Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, we let the kids open a gift that we got from Papa Stan -- two Veggie Tale movies and Pirates of the Caribbean II.

The kids also opened a beautiful Christmas basket from Mac's family, chalk full of candy, soda and other goodies.

Keri Lynn is pleased with the newest DVD aquisition. I'm sure it would have nothing to do with the fact that Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom are in it.

We enjoyed our movie night by eating scads of popcorn with special flavoring we got from Grandma Waynel and Grandpa Rich. Nothing goes better with a movie than popcorn.

Kylie shows off a present in front of our beverage of choice -- Hot Cocoa in big red mugs!

Keith was the first to discover Veggie Tales at a homeschool convention back in 1996. He's a pioneer of sorts.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Christmas Tree

We went to Home Depot again to search for a tree. This year, though, we came a couple of weeks later. The pickin's were slim, but we found one tree that would do the job.

"Love, true love . . . Marriage, that blessed arrangement . . . A dream within a dream . . . "
Who can tell me where that quote comes from? : )

Trees are way cheaper in Georgia than in California! It so happens that our tree was supposed to be out of stock, but we found one anyway! It was a few feet shorter than last year's tree, but it was a lot easier to drag into the house!

"Oh, look at this cute tree. I wonder how much it is!"

"And another tree! This one is a sturdy one!"

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Keva absolutely LOVES the tree. She hovered around it adoringly as we decorated it. It is all we can do now to keep her from removing every last bulb. Just like last year, she loves to take the bulbs and smash them to smithereens on the floor. And now Kody has found this a fun new activity as well. I think he's swallowed a few bulbs whole. If he survives Christmas, it will be a miracle.

Keith strung the lights, the kids put up the bulbs, and I "supervised". You can kind of see Keva in the background sitting on the floor gazing at the tree.

It was Kade's turn to put the star on the top of the tree. I love the tree topper. We bought it last year. It's a star shaped with thorns.

Kade was very relieved to finish his job because the ladder is pretty high!

bottle music

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Letter to Kade

To my son,

Congratulations, Kade! You made it to your seventh birthday. It was a little touch-and-go there for a few years, what with the many times you tried to kill yourself and the many times I felt like killing you myself. Incidents involving toilet paper, baby wipes, diaper ointment, Epsom salt, Tums . . .

But, Oh! When it came right down to it, and I'd look into your sweet brown eyes, murderous intentions seeped out of my soul and I'd give you a great big hug instead.

Today, I got the chance to give you another great big hug and sing you happy birthday.

You are now in first grade. I teach you and Konner at the breakfast table each school day, or at least whenever I get to it. You can count to 100. You struggle with your alphabet. You really don't appreciate the fine art of penmanship. Sitting still for family Bible time is torture. Still, when you're in the scholastic mood, you'll write your name in cursive and you'll write out your own math problems.

Kade, you are such a pleaser. You'll come home with big tears in your eyes when a friend has said something mean, and the next day (or even the next hour) there you'll be playing with that same friend as if nothing had happened. You like to pick the same kinds of clothes, food, toys as the others, so you can be alike. You tell stories with such drama. You love to say, "That's awesome!" and you call everybody "Dude."

You love to watch Pixar movies. You and Konner take them up to your room and watch them so many times that you memorize the lines. Lately, it's been the movie Cars.

For your birthday, you got $34. And from your birthday party two days ago until we finally got in the van to go to Target today, that money was all you talked about. What would you get? "I know! I'm going to get a nerf gun like Kristofer's!" "No, I'm going to get a car set!" "Mommy, which one should I get?!" "When are we going to go SHOPPING?!"

I was pretty sure we'd be stuck at Target for days as you wandered the aisles. But actually, you cataloged all of the possible items very carefully in your brain. I helped you add up the money and figure out various combinations of prized toys. You settled on a skateboard (assuring me that you had the elbow/knee pads at home), a dart board (just like Ryan and Brandon's!) and a set of Hot Wheels. Life is good!

There are certain things that I always want to remember about you, Kade. One of them is that you are always hungry. There is not a day that goes by where you don't think you might die of starvation. However, I will never allow you to eat two bowls of chili again. You are lethal with two bowls of chili.

You're very strong. You're built like a brick. Where Konner is taller and leaner, you're solid. You're not fat at all, but you're not skinny either. You outweigh Kylie by a couple of pounds, even though you're a little shorter than she is and a year and a half younger! You were in a contest in RAs a few months back to see who could hold their hands up in front of them the longest. You won for your age group and came in second for all the boys up to fifth grade. You were very proud of this accomplishment! When we got into the car, you played this game of fortitude with all of your brothers and sisters and you beat them easily!

Kade, my prayer for you is that the Lord will grasp you by your heart and never let go. May He always be at the very center of your life.

I had a vision about you, once, when you were just a baby. You had a very hot fever. I was really worried. I held you to me and kept a cool washcloth to your head and body, praying that you would be okay. I saw a glimpse into your future. You were a pastor. You were married. There was pain in your life, people had hurt you, but you were a stronger, more godly person because of it. And I knew you would be okay. I knew I could trust the Lord to care for you far more than I ever could.

Whether it was a vision from God or just a hope, I don't know. I won't know until you're grown up. In the meantime, may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord's face shine upon you until He comes. Amen.

Your Mom

Monday, December 18, 2006

Kade turns seven!

We played games in the backyard -- Survivor! -- Here they are seeing who can hold their arms out in front for the longest. We also had a foot race, obstacle course, paper airplane toss, the mandatory "fork and spoon" game, and more!

Here are some of Kade's guests. Kristofer is part of the action, of course.

Kade, picking the candles and decorations from his cake. Keri Lynn and Kathleen helped me bake a checkered three-layer cake. We served Lifesaver icecream with it. It was a big hit.

"Happy birthday to you, Kade!"

He's so proud of himself!

This was Kody's first Johnson birthday bash, so we gave him a medal for being such a well-mannered dog.

Present time! Very exciting!

Kade gets a tool set so that now he can help Daddy with projects around the house.

They're running amuck!

The kids are being allowed to run amuck today, as I try to figure out where I misplaced any sense of discipline. We are supposed to have two more days of school before vacation officially starts. Um. Maybe we'll "unofficially" start today. Shhhhh.

Yesterday, we had Kade's birthday party. There were about six neighbor kids, plus Kade's own brothers and sisters, a sister's friend, and two neighbors' little sisters with their moms. I ran a bunch of games in the backyard, followed by a bunch of games in the living room, before we had birthday cake and sent all of the guests home in a sugar-induced coma. I think everyone had a nice time, and now I've got to figure out when to take Kade to go spend his birthday money that is burning a hole in his britches -- The kid is loaded with $24, and he's got BIG plans.

Saturday was clean-up for party day, a trip to get a Christmas tree, Keith put up lights outside the house, followed by an evening wedding over at our church.

The wedding was SO ELEGANT! Absolutely beautiful. I take back EVERYTHING I said about the insanity of having a wedding at Christmas. Beautiful music, candles everywhere, the bride (from my Bible study group) was gorgeous, the groom looked like he was about 17 (but in love, nevertheless!) Eight bridesmaids and eight groomsmen. I kept thinking about my own kids a few short years from now. I've always told them, "You'll be able to recognize me right away. I'll be the mom bawling in the front row!"

One of the pieces played at the wedding was Claire de Lune which was the theme music for Kiera Knightly's version of Pride and Prejudice. So beautiful (have I said that already?) and romantic. I think I'm going to try to get ahold of that music.

Speaking of music, I highly recommend anything by the Annie Moses Band. You can get it through Amazon. They are incredible. They came to our church last month and played some of their Christmas selections. Six siblings plus parents and about three others that do bass, drums and sound. Lots and lots of talent. Anyway, we have their Christmas CD Bethlehem, House of Bread. It is a joy to listen to. It features violin. Annie Moses, the lead vocal, sounds like a cross between Twila Paris and Evie. Listening to the Bethlehem CD will probably become a Christmas tradition.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A to Z

A - Available/Single?
Um, no.

B - Best Friend?
My Sweetie-pie. One of the things I enjoy most about Keith is that we can talk about anything. When there is something troubling me, he's the one I'll want to talk to first. I love you, Keith!

C- Cake or Pie?
Cake, particularly wedding cake, with that glorious frosting!

D - Drink Of Choice?
Forget coffee. Cold caffeinated soda at breakfast. Currently, cherry-flavored cola. (I know, I know -- SO HEALTHY!)

E - Essential Item You Use Everyday?
My walkman that plays my books on tape. I LOVE that thing. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out where I put it down last? At the computer? By the phone? Where I keep my purse? Argh! Misplaced it again!

F - Favorite Color?

G - Gummy Bears or Worms?
That's a toughie. Bears, I guess.

H - Hometown?
I grew up as a missionary kid, so I never lived in one place for longer than two years. Even going through high school, college and early married life, I was always moving. The longest I've ever been in one place is our L.A. house for seven years, by far, the longest stay yet. Let's see what the Lord has in store for us here in Newnan!

I - Indulgence?
A massage. A pedicure. Dinner and a movie with Keith. Hours alone at the library. (It's so remarkably quiet there!)

J - January or February?
January, for the same reason I like Mondays -- a fresh start.

K - Kids?
Seven kids that teach me a lot about myself. Especially how selfish and obnoxious I can be when they mirror things that I do. Eek!

L - Life Is Incomplete Without?
God. The I AM.

M - Marriage Date?
July 16, 1988. Why does that sound like Ancient Times?

N- Number Of Siblings?
Two brothers, two sisters -- all of whom I beg to read this blog!

O - Oranges or Apples?

P - Phobias/Fears?
Being trapped in an earthquake and having a fire start and not be able to get to my kids. (Had to really hand that one over to the Lord, and thankfully, He took it!)

Q - Favorite Quote?
"Behold, I make all things new!"

R - Reason to Smile?
My family.

S - Season?

T – Tag?
Whoever wants to answer these questions.

U - Unknown Fact about Me?
Good grief! I talk about everything going on about me ad naseum.

V - Vegetable you don't like?
Beets (except cold in a salad -- then they're pretty and okay to eat), peas, lima beans, and (if too bitter) brussel sprouts.

W - Worst Habit?
Yelling at the kids when I'm the one who needs to go take a nap.

X - X-rays You've Had?
This question might explain a lot about me! 1) Brain for some weird thing I had as a child 2) Lungs (for possible pneumonia/bronchitis) 3) Breast (for what turned out to be a benign lump when I was 22), 4) broken middle finger 5) NECK (cracked vertebra -- that's right -- I technically broke my neck)

Y - Your Favorite Food?
Currently, El Charro #44, with the chips and salsa.

Z - Zodiac Sign?
What a waste of time! I'd rather study signs, wonders, prophecies in scripture.

Friday Afternoon

Kody poses with Keri Lynn for ANOTHER picture.

Kody is tired of posing for pictures . . . wants to go sit on my feet instead.

Keva is home from a "grueling" school schedule. She had her class Christmas party and the class went bowling, too! I sent her on the bus today with 1) Christmas mugs for the teacher/aides 2) a platter of my famous fudge for their party 3) a picture book for the student gift exchange 4) $ for bowling 5) two wire trees with candy for sweet bus driver and bus aide. Whew!

Come on, smile Keva . . .

There we go!

Who's been messing around in MY kitchen?

It's tough being a short cook.

Bump on a Log

I've been such a bump on a log lately, and having a hard time just getting the regular things done. I think mostly I'm just worried about my health. My blood pressure has been up. My weight does not go down. I need to start walking again and eating better . . . tomorrow . . . That's my trouble. I don't WANT to do any of that responsible stuff. I want to do FUN stuff and I want to EAT FUN stuff.

At any rate, I'm starting to formulate a plan for getting serious about getting healthy. More later . . .

I started working on the Christmas letter today. I think I'll address envelopes tonight while we watch the Christmas Story on TV. I know it sounds kind of dorky, but I actually love addressing envelopes. I always write the addresses out by hand and I get to think about each addressee and I feel glad that I'm sending them a little piece of Christmas, however small. But by the time I've gotten to the folding, stuffing and stamping, and Christmas is ever looming (or worse -- PAST!), that's when I get stressed out. Ugh!

I finally figured out what to do about Kade's birthday party. We'll have it on Sunday afternoon at 2:00. That's a nice time of day and not near meal time. It's not that I don't want to feed kids a meal at the birthday party. It's just next to impossible to sit six and seven-year-olds down to actually eat something. I told Kade The Plan, and he did a little jig. (He's so easy to please!)
Every year, I tell myself that I'm going to need to plan a party for Kade earlier in the month so that it's not so close to Christmas. His actual birthday is on the 19th -- poor guy. But then early in the month is probably even busier than around the 19th because of all of the Christmas parties and shopping.

Last year, the only neighbor we knew was Mac -- bless his heart! We had only been in our house for about five or six weeks. Mac was the sole guest of honor at both Kade and Konner's parties. Happily, he's coming this year, too, but won't be the only one. I'll be taking pictures and putting it on the blog which has turned into my new scrapbook.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More Pictures

Kathleen in her now-famous curls. She twists a lock of hair and then rolls it up for the night and comes out looking like Cover Girl.

Konner's poor toe

Kylie is working on a Strawberry Shortcake puzzle she borrowed from the library. We are missing a piece that unfortunately got lost in the car when she opened the box on the way home from the library.

Kristofer with Kody. I just love Kristofer's sweet profile in this picture.

"Mama, don't let your sons grow up to be cowboys!"

Kody puts up with a lot of "attention" from the shorter people of the family.

Kade got this nasty scrape at the tip of his nose. When asked how he got it, he shrugs, "I don't know!"

Konner's Disclocated Middle Toe

Whew! I'm glad it's today and not yesterday.

Yesterday, I got up at 5:15 (having gone to bed after midnight -- I'm such an idiot!) and took Keri Lynn to the airport for her ortho visit to California. When I got home, I got Keva ready for school, prepared Keith's lunch, sent Keith on his way to work, made sure all kids were properly fed and Kody taken out to do his business before announcing:


About 90 minutes into a semi-good nap, I heard Konner screaming a high pitched "this really hurts!" cry. So up I dragged myself out of bed where Konner was waiting for me at my bedroom door. Kristofer was supporting him and I looked down at his left foot middle toe that looked oddly askew.

"Ewwww!" was my first reply. I had a momentary impulse to just kind of shove the little piggy right back into its socket, but was not sure if it was merely dislocated or possibly broken. So, I ordered Kristofer to take him back to the couch while I made the necessary calls.

First we went to the pediatrician who then referred us for X-rays and an orthopedic doctor. Konner's toe had been injured at about 10:45, but by the time we finally got to see the orthopedist, it was nearly 3:00. He took one look at the toe and said, "Oh yeah, that's dislocated. Has he had anything to eat lately?"

"Ah, no . . . "

"Can't give him general anesthesia then. How does he feel about shots?"

"Well, he's pretty stoic, really. He'll do fine."

And he did. I sat next to Konner while he got a numbing shot in his foot. That was the worst part. Then the doctor just snapped the toe back into place in about THREE SECONDS, and then we got another X-ray to make sure all was right with the world, and we were free to go home.

Konner is supposed to be sure to wear shoes for the next two weeks and keep the toe strapped to another toe for support. Hmmm. So far, not so good. He's my nature boy. Even clothes are a real bother, and shoes more so. He's a tough little guy, though. Hardly complained through the whole ordeal. Laughed at the doctor's jokes. Took the teasing by the security guard, nurses and doctors all in stride.

How does one dislocate a middle toe anyway? I'm really wondering. Konner ran into Kylie in the hallway and that's how it happened for him. But still -- HOW?!? She must have stepped on JUST that toe and Konner twisted away just so. Ewwww!

Anyway, we'll be getting Keri Lynn from the airport tonight after Wednesday night supper at church and all-church Christmas caroling. I sent Keri Lynn off with all of the California Christmas presents and she's coming back with Christmas presents for us! Fun! We've been getting packages in the mail, too.

I need to get going on my Christmas letter, but I feel like it's just going to be re-run stuff for most people because of the group e-mail and blog! I do feel like it's an opportunity to get the word out that I do have a blog going now, especially since I figured out how to link video from VideoTube! Ha! I'm so pleased with myself about that.

Presenting Christmas

Monday, December 11, 2006

"For whom the bell tolls . . . "

We're worried about Kody.

For the last few months, he's been limping, and even from the first, Keith noticed that he didn't sit correctly. He'd kind of slump to one side and then eventually slide into a laying position every time he was told to sit. In the last few weeks, the limping has gotten really bad, and we're suspecting hip dysplasia. Keith thinks we may have to put him down, since we don't have the kind of money it takes for surgery.

Now, if Keith had suggested such a thing a while back, I would have gladly said, "Where do I sign?!!"

But I have to say, Kody has grown on me. For all of the poop, pee and vomit, for all of the dog hair caught up in the vacuum and steam cleaner, for all of the dog farts (and, boy, does he make some doozies!), for all the arguments about whose turn it is to pick up the poop, and for all the general dog smell (especially when he gets wet) . . . . he's still awfully cute and sweet. I cried yesterday when Keith told me that we'd probably have to put him down. Fortunately, no one saw me, since I broke down while doing dishes, except Kade who came in from playing outside to get a drink of water. (Little kids never notice a bawling mother -- I think it's how children don't get scarred for life having a mother going through the hormones of pregnancy and parenthood!)

Then, today, I went searching on the Internet and saw that it's quite common for large breed dogs to have limping problems at Kody's age. They grow too fast for their bones to keep up with them. So, to help him, we are to feed him less protein, not allow him to jump up (to keep strain off his hind leg joints), and not let him get fat. He still needs to exercise to strengthen all of his muscles, and, if he's in pain, he should take Ibuprofen! Eventually, we do need to take him to a vet and find out more about his condition, but for now I've got some hope that we won't have to put him down after all. We'll know more after Christmas when we can afford to take him to the vet.

Meanwhile, Kody is blissfully unaware of any tides of change in his life.

I stayed home from church yesterday with Keva when she woke up vomiting. Fortunately, she just needed a little rest, so it was just Kody and me hanging out in the family room. At first, Kody thought that he was being abandoned once again to those "holy roller" church kids going off to church AGAIN! The nerve of them! I watched as he sat in the hallway, staring at the closed door, hearing the van engine turn on in the garage, hearing the van pull away, and the reverberating death knell of the garage door coming down, signaling his doom at being left Home Alone once again.

Then, I said, "Kody!" and he turned around and looked at me in complete surprise and bounded over to me in utter joy and abandon! At least one family member had not left him and it was The One. The One who makes sure someone feeds him. The One who makes sure someone takes him out to go potty. Once he settled down, he made himself comfortable around my feet and we watched TV together with complete contentment.

So, you see, Kody can't be put down. I love him!

Friday, December 08, 2006


Christmas is really all about one thing . . .


And we've been enjoying chocolate a lot lately. Chocolate also goes with our cold weather. When I put Keva on the bus this morning, it was a "balmy" 18 degrees with the windchill factor at 1 degree. "Biting" was the word that came to mind. Keva was not interested in getting up today either. I had to drag her up and out of bed, wrestle her into warm clothes, wrestle her off to the family room to fix her hair and get her backpack ready. I hope she's a little more lively in school today because I think I need to go take a nap.

Anyway, back to chocolate. A few years ago I found a Micro-Fudge recipe. Very easy. Very fun, but lumpy. I tried with all of my heart to get passed the lumpiness, but it would not work. I just dealt with lumpiness because the fudge still came out tasting good. Plus, I was finding it hard to find a microwaveable bowl that would neatly hold two pounds of powdered sugar. So, I thought to myself, why not try the recipe on the stove top. It works! Also, since it does cook just a little on the stove, the sugar de-lumpifies. It's SO EASY! It does not taste like regular fudge, but it's awfully close. For all of the times I've messed up a batch of fudge, this is heaven on earth.

So, here's the recipe for anyone interested:

Stove Top Fudge

2 lbs. powdered sugar
1 cup baking cocoa
1 cup (two sticks) butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp. vanilla

Jackie's directions: Dump all ingredients (except for vanilla) into stove top pan and heat until thoroughly blended. Take off of heat and add vanilla. Pour into lightly Pam-sprayed glass dish. Chill to harden. Cut and serve!

When it started getting cold earlier this week, Kathleen bemoaned the fact that we didn't have any packets of hot cocoa. So I looked at my Cocoa box, and there was a hot cocoa recipe. For some reason, I thought it might be a more difficult recipe, but it's only three ingredients -- cocoa, sugar and milk -- what could be easier. My kind of cooking! The kids didn't like the cocoa nearly as much as I did because it wasn't sugary enough for them. I think it didn't have that cocoa packet flavor of preservatives or something, actually, because it was really good. We had cocoa twice this week. Yum!

My complexion should look like the lunar landscape by the time the Christmas season is over.

By the way, thanks to all of the nice comments about my new hair. Love it! Even this morning (The Dreaded Day After) I still like it. I feel Sassy today. When I took the pictures last night, I was trying to get pictures at an angle that didn't show off my double chin too much, but each and every picture had a double chin anyway. And the double chin has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with chocolate!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Stylin' Mama

Keith likes my long hair, and for several years now, I've kept my hair long even though I'd prefer a shorter cut. We kind of reached a compromise when I found a hairstyle with layers, so that I had kind of a short cut with longer hair under that, but it didn't grow much farther than my shoulder blades and was getting, in my opinion, kind of mousy looking.

So, on my birthday, while we were leisurely eating our lunch at El Charro, I said, "So, Sweetie, I would really like to cut my hair short again. Would that be all right with you?" Batted my eyelashes. Waited expectantly. Felt like Esther before the king . . .

"You sure know when to ask, don't you."

Batted my eyelashes. Waited expectantly. Felt like Esther before the king . . .



"I guess."

So today, with complete and utter approval from my husband, I finally got an opportunity to take myself off to Great Clips. Happily, I found a hairstylist who understood what I wanted and helped me decide to only have a little bit of bangs, not a bob, but lots of cool layers. I LOVE IT! I'm so thrilled with my new haircut. For all of the women reading this who care two cents -- you can tell me what you think! Of course, it will never look like today's style again, since I can never replicate the mousse and blow drying, so I captured it in pictures.

I was so pleased with my haircut, that afterward, I took myself off to Ross and bought a pair of jeans and some black dress pants to go with my Christmas sweater I wear every year.

While I was in the car, I turned on the radio and found out that tonight is supposed to be the coldest night of the year -- about 19 degrees. By morning, the wind chill factor is supposed to bring it down to a Real Feel Temperature of about 1 degree. Now that's cold! Coldest it's been in two years, says the bus driver, who I promptly called to find out if buses might be canceled. She wasn't sure but would let me know as soon as she knew anything different. She didn't even think I was some weird Southern California chick worrying about a little ice and frost!
I hope Keith stays on the road safely and doesn't come home an ice cube tonight. Ice is definitely a danger factor for commuters.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Children's Choirs Christmas Program

I know the architecture and design of a church sanctuary is not the important thing, but it IS pretty, isn't it!
Kylie practicing in her choir room.

Konner, entering with his choir.

Konner's choir. Can you see him in the back, 2nd from the left? You also can't see the impromptu horrendous haircut that Keith decided to give him that morning. Keith is no longer allowed to have any scissors or buzzers.

Kade's choir rang bells for their first song. You could just about FEEL Kade's concentration!

Kristofer's choir -- he's in the back, center.

Kylie's choir. There she is front and center.

Kathleen's choir: She twisted and then rolled her hair into adorable Shirley Temple curls -- yet another Kathleen hairstyle!

Here I am checking my email on my birthday.