Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lock In

 A week ago we had our lock in at church.
Todd had the kids do some "Minute to Win It" games for fun.
We had the cup stacking and collapsing game.
Then there was the sorting the playing cards games.
He had a lot more planned but the kids were not into it.
 After a late night and a lite sleep on a hard floor, the girls were a little groggy and moody.

 Brian and MacKenzie, however, were up early and ready to play some more.
They had fun playing cards with dad and Steve.
Steve was a real trouper.  
 By noon, our friends from Shoreline and Port Orchard arrived.
Tubing on Ski Hill
 Even though we were tired, no one was ready to throw in the towel.
 The tubing hill was really slick.
The temperatures have been really cold and with little snow, everything was like ice.
The ski club trucked in some extra snow.
The made a few changes on the tubing hill.
They added a carpet to help slow you down at the end.
Last year, they had people fly out of the tubing run.
To prevent that this year they not only added the carpet but also built an extra high wall on the final curve at the end.
I think the kids were a bit disappointed but as a mom I was glad that the possibility of broken bones was greatly reduced.

Monday, December 26, 2011


There is no telling what is going to happen when there are teenagers in the house.

 Bonnie and her friends disappeared into her room. 
When they came out....
 Bonnie has decided she wants to learn how to do stage makeup.  
Freaky, huh?!

Sunday, December 25, 2011


 It is Christmas time again.
This Christmas was a lot of fun.
Our big gift was a drum set for Brian.
He has been ra-ta-tatting on everything and we figured it was time to put that tapping to use.
We figure in a couple of years we might have a decent praise band at church.  
 It was hard keeping such a big thing a secret.  
We had to enlist a few people to help us hide it until last night.
Then I thought we would ruin the surprise making all the noise we did when putting it together.
I found the set on craigslist and Todd had to drive over to Seattle to get it.
Now we have to figure out where to put it.
 Bryce wanted one thing.
The Spyro Adventure Set.
You get the game Spyro and a disc that allows you to play different characters when you place them on the disc.
He has been playing it non-stop since he opened his present. 

Bonnie got a few girly things like a crimping curling iron, a make-up brush set, and jewelry.  
However, she was  most excited about getting her own DS.  
She had an old DS that we picked up at a garage sale a few years ago, but it finally died.
I was able to get her an updated one and now she can play all of her games that have been gathering dust.

Todd and I did well as well.  Bonnie and Todd bought me a new knife set and Todd got me a digital picture frame that I can have on my desk at church.  Todd got some new clothes, a head lamp for all of his night hikes and an ipod shuffle to put his audio books on so that he can listen to them while he hikes.
Yes, it was a good Christmas.
Now time to head off to Grandma's house for the family Christmas gathering.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Next time, remind me to think through my hair-brained ideas.

In hopes to motivate our youth to work on their handbook sections in Awana, I challenged them to pass a section a week and they could have a lock-in at church.  In case you don't know, a lock-in is where you lock the kids in the church all night long, i.e. an overnighter at church.  Five young people met the challenge and joined us last night at church to be "locked in." 

We started off the night with dinner - Tacos...yum!  Todd led the kids in some Minute to Win It games and a few card games.  He then led the kids in a devotional, a game of hockey, and then off to town to go sledding.  Sledding is not exactly what you might think.  Sledding implies snow and we haven't had snow for weeks.  The city has been trucking in snow for the tourist to sled on during the weekend lighting festivals.  By now, the snow has been packed down and turned into a nice sheet of white ice.  The kids flew ...and I mean flew...down the hill.  They had a blast.  After an hour of gliding down the ice hill, we headed back to church for hot cocoa and a movie.  We watched the End of the Spear and then heading off to "bed."  The girls and I crashed in the church library while the boys crashed in their Sunday school classroom.  By three the girls were asleep and I did my best to sleep on the rock-hard floor.  By eight we were back up, fixing breakfast, playing more games, and finally cleaning up the church. 

The fun wasn't over yet.  Our sister churches from Shoreline (Seattle) and Port Orchard came over to join us for lunch and to go tubing down our ski hill.  Wow!  I can't believe I am still functioning, but not for long.  Shortly I am kicking everyone out of the living room and sending them to bed.  Tomorrow is another day filled with lots to do.  It is sad to say but I am looking forward  to Monday more than I am Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We're Going to Make It

We may be on Break, but the list of things to do is quite long.  Slowly, things are getting done.  I FINALLY got my parent's gift in the mail.  (I hope it makes it in time. cross fingers!)

Monday was to be my sewing day.  I am making most of my gifts for my in-laws, etc and haven't had the time or energy to put everything together.  When I sat down to sew, my machine kept acting up.  Not Good!  I finally concluded it needed to be oiled but I didn't have any machine oil.  In all reality, I really needed to fix my own machine since I have been working off of my daughters.  Todd offered to go to Wenatchee for me to pick up the things I needed to get back in operation.  I knew, however, that would put me in a state of panic.  It would take him an hour or two to do the errand, and I couldn't stand that "dead time."  I decided instead to switch my days around and do my Tuesday Christmas shopping on Monday, pick up the parts for my machines, and sew on Tuesday instead of Monday. 

So Monday, I ended up buying all of the rest of our Christmas gifts and found the solutions to both of my sewing machines.  Yesterday, was a marathon sewing day.  I have almost completed four of my seven sewing projects.  The remaining three will be easy and I know that I will be able to complete them on Friday.  I have yet to do any more Christmas goodies.  I think that will be Saturday's activity. 

Yep, I think we are going to make it.  The presents will get made, goodies will get fixed, and everyone will have a great Christmas.  We will rest AFTER Christmas.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Goodies

I promised Bryce that once we were on Christmas Break, we would start making Christmas Goodies.  
 Today we made sugar cookies and M&M/chocolate chip cookies. 
 Autumn is spending the day with us and was a big help with decorating.
We will save the rest of the goodies til next weekend,or else they will be all gone before Christmas gets here.

Ready for a Break

We are on Christmas Break but it doesn't feel like it yet.  There are cookies to be made for tomorrow night's Christmas program, the stage to set up and decorate, and finally, the program to perform.  I am so looking forward to Monday.  I have taken the week off from going to the gym but I might take just one more day off just so I can sleep in.   I can still go to the gym after I wake up, right?

I still have kids coming over while their parent's work and I still have to go work at the church, but I am thankful for a break from school pressures and Awana. 

House News....Here we go again.  We are expecting another contract to be faxed out today.  This will be the fourth contract we have signed on the house.  The first two were from a bidding war that was going on between two buyers.  The second offer won out but got into a fight over how to put their names on the deed.  That offer fell through.  Then the male figure from the first offer renewed his offer but by that time another offer was on the table,  We let them dicker it out and we signed contract #3 with the winner of that war.  He backed out after the inspections.  Now we have another offer and after countering back and forth have come to an agreement on price.  We expect to sign the papers today with inspections to be completed next week.  Let's just say I am nervous about the whole proceedings and won't feel comfortable until I know they still want the house after the inspections.  It is an old house.  Todd and I knew the issues with it but felt that we had a lifetime to slowly bring it back up to speed.  Who could have guessed that four years later we would be in Washington?  Obviously, not us.

Weight Loss News....Except for this week, I have been faithfully going to the gym each morning to work out.  I am nearing the 20 pound weight loss marker.  If I could control my eating I could lose more but that is hard right now with all the goodies flowing through the kitchen.   Like I said earlier, I have cookies to make for the Christmas program today.  Todd brought home boxes of chocolates, homemade fudge, and more from his students and fellow teachers.  It is hard. I figure I slowly put all this weight on and I am slowly taking it off.  I am ok with that.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Rebelution

I got myself (and the church) an early Christmas present.  I purchased the book, Do Hard Things.

I heard about this book several years ago when it came out.  Alex and Brett Harris (teenagers) co-wrote  a book challenging teenagers to rebel against a society that says teens are to run free, play hard, and enjoy life before becoming adults.  They encourage our teens to seize this time to make a positive impact on their world.

I have to admit that I haven't had a chance to read the book yet.  I showed the book to Bonnie who started reading it herself and is just about done with it.  She is enthralled with the book which thrills me.  They have Rebelution conferences for teens that I really want to attend.  The closest one is in Portland, Oregon.  I hope to take our family and as many other families with us as we can.

Monday, December 12, 2011


 The Nutcrackers are done!
It took us about three days and several trips to various stores to find all the different candy pieces, but we did it!
 We made a few variations.
We couldn't find gumballs which were needed for the hands and cheeks, so we used marshmallows and red M&Ms instead.  I also couldn't find chocolate wafer cookies so we made some from scratch and used them for the hat, hat brim, and belt.
 We used three different cake mixes - yellow, white, and chocolate.  The hat and head are yellow, the chest is chocolate, and the bottom two are white.
 All the Nutcrackers have been delivered.  I kind of wish we had one or two extra to enjoy here at home, but we didn't have enough of all the extra pieces.  oh well...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Blessing of the Lighting

 It is another weekend of lighting the town in Leavenworth.  On Friday's St. Nicholas comes to town to tell the story about the man who inspired the story of Santa Claus.  Unfortunately, he didn't pass out gold or oranges for that matter, but true to Washington form passed out apples. 
 Following St. Nick, Todd was asked to pray the blessing for the Lighting.  He has been praying over this prayer ever since he was invited to give it.  He wanted to make sure that he used every second of his three minutes to give the Gospel.  I think he did a  fine job emphasizing the reason for this season which is Jesus Christ.  I am very proud of him.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It is time again to come up with some gifts to give to all the faculty at Todd's school.  I was thinking about doing a cookie sampler plate for all of them.  You know, where you get a paper plate and fill it with one or two different cookies/treats that you make.

However, Bonnie pulled out my cupcake cookbook yesterday and pointed to a cupcake that she thought I should make.  I think we are going to try it.
 Don't you think these Nutcrackers would be a great Christmas treat?  My one concern is cost.  They have all kinds of different candy pieces on them - mini m&ms, gumballs, nesco wafers, chocolate wafers, almonds, etc.  They could turn out to be quite expensive.  I am going to head down to the Alps Candy store in town and price everything to see if we can do them.  I could just make frosting and use it for buttons, eyes, feet, etc.  If it turns out they will be too expensive, plan B is to make ornament cupcakes.
These are pretty cute too.  I could give each teacher three ornaments and use only one box of mix.  (The Nutcrackers will take 3 boxes.)  I will let you know what we end up making.  I kinda of want to make them now, but I think the gift exchange is next Friday.  So we will hold off baking until next week.

Monday, December 5, 2011

We're In the Movies

We just got back from watching the Ira Finkelstein movie and the kids made it in the movie.  Bonnie made it in three times and the boys twice.  Pretty cool.  I am even mentioned in the credits.  How cool is that!

The kids waiting with all of the other extras for their turn on set.

Christmas Shopping

Yesterday, Bonnie and I went Christmas shopping.

Mind you, I have bought most of my gifts on line this year, but I got an extra coupon for JC Penney and wanted to take advantage of it.   Todd really needs some new dress shirts and pants and I thought Bonnie might like to see if she could find something new to wear as well.  I had to laugh when I got home.  Bryce was all bugged eyed when I walked in the door carrying groceries that I picked up on the way back home.  He thought for sure I was carrying in his Christmas presents.  In fact, he promptly went upstairs and brought down all the wrapping paper.  Imagine his dismay when I announced that I brought in only food and even if I did have presents in any of those bags, I wasn't about to wrap them in front of everyone. 

This morning when he came down for breakfast, Bryce was disappointed that there weren't any presents under the tree.  Poor Boy.!  He can't wait for Christmas.  I ordered his present on line and it should arrive later this week.  I will have to be vigilant about watching for the postman and intercept the present before  he sees it.  ha ha

I would love to share with you what we got Brian , but I will keep it a secret for now.  I do know he will be one happy young man, but we might need to get ear plugs.  Bonnie is the only one to shop for now. I could have gotten her presents if I hadn't taken her with me but I enjoyed shopping with her.  She did find a nice sweater that we will wrap up and put under the tree.

On a different note...the kids and I are going to see Ira Finkelstein's Christmas tonight.  They haven't released the movie yet, but they are having a special screening for Leavenworth tonight.  They only have room for 200 people so we are heading over an hour early to get a seat.  I hope we get in. 

I will let you know how it turned out.  The movie is to be released next year.  Evidently they have been showing it at different film festivals and earning different awards for it.  We will put that on next year's Christmas list.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Lighting Time Again

It's that time of year again.  Time for the Leavenworth Christmas Lighting and time for the James family to volunteer to be Christmas characters so that we can entertain and mingle with the town visitors.


Bonnie really gets into the whole event.  People are always asking to have their picture taken with Frosty.  She is one busy gal on Front Street.
 I didn't have to do any coaching to get her to walk around the crowd and mingle.

At one point Frosty met up with the Christmas Mouse and the Grinch.

 The boys weren't into the whole crowd-pleaser thing.  I had to encourage them to smile, wave, and wish the little kids Merry Christmas. I did catch them singing Christmas carols with the live band.  Oh, And they really liked the hot cocoa that the chamber was serving.
 The boys' friend, Dante, was hanging out with us for the night.  He would have dressed up too, but he fractured his elbow earlier this week and was in a sling.
 Aww!....the whole family together.
Nope, that 's not me as Mrs. Claus.  I was signed up to be her, but someone else beat me to the costume, so I got to be the elf escort for the night.
 Some of the other characters were Mr. Scrooge and St. Nicholas.
 My favorite part about the Christmas lighting is the live music.  There is something awesome about walking around town singing your favorite Christmas carols with the people on the street.
   The ladies from the chamber kept everyone warm with hot cocoa and cider.  Yum!
Overall, it was a fun night and one to add to our memory books.