Monthly Archives: December 2009

Random Dozen: the last of 2009, but first for me

I’m joining a new meme for the new year.  I’ve seen this one over at Quilly‘s and Melli‘s blogs and I’ve liked the quality of the questions that Linda (a.k.a., Lidna) comes up with.
[Yes, the former English major just ended her sentence with a preposition. It’s a blog thing.]

But why wait for a new year? Maybe what this procrastinator needs is to jump-start her goals…

1. Do you find it gross to share drinks with family? Friends?
As long as everyone is healthy, this really isn’t a big deal to me.

2. What have you learned this year? (You didn’t see a question of that weight coming, did you? At least not for #2.)
I’ve learned how to work within someone else’s design to make a professional-looking newsletter. (And so much more than that, but it’s already getting late so I’ll stop there and save it for another meme.)

3. When do you dismantle the Christmas decorations?
Whenever they begin to drive me crazy! Actually, they usually drive the other members of my household crazy first. I love the cheery lights and decorations of my Christmas tree.

4. Something you wish to accomplish before the end of 2009 is:
Getting the kitchen counter cleaned off! (I’m starting small here, folks!)

5. How do you feel about winter (after Christmas)?
I love winter! I love snow and bundling up. I do not love excessive laundry or wet, muddy floors. And I do seem susceptible to the winter doldrums. I need to combat those better in 2010.

6. Have you participated in after-Christmas sales?
Not a single one, I am proud to say! I don’t need more STUFF.

7. Do you have plans for New Year’s Eve?
Our plans almost always include staying home, including this year. I’ll try to stay up for the sake of the kids. (And I’ll try to not spend that time blogging!)

8. Is there anything special awaiting you in January?
My 44th birthday and a return to regular WW meetings. (Exciting, huh?)

9. If your life this year was a movie, what category or genre would it be? (Romance, Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Suspense, Farcical, etc.)
I’m afraid it would be one of those B-movies that no one goes to see… B as in Boring!  Oh, I keep Busy, but it’s not the sort of life that inspires others.  At least, that’s how I see it.

10. How much time per day do you spend blogging? Please do not lie. I will know.
Waaaay to much.  Just ask my husband.

11. Who runs your household?
Oh, no doubt that SuperDad runs the household! He’s in charge; I’m the first mate on this ship. I’m so grateful that he keeps our finances in order! I do the shopping and most of the cleaning & cooking; he provides the income and keeps the place from falling down about our ears.

12. Share one hope/dream for 2010.
My number one hope/dream/goal is to lose weight. I’d love to get back under a certain number. I know I would feel healthier and more energetic. I seem to have a mental block about getting there and I need to break through and make it happen.

Wishing you all a happy and successful new year!

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Thematic Photographic: Feet

I nearly missed this one!

Thankfully, my husband took the photograph and g caught my attention with her own submission.

SuperDad took 2 of the boys for a hike on the A.T. on Sunday afternoon. They flushed out a flock of wild turkeys when they took to the trail.

finding more proof of passing feet

Thematic Photographic is the inspiration of many and the brainchild of Carmi.  New themes are announced weekly at 7pm EST each Wednesday.

**Many thanks to my husband, SuperDad, who took the camera along and shot these photos!**

WWC: 7 and Photojournalism

Every picture tells a story, but which side of the story do you see?

The car was buried by the snowstorm… or was it?

Winds caused drifting snow so the back side of the car was blown clean.

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Seven (7) candles on a birthday cake

7 cousins

[Edited to clarify: These 2 photos are from different years in my archives]

Stressed for Success

My husband worked on December 24th. I questioned him, as I handed him his morning coffee, if the commuter trains were actually going to be running that day. I suggested he drive into The City instead. He pulled out the train schedule and assured me that there was indeed a train to catch. I reminded him that 3 of his 4 children (and his wife!) were participating musically in the 6pm “family” worship service and it would be nice if he caught an early train home; otherwise, the 2 oldest boys would be a part of the 8:30pm service and he could join us then.

So at 4:55pm, when I am already running late… in sweats, trying to get 4 boys changed into dress clothes and what was I going to wear myself?… the phone rings with SuperDad’s special ring: “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”

He thinks he’s on the wrong train, but he’s not sure.

I tell him I can’t talk, we have to leave (like, 10 minutes ago) but to text me when he knows for sure.  I haven’t even pulled out of the driveway when I get a text message. He’s on the wrong train. I hand the phone to a boy and tell him to text for me: I’ll pick you up after the first service is over.

I get 3 more texts (sheesh!) while I’m at church. We ring, I sing, we ring some more. We hand in our bells, put away our gloves, and squeeze past everyone chatting and shaking the pastor’s hand. So much for wishing folks a Merry Christmas! I leave it to the oldest boy to explain our rapid departure.

I note that I have about 1/8 tank of gas, because I wasn’t planning on driving anywhere this weekend. I get stuck behind pokey drivers who don’t know where they are going (I’m talking about you, out-of-town relatives!) or are afraid of well-sanded roads… or maybe they just want to look at the lights? Anyhow, no one is speeding and that is what I want to do! Meanwhile, H-J is programing our destination into the GPS that was thankfully left in the minivan.

Glory be! After 20 minutes of doing the hokey-pokey, we hit 4-lane divided highway with a 80mph 65mph speed limit. Sadly, it doesn’t change our arrival time, but at least I feel like I’m getting somewhere!

7:56pm. There is the restaurant that SuperDad wisely took himself to (he texted me during church that he was having a steak and a beer!!) because no one else has time for supper tonight. Truly, I don’t mind — I’d rather he was happy & fed and not at an empty train station.

Buckle up and hang on, honey! No comments allowed on my speeding driving, because I just want to get back and actually sit down at church (unlike the first service). I know the roads well, that 80 mph 65mph road and the rest of the way back. Oops, that would be the “feed me” light for the gas tank. Will we make it? Maybe if we slow down… but only for the 2-lane highway.

We make it back to town, wondering if we should stop and gas up. It’s 8:35pm and the BP station is closed. The 7-11 is open, but it is on the wrong side of the street and has a line-up of cars. Besides, church started 5 minutes ago!

We make it to church 15 minutes late. The 2nd Advent candle has been lit and the pastor is calling for the Passing of the Peace… Christmas Peace.  I need some of that!  We shake hands on our way to the seats that SnakeMaster & Humorous-Juniorous have already found. SuperDad stands out in his work uniform, but I am just glad to be there and to have him next to me. To sit and listen once again to the Christmas story. To see and hear MusicMan ringing with the adult handbell choir. To see and hear EncyclopediaBlue singing with the adult choir. To hold my candle, tilt it and light it — and pass on that light. To sing Silent Night by candlelight.

After the service is over, we drive to 7-11 and buy 19 gallons of gasoline.

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Steve Martin & John Candy in “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”  from Google images

It happens every year

I’d show you pictures, but that would take time I don’t have right now, so I’ll just make a short list:
1. fudge supplies still on counter – unused
2. first batches of cookies eaten, so…
3. need to make more cookies
4. most Christmas cards still in larval stages
5. higher numbers on the bathroom scale (see #2)

SOMEDAY I’ll actually have my act together.

Susie’s 5th Annual Blog Christmas Cookie Party

Merry Christmas! Please come in out of the cold and help yourself to a cookie…

Spritz and Gingersnaps

Chocolate - Peanut Butter Tartletts

I taught MusicMan how to make White Chocolate Pretzels. Don’t they look yummy?

There’s even some homemade Stollen that I made fresh for you. (I never even liked Stollen until I moved to Germany and my neighbor Birgitt shared this one with me.  I loved it so much I asked for the recipe. It’s DELICIOUS!)

I can offer you egg nog, coffee, tea, and wine.  Which would you prefer?

We can nibble on treats while we chat and enjoy some Christmas music. Please let me know if you want any of the recipes. I’m happy to share. 🙂

Did you happen to notice our tree?  The boys decorated it. 😀

Please pardon my attire… I like to be comfortable!  I promise I can’t be blamed for the weekend blizzard — I wasn’t wearing this when it happened!

I was up late last Thursday night making earrings to give to my 11yo niece for Christmas.  I liked these so much that I made several extra sets. I might even make a few more.

Humorous-Juniorous takes a turn with the shovel

We’ve been busy around here, what with baking treats and shoveling snow…

But we have done more than that!  H-J, MusicMan, SnakeMaster, and I have been rehearsing with the handbell choirs, and EncyclopediaBlue has been singing his heart out with the adult choir (the Christmas Cantata is now postponed until January 3rd, thanks to our snowfall the day before the scheduled event).  We will all be sharing our musical talents on Christmas Eve at church.  (I’m a little worried about a scratchy throat of my own. Granted, it doesn’t have any effect on my bell ringing but it might mess with my singing voice.)

In an attempt to be creative and not write a boring Christmas letter (we didn’t have much to say this year), I carefully cut cardstock mattings in green and then blue or red cards to send this picture.  I don’t think I will make that mistake ever again! It has been much MUCH more work than a simple letter. However, the message inside the card is one that I like (as I said, I was feeling creative at the time):

Same work, same house

Same husband, same wife

Same boys, same town

Same busy, busy life

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

*Jesus makes all the difference!*

WWC: Bear & Out of Place

Back in the beginning of November, SuperDad took us hiking and camping in Shenandoah National Park, where we got to watch a pair of black BEAR eating nuts up in the trees:

Yep, definitely a BEAR!

This past Saturday, the roof of our house was required to BEAR quite a bit of snow.  The wind caused an interesting drift pattern:

Rather than have this OUT OF PLACE snowdrift wake us up in the middle of the night with a mighty kalumph! SuperDad rigged up a long pole and had MusicMan knock the excess weight off the edge of the roof.

So tell me, is there anything OUT OF PLACE in this picture?

If this year is anything like last year, the WWC will be on winter holiday until January 5th.

More pictures from better photographers can be found on the Weekly Words Challenge facebook and flickr pages.pages, hosted by the now non-blogging TinkJay usually manages the blogworld side of the WWC on Tuesdays, but he might be busy with Christmas & family stuff right now; however, he does have a nice link to a list of regular players.

Attitude Adjustment

Was it just a few days ago that I was panicking about how quickly Christmas is coming?

I’ve calmed down. I’ve prioritized.

It’s amazing the difference made by just a few snowflakes days!

13 hours: 10am on 19 December

The picture above was taken right about the time I realized that I wasn’t going to be driving to the Post Office to mail packages.  It’s hard to drive a minivan in 10-1/2 inches of unplowed snow.  By noon we had over a foot of snow.
Below, the second (homemade) snow gauge shows us nearly reaching 20 inches at 3:30pm

3:30 p.m.

23 inches in 23 hours

And it’s still coming down!

I won’t be driving anywhere until our road is plowed.

Speaking of holiday parties…

Susie is hosting her 5th Annual Blog Cookie Exchange, which will be held next Wednesday, December 23.  I’m hoping** to sneak in a bit of party blog hopping and I hope you can join in the fun!  It’s calorie-free and I promise to not notice any dirty dishes hiding in your oven. (What? You’ve never done that?)

So here’s the basics…
Susie says to start with some variation of:

Favorite holiday recipes
Special traditions
Favorite gift to give
What you wear when you don your gay apparel
:)

and/or anything else you’d like to tell us about your holiday celebration. Whatever you’d like to share is fine — carols, stories, decorations, a favorite holiday tradition or memory, something new that you’re trying this year, whatever. Here it’s Christmas, but all holidays are welcome.  You don’t HAVE to include cookies, if cookies aren’t your thing. It’s just that “Cookie Exchange” has a nice, Christmas ring to it. Better than, say, “shindig” or “hootenanny,” although it may turn into either or both, if previous years over at Susie’s place are any indication. (Bill!!)

If you don’t have a blog (what?! why not?!), stop in next week and leave your contributions in the comments. If you DO have a blog, leave a comment here next Wednesday (because I’d love to know you are playing) but more importantly, leave a comment on Susie’s Cookie Exchange post (the one that will go up on December 23rd), and we’ll all come to your party, too. You won’t gain any weight, and you won’t need a designated driver!

**SuperDad has the day off work and the kids will all be home from school. Computer time will be a prized commodity around here. I’ll attempt to pre-schedule my party post and hop on the blog party train when I can.

How to make the most of those holiday parties

HOLIDAY EATING TIPS

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can – and quickly; it’s rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it! Have one for me … Have two! It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Helloooo?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies…Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards!

10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips: Start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.