Some of the best original carol renditions came from Joseph this year:

"Dingle Bells"
Dingle bells, dingle bells, dingle all the way.
Oh wer fun eeuuride in one more horse in sleigh, hey!

"Hark the Herald"
Hark the Herald angels sing glory to the newborn king.
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful all ye nations rise from the triumphs of his rise.
With the jelly ghosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark the Herald angels sing, glory too the newborn king.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve we opened our home to friends and neighbors for a service of carols and readings. We were overwhelmed by the turnout. It is so great to live in a house where size dictates amount of possessions. We don't have room for much...and so there isn't much to move in order to clear out the dining room and living room and make room for a crowd. What a great night - reading the songs of Christmas (Simeon's, Mary's, the angels' and Zechariah's) and singing. (Sorry I didn't record to the end of the verse, duh.)
Joseph has apparently volunteered to be on the music committee for the church plant. This was totally unprompted - he stood for every song and played along.

Another gear

She's getting pretty fast. This is her favorite place - she goes nuts most of the time when we put her on her changing table.

Busy, busy, busy

We have been at work around here. I thought I had simplified Christmas. I really thought about it this year - how to keep things not so...I don't know...busy I guess. But about a week before Christmas I realized that my plan had been with a family of 4 in mind. I forgot we are a family of 5 now...that adds an additional dynamic. I had a friend one time, reflecting out loud in front of me, say something about how each kid arrives with his/her own little suitcase of needs and requirements...adding many things to our lives while we never really remove any of the other things all ready there to make room. We expect to keep up life as it was, while adding to it this whole other person and all of her (in our case) needs. It is hard to figure out what to remove...but it seems necessary. Speaking of little people and their suitcases, Greta is waking up with an empty belly, so I better run. Here is some of the Christmas making we have been up to.
I thought I would take a picture of everyone at work...then I looked closer at what Joseph was actually doing...
Pay no attention to the fact that, ignoring manufacturers instructions, I have a baby swing on the table...and a three-year-old.

Goody O'Grumpity

Aagh! It is Christmas Eve and I am not quite up to date!!!! Here is how we wrapped up Fall - with some Goody O'Grumpity bread. This is one of our favorite books. It is actually a poem (and I was going to write it out for you here, but we have lots to do in prep for a Christmas Eve gathering at our house, next year). We decided to make Goody's spice bread and I have to admit I was a little nervous because it involved yeast and everything I make involving yeast usually ends up weighing about 10 pounds. But this was a grand success! And really yummy. They were helping here...but I don't remember how.

It made two loaves so we took the book and a warm loaf over to Lou and his momma for a snack. (I didn't tell her they were on the floor with the measuring cups while they were helping...)
And this was our Fall poem - Come Little Leaves by George Cooper (thank you Veerman). I was really proud of Olivia. This rendition is not very clearly recited, but she knew the whole thing and recited it beautifully several times. I tried to involve Joe in the memorizing and he always pretended disinterested and then one day Olivia had a memory block and he piped in with durn near three quarters of it memorized. Stinker.



"You are trusting me to these yaahoos?""Really?"
A day when everyone ended up in green somehow.

The decorating

I look back at years past...there is documentation of the tree being cut, brought into the house, the lights being strung, the ornaments being carefully hung, and a nice cozy shot of everyone around the tree. This year ornaments we flying everywhere. If it is a ball, you should be able to throw it, right? WRONG! Joseph, you may not hang anymore of the breakables! The tree is heavy on ornaments on the bottom - quite a test to this micro-managing soul. And they are eating the candy canes that have been decoration for the past 3 years (gross). But it is up - and lovelier than ever I think. Lana (remember Lana?) was there helping too, but I didn't get her in a picture. Olivia was excited to share decorating with Lana, since she had helped over at Frank and Irma's the day before - it is all about the sociability (not a word? you know what I mean).She helped the most.


So, when we lived in St. Louis we always went to the same tree farm to cut down our tree. A hassle, but totally worth it. The hot chocolate, the candy canes, the nice drive, pulling the kids around in a sled, welding sharp saws. It was worth it. But good Christmas trees don't grow here. Only monterrey pines and their branches are too flimsy to hold ornaments. So we go to a big monterrey pine tree farm and look at the ones you can cut, but go home with a pre-cut noble fir. There are no mittens or hats, but it was chilly enough for sweaters - so it felt right.

And this is what it looks like to try to get a picture of three kids. So far this may be the hardest part about having three. Everyone always wants to know what it is you go...

And here is how the day ended - zonked in the Wal-Mart parking lot because we had a dead car battery.
On to the decorating!


Well, we are almost caught up to the present. My goal is to be caught up by Christmas day so we can post "live." So, why so formal a set up for viewing the Macy's parade? And why the enormous television on the living room floor and the shrunken one in the cabinet? You really shouldn't ask so many questions.But that is where our Thanksgiving any good, American Thanksgiving front of the television. But, really, we can't keep our eyes off this cutie.
Olivia walks into this scene and says, "Daddy, you look girly." Clearly he is not cooking enough around here. And he can cook.
We had a couple of families over and shared the cooking. It was really nice. We even split up the leftovers so we could all have some.
And this is the cleanest my range has looked since the day we moved in...and when Niki visited. This was, sadly, before the Thanksgiving cooking. I am a...full contact cook.
A little happy baby Thanksgiving dance.

Plant purchase

This may be the first real purchase for the church plant - 3 6 foot tables. The week before Thanksgiving we hosted our small group for a potluck breakfast for supper.
This picture makes the room look really long.

We weren't sure where we would store them. Our small part of the garage was packed full. However, the day following our supper our landlords called and said they were coming to clean out their side of the garage and we were free to spread out into it! Surprise how the Lord provides!

Requested picture

It doesn't take much

'scuse Olivia's tube top. It is 'dress up.'

Headband Hazard

I think she decided someone must have turned out the lights, so she popped her thumb in and went to sleep.


I think I said this before. I wasn't really excited about all the silly frills and pinks when we had Olivia. I was excited as could be about having a girl. I just wasn't into all the girly girl clothing. Now, for some reason, I think it is great. I swore I would never put one of these stupid head bands on a kid...but she looks so cute.
Looks like she's sportin' some girly girl gang colors.

Staying in touch with the crafty side

It is easy for me to put off silly little projects like this because really who has time to make a fall pillowcase when no one has clean underwear? But I have found that when I make time to do these little things...I don't just makes me happy. And hopefully it makes them happy too. And it usually relieves a little stress...for a minute, until I realize all I have neglected to do it. We were in JoAnn fabrics back in the fall and the kids asked for fall pillowcases. Seemed like an easy request. You just sew two rectangles together, right? I let them pick out the fabric and this was the result.


Oh, Mexico

Sad to say this is the only picture I snapped from our cross the border run last month. We went down for an afternoon to see some friends who live in Tijuana (TJ if you are cool). It was disconcerting. Much more 3rd world country-ish than I expected. Granted, we just stayed in the border area, but there were potholes bigger than Joseph and wild dogs. And it was loud and extremely dirty. Oddly, there were abandoned shoes everywhere...guess a lot of people are in a hurry down there. But we had a lovely time with our friends, eating (what I hope was beef) tacos and just wandering around.
We actually walked over the border - quicker. But this was a mile or so from where we parked.

Ella Cinderella

This seems like so long ago now...but it has only been a few weeks since Ella passed away. Aside from Ridley and a few earth worms...and some slugs that somehow ended up smeared on my bathroom towels...aside from all those, Ella Cinderella was Olivia's first, very own pet. She and Mike found the grasshopper in Frank and Irma's yard. Olivia immediately found him a "cave" (aka - cage) see video - and gathered all the necessities: grass, coke bottle top of water, and toys. Toys? That's right. Toys. (also see video)Olivia handled and cared for Ella every day. She wanted to take her everywhere we went, convinced that she (Ella) did not like being left alone. (I think there might have been a little projection going on there.) She changed her water and gave her fresh grass. There were a few mornings (she check on her every morning) when Olivia would come in the house and say something like, "Silly Ella, she is still asleep." And I just knew she had kicked the bucket. But she survived...for two weeks! A grasshopper, in a box for two weeks! Granted she only had about 3/4 of an antennae on one side and 1/4 on the other and one of her front paws was half missing (too much handling I think), but she lived on.
One day Olivia said she knew tricks and that she played with the toys. I smiled and said, "Really? That's great." Not believing her. When she said, "Watch this" and dipped the hopper into the cave and said, "Get your toy" and raised the durn bug up with a wooden painted heart in its...hands...legs?? I dropped my draw. Sure enough. She did tricks.
One night we returned to find Ella on her side, not to raise again. I was worried about how Olivia would respond. She got really quiet and let Mike carry her to bed, but then never looked back. The bug sat in the cave on the porch for a couple weeks until Joseph finally tossed the bug into the garden. Said she needed some new grass. Don't think he gets death yet.

I'm not sure what to think about Olivia's mourning. Trying not to imagine her responding to our deaths that way...or Joseph either...he might just toss us out in the front yard for some fresh grass. But she was quite the grasshopper trainer. Made us proud.

Ella Cinderella
October Something 2010 - October Something 2010.

Ordination flowers

Amy, I forgot I took these at home. I think they show them a lot better.

Second Annual Last Minute Costume Mayhem

Well, we did it again. Last year was such a "success" (see Joseph below: the hand-me-down zebra), we decided to come up with Olivia's costume the day of. Don't get me wrong (those of you who know us won't), we had plenty of time. Olivia said months ago that she wanted to be a macaw. In fact a pattern has emerged - whatever major theme we are using for school influences her costume choice. Last year it was zoo - thus the zebra. This year we are studying birds. So, as much as I do not enjoy going to Wal-Mart (despite my southern roots where Wal-Mart is the Sax of the South), here I was again armed with a request and a...oops, no credit card. On the way to Wal-Mart I have to admit I had a skip in my step, energized by last year's success. But as I drove all the way back home to get my credit card I was murmuring something like, "Whose dumb idea was this? Why in the world would we wait until the last minute?! Why does this always happen?!" Always? I am such an exaggerater when I am frustrated.

Mike was the hero this year. The wings made the outfit. And Joseph wore the zebra well. And Baby G...well you'll see. Below is sweet Lou from across the street. Proud to say his dad made his costume too! An airplane. Looked awesome. Only problem was it weighed about 50 pounds and Lou only made a couple of houses before they had to carry it for him. Very cute. We love Lou...and his parents. They are subleasing August's house while they are in Germany. They are from South Carolina. It is nice to have a shared accent on the street.
Lou being stalked by a macaw. (You would never know it from the back, but Leigh Ann was pregnant. Now Lou has a baby brother Bert. Cute.)

The best part of trick or treating this year was Joseph running back after every house yelling, "Ta da!" and holding up the loot from that house. Every house he did that.
This is Lu Lu. (Lot a Lou's around here). Her full name is Lunette. She is Frank and Irma's (next door) great granddaughter (one of them anyway, they have a million). She is the cutest chunky monkey you ever saw...especially with that pencil thin.
We had the best time this year. We went with Frank and Irma's grand kids and their kids. Lana (below) is Olivia's age and they have become fast friends. Lana lives in Palmdale and only visits every few months, but they are joined at the hip when she is here.

You can blow this up and see the pumpkin O and Joe created with Mike.
You can blow this up too - this line of people went down our walk to the side walk and down to Frank and Irma's. It was crazy. Once, when walking back from taking a few pictures, I passed two old ladies coming down the steps with trick or treat bags! No lie. I don't even think they were dressed up. I don't remember now. But one of them was holding on the railing and I thought I might need to help her. No shame for candy around here.
So there it is. We'll see what happens next year...