December 15, 2009

a skip in my step

Moments before I headed out the door this morning, I announced to Eric It's my birthday! He looked at me, with a lot of thinking in his face... until I excitedly added work! He said he just thought I had gone crazy...
So, no.
Today is not my birthday... but it is coming... soon!
And the gals at work know... you gotta spread out the celebrating.
So off I went to work... with a skip in my step. Because birthdays are good. Yes... they are. Birthdays celebrate the uniqueness of an ordinary day... and as Elizabeth would say, they mark another trip around the sun (don't you just love that?!) And then there is the cake!
Birthdays are good.

lasagna & snowflakes

Sunday afternoon became a mess of panic-stricken hurrying to accomplish... something. In my determination, when the computer took time to catch up with itself, I took to cleaning and straightening... not wanting to waste a minute. When the ringing phone interrupted my go-go-going, I paused but then gave in to answering it... since through the magic of caller id I knew who was waiting on the other end. I certainly don't claim to be focused, and I eagerly welcomed distraction from a friend. And it was a call worth answering. An invitation? For dinner? Tonight? I could have said No, I really have so much I need to get done tonight... but I never did fit in a trip to the grocery store and my family was likely to have stale crackers and lunch meat for dinner... so I accepted. It turned out to be more than an invitation... it was also motivation to keep on working... but maybe more than that. Her phone call felt like a life-line in my afternoon... once the offer was made I knew that it was exactly what I needed. An invitation to relax... with friends who don't mind if you show up for dinner in your pajamas. And I suppose there is not much that a glass of wine and a dinner I did not have to cook won't fix. Add in a lesson on making paper snowflakes and a little singing & dancing (complete with jazz hands) in the kitchen and the crushing stress of my procrastination had all but vanished.
Friendship. Laughter. Lasagna. Corny music and jazz hands.
I will have to remember this recipe the next time I pile too much up on life's plate...

Unwrap a Tuesday with Emily at Chatting at the Sky...

December 14, 2009

decorations start with d

Last night I turned all the Christmas lights on... and all of the other lights off. And I just sat... while the room glowed with twinkling colors. It gave me that first-one-awake-on-Christmas morning feeling... when you peer around the corner and see that Santa has come. I love to have the house decorated for Christmas... and there have been years that I thought about not taking them down. Ahem. That is where gotta-be-down-on-Super-Bowl-Sunday deadline came in. Today... I am delighting in the decorations and I wanted to share...
The tree... laden with every memory ever made. From 1969 to 2009...
The little book nook...
Radio City newly inspired by Elf... and Jennifer Juniper.
And my son's favorite nativity. We love how it goes from this.... this.

Merry Christmas!

It is A to Z Monday at Jen's Unglazed... and I'm also linking up here...
Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

December 13, 2009

standing in

Sometimes I feel like an impostor in my own life. Me... but not. The outside might appear to be the girl bearing my heart... but on the inside, the heart of me feels covered in sticky goo. A pretender in my very own self. The truth of it is... this Advent season is not going the way I planned. The way I wanted it to. And certainly not the way that Jesus deserves it to go. Here I am... the whole mess of me, sitting in the cobwebs left over from Halloween (that truthfully, I have been saving since... March?) I stood in church this morning just begging for that beautiful pink candle to light up my heart and overcome me... but I think the molasses from last week's gingerbread has pretty well coated me over. Funny... a Mom knows best, right? Just the other night my Mom told me she was worried that I was doing to much. No! I am doing fine! Only the things I want to do and I am ahead of the game! Shopping all but done! cards done!
how a Mom knows.
Last year it all hit me on the second Sunday of Advent. So I made it to week three this year... but for the life of me, I can't figure out if that is good or bad. I suppose it just is. Regardless, here I am, the great celebrator of Advent... and I'm not.
Remember that PowerPoint I am doing for our Sunday School program? Somehow it just dawned on me that it is "due" Saturday. Yes. This Saturday. So guess what I was doing at 5:09 this morning? Yep. Learning how to make a PowerPoint. And Wednesday night? We have the Band Boosters coming for a budget meeting... and dinner. At least it is motivation to vacuum up the pine needles and Easter Dust bunnies. This weekend still has some life to it, and I am already wondering how I will even make it to the next.
Smiling bright. Every hair in place. Saying all the right things. An impostor. Like a shepherd standing in for a lost wise man... hoping that nobody will notice that he is without a crown. Hoping that the love in his overloaded heart will start to light up and blind them towards his flaws. Hoping... anyway.
Confession is good for the soul. Spitting it all out somehow makes way for the good stuff... like Jesus coming in with a warm soapy cloth and washing my heart of its stickiness... and giving me the patience to figure out Power Point. It leaves my heart a little lighter... and perhaps I will actually be able to enjoy those photos, instead of being overwhelmed by them. Because in them... I can see the story. And where I want to be. Curled up next to the sheep... gazing at the Shepherd.

December 11, 2009

at last!

After nine years, one week, and three days...this light switch (that one on the left)has a real job to do!

And Cam no longer has to practice in the dark...

Unfortunately... that light switch on the right? He's out of luck. He'll probably never have a job...

o little town

I'm not a city girl... I have enough hustle and bustle in my own home, never mind all around town! But I do have grand memories of spending festive days in New York City. The Macy's parade... walking endless blocks, stopping at the corner for a steamy pretzel... shopping (and my shoe getting stuck in an escalator)... and the very thing that draws me to the city... Radio City Music Hall and the Rockettes. And that is why... we chose the Christmas village we did. (I wasn't going to tell you this part... but we were given different village pieces for wedding gifts... and we traded them in!) We love our little town, nestled into the snow covered shelves that hold family photos and books for the better part of the year. Taking out each pieces is like reconnecting with old friends... and call me crazy, but I find myself chatting with them as they lay claim to their spot. The one thing that brings a touch of sadness about this little town of ours? I'm a bystander. I long to find a cozy nook in the book store and settle in for an hour... or six. Or eat a big bowl of spaghetti by candle light... out on the patio of the best (and only!) Italian restaurant in town.
I can almost hear the music floating through the air as these friends perform in front of the biggest Christmas tree in town... and I find myself lifting a hand to wave to the men who protect these people I hold dear.

The shopping here is first rate, and there must be a sale... because the shopping bags are overflowing. Those waving flags and rounds of evergreen call to me... and I wonder how long the wait is to see Santa.

These little girls are remind me of Madeleine... as they trek out on their annual field trip through the city. And I imagine that it won't be long before they find their way to a bakery for a cookie and a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Or maybe they will talk their teacher into stopping at the hot dog cart.

And while it would be impossible for me to travel to the city for a show... at least there is a little part of it right here... and another in my heart.

It won't be long... before Christmas Eve arrives, and the soft glow of candles will light up the windows of the church. If I listen closely... I can hear the carols dancing in the air... heralding the birth of a Savior.
If you are in the neighborhood... stop on by. The air is warm and the snow never melts. The city folk are smiling... and even in the midst of the hustle and bustle... there is peace.

December 09, 2009

the parade

The last time we went, we were pushing a strollers. Yes... it has been that long. Once upon a time, the Christmas parade downtown was an annual event for us... but as the kids get older, we seem to be busier. (And living another 20 minutes away doesn't make it any easier) And then there are the crowds... Eric doesn't much care for them. But this year... I really wanted to go. He is such a good man...and just to make me happy, he arranged his schedule so that it would work. I must have said thank you at least ten times... because I really wanted him to know that it meant a lot to me. Especially after we had to fight traffic to get into the downtown area. And especially when he didn't turn around and head for home once he argued over a parking space with the valet guy. We did find a spot to park... only a brisk walk, not too far away. And we even had a great place to stand (wish we had grabbed a couple chairs!)
The parade? Well, I said thank you again... when there was a ten minute lull in the action. But eventually it started moving again... and the entertainment grew increasingly more enjoyable. Sometimes it doesn't matter what the entertainment is... as long as you are together with the ones you love. And it is not necessarily the amount of candy you take home... the enjoyment is often in the scrambling, and the sharing. And the very best part of the night? Always... the smiling faces and the reflection of colored lights in dancing in their eyes...

December 08, 2009

cookie crumbs

We were watching a Christmas special on TV. About food... Christmas food at Disney. We oooed and ahhhed... and wished that we could somehow join in on the fun. We watched them make candy canes from pulled sugar, a six foot yule log and gingerbread houses from scratch... and even gingerbread men. That was when Cam piped up with I've never had a gingerbread man! I looked at him with a smidgen of disbelief... but then realized that he might be right. So I put it on the to-do list.
As he was leaving for school yesterday, I mentioned maybe mixing up some dough for us after school... and in return for those few words, there was a smile so wide... and a thumbs up as he headed out the door. I hoped that the visions of gingerbread men dancing in his head would leave room for a few math facts...
I did mix up the dough... having all of the ingredients on hand certainly helped my cause! But by the time the afternoon came, I was drained. Cam came home... and went right to his homework. I think he knew I was tired, because he never asked about making the cookies. I dragged myself to the kitchen to make dinner... and this little face popped out from around the corner. Need any help? I put him to work cleaning the cabinet fronts... and pushed myself a little more. When the chicken was simmering, I pulled out the flour and the rolling pin... and showed him how. He rolled and dusted with flour. He lined the cookie cutter up to get the most out of the sheet of thin dough... and we popped those guys into the oven. Cam was smiling the whole way. Pushing through just a little more, we mixed up a batch of royal icing... because if you are going to have your first gingerbread man, you need the whole experience...

I could see the excitement in his eyes as he readied himself for his first taste... and I hope he could see the love in mine. Do you like it? And his affirmative response came muffled with a full mouth of spicy cookie... and a few stray cookie crumbs.

Unwrap a Tuesday with Emily at Chatting at the Sky....

(wow... this is post #400! who would've thought i would ever have this much to say?!)

December 07, 2009

elf starts with e

This is my favorite Christmas movie...

It was the first Christmas movie we watched... as soon as we got home from Thanksgiving dinner. I laugh every time. Every time. Scouring the clearance tables at the book store, as I often do... I found a little self help book written by... Buddy Hobbs. Even if you are not an elf... he has some pretty good tips for Christmas...

Make gingerbread houses...

Shiny things are nice...

We all have different talents and each one of us in extraordinary in our own way...

There's room for everyone on the nice list...

New York City is a magical land with traffic lights, steam, scaffolding and the Empire State Building. (and Radio City Music Hall!)

There's always room for dessert!

Christmas spirit should never become a limited resource...

And something that you might not think about...
If you see gum on the street, leave it there. It is not free candy!

I missed A to Z Monday last week... but I squeezed my "F" is for family up there on the nice list! Skip on over to Jen's Unglazed for some more "E" fun!

December 03, 2009

staying ahead of the storm

The sky looks ominous this morning. That hazy yellowish hue is hovering with a heaviness to it. It makes me think that the sky might fall... in those big sloshing silver-dollar sized raindrops. I grabbed my umbrella... just in case. But the way the wind is blowing, opening it might just carry me off to Oz. Looking in the rear view mirror, I can see the storm in the distance... chasing me. And I press on just a little more. Trying to stay ahead of the storm.
How often do I play that game? Pushing myself just a little bit stay ahead. Of the stretched ends that might not be meeting. Or the argument that is simmering on the back burner. Or even those hurt feelings that have covered my heart... tucked away out of sight behind the storm shutters.
But I have learned... that the storm comes. It comes fiercely, and often leaves a mess that cannot be swept up under the carpet of our life.
Still... I press on. Grabbing tight to the One who steers me...eventually emerging into the Son.

December 02, 2009

dear eric...

I want you to know…

…that this made me laugh out loud.

I want you to know...
that I know my food doesn’t magically appear in the refrigerator.
And I realize it is not elves lending their hands when I fall behind.

And that I was really thankful for the simmering pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove.

I want you to know…
…that I know I am the lucky one.
Because you show me everyday that you are the better half of us.
And that I am thankful for the Dad you are…
and that we share a Savior.

I want you to know…
…that it touches me my heart when you say I am the best wife ever…
but that I know, in reality, you’d like your clothes ironed and put away once in a while.
(but I makes cupcakes… and really, isn’t that more important?)

I want you to know…
…that when you send me a message, it is my pleasure to listen…
because I love you.

Sorry they were out of your favorite kind...

keeping on...

The moon egged me on this morning... my legs so weary.
One foot in front of the other. Keep on moving. You can do it.
It didn't help that the air was warmer today.
And there was no breeze.
But we slogged on, my buddy & me... with a little less life in our steps that we are accustomed to.
We contemplated not taking the last loop...but in the end, decided to keep on.
And as we turned the corner... we were greeted by the heady scent of orange blossoms brought to us in a rush of air.
Thank you moon... for pushing me.
And thank you God... for the gift...

December 01, 2009

the village people

You know how when you clean out your closet and half-way through it looks worse than when you started? It kind of looks that way around here.

Okay... more than kind of.
I am really hoping that by the weekend our home will look like a winter wonderland.
Or at least as close to it as you can get way down here in sunny Florida.
But here is the news flash...

The village people are out of their boxes and are having a party in the town square. Before they head to their respective neighborhoods. Later... much later. I figure they will party all night. And most of tomorrow. But that's okay...

...because when all is said and done... even they can find their way to the manger.