November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend 2009

Thanksgiving began with lying around, a brief walk (the weather was beautiful!), and breakfast with our neighbors, Edwin, Julie, and Alistair. We had the TV on from 9am-2pm, watching the parade and the dog show. Elizabeth enjoyed both quite a bit. In the afternoon we prepared a couple of sides and went to Hordur, Gyda, and Bjarney's for dinner. The meal included turkey, two types of potatoes, sweet potato souffle casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, quinoa salad, green bean casserole, and delicious Chilean wines. We migrated to our apartment for dessert later in the evening. The girls ended the day with a rousing game of Elefun, please enjoy the video below!

We have not yet sold the toddler bed.
It's a new place to play and snuggle in the livingroom.

I didn't get a shot of all of us eating;
these little guys really enjoyed the meal, though!

We talked a little with family.

I got the table ready for dessert.
My mom got me this tablecloth in France;

This is the window decoration E and I made.
You can find the pattern here.

Hordur made the turkey;
it was delicious, as expected. :)

The dinner party (starting L around the table):
Hordur, Gyda, Elizabeth, Bjarney, Martina, Macarena, Gonzolo, Colin, and Brian

Friday was also spent in a pretty relaxed fashion. I went out briefly with Gyda in the morning so she could pick something up at Ann Taylor. I got a gift for Elizabeth at Sears - her very own bright pink towel set - don't tell! Later, while Brian napped, we got the Christmas decorations out and went to work!

Brian began the day at the little table the girls had used for dessert the night before.

He's become a bit of a wrestler lately,
mercilessly attacking his sister without warning!
(And he loves wearing his rain boots.)

Setting up the tree!

Because he's cute!

Elizabeth finished the day with some video games.
She likes MarioKart the most!

November 27, 2009

Thank You!

Throughout my lifetime, there have been many folks who have taught me things that have made my life more enjoyable, peaceful, and/or fun. I was thinking about this yesterday and want to thank some people. This list is in no particular order, other than delighting in rest time yesterday and thinking of the first person on the list! And it is not comprehensive - there are so many people to be thankful for; these are just some that come to mind now.

Mary Kathryn Calhoun - She introduced us to the concept of "rest time" for kids who have stopped napping, so there's still a break from kids in the day. And lent us the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, when E was very small. Thank you!

Kristen P. - I love her blogging voice and have stolen some of her literary style for making text sound like speech. Thank you!

Meda Barnes - This lovely woman faithfully led women's Bible study for the years I've been involved. Her commitment to the Scriptures has had a profound influence on me. And she's my friend too. :) Thank you!

Jerry Zeilstra - Could there be a more steadfast youth pastor!? Jerry was and still is faithfully shepherding the kids in my hometown. Thank you!

Mommy and Papa - There's likely no end to the list here! They connected me to the people of God, taught me songs and Scripture, walked with me through my teens, taught me discipline in many areas of life, taught me to swim, ride a bike, drive a car (ah!!), and so on. Thank you!

Gladys and Malcolm Ashe - What patient, loving in-laws! They welcomed me into the family as a daughter and have been gracious as I've been getting used to it. Thank you!

The Cao Family - They hosted me for the year I lived in Argentina as an exchange student. They took good care of me, patiently taught me Spanish, and loved me as their own. Thank you! Gracias!

Rick Downs - Rick consistently preaches the gospel every Sunday morning. Being at Christ the King church has changed my life. Thank you!

Jenny McFadden - This dear friend has walked through recent difficulty with me and shares her life transparently with me. Thank you!

Tom Grosh & Chloe Papke - Both served on InterVarsity staff during my time at CMU. I learned a lot from them about studying the Scriptures, practicing spiritual disciplines, and loving the Lord in word in deed, in all of life. Thank you!

Programmers & company - Those who brought to life and sustain google, recipe sites, wikipedia, biblegateway, the library site, etc. have my eternal thanks for simplifying my life in so many ways. Thank you!

O'Connell branch librarians - The Ashe family loves you and we're grateful for your diligence in providing fabulous literature and fun story & craft times. Thank you!

The DeMoulas Family - This family started Market Basket, our grocery store that saves us tons every year. Thank you!

My husband - I know there are some moments when I'm easy to love, but also many moments where it's not so great to be hitched to me for life. You're good to me and make me a better person. Thank you!

Westgate Executive Committe -You all know who you are and I am extremely grateful for all of the work you do to make Westgate such a fabulous place to live. Thank you!

And finally,
Al Gore - I use the internet all the time. Thank you!

November 24, 2009

Plimoth Plantation

At Ashe Family School we've been reading lots of picture books about Thanksgiving. We happen to live just an hour north of Plymouth, where it all went down almost 400 years ago (1621). As such, I didn't think we should miss out on the opportunity to visit Plimoth Plantation. It did not disappoint, reinforcing and bringing to life all that we had read about in the preceding week or so.

The Mooflower!

The plantation consists of two replica sites, a Wampanoag Homesite and a 1627 English village. The Wampanoag site is staffed by modern Native Americans (some Wampanoag) who live and produce things throughout the day as the Wampanoag were likely to have done. They speak from a modern perspective and will answer any of your questions. It's somewhat somber, thinking about how misunderstood the natives were and maltreated, even to this day.

Inside a "three fire" home;
a wood frame, bark, woven cloth, and skins keep it toasty.

The cooking area

A corn field with a tower in it kids could play on,
functioning as live scarecrows!

The "three fire" home;
down by the smoke, they're burning out logs for canoes.

The English settlement is staffed by actors who remain in character as 1627 villagers. It's impressive, from the accents to the facts they can share with you. It's fascinating to see the way things were and how they lived. Life has changed dramatically in the last 400 years! And yet, what the pilgrims sought - religious freedom - still rings in our hearts and law books as true and right.

Brian, quite glad to be out of the stroller!
He particularly liked the chickens and roosters.

On our way home we quickly stopped in Plymouth (3 mi north) to snap a picture of the Mayflower II replica. For an extra fee you can board the ship and learn from staff and actors about what life would have been like on board. Such an adventure needed to be saved for another day; Brian was already asleep in the car.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

November 20, 2009

We Baked Bread!

Prompted by a book I'm reading called The Mission of Motherhood - which, I might add, you should read if you're a mom, fuel for another blog post - and the fact that I planned to make soup for dinner last night, Elizabeth and I baked bread together yesterday. I had never done this, and it was a bit laborious (compared to picking up a loaf at the store), but we had a lot of fun!

Shouldn't one always knead wearing a crown?

I had to borrow a pan from my neighbor (thanks Julie!), because the recipe makes two small loaves. She actually had the correct dimensions to make it look more like a loaf. I need to get a couple of those; Christmas is coming! I couldn't wait until dinner to sample, so I cut a slice and had some. It was good. But I said to Colin that I thought it needed more salt. About 4 hours later, as I talked with a friend about the experience, I realized that the bread indeed needed more salt, ... because I hadn't put any salt in it!

The end result

November 19, 2009

This kid ...

Brian's fun these days. Some photos with a video finish!

It starts early.
He's "asking" me to show him the picture on the back of the camera!

There's video here;
if you're reading this on Facebook go to

November 13, 2009

More on the Transition Front

1. We made it; Brian is no longer waking at 4:30am! Hallelujah!! Seriously, people, I thought there was something wrong with me the past few weeks. Turns out, I've just been extremely tired. It's so hard to be into hanging out with friends and enjoying life when you're exhausted! (Obvious, I know, but I was starting to think I was becoming more of a hermit, or worse, more of a jerk.)
2. Elizabeth will begin sleeping in a twin bed tonight! She's 5-1/2 and still in a toddler bed; that's a bed with a crib-sized mattress. I'd been waiting for us to move to get her a bed, but recently she'd had trouble sleeping because she can't lay straight. I was thinking Ikea would be a good option for size and affordability, and was able to get one on Criagslist for a very reasonable price and a 2 minute drive away. Our closest Ikea is a bit of a hike so this was super. A toast to the minivan for being just the right size to bring it home. And thanks to God for providing. (Now we need to sell the toddler bed, anyone interested?)
The new bed!

3. In addition to sleeping later, Brian now naps once a day. That means I need to decide how to do school. Should I still do it in the morning while he's toddling around? Or should we do our activities in the afternoon when he's sleeping? Elizabeth is quite distracted by him, and he's pretty needy, since he's learning to make it longer before napping. I like getting school tasks done early, so we can enjoy the rest of the day. For now, I think we'll try to stick with that and see how it goes.

4. I read this in The WholeHearted Child: Home Education Handbook: "We live in a leisure-oriented society, but home schooling is hard work. There's not much room for taking it easy." Ironically, it empowered me! So now that I'm feeling more rested and don't have a cold, I'm starting to take control of my life (little by little) instead of letting it control me. I often look around and think about all the things I should be doing, but then get overwhelmed and try to avoid it all. The last couple of days, I've been experimenting with getting things done, even when I don't want to. (Something I preach to Elizabeth all the time!) It feels good.

It feels good.

It's nice to sit down at a dinner table that's not covered in crap. It's nice to walk into a bathroom without clothes and misc itmes tossed about. It's nice to wake up to a livingroom floor without toys everywhere. So at this time I'm working on maintaining, instead of letting things get crazy and having to do mega clean up that takes a long time. Life isn't really going to work for me any other way. Must. Fight. The. Laziness!!!!!!

Another thing I've been thinking I'd like to change is my screen time. I'd like to only watch the shows I want to watch and avoid tv any other time. The shows I'm into: Monk, House, the Office and the Soup, and Psych, Chuck and Burn Notice, when they return in the winter. Monk will be ending in a couple of months. We record, so I don't have to watch when they're actually on. I really like that, because even last night, the Office was just too late for me to stay awake.

My other time sink is the computer. My dream is that I could be content with checking my email just a couple times a day. I'm an addict. I waste too much time on the computer. We'll work on this soon. Maybe. (sheepish grin.)

The most recent choice that I've made is to use the half hour when Elizabeth has her rest time during Brian's nap as "me" time. I read a book, write a blog post like this one, take a nap, or whatever! It's nice to have this time to look forward to; it always includes a cup of coffee.

Mmmmm, apples and peanut butter face.

November 9, 2009

Reward #1

Elizabeth has made it through one week without sucking her thumb! I realized yesterday that her motivation likely came from a friend at church who recently stopped; thanks, Tobey!!

Here's our month-long incentive plan, borrowed from the Kyes family: Each week we set up an end-of-the-week reward and each day she puts up a sticker for making it through the day and one for making it through the night. We've employed band-aids as a reminder on her thumb during the night. She'll also ask to put one on during the day if she's feeling tempted.

Yesterday was celebration number one! There's a park we rarely go to that E really likes; we affectionately call it "the tire park." Colin wasn't feeling well, so he couldn't join us. But fortunately her friends Bjarney and Martina could! The girls rode their bikes to the park, played, and then we got some snacks to wrap up our fun time together. You can see many of the fun features of this park in the pictures.

Martina and Bjarney love spending time with Brian too.
What little boy doesn't need 3 five year old sisters?!

Snack time!

Next week's reward? IHOP!