Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chaney Christmas and 2008 Revue

Okay, okay, so "revue" actually means, "any entertainment featuring skits, dances, and songs." Sorry to disappoint, but there will be no singing or dancing associated with this post. Somehow, "revue" just fit.

This may be a whirlwind of a post, but seeing as it has been a couple of weeks since I have posted anything and we are embarking on a new year, there is some ground to cover. First, Christmas. After a busy couple of weeks in Wewa (which made the time pass by very quickly), including some youth events and our youth Christmas party, we set out for our journey home to spend Christmas with family. A little ol' 12 hour drive is nothing to us, although these days we're having to stop a few more times than usual. I imagine the same will play out for future trips. Nevertheless, we typically get in the car and we go, go, go and get the trip over with. Along the way we saw the guy that is in the picture toting a cross across a busy highway. I still wonder what his story is. That was about the most eventful portion of our trip - the rest consisted of much fog and rain as we headed from 70 degree weather to chilly single digits. But, those digits were welcome when it meant seeing some familiar faces as well. We enjoyed a good few days with my family and Sabian's family, including the introduction to our newest niece, Eden. I may be partial, but she sure is a sweet, sweet girl. It was hard to leave that little face. The caveat attached to going home means inevitably missing out on seeing some people. We'd love to see everyone possible, but it just doesn't always work out. Such is the hard part of having just a few days to spend at home. All in all we had a great time and enjoyed being in Illinois and Missouri. Only one of us got a few sniffles while there (me) and now Sabian is sniffing away.

We did celebrate our own little Christmas before we left town. Thanks to Mrs. Connie, our sweet and very much appreciated neighbor and member of our congregation (she was one of the first people we ever met here!), we even had an ornament recognizing our new family to be. Next year we will get to celebrate with Addie here! This ornament fulfilled a Chaney Christmas tradition, where we get a new ornament each year, usually from somewhere we have visited during that year. This one is extra special.

We've now been home a few days and are settling back in, although there is much scattered about that needs to find a place to rest. As soon as our new carpet is installed, we'll take care of that for sure. For now, things have a way of resting where they've been placed for the time being.

We did have a doctor's appointment yesterday, marking my 30th week of pregnancy. I am happy to report that all is going well and Addie is growing and currently weighs in (so they say) at 3 pounds, 6 ounces. It was fun to catch another glimpse of her but she still doesn't want to show us her face. However, we did get a great look at her rear end. I'm hoping this is the other way around when she is actually here. She may not have given us much a view, but here are a couple of photos. In the bottom photo, she was apparently holding on to her toes.

In a few hours members of our youth group will be showing up to ring in the new year with chips, soda, and pizza rolls at our house. If I take a minute and think of what we were up to last New Year's Eve, it was definitely colder and the new year was being looked at with much anticipation. At that point we didn't know that we would be moving, but we were pretty sure 2008 would bring some big changes in our household. Change, it did. A new town and a new baby on the way, 2008 will always stand out in our minds. I suspect 2009 will, too!

We know that, as with every year, our steps have been ordered by God, and we are not where we are by accident. Though sometimes difficult, whether it is 1988, 2008, 0r 2018, I'll always know that God is with us and will continue to provide for us, just as He always has, every year. I pray that as much as I KNOW this, that I will truly BELIEVE it.

Thank you to our friends and family who have supported us and encouraged us through this year with all that has taken place. We look forward to sharing this new year, and many more, with you.

Happy 2009!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Whiteout in Wewa

It's true. It happened. We woke up Sunday morning to find a whiteout on our front porch:

So strange how the "white stuff" only hit our house. Guess we're the only lucky ones. I must admit, it is a lot easier to clean up than the real white stuff and not nearly as chilly.

This good fortune fell after we returned home from a bonfire we had for the youth group. It was much chillier this time around for this bonfire, and we had a lovely view of one of the lakes, with a full moon rising above it. We ate and ate and made S'mores, a bonfire must. Some of us revisited younger, more flexible years.

Our pranksters struck after we were home, snug inside after enjoying the crisp night. There are no owners to the deed, which is fine with us. We'll just harbor our own suspicions and plan our retribution...

A quick note about our four legged friend across the street. My mistake, it is a girl! Her name is Roxy, and we made contact over the weekend. She brought yet another friend over to our yard while the girls were over decorating cookies, this time venturing all the way up to the porch. She has yet to bring us anything this week although, she did stretch out for a while this morning in the sun at the edge of the yard.

Today I am thankful for my sister. Happy birthday, Les! Can't wait to see you this weekend.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Tis the Season...

...for baking cookies. Turn on a Christmas CD, plug in the lights on the Christmas tree, and heat up the oven. On Thursday I started preparing for our girls night in that was to happen at our house on Friday night. While the guys were next door at the neighbor's playing video games, the girls were going to decorate sugar cookies and watch Christmas movies. I had visions of light, fluffy sugar cookies decorated in red, green, and other festive colors, sparkling with sprinkles and mini M&Ms forming the eyes of cute, little gingerbread men. Ah, the vision before the reality.

My ready and willing friend Gizelle showed up on Thursday to tackle the task of making these sugary confections. The plan was to mix, refrigerate, lunch, bake. So, we mixed quadruple the batch from a recipe that I was sure would mimic the amazing sugar cookies my friend Kerri's mom made for each and every holiday as we were growing up. I was sure this would make plenty of cookies, enough for the girls to decorate, give away, and even some for us to keep.

Flour flew and the dough was mixed, stored in the fridge, and off to lunch we went. We also hit up the IGA for a few extra supplies, and headed home to roll it out and do the fun part - cut it into holiday shapes. The shapes may have been fun, the cutting out, not so much.

As I knew was important with sugar cookie dough, it must be kept cold in order for it to work well. You must also work quickly. Very quickly. Once we pulled the dough from the refrigerator it soon become apparent that our dough was still sticky. Time to resort to Google. Any tips for cutting out sugar cookies? Of course! Parchment paper! Flour it! Roll it out and then put it back into the fridge! This is what we did. I was sure I could take it from there, later on that evening, so Gizelle headed home and I took a rest.

"Taking it from there" was a lot easier said than done. Sparing some details and introducing some new dough and the freezer, as well as some more help that evening, hours later the dough was smashed (not rolled - I found my hands worked MUCH better) out, cut out, and baked. With three of us working including Allison and Sabian "the oven master" Chaney, we had a pile of Christmas trees, snowflakes, stars, hearts, and gingerbread men ready for decorating on Friday.

I never think there will be enough. I always over cook or over bake, but I thought for sure the holiday fever would catch and there would be a frenzy of decorating going on. I could rest easier when the cookies were stored safely away until Friday night, with only a few tips of the stars broken off and a couple of gingerbread men casualties. The next day I dove into the much easier task of making the icing and had everything ready to go when the girls arrived Friday night.

Icing in five colors, sprinkles in all shades, glitter gel tubes, and the M&Ms anxiously awaited their destiny. Since I don't have pictures, just imagine a group of girls sitting around the table and unleashing their creativity on the blank canvas of a sugar cookie. I encouraged them to take the cookies home to their families or to think of others whose day might be brightened by receiving a cookie lovingly decorated by them. Since I am paranoid about having too little when it comes to food, we had plenty of undecorated cookies left over, many of which I finished decorating the next day and dropped off at church for the children's Christmas play practice. I trust they all found good homes.

Just a few of the finished products:

We had a good time and I certainly learned my lesson when it comes to sugar cookies - forget the rolling pin and recruit a few people to help with the work. Much easier, and much more fun.

Today I am thankful that ALL of the cookies have been iced and that we do, in fact, have a few of the gingerbread variety left for us to eat. Those are my favorite. Plus, ginger helps with nausea, so it goes without saying we needed to keep a few of those.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Taking Inventory

One shredded Barbie blow up ball. One soccer ball. One gun case. One bucket. Miscellaneous trash. And, of course, one boot.

This is the latest haul currently scattered about our front yard. It started with the Barbie ball one day last week and our friend continued to add to it. Over a period of about four days, this is what accumulated and I suspect it will only grow. The difference over these last few days is that the culprit is no longer in hiding and seems to be proud of his work. He even appears to be guarding it. It's either that or he feels he is protecting our house. Or, more likely, maybe this is the best vantage point he has for checking out his house across the street.

Whatever his reason, he seems to be a bit bored with it all. Maybe that's why the collection of items has grown.
Perhaps his boredom is what caused him to invite a friend.

Does this mean our front yard is the official canine club hang out for the neighborhood? I wonder who, or what, will appear tomorrow morning.

Speaking of friends, I said farewell to my pal Nicole this afternoon as she boarded her plane to fly back to St. Louis. The road to the airport to pick someone up is always filled with such anticipation, while the drive home after dropping them off is often very long. We enjoyed a few days of exploring some new areas and visiting familiar places. We even made it out to the beach for a chilly sunset.

And to lunch on the river in Apalachicola. See how nicely Nicole coordinates with the decor?

It was a good visit and nice to see a familiar face from home.

In a couple of weeks we will head home for Christmas but until then we have plenty to keep us occupied. Church happenings and the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas, a trip, and a baby are enough to make the days pass by quickly. Now, if I can just do all of this while nursing a swollen, scraped up foot, I'm good. It's nothing serious, just a sore foot and bruised pride. I am thankful it is nothing worse!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fast time or slow time?

One of the worst things about being pregnant is not being able to lick the brownie batter spoon and bowl. I've even been known to leave a little "extra" in the bowl. By the end of today I will have made three batches of brownies and who knows how many total since I have been pregnant, but I have refrained, in each instance, from licking the spoon. Well, maybe I had ONE lick at one point, but that's it. I digress...

I have proof that it does get cold in Wewa:

When I got up yesterday morning I actually had to scrape my windshield. It is a good thing I did not remove my ice scraper from the trunk when, several months ago, I thought how silly it was to have it in there. Not so silly after all.

I was up earlier than usual yesterday because I had to go to Port St. Joe for a routine lab test. Rather, a nasty glucose test that required me to drink 10 oz. of a sickly, sugary, orange drink and then sit for an hour before my blood was drawn. I wondered on the way home why they couldn't have given it to me before I went in for the test? Either way, I was up extra early because St. Joe is located in the Eastern time zone. My appointment was at 8 a.m., but I had to take into consideration that I lost an hour so technically, I had to be there at 7 a.m. Wewa time, which meant leaving 30 minutes early to get to St. Joe on time, since nothing is close to Wewa. This time change phenomenon, which I promise to explain at some point, brought back fond memories of missions trips my home church took to South Dakota. Starting in 1994, we went to an Indian reservation in for three summers in a row. We ministered to the kids on the reservation through a daily vacation Bible school and then by simply spending time with them. A pretty desolate place, these kids learned to watch for our bus each day as we went to pick them up. We also experienced a time change there and we would have to tell the kids, "fast time" or "slow time" depending on where they were. Funny how things come back around.

Monday morning brought a new surprise in our yard.

Seems our friend is getting more and more creative. I'm beginning to wonder if this is his belated way of welcoming us to the neighborhood, although if I'm right, I think we lived here first. Plus, his timing is a little off. This "gift" would have been much more useful over the summer. Wonder if he might think about dropping off a car seat or stroller or other baby items. Maybe it is time to stop writing Santa and start writing to our four legged friends.

Just because Thanksgiving is over doesn't mean giving thanks is no longer relevant. Today I am thankful for my friend Nicole who will be arriving tomorrow!