Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Only 25 Shopping Days Left

How is your holiday shopping going?  Are you done or nearly done?  Haven't started?  I have made great strides in my completing my shopping this year.  My goal is to have it all done and wrapped with time to spare so that I can enjoy the joy of the season.  That is my goal anyway.  You know what they say about the best laid plans and all that?! 

I love gift giving though.  I really enjoy the process of finding something that is just right for the person that I am buying for, wrapping it up prettily, giving the gift and watching as that person unwraps it and finds the treasure that is beneath the pretty wrappings.  It gives me such a warm feeling inside and leaves me with such a sense of pride.  It got me to thinking about the origin of gift giving at Christmas, not the Roman origins of Saturnalia but the religious origins and significance of the giving of gifts.

Sometime after the birth of Jesus, three Wise Men, also known as Magi, came to visit the newborn bearing gifts of insence, gold and myrrh.   "...Magi came from the east to Jeruaulem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship  him."   Matthew 2:1-2 

Those gifts were given as a sign of worship, an offering to the King who was and is our greatest gift of all.  Can you imagine the anticipation, the love and joy that must have been in God's heart when he gave us this most precious gift?  His Son!  For our salvation.  Such a gift that we as a people we unaware of the magnitute of it, the value for our souls, for our life here on earth and life everlasting.  Such is His love for us.
We celebrate that, we rejoice in that and we cherish that.  With gifts of thanksgiving, with songs of praise, glory, laud and honor to His name.  Excited souls sing!

   For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

So shop, decorate and celebrate.  It is what we do.  It is how we celebrate the birthday of our Saviour.  But as for me, I will try to keep that feeling of love, the spirit of joy, and a grateful heart for the gift that is Christ our Lord not just at Christmas but every day.  To honor that gift.


                                                               Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Short Break

Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Shopping, all seemed to be a good reason to take a short blogging break.  So I did!  My family spoiled me on my birthday with lots of stamp sets from Paper Trey Ink, a new charm for my bracelet, CDs, a camera case, all kinds of stuff.  What fun!
Then I got up at the crack of dawn on Thursday and started my Thanksgiving dinner.  Lots of work to be done, but well worth it.  We had a nice dinner and a really nice day.  I made these little guys for each place setting:
They were filled with after dinner mints.  I thought they were cute.  (Stamps from Inky Antics)
Then after our company left Michelle and I began pourin over the Black Friday ads in anticipation of our annual shopping trip.  We cut coupons, made lists, set a strategy and we all set to go!  Come 1:00 AM, she woke me (she had not yet been to bed!) I jumped into my clothes, we got ready and off we went, arriving at our first destination at 1:59 AM.  We shopped at the Hagerstown outlets, then hit the mall, some stand alone department stores such as Kohls & Target and then back to the outlets.  Then we headed back down the road to Frederick and hit those stores ending up back home at around noon.  Once home we crashed!
We did get some good buys and got lots of shopping done, but most of all we had fun together. 
Friday night, we went downtown to herald the arrival of Santa to Frederick in the Frosty Friday celebration.  He came in via horse drawn carriage, then he directed the crowd in singing Christmas carols.  It was fun and Bella loved it! 
We also started to decorate the house for Christmas.  We go a little crazy around the holiday, so it does take a while to get everything out, but we mad a good dent.  Michelle and Bella each put their trees up in their bedrooms and decorated them.  We have one small tree on the porch that is flocked with snow and decorated with all bird ornaments and that is up.  Then we have a full size tree in the living room with white lights and an angel on the top.  That tree is decorated in a more Victorian manner with white, pink, dark green, gold and burgundy colored ornaments with glitter and glitz and tinsel.  In our family room we have a more traditional tree with multi colered lights a star on top and whimsical, fun ornaments that we have colected over the years.  Those are the trees that we have up at this point, we usually have 3 more, but they are not done yet and may or may not get done this year, it depends on how things shape up.
I still have a ways to go, but like I said I've made a good dent in things!

In other news, we got to meet Michelle's new boyfriend.  She has been seeing him for about a month now and we finally got to meet  him over the weekend.  He seems very nice and they are clearly taken with each other.  It is nice to see!  So this is mostly for the family but here is a picture:

Kind of a weird picture of Michelle, but you get the idea.  Oh and by the way, I did get Shawn's permission to post this before I just went ahead and posted it. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Long Weekend

I love a nice long weekend, and this past weekend was an especially nice one.  We made a three day weekend of it and went down to Williamsburg to visit with Andy and Durinda.  They had invited us to attend a William & Mary football game with them ad spend the weekend and we did.  Because I am such a HUGE football fan, I just couldn't resist the opportunity!  Ha!  For those of you who don't know me, let me explain that I will never l ive down asking why the fans were holding up 'D-Gate' signs.  You know, a big D and what looked to me like a gate, it was in fact a piece of fence and stood for 'Defence'.  How was I to know!
Anyway, the weather was just beautiful a perfect fall day. We started out with a lovely tailgate meal.
Durinda being the ultimate hostess even made chocolate dipped pretzels sprinkled with green & yellow 'tribe' sprinkles.  So cute!  Everything was just delicious!  Then we packed up and went inside for the game.  It was the last game of the season and W&M were to play their rivals the Spiders from Richmond.  Durinda said that everyone was so excited to see me there that men were dropping from the sky!
They were the flying eagles-so cool to see them. 
And it was a super game.  W&M won, beating their rivals for the first time in at least 5 years and sending themselves to the playoffs!  It was a lot of fun, even for me. 
Sunday was more about the girls.  We took Bella to see Santa over at Yankee Candle.  He's the real Santa for those of you who are wondering and he is wonderful!  Ever so kind and patient with the children.  Bella hopped right up on his lap and spoke to him telling him that she was tring hard to be good and what she was hoping for for Christmas.  It was all very nice.  But later, as she was sitting at a table with Andy, Durinda and Grandaddy, they saw a man walking around the store dressed all in red.  He had white hair and a white mustache and beard and Bella couldn't help but notice him.  Durinda noticed too and she said so to Bella and together they went over to speak to him.  They said that they thought he looked quite a lot like Santa and asked if he was related and he said that yes, there was a strong family resemblance and handed Bella a card.  It said that she had been caught being good by Santa's brother an gave a web site to visit.  Well, she was so excited!  She ran back to the table to tell Andy and Grandaddy and who is at the table visiting with them?  That's right, Santa  himself!  She about died!  Said, I know you and he said 'I know you too!'  Well after all of that excitement she was about done in.  She could hardly stand it and just wanted to go back to the house and rest!  It was just too cute.
Here she is with the jolly one himself! 
Then on Sunday night, we had a lovely dinner to celebrate both Andy's and my birthdays.  Andy's birthdy was actually Sunday and mine is tomorrow.  Durinda made a delicious meal and ended is with a beautiful cake, mmmmm-mmmm!  Presents, too! 
Oh, and did I forget to mention and Saturday morning Durinda and I got to go to Impression Obsession's Warehouse sale?  It was great.  I bought a whole bag of rubber stamps, some mounted-some not and only spent $27 dollars.  The unmounted stamps were sold by the pound or by the ounce, so I paid $2 for a handfull of them!  
It was a great weekend, and the best part of all was spending it with good friends!  Thanks again, Andy & Durinda!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust!

In the same week that bonnie Prince William announces his engagement to Kate Middleton, the not so  desperate housewife Eva Longoria files for divorce from her husband of three years Tony Parker.  Three years to you and me is when they are just coming off the honeymoon stage but in terms of a Hollywood marriage it seems like the equivalent to ten.   Why is that?  Do the rich and famous go into a marriage with the mindframe that it is just a temporary thing, until something better comes along, or something fancier catches their eye?  I'm not sure if that is it or not, but if it is I can honestly say that I don't understand that mentality. 

Don't get me wrong, I am not against divorce.  I fully understand that sometimes it is for the best.  My parents are divorces and in their case, it was for the best.  Their was no big scandal there, nothing that could be pointed at and said 'that was it'.  It was many things that added up to this, they brought out the worst in each other.  That is not what marriage should be about and that is not what they wanted to teach their daughters what love was.  They loved us enough to divorce and make a better life for all of us, independent of one another.

But marriage is hard.  Even with the right person, it is not easy every day.  You have to make a concious choice to stay married.  To honor your committment, each other, your families and your God.  There are a lot of people in your marriage, it's not just about two people.  It's so much more than that.  It's work.  Hard work.  It's a struggle, a balancing act, a leap of faith, a joy, a thrill ride, a crazy, zany, treasured, walk through life.  It can be so many things, but it is not easy.

Now, I don't pretend to be some marriage guru here-but I can speak from a bit of experience.  Having been married to the same man for nearly 30 years now, we have been through quite a lot together and have shared quite a number of experiences.  Sometimes I think that romantic movies have ruined us because we tend to want our lives to be like our favorite romanance and its not.  It's just not practical.  We watch a movie for an  hour and a half or two hours, and marriages take place over a lifetime if your lucky.  There are those moments that we cherish, those sweet, sappy moments that we hold close to our hearts and never will forget.  Real life over rides them for the most part becuse those moments are far more frequent.  Which is what makes those other moments all the more special.  Right? 

When I was but a blushing bride, my grandmother gave me a beautiful crystal vase as a wedding gift and told my husband that he was to keep it filled for our first year of marriage, thereby guaranteeing a happy marriage.  My grandmother was very special to me and at the time of my wedding she was recovering from a major life-altering stroke.  Speaking was often difficult for her and her words didn't always come out as she wanted them to.  But on this she was clear, he was to keep that vase filled for one year.  And he did.  The type of flowers didn't matter to me, what mattered was that he did it, that it meant something to him because she meant something to me.  That was special and still is. 

I'm not going to tell you that there are not going to be times when you wake up and see him lying in bed next to you and think 'Oh, crap!'  The reality is you probably will.  Or that you might lie awake at night wondering if you smother him with your pillow will anyone suspect you in his death, or will they think he just died in his sleep.  (Kidding, kinda!)  I mean let's face it, Eve probably should really have kept her hands and her mouth off of that apple.  But it is what it is and we have to deal with it now, so - my point- marriage is work people.
Work at it!  Honor your committments!  Teach your children how to honor theirs! 

And now, I will step down off my soap box.

Thank you.

 Look, I guarantee there'll be tough times. I guarantee that at some point, one or both of us is gonna want to get out of this thing. But I also guarantee that if I don't ask you to be mine, I'll regret it for the rest of my life, because I know, in my heart, you're the only one for me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Recap

Monday arrived far too quickly!  The weekends never seem to last long enough.  I went into the weekend without too much on my agenda and though I kept busy nothing was planned out.  It was nice. 
Friday night Jim and I took Isabella to the mall to await the arrival of Santa Claus.  They had been heavily promoting it on the local radio station and she had heard it and wanted to go so we thought why not.  Michelle was working so it was just the three of us.  We didn't know what to expect so got there early in the event that there was a big crowd.  They had  little elf show before the grand entrance and then onceSanta came through that was basically it.  He came in and invited the kids to come to the center court and see him and then he went to take his seat at center court.  Jim scrambled to get in line with Bella to get her picture taken with Santa and even though he went right away, we were still in line for quite a while.  She told Santa that she wanted a unicorn pillowpet for Christmas.  That was it!  She's pretty easy.  We got a cute picture of the two of them together too. 
Saturday, since we had no plans we took it easy.  Lingered over coffee, stayed in our jammies, took a nice long shower and leisurly cleaned the house.  Then Bella said that she'd like to go back to the mall and show her Mom some of the things that we'd seen the night before, so off we went.  Jim had to work so it was just us girls.  While we were there, Michelle had the great idea to have Bella's pictures re-shot from La
Petite at Picture People and went there to see if they could get Bella in and they said they could.  Of course, Bella wasn't dressed for a picture so we had to buy her an outfit!  She had on a cute hat so I suggested we get her something to match her hat as I thought it would look cute in pictures.  Bella was in a great mood for modeling and they wound up giving us 26 proofs to view!  All good!  Talk about hard choices.  We were finally able to make our selections and get out of there with some really good photos and Michelle also had here Christmas cards printed.  It only took about 2 hours total, I didn't think that was bad for a walk in on a Saturday in November. 
Sunday brought church and after that it was time to clean and condition the hot tub.  Talk about a job.  Ugh!  Fortunately the weather was perfect for it.  Not too hot or too cold.  I got it done in  no time, but unfortunately for me, the conditioning requires a lot of buffing and my arms are killing me now!  The are like wet noodles.  I was able to get a brief (and I stress the word brief) nap in, before Jim was suggesting that it would be a good day to go to the Hallmark store for our ornaments.   Every year since our marriage we have bought a Hallmark ornament for our tree, then when each of the children came along they too, were allowed to pick out one ornament for their tree.  The idea is that when they leave home they will have enough ornaments to fill a tree or at least to make a good start and to have some cherished memories.  Bella is included in the tradition as well.  It is always fun for us and a family event.  Tim wasn't able to go with us this year, but the rest of us went.  And like when our kids were little, Bella just couldn't decide w hich one to choose.  In the end, after much debate this is what she picked:
It plays "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" and we thought it was perfect!
She is tickled with it too.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Finally Friday!

I am ready to start my weekend.  Not that I have any great plans.  In fact, I don't really have plans to do much of anything at the moment but sometimes that is good.  This is one of those times.  I seem to spend so much time running from one thing to the next that I rarely have time to just be, and I miss those days.  I'd like to be able to clean my house at a leisurly pace instead of the frenetic pace that I usually use to perform such tasks.  I take pride in my home and in the way that I tend to it and I enjoy the process in keeping it up, and keeping it clean.  I love the look and smell of a clean and tidy house.  I'd like it a whole lot better if it could stay that way for more than a few minutes, but such is the price of living.
I'd like to snuggle up on the couch in my pajamas with Bella in hers under the warmth of a worn in blanket and read books together.  Books that she is old enough to read to herself but still likes to have me read to her sometimes.  I'd like to make a nice warm cup of tea for me and hot chocolate for her and put it in our matching cranberry colored spatter ware mugs, adult sized for me and child sized for her.  We'd wrap our hands around the mugs smooth surface and enjoy the warmth that spreads from the mug to our hands.  I'd look at Bella and she'd look up at me and smile in that way that she does that says she is enjoying just being with me and being like me. 
Later, after a shared lunch Bella will know that she needs to lie down and 'take a little rest'.  And she will.
While she rests, Michelle and I will settle ourselves in the family room with the blinds closed, a scented candle lit, a big bowl of popcorn to share and put on a movie that we have seen a dozen or so times before.  We'll laugh at the same spots that we've laughed before, maybe say a line or two along with our favorite character, cry like we've done each time before and be saddened by the fact that the ending still has not changed. And I will love every minute of it. 
I feel sometimes as though these times are fleeting, measured and the sand in my hourglass is quickly running out.  I need to stop and savor each and every second of my precious time here with my family.   While we are together.   Not that I am planning on going anywhere, or anything happening, but we grow and change, children grow up and their needs change.  I've seen that already.  I'd had hoped to be able to keep us all under one roof, I knew that was not reasonable.  But I could hope.  The truth is, I know that they need to move on and grow at their time and pace.  For now, I hold on tight and as change happens I will learn to accept it and take what I can get. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

First Saturday

On the first Saturday of each month our downtown shops stay open a little later and the downtown area offers a special event to bring people out.  This past Saturday was the beginning of the  holiday season and they offered a Holiday Open House.  All the little brick shops were lined with white lights, red and green balloons were everywhere, decorations were in all the shops and a festive air filled the streets!  There were wine tastings and free food, a brass band, and free horse drawn carrige rides and trolley rides.  We went down for a while to join in the festivities and after waiting in line and enjoying meeting some new 'neighbors', we got on a carriage ride.   It was such a beautifully chilly night for a ride, we all enjoyed it so much.  Bella was delighted with the two big black horses that pulled the carriage, Max and Timmy.  After the ride she went up front to pet them and because Timmy was getting a lot of attention she pet Max.  But each time that she tried to stop petting him he started to nibble at her and she would just laugh and laugh!  It was so cute.
Then she talked to Timmy and told him that she had an Uncle named Timmy so she loved that name.  She just warms my heart. 
So here we are on the carriage ride.  Jim snapped the picture.  I don't know what that big black spot is so please ignore it!

A Glimpse Inside

*I have been suffering with a terrible migraine all day Sunday.  Laying on the couch in and out of sleep all day.  It has given me time to think.  Not the 'why me?' kind of thing, it has never been that because that implies someone else.  More the introspective kind of thought.  So please forgive me if I ramble a bit.  I wrote this when I came back to a semi-consious state and set it to post today.    

Have you ever tried to get a glimpse inside your neighbors world?  While taking your little one trick or treating you go to the door and when 'those' neighbors answers you steal a glance inside.  Or when that new family at church pulls up to drop off in front, you check out the type of car they drive and how clean or dirty it may be.  Maybe it's when taking your little one to pre-school, you see the happy faces of the families as they drop off their children and imagine what their life is like at home.  Do you?  Come on, we all do to a certain degree.  But what can just a glimpse tell us?  Will we get the real picture?  The full truth?  Or just a snapshot that is shown to thw world?  Think about what your glimpse would reveal.
     It is easy to judge without knowing the whole truth.  The rest of the story.  None of us are guilt free.  We all make assumptions of one kind or another.  Wounds cut the surface but scars run deep.  What if we were to know what lay behind that brief glimpse?  Would our attitude change, would we be more empathetic, more compassionate?  It is hard to know.  I wonder though because I was once accused of having had it too easy.  I say 'accused', because it felt like an accusation and I believe that it was meant as one.  And it hurt.  Because that was far from the truth.  While my life may have looked easy to some, the truth may have painted quite a different story.  The truth went something like this:  I was married young, a few short month after we met we were married.  Having never lived with a man other than my Father, I found many things about this ne life disturbing.  Adjustment was difficult to say the least.  Then I became pregnant and raging hormones were added into the mix along with my leaving school, constant morning sicknes, being away from home and my grandmother being very ill.  My parents were not thrilled with my choices, I had very few friends, no job and my new husband was working two jobs to support us.  But we did have a home, a  new baby on the way and we wildly in love.  So yeah, it was so easy!  The rest is pretty typical, we have certainly had our share of ups and downs, plenty of tears to go along with the laughter and we have been thrown our share of curve balls along the way.  Somehow, by the Grace of God, we have made it through.  It has not been easy, it never is. 
    What if everyone carried signs that told of their particular plight?  Things like: My husband walked out on me, I am in terrible debt, I live in a shelter, My child is an addict, My baby died at  birth, My husband just lost his job, and on and on.  How would yours read?  We all have a cross to bear.  A burden that we wrestle with.  Pain.  Heartache.  Grief.  Know this, God does not waste pain.  He gives us opportunities.  Opportunities to reach out to others, to lessen someone else's pain, to offer hope, compassion, love, and to testify of His unending love for us.  Will your heart be revealed?
I know that you have all heard the phrase 'Let go and let God.'  Easy to say, much more difficult to do in practice.  But try it.  Try to give up  your worries, realize that you are not in control and that your story was written out for you long ago by He who is in control.  So let go, and relax.  Take a deep breath and pray.  And give it up to Him.  You will be amazed at how light you will feel.  It is freeing.
    And thos glimpses, just look for the signs.  They are the only things that you need to worry about.

"I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me"
Philippians 4:13


Friday, November 5, 2010

Finally Friday!

Feels like it's been a long week!  Strange though how time can seem to drag yet fly by at the same time.  Know what I mean.  Here it is already November 5th!  Only 20 days until Thanksgiving and then another month from there until Christmas.  I've just started to think about my shopping and the thought alone has me overwhelmed.  I know that my SIL Linda is probably nearly done if not completely done!  I am not nearly that organized.  I have gotten a few things, but very little.  Too many people, too little time, and far too little money!  Ha!  But I do love it when I get a burst of creativity and come up with the perfect gift for someone on my list.  So the hunt is on now for all those perfect, wonderful gift-all on sale.  Can't wait to begin the begin!  What about you? 
As for the weekend, no real big plans.  Ironing.  Yeah.  Clean the house.  Double yeah. 
Jim has been working hard at packing up his den in order to move on out of there.  Once he gets his stuff out, I will get that room painted for Bella and move her bedroom in there.  Then on to paint her bedroom for me. Yup, moving the scraproom - again.  Shouda, woulda, coulda.  Should have moved Jim downstairs in the first place.  Would have saved a lot of trouble in the long run.  Could have been done with all of this mess by now.  Thought I'd take the easy way out and be done with it, but it just didn't work out that way.  Jim thought he'd like it better downstairs.  I don't care enough either way.  Bella really needs a bigger room.  Shoulda, woulda, coulda.  It can kill you if you let it.  Won't let it.  Maybe I'll hire someone to do the painting this time and save myself the headache (and bachache!).  Just hoping that we can get it all done soon so that I can get my Christmas cards done.  Right now I don't know where anything is!  What a mess.
So for now-pictures!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Picture

My Girls!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When we left off...

I was on my way to pick up Bella at school in my costume.  When she came out of the school I said hi and waved at her and she said hi and waved back and kept walking and looking around for someone to meet her.  She didn't recognize me at all.  I called her again and bent down to her level and she said "GaGa?" then she just laughed.  Later she told Michelle that she heard my voice but couldn't see me.  Ha!  Too funny!

Saturday we took  her down to one of the outdoor malls and she went trick or treating there.  It was fun to see lots of different costumes.  The store employees were dressed up too and that was fun to see.  Afterwards we went out for lunch and then took Bella to her class on Bones.  She just loved it!  That kid is really something.  She was so interested in learning about the different bones, it was fun to watch and hear what she and the other kids had to say.  Honestly, you could have filmed it and made a TV show of it, it was pretty amusing. These kids are smart too.  He asked them if they knew any names of bones and I expected to hear leg bone, arm bone, like that.  Nope.  Instead we got, skull, phalange and sternum!  OK, really?!  Geeesh!  He showed the kids a jaw bone with some teeth in it and talked to them about how the teeth pulled away from the jawbone and eroded, and one kid piped in with 'Oh, like the Grand Canyon?'  So it was entertaining for the parents as well as the children.  After the class was over the children were allowed to hold Shadow, one of the 'pets' of the Discovery Center. 
Bella and Shadow

After the class we walked around the grounds and snapped a few shots of Bella and Michelle together. 
Well it looks like Blogger is still having issues and I can't add another picture, but I would if I could!  
Suffice it to say, it was a beautiful fall day and we made the most of it and got lots of pictures. 

On Sunday, we went to Church and Bella sang with the Children's Choir.  It was very cute and she was so happy to be a part of the group.  She has wanted to join the group, but this is the first year that we thought she could make it for the whole day.  They meet at 8:45 then Sunday School is at 9:30 and Church is at 10:30 and then we don't get home until 12:00 at the earliest and it makes for a long  morning for her.  She still will often ask to lie down as soon as we get in the door, no lunch or anything just a nap! 
 At Church I lit a candle and said a prayer for my nephew Daniel in honor of All SAints Day.  Daniel has been gone for seven months now and I like to think that he is celebrating with the angels now.  I often think of him and of my brother and how diffcult loosing Daniel must be on him.  It can never be easy to loose a child but I think it must be especially difficult if you don't have a strong belief system to support you, and I fear that my brother does not.  So I pray for him on many levels.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:17-18