Saturday, December 29, 2012


Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Morning

Emily mentioned about a week before Christmas that the stuffed rhino she had put on her wish list was probably the one thing she wanted more than any other item.  Unfortunately, I hadn't gotten it for her.  I did some last minute scrambling and managed to get it here in time!

Not sure what was going on here, but I love this picture.

 Ben got a set of throwing knives.

 The girls were not pleased.

 The aftermath.

 New hat, new slippers.

 A Hufflepuff scarf which was a favorite gift this year, as well as a completely unexpected phone.

And a completely unexpected tablet!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

And Christmas Eve is finally here.  I've actually been so far ahead of the game this year that I feel really off-kilter like I've forgotten something.  All the gifts were bought well ahead of time.  I've been wrapping as I go, so there is very little wrapping to do this evening.  Normally, I'm running around buying things at the last minute and wrapping until the wee hours.

We went to the Christmas Eve service at our church,
came home and made dairy-free egg nog,
then made a dairy-free casserole for tomorrow morning.

And then I gave the kids their Christmas pajamas.
Every year I get them a nice, new set of pj's so they will look good in our Christmas morning photos.

This year, Emily got a set that features the early bird, Ben got some with bacon on it, and Katie got a cute pair with a reindeer.

 Although, actually once she got them on and started dancing around in them, Emily looked closely and said, "That's not a reindeer!  That's a chihuahua!"

I think she's right.
We will probably laugh for years about the chihuahua pajamas.

Then we read "The Littlest Angel" which is a tradition because it usually makes one of us cry.

When I took this picture, I noticed that Ben's cheerleading pants were showing at his ankle.

"Ben, did you put on your cheer pants underneath your pajama pants?"

"Yes," he responded.  "I love these pants.  I wear them all the time, I even pull my jeans on over them and wear them to class."

Good gracious.  I'd noticed he'd been wearing them around the house a good bit in the week that he's been home.  

 "How long has it been since you took them off?"

"About a month."

I may need some help wrestling those off of him so I can throw them in the washer before he leaves again.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Way of Lights

We went to an amazing light display here in Belleville, Illinois.  It's located at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows which is dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus.

The light display has over a million white lights and it takes them six weeks just to get them all up.

If you just want to view the lights, you can simply drive right through.  There is no charge, although they do accept donations at the end.

But if you want to get out of your car and experience some of the extras, you'll be quite pleased!

Check the weather first!  We didn't realize we'd be getting out of the car and nearly froze.  Luckily, they were selling hot chocolate there for only $2 a cup!  Emily wasn't happy as she's allergic to milk, but we bought her some kettle corn to make up for it.

Then Katie wasn't happy because she wanted Emily's kettle corn.

Peace on earth, my aunt fanny.

At the first stop we discovered a horse-drawn carriage which you can hire to take you though the light display but it was much too cold.

There were donkey rides........

...and even camel rides!

At the next stop we found a Christian bookstore which had lots of crucifixes, rosaries, and saints medals.

Emily looked at me and said, "I've never felt so Protestant in my life."

There was also an area where you could dress in angel costumes and have your picture taken.

There was also a stage where various choirs sing although none were performing during our stop.

Also, wreath displays......
....and tree displays.

See this amazing mosaic of Mary, Jesus, and three angels?
It's hard to tell, but it was taller than I am.
Let me show you a closeup....

Yep, those are LEGOS!  You can't even tell the entire thing is made of Legos, until you are up close!

Back in the car, we drove through a path of lights which was quite spectacular to see.
It was almost like looking at a city of lights.

There were various displays showing the story of the first Christmas.
This one was of Bethlehem.

There are even moving displays!

This was an angel hovering over the manger scene.

There are lights in the trees which looked like stars overhead.

Our last stop was at the laser show.  There are two different shows, one at a quarter after and one at a quarter 'til, every hour.  It's $3 per person to view and totally worth it.  Sit near the back for the best view!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Encouraging Education

I found a new way to "encourage" my girls when they complain about having to learn diagramming sentences or working out geometry proofs.  "I will NEVER need to do this in real life when I'm an adult," they tell me.  

I agree with them actually.  I've been an adult for a number of years and not once have my skills in diagramming sentences come in handy.  Nor has anyone ever burst into my office (back when I worked outside the home) and said, "Quick!  Tell me!  Is this an appositive or a predicate nominative?"

Nevertheless, they do have to learn this stuff now because the department of education says so - although I hear they are now dropping cursive as a necessary skill in life so there goes all that time I spent battling with the kids teaching them that.

Anyway, now when they complain about having to learn something they find unnecessary to their future lives I just pull up this picture on the the computer and point to it.

"Do you really want to be this girl one day?" I ask them.

"That could just be her grandfather," they say to me.

"Look where his right hand is," I respond.

"Ew," they say.

"Get back to work," I tell them.


And they jump back to their work with great enthusiasm........for at least an hour.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Biology 101

I was checking Facebook one day recently when these photos popped up of Emily at her Biology class.

 I asked her, "What were you doing in these photos?"

"Oh," she responded blithely, "We were studying the effects of alcohol on human reactions."


She grinned at me, "We had to spin around in a circle and then try to run down the balance beam.  It produces the same effects as alcohol."

Oh.  Whew.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

We're Paying For This?

All freshmen in college are now required to take "Freshmen Experience" during their first semester.  In my day, only the remedial students had to take a class like this.  It basically teaches students how to study, how to use the library, and how to manage your life now that your parents aren't around to make you get out of bed and tale your assignments to class.

Ben has been saying all semester that you'd have to be an idiot to fail this class.  I think if you show up you're pretty much guaranteed an "A".  But he took his final in the class today and here is his synopsis of the exam:

My Freshman Experience test: 
1. What is the room number of this class? 
2. What town are we in? 
3. Who is your advisor? 
4. How do you spell the teacher's last name? 
5. Rate this class on a scale of one to five.

I studied so I was fine. I expect many a tear stained F on this one though :p

Monday, December 10, 2012

Blunt Honesty

Emily brought me a jar that she was trying to open but it was new and she couldn't budge it.  I took it and with one twist, got the lid off.

"Really?" I teased her.  "Aren't you supposed to be stronger than me by now?"

"Who says I'm supposed to be stronger than you?  I'm a teenager!"

"That's my point.  You're young, and you guys are always telling me I'm old."

"I never say you're old out loud, Mom.  I just think it in my head," she responded.  "And when I say you're old, what I really mean is - you're short."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Puppy Power

My girls have become archers.

 They take archery lessons once a week and are really enjoying it.  They are in a class of homeschoolers and it's quite a large group.  

For safety reasons their instructor taught everyone to obey commands by whistle.  One tweet on the whistle means "step up to the line".  Two tweets means "shoot your arrows".  Three tweets means "go collect your arrows".  This keeps any over-excited youngster from running out to collect his arrows while those around him are still shooting.

The instructor told the parents that for some extra money he could whistle train them all to clean their rooms and do their schoolwork too.

All the archers wear braces on their left arms to protect them from the bow string.  It tends to pop the arm and it packs a wallop.  Both the girls have come home with stinging red marks where they've been popped hard.

A couple of weeks ago, Katie was having a hormonal pre-teen type of day.  She was cranky and hungry and tired and life just wasn't suiting her particularly and her arrows weren't the right weight and they just wouldn't go straight, etc, etc.

Emily stalked over to me at one point and told me I needed to "speak to" Katie about her attitude.

Katie trounced over in a snit with tears in her eyes.  "I hit my arm with the bow string and it hurts and I just don't feel good!"

I took her to the bathroom and let her cry it out for a few minutes.  Sometimes just getting the tears out releases the tension inside and you can just take a deep breath and move on with your life.  I got her a cold, wet paper towel and got her cooled down with it and assured her that she was normal and this too shall come to pass.

We went back out to the archery range, Katie stepped up to the line and started shooting.  The instructor walked over and said, "How's it going?" 

Katie looked at him, burst in to tears, and came running over to me, sobbing.

We went back to the bathroom and repeated step one.

She went back out to the range and started shooting again.  The instructor came over to me and said, "Did I do something wrong?"

"No," I told him.  "She's just a hormonal pre-teen."

About that time another family came in and sat down with us.   

And they brought their new puppy.

The next time Katie came to the table she was enraptured with the puppy.  She held the puppy, petted the puppy, loved the puppy, and laughed and laughed and laughed over the puppy.

The instructor sidled up behind me after watching Katie skip gleefully back to the shooting line and whispered, "Maybe you need to stop by the pound on your way home and pick up a puppy."

It might just be worth it.