Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Game Night

 We woke up to the results of another winter storm...sleet and ice.  It melted by midday. We are learning that winter in Virginia is cold!   

Dinner on New Year's is easy...tamales and snacks and cookies.  More of what we had on Christmas Eve but less formal. Also we play games all night while waiting for the New Year. Whoever wins the game gets to put their name in the lid with the year.  Then the winner gets to choose a new game.

My son and I played Nine Man's Morris which he received as a Christmas present from his sister, who bought it in Colonial Williamsburg. I had never played this before. I won! I had the blue. My son wanted to showcase it this way.

The kids tried to hit me up for Rumikube but oh no. I wanted to play Scrabble...which I won, although the kids gave me a run for my money! Hmmmm, obviously the "text" setting on my camera was the wrong choice for this.  I had a word in the upper left corner that got triple word score with letters with high points that represented how we felt that night. Everyone was laughing. The word was..."yawn".

By then dinner was ready. We snacked while playing Blokus. I sat down next to the color yellow. I had forgotten the kids had designated American Revolution names for the colors. My son played blue (Washington). I played yellow (Lafayette).  My daughter played green (Banastre Tarleton). My husband played red (Cornwallis).  He preferred to be the fife corps but the kids said he had to be part of the army. My son and I tied! Isn't that hilarious!?  We played in such organized fashion for the game.

Then we played the one game my husband had been waiting for.  Monopoly. As much as we enjoy games, we've had little space for our growing collection over the years. My husband finally helped me weed them out and we got rid of old games that were falling apart, including Monopoly. Actually I had never planned on replacing the game, because I did not like the idea of teaching my kids to be greedy in order to win the game. Then this year we studied oil barrons, railroad tycoons, the rise and fall of the stock market, and monopolies. Although the kids understood the textbook definition of the term, they did not know what a monopoly was.  I broke down and purchased an old fashioned version of the game for a family Christmas present, in the name of education.  We played Christmas day and my son easily beat us!  My husband was determined to win the next time, which was tonight and he did!  My daughter had a chance of winning, since she and my husband were the only ones who got complete properties.  She has learning delays so I told her to be aggressive and buy houses and then a hotel for her property.  She almost won! She was excited. She had been dubious about my suggestions at first but at the end, she realized that was the way to go. Forgot to take a picture of this one.

Then my husband picked Hail to the Chief. This is a fun game full of history questions about presidents and states. Well, it's fun for me and torture for my husband. He wondered why in the world he picked this game after we got started! Each question card has 4 questions from which to choose to read aloud to be answered.  They vary in degree of difficulty and I do believe I got the most difficult questions of anyone. Nevertheless, I won! I became the president and my son became vice-president.

After that we prayed the New Year in.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mwangaza Choir

     This morning when I checked my e-mail, I found a message from my church back in San Antonio, which leads me to this blog entry. In 2004, my daughter and I had the incredible opportunity to work with Mwangaza choir through the children's choir at our church.  Hosted by our church, Wayside Chapel Evangelical Free Church and another San Antonio area church, Mwanagaza Choir was sponsored from Uganda, Africa.  The name Mwangaza is a Swahili word that means "Shining Light," reflecting the gospel message they share through song. The choir is comprised of children, many of whom are orphans or come from single parent families. Some suffer from the effects of AIDS, inherited from their parents. The money raised goes back into the village for child sponsorships, feeding, clothing, housing and education of the children and training for the parents. They told us that whenever enough money was raised to free one child from the streets, a cheer would rise up from all around.  Apart from donations, money is also raised through the sale of CDs of previous tours. The 2004 tour was the one my daughter got to sing with.  

    The lady who led the children's choir would go to Africa to help prepare them in coming to America for a tour. Their first stop was at our church where they sang with the children's choir which my daughter was a part of.  Since I helped with costumes, I got to help dress the children's choir. What an experience! Those joyful, wiggly bodies with internal rhythms were difficult to capture long enough to stick the opening of the neck of a garment over their heads!

     One of the girls in Mwangaza Choir was my daughter's pen pal. Each child was given a photo of their pen pal/prayer partner. One day in the spring of 2004, Mwangaza Choir arrived in San Antonio and everyone got to meet!  The children even got to stay in our homes. The kids and I were disappointed when we couldn't participate at this level.  Nevertheless, we had an incredibly rich experience while we had rehearsals and the actual performances at church.

     We understand that the families who hosted the choir were exceedingly blessed.  Everything in America was new to these children from Uganda...stores, air conditioning, pickles, etc, etc, etc! The most special thing was the lessons learned by the host families about time in prayer to a glorious Lord. These children and their chaperones who owned so little materially, humbled the families they stayed with in showing them how to richly worship their Heavenly Father.  How beautiful.   

     Then the Mwangaza Choir went on tour across the country.  They got to be on the Dove Awards and cut an album with Michael W. Smith! Later when they came back, and the weather was warmer, all the children from both choirs reunited and we had a swim party for them! 

     Since  then there was another choir who went on tour.  This latest e-mail informed me that Mwangaza is coming back! Or at least they are praying for this.  They are having trouble with Visas and can use prayer for that.  Here is their schedule.  If you would like them to come to your church, here is the information. You will be blessed!   

Monday, December 28, 2009

Colonial Williamsburg: New Year's Week

We got to CW just after the start of the Founding Father speech at the other than Lafayette! He had more parts to his story that we had not heard before!  See, people are always asking why we keep going back.  They think things are always the same at CW, when in truth, it is honestly a living history museum.  The actor/interpreters keep adding new elements to their storylines, to keep things fresh.  It's great! Afterwards, there was an opportunity to meet with him and we did have questions to ask. My son said we should let the other guests have his time now, since we planned on seeing him at the Tucker House that afternoon. 


 Next we went to the Milliner shop. I thought the tailors would be there and sure enough they were...along with every other guest in town!  The day before I decided to whip out a historically accurate shirt for my son's costume. About four hours into the process, I realized I had made a major mistake and had ruined the shirt.  I was so confused by the pattern and decided to go to the tailors for help. However they were busy with the other guests. Hmmmm, what should be laying on the table near the door...but a freshly completed colonial shirt!  I sneaked a desperate peak at the construction of the shirt, and had one question answered...with several more unknown ones floating in my head.   It was so crowded in there, that I stepped out to analyze the pattern I had brought with me. Hmmmm, I found my next question mark. I looked at the time and told the kids we should have lunch then head for the Tucker House. 

 After lunch we had a couple of minutes, so I popped back into the tailors' and sneaked another quick peak at the shirt.  Hmmmm, I'd have to think about that construction. 

Then we went to the Tucker House where we had a wonderful time visiting with the Marquis de Lafayette.  When my son raised his hand for a question, the marquis first said some very nice things about my son to the entire audience, which was completely unexpected but exceedingly kind.  Being huge fans of the marquis, we were certainly flattered. We met our friends there too! It turned out to be an extremely special time!      

After an incredible visit at the Tucker House, we returned to the tailor shop. While waiting in line to enter the busy shop, Colonel Washington and Mann Page came down the street, riding their horses. When we saw them we waved and Mann Page started teasing us! Too fun! he

When we re-entered the shop, I again analyzed that shirt while the tailor talked to the guests. At long last, I think I had that shirt figured out!  Eventually the tailor settled himself cross legged on the table I was standing near and picked up some sewing.  He was close enough to me and there was a break in the talking so that I plunged in to my shirt dilemma and hoped for the best.  I told the tailor how I ruined the historical shirt I was making my son. I explained how I had analyzed the shirt in front of me so that I think I now understand the instructions in the pattern.  I confessed that I used to think I was good at hand sewing, making neat and even, tiny stitches...until I attempted this shirt the day before, completely ruining it four hours into my attempt. I praised the incredible craftsmanship before me. The tailor smiled and said that a shirt is an excellent piece to begin with, since most everything will be hidden underneath a waistcoat and coat. Children of the era learned to sew on shirts first. I did see an example of a shirt that was extremely well done by a girl as a sewing lesson in one of my CW costume books. He also confidently told me that it is rare for a shirt to not be salvageable. Surely there was a simple fix. Oh no, I assured him. I completely ruined it.  I tried explaining my mistake by pointing out what I did wrong on the shirt in front of me, then I pulled out the destroyed shirt from my bag. He took one look at it and he said, "I see it. That's bad."  LOL     

However, he did give me hope! He told me to just sew the pieces I cut off back on, carry on with the stitching, and count it as a lesson learned. Hmmmm, I like this guy!  I've often done things like this. My son heard it, so that verifies to him the historical accuracy of making mistakes and being thrifty and carrying on. He even gave us an example of a velvet coat of John Hancock's that was pieced together in the back. I asked if the nap stayed in one direction or if that was mismatched too. (When working with fabrics with nap like corduroy, velvet, etc, you have to make sure the tops of all the patterns are always in the same direction on the fabric, or you'll have an odd looking garment with sheens going different ways.)  Surprisingly, the tailor told me that often times the nap would go in one direction in the front and the other in the back, to make the most use of the fabric. Actually, he thought that the naps did go in different directions on the Hancock coat where they met in the back.       

    Then he told us his style of sitting is Tailor Sitting, which was quite historic. For hundreds of years, tailors often sat at the window for better light, free advertising, and to see the action on the streets.  Other languages, like German and French, used this term as well in their own languages. In North America, the term used is/was "Indian style sitting", which he heard is no longer used. (He pretty much interprets the 18th century, trying to stay out of the 21st century.)  He has heard the term, "criss cross applesauce". However there are five men (and now one blogger) trying to bring back the term, "Tailor Sitting."


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mount Vernon at Christmas

     Today we went to Mount Vernon to partake of the Christmas season. There were several Christmas trees in here carrying various themes.

We missed all the lovely 19" of snow Mount Vernon had received a week ago, due to rain that began falling last night.  It was a drizzly foggy day where you could barely see the Potomac in the distance.  

Being the Christmas season, we got to take a rare third floor tour of the mansion.  We had to stand in line a little while and eventually one of the volunteers came to me to tell me I was line leader for the next group!  I enthusiastically accepted the job, while laughing, since that was the most positive way I've ever heard someone be told that they'd have to wait for the next tour.  This man was extremely friendly and organized, having appointed me with this important position as early as 3 groups behind. Finally as the group ahead of me got to enter the mansion, he came looking for me and I assured him that I knew I was line leader.  However when the family ahead of me reached the door he stopped them, due to unexpected space limitations, and told the lady in front she was the line leader. Well I couldn't let this go! Teasingly I complained that I lost my position as line leader!  The volunteer looked at me and said I could pop up to the front of the line! Laughingly, I told him I was joking and he assured me that I was line leader #1 and the lady in front was merely line leader #2.  We all laughed!  These volunteers keep switching positions, because by the time we entered the main dining room, there he was...chiding me for not leading the group! What happened?  They cut in front of me, I exclaimed!  In the mansion we got to see historic Christmas decorating of the 18th century, "deck the halls with boughs of holly". The table also had one of the gorgeous fruited towering centerpieces.  Next to that was one of Lady Washington's infamous 12th Night Cakes, for January 6, which marked the end of the 12 Days of Christmas and the Washington's wedding anniversary.  I received a copy of her recipe, along with a modern version, in our schedule of events for the day. The family is anticipating my marking Washington's birthday in Feb with this cake and peanut soup (his favorite).  Later, we met him again in the kitchen, where he was horrified to see how far behind I had the end of the line! He told me I really need to work on my line leading skills. I sheepishly replied I had to stay behind to look at all the Lafayette stuff.  Well, that was a good enough excuse for him. Everyone at Mount Vernon likes Lafayette! 

In the oven is Lady Washington's 12th Night Cake.

On the table was a special type of pie. Its pastry is a container, not to be eaten. It's filled with 5 types of meats and even shipped across the ocean to friends for the holidays. This looks very doable to recreate, although I don't think I can duplicate the 5 meats: chicken, turkey, pigeon, hmmmmm what were the rest?

Then we visited the Christmas camel, Aladin!  This is to recreate a gift General Washington arranged for his grandchildren, a camel at Mount Vernon! 

He went to see my son.

He's very friendly. Then he came to visit a man standing near us. The camel even laid his muzzle into the man's neck.  The camel licked the man in the ear, on the face, in his hands, and even tried to nab his cap! Then the camel started after my daughter who laughingly ran off! 

 We went inside the museum to warm up and see the Gingerbread house of Mount Vernon, made by a pastry chef who used to work at the White House.

Here was another of the decorated trees with a theme.  These carried the theme of "Washington's Generals."  It is placed next to the entrance to the museum that holds the  "Washington's Generals" exhibit, which my kids and I saw last August but my husband had not yet seen. One of the most special things to see is the medal for the Society of the Cincinnati that the French designed specifically for General Washington.  It is extremely rare for this to be on display.  My husband asked the security guard for information on the medals.  Then my husband asked me why a Society of the Cincinnati existed.  I explained that it was a brotherhood of the men who fought in the American Revolution.  Cincinnati refers to Cincinnatus, a Roman farmer who left his plow in the field when called upon to lead the military against enemies of the ancient Roman Empire.  After successfully leading his men to victory, he broke military custom of assuming leadership (and often dictatorship) of Ancient Rome, by returning to his plow.  Likewise, when General Washington won the American Revolution, there was talk among some of his generals of his becoming king, which he refused. He simply wanted to return to his plow.  Washington had always admired Cincinnatus and thus Cincinnatus became the symbol of this brotherhood (as well as the namesake for the city of Cincinnatti in Ohio.)   I had explained all of this to my husband, with the security guard listening in.  After I was done, the guard said I should get a job at Mount Vernon!  Well Mount Vernon is an hour away from home, we don't have any desire to live closer to Mount Vernon, but we do desire to live in Williamsburg!  Maybe someday I can work at Colonial Williamsburg!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Colonial Williamsburg Gingerbread Village

    In years past, we used to make gingerbread villages of Gruene, Texas.  Gruene is a historic German town about 30 miles north of San Antonio. It used to be one of our favorite places to visit when we lived in Texas. Perhaps you'd like to make one with your kids of a historic village near you. This would be a fun way to incorporate a bit of history into an art project during the holidays. 

    You might think it quite ambitious for us to do an entire village of gingerbread.  Actually, I have no idea how to actually make a building out of real gingerbread. Years ago I saw a Christmas village made out of graham crackers and the effect was so charming and simple, that has been our "gingerbread" project ever since.

     Now that we live in Virginia, I proposed we make a village of Colonial Williamsburg. The chefs of Colonial Williamsburg create various gingerbread buildings and villages for display during the holiday season. If you'd like some ideas, you can listen to a podcast here.  I was thinking of doing a few houses.  My son, aka Mr. Ambitious, proposed doing the Capitol, Governor's Palace, Courthouse, Magazine, and several houses. Um, we're not that good at making "gingerbread" buildings. We'll never make any of these buildings look authentic because we simply do not have the know-how. Thankfully, the beckoning 20" of snow outdoors helped me prove to Mr. Ambitious that we do not have time to accomplish his masterful idea before Christmas.  

        First we audtioned several foam core boards we had to determine the size we wanted to use. I forgot this was to go on the credenza in the family room. Now I hope this large board will fit, since we planned it for the dining room table, which has another arrangement for it.  Well, where there's a will there's a way.

    After determining the size of the base, I had my son cover it in aluminum foil. Then I placed a large plastic holiday table cloth on the dining room table for a work surface.  Then we opened our box of cinnamon sugar graham crackers.  I pulled out all the crackers and set out stacks of the amount we would need for each part of the building. Each building needs 4 walls and 2 roofs. That's six crackers each. I cut out what was not needed for each gabled end and broke a few pieces. In the end, we had enough crackers for three buildings. My son wanted to space them out in an accurate arrangement with parallele lines. I suggested we space them out with an artistic arrangement, to make room for the extra features of the historic area that we wanted to add. So that's the way we decided to go.

     Next I piped royal icing, which acts as glue, to pipe the first part of the foundation for the first building. My son had to hold that wall in place a couple of minutes for it to remain standing as the icing hardened. Meanwhile I set my daughter's up the same way. Gradually we added the other elements until each building had all 4 walls in place. Then we covered the icing and we were done for the day, because it was time for dinner. Otherwise, it could be ready to go as early as two hours.

     The next day, the kids added the roofs  and left them to dry for the night, since it was late in the afternoon and we had other plans.

    Then we decorated!  This took a couple of days, due to catching up on school and playing in 20" of snow!  Mr. Ambitious had more grandiose ideas, but I put the time limit on tonight. We have fences around each building because that was a city ordinance.  We had meant to do different sytles of fences, but we ran out of time.  There are tootsie rolls for logs and stair steps, crushed white mint lifesavers for the oyster shell paths, star anise for wreaths, ice cream cones for trees, chocolate sprinkles for the roofs and cinnamon red hots for holly berries.  

My husband said this is the best village we ever made. I told him it is the talent of our son. 

My son designed this sign to symbolize similar ones in Colonial Williamsburg. 

My daughter and I helped a little bit, but my son did most of the work.

 Here are some sites I referenced, for structural ideas and for the royal icing.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Clove Studded Oranges for our Advent Candle Arrangement

     One of the natural elements found in Colonial Williamsburg Christmas decorating are oranges studded with cloves. This is an extremely easy activity to do with children and the uses of the oranges are numerous. They can be formed into a topiary, placed in a bowl, suspended from ribbons, incorporated into wreaths, etc, etc, etc.  I had one small container of whole cloves that we used to decorate about 5 oranges. This is an estimated usage of cloves, because the amount required is dependent on the amount of cloves used in the design. 

     When the children were younger, I simply supplied them with oranges and cloves and let them create any design they wished. The stem of the clove is stiff enough to merely poke into the orange wherever desired.

     This year, I showed the kids lovely clove designs in oranges in my book, Christmas Decorations from Williamsburg.  They oohed and ahhed over the lovely designs, but in the end, they still prefered to create their own designs. I, however, am not that clever, so I tried to recreate different patterns from the book.  I quickly came to appreciate the decorator's ability to keep everything symmetrical.  Symmetry was an important design consideration in the 18th century. Mine are not as symmetrical as they should be.  However they turn out, they smell terrific!

     This year I decided to incorporate them into our advent candle display. We all decided this is our favorite arrangement of our advent candles ever. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Pictures in the Snow

     Today was a busy day.  We are spending the mornings catching up and tying up loose ends in school. Then the afternoon plan is working on the Colonial Williamsburg gingerbread village, baking, cooking, wrapping up Christmas correspondence and playing in the snow!  Since the recent snow storm kept me out of the stores last weekend, my husband took me shopping after a late lunch for the leftover misc items I needed for the holidays, while the kids stayed home. My son finished making the new sled of the day after they added the next layer to the gingerbread village.  We are learning for success, to do the houses in stages and let the royal icing thoroughly set. We finally got home around 4pm, when it was already getting dark. 

     My husband refused to play in the snow with us, but the kids were elated I wanted to play with them. I never had a chance to play like this, when I was growing up! I didn't take very good pictures of the sledding.  Here is my son's new sled, a combination of a plastic storage lide on top of cardboard, wrapped in a garbage bag, secured with packaging tape, running from front to back.  We were prepared to use Pam if needed, as recommended by some friends!


Here is my daughter going down.

     Then it was my turn. Weeee-uh ooh!  I slid down lickety split, did a major spin, flipped and crashed into a soft pile of snow quite a ways down. Um, no need for Pam! That sled is dangerous! My son says we need to smooth out the track because it has become extremely bumpy. We asked my husband, the Northerner, how to do that, but he has not ventured a single tip. Can anyone tell us what to do????

     For my own safety (and my doctors' relief), I quit the sledding and let the kids show me the caves.  Here is the one cave...

     My son had to crawl into it. Hmmmm, since I have no snow gear to keep me warm and dry, I don't think I'll crawl in, especially at night when it's colder. 

     Then I decided I'd take Christmas pictures of the house in the snow. 

      I can't decide which one I like better.  It was difficult to get the perfect composition.  I like angle shots better than straight on with the van in front. So now I have one of the neighbor's car, still snowed in. 

     I liked this one even better, until I downloaded it and saw the sparse tree hiding the house. Hmmmmmm.......

   We put our Christmas decorating budget into the Colonial Williamsburg Christmas candles for the windows this year. Next year we want to get wreaths for each of the windows.  Hmmm, wonder if we'll find enough on sale after the holidays?

     Stay tuned for the next sled run on a hopefully smoother track, snow angels, snow man and igloo building! We've got to make the most of all this snow! 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Got Snow? We Got 20 Inches!

     This morning I woke up to sunshine! My breath was taken away by the grandeur of the glistening scenery! 

Our neighbors' car got snowed in...

In the picture I posted yesterday morning, you could barely see the ha-ha wall across the street. It couldn't be seen at all today.

This looks like a 4th of July in snow.

I was impressed that the snow plows came in early in the morning...

After gathering sledding tips from ladies on my history yahoo group and a friend from Colonial Williamsburg, my husband, who used to sled all the time in upstate New York growing up, finally decided to do more than tell us we needed a real sled.  I guess everyone's creativeness, and boy am I surprised at how creative everyone is, decided to get in the act. His solution?  A piece of linoleum he found in the basement closet.  Hmmmm, no one mentioned linoleum but it sounds great! He drilled holes in the front to tie rope into and we had  an extremely flexible sled. While I prepared meals and did some baking, I told the family I wanted a break to sled too. The kids were excited about that.  My son said the best time would be when they nail the success of the sled. The day before he and my daughter weren't very successful with sledding. 

   Later I looked out the window and found my daughter actually sledding down the hill.  I went out to join them and they immediately put me on the sled.  This was my very first sled ride in my entire life! First I stood on the linoleum and went slipping and sliding. They told me to straddle it.  Remember I have lived my entire life first in Louisiana, then Hawaii, then Texas, before we moved here last spring.   I finally got onto the sled, I had the rope ready and my husband pushed me down the hill. Weeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!! That was fun! No one took my picture.

    I did take a picture of my son who went slowly down the hill...

and didn't get very far. So far I'm in the lead for speed and distance! 

Apparently my husband hasn't had much success sledding downhill, so this time he laid on his belly and propelled himself forward. My son said he looked like a penguin. Well, he's disqualified...he used self-propulsion to sled down the hill. I'm still in the lead!

 My daughter did pretty well getting started and went quite quickly, but didn't get as far as I did. I'm the winner for round one! My daughter came in second!

This time my son took pictures of me going down super fast... 

w-a-y down the hill.  Can anyone beat that? I went several times and no one ever went further or faster than I did!  Imagine that! Where's the gold medal?

My daughter should get a medal for most creative. She has no idea how she did it, but she spun into a 180 degree turn and went the rest of the way backwards!

Then the snowball fights began.  No one was able to hit anyone, except me. I was able to hit my son!  That was safe, because he knows no one is allowed to hit me with a snowball, doctors orders. My eye doctor and head surgeon would be angry if they knew I was in a snowball fight. My husband kept forgetting that so I told him it would cost him hefty medical bills if he hit me in the wrong place, so he stopped. I went inside to let them snow fight.  As much fun as it sounds, I'm not willing to risk hospitalization for that type of fun.  Eventually they made caves. I'll check those out tomorrow!

     Unfortunately, the linoleum has met its demise.  It ripped in half. How could they do that?  It was perfect for my personal world record!  This evening my son started brainstorming from all the ideas I got from the ladies yesterday. He actually found a huge piece of cardboard from somewhere. He started cutting it down and shaping it and doing something with packaging tape, perhaps foam core board and maybe a garbage bag.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Waking Up to a Winter Wonderland

Update:  My husband insisted on the importance of shoveling snow. He spent about 2 hours this morning shoveling the front walk, driveway and deck when it was 9" deep and furiously snowing. The weathermen said that technically we were under a blizzard warning.  When he finally came in, I couldn't tell that he had done any shoveling.

The kids took awhile getting dressed for snow, because they have nothing to wear to stay warm and dry for snow!  So they put on lots of layers and my son wore my husband's extra boots. 

 I had wanted to get sleds for the kids for Christmas so I was going to shop for them today. With impending snow,  I tried getting some yesterday but they are all sold out.   So they tried a lid to a plastic storage box. When I went out to check on them they showed me that they had trouble...they sunk in the snow. Oh, I forgot to tell them to pack it down.  So my daughter sat on the lid and he tried to pull her down the hill to pack down the snow. Umpf! They were going nowhere.

Look at all that snow.  If you go all the way down, the creek is down there. My daughter was worried before the snow that they'd sled right down to the creek and land in the water.  I told her not to worry about that and I think that now she understands that won't be a problem.

They are still trying to work with that sled.  I was cold and snow kept blowing into my eyes so I went in.  It was fun working on wrapping gifts and baking while looking out all of our windows.

  Eventually the kids came in to change, I threw their wet stuff in the dryer and they had cocoa.  After lunch they ventured out again. We had brainstormed ideas for packing the snow. My son said he'd stomp on top of the lid to pack down the snow. When I watched them through the window, he was dragging his sister on the snow shovel.  Then they tried with the lid again, with my son sitting on it and my daughter pulling it, but no go. They tried the plastic tub but that wasn't working either. My son said he needed a lip on the lid so it won't get stuck in the snow. All covered in snow, he asked me to get some foam core board from our last unit celebration and duct tape so he could tape it to the lid and have a "real sled."    Later when they came in, my daughter told me they figured out that my son does best sitting on the shovel and my daughter does best on the lid.  I guess they made some snow angels today too.  Now they are talking about making 3 snowcaves tomorrow.

     Meanwhile my husband decided to shovel more snow in the afternoon. He measured that it was 18" deep! We have already more than doubled the old snow record for the Washington DC area in December and the snow was still falling furiously. 

    Stay tuned!         

Posted earlier this morning: 

Wow, this is incredible!  My son is going to take measurements and send them to the Washington DC weather station 8. Last night he measured 2" after two hours of snowfall.  One of the weathermen called this an "Old Fashioned Snowfall." Hey, he knows how to speak to my heart!  I guess he's right, though. The weatherman said we are halfway through this historic event. We are already reaching depths of snow that top the top 5 December snowfall accumulations, none of which are in my lifetime...until now!  There appears to be a foot of snow on the ground now! I just saw a cardinal in the tree outback but I couldnt get a clear picture of him. The crazy thing is that the Blueridge Mountains to our west are getting less than us and those on the coastline to our east are getting more snow than us. This weather is coming from the south and east of us. In Texas we got our winter weather from the Rockies, although moisture from the gulf gave us moisture for our snow opportunities.

The view from our family room into our neighbor's backyard...

From our family room looking at our property line...

from our family room looking at our deck...

From our kitchen looking at our deck. Where are those crazy squirrels?...

From my kitchen sink to the railing where the squirrel usually sunbathes.

From my kitchen sink to the common property beside our house...

From our dining room to the common property beside our house and the street in front of our house.

From the dining room looking in the other direction down our proposed sledding hill...

The front yard from the front door...

 Stay tuned! We're only halfway through this snow event! It continues to snow heavily now.