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Predictions For The New Year

photo credt:www.fbca.org

photo credt:www.fbca.org

The new year has been rung in and replacing the “Year In Review” articles flooding my internet news browser are the “What Will 2013 Bring?” articles. Yesterday and today I have seen all sorts of predictions based on what the scientists and “experts” think is headed our way in the coming year. They want us to be informed. Really.  One of my friends posted this article  on social media which prompted an in-depth conversation about the upcoming spike in milk prices.  More accurately: the possibility of a spike in milk prices.  There is nothing like a good old foreboding article written by a doomsday-er prematurely to start a lively discussion about how bad things are going to get.  Not only were we headed over the fiscal cliff, a dairy cliff loomed as well and the predictions were that no deal would be reached on either proposal.    I am happy to report that all my lactose tolerant friends can breathe a sigh of relief.  The dairy price problem has been fixed.  So was the other one. Sort of. Despite the predictions to the contrary. Yeah…..maybe predictions aren’t so scientific.  Or needed.  With that in mind I decided to throw out a few predictions of my own.  Yes I know it’s already the second day of the year and I’m a day behind  but, hey, better late to predict than never right??  I promise not to predict anything about yesterday.  That would be cheating.

My Predictions For 2013

  1. The sun will rise and set every day this year.  You may not be able to see it through the clouds, but it will still be rising and setting. “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.” (Thank you “The Santa Clause”)
  2. People will continue to invent revolutionary products and sell them to us for a low low price on television. They will even double our order if we call now.  I know this seems like a bold prediction in light such breakthroughs as  “The Ear Vac” and The Lint Lizard, but someone will come up with something even better than a tiny vacuum for ear wax and lint.
  3. The earth will continue to rotate on its axis.  Whether portions of it will be warmer of not I will not say but I guarantee you it will still be spinning and orbiting.  No wonder I get motion sickness so easily.
  4. There will be at least five new reality television series started this year.  That’s probably a pretty low prediction if you think about it.  Somewhere producers will find more people who make us feel better about ourselves by the mere fact that we aren’t as crazy as those people on television.  They’ll keep making them and we’ll keep watching them. (Note: that is the imperial “we”. I’m not implying that any of my friends and fellow bloggers would watch reality TV.)
  5. There will be a new heir to the throne born in Great Britain. There will also be a new Kardasian and Simpson.  (Yes – I’m cheating. So what? If you think about it all I am really doing is looking at “indicators” available to me.)
  6. People will continue to post, bicker and fight with each other over political and social views on social media sites. Thank goodness for the “hide” button.
  7. Somewhere in the midst of our packing and moving this year I will teeter close to a nervous break-down. I know this because it almost happened while putting away Christmas decorations this past weekend.  I can hardly wait until we get to the “main event.”
  8. Posting the fat and calorie content of each food item will not prevent more McDonald’s restaurants from opening this year.
  9. My daughter will graduate from high school and I will get weepy.  (Like money in the bank, that prediction.)
  10.  Apple will come out with at least two new versions of the iPhone.  (If sales are low – three versions.) And there will still be people waiting in line to get them.

There you have them.  My top ten predictions for the upcoming year.  I can hardly wait until this time next year to see how many of them come true.  I’m sure I’ll still be running a day behind next year too.  As much as things change over the course of the year some things are always predictable.

photo credit: www.buzzom.com

photo credit: http://www.buzzom.com

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To Resolve Or Not To Resolve….

Have you ever noticed on New Year’s Eve that social network sites are exploding with posts of people bemoaning what a horrible year 2012 was for them.  (I wonder if those people were all holding out hope that the Mayans were right.  Looking from the outside one would think the world exploding would have been a highlight for them.)  Those same people are looking forward to a “better year” in 2013.  At this time next year many of the same people will be posting the same things they are posting this year. One of these years has got to go well for them….right? I mean people are making New Year’s Resolutions today.  That ought to fix everything this year.  Maybe  not.

I don’t normally make resolutions.  Never have.  My natural-born tendency to feel like a failure doesn’t need any help thanks.  That doesn’t mean I don’t make lifestyle changes when needed.  For example: A few years ago I changed my diet and exercise habits and lost 50 pounds.  I wasn’t inspired by a new year however.  Nope.  It was my doctor using the words “cholesterol medication.” A new year may not motivate me to change but threaten to put me on any kind of drug and I’ll do whatever it takes.   That can happen at any time of the year but since this is New Year’s Eve and I’m in the resolution frame of mind…..here goes.

Popular New Year’s Resolutions I Won’t Be Making Because There Is No Way I Will Keep Them:

  1. Eat Healthier.    This one will get blown at about noon on New Year’s Day when our beloved Huskers play in the Capitol One Bowl and I serve super nachos.  If the game goes as I fear it will we will be in need of comfort food.
  2. Save Money.  Daughter graduating from high school and family moving to a different town. Odds of saving money this year?  Yeah.  Why set myself up for failure?
  3. Take A Trip.  See above.  Same reasons.
  4. Get Organized.  I already drive my poor family insane with my borderline OCD issues.  Can I possible nag them more about putting their stuff away? I’d like to not get voted off the island this year….
  5. Exercise More.  Please. I have enough trouble making myself do the amount I do now.  You want more? Ha!

 New Year’s Resolutions I Think I Can Keep:

  1. Get More Sleep.  Yep.  I can handle that one.
  2. Downsize. Since were shipping yet another child off to college and then moving the rest of the family I know this one is going to happen. It’s already started. (see OCD note above.)
  3. Get A New Job.  I’d better or living somewhere else is not going to be very fun.
  4. Try Something New.  See above resolutions.  New city, new job, new house….yeah.  That’d be the reason for #1.

And,  probably the most important resolution for me this year:

Beginning tomorrow I resolve to remember to write “2013” on all my checks.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year Everyone!!

resolutions

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The Holiday Hangover

It happens every December 26th: the holiday hangover.  No – not that kind of hangover. I’m talking about the “wow Christmas is over and I have to go back to work” hangover. The “really I have to get out of bed at a scheduled time?” hangover.  The “I can’t take a nap in the middle of the day” hangover.  The “they expect me to work and be productive?” hangover. Following me now? I woke up with a double dose this morning.  My hangover actually started kicking in last night.  My husband went back to work, I was tired and….well….the hangover started.  Fortunately my children saved me by suggesting we watch a movie.  That helped.  Until I started thinking about the fact that our oldest son was leaving this morning.  Yes I am my own worst enemy most of the time.  As hard as I try to concentrate on the good things I always have to take a tip-tow through the stuff I don’t like.  We had a wonderful weekend and Christmas together celebrating our final time in this house.  I savored it.  I enjoyed every minute.  I didn’t want it to end.  Enter hangover.

This morning as I drug myself to work I evaluated why it was that my mood had turned “south”.  Part of it is lack of solid sleep I believe.  Though I miss having our oldest son at home I cannot say that I am going to miss having his furry friend in our office/guest room.  The little hamster who chews.  On his metal water bottle.  All night.  Clang….Clang….clunk. Sigh.  Only a mother’s love kept me from relocating little Buck/Baxter/Buford/Beauregard (whatever his name is!) to the freezing garage.  Or encasing his cage in plastic.  I might have left an air hole.  Okay – no I wouldn’t have.  Noisy little rodent.  Those who have followed me for a while know of my deep love for all things rodent.  Obviously my love for my son is stronger.  Barely.  I don’t do well on less sleep than normal so waking to the sound of hamster for a few nights may be contributing to my hangover today.  Probably.

No less a contributing factor is that this may well be the deadest week of the year in our office.  I officially had all my work done for the week two hours after I arrived today.  Seriously.  The phone has yet to ring.  If my experience is an indicator it isn’t going to ring any time soon.  So here I sit.  In a quiet office with not much to do.  I’d rather be at home taking down Christmas decorations and doing all the laundry that I ignored this weekend.  I can’t start the end of the year things because…well…it isn’t the end of the year. So here I sit.  Hung over. I’m beginning to think we should have kept “Boxing Day” even after we won independence from Great Britain.  It’s brilliant really. Taking a holiday the day after a holiday. What were our forefathers thinking? My co-worker compared coming to work on the morning of  December 26th to the day after the zombie apocalypse.  Roads empty, lights off, halls desolate. Yeah.  Well at least I have company in my misery.  He’s stuck here too.

There are a few good things about a hangover however. The first is that I am not out with all the crazy people trying to snatch up after-Christmas bargains.  I just don’t have the patience or energy for that today.  Probably the most beneficial thing about hangover day is that at least I am not home where the leftover cookies are.  It’s easier to detox when you can’t see the object of your lust.  I’ve had enough junk food and sugar to last me until next Christmas.  Hey! That can’t be what is causing my hangover can it?  Nah…..

 

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Merry Christmas Blogging Friends

B_gift

I received this note and two cross stitched pictures from our oldest daughter (now eigthteen) last year.  I share it with you today as a reminder that it isn’t always about making sure that everything is “perfect” for your children for Christmas.  We never have. While our kids know beyond anything else that they are throughly loved, they have never gotten all the “best” gifts nor has our home ever been perfect. Our house is filled with love and laughter and the importance of spending time together.  Those are the things she remembers now. That’s what has made Christmas magical to her. I kept the note as a reminder for myself:  “magical” comes from the heart.

May your holiday be  “Magical” and filled all the things that make you happy: love, laughter and the ability to let not things be perfect.

Merry Christmas from our House to Yours!

merry-christmas____

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Christmas Traditions: Gifts From Kids

traditions

 

As the last week of school winds down it finally occurred to me that I had better get the gifts my son intends to give to his teachers this year together so that he can get them to school. I’m a little slow some days.  You’d think after 16 years of buying presents for teachers I’d be more organized. It doesn’t help, perhaps, that my sweetheart of a youngest son isn’t satisfied to just take a gift for his classroom teacher.  He wants one for the teacher he has for science each day. And the music and physical education teachers. The principal.  The secretary.  The nurse. The para who is the crossing guard at the street he crosses every day. The custodian. The librarian. Lots of gifts.  And they need to be equal because he loves them all. His list has gotten longer every year.  I love that about him but it has presented a challenge to me.  Teacher’s gifts have always challenged me.  How many “World’s Best Teacher” ornaments do you suppose a teacher receives each year? A gift card seems rather impersonal to me. I like being thoughtful and original: thinking outside the traditional teacher gift box.  I’ve not been really good at it lately. It makes it harder when you have to think out of the box for 10 teachers who are equally loved. Luckily for me this year he had a very firm idea of what gift he wanted to give.  A few years ago we put together a gift of homemade cookies with a package of coffee or hot chocolate, depending on which the teacher preferred. Yes.  He knew which teachers drank coffee and which ones would like hot chocolate. Oh – and one tea drinker.  (That kind of scared me.) We adorned the packages with a cute simple ornament he helped me make.  Apparently  those gifts were a hit because he was determined that he was going to give the same gift this year.  It doesn’t feel really original to me but if it makes him happy I’m for it.  I have to wonder how many cookies teachers get too. Or candy.  Or other stuff they really don’t need or want. Or do they?

I taught children’s classes and children’s church for many years and have received quite a few gifts from students.  Several of them still have a special place in my house.  I think of the child from who it was received every time I see them.

This little fella sits by our computer:

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He originally came with a bag of candy attached to his hand.  I think I finally threw away the candy last year.  You can’t see it in this picture but his antler says “2007”.  I think of the little girl with big brown eyes, now in Junior High, who gave it to me that year.

One of my other animal/candy treasures sits on our phone stand:

kidgiftsjpg

 

He had candy canes attached to him of course.  Those got funky a little sooner than the other wrapped hard candy did. This was given to me the second year the same little girl was in my Wednesday night class.  So thoughtful.  So sweet. (Literally and figuratively.)  Sitting next to my peppermint bear is a candle holder made of cinnamon sticks given to me by a little girl in my 2-3 year old Sunday School class one year.  Her mommy made a whole bunch of them and she told me, “I helped her a lot!”  I’m quite sure she did.

Because I teach classes in a church I, of course, have gotten faith themed gifts.  This little cutie sits on our piano:

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I love it.  It was also a gift from a little girl in one of my Wednesday night 1st and 2nd grade girls’ classes.   She was as joyful as the gift she gave me and I think of her every time I look at this little statue.

Sometimes you get things that are festive but useful:

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This pot holder has a matching oven mitt.  I decided they were to pretty to actually mess up with use so they hang in my kitchen as decorations.  Every time I unpack them I think of the family of children who gave them to me.  The same family who gave me the snowman cookie jar that sits on my counter all winter long.  Those kids are all in junior high and high school now too but I still have lunch with their mother on occasion so I keep up on what they are doing.  It doesn’t seem possible that those little beaming blond children who excitedly waited for me to open their gift are now teenagers.

Over the years I have gotten my fair share of colored pictures, layer jar cookie and soup mixes, and bags and boxes of candy. All given in love and all much appreciated.  One year a little girl gave me a pack of gum with half the pieces missing.  I still remember that gift because I was so touched by it.  She wanted to give a gift so she used what she had available and gave me something that was hers.  I savored that gum.

I guess the more I think about it,  it doesn’t really matter how original or unique the gifts that  my son gives to his teachers are. What matters is that he is giving them from his heart.  I know that was all that mattered to me.

Gift-Quote

 

 

Today’s Mug Story:

Sticking to my theme today, these guys were given to me by a little girl in my Wednesday night class shortly after I first started teaching it.

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She was a beautiful little girl with big brown eyes and long dark hair who had a pretty rough home life.  She was actually in my class for three years:  Kindergarten through second grade.  Around Christmas time the third year she was in my class she came in with her eyes sparkling more than usual and asked me, “Mrs. Paula, you like coffee mugs don’t you?” (She might have picked that up from the fact that I constantly carried one around.)  “Yes I do.” I replied.  She smiled, “That’s great.  I think coffee mugs are cool too.”

The next week she came to class and asked, “Mrs. Paula, what do you think about snowmen?  I think snowmen are really cute.”  I happen to love snowmen so I said to her, “Snowmen are some of my favorite people.”  She smiled again.

Week three as class started she asked, “Mrs. Paula you like bears don’t you?”  She knew I had a teddy bear sitting on my desk in the church office.  She may have also noticed that many of our coloring pages and crafts included teddy bears.  “I love teddy bears.” I told her. “I used to collect them.”  She grinned. “So like a mug with a snowman and a bear on it would be something you really liked, huh?”  Catching on to where she was going I said, “Oh my yes.  I can’t think of anything better.”

The next week she showed up with a gift, wrapped in re-used tissue paper for me.  As she beamed I opened the present and found these mugs in a box, still with their dollar store tags on them.  “Oh I love them!” I told her as I hugged her.  “I knew you would.” She told me. “I did chores for my neighbor lady so I could earn the money for them.  You are my favorite teacher ever!”

I still get tears in my eyes when I think about that night.  That sweet little girl is now in high school and has had a pretty hard life thus far.  Though she no longer attends church she is my friend on Facebook.  She still tells me I was her favorite teacher. Every Christmas I  as I get out her mugs and think about her and her sacrifice of love that year.  Then I send her a message on Facebook to tell her that I love her.

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Christmas Traditions – Heirlooms

traditions2

What  springs to mind when you hear the word “heirloom”?  (Other than the fact that it’s one of those words that is terrifyingly easy to misspell.)  In some ways it seems to be implied that an heirloom is something that has monetary value.  Part of an “estate”. That implies money – right??  I was curious so I went to good old Merriam-Webster this morning. The second definition listed was:

Something of special value handed on from one generation to another.

“Special Value”.  Now that’s a horse of a different color.  (Does anyone else have the song from “The Wizard of Oz” going through their head now too?) I may value something that has very little monetary worth and probably looks meaningless to others.  I do in fact put high value in some things no one else would.  In my cutlery drawer I have a serving spoon that belonged to each of my grandmothers and each of my husband’s grandmothers.  Weird?  Maybe.  I can tell you, however,  that every time I pull one of those spoons out and use it I think about whichever lady it belonged to.  I think about the food they made and the meals we shared.  That is valuable to me. The memories. I realized today that the things I have in my house to celebrate Christmas are really no different.  None of them are expensive or grand but many of them hold a great value to me because they once belonged to someone else.  To me they are heirlooms.

I think I have mentioned before that my maternal grandmother loved Christmas.  She holly-ed and jolly-ed around for weeks.  Her entire house was decorated every year.  From her stash of Christmas decorations one of the things I received is this:

heirloom6(Isn’t it 70’s-licious?)  My grandmother’s twin sister made this for her and my grandmother had it displayed in her kitchen every year.  I can remember her getting it down one Christmas Eve and having me help her put cookies for Santa on the plate.  After I got it,  we used it as the special plate to leave cookies for Santa every year until we ran out of “Santa-believers” in our house.  Now it sits atop my china cabinet and waits for grandchildren who will need to leave out cookies on that special night.  It may just be a gift made in a ceramics class and given from one sister to another but to me it’s an heirloom.

The next one comes from my paternal grandmother.  She also loved Christmas, she was just a bit more subdued about it.  Because we were her only grandchildren and we lived on the same farm we spent a lot of time with her.  A lot of time. When I think of Christmases with this grandma I remember feeling “homey” and cozy. Her home was like our home.  One of the things I got from her Christmas collection was this:

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(More ceramics!  They must have been popular during my grandparents “era”.)  This grandma made almost everything she used. I don’t know when she made this plate,  I just know she made it.  I remember it sitting out every year at Christmas and her using it to serve food on Christmas Day.  It sits in my china cabinet (the one that used to belong to the same grandmother) and makes me feel homey.  I don’t often use it to serve food because I am afraid it will get ruined.  It’s getting up there in age you know.  Then I realized Grandma would want it to be put to good use so I use it for things I know can’t hurt it.  Like crackers. Would it fetch much on E bay?  No, but to me it’s an heirloom.

I was so blessed to have had the opportunity to have relationships with my husband’s grandmothers also.  In fact they stepped in and “grandmothered” me for several years after my own grandmas passed away.  These women, though I spent fewer Christmases with them, also give me warm memories and I’ve acquired some heirlooms from them as well.

From my husband’s maternal grandmother this decoration joined our collection:

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I’m not even sure where she got it but I found it in a box full of train memorabilia that my mother-in-law gave to my husband.  I snatched it up before my kids could.  You see, this grandmother loved trains because her father worked for the railroad.  She had lots and lots of trains in her home.  One of the reasons my family loves the movie “The Polar Express” is because we know Grandma would have loved it. (Unfortunately it came out the year after she passed away.)  This cute little  train sits on our piano every year and makes me smile.  It may not have cost whomever gave it to her  a lot to buy it,  but it has turned into an heirloom for my family.

My other Grandmother-in-law is the one who was with us the longest and just passed away two years ago this fall.  She was a sweet woman who loved spending time with her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids.  She was also a collector.  One of the things I have that belonged to her is this:

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She loved music boxes and snow globes. This is both and I love it.  I  have added it to my growing collection of nativities which overtakes the top shelf of my china cabinet every year.  That is where my special nativities are placed and this one is special.   Much like the my other grandma-in-law, I have no idea who gave this to her but I feel blessed that I have it.  I think of her and her sweet steady faith every time I see it.  It wouldn’t have fetched much at her estate sale but it is priceless to me.  An heirloom.

I scored a brand new heirloom this year.  While at my parents-in-law’s home for “Saturday Thanksgiving” my mother-in-law asked us to go through some things she no longer wants or uses and see if we wanted them or could use them.  Because we are downsizing for our upcoming move I wasn’t expecting to take anything until she pulled out a box marked “Grandma Lee’s Nativity”.  It belonged to my husband’s great-grandmother. I of course never met this grandmother but my husband has fond memories of going to visit her and his great-grandpa when they shared a room in the nursing home.  He has told me some of those memories.  I double checked with my mother-in-law to make sure that she meant to pull that out to give away.  She did. This year my heirloom collection expanded when I snatched up that box, brought it home and arranged my newest treasure with my other nativities.

heirloom4Again this may have not cost a lot when it was first purchased but it is a family heirloom to us.  Something passed on through my husband’s family. Something that holds special value.

I guess value depends on how you look at things.  While I have a tendency to like the most expensive variety of something when I am shopping, the things I own which are most valuable to me are the things that are probably worth the least monetarily.  They are priceless to me because of the people they represent. I’d much rather have my heirlooms based on relationships than price tags because when all is said and done the “stuff” is just “stuff”. It’s the people in our lives that give us the most happiness.  I hope that have passed this feeling on to my own children.  I know that I’ve told them all the stories behind each heirloom in our home.  They seem to listen.  I think I have.

They are already bickering over who gets what after I die. 

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Because today is “Heirloom Day” today’s mugs are heirlooms….to me anyway.

heirloom1This set of mugs belonged to my maternal grandmother and my mother, knowing my love of all things mugs, gave them to me after my grandfather passed away and grandma was moved to an Alzheimer’s unit.  As I’ve mentioned grandma loved all things Christmas.  She also loved all things Hallmark (probably because my uncle works at corp headquarters for them) and these are Hallmark Christmas mugs. BONUS!  Though the saying is a bit “overused” now it was brand new at the time.  She loved it.  Though she was all about Santa and fun she was also all about celebrating the birth of her Savior.   These mugs represent a time before my grandmother got sick and forgot she loved Christmas. They remind me of how she was when I was little.  I remember her buying these mugs and loving them.  She bought two so that my grandpa would have one when they had their morning “coffee break” together every day. I smile every time I use one of these mugs.  I smile bigger when my husband uses the other one at the same time.  I love not only the woman but the relationship that they represent to me.

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Christmas Wishes

animal tagsYesterday I was tagged in a post.  At first I was a little scared by the thought of that.  I mean some animals are tagged so that people can keep track of them.  And, you know, take them down if they become a nuisance.  I also pondered the fact that I was often tagged as a child.  Never being athletic I was usually tagged out in every game or spent a lot of time being “it”.  Imagine my joy when I investigated and discovered this was a good tag.  One that is a special surprise and gives you happiness.  You know like the tags you turn over and they read, “Super Reduced – 90% Off” or “To: you From: me.”  Thanks to Atlantamomofthree for including me in the fun.  Of course like everything else there are rules.  Here’s what I have to do:

  1. Name my five Christmas wishes.
  2. Tag five other bloggers and ask them to do the same.

Simple enough – I’m game.  Well maybe not simple.  Maybe Christmas wishes are more complicated than I originally thought.  I mean I don’t want to sound shallow and wish for gift cards or something along that line.  On the other hand I don’t want to be too generic and wish for peace on earth good will toward men. Boring! Maybe I should wish that I would quit making uncomplicated things too complicated.

Upon a little reflection and keeping the name of my blog in mind I realized that, seriously, my biggest wishes have to do with perspective.  Here goes:

  • The ability to focus on what really matters.  Yesterday I took a day off from work to spend the day alone with my husband while the kids were at school. No phones, no computer, no agenda, no distractions.  Just us spending time together. (No – it wasn’t all about that either.  Get your minds out of the gutter people.)  We purposed to make time for just one another during this hectic time of year.  We didn’t shop or even leave the house.  It wasn’t grand or elaborate or even complicated but it was very refreshing.  It didn’t, however, totally go the way we had envisioned.
  • The ability to handle changes in plan. Around lunchtime yesterday we received a call that our daughter had been hurt at school and required one of us to take her in for stitches.  That wasn’t exactly what we had planned for our afternoon.  Were we a little annoyed at first? Maybe a little but our daughter’s well being will always be more important than us having “down time” together.
  • The ability to think of the way others might view things.  I could tell immediately from our daughter’s voice that she was mortified that she had interrupted our day together.  While her father went to fetch her (I don’t do blood well) I assured her that we were not upset with her.  It was important to me to let her know that she didn’t do anything wrong. Accidents happen.  She didn’t need guilt on top of injury.
  • The ability to find something good no matter the situation.  I am so thankful that my husband was home yesterday. He is much calmer about injuries that are “gross” than I am. (I just mentioned I don’t do blood – right?) After finding out the details of what happened we are also thankful that our daughter didn’t end up breaking her leg. While I hate that she got hurt, it could have been so much worse.
  • The ability to laugh no matter what.  After 20 stitches and knowing she was going to be okay we had to laugh about the whole situation.  What are the odds that on the day her parents wanted to spend alone the risers she was dancing on for show choir would split apart right where she was standing?  Also amazingly funny to me is that while her older brother played football, wrestled and powerlifted the only things we ever dealt with were a minor concussion once and an ingrown toenail.  Our daughter, who is a music/drama “geek”,  has had 3 mild concussions, a messed up shoulder and now a gash in her shin: all from music or drama events. Yes.  We are planning to wrap her in bubble wrap soon.

My five unsuspecting friends who are about to be tagged:

My Men And Me

Keeping It Real

The Embiggens Project

Ambling & Rambling

Nincompoopery

You’re It!!

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A Laugh, A Mug and A Tune

Once again I find myself in the precarious position of having no brain energy left after a busy day at work. An actually busy day – not a busy work day.  A longish staff meeting followed by a trip to Walmart to pick up things for work may have had something to do with it.  Okay it has everything to do with it.  My brain goes numb at the threshold of that store.  Judging by many of the people I saw there today I’m convinced that it is a common problem there. Since I am afraid of what drivel might pour from my half-numbed brain if I try to explore any topic too deep I decided to take an “out” for today.

My friend posted this on Facebook last night:

funny

 

Inappropriate? Perhaps but it made me actually “LOL” for several minutes.  I mean I belly laughed.  Out loud.  Really.  Since I have a kid in college and two kids in high school and I remain grand-childless I think I deserve a medal personally.  In all seriousness it is probably sad that this is so funny.  It is, however, true.  As much as I’d like to pretend we are still living in the 1950’s – we aren’t. I’m proud of my kids for staying true to themselves and what the believe. I’m also waaaaayyyyy to young to be a grandma. Just saying.

Next – my mug for today. Yes I did promise not to bore you with these every day.  I lied. Well I didn’t really lie.  I just didn’t plan ahead.  If I were more coherent today I’d have skipped this and written something…well….interesting.

mugThis little fella was given to me by my little fella.  He gave it to me the Christmas he was three.  My husband and I were directing the Children’s Ministries at our church during that time.  We had implemented a “Victory Store” for our children age 2 through grade 6.  Kids earned “victory bucks” to spend in the store which we opened once a month.  They got a certain amount for attendance, bringing offering, remembering the memory verse from the week before….you get the picture.  As Christmas season approached I stocked the “store” with all sorts of things that the kids could buy and give as gifts.  We reminded them to save their bucks and gave them more opportunities to earn more as Christmas approached.  We had older kids available to wrap the gifts for the kids to take home.  Our little J worked hard to earn and save his bucks so he could buy gifts for everyone.  I believe his father got a singing Christmas tie that year.  His siblings all got trinkets he thought they would like.  With eyes sparkling the way only his eyes can he stood by me as I opened his gift to me.  He was so excited.  After I exclaimed over how much I loved my new mug he told me confidently, “I knew you would Mommy.  You like that coffee stuff.”   I smile and think of those twinkley toddler eyes every time I use this mug.  They grow up way too fast.

Finally: the other night “Rudolph” was on television which means that Christmas has officially begun at our house.  I am all about claymation holiday movies. Seriously – love them.  One of my favorites is “The Year Without A Santa Claus”.  Not because it has such a great message or anything (it does but that isn’t why.) but because I LOVE these guys:

Told you I was twisted.

 

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Christmas Traditions: Cookies

gingerbread-cookie

The time has arrived! Last night I began making my annual Christmas cookie “to-do” list. The lists of cookies that I want to bake and the ingredients I will need to bake them.  The list of people I want to give cookies as gifts this year. (Have I ever mentioned I’m a list person?) The anticipation is building.  After I go spend a small fortune on ingredients and see the task that I’ve created for myself the dread will build.  Okay not really dread.  More like the “I have lost my mind yet again this year.” And then I’ll move on and get excited again.  Baking cookies for Christmas is as much a part of me as my skin.  Hmmm….perhaps that was a gross reference considering I’m talking about food here.  Let me try again: baking Christmas cookies is as much a part of me as breathing.  Wait! Cooking.  No breathing on the food.  Baking cookies…oh never mind. You know what I’m saying here: I love to bake Christmas cookies.  I’m good at it.  Much better than I am at similes.

I was a bit concerned this year that I was going to have to ditch some of my baking plans.  Last week my ever faithful mixer died.  The little mixer that could.  My faithful friend of the past 20 years.  We’ve baked a lot of things together my little mixer and I.  Baking is therapy for me.  My little mixer was my co-therapist and she died. (I really have no idea if the mixer was a girl – I’m just assuming here.) It was a tragic loss considering the time of year it is so I bemoaned the passing of my friend on Facebook. Now it isn’t like I couldn’t go out and by myself a new hand mixer. I can.  I was just being sad. Much to my shock and delight my sweet mother-in-law read my post and offered a solution for me.  She had an almost new Kitchen Aide stand mixer that she never uses so she sent it home with my husband.  Yes – my mother-in-law is that cool.  I’ve been eyeing Kitchen Aides for years but was too cheap to go get one.  Christmas came early this year. I have a mixer I love and the Christmas cookies have been saved.

Now I know that I probably sound a bit like a sugar addicted psycho here but Christmas cookies are a huge part of holiday tradition for me.  For as long as I can remember they have played a part in preparing for Christmas.  My mom would patiently let us help her make them when we were little.  When we got older she joyfully turned the job over.  My grandmother, who loved all things Christmas,  spent weeks and weeks making different kinds of cookies.  One of my favorite memories of her at Christmas time were the cut out decorated cookies she made (and often sold).  They were so pretty that you almost hated to eat them.  Almost but not quite.  They were also delicious so you ended up eating them anyway.  One of the things that gives me joy this time of year is pulling out her recipe for those cookies (and several others) and baking them just like she did every year.  I also love that I have her cake decorating tips so I get to use the same tools she did to decorate them. It connects me to my past and since I have always included my children in the bake-a-thon every year it passes a tradition down to the future.  Corny?  Maybe.  But it sure is fun.

Over the years I’ve passed more of the “honor” of decorating to my kids.  They handle it completely for me now and enjoy doing it.  Here they are in full “cookie mode” the past couple years:

cookies

While the cookies may not be as perfectly decorated as my grandmother’s were they are still made with a lot of fun and love just like hers were.  I think she would have smiled if she’d seen her great-grandchildren enjoying it as much as she used to.

cookies8

Last year my daughter invited a few friends over to help decorate the cookies.  We went through a lot more frosting than normal but I do believe they had fun.  (They must have because she intends to do it again this year. )  I must say there were some new twists on our “usual” decorating schemes.  For example, this was “Charlie Sheen Teddy Bear”:

cookies6Don’t you love his red eyes?  Appropriate, no?

While my kids tackle the decorating I power bake through other tried and true favorites.  Our house becomes a cookie factory for a few days. A really good smelling cookie factory that makes me remember years past.

cookies4

It sounds like a lot of work and hassle but it really is one of my favorite things to do this time of year.  I love the tradition and the smells and…well….the results!  There is no thing more fun for me than having loaded cookie trays to give away and take to gatherings.

cookies2

This is one tradition that my entire family enjoys whether they be bakers or eaters – or both.  

Today’s bonus:  My smart-alec husband and equally smart-alecy oldest daughter challenged me to spend 25 days blogging about my Christmas mug collection and call it “The 25 mugs of Christmas”.  (See what I put up with??)  I don’t have that many.  Well I don’t think that I have. (If you missed the story of my affinity for mugs you can read it here. it’s #7 on my list). They should have known better than to give me an idea however.  While I will not spend that many days boring sharing with you my adorable mugs and the fascinating stories behind where I got them I did decide to highlight a few of my favorites.  Without further ado I present today’s mug:

CmasMug1

He (again – I’m not sure it is really a male I’m just assuming) is one of my favorite mugs for a couple of reasons.  My oldest daughter gave him to me the Christmas after she began her paper route.  She was 11 or 12 and was so proud to have her own money to spend that year.  (This was before she became a smart-alec who picks on me.)  She is a gift giver and had saved her paper route money for months so she could get everyone the “right” gift. Her father and I took a group of kids from our church to Omaha to go Christmas shopping that year and our daughter and her best friend shopped  together.  They bought identical presents for their mothers: this mug and the cute little salt and pepper shakers pictured here.  The bonus is that my daughter’s best friend’s mother is also one of my very best friends in the world.  Now even though she has moved 14 hours away I use that mug and picture her using her mug.  It’s kind of like having coffee with her even though we aren’t together.

Now do you see why I’m all sentimental about my mugs??

Extra added bonus! I heard this song today and have had it stuck in my head all day.  Give it a listen, I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite version of this “classic”

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It Was Bound To Happen

kids-singing-christmas-carols

I knew it! I knew I wouldn’t make it through the entire Christmas season without hearing the one song that makes me scream and turn the station.  It happened on the way back to work after my lunch break today. I was almost to the parking lot when it began playing.  My reaction was so violent that I almost rear-ended someone.  It’s on so soon in the season? I’m doomed to hear it over and over now.  I just know it.   I know you are dying to know exactly what tune causes me to almost annihilate other motorists in my frenzy to change the station and since Christmas is a time for giving I’ll share so you too can be annoyed today.  Here you go:

 

Before you think me a heartless person let me admit that the first few times I heard this song I was touched.  It’s sweet and sappy and quite Christmasy.  I really liked it at first.  Until they started playing it every five minutes during the month of December.  And then turned it into a movie.  Now when it come on you might as well be playing this:

I also like this one the first time I heard it.  Funny.  Once.  After that it is kind of like nails on a chalkboard.  Or….the neighbor’s dog who barks constantly.  Oh….wait…  Unfortunately I have trouble enjoying Jingle Bells now because somewhere in my head a dog starts barking.  Until I shut him up.

It’s kind of amazing how a version of a song will do that to you.  We have long had “A Very Veggie Christmas” at our house.  My kids, no matter how old they’ve gotten, still love that CD.  Why?  It’s funny.  Well and they use it against me. Have a listen to one of my favorite songs from the album:

Cute…no?  There is nothing better than a prepubescent asparagus singing a classic Christmas song with some sheep.  I love it.  One day when I was dropping our oldest son (who is now 21) at junior high school I attempted to sing the “joy..joy..joy” part with Junior Asparagus.  I obviously can’t sing like a young vegetable so it came out more like, well….screaming.  My children all looked at me in horror. (Mostly because we were pretty close to a public place and someone could have heard me.) Then they all laughed.  Now every year at Christmas we have to listen to the CD so that my children can all sing/scream through that part and make me laugh.  Our oldest is the best at it though.  Big stink.

My oldest daughter giggles during that song because she remembers the year that our church choir sang it. As they sang “joy joy joy!” my daughter and I leaned close together and perfectly sang “baa…baa…baa!”  (Don’t worry – we were quiet.)  Yep.  “While By My Sheep” is totally ruined for me.  I’ll never be able to sing it normal again. Funny thing is I don’t really mind.  I’d rather sing like Junior and the sheep.  My kids love it.

Here’s another Veggie version of a Christmas carol that’ll get stuck in your head.  You’re welcome!

 

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