Monday, December 29, 2008

Let it Snow

We live 20 minutes from the beach. The Southern California beaches are clean, pristine, lovely, and wonderful.

My kids love visiting the beach, just not in the winter. The beach just isn't so appealing when the outdoors hit 40 degree temperatures and the wind is blowing. We prefer visiting the beach when the air temperature reaches the 70's and the wind blowing actually cools our body, and delivers relief, as opposed to making us jump up and down hoping that the increased blood flow will cause our bodies to warm.

We live 20 minutes from Disneyland, however, visiting the "Happiest Place on Earth" would cost us $494.00 for one day, excluding food and drinks. A Disney visit is our of our budget.

While some of you can open your from door, and launch into the making of a snow angel or massive snow cave execution, we have to drive 75 minutes to the nearest snow.

My children anticipate seeing real snow and visiting the snow capped mountains we can see in the distance as we drive around Orange County. They constantly complain about the fact that they have never seen the snow, so I promised my kids that I would take them.

Whoa.

I need to find gloves. I need to get hats. I need to find something more than jeans and flip flops for the kids to wear. I need to find real jackets since zip up hooded sweatshirts won't suffice. I need to be prepared. I have a lot of work to do before our big snow visit. I need to prepare mentally.

I wish that sand angels were just as exciting. This snow thing is exhausting me already.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Just a Thought

I was reading though a scripture yesterday that had a significant impact on me. I love discovering new verses in the Bible that I hadn't discovered before now.

If I don't have a devotional guide I will pop open the Bible to Proverbs and read the chapter that corresponds to the date. Since it was the 27th, I read chapter 27.

This is the verse that I hit me:

"The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives." Proverbs 27:21 NIV

This is just a reminder about how important it is to teach and model humility.

Everything we have, every gift, every skill, every talent, every ability, is from God. Without Him, we are nothing.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Avoidance

I am in the process of avoiding. My house hasn't been this disheveled since, well, last Christmas. It is a sweet, hot, mess. Thankfully the house is only cluttered with things as opposed to being the holding ground for serious dirt, although I bet if I look closer, I could find a load of that stuff too. I did bleach one toilet today. Yay me.

I am not sure where I am going to put anything since the bedrooms and cupboards are full. Where do I put the bags of popcorn from a popcorn tin, a bag of caramel corn, all the stocking candy, and pieces of toys littered throughout my home?

We have enough leftover food to cover us until the new year, and cookies coming from all sides of the kitchen. I need to have about ten hungry teenagers over and let them loose inside my kitchen hoping that they would only leave the condiments and crumbs.

Since I am a firm believer in "out with the old and in with the new," my house cleaning avoidance is even more prevalent since I need to go through closets prior to cleaning the existing Christmas explosion shard. That's going to take some work.

Oh, and the Christmas tree, that needs to go too, soon. I was ready to take it down Christmas night, but my husband gave me that look, the "are you serious?" look.

For obvious reasons, I an experiencing avoidance. Although, I am never avoiding my coffee intake. That always get high priority.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Quite a Man

Whle some people choose not to mention Santa Claus so as not to interrupt the true meaning of Christmas - the birth of Jesus, the real story of Saint Nicholas is interesting. We are called to be Christ's example before man. St. Nocholas was quite an example.

“Nicholas lived long ago, in the third century, in a place called Asia Minor, what is now the country of Turkey. His parents died from an illness while Nicholas was a teenager and left him a large inheritance of money. Nicholas’ parents taught him about Jesus. As he grew older, he followed the teachings of Jesus and sold all his possessions, secretly giving money to those in need.

“Nicholas became well-loved by the people and later became the Bishop of Myra. He died on December 6, 343 A.D. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration in his honor, called St. Nicholas Day. On this day, children would give and receive small gifts of candy, chocolate initial letters, or riddles hidden in baked goods or in elaborate packaging. Children also hung stockings by the fire or placed shoes filled with carrots and hay for the horse, eagerly awaiting gifts from St. Nicholas. Gold balls or oranges were given to represent the gifts of gold once given by St. Nicholas.” 1

Influenced by St. Nicholas’ popularity in Europe, immigrants brought his story and tradition to America. Over the years, legend was wedded to historical elements and developed into our modern day Santa Claus.

While we celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, we can have an appropriate appreciation for the lives He has touched. This includes those whose lives demonstrated compassion and selflessness out of their love for Jesus. St. Nicholas was such a person.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

No Gifts

There are three gifts under our tree. One for our family from my brother and his family, one from our middle mister that he brought home from school, and one from my daughter to her brother. There are no gifts from my husband and I. None.

We procrastinate.

While kids all over the world are shaking and jiggling the presents labeled with their names, playing a guessing game with their siblings, my children pout and wonder if presents will ever sit among the bottom branches of our Christmas tree.

Typically my husband and I wait until Christmas Eve to wrap gifts and place them under the tree, and this year is no different.

The gifts will arrive. The gifts will be wrapped. Just not until Christmas Eve, which I hear is just around the corner. I better stock up on wrapping paper between now and then.

Monday, December 22, 2008

All Things Christmas, and a Goose

My mother has gathered a plethora of Christmas decorations and ornaments over the years. She still has the snowman ornament that my older bother fashioned out of foam balls and pipe cleaners from kindergarten and a faux, table top Christmas tree, which is stuffed into a red Santa boot.

We tease her about her decorations, and she doesn't even wince. She takes criticism well while reinforcing the fact that she loves all of her decorations.

Often times we will visit her and discover something new accessorizing her home or garden. The other day, I noticed that she had stuck a large, gold painted goose in her flower bed whose neck was tied with a satin white bow.

What does a golden goose have to do with Christmas? One may never know. It may be that the bird was arbitrarily left out of the Christmas story. Perhaps the wise men brought golden goose, Frankincense and Myrrh?

She still displays the nativity scene left over from our childhood, however no longer places the animals, shepherd, and wise men, on "angel's hair." This product was eventually banned since it was made from spun glass and children would cut themselves. Imagine that.

My favorite Christmas decoration at her house is the singing snowman sitting at a piano. When you push the right button, he sways to the music he is "playing" on the keyboard. It is really fun when one of the four children pushes the button continuously. I typically start off singing the song and smiling, and then shout the song while in between breaths yelling, "stop pushing the button!" The joy rapidly disintegrates.

One day I hope to have one of those homes that is perfectly decorated with matching boughs of real garland and red bows, and the 8 foot tall tree with golden, glass balls, ribbons, and hundreds of white lights. For now I still have young children who think that the Christmas tree ornaments are toys, and the stuffed sock snowman makes for a great football.

Thankfully we can still visit my mother's house with her Santa boot tree and golden goose. While not many things match, and the decorations rarely mimic a department store window, it feels homey, warm, and filled with love - which is perfect.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Guy


I love it! I'm sure about the significance of the wreath and flower, but the cuteness factor supersedes all question.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Soup


It is soup weather.

Summertime is not soup weather and cold, melon ball, type soup is gross.

I love to make and eat soup. My mom used to make vegetable soup from scratch. With enough salt and chicken broth, even the grossest of veggies tasted delicious accompanied also, with a hearty side of warm bread with melted butter.

I love the flavor of Cheddar Chicken Chowder and for Christmas Eve, traditionally, my mother-in-law makes Beer Cheese soup - three letters, y-u-m. I was written up in Cooking Light Magazine when I submitted the Beer Cheese Soup recipe for a "Lighten Up section." The magazine took the recipe and made the soup healthier. It is amazing the difference the absence of a cube of butter can make. As you can read from the recipe comments, mostly everyone either changed it or thought that it was terrible. We stick to the original recipe.

I came from a house that slurped soup, and all things hot. My husband came from a family that never slurped anything unless a straw was attached.

I have learned to appreciate the fact that slurping isn't always the best sound at the dinner table and have made some adjustments. However, when I am alone, and no one can hear me, I slurp my soup - just don't tell my husband - as if he would care.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cooler Temps Prevail

I realize that our so called frigid temperatures pale in comparison to anywhere east of Cali so I best keep my complaining to myself, however I cannot get warm.

I love driving in my car alone because I can control the temperature myself. I can keep my car as warm as I want it and no one will tell me to turn down the heater.

I have the floor heat set on red, and high, so that hot air blasts from the vents and onto my bare ankles and covered feet. It is almost hot enough to singe the hair off my ankles, but it is a good hurt.

It feels the same as when I back up too close to a fire and the heat makes my back itch. I inch away from the fire a bit, and then I get too cold. There seems to be no happy medium when standing near an open fire. I am a fireplace rookie though because I rarely get the opportunity to stand near one.

For now I will wear knee socks that extend over my knee, velour sweat pants, two layers of shirts, and hope that at days end my flannel sheets will keep me toasty. Otherwise I may have to drag out the electric blanket, which is a wonderfully warm blend of heated yum.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hotel, How do I Love Thee?

I let out a soft sigh when I passed the Courtyard Marriott located next to the drive-thru Starbucks on my way to work.

I need a hotel stay. My husband and I need a hotel stay. We need a get-away. I'm not requesting anything fancy, in fact, I'm satisfied, as long as the hotel is clean, and away from home.

I need funds though. The $35 dollars I made from a small garage sale last weekend is gone and a lemonade stand in December won't suffice.

I need big money. Anyone need some 1980's bedroom furniture? How about a silver dime from the 40's? If I sell all of my gold jewelry from the 80's could I gather enough income for a hotel room?

What would I do in a hotel room for one weekend you ask?

Take my laptop, magazines, and a book, and do whatever I wanted for 48 hours straight. I would write, read, write some more, drink coffee, eat dinner at 9:00 p.m., Jacuzzi with my hubby at midnight, eat breakfast at a local diner, write some more, catch up on blogs, run, drink more coffee, and spend time catching up in conversation with my love.

What would you do in a hotel for 48 hours?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Golden Birthday


My big girl is 15 today.

In six months she will be driving.

I'm sad that she had to go to school and couldn't stay home in her pajamas all day watching television and sipping Chai tea lattes.

Life goes on, even on birthdays.

Fifteen years ago, I didn't know that I was having a girl. I didn't know that she would love singing and acting, that she would have a strong faith in God, and love rules and order.

I didn't know that she would be organized and systematic, or that she would be creative and love blogging.

I am grateful from my girl, my lone girl among three boys. She balances out the house so it doesn't tip over into Boyville.

If we had a girl dog, the balancing would help, but we may have to settle for a girl fish.

I love my girl and my girl loves me.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

One Day

I have trouble thinking past noon. I am so consumed with here and now that if anyone asks me about anything in the near future, I have no answers.

My mother always wants to know about the next thing happening. Typically, I haven't given the next thing a thought since that would be thinking past the here and now.

The other day she was asking about Christmas, and presents, and the kids, and what I was planning on doing with the Santa issue, and what I already purchased, and what she thought about what she had already purchased,and who was getting what, and what was going where and, and, and, I had to stop her.

I was waist deep in addressing Christmas cards, and struggling through my 1990's system of saving envelopes with return addresses and using those as my guide for sending out cards. I have no address labels, no contact list on my computer, no easy-peasy way of labeling and sending. It is painstaking. It is my own fault. It is old fashioned and extremely backwards. I was all Christmas cards and nothing beyond.

Thankfully my mother understood. I told her we could talk this week after the Christmas cards, and my daughter's birthday were complete.

This morning I will think through this afternoon, and this afternoon, I will think through this evening, anything beyond that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

December Birthdays

Why do so many people have December birthdays? Maybe I just think that a lot people have December birthdays when the truth is, that babies are born all the time, and not any more in December than June or October.

I believe that it has something to do with Valentine's Day, but, I know nothing.

I have a child with a December birthday. December 15th. My mother's birthday is the 20th. My nieces were born on the 6th and 21st. Seriously? What were we thinking?

I cannot even think about Christmas until I get through my daughter's birthday. She turns 15 on the 15th, so am I supposed to do something even more special than normal? I don't have the funds to do something more special than normal.

In addition to decorations and pulling her out of school for lunch out, isn't a family dinner with her favorite foods good enough?

We purchased her two tickets to see Wicked. She is thrilled. Aside from that, I hope that she is well aware that she will be getting nothing other than a card. Wicked tickets are expensive!

She has high expectations. I'm a little scared. What is a mother to do? I need help.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wall-O-Cards

The Christmas cards have begun to arrive with the first one arriving right after Thanksgiving. I honestly believe that there are some people out there who have a goal, and that goal is to be the very first family to send out their Christmas card. God love them, and their zealous spirit.

When that first Christmas card makes it way to my house, I typically open it, and say "Ooh, the first Christmas card, and it is from ______." At that point I mutter something under my breath which has to do with the fact that people who send Christmas cards in November are probably the same people who buy bathing suits in December.

The "November" card inevitably gets placed into some ever growing pile of mail type items, and I end up losing it before I have a chance to tape it to my Wall-O- Christmas cards. But, that's me.

As the cards trickle in I place a strip of tape at the top and stick them to a blank wall in our dining room/kitchen, sort of like Christmas card wall paper. The kids love looking at all the different pictures, and I love seeing how families have grown and changed. Whenever I get a Christmas card without a picture or letter, I am not as excited. I love pictures and letters. I'm curious.

My girlfriend drapes red yarn near around her door frames and uses little plastic clothes pins to hang the cards which is much more creative than my wallpaper.

Another friend of mine puts all of the cards that she receives into a basket near her front door. I like to sit in her living room with the basket on my lap and look through the cards.

Everyone I'm sure does something different with the Christmas cards that they receive. Where do you put the Christmas cards that you receive?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Preschool Pride

I have embarked on my last and final preschool Christmas program.

I have been attending Christmas programs for ten years, and last night marked the very last one that I will be required to attend for preschool.
My five year old was dressed in white sweat bottoms and a white t-shirt. This was the closest thing I could muster that resembled an angel without putting him in a dress. I hot glued gold garland to the back of the t-shirt since I knew that the purchase of some fancy wings would not only be a waste of money, but odd for a young boy to wear.

He had one line: “The star led the wise men from the East” and completed his line without a hitch.

I wish that I could have taken a picture from the stage, focusing on all the parents poised with their video cameras and regular cameras. It was pandemonium. They were all on the edge of their seats waiting for a glimpse of their child, singing and participating in the annual Christmas program.

May every parents' enthusiasm for their preschool age child, and the pride they felt last night, never wane.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Lycra

I was shocked.

This time I am not exaggerating, and anyway it's called embellishing not exaggerating. Yes, there is a difference.

I walked into Target yesterday, for the fifth time in six days, (that's exaggerating, or lying, depending on how you define either)and the first thing I saw that immediately caught my eye, were bathing suits, racks, and racks, of brightly colored, fresh, full-priced, bathing suits.

I thought is was a merchandising mistake and assumed that the bathing suits were misplaced markdowns left over from October, but I was wrong. Every clothing department throughout the store featured 2-4 racks of bathing suits as if we just stepped into a mid-April, 2009 and skipped winter entirely.

Weird.

I don't question Targets jump start on spring, they are the knowers of all things retail, I just wonder how many stockings are going to be stuffed with new bathing suits.

None in our family.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hardly True


My children lie.

I'm sure that statement comes as a complete shock to you.

My seven year old brought home a picture of he and his little brother. For some reason, He drew himself tall, with brown hair, and his brother is short, with flesh colored hair. Although my youngest mister clearly has brown hair I'm concerned that this is a premonition which my husband has been claiming since the little guy was born.

The revelation is that our youngest will be bald at sixteen years of age. This is due in part to the fact that he has always had a head of hair that lacks lustre, thickness, and all around umph. Poor guy.

The lie comes underneath the drawing. My son wrote "I take care of my little brother." If taking care of a little brother involves, slapping his head when he shouts, throwing his blanket, and screaming at him to stop crying, than by all means, he is the care taker. Maybe that's where the question mark on the paper comes into play. He was uncertain if his sentence was true.

I assume though that my middle mister was striving, at great attempts, to impress his cute, young teacher, and appear compassionate and helpful. However, I know the truth. He is helpful with his little brother on rare occasions, and only when the little brother allows his help.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Celebrate?


The Christmas tree has been purchased and patiently waits outside in a bucket filled with water for the "thumbs up" to enter our home.

The children wait in anticipation to haphazardly place decorations on the tree and around the house.

My feelings waver. Mostly I am stressed by the feeling of getting everything done, in addition to the normal routine called life of a wife and mother.

Will I choose to celebrate the birthday of someone who is rarely mentioned at Christmas, or feel consumed and sullen, amidst this glorious day - the birth of our Savior?

This is a choice. This is my choice.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I Know No Things Bowling


Who says bowling is easy?

Admittedly, I used to. What's so hard about picking up a ball and throwing it at some pins? Isn't it just like Skee Ball at Chuck E. Cheeses?

I'm terrible a bowling, terrible.

Last night we had our Christmas party which started with a raucous game of bowling and ended with Mexican fare and a Feliz Naividad theme. I was much better at eating cheese enchiladas with rice and beans then executing a high score during bowling.

I scored a 68.

I scored a sweet tin of popcorn for the best Christmas theme socks.

I scored a stomach ache from eating too much Oreo Cookie Cream Cheese pie.

I've given up on bowling. It's too hard.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Conviction

I had just sat down after putting the two smaller kids to bed and my husband and I were about to submit to a deluge of prime time television beginnig with House.

I was about three bites into my chocolate chip ice cream which, at the moment, had the perfect amount of melted-ness to create a creamy shallow pool for the two medium sized scoops. I had a small throw blanket stuffed behind my feet which also covered my knees and kept me toasty amid the dew covered ice cream bowl.

Three minutes into House and my bowl of heaven, my daughter, who turns 15 in ten days, walked up behind the couch where we are sitting, hit her knees at the back, draped her body over the top and flopped over so that her head landed inches from my dessert, and mentioned, "I'm ready for bed."

Almost every night, with the exception of my being sick, or falling asleep before she does, for 15 years, I have tucked my daughter into bed, covered her with the comforter, said prayers with her, plugged in her fan, turned on her night light, left her bedroom door ajar, and bid her a "good night, I love you."

This night was no different other than I was in no mood to leap from my comfort, coziness, and chocolate chip ice cream, to put her in bed. I thought to myself, "Why can't she just say, 'good-night' and go to bed on her own? She is almost fifteen!"

Reluctantly, I removed myself from the couch, followed her to her room, and conducted the traditional bedtime routine that has been perfected from years of execution.

The next morning I was listening to a man on Family Life Radio. He talked about sitting at his computer around midnight staring at the doors which once led to his sleeping children. The rooms were now empty and his children had since left for college and were now roommates with a stack of textbooks and a mini-fridge.

He recalled singing the same lullaby to each of his children at night before they fell asleep; one verse each of, Silent Night, Oh How He Loves You and Me.

At that moment, midnight, knowing that his two children were both sound asleep in a dorm rooms, he picked up his phone and texted, "Silent Night, Oh How He Loves You and Me...good night, Dad."

Both of his children immediately texted back, "Good night dad."

As I listened to that program I felt convicted. I realized the privilege I have in that my daughter still, after 15 years, wants her mom to tuck her into bed each night.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Every Body Needs Chocolate


It was a bit chilly today, a bit. I won't give our actual temperature because those bloggers who happen live somewhere other than Southern California, Hawaii, or Miami, would severely shutter at my cold wimpy-ness. I'll put it this way; it was too cold to put my youngest in the jog stroller and go for my typical morning run. No amount of bribing would have sufficed, wet, fog induced cold.

I decided to bring the stationary bike into the house and exercise in the living room while my youngest stood on a step stool in the kitchen watching Charlie and Lola from the small kitchen television arms length from the screen. His good vision just took two gigantic steps backward, in one hour.

As I was huffing and puffing away on the bike I heard him shout, "Can I have [muffled, jumbled word]?" I shouted "yes" not knowing if he had just asked for an X-Box 360 or a cheese stick. All was quiet so I assumed he was content.



This is what I found on the counter when I finished working out. At least he stayed hydrated. And the photo on top? That is a sculpture he made using left over pizza dough from the refrigerator and a hanger from my closet. He's an artist.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

For That Special Someone



You'll thank me later for this fabulous gift idea which is perfect for the person on your list who has everything - including a cat.

Just when you thought that people exhaused every idea for dressing up their dogs and cat in slinks the animal wig.

Kitty Wigs come in bashful blond, pink passion, silver fox, and electric blue (pictured...yummy)



Dress up your kitty for your family's Christmas photo, and make all of your friends and neighbors jealous of the glam fam.

All the cats in the neighborhood will be meowing, "Oooh la la." and scratching their way to Kittywigs.com to purchase a wig of their own while all of the dogs in the neighborhood will point and laugh.

Oh, and if you want some cute Keds embellished with a photo of your kitty donning her wig, they have those too.

Your Welcome!

Monday, December 1, 2008

O Christmas Pics

I had the lovely experience of getting our family ready for the annual Christmas card photo. Joy. Bliss.

After a surge of complaining, figuring out what items in six different closets had any chance of matching, wiping faces clean from BBQ potato chips, and patiently waiting for Miss 14 almost 15 to apply the proper amount of make up and muster up a pair of jeans that didn't "squeeze the life out of her legs" everyone was rustled into the car for the 5 minute drive to a picturesque scene.

Immediately, the youngest complained that he was thirsty, and the seven year old began eating a left over rice crispy treat he found in Dad's car. Joy. Bliss.

My daughter complained that her hair was getting blown from the open window, and the twelve year old insisted that the area I chose for a background for our photos was insufficient.

Some old farm land had been groomed, and a beautiful library, resembling an old two story home with a large porch was the perfect setting to me. The grass area nestled wooden benches and a white gazebo sat directly in the middle of what was the front yard of the library.

The boys hit the ground running and continued to berate me about going into the library instead of remaining outside for our picture taking. Denied. The brand new shoes which sat on the feet of my two youngest quickly became a holding ground for smears of mud.

My girlfriend patiently waited for the youngest to rouse his boneless legs to stand up straight, my oldest to stop complaining about the ants, the oldest boy to stifle offering his expert scenery advise, and the middle mister, with his Fedora pulled low, to open his eyes. Joy. Bliss.

My husband's white shirt bleached him out too much, my daughter's bangs blew into her eyes at the flash, the youngest had a smile resembling that of a prisoner who just had his dinner withheld, and the collar of my sweater kept flipping inside.

We survived the one hour photo moment and after 109 clicks, I am happy to report that we have a handful of photos to choose from. A handful. Five.

The photo we like would be perfect, if only I could remove the shadow from my daughter's nose, lift up my son's chin so he is not looking down, put a black v-neck sweater over my husband's white shirt, and eliminate the rose bush leaf protruding in the foreground.

We could retake the photos, however, that would mean that I would have to start popping prescription drugs at frequent moments throughout the day.

There is a reason why Christmas photos only happen once a year. The pain is easily forgotten over time - all the joy and bliss.