Monday, December 15, 2008

Feel Good Day

Saturday was a blast!
In summary ...

The Before:

The During:

The After:

OK, so it doesn't look that bad. It actually IS pretty bad, but CONSIDERING ... well, it could have been WAY worse! Let's start at the beginning...

First Mo and I dropped off presents at the Angel Tree. Instead of birthday gifts, Mo always asks us to buy gifts for an Angel every year. Plus she coordinates other Angels with her office in Fairfax AND volunteers her time at the Angel Tree warehouse. The girl is a SAINT, I tell ya. It was fun to see the looks on the faces of the Girl Scouts who were volunteering when Mo and I came in like Santa Claus with 4 huge sacks of gifts, all labeled and ready to go! Still, it did make us a little sad to see how many un-adopted Angels were left on the tree. If you have some free time and a few extra dollars, PLEASE go pick one up!

Mo's adorable house in Short Pump

Unpacking the car in the Short Pump parking lot.

Then we picked up the Luals to take them to Target. 2 and a half hours later, we departed - tired and overstimulated, but successful!

Goofing around in the Toy Section

Duk found the interactive books

Get this! Each kid had $25 to use for themselves, but Awut didn't buy ONE THING for herself. She used her entire budget PLUS $20 that she'd saved buying presents for her family and her friends. I found that pretty amazing.

Mo and the kids doing the final tally

One last trip to the fitting room and that's it! Off to the register.

Final Stop: Aunt Crazy's house to make cookies and watch Christmas movies.
The cookies were entirely up to each kid; they could make cookies for themselves, their family, their teachers - whatever.
This took the rest of the day, and some of the kids didn't get dropped off until 11:30! Nyabol had had a fistful of M&Ms at the last minute before we got in the car, and she just GIGGLED all the way home. I thought it was really funny, but some of her sisters found it more than a little bit annoying. :) I tried to explain to them that it was just the sugar rush, and she probably felt like someone was tickling her or something, but they were convinced she was simply faking it.

After eating dinner, we headed to the Kitchen for Cookie Cutting: Round 1: Duk, 4 years old. Then they just took turns through the little cookie assembly line for the rest of the evening.

Anger took this picture, but then everyone wanted to take a picture and with all the sugar, eggs, flour and icing around, I didn't want to chance it! The rest of the pictures are by me.

They thought it was really funny when I told them that they had to "wiggle wiggle" after pressing down the cookie cutter. The Wiggle Wiggle dancing lasted the rest of the day.

Duk did a great job. Here he is decorating before they go into the oven.

Deng took it pretty seriously, but he considered himself the expert because they'd decorated cookies at school He did a great job too, don't you think?
Nyabol was next, and her cookies looked like a Jackson Pollack painting. Ayak, Nyabol and Duk pictured above.

This is the older kids, watching Charlie Brown Christmas and waiting for their turn at the cookies.

The twins were next (Achan and Anger)
Ayak was next, not because she was the next oldest but because Awut wanted to be last.

Well, Awut was last all right! And she shoved a cookie into EVERY SPARE CORNER of the cookie sheet! I had to respect her efficiency. She was a little unhappy when there were no more Jimmies left, but that's the chance you take when you choose to be last!

Duk and Deng under my Tree

After the cookies cooled, everyone loaded every square millimeter with icing. Nyabol with the final results!

Last step: Label the baggies and divvy up the goods for your teacher.

Achan, Nyabol, and Anger on their way out the door, cookies and toys in hand.

I'm still finding Jimmies and chocolate chips buried in my carpet, but to me, it's all part of the memory. Lots of fun. Yesterday I finished wrapping all my Christmas presents because we're headed out of town for a wedding this weekend.

We're almost made it everyone - Hanukka starts Sunday ... Christmas is a week from Wednesday ... Hang in there!! We can do it!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Season's Greetings!

Here it is! The annual Christmas Card. I usually finish it around this time, then mail it sometime around St. Patrick's Day. Here's hoping you receive them before Valentine's Day this time! Either way, I'm wishing everyone a Happy Holiday NOW!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Church and Chowder

On Sunday, the Luals invited me to Dinka Church. Well, not Dinka Church, necessarily, but a church service at the local Episcopal church, specifically by and for the Dinka and Sudanese community in Richmond. Here are a few shots of the afternoon...

Pretty Talented!

Saba, Nyaring (the oldest sister of the family I tutor) and Awut
Chan (mother of the family I tutor)

Abraham, Nyaring, some guy... some other guy... Achan, Awut, and Anger. I wish I could remember everyone's name!

A shot of the kids playing in the nursery area.

This gentleman just returned from Sudan. The speakers were extremely considerate of us non-Dinka guests ... they tried to speak in Dinka and in English, when they could. I enjoyed listening to both!

Anger, Achan, Awut and little Muloh

After Dinka Church, I rushed home to meet the Richmond girls at my house for dinner. Susan (well, her husband Ben, really!) made a delicious shrimp and corn chowder, Leslie brought apps and Jamestown spiced wine, and I threw in the apple pie and cinnamon ice cream.

This is the homemade sourdough bread Kristen brought. Yum... still warm.

Leslie, Kristen and Susan in my kitchen.

Aunt Crazy, Leslie, and Kristen with our new scarfs - made
for us by Susan

Christmas presents from Leslie! Friendship bread (not pictured), and our FAVORITE - Chili Dawg wine and Easy Cheese... which go surprisingly well together!!

Favorite tagline from the Chili Dawg bottle: Our dog WILL bite!

Hagerstown in November!

This is a Catch-Up Post from the weekend before Thanksgiving.

I ventured from Richmond to Hagerstown for a Girls' Weekend; not because Hagerstown is so incredibly HAPPENIN', but because it's an inexpensive, central location to meet some girlfriends. Andrea lives in Pittsburgh, Mary Brown lives in Springfield, and Gita lives in North Potomac, so it was a relatively easy getaway for all of us.

The fridge in the Hampton Inn was a wee bit intense for our champagne, so when we opened it, it overflowed... and overflowed... and overflowed. Notice how Gita pulled the plug on the sink drain to save every drop. Andrea said - in all seriousness - "Should we find a straw?" Gotta love a girls' weekend.

Dinner on Saturday night at the Texas Roadhouse - Aunt Crazy, Gita, Andrea and Mary Brown

View from my seat at the Texas Roadhouse.

On my way back on Sunday night, I met Soo and Jeff for dinner at Neisha Thai. They had gotten engaged the weekend before. YEAH!!

Apparently the Williamsburg Inn was INCREDIBLE. The staff really went out of their way to make the weekend extra special.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving pics!

Not in order ... but cute anyway!

I missed the Girls' Weekend photos at some point, but I'll post them soon! Have a great weekend, everyone!