Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Countdown to a New Year

Two and a half days left of 2010.  What amazing year this has been.  Who would have thought that we would be living in Leavenworth, WA. this time last year?!  So many wonderful, amazing, still-can't-believe events that have occurred in 2010.

Today has been pretty full.  It began with me checking in on Bonnie who has been sick since Monday.  She started complaining about a sore throat Monday evening and gave us quite a scare when she showed us that her tongue had turned white.  Yuck!  Tuesday was spent talking to a nurse to figure out what was going on with my daughter and we both concluded that she had a viral infection and just needed time to heal.  So far that diagnoses has been right.  Bonnie's tongue is returning to normal and her throat is not as inflamed but she is still pretty congested and weak.  She has been quarantined in her room since we have been babysitting our neighbor girl and don't want her to get sick.  After checking in on Bonnie, Autumn  came over while her mom went to work, and I began preparing different dishes for the Harpers who are coming over for our New Year's celebration. 

Mike and Sue are friends of ours from Michigan.  Todd met both Mike and Sue at Grace Bible College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  A week after Todd and I got married so did they.  When we lived in Michigan they would always come over to our house for New Year's Eve until we moved to North Carolina.  About six months after we left Michigan they left as well and moved to Seattle, Washington.  Now that we are all in the same state again we are excited to continue our New Year's celebrations with them and their children. 

I am looking forward to their visit, good food, fun times in the snow, and great fellowship.  I have missed our end of year get together and can't wait for their arrival tomorrow.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Christmas morning!

6 AM
The boys eagerly stood by the bed wating for the alarm to go off so that they could start the celebration.

Off to wake their sister while I nudged Todd and soon they were all gathered around the tree.

Todd got the coffee perking, grabbed his Bible, and we all listened as he read the Christmas story found in Luke 2.

Then time to open presents.

Everyone was excited with their new gifts.  \

My favorite gift was one that Bryce "bought" at Awana.  The kids at our Awana earn bucks for scripture memorization and participation in the club.  With their "bucks" the can purchase items from our Awana store.  The store keeper has been encouraging the children to use their bucks to buy items for their family members for Christmas.  She even gift wrapped the presents.  Pretty awesome!

Bryce used his bucks to have a custome made napkin holder made for me.

They traced his hand and then the store keeper's (Nettie) son used that pattern to make this one-of-a-kind napkin holder.  Neat, huh!

Christmas afternoon was spent at my in-laws down the road. 

More Christmas presents, great food, and fun company.

It was a wonderful Christmas day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve and all is quiet.
The boys are outside in the rain removing the snow that has built up in front of the driveway.  Our entrance and exit is getting smaller everytime they shovel so they are widening the opening.
Bonnie is getting ready for the Candelight service tonight.
Todd is at church putting the final touches on tonight's service and getting ready for Sunday morning. 
Christmas specials are playing on the tv and the anticipation is building for tomorrow morning.

I always find that the few hours before the Christmas Eve service are the longest. You've munched all you can on the Christmas goodies, you are all dressed up and ready for church but way too early so now you don't want to do anything that will get you all yucky.  The kids won't admit it but they are already ready for bed.  The strain of waiting for night time is weary them out and the fact that they have been staying up too late and playing hard all week has finally caught up with them.

So we sit and wait for the big morning.  It has been a long time since we have had Christmas morning in our own house with just us.  I am excited for tomorrow, but miss my family.  Even they are having a different Christmas with everyone congregating in Alabama at my brother's house.  Regardless of where we are the reason for this season does not change.  My prayer is that you have a Merry Christmas and remember that Christ came as a baby so that He could one day be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and provide a way for us to come God. 

"For God so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Goodies

Whew!  I am finally getting caught up with the activities from the last week and a half.  If you are just tuning in you might want to scroll down and take a peak of a few of the highlights from the past week.  Between birthday parties, snow falls, Christmas programs, and fun activities we seem to have been really busy.  By the end of the day I just didn't have it in me to sit down and blog.  But the time has come to load up the pictures and give you a few highlights. 

Today, I invited the youth group to come over to the house to make Christmas goodies with me.  I love baking and creating in the kitchen but I don't need to have a counter full of sugary goodies tempting me and getting in the way of my weight loss journey.  So I decided to invite the youth to come over, help make all the goodies, and then let them take the goodies home with them.  Five teens decided to come over and join in the fun and we did have some fun.

We made chocolate covered reindeer, snowmen, peanut butter balls, peanut butter blossoms, and lady fingers. The kids also played some foosball, pictionary, and just had fun being silly.

Our first goodie was the reindeer cookies.  These are nutter butter cookies covered in chocolate bark with pretzels for antlers, a red hot nose, and sugar eyes.  Most of these  look they way they are supposed to but leave it to teenagers to press the boundaries and you get this....

  or this....
I think you can call this one Road Kill!

Even the peanut butter balls took on unique shapes.  Ariah made a snowman out of her, Jordan made a heart, and Bonnie created a pyramid.  Oh well.  They taste the same no matter what shape they take.

Then there were the snowmen.  These were also made out of nutter butters but this time covered in white chocolate with chocolate chips for buttons and buttercream frosting for scarfs, hats, and whatever the kids cold dream up.

Susan joined in on the fun.  She kept the kitchen in order and helped to keep things running smoothly.

Everyone went home with a plate for a variety of goodies and I got to spend a fun day with some really cool kids.

Tubing on Ski Hill

Yesterday, three Grace churches met up in Leavenworth to spend a fun day in the snow.  Our family and a couple of kids from our youth group joined in the fun and spent the day with several other middle schoolers.  The highlight of our time together was going up to Ski Hill to go tubing.  You couldn't ask for a better day to go tubing.  We had gotten a few inches of new snow the night before and it continued to snow all day long.  I figured we got about four inches yesterday.  Fresh snow with hard snow pack underneath made for a fast run down the hill.

I have never done tubing like this before.  After waiting in line, you finally got your tube which was hooked up to a pulley system.  The pulleys pulled you and your tube to the top of the hill where a worker unhooked you and you went soaring down the hill.  Let me tell you, you went down fast.  It kind of freaked me out at first but after the first run it was a real blast.  The kids had so much fun.  An extra treat was that our friend Drew was there with his church.  We are hoping that Drew and his family will get to come back to Leavenworth next week to spend New Year's Eve with us.

Christmas Program

For the past several weeks, I have been working with the kids in our church every Sunday to put on a Christmas program.  We are a small church and don't have a lot of kids but we had enough to do something special for Christmas.  What we decided to do is a living nativity.  Susan, my mother-in-law, read through Luke 2 and the kids, who dressed up as Mary and Joseph, shepherds, angels, and wise men, recited the passages of scripture that referred to their character and then placed themselves in the stable around the manger.

I was really excited to be able to use the skills I learned this summer from making our VBS props to create a stable for our stage.

Joseph and Mary

 Our three wise men and our star.  Poor Shawn, he was a real trooper.  He carried the star to the stable and lifted it high up about the wall.  I was able to plug it in so that it was all lit up with 150 Christmas lights but the poor guy had to hold it up while we sang some Christmas songs.  That star got quite heavy, but he silently held it high til the end. 
 The Shepherds were quite a crew.  They ranged in age from five to nine and were full of energy. 

The angels

We  had a really good turnout for the program and Todd was able to follow it up with a gospel presentation.  Our continued prayer for our church and our community is that they be impacted with the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

Now that the program is over, I can relax a bit.  All I have left to do now is tear it all down and pack it away for another year.

Where to Begin

Busy, busy, busy.  Finally a break to sit down and let you know all that has been happening with the James clan.  The question now is where to begin.  I think I will start with about nine days ago - Christian's birthday party.
Christian is a young boy from church who invited us to attend his ninth birthday party which was being held at Icicle Junction in Leavenworth.  Icicle Junction is our mini version of Chuckie Cheese.  Cheryl, Christian's mom, had several games planned for the kids to play in the party room, lunch to eat, and then everyone got tokens to play all the arcade games they could and rack up as many tickets as possible so that they could "buy" toys at the ticket counter.

At the junction is also Leavenworth's own theatre.  I figured that while we were there it would be fun to see the latest Narnia movie so I purchased tickets and the kids and I with Todd saw the movie.  While all of this was going on snow was dumping outside.  In fact, in that four hours that we were at the junction about a foot of snow fell outside. 

When we got home Todd got busy shoveling our driveway and three other neighbor's driveways.  Five hours later he was still working and the snow was still falling although now it was turning into rain.  For the next thirty six hours after dumping over 14 inches of snow it rained.  The light fluffy snow turned to thick, heavy, wet snow.  It was a mess but beautiful.

The kids are having a blast with all of the snow.  Their snow forts are getting bigger and bigger every day.  With all of this new snow the boys built a second fort on the other side of the house.  Then last week bulldozers came through town to remove all of the snow build up  that was lining all of the streets and blocking all of the street parking.  The dozers scooped up the excess snow and dumped a huge pile of it in our yard.  I am talking a pile that is about 10 feet high.  My boys were drooling with excitement.  It was all I could do to get them to finish their schoolwork before they headed outside to build the fort of all forts.  This massive snow pile now has tunnels running through it and is quite the master piece. 

So this was the start of our busy time - birthday parties, snow, but that is not all.....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm In For It Now

Well, I am in for it now.  The Christmas present that I ordered for Todd and myself just arrived.  Todd won't let me wait until Christmas to open it.  He wants to have it now.

The present is the P90X workout series, complete with fitness guide and nutrition guide.  If you do it right you will be in much better shape in about 90 days.  My personal goal is to lose 40 pounds and drop 2 dress sizes.  I have done it before when I was going to the gym but this is a little different.  I don't know why, but I have a hard time working out at home.  But for the love of my husband and a desperate desire to fit into my clothes again, I will do it. 

(deep breath) So here we go.  Hopefully, I will survive this journey.  Thank goodness there is a jacuzzi tub in the master bath.  I have a feeling I will be there a lot in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


While shoveling off this last night's snow I overheard from the kids....

Brian: "Hey, Bryce, why aren't you using all the snow mom dumped in the fort instead of the snow on the outside?"

Bryce: "I'm just trying to use all of my natural resources."

Ha ha : )


We did get a lot of snow last night.  Several inches dumped on us in the evening and everyone went outside to shovel off the sidewalks and driveways.  Then when we woke up this morning we found out that several more inches dumped during the night.  Instead of going for our morning walk, Todd and I shoveled off the driveways and sidewalks again.  The plows have yet to come through our roads but when they do, the kids will have another load of snow to add to their snow fort.  Right now their fort includes three rooms each connected by tunnels that they can crawl through. 

Pretty impressive.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What Would You Do?

Have you ever seen that show on TV, "What Would You Do?"  You is the one where they have actors act out a scenario in public and see how the public responds.  Do they help the person in distress?  Do the stand up to the bully? 

Well, yesterday I had a "what would you do" moment.  I was walking down the street heading to the post office when a truck drove by.  As the truck passed me a large box slid off the open tailgate and crashed to the pavement.  When I say crashed I mean crashed.  Inside the box was a toilet that broke into a million pieces and scattered across the road.   My first thought was bummer.  Glad that is not me.  Next the thought when through my head should I help or just continue on my way.  I am ashamed to say that I started to walk off but then the truck turned around and I saw the driver and realized I needed to stop.  I use the word need and not should because I have been thoroughly convicted that every thing that happens in life is a door of opportunity to share the Gospel.  If I had walked on by I would have ruined my testimony in this town with that driver and any neighbors who were watching.  Also, I would have hurt my relationship with God by not sharing His love to those around me.  So I turned around and went back to help pick up the scattered remains of the toilet. 

Another neighbor who was outing walking his dog also came over to help.  Between the driver, the neighbor and myself we got it all picked up and back on the truck.  This time we made sure the tailgate was tightly latched. 

I didn't get the driver's name nor the neighbors, but being a small town I know I will see them again.  I will also know that I can continue to share God's love, and the door is still wide open for me to tell them of God's salvation that He offers. 

I am glad I didn't walk away, but my question is would you have?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Lighting in Leavenworth

This weekend Leavenworth kicked off the Christmas season with their Christmas Lighting Festival.  Everything and I mean everything is covered in lights downtown.  To make a dramatic affect, the lights are kept off until dusk when they are magically turned on.  People from all over come to see this event.  But the lights are just the climax of the night.  Leavenworth wants everyone to have a memorable experience here so they do a whole lot more than just turn on the lights.  It starts around noon when the band and carolers fill the gazebo to play Christmas tunes from both here and Europe.  The town also has people dressed up as Christmas characters walking around town to greet people. 

We were asked last week if we would like to participate in this event by dressing up as some of the characters.

I got to be Mrs. Clause ( My hat is way too big.  If only I could have had a wig, it would have been ok, but, oh well.)

Bonnie ended up dressing up as Frosty.

Bryce was an Elf.
And Brian....well....he was supposed to be an another elf, but they didn't have another elf costume so he opted to go home and stay warm.
 (btw...that is Rudolf in the background.)

 For two hours, we walked around town mingling with the tourist.  Bonnie was very popular.  She was not allowed to talk but had a lot fun with the crowd.  People were constantly stopping her to take their picture with her.  Bryce and I had several photo ops as well. 

My favorite moment of the night was when a mother pulled me aside and thanked me for my mashed potato recipe (wink, wink).  It was the only potatoes that her three year old would eat.  The three year old stood there wide eyed at me, and I told him how glad I was that he liked my mashed potatoes and that he needed to eat them so that he could get big and strong. He agreed and his mom said that Mrs. Claus's potatoes were his favorite. lol 

By 4:30, the cannons started going off marking the start of the lighting, the star carriers and bell ringers then started to walk down the street and as they passed each building the lights came on.  All the while, carolers are leading the crowd into singing Christmas carolers. 

I loved standing there in costume and singing Christmas carols, while snow fell and the lights came on.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Walk of Faith

This morning we rented our house in North Carolina. 

If I was in charge I would have sold it, but since we placed this house in God's hands, I have decided to trust in Him and let Him continue to lead us on this walk of faith.  The gal who will be renting our house lived there before us.  She knows the house and all of its quirks and is excited to see the improvements that we have made.  When she is able she would like to purchase the house.

In other news, it is amazing how quiet the house is with one child gone.  Bonnie went with another family to the other side, i.e. Seattle, yesterday to see a play/movie ( I forget which) that is being put on by Seattle Pacific University.  Since a snow storm was coming through, our friends decided it would be best to spend the night over there and come back home this morning.  I know she is having a blast.

Our snow storm was supposed to drop up to two feet of snow but I think we only got about 4 inches.  Still enough to cover the sledding hills to make for some fun sledding.  The kids and I have been trying to get done with school by 2pm so that we can hit the sledding hill before the kids get out of school.  Yesterday, I took a few turns down the hill while the kids played down at the bottom.  Finally, I had enough of frozen toes and we headed back home so that I could shovel of the driveway and sidewalks.  Boy, those plows really build up the snow at the end of the driveway.  Thank goodness for four-wheel drive.

Time to shower and get these boys started on school.  It is going to be another beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest!