Saturday, November 28, 2009

We are LIVE!

Super-quick update (Bob's taking a quick power-nap between programming songs, so I am swiping the computer very briefly before setting the Christmas tree up with the kids):

Holiday light show ran successfully last night, both at Glencoe Hospital(with a five song loop), and at our house(currently 2 songs are finished, 3 should be running tonight, 4 done by the end of the weekend, and hopefully a 5th to follow at some point)....we are now LIVE!



We are so proud of Bob and his creative talents. The programs are amazing, and so intricate and detailed. It is simply beyond my comprehension how he manages it all.

Here is a sample from the Glencoe show: with the 20 foot tall metal mega tree, and 8 arches Bob constucted with pvc pipe, this canvas allows some fun things Bob is able to accomplish which he can not do in our tiny little cul-de-sac sliver of a front yard.

video

"White Christmas" by Go Fish

Our display has had to play second fiddle to the Glencoe show, as there were definite deadlines set out there, with Santa making an appearance, and the whole community Light Show Reveal Friday evening at the hospital grounds. But after countless hours of programming into the wee hours of night and morning, Bob managed to squeak out 2 songs to begin our own show Friday night as well. He will continue to work on songs throughout the weekend to make our count up to four songs by the early part of next week. Bob's new additions to our yard this year are 8 pvc arches lining our driveway(as the ones he made for Glencoe), a homemade bush to complete a set of 4 in front, and a makeshift megatree around the lampost.

Here is a short sample of the show at our house as well (sorry about the shakiness--Tubby kept climbing on me and grabbing my arm in the front seat to get a better view):

video

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Thursday, November 26, 2009

THANKFUL

Thanksgiving was great this year. We were not planning on anything special.....just a day at home relaxing as Bob worked on Christmas shows and song programming. But at the last minute, we both felt that that just wasn't right, and we invited his family over for a Thanksgiving dinner. A whole meal. At our house. We were so THANKFUL to have a house in which to open to others and share in celebration.

The house was in relatively clean shape from the Dedication party on the first of this month(well, as good as it gets with 8 kids, one of whom is an extremely fussy and demanding baby). I was THANKFUL for the relative orderliness of things. The food was already purchased (it takes less food to prepare for visitors than it takes to feed my whole family). I am so THANKFUL that we had the monetary funds for a special meal. Though I was still recovering from a nasty virus that has been trying to run me into the ground for over one week now, the rest of the kids were miraculously healthy. So THANKFUL for the health of all of us, are we. Bob had completed the Glencoe light show, and was working on programming for our house. He was THANKFUL that this project was nearing an end for this year. Things were under control, and preparations went as planned. It was an incredibly wonderful, and beautiful, stress-free holiday get-together. I don't know if I can ever say that something like that ever went, or ever will go again so well!

We started our Thanksgiving day as we do every year, with the kids working on their "Thank you Lord, for....." pictures to adorn our kitchen wall. This year, Psalm 100 was represented throughout their art.

I had lots of helpers this year. For that, I was THANKFUL. Laura helped me the day before to make 3 pumpkin pies. On Thursday morning, she eagerly helped to prepare the giant 17 pound bird for roasting. I think that this is only the 3rd time I have ever cooked a turkey. I am pleased to say that it came out perfectly! And THANKFULly, Lyle was kind enough to carve it for our dinner.

Jonathan helped to mash 10 pounds of potatoes. We love our mashed potatoes around here!

After Laura and I expanded our table to gigantic proportions, Jonathan helped to set it in restaurant-like style. We are so THANKFUL to have this space. The fall leaves were a nice touch!

Grandma ? and Lyle brought cranberry-gelatin salad, buns, sweet potatoes, and corn souffle(my favorite!). Grandma also prepared the green bean casserole, as Bethany was just a wee bit too out of control for anyone else to hold, or for me to accomplish much with her besides the other multiple food projects I already had running. Barb, Alan, and Andrew, came bearing a banana cream pie as well. We are so THANKFUL for all these people in our lives.

We had food. So much food. We were all so THANKFUL for the food.

Michael had been preparing for 3 days prior in order to get the maximum satisfaction of "stuffing his face" today.

Tubby wasn't feeling so well, and spent a good deal of time pouting in the corner. He ended up falling asleep shortly after this, and missed the rest of our evening.

But everyone else seemed so happy.

Oh....Bethany slept through the meal. I was THANKFUL for that.

After our meal, we all caravanned, along with the neighbors and their guests, out to Glencoe to have a private viewing of Bob's Christmas Light display. It was fantastic. The colorful arches provide such unlimited potential of effects along the grassy outline of display space.

Then it was back to our house for a short preview of the show in our yard. Alvin and the Chipmunks entertained us in song as we were dazzled by the display of twinkling lights from our viewpoint in the cul-de-sac. Now that Glencoe is finished, Bob will be able to begin programming efforts on our yard. We are THANKFUL for Bob's creative vision.
Then, back inside, with a bit of new space in our tummies, for pumpkin pie with freshly whipped cream. Yumm.....we were all THANKFUL for dessert...even Bethany had a taste!

Oh! And in dinner/dessert theater fashion, Crispy and Melissa treated us to a special Thanksgiving play.
Finally, some cribbage.......

And mostly, we are so very THANKFUL for all of God's gifts to us, big and small, each and every day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"We Three Kings", and Other Christmas Ditties

We have had lots of busy-ness around our house over the past few weeks. Blog posting shall resume next week when things settle down. Computer time has been off-limits to everyone besides Bob as he works on a very special annual project. Can you guess what it is?

He has been working so hard this year at two places: home and the Glencoe Hospital display. He took one week off in October, and has taken 10 days off in the past two weeks to organize and hang lights, problem solve equipment, supervise the Glencoe project, hire Alex---who has been doing a FABULOUS job, I must add, working many,many,hours with his Dad--- plug in countless extension cords and computer cables, and enter all the tiny little details into the computer programs.

It has been truly a family affair this year. I think all of us have done some helping in one way or another at some point. And that's how it should be(though of course, we will give Bob 99% of the credit as this is composed of primarily all his efforts)....one great big family project!

Tubby even helped by bringing Daddy extension cords.

Crispy, Jonny, and Alex worked hard to make over 60 "megaballs" of lights.

So far, we have only had one penguin meet his doom in the driveway under the wheel of someone's SUV (not naming any names here!).
Now that the outside stuff is complete, he has been programming the computer music. Perhaps this is the most time-intensive piece. It takes nearly one full, no-break day to program one Christmas song to lights and music. That is a lot of time...especially considering that he is programming 4 separate songs for each separate location! I can't even begin to understand the process---and I am the musical one! Every beat is programmed and each and every string of lights is individually turned on or off precisely to the vision of my husband. It is amazing. And hopefully when he has some time, I desire him to write a post about it to better explain the whole complicated process! But for now, time is at a premium: the Glencoe show goes "Live" the day after Thanksgiving, complete with a visit from Santa, cocoa, cookies, the works. Bob's goal is to run our show "live" that night, too, but in reality, that is a pretty tall order when both shows will undoubtedly run into a few snags (as typically expected) on the first run.I miss my husband who has been working (um, for free) night and day, but am excited to see the finished project. Each year is different from the last, and it is such a treat for us, and our entire community!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Adventures At Home

Hi everyone, again! This is Jonny, and it's the 24th so I get to write!
Alrighty, so, I've been home schooled for about... 3 weeks. And its been great! Everyday I'm able to play with Laura or Thomas or even Bethany! I've also been able to eat breakfast at, get this, nine o' clock! That's another great thing. I get to sleep in for however long I want. And then I do some Math, and then Vocabulary lessons, and then usually get done in 40-45 minutes! Then I can do whatever I want until ten-to-eleven, and then I go to my band/choir. Band has been going fantastic. Ms. Kidder is constantly pointing me and my friend out as, "the leaders of the band" and she's always saying, "great breath control" or "amazing note playing". And also, just yesterday, on the 23rd, I had a Jazz Band audition. That unfortunately didn't work out too well. I couldn't stop squeaking my instrument, and I kind of lost control over my sound.

So keeping that in mind, I decided to redo my audition today, and it went PERFECT! She even quoted, "That's the Jonny I've been looking for,". And so of course, I've still had choir every other day. Singing's going good with it, and our concert is... soon... I think. We've got five songs to sing too. Choir is probably the only class that is in order at that school.

So then after my music classes, I stay for Lunch so I can talk with my friends. And I just want to say, I've got the best friends in the world. They're almost the entire reason I still go to that school everyday. And they've been implying over the years, that I'm the leader of our friend group. School lunches are good most of the time, but... no offence to anyone... don't eat the fish sandwiches. It's raw. And is gross. In my opinion. And everybody elses.

The one thing I've really had troubles with with my friends is because of the well known crazy person at our school, "Josh". I think he's still angry with me that I'm not his friend anymore, because he's CONSTANTLY trying to ruin all of my friendships. Whether it's telling them I'm self-centered, or not nice, or too smart, or "he's secretly talking behind your back", luckily my friends are smart enough not to pay any attention, and not to care. And that's one of the best qualities of them.

So after a good lunch, I come home and do some spelling. It's really a good program because, the words are HARD. And then after that, I do (depending on what day it is) Spanish, or science. Those programs are both good too, because each one is unique and interactive in its own way.

Well, that's basically my school life. And besides the fact that I get to make really cool inventions:
video

made out of common house-hold items, homeschooling rocks. And of course I can't forget the story I'm working on for English class! That's going great too. A story about an owl, that has 5,500 words already! And it's also nice to be able to come home on occasions with smoothies...

Anyway, that's my school day for you, and I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

-Jonathan Zajac

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The House of Sick

We have had such illness go through this house since probable H1N1 in mid-September. The sicknesses just don't seem to stop coming, and the cold viruses have been particularly hearty. Currently, we have 6 people sick in our house, including me. Most of us are fairly miserable. Melissa was sent home from school yesterday after puking in the hall with a bad headache. The rest of us have a nasty cold, and I am even lucky enough to have Bethany's eye disease along with it.....my eyes are bugging me so much, it is driving me mad.

This was the message Daddy left us this morning on the white board when he left for work:



Pretty much covers all the bases over here!
Oh well, it most certainly made us laugh in our misery!!!
Anyone want to come over and play????????

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Few of Her Favorite Things


Bethany is 6 months old today. 6 MONTHS OLD. Crazy how fast time flies by. It seems impossible that only a few short months ago, my big, squishy, mobile, noisy, independently stubborn little girl, was a teeny, tiny, not-even-5-pound little peanut, who could barely keep her eyes open for more than a few minutes. "Like a loaf of bread"....she used to remind me of.....so little, light, and soft. These days, her 15 pound little being is more often referred to as "Jabba"....as in, "the Hut".
Some things are still the same. For instance, Bethany's right tear duct is still clogged, just as Tubby's had been. When she gets a cold, as she has again now, her eye gets so goopy and gross, and she is often unable to open it on her own.
Grossed out eyeball

Bethany is also still a fairly cranky little girl. Daddy thinks it is because she is held too much. I disagree....because she doesn't get any less cranky when held. It takes a bit of work to keep her happy. Tubby was held all the time...was spoiled to the max....but was never a cranky baby. This girl is CRANKY.
Bethany enjoying a typical crankfest...one of many throughout her days
Bethany is STRONG. This has been a noticeable trait since the beginning. Even as a wee one, only days old, in the covered isolette, Bethany would push with her strong little legs, and move herself upwards on the mattress by 6-8 inches every 20 minutes. She continues to be constantly on the move, rolling every which way, and creeping forward on her belly to purposely get to where she wants to go. She's got motivation, direction, and independence....all before she even hit her 6 month birthday.

Rolling, creeping, early "crawling", make for one busy little girl.Having a chat with interactive Elmo....
Bethany and her favorite doll can often be found having wrestling matches on a soft blanket.
When not in exercising mode, she enjoys sitting in the Bumbo. This is something none of our other kids liked...at all. She LOVES it. Sitting up, especially in the middle of the table, being close to and a part of all the action going around. She wants nothing of this baby-time thing...she wants to be a big girl already.

She also has just been introduced to the exersaucer. Though startled at first by all the loud noises it produces with different rattles and push-buttons, she is now growing accustomed to them as she is learning that she is the one in control of the sounds. This is quickly becoming one of her favorite places to be as not only does she get to strengthen her legs even more, but she gets to do "smart things" with her brain as well.
So smart is she

And her pacifier.....
.......we would not be able to get through even an hour without it. No kidding. I have had to make emergency stops at Target just to buy one if forgotten. This is the most serious piece of baby equipment we have for Bethany.

When out and about, Bethany will be fairly content if shopping in a continuously moving stroller or cart. Same is true of car rides. Moving car=good natured baby. Stopped car=very bad things coming from that leopard and rose covered car seat.

She seems to enjoy the cool air of a hockey arena, which is a good thing, as she is there A LOT these days. She is still pleased as punch to snuggle in the sling....I'd say it is still her favorite place to be. And because the sling is the one place she is consistently happy, and where she is close to my heart (both literally and figuratively), it is my favorite place for her to be as well.
Happy 6 month birthday, Bethany!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vehicular Autocide

My husband has a way with cars....a very bad way with cars. He has run 4 cars to their death. He will be quick to point out that one of them was NOT his fault.....though that deer WAS already dead, and perhaps he could have driven around it, had it not been so hideously dark one early winter morn. Seriously, I think my husband may be one of those people that has an electical misconduction kind of problem....you know, that kind that can't wear a watch because the watches always stop working once placed on their wrist? Bob's that way with cars. He's a car killer.

Alas, another car has bitten the dust at the hands of my husband. On the way to an out of town hockey game last evening, something snapped in our handsome black truck (which incidently had just been tuned up completely to good as new condition exactly one year ago), emitting an array of metal shavings and other garbage into the engine. It tried to make it to it's destination at the arena, but about one mile away, could make it no further. Poor thing had to be pushed off to the side of the road with the help of a few extra nice hockey coaches. We had to pay for about 25 miles of towing. Now deemed dangerous and virtually "unusable" it will be forced to report into the vehicle graveyard tomorrow.

Ugh. Merry early Christmas to us.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Um....well.....OK, then!

A few weeks back, a kid in the middle school was expelled for threatening another with a knife. Wonderful. Once again, our "grand" tween conglomerate is the base for stellar and ethical behavior from which all other kids in our area may model themselves upon and achieve great success in life. Or NOT.


I really do not understand why we even try this place. Jonny had a good year last year as a newbie at the school. But, I think the only reason it was successful was due to the fact that his class was the extra...the ninth class of 5th graders....making them the odd class out, and leaving themselves out of the rotating loop. One extra year of sheltering their innocent young minds was a good thing. Then comes this year. Being thrown to the wolves. Actually, I think they are more like hyenas over there. Yep, I can envision that scene from Lion King where the brave little lion cub is mercilessly teased and taunted and laughed at by the horrible, ethically barren beasts. THAT, is our middle school.

Jonny has tried. He has recently been begging to come home. The older boys hated the atmosphere at the middle school and all of the negativity and bullying that goes on there, thus leading Michael to come home. Though Michael had not been personally a target, he was sick of watching others get their self esteem beaten down to the ground. Unfortunately for Jonny, he is one of those victims this year. But he has also been conflicted about missing the time with his friends and all the academic success that he enjoys being a top student at the school. He has wavered. Home? School. Home. School? Until finally today, it has been officially decided to:

HOME SCHOOL.



On a Wednesday evening, in the middle of the week, a few weeks before the end of even the first trimester, enough is enough, and Jonny is out of that mess and home. Where he belongs.

(He will continue with band and choir at the middle school on a daily basis, as he remains completely interested in the area of music and performing arts.)


Welcome home, Jonny! I hope you like it here!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's the Little Everyday Things

Little Laura is sweet. She is loving Kindergarten this year, and is always so excited to go to school everyday. She talks about this friend and that friend, and all of her play date plans (though these are all just her own concoctions). She comes home every afternoon eagerly showing me that day's project or worksheet she completed. She's loving it.

When the kids get off the bus at their designated stop on the way home, Laura never fails in completing one special task.....she diligently and consistently finds a pretty little flower(dandelion or flowering weed) and/or a leaf bursting with gorgeous fall color. Each and every day, since her first day of school, my little girl brings these things home to me. Without fail. Without missing a single day. "Here, Mommy!" she says as she holds her tiny precious gifts out in front of her.
Man, I've got the best job in the world with benefits you just can't beat anywhere else. I feel very special!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Inheritance



Crispy has inherited:

....my bad eyes. Sorry buddy. But you sure do look good in those new glasses!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Child of God


Each child of ours is a gift. A very precious gift. One we do not deserve in any way, but have been blessed with by the grace of God. We are so thankful for these beautiful little beings that we have been blessed with, and are overcome by the miraculous wonderment of it all. The struggles, the triumphs, the love, the personalities, the silliness, the adorableness, are all absolutely amazing to us.
Today was our day to publicly thank God for sharing His gift of a new life to us with Bethany.

We thanked God for her special little life in our lives.

We promised to raise her in a Christian home.

We gave praise to God for all the goodness He has given us.

We thanked God for all of our family (nuclear and extended).

We prayed over Bethany as the beautiful child of God, perfectly and wonderfully made in His image, and thanked Him for making her exactly as He did.

As earthly parents, we can never love her as much as her heavenly Father can.
But we promise to love her as much (and even more!) as is humanly possible!

It was a beautiful, sunny day for the occasion, a sweet gift in this rainy, windy, cold fall weather we have had this season. Alex was a dear, as he drove Melissa, Crispy, and Jonny to church at 6:50AM! Even with the added hour from changing the clocks back, that is pretty early! Jonny had rehearsal, and the other two kiddos just so happened to be singing in the JAM choir during all three morning services today. So, with three kiddos already dressed up successfully and gone to church, and two teens that could handle themselves in the dressing department, I only had the youngest three to worry about. That certainly made getting ready on time quite a bit easier!

The service was lovely, our family filled the corner of the stage, while all the relatives supported us from reserved front row seats. Melissa and Crispy did such a nice job singing on stage after Bethany's Dedication prayer given by Pastor Dave. They both looked so grown up already. (I will add pictures as they come....my dad was able to get some nice shots with his magic camera that can take good pics in all type of less than favorable lighting conditions).

We had a nice brunch at our house following the service, which allowed some good chat time, snuggles with the special little lady of the day, and good food. Bethany was literally "the center of attention"! It has been so nice being with family again, two weekends in a row! It is something I really miss about moving from the cities...we just do not get to see everyone as often as we would like by living so far away. Barb and Alan were also brave enough to make the trip all the way out to our house....I think it was a nice diversion for them after the difficulty of burying their son only one short week ago. As they have said so often in the past few weeks, it has been so comforting to focus on the circle of life through the reminder of Bethany's entrance in the world....one person enters eternity, while another beautiful little person is added to our lives on earth. God's got His hand on all of us....as we enter, leave, and stay for a brief while. What a good day to remember that ALL of us are His dear, beloved children. Something to be thoroughly thankful for today, and everyday.