Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reindeer Games

These days with kids home can be rather long, so I thought we'd make some of these cute little reindeer.

Here are our ingredients:
And the results.
Of course, the boys had to get "creative" and make cyclops reindeer and two-nosed reindeer.

Or combine the idea into something like this:
Even when taking the more traditional approach, the reindeer sometimes came out as merely deranged.

Or downright creepy.

Doesn't this say something profound about humanity, its infinite variety and how it takes all kinds?
Or maybe we should just stick with "It's a yummy snack and a good excuse to eat chocolate, marshmallows and pretzels."

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Layout

So, I'm trying a new layout on here.  What do you think?

It's quite plain; not really my style; but a nice change, I guess.

In the top left-hand corner you see several display options.  These are intriguing to me because I don't understand what's happening there.

Can each person choose how he/she wants to view my page?

Or is it set to whatever I choose?

These questions perplex and fascinate me.  And if a blog design can do that, it must be good.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cookies!

Just look at those cookies.  As near to perfect as one can get this side of heaven, I'd say.

And how did I become such a master baker, you ask?
Well...I...uh...
Okay, fine, it's a box mix.  There.

And since I've admitted it, I'll go on to say that these are so fast and easy!
And, of course, delicious!
The troops are happy and I don't think a one of them minded that they came from a box mix.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday

It's nearly 9 o'clock here.  I got up about 8 and all of the kids are still in bed.  I could get used to this vacation schedule! 

Especially when I think of what's coming in the next three months...

Basketball Season. 

I dread basketball season like some people dread the holidays or a root canal or a colonoscopy. 

But, unlike the root canal or colonoscopy where I might get some sympathy from my family, when it comes to basketball, I am out in the cold. 

John loves basketball.  It is his favorite sport.  He can remember specific moments of games he played twenty years ago - not just tournament games - but everyday regular season games.  And then he can describe games he watched on TV, games he saw in person, games he heard about from a buddy. 

And now that he's coaching?  Ugh.  We go out on a date and he talks basketball!  He doesn't seem to be able to stop himself.  And if I finally convince him to stop talking to me about it, I know that his mind is racing with strategies and drills and questions.

This passion is slowly infecting our children, too.  William is pretty much a goner.  He is on the team John coaches and so they can talk basketball for long periods of time.

Micah and Johanna are less infected but they both play on teams for Liberty and, in practical terms, this means that 90% of our after-school time is dedicated to basketball and its fall-out: practice, travel, games, showers, exhaustion, etc.

What redeems this whole thing and makes basketball season palatable for me is that I see my husband and my kids sharing something, connecting in new ways, making memories.  Not just memories of basketball, which I'm sure John will be able to recount to our grandchildren ("When your dad was in 8th grade, during this one game..."), but memories of working, hoping and playing together. 

Maybe, just maybe, I'll make it to March. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On this day in history...

On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.   
On this day in 1963, author and philosopher C.S.Lewis passed away. 

But for some, this day, November 22, has more joyous memories.

On this day in 1908, a baby boy, John Orville Edgar, was born.

John O. Edgar, my grandfather, was a wonderful man. 

He was a pastor, preaching and counseling for many years in pulpits all across the country. 

He was good with his hands; he designed and built the church and parsonage in Glenwood, MN, and wired a good many barns in Lisbon, NY, during WWII when most of the usual electricians were gone to the war.  Even into retirement, he tinkered in his shop and turned out many step stools and "tax shelters."  

He had a lively sense of humor and my favorite memories of him are when he was telling a funny story with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.  

Grandpa passed away just before Sam was born, but particularly on November 22 every year, I remember him and thank the Lord for the Godly heritage I have.    

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reformation Celebration 2011

Friday night we had our annual Reformation Celebration at church. 

We played "Pin the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Church Door" and William ran a "fishing game" which I wanted to call "Lucky Dipping," but figured that would be lost on the kids. 

They were most interested in the attendant candy, of course.         

This year we added a costume contest and had quite a number participate, both adults and children.  I don't know if you can blow it up at all to find my kids but Johanna is on the right (holding the bumble bee), dressed as Queen Elizabeth; Micah is in the middle, dressed as Luke Skywalker; Sam is beside him, very well disguised as bad Spiderman (I don't know if that's his official name, but that's what I'm going with); William is in the middle back, officially dressed as a pirate but looking much more like a Hasidic Jew.   

One family, recently transplanted from Canada, came as a hocky team; one young man came in a vintage Marine uniform, circa 1950; one lady won a prize in the swimsuit category (sponsored by Sports Illustrated, of course) for wearing her grandmother's wool bathing suit, complete with bloomers underneath. 

On a more serious, educational note, a small group of volunteer singers performed four selections with tunes rooted in the Reformation.  From the Psalter we sang 95C and 38B with tunes by Louis Bourgois; from the Trinity hymnal we sang 220 and 554 with tunes written by Martin Luther.  I'm not sure how we sounded but we had fun rehearsing and "performing."

We also had our twin grad student guitar players perform for us - a lovely treat whenever we get to hear them.

A good deal of yummy food and a good deal of warm fellowship rounded out the evening.

All in all, a very good way to commemorate the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door and unwittingly sparked the Protestant Reformation.  We celebrate God's goodness to us through men like Martin Luther and John Calvin and give thanks for His preserving His Truth so that we might live freely by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone revealed in Scripture alone to the glory of God.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

State Fair

Every August, the Minnesota State Fair rolls around. 
 This is one of those times when our experiences growing up come into a little conflict.

John grew up in Columbus, Ohio, the capital of that fine state, and every year his family went to the state fair.  One of those implacable traditions that families develop, and, all in all, I think, a fairly good tradition.

I grew up in Western Pennsylvania where the biggest fair within driving distance was the Canfield County fair and I don't think I went to it above once in my life. 

So, when state fair time rolls around here, our attendance is a foregone conclusion for John.  Not so for me. 

I've suggested various alternatives: Renaissance Fair, picnic at a lake, staying inside in the air conditioning.

I've pointed out the many attendant evils of the fair: overeating; enormous, sweaty crowds; greasy food; smelly animals; heavy, sweet foods; sunburn; tired, aching feet; deep-fried Twinkies; the high cost of everything. 

But, no, nothing but the fair will do. 
 It's one of those implacable traditions we're creating in our family, building relationships and fortitude.  This year, one of the ways we did this was by sharing a deep-fried Twinkie among the six of us. 

I think that we had plenty of relationship and fortitude building right there.  Enough for many years to come. 
 One of the new areas this year was the Alphabet Forest which Johanna and Sam enjoyed very much.  Here, you can see that they picked out letters and made large signs for their names (Johanna thought her name was too long so opted for JoJo, a common nickname for her around here.  Her brothers give her other nicknames, too, but she's not as fond of those).

The three youngest kids did a bungee jumping "ride;" we visited the birthing barn; we watched a horse show; we saw a troupe do Irish dancing; we ate lots of delicious bad food; we saw many of the arts and crafts entries; we visited a college booth (which freaked me out just a little, that we have a son who isn't quite thinking about that but will soon); and finished it all off with a bucket of Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies and many cups of milk. 

Not a bad tradition, really.  But I'm glad it comes around no more than once a year.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fallen into Fall

Our temps have fallen.  Today's high was 46 F, firmly in the autumnal range.

I refuse to think of the snow soon to fly. 

I choose to think about pumpkins and sweaters and hot cider and smoke in the crisp, cool air. 

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."

– George Eliot

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Birthday

Happy birthday, my love!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Indian Summer

 Last Friday, the fall sports teams had pictures taken.  Here is Johanna, the player, and Mom, the assistant coach.  William and Micah's soccer team is in the background.

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns"
– George Eliot


 We are enjoying an unusual, prolonged Indian summer.  It seems to me, if my memory is correct, that anything we've called "Indian summer" around here has lasted a day or two, not a couple of weeks.  We've had sunshine and temps in the 70s and even 80s for quite some time. 

Last night, John and I went out for dinner and ate outside on the patio with no jackets or heaters or thermal underwear.  Very strange.  But a welcome strange. 

The picture above was taken (with my phone!) a week ago near Johanna's school.  Around here, most of the trees turn yellow or brown so a red tree really stands out.  Simply beautiful. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing

"Is falling in love only for the young?"

This is the advertising catch phrase used for the Guthrie Theater's newest production of Shakespeare's rightly beloved play, Much Ado About Nothing.

With the baby boom generation getting along in years - no offense, I'm just sayin' - it looks as though being old is cool again.  Or at least not as un-groovy as it used to be.  One example is the actress Helen Mirren. She's well beyond qualifying for AARP and was recently voted sexiest woman alive, beating out much younger sex pots, like Megan Fox.  Okay.  Sixty is the new twenty. 

So, when director Joe Dowling put 60-something actors, Dearbhla Molloy and Daniel Gerroll*, in the roles of Beatrice and Benedick, it was unusual, but not nearly as far-fetched as what other directors have done with the bard.  The witty wordplay, comic timing, and a few clues within the text indicate that Beatrice and Benedick have known each other for some time and have a rather unhappy history, making the older casting not improbable. 

The difficulty came for me when the production's pace became not merely mature, but geriatric.  Molloy and Gerroll are amazing actors, I do not argue that, but despite their pedigrees, their romance left me rather cold, and that's difficult to do since the romance between Beatrice and Benedick is my favorite in all of Shakespeare's work.  Gerroll has the ability to convey a world of emotion in the lift of an eyebrow; Molloy can say volumes with the quirk of her lips, so I was amazed at how often he did not raise that eyebrow, she did not quirk that lip.  The emotion and energy were stunted somewhere, in Gerroll or Molloy or both; I'm not certain where the breakdown came.  Or were they directed to under-act?  Under-acting, I discovered tonight, is nearly as annoying to watch as over-acting.    

The relationship of Beatrice and Benedick is at the heart of the play.  If it is right, then the rest of the play can be mediocre and one might hardly notice.  Thankfully, the rest of the cast had some shining stars, like Michelle O'Neill as Hero, Emily Gunyou Halaas as Margaret, Bob Davis as Borachio, and Dennis Creaghan as Leonato. 

Sets were lovely and costumes were gorgeous.  The production was set in the late Edwardian era, perhaps to capitalize on the Downton Abbey craze.  The flowing dresses, the ladies' huge, feathered hats, the shoes - love, love, love, the shoes.  The music, composed by Adam Wernick, suited the era and made for some fun dance scenes. 

So, since this is my blog and on here I can be the expert if I want to be, I would have to give this production of Much Ado About Nothing, a solid B. 

*Gerroll turns 60 on October 16 of this year.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Well, who'd a' thunk?

Twenty-*mumble* years ago, I played on the volleyball team at my high school, BCCS.  My senior year, I was a co-captain, mostly because I was a senior, but still, I was a captain. 

Fast forward twenty-*mumble* years with no volleyball playing in that time, and we get to today when I officially began my new (volunteer) job as assistant volleyball coach for the middle school girls' team. 

Yes, it's a prestigious title, no doubt about it. 

Okay, it may not be prestigious, but it is fun.

Johanna is on the team, making it 4th through 8th grade, so we're a young team playing in the 8th grade division.  We may not win many matches.  We may not win *any* matches.  But the players are learning and hopefully having fun, getting better and getting ready for the next year. 

I really didn't think I'd be coaching volleyball, but here I am.  And I'm glad.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Summer Vacation, Part 2

After the hubbub of the wedding weekend, it was time to sit back and relax a little. 

We spent one night out in the country at Dave and Val's.  The highlight of this, for Johanna anyway, was getting to ride Becca's pony.  The daylight was too far gone for me to get a good picture of the event, but you may imagine the bliss. 
 One day, Tom, Katie, John and I took the kids to a place - like Chuck E. Cheese's - with games and play equipment and flashing lights and noise and plenty of chaos to go 'round.  John, William, Katie and I played a round of mini-golf.  Katie took the early lead, but fell off on the back nine, where John's masterful play took the day. 
 Another day we went to Moraine State Park for fishing and swimming and then went to Eat n' Park for dinner.  The food there is no great shakes, but it means we're in Beaver Falls.
 I call this one, "New Song: 2021." 
 One day the girls decided to give Aunt Katie and me a spa treatment.  Look how relaxed Aunt Katie is!
 After a lovely time in Pennsylvania, we headed on to Columbus, Ohio, John's old stomping grounds. 

On Saturday we went to the zoo with John's parents.  In the picture above, everyone is watching the polar bear swim around above us. 
 Here's Sam reading the map.  Whose idea was it to put the 5-year-old in charge of the map?
 Monday we were off again, this time headed to St. Louis for a quick overnight before Kansas City. 

We got there early enough to go up into the Gateway Arch.  You can see from the sign behind Micah's head that we were 630 feet up in the air. 

Personalities really came out when we reached the top.  William was first fine, then cautious, then pretty well freaked out.  Micah was eager, then happy, then bouncing off the walls for fun.  Johanna was uncertain, then cautious, then serious and very ready to go back down.  Sam was mildly interested, then bored. 

John and I handled it with admirable equanimity. 
So, we saw the arch and a little bit of St. Louis, then went to Steak n' Shake (we are deprived of such in Minnesota) for dinner, then to our hotel to swim and sleep.

Next day we were off to Kansas and you know all about that already.

It was good to go, good to come home.  We were thankful to sleep in our own beds again!  But even more thankful for a store of good memories from time spent with friends and family. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Vacation, Part 1

Not being big on chronological order (numbers are so unwieldy), I will now go from the end of our vacation to the beginning.

I will attempt to be somewhat chronological from here on.  I only promise to attempt it, though.

We left Minnesota on Wednesday, August 3rd, just one day after New Song left us after a lovely weekend of singing and sweating (no a/c for any of their concerts here).

We planned to get as far as Toledo before stopping for the night.  By the time we got to Toledo, though, it seemed silly to stay when we were practically within reach of Beaver Falls.  So, I called Tom and said, "We're coming on through!"  We arrived at about 1:30 a.m. our time, 2:30 local time.

That way, the next morning, John got to sleep in and the kids saw "the cousins" even sooner!  Win/win.

Thursday night, we went into Pittsburgh to see our very own diva, Katie, er, Kathryn, star as the countess in The Marriage of Figaro.
 The opera was staged in a building just across the street from Heinz Chapel (above) and the Cathedral of Learning. 


Katie was brilliant, of course!  I had not heard her sing live for several years so it was extra special to hear how her voice has matured.  I was so proud, I wanted to tell the whole audience, "That's my sister!"

Friday and Saturday, we turned our time and attention back to the Shaw side of the family for the wedding of John's niece, Kirsten.  She married a great guy, Trevor, and we all enjoyed seeing them so happy.  John and I had the joy of doing pre-marital counseling with them (via Skype) and John got to to the wedding ceremony. 
I like the picture above because Val and Kirsten look so surprised and amused.  I don't know what was going on, but the looks on their faces here are great. 

The day was extra special because Johanna was the flower girl. 
The only "bummer" was the she had to walk back up the aisle with the ring-bearer.  Icky! 

All four brothers and all fourteen cousins were there as well as Grandpa and Grandma Shaw.  We were mostly well behaved, although the uncles (Jeff, John and Joel) got a little rowdy at the reception.  Not as rowdy as the swing dancers, though!  That was a lot of fun!

Coming soon: Part Deux

Grandpa's Birthday

 I'm starting from the end of our vacation, but this was probably the most important event of our trip: Grandpa Copeland's 90th birthday.

 Grandpa was born in 1921 on a farm near Idana, Kansas, the third of six children.  Other than a stint in the army during World War II, he has lived in Kansas, Nebraska, or Iowa all of his life.  He and my grandmother, Arvilla, raised three boys.  He now has grandchildren and great-grandchildren across the country and around the world (my uncle Stan is in Germany and cousin David is in Iraq).  
 Here are the six grandchildren who could make it to the party.  (This picture was actually taken the next day when we had dinner at Perkins.)  Only one of Grandpa's sons could make it (Stan in Germany; my dad still laid up from foot surgery) we still made a pretty big crowd of Copelands!

We had a lovely party with the folks at Shawnee RP Church; they've been Grandpa's church family for many years now and we were glad to share the celebration with them. 

Times like this remind me of the amazing, Godly heritage I've been given and I praise the Lord for his goodness and grace.  I pray that that heritage extends for every generation of our family and beyond until the Lord comes again.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Just in Case

Just in case you feel like you might melt from the heat...
 ...remember this!
And this!

It will come again before you know it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Chaotic Gardener

As you might guess, I am not a "Constant Gardener" who insists on neat and orderly rows of vegetation. 

I thrive on the chaos theory.

 I love planting a bunch of stuff and waiting to see what comes up where. 

This year, I planted cantalope, watermelon and pumpkin beside the garage.  But not necessarily in that order.  I don't really know what I put where.
 So now we're watching all of these vines grow and blossom and guessing what each of them is.  It's like a lovely vegetable mystery.

 What's this?  We don't know, but isn't it pretty?  And I love the little curly-q vines that grow beside the blossoms.  So cute. 
This is my jungle of tomato plants.  Who knows what kinds are in there?! 

It is a mystery waiting to be revealed by time, sunshine and rain. 

Chaotic gardening is a niche just waiting to be filled on those gardening channels.  You know that, right? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Raspberries

These are my lovely raspberries. Believe it or not, raspberries are one thing I've always wanted in my garden. So, when a friend offered raspberry plants a couple of years ago I eagerly accepted.


This is what they looked like at the beginning of July.

This is the biggest harvest I've gotten so far.

But since then, disaster has stricken.  Struck?  Strucken?  Disaster has hit.

Disaster in the form of chickens. 

Our neighbors have chickens.  No, the girls did not get out and eat my raspberries.  Rather, they attract flies by the million who all decided that my juicy raspberries looked like a lovely treat. 

And they did look like a lovely treat.  For a while.  Until, well, you know.

Now, my beautiful raspberries are shriveled up and decaying on the vine.  Or stalk.  Or cane.  Whatever.

The point is they are too pathetic to even show here.  So.  Pathetic. 

So, tomorrow I'll go to Sam's Club and buy a plastic carton of giant raspberries that have been hepped up on steroids and sprayed with cancer-causing pesticides to make them more attractive to consumers. 

I'll bet those pesticides repel flies.  *sigh* 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Northwoods Getaway


 Monday through Wednesday of this week, we went up north and stayed in a cabin loaned to us by some friends. 
 Most of the time, it was too hot and/or humid and/or rainy to go outside so we stayed inside in the a/c or went to the pool.  It was no hardship to stay in such a lovely spot.
Most relaxing of all, we didn't have to spend a boatload of money to have a lovely, relaxing get-away.  Thank you, Swansons!