Thursday, December 31, 2009

Catching Up with Christmas, part 2

A Christmas Eve tradition that lingers from our years of living in New Mexico is to have bowls of piping hot posole for dinner served with tortillas and chips and salsa. We then go to Christmas Eve candlelight service at our church. After a thoughtful and joyous service we had the opportunity to fellowship with our church family, which included Roxie and her entire clan. Blessedly, the inclement weather didn't settle in until we were all home safe and sound.
Upon returning home from church the children were allowed to open two presents. According to tradition these presents will always be new pajamas and a new book. The gift of pajamas helps insure that all the children will actually be dressed for Christmas day pictures and, theoretically, the book is supposed to give them something to do in bed until they drift off to sleep. This tactic tends to be more successful as they get older.

Christmas Day begins with the stockings...

Twister for game night - no more borrowing from Aunt Roxie.

Pokemon - one of his favs.

1989 - what a great year!

Then moves on to the gifts...

Star Wars Millennium Falcon - when constructed it will be over 2 1/2' long. Sounds like a great project for Bishop and Dad.

A great gift for Christian from Maceo and Bishop. Christian's main gift this year from Mom and Dad was his first gun. We got it a couple months back and he has enjoyed it.

A perfect "boy" gift - wooden swords from Keegan.

Keegan got clothes, lots and lots of clothes. She will need them for her trip to Orlando to meet the agents.

Pleased to receive a box of the ever-elusive Rice Krispie Treat Cereal.

Star Trek pez dispensers, all the original characters, from Maceo and Bishop to Dad.

Denver Bronco gear!

A gift of music - an mp3. He loves this thing!

The final gift - this would turn out to be Carolina Panthers gear.

No pictures of this but I got some Cincinnati Bengals gear, sweet!

The rest of the day was spent eating good food, playing games (the family got a Wii so the boys and Dad played that virtually all day, while us girls played card games, Jenga, and Aggravation), warming ourselves before the fire (yes, we did have a white winter), and adding the shepherds to the creche. What a beautiful and blessed day! I hope yours was as well!

Catching Up with Christmas

The final day of the year 2009 is here and before I ruminate on what that means to me I am going to sit at this computer with a glass of my favorite wine nearby and I am going to share with you some of my Christmas memories. Speaking of Christmas memories, the cute little penguin in the accompanying picture is a gift from my dear Maceo and is actually a coaster. How kitschy, how fun. I love it.

Previously, I made note of the things I would like to include in our family's preparation and celebration of this sweet time of year. A handful of things I was unable to accomplish. We did not get around to making the luminarias or the cookies for all those people who make our lives just a little bit sweeter, we didn't make it to our theatre's production of Babe's in Toyland (the money just didn't stretch that far), and the Christmas cards didn't get mailed off (I will mail them on Jan.2, 2010 - better late than never?). We did, however, celebrate Saint Nicholas Day with some of the extended family. It was such a beautiful day complete with oranges, chocolate coins, St. Nick cookies, St. Nick coloring pages, pizza, games, gifts, laughter and love. I would love to post the photos but alas they have been lost due to a computer glitch.
I was a bit delayed in getting all of my decorations out; it did not happen until after St. Nick's Day. That meant that I did not find my advent wreath and calendar in a timely fashion. This forced me to be a bit creative - necessity is the mother of invention. Due to the computer glitch I will be unable to post the photos of the makeshift wreath but I will tell you about it. I really liked how it turned it. I simply placed a royal purple cloth napkin on a diagonal as the base, placed the four advent candles mounted in glass candle holders in a diamond shape on the napkin and then filled in the remaining space with clippings from an evergreen in the yard. Simple yet elegant. The advent calendar that we typically use is comprised of 24 fabric pockets sewn onto a cord. I put little gifts or candy in the pockets and the kids take turn removing the items from the pockets after we have done an evening reading and prayer. Since the calendar was not located by December 1st I made a paper chain from purple and green construction. I wove the chain around the advent "wreath" and the kids removed a link of the chain each evening. It really did look beautiful. I did get pictures of some of the other decorations. I hope you enjoy.

I love the reading and activity baskets placed on the little pew. We read most of the books in this basket because they were so accessible. I am going to continue this for a while. I am going to replace the Christmas books with ones that are related to winter in general and am going to place a variety of winter related crafts in the other basket.

We did get some crafting done. Keegan decoupaged a fabulous box to deliver Christmas goodies in. I failed to take a picture before she delivered her goodies. Keegan's boyfriend, Ian, and Bishop painted ornaments. Bishop also made a stunning wreath that I will surely treasure for years to come. Maceo tried his hand at Christmas chocolates - I cannot post pictures of this project due to the computer glitch.

I truly enjoyed the preparation for Christmas!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Going Rogue with Christian and Sarah

Yesterday I had a most wonderful opportunity to spend significant time with my eldest, Christian. We spent over six hours together as we attended the Sarah Palin "Going Rogue" book signing. We stood in line outside of Borders Bookstore for 2 hours in order to get our wristband that would allow us entrance into the book signing. Took an hour break at IHOP in order to warm up and get a little sustenance. Then back to Borders to await Sarah Palin's arrival and the beginning of the book signing. Four hours later, triumphant, with signed books in hand we departed the store. I love doing things like this with Christian. Politics is one interest we have in common. And spending this much time with him alone allows me to really touch bases with him. I love conversing with him and I love learning from him. It is exhilarating to me. I wish that I had pictures to post but I did not bring my camera. I was ill-prepared for the event. Christian did take some photos on his camera prior to his battery dying and I might be able to post those later. There are a slew of photos at but none of Christian and I directly. (By the way, the camera situation for this event is similar to the one we experienced at the Palin Rally prior to the election. My batteries were dead on my camera so I relied on Christian to take pictures on his cell phone. Not the best choice during such a large event. He tried and tried to get close enough to take pictures but...) This book signing event was in part significant because we respect Sarah Palin and her contribution to the political scene. It was also significant because Sarah Palin's rally was the first political rally Christian attended, she was on the first presidential ticket that Christian voted for, and her book was the first political book that Christian purchased himself.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Intentions

I so love this time of year. It is during this time that I am encouraged to throw off all distractions and focus on our Lord and my family. I generally feel invigorated during this time and plan accordingly. This years plans include...

*participating in Stir Up Sunday. According to Anglican tradition the following prayer would be recited on the fifth Sunday before Christmas and it is from this prayer that this day gets its name. From the Book of Common Prayer: Stir-up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Many British families see this as a timely reminder to begin the Christmas cakes and puddings. I do not make such cakes and puddings but did think that it would be a nice time to start my Christmas baking. Alas, this day came upon me so quickly, as I was distracted with illnesses, doctor's appointments, and play auditions, that I failed to prepare for my baking. However, the boys did have a great time mixing up a huge batch of hot chocolate mix that will be used during the holiday festivities and used to keep us warm during these cold winter months.
*decorating the front porch. I bought a variety of florist pics so that I may change the wreath on the front door according to each particular festivity. For Saint Nicholas Day I will use pics that resemble peppermint candies. I have blue and silver pics to decorate the porch for Hanukkah. Gold pinecones will be used for Christmas itself and pics that a riot of colors for New Years and Epiphany.
*decorating the Christmas trees. Our large tree is always decorated with the family ornaments that include ornaments that I have given each child annually since birth, other ornaments received as gifts, and handmade ornaments. Our smaller tree will be decorated for the Hanukkah party using silver and blue ornaments and ornaments created by my daughter specifically for this occasion. After the Hanukkah party I hope to help the boys create Jesse tree ornaments to put on this tree.
*recognizing Saint Nicholas Day. I hope to recognize Saint Nicholas Day with my older sister, her children and grandchildren, and, of course, my kiddos. I have so many ideas for this day. I will share those ideas later.
*having a Hanukkah party. We are not Jewish; however, we respect the Jewish heritage and traditions. My daughter has an annual Hanukkah gathering and the family really looks forward to this celebration.
*making an advent wreath and lighting it nightly as gather as a family to pray and to read various things that will help us to prepare our hearts for Christmas.
*counting down the days to Christmas with our advent calendar filled with chocolates.
*baking cookies to give to all of those who touch our lives in a special way (friends, our pastor, the librarians, etc.).
*sending out Christmas cards. I have actually failed to do this for years. Let's see if I can manage it this year.
*reading The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola and making luminarias.
*steadily moving the individual pieces of the nativity into place as the Christmas story unfolds through our evening readings of the Bible.
*taking the boys Christmas shopping individually.
*preparing for Dad's arrival home and the celebration of our anniversary, possibly staying at a bed and breakfast and having dinner downtown.
*developing the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus. The Christmas Day menu must include ham as my children expressed great disappointment at there being no Christmas ham at the table last year.
*going to our community theatre's production of Babe's in Toyland.
*displaying a poinsettia after reading The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola.
*providing opportunities for the children to express themselves and their Christmas spirit in an artistic fashion.
*reading a host of Christmas stories during family read-aloud time. These stories include: Fear Not, Joseph; The Friendly Beasts; Pascual and the Kitchen Angels; Merry Christmas, Strega Nona; little tree; Toot and Puddle I'll Be Home for Christmas; and The Legend of the Candy Cane.
*attending Christmas Eve candlelight service.
*gathering around the fireplace on Christmas Eve and making yummy, gooey s'mores.
*figuring out how to recognize Epiphany despite the fact that Keegan and I will be Orlando, hmmmmm......

This list does not fully reveal all the ideas that are floating around in my mind. There is so much I would like to do during this time. However, I have learned to relax and enjoy the process. I have learned that some plans can go unrealized and I will still have a beautiful and meaningful Christmas. I have learned that it is best to intentionally let go of some ideas and plans if they become burdensome and prohibit me from enjoying my family and God's incredible gift to us. I hope that you all have a meaningful and blessed Christmas.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hoping you had a blessed and happy thanksgiving!!!

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Autumn Summary

When I initiated this blog I had envisioned posting routinely as a way to chronicle my family's life, keep the family updated and as an aid in planning future happenings; however, for the past month or so, I have been so bogged down with the details of life that I have not had the time, nor the desire if I dare be frank, to blog. But now as I try to regroup I find that I can not look forward without summarizing what all has been happening around here.
  • Maceo performed in Alice in Wonderland Jr. - 16 performances in 10 days.
  • Bishop, who has had chronic sinus congestion and enlarged tonsils for years, visited his pediatrician, the ear, nose, throat doc and the allergist. It was decided that he would get to keep his tonsils for now and it was determined that he is highly allergic to all types of dust mites and moderately allergic to trees, grass, and weeds. He has begun allergy shots - he has had 4 thus far.
  • Maceo saw the pediatrician regarding a head-jerk that he has developed. He will be seeing the neurologist next month; however, the pediatrician thought that it was important to rule out sydenham's chorea which would be a symptom of rheumatic fever caused by an untreated strep infection. He had not exhibited any signs of a strep throat and I was confident that the lab work would support that; however, the lab work showed that he had recently fought a strep infection. This then meant that the possibility still existed that he had rheumatic fever. We scheduled an appointment with infectious disease specialists at St. Louis Children's Hospital. In the meantime, as a precautionary measure, he was given a penicillin shot. (It was horrible). Four days prior to this appointment he became ill with the flu. We almost cancelled the appointment but he was fever-free and feeling better the evening before we would have to leave. By the time we made it to St. Louis he was exhausted. He rested well and felt ready to address the rheumatic fever issue. Great news- it was determined that he does not have rheumatic fever. We will discuss the head-jerk with the neurologist. While at the hospital it was noted that he had a low-grade fever, by that evening the fever was 102.8, and the next morning it was 102.4 and accompanied with vomiting. After we got his fever reduced we opted to head home. The trip home was uneventful but within two hours of arriving home we were heading to the emergency room because he had coughed up a blood clot. It seems as though his flu had developed into pneumonia. This last week he began breathing treatments and will have a follow-up with the pediatrician on Tuesday.
  • We have attended trunk-or-treat at our church, carved pumpkins and had an eventful halloween. Maceo had two theatre performances on halloween and between those performances he had a cast party. Bishop and I managed to squeeze in some trick-or-treating just prior to going to the evening performance of Alice in Wonderland Jr. where Bishop got to participate in a costume contest and request candy from the cast members.
  • One of Keegan's closest friends got married. Keegan was the maid-of-honor. She had a "bachelorette" party of sorts for the bride and her friends at our house. The house looked beautiful (I wish that I had pictures) and the food was fabulous - pinwheel sandwiches, relish tray, chocolate covered strawberries and pumpkin bars (which have become a favorite, I just might share that recipe later). The wedding, the bride, and her bridesmaids were absolutely lovely. Keegan gave a rather successful toast to the bride and groom. And music was awesome, I haven't danced like that in such a very long time.
  • We were burglarized. The burglar stole one laptop computer. But the most terrible part about it was that he entered the home while Christian was asleep. Christian briefly awoke and saw the man standing over him but was too groggy to register that it was an intruder. Fortunately, the burglar just took the laptop and ran. Very disconcerting though.
  • Keegan and Maceo auditioned for King and I and both were cast. This will be the first show in which they will both be cast members. I am so excited.
  • Herb got orders for Ft. Leonard Wood and will be home for Christmas.
What did not get accomplished during the last three weeks or so:
  • Very little in the way of formal lessons has taken place due to the doctor's appointments and illnesses. Fortunately simply living provides so many learning experiences.
  • We were unable to recognize Veteran's Day and Martinmas in the ways that I had hoped. But there is always next year!
That was quite cathartic. I now feel as though I can look forward and focus on what is just before me - Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas. I will post those plans soon.

Theatrical Updates

We are so very blessed to live in a community that has an incredible community theatre. They offer educational and performance opportunities. Keegan has been in 5 productions and Maceo has been in 4, including special summer programs and performances. Maceo's most recent production was Alice in Wonderland Jr. (Jr. means that the entire cast is comprised of children ages 18 and under). Alice in Wonderland Jr. is now over and was a great success. Maceo was a creature in Wonderland and a Royal Cardsmen. He was fabulous and had a great time. And, auditions for King and I have come and gone and...(drum roll, please)...Maceo has been cast as Prince Chululongkorn and Keegan has been cast as Tuptim.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Recipe for a Perfect Day

One of our many recipes for a perfect day...
A bag of caramels and some autumn apples,

a roaring fire,

and It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!
make a perfect autumn tradition.