ice skating fun

Ever since the Olympics last winter, Lyd has wanted to take ice skating lessons.  I’ve hemmed and hawed, but in this last week of 2010, she is finally getting her wish.  We have an ice skating rink here in town, and the rink was offering a week of classes through our local Park & Recreation Department for the week between Christmas and New Years.  So, I signed Lyd up for one week of lessons, starting at 10:30 a.m. for half an hour.

The first day, Lyd had a rather difficult time.  It was her first time on the ice, and she fell … a lot.  She cried at least once, perhaps twice, and I could tell it was really difficult for her.  But, she persevered, and strangely enough, she told me that she liked it!  I thought for sure she wouldn’t want to go back the next day, but she did.  She looked forward to it the whole rest of the day.

The next day, she fell less, although she took one really hard fall and hit her head on the ice.  That brought forth the tears again, but after consoling her a bit off the ice, I encouraged her to try again – and to my amazement she did!  She ended the day with a smile on her face, and even stayed on the ice for a few minutes after her lesson was over so that she could practice during the free skate time.  Wow!

Today, while she was having her lesson, Jujubee and I got skates for ourselves, and we went over to the non-lesson half of the rink where there was free skating.  After not having been on an ice skating rink for about 15 years, I got on the ice and did NOT land on my rear end, although I did hang onto the wall a lot at first!  The fact that Jujubee was hanging onto my hand made it even more complicated, but together we found our footing.  Jujubee actually did quite well; if she can get over her fear of falling, I think she’ll do just fine.

As far as Lyd goes, today she did the best yet.  She wasn’t hanging onto the wall as much, she told me she hardly fell at all in class, and after class during the free skate time, she and a girl from her class held hands and actually skated around the ice together!  I was very, very impressed!

After all of this skating, Lyd says that she would like to take ice skating lessons this winter for her fun, outside-of-school class.  She’s done dance class, gymnastics class, and now she wants to try this.  Of course, Jujubee wants to try ice skating now, too.  The class times at the ice rink are not the most convenient for our family’s schedule, so I’m not sure how this will work.  But, I’m willing to give it a go.

I have to say, this is my tenth winter in northern California, and it’s weird to me to have to bundle up in layers and hats and gloves to go ice skating.  But it’s fun!


echinacea doesn’t work?

A few weeks ago, this news story came out, saying that echinacea doesn’t help treat the common cold.

I heard about how the study was done and shook my head at the results.  Of course that’s the results the researchers got, because they did the study wrong!

Not too long later, I had the chance to test their “echinacea doesn’t work” theory on myself.  You might recall that I woke up on my birthday with a sore throat.  Immediately, I started taking Echinacea.  I have it in capsule form, so as soon as I thought I might be getting sick, I took two capsules.  After that, I took another capsule every 2 or 3 hours.  In the following days, I took fewer and fewer Echinacea capsules, and I think I didn’t take any more at all by day 5 of my cold.

What results did I notice?

My cold definitely took longer to get going, and when it did get going, it wasn’t as intense as my colds usually are.  I was stuck in the sore throat stage for two days, which was a bit of a pain, but when the cold finally progressed to the “stuffy nose and cough” stage, it was not nearly as bad as it usually is.  I definitely had a stuffy nose, but I’ve had worse, and my cough really wasn’t too much of a problem at all.  The Traditional Medicinals brand of “Throat Coat” tea was very helpful to me during my sore throat and also during my coughing stage.

Now, a week later, I’m at the very end of the cold.  I’ve still got a bit of a stuffy nose and once in a while I have a bit of a dry cough, but overall I’m much better.  I certainly feel like myself again.

In my opinion, Echinacea helps at the very beginning of a cold.  That’s when it works best to shorten the duration and intensity of the cold.

I’ve also found that it can be helpful to prevent a person from getting sick if you take it before you feel any signs of being sick but when you know you’re immune system has been comprimised.  For example, once I got sick, I started giving my girls Echinacea prophylactically.  Lyd was sick for one day (Christmas Eve), and Jujubee – thank you, Lord! – never got sick at all.  My husband also did not get sick, although in the two weeks before Christmas, there was more than one occasion where he took some Echinacea prophylactically as well because he was feeling a little off.

So, I’m convinced by my own experience that while Echinacea doesn’t cure the common cold, it certainly helps lessen its intensity!

internet fun

Here’s a few websites that I’ve discovered lately:

I’m following a blog, called  The parents are currently in Eastern Europe in the process of adopting two Downs Syndrome boys that they heard about on the site Reese’s Rainbow, which I’ve blogged about before.  I’ve been following their journey, and it’s really interesting.

My husband discovered this website:  Essentially, one can watch good TV shows, like “The Office” or “House” or “Two and a Half Men” or, if you’re my husband, “NFL Network” for free.  No commercials!  The just stream “The Office” one episode after another, in order.  Oh, my goodness!  I can’t turn it off!

And, just for a goofy read, check out this:



Jujubee turned 3 years old last September, so this Christmas was the first one where she actually understood what was going on.  For the first time, she was able to open presents all by herself, and she was heartwarmingly excited over each gift, great or small.  For example, I was so touched when she opened up a box that held a simple shirt to see her hug the shirt excitedly and say, “A shirt for me!  I love it!  A shirt!  For me!”  Pretty much every gift she opened got that same excited response from her.

But the gift that really captured her heart was a doll that she received from her godmother, “Auntie” L.  Her godmother sent her a darling little doll with brown hair and brown eyes, looking just like Jujubee.  Unlike many other dolls that are dressed in fancy clothes, this doll was wearing a simple flowered shirt and capri jeans with purple crocs on her feet.  Jujubee wasn’t sure what she thought of the doll at first, but as I took the doll out of the packaging, I explained that this doll was for Jujubee, that it was all her own doll.  I showed her how the doll looked like her and how it had shoes that were just like her own favorite shoes.  At that, Jujubee started to talk; she softly and almost reverently said, “This is my doll!”

She gently hugged the doll close, and then looked it all over some more.  She then pointed out the same things to me that I had pointed out to her: the brown eyes, the brown hair, the teeth, the hands, the shoes.  I asked her what we should call the doll.  With barely any hesistation, Jujubee said her own name.

“But that’s your name,” I said.  “The dolly needs her own name.  What should we call her?”

Jujubee paused for a few moments, then softly said, “Andree.”

I was taken aback, but I recovered quickly and said, “Okay, that’s a good name.  We’ll call her Andree.”

Now, we know no one named Andree or any name similar to that.  I have no idea where she came up with that name.  Pretty amazing kid!

We called her Andree for about five minutes, and then I suggested, “What if we called her Andrea?  Do you like that name?”

Jujubee immediately responded, “Yes.  Andrea is a good name.”

So, the doll is Andrea, and ever since Andrea has gone everywhere with Jujubee.  Andrea took a nap with Jujubee, and miracle of miracles, Andrea’s presence was so powerful that Jujubee did not ask for her blankie and nukker (pacifier), which she never sleeps without.  Yet, not only did she not ask for her security items, she actually fell asleep without them!  Amazing!  I’ve been looking for a way to wean Jujubee off the nukker, and I think L may have given me the golden ticket.

We have plenty of dolls in the house, but this is the first doll that belongs solely to Jujubee.  At first I wasn’t thrilled to see another doll enter our house, but as I’ve seen how attached Jujubee has already become to it, I welcome this new little member of our family.  I wonder how much of a role Andrea will play in Jujubee’s next year!

a quiet Christmas at home

This year, for the first time in ten Christmas in northern CA, it was just JJ, me, and our two daughters for Christmas.  In years past, I have struggled with melancholy and homesickness during the Christmas holidays, as I remembered Christmases past surrounded by my parents and brothers and extended family.  But, this year we already knew by last summer that we would be here for the holidays.  As time got closer, we realized that all of the people we have typically invited to our home to share the Christmas holiday with us were going to be out of town.  So, we decided to simply have a quiet Christmas at home, with just the four of us.

Well, technically, we did have one guest — on Christmas Eve.  Our Kindergarten teacher was flying back to the midwest to visit her family, but her flight didn’t leave until early afternoon on Christmas Day, so I invited her to spend Christmas Eve with us.  She joined the girls and I for supper before church (JJ never eats before a service), and she joined us after church to open a few presents.  After the girls were put to bed, the three of us talked and laughed and nibbled on munchies until midnight.

But today, Christmas Day, we had nobody come over.  Not a soul.  And it was lovely.  I wasn’t melancholic or homesick at all.  California is home now.  I can honestly and truly say that I was happy to be here, in our house, with my husband and our two girls.  We listened to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio all day, and we opened presents throughout the day in batches.  I decorated our table up with Christmas dishes and festive napkins, and I cooked a Christmas dinner that was on the simple side, but was fine for us.  We weren’t lonesome at all.

Being home for Christmas was especially nice since I came down with a cold on my birthday.  It’s not been too bad, as far as colds go, but I’m still rather sneezy and sniffly, so I was glad to be in familiar surroundings.  Yesterday Lyd felt rather sick, too, but today she felt better.  So far, JJ and Jujubee haven’t gotten anything; fingers crossed that they avoid this germ.  Plus, with Christmas Day falling on a Saturday, there’s been extra work for my pastor-husband, and he’s been pretty tired.  He was glad to not have any company come over today.

Would it have been nice to be around more family?  Sure.  But that wasn’t an option this year, and I can honestly say that I was fine with that.  It was good to be here at home in California.  It was windy and rainy and gray all day, too, so it was nice to be in our warm and dry house.  The girls and I all took afternoon naps; it was lovely.

We were home for Christmas, and for the first time in ten Christmases in California, I had no desire to be anywhere else.  It was a wonderful day.

happy birthday craziness

So, I had a number of unusual things happen to me this morning, which happened to be my birthday.  They were so unusual that I decided to do an impromptu contest on Facebook.  Here’s what I said:

EMILY IS THROWING A CONTEST FOR HER BIRTHDAY! Winners will receive a free gift in the mail. Contest ends at 8pm CT, 6pm PT. Have fun!

Guess which of these four things did NOT happen to me this morning?

A) Emily woke up to 1/4 inch of water on her kitchen floor
B) Emily woke up to a sore throat
C) Emily discovered that she left her car’s headlights on last night and now has a dead battery
D) Emily received a birthday gift of nine boxes of chocolate
So, which item was NOT correct?

choir nostalgia

It was only within the last week that I broke out the “real” Christmas music at our house.

Up until then, it was all lighter Christmas music; you know, Jingle Bell Rock, Frosty the Snowman, Ultra-Lounge versions of the songs you hear on the radio.  I was listening to sacred Advent music, and a little bit of sacred choral Christmas music, but it wasn’t my high quality recordings.

But last weekend, I brought out the good stuff: the Robert Shaw chorale, the Dale Warland singers, Chanticleer, groups like that.  And of course my old WLC recordings.  And, boy, did that also bring on my nostalgia!  I miss singing in a good choir.  I really, really miss it.  However, I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I listen to these recordings and felt the music, and all the memories that went with them, wash over me.

I wouldn’t say I became depressed listening to those, but it reminded me of a time in my life that is over.  Perhaps I’ll have an opportunity to sing with a really good choir sometime in the future, but that won’t be anytime soon.  I was blessed to sing in really good choirs during my college years and the first two years I was here in California, and I have so many good memories of that time of my life.  College choir especially was SO much fun!

Today I watched WLC’s choir perform thanks to internet streaming of their concert.  If you’d like to watch it, you can click on this link.  I didn’t know very many of the songs, which made me feel old and even more disconnected from that stage of my life.  I remember being on that stage with that choir director and those decorations and on those risers.

Sigh.  But, I think it was Shakespeare who said, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all.”  I’m glad I had that time of my life, even though I miss it a lot now.  Oh, well.  I’ll just have to look forward to the heavenly choir someday!