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!