Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Car Wash Weather

Last Sunday the 27th, we had weather in the 50s. I wanted to get the van washed. It was covered with salt flakes and dirt from dirty snow. Everyone else in town had the same idea. Get a little warm weather and everyone is parked three or four cars deep at the car washes. I didn't have the time or patience to wait. I returned home and took matters into my own hands. Washing the van did become a little bit treacherous as the water on the concrete between the van and the car turned to ice. I did quite a bit of slipping and sliding as I tried to wash that side.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Teen Driver

After the oldest returned home he began to beat the drum of, "When are you going to take me to get my license?" The first week of school Doug picked him up from school and they headed over to the Driver's License Office. They headed out with a notarized paper documenting the 50 hours of driving that had been completed and the driver's permit, which in our state is a 4x4 typed piece of paper with no picture.

In this age of post 9/11 they did not have enough information to apply for a license. They need a birth cert., S.S. card, legal id. (state id. or passport since these kids don't have a driver's license), permit, proof of car insurance and the notarized document. They returned home empty handed. After a trip to the bank for most of the documents, the guys left Saturday morning for the Driver's License Office only to be told that their driving test slots were filled for the day. What a let down!

Doug uncharacteristically kept our oldest home from school last Tuesday (D.L. office is closed on Mondays)so that he could be the first in line to take the test. Yea, he passed first time round and left with a license in hand and got to show off at school.

Of course you can guess the next drum beat, "When can I drive somewhere by myself?" This weekend he was going to take a car to his friend's house. W-E-L-L ... the car we bought for him to use wouldn't start (too cold/0 degrees) so he left in the Galant. He quickly returned saying the speedometer wasn't working. Three vehicles and only one is working. No driving by himself this weekend and the Galant went into the shop to be serviced this morning. What a welcome to the realities of cars. At least he didn't have to pay the bill.

Life is just beginning to get crazy with a teen driver and guess what!! The youngest son is now taking Driver's Ed. on Saturdays at his school. Aren't we lucky that the school contacted us so our son could get his license in a timely fashion. And no worries they'll send us a bill for the cost of the Driver's Ed. classes. In our state the students have to complete 50 hours of driving with a parent 10 of which are evening hours and must hold their permit for nine months. We just finished having one child drive us all over the place and now get to look forward to a summer of being driven crazy/around.

Back From Costa Rica

The traveler arrived home safe, sound, and full of stories. He talked for hours about his experiences. We loaded his pictures on the computer and he regaled us with the adventures of his trip. This is the only photo of him (other than the two he took of himself sitting on a bed). He is at Drake Bay sitting in a round stone structure they call look out point. He captured an amazing number of animals. There are pictures of spider monkeys, green poison dart frogs, red poison dart frogs, a spider, butterfly, iguana, sloth, Quetzal Bird, Caracara, Black Vulture, Black Hawk, crocodile, and Leaf Cutter Ants. The places they visited are just stunning, what a tropical paradise.

Drake Bay by day. This is one of my favorites. The shades of green on the roof of the hut (to the far left) is dazzling. It seems like the calm before the storm has just been captured. The lighting makes everything so sharp and intense. There is a clarity that you don't get in any other type of light. To the far right is the edge of the Lookout Point where the oldest was photographed.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Book I Wrote: Went to the Apple Orchard

This is a quick time video of the book I wrote. Since I wrote and illustrated it using the mac computer, I was able to convert it to a video as well as have it published as a hardbound book.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Trip to Galena

One of my nieces has used this feature. Check it out. Click the green button and it should play.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Dec. 27th

We took the oldest to the airport here in town to travel to Costa Rica (Dec. 27th). No more things to add to the suitcase just in case. I stood in line with him while he checked in. The plane was delayed 45 minutes so they would be leaving later than expected, not bad considering the day was very foggy, in fact the weather people referred to it as freezing fog.

I had a follow-up doctor's appointment right about the time they were originally suppose to depart so we had to leave. Doug didn't have to literally drag me away, almost.(Drag me Sammy.) I told him I was sure everyone thought we were those irresponsible parents dropping their kid off at the airport and then taking off. He said it gave others the excuse to leave since we did it first. Whatever!

Doug and I had made plans to go to a resort in Galena for a few days. Doug has a colleague that owns a condo and rented it to us for a very reasonable price. She like Doug (who doesn't)! It sounded good at the time, but as we traveled I worried about the flight being canceled and having to spend the night at home or them getting delayed in Atlanta and were were on the road. Of course Daniel had our cell numbers. I typed and laminated all emergency numbers on a card and put it in his backpack.

I guess things were fine. I was going by no news is good news. We did have fun in Galena. We arrived safely, got set-up and then it started to snow. All told we got 7 inches worth. Right by the condo was a Nordic Trek/Golf Club. Here we were able to get cross county skiies and sleds. We went sledding. We loved it. The little one and Doug caused a sensation and created a trend. they called it the double decker. He laid on his belly on top of the sled and she laid on his back, down the hill they went. Unfortunately I didn't get pictures of this since I had already put the camera away to do my own sledding. At the end of the sledding day, as we trekked up another hill to the golf club, a gentleman who admired my "camera" offered to take a picture of us. All that white fuzz is snow coming down.

We met a family who has a lab dog named Martha. She chased them down the hill. After awhile she would just run beside the sled and kind of nip at them. The dad took her down on the sled twice; what a sight that was. It made us miss Amber as we knew she would be doing the same thing (with the addition of barking at everybody).

We saw woodpeckers, deer, cats, and squirrels. The little one made a snowman. The only things I had to decorate it with were golf balls and peanuts. The golf balls were too big so she used the peanuts. Doug said with a bigger smile it could be Jimmy Carter. Ah, memories of GA too.

P.S. I know you were worried about our big boy. When we returned home there were two messages from the phone tree that the group had arrived safely and on schedule to San Jose. We then were graced with a phone call on the 30th from my boy, probably the only call we'll get. He said he had almost used up his $20.000 phone card and could only talk for five minutes. I should call the girlfriend to find out what he's doing.

He sounded great and had seen two toed sloths, a pit viper (that can kill you in 20 seconds), and lots of poison dart frogs. Where was his camera??? In the front pouch of his backpack. Hello, I showed him where everything was!!

Oh, I love this. Patty this is so Daniel. He says it has rained everyday, but today was clear. I asked, "Did you wear the windbreaker I packed for you (my windbreaker)?"
No, he says. He says, " I figured that you would only get so wet and then you couldn't get anymore wet than that."
Using my best Dr. Phil voice I said, "How'd that work for you?"
He says, "It didn't. I got really wet and kept getting wet. ha, ha."
Hello!! What does he think, that people have a saturation point. Wrong!
Now, I'm sure his group leaders are thinking what kind of momma wouldn't pack her son a waterproof jacket when it was on this list of things to bring.

Christmas Day

Yea! The big day arrived. We actually slept in until 8:30. An unheard of feat for Christmas Day. I think I heard the youngest son up and around earlier. More amazing is that the big boy was entering the family room as I was. He always in bed until much later in the morning when there is no school. he still has the Christmas spirit.

Santa brought the kids a wii game system. Doug and I had search all summer with the hopes of buying one and saving it until Christmas. Even my hairdresser was giving us tips for finding one. Right before Thanksgiving she told us to go to Game Stop the day after. She knew that they were selling 12 the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday). We headed there at 5:00 in the morning and waited in line outside in the freezing cold. We ended up being the 13 or 14 person, no wii.

We are so thankful that a beautiful elf heard our sad tale and was able to get Santa to deliver one on Christmas Day. The oldest who is not impressed by much these days couldn't believe that Santa brought them a wii. Considering their naught and nice record, I'm amazed too. It was a fun day of guitar hero and wii bowling.

We had great fun opening presents. It was was too civilized and quiet. Usually there are nine adults, nine children, a dog, and a cat or two on Christmas Day. It's loud boisterous and crowded as we all cram into the living room. We are trying to convince some of the younger to keep opening presents and others are yelling that they need more presents to open. And there's the what did you get? Who gave that to you? Did you open my present yet?

The kids liked their gifts. Wondered about what their cousins were doing. And there was the is this it? Not that they didn't get enough presents but that with only five people it doesn't take very long to open and share gifts. Gifts were clothes (for the girls), games(both electronic and not), books, cowboy hat, CDs, DVD, good smelling stuff, toiletries bag, passport pouch, gift cards and watches.

The oldest got a guitar hero for play station and so did the girlfriend. He went to her house later in the day and took his guitar hero. It must have been dueling guitars (better them than us). And wii took over the wii.

We had another great dinner. Free range smoked turkey. Yumm!!! The youngest son says that next year we need to take a turkey to FL.

The little one and I ended the night playing the game of LIFE. My how the game has changed. She has this electronic thing that keeps score and you use a credit card to input your info. It controls the spins and tell you how many places to move. Too cool.

I was given a new Nikon camera from Doug. YEA!! This is the first saved picture form the new camera. I think that the camera is his present too. He certainly enjoyed using it in Galena after the holidays and he never liked using my small digital camera.

We are so thankful for all we have and for all we received. It was a great day, different from the years before, and yet still a day of family, wonder, and happiness. I thought that I would be sad, that we would have difficulty making this our Christmas. I was sad the last week of school knowing that we weren't making all those preparations to travel and knowing that that meant we wouldn't be in FL for Christmas. I think our active faith and our rich family traditions (from both sides of our family) made this year special too.

Christmas Eve

As I reflect upon our Christmas, I realize that it has been 15 years since we have had Christmas Eve and Day in our own home. Timothy now 15 turned one in Americus and we have always gone home to Florida to spend the holidays.

As you can imagine it was a very different type of celebration. My mom reminded me to keep our traditions and I reminded her to be sure to call Uncle Gonzo early Christmas to get him over to open presents. Over the years we would wait at my mom and dad's house for the aunts, uncles, and cousins to arrive on Christmas Day so we could open presents. It was quite a test of patience for the kids to wait for everyone to arrive. Often the boys ended up calling their uncle (several times) to get him moving.

We had been mentally preparing for staying here for the Christmas season. We had spoken of some of the things we miss out on here when we travel to Florida. So we had some ideas of what we would do if we stayed here.

Christmas Eve turned out to be much busier than I anticipated. We began by cooking a ham and fixings for an early dinner. I had hoped that we would have a movie marathon of all those favorite Christmas programs like Rudolph, Frosty, The Year Without a Santa Claus, but the boys weren't interested and the day went by so fast. I think I was still wrapping presents, packing up the big boy for his trip to Costa Rica, and shopping for one or two last minute items I thought he needed. Oh yea and buying my youngest son some dress pants to wear for church. All he has is sweat pants. For our annual family picture in early December he had to borrow a pair of jeans from me (they were too long for me to wear). I never imagined sharing clothes with my boys. Although I do wear the snow boots the big boy outgrew several years ago.

One thing we always miss is that our church has what they call an Instant Christmas and a Living Nativity. The Instant Christmas is comprised of youngsters who reenact the story of the Nativity, as told by Luke, on the altar right before the start of mass. They do this for the first two masses. My little girl wanted to be in the Instant Christmas so she signed up as an angel for the 4:00 mass. At rehearsals it was recommended that we arrive by 3:00 to get seats since this is one of the most crowded masses. Doug and I sat up front so we could get pictures and video. As families arrived for mass, adults passed out props for the children to wear and these children would be called up to join the others during parts of the reading. After an hour of nervous waiting the Instant Christmas Program began. There were angels, shepherds, and sheep that came up from the pews to join the others, on the altar, who had roles that needed rehearsing and I must say it was adorable.

Once this ended the priests and servers processed to the altar to begin the mass. Doug and I conspicuously left the front of the church to take our daughter home. Again, one of the things that the boys have wanted to do for a long time is attend Midnight Mass. At our church in FL, where Doug and I were married and our oldest baptized, the mass is as crowded as it was for the 4:00 mass here. The pews are stuffed with people, extra chairs are added to the ends of each pew, people are standing lining the walls of the church and are gathered in the narthex of the church as well. In FL we have to arrive and hour and a half early for mass.

Since we literally live across the street from our church (a two minute walk with no parking issues as oppose to a ten minute drive and huge parking issues); Doug and I figured we could go early and save seats for the kids having them arrive about 15 minutes before mass stared. This was our plan and the kids were actually excited about this.

Anyway after the Instant Christmas we ate a delicious ham dinner and then got the little one ready for the Living Nativity. Yes, as long as we were home for Christmas we were going to experience everything. The Living Nativity is outside the entry of the church. Members of the parish build a huge framework of a stable and lining what would be the walls with bales of hay. They bring in live animals. We have sheep, goats, cows, and even a camel. Members of the parish also sign-up to be the people of the Nativity. Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, and an angel. It is too cold for a real baby so they use a doll. My little one was again an angel. Under her costume she had tights, socks, sweat pants, shirt, sweatshirt, and coat. Her role was to greet the people before and after the 8:00 pm mass.

The three of us returned home rested for a bit and them we all got ready for church. Midnight Mass was not a midnight it was at 10:30 (go figure). I did get grumbles about the clothing and shoe apparel for mass. What is mass without someone complaining?!! Luckily we didn't have to leave early since this mass is not very crowded. We arrived about 20 minutes early and got great seats. I think Father must have felt compelled to make mass last until midnight as he had a long and confusing homily. Oh well, it was a beautiful day and we returned home, hopped in bed to await a visit from Santa.