Thursday, December 31, 2009

Oh Nine in a collage shell

I love going back and watching old family videos and looking at photo files from long ago and noticing all of the big changes that have taken place over the years.

Today, as I went back through the photo folders from this year and visually reviewed 2009 (a.k.a. Oh Nine), I am so very grateful for the wonderful memories we've made this year. We've managed to see most of our families, we've taken some fun trips, we've completed the first half of our 5th year of homeschooling, and (once again) Joe has been the king of fatherhood with the kids taking them on fun adventures while I take time to plan for school...and eat bon bons ; )

A photo collage to represent our year--month by month.

-The kids lost lots of teeth this year--starting out with Jimmer in January
-Lots of hiking and climbing miles under our belts
-A good Jeep mudding year, for sure

2nd Row:
-Mary Kate celebrated her First Communion
-She got to go to California with Gramma for a week
-Our male family members suffered the heat to watch the Red Bull X Fighters

3rd Row:
-Our kids love the homebound ministry we're involved with at church
-We did some spelunking--or, hiking below the ground
-We did a lot of hiking above the ground in the great Southwest

4th Row:
-No hiking (or walking) on water, so we just enjoyed a great big lake.
-Joe, a Longhorn of the university kind, & kids showed their 'Horns spirit
-Our love of Calvin & Hobbes just shines through the kids, don't you think?

A fabulously fun, fantastically busy, fully-lived year for which we're extremely grateful.

It's so satisfying to ring in the new year in a thankful spirit.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas fun with fun Christmas funsies

New ride on fun

New indoor table fun

New slope fun

Flying Kathleen fun

Jimmer catching air fun

Mikey Knievel fun

And no fun runs to the E.R.!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We wish you a merry Christmas...

Christmas Eve

Four monkeys

Four monkeys--Calvin style

O, Holy Night!

Merry Christmas!

We wish for you a safe and very blessed Christmas with lots of good family cheer!

Kathleen's 2009 manger scene creation

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More Four Calling Birds Happenings :: Music

The kids have been doing a little of this lately.

Church Thanksgiving performance

Then they played at the Mary Lee Foundation, a community of support and apartment complexes for the disabled.

After the performance we saw this flash of red and white flying down the street headed for a bus stop!

A blurry Santa in a flying wheelchair.

On December 21, they got to play at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar downtown at the Convention Center.

Their group, the Blazing Bows, played their set between The Biscuit Brothers and Joe McDermott.

As long as we were downtown, we walked through the Trail of Lights to see some friends perform in their middle school choir on the Candy Cane stage.

Love the yawning girl in the blue hat!

Trail of Lights main tree

Joe and the kids at the Yule Log fire.

Then as we were leaving the Trail of Lights, we ended up at a free outdoor concert by Asleep at the Wheel.

Lots of musical fun.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jesse Tree :: Advent Activity

We added another Advent activity this year as a new tradition so, as a family, we can continue to focus on the real meaning of the season--of Advent, a time to prepare ourselves for Christmas. We've always done a daily nativity Advent calendar, and we've always used an Advent wreath with readings at dinnertime...but the Jesse Tree is a visual reminder of Jesus' spiritual heritage (not just genealogical) through the Old Testament leading up to Christ's birth and into the New Testament.

The Jesse Tree Kit

Here's the description from the beginning of this book:

The symbol of the Jesse Tree comes from Isaiah 11: "The royal line of David is like a tree that has been cut down; but just as new branches sprout from a stump, so a new king will arise from among David's descendants." The tree is named after Jesse, the father of the great King David of the Old Testament.

In Church art a design developed which illustrated the relationship of Jesus with Jesse and other biblical personages. This design showed a branched tree growing from a reclining figure of Jesse. The various branches had pictures of other Old and New Testament figures who were ancestors of Jesus. Some trees also incorporated early Old Testament figures like Abraham and Moses, who lived long before Jesse's time. At the top of the tree were images of Mary and Jesus. This design was used mostly in stained glass windows in some of the great medieval cathedrals of Europe.

Another development in religious art during the Middle Ages was that of Mystery Plays--drama that depicted various Bible stories or lives of saints and martyrs. These plays were performed in churches as part of the liturgical celebrations. One such play was based on the biblical account of the fall of Adam and Eve. The
"Tree of Life" used during the play was decorated with apples. (Quite possibly this is also the forerunner of our own Christmas tree.)

This kit draws from elements of both the Jesse Tree window and the Tree of Life. Each ornament symbolizes a person or event in salvation history--the pattern of events in human history that accomplishes the saving action of God. By reflecting on salvation history, we see how God prepared the world for the coming of his Son.

Jesse Trees are meant to symbolize the spiritual heritage of Jesus, rather than his strictly genealogical origins. It is important to keep in mind that the Christian application of the Old Testament stories and symbols used does not minimize their own intrinsic value as Revelation.

Each day of Advent, we color one of the ornaments, read the daily scripture associated with the ornament's symbol and hang the ornament on our Jesse tree. I was looking for a manzanita branch to use as the tree, but no such luck finding one around here. So I just put a bunch of branches into a vase and placed it inside the Advent wreath in the middle of our dining table.

Our kids have been able to recall the specific biblical stories as they look at each of the ornament's symbols.

Here are some of them.



Isaac and Rebecca

I really wanted to do a homemade Jesse Tree--one with ornaments the kids totally create themselves. I knew, however, that pigs would be in flight by the time I get around to making sure all the ornaments are made. So for this year and ? more years, we'll use these paper ornaments. Seeing these symbols for a while may help the kids become familiar with them so they'll be able to come up with their own version easier in the future. At least that's what I'll tell myself until we have all homemade ornaments!

Wouldn't it be nice to think that by the time all the kids left home, they'd have their own set of handmade Jesse Tree ornaments for their own tradition?


I've added this tradition to A Meaningful Family Christmas link party. Have a looksie at the wonderful family traditions others have posted.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Paper Circle Snowflakes Tutorial

We had so much fun with the quilled paper snowflakes, I came up with a different design for these paper circle snowflakes.

I took four sheets of 12" x 12" scrapbooking paper and adhered 2 sets with repositionable spray adhesive. (I put a lighter complimentary color to the backs of the red and green papers.)

The green thingy is my quilling tool.

The other sides of the papers I adhered.

I cut 1/4" strips of various lengths from each sheet--mainly 2-1/2" length for the bigger circles I made with my chap stick as a form guide, and 1-3/4" length for the ones I made with one of the kids' markers. I used short leftover scraps for the 3 loose, quilled centers and the 6 closed coils at the tips of the snowflake.

For each snowflake, you'll need:
13 larger circles
12 smaller circles
3 loose quilled circles for the center
6 closed coils for the snowflake tips.

Here's a link for basic quilling instructions.

I arranged them so that there would be a dark outer circle round followed by the next round with a lighter contrasting color on the outside (if that makes sense--if not, just refer to photo).

Use tweezers to help glue the smaller circles to the insides of the larger circles. (Believe me, it's more enjoyable that way! =)

Use tacky glue to stick 'em all together as they are arranged in the top photo, put embroidery thread or small ribbon through one of the closed coils for an ornament hanger, and VOILA--a circle snowflake ornament! that I'm looking at the photo of the hanging ornament, I'm thinking that gold guilded edges would look very nice. I just might have to dig up my gold paint pen and see how it looks.

Let me know if you try this or have more ideas for similar projects.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Our four calling birds happenings :: Snowflakes

Last week, we were expecting some accumulation of snow.
Promising excitement for building this year's snowman.
We haven't had snow here for a few years...hence the excitement.

This is about all we saw.
Fifteen minutes of snow downfall, impressively heavy for about five of those minutes.
Kids ran around the front yard and caught snowflakes in their mouths and rode their bikes through the heaviest downfall.

No accumulation.
No snowman.

So, if snow won't come to us...
we'll just have to make it.



The girls made most of the coils.

Mikey thought they looked really neat...but wasn't interested in helping with the process.

Jimmer was intrigued with rolling these paper coils with the quilling tool.

Here are the directions to make these snowflakes. With 2 sheets of 8-1/2 x 11" white card stock and a little glue, we made 8 of these nifty snowflakes. I read that a 12" x 12" sheet yields 10 snowflakes. Guess I wasn't being efficient with our paper.

All of these snowflakes are slightly different. Can you tell?

Unintended shenanigans

I found this lovely rodent in the bathroom hanging by its tail on the paper holder. Never been a fan of rodents. Okay, so it is just a rubbery toy. The fight or flight response doesn't promptly distinguish between a gross rodent hanging within inches of your leg or a silly toy that your daughter hung there and forgot whilst taking care of business. Fight or flight. Imagine my immediate dilemma.

At least it's not as bad as when I found this tarantula climbing the wall inside a closet at 5:45 AM and had to wake Joe up to capture it in an ice cream bucket before we discovered that it was just a toy.

I missed my morning walk that day.

Same daughter, who didn't intend any mischief, was the guilty party. She simply needed somewhere to put her plaything while she went in the closet to get her hairbrush. Finding an old screw hole in the wall seemed an ideal place to stick the toy taranula leg. You know, to make it look extra what spiders like to do--cling to and climb up walls. By the time she was finished brushing, she forgot about the spider.

I need to work on that girl's memory. She's been awfully forgetful.

Emphasis on the awful part.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Old-fashioned missing pieces

It's not often that I consciously think about the now-considered "old fashioned" things I grew up with. It was just a part of my world. How things used to be. My experiences.

While we were in Minnesota on our spontaneous 2,600 mile trip last month, we stayed with Grammy and Grampy, my in laws. It had been over 2 years since we had been there, and Jimmer remembered less about the house than I expected. He did recall they had a basement which was to be considered a kids-only wonderland while they were there. Basements are novelties to kids raised in Texas!

One morning while we were having breakfast, I drew open the drapes in the dining room. Jimmer put his spoon down, and with dropped jaw he asked how I did that to the curtains. He was totally enthralled with the "mechanical" drapes! He asked me to pull back the curtains so he could see the curtain pulleys. Again--he was totally fascinated!

In this photo are the drapes of interest.

I didn't realize that the kids hadn't seen (or at least noticed) draw drapes before. Hmmm...our house only has blinds, roman shades, and decorative curtains (that don't close).


Then, after we returned home and Jimmer celebrated his 7th birthday, he was excited to get a check that he had to cash. HE wanted to make a big deal about going to the bank to cash it himself. He wanted to go inside the bank...because he didn't remember ever being in a bank before. Really? I went into the bank a couple of times with the kids--maybe 3 years ago! After I thought about it, I realized that it had been at least 2 years since I had entered a bank.

When was the last time you walked into a bank?

Anyway, Jimmer was unusually excited about going to the bank.

Joe took him to cash his check, and when they returned, I asked if he got to go into the bank. He said, "Yes, but I thought banks had a lot of shelves with a bunch of money on them. It didn't."

Interesting. Another missing piece.

I started thinking about other missing pieces from the past. Using cash or writing checks instead of the current mode of swiping plastic or paying online that our kids now see. Maybe that's why Jimmer was so interested in going to the bank--to see REAL money!

Dial phones (and of course, we had a laborious "0" in our number...that I still remember: 445-2053). Our kids don't even think of the dial phones when they think of an old fashioned phone. They think about the old phones from "pioneer" days with the separate ear and mouth piece.

They think of reel-to-reel or vinyl records, but not the 8-track or cassette tapes.
Again, missing pieces.

So, it seems that the kids either think of the new technology we have today or they think back to the really old times. And they miss some pieces in between. Jimmer even asked if we had electricity, running water, or horseless carriages when I was growing up!

Hmmm...what other "missing pieces" have I forgotten?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Sunday Ride...

I think Mary Kate got the short end of the stick on this one. She's been pushing Mikey on this rig for the last 20 minutes. Mikey hasn't moved from the chair.

She pushes him up the slight street incline then rides down.

Pushes up.
Rides down.

and over.

Is it the unspoken privilege he earned from his little scooter-chair invention?


They're happy.
No complaints.
Whatever works!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Seven years...fuzzy toes and logic

Our youngest turned SEVEN...

...a week ago!

At least we celebrated (mostly) on his actual birthday.
He did finally get to open his last gift yesterday!
Around here, we like to stretch out our birthdays.
Makes 'em more special that way...or something!

Me: "Jimmer, Happy Birthday!! You're seven years old today!"

Jimmer: "Yes, I know. But how many days old am I?"
Me (scrambling for a calculator): "2,554"

Jimmer: "How many hours?"
Me: "61,296"

Jimmer: "Minutes?"
Me: "3,677,760"

Because a seven year old just wants to know that kind of stuff!

Pizza cakes Kathleen and Mary Kate made for him.

Later...while we were alone (other kids were at piano)

Jimmer to me (speaking softly): "Have you noticed that I'm growing hair on my big toes now?"

Me: "Really? May I see?"

Jimmer: (sticks out his foot to me)

Me: "Whoa! Does that mean you're getting to be a big boy?"

Jimmer: (big smile, proudly) "I have some on my thighs too!"

Then he came up with this logic only a seven year old has.

Jimmer: "Now that I'm seven, are you going to have another baby this year?"

Me: "Whuh?"

Jimmer: "When I was six, we had six people in our family. Now I'm seven and think we should have another baby to make it seven."

Me: "So, you think I should have another baby every year then?"

Jimmer (after doing a quick tally): "Maybe have one baby this year and then one every five years after that!"

Through the eyes and in the mind of a seven year old...

Happy Birthday, Chimpy Boy, Jimmer, Jimmy Jam, Little Buddy, Jimmy Changa, Jim Bop a Loo Bop!

We love you to pieces...and love your snuggles.