Monday, December 29, 2008

A Perfect Way to End Hanukkah 2008

Being in a bi-religion marriage, Dusty and I have always tried to include both religions in our family life. We celebrate most of the major holidays in both our religions....he was raised Methodist and I was raised Jewish. Dusty has grown to truly love and enjoy many of the Jewish holiday traditions and food (just ask him about his love of gefilte fish.....and there are many Jews who won't touch the stuff!!) and sees it as very important that James be exposed to as much of it as possible! There are challenges to that, for sure, living where we do, as there are very few Jews here. The closest temple is more than an hour away and I was appalled to find that I was unable to even buy Hanukkah candles anywhere locally this year. Thank goodness for the internet!! And so, I do the best I can, with Dusty's help, to teach James about his Jewish heritage.
Years ago (perhaps when James was 3 or 4) Dusty told him that Jewish law stated that if your mother was Jewish, then you were Jewish. Even at that young age, James took that to heart and from that moment on any time he is asked, he proudly says, "I'm Jewish!" You can be certain that he's the only kid in Olathe, Colorado who knows the Yiddish words for sweetheart, head and thigh (OK, so Mom's knowledge of Yiddish is VERY limited, but I am making an attempt to pass it on!)!
We usually keep to ourselves, only occasionally sharing our holidays and foods with other family in the area. But this year I had written something about celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah here on my blog, and James' Cubmaster from Cub Scouts had sent me a comment about how great she thought it was that we did both, exposing James to both religions. She and her family are very involved in their church, and I thought they might be interested in experiencing Hanukkah, so we invited them for the last night.
What a wonderful evening we had! Their three boys where attentive and so polite as they took it all in.....the hebrew prayers and the meanings of all eight candles.

Kenny, James, Josh and Matt around the burning menorah.
Cindy reading, "Latkes, Latkes Good to Eat", a great kid's Hanukkah book to all the boys.

Homemade challah (egg bread) was part of the dinner.....Dusty made the dough and I finished it off with the traditional braiding. It came out quite nice, I thought!

We all settled in for a dinner of roasted chicken, latkes (potato pancakes) with sour cream and apple sauce, green beans and the challah. For dessert we had chocolate cake with raspberry sauce, which everyone seemed to enjoy. Maybe not your most traditional Jewish holiday meal, but the friendships that grew around those two tables warmed the souls as well as having the food fill our stomaches!

We were allowed adult visiting time, too, as the boys disappeared into James room to watch "Return of the Jedi" much for playing the dreidl game. Enough "lessons" for one night! The boys had so much fun together! What a very special family they have!! You can read more about them, if you're interested, as I follow her blog. It's posted on my blog page as "Cindy".
So a big thank you to Cindy and her family for allowing us to share our holiday and family traditions with you! We enjoyed every minute of our evening together and hope that there will be many more in the future. Here's to sharing with new friends!!

I actually took this picture on Friday night, which was the 6th night of Hanukkah. I had 8 nights to play with my camera and the burning candles. It was a struggle! But I did like the way this one came out, with the Christmas tree and part of our village in the background. I think it makes a good statement of what our family is about!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Afternoon/Evening

Christmas afternoon we went over to Dusty's sister, Vonnie's, house to have Christmas dinner with the family.

Vonnie's husband, John, asked us all to put our handprints on the ceiling above their stairwell to personalize it a bit. That's what was going on in this picture of Dusty, Vonnie and their Mom, Stella!! (In case you're wondering why they were all standing on the stairs!!)

I made everyone slowdown in the kitchen and stop for a moment to take this great picture of the three generations .....Grandma Stella, Vonnie and her daughter, Katie!!

My hubby, Dusty, manning the stairwell during the handprint painting!

James sitting patiently waiting for dinner to be served!

Katie and James being silly! They spend a lot of time being silly! They love each other so much and have a lot of fun playing!!
We did miss having Dusty's son, Joe and his family with us that day. Even though they live only an hour away, the weather and roads weren't all that good that day (it had snowed much of the morning) and Jen is expecting their third child anytime now!! As much as we would have enjoyed having them with us, we thought it best that they stay close to home and their hospital! So far no baby, but some of us are betting that little Jackson Glen will join the Ryan clan in the next week!!
Dusty's daughter, Lori, who lives in Denver called Vonnie's house that evening. We put the phone on speaker-phone and set it in the middle of the table, all visiting with Lori for quite awhile. We even told jokes! It was almost like she was there with us!
It was a very nice Christmas all around!

Christmas Morning

We woke up Christmas morning to this wonderful display under our tree! Actually, I don't think that James slept at all that night (as Dusty kept chasing him back to bed all night long! LOL), but when morning FINALLY arrive this is what greeted us all! Santa was generous all around, leaving movies, a ball roller coaster for James to assemble as well as the much asked for game of "Battleship"!!
There were serious moments of reading exactly what the new, unfamiliar toys were.

And moments when the excitement took over and James appeared "possessed"!! LOL (I thought it was a funny picture, anyway!!)

Even Lacey was pleased with the new bone that Santa left for her!!
Dad got multiple tubes of the hand lotion that he covets and an IOU for the MP player that he wants (I knew HE needed to pick that out!!).
Mom got a digital picture frame for her desk at work!! Yippee!! Great choice, honey!! I love it and am looking forward to down loading my favorite pics!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Finished Product....Inside and Out!!

We brought the tree home and went right to work. By the end of the weekend, our house was looking very Christmasy, both inside and out!!

Since Dusty installed the new flooring this last summer, we've moved all the furniture around, which created a new challenge for our Christmas decor. Our living room is small, so fitting everything in without it looking crowded is a trick! I have a Christmas/Winter village that we like to put up next to the tree. We figured it all out and are please with the results!

This picture was taken with a flash.....

This picture was taken with the night setting, and no flash!

And this is the front of our house! It's the first time in a few years that we've decorated the outside and all our neighbors have come by to tell us how much they are enjoying our display! Dusty did such a great job on the fence and the tree.....on everything! After a few years of not feeling well enough to do this kind of thing, we are all so happy that he's back to being able to do all of this for us!! Everyone seems to appreciate it!! Thank you, Dad!!
We're very busy at this time of year, celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah! Hanukkah started this evening, so be sure to be watching for more blog entries very soon, as that camera of mine is clicking away!! Happy holidays one and all!!!

Our Annual Trip to the Christmas Tree Farm

I'm not sure how much time got past me since my last entry here, except we've been busy (like everyone else!) getting ready for the holidays! I've been out there taking pictures. They just haven't found their way to the blog. I'll try to be more diligent, as I really don't like to let so much time pass without writing here!

Last Saturday, we went to our favorite local Christmas tree farm to find our tree. It was cold and windy, but no snow except for the little bit that was already on the ground. We discovered this farm a few years ago and really enjoy going. The people who own it are very nice and have several acres of trees to choose from. They take you out to the trees on a hay wagon and you can stay out as long as you would like, until you find your tree and cut it. Then you jump on the next hay wagon that comes by and they take you back to their barn, where they wrap up the tree while you enjoy a cup of hot apple cider. It makes for a fun and lovely day and a wonderful family tradition!

James in the trees during our tree hunt!

Mom and James with our pick this year.....a beautiful Colorado Blue Spruce!

Our little money always has to climb the hay bales or his trip to the tree farm isn't complete!!
Now we were off, back to the house to decorate!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Something That Can't Be Overlooked.....

As many of you (if not all of you!) know we live in the small rural town of Olathe, Colorado, on the western slope of the state just 50 miles from the Utah border. Olathe's "downtown" is just two blocks long, with a hardware store, a small grocery, a restaurant and a few other businesses. Our population is now 1800 strong, mostly in the outlying areas of farms and fields. We have an elementary school and a middle school and high school (the latter two share the same campus).

Our Fall season this year has been made so much more interesting by the fact that the football team at our Olathe High School never lost a game all season long. Now, it is fairly well known (at least among my family!) that I am NOT a football fan! Despite the fact that Dusty's son, Joe, even played semi-pro for awhile, I've just never caught on!! But this season, in Olathe, what I HAVE caught on to is the enthusiasm of backing a winning team!! I am so proud to say that our Olathe Pirates went all the way to the state championships and won for their division on Saturday!!

We have lived in Olathe for going on 11 years now, and I've never seen this little community pull together like they have behind this group of teenage boys!! There were blue and gold balloons and streamers everywhere you looked and a look of pride on everyone's face. On Saturday, the day of the BIG GAME, Dusty taped this sign (provided by the local newspaper!) in our front window for all to see! While we are a small town, "our boys" are in a division of similar small schools (there are only about 500 students total at our high school) and we came out on top! For the first time in the history of the school.....yes, it's a big deal, a very big deal!! As far as those of us who live here are concerned, they couldn't have done any better if they had won the Superbowl!! Even though James is only in 2nd grade at the elementary school, we still know a few of the boys on that team.....remember, it's a small town!! :)

And so we are all basking in the glow this week, along with the team, that at least for the moment we are the CHAMPIONS!! GO PIRATES!! We couldn't be prouder of you!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Photo Challenge #27 - In Motion

Having no time for picture taking this last week, I raided my archieves and came across these two pictures. I love the first one, for the look on James' face and the movement of the water coming out of the hose! If I had an editing program, I would have done something about the neighbor's lovely cars! Yuck! But we wanted motion and that's what I was focusing on here!

And I took this one at the Corn Festival in August. Having to take it through the mesh siding, doesn't make it a terribly focused photo, but I love how I caught him in mid-air!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Photo Challenge #26 - Weather

This week's challenge brought to mind an old saying...."There's always weather, whether or not!" Boy, there hasn't been much going on here weather-wise in the last week....certainly nothing specatular enough for picture taking! Given a week or two, we'll probably have our first real snowfall, snowstorm or perhaps a blizzard!! You never know, living in Colorado!! As we say in our state (and I guess many other places around the world from other's comments here in blogland!), if you don't like the weather, just wait 10 minutes!!

I did manage some nice photos of the whispy clouds during a ride on Saturday afternoon. This one is my favorite.

And this one was taken earlier in the week out my backyard at the beautiful autumn sunset! Yes, the clouds and weather patterns do create the sunsets!! (And it gives me another reason to take pictures of more sunsets, like I need another!! I'm definitely addicted to sunsets!!)

Here's hoping that everyone is having a wonderful week!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Photo Challenge #25 - Low Light

I enjoyed this challenge, but found that I had better pictures in my archieves from the last year than I was able to take tonight. This one was the best of the bunch from this evening, when I lit the candle and took out the camera.
This is my favorite from our Hanukkah celebrations last December. James loves to light the candles and say the Hanukkah prayers. Being a bi-religion family (my husband was raised Methodist and I was raised Jewish), James gets a little bit of both.

And I took this picture over the summer on a camping trip. James is always mesmerized by the campfire and can sit for hours looking into it and talking quietly with us.......treasured moments!
While I wasn't terribly successful this week, this challenge has heightened my awareness of how to take low light pictures. I shall continue to work on it!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Photo Challenge #23 - Make Over

While working on this challenge over the weekend, I came to realize why I don't do much editing. The editing program that came with my digital camera just doesn't do a whole lot! I have my sights set at upgrading my camera in the next year and with that, will do so with an editing program as well. But I did have fun poking around with what I do have and tried some things I hadn't really used before.

Using a picture of our son James standing in a field of wild flowers, that I took this summer while camping, I used some of the edit modes that my digital program offers. I like the effect I got when I used the "fisheye" feature together with the "spotlight" feature. Thanks for stopping by!!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Fun Halloween for "Ninja Boy"

Every year I make James' Halloween costume. In 8 Halloweens I only didn't make it last year, when he wanted to be Darth Vader and I gave in and bought the costume. Over the years, I've made a bumblebee, a devil, a dinosaur, a skeleton, the Tin Man (from the Wizard of Oz), and Count Dracula.
I am by NO MEANS a seamstress!! I take the sewing machine out once a make his costume!! I can make do and my philosophy is, "It's a Halloween costume and it'll be dark outside!!" I can get away with almost anything and get by. The costumes I've made are never perfect, but are always cute, enjoyed and appreciated. That makes it all worthwhile!
This year James decided he wanted to be a Ninja, so a Ninja he was! Though, wearing the finished product made him look a little bit like a terrorist (I thought!!) he was quite pleased and proud of the outcome. Slipping into the costume, he became the "King of Drama", fulfilling the role and loved posing for the camera, as you can see!!
The Ninja didn't scare Lacey. She knew that was James under there!!

Halloween night, James' school had a party for all the kids. This was taken out on the playground before the party.

This is James and his best buddy, Cameron, who dressed up like a StormTrooper from Star Wars. After the party at school, I took the two of them Trick or Treating through the neighborhood close to home. A great time was had by all!!
As we sat quietly in the livingroom winding down from the evening and getting ready for bed last night, James looked at me and said, "Gee, Mom, I wonder what I'll be next year!!?!!!" Good grief, give Mom and the sewing machine a rest for awhile, OK?! I love you, my little are the best!!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Photo Challenge #22 S.O.O.C. (Straight out of the Camera)

I was hopeful that our trip to the pumpkin patch would result in several good pictures to choose from for this week's challenge. The weather was beautiful.....clear and sunny! I took many pictures. When we got home and I downloaded everything into the computer, I was sad to see how most of the pictures looked so washed out. I had tried several settings on the camera, but none really did the trick. Sticking to this week's rule of not editing, there was little to choose from. I'm glad that digital cameras allow editing! LOL

My entry of the pumpkins is the best of the pick without editing! I like the contrast between the blue of the sky, the orange of the pumpkins and the brown and texture of the dirt and vines. Thanks for a fun challenge, Wendy!!

It's Pumpkin Patch Time!

The weekend before Halloween each year we make our annual trip to our favorite pumpkin patch in the area. It's always a walk down memory lane for me, as we've been going there since we moved here 10+ years ago. Because James was born in October, I always think back to that first time we brought our precious 10 day old son to the pumpkin patch! And ever since, when we make this annual pilgrimage, I stop and reminice, seeing how much he's both grown and grown up!! When you're with a child day in and day out, you don't often see the growth. But this annual trip provides me with the bittersweet mile marker of my son's growth and development.

This year's visit was on a beautiful warm and sunny day! There were many great pumpkins to choose from and a fun corn maze to walk through! It was a fun afternoon!

Dad, the pumpkin carrier!

Our choices for this year.....

Who IS that big kid????

Time to Carve!

When we got home from the pumkin patch, James and Dusty set to the task of carving our Jack-o-lanterns. With Dusty working nights now, Sunday afternoon was the only chance they would have to do it before Halloween on Friday night! Here are some of the pictures we took of James working on the pumpkins, on our front steps.