I have a daughter living in Canada, and today is Boxing Day there (as it is the UK). She and her fiance and their family all got up at the crack of dawn and went shopping. With mega coupons for Michael's Craft Store in Whitby, Ontario, Abbi came away with some really nice scrapbooking supplies to keep her going for a while.
I, south of the U.S.-Canada border, hibernated.
In my sweats and slippers.
Okay, I went to church first. I led the worship team. I sang and I played. The band rocked the house and the kids' Christmas presentation was adorable.
I hugged everyone and then I came home and parked myself in front of a football game
During the first part of the game, I actually napped in my chair in front of the TV. I am so incredibly tired from the last few days that I can hardly keep my eyes open -- the parties and gatherings were great, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, but exhaustion was imminent, so the nap was really the only thing I could do.
Even with the NSF talking heads blathering on at great length about nothing, I slept.
(As an aside: obviously I am in the wrong line of work -- I could natter on about nothing, too, if someone would pay me a six or seven figure income for it!)
Tim and Doug went to a movie around 2:30 so I treated myself to a chick flick (Leap Year) and a glass of huckleberry wine in the family room.
It's Christmas Eve, a night that I have always found magical -- even after I stopped believing in Santa Claus -- even after I became Santa Claus -- even now that Santa doesn't visit our house any longer.
I love a room that is lit by a Christmas tree, don't you?
I'll never forget the moment that Christmas became more than a favorite holiday and instead became a time to truly celebrate our Lord's birth on this earth. Christmas remains my favorite holiday, but there is so much more to it than just warm and fuzzy family times, more than just memories.
Our Lord and Savior was born in a cruddy stable that was probably loaded with manure everywhere you looked. The lowliest of the low, in human status. He wasn't born in December (as much as I love Christina Rosettie's "In the Bleak Midwinter" -- it ain't true). He was born in the springtime (else why would there have been sheep out in Boaz's fields?).
But I'm content to celebrate his birth at this time of year, knowing that the celebration of His resurrection will also come around in due time.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care. And fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.
By His birth, sacrifice and resurrection, He has fitted us for Heaven.
There's a slick mixture of snow and slush on the ground this morning. The trees and the eaves are dripping steadily. The horses in the pasture make not a sound as they walk along, looking ghostly in the morning half-light. With the series of Pacific storms making their way up from California, we are as sodden as we can be. It's more like April than December.
But tomorrow night we begin the celebration of Christ's birth and all that it meant to humankind and all that it does mean still.
And all that it will mean.
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, yet wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.
So let the trees drip. I'm warm inside, where Christ lives.
1. Share your Christmas Eve traditions. We go to early church service and then come back to our house with extended family to exchange a few gifts, eat a few snacks, and watch A Christmas Story. (You'll shoot your eye out!)
2. What was the best book you read in 2010? (we're not going to include The Bible here). Hmmmm . . . most thought provoking was "The Divine Commodity" by Skye Jethani. Really makes you think about how the consumer mindset has invaded even the way we approach our Christian faith. Too many of us are looking to be spiritually fed by good preaching and perfect fellowship, rather than looking to serve God where He, in His divine wisdom, places us.
3. Do you have pets and if so do you allow them on the furniture? We have two dogs and we allow them on some pieces of furniture (but not all).
4. What event from 2010 are you most thankful for? Purchasing and moving into our new home. (See my blog posts ad nauseum on that one!)
5. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before? I took up the sport of racquetball, fell in love with it, and lost 30 pounds having the time of my life with it! (See my blog posts ad nauseum on that one too.)
6. Brussel sprouts...friend or foe? Fresh Brussels Sprouts sauteed with garlic are some of my very best-est vegetable friends. Frozen Brussels Sprouts, on the other hand, are vile foes.
7. Who would you nominate for man/woman of the year? I think I would nominate my friend Carin and her husband Jeff. They lost their young son to neuroblastoma a couple of years ago, and they have since channeled their grief into a establishing a Foundation that will fund cancer research (specifically for childrens' cancers). See The Ben Towne Foundation for more details.
8. Insert your own random thought here. Randomly speaking, our new house is the coziest and most homey place I have lived in since I was a child. Truth!
If you'd like to play along, answer the questions on your own blog post and then link up over at Joyce's (use the button at the top of this post for the link). Joyce is taking a break next week, so the weekly Hodgepodge will return in the new year.
It's Monday, and just five days left for me to get ready for Christmas.
As I write this, the dogs are wrestling all over the house, moving from room to room, growling and chewing on each other. They've been at it since they got up this morning and I am wishing they had a little less energy, I must say! I thought six-year old Hank would be a bit more circumspect in his conduct, but nooooo . . . he enters into the fray with glee.
The weather continues gloomy, but that cannot deter this devoted wife, mother and friend from her appointed rounds as the countdown ticks on.
Said rounds will commence once hubby returns home with my car. In the meantime, I am working.
Update on the weekend: the dining room and the bedroom are discernible spaces now. Another ten boxes were unpacked and cleared away, so I don't have to go out and slit my wrists after all. In fact, both rooms are completely box-free, although neither room is actually completely set up and straight yet.
We came home yesterday to discover that a mare we'd quarantined away from the other horses (because she's new to the herd) had been liberated by the Equine Gang of Six somehow. Must have been a real rodeo because the lodge poles were kicked down, the front of the feeding area was kicked in, and the electric fence was snapped in two places. This happened while we were at church, so we really are not sure which of the Gang of Six started it. Such is life on the farm.
Oh, and we had near record precipitation yesterday, mostly in the form of rain. So we now have record amounts of mud everywhere. A brown Christmas for sure!
My life has been so one-track lately that it's totally boring to write about. Yes, Charlie is cute. Yes, he makes me laugh. But house-training is still not in his grasp (to be fair, he is only just about seven weeks old at this point in time). And so when I was driving down the road yesterday and saw a wet spot on the pavement, my very first, instantaneous thought was . . . that Charlie had peed in the wrong place again.
The wet spot on the pavement was a good 1/2 mile away from my home.
And all I could do was think about the puppy peeing.
I need a life.
Apropos of nothing above, I've planned a total blitz of unpacking this weekend. The bedroom and the dining room will be settled or I shall slit my wrists out in the horse pasture where no one can see the blood.
Okay, that's a little strong. But the unpacking WILL take place.
The spate of warm weather seems to be over. Today the high was about 32 degrees, and tomorrow's is forecast for just 21 degrees. A big change from the 40s and 50s we've had for the last week or so. I won't be sorry to see the mud go away, that's for sure.
There was a fair amount of sunshine today, so when the dogs went out for one of their wrestling matches, I got out my camera.
Here is Charley-o at six weeks old:
He's become pretty good at holding his own when he and Hank are playing:
But occasionally he ends up getting bowled over while Hank reminds him to mind his manners when playing with an older dog:
1. What does it mean to have the 'holiday spirit'? It means to realize that our hope rests on the tiny baby whose birth we celebrate this time of year. Without Jesus, the holidays mean nothing.
2. What sits atop your tree (s)? Why? Nothing this year. I have a very elegant glass and gold tree topper, but it's too heavy for the new tree. So there is nothing there, and quite frankly, it looks great!
3. When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back? When I scored a good drop shot while playing racquetball this afternoon. Ye-es!!
4. Which of your senses is most sensitive this time of year? The five classic senses of taste, smell, hearing, sight, and touch? or are we being more figurative, such as sense of responsibility or sense of entitlement? Okay, I'll be serious. The most sensitive sense this time of year is definitely my nose. I smell the warm and wonderful holiday scents and I am instantly a child again!
5. What do you have too much of in your kitchen? Dogs. There are now two dogs underfoot where there used to be none. Because when Hank was an only dog, the only time he got underfoot is when I was cooking chicken. Now the puppy, Charley, is underfoot because, well, he's a puppy. And Hank needs to see what Charley is doing. So there are two dogs tripping me up at any given moment.
6. What do you do for meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Big meal? Breakfast tradition? Open the cookie tins and have at it? Christmas Eve -- we have snacks after evening church and we watch A Christmas Story with whomever among the family can come over. Christmas Day morning is brunch with extended family -- waffles and ice cream (and scrambled eggs for those of us who really do want to be at least a little bit healthy). Christmas afternoon varies, depending on what year it is. This year I'm having a buffet for our own family and we'll exchange gifts with the kids and grandkids.
7. What is the best thing about winter? The Christmas holiday season. After that, it's all downhill for me (and I don't mean skiing!).
8. Insert your own random thought here. Randomly speaking, the way that dogs play together is sometimes very disturbing -- all the growling and chewing and barking and all . . .
Thanks again, Joyce, for hosting the weekly meme. If you want to play along, answer the questions on your own blog and then link up at Joyce's blog (see the button at the top of this post for the link to Joyce).
For the better part of three weeks now we have had either snow, rain or clouds. Sunshine has been in very, very short supply.
The temperatures have risen above freezing, thus all the snow that we got around Thanksgiving has melted. But it has nowhere to go, so there are ponds and lakes everywhere you look. (We're way beyond puddles, folks.)
The pasture is starting to look like the battlefields of France.
I've steam mopped my kitchen floor every day for the last two weeks because it is impossible to keep the muck out, even with the required "take off your shoes at the door!"
The puppy is slow to house-train and there have been many accidents, all of which require spot cleaning.
My life is a daily grind of puppy-sitting and steam mopping.
Last night Number 6 came over to visit and I made stuffed butternut squash for our dinner.
Inspired by my cousin, Karen, who has a new camera and cannot stop taking pictures (God bless her, and she's so darn good at it!), I dug out my DSLR (which is nowhere near as fancy as Karen's) and took some shots.
This is Charley-o at six weeks. In a calm moment on the kitchen floor. Not to be confused with the frenzy of first waking up in the morning and clinging to my pajama leg by his teeth as I walk across the kitchen floor. (I don't think I'm going to take a picture of that moment).
Here's another moment of calm.
The farm is so muddy that you could organize a mud-wrestling tournament in the pasture. The horses have certainly given it their best shot:
And finally, here are random shots of my Christmas Tree -- the one I scored at Home Depot early on Black Friday -- the one that cost me only $49 and came pre-lit and already decorated with berries and pinecones. I added the birds and the ornaments.
I love these cardinals. I dearly miss seeing cardinals in the fir trees during the winter -- we don't have cardinals in the Intermountain West. But I found these little beauties at JoAnn's Fabric Store and I snapped up a dozen of them.
Hope your weekend is merry and bright!
- Catherine PS -- yes, I know this is my second blog post for today, but the first was a lot of whining. So here I am again with something fun!
I'm a little cranky today because once again we are up against a situation where grace is completely absent.
So, to repeat a little bit of yesterday's post:
This is our family's manifesto. This is how we run our home and it's how we try to run our lives. And we do it by the very grace that our Fatherextends to each one of us (even though we fail):
In this home, we do second chances.
We do grace.
We do real.
We do mistakes.
We do I’m sorrys.
We do loud really well.
We do hugs.
We do family.
We do love.
To go further today:
The reason that this is so important to us and the reason that I wanted to repeat this saying one more time is simple: 1 Corinthians 13.
God is love and all of our love as humans comes from God. (1 John 4: 7-8)
Love does not keep count of wrongs (Psalm 103:12). Not even when we're trying to teach our children right from wrong. We don't keep count and continue throwing the wrongdoing back in their faces long after the incident should have been closed. (That's what is meant when scripture says that we are not to provoke our children to wrath.)
God is love. Through the Cross, which fulfilled the unfulfillable Law once and for all, God gives us everlasting mercy and grace (unmerited).
1. Have you ever been on a real sleigh ride? How about the warm weather version - a carriage ride? I’ve been on a carriage ride in Hamilton, Bermuda, and on a hay ride (in a farm wagon) in New Jersey, but I’ve never been on a real sleigh ride.
2. What's your policy on 'chain mail'...you know, the emails you receive that are often some sort of poem/blessing/good wish that ask you to send it on to 10 or 12 friends? Do you delete without opening, read and trash, read and trash and then worry you won't be blessed/lucky/protected? Do you delete the sender from your contacts or just go ahead and send the love onward? I generally read it once and then immediately delete it without sending it to anyone else. If I like the poem or the sentiment or whatever, I might send it on AFTER I’ve deleted the section about “send this to 457 friends in the next 5 ½ minutes . . .”
3. Who is your favorite character in any of the Christmas movies and why? Randy, the younger of the two brothers in a Christmas Story. He refuses to eat, he sits in a cupboard and mopes, and he whines hilariously. He spins Ralphie's name into something like three syllables when he whines, "Ra-al-phieeeeeeeee!!!" He makes me laugh every year when we watch the movie! (And the part where he falls down in his too-small snowsuit and can't get up is one of the funniest scenes in any movie, ever.)
4. Share a favorite quote. This is on a plaque in our house and it’s become our home’s manifesto:
In this home, we do second chances.
We do grace.
We do real.
We do mistakes.
We do I’m sorrys.
We do loud really well.
We do hugs.
We do family.
We do love.
I wish I knew who had written it, but there is no attribution. I purchased the plaque at the local Hallmark store several years ago.
5. What's your favorite holiday scent? Balsam!!
6. Does the Christmas season stress you out? In what way? Mostly, I love the Christmas season so much that I don't get stressed out about any of it. (Although if I'm tardy with the package wrapping process, that can get my blood pressure up a little as I try to get it done before the big day.)
7. What's the best thing about your life right now? Sharing life with my family in our new home.
8. Insert your own random thought here. Puppies are exhausting! We have a 6-week old pup and he’s wearing me out! Thankfully, our older dog is finally willing to play with him, so the puppy gets tired during their wrestling matches. And then he goes back in his kennel to sleep for a while and I get some much-needed peace.
Charley-o on 11/30/2010
Thanks, Joyce, for hosting the weekly meme. If you want to play along, blog your own answers and use the button above to get to Joyce's blog for the link-up. - Catherine
1. What is the most interesting thing you've done in the last year? Just one [she whined]???? Holy moly! I've done some wonderful things this year, including watching the process of God bringing us into this new home. From start to finish, He orchestrated every detail, and it was very fascinating to watch!
2. What is your most meaningful family heirloom? I have a lot of family heirlooms since I am a keeper of family history. I own an old family Bible from my mother's side. I own a wrought iron, tile-topped table from my paternal grandfather (he got the tiles in Bavaria after WWII). I own an autograph book from my paternal great-grandmother (she was about 15 when she received it). All of them - and many, many more -- are meaningful. I think, though, I will say that what is most meaningful during this time of my life is my great-grandmother's wedding ring, handed down to me from my mother. It is engraved on the inside with the date and my great-grandparents' initials. My mother treasured it and so do I.
3. What food festival would you most like to attend? If you're not sure click here to see a list of possibilities. Wow! There are a lot of possibilities! I think since I'm very curious to visit the Channel Islands, I'd probably choose Tennerfest.
4. Snow...do you love it or is it considered a four letter word where you live? I love it until about mid-January. After that it is a four letter word served up with other unprintable adjectives.
5. Can you ski? Do you ski? Are you any good? I can ski but I don't enjoy it (consequently, I'm not any good). I prefer cross country skiing to downhill any day.
6. What quality in your spouse or best friend are you most thankful for? In my spouse, I am most thankful for his tenacity. He quite literally never gives up. I love him for that, because there are times when I'd be willing to throw in the towel on something and he will find a way to make it work. In my best friend (I know you said "or" but I love both of them!), it's her absolute loyalty.
7. Describe the coziest spot in your home. In our old house it was the family room, by the fire. In the new house, I'm still deciding, but I really like our little TV room with the rug from Iraq and the new laz-y-boy loveseat.
8. Insert your own random thought here. We have a new home which I just love! I feel completely at home -- in fact, I feel as though I have come home. The sequence of events that led us to this point is amazing and totally God. I am so very, very thankful!