Saturday, January 31, 2009

January Thaw

Look at this! Our January thaw came today, just in the nick of time.  Of course we would never consider just ONE day above freezing an actual January thaw, but nobody here dares to complain.  It came on a Saturday, so that's something.

We got the itch to head for the hills...

...how could we resist?








At the bottom there was a friendly little snowball fight...



...and a (very) little snowman building.


Can you guess what this is and where it came from?


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Visual delight

When we were on our way across the country for Christmas, we stopped for a few hours in St. Louis. (Of course we had to see the arch, but the gloomy day made for gloomy pictures, so just Google it.) Lee had a business associate in St. Louis, so he called ahead and asked for a suggested place for the kids to burn off some energy. Without hesitation, "City Museum!" was the reply.

This place is a playland extraordinaire, enchanted adventure, art and history museum, and photographer's dream all rolled into one. We were in awe the entire time we were there. The most impressive thing about it was the texture everywhere. It was like visual gluttony. 






I came out of there feeling like I'd eaten a box of bonbons. Minus the calories.

And the kids?

Bethany: "I think that was the best night of my life!"

Ben: "Yeah, it was great...phenomenal, actually!"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Light of the World

You may very well know about the sisters Mary and Martha from the gospel of Luke.  Jesus drops by their house for a visit, and Martha is making sure everything is "just so" while Mary has the audacity to pull up a seat on the floor beside Jesus.  Martha tells Jesus to make Mary help, but he instead invites Martha to join them.  "Martha, Martha," he says to her. "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Only one thing. Pulling up a seat at the feet of the Savior.  And instead I yell to him from the kitchen. So many days, that's my story. If I acknowledge him at all.

I've been studying this book with a group of women from my church, and it has been a blessing. I have found it to be somewhat basic in its truths, but I must be honest. The basics of the Christian life, namely heart to heart conversation with the Lord and focused study of His Word, are where I am most prone to failure. Without these, I am motivated for my life's activities by duty and a sense of responsibility, along with a big dose of whatever suits me best at the moment.  It's the time of conscious awareness of God's presence that changes everything, for when I gaze on Him I am much more frequently motivated by love and gratitude.

One of my favorite sections of the book is a quote from a booklet I first read in high school: "My Heart Christ's Home", by Robert Boyd Munger.  

"Without question one of the most remarkable Christian doctrines is that Jesus Christ Himself through the presence of the Holy Spirit will actually enter a heart, settle down and be at home there," Munger says. "Jesus came into the darkness of my heart and turned on the light. He built a fire in the cold hearth and banished the chill.  He started music where there had been stillness and He filled the emptiness with His own loving, wonderful fellowship."

Do you see how many senses Munger uses when he describes the impact of the presence of Christ in our hearts? Sight. Touch. Hearing. It made me realize that I need to use my senses as I spend time with him.  

So I did something about it. I pulled a candle out of the cupboard and began lighting it as I meet with Him. I placed it where I can see its light, feel its warmth, and smell its aroma as I read, study and pray. It reminds me He is here. He is the Almighty one who calls me friend, who stands ready and able to tackle the day's tasks and concerns as I walk beside Him.  

When it's time to blow the candle out, I pray that I'd remember that He is with me all day long. And I ask Him to shine through me.

Jesus is the Light of the World.
Jesus wants US to be His light to the world.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Sleepy Time

Last summer our zoo opened a new exhibit that has grizzly bears.  They are so much fun to watch--very active and playful.  I have wondered since the beginning whether they would hibernate for the winter.  A volunteer I asked in the fall said they weren't sure what would happen.  They would keep feeding them, so it wouldn't be necessary, but other than that they couldn't say.  

We finally went to check it out for ourselves. Had they nestled down for a long winter's nap?

They had.

Not.

Looks like bedtime at our house.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In my humble opinion...

Clinics that specialize in women's health should send the following letter to the family of each patient after her annual preventive visit:

Dear Next of Kin,

We want you to know that today your loved one committed one of her most selfless acts of devotion to you.  We are quite certain that, were it not for her determination to give her ongoing service and care to those she loves most, she would not show up here every year and subject herself to the humiliating poking, prodding and squishing we provide.  We assure you that her diligent attention to such matters will help her stay around to spoil you for a good long time.

We suggest that you thank your loved one by taking her out to dinner at the restaurant of her choice, sending her out for some fun with her friends, giving her a gift certificate to a spa, or some other (large) token of your appreciation that to her would spell P-A-M-P-E-R-I-N-G. You'll want to make sure she'll look forward to coming back next year.

Sincerely,

The Clinic

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Funny Face

 
This week it's Ben's turn for my entry at I (Heart) Faces. Ben has always been a fabulous subject. This picture is one of my favorites. It is just so Ben.


Click the button to check out the other beautiful faces this week.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More Fun Freezing Facts

Friday the temperature jumped a whopping 42 degrees! You might think we're about to thaw out...think again!  That brought us up to a balmy 6º!  Yes, Farenheit.  You would think that gigantic leap would make a big difference, but I'm here to tell you, cold is cold.

They started school two hours late today so our kids wouldn't turn into popsicles at the bus stop.  Not like we actually let them stand out there anyway--all the minivans line the streets waiting for the bus to come.  

But were we smart enough to stay under the covers???  NO!  Lee had a science experiment he wanted to try.  Did you know that if it gets cold enough, you can make your own clouds?  Here, let us show you:

video

And did you also know that if you blow bubbles in frigid weather, they freeze, bounce, roll and eventually shatter?  Watch this:

video

Other interesting facts that might surprise you if you don't live on the tundra:

•While it rarely snows on sub-zero days (clouds provide insulation, and therefore slightly warmer temperatures), the roads get very slick with "black ice".  This is ice that forms on the roads from the condensation of auto exhaust.  The road looks completely dry and normal, so it causes many accidents. The Lord was taking care of me the day I almost did a 360º this week--no one close enough to hit.

•Every car on the road is filthy dirty because they sand and salt the streets to prevent ice, and you can't wash your car until temperatures reach the teens at least.

•When you breathe through your nose in this kind of weather, you can't smell anything.  It just burns your nostrils.  It is most amazing when we get a thaw and you can actually smell things.

There.  You're smarter now.  You're welcome.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Below Zero

We're hoping to see positive temperatures someday this week. It occurs to me that some people have never experienced sub-zero cold. So here's what it looks like.


Vivid blue sky against the white snow.


The days are short, and the shadows long.

Jack Frost paints designs on the car windows.

Little girls help their dads shovel so they 
can come in out of the cold sooner.

You can only see their noses.

And little boys still refuse to zip their jackets.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Confessions of a Pollyanna

"Glad this, glad that. Do you have to be glad about everything? What's the matter with you, anyway?"--Angelica

Hi! I'm Pollyanna. Let's play the Glad Game!

Or not.  I've come to a realization that makes me just a little uncomfortable.  I suppose I've known it all along.  I think that this just happens to be the first time I've had to face it head on.

It's true. I'm a Pollyanna. (NOT to be confused with Mary Poppins, who is "practically perfect in every way". No, I am not!) My cup is half full. I look at the bright side. I believe everything will be all right, and good will win out. It's disgusting, I admit it. I'm not apologizing, and I'm certainly not sorry. (Actually, I'm glad.) Just acknowledging.

What I want you to know is not EVERYBODY thinks it's disgusting!  Need proof?

Some other bloggers have left awards for me on their blogs.  (You can see them on my sidebar.) They are egging me on!  Here's what they have to say about my blog. Follow the links if you don't believe me.

"This blog is very uplifting and wonderful to read!"--Dawn at Dawn of My Day

"I so enjoy visiting Tracy's blog. She is always positive and has such wonderful things going on. Tracy's blog is great if you need a lift."--Marrdy at One Krazy Kat Lady

"Tracy has a beautiful blog - literally. Not only is it very visually stimulating, but her posts are also spiritually stimulating."--Melodie at Me and My Three Girls

"Tracy is another daily favorite on my blog roll. She has great kid stories, with great kid pictures. She tells the stories of life in a positive and uplifting way, including all the ups and downs."--Michelle at Girl Outnumbered

OK, I'm blushing. In fact, it took me a LONG time to even acknowledge them. Did you notice any patterns here? At least Michelle admitted that I include ups AND downs. I hope you saw that. Anyway, hate me if you must, don't read my blog if you don't like it. Visit these other bloggers and tell them to stop encouraging me if you want to, but in the end...

...I've got a great and amazing God who is in control, and I'm seriously glad about that! The rest follows.

Thanks, ladies, for helping make my cup MORE than half full!

P.S.  I stopped in the middle of this post to put my kids to bed. Ben must have thanked God for a hundred things in his prayer. You should have heard his gleeful voice, and Bethany giggling. I think they've caught my syndrome.  Yea for them!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sweet!




There's a new blog in town!  I (heart) Faces (someone tell me the keystroke for a heart!) is a new place to share your favorite photos celebrating the face's expressions of life.  They have weekly submissions and awards, and while I am not in any way committing to weekly entries, I have to admit that I've got some favorites up my sleeve.  And what could be a sweeter way to start than this photo of Bethany?  Gotta love her!  Click on the button to go check it out for yourself.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside!

Nothing helps us survive the winter like a great cup of cocoa.  We drink a lot of it around here, and over the years have come up with a bunch of ways to enjoy it.  One of our favorite new cocoa ingredients is Pop'rs!  Pop'rs are like flavored pop rocks (remember those--they explode in your mouth!). They were originally designed to help motivate kids to eat their veggies (butter, buffalo wings and taco flavors).  As it happens, my kids eat their veggies the way they are, so when I won one of Veggie Mom's Pop'rs Giveaways, I picked cocoa, raspberry and cinnamon flavors (plus butter for popcorn--mmmm). They make some heart and hand warming treats!  Go visit Veggie Mom at Eat Your Veggies right now, and you could win some too!  She's got an infomercial you won't want to miss, featuring my very own Ben P. (who you may remember is the chocolate mint boy like his mom).

If you need a good warm drink, here are a few recipes:

Chocolate Mint Swirl

Add Mint Truffle creamer to a cup of hot cocoa.  Sprinkle with cocoa Pop'rs to get the crackling started.  Top with whipped cream.  Sprinkle with Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips and more cocoa Pop'rs.

Razzle Dazzle

Add Chocolate Raspberry creamer to a cup of hot cocoa.  Sprinkle with raspberry Pop'rs.  Top with whipped cream, and sprinkle with more raspberry Pop'rs, cocoa Pop'rs, or both.

Spiced Apple

Add cinnamon Pop'rs to a cup of hot cider (spiced is even better).  Top with whipped cream and more cinnamon Pop'rs.  I can imagine this would be heavenly drizzled with caramel!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The ethics of Wii boxing

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed some troubling issues with Wii boxing?

First of all, it's boxing. Just plain ol' gratuitous violence. Here's my boy, slugging the daylights out of his opponent.

Wait, though. Here's his opponent. 

His opponent's name is Emma. His opponent is a GIRL. My boy is pounding a GIRL.

Here are some of his other opponents:


Are you thinking what I'm thinking? I'm wondering why my boy has all these people to beat up. All these people who are obviously so different from him. And not ONE that looks anything like him. Is he learning to take his frustrations out on anyone who is ethnically and racially different?

OK. Maybe I'm overanalyzing it. But I'm wondering, would YOU let YOUR kid play Wii boxing?

AND, would you want to tell these kids they can't?

video
I didn't think so. Enough about that.

Now, Wii bowling on the other hand...


Good times.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Home for Christmas

Today is the twelfth day of Christmas, for those of you who aren't counting and thought it was over long ago--so it's the ideal day for me to publish the recap of our holidays.  (How is that for a good excuse to be blogging about Christmas well after New Year's?)

This is the first Christmas that our kids have ever spent with their grandparents. The grandparents went all out to make sure the kids wouldn't want it to be the last! And while we were not anywhere close to our home for Christmas, for Lee it was definitely going home.


As we drove through the Georgia pines to Mona and Honey's house (those are the Grandma and Grandpa nicknames), I'm sure he could practically smell the sweet tea. Lee's family moved into this house in 1971.

There were still a few days to get ready for Christmas once we got there. Mona had the kids help her make cookies and decorate ornaments for the tree. They were so excited.

She even let me help.  She's nice like that.  :-)

Can you guess what our big gift was this year? 

Yes, we caved splurged and got a Wii. We've already gotten our money's worth out of it!


The day after Christmas we drove down to Grandpa Jack (my dad) and Grandma Jeannie's house in Florida. (We got a picture of Grandma later--she was busy fixing a delicious Christmas dinner!)

Everything was so festive. 

My sister and her boys flew in to meet us there. It was the first time in the twenty some years that Dad and Jeannie have lived in Florida that Dayna and I have been there at the same time! It was so much fun to have everyone together.

We went to Festival of Lights at Silver Springs to enjoy the warmer version of a winter wonderland.

The kids wanted to have their picture taken by all the blow-up characters. (Yes, it's true.  My kids actually ask me to take more pictures of them.  Don't hate me.) 

I'm not sure why they felt compelled to wrestle Frosty to the ground.

The best part of visiting Grandma and Grandpa for our kids is swimming, and more specifically, driving the golf cart to the pool. It's still in one piece thanks to cousin Kyle's expert supervision.

The grown-ups love the pool, too.  (THAT'S where we caught up with Grandma!)

After our time in Florida, we headed back up to Georgia to spend few more days enjoying the family there, including Aunt Paula (Lee's sister), Uncle Bill and cousin Wil.

All too soon it was time to head back north. 

We thank God for the memories of a wonderful family Christmas!