Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Recap

We attempted to drive to Chicago on Christmas Eve, but ran into a bad snow storm between Des Moines and Iowa City that forced us to stop for the day (it was scary - we saw dozens of accidents). We found a hotel right next to an outlet mall. I ran in ten minutes before closing time and found a place that had swim suits for my two youngest (on sale 30% off even!). Then we found a pizza place that was closed, but the employees were still there having a little Christmas party and they agreed to make us a couple pizzas (which were very good). We were sad to have to put off seeing family, but happy to be safe and warm. It was more like an adventure than a delay. The next day we drove to my sister's house and had a lovely time visiting everyone.

My beautiful niece Caitlyn (I always think Caitlyn Maureen is named, at least in part, for me as I am Kathleen Maureen :-)

More beautiful nieces - Amanda, Alexandra, and Melissa.

My mom with another beautiful niece, Kristina.

My sister Chris and her daughter Kristina.

My parents watching the present opening. I think this is a nice picture of my son Colin.

My sister Deb.

My dad made these bunk beds and the bedding for the girls' dolls.

Alexandra and her dolly.

Jon Felipe

My parents with all their grandchildren.

After the Chicago visit, we drove to Michigan to see Dwight's family. For some reason, I didn't take any pictures, though. I guess we were just having too much fun to stop and take pictures. Now we're back in Iowa and it's snowing again with a blizzard expected later today.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Special Olympics Scarf Project

Mailing my scarf today for the Special Olympics Scarf Project. (Thanks Colin for modeling it for me.) Go Team Iowa! There is still time to get your scarf projects in for other states, but the Iowa mailing deadline is today. Colin really liked the colors Special Olympics chose for the scarf project this year and has requested that I make him a scarf with the yarn I have left.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

We had a wonderful day of celebration together and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Wishing you all much joy. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tears and Good Intentions

I took Jon Felipe to Sioux Falls today for a couple medical appointments. On the way there, I turned on the radio thinking we would listen to Christmas music. Instead of hearing music, however, we heard an announcement from the state police that Hwy 18 was ice covered. I was just turning on to Hwy 18. It was very icy. There were also accidents. I turned off the radio and concentrated on staying on the road. I hate driving on icy roads. I take Hwy 18 most of the way to Sioux Falls.

After a while, I glanced at Jon Felipe in the back seat. He was looking distressed about something and I thought perhaps he had just had a seizure. When I asked him what was happening, he burst into tears. He continued to sob for the remainder of the trip. He could not identify what he was so upset about. I wanted to take him in my arms and comfort him, but of course I needed to keep heading to our appointment as the road conditions had really slowed us down. I was also a little worried about pulling over on such an icy road. I never said anything about the roads, but I wonder now if he was picking up on my anxiety.

We finally arrived. JF was still distraught. Everyone at Sanford Children's ("The Castle" to those in the know) was wonderful. He even got a free t-shirt that says Castle of Care and has a picture of the children's hospital on it (it does look like a castle). Actually, he got three free ones. I had suggested that he put the t-shirt on over his other shirt, but he also wanted to keep it folded and take it home, so the nice man gave him two. Then he wanted one for Maria, because she's a frequent visitor to the Castle too. So of course the nice man gave him one for Maria. He also gave him some note cards and a couple other things. They do take good care of you at The Castle.

We had some time between appointments, so we went for lunch. Now, I have been watching the calories. I was planning to take JF to McDonald's so I brought my yogurt along, figuring I'd buy him a Happy Meal and I'd get an ice tea to go with my yogurt. However, after the icy roads and whatever was happening with Jon, I was a basket case. I was literally shaking. So I decided I would get lunch too, maybe a salad or something low fat from the menu. Um, yeah. Good plan. I had a Big Mac. And fries. With lots of ketchup. Oh well. I'm pretty sure calories consumed for medicinal purposes don't count (surely mental health qualifies as medicinal).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Program

Am I the only mom who gets teary watching children's programs? 'Fess up. I'm guessing there are at least a few others of you out there. Anyway, today Jon Felipe was in the Christmas program at our church. It was a little hard to get teary, though, because I was trying hard not to laugh during most of it. It did not help that I was sitting next to Colin, who was having an even harder time not laughing.

The children were so cute and the program was lovely. The laughter came because this was a rather loosely rehearsed program, which is definitely how it should be. I totally agree that participating in your church's Christmas program should be a low stress event. The "hat" (as JF called it) completely concealing one half of Jon Felipe's face says it all.

Even so, I still teared up during the final song. I am so grateful that I can openly speak of my faith, that my children can be brought up to know Jesus, and that we can freely attend a church where others lovingly help instruct my children in the ways of the Lord. Merry Christmas to you!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's beginning to feel like Christmas

I gave blood today. If you aren't a blood donor, I urge you to consider doing it. You will help many people, possibly even my daughter who gets an intravenous dose of immuno-globulin (IVIG - a blood product) once a month. It keeps her alive. Your donation could help keep her or someone else alive. Think of it as the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you!

I also got to spend time with a delightful group of middle school children this afternoon working on math. I love helping with math! Then I went over to Kid Zone for a little cup stacking. Those kids that I was helping with math? Yeah, they totally beat me at cup stacking. Fun!

We rounded out the day by attending Unity's Christmas concert. For the Hallelujah Chorus, the director invited audience members to come up and sing with the choirs. We used to do this at the HC faculty Christmas tea. I always loved it. This year, like last year, I just listened and that was nice too. Now if Leona is willing to drive out and share the music with me like we've done at more than 20 Christmas teas, then I'll get up there. Otherwise, it is nice to listen too.

It's beginning to feel like Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good Things

Three good things for December 14:

1. Two dollar Tuesdays at the Fruited Plain. A mocha is my drink of choice. What is your favorite coffee drink?
2. Buffalo chicken pizza. Got a chance to try this today at lunch. Yum!
3. Round 2 of testing for my assessment project completed. That translates into 18 classrooms and over 300 students assessed twice now.

I'd love to hear about the good things you experienced on this cold December Tuesday.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Jon Felipe absolutely loves snow and until this weekend, this winter had been pretty much of a dud in terms of snow fall. Saturday more than made up for that! We got hit with a blizzard that closed roads and cancelled events. While we stayed warm and snug inside, it was snowing sideways outside. The wind howled, the snow piled up, and visibility was about nil.

So, we stayed home. We baked. We played games. We read books. It was a lovely interlude in a busy season. Today the sun came out and JF could not wait to get out and play in the snow. Don't let that sun fool you though, it is really cold out there. Neither of my older boys could get their cars to start and the water supply line to the upstairs toilet is frozen again. Brrr!

So to all my friends who live east of here, watch out. It's headed your way!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


After the shaving post, several of you asked for a picture of Luke. I don't have any pictures from November, but this is how he looks now that he is shaving again. What? You couldn't tell that he is back into the shaving routine? Now you know why I am always teasing my boys about being in need of a shave. So, you'll just have to use your imagination to picture how Luke looked last month. You can trust me on this though, it wasn't better :-)

We are in the midst of a blizzard here. It is snowing sideways. We have 35-45 mile an hour winds. The wind chill has dropped to 25 to 35 degrees below zero. That is why Luke is all bundled up in this picture even though he is just taking the trash out. Everything is either closed or cancelled. Happily, all my kids are here at home. Looking forward to a little family togetherness tonight (or fff - forced family fun as my friend Tracy called it the other day).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Inclusion

As I've mentioned before, Jon Felipe's class has swimming lessons once a week. Every now and then, it works out that I can drop in and watch for awhile. He loves it when I come watch him swim, plus it gives me a chance to chat with his teacher aide for a bit. A lot of good educational planning has happened over the past two years while sitting at the edge of the pool talking with his aide.

Today they had free time at the end of class. I loved watching JF interacting with the other kids. They don't treat him differently and they definitely don't cut him any slack. A group of them were tearing around the area, chasing each other in and out of the different pools, whacking each other with pool noodles, splashing, and generally having a great time. Jon Felipe was right in the middle of all the rough housing, having a great time. The grin on his face was huge and I'm pretty sure the grin on my face was just as big. He is accepted just as he is by his peers and I am so thankful for that!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Funnies - Shaving

I'm always teasing my boys about being in need of a shave. Colin and Jacob shave regularly, but they wouldn't if they didn't have to for their jobs. Luke, however, joined his friends in supporting "No Shave November." This, of course, ratcheted up the teasing and Luke's new nickname is Sasquatch. Well, my one boy who doesn't actually have to shave yet decided he needed to find out what all the fuss was about. He found Colin's electric shaver and managed to remove quite a bit of hair before he got "caught." No point in getting mad. This is definitely how this child learns. So, we just scooped him up and went to visit my friend Emily who lives in the other half of our duplex. She has a salon in her basement and she fixed him right up. Doesn't he look handsome?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Rutabaga

I put a note on Facebook just before Thanksgiving that I was thankful for my husband who went to all three grocery stores in Sioux Center looking for rutabagas for me so we could have them with our Thanksgiving dinner. Many people commented that they have never eaten rutabaga so we took pictures so you can all see what you are missing. My grandmother always served mashed rutabaga with holiday meals, a tradition continued by my parents. For some reason, my grandmother always called them turnips. My own kids called them orange potatoes when they were little.

You peel and cut up the rutabaga and boil it, just like you do for mashed potatoes. My grandmother's secret was to put a potato in the pot to "draw out the bitterness" and we always do that too. Then you mash the cooked rutabaga with butter and milk, again just like mashed potatoes. Finally, it is time to eat. You put a scoop of mashed potato on your plate, plop a scoop of rutabaga next to it and pour gravy over it all. My definition of comfort food! I think I like rutabaga for three reasons. One, they really are yummy. Two, people who love me have always made these for me and that adds a special flavor you can't get any other way. Three, I pretty much love everything that goes with gravy.