Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Camping at Vail Lake

We returned home late this afternoon after camping for the last three days at the Vail Lake Resort, just outside of Temecula. It was only about 45 minutes from home, but just far enough away to feel as though you've escaped into a different part of the state.We went camping with three other families who had trailers or a motorhome, and then two couples either spent the night in a hotel or went home and came back. But in all there were 22 people in our group. All people from our church family. All people we love spending time with. Although, we were missing one or two of the 'regular' families who we camp with at the beach. We'd been watching the forecasted temperatures for the area for the ten days leading up to camping. There were some days there was predicted rain, and even that kept changing. But the fact that it was going to be in the mid to high 30's as the low never changed. We were offered beds in one of the trailers and we took up that offer for our girls, but Steven and I braved the cold and slept in our tent - under about every single blanket we own! As well as our two heavy duty sleeping bags! Often at night, when we went to bed, checking the temperature found it to be about 38 degrees. And upon waking in the morning, you could see your breath as you lie there debating how badly you really had to go to the bathroom!! We had fires both nights, we had to. It was COLD. We didn't start off with enough fire wood, so on Tuesday, the men went scouting for firewood and came back with a truck load for Tuesday night and even Wednesday morning. We missed our friends who we usually camp with so much that we all felt the need to text and send them pictures, here we are, bundled up around the campfire, texting and emailing pictures to our friends Scott and Paula. They felt loved. On Tuesday, it was a beautiful, beautiful day. Starting off chilly in the shade, so we found sun to stand in. The campground was all grass with the exception of the gravel and paved driveways for the cars and trailers. It was a beautiful campground with lots of trees and even tree swings for the kids. Tuesday we played games (Loaded Question, Mexican Train, Phase 10) and the kids all played, Daddies went on hikes and bike rides, and we just enjoyed being with each other and fellowshipping and laughing. It was a great day.When we go camping with this bunch of friends, we may sleep in a tent, but that's really the extent of our 'roughing it'. Our friends are always hospitable (as evidenced by allowing our children to sleep with them inside) and we always have an endless supply of good food and snacks. While I'm not a coffee drinking woman, I can appreciate the convenience of camping with friends with hook up for the electric coffee makers. This camping trip, we had the big gun in coffee pots! Two pots always on or brewing and lots of yummy creamers to choose from! Yeah, we were really roughing it, weren't it?!?!? LOL. We paid for a late check out on Wednesday and didn't have to be off our three sites until 5:00. But it was COLD and cloudy and even started to rain. The skies weren't looking too promising of clearing up, so we started packing up camp about 11:30. It was so cold, we needed a fire going all morning and sat around it most of the morning.

We had a great time. After the busy month we've had. After the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. All the functions and parties and events we've been to. It was so good to have a few days of sitting, relaxing, and hanging out with our friends. We had a lot of good conversations, some good laughs, a lot of good food, and new memories made. It was a great way to end 2009!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Is It Really Over??

It's Christmas night.

The presents have all been opened. Food has all been dug into and leftovers carefully stowed in the fridge. The dishes have have been washed. Christmas china put away. The mess of the day all picked up. The house has even been vacuumed. The girls and Steven are sitting here on the floor putting some new toys together.

And I'm sitting here in disbelief that the Christmas is officially over. I can't believe it really.

It seems like this season flew by. I'm kinda sad. I love this time of year - the music, the decorations, the festiveness, and most importantly, what the season represents.

The decorations in our house will stay up for another week. As we have a busy weekend ahead with Steven's mother coming tomorrow to do Christmas and then church and a birthday party on Sunday afternoon, and packing for camping come Monday.

I'm hoping to have friends over on New Years Eve, so the house can stay decorated for that and then we'll work on taking the stuff down that weekend. And so until then...I'll just keep on enjoying my lit tree and keep on disbelieving that 2009 will soon be over, in a matter of days...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Here!

It's official, it's the Eve of Christmas Eve and I think it's safe to say, it's Christmas. The gifts are wrapped and are beneath the tree, the house is clean!!, the cheesecake is started and is awaiting it's next step tomorrow morning. Everything looks great and we're ready.

I feel like this Christmas season has completely flown by. Perhaps it's because I've been so busy at the girls' school. I'm not sure.

I'm sad it's just about over. And I'm sad that I didn't get a couple more trips to Disneyland in while it's decked out for my favorite season. As of tonight, we're blacked out until January 3rd. Which stinks, because years past, we've gone on New Years Day and we can't this year because we'll be blocked.

Steven starts vacation today. With the two long holiday weekends, and the four days he took off as vacation next week, he'll be off eleven days!!! It'll be great!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The End of an Extremely Busy Week

Whoa. It's been a busy week for me, thus the lack of posts this week.

It seems like once Monday morning came, I hit the ground running and really haven't stopped much this week. I've spent two FULL days at the girls' school this week and what I can say is that I am extremely grateful the girls are at the same school this year. Last year they were at separate schools, in different cities. LOL.

Today was the last day of school for the year and the girls are super excited, as were many of the kids at school today. You could just feel the classrooms oozing with excitement and chaos when you walked through the halls. Many classes had parties and sugary treats and red punch were high on the party lists. Of course it didn't help that I donated three gallons of punch from the Kindergarten cookie reception to the teachers lounge. So the entire school was on a sugar high today. Ah, tis' the season, right??

This evening we have an event to go to for Hannah, and the entire family has been invited to come and participate. It involves Christmas caroling around a friends neighborhood and then back to their house for treats and hot chocolate. There will be a whole gaggle of girls around Hannah's age participating. And then the rest of the weekend....is TOTALLY FREE! We have no place we have to be, or scheduled to be. Which is rather nice after the week I've had.

So this weekend will find me catching up on laundry, finishing up my grocery list for Christmas grocery shopping, and perhaps some baking and miscellaneous other household things, oh and thinking about getting our stuff in order to go camping two days after Christmas....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A New Phone!

It hardly seems appropriate to write this next post after reaching out and ministering to the needy and then hours after doing so, going and making a purchase of such a nice phone. But as one friend reminded me, don't knock the Lords blessings however they may come.

Steven's contract was up today with AT&T, therefore he was eligible for a new phone. I've regretted not getting an iphone since the month after Steven got his. And today, my wonderful husband got a new iPhone and then turned around and gave it to me!I now have a good phone and have passed down the horrible cell phone I had to the girls to play with. And boy are they happy!!! As am I to have a good working phone whereas I can hear it better and now have the availability to text if need be!!

Reaching Out to the Needy

This morning we got up and out of the house early. All bundled up, the girls wearing warm jackets with hoods, Rachel in her new rain boots and made our way to the location of the local City Mission.

There we were joined with seven other families from our church and together we loaded up six vehicles and headed in separate directions to deliver food and toys to the needy. We have never done anything like this before, so we stayed with our friends Cindy and Charlie who have done this numerous times. They knew exactly what they were doing and it was great to be able to experience a morning like this morning with them.Between our car and theirs we loaded food and toys for thirteen families. Cindy was in charge of the navigating and making and making sure we made good usage of our gas and time so that we weren't back and forth all over. One of the very first stops we made was to an old woman's apartment. She had the burners of her stove on in order to provide heat in her small little home. Another stop that was a tough one was to the home of a couple that appeared to be mentally challenged. I left that home with tears welled up in my eyes. The stops got easier as the morning went on, but still very humbling.

It rained all morning long and by the end of our thirteen stops we were pretty wet and soggy.It was rather cold too, it was in the mid 50s. But it was a morning that we probably won't soon forget.

We took our girls with us. We've been struggling with ungrateful attitudes and thought this might wake them up a little bit. I think it might take a few days for it all to sink in. We saw some pretty poor folks and not clean or nice living arrangements. We have so very much to be thankful for and really have no need for anything. We prayed with all but one of the households we delivered to. All the people were very receptive of our offering to pray with them and through our prayers (Steven and Charlie did the praying) the gospel was shared.

It was a good and very humbling morning. We have the opportunity next Saturday to take hot meals to senior citizens. I'm not sure if we'll do that, but just might. Our church plans to continues to reach out to the homeless and to the needy and this is one ministry we hope to do together as a family.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ornament Exchange

This is the second year that I have participated in a Christmas Ornament Exchange with eleven other women, all from church.

This year, I took a Christmas magnet that my Mom had and turned it into an ornament and I am very pleased with how they turned out.

This ornament is painted on a juice can lid. You know, a lid from concentrate orange juice or lemonade. The entire ornament is hand painted. I ended up making just over 20 ornaments. Twelve for the exchange, two for my girls' ornament boxes, and then a few to give to friends.

We had our ornament exchange this afternoon and there were some cute ornaments! And the party itself is a great afternoon of food, fun, and fellowship. Now, to start thinking and getting ideas for next years' ornaments...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Christmas Tea/Coffee

The women of our new church rapidly and beautifully put on an evening Christmas Tea/Coffee Fellowship this evening at a local coffee house. The place supplied the coffee and tea and we did all the decorating and provided the desserts. My Mom did a Christmas devotion and there was Christmas worship and a coffee mug exchange.

My brother and my sister in law, Grace, have been attending the service on Sunday and it was nice to have her with us for the evening as well. It was a nice evening and a great way to start the season.

Date Night at Disneyland!

Oh my gosh, I cannot tell you the last time that Steven and I were at Disneyland without our children. It's been years, I know.

The girls weren't exactly thrilled when we made a trip to The Happiest Place on Earth this past Tuesday for Steven's birthday to get his Fun Card. And I knew we had plans to meet with our friends for last night, so I made arrangements for our children to stay home for the evening. Thanks to Gramma and Papa, they were relieved of a trip to Disneyland. And thanks to Gramma and Papa, we had a Date Night at Disneyland with our friends, Scott and Paula. It was just us, and them, and their two teenage kids. It was a great night of fellowship and going on rides. I was so excited to be there without children in tow and to have a Date Night. It's something we used to a lot before we had kids - evenings at Disneyland. After Disneyland we ended up at Denny's for a meal at midnight. We didn't make it home until close to 1:30 this morning. But we had a great time!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Croc Blowout!

I know a lot of people think Crocs are the most hideous show that is possibly made. And while they aren't the most attractive shoe made for man and woman, I LOVE them for my kids. They are great for slipping on, GREAT for camping at the beach, and for taking showers in public shower, just to name a few.

Currently, here in the Inland Empire, Crocs is hosting a warehouse blowout sale! And today, after I picked up Hannah from school, my Mom, the girls and I, headed out to the sale as it began this afternoon. The sale is located inside an old Circuit City building, so that should tell you how large the room is. Upon entering the doors, the employees had you a giant trash bag for your shopping convenience. Within steps of the door I was overwhelmed. Where do I start?? Which ones do I want? Do I choose? What about the girls?!?! What sizes will they be in a year from now??
The Crocs were being sold for $10, $15, some as low as $5. They didn't just have your normal Crocs, they had the ones with the lining inside (the Mammoths), they had flip flops, sandals, Disney crocs, you name it. I walked out of there with five pairs of shoes for under $50.00!!!!

The sale is expected to go on for another week or two, and rumor has it, they lower the prices as their time in the area comes to an end. Mom and I are thinking we'll have to make another trip and stock up for next Summer!

Gramma's Fudge

This morning, I made a batch of Gramma's Fudge.

This is my second time making the holiday craved chocolate, and I find it amazing at just how easy it is to make.

Growing up, I remember the Christmases that my Mom would make Fudge. My brother and I could hardly wait until it was set and Mom was cutting it up for cookie plates for neighbors, family, Dad's employees, and friends. We would sit there, watching her preciously cut it into the perfect bite size squares, holding out for a piece.

There was one Christmas that my Mom made a batch of fudge and put it out on the cold garage floor to help it set. She lightly placed a kitchen towel over the pan and returned to the kitchen for clean up. Somehow our Cocker Spaniel dog, Ginger, managed to sneak past Mom and was left in the garage. I'm not sure if Mom realized Ginger was missing or what, but she found Ginger feasting on the decadent fudge in the middle of the garage floor. Only Mama knows where or who got that section of the fudge. LOL.

This morning, my fudge can be found on the cold entry way tiles. We have no pets to worry about, only children, and they are both at school. And you can bet that when the sweetness is set and ready to be cut in to, that both my girls will sit anxiously awaiting for a piece just as my brother and I did so long ago...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Forty Things About My Husband

Today is my husbands 40th birthday. Seems a little weird to see that in print. LOL. What better way to honor his special day than a post of 40 things about him!

1. His first name really isn't Steven, it's Mark. He goes by his middle name.
2. Has a twin brother, who also goes by his middle name and not his given first name.
3. Is the middle child. It's his sister, him, and then his brother.
4. Was born in the same city we live now, but moved to the high desert a few years later.
5. Has a Bachelor's Degree in telecommunications, but his work has nothing to do with what he majored in.
6. Left home at the age of 17 and moved in with friends.
7. Favorite food is Mexican.
8. Hates to wear long pants. You'll find him wearing shorts most days.
9. Used to commute 70+ miles one way to work. He now works from home.
10. Is allergic to avocados and cantaloupe.
11. Is not a Sports person - he doesn't watch any, he doesn't play any. (Yeah, I know how lucky I am on this one!)
12. Was a very 'hands on Dad' when the girls were both babies, and still is.
13. Was my first and only Valentine.
14. Suffers a little with OCD. But I love it! You should see the Christmas lights on the house!
15. Loves science stuff.
16. Has more patience than anyone I know.
17. Used to own his own business.
18. Makes breakfast Monday - Friday.
19. Favorite gum is cinnamon flavored.
20. Loves Resses Peanut Butter Cups.
21. Chips and Salsa are his favorite snack food.
22. Enjoys going to broadway musicals - Wicked, Phantom, etc.
23. Is a computer geek. And plays the roll of 'Tech Support' for many.
24. Avid APPLE lover.
25. Not afraid to make a stand on how he feels politically.
26. Has never broken a bone in his body.
27. Loves to spend time with his girls.
28. Goes to see Chick Flicks with me.
29. Always has to check out the TVs when we are at Costco.
30. HATES surprise parties.
31. Hates being the center of attention, which is why he had no rip roaring rager for this big birthday!
32. Went to a Christian High School.
33. Went to London, England, to see WHAM! in concert when he was only 16 years old, with NO parents.
34. Is right handed, but really should be left handed. When he was little, the schools re-taught him to use his right hand.
35. Is a very good driver.
36. Had a very impressable bachelor pad.
37. Is very knowledgeable in a lot of areas.
38. Came up with the most romantic wedding proposal.
39. Is a man of integrity and stands up for what's right - morally and Biblically.
40. Loves his wife unconditionally.