Saturday, December 27, 2008

Random Christmas Stuff

The boys on Christmas Eve, waiting for their bedtime stories.

Ken's perfect whipped cream, known in German as schlag, and loved by Austrians on their desserts and coffee.

My brother and his lady, looking like a couple of regular Santa's helpers

Zack holding his bag of reindeer food, which is oats and glitter. He actually said "this is a great craft Mom."

Husband seemed to choke up a little over one of his gifts: I found a couple of postcards from the area where he grew up, including one of the engineering firm his dad had worked for.

Two actually good photos of me were taken, which I am not used to. In the first one I am in the background on Christmas morning, behind my sis and her hubby. In the other it is me and Nathan on Christmas Eve.

One of my treasures found a good home. Turns out this last minute gift, a teacup made in Japan, pulled out of my "stash" was just the right thing for my brother in law's mom, a real sweetheart. She has a display of special teapots and cups in her dining room. Treasures collected with love always end up in the right hands!

Santa couldn't have been more right on with the Polar Express. The wistful smile you see is that of a boy who, for now at least, believes in Santa.

Friday, December 26, 2008


I humorously dubbed "Believe" as the theme of Christmas this year because I had an idea that Santa would be bringing the Polar Express for the boys. Also with my boys being 3 and 5 I figure this is about as perfect as it gets with regard to the whole believing thing. What I didn't reckon was how I myself would have a resurgence of faith. But I have.

Start with the simple act of going to church. For the first Christmas Eve in four years we went to a service! And what a gift we got: when we sang "Away in a Manger" we were treated to the sound of our Zack, singing as clear and loud as his voice would let him in a manner that would make Wesley himself smile, and he knew every word to all three verses!

Next, of course I have to mention our friend Mark who according to his wife's blog is doing great with his new kidney. As our old pastor Ellen used to say, how wonderful, how marvelous.

And finally a phone call from my 84 year old grandfather and his wife on Christmas Eve. They're both doing fine, getting by of course. But grandma delivered the news of the day: my cousin's baby, who just celebrated his first birthday, is cancer free! Yes, diagnosed at two months old with a rare form of cancer, stage 3, a tumor the size of a grapefruit in his belly, he is cancer free!!!! Praise God! I haven't written about this, but I have been pulling a dog eared photo of that little boy out of my nightstand drawer and praying all year and the Lord delivered this baby from cancer. What wonderful medical care he has had at Akron Children's and Boston Children's, where he received 31 rounds of chemo, a surgery, and radiation therapy. They also stayed at the Ronald McDonald houses; what a wonderful resource and good work they do. Miraculous.

I have to say this. Some don't believe in miracles or the power of prayer. Think of this: Jesus can't be here with us on earth. He sends us each other. We are His hands and feet on Earth. We are called to care for one another, be it through prayer or performing surgery or taking a hot meal to a neighbor who's husband is ill. When that little baby was sent to live with us so long ago, he was sent as a symbol of peace, good will towards people. Things don't always go our way and we can't help that. But no matter the result, we have to keep praying and doing and helping and believing.

I hope all my blogland friends had a very Merry Christmas! BELIEVE!!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Welcome to our Christmas home!

Welcome! We have our lights on for you!

Grab a cookie, dinner will be a while.

The dining room is here; the buffet will be ready soon.

Check out our tannebaum and our shiny brite collection, while you say hey to the fish.

My bookshelf dressed up for the holidays

Our manger, along with a water color of our old church, and my little pink church!

We're all set for a few carols!

A few Christmas trinkets adorn our family photos

It's not Christmas without these bunnies!

No chimney, but they are hung with care!

Go on, have another, it's Christmas!

The gifts have all been wrapped, and look, there's one with your name on it!

Hmm, do you think Santa will come through with the Polar Express that the boys have been asking for? Maybe this is a hint...

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cookie baking and beating the bah humbug

The boys and I made our Christmas cookies today! We made a lot but I still have more recipes to try, and I know it's not good for my waistline.

Santa-Daddy with Nate, his little helper elf.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Solstice

Although I am a Christian, I always like to give a spiritual nod to the shortest day of the year. I light a candle, and this year I spent a few minutes (very few, with this arctic wind we have going right now) standing in my little garden, contemplating what life for my ancestors must have been like. Imagine if we had to grow all of our food, then worry that it wouldn't last until spring. Imagine how absolutely frightening the midwinter must have been, with nothing growing, and the sun seemingly dropping ever lower. Imagine wondering if that sun was ever going to come back.

Call it what you will, this season. Call it Christmas, or "the Holidays" or New Years or Hogmany or Yule or Hannukuh. Call it what you will, but whatever it is we need it. We need respite, a time of peace and prayer, a time to reflect, and a time to count our blessings. And even in a clinical way, we need green things and pretty lights, if only to cheer our collective seasonal blues. I always think of the solstice as "little Thanksgiving" and today I spent some time thinking how marvelous it is that I have all I need, and for that I thank the Lord.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tag -O- Rama!!!

Today I indulged in my newest passion of collage to create 22 gift tags for friends and family. It was a great way to utilize a lot of this beautiful scrapbook paper I got, plus I had a lot of fun scouring the internet for free vintage clip art, much of it either from the Victorian era or the 1940's, my two favorite eras. My husband, by the way, is a patient man, who made no mention of the fact that we need to tidy up for Christmas. He is learning "the system"---first I have to finish all the crafts so that I can clear my craft junk from the dining room table. Then I will affix all the tags to the wrapped gifts, which are piled in the dining room as well, and put them under the tree. From there it is a snap, but when he sees my towers of art supplies, he usually just goes to a different room, lol. Someday I will formally set up a studio in our office space, till now the "studio" is the dining room.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Proof that I am a little highly strung right now

Today I had the great pleasure of accompanying my younger son to his first ever Christmas program at preschool. After singing, and a slideshow, we were invited to the classrooms to make a craft with the kids. So of course I was delighted. My expectations were low because one, he's never made a craft with me, and two, he's never made a craft at school and week after week when all the other moms are picking up their little ones' painty, gluey, pasta or glitter covered projects, there is never one with his name on it. No biggie, that's just how he rolls, right?

Well today, he actually got into it! We made our tree ornament and he helped with glue and wanted to stick shiny things to the tree. Then we all went to the fellowship hall for a snack, which was so cool, and he and I spent our time feeding each other muffins and pretzels and juice, and singing carols to the amused people at our table. So fun.

Fast forward to lunch. After meeting the bus for my older son, we ran a quick errand to the store then I was making lunch. I realized the ornament was lost! I kept looking for it, remembering that I had taken it out of the car. I was so bummed. Then I remembered. I remembered I had put it on the top of the car while getting my other things out! I quickly grabbed my coat and shoes and went running like a lunatic out into the street, where gloriously there it was!!! In the middle of the street right in front of our house, with only one set of tire tracks on the back!!! I started whooping and singing and dancing in the street.

Truly a Christmas miracle! But the best gift of course was spending time one on one with my little dude.

I also think I might need to spike my bedtime cocoa for a proper nightcap. Sheesh.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Days and the Idea Book

When I was small I stayed with my babysitter, Grammy, while my mom worked. Whenever I was bored, Grammy would pull out this pile of books and magazines and say "Well, let's look through the idea books and find something to do." The idea books were an assortment of children's craft ideas she had probably saved from the 50's when her own kids used them. They were full of all sorts of things, like how to make a zoo out of a paper bag and some construction paper, or tin can stilts. That kind of thing. Today when they announced no school because of the ice I thought I am not going to spend another day with these boys running amok, bored out of their minds. I don't have any idea books but I do have the internet. Thankfully a few days ago posted a blog about making graham cracker houses with her kids. I tweaked the idea because I am stuck at home with no Christmas candy, but we did have a ton of Halloween candy. So yes, at 10am today, I helped my offspring build candy houses and eat as much as they wanted.

The results were far from magazine perfect, but hey, it was a heck of a lot of fun.

I was inspired to do a project myself. I got the idea from another wonderfully creative blogger, to take this old dirty ceramic church I got for nothing at the thrift store and paint it pink! My carolers have a church home now, next to a watercolor of our own old church.

Finally I got out my vintage ornaments. A couple are Shiny Brites from my mom, the purple ones because I like purple, and the rest were acquired from thrift stores. I think I will spend my summer vacation looking for more at yard sales this year. Plus I ordered a gorgeous purple stenciled one from ebay the other day and it should be here soon.

I hope the roads clear up soon, but for now I will be busy making tags for the gifts and I will post that later!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas trees since marriage

There are more ornaments each year; plus we had to switch to artificial because I'm allergic.

A photographic history of our Christmas Trees since being married:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas makes me nostalgic

I wonder what it is that Christmas time makes my eyes ache for images of Christmases past. Gosh I was cute.