The birth of the Sun

Merry Solstice, and may the gift of God bring light into your darkest days. May your Yuletide celebrations be bright, and harbingers of the joy to come.

Our holiday celebrations all have roots in the idea that there is hope, that the best thing to do when things get black is to make light. While I care little if others celebrate like I do, I do think it is a time that ought to be enlivened with joy, fellowship, and warmth.

Whether you are enjoying the rebirth of the sun, or the birth of the Son, you should rejoice in the hope that each bring. Light, conquering the darkness, and the bringing in of something new for the world are embodied by each. I will celebrate both, and I hope you do too.

poor boy

Today is EZ’s birthday. But he is sick with the flu. On a Saturday! Poor little guy.

I don’t remember many birthdays. I do remember my 5th, and my 13th. I am not sure I had any birthday parties other than those years. What I do remember is usually being sick on my birthday. Ah, yes, I remember my 9th birthday because I was horribly sick that year and I remember thinking about being sick on my birthdays. It is strange because I am rarely sick now, and I don’t remember being sick very often as a kid. Just on my birthday.

Ok, I am not the poor boy here, EZ is. We already had a small party with friends last week, and our family party is tomorrow, so hopefully he will not miss any of the things that matter to him.

It will be nice if all traces of this bug are gone before we head to Chicago next Friday…

“The time has come” the walrus said, “to speak of many things.”

More travel, another arrival on the tail of severe weather, holidays, and a home.
Once we got used to the “cold” weather in California, we really enjoyed being there. It was great fun to spend time with my siblings, and their kids (I love being an uncle to 9 kids). We also were able to spend time with friends (some of you), and that was wonderful. It was really hard to leave, maybe even harder than leaving the Philippines. It is really hard to not be in California now, and not just because it is snowing and 21 degrees outside. ~sigh

Frozen Desert Sunrise

Next, our trip across the great divide. The original plan included a trailer and a hitch, and the hitch was installed before we discovered that a valid CA drivers license is required to rent a trailer. As we thought about our new `98 Taurus towing a trailer in winter through possibly bad weather, we started thinking it was best to avoid it altogether, so we did not push the license issue. But what about all the 70 pound boxes that we brought with us and sent with my parents (bless them)? We packed those that would fit into the car, strapped two on top, and left two to be shipped by my grandparents (bless them too). There was a little cubby space on the left side of the car for Ethan in his booster seat, and Ariana sat between us in the front. Away we went, heading for a Home Depot for tarps, just in case. Once we got those we were off for the border. The drive was relatively eventless apart from the frequent stops for fuel or relief (bladder, posterior, cabin space) all the way through Arizona and into New Mexico. We did not stop for more than a meal till the next morning in New Mexico, and there we parked in a super market lot for a short nap. We slept for about an hour and were off again, keeping our eyes open for a Denny’s (B’s choice for breakfast that morning). There had been snow on the ground since Arizona, but the roads were fine until we were half-way through NM. We found a Denny’s and stopped for eats and what was Ethan’s first real experience with snow. It was mostly just slush, but it was what he had been waiting for since October. It had been getting steadily colder and we kept our winter things close at hand. After breakfast our route took us into the tip of the falling snow, and through Amarillo, where driving was a little treacherous for about an hour (I just like using the word -treacherous-). There was an interesting phenomenon on the frozen desert at sunrise; a layer of fog as white as the snow and about 30 feet high covered most of it, and it felt as if we were looking out the window of an airplane on the top of the clouds. It was not so nice to drive into it because it was thick and we could hardly see 50 feet ahead (at 70MPH this is quite frightening). Back to the treacherous driving conditions in Amarillo and outlying areas… It did not last, and eventually we left Texas and arrived in Oklahoma, where all the snow was gone. We found a motel, and spent a restful night not dreaming of passing trucks. We had a leisurely morning and breakfast and were on the road again by 11am. Now at this point we knew we had about 17 hours to go, and it was almost noon on Christmas Eve. So off we went, knowing that we would be driving all night again, and that there was no way we would arrive _before_ Christmas. The kids had been pretty good, and they remained so. On and on and on we went, through Missouri, Illinois, and into Indiana. In Indiana we noticed that there was a large orange blotch on the clouds about where Indianapolis ought to be, and sure enough that is what it was. As we headed north we kept our eyes on the clouds and as we passed Fort Wayne we could start to make out the blotches of Michigan. The fun part was being able to identify the blotches, knowing that we were heading for the blotch labeled Jackson, and knowing that blotch represented an end to the infernal driving. And we arrived, at 530am to a snowy landscape and a warm house. There were beds, already made, thanks to Liz (B’s Mom), and we crashed.

That “many things”, but more is to come…

Who’s house is this anyway?

I cleaned up the kitchen this morning. It actually IS a regular occurrence! The problem with cleaning up the kitchen is that it leaves no obvious morsels sitting about for the ants. And boy, do we have ants! Wildlife thrives in this country and I often feel like WE are the intruders! Why should I blame all these creatures for trying to reclaim this territory? I have finally come to the conclusion that the only way to control this many ants is with poison! And a lot of it! And well… I just really don’t want that in the kitchen. Can you blame me? So I have given up the battle… and it has turned into a race.
Ethan had his friend, Toby, over to play so I thought I would heat up some chicken nuggets to feed them. No use starting food battles with other peoples children by trying to serve healthy food 😉 Well, what I hadn’t realized is that all those ants trying to reclaim my house were STARVING! I flipped the nuggets halfway through cooking and left the spatula on the counter. Ten minutes later when I came to take them out, the spatula was swarming with itty-bitty ants! I had to wash it to be able to use it. Then I had to store it on a rack, on a plate, on an unlit burner, on the stove and hope they didn’t find it before I needed it again. The race had begun. Now little boys aren’t crazy about eating burning hot food fresh out of the oven so I was trying to figure out how to let it cool long enough but still be able to serve it to the boys before the ants got to it. I moved it around to a few different spots, so the ants wouldn’t find it as quickly and they seemed to be satisfied with the many crumbs that fell off the spatula. So the next question is whether to wipe them all up or let them finish carrying off those crumbs. And since I am really tired of my washcloths being covered in ants all the time, I think I will let them feast and wipe up the counter after they have all gone home.

Day out with Dad

Well, I have begun my official vacation. How am I spending it? With the kids of course. B is in town proctering an exam, and I am hauling the kids around running errands and paying bills. It is not so bad. We are using a friends car as today is their no-drive-day, and they have ours in town. They happen to have a car with a much more powerful AC (Air Conditioner), and more comfortable seats. I feel a bit bad for them because they have traffic to fight in the afternoon, and a puny-weak-lukewark AC to accompany them. Like I said, the errands are not so bad. We headed out at about 9:15 to go to the bank only to find that our bank is “off-line”. Found another one and did our business, and then went to yet another bank to deposit our rent. As I was getting out of the car to go in to pay the rent I got a text (SMS), but I did not look at it till I returned. It was from our landlord, asking about our rent. That is not so strange, except that we only hear from him every 6 months or so. Also strange because I was right in the middle of actually paying rent. Anyway… I then realized that I had forgotten the phone bill that is due. We drove home and I decided to pay our association dues first. Henry, who runs the association, is also a former guard of the Faith Academy dorms, and now a friend. I don’t see much of him any more because our neighborhood Bible study has dissolved. We chatted a bit, I payed my dues, and then we were off again. I payed the phone bill, and by then it was getting close to lunch time so we drove through BK and spent less than 180 pesos (about $3) on a whopper jr. w/cheese meal and 2 BK Savers ham and cheese meals. Then we stopped at a coffee shop and I had a 50 peso ‘long black’ (americano), before heading home. Now we will probably watch a VCD and turn on the AC. According to it is 91 but feels like 100.

Look, Kids!

I realized that we have not posted pictures of the kids in a while, and while they don’t seem to care, the relatives do.

I thought I would make a goatee and mustache for Ethan out of paper one rainy day. He enjoyed it and began honing his dramatic skills. I asked him for an angry face, but the first attempt seemed weak. I told him to put his eyebrows into it and viola!

I then asked for surprised. I think he is off to a good start…

Ariana did have a birthday at the end of May, and she did have a party. We decided to take her and her friends out to a restaurant and let them pick from the kids menu. We also took them to a coffee shop and they ordered tea.

They were very excited about the tea. Not because they like tea, but because it came in great bug catchers (yes, paper cups with lids). They were all sweaty because they had PE just before they come for the party, and then our AC (air conditioner) did not hold up well in traffic. At some point kids depart from kiddom and become guys and girls. Then they will notice that they stink, won’t be more interested in bugs than clothes, and may even like tea. But I can wait. Kids are fun!

What a load of craft!

It is summer vacation. The kids are home ALL DAY and our pre-summer peaceful existence is over! In my desperate attempt to find activities for them to do so they will stop fighting with each other I pulled out a book of crafts. Each page has pictures printed on card stock that can be punched out, folded, and glued into something semi-3-dimensional. Somewhere in my telling the kids about this craft book, Ethan translated “craft” into “crap”. I can’t bear to correct him since it has provided me with days of amusement listening to him say things like, “Mom, look at my crap!” and “Can you help me with this crap?” and “Can I make another crap?” Since the finished crafts only last a few minutes until they fall apart, I guess he has made an accurate assessment!