Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Healthy Child Healthy World Update

We have been mostly done with the HCHW videos for a long time. I've been putting off sharing them with everyone, though, because I hate to show stuff that's not finished. Other than minor changes we've been making, the thing we've been waiting on is the voice over. A certain multi-time Oscar winner was supposed to do the VO in November, but now that 2007 is winding to a close, our client has just about given up on her. He's reaching out to another multi-time Oscar winner, but who knows how long it's going to take. SO...I've decided to share the videos with everyone even though the VO scratch track is my annoying voice.

You can watch Part One of the video here.

And you can watch Part Two here.

These two videos will be shown together or separate depending on the occasion. And Part One will eventually be cut down into shorter, commerical length versions to be broadcast on TV.

Thank you to all of our friends who helped out on these videos. I will get you a copy when the final voice over is finished. In case you were wondering, the shot of all the babies in a row on the grass is on the cutting room floor because our client just wasn't into it. I can't believe we dressed all those adorable babies up and sweated buckets for that shot, and it didn't make it. We tried to keep it in, but sadly it was not meant to be. Maybe we'll get to use it for something else in the future. BTW, it is on my long to do list to get everyone copies of the photos that were taken at the shoot. I'm going to try to do this during the Christmas break.

I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

This is dedicated to Jonna

Jackson likes singing this song from that old show Hee Haw, and so I recorded this one day last week. I really had no intention of ever posting it, but as I completed my daily ritual of checking Jonna's blog it seemed appropriate. Jonna, where are you?!? It's been over a month. Your fans are getting restless...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Pageant

Last Friday night Westover Christian Preschool had its annual fundraiser and Christmas pageant. The kids have been practicing their songs for weeks, and we were very excited to see the performance. The nursery classes were little sheep with cotton glued to their shirts. :-) The two year olds were shepherds, the three year olds were angels, and the four year olds were stars. They were all very cute. Jackson did such a good job too! He behaved very well onstage, sang every word, and performed all the motions with the songs. The three year old's big musical number was "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" which is pretty hard for that age! But they were great. Here are some pictures:

The stage with the entire cast.

Jackson and his buddies Nema and Charlie.

Nema and his mom Noosha. (Remember the smoothie story?)

Sweet little lamb.

Mischievious little angels.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Luke looking at pics of Mommy, Grammy, and Papa

We need to work on getting him to say the rest of his grandparents' names on camera. Lately every time we get out the camera all he will say is "CHEESE." But I'll keep trying...

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Jackson's Music

Jackson has always loved music ever since he was a little baby. I remember driving to Dallas with him by myself one time where we literally had to listen to "Down in the River to Pray" from the "O Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack the entire way. He would cry if I played anything else. When he learned to talk and say "no" specifically, we went through a period where all he would let us listen to in the car was cheesy kids music. We got really sick of "Baa Baa Black Sheep."

Eventually, he became interested in what we like. If fact, one day we were riding in the car and Mat was lecturing him about Prog Rock music and how it wasn't appreciated in the 70's, and Rolling Stone magazine always gave bands like Genesis and Yes bad reviews. Then in the 80's when members of the great prog bands got together and re-formed as supergroups like Asia, they got panned again by the critics for trying to be pop and not staying true to their prog roots. ETC. I had to interupt and say, "He's 3 years old! Do you really think he's interested in what Rolling Stone magazine has to say about prog rock!?!?" Jackson quickly interupted with: "Mommy be quiet! Daddy was talking to ME!"

Nowadays he's really interested in lyrics. Several weeks ago I was listening to the "Walk the Line" soundtrack which is mostly Johnny Cash music. He made me play "Ring of Fire" over and over for a week. If you pay attention to the lyrics you'll see why:
I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher

And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

I mean what little boy wouldn't want to sing about FIRE! There is also a song called "Army" by Ben Folds Five that he likes because it has a Chick-Fil-A reference in the lyrics. The song is about a guy who drops out of college, grows a moustache and a mullet, and gets a job at Chick-Fil-A. Jackson loves it. Then, there's the Thomas Dolby song that Mat has on an 80's mix CD called "One of Our Submarines." Jackson thought the lyrics to that were cool, and we went through a submarine phase.

Jackson's newest phase is that he LOVES all the songs on the Genesis CD "Wind and Wuthering." I cannot tell you how proud this makes Mat. I think he almost wants to cry a little bit every time Jackson requests it. You probably already know this, but Mat loves Genesis a lot. (That is a huge understatement, but if you know him you really don't need me to explain his encyclopedic knowledge of the entire history and musical catalogue of this band that dates back to the late 60's.) So anyway "Wind and Wuthering" was released in 1976. It's filled with really high-brow songs, most of them telling a story about something. To give you an idea...the first track called "The Eleventh Earl of Mar" is about a military battle in England in the 1700's.

Jackson's favorite song from the album is called "All in a Mouse's Night." He knows all the lyrics by heart which I've copied in below. He sings it to himself all the time. All this backstory is to introduce a video Mat happened to capture a couple of weeks ago. He is singing the first verse, and this wasn't staged at all I promise. We realized later that before he starts singing he's humming the instrumental part at the beginning of the song. If any of Mat's old friends out there are reading this, you will be happy to know that the Genesis tradition is successfully being passed down to a new generation...

This time we caught him singing it in the shower.


All In A Mouse's Night Lyrics

(The different verses of the song are told from the perspective of either the loving couple in bed who hears a mouse in their room, the mouse who's trying to sneak out of his hole to find some food, or the cat who tries to kill the mouse.)

Loving Couple:
I can't see you but I know you're there.
Got to get beside you cos it's really cold out here.
Come up close to me you'll soon be warm.
Hold me tightly like we're sheltering from a storm.

Think I might go out for a stroll
Into the night, and out of this hole.
Maybe find me a meal.
Walking along this new shag pile
Presents a problem all the while.
Nearly the door.

Suddenly he bumps into wood, the door is closed.
A voice from the bed, he'll be exposed.
Which way to run, must make for the hole,
The light's been turned on, he's blind as a mole in coal.
Now I can see they're coming at me,
They've blocked off my door, I haven't a chance in at all.

Come on baby let the poor thing go.
I'm not sleeping with that thing around here, no.
Alright then, I'll fetch a box from below,
Guard him carefully, they're very quick you know.

The door's been opened, my chance to escape.
Must run out quick, better sorry than late.
I'm out on the stairs.
They won't catch me now, I've the run of the house now.
I'll make it downstairs and into the breadbin.
That would be nice.

Suddenly he bumps into fur, that's very unwise,
A cat is much quicker than men and their eyes.
The chase that ensues can have only one end,
Unless outside help steps in for our friend in need.
But now the cat comes in for the kill,
His paw is raised, soon blood will spill, yes it will.

Hard luck mouse, this is the end of your road.
The signpost says inside me, let me bear your heavy load.
But it's not to be, that final pounce
Knocks a jar upon his head, and lays him out.
But it's all in a mouse's night
To take on all those who would fight.

Cat's Story:
There I was with my back to the wall,
Then comes this monster mouse, he's ten feet tall,
With teeth and claws to match.
It only took one blow.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Thanksgiving Pictures

I'm finally uploading our recent pictures now that we have a lightening-fast fiberoptic connection at home. This picture of Mat and his mom was taken at Mat's Great Aunt Margie's house.

This is Aunt Margie. She entertained the boys with new remote control trucks.

These pictures were taken at the Black Savage family brunch. (This is not meant to be a derogatory expression. My mom's maiden name is Black and her mom's maiden name was Savage. Therefore, our family get-togethers are attended by Black Savages.)

The whole group. Unfortunately the battery died before Mat found his spot in the shot. (Can someone please email a version of this with Mat in it?)

Aunt Helen and my mom.

Cousin Donice.

Hanging with Grammy and Papa. Luke said my dad's name for the first time which was a big thrill.

Jackson was thrilled to get to visit with my cousin Chris who is a Delta pilot! Every time we see a plane nowadays, he says he thinks Chris is probably flying it to Atlanta.

The Stempel family Thanksgiving / Christmas weekend pictures. Here is Lukey on a walk.

This is Jackson with Mat's cousin Wyatt who lives in Steamboat Springs, CO. Jackson and Wyatt had a ball together playing with Cars cars and watching movies.

A self-portrait.

Wyatt can read!! We were all very impressed.

Making cookies with Christopher and Kirsten.

Mat's family has a long-standing tradition to cut down a Christmas tree together during the Thanksgiving weekend. This is where we went to get the tree.

And here is the tree.

There are lots more Thanksgiving 2007 pictures on our Flickr page.

Coming at you with fiberoptics!!

We have switched from Time Warner Cable to AT&T Uverse. We just got it today, and it is FAST! We're having fun exploring our new TV channels tonight and finally uploading all of our recent pictures. For anyone out there who maybe be using my roadrunner email address, please use my alpheusmedia address from now on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What I Ate for Thanksgiving

On our way out of Austin on Tuesday we drove through Wendy's and got a light lunch. I had a baked potato. We snacked on Yogurt Burst Cheerios while we were on the road. When we got to my mom's we had a cookie and dropped off the boys. Then Mat and I went to the Kyoto Japanese Steak House in Rockwall and had sushi for dinner. It wasn't bad. Then we went to Plano and saw the movie "No Country for Old Men." I don't think we ate anything there surprisingly. Wednesday morning I ate more cheerios, we went shopping for awhile, and then had Mexican food (tacos) at a place called Cristina's at Fire Wheel Mall which is (I think) in Garland. Wednesday afternoon I ate some of this delicious pecan pie/cookie thing that my mom made. Wednesday night we went to Dallas and had a traditional Thanksgiving meal at Mat's Aunt Margie's house. Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, some other stuff I didn't try, and a delicious mango jello mold dish followed by pecan pie.

Thursday morning we drove to Sherman to have a non-traditional Thanksgiving brunch with my mom's family. Lots of yummy casseroles, pastries, ham, a variety of granola and yogurt, pies, and more. Thursday afternoon we drove out to Mat's mom's lakehouse in East Texas and had another turkey dinner topped off with chocolate pie. Friday me think...oh yeah, donuts. For lunch I had leftovers and cheesecake. After lunch we went out to the Christmas tree farm and cut down a tree. We worked off a few calories walking around out there, but not many. We also had some hot cider at the farm.

Friday night Mat's Aunt Susan and I were in charge of dinner and we made Mexican food with tortilla soup, quesadillas, pulled pork, refried beans, black beans, Spanish rice, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, tortillas, salsa, chips, pico, etc, etc, etc. Sounds like a lot, but it was all really easy except the soup which I think Sue spent a lot of time on. It was very, very good. What am I forgetting? Dessert. Hmmm. Well, we opened our Christmas presents and stockings and ate some chocolate. Surely I had more sweets, but I can't remember.

Saturday morning...eggs with sausage and leftover rolls with jelly. Lunch...buffet of snacks including baked brie (two kinds), crackers and spreads, chips and dips, leftovers, shrimp gumbo, and pie. Snack...Christmas cookies with cream cheese icing. Dinner...BBQ ribs and chicken, pinto beans, corn casserole, garlic bread, chocolate chip cookies, and more Christmas cookies. Sunday morning...cereal and one more cookie for the road. Sunday lunch...blackened Tilapia at Razzoo's in Mesquite on the way home. (We stopped to see my sister Becky who has just returned from Spain.) Sunday supper...Wendy's again. I got a salad. It was pretty gross. Sunday night...more chocolates from my stocking.

I'm on a diet.

We tried a new restaurant...

Have you been to Tino's Greek Cafe over at Brodie and Slaughter next to Randall's? It's really good. We went there last night since Doreen recommended it, and we practically wanted to go back again tonight. The floor was so destroyed after we left, though, that I think we will give the employees a chance to forget us before we return.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Friday at the Mall

Something happened Friday at the mall that is a possible contender for most embarrassing moment. Well, I should clarify before my brother chimes in again with a comment about how he can reveal a far more embarrassing moment from my childhood than I would ever post on here.

Now that I'm a parent there's a new category of embarrassing moments that consists of being embarrassed by your children. My parents have this great story about going over to a friend's house for dinner. In the car my dad (who is a big eater) complained that he felt like he never got enough to eat at their house and always went home hungry. When they walked in the door my brother promptly informed the hosts that my dad didn't like to come to their house for dinner because he never got enough to eat. Mortifying.

I've had a few of these moments like Jackson playing with brown play-dough during church and yelling "It looks like poop!", screaming "Don't spank me!" all the way through a crowded restaurant, not wearing underwear on the first day of school, etc. But what happened Friday at the mall left me speechless.

We ran into a friend of Jackson's from preschool (Nema) and his mom (Nusha). They were there with another lady we didn't know and her daughter, and they didn't speak any English. I didn't really know any of them at all, but the boys were happy to see each other so we decided to hang around with them for awhile. After we rode the train, I got the kids a smoothie and we went over to that game by the movie theater where the projector shines an image onto the floor and the kids jump around on it. It was pretty crowded and there were lots of kids and people all around.

So while Jackson was jumping around with his smoothie he dropped it, and the cup broke a little and the smoothie splattered on the floor. I grabbed the cup because it was full and quickly took it back to the smoothie store to get another cup, and Nema's mom followed me to get some paper towels. We came back and cleaned up the mess, no big deal. Nema's mom was talking to her friend in the other language for awhile and they had strained looks on their faces and kept glancing over at me. Finally Nusha came over and informed me that her friend said that when we walked away, Jackson got down on all fours and tried to lick all the smoothie up off the floor. That's right, he licked the floor...OF THE MALL! She said she tried to stop him, but he was very determined.

He must have thought I took the cup to throw the smoothie away, and I guess his 3 and a half year old brain panicked and thought he might never again get anything so good. So he licked it the floor...of the mall. I didn't even know what to say I was so embarrassed. Here these nice people are hanging around with us for the first time, and my kid (who up until this moment I thought was pretty smart) starts acting like a dog at the mall.

I'm sure there will be more embarrassing moments to come, but right now this one is up there close to the top of the list.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Funny Commercial

Mat and I saw this commerical on TV last night and laughed hysterically. Then we looked it up online and laughed again over and over.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Last Weekend at the Hollows

Last week was super busy, so I'm just now getting caught up on the old blog. We knew we were in for a hard week at work so we decided to take off to the The Hollows last weekend and spend some time recharging our batteries to get ready for it. (The Hollows is the neighborhood where Mat's dad's cabin is near Lago Vista.)

We grilled some steaks and spent a lot of time outside in the beautiful weather. Here we are waiting for The Tram and riding it down into the hollow where there's a paved walking path to the lake.

This always reminds me of the movie Jurassic Park because they have this theme-park-like sign at the The Tram, and when you're riding it down it kind of seems like those jeeps in the movie that were on a track. Remember those jeeps, and how they broke down during the big storm on the island? The first time we had a big family weekend at the cabin The Tram broke down and we had to haul five little kids, 2 dogs, and a couple of strollers up the extremely steep hill to get back to the house. Luckily we weren't attacked by dinosaurs.

Anyway, The Tram worked like a charm on this visit and we had a good time exploring.

I had to remind Mat to think of it as a nature walk instead of a hike. The boys just have these short little legs and can't move as fast as we'd like sometimes. Once we learned to slow down and just enjoy the quiet and the unhurried pace, it was really nice. We looked for bugs, threw rocks into the lake, picked up acorns and leaves, and even sang a few songs along the way.

We went to the Beach Club Saturday night to roast marshmallows and make s'mores in their outdoor fireplace. Lukey was energized by the sweets that night and was just walking around in circles and talking for the longest time. So cute. We also went to the marina on Sunday to look at all the huge boats. Jackson kept calling it either a tamborine or a ramina all weekend. haha. I think this was his favorite activity. I guess we forgot to take pictures...

We planned the weekend around getting to stop in Marble Falls on the way home to eat at the Bluebonnet Cafe. David Walker and Derek Reaves had told Mat about how good it was while they were on the camping trip, so we were really looking forward to it. Here's the line to get in to be seated.

It was worth the wait. Yum! And guess who we saw there? The Walkers!! They were on their way home from a weekend trip and had the same idea.

We stopped at the pumpkin patch at Sweet Berry Farm after lunch. Most of the good parents took their kids there before Halloween! haha. We were a little late this year, but they didn't really care. We did the corn maze and climbed around on the pumpkins.

A classic Lukey face.

A classic Jackson face.

Our pumpkins.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

We have a new favorite word...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Pictures

We had a fun Halloween. We kept our tradition of making chili and watching a movie. This year we watched The Wizard of Oz while we got ready to go trick-or-treating.

All ready to go! Jackson is the cowboy "Woody" from the movie Toy Story and Luke is his horse. The other day when we tried on the costumes for the first time, Jackson looked at Luke and exclaimed, "That's exactly what I wanted him to look like!!" as if he was directing the whole holiday.

Luke loved trick-or-treating. He would walk up to the houses and say "HI!" really well. By the end of it, he was saying something that sounded like "treat" too.

We went to a lot more houses this year than we have before.

Jackson wondered who lost their hand at this house.

Jackson found a Buzz Lightyear while he was trick-or-treating. This Buzz had lost his wingspan, though, and was no match for Jackson's real sidekick Ben.

Finally, here are some of our church friends all dressed up. These are some cute kids!

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