Tag Archives: Christmas

Thriving In My Thrifty Christmas Week–December 26, 2018

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Merry Christmas to everyone!  The post that usually goes up on Sunday?  I think I wrapped it on accident and put it under the tree:). Now that I have a moment to breathe, I thought I’d catch everyone up on our week before Christmas.

We spent a lot of time on Christmas this year, instead of a lot of money, so it was a mad whirl until the very end.  Despite the hustle and bustle we engaged in, there were plenty of times to just do fun things, relax and visit.  I’m very happy with how things ended up.

And, we stayed thrifty.

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A while back, I was given some super-cute Christmas sprinkles.  Jake used this entire jar up on his 2 projects.  He had so much fun, and took the wrapped Krispie treats to his teachers and bus drivers.  They loved them.

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We made lots of gifts.  Rob made gorgeous cutting boards for quite a few family members and friends.  This photo is in process, when he was treating them with oil so they would stay nice.  He made them all from reclaimed wood.

I sewed quite a few items.  We put together several photo gifts–some enlarged pictures, and a couple of photo albums.  We used coupon codes from Walgreens when we ordered the prints and went through Ibotta to get a few cents back.  One album was put together by Patsy for the cousins’ grandma who is visiting from Florida.  That way, she can have pictures of her far-away grandchildren all the time.  She loved it!

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Patsy and Rachel got matching hats.  When Patsy chose her new middle name, she chose 2 middle names.  Rachel is one of them.  She’s a pretty special cousin and they like hanging out together when they can.

Patsy made super-cute bird houses for lots of us, and Chex Muddy Buddy mix for the rest.  Everyone was happy!

Harnet and Danait came and stayed for a couple of nights.  We had so much fun!

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Danait loved seeing the Christmas train at the church before service on Christmas Eve.  She remembered it from last year and was so happy to see it again.  The service was lovely, too.

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I love this picture of my sister, Rosalie, and Harnet!  We had such a good time spending time and visiting.  Rosalie gave Rob such a funny gift–It was box inside of box, inside of box, inside of box, with cute little signs and keys wrapped in it and a toy truck!  Can you guess what was inside?

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The signs read, “Ft. Knox” and the keys were to open the fort.  The truck was a “get-away” car to haul it away with:). Then inside was a bag of gold coins (chocolate, of course!). It was very clever and everyone loved watching him open it.

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The glitter was in there, too.  I mean, gold glitters, doesn’t it?

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Of course, Rob was up to tricks, too.  He nailed and glued Alissa’s gift together, then finally gave her a hammer and chisel so she could pound it open.  Once she got in, she was baffled by the Home Depot and PetCo gift cards (both blank).  He finally pulled her real gift out of his backpack, but sure had fun teasing her first!

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Of course, she paid him back by wrapping his gift in miles of bubble wrap, yards of tape, saran wrap, and lot of other sticky stuff.

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There was an ice rink of “Frozen” going around the place!  Little girls are so fun to buy Christmas gifts for, and the family had fun, I’ll just say:). Her little costume (not in this picture, this is a nightie), actually has lights on it and it sings, “Let it Go.”  Crazy!

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Believe it or not, I got a few non-Christmas-related frugal things done as well.  I re-covered Rob’s pillow with some quilted fabric I’ve had for a long time.  It was worn out, but he likes that exact amount of stuffing, so I just made a new cover.

We did some deep cleaning and organizing on several days, spending several hours we probably should have used for other purposes, but it sure feels good to have some areas clean and things organized that were messy before.

I cooked many meals.  I spent every last cent of my reduced $50/week, plus and extra $50 grocery budget, and have to admit, I dipped into the “little extra” I had set aside.  I will still end up the month under $300 instead of $250, and that includes several food gifts for people, all paper products and toiletries we needed, Christmas extras like cream cheese,  plus lots and lots of produce for my salad eater, Rob.  One thing I bought was 5 boxes of Chex cereal for $1.49/box.  Pasty used a lot of them for her Chex mixture.  The lady behind me in line said she had never, ever seen anyone buy so many boxes of Chex at once.  (She was nice, it just wasn’t part of her world to stock up like that). I politely made conversation with her, but later, to Rob, I said, “who COULDN”T eat 5 boxes of Chex!!!”  Frankly, she might just faint if she every saw my garage:)

Patsy got to do work projects with the youth group at church twice, racking up money in her account for youth group activities. There is a retreat in February she is working hard for.

Today, when I took Harnet home, I got stuck in traffic on the way back.  It took me a long time to get home.  Thankfully, I had a piece of candy in my purse, which I ate,  and then grabbed a little ziplock of frozen ham and bean soup from the freezer, and warmed it up right away once I got home.  I was so glad that was in there!  I almost had to stop and grab something, but made it home without a low blood sugar, saving at least $5-$7.

Rob grabbed some wrapping paper, bows and ribbons today at 70% off.  We wrapped most gifts this year instead of using bags, using paper bought on clearance another year.

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The holiday was wonderful.  There are many more pictures I could show, and many more people who shared the week with us, but this post is way too long already.  We had a great time together as a family, and with friends over the past few weeks.  Tomorrow, we start our routine again, by taking the kids to the pool in the morning and I’m going to my exercise class.  Let’s just say….. it’s time:). I had a lot of turkey.  and ham.  and…….

 

 

 

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–December 9, 2018

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Patsy went to a Christmas party at church last night.  There was an ugly sweater contest.  Rob went down to a thrift shop and got this sweater and then to the Dollar Tree to get things for her to decorate it with.  We told her there was no way she was going to win–it turned out too cute!   She had a lot of fun decorating it, that’s for sure!

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Alissa’s was pretty awful by the time she got done decorating. She did not win, either.  I guess a girl in a sweater that had shoulder pads, and was just like it was made–not embellished, but very ugly with no help at all,  was the winner.  The girls had a lot of fun with it.

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She even did the back of hers because it was so front-heavy that it needed a counterbalance!

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Jake and Michaela spent the weekend, in fact will be with us until Tuesday.  On Saturday morning, it was chore time, and I said they had to help.  Jake thought the funnest chore he could think of was cleaning the toilet.  I wasn’t about to turn down that offer!  So, he and Patsy cleaned the bathroom while Michaela and I put a bunch of things away.  We made the chores fun, they didn’t last long, and a couple of things got done.  Win-win-win!

I have read until I am hoarse.  I read the first Boxcar Children book to Jake.  We read part of “Eddie and Gardenia” which is by Carolyn Haywood, his current favorite author.  Then, our library hold copy of “Here’s a Penny” which is also by Carolyn Haywood came in, and we had to go down there and pick it up and start to read that.  We are about 1/2 way through.  Rob played Plant Bingo (a botany learning game) with him because he loves it, not to teach him anything.  That he is learning while doing it is a nice bonus.  Rob took Michaela to her Horses of Hope arena where she volunteers and rides, but there was no work to do yesterday–it was done by other volunteers, so she just rode.  That worked, too. It was cold.

Then, Rob set Michaela, Jake and Patsy to wrapping presents.  All in all, they got quite a bit done, and had fun doing it.

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I’ve been sewing all week.  Those blue shorts are the sleeping shorts I sewed and gave Rob to wear.  The camo fabric is a pair of long pants that are slightly fuzzy inside–good for cold evenings and the dinosaur fabric is another pair of sleeping shorts.  He will get the long pair and the short gray pair for Christmas.  I used Simplicity 4889, a pattern I’ve had for quite a few years.

I put it all away because the kids were coming, but I do have a couple more things I want to make after they go home and I can get it all out again.

We cooked lots of meals, as normal.  I made potato soup with ham in it, roast beef with carrots, sandwiches, toasted bagels and English muffins for the kids, tuna salad, and more.

I went and got a few marvelous deals at the grocery store.  99c peanut butter, 99c milk (1/2 gallons), and a few other things.  I also got some salad stuff and veggies on the reduced produce rack.  A really tasty honeydew melon was my favorite buy–it only had 1 small soft spot, which I cut out.  I’m so often disappointed with honeydew, but figured it was worth a dollar to take a chance on this one, and it was very good!  Every thing on that rack is $1.  I happened in at the right time–the produce man had just put out 2 huge boxes of things that needed to be sold right away.  At that store, they put them in little mesh bags, and whatever’s in the bag costs a dollar, but it all has a little problem, which I trim off.  I’m feeding my healthy hubby lots of sliced tomatoes due to those little bags:). I’m not sure why some of those tomatoes were in there.  They were perfectly good–not even a bad spot.

I hope your week went well. I plan to keep working slowly towards Christmas, but I’m feeling pretty good about getting ready with a minimum of stress.  How about you?

 

Christmas Fun–Creative Gift Giving–2017

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On almost every occasion, Rob finds a way to spice up the gift-giving.  At least one niece or nephew often gets their present wrapped super creatively.  Sometimes he uses duct tape, wooden boxes nailed shut, loads of pennies instead of money, dollar bills taped into a long strip or rolled into a wrapping paper tube, etc.  This year was no exception.  He froze Alissa’s gift card in a block of ice.  It was actually a dummy card-not loaded, in case the water damaged it.  He gave her a new one once she got it out.  To make the joke funnier, unbeknownst to him, my sister and nephew froze HIS gift card in a block of ice infused with gummy fish, since it was a gift card to Cabelas to put towards his fishing license.  Since neither side knew what the other was doing, it was super funny, and there were several good-natured comments such as “payback” and “serves you right.”  🙂

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My sister, Gail, never has any spoons in her drawer when we go over there, for various reasons.  So, we did the 12 Spoons of Christmas for her.  Rob rounded up as many spoons as he could find from Goodwill on 2 trips and we finished with plastic ones.  There were 12 labeled, wrapped gifts for her, starting with 1 Spoon for the Christmas Tree.  It was a spoon with a bunch of gaudy decorations glued to it, and a hanger to make it into an ornament.

The 2nd Day was 2 Turtle Spoons.  2 spoons were taped to a package of Turtle candy.

The 3 French spoons were decoratively placed into a French fry sleeve, inserted into floral foam

4 Calling spoons were taped to a very old cell phone.

5 Spoony rings are in the picture.  Rob bent them into rings.  See how well they fit?  So fashionable!

6 spoons a-laying were just 6 spoons taped into a 1/2 egg carton.

7 Spoons a-swimming were dangling from a swim-suit hanger, surrounded by raindrops and empty water bottles.  Of course, there was a shower cap, which my sister immediately put on!  Patsy did a great job drawing the raindrops.

8 Spoons a-milking were 8 spoons taped to a rice milk carton.

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9, 10, and 11 were spoons Pipe-cleanered together for spoons a-piping, Spoons a-leaping (doing the long jump), and spoons a-dancing (a very decorative mobile for their new remodel).  All of these gifts are just awful, of course, and will never be used for decorations:)

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The last one was 12 spoony Hawaiian drummers drumming.  12 spoons were taped to a huge, Costco bag of brown sugar and palm trees and a drum were drawn by Patsy.  This was another joke, because my niece had bought 12 pounds of brown sugar recently, and brought it home to her mom.  It was on sale so she thought she should get several, but that was a lot, so we’ve been joking about how she was going to use up that much!  So we bought her some more:) Everyone was roaring with laughter as she unwrapped each elegantly wrapped gift and she really hammed it up, making it more fun.

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Another fun addition to the party was a Saran Wrap ball game.  This was a twist on the old “unwrap the package” game that we have played for years.  (In that game, you wrap and wrap and wrap a small gift and then people unwrap when the music plays and pass it around when the music is going until someone gets the gift.  Sometimes there are candies in-between the layers that fall out and people get it as well).  This was a little different.  My niece wrapped many, many gifts in many, many yards of plastic wrap, encasing each gift with a few more layers.  The ball was quite large when she finished. The rules were:  The guy in front of you had dice and rolled until he or she got doubles.  You could unwrap the Saran Wrap until the doubles were rolled.  You could not rip, tear, or use a pocketknife.  The ends were hard to find as the wrap had been cut frequently.  So, sometimes it took your whole turn to find an end that could be unwrapped.  When doubles were rolled, you had to pass the ball on for the next guy’s turn.  There were all kinds of goodies my sister and brother-in-law had gathered up.  There were charger cords, dollar bills, candy galore, little flashlights, gum, survival gear, and other super fun prizes.  We had a great time with that, although in the end, after the kids robbed me blind of some of my little prizes, I did end up with a $1 bill to keep:).

You may notice one niece with a tablet.  My niece, Rachel, in Ireland, joined us for the game via Skype!  Caitlyn was sure to take a turn for her frequently.  Technology is so cool sometimes!

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We all gave and received many great gifts this Christmas.  But, I venture to say, the joke ones will remain in our memories for quite a while along with the more “serious” ones.  I will also say that everyone who helped with the joke gifts got as much enjoyment out of thinking them up them as the receiver did getting them, and that’s the best kind of creative gift in my mind–fun all around.

 

Did you do any creative gift giving this year?  Or do you plan to for upcoming birthdays? We are always open to new ideas, as long as its all good, clean fun and the kids still get the present in the end.  I’d love some new ideas to add to the mixture.

 

 

Holiday Fun

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Alissa had a contest at one of her holiday parties on Wednesday.  She was supposed to look the most “Christmasy.”  She spent quite a bit of time sewing the fake tree on her Goodwill sweater, and then hung it with candy ornaments right before the party!  Silly, and fun.  She won 2nd place:)

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Ja’Ana had a little tap dance show for the parents tonight after her class.  It lasted about 5 minutes, but it was cute!

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Today was our last day of homeschool and tomorrow the public schoolers will finish up until January 2nd.  We just finished studying Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and so we watched the movie today.  They ate chips, cookies and popcorn and colored in a big coloring book Alissa got for her white elephant gift exchange.  We only had 2 assignments, plus a long math session,  beyond that to finish up, and I’m assigning no homework for the 2 weeks we have off.  While they watched it, I wrapped a bunch of presents.  I feel like I’m gaining on that project of Christmas presents.  I plan to wrap again this weekend, and then I’ll know what I still need to get.

Although it is crazy-busy, I do feel that we are getting time for some enjoyment this holiday season.  We have been lighting the advent candles several times a week and reading some scriptures and doing a few advent activities.  Instead of trying to get to that with every person, every day, I just go with whoever I’ve got at the moment.  So, I may read/do activities with J and Alissa some days, Patsy others, and on Sunday afternoons, Jake now wants to light the candles and he made a little “ornament” for our paper advent tree stating the Jesus was bron. So cute! He asked me today if we could light them again next Sunday afternoon.  Of course we can!

Busy Kids=Happy Kids-Christmas Break, 2016-Part 3

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The last 2 days have been busy, and full.  On Wednesday, Rob helped my niece, Rachel,  move home to her parents’ house.  She is leaving on a big adventure to Ireland in January and does not want to keep her apartment for the 6 months she will be gone.  He kept our girls occupied with that project and some errands, and I kept Jake occupied.  We hung around his house all day.  Since Jake’s big sister came home from college late, late at night Tuesday, all of the big girls were exhausted, since they had gone to get her from the airport.  Jake did not go.   So, he kept me busy.

I had him do his usual chores, eat his breakfast, get dressed, etc.  Then, we did crafts and played with trucks, Legos, read stories and played games.  (I will say that his rules are definitely his own, but since I don’t care if I win, it works for me better than it does for Patsy, for instance.   We use various cars and little trains for markers. We have to drive them along in a certain way that only he knows and the rules change every minute.  About 1/2 way through the game, he is done, but as long as he had fun….)

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I’ve been having him try the Perler bead projects.  I was so proud of him. This penguin is the first one that no one had to finish for him.  He got it all!

Today, we did chores, etc., and some more crafts.  I had no idea he liked crafts so well.

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This is definitely the time to buy kid crafts.  I have been able to pick up several kits for 50% off, or even 60% off.  I shopped at JoAnn’s and Michael’s.  I got a lot of bang for my buck.  He wanted me to sit beside him most of the time, all day, both days, but it was mostly for company.  He loved doing the crafts.

So, this afternoon, Rob came, with the van,  and we went to the library where they were having an activity where kids could go from table to table making Christmas gifts.

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He made crafts until he had visited each station, and even made some things twice.  Who knew?  He also enjoyed visiting with Santa, who stopped by.  We even got an Amelia Bedelia book, as he has begun to enjoy that character.

While he and Patsy made crafts, the big girls (all 4), wandered through the huge library, enjoying themselves.  It was good to spend time with Caitlyn as she isn’t home very often.

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We couldn’t resist a photo shoot in the remaining pile of snow in the library parking lot.  It’s the closest she got to the fun of the big snow, since she goes to school in southern California.  The only piles left are where people plowed or shoveled it into heaps during the storm.  It worked for her!

Once we did an errand for Alissa, bought a few more crafts for tomorrow, the library, and picked up some photos Rob had ordered from Fred Myers, several hours had passed.  The afternoon was awesome, and I have to admit that french fries were involved.  Tomorrow, I will spend another day with the kids, again focusing on Jake, and then I have next week off from such structured activities.  We will still see one another, but their mom and day and big sister are going to keep Jake happy and busy since they all have the week off,and I’ve got a few things planned for Rob and my girls to do a few of the days, plus at least 2 family dinners.  Fun all around!

 

 

Busy Kids=Happy Kids, Christmas Break 2016, Part 2

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Want to keep them busy and interested?  Sign them up for a squid dissection class!  That’s just what we did today.  We spent the day at OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry).  My sister, Gail (Alissa’s mom) is the field trip guru.  She put together a day for all of our kids, plus some friends.  Some of the kids are homeschooled and some go to various schools, but they all had the day off because of Christmas break.

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We had no idea that our little friend would enjoy dissecting, but she had a blast and held her own!

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The boys had a great time, too (I promise–he just looks a little sober in this picture)

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After the kids finished their class, we had some time to wander around OMSI and eat our lunches.  I was so glad to have a knowledgable person in charge of the dissection, and that that is checked off the Biology list!  Then, we watched 2 movies, D-Day and Jerusalem, on the OMNI Max Screen.  After that, we wandered around the museum for a while, enjoying exhibits, then headed home.  It was a great day, and the movies fitted in so well with what we’ve been studying in history.  We are just finishing World War II, and the movie brought it to life.

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Happy kids = happy moms!  I was so glad to see some of my friends that I hadn’t seen for a while, spend time with family, and give the kids such a great learning experience.  It was a great day.

Busy Kids = Happy Kids: Christmas Break 2016, Part 1

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I am going to be spending a lot of time with the cousins this week.  I am planning on some super fun activities.

Yesterday, Michaela was telling us how much she wanted to decorate sugar cookies for Christmas.  So, last night, I made 2 batches of gluten-free dough.  I wanted to chill them all night.  Because I am so sensitive to wheat, I don’t even keep regular all-purpose flour in my house, so everyone will enjoy gluten-free cookies this year.

Lovana came to the rescue and went with me, bringing her expertise and creativity.  We made royal icing and buttercream.  She tinted the frosting several colors and we pulled sprinkles out of our cupboard and my sister’s cupboard.  We had tons!  She decided to bake the cookies first, then ice and decorate.  We often decorate first, then bake, but Michaela wanted to do it this way this time, so we did.

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They made lots of pretty cookies.  We froze some for Sunday.

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Here’s the recipe.  I got it from a little magazine I bought years ago at the check-out counter called “Gluten-Free Recipes.”  I tweaked it a bit.

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup softened butter

1 egg

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill One-to-One gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 Tablespoons milk, more if necessary

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg.  Add salt, baking powder, xanthum gun, cinnamon, vanilla and flour.  Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistancy is reached.  Add more if dough is too dry.  Chill for at least 15 minutes.  Roll, cut out, and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until brown.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on size.

I was a bit baffled by the instructions about the milk.  I made 2 batches.  The first time, I put in the 2 tablespoons.  It was really stiff.  I put in a little extra the 2nd time.  It was almost too much.  Lovana rolled and cut out the cookies and she had trouble working with the 2nd batch.  On the other hand, the cookies themselves were much more tender with the softer consistency.  The first batch was super crisp, then second was softer.  Both had excellent flavor.  Everyone loved them, whether or not they needed to eat gluten-free.

The rest of the day was filled with kids playing with toys, lunch, tons of dishes and cleaning from the cookies and playing (I also had Jake do his regular chores such as “pick up 8 things”) and then we had a huge game of Apples to Apples with Lovana, Alissa, her friend Kim, Michaela and myself. Earlier,  Jake and I had played a version of Life which sort of resembled what the directions said, so he played other things during this game.  Ja’Ana and Patsy were off to the doctor and errands with Rob, who is off work for 2 weeks now. (He works at a school.)

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We took a few home for Patsy to do, since she didn’t want to be left out of the fun!  It was a great day, and we have a great one planned for tomorrow.

 

 

 

More Snow

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It’s unbelievable!  We got hit with a snow event even bigger than the one last week!  This is very rare in our area, so I don’t think people took the weather people very seriously.  After all, we have been promised snow many times and no snow showed up.  So, all of the children went off to school Wednesday morning, as usual.  People went to work.  Around noon, it began.

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By nightfall, we had over 4 inches.  Incredible!

I have to say, it was very hard for everyone to get home.  I was doing school with Ja’Ana and Alissa at Alissa’s house, around 20-25 minutes from my house when the flakes started falling at my house.  Lovana called me a couple of times to tell me it was snowing.  So, we finished up what we were doing and J and I started home.  I decided to stop at the store to grab a few things were were out of, such as milk.  I should have kept driving:)

By the time I had pushed my way through the people grabbing items, got the things that were left on the emptying shelves, and stood in a long line, the snow was pelting down, mostly in the form of ice pellets.  But, I had my milk!  I began to drive home.

The roads were clogged with drivers, all of whom were driving deliberately and carefully through the ever-falling snow.  We got to go about 5 miles per hour in quite a few places and got all the way up to 20 in a couple of places.  I spun my tires on a hill, but got up fine once the tires got a grip!  For me, that was more than enough excitement!  I have not left the house since I got safely home, between 45 minutes and an hour later.  Then, we waited for Rob to show up.

He was at school and needed to ride the bus home with a child, as he normally does.  They let out 2 hours early.  He did make it safely, but it was much closer to his regular time–not very early.  He was on that bus for a very long time and there were a few dicey moments, but it was all good for him.  In Portland, Oregon, the story was a bit different.  Some students did not get home until 11 at night, buses were sliding down hills, and traffic was gridlocked for hours and hours, taking some people 4-6 hours to return home.  Glad I didn’t go to Portland that day, as I had planned.

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I think the lettuce is finally done for:)

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Each day since, the schools have been cancelled, the snow has melted slightly during the middle of the day, and frozen back up each night, with temperatures down into the 20’s.  For many of you, that is nothing.  For us, here–it’s so very, very rare it is a novelty.  Rob drove to get Jake, my nephew, yesterday, with no problems.  He will go drive around a bit today, just because he likes to.  As for me, I’m content to sit in my warm, cozy house and enjoy the luxury of being able to cook and sew to my heart’s content!  I just may finish Michaels’s pajamas today, and the meals that I have time to cook and pretty yummy, I must say–warm soups, home-made pizza, and more.  All-in-all, it’s been a terrific vacation for me!

 

 

Black Friday, 2016

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This year we did not go shopping on Black Friday.  Not even to buy a single pair of socks at the annual Fred Meyer 1/2 price sock sale.  Not even for flannel at JoAnn’s.  Nothing was shopped for.  Instead, we went with family members to a very special outing.

We went to ride a historic holiday train.  My niece, Michaela, adores trains.  Her mother, my sister, decided to treat us all to a train ride.  So, today, we went.

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My niece, Rachel, and Lovana took they selfie.  I thought it turned out super good.  I love it!

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Everyone enjoyed the fun experience, but Michaela was in train heaven!  She LOVED the train ride.

The train departed from Oaks Amusement Park in Portland, Oregon, and traveled along the Willamette River almost to the Ross Island bridge, and then returned.  During the ride, we could see the river and some wetlands containing birds.  We also saw great views of Portland itself.

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After riding the train, we ate lunches out of our car trunks, and then headed for the roller skating rink at Oaks Park.  The rides are closed for the season, but the rink remains open year-round.  Bless Auntie Gail’s heart!  She helped Patsy skate.  I watched.  Although I admire her gumption, I wouldn’t want to be her tomorrow.  I’m sure she’ll be sore!!

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Alissa enjoyed her first time roller skating!

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Ja’Ana loved whizzing around with Kim, one of Alissa’s good friends.

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Even Michaela tried it out with help from her Mama.  It was a LONG trip around the rink, but she was proud and happy that she did it!  The non-skaters had a great time encouraging the skaters, sipping soda, and visiting.

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Afterwards, we ended the day with dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  The kids enjoyed the balloon toys a roving balloon-toymaker crafted for them.  It was a great follow-up to Thanksgiving Day, and gave many of us the chance to keep visiting.  On the way home, we enjoyed seeing many Christmas lights that busy people had hung up while we enjoyed our day.  It was a great start to our Christmas season!

Merry Christmas

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We attended a wonderful Christmas Eve service last night and then had our immediate family Christmas celebration.  Everyone ended up happy and joyful–it was awesome.  Today, we are going to celebrate some more with extended family–an all-day affair involving lots of food, laughter and love.  I hope all of you have a wonderful day!  Merry Christmas!