Tuesday, November 29, 2011

santa clause movie marathon

I was all excited about this day.  It was something I wanted to do last year, but I thought of it too late.  So this year, what better time than Thanksgiving weekend?
Well, it could have been better, as only one family was able to make it, but it was still a really good time:
A Santa Clause Movie Marathon
These are the three movies where Tim Allen plays Santa Claus.
We started at around 2:00 and first filled up with goodies - white chocolate popcorn made by Marlo and cookie dough truffles (an experiment for the sale - successful, I might add) made by yours truly.  Oh, and hot chocolate and leftover pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving (it did end up tasting rather yummy).

We hauled lots of cushions and whatnot into the family room, borrowed a projector to watch it big screen and some speakers for almost-surround sound (really not anywhere close to surround sound, but a nice attempt).
After the second movie we took a break for dinner.  Slop.
I really do have to post that recipe one of these days - it is another that falls under the "looks gross, tastes good" category.  It was requested by Marlo and I was happy to oblige.
After we were done the third movie, the kids asked to watch Elf.  Um.... methinks three movies in one day is plenty, thank you very much!
At first I was a little disappointed because the day was hot and sunny.  I was kind of hoping for more cozy, stay inside, snuggle and watch movies kind of weather.  After a little while the clouds did roll in, it cooled of and started to rain and hail so loudly we could barely hear the movie even with the sound at max.  I guess I got my wish.
While normally I wouldn't recommend so many movies in a day, it was a very fun thing to do.  It will probably need to become an annual event.  Perhaps we'll just avoid Thanksgiving next time.

things are golden

After rejoicing to many people that I have been headache free for a whole week, I got a headache today. Not a migraine, thank goodness.  It most likely, although I hate to admit it to Eric, is because I exercised today.  A little frustrating as this body has not been able to do much activity for three months - and it shows.  Feeling a little (or a lot) mushy.
Despite the headache, I worked on a few items for the craft sale.  I used gold and silver paint pens.  These particular paint pens I have not used for almost 2 years.  Upon first use, they exploded.
First on our fairly new coffee table and all over my hand (silver)
 and then on the other half of my hand and my favorite sweatshirt.  I'm not sure if I should be more mad at the pens for exploding or myself for not wrapping myself and my work area in plastic wrap.  I sought to clean up immediately but to no avail.... the stuff dries rather rapidly.  Tomorrow I might try a little paint thinner, but for now I have inhaled enough fumes.  Besides, now I can call myself "Gold Finger".
One of the things I was working on, besides stuff for the craft sale, were some little advent gifts for some friends.
 I wrapped two packs of gum up together (imported gum) and made a little 24 day Christmas countdown.
 Each pack of gum has twelve pieces, so I numbered the backs - one for each day.
 Then on the backs I put "24 Names of Jesus" - to celebrate His character throughout the month.
I would love love love to be the creative genius behind this clever idea.  I'd love to be, but I'm not.  I saw it online here (and hers are much cuter - I didn't take much time to make them).  
I only made four - but if I can find this type of gum here tomorrow, I might make 6 more for the three youngest' teachers and teachers aides.  I wanted to make some for the sale too, but since the month will have already started, I don't know if they will sell.  Maybe I'll put out a few for the sale on the 4th and see if anyone will bite.  Nothing wrong with having four pieces of gum the first day, right?

Monday, November 28, 2011

spirit week (well, half week)

Last week at school the kids had spirit week:  Monday, triplet day; Tuesday, crazy hair day; Wednesday, team color day and team games.
Here is a little crazy hair for you:
Lucy - two braids and a pony-tail.  That was as crazy as she would let me go.  Mia - one braid, one pony tail, one bun.  Crazy.  Cade - 24 ponytails, or "howny noughts".  I told the kids a few weeks ago how my siblings and I use to take baths together and when we washed our hair we would make howny/horny noughts - basically points of hair coming out of the top front of our heads.  I really don't know how "nought" is supposed to be spelled.  Perhaps "nowt" would be better.  Anywho, they are quite fond of the term and Cade wanted a whole whack of howny nowts.  The picture would indicate otherwise.
But he did want them, he really did.  At the end of the day, however, he did not want anything to do with nowts.  The nowts were hurting his noggin.
Wednesday was the whole team day.  Two grades were paired up together and each student was paired up - one from each grade.  First grade was with the sophmores - the red team.  Lucy with her partner:
Fifth and eighth grade were together - the purple team.  So Maddy and Mia were paired up!
Second grade and the juniors were together - the grey team.  Cade got to be partners with his buddy from Sunday school - one of his teachers.
They did the make-you-vomit-and-fall-over-to-break-your-neck-game of putting your forehead on a bat and spinning around 10 times, then running back to your team game.  Personally I detest that game.
One time around on the bat for me and I am ruined for the day.
Then they gave a bag of food to each team and they had too all help eat it all as fast as they could.  Our buddy Luke wolfed down an banana pretty fast.
Although we had no desire for him to succeed - he was, of course, on the enemy blue team.  Cade gave no one grief helping out in this one.  He knocked back half a jar of maraschino cherries without any complaints!
And then he even followed it up with some crackers.  Can't say he didn't participate!
The third game was dressing up in a robe, a sport coat and a top hat and then running to the team leader to get a puzzle piece.  Then disrobing, and having the next person go until all the pieces were received.  Then the puzzle needed to be assembled.
I'm not exactly sure where that kid's sport coat is....
The final game?  A fairly relaxing one by the looks of it:

All the members of each team had to spell out words, using each person on the team.  It doesn't look like any of the kids were too hard-pressed about this one, either!
Sad to say none of the kids' teams won.  It ended up being the green team - the third graders and seniors. There is a theory going that the seniors always win - due to some maneuvering of numbers.  I can't tell you if that is an urban legend or not but time may tell....

craft sale - coming up!

I have been headache free for one week.  A whole week!!!!  Do you have any idea how exciting that is? I had another good long bout (5 days, perhaps?) not too long ago too.  Do you know what this means?  I'm getting better.  I'm adjusting.  I am on my way to a normal life once again.  Thank you Lord!

A realization came to me today.  I don't think I have mentioned the craft sale this year.  Once again I'm participating in a craft bizarre, selling stuff to make money for Casa G.  And this year Marlo is helping me.  She's been a busy little beaver making all kinds of beautiful wood stuff - ornaments, candle holders, signs, etc.  She is exceedingly talented especially in the area of all things wood and power tools.  I'll need to get some photos of her handiwork yet.
Last Christmas my mommy did me a huge favor of buying a bunch of candy canes and Christmas lollipops during the after-Christmas sales.  Since those things have an expiration date of about 50 years (or maybe two), I knew they would be okay to use this year.  So once again I have a stable-full of candy cane reindeer.
 I wasn't sure what to do with the lollipops at first, but then figured I'd wrap them up in cozy earmuffs and scarfs.  The down side was discovering that the lollipops weren't mint flavored but sort of fruity.... my kids were disappointed.  Perhaps it will be a blessing in disguise as I'm sure there are people out there who prefer other flavors to mint.
 I bought a bunch of fabric trim this summer on clearance at Walmart and turned them into cuff bracelets 
 and headbands (there are more variety than what is pictured).
They'd probably look cuter if photographed on a lovely model - but they really do look cute on!
Then some kitchen towels:
 There still are a lot more of these to sew.  Some of the towels I bought on clearance at Target this summer and some were donated to Casa G.  I just took them all and added some fun contrasting fabric and trim that I had.  I'd be happy to keep them all for myself, but I won't.

 I was trying to come up with an idea of something inexpensive and easy/fast to sew using fabric scraps that I have.  I found just the thing on a website:  dog walking bags.
 The picture really gives no idea of what is going on.  Each little bag is elasticized on the top and has velcro sticking out the side.  The idea is to attach the bag to your dogs leash with the velcro strips and fill the cloth bag with plastic bags.  That way, when you're out taking your little doggie for a walk, you won't be empty handed when needing to clean up after said doggie.  While Ecuador is no where near as bad as Costa Rica was, there still are plenty of people who don't clean up after Fido....   Either they will think this is the lamest invention ever, or it will encourage more people to "keep it clean", so to speak.  I'm hoping for the latter.

I've also sewn a bunch of buntings/banners.  
These ones are made out of chalk cloth - just like fabric chalkboards.  I thought they'd be kind of fun as you could hang them up and write out different things on them according to the occasion.  We'll see if other people think they are as fun as I think they are!
Other items coming up:  Hot chocolate on a stick, bags of candy coal, peppermint bark, chocolate caramel pretzel rods, key fobs (hopefully - waiting for the hardware to be imported), letter ornaments (already made about 30 of these and promptly ruined the entire batch of them.... oh yes, I was thrilled), and snowman ornament kits.
But more on all that later.....

Sunday, November 27, 2011

and we are thankful....except....

We did end up going away - for one night - but it was a good one.  We headed to Mindo - a cloud forest area about 2 hours away - with our friends the Jensens.
At first I was a little unhappy.  We had a price quote that was pretty decent (prices here are increasing like crazy) but when we got there they said it was for different housing or something like that - some sad excuse for basically (my interpretation) going "Ah, they are gringos so we will charge more.  I don't mind spending money for something worthwhile, but I don't like being swindled!
Especially for a place that stank like crazy and was filled with dead bugs (conclusion - they probably sprayed for bugs to "clean" our room, only to not actually clean the dead bugs.... the room was littered with them).  Thankfully I realized that I needed to change my attitude... especially it being Thanksgiving and all.
We had amazing weather the day we got there - apparently it can be cloudy a lot.  AND we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  That was fabulous.

After an afternoon of swimming, we headed in to get ready for dinner.   I'm not sure what exactly was in the pool water but I had a crazy time trying to comb the girls' hair.  Eric made an attempt at Lucy while I did Mia and then helped out Maddy.  He gave up and I took over.  There is something about that girl's hair that makes it super hard to comb, but it was worse than ever.  I finally just separated the stuff into sections and braided it, knots and all.
Pippi looks mighty cute (a little psycho-scary in this picture!) but her hair really did stay like that!!  Perhaps they filled the pool with hair gel?
We heard that there was a great pizza restaurant in town with a wood fire oven.  We found it (town is small, but has 5 or 6 pizza restaurants).  And it was pretty tasty.

After putting some completely exhausted (completely, let me emphasize) three 10 and unders to bed, the 11 and olders and moms watched Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail.  It had been many many years since I had seen it, but it was just as good as always.  And now Maddy is quoting like a crazy person......
Day two - more sun, more swimming.

Up until about 10:00 or so, we were still pretty much alone at this place.  Then 2 tour busses arrived and we were bombarded.  They were all Ecuadorian, so I'm not sure what the deal was.  We still pretty much had the pools to ourselves (apparently there aren't many swimmers?) but the deck area was packed.  I enjoyed embarrassing the kids with my grooving to the music (no, I didn't not stand up, I wasn't that mean).
We packed it up and headed out, then did a restaurant repeat for lunch.  Hey, if you know it is good, sometimes it is not worth the risk in some places!  A little "Adventures in Odyssey" in the car and two hours later we arrived in a very cool, rainy Quito.  It made us even more happy that we got some wonderful sun and surf (okay, surf - no, but you get the idea).
It was a great way to spend part of our Thanksgiving break.  But really, doing anything with great friends makes for a good time.
One downside.  Notice what Eric is doing in this picture:
Scratching.  We got a lot of bug bites.
Seriously.  Lots and lots of bug bites.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


There has been a lot of activity in the Ackermann household lately and it is high time I catch up.  'Tis definitely that season, and I love it!
We had been debating for quite some time as to what to do Thanksgiving weekend.  Eric had it "off" but we just weren't sure what to do with the time.  In the meantime, some Youth World people were planning a Thanksgiving dinner and everyone was invited.  The problem was that we still weren't sure what was up, so we said we wouldn't be there.  Then things looked dismal for going away, even for the night or two we were thinking about.... and the saddest part was that it was looking like we weren't going to get any Thanksgiving dinner!!  That would be a tragedy!  
In a conversation with Marlo I happened to be whining about that fact and a few minutes later, she called back and asked if we wanted to come to their house Wednesday night to celebrate with their semester abroad crew (a mere 25 people they already had coming!).  Uh, yes please!  So we joined in their festivities... and food, of course.

 Four countries were represented, which was to me the best part of the evening:  the US, Canada, Ecuador and Germany.  Six Germans, two Ecuadorians, one Canadian (yours truly.... or five if you count the kids) and the rest from the states.  It was fun as it was the first time the Germans and Ecuadorians had ever celebrated Thanksgiving.  Apparently they are not very thankful people.  Kidding, kidding, of course!
Even though it was a little coolish outside, we kicked the kids out-of-doors to ease the squeeze of space.

 Other than some issues with cooking all the food* it was a very delightful evening.
*I made two pumpkin pies, only to discover after 50 minutes of them being in the oven that the gas tank ran out early on - as in shortly after I put them in.  The timer went off, I went to check them and low-and-behold, they were almost completely uncooked.  I baked them a few minutes more but then realized I had to take them out of the oven so that I could cook one pan of Marlo's stuffing and my corn casserole.  Even with that, we ran out of baking time for those two items and so we wound up bringing almost baked stuffing and corn casserole and not-even-half-baked pumpkin pie.  We finished the rest up in Marlo's oven but the pumpkin pie was in sad shape.... by the time the middle was set the outside was burned.  I think God was trying to humble this-here proud pie baker.  Only one piece was taken.  Sigh.  (The good thing is that we had some today and it was actually pretty decent.... it just looked yucky)
And the actual Thanksgiving day?  More on that later, but rest assured, Eric still got his turkey and stuffing Thanksgiving dinner on the real Thanksgiving day.
Thanksgiving morning: Turkey leftovers for breakfast.