Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Annual Family Picture
I can't even begin to explain what a horrible pain in the butt the family picture was this year. One would think that if you actually get 10 people dressed and to the studio on time that the battle is won. But NOT when you are dealing with JC Penney. We ordered the second frame from the sitting, by far the best of the pictures. Then I get a call a week later saying they can't print it because of fog on the film. It took daily calls to their customer service center for 11 days straight to FINALLY get them to agree to send out a different frame and then when it FINALLY got here (on 12-22 much too late to send out the pictures in the christmas cards) they forgot to include the individual pictures I had ordered of Brett and Will and they didn't include the custom black and white I ordered. I am still working on getting that straightened out. I have NEVER been quite so frustrated with the customer service department anywhere. So this picture is no where as good as the original one, but at least it preserved our family as they were in the year 2005. I am sure everytime I look at it that I will be reminded of what a pain it was to get the final prints in my hands!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

I finally get it!

During Christmas services the pastor made a comment that I had never thought about before. He said that Luke was quite skillful in telling the tale of Jesus birth. He said that he used the manager as a SYMBOL because Jesus would feed the world (as a manager would feed animals). It had always struck me as quite odd that Mary would have laid her newborn son in the place where animals fed (rather than keeping him in her arms)....suddenly the light was turned on! It all makes sense!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Trip Downtown to see Holiday Displays

Julieanne wrote:
Hey all,For those of you planning on coming downtown to see the trains and other holiday displays with us on Wed, here is the link to downtown's parking info - you can click on a map of the remaining $1 parking lots, now that fountain square is under construction. If the link isn't working, just copy and paste it into your browser.

As a recap, we're meeting at 10 am at the Cinergy Train display (free), and then we'll walk around to see the other displays, then have lunch. Then we will go see the creche display at the cathedral (also free) - it's a collection of unusual manger scenes, Native American, Mexican, etc. Laura R. sent me the link for those who want to preview it...Here is a link to the article and some pictures....hours are 12-2 weekdays, I figure we can get there during that time (they will arrange tours if you think we won't be there by then) and it is free....look at the pics at the bottom I love "New Life and Old Skins" and the Adobe one....

Then we'll likely head to Krohn Conservatory (also free) to see their holiday display.If you plan on coming, you can rsvp me so we'll know to look for you. If you're not able to come at the last minute, call my cell... 513-205-7348 so we won't wait on someone who can't come. And keep an eye on the weather... if it's below 20, or if it's raining, it's cancelled.Have a wonderful holiday season!

What an absolutely AWESOME day! Unfortunately Grant was sick with a stomach bug and Brett volunteered to stay home and watch him and keep Will, but the rest of us had a GREAT time!

We started at the train display and then went to the Westin to see their decorations. Then to Towere Place to visit santa (Cade had to make sure he knew that he wanted the ESPN game center) and lunch. We then went up to the cathedral. It was so funny to go into the cathedral which such a diverse group of friends. One of the families is Wiccan and I thought she might be put off by the suggestion but she really marvelled at the artwork involved in the nativities! The kids spent more time looking at the nativities than they did the trains and lights! The cathedral (which one would think would be stuffy and formal) allowed them up close to the nativities, allowed them to touch the cases and gave short narratives about each piece of work. I am definitely adding a trip to see the nativities to our annual holiday activities list (this was the 4th year they had them on display...they feature different ones each year).

We then went up into Mt. Adams to Krohn Conservatory to see the live nativity and their holiday flower diplays.

It was a GREAT DAY! Hopefully everyone will be healthy next year and it can be a true family outing!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Children as accessories

Jay and I went out Christmas shopping last night, in search of the elusive ESPN game center that is the ONLY thing on Cade's Christmas list and a couple of PS2 games that Brett had requested. I had called around to many of the local stores (including all the local Toys R Us) and decided it was best to venture out and see if we could find one. We lucked out on our 3rd stop and found it! Cade is going to be so excited! The christmas shopping is finally on the "downward" slide, more finished than not!

OK, but back to the topic of the post.....after shopping, Jay and I decided to stop and have dinner. Until we were sitting at the bar, I had forgotten that we had ventured into the more affluent neighboring community, that was until I overheard the patrons at one end of the bar. They were greeted by the bartender who made a comment about it being a while since they had been in and then saying "congratulations". It was to this that the woman commented "yeah, she is 3 weeks old and can you believe this is the FIRST time we have managed to leave her?". She made another comment later about the au pair being up with the baby all night the night before. As I watched her chain smoke and down 5 martinis, I found myself thinking how different her attitude towards her child was versus my own. Of course, with my firstborn, I didn't even have a baby at home with me at 3 weeks post partum. I was spending my days standing over an isolette in the newborn intensive care nursery. My parents watched him once in his entire first year of life, other than that, he was with me constantly. Hannah never stayed with anyone until she the day her baby sister was born. Hannah was 2 1/2 at the time. Because I spend so much of my time wtih my kids and with like minded moms, it often doesn't occur to me that many parents chose not to be with their children. Thier children are more accessories, like a nice purse or gorgeous shoes, that "finish" a look, not thier life, their soul, their everything!

We spent a lot of time people watching last night. Woman with silicone breast, beautifully sculpted faces (too bad plastic surgery can't fix hands to hid their true ages)...I wonder what they saw when they looked at me. Did they see a plump, happy woman enjoying her husband's company or could they tell from that often distracted look in my eyes that my thoughts were wandering to the kids at home. Could they sense that we had spent our evening searching out that gift that would make our son's christmas moring special?

OK...so maybe my babble makes no sense. Maybe I seem self righteous. Maybe I am so full of myself I just can't see things the way they really are. But too often, not across a bar, but in the places I go, I see how people don't put the priority on their kids, that it is on things! I hope. despite my many flaws, that my kids realize that THEY are my biggest priority.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Quick Fudge:

I was listening to the radio this afternoon and the host shared this recipe that I plan to try once I collect the ingredients from the grocery. I hope I wrote it down correctly!

4 cups granulated sugar
14 oz can evaporated milk
2 sticks butter
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
7 oz jar marshmallow creme
1 tbsp vanilla

put sugar, evaporate milk and butter (cut into pieces) into a microwave safe container. Heat 18-20 minutes, stirring occassionally until mixture reaches softball stage. Remove from microwave and stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into 9" square buttered pan. Chill until set. Cut into squares for serving.

Addendum: OK I tried making this fudge Sunday morning.....make sure you use a HUGE bowl, as my mixture bubbled over and down the sides of the bowl! It is sitting in the fridge right now "setting" so I have no idea how it will turn out, but I will say from licking the bowl that the mixture is quite YUMMY!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ornament Making

On a whim, we invited a couple of our homeschooling friends over to make christmas decorations. Hannah got all the crafts together and saw to it that all the kids (or shall I say girls) got to make one of every ornaments. The boys (my 3 younger ones plus one other) decided that they would much rather play video games and rescue heroes over making decorations.

It was GREAT! The moms (myself, Julieanne, Lisa and Melodie) managed to actually sit and TALK for almost 4 hours while the kids kept themselves happily busy. Melodie had her beautiful new baby Marley with her and of course I had to hold and cuddle her! Will loved her, kept saying "ba-bee" and petting her head (of course if it was his sibling I am sure his reaction would be quite different!). Brett sat and held and cuddled her too, it is so funny to see how great he is with kids and how excited he was to hold a tiny baby again!

Julieanne brought some venision stew with her to share. I had never had deer meat before and decided to try it. I thought it would be "gamey" but it honestly tasted just like beef stew. So one more thing that my adventurous palate has tried!

The ornaments the kids made were quite cute and I love to see them decorating my tree. I am thinking ornament making might have to be an annual event in our home. I think I can handle it as long as I can keep the group mostly female!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Holidayfest at the Beach Waterpark

I decided to undertake the organization of a trip for our homeschooling group to a local amusement park for their holiday event. The Beach agreed to open just for our group (how exciting to have the whole place to ourselves) and I was surprised when over 200 RSVPed for the event.

It was quite cold as we headed out, not even 20 degrees. We dressed warm and I prayed we would "survive" our day in the cold. We did more than survive, we had a WONDERFUL time! Despite some whining from the younger crew (either from hunger or cold) everyone seemed to have fun!

There was iceskating, a sled run, live nativity, pony rides, pedal boats and a carousel. Of course my favorite place was the HEATED tent (warm enough that even though it didn't reach 30 outside, you could have your coat off).

Everyone who attended seemed to have a great time! Hopefully we will plan a return trip next winter! I couldn't believe that the time went as quickly as it did and we were disappointed we had to leave at 3 PM to make it to dance, we would have gladly hung out for another hour, skating and riding the carousel and just hanging out with our friends!

Here are the details, more for me next year, but just in case you are interested:
When: Tuesday, December 6th; 10am - 4pm
What: Holiday Fest at the Beach Waterpark (open to homeschoolers only)
Where: Beach Waterpark Mason, Ohio

Cost: UPDATE: Platinum pass holders get in FREE, regular pass holders need to pay admission price Admission $6.50 but ages 5 - 12 get in for $5, not $6.50!!!, optional lunch $6, Parking free

Organizer: Laura Riesenberg
Laura writes: The park has agreed to open the park EXCLUSIVELY FOR OUR GROUP on Tuesday December 6 from 10 AM until 4 PM. The offer is incredible (includes everything) and we will have the park entirely to ourselves. This should be a great activity for everyone...toddlers, preschoolers, elementary schooler and especially the teens.
There are activities for ALL ages, including teens...here's what your admission includes:

Skate Rental, Carriage Rides, Paddle Boats, Toboggan Slide, Santa’s Maze, Pony Rides for Kids, Live Nativity, Polar Pearl Palace, Santa’s, Sleigh, Holiday Lights and Dazzling Animated Lights Displays, South Pole Petting Corral, Holiday Railway, Festhaus Pavilion, and Christmas Shoppes.

Admission $6.50 per person (ages 5 - 12 are $5) , children under 4 free (although if they chose to skate, they will need to purchase a skate pass for $4). Free Parking! Typically, admission and the all-inclusive pass to Holiday Fest at The Beach is $18.00. Your school’s proposal includes a savings on admission of $11.50 per person. Parking is $6.50 per car on any operating day, but will be waved for our field trip.MEAL $6 per person (optional)*Holiday Fest at The Beach Catering Staff will serve the All-You-Can-Eat buffet style meal in an exclusive pavilion during a specified time frame which includes your choices of..Nathan’s World Famous Hot Dog or a ¼ lb Hamburger or Cheeseburger, mac and cheese, Bag of chips and drink $6 per person

*participants are welcome to pack lunches, but meals will need to be eaten in the picnic area outside the park. The only food that can be consumed within the park, is food purchased from the Beach.

All You can drink wristbands $3.00

I will need to know approximately how many families will want meals. I need to arrange this ahead of time. So if you think your family will want lunch, please let me know how many meals you might want.

Please RSVP to Laura or Cindy. Cindy can take a van-load from her house if you arrive by 9:00.

Monday, December 05, 2005


As I was heading to take Brett to the Monday co-op and the other kids to their spanish class we ended up stranded on the side of the expressway! The alternator on the van died and the van wouldn't run! It was really quite scary to be sitting on the side of the expressway with all the the cars and 18 wheelers FLYING by, it was also amazing to see the volume of traffic at 9 AM on a Monday morning. We had just replaced the battery the day before, hoping that it was what was causing the problems with the van, but obviously a simple fix wasn't to be! A state trooper did pull over to see if we needed help, but at that point I had already called Jay so I told him we were waiting on my husband.

Jay came and "rescued" us, we got the van restarted so I could drive it to Pepboy to have them replace the alternator and he ran Brett to the co-op. The other kids ended up missing Spanish. Not that there is a good time for a van to break down, but it didn't make the morning any better that my shoulder and elbow were killing me (still from that damn accident over 6 months ago) and I had a urinary tract infection flaring up!

Well, at least the problem is fixed and "knock on wood" the van will keep running for a while! We just put new front brakes on the darn thing last week. I swear the stupid thing hasn't run right since we got it back from the repairs after the accident. There are many days when I wish I just had a horse!

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Sickness has found its way into my house. Late last week Emily had strep (which I suspect she caught from her friend) which she has so graciously shared with her father. Will somehow managed to pick up a stomach bug that he has now shared with Sophie, Jacob and Cade. I love nothing more than cleaning puked in beds in the middle of the night.

I am hoping that the ilnesses are shortlived (the stomach bug seems to be passing rather quickly) and that we are all healthy heading into the holidays....we have spent many a holiday with sick kids (I can remember one christmas Hannah was so sick she didn't even open her gifts).

The only "nice" thing about being home with illnesses, is that we have managed to get the christmas tree up. Now I am sure once Will is feeling more like himself, that he will try to "undecorate" everything that we have up!

Hoping everyone in cyberland is healthy!