Sunday, February 28, 2010

Funny Things I've Heard This Week

It's finally been sunny around these parts. Notice that I did not say warm, but a sunny day with even freezing temperatures makes you feel warmer, happier, and excited to think that Spring might actually arrive.

I must say though it's hard to get down or depressed in our house as there is just too much laughter and too many hilarious things that happen on a daily basis that we just have too much fun to let the weather, the political environment, or the "news" get us down.

Here's just a sampling of some of the "funny" things that have been going on around the Faithful Household. My husband wondered if other people think our children are hilarious as we do. Well, probably not, but it's my blog and it brings a smile to my face. So for your amusement (or not).

Driving in the car a few weeks ago, we found an acorn on the floor. Don't ask. It's winter, the car inside (and outside too) is a mess. The kids were passing the acorn around, naming it, petting it and saying again how much they wish they could have a dog.

Miss A finally had a turn to admire the acorn. She's touching it, petting it and just admiring it's beauty. All of the sudden, she says; "You are so cute little acorn. Hey, do you think a squirrel is going to pop out of it soon?"

Today was clean out the garage day. Sunshine and mid thirty temperatures mean it's prime time to "sweep out the dust and grime." Hubby is so kind to enlist the kids and leave the mother inside due to allergies that go crazy with too much dust.

Miss M also got to help chip away at the 4 inches of ice at the end of the driveway or an "iceberg" as she called it. This child really needs to get to the mountains. I'm thinking she's got a warped idea of snow, icebergs, etc.

Miss A on the other hand was too busy pretending to be a door to door salesman to clean much. Ringing the front door and then asking if I'd like to buy anything, including by not limited to an oriental rug, towels, candles, shoes, toothbrushes and, of course, the ever popular shoes right off her feet. For such a small girl, I didn't know she could carry so much on her back or that she'd be so willing to sell the shoes right off her feet!! I started to think about that great book: Caps for Sale where the man sells the caps off his head.

C was at a Boy Scout Event yesterday that ended late in the evening. While he'd had fun at the event, he was tired and rather bored towards the end. On the way home from the event, he told my husband that "everything would be better if we could just stop for some nachos." You see according to C nachos are the world's most perfect food.
You've got your bread, meat, vegetable and dairy foods all covered. Not sure that's what they call a "balanced" diet, but it works for 12 year old boys!

A trip to Taco Bell and both boys came home happy, full and smiling.
Finally, we are sad to say goodbye to the Olympics. We've really enjoyed cheering on the home team and laughing, crying and swelling with pride over the back stories of many of the athletes.
Today watching the Men's Hockey Game between the US and Canada my son came up with the idea that should the Canadian Hockey team win the gold we should mobilize the US military to invade our neighbors to the North. His idea is that within 72 hours we could have the whole country occupied and the Canadian Capital and Major Cities under our control.
Guess the thought that the US Hockey Men and Women could both lose the gold to Canada was too much for him to handle. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail at the Pentagon.
Really it is the little things in life that make you laugh. Good old fashioned belly laughs are the best!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

She's got the First Day of Summer Planned

I'm not sure how I'm going to manage my days next year when Miss A goes to Kindergarten. Most days, she keeps me in stitches. We laugh, giggle and have very deep discussions about life and her view of "things."

For the past several days, I've been busy planning for an week long event that I'm in charge of at our elementary school. March is quickly sneaking up on me and that means Teacher Appreciation Week! What happened to February? It's almost over! As a result, I've been on the phone alot, making things on the computer, and trying to get this all done during the afternoon so that my evenings are free to watch the Olympics. Need to have priorities!

Miss A has been busy too. She's been playing with Play Dough, American Girl Dolls and the new fabulous doll bunk beds her dad made for them , working on her math facts (also known as quizzing her mother with addition flash cards), and of course, having lots of play dates with friends.

She's also been busy planning her summer. Yeah that's right, her summer. Yes, the temperature today will barely reach 25 and we've had at least 5 inches of snow on the ground for 75 plus days, but it's never to early to plan. While you are at it, why worry about Spring when Summer is the really fun season.

Here's what she has "planned" thus far....

1. On the first day of summer she'd like to wear shorts, a tank top, and flip flops. She'd like them to match her sister so they could be twins.

2. We must purchase said shorts, tank top and flip flops prior to the first day of summer because if you wait until the first day, it's too late. You can't wear them that day then. A few days ahead would be best.

3. We should go somewhere on the first day of summer that would involve seeing some of M's friends so that they could see the "twins" and say, "Hey M, you have a twin."

4. The flip flops should have polka dots on them because that's the best kind of flip flops.

5. Above all other things, if they can't wear this outfit on the first day of summer, they should be allowed to wear them when the snow finally melts whether that's summer or Easter or Thanksgiving. Yes that's a direct quote!

6. Finally, while we are out buying the flip flops, shorts and tank tops, we should really stop at Sports Authority or as she calls it the S. A. store and buy Miss A a new colorful soccer ball. Everyone knows that the more colorful the ball, the better it kicks. According to Miss A, it's hard to be a "Soccer Star" with the soccer balls we currently have. I can use those if I want.

Now, do you see how I'll be lost next fall without all this insight!!

Love Ya Miss A!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Amazing Race Family Adventure

We love the Sunday after the Super Bowl around here. While it means no more football games (boo) to watch and knit during, it also means that Amazing Race is back. We love it! We've chosen our teams, discussed the pros and cons of each team, and finally, after much debate, let the team choosing be up to fate. Our official brown lunch sack way of choosing teams begun as soon as the 1st team was eliminated leaving a perfect 10 for our family to pick from. See how good I am at math, 10 teams, 5 family members, 2 teams a piece = 2 chances to win!

Our family game with the teams has been going on for a few seasons now. Thus far, the two oldest kids have each won a season and Dad won last season. The winning team / winning family member then gets to take the family out to dinner at that designated restaurant assigned to that team. In reality, Dad takes the family out, but you get the idea.

Hey, maybe that should be the twist to the game this year, the winners has to pay for the dinner, too!! I'm not sure a 12, 9 and 5 year can get a job in this economy, but I'm sure that mom could come up with chores they could earn the money by doing.

Somehow this twist might make the kids cheer for their teams to be eliminated!!

We might not all love our teams and we certainly don't agree with all of their lifestyles, but we love to watch the adventures unfold, see all the sights of the world, and figure out who in our family would be willing to take on the road blocks. Let's just say if it included heights, it would be the mother; rodents or bugs, it be the father; and if there was math involved, Mr C would be the chosen. The girls would be holding out for dances and costumes.

Here's our Family Lineup for Amazing Race 16 and the Restaurant Chosen:

Miss A:
  • Joe and Heidi - Japanese Restaurant (this is the team she really wanted!)
  • Monique and Shawne- Mimi's Cafe

Miss M:

  • Brent and Caite- 5 Guys Burgers
  • Carol and Brandy- Jason's Deli

Mr C:

  • Jody and Shannon-Smash Burger
  • Jet and Cord- Authentic Mexican Restaurant in Little Mexico Area of Town
  • Louie and Michael- BBQ Joint
  • Jordan and Jeff- 50's Family Diner
  • Steve and Allison- Fox and Hound
  • Dan and Jordan- Greek Restaurant

The only rule is that the previous "winning" restaurant is out of the running for a season and you can't choose a restaurant you already "won" with ever!

Should be a fun season to watch! Don't know if I'm more excited to watch week after week the adventures or the fact that at the end of the journey SPRING will finally be here. Lord let it be so!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine Celebrations Recap

We had a fabulous Valentine's Week. First, we had our Secret Valentine Project going on and thus we had candy showing up mysteriously on beds, cards made in secret and hidden in clothing, and of course lots of extra hugs and kisses.

Miss M was her little sister's "secret valentine" with her tattoos and cookie. Miss A loved her daily surprises.

I even had a beautiful bouquet of purple flowers for my centerpiece all week. Let's just say there is nothing like fresh flowers in the middle of a cold and snowy winter.

Revealing our "secret valentine"on Valentine's Day was really fun. Everyone of course had already figured out the "secret," but dad wins the biggest giggle as he kept playing along that I was his secret valentine even though it was really Miss A. She could hardly keep a straight face all week!
C was his sister's "secret" valentine.

Being the creative mom that I am (insert laughing here), we made our own valentines to give away for the classroom parties. Scratch Off Tickets from Family Fun Magazine. We revised the saving to Winning Ticket and wrote in the scratch off area: You're Priceless! to keep the card a little more loving and not so lottery focused.

The Girls had a blast making the cards and they got rave reviews everywhere. We even passed them out to the Sunday School kids. Best part was it looked hard, but really was just painting metallic paint on contact paper! Miss A kept commenting that she felt like a movie star signing her name to her cards, "just like an autograph" to which she then said she'd like to sign her name for a living "woop woop" as she said. Getting paid to write her name is her dream job I guess. Not sure there is much of a call for that!
Now the 4th Grade Valentine Box was a whole other story. Let's just say that after using the same, adorable box since 1st grade, Miss M was insistent on making a new one for her final year!

This is a picture from Valentine's 2007 ( C in 4th Grade with a rocket ship launch pad and Miss M in 1st grade with her flower garden valentine box) Can you see why we didn't want to start over? Yes, Miss A did have a black eye on Valentine's Day-being a two year was tough on her!

She decided on a Pink Piggy Bank so she and dad went to town. It turned out adorable. Do you think Miss A will want this box for her first grade year? One can only hope.

M loved the final project. It wasn't' the most elaborate or fancy valentine box in her class, but we certainly beat the boy who brought only a brown grocery sack with his name on it!! Obviously, some people have too much time on their hands. When I came up to help with the Valentine's Party on Friday, M's first words to me were that everyone "loved" her pig. That's a ringing endorsement for me!!
Valentine's Weekend finished off with our traditional family Take Out Chinese Dinner. We think it was extra hip that we could celebrate Chinese New Year at the same time. The Girls decorated the dinning table and when the boys came home with the cute little take out boxes we sat down to a lovely candlelight dinner and "secret" reveal.

Miss A even ate Chinese Food and not just the rice. M had ordered Sweet and Sour Chicken and it came with the sweet and sour sauce on the side. We convinced Miss A that they were Chinese Chicken Nuggets. She totally fell for it, going so far as to say they were among the best "nuggets" she ever had. Note the creative use of chopsticks.

Perfect Valentines. Topping it off was the Amazing Race Premier. Tune in tomorrow for tips on how to plan your own family Amazing Race Game!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bring on the Party: Olympic Style Fun

We had a Olympics kickoff party on Friday Night. It was filled with festive native costumes, true ethnic gourmet food, and Olympic style games and trials. There was even a Olympic Trivia Contest with prizes and medals awarded.

Actually, it involved some cheap Toothpick Flags, an accordion style Olympic Torch, and some Appetizers straight from the freezer section at my local Super Target. We had Italian Mozzarella Sticks and Pizza Rolls, Swiss Laughing Cow Cheese and Crackers, German Salami and Homemade French Pasty Apple Dumplings (homemade), and Chocolate Fondue with Fresh Strawberries in honor of both the French and Swiss Countries. As Mr. C said so fondly "Guess the Dr Pepper is the truly American contribution!"

The Norwegian addition was the Full Blooded Father and his Half Breed Children who are as he so gently says, "50% Norwegian and 50% Other." Considering the "other" birthed the three children, I would not go knocking my mixed breeding honey!

The Party's highlight involved some real Winter Olympic competition while we waited for the Parade of Nations. In Wii Form of course. The winning trivia team: aka The Kids won this fabulous prize. (Can you say Early Valentine's Gift!) Now we are competing on the big slopes and short track just the like the real Vancouver Athletes except without the training required. My husband thinks this is the closest we should bring our children to the Alpine Slopes. Warm, no extra clothing required, and of course at a low altitude.

Of course with McDonald's as the official supplier of the Athletes Village Food Court, I'm thinking A is a shoe in for the future moguls crew with all the chicken nuggets she's eaten in her life. (none of them McDonald's fare of course as she's more of a Burger King girl)

Hey we know how to throw a party around here.

During the Parade of Athletes, we "judged" the outfits and hats and wondered how some of these countries from warm climate areas of the globe ever got interested in "winter sports." Mr C kept a tally of number of athletes and we were thrilled to see that the USA had the largest number of entrants. Norway and Canada came in a close second. Miss M was our fashionista and begged for me to knit up some of those "cool hats." Guess she thinks her mother knows how to do that! Not yet, but soon hopefully !!

Miss A was mostly confused about the difference between country and state and kept looking for her favorite states California, Illinois and Colorado and wondered why they weren't in the games. She did do an excellent job of "spelling out loud" each countries name. Just think N.O.R.W.A.Y. each time the countries' name came on the screen. She definitely knows her letters.

Like Miss M said today; "it's too bad the Olympics aren't on every year, they are so cool!" Yeah but I'm not sure I could "throw" such a big bash every winter. I'll need these two years before the Summer Olympics in order to get my party throwing ideas all ready. I'm thinking next time we'll have t-shirts made and choose our "favorite" athlete or country.

Possibilities endless!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Walking the Fine Line between Safety and Fear

I've tried to teach my children to have a healthy fear of strangers while encouraging them to be friendly and outgoing with adults. It's a tough balance between having kids who will talk to store clerks, other parents and "family friends" and knowing when someone is a real stranger.

We have a family "code" word, rules about going to new friends' houses, and about sharing too much information on line or give away too much information to those we don't really know. But I also allow the older children to have some freedom when playing outside. They have free rein of our street and can, with permission, go to the park in a group and they have even walked to the neighbor gas station for a Slurpee when it's hot outside. I want them to feel safe to have fun without strangling their freedom.

Miss A, as our youngest, is normally my shadow when she's home and her sister's buddy when they venture outside to play. Lately, it's been too cold and snowy for much outside stuff, but we hold out hope that spring will come soon! However, she does like to be independent and have some "alone time" too. She'll play alone in her room for hours. I sometimes will have to check her to make sure she's still OK. She always is and normally tells me to leave her alone.

She's been so confident lately that she told me yesterday that I could just drop her off outside at preschool not walk her in as I normally do. She knows the way! Silly me, I like to follow the rules and made her walk with me inside.

Yesterday afternoon, I needed to run upstairs to change my clothes from sweaty workout-cleaning clothes to something presentable. It was about 15 minutes before her brother would be coming home from school and I decided I had better unlock the door since he'd be carrying his trombone home. Normally, our front door is locked during the day!

About 5 minutes later, Miss A yells up that there is someone at the front door to see me. I hustle and come down the stairs to see the front door wide open and a salesman on the front porch. There was only a little glass door separating him from my precious little daughter.

I'll admit right here that I have no idea what the gentleman said to me. My heart was racing 500 miles a minute and my stomach was doing flips thinking of all the "what could have happen Scenarios." I graciously told the gentleman that I needed to have a little conversation with my daughter and while I'm sure his pitch was great, I just couldn't listen. His response, "I was surprised to see a little girl answer the door." So was I sir, so was I.

We've talked numerous times to our kids about not answering the door while we are gone and not answering the door themselves even if they are expecting someone. When the doorbell rings at dinner, either my husband or I jump up to get it just in case.

Nothing happened. Miss A is fine. The salesman was perfectly innocent and just doing his job, but I think I just shaved years off my life.

I thought I had set the limit. I normally have the door locked and Miss A can not unlock it as its a tough latch. I've talked to her about stranger danger. But, maybe I haven't done enough.

I'll admit that when I closed the front door I jumped all over Miss A. I told her how scared Mommy was and how she can never ever never open that front door again. She looked at me with huge blue eyes, started to cry and hid her face in the furniture. After a five minute cooling down time, I told her I was sorry. She had scared me. C came home from school and we all talked about safety and caution.

I don't want to scare my children, but this incident scared me. There were lots of hugs and snuggling last night. Lots of bedtime talks about how much I love my children. When Mr C came home today at noon (1/2 day today due to conferences) I kept the front door locked until his arrival. Again, we talked about not opening the door unless Mommy or Daddy are right there.

I want Miss A to walk in confidence and not fear anything, but I want her to be prepared too.
Any suggestions you have on walking this fine line, bring them on!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Trusting in "things" always leads to disappointment

We joined the 21st century this past weekend. We brought home a new 40 inch Flat Screen Television. Our old 36 inch diagonal (so last year technology) has been sent to the basement for kids' viewing pleasure and PlayStation football matches. By Saturday night, we were watching TV in a whole new way!

Then we got a little haughty around here. We were pumped up with our new TV and the new arrangement of our old furniture. It was looking sharp. There was room for Wii dancing in the middle of the room and dreams were beginning to develop of movie marathons, new paint colors (just by the mother), drapes (again, the mother), and, of course, rousing games of Guess Who and daily dance recitals.

Kids were bragging to friends about our new set up. I was walking into the room and thinking this is so nice. I had a knitting chair with a lamp and a basket for my stash. My husband had his own chair and now we had two remotes! We were putting our trust in things! Uh Oh, you know where that leads.

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord

Watching the Super Bowl in HD while munching on Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Salsa, we were feeling like we were pretty cool and hip.

As 4th quarter wound down and it appears our pick the Colts were going to loose, I told my hubby to switch channels. I hate to watch the "other" team boast about their win. I'd rather just pretend that my team won the game and move on.

Side note: My team always looses, it's a curse of me picking them. Hear that Huskers, I'm not rooting for you next year! Longhorns I'll still cheer for you!

Meanwhile back at the game, my husband switches channels quickly to a non HD channel and suddenly a little blue line appears on the right side of the screen. A blue vertical line that is obvious to the eye.

At first, we thought that maybe it was due to the switch from HD to plain digital cable. Then maybe it was the cable box or the plug. We tried it all. Nothing. Still a Blue Vertical Line which while faint, hello, it is not suppose to be there.

Let's recall this television is now less than 24 hours old. A newbie. Something we trusted to last for years that would provide us with countless hours of entertainment and pleasure. Now it has a blue line.

Matthew 6:19-21 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is , there your heart will be also.

This tangible lesson about "things" and their importance in our lives is something that we could have preached at every family dinner or listened to sermon upon sermon about, but it occurred right in the middle of our family room and it's impact is far greater than anything we could have forced upon our children.

In the end, it's just a thing. A television. Not a treasure. We'll box it up and return for a new one later this week. While we hope that rust and moths do not destroy it's replacement, we know that in the end it's just a "thing" and not a treasure.

Everything else besides Jesus is just "stuff". Enough said.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Feeding Hungry Haitianians Then Our Faces

We were such hypocrites yesterday. We spent a couple of hours in the afternoon helping out at a Kids Against Hunger Food Packaging event. Our family was in charge of the hospitality room which meant getting the snack table ready for hungry volunteers who were busy packing up emergency food for starving Haitians. Or as C called them the other day: Hitiacians. Guess he's heard his father say Houstonians before and just figured that's what you did with every city/nationality.

On the one hand, we were helping with an event that made 100,000 meals that will provide all the nutrition and protein an individual needs for an entire day while we made sure that compassionate, helping yet far from starving individuals had cold sodas, water bottles and organic cereal bars to ward off any signs of hunger.

It can be hard to rationalize all of our abundance while we think about sending off "rations" to those who have absolutely nothing. Realizing our responsibility as believers is to do our best to serve and help in any way, we can doesn't mean we must subject ourselves to a life of poverty or refusal of any "blessings."
The kids got to decorate the food bags and shipping boxes with messages of hope and prayers. Miss A wanted to make sure that we wrote her "name" on all the bags so they would know she was one who did the fabulous art work and was back in the states praying for them.

C hadn't been able to join us when we did another packaging event in October so he really enjoyed seeing how this works. He's already scheming to get his FCA group to sponsor a packaging event so he can get in on the action.
We talked about the joy those little pieces of artwork and words of encouragement would mean to the people in Haiti. How excited they would be to see the food come their way and how grateful they would be for it all. Gratitude that would overwhelm us. Gratitude that we would get for our generous gift, even though the real gift cost us so little time, money or resources; but to them would be extravagant. Gratitude that comes from knowing what it means to have little. From mothers and fathers just thrilled to have food to feed their children. Full tummies and happy smiles.

Having dinner out afterwards at a new restaurant in town, SmashBurger, my heart was torn. We were having so much fun together as a family enjoying a rare meal out at a restaurant. Laughing and giggling over silly things. We loved the place. Miss A said that they had the best Chicken Nuggets ever. Miss M loved their homemade buttermilk ranch dressing for dipping her fries. Mr. C made a mess of his face eating a huge Smash Burger Original with smash sauce. Yummo!! As for me and my husband, we had a great time just sitting in a booth watching the snow fall and knowing that our children's and our tummies were full. It's hard to rationalize our abundance and their huge needs for essentials.
However I realize how important these lessons of giving to others are for our family. How it really is a blessing to give a blessing. It fills up our souls. Laughing and giggling and hanging out with the family fills our souls and hearts with great memories and thanksgiving for our blessings.

Gratitude. Extravagant Gratitude for what we have and for the God who has given it all to us.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Valentine Skirts, Purple Ear Muffs and Secret Treats Oh My!

Miss A in the outfit she'll be wearing for the next 12 days. Good thing she's so cute!
It's February. The month of love, snow, and endless days of winter sludge. In trying to keep everyone entertained and ward off stir craziness, we are trying out some new things around here.

First, yesterday a package arrived in the mail for Miss A from her Bestemor. Inside was an adorable little jean skirt with heart pocket and buttons. Off went the school clothes immediately and into the skirt, which according to A will be worn daily until Valentine's Day or Thanksgiving as she keeps calling it!

The skirt was back on her body first thing this morning in honor of a lunch date with dad and by the time we meant up after lunch a fabulous set of purple earmuffs had joined the fold. I'm told both will be worn until February 14th. Day and Night. Just to keep it real she wore the ear muffs for school pickup, dinner and watching American Idol. Before showertime, she then handed me the skirt and said," wash it for tomorrow, please." I think the girl means business.

Last night, we drew names for our secret valentines. Every member of the family picked a name out our Valentine centerpiece (IKEA clear vase with red pillboxes inside) and now the fun begins. I stole the idea from Jenn at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and was inspired to start this Secret Valentine Tradition with our own little family.

From now until Valentine's Day, we are suppose to do something "extra" nice for our person. Whether that's a little note about how fun they are to hang out with, a piece of valentine's candy or doing one of their chores. Today, we even stocked up on special "Valentine's Candy" at Walgreen's so we are ready.

Miss M is all over this idea. I could see her wheels spinning at dinner last night. The problem will be keeping it a secret. Thankfully, she only has to wait two weeks to reveal. She was so excited to put a little sweet something on someones bed tonight she had to hide in her room afterwards to hide the huge smile on her face.

Miss A was excited too. However, we had to convince her that it's not going to be impossible to surprise her "valentine" just because she can't read or write. I told her that mom could be in the secret too. Tomorrow, she plans to draw a very pretty picture for her "valentine" and then maybe give some extra hugs and kisses to them too.

C, of course, had to sample a chocolate heart before agreeing to pass one on to his "secret Valentine" all in the name of safety I'm sure. He also was quick to point out what "things" he'd love for someone else to do for him. As far as I know practicing the Trombone was not an "chore" up for trading.

I'm hoping that whoever has my "name" will have enough extra money to hire a cleaning lady for the next two weeks and maybe a laundry fairy as well. I'd settle for some Chuckles, though, if all else fails.

For now though I'm just grateful that A's preschool is on break this Friday. That at least means she'll only wear her new skirt to school once this week. That way when she wears it three times next week, it just seems like she's trying to wear all her pink and red shirts on the official "Thanksgiving/valentine's week." Now the purple earmuffs; I'm not sure how that's going to fly!