Friday, December 30, 2016

Is it just me or are they a red and blue two headed monster?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Grouchy AND angry cuz it's Oh-Butt-Frigid out...

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

We are blessed with incredible neighbors who watched Triskal for Thanksgiving so that we could travel over the river and through the woods to Uncle Kelly and Aunt Becky's house. Thank you SO much, you guys. 

We headed out there Thursday morning and there was hardly anyone on the road. It's not a bad drive by any stretch of the imagination, and we had small cousins waiting on the receiving end.

There was far too much food for 7 adults and 8 kids, and everything was yummy. I think one of my new favorites was a simple 3 ingredient dish which consisted of sliced strawberries with sliced green grapes and chopped mint all mixed together. It was sweet and simple and summery and I couldn't get enough of it! Kind of like the cucumber, tomato, feta cheese salad I had the other day while on a lunch date with Dada, "but that's another story, never mind" ("Into the Woods" reference). 

We had a great time catching up with cousins we hadn't seen since March. Sweet Rosalina is mobile and charms everyone she meets. The cousins played games inside and out and even had a night together with babysitters plural while the adults headed out for the Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith Christmas concert, which was amazing. We had an excellent dinner and enjoyed every minute of the concert while the kids watched "Finding Dory" and had popcorn and played more games. 

Uncle Kelly took all the boys and Carrie on a hike at nearby park to burn some of the stink off. It was cold but it was perfect hiking about weather with several six year old boys, including a classmate we picked up en route.

It was fun to have hills in Indiana, hehe!

Aunt Becky enjoys directing the raising and decorating of the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving, so we got to be part of that this year. Here's the mostly finished result, including Pap:

We headed back home Sunday morning and again had very little traffic. We didn't get dumped on with awful weather, there weren't accidents blocking the highway, everybody was on good behavior and we all made it home safe. Thanks for hosting, Kelly and Becky, in your lovely home, and for doing all the work. Hehe. We had a super time! We love you all and hope you have a blessed Christmas and New Year!

I told you so

See? I told you our Elves on the Shelf were cooler than yours. Unless you have the same set, that is. Then you're set. Or as my roomie Brenda used to say, "Eh heh. I said, 'eh heh!'" I forget which show that was from, but we've used it ever since.

Sorry for the Saturday snark. I'm trying to focus while a frustrated Resident Six Year Old is griping to me about his lack of time on the iPad and I'm awaiting the arrival of one of Carrie's friends whose parents will be out of town until tomorrow and I've only had two sips of my coffee...

So, on to The Geothermal Post! 

Friday, December 09, 2016

Whew, I gotta sit down

Yes, I know. There are no Thanksgiving pictures or stories up yet. Neither are there the same for the work holiday party. Tis the season to not blog, apparently.

Tis the season to chase groundhog sized squirrels out of the suet we get for our birdies. I've already chased them out of there several times and decided it was time to put the dog out to go potty and help deter the fatties. I felt bad when I heard a mad scrabbling under the grill cover and some tiny, cinnamon colored birds took off. Sorry, guys. The friendly beast won't even notice you, so eat all you want. And peck the squirrels as you please!

Tis the season for getting every school test in before the Christmas break. Liam has a book talk on Flush by Carl Hiaasen and a math test today. Carrie has a math test today, as well. Damon? Well, Damon's job today is to bring home all his lost and found in addition to bringing home everything he wore TO school today. He's missing one glove (because I found the other one in the lost and found at school yesterday) and one hat (which he wore yesterday). He came home without his mittens yesterday afternoon and Liam found them in the driveway when he went out to fetch the mail. The kid is a PigPen of belongings these days...

Tis the season to finally box up the warm weather clothes. Three weeks ago I was hanging out laundry while wearing my tank top. I prefer that. This Arctic Blast stuff is, one again, less than desirable.

Tis the season to bring out all the remaining Christmas decorations that haven't been up since Christmas in July. Don't judge. It finally happened. I was so far behind that I came out ahead. It can be done, people!

Tis the season to bake. Or, I would, if I could find my kitchen. The table (and floor) are strewn with math practice papers, Christmas decorations, cookbooks, gum wrappers, receipts waiting to be entered, and a stray nail polish bottle. Not to mention the remains of a tortilla Carrie started munching on several days ago. And Liam's dessert wrapper from last night. And Liam's breakfast dishes. And, lo and behold, my unfinished mug of coffee!

Don't get me started on the contents of the kitchen sink or the kitchen counter. Let's just say there's crock pot innards involved. Maybe I will go ahead and bake and clean up the mess all at once...

Home group is tonight, so I've already tidied the Old Lady Room which included vacuuming up popcorn of which I did not participate in the partaking. Hmmm. There are also colorful throws and pillows on the couch, awaiting our guests. There is a red fleece with snowflakes festooning it somewhere in this house, or maybe the playhouse, that I can not find to save my life. Don't feel sorry for me- we have others in spades- I feel a bit embarrassed to be searching for one when we have a ridiculous amount of others. 

Feeling a little convicted here, so I may or may not come back to that later, but we'll move on for now.

I am not cleaning this kitchen table by myself, so I'll move on there, too. 

Still no squirrels. Triskal can stay out a few more minutes.

Thanks to PaPa and Grandmama for cleaning out their attic and bestowing excess Christmas decorations on us. In one of the boxes I discovered, to my great delight, a set of the NOEL elves which never spell out NOEL in our family. My grandparents had a set that somehow ended up spelling everything possible but NOEL when we visited. When we called them to let them know we'd made it home safe, someone would mention in a faux-perplexed voice, "I don't understand how those crazy elves are spelling LEON. I know when I put them out they said NOEL..."

I put mine up as high as I could, spelling LEON, with a random plastic elf I found tucked arm-in-arm with the N elf. Our elves on the shelf are better than yours.

Tis the season for heat, thankfully, and that is another blog post not done yet. Yoiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. We've been cozy inside while it's been in the 20's outside. Thank you, Lord, for holding off on the horrid chilliness while we were dependent on only our fireplace. The 70 degree days were definitely a gift, and I'd take them any day of the week. Any week. 

Tis the season for Christmas music. Dada has created a Pentatonix holiday station on Pandora and he enjoys it, loudly, as often as he's home. I'm warming up to all the Christmas everythings, but continue to play non-holiday music when it's my turn to choose. I won't tell what's blasting right now while I'm cleaning (and taking a break from cleaning)... but it rhymes with Fit Pull. Don't judge. It's excellent cleaning music. "Fiiiiiiiiiirebaaaaaall!"

Tis the season for germs. Damon has had a cough for about 6 weeks and only now has a full-blown cold. Judging by his holiday zest, it isn't slowing him down much, but his poor little nose is red like Rudolph and we're going through tissues like nobody's business. I'm choosing to be thankful that he's using the tissues instead of his arms and sleeves. Upon entering the elementary school office yesterday, I heard the secretary mention they'd sent nine kids home with fevers before lunch the day before. Wash those hands.

Tis time to get back to work. Have a wonderful weekend! Be safe if you are anywhere that it's supposed to storm and that white scourge comes down from the sky. Stay warm!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Mystery Adventure #4

Off we go, again! Damon is holding his Pizza Hut passport for this Mystery Adventure. Apparently the BookIt program is getting a little crazy in its old age and there are passports now that you can fill with stickers and games. Who knew? Benefits of having that third child, I guess... now we know!

Some of us were delighted to see the first snowflakes of the year pelting us as we headed out of town. Some of us were considerably less so. Blech. 

It can snow on the penguins and polar bears all it wants and it can add my share. I'd be fine with not shoveling again, ever. However, since we live where we live, I guess I'll just have to suck it up and deal with it.

Anyway, off we went to meet up with our friends for a little window shopping before the heart of the Mystery Adventure. We got to goof off in a fancy mall with Annika, Charlie, Noah, and their parents, Sharon and "Dao". For those of you who are trying to keep everyone straight, Noah is two weeks younger than Carrie, Charlie was born in October like Liam but is a year older, and Annika is the brave girly one who puts up with our not-very-girly clan. Dao ran sound for our wedding and went to OSU with Dada. We met Sharon at our wedding, adored her, and were in on Dao's wedding proposal to her when they came out to visit us in Oregon. It's safe to say we've been friends for a looooooooooooong time.

*insert mental pictures of kids in awe in Spencer's, testing out camping chairs in the sporting goods store, riding escalators, begging for candy from the chocolate shop, and so forth as I forgot to take any mall pictures here*

And then it was time for the real Mystery Adventure, which was a 40th surprise birthday party for our buddy Dave!

Blessed by a true servant's heart, Dave was surprised all right. It was fun to reciprocate some of the goodwill he's bestowed on so many others throughout our years of friendship.

"Heeeeere's Dave and the way he does the hula..."

That's a long-running joke from Dada's college choir, and Dave sure didn't disappoint. Dave has also been a friend for forever. We really get a kick out of his wife, Jennifer, who we are getting to know as they have just been married a bit over a year. She has a contagious cheerful spirit!

Apparently I didn't get any pictures of the Elusive Annika, but here are some faces to put with names:

Can you tell it was a game day? Charlie is my buddy in that he always roots for Penn State. Carrie also approves.

Another of our dearly beloved families arrived; Manoj and Priscilla and their three lovely daughters are more people we never get enough time with.

The party was in a rather small room that was bursting with good cheer and folks loving on Dave. There were tons of kids, so there were plenty of shenanigans, including silly string, which actually was a grown up's idea in the first place. 

Happy birthday to Dave, thanks for a great party, Jennifer, and it was super seeing our buddies! Successful Mystery Adventure #4! We love you all.

Fall fun

Just what have we been up to? Look at that face!

Oh, a little of this and a little of that. I have another Mystery Adventure to blog and this weekend kicks off the first of the holiday parties and then there's the Thanksgiving post to do... eh, you get the idea. Your schedule probably looks very similar!

But for now, here are some snapshots of what These3Thingz have been up to in the last beautiful days of November:

What a gorgeous fall. We certainly don't get to complain about weather. God is good, all the time, and especially for providing mild weather when we were waiting for our new heating system to be installed. That's another post waiting to happen. 

The kids have already gotten midterm grades for their second quarter of the school year, and today is the first day of December. I'm not at all sure where 2016 went- it sure whisked right past me! Our days continue to be a mix of school, karate, homework, household chores, and as much fun on the fly as we can fit in. 

We hope your Thanksgiving was blessed and that you take the time to enjoy the anticipation of the season this Advent. It may be, perhaps, that our Christmas tree has been up since our Christmas in JULY party, but that doesn't mean that I will get around to Christmas cards or extra decorating or all the baking I'd like to do. The same may be true for you. Just remember to take good care of yourself in what can be an insanely stressful, busy, overwhelming time of year. It's not meant to be. We do that. It's meant to remind us of an incredible gift of love that costs us nothing to accept. So put down that dratted Elf on the Shelf, schedule some time for coffee with a friend so that you have a little bit of breathing room, and look for the best in each person and each day. Happy holidays!

Monday, November 14, 2016


This kid just melts me. When he smiles? Be still, my heart! 

The promised graduation post and our typical Saturdays

Hi! I got a little carried away with karate pictures, as usual, so I tried to tidy them up some so I wouldn't be tempted to add a hundred of them. 

Damon moved from a low green belt to a high green belt, so he's featured in some of the pictures but didn't bump up to a different belt color. Hopefully that will happen in February. Brrr. I don't even want to think about February. But after that graduation all three Thingz will be in the same class again for the rest of forever and let me just make the sound here to express how excited I am about that: Wahoooooooooooooooooo!!

As always, click on any picture to see it in more detail and larger. Damon was featured in two of the weapons displays, though he informed us later that he should have only been in one (typical), and Carrie did one as well. 

New belts, with the exception of black belts, are tied on by parents after the graduation ceremony. Black belts are tied on, onstage, by instructors. The medals around their necks mean they graduated with honors. In order to do that, they had to have turned in at least three karate homeworks. The categories are Knowledge (reading minutes, which ties in nicely with the school reading logs), Self-Discipline (which encourages them to be responsible around the house and with homework, etc), Goal Setting (which seems the easiest to me: three goals and how you'll achieve them. Two of the three have to be completed before you turn it in. Liam's first goal is "to not quit until black belt!" Needless to say, his paper hasn't been turned in yet...), and Respect (going out of their way to be helpful/courteous/etc and must be signed by a parent AND a teacher). 

I can't say enough good things about this program. Yes, it takes up a ton of our time and, let's be honest, our money. But the instructors are amazing, patient, encouraging, dedicated, and fun. Not only are the Thingz learning martial arts and defense, but they're in something that isn't instant gratification. They're starting to see that accomplishments take a long time and that you need to stick to it to be good at something. Do they always want to go? No. Do I always want to take them? No. But we feel that these are good lessons for our family and that this particular program will help their lives in other ways down the road as well as helping them stay physically active now. 

And then there are these feet that I just adore. Damon is still disappointed that he isn't yet a brown belt, which is the lowest of the highest belt levels. He was pouting about his lack of a new belt in the above photo.

It's too bad that you really don't get a sense from the pictures of how hard these kids work. They go to class 2-3 times a week in our old town. Most weeks we go Monday for both of their level classes, Tuesday for weapons, and then again Wednesday for both classes again. Thursday nights are our night off, every other Friday tries to host home group, and weekends are crazy. 

This weekend we did our third Mystery Adventure (see previous post) and three karate classes on Saturday. This is a first. The Academy hosts a Grappling class at 10 AM. It is an elective, but highly beneficial towards earning one's black belt. Until now, the Thingz could only do one elective and they'd chosen weapons, which improves focus and concentration. Grappling is more like wrestling, and I am not even close to qualified to tell you how they differ. 

Anyway, now that the big kids are only six months away from being black belts, they are officially black belt candidates and are encouraged to take classes in everything. One, they'll need all that stuff for their black belt tests, which is taken in stages, and two, it's kind of a reward for sticking with the program for the years required to get to this point. 

So the big kids were excited to head into that first Grappling class. I stayed home and sent the camera with Pap, who was visiting. And kudos to him; in spite of being intimidated by the fancy camera, he did a great job capturing them!

As Damon is not yet a candidate, this was how he spent his time while Thing One and Two were on the floor:

After 45 minutes or more of hot, sweaty working, it was time for their regular family class which means any student of any level participates in the same class. There are jumping jacks, push ups, and some kind of ab work in addition to all the karate stuff they do.

After 45 plus minutes of that class, they take a break to put on their sparring gear:

That class is also 45 minutes or so. We had hot, sweaty, tired, starving Thingz come home! Again, good job to Pap for taking super pictures!