointed that there was no "little sister" in this production, but I loved seeing my dancer up on stage!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Oh my aching dogs!

I am tired! I try not to be a complainer, especially of the "I"m so busy" sort. I realize I live a life of leisure. :-) But this holiday season has me running crazy!

I have multiple lists going and multiple bags/boxes of materials for the various events I am planning.

There's a bag of supplies for Caroline's class party. I'm the room mom, so I'm the party planner. We're having a snow theme. I got clear plastic ornaments for the kids to make handprint snowmen on. They'll embellish their fingerprints with hats, scarves, buttons, etc. They'll also have an instant snow play station and a snow (cotton) ball throwing/fight station before enjoying their snowman cupcakes and treats. I have everything from my list for this except cotton balls and candy for the take-home bags.

Then there's a box of costumes for the church live nativity the kids are doing. I went easy and ordered the costumes from Oriental Trading, and I sought volunteer help from church members to embellish and alter them a bit. I have made three of the angel wings so far and estimate I need to make about nine more. I also need to come up with something for the shepherd headpieces. I'm thinking dish towels, but I keep forgetting to look for cheapos when I'm out shopping. It is on my list, but for some reason, I keep overlooking it. The angel wings are actually an easy project, thanks to ready made paper butterfly wings I found at Michaels. Six in a pack, complete with elastics to be worn on the back, for $2.99 a pack. And, being at Michael's, they were buy one get one free!  I'm just stapling gold tinsel garland around them to make them more angelic. Along with the costuming piles are the "quiet" activity bags for the kids during the Christmas Eve service. They are about halfway complete. And, of course, my normal Sunday School lesson stuff.

The Christmas gift pile, as of tonight, has been redistributed. The girls' gifts are wrapped (except a couple of items I am awaiting shipment on). Our Bindel name-drawing gifts are halfway done -- still waiting on one to ship, and one needs on-the-spot assemblage. The other two are wrapped and under the tree. I am so thankful both sides of our family have simplified Christmas gifting.

And then I just need to make sure my piles and boxes and bags are moved out next weekend so nobody trips when I host our church's Christmas caroling party. I ran all the way to Costco today (even though I was just there Tuesday to pick up my Christmas cards....grrrr....sometimes my lists fail me!) to order the sandwich trays. This one is easy. No prep work for me. I provide the sanchwiches and space, and our friends bring other goodies. Then we head out to serenade the neighbors. It's great fun.

I am sad that in all this busy-ness, I will only make about 10 minutes of Elizabeth's Christmas party at MDO. John is going to have to take my place and bring her home because her party is from 1-1:30, and Caroline's class party starts at 1:45. I'll need to be set up and ready to go for that group of kids by then, so I'll need to start around 1:15. I'll be there, though, for Elizabeth's Christmas performance at MDO on Tuesday. Saturday, I'll watch Caroline perform twice -- once with her school choir at Breakfast with Santa and again at the Zilker Holiday Tree festival when she dances as a Russian Peppermint in excerpts from the Nutcracker. And in between those performances (and after I volunteer my hour shift at said Breakfast for Santa) the whole family will go see The Nutcracker together.

Fun. Fun. Fun. So much fun, I can only handle it once a year!