Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

I tried so hard to come up with a more interesting title to this post but to no avail. All my brain power must be zapped after this year's Thanksgiving festivities. It was a good Turday Day. It will certainly be remembered.

Dori and Micah are old enough now to really anticipate family gatherings and holidays and such. It is so fun to watch their excitement as we prepare. This was evident for the entire week leading up to Thanksgiving. We hadn't even eaten in the dining room yet, since we moved in, so it was a BIG deal to get that all set up and pull out the crystal glasses that haven't seen the light of day in oh....5 or more years! D and M were beside themselves waiting and waiting for the big day. We cleaned house all through the week and got beds ready for our overnight visitors. I probably let them stay up too late, but it was a special week and I'm pretty lenient like that.

I promised D and M we could make cookies and use these cute fall cookie cutters. I ended up completely wasting 2 pounds of butter trying to make shortbread. I'm scared to ever try that again. Even Micah wouldn't eat whatever it was that came out of the oven. He thinks I put too much butter in the mix. He's probably right...but that's what the recipe called for! So on Wednesday we had cookie making attempt number two and it was definitely a success. The sugar cookie recipe I used turned out fantastic and I highly recommend it for Christmas cookie cut-outs. It is so good and got rave reviews. Check it out here. The cookies were supposed to be dipped in almond bark, but I let it burn while I was doing something else and not paying attention. Oh well--these cookies were so good, it didn't really matter.

Dori ironed a couple of the *good* napkins before she got scared of the steam coming out of the iron. I gave her and also Micah the job of setting the plates and silverware out. They also wanted name cards for everybody at the table, so I let them make some. They really crack me up:

Big turkey and little turkey.

Angry pilgrim shooting turkey.

Two turkey with long legs.

This was the finished table. They had so much fun making everything so nice! It's a lot of work to wash and care for all the "good stuff," but really makes it extra special sometimes.

So the turkey was stressing me out a wee bit. Everything hinges on the turkey. If the turkey isn't done yet, then dinner must wait. It the turkey is overdone, well, no one is happy. As I said in an earlier post, I completely screwed up the first turkey I ever cooked--using a "no fail" recipe, no less. I failed big time and I've been a bit gun shy ever since that experience. But this year I searched for THE perfect easy turkey recipe, and I'm happy to report that it seemed to work! Here's what you do:

as fast as you possibly can, yank out the neck and inside parts that are for some reason saved and stuffed back into the turkey. This is the hardest part of the whole cooking a turkey experience, in my opinion. I seriously close my eyes, reach in, and throw it in the garbage with the quickness. Gross!

after you have braved the giblets , you rinse the bird and dry with a paper towel thoroughly. Place whole carrots, onions, celery sticks, etc. on the bottom of your roasting pan and then place the bird on top of that. Rub softened butter all over and up under the skin if you can. Salt and pepper it (I used lemon pepper seasoning), and make an aluminum foil tent over it.

I put it in the oven on 250 at about midnight Wednesday night and cranked it up to 325 at about 8 the next morning. The key (I'm told) to having it juicy is in the basting. I faithfully basted the turkey every 30 minutes until it was done and removed the foil during the last hour. It turned out pretty good and now I'm feeling better about my turkey cooking skills. Here's a pic:

This next picture is what happens when Jason and Micah are playing football in the house. Plants get knocked over and we all experience some dyson love, lol. Jason took care of the huge dirt pile, and then once he had sufficiently cleaned it up.....knocked it over again and had to do it all over. My brother laughed so hard at this he made Dori grab the camera and take a shot of cleanup in action!
I hate to close on that note, but it is getting late and like I mentioned at the brain is just not up to par right now!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Operation Christmas Child and random pics

If you look real close on the front row in purple is Dori. The kids put on a special music presentation all about Operation Christmas child. It was so cute!

And if you look real close on the second row in a gray shirt is Micah.

Uncle Noah getting some Judson lovin.

Noah, Judson, and Kelsey

This is not a great picture, b/c I took it through the glass. But this is our new dog, Ed. He is such a good dog. A little excited right now, but very good.

"....and do not hinder them from coming to Me...."

Something really amazing happened yesterday at church. Something that will forever change the way I view young children and their relationship (or lack thereof) with God. I have always believed and known that children can have a walk with God, but until I experienced that personally, witnessing my own children trust in Jesus, that reality seemed somewhat distant.

Dori and Micah have both professed faith in Christ and both regularly acknowledge God speaking to them, whether through something they learn in Sunday School, reading or having the Bible read to them, or some other way. It is absolutely wonderful and fascinating to watch your own children "get" Biblical concepts or insights....many times deep things that even adults will miss (myself included).

So it shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did yesterday, when I glanced down from my perch on stage behind the keyboard to see my son Micah (6) walking forward in front of 1100 people and make his way to the steps to pray to God. This was during the response time, at the end of the pastor's message when folks who need or want to will come forward to a waiting minister, and to be dealt with by God. There is nothing magical about this time and people certainly don't need an invitation per se to respond to God. But it is a helpful tool to aid those who need spiritual help and may not know "what's next."

Back to Micah. So sometimes, people will kneel at the front steps of the stage to pray for a time while others are speaking/praying with ministers. But to see my 6 year old son go down front and spend time with God It was hard to hold back the tears that were almost overflowing. We haven't ever even really mentioned "the alter" or talked about what people are doing there. In fact, I'm sure we haven't. Micah told me later it was "something he felt like he needed to do." I won't disclose what he told me he prayed about, but it was something very real that we have been facing in our family and something that brought me to my own knees when he told me.

In typical Micah fashion, as soon as he returned to his seat, he high-fived Dori! According to Dori, she noticed Micah looking like he wanted to go down front and pray and so she leaned over and whispered "you can go if you want....."

Jason and I have almost *always* been busy during church services and for the most part the children have had to fend for themselves. When J was pastoring, he was of course preaching. I am usually behind a piano or keyboard. So it is especially sweet that my children are helping each other grow closer to God and be sensitive to the moving of His Spirit. I pray this never ceases and only grow stronger.

This verse comes to mind from Matthew 19: "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Emphasis mine.

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Pics

Micah hauls wood on Tuesdays and Saturdays for the wood stove. Surprisingly, he *loves* doing this. He is a hands on type of guy.

I looked over the other day at saw Micah sprawled out across the kitchen counter. James joined in the photo.

Go Red Sox---I mean, here's J and Judson having a moment.

New Pics

Dori studying her Bible

Doing some school work....

All my boys

Judson "Judder Bug" Hardage. Eating his apple.

14 months

Another week done....

Christmas is coming up--faster and quicker than I will ever be ready for, but coming nonetheless. Yesterday we got catalogs in the mail from novanatural and Rosie Hippo. These are high quality, mostly wooden and handmade toy companies. I try really hard to do most of our Christmas shopping from these types of companies because I find the quality far superior to the plastic cheap stuff at the big box stores. Ever since the lead scare and toy recalls of 07, many people have turned to more natural types of toys as opposed to cheaply manufactered plastic stuff. Wooden toys can be fixed when broken, too. They are expensive, though, and since we don't roll in the dough, lol, I painstakingly, along with the kids, determine what we can afford and what will get the most playtime. It is both fun and draining!

It is always fun for the kids to go through the catalogs and "wish" for what might come at Christmas time. I confess I love to look through all the beautiful toys myself! Last night I let Dori and Micah stay up late and cuddle in bed with me while we paged through both catalogs and talked about how excited we were for Christmas.

The kids had a whole system of identifying how much they like a certain toy. A "D" by a toy meant Dori liked it and an "M", Micah. Then there were stars indicating exactly how much they liked the toy--10 being top toy. The 10 star mark was reserved for one toy each. Oh, and they also marked toys they thought James and Judson would like, too!

Anyway, we had a good time staying awake and talking and cuddling. I love my life and I love my kids so much. I'm so thankful for each of them. What could be better than cuddling with your younguns and sharing in there joy?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Election Stuff

The other day I was driving home from the store and I saw a neon pink sign next to all the other political signs that said, "Elect Jesus Lord Tuesday. Vote for Jesus." Hmmmm

I'm sure the people who posted this sign are very dear, well-meaning folks, but for the life of me I do not understand what they are trying to accomplish. I wasn't aware Jesus was on the ballot. Are they equating voting McCain to voting the way Jesus would? Perhaps they were trying to say that somehow "choosing" Jesus is more important than any election? Further, what would this mean to an unbelieving person? Does this sign give any explanation as to how one can "vote for Jesus?" Is the message to believers primarily or unbelievers? Can we really "elect" Jesus to do or be something anyway?

It's perplexing. As a believer in Christ, I can give these folks the benefit of a doubt and probably come to some sort of understanding in their message. But to a world of unbelievers, this sign sends a confused and inarticulate message.

Let me clear it up: The Sovereign King of the Universe is Lord over all, whether you "elect" him or not. 'Nuff said.
James. I just discovered that my camera has the B/W feature. I cannot believe I never knew this until now! I love black and white shots. James is taking a rest and apparently telling me to be quiet.

This is a shot of me being defeated by James and Judson. They were dogpiling me on the couch.

Judson 14 months

I'm back....I think

I've been in a blogger coma since August. It's not that I didn't have things to write or even time. I don't really know how to describe why I haven't been blogging. I think that the sheer amount of upheaval in our lives (packing and moving back to MS; unpacking and trying to settle in here; getting adjusted to new places and new people, etc. etc.) led me to just function over the last few months. You know laundry, feeding of children, cleaning, day to day stuff. And nothing more.
I was dealing with a tremendous amount of raw emotion, too. <----this equals my summary of the last few months. There. I've written about we can move on to the present.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I am super excited that my brother, Jason, along with Mom and Tom are coming to our house to spend a holiday together. Thanksgivings were always a little tough while we lived in the northeast. Mainly b/c you don't have the awesome distraction of squealing, happy children opening presents to take up the void of missing family. However, past Tday celebrations have been unique in that we've been invited to share in other families festivities. It's neat to see how each family has it's own traditions and warmth.

This brings to mind Turkey Day Gino F.'s house. Gino worked with Jason at FedEx and we became fast friends with him and with his wife, Emily. Gino's folks are off the boat from Italy and totally loved having people come over for "festivities."

Let's see...the first course started around 1pm and the last course wrapped up well after 11pm! Interesting things about this family's traditions: Each course was served on *very* nice fine china that was hand-washed between courses. Yes, hand-washed! The women washed in the kitchen while the men gathered in the living room discussing politics, God, and family. Oh, and between each course some form of alcohol was served. I see why Italians are known for being so warm and loving, lol.

At some point in the late afternoon, everyone took a walk to try and burn off some of the calories and fat we consumed. Or maybe it was just to try and settle all that food, I don't know. By the end of the night, we were part of Gino's awesome family and they were ready for us to spend the night and start again the next day! Family is big with Italians....maybe *the* most important characteristic. It was clear through all the eating and talking and laughing that children were welcome and loved and each member of the family was a cherished and important part. We had a great time with the Forgionni's and will never forget that Thanksgiving.

I haven't had the pleasure of cooking a full Tday meal since 1999, when Jason and I had only been married for 3 weeks! Yeah...that turkey was raw on the inside and I cooked every. single. possible. dish I could think of that my own mother had cooked growing up. Did I mention it was just the two of us that Thanksgiving? :) Jason dutifully ate the outer rim of the turkey....and parts of the 20 dishes I served and never once complained about any of it. That's the type of man I married.

Let's hope this year I get the turkey right and take from the Forgionni's warmth to have a memorable and warm family celebration--there is certainly much thanksgiving to offer to our God.