The world is but a canvas to the imagination...
Henry David Thoreau

Monday, December 29, 2008

The smell of gingerbread....

When I think of Christmas, one of the things that comes to mind is baking...the smell of gingerbread filling the air, aromatically heavy with molasses and cinnamon. Of course we can't eat everything that we bake, so what should we do? Let's build houses out of it! It all started with a kit. My friend Sidona gave it to me. VERY cute with a little book, cutters, piping bags ~ the whole shebang! My friend Teresa and I decided to have a house building party for family home evening. I baked the gingerbread and provided the candy while she brought pizza and pop.

While the kids ate, Randy and Shon started to assemble the houses. Instead of trying to get them to stay together with frosting, we used liquid sugar ~ created by melting it on the stove. (Thanks for the tip Sidona!) It works so well, no walls or roofs sliding off at in inopportune times. So, the concept was simple, but there was a great deal of hilarity involved as Teresa and I challenged Shon and Randy to see who could build the better house. As a team Teresa and I were great, but the one I build on my own, pretty much insured that Shon won't ask me to do any house repairs. :-) .

Let the contest begin boys!

What do you think? Mine is the one on the right, yeah, the one with the hole in it...I was going for the air conditioned type...That's the one Joey gallantly insisted on using. He thought it looked kind of like a lemon aid stand. Good try honey. The sugar is hot, but really is slick for getting the houses together quickly. Kind of like edible hot glue! :-)

After that it was all about the candy. We left the kids to it while the adults visited in the living room. It was funny to see all of the different creations they could come up with by using the same materials! First up is Joey. (12) His was sort of a space age creation...

Next is Ben (7) His gingerbread man is hanging on for dear life....

Lucy (3) managed to eat pizza, use frosting (pink of course) and decorate all without getting anything on her fancy dress!

Alex (14) went the traditional route, using lots of gummi's and dots.

Toby (8) used Necco's and M 'n' M's to create a tower...

Lissie (11) went with the popular theory that "more" is more when it comes to gingerbread houses and piled it on! :-)

Natalie (10) made both a beautiful pattern and a family! All in all it was a great way to start Christmas vacation!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

No Peeking!

Today while everyone played with new toys or relaxed, I decided to relax in my own way and create the first set of pages for our 2008 Christmas album. I like to do a mini-album for each Christmas. I chose a 12x12 for this year. Not so much a "mini" :-) but a fun size none the less. Last year my mother in law Joan made this darling Christmas card with Toby on the cover. Of course I had to keep it, because it was way too cute to throw away! I knew it was perfect for my layout containing Toby's Christmas letter. When we asked Toby what he wanted Santa to bring him this year, he replied, "It's okay, Santa knows!" We pushed to no avail. Finally, we lucked out when he wrote us a letter. My favorite moment was when Toby looped his arm around my neck and read it to me. He still struggles with his "r"s and it was so endearing when he was reading. Can Christmas get any better? Anyway, I wanted to make sure that I preserved that sweet letter and those amazing eyes peeking over the edge of the card. Merry Christmas everyone!
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Things that make you go Huh?

We were shopping the other day for Christmas presents and stopped by the Littlest Pet Shop toys. They are these big eyed, big headed animals with little bodies and accessories that you can play with. There are several different kinds, and all sorts of scenarios, surfing, Dr., holidays, sporty, groovy, baby etc. A toy for everything...including one that comes with it's own poop! We couldn't believe it! Shon just shook his head, but for some weird reason it cracked me up. I can not believe that some one seriously designed this toy. It must have been thrown into a design meeting as a joke...the person waiting for someone to wake up and go huh? But instead of that happening we had an Emperor's New Clothes scenario where everyone said, "How brilliant! We will teach children how to be responsible by selling a cute little pooch with it's own plastic poo and a scooper! We will be responsible for the next generation of geniuses!" What they needed was someone to stop texting during the meeting, look at the design board and say, "What?!? You really want us to sell a big headed dog with it's own crap? Why not! The American public will buy anything!" There is probably a tracking device in it, so that they can chortle and mark another one up to blind consumerism every time a pooch 'n' poop combo is sold. :-) I know this is a strange thing to blog about, maybe it was low blood sugar, but I just found the whole thing funny. I found a picture of it on the Hasbro website. You tell me what you think. Be nice, or a poopy pooch might be in your stocking this year!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Brr! Baby It's Cold Outside!

Current conditions:

Snow Showers
Select temperature units:

Fahrenheit Celsius
Snow Showers-15 ° feels like
-15 ° -7 High

Wind Speed CALM 0 mph Today
Bitterly cold. Snow showers will become more widely scattered for the afternoon. High -7F. Winds light and variable. Chance of snow 40%.
What is up with this weather! All I can say is I am thankful I was not a pioneer! I don't mind this weather if I can stay in my nice warm house, but when we are doing carpools, getting gas and shopping it sure is cold. Lets keep our fingers crossed that the wind won't pick up. On a brighter note, as I am sitting here at my desk typing this, I am able to look outside and see how beautiful the yard looks. Last night, I was working on a story and saw something out of the corner of my eye. We have several deer in our neighborhood, they wander where ever they want. I've spotted a buck and two does. The buck was the one that caught my eye, he was standing in the moonlight on our front lawn looking magnificent and....very puzzled. I would not have thought deer have expressions, but this one looked befuddled. Shon put wire lawn ornaments out for Christmas. They are white deer that are lit up. The larger one is also animated, it moves it's head back and forth. The real deer couldn't figure it out and was just watching it move it's head. It was pretty funny to watch. Hope all of you stay warm!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Crazy Cat!

We love having our little cat. She makes us laugh all of the time. When you look at her forehead, she has a perfect M on it. We joke that the M is for Meer Kat. I don't know if any of you saw Meer-Kat Manor, but the top photo is from that show. Next is our cat. You be the judge. When she is really curious (which being a cat is uhm...ALL of the time) she will stand up completely on her hind feet with a straight back. I have never been quick enough to catch her though. This one was totally by luck. I was taking pictures of the ice on the plants outside and she was trying to see what I was doing. Funny cat!
Here is another MeerKat pose, this time trying to see what the neighbors are doing in their yard. Below shows how she "helped" me while I was trying to unwrap the ornaments for the tree. Now she has discovered them, PS (Toby named her Pumpkin Spice) keeps stealing them off of the tree and hiding them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Concert

Lissie and Joey had their Christmas concert on Monday. I didn't take any pictures there, because gym pictures don't turn out on my camera. For some reason they are always blurry. We decided to goof around and take some at home, to mark the big day. They were supposed to wear Christmas colors, so Liss wore this cute shirt with rhinestones on it with her cammos (the cammo is made up of flowers and butterflies ~ so cute!) and we wrapped her up like a package with a bow to finish things off. Joey humored me by putting on his red tee with a green shirt over it. :-) Behind them you can see the start of my mural on the living room wall. It is just sketched in right now. Our weather got cold and with the boy's asthma, I can only paint when I can leave the windows open. It was fun to see how the kids had improved since the beginning of the year. The 5th grade band played, then the orchestra kids, then the 6th grade band. Other than being proud of my kids and how they played, my favorite part was watching the drummers. I don't think that they remembered that we could see them the whole time since they were standing. My friend's son was making the funniest faces I have ever seen while the orchestra was playing. There were a lot of squeaks and growls coming from them and he was pretending that he was dying, and then opening his eyes and crossing them etc. He was doing it for the benefit of the other drummers, but we all enjoyed the show!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Game

This box with the stylishly dressed gentleman is not just any old game...In Shon's family, this box represents an excuse for some good old fashioned legal bloodshed. To say that they are cutthroat is an understatement! Pirates who gleefully and fearlessly plunder the sea, would quake in terror when the plotting and take overs start. I don't really get this because I don't usually play games in any form...computers, cards, board games...but I'll give explaining it a shot. Basically this is a game where you try to Acquire a majority of the hotel shares on the board to make money. (Shon is so seriously in love with this game, that he just got heartburn from reading my carelessly stated, inadequate description!)
This is my sweetie with one of his favorite games ever! A couple of years ago, Shon found a 1970's copy of Acquire at a garage sale, still in the shrink wrap. You may not believe that it is so, but a 6 foot man can dance gleefully like an elf if he is happy enough. He was happy. Very happy. He was so happy that I am not sure that the good folks who held the garage sale have recovered yet. :-) Sadly, since I enjoy being married, and I am not a cutthroat person, I refused to play the game with him. Did you know I could be that heartless. Quite frankly, he scares me when he plays games. Can we say VERY focused on success? Can we say just a little bit competitive? As a result of his mean wife's decree, the game lived on a shelf, in vintage condition for years until Kelli and Darren entered the scene. Kelli is Shon's cousin and she and Darren are as into the game Acquire as he is. It was a special moment when he slit the shrink wrap and they broke apart the tiles. I wanted to take a picture, but I was afraid to "break" the moment. Did I tell you how focused they all are?

Kelli and Pumpkin
Darren practices his evil mogul look, while Kelli threatens to beat him up if he looks at her tiles. Shon, Kel and Darren taught me to play, patiently explaining rules and strategies until my head spun.
I told you they were serious about this. Every move was well thought out....I took all of their advice when it was my turn and filed it away. I thought about using logic, but it is a fairly foreign concept in my life, so I went with what was tried and true. I picked my hotels by the colors I liked the best. They humored me because it was my first game....

Shon plots and plans...ponders and counts....At the end of the game.....

Yep! that is right! Pretty colors win the game! Doesn't Shon look happy for me!?! :-) I know that I resisted playing Acquire, but we had a great time. Competitive or not, all of them are great sports. I don't think that they will give me any advice next time though....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Tree

Sometimes, little moments of unexpected beauty can make you breathless. At first glance, this may seem like a naked cottonwood. That glance would be correct. :-) At second glance, it turns into a living painting. One that looks too painfully beautiful to be real. The color of the Montana sky, a blue so intense and so crisp I wish I could break a piece off to store away for a rainy day. Next, I see the delicate feathery branches, supporting the sky, twigs, so fragile looking, but strong enough to hook the heavens with its tendrils and link itself to the earth down to the roots. I love to look at those branches against the sky. They are so different from sunrise to dusk. In the morning they are lit with a light that reminds me of honey dripping off of a spoon. Lazy, golden and sweet. At night each branch is in stark relief against the sunset. Inky black against layers of color ~ so defined and deliberate, reminding me of a Chinese brush painting. I have tried and tried to catch "The Tree" against this rich backdrop only to fail miserably. Looking down from the branches you reach the trunk. Huge. Rough. Myriad shades of cinnamon, chocolate, sienna, buff, grey. Visual depth that makes me itch to draw it. "The Tree" is at the top of a hill I travel several times everyday completing the tasks that make up my day. Each time I start to drive up the hill I look eagerly for my friend. Those little bits of beauty shore up my soul. I know that a God who chose to create a simple tree as a masterpiece, is an amazing Creator indeed. I wonder how people can doubt that God is real when there is so much attention to detail and beauty in our lives. Each time I "shore up" my soul it feeds my testimony just a little bit more and I am so grateful for my life. "The Tree", a friend indeed.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Down with the "MAN"! Protest Baby! Peace!

As much as I love my children and love to have pictures of them...can we say 600+ from Disney alone? There is one type of photo that drives me insane. The school photo. Now, that being said, I absolutely love to get them from my don't be offended, bombard me with emails and hurt feelings and cross my name off of the photo-sending list forever! Take a if everyone is calm I will continue. With four kids, finding the right photo package is very difficult. I don't want one that has 1 8x10, 1 5x7 2 3x5's 42 wallet sizes and a bonus of one billion little photo stickers of themselves that my children will stick everywhere. The right package does not exist. Luckily for me, there is the option of add-ons. For the price of a small country, 1/2 of a college tuition and a leg (volunteers anyone?) we can create a package that fills the needs of every one's photo frame. Of course, you still have all of the leftovers.

When we moved I discovered roughly 5 million packets of half used school pictures~which was interesting since my children have only been in school a combination of 26 years. I chose to paint a mural in our new living room, but had I been moved by the muse in another direction, I could have easily papered the walls with my children in various stiff poses, cheesy grins, glassy looks and usually one of them in an outfit that I did NOT approve for the "picture day" (imagine grim muzak here) Lets not forget the ones where they decided to restyle their hair with the new black picture day comb which they are given before they get their picture taken. Now really, whoever thought that one up was NOT a mother!

We are well conditioned by society to get these pictures, so as fall brightly colored our lives and summer drifted to the ground I prepared for the inevitable picture day. Until an flyer came home and I discovered that the prices had risen AGAIN! There was only one answer. I may look like a soccer mom on the surface, but on that day, my hippie roots reared their tie-dyed banners and said BOYCOTT!

An organized protest crossed my mind, but seemed a little extreme for the circumstances, so we just decided to take our own in the backyard. Here are the most updated photos of the kids. Alex (14), Joey (12) {He opted for his serious look} Lissie (11) and Toby (8). Enjoy!

Friday, November 21, 2008


Seriously! What is wrong with people? I recently read an article in the Telegraph from the UK that made me shake my head. (And shake in my boots! I am so scared of snakes. I don't even like earth worms, they are too snake like!)

By Urmee Khan Last Updated: 6:57AM BST 22 Oct 2008

The treatment consists of six non-venomous snakes massaging the client's aching muscles and joints.
Ada Barak's snake spa, in Talmei Elazar, northern Israel, uses California and Florida king snakes, corn snakes and milk snakes for the massages, which cost £40 ($70).
Miss Barak believes that physical contact with the reptiles can be a relaxing experience. She says that she was inspired by her belief that once people get over any initial misgivings, they find physical contact with the snakes to be stress relieving.
"Some people said that holding the snakes made them feel better, relaxed," she said "One old lady said it was soothing, like a cold compress."
The size of the snakes depends on the type of massage - the larger ones are said to alleviate deeper muscle tensions and the smaller ones create a 'fluttering' effect. All are the snakes used are non-venomous.
Miss Barak began offering the service at the Talmey El'Azar tourist attraction in 2006 and now most of her income comes from exhibiting plants at her carnivorous plant farm, which eat everything from insects to small mammals.
She appeared on Tyra Banks Show, an American chat show, in April for an episode entitled "Beauty Tips Around the World".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Antiques Show

With four kids it is sometimes hard to make time for just one of them. This time is was easy. It all started when Alex won tickets on the radio to the Huff's Antique Show.
We took off on a sunny day to have a good time. We both love picking through piles at second hand stores, antique stores and garage sales.

There were some amazing things there. One of them was this toy circus. It was huge, covering a whole table top. The animals were all jointed and hand carved. Each of the tiny flags were hand painted.
I like to try and imagine the children that played with this. Some of the animals look really loved. I wonder if they all had names?
Crap! Run for your lives!!! There are really freaky scary evil clowns taking over the circus! Don't be fooled by the fancy piano playing...he wants your soul! (I hate clowns!)

I loved the vintage Halloween items. The clapper was amazing. She was called the "Beautiful Witch". The candy basket and the owl were pressed out of paper. The cat looks like it wants to eat the plastic turkey cake topper. Don't look now, but there is another scary this time to try and blend in with Santa.

Alex and I loved this Santa and sleigh. We loved how the whole things was painted with such attention to detail...until you got to his mustache. You can't see it very well from this picture, but his mustache is just a dotted outline. Not painted in or anything. I wonder, did the artist get bored or was it a protest against Santa's luxurious facial hair?
Confession time. Alex has a wild side. Playing the antique slot machines. We loved the painting on the drums.

What a fantastic day. I love hanging out with Alex. He is so much fun and not only puts up with me taking pictures to blog and scrapbook but comes up with ideas for them and poses! I know that in just under 5 years he is off on a mission, so I'll store up all of these dates that I can. Next year we are looking forward to going back!