Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ash Wednesday

I am not getting any better, so it is a short post tonight. This cold has settled down in my lungs, and it just won't leave me alone.

I took the kids to the Ash Wednesday service last night, and Jessica brought Daniel. I didn't want to get Daniel sick, so I tried to not breathe on him, but it was fun to watch him play with the phone and my necklace during the service. Then he went up and got his first ashes.

Kyle decided he wanted his ashes on his hand, but everybody else got them on their foreheads. Faith sang and Matt played the guitar during the service. The youth put the service together, and I think they did a really good job.

Tomorrow our church is hosting a Lay Witness Mission, so we will be there for the majority of the weekend. There are a lot of great activities planned for the weekend, so if you are local and would like to attend, please do.

I have some other fun pictures of the kids I will share in the next day or two. If I can't shake off the worst of this crud I will go to the doctor on Monday. In the meantime, have a great weekend and I will be back as soon as I can breathe without coughing for longer than a minute or two!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Curly Joe and Curly Moe

(Please excuse the bad photo colors... I had my camera on the wrong setting and I didn't want to mess with editing them tonight.)

Except for their eyes and freckles, my two little guys look just like their dad, right down to their thick, unruly curly hair. This is about as "long" as it gets because their hair doesn't grow out, it grows around. It waves all over the place, horns sprout up around their ears and on the napes of their necks, and curlycues spring out from their cowlicks. They have hair that many girls envy. I love their thick, shiny locks, but when it gets too unmanageable I have to sit them down for a shearing.

Last night it was time to buzz off all those gorgeous curls. (They will be back in full bloom in a matter of weeks.) On their heads it doesn't nearly look like as much hair as it really is, but once it is all sheared off there is enough for a few wigs.

Todd particularly likes having his hair curly, but in the end they are both happy to have it shorter again. It makes it a lot easier to see the bunnyears when the horns are gone.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Random Sunday Stuff

Today was a quiet day at home. Half of the kids and I are sick, so we stayed busy mostly doing nothing.

This was Jack's only day off this week, so he spent the day working in the yard. You can see the big pile of smaller tree branches behind him. We are going to have to rent a woodchipper to get rid of all of those instead of burning them. That would be a bonfire that could too easily get out of control. We are enclosing our front porch this spring to expand the front room and kitchen. After the ice storm, Jack decided he is also building a fireplace into the new front room. So he has been cutting up the thick branches into firewood.

As he cut the wood into fireplace portions (is there a particular word for that??), Faith and Kyle stayed busy stacking it up...

and making bunnyears.

Sammy stayed busy sleeping.

Since the lumberjacks, the sickies, and the teenager were all hungry I made a quick lunch. The Macaroni Grill is one of my favorite restaraunts, so when I saw their version of Hamburger Helper I thought we would give it try. I still prefer homemade, but this wasn't bad for a box of preservatives.
I was invited to an all night crop last night. I started feeling sick on Friday, but I could not pass up the opportunity to leave the kids, the husband, and the laundry behind and get out for the night. I even had the pictures from the Silver Dollar City trip printed out and I brought paper supplies with me. Crystal (married to Nathan) met me there, and we lasted until midnight.

I didn't finish my album, although I did get the covers cut out and I got all of the photos taped down to their pages. Today I looked at all the boxes on the table that I hadn't put away yet and decided to leave them out for a couple of days so I will actually get the album done. I forgot how much of a mess I make when I scrap with paper goods. Digital is a lot cleaner!

However, as I worked on this this afternoon, the kids kept coming up and clamoring to see their pictures and their pages. All of them were flipping through what I had done and talking about that trip. Beth kept painting tags and stealing sticker letters to spell words on her painted tags. I liked making the album; the kids loved me making the album. Jack and I were talking about their reaction, and I have decided to make more time to make things like this that they enjoy so much. It was touching to see how much they enjoyed it.

I still have half of the album to finish filling in and journaling. It is a junque style album with chipboard pages, tag pages, transparency pages, etc. I will post pictures of all of it in a couple of days when I get it done. I just couldn't get through it all today feeling like I do.

I am going to go track down some cough syrup and Tylenol and see if I can make my throat not feel like somebody has been rubbing it with sandpaper. Then I am going to go to bed, where I can tuck my ice cold toes under Jack's legs to warm them up. I am crossing my fingers that the kids wake up feeling a lot better and this doesn't get any worse this week. We have a lot to do over the next seven days. We don't have time to be sick!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Two (hundred) blackbirds and some guineas in an oak tree.

When Kyle got home from school yesterday he ran into the house and told me to get the camera. He said there were a bunch of "geese" in our tree. When I opened the front door, I heard the tell-tale cacophony that the flock of guineas makes. They were in one tree making a ruckus, and the blackbirds were in another screeching back at them. I have no idea what the argument was about.
I suspect the blackbirds were mad about the guineas being in the tree. After all, even I was surprised to see them there. I have seen them run across the street. I have seen them run from dogs, and barely flap a foot above the ground. They have big huge bellies that aren't conducive to flying. I think I always just assumed they didn't fly. Maybe the blackbirds made the same assumption.

Yet there they were, strolling around the branches, yelling to each other, squawking at me, and generally looking very out of place. Everytime I got a little closer, at least one of them would fly up to another branch. Then they would turn their backs like this and lift their tail feathers. What a bunch of snobs.

Guineas are pretty nice to have around, though. Despite their noise, they are probably the most useful wild animal we have around our property. They eat ticks, and if that was the only reason I liked them, it would be enough. But it isn't, though. I have another, very girly reason for liking them. Their fowl cousins (chickens and turkeys) are just ugly for the most part. Guineas, however, have a very aesthetically pleasing quality. They are polka-dotted. And I love the look of black with white polka dots.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Some things never change

I haven't been to a junior high dance in about 20 years. Other than some of the music being played, things haven't changed much. The girls and the boys still stay in seperate groups, desperately trying to look aloof and yet still hoping somebody will ask them to dance. Some are dressed up in prom or church clothes, and some are in jeans and t-shirts. And the majority of them avoid the lit section of the floor like the plague. (Chet is in the far left corner, back by the wall in this picture, talking to his "date.")

Chet had arrangements to meet a girl at the Valentine's Dance, but she refused to have her picture taken with him. And she wouldn't dance with him. He hung out with her for about an hour, but eventually Chet drifted off to hang out with some of his other friends.

This is Sheldon. He and Chet have been friends since we moved here, and Sheldon is one of my favorite kids. There is something about kids facing serious medical issues that just draws me to them. It isn't even just because my heart breaks for them, because it does... no child should face critical/terminal diseases. It is more about how the majority of them deal with it in such a non-chalant and cheerful manner. Sheldon is always happy when I talk to him. He was out there dancing up a storm, even when he was dancing alone. And then he came and asked if I was going to dance. (I told him I couldn't do that to he had strict rules that his mamarazzi wasn't allowed to dance.) He is just an awesome kid.

Towards the end of the dance, Chet finally began to dance a bit. Soulja Boy was finally playing, but Chet had forgotten the moves. He and Alex decided to do the Robot instead. (I told you some things never change about Jr. High dances. They even played "Amadeus" and "Love Shack") The boys at this dance were cracking me up. I was being so good and staying at a distance, and they kept coming up to me. "Miss Jennifer, did you see me dancing? Did you take my picture? It's blurry???? I will do it again for you!" Boys I didn't even know were coming up to me to see their pictures.

Then "Apple Bottom Jeans" started playing and I am not sure what Chet would call these moves, but he kept dancing. The dance ended and I asked him if he'd had fun. He said he did, and in the grand scheme of things, that is all that mattered.

But I sure am glad I got to be there to watch it from a corner.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Techno Generation

We went to Nathan and Crystal's house the other night for dinner. Matt had mentioned to Crystal that I don't make fried chicken, I only bake it. Crystal took pity on my lard-deprived teenager and made yummy homemade fried chicken, homemade biscuits, and potatoes for us. (I think her question to Matt was something along the lines of "You live in ARKANSAS and you don't eat fried chicken???")

During the ice storm, they had borrowed his sister's old fashioned rotary phone because their cordless phones didn't work without power.

The phone was still there when we came over. It looks an awful lot like the one shown here. Faith fell in love with it. She loves the way it looks, and loves the way it feels. She asked if she could buy it from them repeatedly. The best moment, though, was when my child, who has been raised in the internet and non-rotary cellphone age, asked a very important question.

"How do you call people with it?"

Friday, February 13, 2009

Soulja Boys

I sent Matt and Chet in to clean their room last night. I heard things being moved around and thought some progress was being made. Then I heard Soulja Boy playing, and heard the tell-tale sounds of dancing. The sounds I mistook for cleaning were actually the boys moving things to the walls so they could dance.

Chet is going to the Valentine's Dance tonight at school. It is his first dance. His friends are meeting him there. I am going as a mamarazzi.... I mean chaperone. A chaperone with a camera.
Matt was worried about Chet not knowing any dances, so he was teaching Chet the Soulja Boy.

When I cracked the door to see why they were dancing instead of cleaning, I knew I needed my camera. Because even though they are blurry pictures, and the room was still messy, I knew the boys wouldn't do it again for me just because I wanted pictures.
And something as cool as brothers bonding to Soulja Boy just needed to be captured in some format, even if the camcorder battery was dead.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Beautiful Sophia

While we were busy staying warm last week, my sister-in-law Sam was busy bringing this little beauty into the world. Welcome to the world, little Sophia!
Here she is taking a nap on her daddy's tummy. I can't wait to see her, and cuddle her, and take lots and lots.... and lots and lots of pictures of her.
Here is the whole family. Excuse my brother's glaring forehead. It's a good thing he is surrounded by his gorgeous gals to divert attention from it.
We love you, guys! Hang tight, Sophia... Aunt Lucky and a cousin or two will be there in a few weeks to spend some time adoring you!

The Fire

I spent the first couple of days of the ice storm re-reading one of my favorite books, The Eight. This was in anticipation of reading the new book, The Fire. The library was open while the power was down, so the kids and I picked up some books to occupy our time. Although I had planned on buying this book, I couldn't resist it when I saw it on the New Release shelf.

I am glad I didn't buy it.

It isn't a horrible book, but it isn't a great book either, and it certainly doesn't do justice to the first one. It provides a ton of historical references and trivia that I always love to read, but that really was its only redeeming feature for me. In The Eight, everything tied together so well that it was easy to wonder whether there might be truth to the story. In The Fire, the storyline makes very little sense and the characters lack any real depth. Even the characters based on REAL people seem lifeless.

So if you are looking for a great book to read, I recommend The Eight. However, I would advise you just pretend it doesn't have a sequel.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

When God Made Ice Scupltures in the Ozarks

I finally have my pictures of the ice storm loaded. I took some the first couple of days, but after that I didn't have too many. I was just too cold to go outside and take many more.

This was our pond and the pastures behind us, followed by the frozen forest. I know it looks like snow, but it isn't. That was all solid ice. The grass looked like a field of ice sculptures. It was stunningly beautiful, though treacherous to walk on.

Our orchard trees all suffered a lot of damage. The weight of the ice caused the limbs to break off, and some trees actually split in half. We couldn't walk in the front yard the first two days at all because the trees were still falling apart. None of us wanted a big bonk on the head with a frozen tree. This cardinal was flitting through the fallen branches, looking for food, I think. I really hope all the birds will return to our trees this spring.

This was one shot of our front yard. Where the trees look bare is where the limbs fell off. You can see that the piles of fallen limbs were as tall as our porch railing. You can also see the remaining limbs bent over as they worked on falling off. Some of these had already broken, but got stuck as they fell. We have to rent a pole chainsaw so we can get them out to avoid having them crash down unexpectedly.
This was our orchard. That largest tree used to be mostly upright. You can see where our power line was torn down in this shot.
I was so glad this tree didn't land on my favorite bench. Not only did my photo prop remain intact, but it provides a really good sense of size. That is the top of one of my oak trees lying behind it.
Another tree snapped in half.
The icicles were hanging everywhere; the sheds, the barbed wire fences, the benches, the roof, the vehicles. There were even icicles hanging off of icicles.
These are small branches, about .25 inches round with about an inch of ice encasing them.
These bigger limbs had ice about four inches thick around them. These icicles were a couple of inches thick, and looked rather lethal.
Jack and Josh spent most of the week clearing trees out of people's yards. Most insurance companies pay for clean up after natural disasters, so they were able to earn some income when they weren't able to go to their regular jobs. That made things a lot less stressful.

The kids and I spent the week inside, where we essentially turned the upstairs den into a studio apartment. We bought a generator, and were able to plug one of our little electric heaters and the tv into it. We cooked on our propane cooktop, trying to not lose too much food in the fridge. This meant we had dinner stuff for breakfast most days, but that was okay. We were glad to have food to eat and the means to cook it.
On Sunday afternoon the yard had thawed out and we began the clean up process. It is going to take us some time to finish getting the property cleared of fallen limbs. Jack and the kids got the front yard and driveway mostly cleared out.

Our power was finally repaired and restored on Wednesday night after Chet and I had left for Memphis. We are working our way through the new mountain of laundry now that we have the wonderful convenience of hot water pouring from our pipes and our dryer being powered again.

It was a week of toughing it out, but it wasn't horrible for us. It was mostly inconvenient and wearying. I do have to wonder if the Amish ever chuckle at us silly English and our dependency on electricity, but even if they do I can live with that. I like living life plugged in! (with running water)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I saw a beautiful thing this morning.

On my way to work this morning, there were three electric trucks full of big burly men, working their way up my road and replacing power powerlines and poles. I could have hugged them, every single one of them. They said we might have power back in the next day or two. My pioneer adventure may be almost over!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Back to work

Our power is still out and will be for a bit. Since our trees tore down our powerlines and tore the main power thingabob off the house, we have to have an electrician come make repairs before the power company can hook us back up when they make their way out to our neck of the woods.

Power is back on in town again, and Jack and I were both able to come back to work today. This has been quite the experience for this little raised-in-the-desert city girl. I miss having power, and I miss having the internet, but I really have no major complaints. We have a generator to power our little heaters. (We turned the upstairs den area basically into a studio apartment.) I have a little crockpot and a propane cooktop to cook food so the food in our fridge didn't get wasted. Our satelite, amazingly, is working, so once we had a generator hooked up the kids could watch TV. I got to spend all week with the kids just reading books, doing crossword puzzles, and watching NCIS together. (It is a family show for us... lol... all the kids love it.)

We have good friends who took in the kids the first couple of nights before we had a generator for heat. Friends are letting us shower at their house, which makes life much more pleasant all the way around. And last night several of them came over to watch the Superbowl on our generator-powered TV, eating a feast we prepared on the propane cooktop.

It is a bit eerie to see National Guard troops drive through town, but they are here to make sure everybody is okay. The president declared our area a federal disaster area. I have heard this was the worst storm of this kind here that most people have ever seen. And it was bad. But I thank God it wasn't a tornado or something of that ilk that could leave us without shelter or basic necessities.

I am taking Chet to St. Jude on Wednesday, and we will be there a couple of days. I will post pictures as soon as I can. I think the kids are supposed to start back to school tomorrow. Life is working its way back towards normal, and it may take some time to get there, but for now we are just grateful for the blessings and grateful to know it isn't nearly as bad as it could be!

Jesse and Sam's baby, Sophia, was born a few days ago. I can't wait to get to Vegas for a weekend to snuggle and love on her. Congratulations, you two! We love you!