Sunday, November 27, 2022

November 26 Putting up the tree

Saturday:  I am never totally excited to put up my Christmas tree ... it kind of puts me out of my comfort zone to move furniture and add MORE clutter to this already small space. But having said that ... I DO love this time of year--not because it's all warm and cozy and emotionally happy--lots of times there is quite a bit of added stress that comes with the holidays, especially with relationships ... but putting those things aside I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I love it because I can play Christmas carols without feeling "odd" like I do when I play them in August! I love it most because God stepped out of heaven and became a human being for us, when we were His enemies through and through. I don't think I will ever exhaust the amazement of His awesome love for us. Christmas is a good time to remember all He has done for us.

I took a few pictures of my Christmas trimming adventure. For once, I actually put the tree together, got both strands of lights draped around it without any negative incidents ... and then I stopped and waited to decorate it until Sunday. That was a good decision.

My tree is tall and narrow. It has to be! I only have a 3' sq. space to put it in--and it fits pretty good there!
A few years ago, I condensed all my Christmas decorations into these two totes, which are easily spotted in the shed behind my house. 
I move this small bookcase from the living room into the "dining room" to make room for the tree. I have a "Little People" nativity set that I got probably 10 years ago now. The little kids love to play with it.

I picked Kaity up at 3:30 from Jesse. She came over for a little while and we just hung out together. It was good to see her--she had been sick last week and couldn't come over. I missed her!

I've been noticing a "noise" in the last few days while I am driving. At first I thought it might be the brakes--but it wasn't exactly THAT noise I was hearing. Kaity noticed it too. On the way back to Jesse's, we decided to road test our noise to see if we could narrow down when it occurred and under what conditions. Kaity looked in the glove box and found a note pad and a pencil to write our findings down. She was hugely enjoying this. We found that the noise happened especially when first starting up (like from a cold start) and going slow, especially when turning the car LEFT. Fast speeds? No noise. Slamming on the brakes at a good speed? No noise. Driving straight ahead ... a noise now and then.

We reported our "findings" to Jesse when we got to the house. Jesse diagnosed that I have a wheel bearing that is going bad. He looked things up on the internet to see if he could do the mechanical work on it, but found that since my Kia is a SOUL, the wheel bearing requires a certain compression machinery to replace and install. SO, Jesse is going to talk to some "car" people he knows and recommend a place first thing Monday morning.
This last picture of the tree was taken Sunday evening. The tree is all decorated now. I moved the little nativity underneath the tree where Erin and Cal can readily reach and play with it. 

PS. The 14.5 inches of snow we received out here in Belmont just one week ago has entirely melted! There are just a few "piles" where it had been shoveled out of the way. What a weird weather week. Two weeks ago on a Friday, we had a high of 75 degrees. Six days later, we started our 3-day snow event with temperatures dropping into the upper 20's and low 30's. THIS weekend, we've been in the upper 50's. Only in Michigan!

Friday, November 25, 2022

November 24 Thanksgiving

Thursday:  After making a double batch of turkey stuffing this morning, I placed it in a crock pot, grabbed my freshly baked pumpkin bread (Starbuck's recipe) and French bread (Arnie's bakery) and drove over to Dylan and Kelly's to eat dinner at noon. I arrived about an hour early so that I could free up Kelly in the kitchen--play with the children--or whatever she needed me to do. Upon arriving, Dylan told me that Kelly was sick. The illness that had gone through their entire household, finally got HER. She had already prepped everything for the meal--all was in the oven cooking or on the stove top--so she went up to bed and Dylan and I took care of watching over the food and then serving it to the kiddos. We had a ton of food and it was delicious. 

Football began at 1:00, so the timing of our lunch worked out perfectly. Everyone went downstairs to watch the game and I elected to clean up the kitchen as best as I could before I joined them. Everything worked out really well. We sure missed having Kelly with us--but I am glad she decided to go to bed and just sleep. Sometimes our body doesn't give us any choice in the matter!

Cal really enjoyed his whipped cream
and pumpkin pie--mostly the whipped cream!

Aidan wanted me to photograph his
"shots" ... so I tried my best!

The Lions/Bills game was on--it was a good game ... with a disappointing loss right at the very end of the game. 

Isn't Cal something? He is an interesting little person, for sure! Thankfully, he still loves to cuddle and hug. So does Erin!
I love him to pieces. 

These two! Three years apart. They are starting to enjoy playing together more and more. Cal's kind of rough on Aidan ... but then ... Aidan is kind of rough on Cal too.

Dear Erin--I love you, baby girl. She wasn't feeling 100% either and just laid on the bean bag and let me play with her hair and rub her back for the longest time.

Brendan was still really under the weather from this respiratory "bug" they have all experienced. I think Brendan has had it the longest and perhaps the worst. He missed two days of school this week too. I was sad to see him feeling miserably still.
By mid-afternoon, Cal was quite tired; so he cuddled up with Dylan, who read him some "Gossie and Gertie" books for awhile ...
Cal finally gave in and ... slept! I love this picture of Dylan and Callaghan.
Shane was here too. In the past I have been asked not to take pictures of him; and since I haven't been told differently, I try very hard to respect his wishes. However, it leaves me with no recent photos of him whatsoever. I guess that's okay. My brain still works well enough to see him when I want to see him! The picture I see tonight is of Shane playing with Aidan (rough-housing, tickling etc.) on the floor of their basement while watching the Lions' game. I see Shane talking kindly to Brendan, laughing with Aidan--enjoying him and Aidan clearly loving his uncle right back. Cal too, and Erin--they clearly adore Shane. It's a happy memory that I will cherish, even without a photograph.

November 23 Chris' birthday card

Wednesday:  Well ... it took me most of the day (!!) but I finally got Chris's card designed. I'm posting it here because the way I am printing out cards now makes it difficult to save it completely intact in my "Documents" section on my computer.

The front picture was taken over at Tyler's mom's house the day of Chris and Tyler's graduation open house. Tyler's mom has several acres next to her house--beautiful woods! The inside picture was taken a few months ago (during the summer) at my house. We were sitting at my table playing games (if I remember correctly).

I struggled with the inside message for his card ... and I hope it doesn't sound "preachy." I don't want it to! It's just that Chris is going to be 19 this coming Tuesday. He has been away at college this semester, so I haven't seen very much of him at all, let alone interact with him. But this has been the case now for the last few years. He's grown up now, doesn't come over very often, and even when he does he is with his siblings--I can't remember the last time I had a 1-on-1 conversation with Chris that lasted more than a minute--just greetings as we come and go--that kind of thing. So I cannot say I actually KNOW Chris ... like what he thinks about or what is most important to him. So as I prayed while designing his card, I asked the Lord to help me communicate my heart for him.

I've been spending significant time in the Psalms during the last few weeks. As I was beginning to read the VERY long 119th Psalm, these verses just jumped out at me for Chris. I love this entire 175 verse Psalm. In the past, I thought it was very repetitious and couldn't understand why 175 verses had to be written to communicate the same truth over and over again: God's Word is central and we MUST obey it! But as I read and thought about each section, it became SO beautiful ... the writer is so desperate to find out what is really important to God ... what makes life worth living ... how can we know what decisions to make ... how can we truly honor God, what is true happiness ... etc.

"How can a young person live a clean life?" Ah. Now THERE'S the question! How can anyone--old or young? We live in such a dark world ... so much sin and sickness and sadness, both inside of us and all around us! "By carefully reading the map of God's Word." I like the way this is worded in The Message, so that's the translation I used. The other verses talk about where real happiness is found ... anyway, I thought they were appropriate for anybody, and I do pray this for Chris and ... all of us.

Emma was going to spend some time with Chris today. He is "home" for the Thanksgiving holiday, but returning to college for his finals next week. Emma is going to deliver Chris's card and gift today. 

November 23 Belle's new sweater

Wednesday:  Look what arrived in the mail today for our Belle!

Emma ordered this Christmas sweater for little Belle ... she looks adorable in it.
Belle was NOT in the mood to pose for any pictures and kept turning her face away from my camera. Oh well--these show how darling she looks. She is READY for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

November 22 It's Tuesday again!

Tuesday:  Wow, I haven't posted a single thing in a week. WHY? Let's just say we had a 3-day snow event that dumped a lot of the white stuff around here (14.5" in Belmont, 22" out at the airport, and 30" in E. GR), which kept me busy shoveling, etc. Also, Kaity was sick Thursday and Saturday--so she did NOT come over. What was there to post about without Kaity coming over?!?

Usually, I would have posted snow pictures ... but instead, I was working on the design of my Christmas card--which took a LOT of hours of work--trial and error, etc. But I did get it designed and sent off to the printer, so I was happy about that.

The little kids came over today as usual. We had a good time here as well as later at their house. Here are some pictures:

I put this little layout together an hour before I picked the kids up. Cal really loves to play trains. It helps a LOT if I already have a track put together for him.
Erin moseyed around playing with little objects here and there. She found a container with these small building blocks and played with them for a very long time ...

Cal requested that I get the garage down from on top of my cubby shelves. He loves to zoom the cars down the ramp and have them all crash at the end. He says "crash" every time it happens and then smiles. OH ... Cal called me "Gomma" 4x today, clear as can be! I was so thrilled.
We did our usual routine of eating, playing, snacking, and then loading the kiddos up to head off to pick Aidan up from school. But guess what? NEXT WEEK Aidan will be riding the bus to and from school. YAY! I will just meet him at the house with the other kids. Much easier!
This is the gnome-decorated mantle at their new house. This is the room that the ceiling probably reaches 30' high.
Kelly set up the kiddos' Christmas tree in the "sitting room". They decorate and UNdecorate this tree for weeks ... 
... it's very nice that they get to do this. They enjoy it so much.

Right now, they don't exactly have a dining room table. Kelly is using these two tables as a staging area for unpacking, etc. The little kids have been using one of the tables as an art table. Good idea! Erin and Aidan especially enjoy drawing, coloring, and making books.

Miss Jen (nanny) did an amazing job organizing all of the toys in the basement. When we walked downstairs, it was like ... shock! 
The kids had so much fun "finding" toys that had been packed up during their move, as well as other toys that Jen organized for them. Jen is amazing.
This is such a nice play space for the kids!
Erin was very pleased to find this writing tablet. She showed me how it works and we drew some pictures together. I enjoyed it very much.

So ... there is this glass block, HALF wall divider in the basement that the kids climb ...
They are little monkeys!

They are very good climbers!
Little Cal shows some real athletic prowess too. This "Little Tikes" basketball hoop is a real joy for him. He's got some pretty good form too and makes a lot of his shots. When he doesn't, he announces: "I missed!" and then goes on to take more shots.

We actually found BOTH shoes for Erin's little Elsa doll. she was super pleased about it.
Dylan and Kelly arrived home and while we waited for the pizza to be delivered, Dylan came downstairs to play with the kids. I forgot to mention that Brendan has been sick and had to miss school today. He has what "bug" has pretty much gone through the whole family in the last 10 days or so. He was feeling a bit better today and I did get to see him for awhile. He was resting and playing one of his favorite video games.

After dinner, Kelly opened a box that Erin had been anticipating that contained "taco boots" !!! What?! Yes! There are cute little tacos all over these boots! Erin was super pleased, tried them on, modeled them all around for us.
Erin! You are so precious.
Just two more days now until Thanksgiving. I'll try to take some good photos that day ... but who knows? I may be too busy or distracted to even remember to do it. Hopefully not.