12/30/10

Holiday Recap 2010

I can’t believe Christmas 2010 is behind us! It came and went in a whirlwind of snowstorms and family celebrations. We were luckier than many this year because we were able to stick with our travel plans. We visited my folks on Christmas eve (they live a couple hours south) and then drove a few hours north to visit Hubby’s family on Christmas Day. We had uneventful drives and are very thankful for getting to and fro safely.

We were showered with love and gifts and enjoyed the precious fellowship of family. We ate yummy food till we thought we might burst, and took time to relax and enjoy ourselves. Other than a few toddler meltdowns (we haven’t yet mastered why we should take turns opening presents) all went well.

As I reviewed the stacks of fun and thoughtful gifts I received this year from family, I was reminded of just how much they care, and how well they know the real me.

Some of my favorite 2010 Christmas gifts…a tee shirt with Little Guy’s picture on the front, an old-time silhouette of Little Guy in a lovely oval frame, an antique sewing box, a huge collection of quilting magazines and books, Superman memorabilia, gift cards to my favorite craft stores, an audio CD of the newest Tom Clancy novel, playful socks for every major holiday, and the most lovely necklace (from Hubby) that has Little Guy’s name inscribed on it. **sigh**

The gift I’m a bit intimidated by is a Bible, of all things. Not just any Bible, this one is a King James version that is split into daily readings so that by years’ end…I will have (hopefully) read the whole thing! My Mom, Dad and Brother and doing it too. It should be an interesting adventure for us as we journey through God’s Word together. Though I have been in church my whole life, graduated from a Baptist high school, and have memorized many verses over the years – I’ve never tackled reading the whole Bible before. I feel challenged, and also excited. I think it will help that I’ll have daily reminders from my family to keep on top of the current readings.

This weekend the weather is supposed to be nasty-cold, so it will be a perfect time for us to stay inside where its warm and cozy. We’ll tackle taking down the Tree and all the decorations – storing them away until next year. That’s always a bittersweet endeavor for me. I love the holiday décor, but on the other hand – I’m always glad to have my house back to normal too. I think Little Guy will be the most disappointed. He’s grown quite attached to the tree lights.

So, how was your Christmas?

12/24/10

The Night Before Christmas (A more spiritual version)

The Night Before Christmas
A more spiritual version of the famous Christmas story

By: Sister St. Thomas, B.N.D. de N
(a variation of the beloved classic 'Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore)

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the town,
St. Joseph was searching, walking up roads and down;
Our Lady was waiting, so meek and so mild,
While Joseph was seeking a place for the Child.

The children were nestled, each snug in their beds,
The grown-ups wouldn't bother, there's no room they said;
When even the innkeeper sent them away,
Joseph was wondering, where they would stay.

He thought of the caves in the side of the hills,
Lets go there said Mary, it's silent and still;
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Made pathways of light for their tired feet to go.

And there in a cave, in a cradle of hay,
Our Savior was born on that first Christmas Day!
The Father was watching in heaven above,
He sent for His angels, His couriers of love.

More rapid than eagles God's bright angels came;
Rejoicing and eager as each heard his name;
Come Power, Come Cherubs, Come Virtues, Come Raphael,
Come Thrones and Dominions, come Michael and Gabriel.

Now fly to the Earth, where My poor people live,
Announce the glad tiding My Son comes to give;
The Shepherds were watching their flocks on this night,
And saw in the heavens and unearthly light.

The Angels assured them, they'd nothing to fear,
It's Christmas they said, the Savior is here!
They hastened to find Him, and stood at the door,
Till Mary invited them in to adore.

He was swaddled in bands from His head to His feet,
Never did the Shepherds see a baby so sweet!
He spoke not a word, but the shepherds all knew,
He was telling them secrets and blessing them too.

Then softly they left Him, The Babe in the hay,
And rejoiced with great joy on that first Christmas Day;
Mary heard them exclaim as they walked up the hill,
Glory to God in the Highest, Peace to men of good will!

12/21/10

A Child's Joy at Christmas


Christmas 1976:  My cousins, Grandma H and me posing
for a little holiday photo.  That's me on the far right, staring
into the tree (dreamily, I'm sure).  
 Every year, the calendar tells me I’m a year older, but when Christmas rolls around I turn into a giggly little girl again. My heart still flutters with the anticipation of Christmas morning…of holiday dinners.... of presents to open….of special church services and precious time with family.

When I recall holidays of my childhood, I am reminded of trees decorated with home-made ornaments, of snowstorms and sled rides, of family gatherings and Christmas carols. As the 25th approaches, I find myself tempted to cut snowflakes from notebook paper and make red and green paper chains. I want to eat frosted sugar cookies shaped like stars and go shopping for that perfect gift. I want to hug every member of my family and wish them a Happy New Year.

It’s a magical season full of wonder and surprise. Now that I’m a parent, I find that all of this Christmas excitement has magnified even more (not that I ever would have believed it possible). Watching my toddler’s gleeful expression every time we turn on the tree lights brings me joy. Seeing him eye the presents under the tree with curiosity and eagerness makes me wish for Christmas morning. Helping him shape sugar cookies with his chubby little fingers makes me melt inside. Sharing with him the Christmas Story and holiday traditions we hold dear, brings to mind loved ones who we miss dearly.

This weekend will be filled with a flurry of activity (and weather permitting) time spent with family in two different parts of the state. We will eat and play and open presents. We will share time with one another and cherish the memories we make.

As you embrace the beauty and wonder of this time of year, I hope that you too can experience the Christmas joy of a child.

12/16/10

Hey Hey Hey


Fat Albert aired on CBS from 1972-1985. 
The image above came from CBS website
We watch a lot of cartoons, and not just because we have a toddler in residence. The truth is Hubby and I enjoyed watching them long before we had a Little Guy to share the experience with.

Last week, we had both had about as much Bob the Builder as we could handle, so Hubby searched NetFlix Instant Watch (best thing ever, by the way) for something different. We were both pleasantly surprised to see that old Fat Albert episodes were available, and we started watching season 1.

We were soon engrossed. Memories of our childhoods (late 70’s and early 80’s) came rushing back. Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids were like old friends we hadn’t seen in years. It was fun to see the old style animation and the dated fashions. It was a little surreal to see a very young Bill Cosby introducing each segment – but also very cool. He is, after all, one of those comedians who always stayed classy.

We actually didn’t even realize that Little Guy had been paying attention (as he’d been playing with his train in another part of the family room when we watched the first couple episodes), but Saturday morning he asked his Dad, “I watch more Hey Hey Hey show?”  So, I guess he liked it after all.

We were happy to oblige him, and watched a few more episodes as a family over the weekend.

One thing about the show which I’d forgotten over the years, was that each and every Fat Albert episode has a moral behind the story. “Be kind to people who are different than you”. “Don’t steal”. “Don’t Smoke”. “Your parents may have divorced, but they still love you”. “Respect the police”. “A new baby in the family is not the end of the world.”

You get the idea.

I think the reason I was surprised, is that these days, most children’s programming doesn’t contain any substantive message that I have noticed. Shows for kids are usually silly and entertaining and can even be educational, but they very rarely (if ever) offer moral guidance.

Don’t get me wrong. We’re not letting him learn the difference between right and wrong from the TV. We’re taking care of that ourselves. It’s nice, though when a show he enjoys also reinforces the beliefs we are trying to teach him.

So another generation of our family is getting to know the cool guys in the junk yard, and is maybe picking up some really good lessons along the way.

As Fat Albert would say, “Hey Hey Hey, that’s Okay!”

12/12/10

Christmas Card Wreath (52 Week Challenge - week 12?)

A while back I joined the challenge put forth by the Thrify Mrs. She and a friend concocted a goal of making 52 things in 52 weeks. The guidelines were pretty open. You just need to make things you enjoy, and which aren’t part of your usual repertoire.

Every year I save the Christmas cards we receive from friends and family.  Every year I say that someday I'm going to do something with them...this year I finally followed through with that task.

I decided to use some of my favorites to make a little holiday wreath.  I have not done this before, but it seemed like it might be a fun (and frugal) Christmas craft. 

I cut a large ring out of a cardboard box (making two tiny holes toward the "top" so that I could fashion a hanger with fishing line).  I then picked my favorite old Christmas cards and cut circles from the images on them.  For the circles, I used a couple plastic lids (different sizes) to trace around.  Then I cut out the circles and glued them to the cardboard circle.  Super simple, but I think the end result was cute.


gathering supplies


choosing the pictures to cut out

got lucky that one of our old cards had a big bow on the front


finished product


When Little Guy saw the glue...he felt he needed to do something crafty too.  I cut out pictures for him and he glued them to his paper.  What a sweetheart!

Challenge Summary: Week Twelve?

Ever done this before? Nope
Do I love it? It was pretty fun to make.
Material Cost: $0.00
Time Spent: maybe 30 minutes
Success - Yes or No? yes

12/9/10

I'm Sentimental Like That

I keep things that have little or no monetary value, but which are priceless to me. For example, I still have notes passed to me in Junior High School. They are folded in that silly way young girls fold their notes and they include content such as:

“You love Brad, don’t you? I can tell!!!” and “Mr. Slate is the worst History teacher EVER!!” They are all signed “Friends Forever” or “Longer Letter Later”. There is a lot of unnecessary punctuation and some funny little drawings.

Seriously, it is ridiculous to keep these – I know that. I don’t remember Mr. Slate and I have no idea who Brad was….but these bits of folded up notepaper evoke in me memories of a time and place long gone. They remind me of friends who I thought I’d never ever grow apart from, but grow apart we did. These little notes make me smile.

I’m sentimental like that.

You’ll find evidence of my sentimentality in every room of our home.

I have an ancient vegetable strainer that belonged to my dear Grandmother who passed away long ago. It’s battered and dented and the little knob is gone. I still drain my veggie pan with it and every time I do, my mind wanders (however briefly) to memories of her. Could I buy a new strainer that is not dented and has all knobs intact? Yes, but I won’t.

I still snuggle up with the soft yellow blanket that covered me in my first twin bed as a very young child. That blanket sat in the corner with me when I was in trouble and went with me to a college dorm. Now it serves as a perfect TV-watching blanket, and even though it has patches and is worn almost out – I can’t bear to replace it.

So you see, I’m sentimental like that.

That sentimentality goes into overdrive at Christmas. Every ornament has a story. Every decoration has a history. Our home becomes a hodge-podge of color and festive decor and lights. Nothing matches per se. Our tree is not color-coordinated, and we don’t really have a theme. Everything you see is there because we love it, or because we love whoever gave it to us. It’s there because it stirs up holiday happiness in our hearts.

The ornaments on our tree are dated (either by the manufacturer or by me with a fine line sharpie). I love being able to pick up the red and green rocking horse and read on the bottom that it came from my Dad in 1995. I get a kick out of the God’s Eye ornament my little brother made for me when he was six (1989), or the first Santa ornament that Hubby got me when we first started dating (2003), or the sweet angel that came from my Mom in 2000. When we decorate the tree, it’s like a living scrapbook. Now that we have Little Guy, there are even more fun ornaments to arrange on the tree. The big white ball with his hand print from last year, and the small red hanging frame that has a picture of his tiny baby face from his first Christmas. I envision decorating together as a family as he gets older. As each ornament goes on the tree we can tell a story of a person, or a time or a place that we are fondly reminded of.

It will be sweet. It will be sentimental. And, as you know…that’s how I like it.

12/8/10

Christmas Card Drama

One thing I’ve prided myself on, over the years – has been the precision timing of my Christmas card mailings. Friends and family know that the card from our house is usually one of the first to start off the holiday.

But this year, my Christmas card magic has failed me. It isn’t that we aren’t prepared. We bought our cards last year on clearance. The fresh boxes of greeting cards are sitting at the ready, as are sheets of holiday stickers, pre-printed address labels, and a stack of newly written and printed Christmas letters.

The cards sit there and mock me…untouched, unsigned, and unsent.

On Sunday I decided we needed a photo of Little Guy to pop in with the letter. So all day, we tried to take some holiday themed pictures. We posed him in front of the Christmas tree, with his Nativity Scene, and in a red and white Santa hat.

What were our end results? Well, he’s two. So, the photos we did get were: “Blur of Boy”, “Back of Boy –as he runs away”, “Boy adding Thomas the Train to his Nativity set”, and “Boy yanking off his Santa hat with Distaste”. There were several cute pictures, but none that were just right. I was running out of time though, so I settled on one that will work. I went on-line Sunday night and placed the order to be picked up Monday.

Monday night Hubby, Little Guy and I were out running errands. I took our tiny fellow into one store, and Hubby went to get the pictures at another. When we met up a bit later, he told me that there were no pictures for us. Clearly they had made some mistake and I should give them a good talking to when I picked up the pictures eventually.

I appreciated his defense of me, but in my mind…. I began to have a little suspicion that I’d probably messed up the order myself. When we got home, I went to the website, and sure enough I hadn’t hit the final “confirm transaction” button.

Argh!

I apologized to Hubby (who being the sweet spouse that he is, took it in stride), and then completed the order. Today I went to the store again (over my lunch hour) and have to admit I wasn’t terribly surprised when they said the machines had broken down and all orders were delayed by at least a day.

So tomorrow I should have the pictures. I stress the word “should”. We’ll see.

Tonight I will get off this computer (in just a minute, I promise) and become a signing, folding, and stamping machine. If I need inspiration, I’ll listen to Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra singing Christmas carols. The current version of our list has 87 names on it, so I might even need to break out some Nat King Cole and Deam Martin albums.  Can't beat the old stuff in my book...

But I digress.  I’ll leave the cards unsealed so that the pictures can be inserted right before we mail them out.

With any luck, I’ll have the stack mailed by the end of the week. If luck fails me, maybe I’ll have them out by Valentine’s Day.

12/7/10

New Boots

I had a rare “Girls Night Out” recently. A few of us left hubbies and kiddos behind for a bit of much needed girl talk and fun. Specifically, we went out to dinner and then to a local hockey game.

Since hockey games are played in an ice arena, the bleachers aren’t usually much warmer than the parking lot outside. I wore an old hockey sweater under my heavy coat and was happily ringing my cowbell (for good plays, goals scored and the occasional fight). We all chatted when we could over the noise and were generally a smiling happy bunch of gals.

Then some younger ladies walked by us, and I had to take notice because one of them was wearing boots like this:


My two friends and I are all ladies of a certain age (somewhere between 30 and 30something) and we dressed accordingly. Comfortable clothes, warm coats, gloves and most importantly flat soled shoes. I chuckled a little as this very fashionable gal walked by. “That’s silly”, I thought. “Who wears something like that to a hockey game?”

As if in answer to my silent question, within minutes several more pairs of fancy high heeled boots walked past. And I began to realize that, though not a uniform, the fancy boots were far more prevalent than my own simple brown leather shoes at this event.

Clearly, even at a hockey game, some folks put fashion high above their need for comfort. And, maybe that’s the way it should be – who am I to judge?

Regardless of our spiky heeled boot deficiency, we three gals still had a fun night. Our team lost, and there was only one decent fight (half the fun for many hockey fans), but it was still a fun night out.

The next day Hubby, Little Guy and I were out doing some Christmas shopping. I turned to my significant other, and said, “I want some new boots”.

So we went to the shoe section of the department store we were in, and I perused the shelves. There were lovely boots made of the softest leathers. There were boots with spiky heels, and ones that went thigh high. There were boots in every color and some even with fur.

So, which ones did I choose? These, of course!


Luckily for me, one of the many benefits to getting older (and wiser) is that I no longer feel the pull of following trends. I tend to be much more aware of comfort. When it came to winter footwear, I wanted boots that would keep my feet warm (check!) that would keep my feet dry (check!) that would have good traction on icy driveways and sidewalks in the coming winter months (check!) and in which I could play in the snow with Little Guy without worrying about cold wet feet (check!).

Also, as an added bonus – they were on a very good sale so I was able to feel frugal as well.

My awesome new boots will never grace the cover of Cosmo, but then neither will I – so that works out quite well I think. I’ll definitely be wearing these the next time I go to a hockey game. Other ladies might pretend that they enjoy their fancy boots more, but I bet secretly they’ll wish their toes were toasty warm with room to wiggle (just like mine will be).

12/6/10

Holiday Little People - Bargain!!

Over the weekend, we went to a nearby flea market to browse a bit.  We came upon a large cardboard box full of Christmas Fisher Price Little People.  The box was marked $5 for all, so of course we snapped it up.  Here are all the goodies the box contained.  (Everything needed a nice wash down with Clorox wipes, but otherwise all was in working order - batteries were even included!).



Little Guy played with his new toys all weekend!

12/4/10

One Year of Blogging!

One year ago today I introduced myself to the blogging community with this post.

Here are the five biggest things I’ve learned about blogging in the past year:

1. Comments make me happy.
2. Followers come and followers go.
3. I should proofread more carefully before I publish posts.
4. I’ve met some truly lovely ladies who blog, and though I may never meet them in person, they have made a positive impact on my life. Thank you.
5. I have a lot more to learn.

It’s been a really fun year, and I have discovered that I enjoy writing in this format even more than I’d anticipated. I have a full-time day job as a technical writer - a good job to be sure (and I am thankful for it), but it is not a wonderful outlet for creativity. This blog has allowed me to express myself in a way I did not have before. I am very thankful for that.

In addition to my first anniversary today, this post happens to mark another milestone: it’s my 200th!

In celebration of one year and 200 posts, I’ll soon be hosting a give-away. Details will be coming soon, I promise.

In the mean time, thank you. Thank you for popping by on occasion and letting me share my life with you. You are always welcome, so come back as often as you’d like.

12/3/10

{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment.... via a single photo – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember…”


12/2/10

Frugal Gift Giving Ideas

For so many families the holidays bring both excitement and dread. When we see the list of family and friends to buy for, we are often faced with a true challenge. How do we stretch the holiday budget far enough to cover everyone on that list?

I love making home-made gifts and over the years have had some luck with very little (or NO!!) expense. These ideas might not work for you, but maybe something here will jiggle your creativity a bit and inspire you to try something new. I’ve listed some of my favorites below, but will do a follow-up post with more soon. (Sorry I have no photos. These projects predated my blogging endeavors).


Heirloom Recipe Box
A few years ago, I decided to collect all the family recipes that I could find and put them on recipe cards for my Mom. Between the two of us, we had a lot. Many were written on full size sheets of paper or on cards yellow with age. They were still legible, but certainly due an overhaul.

I picked my favorites recipes from my personal collection, and from both of my Grandmothers, my Mom, and various Aunts. My theme was “women of the family and what they cook”. I carefully transcribed these old (and not so old) recipes onto 3x5” cards which I had on hand. I made sure to title each one with the name of the woman who was known for that particular dish:
  • Christy’s Potato Soup
  • Jenny’s Famous Biscuits
  • Grandma Faith’s Lemon Meringue Pie
  • Grandma Laura’s Jelly Roll 
You get the idea… Then I went to the Local Goodwill store and found a sturdy little wooden recipe box for 99cents. I rummaged through boxes of old family photos, until I found images of each of the ladies whose recipes were represented within the box. I then made copies (spent less than $3 on those) and trimmed the copied photos, arranging them into a collage that fit the top of the wooden box. I used Mod Podge to adhere the photos. This project was a bit time-consuming, but only because of all the writing. The rest was a breeze, and aside from the time it took – I spent less than $5.

My Mom loved her recipe box, and it was something fun for us both to look through and enjoy. I still get a kick of pulling it from her cupboard for a look when I visit.

Hidden Compartment Book
My Dad is one of those guys who is fascinated by the idea of hidden compartments and secret hidey-holes. One year, I decided to modify an old book for him that he could put on the shelf, but in which he could hide something fun (or just enjoy knowing he could).

I went to our local used bookstore and hit the clearance section. I found a large hard bound dictionary for $1. Once I had the book home, I paged into the volume to about page twenty and than used glue to carefully glue the pages of the rest of the book together (leaving those first twenty free). I glued only around the edges. I did the glue first as I wasn’t sure how well the shape would hold up if I cut first. Once the glue was dry, I used an exacto knife to carefully cut down through the layers of pages, making a square hole in the center of the book (the cutting took some time – be patient). If you want a large hidey-hole, obviously you’d need a large book. The opening I made was maybe the size of a man’s wallet, but a little deeper. The edges were pretty ugly, so I cut some old vintage looking pictures from magazines and again got out that Mod Podge, with which I covered the rough edges paper mache style. It smoothed out nicely, leaving a clean opening. It looked pretty good if I do say so myself.

When closed, the book did not look to have been altered at all. It sat on the shelf squarely, and in fact when my Dad opened the gift, he was a bit confused. He read the inscription and just looked at me blankly. Why was I giving him a dictionary for Christmas? Then he thumbed through the first few pages and found his surprise. And he liked it a lot, so I marked this as another success.

Total expense of $1 (I had the Mod Podge on hand).

Children’s Book
Luckily I had this idea early, which gave me the time I needed to complete it. I decided to make a children’s book about my own childhood – for my parents. I know – that may seem weird, but it was actually pretty cute, and kind of a thank you to them for being such awesome parents to begin with.

The book was titled “Little Christy on the Farm”. It showed glimpses into the life of our little family during a five year period (late 70s/early 80s). The story was very simple and the illustrations were fairly simple too. I did try to bring real items from those years into the pictures. The toboggan we used for sledding, my faithful dog Lucky, the toys in my room, the holiday decorations and the furniture in our house. Whatever I could remember, got in there somewhere. I drew it all out by hand, colored the images in with colored pencils and put the pages in clear plastic sleeves. The sleeves had binder holes on one end, and I used a ring (like a large key ring) to hold them all together.

This one did take a while to complete. I’d say I used the better part of a month’s free time on the illustrations. Cost was $0 though, as I had all the supplies on hand. It’s a fun book and if I remember I’ll read it to Little Guy when we visit my folks for Christmas.
Family Board Game
I made this for an anniversary gift (My parents’ 30th I think), but it could be easily modified to work for Christmas. Have you noticed a theme? My folks tend to be my guinea pigs when it comes to home-made gifts. Luckily they don’t mind!

First I made a ‘game board’ using poster board. I colored little squares all over the plain white space in a winding road pattern. Then I wrote out trivia questions about my family. The categories were “Home Sweet Home”, “Vacations”, “Family Lore”, “Pets” and “Holidays”. Each of the categories had a corresponding hand-drawn picture on the game board (A house, A dog, A mini-van, etc.) Each player took turns answering the trivia questions (topic determined by a roll of the dice).  I found some discarded pawns from an old game that we no longer used, as well as the dice. It was silly fun, and only something my immediate family ever could have played, but the cost was minimal (69cents for poster board) and everyone enjoyed it!

Framed Poetry and Illustration
Another one for my folks. I think I did this the first year I was living on my own and was feeling a bit home-sick. I wrote two poems. One for Mom, one for Dad. I carefully printed them on parchment paper (which I had left over from an art class). Next to each poem I drew a picture of the appropriate parent with me. I framed each using frames purchased at Dollar General.
Since they still hang in my parents’ living room, I’m pretty sure this one was a hit too, and at a cost of $2 for the frames.

What are some fun ways you have found to make affordable gifts?

12/1/10

Toy Stories (My Friend Mandy & My Friend Jenny)


My Friend Mandy
                                                   
Christmas 1978: My Friend Mandy
I was four, and frankly a typical tom boy. My hair was cropped short. I usually played outside with my faithful canine companion Lucky. We were almost always dirty, and almost always in trouble. You’d be hard pressed to get me into a dress unless it was Sunday morning. You get the idea – I was not the girly-girl which doll manufacturers might consider their target audience.

However, my sweet Mama was determined to bring out the lace and sweetness and clean fingernails she had envisioned when first she heard, “It’s a Girl!” So, she looked around for the perfect doll, and found “My Friend Mandy”. Made by Fisher Price, and the first of the “My Friend” series, Mandy stood 16” tall. She had silky blond hair and lovely blue eyes. Mine came wearing a pink dress with tiny white polka dots. She had a white hat, tights and shoes. She was just wonderful. Even a rough and tumble tomboy like me couldn’t resist such a sweet doll. I loved her. I loved her hair which was easy to style. I loved her clothes. In addition to the outfit she came in, I received a little fur coat and hat and a big pile of home-made clothes (each “My Friend” doll came with free patterns and Mom had several outfits made for my doll).

Another bonus was that Mandy was machine washable, so when she and I came in from a long day climbing trees and chasing Lucky…she could be popped in the washer and was soon as good as new!


My Friend Jenny

Christmas 1979: My Friend Jenny

Jump ahead one year, and imagine my surprise when I opened a Christmas package which held a brunette version of Mandy. “My Friend Jenny” had hair as dark as mine, and big brown eyes. She was dressed in a fluffy white shirt, a brown jumper and a straw hat. She was the same size as Mandy and could share all of her outfits. She was a wonderful doll, and together she and Mandy remain my favorites thirty-plus years later.

Back when I first found out I was pregnant with our son, I was so convinced that our baby was going to be a girl, that I dug my Mandy and Jenny dolls out of storage. I ordered more outfits and also a pattern book to make even more myself. I enlisted my sweet Dad to make the gals a little wooden bed (He did a wonderful job - it even has clothing storage under the “mattress”). I made a little blanket and pillow for the bed. Then I decided I should also find the doll I never had as a child, but wanted: “My Friend Becky”.


My Friend Becky



So then there were three.

They are now back in storage of course, as I don’t think Little Guy would have much use for them. Maybe if we are ever blessed with a little girl, she’ll someday enjoy these dolls as much as I did. If not, I’ll someday find a different little girl to pass them too. Regardless, I love them and they are easily two of my fondest Christmas presents from childhood.

Maybe someday I'll track down Mikey and Nicky too, but for now these three make me happy.

I don't have pics of my own dolls for some reason (need to raid the old family albums or get my gals out of storage again).  The images you see within this post are from the following sites:





11/30/10

It IS a Small World After All

Early yesterday morning I purchased a cookbook on eBay for Hubby’s Christmas stocking. I was pretty excited about this item, as it was one of the last things I needed to pick up, and I have a feeling that this particular one is one he’ll enjoy. We both love looking through cookbooks and picking out yummy recipes to try.  Some say we already have enough, but we would disagree!

Of course I didn’t mention this new one to him at all, as I want it to be a surprise.

So, imagine MY surprise when he greeted me at the door after work with the following question, “Did you buy a cookbook on eBay today?”

“Uh, yes?” I stammered. “How do you know that?”

“Because it was stuck in our mailbox when I got home from the office.” And sure enough, into my outstretched hands he plucked a brown paper package. On the front in magic marker it said EBAY COOKBOOK.


Last night I checked my email, and sure enough - there was a message from the eBay seller. He said that he lived three blocks away from us(!!!) and decided it would be a lot easier to just run it by our house than put it through the post.

We got a good laugh at the whole thing. It hadn’t occurred to me to look at the seller’s address so I had not expected we were neighbors. Needless to say, he has received stellar feedback for this transaction.

I love shopping on-line, especially at sites like eBay and Etsy. There are times though when those purchases seem so faceless, so impersonal…. This particular experience made the world wide web seem a little smaller – in a good way!

Hubby now knows that the cookbook is for him (he figured that out as soon as I refused to show it to him), but he’ll still get a little surprise when he sees just what cookbook it is. Hurrah!

Oh, how I love this time of year – full of fun little holiday surprises.

11/29/10

The Santa Dilemma

Thanksgiving Day is behind us. Now begins the free-fall till December 25th. The days and weeks will fly by. There is so much left to do: decorating, baking, wrapping, singing and hot cocoa sipping. There is holiday music and outdoor lights.

And there is Santa.

Santa and I have an interesting relationship.

(Spoiler Alert – My beliefs about Santa may not match yours – be prepared).

As a child, my family celebrated Christmas with yummy home-made food, carol singing, lovely fellowship, piles of presents and (most importantly to our family) the reading of the Christmas story (via Luke 2).

(Spoiler Reminder – Not kidding!! If you are a young child or even a not-so-young one, and Santa is coming to your house this year, stop reading now.)

What my childhood Christmas memories don’t contain, is any belief that Santa was real. He was as real to me, as Cinderella or Tom Thumb. His story was sweet and fun, but not something I was to take seriously. Christ’s birth was the only reason for the season. I was warned however, that some children did believe very strongly in Santa and that I was to keep any and all Santa/Cinderella comparisons to myself. My parents were firm on that point. Our belief (or lack thereof) was to have no impact on those who chose to embrace the jolly Old St Nicholas.

Some people didn’t understand the stance my parents took. “Why not let her believe in Santa?” they would ask. “What’s the harm?” So worried about my mental health (as a child in a Santa free home) one well-meaning friend left a giant teddy bear in our car one Sunday morning after church. I was three, and when we got to the car, I spotted the new bear and became very excited. Mom and Dad thought the bear was lovely and a very sweet gift, but they wondered who had left it? The tag read (of course) “From Santa”.

To this day, we do not know who that particular Santa was. I loved that bear regardless of who left it for me, and the story remains a family favorite… so thank you to the mysterious Santa from 30some years ago.

But I digress. Why didn’t my parents tell me about Santa? It was simple. My Mom vividly remembered the day when a classmate told her Santa wasn’t real. She was maybe 8 or 9, and this news devastated her. Even at that young age she vowed to never put her own children in a similar situation. She reasoned that if we never believed in Santa to begin with, our little hearts wouldn’t break when we learned otherwise.

And you know what? We didn’t miss out on anything….not really. It’s true we never got our picture taken with Santa. It’s true that we were never told we would get coal in our stockings if we were naughty (even if that’s what I deserved a year or two). It’s true that we watched any Santa themed Christmas special as if it was just another cartoon. It’s also true that none of that mattered in the long run. We had (and still do have) wonderful Christmas celebrations together. We share memories and eat good food. We give each other hugs and silly presents. We wallow in a beautiful day of family fellowship. We want for nothing.

But here’s the funny thing…as a grown-up, I love Santa! I have for years. When it was time to decorate the Christmas tree in my first apartment, I found myself drawn to the Santa ornaments. So, those were the ones I purchased. As the years went by, Santa became my holiday decorating theme and over time a larger collection evolved. I have ceramic Santas, wooden ones, glass and metal ones. I have wall hangings and Santas that sing. I have a full set of dishes, a cookie jar, and big mugs. (That friend who acted as my own personal Santa all those years ago would probably be proud.) 
My Santa-free childhood, and my Santa-heavy adulthood were never in conflict until we had a little one of our own. We decided early on that we would try to find some happy medium

We take him to get his picture taken with Santa each year (this was the first year so far that he wasn’t happy about it). We’ll read him The Night Before Christmas, and Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, but we’ll also read Luke 2 and Christmas in the Barn. We’ll tell him that Santa is a nice old man who gives gifts to boys and girls in honor of the greatest gift ever given – the Christ Child. We aren’t going to push the “He knows when you’ve been sleeping” bit. Honestly that always seemed creepy to me…brings to mind Santa in a ski mask peeking over window sills… Anyway, our Santa will bring one gift for Little Guy. The rest of his gifts will be from family members and friends. We aren’t going to push the Santa thing, but we aren’t necessarily going to discourage it either. Hopefully we’ll find some safe middle ground, where he can enjoy all the Santa aspects of Christmas without distorting the Christian meaning of the holiday.

I know some of you are thinking we should follow my parents’ footsteps and forgo Santa totally. Some others may think we should go the opposite direction – all Santa all the time. I don’t know who’s right, but I do think the system we’ve chosen will work for us. If it doesn’t, I’m sure Little Guy will let us know. In the meantime, if you think his Santa exposure is lacking, you can always leave a large stuffed animal in my car for Little Guy with a tag that says “From Santa”. 

I drive the big tan Chrysler.

Happy Holidays to you all – regardless of  your opinion of Santa Claus.

11/27/10

Why This Bluebird Sings (Holiday Edition)

You know about the people I love. Now you can learn about the stuff I love as well.

In no particular order… here are the holiday cherries on the top of this week’s wickedhappy sundae:

What I’m Listening to: Christmas carols of course! One of our local radio stations has already started to play them 24/7 and I couldn’t be happier. My favorite Christmas song: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. Can’t explain why, but it’s been my favorite since childhood.

What I’m Looking Forward to: Scrumptious holiday meals served by loving family members. My Dad reading the Christmas Story before we open presents at my parents’ house. Little Guy helping to decorate holiday cookies. Taking him sledding. Quiet nights snuggled under quilts, watching old Christmas specials on TV. Time spent with family making memories.

What I’m Remembering: The Reason for the Season! Our old toboggan – no sled was faster! Precious time spent with loved ones who are no longer with us. Making paper chains with my folks when I was a little girl. My Mom’s blueberry pie. Making home-made doughnuts on Christmas morning (an old tradition in my family). Just how very blessed I am in so many ways.

What I'm Wishing for You:  A very happy holiday season filled with love and laughter and happiness.

11/26/10

{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment.... via a single photo – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember…”


11/24/10

Counting My Blessings

I’ll be spending this lovely holiday surrounded by family, eating yummy food and being thankful for the many blessings in my life. This time of year always reminds me of an old hymn which captures the mood for the day, I think. My wish for you is that you also have a wonderful day surrounded by the blessings in your life.

Count Your Blessings
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Words by Johnson Oatman Jr. 1897
Music by Edwin O. Excell

11/23/10

Big Boy Bed

I’ve told you before about our Little Guy and his issues with sleeping. For a while now, we’ve been thinking it might be time to give him a big boy bed (actually convert his crib to a toddler bed, but you get the idea). Our thought was that maybe he might choose to sleep in on occasion if the choice was truly his.

So last week Hubby converted the crib while I kept Little Guy busy elsewhere. When the transition was complete, we lead him into his little room. We didn’t say anything or point out what had changed. We watched closely to see if he would even notice. Within moments he did. He put his hand to his mouth, and said, “Oh NO! Mine bed BROKE!” We quickly assured him that it wasn’t broken, and that in fact it was now a “Big Boy Bed”, and we urged him to climb in.
The quilt on his bed is one I made (with the help of my Mom and Grandma) while I was pregnant with Little Guy.  The dinos and cowboy are all stuffed creatures that I've madefor him recently.  The contraption hanging on the side is his Fisher Price rain forest, which hs's had since he was an infant. 
He likes to be surrounded by things he loves (don't we all?)
 He loved it right away. That first day he climbed in and out about a hundred times. He would climb under the covers and pretend to sleep (eyes scrunched tight, and making snoring noises while trying not to giggle). We kept him very busy that day so that when nighttime came, he quickly drifted off to dreamland.
Since then it’s been touch and go. Bedtime can be tricky if he doesn’t think he’s ready to go to sleep. We have extra snuggle time some nights. Other times we sing extra songs. Some nights he goes right to bed no problem. Those nights are becoming more the norm, thankfully. And once asleep, he has been staying put throughout the night for the most part, and for that we are very, very grateful.

Last night as we were going through our bedtime routine, I could tell he really didn’t want to lay down. He was stalling. I gave him a kiss and assured him that if he needed anything at all I’d be right across the hallway.

He looked up at me with a mischievous expression, and said, “Mommy, I need chips!” Then we both laughed and he settled down into his covers to be tucked in for the night.

So far, the “Big Boy Bed” experiment has been a success. We’re very happy we made the switch, and our Little Guy is happy we made it too.

11/22/10

Monday Morning Mommy

We had a pretty wonderful weekend. What did we do? Not much of anything actually. Hubby did some yard work and winterizing. My folks came up for a quick visit. The rest of our weekend was spent inside our warm and cozy home.

We played games. We built towers with blocks. We colored pictures. We ate snacks and watched old “Bob the Builder” re-runs. We cuddled under blankets and were thankful for the shelter from the brisk winds. We chatted and ate yummy cold weather food. We did all the everyday stuff that makes our little family happy.

So this morning found me a little rough around the edges. It’s always hard to go back (even if you are lucky to have a job you like – which I do), but after such a lovely time with my fellas – it was proving to be especially difficult to leave today.

As I began to dress Little Guy in his jeans and cute flannel shirt, he looked up at me with those big beautiful eyes, and asked quietly, “Mommy, stay home?”

Oh heartache! He’s too young to really understand the why behind our daily foray into the working world. He doesn’t know just how much both of his parents would rather stay home and play with him. Most days he’s happy to go to his babysitter’s. She’s a sweet lady and they are close. Mondays tend to be tough though. He’s been spoiled by a couple days of family togetherness (as have we) and it’s a bit of an adjustment to get back into the routine. He’s (thankfully) always fine about five minutes after I drop him off. Once he sees his little buddies and starts to play with the fun toys and begins to munch happily on his morning snack of Fruit Loops – everything is fine again. It is still hard though, to walk away from a teary eyed face that means so much.

Recently a gal I know asked me if I ever get time to myself? She wanted to know if any working parent gets to take a day off just to do “me” stuff. I do take off my birthday and spend half of the day shopping solo in all the stores my guys don’t have any interest in. Other than that, the answer is pretty much no. She went on to take pity on me since (as a parent of a young child) I often have to use vacation time when Little Guy is sick.

It made me laugh a little bit, because this sweet lady had it all backward. It’s true that taking vacation days to take care of my son when he’s sick is not my favorite thing to do. But not in the way this friend implied. The thing I hate is that I ever have to leave him to begin with. If I had my way I’d be there with him every day. I wouldn’t need to use vacation days to care for him. I’d just be there. If things ever change and we are able, I’d love to stay home with Little Guy. For now, that is not an option, and I am okay with that. I’m okay with it because the reward of coming home to a hug from chubby little arms makes it all better. Sweet two-year-old kisses quickly erase any stress that might have accumulated.

Every moment (like those glorious ones over the weekend) make every little sacrifice worth making. Every smile he gives me… Every time he tells me he loves me… Every time I watch him sleeping peacefully in his little bed – I’m reminded of just how lucky (and very blessed) I am to have such a wonderful little family.

I just love being a Mommy, even on Monday mornings.

The Barbershop

Last weekend we took Little Guy for his first ever professional haircut.  We went to the same barber who has cut Hubby's hair for years.  He's a sweet gentleman and really put Little Guy at ease.  Though this wasn't his first ever haircut (we've been doing it at home up till now), it was the first time a stranger had cut his hair.  He did pretty well.  He sat on his Daddy's lap, which I think helped too.
just getting started

intrigued by the hair that's no longer on his head... maybe wondering if it can be put back on?
Because we're frugal, and because we really just needed everything evened out (and it now is), we'll go back to cutting it at home for a while again.  In the mean-time our Little Guy looks like a Little Man with his sharp new hairdo.

11/20/10

Little Handbag (52 week challenge - week 9?)

A while back I joined the challenge put forth by the Thrify Mrs. She and a friend concocted a goal of making 52 things in 52 weeks. The guidelines were pretty open. You just need to make things you enjoy, and which aren’t part of your usual repertoire.

For my Mom's birthday earlier this week, I wanted to make something that she would enjoy, but also something that she could use.  Mom is a Sunday school teacher and loves to read her Bible, so I made a little handbag/carry-all for her Bible, maybe a study guide and plenty of pens and highlighters.

I used a pattern from an old quilting magazine that I found at a garage sale for 10 cents this summer.  I used some pretty blue fabric and lace trim that were in my stash. There are pockets on both the front and back.

Front view

Back view
Interior
Challenge Summary: Week Nine?
Ever done this before? Nope
Do I love it? Yes I do!! And Mom does too.
Material Cost: 10 cents for the magaizine that had the pattern.  Everything else on hand.
Time Spent: maybe an hour
Success - Yes or No? YES!

11/19/10

Cowboy Beans & Cornbread

My office has a Friday tradition during the cold months of the year. In previous years, it was called “Soup Club”, but this year it’s morphed into “Crock-pot Club”. The idea is simple. Everyone who ‘joins’ agrees to bring a crock-pot full of yummy food twice during the fall/winter (there’s a schedule). In exchange each member can eat free lunch every Friday during the club’s run.

It’s fun. It breaks up the monotony of sack lunches and vending machine food. An added bonus is that the recipes are collected and dispersed, so it’s a nice way to get a lot of new ideas for yummy soups, stews and casseroles. Also, who can refuse home-made hot food when the wind turns cold?

Today was my turn to bring something from home. I brought Cowboy Beans and home-made cornbread (this is a family favorite in my house).

Cowboy Beans

2 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 large (28oz) cans of baked beans (drained)
1/2 c Ketchup
1/2 c Barbeque sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 TB Worcestershire sauce
4 TB Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 tsp Tabasco Sauce

Sauté onion and pepper in large skillet or Dutch oven. Add ground beef and brown. Pour off excess fat. Add remaining ingredients. Stir

Add all to slow cooker and cook for minimum 1 hour on low. Stir frequently.

Serve with sweet country cornbread. The recipe I use is from Sylvia’s Soul Food Cookbook. I blogged about it once before HERE.

11/16/10

Mom's Special Day

Today is my Sweet Mama's birthday.  She is awesome and amazing and reminds me daily of what I hope to be as a mother myself.

Happy Birthday Mom!!  Have a fantastic day.  We love you!!!

11/15/10

Veggie Tales Live

We watch a lot of Veggie Tales in this house.  If you aren't familiar with the series, they are a fun collection of Bible Stories and life lessons - all told through the perspective of animated food.  There are lots of songs (some silly, some more serious - but all with a message).  Each song is well written, and most of them tend to have a hook that gets stuck in my head for days on end.

Our favorites: "The Hairbrush Song", "God is Bigger than the Boogie Man", and "The Dance of the Cucumber", and of course the "Veggie Tales Theme Song".  We got to see each of these (and many, many more) performed today at a local church as part of "Veggie Tales Live!"  This particular performance was mostly showcasing the Silly Songs from the series, but they also threw in a few others - some with life lessons, some from their new 80's music cd, and a few others.  In addition to the vegetables, there was an array of professional back up dancers/singers.  They all did a great job.

We fit into the crowd pretty well.  Everyone there was either a very young child or parents of said child.  It was a friendly and fun environment and really a good time. 
The only bad part for Willie was if one of his favorite characters (Bob the Tomato & Larry the Cucumber of course) left the stage for any reason.  Then he would yell, "Bob, where are you?"  or "Larry, where are You?"  It was cute. 

The cast toward the end of the show.

Larry, singing the Hairbrush song.

11/13/10

Jewelry Design (52 Week Challenge - Week ???)

A while back I joined the challenge put forth by the Thrify Mrs. She and a friend concocted a goal of making 52 things in 52 weeks. The guidelines were pretty open. You just need to make things you enjoy, and which aren’t part of your usual repertoire.

I know you thought I’d completely given up on this whole Challenge project, but no! I have been making things left and right. The blogging about it is where I’ve failed miserably.

So anyway, a few weeks ago my awesome hubby brought me a box full of costume jewelry which he had bought (sight unseen) via an eBay auction. He knows how I love to dig through racks of necklaces at sales, and thought I might enjoy finding a treasure. He had paid $10 for the whole box, and within it were probably 30 pieces. Many were not my taste at all – a little too gaudy, a little too weird, not in great condition… but there were a handful that I adored.

One necklace in particular was an instant favorite, except for one thing. The chain was a heavy silver the shade of steel. Instead of a clasp in the back, the two ends of the chain were held together with a little ring which hung down the front. The thing I didn’t like was that at the end of each side hung a big silvery acorn thing. I am so sorry that I didn’t take a picture of it in that state – I can’t adequately describe how odd it looked.

Anyway, I knew that I liked the idea of the necklace and I loved the weight of it. I just wanted something new to hang in place of the acorns. I went to a local craft store and found a wide array of jewelry making stuff. I picked out a silver locket, a silver bluebird, and a silver “W” (Little Guy’s first initial).

Here’s what I ended up with. I apologize for the photo quality.



My favorite part? Little Guy calls the locket a “Willie Book”. He opens it up, points at his picture, says “WILLIE” and then closes the locket and says, “the end!” How cute is that? Haha

Challenge Summary: Week Four
Ever done this before? Nope
Do I love it? Yes I do!! I’ve had lots of compliments too.
Material Cost: Hubby bought the box of jewelry for me. I paid under $10 for the various bits to hang from the chains.
Time Spent: maybe an hour
Success - Yes or No? YES!

11/12/10

Crazy About Dinosaurs!

Boys love dinosaurs, and my Little Guy is no exception.

He loves books about dinosaurs. He loves for us to draw him dinosaurs. He likes to pretend he IS a dinosaur – “ROOOOAR!” He likes dinosaurs on TV (“Dinosaur Train” is a fairly silly show, but is a new favorite).

The one thing he didn’t have was a cuddly dinosaur, one he could take with him to bed and snuggle with while he sleeps. So, I set out to make one for him. At first, I was just going to cobble together my own pattern. I have done that before with some success and probably would have this time, except that I stumbled upon bitofwhimsydolls.com. They sell lots of dolls and stuffed animals. Most are available as a pattern or as a finished product. I ordered the pattern (for Tommy T-Rex), and couldn’t be happier.

I first made one out of green corduroy. It didn’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped, but I’m going to blame the fabric. The corduroy just didn’t have the give that cotton does. The end result was still super cute, but I wanted to make another. So, for my second attempt, I used some pink printed cotton and made a cute girly dino for a friend’s child. I had assumed my dino-making days were over (for now at least) but then I found the cutest dinosaur printed fabric at JoAnn’s (their brand), and made one more.

Then I made a mistake – a fairly big one. I had all three of these stuffed little fellows out on the table and was in the process of putting them in clear plastic bags (for storage and/or eventual shipping) when Little Guy walked into the room. Silly me - I had thought he was occupied with Hubby elsewhere. My mistake. As soon as he saw them, he squealed “MY Dinosaurs!” and hugged them all to his chest in glee. I was able to pry the pink one away (she had an alternate destination after all), but ended up letting him keep the other two. He plays with them a lot more than his other stuffed animals, and they go to his crib with him every night. I asked him what their names were, and he answered “Dinosaur Train”. Clearly he doesn’t really understand the art of naming stuffed animals yet, but for now we have Dinosaur Train 1 and Dinosaur Train 2 (see images below)….

I knew for sure, that these little guys were a hit when I came into the family room one night and there sat Little Guy in front of a towering stack of blocks. One of his dino buddies was sitting next to him. Little Guy turned to the dino, shook his finger toward him and said, “Don’t knock down tower!”. Then he proceeded to take the dinosaur and knock the tower down. There was much roaring and giggling. When the tower was no more, Little Guy gave his dinosaur a time-out. How cute is that?

Regarding the pattern, I want to tell you that it was maybe the easiest pattern I’ve ever used, and I felt it was affordable, and ordering it was a breeze. The pattern was clearly written and illustrated with great photo examples. Copyright terms were clearly explained, and the whole thing was very user-friendly. I will certainly use this pattern again in the future. I strongly recommend that you visit bitofwhimsydolls.com and check out the awesome selection of finished items and patterns. I say this only as a very satisfied customer. I am not being compensated for this blog post about bitofwhimsy.

{this moment}

Inspired by SouleMama to share one moment.... via a single photo – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember…”

11/11/10

Veterans Day

Today is the day Americans honor our veterans. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to honor those brave soldiers who have willingly put themselves in danger (many paying the ultimate price), to protect our freedoms. Your service and sacrifice are humbling. We honor you and thank you for all you have done and continue to do.
God bless America, and all those who serve!

11/9/10

Rested, At Last

First of all, I must say a great big Thank You to my saint of a babysitter. Last week she took pity on my bloodshot eyes and dragging posture…and came up with a plan. Starting that day, instead of putting Little Guy down for a traditional nap; she instead had him lay down on his cot within view of a TV. She told him he could sleep, or he could watch the kiddie movie that she put on, but he had to at least rest until the movie was over.

She said he watched the movie quietly on his little cot, and as soon as the credits rolled, he came to her to tell her the movie was over.  Then he returned to his playmates and a regular day.

A few months ago, we had tried to forgo naps and it hadn’t worked. Little Guy became a tired little terror. This time, the results were vastly different. He wasn’t grouchy in the evenings at all, fought bedtime a lot less, and (miracle of miracles) slept till morning!

It’s now been almost a week, and the ‘no naps’ method has worked really well. Evidently all he really needs is that quiet/rest time…which we are happy to give him, believe me!

This past weekend, he and I both caught a cold. Nothing major, but not fun either. We were both exhausted and did take cat naps on Sunday. I was worried that those naps might have stalled our progress, but he clearly needed some extra sleep so we went ahead and let him. We were very happy then, when he did sleep through the night that night. Now that he’s feeling better, we’re back to the no nap routine.

Last night we both slept from 7:30pm – 5am, and we both really needed the rest. Now I think we’re almost back to normal. Luckily, Hubby never caught this round of illness.

I’m still a bit tired from this cold, but feel rested in a way I hadn’t in some time. So, thanks again to our awesome babysitter, who took pity on this tired Mommy, and to all my kind friends who have offered words of encouragement. They have meant so much.

11/6/10

Would You Like a Tour?

Not an actual picture of what I saw,
but you get the idea
Yesterday over my lunch hour, I zipped over to a neighborhood church that was hosting a big bazaar. I had been noticing signs all over town for the last couple of weeks, and as I’m a sucker for church bazaars – I had marked it on my calendar.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a friendly lady who offered me a map! Yes, there was that much going on! One large room was reserved for “vendors” and professional craftsmen/craftswomen. There were tables covered in hand-made jewelry, needlework, baby blankets, and Christmas decorations. There were also the typical vendors like Avon, Scentsy, Tupperware, and Usborne Books. A second large room was set aside for an enormous bake sale, a chili lunch and tables of “church crafts”. Another area was reserved for a large “Silent Auction”, and another was set up as a coffee shop.

Everywhere I wandered, I was greeted by genuinely friendly folks. It was the kind of reception that you’ll only get in a church setting these days. It felt homey and cozy and like being with family.

So, I took my time. I picked up a chocolate chip cookie and a little Royal Copley vase that was calling my name. As I headed down the main hallway toward the exit, I was greeted by a smiling older man.

“Would you like a tour of the sanctuary?” he asked me.
After a quick glance at my watch, I answered, “Of course I would.”
This particular sanctuary was beautiful because of its simplicity. Clean lines and muted colors gave off a very calming feel. There was one feature to this lovely room of worship that was far from muted. The stained glass windows were vivid and well executed. Down one side, the windows featured scenes from the Old Testament. New Testament stories were featured down the other side. The tour was focused on the windows, as it should have been. They were clearly the focal point of the sanctuary.

The sweet man looked down at a printed packet he held in his hands. “I’ve only done this a few times”, he said, “so I might have to look at this now and again.”

I smiled at him, and said that was certainly no problem with me.

We started with the Old Testament wall. The craftsmanship of each window was amazing. The artists had managed to meld color and shapes in a way that was truly moving. The afternoon sun shown through the reds, gold and greens. It was simply lovely.

We started with the “Creation Window”. We admired it for a bit. He pointed out the careful detail. We walked to the next.

“This one,” he said looking down at his paper, “is….”
“It’s the parting of the red sea”, I told him, pointing at the rushing water. “There’s Moses.”
“So this isn’t your first time in a church,” he chuckled – an ornery glint in his eye.
“Well no,”

“Do you know this one?” His finger pointed at the next window. I had to laugh a little. I was being challenged to an unofficial game of Bible Trivia!

Game on!

I grinned at him and said, “The Ten Commandments”.

He laughed. Not even bothering with his paper anymore, and clearly much more at ease. We passed the windows one by one: “Noah’s Ark”, “David & Goliath”, “Samson”, “Daniel in the Lions’ Den”. “Joseph and the coat of many colors”, “Jonah and the Whale”.

“Big Fish” he corrected. We laughed and moved on.

We paused before the next window. It showed a figure walking a lone and dark path. In the figure’s hand was a shepherd’s crook. Toward the bottom of the window, colored glass printed out Psalm 23.

Almost as if on cue, the old man and I said in unison, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in green pastures. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake. Yea though I walk through the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me…”

There’s more to that passage of course, but that was where we both paused. We shared a knowing smile – though strangers, we knew that we shared something very special – our faith.

We moved on to the New Testament side, and took turns naming the remaining stories depicted in the beautiful glass work. “The birth of Christ”, “John the Baptist”, “Jesus loves the children”, “The woman at the well”, “Jesus walking on water”, “The Garden of Gethsemane”, “The Crucifixion”, and most importantly, “The Resurrection”.

The tour only took a few minutes, but it was a sweet time spent with a new friend. I thanked him for his time, and for the experience. He bid me a fond farewell.

I left with my cookie, the sweet little vase, and a contented smile. Somehow I felt lighter inside. It was a good day. It was a good tour. It was good to be reminded of the kindness of strangers, and the camaraderie that exists when those strangers share belief and good natured fellowship.

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