Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"The Nativity"- performed by The Olsen's

For FHE yesterday we carried on a Jensen family tradition. Every year, for as long as I can remember, the family has acted out the Nativity story right before Christmas. All three of my children have played the part of baby Jesus, since they were still infants for their first Christmas.

I was surprised how much our little ones enjoyed acting out the story. Even Leora was enthusiastic, just following everyone around.

Fred - Donkey, shephard
Debbie - narrater, inn keeper
Gregory - Joseph
Charla - Mary
Leora - Angel

A long, long time ago Mary and Joseph had to walk a long, long way to Bethlehem. The Baby Jesus was in Mary's tummy, and was almost ready to be born, so she had to ride on a donkey.

When they got to Bethlehem, it was very busy. When they tried to find an inn (or hotel) to stay at, all the inn keepers told them that all the rooms were full. One nice inn keeper took them to a stable to stay. It was smelly and there were animals, but it was warm.

That night baby Jesus was born. Mary wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger. Joseph watched out to keep them safe.

Not far away, there were shephards watching their sheep. Suddenly, an angel appeared to them! She told them not to be scared, but that she had great news that would make them very happy. In Bethlehem a king was born named Jesus Christ. She told him where to find Him, and then there were hundreds of angels who were so excited that they were singing.

The shephards went to see the baby Jesus. They loved Him and then went back to Bethlehem to tell everyone what they had seen.
(Gregory refused to switch roles from Joseph to Wise Man, so we just told about the 3 Kings finding the baby Jesus by following the star).

They were all so reverent and cooperative! It was a great evening :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Shout-Out to Uncle David

Gregory's class had its "Winter" party today. He came home with a backpack full of goodies. The first he insisted eating was a package of Lego fruit snacks. As you can see, he put them to good use before scarfing them down.
Another cute thing he brought home was a baggie of oats mixed with some red and green sprinkles. It came with a note that instructs to sprinkle the "reindeer food" on your lawn the night before Christmas, so Santa's reindeer can enjoy a snack while he makes his delivery.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reverent Baby

About a month ago, Leora started kneeling with us at family prayer every night, all on her own. It's so cute- she looks so tiny!

The other night Leora ate dinner early, so she was wondering around the table when Gregory sat down to eat. As always, I announced that we needed to bless the food.

Without missing a beat, Leora stopped and dropped to her knees, her little hands folded on her lap. It was adorable!!

Salt is My Best Friend

I always laughed at the signs in Tucson before the bridges that warn, "Ice forms on bridge first." I always thought, "WHAT ice?" Let me tell you, in Ohio you don't need bridges for ice... driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, door mats, grass- they all work, too.

We had steady rain yesterday. Instead of absorbing or evaporating, it steadily formed a 1/2 inch layer of ice by the evening. I didn't discover this until I sent Gregory to put the recycables out by the trashcan outside. I always challenge him to run as fast as he can, so he won't get too cold. Well, he took one leaping step out the front door and ended up slipping and skidding several feet, all sprawled out- wipe out! He was first in shock and then cried... poor lil' guy.

I had an appointment at 9:00 this morning at the church. I was TERRIFIED to drive there. I called ahead and was assured that the roads were well salted, but they warned that the church parking lot was a solid sheet of ice. Well, they were right about both. Driving there was fine, but navigating the parking lot was a trip. Even more entertaining was watching people walking on it- me included. I never wiped out, but by the time I was done, my nerves were shot!

I wanted to lock myself up in my house for the rest of the day, but I had promised to go to a cookie exchange up the street. Driving 5 houses up seemed silly, so I bundled my girls and buckled them securely in the stroller. We somehow made it there, and later back, without falling, but I slipped often, even on the grass.

I still don't mind the cold, but I can live without the ice. When it melts I'll be making a visit to Walmart to get ice for my driveway.

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Survived!

This past Friday evening was our ward's Christmas Dinner... and I was in charge.

I've been warned by many people that this is the "big to-do" of the year. I imagine it's like that in most wards, but this is my first time even being on an activities committee, let alone calling the shots! I'm blessed with a great group of ladies on my committee, including the previous Activities Chair. I would have been lost without them!

I spent 3 evenings before the dinner putting up decorations, in an attempt to limit the Friday stress as much as possible. I'm glad I did! It was nice to have a creative outlet at my own pace.

I wanted to try to pull a bit of a spiritual theme into the evening, so the posters said, "He Came to Save All Men." We encouraged people to bring international side dishes and desserts. I hoped there would be a good response, considering that at least 1/3 of the ward is military and plenty of the men are RM's. Plus, so many of us are descendants of immigrants, so I hoped some would have family dishes to share.

My committee and I prepared 200 servings of chicken, 3 hams, 30 pounds of rice and a couple gallons of gravy. The rolls, salads, sides, and desserts were all potluck. The amount of potluck was perfect and we had extra meat and rice. We were going off last year's attendance, which I think was on a Saturday, so it didn't compete with as many work parties.

I got really lucky finding decorations at Good Will and the Dollar Tree. I bought a bunch of old National Geographics from the thrift store. I cut out and matted about 40 pictures of people from various countries.

The building has its own projector, so I made a slideshow of labeled pictures of people from around the world that ran continuously through dinner. I made a seperate mix of music that we played over the PA. The version I uploaded on YouTube is quicker and I added music with it.

In an attempt to control the inevitable running, screaming kids, I arranged for one of the Young Women to do an ornament craft with the kids in the nursery when they were done eating. It worked out pretty nicely, and she also completed one of her Young Women projects :)

The Primary planned on the kids doing the Nativity, but the children were so wired, they just managed to get them in costumes and sing a couple songs. To close we sang "Silent Night". I had printed out the lyrics for the 1st verse in English, French, Spanish and German. I challenged them to attempt singing one of the foreign languages. During the song I realized I hadn't asked anyone to say the closing prayer so I nudged the guy next to me and he graciously stepped up.

I had dreaded the clean-up so much, that I didn't even plan it before-hand. I was relieved when many, many people stuck around and helped. Some were with me until we closed the doors. I had pawned off Gregory and Charla to different families (my LIFESAVERS!), but I knew Leora would refuse to go to anyone, so I stuck her in my baby back-pack. She was content there, except when I had to take things out to the car. It was snowing.

Miraculously, all was said and done an hour after it ended! By the time I had collected my children and dragged myself into the house I was utterly exhausted! The mounting stress had landed me with a fierce cold earlier that week, that had evolved into an ear infection, so I was a little disoriented for most of the night. I somehow managed to get my kids in bed and drag myself to the couch to fall, blissfully, to sleep!

All in all, I'd say it was a success. People enjoyed it, so that's what mattered most. On Sunday the Bishop acknowledged me and told the congregation to thank me :P I was just relieved to not get any complaints! Maybe everyone just felt bad for the pregnant mom with 3 kids whose hubby was gone. I wouldn't mind doing it again next year, assuming those conditions will be better :)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Royal Snack, Not-Cotton Candy, and "I'm 'Cleaning' My Room"

I thought I'd roll 3 cute posts into 1 :) My girls crack me up...

Pretzel sticks are a popular snack in our home. A couple days ago I asked Charla what she'd like for a snack.

"Prince-els," she replied.

I asked, "PRETZELS?"

She arrogantly stuck her nose up, closed her eyes and corrected me, "No. PRINCE-ELS." How silly of me to offer a princess anything else.


Leora was helping me with the laundry today. She did well throwing dirty clothes in the hamper and was excited about moving loads from the washer to the dryer to the basket. I was almost finished transferring a load when I noticed her face.

It looked disgusted. I fished my finger through her mouth and pulled out a wad of lint. She must have scooped out a little handful and popped it in her mouth. I never realized how much lint looks like cotton candy. Apparently the taste doesn't compare.


I had just finished dressing the girls after bathtime, so we were all in their bedroom, almost ready for bed. Then Charla announced, "I'm cleaning my room!"

I was pleased that she had decided to pick up the stuffed animals and few scattered clothes, but then laughed when I realized she meant it literally. She had grabbed a wet wipe and was very vigorously "cleaning" the walls, Leora's crib, the dresser.... I must say, she was thorough.
But it's still cluttered.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pulling the Blonde/Pregnant Card

You can all stop feeling sorry for me, point your fingers and laugh.

Yes, I found the pictures, tucked neatly away in the file I created for my Ward calling, which was, by the way, nowhere NEAR the "My Pictures" file, so I'm still blaming the PC for the mistake.

I still don't trust the computer, but at least I have the pictures back- I've not been so lucky in the past.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Never Trust Your Camera's Memory Card

So, I told the computer to copy-and-paste a couple hundred pics from my camera to "My Pictures" on the hard drive. It went through the motions, so when it was "complete" I deleted the pictures I had just transferred from the memory card, so it would be ready for a few more hundred. Bad idea.

I went to sift through the pictures and, low and behold, not a single one had transferred. And now they were GONE. I checked every single folder on the dumb pc. Finally, I walked away from the computer (so that I wouldn't throw it through the window) and had a good cry. Of course, every picture anyone takes is a one-of-a-kind, but these were so precious to me...

All the pictures of us celebrating German Christmas traditions. In Germany the kids put their shoes out on December 5th and (if they've been good) they find surprises in their shoes the next morning. I had the greatest shots of Gregory's excitement when he found his stuffed shoe and unwrapped the surprise. Then later of him putting the puzzle together that he had unwrapped and proudly showing it off. Now the puzzle is put away and isn't the fun new thing anymore.

Every Sunday in December, leading up to Christmas Eve, Germans everywhere have a decorated wreath with 4 taper candles. On the first Sunday of the month you light one candle and talk about the Christmas story. The next Sunday you light 2 candles and tell the story again, repeating the motions the next Sunday with 3 candles and so on. The kids had been unnaturally cooperative for this first lighting. They helped set up a nativity scene and enthusiastically read the story of Christ's birth with me from the large picture book. Again, so many perfect pictures, now GONE.

I had pictures of Gregory romping around in the snow and the cat stalking him in the back yard.

Pictures of the girls dancing with delight when I set up their 4-foot pre-lit PINK Christmas tree (I had a moment of weakness a couple months ago and gave in to the $20 tree). Leora and Charla were so thrilled about the tree, that neither got annoyed with the other over decorating (or in Leora's case, un-decorating) it. A rare moment of love and cooperation (and a ridiculously tacky tree) caught on camera, now LOST.

Cute shots of the kids in various poses they'd fallen asleep in.

The cat being accused of snatching an egg. Gregory claims that Cinders stole an egg from the open carton up on the kitchen counter. When I arrived at the scene, she was happily licking up the raw egg, now broken on the floor. I snapped the greatest shot of her looking guiltily at the camera while lapping up the runny yoke (yuck). I was going to ask whether others thought she looked like she had committed the crime. Now we'll never know.

Charla's preschool class went on a field trip to Krispy Kreme. The staff let them play with the dough and everyone got a free donut (from different dough, of course). The kids were so flippin' cute in their Krispy Kreme hats, and excited, watching the conveyer belt of donuts in various stages of preparation. Leora got to enjoy one, too. Now just a memory.

I had this great shot of Leora examining the fireplace burning on the TV screen. I bet I could try to re-take it, but the novelty of it is gone.

That's just what I can remember. There were so many more, each so sweet and precious to me. SO, everyone learn from MY miserable experience: NEVER trust your PC with your memory stick. ALWAYS double check. ugh.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Snow Play

Little snowflakes have been softly falling since last night, so by now everything is under a blanket of feathery snow. Seriously, the snow is virtually like dust.

Gregory had bugged me all day to go outside. I finally gave in and went out with him while the girls napped. It was so cute watching him stomp around in the shallow snow. We had fun dumping the ice out of toys and finding little "treasures" frozen inside the icy blocks.

Our neighbors have this great swing set they let my kids use. While our yard is practically perfect, theirs extends just a few feet from the house before plunging down several yards. I'd HATE to have to mow that lawn. Well, that neat swing set is set up so when you go down the slide, you end up sliding all the way down the hill.

So how could Gregory resist?

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Glasses and a Laugh for Twilighters

So, about a month ago Leora snapped off the left post of my glasses. I've managed with just one, until the 2nd one had had it and just fell off on its own last week. Since then I've been walking around like a geek, my right post scotch-taped onto the frame. So, I took my updated perscription to Walmart and ordered the cheapest frames I could stand (why do they even MAKE some of those hideous things??).

I picked up the new pair this evening on my way to a friend's Christmas party. When I put them on, everything was suddenly bizarrely sharp and in focus... it made me a little dizzy! Then, being the obsessive dork I am, I related it to that part in the final Twilight book when Bella has been morphed into a vampire and how acutely strong her vision is when she opens her eyes for the first time. I laughed out loud at myself.
Well, I won't complain about better lenses, even if it reminds me that brain might need an adjustment, too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What Charla Thinks of Celebrities

On Sunday I managed to pick up "America's Funniest Home Videos" on our TV. I LOVED watching that show growing up- it was worlds better with Bob Saget. Sure enough, the kids loved it. I was disappointed that most of the show was poking fun at people getting hurt, but the funny animal stuff sent Gregory hyperventilating, he was laughing so hard.

What really cracked me up was Charla's remark to a commercial. It was to let people know that Britney Spears would be on the Morning Show the next day. There were clips of Britney and it ended with her telling people to watch her.
Charla giggled and said, "That's a SILLY Barbie!"

I'd have to agree.