Saturday, December 31, 2011

DC Tour

John has been all over the world, but never to Washington DC. We were happy to be the first people to take him there. We thought the long walk might make him enjoy the capital less, but he didn't whine at all., unlike some members of our party! We started at the Jefferson Memorial and walked all the way to the capital and back. We visited a few musuems, including the Natural History Museum pictured here. This was a favorite of the biologists with us!

The sunset over the tidal basin was so beautiful with all the jet trail clouds. I took several pictures of this, but although I have ones where you can see our faces, I really like the sillhouette. It leaves something to the imagination? Which one is Crystal?

Temple Lights

We went to the temple Thursday to see the lights. It was so much warmer than last year, which we thoroughly enjoyed! My new camera also took great pictures, which made me happy! After walking around outside we went in the visitors center to enjoy the manger scenes and Christmas trees.
We took Miss Carol with us, and afterwards went out to dinner at the Woodside Deli in Silver Springs. We enjoyed the great sandwiches they had there. It wasn't as fancy as the places Miss Carol has taken us, but the company was just as good!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pearl Strings Home Evening

The Pearl Strings had their family presentation last night, and we did surprisingly well, considering we hadn't opened our music for 10 days! Of course, I have to admit, we have a very supportive audience when we stack it with those who love us!

Barb was sick with a bad cold and couldn't make it, but Ed graciously consented to being the fifth member of the band (honorary pearl). Fortunately, he had done most of the songs before with Whistling Prairie, so he did great. Brittany and Amanda also helped out a few times to make up for Barb's absence. We met Alisa's in-laws, and June's son and daughter and their families. Afterwards we ate goodies and just visited. We never seem to have enough time for just talking!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Auf Wiedersehen!

We all got up at 5 a.m. this morning to go to the airport with Amanda. She flies to Minneapolis, where she meets up with a group of new missionaries. She then flies to Amsterdam, and arrives in Berlin sometime tomorrow morning. It was just as hard parting with her the second time!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

We got up at 6 today to open presents before church at 9:30. We all wore our matching jammies, that say Whistling Prairie on them. We didn't wear the pajamas to church, bu we did spend a good portion of the day in comfort. At noon we met with the Stake President to be with Amanda as she was set apart to be a missionary again. She is leaving tomorrow morning to return to her mission in Germany. We're going to miss her. This past three months together with Amanda has been all the more special, as it was so unanticipated, but full of so many meaningful events.

Coda got a new doggie bed, which she seemed happy about. She had outgrown her little puppy one, which had some pretty unsightly stains in it. Aunt Verlene sent Coda a toy that she fell in love with.  We were happy she was distracted from rooting through our goodies. Yesterday she ate 4 of the chocolate chip cookies that Kay had made for us! We think it wasn't enough to make her sick, but has definitely given her a taste for refined sugar! She was a naughty doggie, but she is so cute!

Christmas Eve

We recorded three new songs yesterday for next year's Christmas CD. We're pretty happy that we've now finished half the CD, all with Amanda still here. Brittany worked hard to arrange Once in Royal David's City. Amanda helped tremendously with Ríu, Ríu. Chíu. Crystal was proud because she chose half the songs while she was home this summer. Ed has a new Firebox and has to learn all new software to mix it!

Miss Carol joined us for dinner and singing. We had ham and potatoes. The girls have been so helpful in cooking, asking my advice as we go along. After  finding both the cake and the rolls turned out raw in the middle, I think they might stop asking my opinion in the kitchen! Fortunately, the ham was just heat and eat!

After Ed read the Christmas story the girls played O Come, O Come Emmanuel. It was a nice warm-up for playing again the next day in church. Our family did a few numbers we recorded in the morning, then, we followed up with group singing out of the Bush Caroling book.

Lenny and Kay came over in time for the singing. We sang Crabs for Christmas especially for Lenny. We really should have dedicated that song to him on our CD. He LOVES his crabs, and has been very generous in treating the girls to crabs and inviting us to his crab-b-q every summer. To thank him, we had Dennis Pitta, who is a member of our ward at church, sign one of his rookie NFL trading cards, as well as a football especially for Lenny. It was a big hit, as Lenny loves his Ravens just as much as his Maryland Blue Crabs!

We had a lovely evening by the fire, then stayed up late playing  more bananagrams! I let the others win enough games to keep them playing, but not so many that they don't know who is Queen of the scrabble tile!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Longwood Gardens

We took a trip to Pennsylvania today to see the Christmas display at Longwood Gardens. It was absolutely beautiful. I got a new camera for my birthday yesterday. I wanted something that did well in low light (but still a point and shoot). Ed got me a Canon Power Shot S95.  It looks like it is going to be great. These pictures were all taken in the dark, and I thought they turned out great.

The weather was beautiful and warm. It started to rain on the way home, but we were dry and comfortable as we walked around the grounds. Here's Brittany and John giving me their nicest smiles.

We stopped at a tent and got a gingerbread cookie for Amanda. Crystal got the gingerbread hot chocolate, which the rest of us also ordered. It was great!

Many of the displays were indoors, including this topiary tree behind Ed and myself. We also enjoyed singing along with the organ concert and seeing the giant organ pipes behind the wall. It was a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Early Birthdays

Amanda and I celebrated our birthdays together last night. We always celebrate my birthday early, so as not to conflict with Christmas day. Amanda's birthday is not till January 11th, but as she is leaving for Germany December 26th, we decided to celebrate her birthday early as well. We spent all afternoon cooking up a scrumptious fondue supper. We decided to just use dipping sauces for the meat, but made cheese and chocolate fondue, as well as some great sauces. If it weren't so much work it might become a new Bush family tradition!

We played bananagrams till midnight, after which the kids retired to the basement for a little Nintendo. It turns out I'm pretty good at banangrams. Either that, or the kids just let me keep winning because it was my psuedo-birthday!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It Was a Cold and Wintry Day

Ed Melzer was laid to rest on Monday. It was a cold a wintry day, with a light snow falling. We're all smiling in the picture at the cemetery, but there were plenty of tears shed at the funeral services. He was the grandpa my children remember most, and we were so grateful for his presence in our lives. We learned from his children that he was a pretty strict father. I wonder if any children of the 50s got out of Saturday chores! However, we knew him in the kinder and gentler days. We were grateful that his son Dwight recognized Norma and her children and grandchildren during his talk. When he pointed out that he loved us like his own grandchildren, it started the tears rolling. Amanda sang the Lord's prayer for the final number, and that just kept the waterworks going.

The ward fed us a great luncheon. This is the cousin's table, with Eli, Amanda, John, Brittany, Crystal, Joe, Bobo and Abby. It was so great to see Abby, who just returned from her mission to Norway. Amanda will be returning to Germany on the 26th. We were grateful she was able to share so many family experiences as she has been home on medical leave!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In Memory of Ed Melzer

Amanda, Ed and myself flew to Utah today for Ed Melzer's funeral. He passed away last Tuesday, after being very sick for the past month.  Although he was 90, it still was hard to see him go. He and my mother had 13 wonderful years together. Our family shared so many memories with them over the past years. We enjoyed remembering those times tonight as we met with family and friends at the viewing. The Brady siblings sent a lovely bouquet, and I thought I'd post a picture of it. The florist was a friend who really loved Ed and Mom, and it showed!

Visiting Teaching Lunch

We had our Christmas visiting teaching luncheon Friday. It always makes Ed happy, because I clean up the the house nice. It makes me happy because we have an excuse to just visit and eat. We had Trish, Barb, myself, Amanda, June and Carol. Good food and good company! We've been enjoying the leftovers since then! 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pearl Strings at Fairhaven

The Pearl Strings had their first big gig Thursday at Fairhaven. It takes a while to upload the videos, but here you have it! We had a great time. The crowd was wonderful. It just made us really happy.

Our first song was Go Tell it on the Mountain, which is always a great tune. The audience always sings along.

We then did a lesser known song, Blue Grass, White Snow.

We followed up with a set of Ding Dong, Merrily on High, He is Born the Divin Christ Child, and Deck the Halls.

We did a trio of Jingle Bell Joplin and Joy to Handel.

Helen was happy to get to play something new on African Noel.

Ella, Elisa's daughter, did a great job on Santa Claus is Coming to Town. It was unfortunate my memory filled up and cut her off!

June sang When Santa Claus Gets Your Letter, complete with a new second verse written by Judy.

We had so much fun doing Snoopy Verses the Red Baron. Then, my second camera also ran out of memory. So, that's all! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Irish Stew with Miss Carol

Miss Carol took us to dinner last night at O'Lordan's in Westminster. It was so much fun. Most of us had the Irish stew, which was worth writing home about! Amanda listens to the beat of another drummer. She tried the bangers and mash, possibly because it's fun to say.

There was some discussion about whether the bread pudding or the shortcake was the best dessert. I'm going with the bread pudding. Ed pointed out that if it was so good, why didn't we finish it, like he and Amanda finished the shortcake. I'm sure I could have done it justice if I had not just finished my entire bowl of stew!

To top it off, we discovered an Irish jam session, which meets on alternate Wednesdays in the pub.  I'm wondering if I have the courage to join it one of these days. It looked fun!

Drummin' Something Up

We had our last band practice yesterday before our big gig today at Fairhaven. We're almost ready! I caught this impromptu picture of Alisa's daughter, Kate, helping Helen drum during African Noel. I couldn't resist posting it. They both look happy to have something to pound on!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Virginia's Confirmation

Virginia was baptized on Saturday, and on Sunday she was confirmed by Ed as a member of the church. She is the grandmother of the Iroayna family that Ed home teaches. She is from Nigeria, and has been here for about 6 months. She is a very warm and kind person. It is difficult to understand her English, as the accent in Nigeria is so different. I'm sure she's had a hard time adjusting to our accent, as well.

Ed had a great challenge learning how to pronounce her name for the confirmation: Virginia Nwaolachukwu Ozuligbo. He practiced hard, and did great on Sunday, I think. Nobody told him otherwise!

Pearl Strings First Gig

Saturday was the Pearl Strings' first gig! We did Blue Grass, White Snow and Peace, Peace (with Silent Night). It was very fun, and went well overall. I'd post the nice video Ed took, but it is a little distracting to watch as there are two kids twirling and dancing in front of the camera the entire time. I'm a little ashamed that watching it makes me want to reach into the video and yank them out! Watching the video is not good for my blood pressure!
Ward parties are fun, but not always reverent.

In this picture we're backing up Ella on her solo of Santa Claus is Coming to town! Amanda also sang Gesu Bambino. Helen got a real workout on the violin and viola. She played with Amanda as well as playing solos on both of the Pearl Strings songs! We have our big gig at Fairhaven Thursday. I hope to get a cleaner video of that if we can keep the old people in their seats!

Friday, December 9, 2011


Amanda made German cookies today. They were delicious, even better than the pfeffernüsse she bought at Trader Joe's last week. This is the picture of the unfrosted ones. The cookies have molasses and white pepper in them, as well as anise. Who thinks of putting that in a cookie?
They were even prettier after she glazed them! I'd like to say there will be some left when the kids come home next week, but it's looking unlikely! They're really good!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sticking to It

Teaching Coda to walk on a leash has not been a picnic. I thought my persistence had paid off, as I had been taking her for short walks and giving her treats for heeling. So, today, Ed and I decided to take her for a long walk on the fire road. It turned out, that all she has learned from me is that when mom says 'heel' that means she'll give me a treat. Then, I get to run ahead again and pull as hard as I can. It was very frustrating.

Halfway through our walk we discovered that holding a stick in front of her face kept her from running ahead. I've looked online, and haven't found anyone that has used this method. It seems like they might deem it abusive, but considering the fact that we didn't hit her with it, it seemed mild enough to us. By the end of the walk Ed was able to hold the stick in front of himself and she was still good. We're cautiously optimistic that this is the solution to our problems. Stay tuned....

Relief Society Dinner

Emallie and Lorraine came over Wednesday to practice for the Relief Society dinner on Thursday.They were very game to sing on such short notice! They chose an arrangement with What Child is This. They learned it very quickly, and sang it beautifully. I got to play the pennywhistle with it, which was fun for me. It was also great for all of us that Amanda is still here and could play the piano for them!

We took Miss Carol to the dinner with us. She's getting around so well now, using her cane only for balance. Amanda sang a solo, Star of Bethlehem, which was beautiful. The program about charity was very uplifting, and has left me feeling I need to step up my game a little!