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Getting Ready For Christmas

We have been busy around here lately, getting geared up for Christmas and with life as usual. We went in to the school over the weekend with my hard working husband to set up some microphones. The children, one in particular were more than happy to help with the sound test. I hope she continues to be as enthusiastic once she’s old enough to be in school programs and plays.

 

 

That night we stole Ava and took her along to look at Christmas lights and a live nativity. It was supposed to be a quick trip and we’d have her back for the dinner they were attending. We looked at all the lights, they were very pretty, then drove to the beautiful little country church that was having the nativity. It’s the same one that we love to go to for their candle light, with real candles!, Christmas eve service.

We pulled in and parked. Over a little hill, down a path lit with tiny white lights was the manger scene. Sheep, cattle and horses flanked the barn where a very cold group of angles, wise men and of course Mary and Joseph stood. It was lovely. And so was the propane heater blasting as much warmth in on them that it could. Not expecting it to be a get out of the car sort of thing I hadn’t bundled the children as well as I should have, it hardly slowed them as they checked out the sheep. We don’t see very many of those. Then they petted horses. Then everybody went inside to warm up with hot chocolate and cookies!

Inside the children ate and ran and played and generally created havoc. It was so much fun, and we stayed so much longer than we meant to. Ava never did make it to her supper. We probably wont be allowed to take Ava again or be invited back to the church, but they and we loved it. It really is a great little church I think we should try to get over that way more often.

 

We got all dressed up for church and decided it was a good time to get Christmas pictures out of the way. Here’s a sneak peak as they helped get ready.

 

We were glad for all the dressing up once the service was over and it was time once again for the kids to close. We were sitting in the middle and had a pretty good view for once. So of course she went and stood in the back. If you look really close you can see her between the two girls in the front row.

 

When It’s 15 Degrees What Do You Do

Play at the park and eat green chilly stew!

Sorry that was bad. But we did do both. Everyone was complaining about the cold but when we got the pickup, car also thought it was too cold, and went to get The Goblin Child from school it was so nice out! There was no wind and the sun was shining.

After lunch we ran to the grocery store and while paying and eating their suckers they asked to please go to the park. I said no. I had plans to go home get bundled up in snow suits and really warm clothes to go play out on our swing set.ย  But it was so nice out. So we went to the park.

They were bundled with hats and gloves. I was wearing a sweatshirt. So I figures that as long as I was warm they were probably fine. It was exactly what they needed, so much pent up energy. They ran and played and climbed and chased each other. It was great but after about an hour we were all ready to get home.

 

My recipe for green chili stew:

Cook a roast in the crock pot, well covered with water and with all the trimmings, carrots, potatoes, onions whatever sounds good. Eat roast for a couple of days. When you’re tired of roast smash any remaining vegetables to a pulp, they will add healthiness and thickness. Get in there with a fork and fingers and shred the meat well. To the remaining water from cooking the roast add a couple of cans of green enchilada sauce, green salsa, roasted green peppers, a can of tomatoes and chili beans. Let cook all day serve with lots of shredded cheddar cheese and Fritos.

Where There’s Smoke

My hard working husband had gone to water the cattle. I stayed home warm, cuddled on the couch. It’s colder out today than it was yesterday, even though the temperature is higher. He called and told me to look out the window, thick, black smoke was billowing up from somewhere not too far north of us. The cousins live up that way and although we knew for a fact that they weren’t home it was still concerning. He was going to look did I want to come with?

I did desperately want to come, I inherited the ambulance chasing gene fair and square from my grandma. But apparently my mothering gene is stronger, I declined stating that I was unable to leave the sleeping children. He stayed on the phone as he drove giving me a play by play as we tried to guess where it would be.

The cousins house and the church we were married in were quickly ruled out when he reached the highway. I was hoping for the house that is sitting empty waiting to go up for sale with it’s owners moved out of state. It seemed the safest, guaranteed that no one would be home or needing a place to go.

Instead it was the camper parked in the yard across the street. We had, it seemed, just driven past it coming home from town but it must have been about an hour before. Was the fire already burning then with no sign showing yet? We had looked at it as we passed, wondering why, if you were going to live in a camper in someones yard, you would put the camper right next to the highway instead of towards the back somewhere.

On the way into town we had been talking about this miserable cold weather and how it makes fires so much worse, water lines, hoses freeze making them harder to fight. And space heaters make them so much more likely. I’ve been seeing picture after picture of burnt, melted extension cords and power strips. How does one heat a camper made for temporary summer living through below zero temps?

Flames were visible nearly from where our road meets the highway. When he got to the fire there was nothing left of the camper but the frame barely visible through the fire. A handful of cars were parked along the road watching and calling it in. As he stopped a friend who is a sheriffs deputy pulled up. He said the siren in town hadn’t gone off calling the volunteers in to man the fire trucks. 911 had called him personally, he was working today. He and my husband began calling people on the fire department.

But the camper was already burnt. A fire truck and water was only going to protect the yard and do some clean up. As they stood there calling frantically, and only then, someone ran out of the house. They had only just noticed the fire. We can only hope and assume no one was inside, surly they would have done more than run back into the house if there had been.

With nothing he could do but watch and assured that it wasn’t the cousins house my husband returned home. The only thing we can take from this, two things really, is to be very careful with space heaters and any electric outlet really. Never plug a space heater into and extension cord of any kind! And shut things off when you leave home, or go to sleep. How much worse to be home sound asleep.

And love, but worry a little, about your small town volunteer fire department. The siren never went off. As the camper crumpled into ashes there was still no one even headed to the station. One would think in this age of cell phones that there would be an automatic call that would go out. Apparently there is something like that set up but word never got to the person who has to start it. Not sure why the 911 dispatcher wouldn’t be the one to send out the call? But they will get there and those guys will get out in the freezing temperatures and do everything they can to help. They are awesome, once they get there.

 

Cold Weather Activities

 

A, Snow, Day At The Park

It was so cute, 8 kept getting snow flakes on his eye lashes. He would blink lots and look up at the sky, which of course got more snow flakes on his eye lashes, then he looked at me in wonder and smiled.

It was the last warm day before we drop below freezing and stay there. While it was still warm and sunny this morning I decided we were going to the park after lunch. By lunch time the snow flurries had changed into outright snow fall. I didn’t see any reason to let a little thing like that ruin our plans.

The kids were bundled up warm in their coats and gloves. Their jeans soaked through quickly and 8 only had thin knit gloves. I was worried they’d be cold but they were running so hard they didn’t seem to notice. The slides were coated in snow and ice. 8 was the first to go down and flew off the end of the slide to land on his butt many feet away. He looked a little stunned but it must not have been too bad, he was up and at it again in no time.

They played while I tried to take pictures without ruining my phone until I decided 8’s hands must be getting too cold caked with snow as they were. We stripped off wet clothes in the car and covered up with their car blankets. Once home they cuddled and played together in front of the fire. Today, if no other time ๐Ÿ˜‰ , they are entirely to adorable.

 

 

Christmas Light Parade

We made a rare night time trip to Chadron for the parade of lights. We were reminded why when we nearly hit a deer on the way in, but at least it wasn’t an elk. We had a quick supper in town, leaving in a hurry when a friend we ran into pointed out it was time for the parade to start.

Parking in an open spot on the highway we hurried across the street to find a spot to watch from. Before we made it far we ran into some paupers on the street corner selling chestnuts roasted on an open fire. They were dressed beautifully in period clothing with coals glowing warmly in a barrel. Handing out the toasty nuts in a cone ofย  news paper they allowed everyone a taste of this rare fashioned treat. They were… different, kind of mushy with some hard spots. I liked them though and they felt so good holding the warm newspaper in my chilled hand.

We meant to walk farther but the parade was there already so we sat on the corner and watched. It was good. We were surprised at the candy thrown out, discussing it on the way in we had decided there probably wouldn’t be any. In typical small town fashion there was abundant supply of tractors, more exciting than the lights for all small, and large, boys watching. I was sad not to see any horses. I said we would bring Coyote and Onna next year, cover them in battery powered lights, my husband not as positive as me that they are perfect in every way my husband has some doubts. It was a great little parade, as good as the trunk or treat.

 

 

 

 

 

Late November

It’s cold outside, finally, the wind is howling and it snowed a, very, little bit this morning. It feels like I never post here anymore, although looking at it I seem to get to it fairly regularly. I still think I should say something so…

The Goblin Child seems to be enjoying school. She’s so fun to dress and so hard to get pictures of. But just when I star to feel like all my pictures are of 8, and she’s so neglected I come up with all pictures of her and none of him so I guess it must be pretty even. 8 is, um, happy I guess staying home. He’s been sick for the last week at least. We all have been sharing a nasty little virus, lots of coughing and drippy noses. He slept the last two nights in a row all the way through!! It had been a while, for a good month now he was up almost hourly all night. It got a little old.

We’ve been busy having fun with Rusty. He’s far more puppy dog than horse. He waits at the gate begging to come in, wanders around loose in the yard and comes when called. T.G.C. and I took him along an a nice ride this weekend. I write more about him on his blog than I do the kids here, part of the reason I thought I should write something now ๐Ÿ˜‰ His blog is here in case you haven’t found it.

For Thanksgiving the school had a special lunch and invited parents and any other family to come eat with the kids. I got a kick out of the parking lot when we pulled in. It was full with a semi and pickups with trailers. Gotta love small towns.

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Oh Christmas Tree

We went on our yearly Christmas tree hunt and bagged a good one. I enjoy it so much and I think 8 did too. We might be the only ones. The Goblin Child decided she was terrified of the woods. She went through a period of great interest in mountain lions and we talked about how she didn’t have to worry about the because they live in the hills and trees, pine cone trees as she calls them. We were in the pine cone trees and she’s not stupid.

My perfect Christmas tree hunting husband was stressed by the need to find the perfect tree in size and form. On top of being quite sick. 8 and I were roaming happily, playing on the hills and in the draws. The trees all look good until closer inspection shows that each one is two or three grown together. We searched until at last the proper one was found. Then it was home for naps and setting the tree up.

 

 

When Life Gives You Snow….

Even if it is just a little bit. We try to make the best of it. Thursday afternoon, after school got out, The Goblin Child was crazed to get out and play in the tiny little skiff of snow we had. Friday with a bit more she was out and at it again. 8 is not as enthusiastic as she, but was getting into it.

Today with 8 and I a bit sick she bugged here father until he went out with her. He does play the funnest games.

 

 

Church Stuff

We went to church today, over the summer that became the exception instead of the rule. I am always glad when we can make it, but this week and last especially so. Mostly it’s because of the music. Not that the sermon isn’t usually very good, it is.

The music though. We are blessed to have so many skilled musicians in the church. This week they opened with a full on blue grass rendition of I’ll Fly Away. The guy on acoustic guitar picked away at his guitar like a banjo and they totally rocked one of my favorite songs. Next it was the electric guitar guys turn and he played a solo worthy of any rock concert. I have often heard the songs they sing played on the radio and thought that I like their versions better.

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any better they brought the children in from children’s church to sing the closing hymn.

As they streamed in we strained to find The Goblin Child. Finally she came along bringing up the rear. She was craning her neck searching for us as well. As she stepped up onto the stage she spied us and from across the room waved and, loudly, sent a greeting. We waved back of course, what else could we do. She was adorable.

There were reminders all over the church today that it’s shoe box time! We are actually doing it this year! Operation Christmas child is a great program that packs shoe boxes with Christmas presents for children around the world. We did it right after The Goblin Child was born but have been too discombobulated ever since to even realize it was time much less get organized enough to pack our box. We are using a box this year that was left over from the last time I planned to do something.

The Goblin Child is taking a very active part in choosing gifts. We talk about how they are presents for a little girl far away who doesn’t have lots of toys and clothes like she does. So far she is doing good about not wanting to keep the stuff for herself. We are going to follow our box and see where it ends up. I hope the stuff we choose to pack it with is something our little girl will want.

Samaritans Purse is a program that I love and wish that I supported better, or at all. They offer charity and ministry in a way I can really get behind. In their Christmas gift catalog you can buy things for family’s like chicks that will grow up to provide eggs and meat as well as more chickens, sheep and other wool bearing animals, dairy animals and even oxen and farm tools and seed, as well as training in care and technique.

What better gift can there be than the knowledge and ability to care for yourself. I look at the choices and think how incredibly cool they are. But for now we will content ourselves with a Christmas shoe box and be glad that we are doing something at least.