Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ho, Ho....NO WAY!!

A few weeks ago, the kids and I headed to Kolachi's doggie daycare to visit Santa.  As soon as we entered the facility, I knew it had been a mistake.  The odor of cleaning supplies and dog hair (while completely appropriate for a pet boarding facility) did nothing to put us in the Holiday spirit.  Then we turned the corner and saw a makeshift backdrop, small sleigh and friendly, if somewhat not 'authentic' Santa.  Justin balked at the door to the room, and I didn't push it.
Alex valiantly climbed up next to Santa and Kolachi to take a photo and stalwartly got through the ordeal.  I think I'll crop her out of the framed one-- she just looks too uncomfortable.
As we left, I assured the kids that this was NOT the real Santa (they've already decided, based on our family photos and experiences from years past, that the Professor Bellows Mall of America Santa is the REAL one).  We have an appointment to see him later this month, but it was nice to have a photo of Kolachi with Santa nonetheless
Sigh.    Here's the cute version:
 Next year we'll see if we can bring Kolachi on 'pet night' to the Mall of America.  To see the REAL Santa.

Friday, November 29, 2013

S.V. Jones

One of the most fascinating stories from the Jones annals is the story of the life of S.V. Jones- this would be Justin and Alex's Great-Great-Great GranPapa.

 He was the topographer on the second expedition of the Colorado River (1871-1872) under John Wesley Powell.  The Jones family has lent some artifacts to museum exhibitions in the past, but they were brought to our Thanksgiving this year in order to share them with family members who had not gotten a chance to see them yet.
 His cartography tools-
As part of a display, quotes from his diary - this one resonated with me after my Everest Base Camp adventure.  Only I had 14 DAY old clothes-- not 18 MONTH old ones!
Some of his notes/drawings in a leather-bound sketchbook-  What a treasure!
 His well-used wooden lap desk with glass inkwell-- inside are the keys to the desk.
 His leather folio--

 A fascinating part of Jones family history-- I am so glad I got to see and photograph these special pieces!  If there are any Jones who missed Jeanne's talk, Dave has it on video, so email me and I can get it to you--

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

We have so much to be thankful for-- our health, our wonderful family and friends, all the blessings that God has given us.  Today was a lovely celebration of all of those things-
Our kids woke up BRIGHT and early- (4:45am), we managed to keep them somewhat contained until around 6- when GranMama came out and was ready to play.

 Soon afterwards, the other children began emerging from their rooms.  Alex made fast friends with her two second? cousins.  She was comfortable with them from the start and they ran, played and explored brilliantly! 

 The kids were in charge of decorating the 'placemats' for the tables while they waited for the adults to finish preparing the feast.  Justin was expressing his displeasure that the leaves on the table were covered with contact paper-- he couldn't do an adequate leaf rubbing with "all that wrapping in the way"!

 GranPapa led us in a reflection and prayer before we began our meal. 

After the meal, Miss Sarah offered a 'paint party' for kids and adults interested in doing an acrylic painting.  My kids jumped at the chance to paint, and had a fantastic time!
 You can see Alex's canvas- the outcome was a painting of an ornament.
Justin had fun with the process.
 He quit early to go play with GranMama, though-- Alex stuck with it a bit longer! :-)

The entire group!  Such a wonderful Thanksgiving with a warm and welcoming family.  Thank you so much, everyone, for a beautiful celebration.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Eve Lefse-Making

GranPapa's family always celebrates Thanksgiving in a fantastic way-- they reserve the retreat center at the Lake Shetek Bible Camp (ELCA).  Everyone gets their own rooms and bathrooms (some really LUCKY people get the bunkbed rooms :-) , and we share fellowship and food in the beautiful main rooms, kitchens and library.  This year Alex, Justin, Dave and I headed there on Wed evening (Thanksgiving eve?).  We arrived and had the choice of rooms-- each one is decorated differently (there's a farm room, lighthouse room, cabin room, etc.)  The kids ran down the hallway to the bunkbed room and snatched it up!
Thanksgiving eve with the Jones/Johnson family is always about Lefse.  This family has group lefse making down to an art!
Alex watched, transfixed by the thin pieces magically browining on the griddle.  Maybe next year I'll research a gf lefse recipe so we can use GranMama's griddle and make some of our own to try!

GranMama brought Justin a can full of dominos to play with.  Despite what his face says in this photo, he was excited about it.  He just was NOT excited about a photo ;-P

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Studio Day

We needed a 'recharge' day after all of our visitors.  The kids and I retired to the studio and spent the morning painting, drawing and creating.  It was so fun to break out the double-sided easel for both of my artists to use! 
Alex really got into a new medium this morning-- chalk pastels~!  Who knew that keeping my old college art supplies would someday pay off :-)
 Justin still favors paint.  It's his activity of choice whenever he is presented with a variety of stations at his 'school'.  He was really excited to get to do it all 'himself in my house'.
 We finished our morning by starting to make 'rocks' for Justin's construction birthday party coming up in a few weeks.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Merry Early Christmas!

Just like Christmas morning, the kids were up at 5am, waiting impatiently to open their Christmas gifts from Gramps and Grams.  Let's just say neither was disappointed to have waited so long and hard!

Justin is in his own personal heaven.

 Alex was a bit confused when she unwrapped a purple basket, but excited to discover it was the first step in a house-wide treasure hunt for the second part of the present.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Happy Early Birthday, Justin!

Well, Grandma Mary and Papa Bob returned to Arizona last weekend, but we had something else to look forward to.  Another early Christmas celebration with Grams and Gramps.  They arrived bearing both birthday (Justin) and Christmas (everyone) presents, so we had to make a plan.
We decided Justin's early birthday was Thursday, early Christmas was Friday and the rest of the weekend could be playtime!
We had a feast with a lot of Justin's favorite foods--  california rolls, potato salad, chicken and gf chocolate cake!  Justin got to open his present- and he was VERY excited to discover he was the proud new owner/operator of a front-end loader.
Kolachi received HER Christmas present (who are we kidding-- this was MY present) a day early, since the weather was so nice.  A puppy agility kit, which is a lot of fun.  Paired with the jump and tunnel we already had, we could construct a full course in the backyard (which I'm sure the neighbors loved seeing).

Monday, November 11, 2013

Operation Shoebox

Every year, the kids and I look forward to packing a few shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.   If you haven't heard of it, it is a wonderful program that brings the joy of Christmas to children around the world who have literally never received a gift.  We pack the shoebox (in our case, plastic shoeboxes that the kids can reuse to carry water and/or wash clothing) with essentials (toothpaste, toothbrush, washcloth, soap), some toys (cars, crayons, balls, dolls), something specific (a shirt, hat, sweater, etc) and a whole lot of prayer.  We believe that God directs each box exactly to the child that needs it-- so if you put a pair of (for example, size 11 shoes) in a box, they will go to a little girl who needs that size shoe.  The testimonials on the website are pretty amazing!
This year was very special.  Instead of buying everything new, my children picked some of their (barely used) toys to donate as well.  It is very important to me that both kids realize how blessed their lives are, and understand that it is our responsibility to pass on our blessings to those less fortunate.
 We also went to Target to pick out some special 'new' items as well.  Justin insisted that the little boy who gets his box would LOVE Thomas toothpaste!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Practice Holiday Tea

Every Christmas Eve, Alex hosts a Holiday Tea for the family that we are celebrating with.  We've had them in Minnesota and Arizona.  Since we're staying at home for Christmas this year, our Arizona family didn't want to miss out, so Alex threw a 'practice' Holiday Tea for everyone this weekend.

 Popcorn (have I shared our wonderful, kid-friendly popcorn recipe yet?  Put 1/4 cup popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch sack.  Optional- add a little oil (we don't).  Place in microwave and pop until it's done.  Add salt and enjoy!  Easy and 'clean' real food-- yummy, too!)
We also enjoyed some gf chocolate chip cookies, pistachios and we all split a bag of fruit gummies.  You can tell that Alex was completely in charge of the menu! :-)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pajama Time!

Since we are not all going to be together for Christmas this year, Grandma Mary brought one Christmas tradition to us (she and Papa Bob are visiting from AZ for the weekend).  New pajamas!  She went above and beyond this year, though-- while some of the pajamas were off the rack, the kid's version (and the men's pants) were handmade!  She is so clever-- buying xxl pj's and using the fabric to make pint-size versions!  At the risk of embarrassing everyone in this photo, I just had to share it.  It's one of the goofy things that makes our family so much fun-

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Animal Crackers

Wednesdays are the day that Justin and I have no where to be, nothing on the agenda while Alex is in school.  Today he wanted to bake, and we found a GF Animal Cracker recipe to give a whirl.  (We don't have actual little animal cracker cookie cutters, but our wide variety of normal sized cutters worked just as well!)
I am so enjoying the little person that Justin is becoming.  He is kind, patient (for the most part), a good listener and pretty darn funny.  He's perhaps a bit on the 'fussy' side when it comes to having his hands dirty, but perhaps he'll grow out of that ;-)  Also.... he prefers not to have full-length pants.  Ahem.

Sister got to enjoy the fruits of our labor when she arrived home from school:
 Recipe verdict:  Yummy-  definitely more like a tea cookie or shortbread- not too sweet, but just crumbly enough to enjoy with a big glass of chocolate almond milk!