Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's over!

The boys have to wait upstairs until we are ready for them, and until we have had our traditional Christmas dance.
Ben made this beautiful lighthouse in art class. I have to return it Monday so that his teacher can put it in the Fine Arts Festival in April.
Rock Band was a fun gift this Christmas. It's harder than it looks!
Abbey tries out her new giggle mask.
Peter found his name on Santa's list at the train display.
Part of the amazing train display. This is the circus/amusement park.
This is the snow village, part of the display.
My parents, my brother Todd's family, and us at the Roselawn Bed and Breakfast in Keysville.
More photo ops at Roselawn.
Christmas has come and gone again. It was a good week with minimal expectations and lots of excitement. Everyone enjoyed Christmas day very much. Then we headed to the Henry's for another Christmas on Friday. We spent Friday through Sunday with my family. Dad took us to see the amazing train layouts in Blackstone at the hardware store. We rushed back so that Fred could attend a birthday party Sunday evening at Joe's Crab Shack, and then make it to basketball practice Monday at noon. We got a call from the coach at 12:20 saying Fred sprained his ankle so we should come get him. It isn't broken, thankfully, but he can't jump for 2 weeks. He is actually putting weight on it today and wants to head to the store to spend his Christmas gifts. HMMMM. I guess it isn't too bad.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


As I said previously, I don't always like the Christmas season. Holidays in general tend to bring out the worst in me for some reason. In an effort to prevent my husband from hating the holidays, I have tried very hard this year to prevent those emotions from surfacing, but more importantly, to discover why holidays are so hard. Chris tells me that my expectations are too high. I don't think I have expectations, but maybe he's right. Maybe disappointment is at the root of this. As I talked with my friend about Christmas, I heard her saying the same things that always trip me up: "I should... I should have.... We should......" I am a recovering perfectionist. As she spoke those words, I thought of the years where I beat myself up for not doing it right. I get upset with myself because we don't do our devotional tree every day. I get angry because my children care more about what they are getting than about Jesus' birth. I feel like I need to be doing more for those who have less, and when all of those things don't pan out, I feel guilty. And then that guilt for not doing it "right" comes out as anger. And my family looks at me like a one-eyed monster wondering where that is coming from. This year has been better. I determined to enjoy the days instead of look for ways I wasn't meeting some random standard of holiness. I decided that it would be better to do one or two things for others, keeping my radar open for God-ordained opportunities rather than try to plan them myself. It's been better. We are all more relaxed, maybe. God has provided opportunities for us to serve that were just what we needed. I read a book this month where the main characters were discussing expectations verses expectancy. Those words, so similar, have such different connotations. Today in my children there is expectancy. The house is shaking with it as they wait for tomorrow morning. Expectancy is a good, positive thing. Expectations, on the other hand, say to me and to those around me that they need to live up to something. There is a standard that needs to be met. There are consequences for not meeting those expectations. They say that somehow what I think or what I have devised about the future is how it should then be. The religious leaders in Jesus' day had expectations of their Messiah. Those expectations were so ingrained that they missed him, and they continue to miss him. The shepherds, Mary, Joseph, the wise men, although I'm sure they had expectations, lived in expectancy that God was coming to earth, that Messiah was coming as a tiny baby. That's how I want to live--expectantly rather than with expectations. I think that will make the difference in how I view holidays and life. Maybe I won't miss what God is doing. So for Christmas this year, I want expectancy, and I'd like to return expectations. I think I lost the receipt, though.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Goings on

Our friends have new puppies! They are breeding their Golden Retriever, and we've been waiting for the day. They are adorable! Chris says they look like rats or kittens when they are first born. We went to see them yesterday. These are Peter's kind of puppies. The one he held just fell asleep on his lap. He gets nervous when dogs jump up on him, so these are more his speed--for a while anyway.
I've been baking rather than blogging this week. I made buckeyes (twice), fudge, caramel corn for all of the teachers (it's addictive!), 7 layer bars, Santa snicker cookies (thrown that recipe away), sugar cookies, gluten free short bread, and hopefully some lemon squares. They aren't nearly as pretty as the pictures of cookies on Martha's blog (link to the left), but they are DELICIOUS. I gave away many of the buckeyes and some of the fudge, so I needed to make another batch for us to have and for my neighbors. We just love Christmas cookies. Fun to make and fun to eat!
I got this recipe for caramel corn from Karla Schlaefli when we lived in Maryland. I can't have it around much because I can't stop eating it.
Caramel Popcorn
3 qt. popcorn
3 cups mixed nuts
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup Karo syrup
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1.Place popcorn and nuts in a large, shallow roasting pan (I use 2 cookie sheets) and place in a 250 degree oven while you prepare the caramel.
2. In heavy, 2 qt saucepan stir sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt.
3. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over med. heat.
4. Without stirring, boil 5 min. Remove from heat.
5. Stir in vanilla and baking soda then pour over popcorn mixture, stirring to coat.
6. Bake in a 250 degree oven, stirring occasionally, for 50-60 minutes.
7. Cool, break apart, and store in an air tight container tightly covered.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Songs

God is so sparse in His explanations. Did you ever notice that? He doesn't give us too many details about the people involved or how they felt. Probably the greatest moment in history, the incarnation of God, gets one chapter in Luke, half a chapter in Matthew. I'm a detail person. I know that God is as well. Look at all that He has made, including us, and you can see He is VERY detailed. But He leaves us with so little of the details surrounding Jesus's birth, and death for that matter. How many wise men were there? What was Mary thinking on that donkey? Did Jesus cry like a normal baby or was it a "Silent Night?" We just don't know. As I have listened to the Christmas songs this year, I have come to appreciate the simplicity of the words of scripture. It leads to so many amazing melodies pondering thoughts, emotions, conditions, etc. I'm a traditionalist at heart, so I love Christmas carols and get a little annoyed when our church doesn't offer opportunities to sing them, or when they mess with the original. But the songs for Christmas coming out are so beautiful! My favorite Christmas CD this year is City on a Hill's "It's Christmas Time." The song I'm listening to now is "Child of Love" by Sara Groves. I also love "Bethlehem Town" by Jars of Clay and "Manger Throne" by Third Day. These artists haven't messed with my traditions but have come up with stirring Christmas songs that draw me into the picture of Christmas. I just love the whole album. Maybe this is why we don't have all of the details. It leaves so much room for creativity.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A long time ago I went to Chris's Christmas party for work. They had booked a lunch on the Spirit of Washington. It was new and different and so much fun. Fast-forward about 13 years. Two years ago now we got all gussied up and headed north again for another Christmas lunch on the Spirit of Washington for the PTO Christmas party. I was sick with bronchitis, but very excited. We stopped at the office to pick up a passenger, and before we got out of Alexandria, the school nurse called saying that Fred's oxygen level was low, and he needed to get to the doctor. So, we turned around after dropping Bill at the Metro and headed back to Stafford. Last year they had another cruise, but I was working. Chris went and amazingly won two tickets for a dinner or lunch cruise on the Spirit of Washington. I had plans to go in September/October when the leaves were turning and it was nice. HMMMM. That didn't happen. So we got to go this Wednesday instead. We had so much fun. We had a lunch buffet and wonderful dessert and then tooled down the Potomac looking at the sights on either bank of the river. There is a show as well, and then dancing to the D.J.'s tunes. It was nice, but I think it was the fact that it was out of the ordinary and different that made it so much fun. We may not get to ever do it again, but what great memories...... It was a great addition to our Christmas preparations.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Samson in 1990
Samson died yesterday at 5:40. He has been my kitty for almost 19 years. It was heart-breaking to watch him these last few days. I'm thankful that I was there with him at the end. He would mew and mew, and I would pet him and he would calm down. I'm not sure how conscious he was throughout, but he knew that I was there. I know it's only a cat--a dime a dozen--and I don't mean to compare his life to a human being's, but these things do make you think about life and death. The boys were moved some, but more interested than emotional. I can tell now that when I die, they probably won't cry! As we went on with our evening activities, I kept thinking about death--how the sting of death is gone for believers because Jesus defeated it by rising from the dead. And also how death doesn't have the victory for us anymore because we know that life continues perfectly in Heaven forever. I also had time to ruminate on the cycle of life. Yes, I was sad that Samson died, but I wouldn't wish him back. He had lived a long, relatively good life for a cat. Death is part of life here on this planet. It makes me long for home, though, where death doesn't have a place---ever.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas which I'm sure I'll explore as December moves along. One of the reasons I love it is that we have an excuse to get together. Our ladies Bible study group had brunch yesterday at my house. It was wonderful to be with these women and relax and enjoy great food. They mean so much to me. It has been a blessing to get to know them and to study God's Word together. There is a bonding that happens over God's Word that is unlike others. We had so much fun talking and laughing together, and I got to use my pink dishes again. Someone made a fruit pizza, and I made cranberry bars, a new recipe that was delicious.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I have to admit, I'm sorry to be finished with the thankful posts. It was good to have to think about what I was thankful for each day and then post. I know I missed a few, but it was a great exercise in thankfulness. There were days when I struggled to think of something that I was thankful for that didn't include the standard. It really is an exercise in discipline for which I'm thankful that I worked at in November. (Yikes, that grammar is BAD! Sorry) As we move into December I hope that I can continue to be thankful.
Yesterday, I was very thankful. My cat Samson is almost 19 years old. We got him when we were first married. He was too little to be taken from his momma, and my friend found him in a bush, abandoned. I was looking for something to take care of instead of children. So he became mine. He had some health problems, so we have way over-spent on his care. At about 5 or 6 the vet told us that he had the feline AIDS virus and that his life would be short. Without this expensive medicine, he assured me that he wouldn't live more than a year. We were too poor for cat medicine, so we just moved on. Now, 12 years later, he still lives. Unfortunately, he has gone blind over the last 2 months. Chris allowed me to bring him in (they were all banished several years ago after using Ben's bed as a litter box for a week while we were on vacation). So I'm watching him try to find his way around. He has done pretty well, but I think with the Christmas boxes out it has been confusing. He started not going in the litter box! I had to confine him to the kitchen and laundry room. The board that I used to block the door was a little high, so going over it many times a day was starting to hurt. I replaced it with a 2 x 6, knowing that if he ran into it, he wouldn't try to go over it. As I was cleaning the kitchen yesterday, I marched through that door while carrying some things totally forgetting about the board. WHAM! That was my poor body bouncing off the floor. So I am very thankful that I am not as sore as I could have been, that nothing is broken (I hope), and that I could resume my activities yesterday. I'm thankful that our bodies are made to heal themselves, and I'm thankful that Chris was here to pick me up. Today, there is a high board AND a low board in front of the door so I don't miss it again.