Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Good Weekend...

Yesterday morning was spent rushing around, trying to get things wrapped up at home before I headed to a women's retreat (held a whopping 6 miles from our house). One of the things I was rushing to do was get a lunch meal ready for the builders who were working on our new church addition for the day. Yeah, once again I over committed myself without thinking things through! But! I am thankful for my home-canned spaghetti sauce because that's what I made (along with homemade bread). My MIL prepared a salad and made a yummy chocolate cake to go along with it.

We needed to get the meal to church by noon. I finally got a chance to take a shower at 11:15. While the bread was baking. And the noodles were cooking. And the kids were fighting. I didn't get a chance to get packed before leaving with the lunch, but I figured I'd have plenty of time after coming home to pack, get a few things taken care of to make things easier for Tony, and spend some snuggle time with the kids ("no, don't leave us again! We will miss you! You are our FAVORITE Mama!" Okay, who is there SECOND favorite Mama then???).

I didn't plan on the guys delaying lunch to finish some things first. Not a problem. I passed some things out to church mailboxes that I'd brought with. Tried to keep the kids from running around like little banshees (I was unsuccessful with one, successful with the other. I won't clarify further). Then the men came in and Susanna looked at the first one, whom she had never before seen in her life, and informed him "You will sit by me. Right here." I was shocked. I was surpirsed. I was surprised he obeyed her. Kinda. He left a couple empty spaces in between them. She was happy.

I also didn't plan on taking so long to do some "quick" grocery shopping afterwards. Or staying as long as we did to see a new baby (Diana, who worked at our Market this past year, had a little baby boy a week earlier....Manassah Wallace Bohach). He's adorable. Not just "new baby adorable," but really, really cute! Susanna couldn't stop kissing him.

We got home (finally) five minutes after I had hoped to leave originally. I rushed to get packed, wrap up loose ends, and was about to walk out the door (still had to stop at the post office) when I had a call to deliver some Watkins. Not too big of a was on the way.

All in all, the weekend was great. It was a wonderful time of catching up with friends I never have time to catch up with. Of getting to know others better than I ever expected I would (in a good way). Of seeing our pastor in a whole new light through his wife (will any of us be able to look at him Sunday without giggling?). Of indulging in a chocolate fountain with Pringles, pretzels, pineapple, pound cake, bananas, and caramels. Of having a new, wonderful drink consisting of hot spiced cider with a big blast of whipped cream and drizzled with caramel (we decided that calories wouldn't count at a church-sponsored event such as wouldn't be fair, ya know?). Of playing all kinds of different games (Apples to Apples and Taboo were the favs). Of getting pressure points on our ears massaged. Facials. Hair cuts and dos. An AWESOME devotional Friday night, great worship music and Bible studies on Saturday. Great prayer times and heart-wrenching prayer requests. A fantastic salad and baked potato bar for lunch (with REAL bacon pieces, hehehehe! that's another whole story). And not much sleep at all in between.

I'm ready to drop. I'm exhausted. But I'm refreshed. And invigorated. And so glad for the wonderful sisters in the Lord that are here at my church in Minnesota.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fun Food and Fellowship

Sunday night was our first get together in our new Fun Food and Fellowship group. For those of you not familiar, FFF is a great program our church has to get to know other people. Sign up and get put in a group with three other families; meet once a month for a meal, rotating homes, and get to know each other!

Our group actually has five families. We started with four, but since we were hosting first, I invited our friends who rocked away New Year's Eve with us. Since we had three families with small children, we got together at 5:00. It was a blast!

In our group we have Jane Wolff (yeah, my blogger friend/organist at Faith), Jamie Caughey (the 3-year-old Sunday School teacher...who is also known as Mrs. Hockey and Mrs. Coffee, depending on what each child says) and her teens, a new family - the Bervigs (their oldest daughter Lael, 7, was one of the stars of our Christmas program; she's followed by Nathaniel, Elias, Ephraim, and are those for good strong names?), and the Van Batavia's joined us and will continue on with our group. They have Peter, Zach, and Owen.

Okay, I didn't really think this through ahead of time, but we had ten children -- TEN CHILDREN -- under then age of ten. And actually, they played very well together and we all had a great time!

We had soups and salad and bread. I opened some of my yummy herbed chicken noodle, some of my venison chili, and whipped up some yummy Watkins baked potato soup. Jenny Bervig brought three kinds of great home made bread, Jamie brought the most delicious tossed salad, and Jane finished things off with a great cheesecake.

And while the kids played with Rescue Heroes and sword fights (Lael ruled 'em all!), we talked and chatted (is that the same thing?), and tickled little Asher's toes. Now Susanna wants a little baby around the house so she can tickle his toes all the time. Keep dreamin'!

I can't wait until next month! Although Luke and Sus keep asking me already "WHEN CAN WE PLAY WITH LAEL AND ALL THE BOYS AGAIN????"

And before I sign off, we have the biggest, fluffiest, prettiest (did I really say that?) snow coming down right now!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wet Willies

Luke has been introduced to "wet willies," the "fun" past time of putting a wet finger in someone's ear and wiggling it around. For some reason, he has lately been saying "whatever" almost constantly...and yes, it's ANNOYING! We finally told him every time he says "whatever" he'll get a wet willie. Susanna reminds us constantly throughout the day that Luke "needs" a wet willie.

Susanna helped by making most of supper tonight. Of course, that mainly consisted of pouring rice into a casserole pan, stirring water and Watkins soup base, pouring it over the rice/chicken/ham, and sprinkling cheese on top, but she loved it and had so much pride in it. She also "made" dessert -- Watkins butterscotch and chocolate pudding, layered (butterscotch, walnuts, chocolate, walnuts, butterscotch, whipped cream) into fancy dessert bowls. Daddy made it all the more special by eating ALL his dessert (big surprise there!). We all waited until Susanna took her first bite...and I sure wish I'd gotten a picture of that! I didn't realize her little mouth could get so much into it!

Luke has been invited to his second birthday party....brothers Peter and Zach that came to his birthday party (and helped celebrate New Year's Eve with us) have a birthday party coming up this Saturday. Daddy will drop him off and spend a few special hours with Susi since I will be at a Women of Faith retreat (translated: I'll be spending the night at a local hotel with several other ladies from church, getting my nails and hair done, swimming -- probably before the hair and nails thing -- having pizza, playing games, gabbing until all hours, but also having a great time of Bible studies).

Oh, I don't know that I mentioned Susanna also made breakfast for us last Wednesday before I left for St. Cloud. She made a Watkins coffee cake....I told her how many scoops of flour and sugar, spoons of baking powder and cinnamon, she mixed the egg and milk, then stirred it all together and poured it in a pan. You should've seen the look of surprise and delight on her face when she saw the finished piece! And Daddy once again wiped out a good portion of it.....

Right now, they're finishing up a bath. I'm taking a break. Daddy is probably getting pretty wet.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

I Skid-ooed, how about you?

Okay, some of you may be wondering "whaaaa?" Others are cracking up, singing along with Joe and Blue (and that first group is still probably wondering "whaaaa?!?).

I'm home from St. Cloud now, got home last night shortly after 7:00 to many hugs and kisses and smiles, totally exhausted. It's good to be home, and it's great that the kids have been so good today (well, so far!).

When I called home Wednesday night to say good-night to Luke and Sus, Luke and I talked for quite awhile before Susanna got on and said with amazement, "Mama, how did you skidoo into the telephone?" I was cracking up while Luke was trying (unsuccessfully) to convince her that Mama did NOT skidoo into the telephone.

Skidoo, for all of you in the dark, is when Blue the puppy from Blue's Clues jumps into a story book or a picture or something similar and becomes part of the story/picture/etc.

Each time we talked on the telephone, Susi was convinced I'd skidoo'd into the phone.

I think overall the trade show was a success for me. We'll see how many new customers order as a result, but there were at least a dozen or more who were very excited about Greenstar and our products. Many of them have been looking for something just like what we have to offer -- lots of quality things under one roof so they don't have to go all over to order things. Many others are very excited about our private-label program with McCutcheon's. So...we'll see. I did get an order over $3700 from a current customer at the show, which is exciting, too!

Gotta go...get supper ready then hit the sack. We have Fun, Food, and Fellowship here at our house tomorrow night......

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Well, I'm not home right now...meant to blog about it earlier this week but I was busy getting ready for this trip. I'm in St. Cloud right now (Minnesota, not Florida...which is MUCH warmer than here!), ready for the Minnesota Fruit & Vegetable Growers Conference as a trade-show presenter.

I've been working with Greenstar Co-Op for over a year now. It's a funny story...when Tony and I married, I started taking over the ordering and things for our farm market. One of the main companies he ordered from was a company called Farm Markets of Ohio (name since changed to Greenstar). They have thousands of products from dozens of different companies all under one roof, so you can order from just one place instead of having to go to all different companies. Tony had been ordering from them for about ten years or so before I came along. Well, a year or so later, we got the current catalog and they had the CEO's name listed along with the sales reps, etc. There was a VERY familiar name that wasn't too common....John Webel. I got on the telephone and called the sales gal in the office and started grilling her out of the blue: Does John Webel live in Austintown? "um, I can't really say." Well, does he have two daughters named Erin and Allison? "um, I can't really say. Shall I leave a message for him?" I then realized I probably sounded like some psycho...this chick from Minnesota asking all these personal questions. So I clarified: I used to live in Ohio very close to your office. A John Webel went to my church and still attends my parents' church. I used to babysit his daughters. Small world! Same John! He asked us to stop in and tour the place next time we visited my parents, so the kids and I did when we took a quick trip to Ohio to visit my grandparents one last time. Shortly after, John asked me to represent them in Minnesota and the surrounding areas so they could expand their sales base.

So, long story short (okay, it wasn't really short!), I'm here on behalf of Greenstar for the second year in a row. I enjoy talking about Greenstar and how well their products sell for us at our farm market. While I wasn't able to dedicate much time last season to expanding our Greenstar market in Minnesota, I still did get a few large customers and expect many more to come on board this year.

The next couple days will be busy for me, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with no breaks, but if it's like last year, it'll be a blast.

And meanwhile, Tony is home with the kids all day today thru Friday, hehe! I miss 'em all, I really do, but I think it's great, too, that Daddy gets a chance to experience the things I go through all day long while he's busy at the farm. Of course, I think Grandma and Aunt Beth will be seeing a lot of the kids, too.... I wonder what they're going to be up to while I'm away. I wonder if Sus will think Daddy is Satan, too. Will she find the scissors again? Will Luke talk Daddy into giving his cross bow back (it was taken away after he deliberately shot his sister in the head twice...with rubber darts, but STILL!).

Okay, maybe you'd better say some extra prayers for Daddy and the kids...

On a different note; we now have a new president. I'll miss President Bush, who by no means is very popular right now and hasn't been for awhile. I wasn't happy with the election results and don't understand why so many people voted for a man who actively and vocally stands for so many terrible things. But at the same time, President Obama was allowed to take this office only by God's allowance and ordnance. It's hard to understand, but at the same time I am reminded that because of his new position, I need to honor the position he holds, even if I don't agree with all, much or any of his views and things that will probably be put into law (or laws repealed). And even more, especially more now than ever, President Obama needs my...our...prayers. May God continue to bless...and have mercy on...America.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

More Snow Fun!

Can you see the chocolate still on his face from his chocolate chip cookie?
She LOOKS so angelic!

Sliding down the hill on the tush

Plotting my next move....

He loved throwing snowballs, and I FINALLY convinced him not to throw them at me!

Snow Fun!

Yesterday afternoon it was "warm" enough to go play in the snow (it was up to about 16 degrees!), so the kids and I went outside to "get the stink off"
The climb was worth it, to get to the top of the big pile of snow!
This is a smaller pile, but just as fun to sit on and make snowballs to throw at Mama!

Aiming at Mama

This is FUN!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More Silly Comments

Oh, I think any parent will probably agree with me that we should all be offered a course early on entitled "How to keep a straight face when disciplining/confronting a child."

Today after eating a very messy but equally delicious chocolate chip cookie (okay, maybe it was even more delicious than it was messy, but you didn't see my kids, so that's debatable), we ALL headed to the bathroom to wash up. And even with me standing right there, Susanna decided to start playing with the water.

"Susanna, are you playing with the water?" "Yes, Mama. But don't spank me. I'm a possibility!"

Oh boy, is she ever!

Also, for some reason (as much as we've tried to respectfully discourage it), Luke and Susanna have decided one of the most fun words to say is "Obama." EVERYTHING in the house has been labeled "Obama" at one time or another. Sigh. Although I'd rather have a stuffed animal around named Obama than a....well, we won't get into politics.

Tony is home now; we're all happy.

Morning Conversations

I'm listening to my kids on the baby monitor (how old, do you think, before they realize they can unplug it or get rid of it?). I love their conversations when they first get up...and it makes me wonder how in the world they even think of these things?

This morning, the topic has centered around babies. "Luke, I want lots and lots of babies when I grow up. THIS many! Count my toes." "1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10! Well, Susanna, you can have lots of babies when you grow up but first you have to get married. Then you have to ask God if you can have that many. His answer will be yes or no. And I'm going to have more babies than you." "okay. Can we ask Him now?" "Sure!"

"Dear God, we both want lots of babies when we get big. Maybe You will say yes and give them to us. As many as our toes. And after we get married. But not to each other. We need to marry other people. Dear God, please let us have lots and lots of babies. AMEN!"

I'm gonna be a grandma!!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

More on My Loving Daughter

Maybe it's just her age. Maybe Luke went through this same stage...but I really don't remember. Maybe it's her personality. Maybe she is trying desperately to make me lose my sanity.

I was working upstairs in the living room today while the kids were playing nicely together. Sus had to go potty and ran downstairs (yeah, I should've learned my lesson after yesterday, bad me). After about five minutes, I went down to check on her only to find she had slid her little hand into the drawer with scissors, which does have a child safety lock on it which she can't undo but obviously isn't a good deterent since she can still slide her hand in, and pulled out her scissors. And cut her hair. Not much and only on the sides. Oh, and her baby's hair...but I don't know how bad that is because she conveniently "lost" her baby and I can't find it either. I made her call Daddy to tell him what she did. "Daddy, I cut my hair, but don't spank me, okay? I love you very much! Don't spank me, okay?" Then I went into the kitchen to get lunch ready only to find chocolate milk spilled all over the floor but "hidden" with about four towels and two wash cloths. "Susanna, come here. What is this?" Shoulders shrugged. Smile. "I don't know. What is what?" She finally copped to trying to pour some chocolate milk for herself which she had been told not to was for lunch. So...discipline time again. Recap of the rules. "Susanna, what are you not allowed to do by yourself?" "Cut my hair." What else? "Go fishing." Okay, we'd never talked about that before or even went fishing yet, but she is right. "Touch jars." What else? "Write on anything but paper."

So as we're sitting eating lunch, Susanna looks at me and calmly says, "Mama, I think you must be Satan."

Yeah, I still love her. Plus, she decided she'd keep her brother and not try to get a new one. I guess that's another point in her favor.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Little Helper

A couple weeks ago, when two little children were taking a bit too long in the bathroom, I popped my head in to see what they were doing. Susanna especially is fascinated with all things pertaining to the bathroom, especially water. Tony has had to plunge out the toilet twice this week because of the massive amounts of toilet paper she has put in the toilet. (she now knows only three squares at a time) I have finally had to keep reusing one bottle of hand soap, putting just a very little bit in at a time because she will keep pumping it out (it smells so pretty, Mama!).

When I looked in to see what was going on, both were proudly holding a damp wash cloth "washing" the sink and counter. I told them good job...which was my biggest mistake. Okay, the biggest mistake was letting two of them in there for so long...unsupervised, but still....

Fast-forward a few weeks. Today we're in a rush to get out the door. Tony and I were going out for an early supper and dropping the kids off at Uncle Mark and Aunt Beth's. We were already delayed because a freight order was late in arriving here, so I was trying to hurry the kids along, make sure they had enough layers on (the high today was about -10 with wind chill never above -20 -- they cancelled school throughout the state today because of temperatures!). Luke is ready to go, Susanna still in the bathroom. I pop my head in just in time to see her rush to the potty and sit down. I notice a sopping wet hand towel on the floor and pick it up. I then notice puddles of water leading from the sink to the toilet...and we have a very long bathroom! I start mopping them up as I'm telling her to hurry up. She finishes up, washes her hands, and runs upstairs. Then I realize something smells funny. The toilet seat is all wet. Yeah, she put the hand towel into the toilet which had been used and not flushed and carted it to the sink to "wash" the sink! I just throw everything into the washer and figure I'll get the floor and sink clean when we get home.

In the van, I start reminding her that once something goes into the potty, it does NOT come back out...and only toilet paper (three squares!) and um, bodily functions (okay, I used different words) go into the potty. NOTHING ELSE! And never, ever, put your hand into the toilet. DON'T TAKE ANYTHING OUT!!! Then her sweet, little voice quietly asks "not even anything to drink, Mama?"

AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! Deep breath. Quick prayer. Another quick prayer. Deep breath. Good...calm voice. "Susanna, did you ever put a cup in the potty? Did you ever get anything out to drink?" "No, Mama. Not yet."

And in closing, keep us in your prayers. Tony leaves at 6:30 tomorrow (Friday) morning for a 2-day conference in St. Cloud. Pray for his safety in travel and for the weather. Temps are supposed to get warmer (up above 0 tomorrow!) but wind chill will still be under -10 throughout the day. Pray for my sanity with the kids, too. Being cooped up because temperatures are NOT good enough to go outside gets wearing after awhile. It was a nice, quick trip this afternoon, but I'll be home with a vehicle that doesn't plug in (yes, in Minnesota we have to plug our vehicles in during the winter to make sure the engine will start) and temps way too cold to play outside in. And pray for the kids, too, that Mama will be patient if their behavior continues the way it has this past week. Gotta get this stink off!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Silly Kids

A few weeks back, I wrote about how Susanna is trying to be prepared in case there is no toilet paper. Well...last week, the two of us went to Walmart on an errand, and everything was going well. She had a little tin of candies, though, and I warned her if they spilled, everything on the ground would have to go in the garbage. We made it to the checkout line before that actually happened. She started screaming as I picked up mints and tossed them in the garbage can. Hysterically. And during this time, the checkout clerk wanted to see my drivers license for the check I wrote. I didn't bring my drivers license inside...our account number is "in the system" and they've never needed ID after the initial time. Nope, she was NOT going to approve the $5.17 transaction without it...and I needed my contact solution. So I off I went outside, dragging a crying and screaming three-year-old with me. We get out to Tony's truck (which he had me drive because I don't even remember why...but the heater only works on high and it rattles terribly, the heater, that is), and she decides she's going to stay there and not come back into the store. So back I head, dragging a now screaming, crying, AND kicking three year old who is demanding a "nose wiper." I told her I didn't have one, she'd have to wait until we got home (which, thankfully, was our next stop!). However, as we got back to the checkout line, Susi was all smiles. "Look, Mama! I found a nose wiper!" Thinking it was one of the kleenex she occasionally has in her coat pockets (after all, her barbies need dresses and bride's hats, you know), I smiled and said, "Great! Where did you find one?" "Right here." And pointed to her pants. Yep, stashing toilet paper does come in handy. EWWW!!!!!

Last night, Tony was reading to the kids from their new devotionals about the story of Joseph and his brothers. Some of the questions were "do your brothers and sisters bother you sometimes? Do you sometimes wish you could trade them for a different one?" Luke looked at Susanna and said, "No! I love her!" So I asked Sus, "would you want Luke to go away and have a different boy here instead?" No hesitation. Defiinite nod of the head. "Who tells Daddy not to spank you when you are bad?" She points to Luke. "Who shares his candy and favorite food with you?" She points to Luke. "Who is the only one who gives you things you want when you fuss and scream because you don't have them?" She points to Luke. "Who plays dollies and princess castle with you even though you don't play soldiers with him?" She points to Luke. "Who gives you hugs and kisses because he loves you so much?" She points to Daddy. Then me. Then Luke. "And you want him to go away and have someone else here instead?" Another nod. Luke, meanwhile, is hamming it up. Sad face. Covering his eyes. Pretending he is sobbing. He even had me going (until I mentioned that I wanted him to stay...the he was all silly smiles until Sus shook her head again). Finally, she gave him hugs and kisses...although she never did say she didn't want to trade him in!

She was up pretty early this morning (after crawling into bed with us for the fifth night in a row...and being carried back to her bed by Tony). She then informed me that Luke was still in bed sleeping and we must be careful not to wake him up. Soon after, though, he did wake up on his own. We have a photo of Cousin Andrew on his bedroom mirror as well as the young man Tony has been sponsoring through World Vision for many, many years. And as Luke woke up, that's the first thing he said. "Good morning, God! It's a bright, sunshiny day, thank You! Good morning, Benson! Good morning, Cousin Andrew! Stay safe and fight all those bad guys in Iraq!" Funny thing is that Andrew was on facebook at that same I was able to let him know....I think there will be a tickle war between the two cousins when he gets back this way....

Have a great, sunshiny day! We will (even though temps aren't supposed to get above -10)!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Guest Bloggin'

Awhile back, I found a great blog (listed on the right) with some awesome recipes called Cafe Johnsonia. Thru a few emails, I've gotten to "know" Lindsey and am doing some guest posts at her blog this week on Watkins products. She's also doing some unbiased reviews on several Watkins products...stop by and check it all out!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Luke's Party

Here's Luke and his cake, which he easily recognized as Peter with Aslan from Chronicles of Narnia. Once again, Tony did an awesome job of drawing while I in turn "colored" it in!

Luke had so much fun all night long, as did his friends. He's already looking forward to his next party!

The kids had a blas playing Duck, Duck, Gray Duck then just trying to keep balloons off the ground (before popping alot of them). I was worn out after 30 minutes...thank goodness for Tony and Mark!

The guests -- Luke got to invite five friends from church (since he turned five). One friend couldn't make it, so he invited another friend...whose brother is also a friend.... Six friends, yeah, I could handle six 4 & 5 year olds....but then I realized I forgot to count MY two into the mix! They had a great time, and even Grandpa enjoyed himself! (Family came over for pizza and cake an hour after the little ones came over....Mark Mag came with the little ones.)

Opening gifts -- Luke got a much needed and very loved pair of winter boots, a Spiderman puzzle, some really cool GI Joe guys, a wooden car complete with paint (which he did with Daddy this afternoon), a light-up sleeping bag, a Larry-Boy DVD and stuffed animal (can a stuffed cucumber be classified as a stuffed animal?), a toy snowmobile, a dollar bill, and a jacket with temporary tattoes (thanks, Aunt Beth). The kids all loved watching him open his gifts...but once they were out of the wrapping paper, some guests quickly opened the boxes to play with the toys!
How I felt after the party!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Being 5

In case you missed my earlier blog, Luke turned five on Wednesday. It is a big deal to all of us. I look back at the changes in his life this past year, and he's no longer a little boy. Well, he's little, but seeing how his mind works, watching as he's becoming more patient (usually!) in figuring things out, laughing (inside) as he insists on doing more chores (although he asked me at bedtime if he could not have to do any work tomorrow)...I'm amazed at the little man he's becoming.

I did tell him Tuesday night that if he was wet the next morning, he could not turn five. We woke up to hear (over the monitor) a drawer quietly being opened and Susanna asking "Luke, what are you doing?" "shhh!! be quiet! I'm changing." "But why, Luke?" "'Cuz I'm wet...but don't tell Mama, okay?" I chuckled and told Tony....I'm gonna have fun with this one! A few minutes later they were in our bedroom to remind us it was Luke's birthday. I hugged him and asked "so, were you wet or dry?" Gotta love a kid who can't lie to his mama! He didn't even hesitate while confessing he just didn't feel it coming. We let him turn five anyway.

Tomorrow is his birthday party. Six little friends are coming of the original guests was unable to make it, so he invited two brothers (from our rockin' New Year's Eve party) instead. We've got a few things planned...Duck, Duck, Gray Duck (for all you other Ohioans, think Duck, Duck, Goose!), and a bunch of balloons (that Tony is gonna have to blow up!) that we'll bounce around on a sheet. About an hour after the kids get here, the rest of the local family will come for pizza and birthday cake and presents. Luke is so excited, and we are too! I'll post photos....sometime!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January 7

Hard to believe it was five years ago. I was in labor three weeks early. A little one was impatient to get out and see the world. Luke still goes full throttle except when he drops from sheer exhaustion.

Luke's past year has been filled with all kinds of wonders and discoveries. He finished his first year of Cubbies. He developed friendships. He developed his own sense of humor...there isn't much sweeter than realizing your child is finally getting the humor in books, stories, and shows, even if he still doesn't really get jokes. What is sweeter, though, is when your child asks Christ into his life, to forgive his sins...and that was a sweet, joyous occasion for us this year.
Luke continued to be pure boy. He loves to flex his muscles and show everyone how strong he is.

He won a bike at Easter time...and there was no stopping him. Even with training wheels attached, the wheels barely touched the ground. I finally had to hide his bicycle helmet since he was still, IN DECEMBER, wearing it around the house.
He played hard. He played with gusto. He took bigger risks at the play ground.
Luke's biggest hero is his daddy....and he continued to walk in his Daddy's foot steps, often literally.
But he also loves his mama....and loves to help in the kitchen! Not a day goes by without him telling me at least three or four times, "I love you, Mama. I love you so much."
Luke became an even bigger helper this year on the farm, actually helping out! He started off by picking asparagus (okay, he wasn't that great of a helper there...but he sure does love the stuff!) then joining us in the Fourth of July parade.
He did help Daddy do some picking at the farm (although this photo was taken on a family weekend jaunt...where he put his picking skills to good work gathering about two quarts of raspberries...although only one made it past the field!)Luke did much better canoeing to Grandma LaMae's on Labor Day then he did four years ago...he actually spent a good amount of time rowing (and getting us a bit wet).
I think one of his biggest highlights, though, was when he decided to join the cast of our Pumpkin Parties as a little scarecrow...the only one who could successfully drive away the big, black crow (or penguin or duck, depending on what child you asked).....thank goodness, "Rocky" no longer terrified him!
But mid-way through the Pumpkin Party season, Luke discovered Davey Crockett...then Daniel Boone...and the little scarecrow was no more....but look out! He was still armed and ready to scare away that big ole crow!
Luke literally was a star at his Christmas program a few weeks back...and we had a few folks afterwards who told us it sounded like he was going to be the next preacher man.
But regardless of what he did, the fun he had, the places he went, the things he learned...there is no denying that he is all boy.
Our boy. Happy 5th birthday, Luke! We love you!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Our Christmas Program

Every year, one of my biggest delights is directing the children's Christmas program at our church. This year, we had 42 children from 1st thru 6th grade practicing for our Christmas program...I stress to the kids and the parents that I don't want the children in the program if they don't want to be in's a fun thing for them to do, and probably 50% of the Sunday School kids are in it. I also let them decide if they want to have a speaking part or solo...often, parents decide what they want their child to do...and the kid is miserable. We usually have several kids surprise their parents on program night, when Mom and Dad didn't know their child was playing a character or singing a solo. That's always a fun thing!
This year, our program was an old favorite -- it had been performed in 1990 and again in 1999 -- but it's a great program, and hopefully no one minded seeing it again (with many of the kids who weren't even born last time it was performed!). "The Case of the Missing Christmas" is about four children who discover that Baby Jesus is missing from the church's nativity set and came to the conclusion that He was -- gasp! -- stolen! Things quickly snowball into a crisis as the children realize we can't have Christmas without Jesus and just don't understand why the church librarian doesn't seem to care that such a "priceless antique" is missing. There is some speculation that maybe SHE stole the baby, but as various people are interviewed, it becomes pretty clear that perhaps Baby Jesus wasn't stolen...just misplaced. Soon, one of the children realizes that the missing baby isn't the REAL Jesus and that even without the fine, imported porcelain figurine, Christmas does go on because that is just a symbol; the REAL Jesus isn't missing or stolen; He is in our hearts. Eventually, the missing baby is found buried in an old box of Christmas decorations, to everyone's relief, but by that time, everyone also realizes it doesn't honestly matter if the symbolic baby is found or not.
There are some great one liners. There are lots of lines that were waaay over the kids' heads, like when the detective was called out on a 493, Persian triplets accused of impersonating wise men. That, to me, was one of the funniest lines of all.
We had our share of problems this of my main characters didn't know his lines even up to the day before the schedule performance...but it was okay. The program was delayed a week because of weather. However, that caused another problem as one of my other main characters wouldn't be there....she and her brother (also in the program with a brief solo) were out of town. Quick call to a young teen friend who does drama...she agreed to cram in the role and have the part learned in a week! However, our pianist, my dear friend Jane, wouldn't be at the last dress rehearsal due to another commitment to the community choir performances. That's okay, she stayed to record the accompaniment for our final practice. worked out okay. See, the program was delayed ANOTHER week because of weather. Pastor Marty gave me the choice of having it either December 28 or January 4; and this time we'd hold it during one of the morning services so we wouldn't have to worry about night time travel during bad weather. Thankfully, I scheduled the performance for December 28 (we had really bad weather again this past weekend and the program would've been doubtful had it been scheduled for yesterday!). We crammed in a "parts" practice during first service on December 28 followed by a "song" practice during Sunday School without ever having a full practice for two weeks before performing during second service (did ya follow that?). I walked in for the first practice only to be asked to call a parent. Yikes! I lost another character due to illness! And the day before a grandma called that the brother of another soloist was in the hospital, so I had to find someone to cover her. Race around trying to find someone capable of learning lines in less than two hours -- well, someone who could learn lines AND was willing to do so! Thank God (literally) for Sean Polley. He told me he'd do it if I couldn't find anyone else...and that's a whole other story! He did fill in (he's the tall kid in the photos), and he did a great job. I did end up missing seven of the kids who practiced for two months that day.
See, that day was also Sean's birthday and he had NO intention of even staying for the program, despite his mother telling him he should since the teen filling in for my traveling character was his sister. Nope, Sean wanted to get ready for his birthday party. His family had a big laugh at God's humor that day! I'm also so very thankful that Sean was willing to do this role, even though he had "better" things to do.
And despite all the problems leading up to our Christmas program, the kids did great. I'm amazed at the people who tell me I did such a great job. It wasn't me. It wasn't the kids. It wasn't my assistants. After everything that had happened, it was even further proof to me that GOD brought this together for HIS glory and honor. And you know what? I'm thinking He was pleased with it all.

The Baby is Found!!!

Following are some photos from the soloists, special musicians, and actors. Lael (the little girl in the jumper) amazed everyone when she had her very big part memorized perfectly in just a couple weeks. Bruce (in the rocking chair) also amazed everyone because he had sooo many lines and had them down pat. Bria (in the green with the mic) blew everyone away with her gorgeous solo. Sean gave everyone a huge laugh when he walked out on stage, about twice as tall as everyone else in the program! Jenna learned her huge part in less than a week and did a fantastic job at it. Sid, fresh off his acting performance in the Cantata, did another great performance as Detective Joe Thursday. Elizabeth was a convincing "old lady." Every single child, whether in the choir or with a part, did wonderful. And I'm looking forward to another program in just 11 more months!

Below are a bunch of miscellaneous photos of the program kids...just the expressions on faces crack me up. Hope you get as big of a delightful laugh as I do every time I look at them (especially Sarah in the plaid dress).