Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Not away from the Manger anymore...

One of the many great things about having a 16 month old in the house at Christmas is being able to witness Christmas for the first time again through her eyes.  It tickles my heart to get to see her "aah" (or in her case "oooohhh") at each new thing that comes along in the season. The other day we were looking at something with a Santa Claus on it and I asked "Ella Kate can you say Santa?" and said it very slow several times.  

Rhett walked by and asked what I was doing. I explained that we are going to get to teach Ella Kate all about Christmas this year and continued my "SANTA" speak.  On his way out of the room Rhett said "Don't you think we should teach her Jesus first?" 
We should. 
I don't think Rhett meant to rock my world or make any great theological statement with his statement/question. It was a very uncharacteristic thing for him to say and he was gone before I realized what he had said. But I have not been able to get those words out of my mind... Don't you think we should teach her Jesus first? 
I grew up in a Christian tradition that did not think it was Christian to celebrate Christmas as Christ's birthday. The irony of that last sentence and that whole way of thinking now blows me away. It was so backwards because we still celebrated Christmas.. just with Santa, Rudolph, Frosty and gifts, but not with baby Jesus. And we thought people who did were wrong. 
Even though I lived it, it now makes no sense to me why anyone would think it is more Christ-like to celebrate with Santa and not Jesus.  Did I really believe that? 
I don't blame my parents, or really anyone else, because they were doing what they thought was right at the time. I am glad most in that same "tradition" have re-evaluated and decided Christians can and should center Christmas, as well as most every other event in life, around Christ.  I find it very hard to relate to the those who still think celebrating Christ during Christmas is un-Christian... but that is another blog. 
For me, coming out of the the "no Christ in Christmas thing" is sort of like people in the 60's and 70's coming out of racism from a purely theoretical view only! Just like those who grew up considering other human beings less human because of their skin color could not imagine why or how they ever felt or believed that way, I too cringe at the past.  But just because you don't believe or feel that way, it's still not so easy to "make friends" with the thing you avoided for years. It takes time and purposed thinking.
However, even though I want Christ to be the center of our Christmas, I do not think that Santa is all bad. I do not think you have to leave Santa out of Christmas to be a good Christian and have problems understanding Christians who are anti-Santa. I like Santa and the idea of Santa. My kids still get presents from Santa on Christmas morning and we have Santa pictures made every year. I have all sorts of Santa's all over my house.  Though I am not sure how to feel about the whole "is Santa real thing", I don't want to leave Santa out of our Christmas.
To add to my Christmas confusion, over the top materialism steeped in commercialism under the guise of capitalism has made Christmas the great national economic make-or-break season. Consumerism has nothing to do with  Christ or Santa Claus. Sometimes I feel like Christmas has become a big celebration of the dollar, a season when our actions teach that happiness comes from gifts and love and affection are measured by the amount of money you spend on gifts, entertaining and decorations for your family, friends and loved ones. I don't want to be a part of that, but we all are to some extent. Like it or not.
So what do we want to teach Ella Kate about Christmas?  Though I don't profess to have all the answers, to help with this I gave the kids an early present yesterday. They opened it and have had a great time playing with it, especially Ella Kate. She loves to stack, rearrange, chew-on, carry around and even play hide and seek with the pieces. It's one of those thing I want them to enjoy during this and many Christmas seasons to come.
And no, a toy nativity scene does not answer all the questions and issues out there about Christmas. 
But in my own house, 
in my own way, 
no matter what the season, 
I want to try to always show my children Jesus first.  
Merry Christmas! 

Monday, November 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

revised a bit at noon, just because...
I heard this song by Third Day last night and it made me cry.. and smile... and think of a couple of friends of mine. I added my friend Julie to my blog list a few weeks ago after reconnecting with her at Farm Fest. Julie and her family are in the process of adopting a little girl from the Ukraine. This song also made me think of Kolby's good friend who was adopted from China and my PTA friend who has adopted two precious girls from China. There are many other 'dopted (per Rhett) friends we know and love.

My Dad was adopted. Adoption was not as accepted back in that day. I think he felt like a black sheep at times when he was with his extended family. (Some even put clauses like "blood relatives" in their wills! Can you imagine? Not the type people I would want to spend Christmas with! ) However his parents could not have loved him any more.

Adoption has come a long way since the 1940's! And I think families who adopt kids are special in God's eyes because all but one of God's children were adopted! And to think he sacrificed that one to free the rest of us. He could not love us any more! We are a big global family. And even though we can still feel like black sheep when we get with other brothers and sisters in Christ, God sacrificing his only son washed our black fleece white as snow. God loves us as he loves his son. What a gift! Something to think about as many in our world celebrate (even if it is brief and superficial) the birth of Jesus! What a true boost to the real spirit of Christmas!

Oh, and go check out Julie's blog! She and her hubby plan to journey to the Ukraine this March to meet their daughter. I can scarcely imagine what they are feeling and the anticipation... Won't it be fun to get to tag along through the magic of blog land! I can't wait to see the first pictures of Miss Halle Grace!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cold and Rainey

And I LOVE it!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving finds me pretty far along in the self prescribed Christmas spirit therapy I blogged about last week. Though I have not watched "It's a Wonderful Life," I have listened to Christmas music. Yesterday morning I got up very early and went shopping. I had not planned on it. But I woke up at 5am and could not go back to sleep and thought I might as well. After all, I knew Rob and the kids would be fine without me since they were sleeping and I only wanted to go to Target. So I went.

I did save money but it wasn't the sale prices that really drew me in. I mostly bought things I was going to get anyway, and some were not on that great of a sale. It was just the idea of being able to shop in my sweats without make-up, without the kids, and with-out a deadline, while getting things scratched off my list early... that's what motivated me to face the crowds!

There were CROWDS! The line was the longest I have ever seen in my life. I had no idea that many people could fit in Target! I almost left, but could not figure out where I would go and since I was there... I had a great time. The big crowds were happy and I thought it was sorta fun. I was in the store by 6:10am and out by 7:30am! I did get some bargains. We did not buy a printer when we got the new computer even though the old one was dead. So I picked up a printer for less than the cost of my old ink cartridge refills. I also got some great towels for our "new" bathroom. AND {THIS IS BIG} I finished Christmas shopping for all the kids on my list! REALLY!

What I did not get in the stores yesterday morning, I finished on-line when I got home with free shipping! No more venturing out to toy stores or electronic stores waiting for that certain something to come in. I only have five adults left to buy for! YEAH! So I may be crazy for getting up and out so early, but I am really happy about it today...and I slept for 12 hours last night!

We also put our tree up last night. It is one of those pre-lit 9 ft things that takes up half the living room and requires both Rob and I to lift and assemble. (Even though I know it is better for the environment, we do not have real trees because there are three asthmatics who live in this house who all seem to be allergic to real trees.. and we like to breathe during the month of December!) There is a lot of fluffing to do, but after it's up I love plugging it in and finding all the lights glowing perfectly in place. I have loved this tree since Rob gave it to me as an early birthday present five years ago. But last night as we assembled each section, there were black out areas. The lights just would not come on. We jiggled each bulb and tested the little circuits in the plugs, but nothing. Luckily we could turn the sections around to where the black spots were in the back...until we reached the top. The whole top section was out. We tried to revive it for an hour. Then I went to Walmart and bought a box of lights. Rob wrapped them on and we stuck it up. It will do for this year, but I am going to be searching those after Christmas sales for a new tree for next year.

So it isn't even December and most of my presents are bought and the tree is lit and standing... ornaments should be on by Sunday night. I'm in a good place! What a difference a week can make! Don't get too envious of my new "ahead of the Christmas game" status... I still have to decorate the rest of the house, decorate outside (but not today!) and then get the traditional Christmas picture/card process rolling.... But I will be a bit more chipper doing it now that I have a handle on the Christmas season. And the sudden change in our weather sure helped! I could not get into Christmas when I was wearing short sleeves and sweating! But snuggled up at home in my thick socks and comfy sweaters... This is great Christmas mood weather!

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Yeah! It's Monday!

So we survived. We had the appraisal. It went well. The man said our house would have no problem appraising for what we wanted.  I was way over anxious about the whole "inspect and take pictures part." 

We almost finished the bathroom (pictures will follow when it is COMPLETELY done.) Of course I had about 20 more things I wanted get done on my list of to do's, but that is not too unusual these days. I was whining about not getting everything on my list done more often than not in front of my Dad a few nights ago. He wisely said "Make shorter lists." Hmmm? Could it really be that simple? Food for thought...

Anyway my house is clean, which is always a good going into the holiday season. I think we will try to get the Christmas tree up this weekend.  I can not for the life of me get into the Christmas spirit! Maybe it is because it is still in the high 70s or 80s most days? And I have not bought a single present? In fact I don't even have a list!  To cure myself of the "bah hum-bugs",this week I plan to start playing Christmas music, watch It's a Wonderful Life and buy at least four Christmas presents. I am really excited (maybe a  bit scared?) about how Ella Kate will react to all the Christmas decorations! One of her new favorite things is to say "ooohhh!" or even "oh Owe!"  (oh wow) She is at such a fun age! 

OK a fun age, but she is seriously making her guardian angel work over time!  I have looked up to find her near the street in our front yard several times lately. She loves to climb up and dance on top of the kitchen table when we look away. She puts everything in her mouth... still! It's a challenge to keep up with her. 

The other day I searched the house and after 20 minutes of not finding EK almost called 911 thinking she had been abducted.  The doors to Rhett's and Kolby's rooms were closed so I did not think she was in there, but finally I looked anyway. The first run through in Rhett's room I did not see or hear anything. But the next time (with tears streaming) I paused from screaming out her name in panic mode long enough to hear a rustle of the sheets in the tent that covers the top bunk.  When I ripped the flap back, there she was and she died laughing! I was so glad to find her I just started crying and laughing and scolding all at the same time. She thought I was a wacko!  

Ella Kate is a hider and I am her favorite though unwilling seeker. We have repeated this 'game' imany times. A few times I have been in sheer terror/ panic mode before finding her. I hope to learn all her favorite hiding places before I have a coronary. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart! 

The kids get out tomorrow for THANKSGIVING!  YEAH!  We have much to be thankful for this year. I am a blessed woman. I love that there is a holiday made just for being thankful! Hope you all have a large serving of gratitude along with your turkey, football and (if you are crazy enough to brave the "black Friday crowds") shopping! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Home is where the...

MESS IS!!!!!
Rant/Vent warning!

My house is a disaster. It is much harder to remodel by myself and keep up with a 16 month old and a busy family at the same time than I thought. I have been trying to do things at night but I am not getting much sleep and am pretty worthless the next day. It's going slow. I've made some big mistakes. I need tools we do not have. Nothing is finished. This project is getting to me.

Yesterday I got a call from the appraiser who I thought was just going to do a drive-by appraisal on our house... But no. He called to make an appointment with me as a walk through has been requested by the mortgage company for our re-fi. (Did I mention we are re-financing and going to save a whole lot of $$$ every month? Yeah!!)
"A walk through? " I ask looking over piles of drop clothes, mounds of sanding dust, carpet that was once white and is now grayish brown, and acres of trim and walls that need to be painted.
" Yes. We will come in and measure, check out your major built in appliances, look at the general condition of the house and take some pictures. It shouldn't take more than an hour."
Did he say pictures!!!??? He is going to take PICTURES...of MY HOUSE...on the INSIDE! I resisted the urge to faint and talked him into waiting to come until Monday... even though the appraisal has to be in by next Tuesday for us to be able to close this month, which for a million reasons we need/have to do.
As soon as I hung up the phone my life was rudely shoved into the hurried, massive "finish it all and clean-up operation" I now find myself escaping by taking a few minutes to blog and answer e-mail. There is not enough Calgon in the world to take me away from this!
On top of that...
Ella Kate went to bed fine but woke up with an awful cold. (How does that happen?)
I just discovered I bought enamel instead of latex. Everything I painted last night is still sticky, and collecting dust... Which means drying, sanding and re-painting and more $$ for more paint.
I am supposed to be "helping' at school this week. Ha!
Rob has huge papers due this week and big projects at work = He can not save me.
Did I mention Ella Kate is FUSSY!?
Rhett is making all his numbers backwards.
Kolby is not getting long division.
My parents and sister have their own big fish to fry this week/weekend.
Most of my friends have sick kids.
And I can not find my sink under all the dishes piling up since the dishwasher refuses to load itself! (hate that!)

Truly home improvement projects are meant for professionals, with skills, tools, experience and know how. Ordinary people who have a toddler should NOT try these things at home! HGTV says start at home but do they know what that means? Leave this to the professionals, people who do not need to be math tutors, writing instructors, fun playmates, nurses, maids, chauffeurs. People who do nat have to figure out what's for dinner tonight and then actualy get all the stuff and make it! Remind me of this next time I talk about re-decorating!

In the mean time I am going to keep telling myself what I tell my kids when they freak out over life.... "This is not a bad problem. It is a good problem because no one is bleeding, hurting or dead. Nothing is under water or on fire. (though I feel a figurative fire burning beneath my rear as I sit here because I need to get up and get going!) Everything is OK or will be OK. This is not a real crisis. Breathe. God is in control. Breathe."
And somehow that helps.
Check back in with me after next Monday. I will survive this week/weekend!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tips for a Tuesday

If you are painting a wall a dark color and have light colored flooring, use a drop cloth.

No matter how good an idea it seems at 2am, it is not wise to mix old and new paints to come up with your own "custom color." This especially true if you neglected to mix enough to finish the room... and then forgot exactly how much of each color you added. FTL! (for the love for any not familar with vintage BST blog speak)

If you decide to use the electric sander to sand all the cabinets and trim in your bathroom, wear a mask or, be prepared to have your lungs sting.

It is possible to spray paint a ceiling fan and have it not look like you spray painted a ceiling fan.

Measure twice, cut once.

Buy extra molding. It saves on trips to Home Depot if you neglect that last tip.

If the biggest problem you have in a day concerns remodeling your bathroom, shut up and be grateful.

If you are near a HEB grocery store, you HAVE to try the Homestyle two-bite Pumpkin Walnut Scones. The Orange Cranberry ones are equally drool inducing, but I have a thing for pumpkin this time of year.

If you have a scone recipe that you like, pass it it along to me and I just might send you a prize! Really! Kolby and Rhett are into scones because of the orange scones from Panera Bread, but I'm a scone making virgin... so to speak.

I love this song. Hope you do to...

Friday, November 09, 2007


I was going to blog about this song a while back. But I decided it would be better to just let you hear it.

I keep thinking of our Princess in Honduras tight now. Hope the best for you Terri!

I added a new playlist to the right of this blog. You can skip to the next song or turn the music off. AND If you have not created a play list at project playlist, follow the link from my playlist and have fun!

OH and... I have lost some links to blogs in my moving to the new computer/new template process. Leave me your site address in comments if you don't see it in my links list. If you are reading my blog, I probably want to read yours!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New title

I don't have anything to say that would not take me an hour or so to say. I don't want to blog for an hour, but I am tired of that atheist title. It bugs me. So I had to blog today just to change the title.

Notice the new slide show.

I am able to do some things with the new computer that the old one could not do. OK. So those "things' are really important things (she said with her tongue in her cheek) like blog slide shows and watching all of this seasons episodes of Grey's Anatomy on-line for free. But hey, I'm learning!

My goal is to learn how to get the files and pictures I want to keep from the old computer's operating system (windows 98) transferred and workable on the new computer's system (Mac OS Leopard). It's supposed to be easy(according to the Mac website) if the old operating system and the new operating system are both working just as they should. However, I am not convinced either are doing that. I've spent many frustrating hours sitting in front of this beautiful new monitor. I think I need a Genius and a Geek or preferably someone who is both? Does that person exist in the world of on-line help? I can't find them but I'm open to help looking or introductions!

Must do laundry. Don't you wish clothes would just wash, dry, and put themselves away!

Monday, November 05, 2007

If I were an atheist

What would I think about as I pulled down wall paper?

The other day while we were de-papering different rooms in our house, I kept thinking of Christian life analogies that could be drawn from the task at hand. For example I thought about how with all the millions of types and grades of wall paper in the world, all of them are usually just covering up the same old grey and white sheet rock and how God cares about the condition of  our sheet rock not so much about the outer paper we put on to dress our selves up.  I came up with several more... 

The same happens when I find myself painting,  building, taking a walk or even just cleaning something. My mind is always drawing comparisons and coming up with little analogies about life, church, loving each other and God . I guess it is mind/soul candy during otherwise boring tasks? Or maybe the product of growing up in Bible class? But I wonder... Does everyone do this? What if someone is not a Christian or does not believe in any God? Do those people find atheistic analogies in their tasks? Just wondering...

Now aren't you glad you took time out of your day to read my random thoughts? If I keep posting deep thoughts like this, I might get nominated for a Bloggie Award! (Do they really have those?)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Old dogs and New tricks

I am once again a Mac owner. 

I think (hope and pray!) I will  like it once I get used it... I'm just wondering how many years that will take! I am having to learn news ways of doing those little thing that were second nature on the old computer.  Blogging is a bit of challenge. However, I did change my template pretty easily today. But I just learned that there is no Picasa for Mac. I am heart broken. I loved editing, storing, uploading and ordering my pictures through Picasa. I do not know how I will do any of that, but I am sure I will soon learn. Macs have Iphoto but it does not do all the things Picasa did.  

I'm starting to wonder if we are ready to be a Mac family again. Nine years ago we gave our Mac to church and bought a Gateway because I wanted to get on the Internet and be able to do more with more software. Hopefully Mac has caught up with Micrsoft so I won't feel tempted to send it bak and buy a Dell.  I know Mac are supposed to be great. PC's crash and have tons of issues but most (free)software is made for a PC.  If I can just get my pictures to upload to be printed and figure out how to write the school newsletter on this new computer, I think I will feel much better. Any PC turned Mac users out there who have advice? 

In the mean time I am working on catching up after weeks of no or rare Internet service.  Last Monday there was an open house at Kolby and Rhett's school.  
My parents and sister went with us to see the kids classrooms, meet their teachers and oohh and aaahh over their work. 
Kolby and Rhett both entered pumpkins in the Library "Tour America" themed pumpkin decorating contest. All the entries had to be decorated like a famous landmark, person, motto or state theme. We really enjoyed seeing all pumpkins in the library Monday night. 
Rhett and I decorated his pumpkin to look like the Liberty Bell. 
Kolby and I used mini pumpkins, grey spray paint, and lots of "Great Stuff" spray insulation to make "Mt Rushmore."  It turned out cute. (If you ever use "Great Stuff' in any of your projects, be sure to heed the advice on the bottle and wear gloves. I didn't and I am still peeling layers of "stuff" off my fingers!) 
The kids and I learned a lot about the focus of each project. For instance, did you know that there is a scripture on the Liberty Bell? And that Mt. Rushmore was never finished?  I love how the librarian at Kolby's school always has such fun and creative educational idea!

Well that's all the updating I have time for now. We are sort of in a home improvement phase. The wall paper in my bathroom has been stripped to the sheet rock and I am about to go pull all the wall paper down from the entry way.  This place is a mess. 

My plate feels full and maybe a bit heavy right now. Wish I could learn the trick of being able to balance it all effortlessly! This week I will be trying to learn my new computer, get several home projects completed, keep up with our usual full schedule, attend at least part of a three day/night marriage seminar our church is sponsoring and... did I mention Kolby has fever and a soar throat? Yeah. It is one of those weeks! 

Hope you all have a great week!