Wednesday, January 30, 2013

These are the People in my Neighborhood

I've been thinking a lot lately about my neighbors. Not just the ones that live on my street or around the block, but those people I run into everyday that make up my "neighborhood."  You know the people you live life with, that you run into on a regular basis at the places you shop, the places you go and the people who attend the same kid events you do.

It's pretty easy to be kind to my next door neighbors, to drop them off fresh chocolate chip cookies, hot cinnamon rolls and send my kids over to keep the walks and driveway shoveled. I know them and have a personal relationship with them so blessing them and caring about them just comes naturally.

I want 2013 to be the year that I'm "Neighborly" to all the people in my life circle.  You know the ones at Walgreen's where I pick up my photos, the carry out people at the Grocery Store, the lady at my favorite Tea Shop (really a Gas Station that serves fresh brewed Tetley Tea) and the lady at the front desk at the Gym.  Really what I want is to make these casual relationships into opportunities to share about Christ and to spread a little love around!

One area that I've made a great stride in this area is with two of the carry out people at the grocery store. Both of them have special needs and I've noticed that a few of the customers don't have time to deal with them when the have them carrying out their groceries.  I've decided to take the time.  My new friend Betty really likes Little House on the Prairie and Seventh Heaven. Two shows I'm more than able to talk about, and since I've been to DeSmet South Dakota, my knowledge is pretty intense.  In fact, Betty would really like us to take a road trip to Missouri to visit Laura's homestead.

My other new grocery store friend; Kristen is more into sports and we talk Hockey and Football. I'll admit I'm not as well versed in these subjects, but I think she's more interested in having someone listen than talk anyway.  For Christmas this year, I brought them each a hot fresh pan of Pioneer Women's Cinnamon Rolls and they were thrilled.  Betty even told me to make sure to remember her birthday this spring.  Oh, and that she really likes chocolate.  I'm thinking those famous Chocolate Chip cookies will make a great birthday gift.

What I've learned is that by being open to these people, I've realized how easy it really is to make the "people in my neighborhood" smile just a little more.

I'm still working through ways to bring up God more in my conversations, but I figure by modeling warmth and compassion to those people I'm sharing the love of Christ through my actions.  Sharing Him in a bolder way will come.

All this thinking about ways to bless my neighbors reminded me of one of my favorite childhood shows; Mister Roger's Neighborhood and the song he used to sing as he walked in the door and put on his slippers and zippered cardigan:  A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...
It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...
I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So, let's make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we're together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please,
Won't you please?
Please won't you be my neighbor?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

You Might Say She Danced Her Socks Off!

Friday Night, Miss A's Elementary School had a Sock Hop in the Gym.  A perfect event for a cold January Night and a way for kids to let off some steam and for parents to hang out and chat.  In other words, a great way to spend a Friday Night.

Miss A has just about the cutest little friends.  They were "hoping around the gym" to all the great tunes from Selena Gomez to the Go-Go's and you know Mr P had to get out there and shake his grove thing to the like of Belinda Carlisle.  If only I had been quick enough with the camera, I could have some great photographic evidence of his skills on the dance floor.  Thankfully, Miss A is still at the stage that her dad's antics are adorable and not embarrassing.

Miss M joined us for the evening.  She was in the terms of the Principal a little like Mary Poppins and had a group of "little kids" following her around the floor and begging her to dance with them.  The joy of being such a popular babysitter is that you have a lot of little kids who know you at the elementary school.  One little boy was running circles around the gym and then coming by to smile at Miss M until she finally started dancing just with him.

The gym itself reminded me of a junior high dance except for instead of boys on one side of the gym and girls on the other, this time is was parents sitting on chairs circling the outside of the gym while their children were in the middle.  Between the heat generated from hundreds of bodies and the loud noise of the DJ, the memories of my middle school dances came flooding back. No wonder my kids don't ever want to go to those events!

I must say that watching the 2nd grade girls dancing and running around made me realize how blessed I am to see my children make such great friends and create some wonderful memories with their buddies.  Having been a part of this fantastic school for almost twelve years, we've seen our share of school events, carnivals and family fun nights.  We've sat by new and old friends at each of these events and witnessed the aging of both ourselves and our children through the years, but the one constant is that the best things in life are these really simple things. There is nothing like a DJ with a treasure trove of CD's, a non-decorated gym, and a bunch of healthy kids who just want to have fun.  Nothing fancy, just old fashioned getting together with friends and letting your hair down so to speak.

Maybe I've been reading too many Amish and Frontier Fiction books lately, but does it get any better than having a night of good music and fun with a bunch of people you are sharing your lives with.  I think not.

Monday, January 28, 2013

How Can I Be So Far Behind....

I just realized yesterday that's its almost February. Where is this year going?  I'm so far behind in my posting this month and have missed or forgotten dozens of funny things the kids have said lately to me that I've decided I really need to be posting current things when they happen and then go back later and fill in on the big things/events so I don't lose track of things.
To get caught up, I'm going to Bullet Point just a few things:
  1. I finally finished our 2009 Scrapbook literally one year after starting.  It went really quick don't you think?  I guess when it sits on your scrapbook table for months collecting dust, it is not good.  Just a few more days of journal to do and it can join the scrapbook shelf with the others.  Now I'm only three years behind.  The best part is that I was able to write the funny things and remember what happened in the pictures by reading my blog posts from 2009.  That's why I do this!
  2. My mind is already starting to think about 40 Bags in 40 Days coming up in February.  I've even done some early bird purging to get ready.  This year, I plan on tackling the basement which could result in a record number of bags.  I think my pack rat husband should be worried about the Master Closet reorganization I have planned after that.
  3. Miss A had a Sock Hop at school last Friday night.  She informed me that morning that she was not taking a date.  She might "couples dance" with a few of her friends, but she was going solo.  Guess the joy of having a High School student in the family is that Miss A knows that dances normally require dates.  I'm just glad she's not interested in dating as a 2nd grader.
  4. Mr C and  Golf.  That's almost a complete thought just saying C's name and the word Golf in a sentence.  This boy is so fixated on golf lately that he has us watching the Golf Channel in the morning before school for tips, has a fantasy golf league going, and now has his prized set of clubs sitting in the Dining Room to keep them warm.  Guess keeping them in my trunk allows them to get too cold and now that he has a new set of Ping Irons, he wants to "baby" them.  I think he's logged more time at the indoor driving range/golf stimulator than I've been to gym this month and considering I'm going three times a week that's a record for both of us.  A few days ago, it was warm enough to go the Driving Range at a nearby club and while he was alone for awhile on the mats, a few other High School Golfers showed up too.  You could say tryouts in a month has this crowd nervous or at the least, itching to play a round.
  5. Miss M and her Nook are logging more hours reading actual books than my husband who has had his for two years has logged in total.  We are searching for a series she will like and I'm trying to remember what books I liked as 12 year old girl. Anne of Green Gables, the Christy Series and To Kill a Mockingbird have recently made her list.  My problem is that I'm horrible at remembering the names of books I read, maybe even the one I'm reading right now. I've read 10 books already this month and can't tell you the names of any of them, but if I picked it up again I could say in two lines if I've read it before.  Maybe Miss M and I should start a blog with the books we are reading so we can remember.
  6. Finally, I have a few crafting ideas floating around in my head that I might want to accomplish this week either for home or as gifts.  Something about winter that makes my head and hands want a project to make the dark and cold days a gift because I feel no guilt "doing something fun" and creating.  I have a big knitting project I'm working on that I hope to finish early this spring, but I love to have quick and easy things to do too.

    A floating wall of hearts.  Valentine Mason Jars ( I have so many Masons Jars, and I think this might be perfect for our month of Secret Valentines too.) for the front door a Chevron Heart and finally I'm thinking of redoing our Kitchen Stools with this method ( just don't tell my husband)
See I told you I had a lot of things I was behind in sharing.  Maybe next, I'll share some of the funny outtakes from our lives this month. You know there are some!
Happy Almost February.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Swimming on the Roof Deck: In January

Sunday Morning in Kansas City meant another early Morning Call for Miss M to go dancing and a few hours for us to just hang out around the Hotel.  After failing to find a church nearby that we could catch a morning service, we had a little "church" on our own.  Miss A admitted it doesn't really seem like church when you are in your pj's in a hotel room, but since God's all around us I guess he sees us in pj's all the time anyway!

The Sheraton in Kansas City has a unique pool; it's on a rooftop and outside.  Which at first sounds a little odd in January, but once you see the pool and realize it's perfectly heated it sounds like an adventure that few kids would want to miss.  At least that's what Miss A thought and tirelessly convinced her brother to join her.  Thankfully, he's a good sport and joined her.

It's a pretty cool pool as you start out inside and then go through a tube to the outdoor pool area never having to get your body out of the water. Perfect on a day that the outdoor temp is only 30 degrees.  Of course, Mr C had to challenge Miss A to stand outside on the pool deck for as long as she could.  She beat him by 1 second. Love that girls spunk!  Of course, Mr C was more than willing to take a rematch until he beat her!

There are a few things I will not forgot from watching them Swim on the Pool Deck; the steam rising from the pool, how thick the steam was in the pool house, the laughter when they were standing on the ladder getting out, the view of downtown Kansas City all around us, especially the lovely Train Station and of course seeing them playing in the water while I was wearing a winter coat.

Legoland: Let Your Creative Juices Flow

While Miss M was off performing in the evening competition and letting her creative juices flow, Mr C and Miss A were creating their own fun at Lego Land.  After learning how Lego's are made and becoming a "Certified Lego Builder," you got to weigh and measure yourself in Lego's.  My husband would like to point out that he is still taller than his son (by two Lego's).  I of course first thought that the pictures my husband took were actually Mug Shots!


Nice to know that these pictures are really just them trying hard to be serious while standing up next to stacked Lego's. Not an easy task.

Miss A really liked the "Rides" at Legoland and thought the 4D Movies were great and saw all three movies more than once.  Can't really have too much of good thing in her mind.  While Mr C was busy building Lego Racers and shutting down other little girls dreams of beating him on the course, Miss A was trying all the different exhibits out and dragging her father behind her.

I'm so glad that the Mr C was willing to go back into his childhood and play with Lego's again and that we could find this fun place for them to have a little fun on a Saturday evening. I love even more the fact that Mr C and Miss A could enjoy this event together.  With their age span, it is not always easy to find "things" that they can both enjoy and can share a joint memory together.

My husband said one of the most impressive parts of the "Museum" were the miniature mock ups of Kansas City; what a masterpiece.

For a cold evening in Kansas City, Legoland is a perfect place to spend some time and let your creative juices flowing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Miss M's take on Kansas City

It's hard when your whole family is having a vacation while you are busy "working." At least that's what we told Miss M as we kept leaving and having fun while we left her in hours of dance classes.  I explained that often that's how Dad feels during the summer when we go off and have adventures during the day while dad goes to his office each day and doesn't seem much like summer to him!

Miss M, of course, was having her own kinda fun.  This girl really likes to dance. She spends about seven hours a week at the dance studio between tap, dance, spin, and jazz classes plus the extra practices she has for competitions and mastering routines for recitals.  This yearly jaunt to a Competition/Convention is one of her favorites of the year.  There are classes taught by Broadway Dancers and Professionals and some of the teachers can be found as Dancers in Music Videos and Movies.  There are classes in everything from ballet to lyrical to hip hop which keep the dancers working for at least six hours a day.  Finally, you add a evening performance and as Miss M says "your feet they are a killing you" by the end of the weekend.

As Miss M enjoyed a quick bite of dinner together at Panera after her performance, she told me she was a happy tired.  She was looking forward to another day of classes, but not the six am start to the madness. She knew that even though they hadn't mastered their tap routine that night on stage, it was a new routine and they were still working out the kinks.  She was thrilled to have left it all on the dance floor. That's really all you can ask!

After meeting up with the rest of the family before going back to the hotel for awards, she was thrilled to hear about all the fun we had and didn't even seem jealous.  Guess she's learned the lesson that if you are loving what you are doing, you can't be sad to hear other's retell their stories of fun!  Of course, we've promised not to make a habit of "vacationing" without her and for sure the next time we go to Kansas City, she'll get to join in the fun too.

The best part.  When we returned for the awards ceremony, we learned that Miss M's studio earned a 2nd Place medal in their Tap Routine! Way to Go!

Then to top of our evening we went to the 40th Floor of the hotel.  Why you might ask?  Because it's there and Miss A and Miss were convinced that it had to be pretty exciting to see the sights from the 40th Floor of a hotel.

Amazing View, but as Miss M and Miss A both agreed, not that much different from the view from our 11th floor room, just further up!  Guess they have now learned the reality of big hotels; long elevator rides for gorgeous views, or short rides for great views!  Think I'm more a fan of the later.

All in all a fun day for all!

Saturday Afternoon in KC

After our Presidential visit in the morning, we spent the afternoon at the Crown Center enjoying a trip down memory lane, doing some shopping, and waiting for Miss M to get out of her dance classes.  Miss A was most excited about going to a restaurant that her brother and sister had both told her about: Fritz's in Crown Center.  Fritz's is much more than just a burger joint, it's an experience!  Your food comes to you on a Train, complete with a rail track above your head and delivery right to your table.  Who wouldn't want to eat there!

Once again, I was thankful that Mr C was a good sport and let us bring him along.  We let him call in the order on the telephone and help his sister retrieve the food basket to make up for him having to be a kid again.  Sadly, he did refuse to wear a [paper Train Engineer's Hat like Miss A, but we forgave him. It wasn't too long a go that he was the little boy begging for us to buy him a train whistle at this exact restaurant, but we won't go into how fast time flies by.

Miss A loved our time at Fritz's!  However, her highlight at the Crown Center was probably the Crayola store where she "Finally" found a personalized bracelet with her name on it! Amazing. The problem with not having a really common name is that your name is never on a pencil, mug, or necklace anywhere.  Yeah for Miss A.

Our final stop before heading back to the hotel was a little walk around the Biggest Christmas Tree in Kansas City.  "Wow that's big" might have been the words out of Miss A's mouth.  When I tried to line my tall son and daughter up next to it and get all "three" items in the frame, I might have agreed with her!

Presidential Visit

I'm probably going to have to give up the competition with my husband. He's lived in more states, visited more states, and now he's been to more Presidential Museums.  Of course, when you've lived in as many states he has it does help your total state number.  However, P won't concede that point so when I kindly suggested that we go to the Harry Truman Presidential Library in Independence MO while we were in Kansas City, I was being kind.


You see, P had already been to the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin Texas and I'd been to the Truman Library as a child so in this one area we were even. Just to make my case even better, I'll remind you that P is a graduate of the University of Texas, in Austin as in the home of the LBJ Library. Not that I'm saying it's cheating!

I guess you could say that I knew my History Channel, biography reading, presidential history loving husband would totally be into the idea of mixing a little history into our vacation. Miss A and Mr C were really along for the ride, but I knew that we could find a way for them to enjoy it too.  Remember Miss A is the Presidential History Quizzer in our family and Mr C had just finished a semester of American History where they talked about Presidential Elections (this being one and all, but we are not going to talk about that event) so I knew we could encourage some dreaming of politics.

President Truman might have been from the opposite side of the aisle than I normally support, but I love his honest approach to governing and his motto the Buck Stops Here.  He really understood the role of government and wasn't afraid to make the tough call from the end of WWII to making it clear that the Soviet way of life was not welcome in America.  Those are the lessons I was thrilled to pass along to my child as we wandered the halls of the Library.  Looking at videos and pictures of the humble life of Harry Truman encouraged my faith in the American Dream and the fact that only in America can anyone become the highest official in the land.

I told Mr C that once he's thirty five, he'll have a lot of the qualities that we look for in a leader of the Free World; He'll be a Christian, Eagle Scout, Conservative, and a Golfer.  If he goes to College, marries a nice young women and keeps his nose clean, he really can be the President.  Of course, my husband was quick to point out by the time he is 35, he'll be in the minority in all areas of life; race, religion and values.  How I pray that by then our country will turn itself around and become a Country on it's knees!

May it be so Lord.

I'm thrilled that the kids, and my husband were able to take this trip down "History Lane" and see the Truman Library.  Why I was willing to give in to the challenge of of more Presidential Library visits.  Who knows, maybe I'll take a short trip over to the Herbert Hoover Museum in Iowa some day, without my husband of course.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Kansas City, Kansas City Here We Come

For people who don't really travel much over the holidays, we are on a roll this year. First, we went out of town for Thanksgiving.  Then, we went to the Lake for New Years' and now we are kicking off January with a family trip to Kansas City.  Guess we like to break our own rules.

Miss M had a dance convention/competition in Kansas City over the last weekend of Christmas Break and it seemed like the perfect little family getaway.  Now before you think I was just being selfish and inviting the honey and kids so that I could sit in the car and knit for hours on end, know that I am also being deliberate on making family time with a teen, tween and young child.  My husband driving while I knitted was just a bonus.

We left Friday afternoon for the four hour drive and the weather for January was stunning.  Now that we have a DVD player in the car and Mr C has his laptop to enjoy his "own movies," its pretty much like the old days when P and I would travel and talk.  Back then, I used to crossstitch so he's used to the crafting talking Jill.  Our first road trip together was to drive to Dallas for a wedding twenty plus years ago and I vividly remember offering to drive somewhere in Kansas with P sitting in the passenger seat doing nothing. I asked him what he normally did in the car and he said he normally just drove.  Believe me within the hour, we pulled off the road and switched drivers; I had books, magazines and cross stitch to keep me entertained.

Miss A was quite confused when we said that we were going to Missouri since it seems like Kansas City should be in Kansas.  We told her that Kansas City is in both states with the same name both places. Kinda like the Twin Cities in MN, but with the same name and two states.  Her response; "Who would name twins with the same name?  At least it's Minneapolis and St Paul there!  Why two Kansas Cities; was it cheaper?"  That in a nutshell is 2nd grade rationale.

Upon arrival at Kansas City MO which should be on the lookout for a new name, we decided to check into the hotel and then go grab some authentic KC BBQ.  When in Rome.  We know that good food is Mr C's love language and that my Texas husband loves Ribs and good BBQ.  That's our plan on vacation; do something ever day that keeps everyone happy. If you are ever in Kansas City, you have to try Gates BBQ.

Knowing that Miss M would only have a little time to enjoy KC, we went straight from dinner to the Country Club Plaza to see the Christmas lights and stroll among the shops.  Since we had Christmas Money in our pockets, we thought we might find some bargains, but we didn't.  M was sure they would have her "must have" Sperry's at the Sperry Store, but they didn't.  Miss A was sure that the Toy Store would fill her ever dream.  It did, but at too great a cost and of course Mr C is not a shopper unless it's at a Golf Store or Gamestop!

Somehow, I think my husband was thrilled that we made through the entire Plaza without a package.  I blame it on the early closing of Restoration Hardware and the fact that I had a crowd following me and forcing me to look too quick.  Thankfully, the lights, the company and the fact that we were on vacation made it all worth it!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ringing in the New Year at the Lake

We've been blessed to spend the last four New Year's Eves with some dear friends at the Lake.  Over the course of those years, our families have had a great time playing games, watching movies, and just relaxing while we say goodbye to one year, and hello to the next.  I bring my knitting along, the girls make up dances, the boys play Settlers of Catan, and we watch a little football, Dick Clark's Rock N Eve and just hang out.

It's exactly what you want to do to kick off a New Year

This year we learned that the H family breaks into song constantly.  Watching the movie Hairspray, it was as if we had Dolby surround sound in the room as the H girls were singing along to all the songs.  I won't say if the parents were too.

I'm thinking next year we'll plan a talent show and see which family can outperform the other.  It will be stiff competition as this family really has all the musicals memorized!  Guess this winter we'll have to rent some of the classics like Sound of Music, Music Man, and Fiddler on the Roof.  No complaints from me. Good thing the B girls are into dancing because I figure if we can't pull off the "song" for the musicals challenges we can at least have a good showing in the dance category.

Just so you don't think we were only singing and dancing, there were also rousing games of Scrabble (fell in love with the revolving board and wish so much we had a game table in our house), Balderdash playing, lots of eating (we don't start New Year's Resolutions until we get back home), and lots of laughs.

Speaking of laughs; Mr C has been asking for years to try Sardines. It all started when I told him how when my family use to go Skiing in Colorado, we always had Sardines for Lunch at the Lodge.  So after years of promising that I'd purchase some sardines for C to taste test, I finally did.  He liked them. At least that's what he said, his face tells a little bit different story.

Mr C was in seventh heaven since he could play Settlers of Catan for hours on end.  Lets just say there might have been hours in which we didn't even know the kids were still in the house.  Thankfully, teenage boys hunger pains force them to come "up for air" every so often and eat.  Mr C would say that the game is so intense they get hungry just from playing.

Really nothing could be better than spending a few days just relaxing with good friends and enjoying the calm and beauty of the lake to start a New Year off.  Happy 2013.