Thank you

Thank you to all of my family and friends who made our Christmas so very wonderful! I can't imagine a better holiday. Thanks to you all.

I love you!


Another Christmas Past

Hard to believe it's over, but Christmas 2009 is now behind us... another addition to that category of "Christmases Past".

Here are a few of my personal favorites from years gone by...

Christmas 1975. I was about Willie's age (that's me on the far right, distracted by wrapping paper and bows). We were at Grandma H's. That's her in the back - a wonderful lady who is sorely missed. The little tykes beside me are my cousins Brian & Shawna. They were a bit older and evidently knew the presents would still be there even if they briefly looked away from the tree.
Check out my stylin' faux fur collar. Love it!

A few years later... here I am with my Dad. He's reading the Christmas story (a tradition in our house before any gifts could be opened). That doll in my arms is "My Friend Mandy", the most cherished doll of my childhood. You can't tell it here, but our dresses match.
Here I am with my first set of Little House books. I knew the stories inside-out, but had only ever read library copies until this day. Oh, but those books brought me so much joy! Someday I'll probably tell you about my die-hard appreciation for all things Laura Ingalls Wilder, but not today.
Admittedly, this picture is not my best (boy-short hair, pre-braces teeth & adolescent skin), but I do so love the image of my little brother David in his suspenders looking over my shoulder. What a sweetie-pie! And, fun now too because I can see that my sweet little Wills looks a lot like his Uncle Dave.
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Fast-forward to 2009... Here's a pic of my darling Willie giving a big hug to Moose (or my home-made attempt at Moose anyway - see sidebar). We truly had a wonderful Christmas, made all the better thanks to this little fellow's contagious enthusiasm for life & all it's little surprises.
Other favorite holiday memories include the year I got my first record player, the time we had Christmas at Grandma & Grandpa B's but they didn't have a tree so we decorated a hanging fern, my first Christmas with Dan, the year that he wrapped a bunch of empty boxes because I said that the tree made me feel sad after all the presents were opened, and of course last year when we had our brand new baby to share it all with.
As I look back at my 30-plus Christmases, they all share one very important thing: Love. No matter what the gifts were (or weren't), whether the tree was real or artificial, what the weather was like or where we celebrated... the love of family and friends has always been there. I've been blessed. My family has been blessed. I sure hope that you feel the same way.

Merry Christmas

I can't take credit for this.... My sweetie of a Dad sent it to us today. Enjoy & Merry Christmas!

To My Family

Here is the Christmas poem I wrote this morning:

The gifts that were placed under the tree with care
have all been opened, there is paper everywhere!

New chore caps, candy, tools, gloves and more,
We all opened gifts till there were not anymore!

We have played with our toys, read in our books,
Now we are sitting around with stuffed, satisfied looks!

Oh Christmas is such a wonderful day.
I'm glad we celebrate Jesus' birth by showing love this way.

Merry Christmas to all!

With Love,


Compare & Contrast

A classic illustration by Eloise Wilkin....

And my darling Wills.... looking every bit as adorable (at least to me).

Random Tidbits

My Favorite word: plethora

My Least Favorite word: sorry

Dream Job: stay at home Mom w/ live-in housekeeper

What I need in the morning? the Hubs, Baby Will & caffeine

Good noises: my baby’s giggles, Sinatra, the rustling of leaves on a breezy fall day

Not such good noises: breaking glass, a ringing phone at 2am, the thump of a flat tire

Favorite meal: my Momma’s home-made biscuits and gravy

Second Favorite meal: Grandma B’s Mazetti with hot buttered rolls

I collect: Character glasses from the 70s & 80s, pink Depression Glass, wrinkles...

What I wish I had more of: strength, courage & time with my family

What I wish I had less of: foot-in-mouth disease

Addictions: politics, caffeine, & British pop music

The smells I love the most: Willie’s hair, Ivory soap, freshly brewed coffee

And the ones I don’t love at all: poopy diapers, watermelon, cooked cabbage

Favorite Christmas Song: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Guilty Pleasures: salt & vinegar chips, George Michael, Dr Who (the ninth in particular)

I love shopping for: books I won’t have time to read, and hats I’ll never wear

I don’t love shopping for: jeans or doctors

Pet Peeves: Folks who yell at their children, closed signs, pretentious dolts

Favorite Place to be: with Dan & Wills… geography is irrelevant if they are with me

Dreams: many & varied

Regrets: none at all


Doilies, Hymnals and Recipe Cards

I think in some ways, I was born in the wrong generation… maybe I’m an “old soul”? My husband would laughingly say that I’m just plain old. My Dad would say I’m turning into a “Fuddy Duddy” just like him. Funny aren’t they?

Is it because I prefer old smudged recipe cards to flashy gourmet magazines? Because I like the early "traditional" church service where songs come from a hymnal instead of a giant screen behind the pulpit? Maybe because I lovingly use the "days of the week" tea towels hand-stitched by Dan's great aunt? Or because I sometimes make my own Christmas gifts or greeting cards, or because someday I'd like to learn to tat lace doilies...

Maybe. Maybe not.

The thing is… I often wish for a simpler time.

A time when folks could leave their doors unlocked and knew the names of all their neighbors. A time when a motorist would happily give a lift to a stranded traveler (and not be hacked to pieces for their trouble). A time when going to church was more common than not, and a time when little kids played outside until their folks made them come in for supper.

Both of my Grandmothers (and yours too maybe) were hard working farm wives who somehow (without hired help or psychotherapy) managed (during the Depression, no less) to keep the house clean, the family fed, the clothes washed (and hung out to dry), the bread baked, the eggs gathered, the clothes mended and the children out of trouble. There was the garden, the mending, the canning and teaching Sunday school. There were unruly children and club meetings. And of course there were the times when their assistance was needed with the butchering or harvesting or calf birthing or any other of a million thankless tasks.

I don’t mean to romanticize it. Hard, back breaking work was the norm.

My life is a piece of cake in comparison (the kind you buy in a fancy bakery, not the kind my Grandma would have made from scratch). I’m very lucky to live when I do… in a world full of microwaves and dish washers, antiperspirant and disposable diapers. But there is a part of me that yearns for a simpler, less ‘plugged-in’ life (even if it would be much harder to actually live it).

Don’t get the wrong idea. I can guarantee we won’t be pulling up stakes and moving to the hills to live off the land. Dan would sooner pull his hair out than be caught without ebay and the Boston Red Sox on TV. And I must admit I'm quite addicted to many modern conveniences myself. I wouldn't last long washing clothes by hand, let me tell you.

I won't ever like glossy cooking magazines when I can reach for the books filled with cherished family recipes. I probably won't ever get used to singing without a hymnal in church. I still want to learn tatting, and I'll use those tea towels till they fall apart. The challenge, I think, is to find a healthy mix of the old and the new. A little bit of sewing.... A little bit of blogging.... Some home-made greeting cards..... And maybe some free e-cards when I'm running short on time... Canning in the summer.... And buying canned goods on sale as well.... a little bit of this old thing... a little bit of that new thing...

Above & beyond the old and the new, I will enjoy those things that make my life easier, those things which help keep us safe, and especially those that allow me more precious time with Dan and Willie.

I'm guessing, that my Grandmother (and yours) would say life back then wasn't all that "simple" after all, and I should be thankful for the wonderful life I have. And you know what... I am. I'm very VERY thankful.

These are a few of my Favorite Things

Do you remember the song "My Favorite Things"?

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittensBright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens Brown paper packages tied up with stringsThese are a few of my favorite things
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudelsDoorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodlesWild geese that fly with the moon on their wingsThese are a few of my favorite things
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashesSnowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashesSilver white winters that melt into springsThese are a few of my favorite things
When the dog bitesWhen the bee stingsWhen I'm feeling sadI simply remember my favorite things And then I don't feel so bad
I don't feel bad at all, but I have had this song stuck in my head for a couple of days, and it made me think about a few of MY favorite things.... and because I'm in a sharing mood, I grabbed our little camera and snapped a few pics so that I can share them with you...
the chickens in my kitchen make me think of my Dad (who also collects chickens)... and they always put a smile on my face, no matter how silly or chochky they are.

The Jade-ite dishes (here are a few of them) which I've collected for years, make me want to curl up in a big fluffy chair with a hot cup of coffee and a dish of yummy pastry. Even though we rarely use any of them, I love 'em to bits.

here are the fridge magnets that always make my hubby roll his eyes...

The walls of our tiny dining room are cram-packed with family photos. Some are of folks still here with us. Others passed on long ago. Some I've never even met, but seeing their faces always makes me feel close to my family both past and present.

This year, for the first time ever, I tried my hand at canning. It's hard work of course, but there is nothing quite like looking at rows of beautiful jars, and knowing you put them there....

And probably my most prized possession... a hand-stitched postage stamp quilt. Though it's faded with time, it is still beautiful. Looking at it makes me thankful for all the wonderful women in my life, including the long gone family member who worked so hard to make this beautiful work of art.

So even if I haven't been bit by a dog or stung by a bee... and even if I'm not having a particularly bad day, I can still remember my favorite things and the day gets even better!


I Wanna be a Cowboy.... says Willie?

A few weeks ago, as Dan was reviewing the Christmas presents I'd purchased for our little guy, he asked,

"When exactly did Willie mention to you that he wants to be a cowboy?"

The question was dripping with playful sarcasm. We both know Will is more likely to say "Juice" or "Daddy" than anything else. He's certainly not up to sentences yet... but I'd decided that even though he couldn't express the desire with words, he clearly wanted to be my little buckaroo!

Yesterday we had our first family Christmas celebration (there will be a couple more before month's end). We had a wonderful time visiting with family and eating yummy food. We opened a few presents (including Willie's new cowboy hat, boots from Uncle David, a little Sherriff's vest that I'd made for him with scraps, and a stick horse.

So we watched with interest to see how he'd respond. He loved his new boots right off the bat, didn't mind the vest, was leery of the hat at first (though he's warming to it now) and loved the stick horse. The horse however, turned out to be a very bad idea - at least for now. Willie couldn't decide it it was a broom or a club... After a few close calls with various family members, we quickly decided it would need to be retired for a while.

We all know that it was me who wanted my little guy to be a cowboy. Willie is pretty easy to please and would have liked anything at all. I couldn't help myself though. When I think of little boys... I think of ponies and bicycles, dirt and bruises, tree houses and swimming pools, astronauts and cowboys. I suppose since I'm not a mom of 50 years ago, I'll have to eventually add in video games and Spongebob... but for now I'm enjoying my little cowboy just as he is.

And if I'd had any doubts at all...they went away this morning. My little guy (all decked out in his western gear) was sitting at his little table, enjoying a snack. I put his "Woody" doll (from the "Toy Story" movies) in the other chair. Willie looked at Woody for a minute, touched his own hat as if to say, "Howdy" to his little friend, and then he got out of his chair, walked over to Woody and pressed a little cracker to the doll's lips. After "feeding" his friend, he looked up at me and smiled...then got back in his chair to finish his grub.

Aw, what a sweetheart!


Willie & the Christmas Tree

Our little munchkin is typically full of curiosity and fearless wonder. He approaches every new endeavor with a twinkle in his eye and a spring to his tiny step. He loves being hung upside down and swung from side to side by his Daddy. He thinks it’s a hoot to jump off of furniture or dive head-first into the bath tub. He chases the vacuum. He tries to climb the fence.

Dan and I had been a bit worried about putting a tree up at all, because we’d heard all the horror stories told by our friends…the ornaments might go in the toilet, the tree will get knocked over, there will be broken decorations everywhere, etc.

Still we had decided to plow ahead with our typical (though mildly scaled back) holiday decorating. We have an artificial tree, multi-colored lights and various ornaments of every imaginable size, shape and age. It’s a simple tree, but we enjoy it a lot and hoped Will would like it as well. When we brought him out to see it all on that first day, we held our breath.

We didn’t know what to expect… Would he try to climb the tree? Would he tear the paper off the few presents scattered underneath? Would the ornaments be thrown in the toy box?

So, we watched him take it all in.

He pointed and smiled at the ornaments. He giggled at the lights. He waved at the tree as if it were an old and dear friend. But he wouldn’t touch it.

Not the tree. Not the ornaments. Not the packages underneath.

He wouldn’t even get within three feet of it. If he accidentally stumbled into “tree territory”, he would scramble back out again and stare at it warily. We picked him up and walked him close. He reared back as far as he could without breaking our arms off and/or falling to the floor.

To our surprise, there seemed to be a magical force field that surrounded our modest little tree, and only Willie could see it.

We were surprised, but happily so. Now we could brag to our friends about how well behaved our son was. We could hang any ornaments we liked and not worry about them being broken. It would be business as usual in our house at Christmas – even with a toddler.

Gradually though, Will’s natural curiosity outweighed his Christmas tree caution. After a couple of days, he began to touch the end of branches and giggle. He started to lean in close to eyeball the Santa ornaments. A week passed and he noticed that some of the decorations looked a lot like baseballs, and were just as easy to throw. He discovered that the pretty paper comes off of the boxes under the tree, and that some ornaments fit neatly into the drawer in Mommy’s bedside table.

So now, we have moved the ornaments to the top half of the tree. They are cramped and crowded and it looks a little odd, but Will doesn’t care.

He grabs hold of the lower branches and pulls and tugs. The tinsel and candy canes above dance and the Angel teeters on her perch. And we don’t mind at all. Because next year, and the next year and the next year after that… we’ll have funny stories to tell about the year when we had a magical Christmas tree with a force field only Willie could see.


Drifting Snow

We had a blizzard this week in the Midwest. This in itself is not unusual, though this particular storm is (according to the local meteorologist) the third worst December storm on record. We think we received between 12 – 14 inches where we live. It’s hard to tell for sure because the 40 & 50mph winds swirled, spiraled and blew till drifts blocked driveways and stoops, and made many a road impassable.

The storm brought a bitter cold that has a bite to it. The harsh chill makes me thankful for a warm coat, a warm house and a warm husband.

There was a time (years and years ago) when the bitter cold of winter was inviting…even with its harsh promise of numb fingers and dripping noses. My favorite childhood winter activities were sledding (we had the most amazing – though ancient – toboggan), building snowmen, and hiding in snow forts built by my Dad.

As time has passed, so too has my childhood love of the snow. I suppose this change in my attitude is due to the simple fact that I grew up. Gone is the toboggan of my youth. It has been replaced by snow shovels, ice scrapers, and emergency flares. The winter of an adult is much less enticing than that of a child. There are few “snow days” in the world of gainful employment. Instead of snowball fights and ice skates, we worry about road conditions and wind chill. I’m no Scrooge. I love a bit of snow on Christmas, but usually that would be plenty for me.

But this year is different. Once again, I find myself drawn by the promise of a fresh snowfall. For the first time, in a long time… I’m wondering if the snow is wet enough to pack into a snowman. I have dug out my long-johns and am actually excited about putting them on. As you may have guessed, this change of heart is due to Willie. He was much too tiny last year to really be introduced to the snow in a real way. His limited exposure to his first winter cold was the quick walk from house to car – and back again, snugly tucked into his carrier, covered with a warm blanket.

That tiny baby of last year has morphed into a funny little boy with an independent streak, boundless energy and a penchant for adventure. Will is transfixed by the magic and mystery of the chilly white stuff. He wants to play outside every day. He does not care that his nose gets red, his cheeks even redder, or that snowflakes get caught in his eyelashes. He wants to touch the snow. He wants to taste it. He wants to jump in face first and figure it all out for himself.

This weekend we have no big plans. We will be mostly hibernating, bundling up in old sweaters and wool socks, cuddling under blankets and sipping hot chocolate. We will make some soup and home-made cookies. We will wrap presents, listen to holiday music and watch too much tv. We will play with Will, and the house will be filled with the sound of his giggles and chatter.

When we need a break, we will all bundle up and venture into the cold. We’ll make snow angels and snow balls. We’ll jump into snow drifts and build a snow fort. We’ll watch our twinkly-eyed little elf as he explores the newness of it all.

We will be very cold. Our socks will be wet. Our noses will drip. Our fingers and toes will be numb.

We won’t care.

It will be a fabulous weekend!


Christmas in the air...

I love Christmas! I love everything about it….the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, the Nativity pageants, the Carolers singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, little children sitting on Santa’s lap, sappy holiday movies on TV, decorating the tree with years worth of memorable ornaments... Every bit of it fills me with joy.

Yes, I’m one of THOSE people….the ones who thrive in the midst of long lines, burnt turkey and assorted holiday craziness. I mail too many cards, wear Santa Claus socks, and change my cell phone’s ring tone to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.

I just can't help myself. The closer Christmas gets...the more I act like a giddy school girl. Even when I worked retail years ago, I found this to be my favorite time of year.

As a child my parents instilled in me a love of the holidays and I guess it’s just never faded. We had several family traditions that we could look forward to every year. Before my Grandma H went to live in the nursing home, we would have a family celebration with my Dad’s family. Some years we would also be very lucky to travel over the holidays to see my Mom’s family in Kentucky. Back at home, we usually made doughnuts from scratch on Christmas morning, followed by my Dad reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 out loud to all of us, and then on to the presents! Santa didn’t visit our house (long story for a different day), but my little brother and I always had lots of gifts to un-wrap on Christmas morning.

Dan and I now host my family Christmas. We’re a small lot at this point, so it’s not a huge undertaking. We usually do it a week or so before the 25th whenever we can all get together. My folks drive up and so does my little brother (not so little anymore…a grown man living several hours away). We don’t always make doughnuts these days, but we do still enjoy the Christmas story before we open our gifts. More than gifts or pastry, we enjoy each other. We share stories of Christmases past and now that Willie is here, a whole new element of excitement has been integrated into the celebration.

Dan and I are creating our own traditions too. We put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving. We bake cookies and make candy for all of our holiday gatherings. I make a family Christmas salad (my Great Aunt Mary’s) which always makes more than we need. Dan and I buy each other silly and whimsical gifts. We go to see light displays, and take Willie to see Santa at the mall. We listen to Christmas music and go to a special service at church. We open our presents first thing on Christmas morning (Santa, by the way DOES come to our house) and then we drive to see Dan’s family for a wonderful Christmas lunch and fellowship. We return home stuffed & exhausted but very, very happy.

As the holidays wind down, the presents have all been opened, and the tree is packed away, there will still be a lingering warmth that only December can give us. Even after I’m making my New Year’s resolutions and trying to remember to write 2010 instead of 2009, I’ll be thinking about all the fun we will have had.

I hope that you will also enjoy these next few weeks as much as I plan to. As the old song says, this is truly the “most wonderful time of the year”.



While Dan was out of town, Willie and I drove south to see my folks for the day yesterday. We started out early (6am) because when my little guy noticed that his Daddy wasn't home, he turned into a tiny terror. I figured a couple hours in a car seat might mellow him out a bit. I was right.

Visiting my folks is always fun for us. They have a cozy little farm house on a small acreage. My Dad calls himself a "hobby farmer" which means he has a full time job elsewhere, but also putters around on his tractor & raises small animals in his spare time. My Mom is a retired nurse and spends her time now as a "domestic engineer" and church volunteer. They've been married for almost 40 years and still act like newlyweds. In a world dominated by divorce and unhappy homes, they are an example of when marriage can work...and work very well.

When we got there on Saturday Willie was on hyper-overdrive from the moment he stepped foot in their little house. He discovered a short step that went from the laundry room into the kitchen. He spent half of his time just going up and down that step, giggling and clapping. When he wasn't playing on the step, he was exploring every nook and cranny, playing with toys, or just running around. Occasionally he would stop to have a snack or dance to a song on the radio, but for the most part he was constantly moving and having a wonderful time.

My parents aren't spring chickens anymore, but when they are around Willie they get a jolt of youthful energy that is truly a joy to watch. My Dad will get down on the floor and drive toy cars or play with little plastic animals. Mom will sing songs to Will and dance with him. Sometimes watching them together brings me to the brink of happy tears. There is a really amazing feeling of everything coming full circle when I see my parents with my son. Regardless of what is going on in the world, everything that matters is exactly as it should be...

When we came home, Willie was very upset to see his Daddy's vehicle was still not parked in its usual space. He calmed down after a bit, but wasn't his usual self until Dan pulled in a couple hours later. Having Dan at home again was a relief for us both. We really missed him while he was gone yesterday, and were so glad that we were able to spend today together as a family.

Happiness is having both of my guys right here with me.


Solitude....sort of

Other than the occasional settling sounds that come for free with a house this old... it is quiet. My sweet little angel is sound asleep in his cozy little crib, blankie clutched tight. My hubby is out of the house for the moment. The quiet is odd in a way. There is usually (almost always) something going on...some baby chatter or the sound of Dan digging in the fridge or the din of the tv. The quiet is odd to me, but I find that I like it tonight. There is a serenity enveloped in the silence that is much appreciated after a long and somewhat hectic work week.

I have the house to myself for this small block of time. The options seem endless... I could clean. I could watch some tv. I could work out. I could eat ice cream and listen to Christmas Carols. I could go to sleep early or take a bubble bath.

Hmmm What will it be?

I'm thinking some internet time followed by ice cream and tv will win. I am weak (for the ice cream) and the series finale of "Monk" is on tonight. I've always enjoyed that show. Maybe I'll take some time to write my Grandma a letter later. She's a sweetie and I love writing to her.

Tomorrow young Master Willie and I will drive to see my parents for a short visit. It should be a wonderful day filled with quality family time and fellowship. My folks live on a little farm. Willie loves it there. He enjoys tromping through the grass, chasing the cats and looking at the birds. He'll squeal and giggle and point and chatter and run in circles until he's exhausted.

That's the best kind of noise I think... the happy chaos that surrounds a bubbly baby. Suddenly the quiet isn't so wonderful, and I find myself really looking forward to the morning when my little prince wakes me up for the day, and we can have some Mommy/Willie time together.

Good Night & Sweet Dreams.

So this is me...

Who am I? My name is Christy. I’m the 30something wife to Dan and mother to an adorable toddler Willie. Dan and I both have jobs we enjoy, a cozy little home we love and a wonderful extended family. Over the years our friends have scattered, but distance doesn’t weaken the bond we share with each of them.

I’m passionate about my son and husband. They make my world go round. We love spending quiet evenings at home or noisy ones at sporting events. I love to read, though with a toddler that’s not always an easy task. I am crafty. Dan balances the checkbook. I love garage sales. Dan shops on eBay. I watch General Hospital. Dan plays video games. We take turns cooking and doing the dishes. We love playing with our son more than anything else. We have fun together. We watch cartoons even when the baby is sleeping. We laugh at silly inside jokes. We do not feel as old as we are.

We aren’t rich. We aren’t movie star beautiful. We have faults. We should go on a diet.

We have hopes and dreams. We have each other. We are wicked happy….

So what will my blog be about? My penchant for bargain hunting? My love of ice cream that often handily beats out my desire to lose weight? My husband’s love of baseball? My son’s silly antics? His milestones? Family vacations? Dirty laundry? Fate?

Yes to all… eventually. You’ll have to be patient with me as I get this ball rolling.

For now, sit back and relax. Take a sip of hot chocolate. Curl up next to your sweetie pie and count your blessings. I bet if you think about it…. your life is pretty amazing too.


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