If you've followed the weather recently, you would know that the east coast was pounded by a snow storm the weekend before Christmas. It was actually a pretty great event for us. We had nowhere to be that weekend. Brian even had the weekend off of work. We stayed home and played and spent time together! Church was even cancelled. It was a great snowfall, in my opinion. It ended up being close to 24 inches of snow! It was the nice fluffy kind, with no ice. That's the best kind, I think! We spent the weekend playing in the snow (snow angels, sledding,etc.), having hot chocolate, playing Wii, watching Christmas movies, playing Mad Gab and Apples to Apples, making cookies, sleeping, etc....
We also let the girls open a couple of presents....
You didn't think you'd hear from me again so soon, did ya!? Well, here I am. I was reading all my friends' blogs and everyone had their Halloween pictures up so I thought I better put mine up!
With Halloween on Saturday this year, all the school celebrations were on Friday, which, as some of you know, was my birthday. So after being surprised with 2 big breakfasts from oldest daughter and hubby (they did not communicate about doing breakfast for me), the rest of the day was dedicated to Halloween stuff. I made pumpkin bread and pumpkin cookies for the girls' class parties at school. At around1:30 Ally, who dressed up as Dora the Explorer, and I went to the school to watch a parade around the outside of the school. Always a fun thing to watch. There are some very creative costumes. The teachers always have a theme they work with. This year they were hippies, thanks to some new school merchandise (ie. tie-dyed shirts with the school logo). Anyway, that's not really relevant.....
Courtney wanted to originally be the wicked witch from Wicked/Wizard of Oz. But I didn't have time, money, or know-how to get/make that. We found a black/purple striped witches hat that's I'd bought for $1 last year and she decided to be a black/purple witch. We found a black/purple dress for $5 and a friend of our's had black/purple striped stockings. It was perfect and she looked nice.
Jessica went for my idea for her to be something made out of a box. There are lots of things you can do with a box. We came up with an ipod. She loves to listen to my ipod nano, so that was appropriate for her. She decided to make it a green one, because she had an "Apple camp" tshirt she had received from attending a computer class at the Apple store this summer. She could wear that underneath since we were leaving the back open. It had the Apple logo on it. Then she wanted to spray paint her hair green.
Ally would change her mind every day, sometimes twice a day, about what she wanted to be. Sometimes it was a princess, sometimes a monster, sometimes Dora...etc.... We finally settled on Dora since we had a costume that Jessica had worn when she was 3. She didn't wear the wig on Halloween night, but I did manage to get a couple of pictures of her in it at the school before she pulled it off.
I usually get a bunch of nice pictures of the kids before they go out, but we never got our act together to do that.....too much to do!
Something cool happened for my birthday later in the day. My dad came to visit. He had been working in Pittsburgh for the week and made arrangements to get over to Philly and visit for the weekend. Such a nice birthday present! We didn't do anything too exciting while he was here, but it was so super nice to have him here! Thanks, dad, for coming!!!
We attended our new ward's halloween party on friday night with my dad. We got there late, and had some chili and had the kids play games. It was weird because we didn't know very many people. Just a couple of families were there from our original ward. I did meet a couple of people, but it was weird to be at a new ward's activity.
On Saturday, Brian took my dad to go get a Philly cheesesteak and then Brian went to a Pearl Jam Concert in the afternoon/evening while we went with my dad to crash the new Broomall ward's (with part of our old ward) Halloween party. They also had chili and games plus they had trick-or-treating. It was a completely different feeling. I still didn't know everyone, because of all the people from the other ward, but it felt much more comfortable. I realized that this might be a harder move than I thought. I was trying to have a good attitude about switching wards but it is sad to not be seeing the same people each week that I've seen for the last 4 years. Especially since I did not actually move. I'm used to that....moving and going to a new ward, but knowing that all my friends are still in the general vicinity...that's different and a harder.
Anyway, enough about that.... We came home and made a quick dinner of frito salad and then got ready to go trick-or-treating. We have a tradition of going with the Murphy's and this year was no different except we didn't get going until 6:40 and they had to start without us. We met up with them eventually, but then it started raining. Not good for a cardboard ipod costume painted with washable paint....we only lasted about 40 minutes.
Courtney wasn't so much into the candy this year and only hit about 10 houses. She was ready to go home before the rest of us.
The Great Pumpkin came that night. He takes most of the candy away and replaces it with something more lasting and less tooth-decaying....this time it was a movie and stuffed animals. They get to keep about 20 pieces and have to give up the rest. Courtney actually only kept 15...just the KitKats and Smarties.
We had a nice Halloween weekend. And a nice visit with Grandpa!
Here are some fall pictures....I love this time of year here. I don't get the fantastic shots I want to of the trees, but hopefully you can get an idea of how pretty it is here.
I know, I know! The last post said that I would try to catch up and I promised a more detail posting. Sorry! I don't know what happened. I do know that very recently my computer has been acting up so I haven't liked to try to do anything extensive on it. But now I am "allowed" to use Brian's computer as my own now....previously not allowed full access to it, in the sense that I couldn't put my pictures and music on it or download anything. Don't ask.... :) But he saw how frustrating the other computer was getting and broke down and realized there is no real harm in me using "his" computer. It's faster and newer and so far, better....for now. It is still a PC so we'll see....
Anyway, enough about that....
The latest, biggest news in our lives is that we went through a drastic ward boundaries realignment last Sunday, with only 4 days notice that we were even having a special sacrament meeting with 4 other congregations. Most people speculated that a few families from the northern and southern areas would get divided out, to balance out the other surrounding congregations. Here's what they did....
They released our Bishopric and everyone in the ward from all of their callings. Then they read the new boundaries. They read the changes by school districts. They basically eliminated our ward (the largest) and divided us up into the 4 other congregations, putting the school district we are in, in a ward that meets in the city! A not-so-great part of town....with a gate around it and, I believe, bars on the windows.
No one is happy about it...Some are deciding to jump right in, but are still not thrilled about it. It really was a ward family for many many people. I was sad and bummed, and I've only been here for 4 years. Some have lived in that ward their entire lives. I can't imagine how hard it is for them. What many were upset about is that there was no notice, no chance to say farewell, have a final party....I guess that's how it usually works, but changes like this are not very common here....it's been 10 years since they rearranged the boundaries. None of Courtney's and Jessica's friends are moving with us to the city so that's hard for them....Well, one girl from Acheivement days but she will be turning 12 in Dec and thus going to YW.
They also cancelled Halloween parties, Acheivement Days for the week, and postponed the primary program which was only 3 weeks away. They gave permission to do that in January. I was bummed about the timing since I was the primary pianist, something I have always wanted to do. And so to be released like that was disappointing.
So our first time in the city is this week and we shall see how it goes.....we know NOTHING about that ward. No one going with us seems to know anything either. Our new bishop is actually someone who just got put in from our ward, so that's good. Or is it bad? How soon before we get callings???? :) JK. I'm ready for it!
Everything else is the same. Brian works and works and works and works. The kids are in school---5th and 3rd grades. Jessica is playing piano, Courtney playing flute. Ally entertains by singing and dancing and acting! I am busy helping with school stuff. Not doing Girl Scouts, really this year, except helping occasionally in Jessica's troop.
As I look back at some of our pictures, I realize we've got a lot to catch up on....I'll try to do it briefly..
Courtney and Brian took a trip to NY to celebrate Courtney's 10th birthday! I can't believe we have a 10 year old!!!!! Double digits....She has wanted to see "Wicked" for the longest time and so Brian took her on a Wednesday to go try to get in to see it. We told her they would try but that the chances that they could get discount tickets were very slim. She was just excited to go to NY with her dad!
They got there and put their names in a lottery to buy tickets for the matinee. When Brian called and told me, I thought "you're crazy. If you get picked, there's no way we can afford to buy those tickets." He said he had to do it anyway and see if he got them. He'd figure something out. ahhhhh...stressed me out. Tickets can be in the $200 range!!! I hung up with him, and called my friend who told me that the lottery is to be able to purchase tickets for about $25 each! And good seats, too! A few minutes later, Brian called back and said he had been one of 4 people picked. I was so happy for them! And even happier that it was only going to cost $50 total for both of them to see it. Know where the seats were? (Well, you do if you've heard this story already) Front and center, right behind the orchestra pit! Courtney could look down into the pit by the conductor! She was on cloud 9!!! It could not have been a more perfect birthday gift! It really went well! (Picture to come later when I can track it down.)
After the show, Brian took her to the American Girl store because she had gotten a lot of birthday money and wanted to buy herself a doll. She had 2 dolls already, but there was something cool for her about buying her own doll (almost $100, I might add).
And aside from her leaving her purse on a train (complete with a small AG doll she had bought earlier in the week, 2 pool passes, and a few other things that were disappointing to lose), the trip was a BLAST for her. I only wish I could have gone and shared that with her. But it was special because it was a daddy-daughter thing she will NEVER forget.
We were able to meet our "new" family, Brian's birth father and everyone else, at a lake house owned by Brian's aunt. Only Brian didn't get to go, he had to work. But the girls and I went. It was the first weekend after school got out, so it was a nice way to kick off the summer. We went out on their boat, where the girls got to do some tubing, jetskiing and cliff jumping. It was such a nice weekend and we really felt included and like part of the family, even though we've only known them for a short time. Those who were there were...Brian's birth father and his wife, Brian's 2 half brothers and their wives and children (one each), Brian's Aunt, Uncle, and 2 cousins. It was pretty cool to be part of their family. We hope to do many other things with them in the future and hopefully Brian will be able to join us sometimes!
We met some friends down at the beach in Ocean City, NJ. Their family has a beach house a few blocks away and it was nice to spend the day with them. It wasn't the best weather, a bit overcast and chilly, but the kids didn't let that keep them out of the water. Ally was a little nervous about the waves but the other girls totally went for it with boogie boards and shell searches!
We took the opportunity, on one of Brian's rare days off, to go to the NJ aquarium. We can get a nice picture of the city of Philadelphia from the aquarium, so we did that. We loved seeing sharks, stingrays, exotic fish, dolphins, etc.
During the summer we found out that Lowe's Home Improvement store does free kids' workshops twice a month. So we've started going. Sometimes we know what they are doing, sometimes we just go The girls seem to enjoy it and we've been lucky that Brian has gotten to go almost every time. I think he's only missed 1.
Here are more from the beach. I was too tired to put them in the right order on the blog, so I just left them here....
It was so very beautiful and relaxing!!
Uncle Bob letting Ally drive the boat. Everyone was so nice and kind to the kids and very helpful, since I was a single mom that day. They just really did a good job of "taking care of us" and making us have a comfortable and fun visit.
On the boat before going out. Courtney is still trying to get her life jacket on.
I'm not done updating, but I'm tired and I want to get this published tonight, so I hope you enjoy this new stuff!
I am aware that I have not posted in a LONG time....I've been lazy. But some of my faithful followers have informed me that it's definitely time to update, as they are "bored" with my blog! :) I think they might be bored even if I update. Not much to report. But thanks for the reminder! I will try to update tomorrow. I have a primary lesson to plan today and a house to clean. Tomorrow should be more calm, I think.
Until then, here are a few pictures to tide you over till I can update!
Today is Jessica's birthday! She is 8 years old and so we celebrated by having her baptized today! It was a very special day! Everything went so smoothly and well. IT was a bit of a miracle, really!
Jessica is a very sweet, sensitive and caring person. She has the spirit of a peacemaker. She has a strong desire to do what is right, even when it's hard. The last couple of weeks, as we have focused on her upcoming baptism, the mood in our home changed a bit. Not a day goes by where someone gets irritated with someone else and gets a bit heated. some days are slightly less than others, but at least once a day, we usually have some sort of drama. I mean, 3 girls? How does that NOT happen?? Anyway, lately, as Jessica has prepared herself mentally and spiritually for her baptism, and as we focused more on that event as a family, I definitely saw a change. When I mentioned it to Jess one night, and complimented her on her obvious change, she said she she was starting to feel different and that she thought it was because of the Holy Ghost. That brought tears to my eyes, as I rejoiced in the fact that my sweet little Jessica could recognize that. Even before she was baptized. This morning she wanted to open presents first thing in the morning. Since we knew it would be a busy day, we agreed. She opened a bunch of presents that included, but weren't limited to, Jonas Brothers items, including tickets to a summer concert, an MP3 player, and various books and other items. She was thrilled with her gifts. We ate french toast, on which we placed 4 candles, that represented 2 years each (I had run out of candles, so we made it work.)
The girls played with a couple of things that Jessica got for about 30 minutes and then we proceeded to get everyone showered and ready for the baptism. We even had time for little photo shoot outside before leaving. My mom mad this beautiful white dress for Jessica! Another miracle that, even thought Jess wasn't there to be fitted to it, the dress fit her perfectly!!! Thanks mom, for all your hard work on it! It really is a perfect dress!
We had to go early to turn on the font and set up chairs and everything. So for a 2:30 baptism, we thought we'd get there about 11:30 and set up and then get to watch the first session of conference. Well, even though the morning was very smooth and relaxed, when 11:00 hit, I was NOT quite ready and then felt we had to rush. We didn't get out of the house till about 11:20. We still planned to feed kids on the way there, but felt we were running out of time to stop anywhere. It takes 2 1/2-3 hours to fill the font, so getting there early was crucial.
We decided to drop Brian off at the church, so he could do the font and start setting up and I would go with the kids to get something to eat and bring it back. He also needed to look for something to wear. Silly me, I picked a white jumpsuit out last week for Jessica, brought it home, washed it, she tried it on, etc. Didnt' even think about doing the same for Brian! OOPS! anyway, that was one of the reasons to get there early.
Turns out, we didn't get to watch any of conference, although we listened to the last 30 minutes of it.
The baptism was so nice. Many people from our ward came. We even had 2 of our on-member school friends and families (or parts of them) come, which we were thrilled about! Jessica's missionary spirit was jumping for joy with that! Many people helped make this a successful day...Katie Fewkes, Joylyn Brown, Amy Jorgensen, Troy Janes, Bishop Scott Stallings, Rita Ebeling, Nichole Neat, Courtney, Brian, Jessica, etc., all had a part in the program. And many others helped by assisting in the ordinances, helping with food, and others. If you are any of these people, and you are reading this...our heartfelt gratitude goes out to you for your love and service to our family!! I gave the talk on baptism and I was a mess. I actually hadn't prepared as well as I would have liked to...I got swamped with other aspects of the baptism and other aspects of my life. I wish I had made that the priority. And the fact that I was a bit emotional about the events of the day, didn't help me get through the talk without crying every 2 minutes. Oy, vey!
Courtney and I played a piano/flute duet and Jessica played a piano solo. We all did a very fine job, if I do say so myself.
We wish those of you who weren't there could have been there, but we felt your thoughts and prayers were with us.
Jessica looked beautiful and really enjoyed her day. It was a sweet day, filled with happy feelings, good friends, good weather for picture taking, and yummy refreshments. Unfortunately Jessica started feeling sick in the early evening and 30 minutes after going to sleep, she woke up and vomitted! What a way to end your birthday! At least it didn't ruin her happy day!
We are grateful to have Jessica in our family and want to wish her a very special day today! We love you Jessica!