Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Got What I Wanted.

Really my wish for this Christmas was to have fun, be happy, relax, and enjoy Christmas instead of being let down from all the build up. I have to say this was the most relaxed Christmas season we have had since the kids were born. We agreed that each of us would get each other person one gift. That meant that we would each get four gifts total. (Besides whatever aunts, uncles and grandparents gave us). That took a lot of pressure off of our shopping. And there was a lot less chaos Christmas morning - but the kids were JUST as excited! If not MORE excited because they got the chance to GIVE gifts this year instead of just receiving them, as in years past. On top of that, my mother-in-law went down to her other son's house for Christmas, leaving only one relative in town for us to share the day with. We woke up at a leisurely 8:00 am, opened presents slowly and then had french toast before heading over to my sister's house to see the family. Once we were there, we just hunkered down. We relaxed. We lounged. Okay, we cooked and cleaned the kitchen and cleaned the kitchen again and cooked some more. But I didn't have that added concern of watching the clock to make sure we divided up the time evenly between Dane's family and my family. We were just there and that was it. So relaxing.

Plus, it was my birthday and Dane and the kids surprised me with birthday cards and gifts, and candles on top of the delicious blackberry cobbler. We watched movies and gabbed and laughed and watched Alex play his new Guitar Praise video game. We played board games and worked puzzles and wore new slippers and drank wine-a-ritas. It was such a good day!
Here are some of the terrific presents I got this year:
  • a Sonicare toothbrush
  • Kate Moss perfume
  • my dad's driftwood art
  • The Devil's Bonbons made by my genius sister in law
  • a book of essays about the works of Randall Jarrell
  • spa products galore
  • a gift card for Barnes and Noble
  • a new camera
  • a complete set of bare minerals cosmetics
  • a bracelet beaded by my 7 year old daughter
  • and here are some of the gifts I had the delight of giving this year:
  • to my husband: Fossil sunglasses
  • to my kids: educational gadgets [microscope, telescope, smart globe]
  • to my relatives: homemade Lapbooks about each of them - their home, their activities, their special interests, etc.
  • Monday, December 22, 2008

    Snowflake goodies

    Some weeks back I read this idea. And it sounded fun and perfect for my little ones. We took flour tortillas, folded them in quarters and cut them into snowflakes, just like you do with paper.

    Then we fried them in hot oil until golden and crispy - sort of like a sopapilla, but not as bubbly.
    And as they drained on paper towels, we sprinkled them generously with powdered sugar. Now they are beautiful white snowflakes and a perfect match for hot chocolate (make mine with some Bailey's Irish Cream please!)
    Then we snuggle up and read another chapter of A Christmas Carol (you know it only has 5 chapters so you can start it on the 21st and finish reading it to your kiddies on Christmas day. Be sure to use appropriate voices for all the characters!)

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    My Auntie Kay

    So, I have this awesome aunt. I know that all my siblings will agree that she is our favorite. I don't mean any disrespect to our other aunts - they all have wonderful qualities, and special memories for us - but Auntie Kay is different. My sisters and I must all aspire to be that kind of aunt to our neices/nephews - we want to be THEIR Auntie Kay. I doubt we ever will be. She is like the Indiana Jones of aunts. For example, when we were little she lived on a farm, but it wasn't an ordinary farm - they had peacocks running around with the chickens. My mom would drive us out to visit her and sing a song she had made up about Auntie Kay (nope, don't remember any OTHER aunt having that honor!) and it was a FUN song to sing, so we all joined in. We had this black and white photograph of Kay hiking in the Sierras that made it look like she was just crawling up the side of a giant rock slope like spider man. Kay always had funny stories to tell us. Sometimes they were about her stepdaughters, Audrey and Vanessa, or her cousin's girls, Lindsey and Hallie May. Sometimes they were about whatever silly kitties were occupying a place in her heart at the time. Her nutty husband Roger for years made fantastic stuffed bears - Roger Bears - and they were always getting into mischief too. When we lived far far away in Missouri, we loved to get letters from Auntie Kay telling us such funny stories. But she also wrote to us about grown up things. I remember her writing to me about the book she was reading - the Aquarian Conspiracy - and actually trying to explain in words an 8 year old could understand what it was about. She also made me a leather totem pouch - just like the Indians wore! And she didn't just make it for me, she sent me instructions how to make my own. Kay lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico studying ancient Chinese medicine. When her 8 years of training were complete, she moved to Sedona where we would often go visit her and receive acupuncture treatments, and covet her earring collection and go hiking in the red rocks and so on and so forth. Our mom and Kay were always in a competition to see who could grow their hair out longest. The funny part about it was, they both had extremely short hair. They were obsessive about cutting their hair. They would get it pretty long (Like, covering their ears) and then it would feel too shaggy and they would have to cut it. They are only a few years apart so they used to look a lot alike. Some people even said they looked like twins with their short hair and their Evans faces. When I was a single adult living in Santa Fe (certainly trying to be an adventurous spirit like Kay was in that place before me) I saw a comic strip that reminded me of Auntie Kay - It was Mutts, and it was a kitty playing with a little pink sock. It was similar to this onebut not this one. Anyway. I saw it and I thought of Kay so I sent it to her. Would you believe that 10 years later, my Auntie Kay sent me that comic strip back and told me that she had kept it all those years and always thought of me when she saw it? That began a correspondence that I have been so thankful for. I love my Auntie Kay even more now than when I was a little kid. But lately life has gotten in my way. I haven't written to her in months - maybe even a year. Well, the other day, I got a letter from her with another Little Pink Sock episode tucked inside. The letter began with "The saga continues." It just made me giddy. But the letter unfortunately was pretty sad news. She is practically crippled from back pain that doctors have had trouble treating. Her husband is so busy trying to earn a living in this economy that he couldn't take care of her in that state, so she has gone to live with her sister (my other dear Auntie, Nancy, who is older than my mom and also a very interesting and compassionate person). I can't say it sounds horrible being taken care of by your sister - apart from the chronic pain, of course. I'd love to get to live alone with my big sister and spend lots of time with her. But Auntie Kay? It breaks my heart that her adventures are pretty much over. I guess this is the time for her to put her Buddhism to the test and learn to quietly listen. But I so ache for her. And I can't help praying that God is using this for his glory in Kay's life. That maybe this is a whole new chapter of HER saga. That an awakening is coming far more real and grand and life-altering than any harmonic convergence in the galaxy. I pray that this will be the time when Kay meets God. And I pray she will have joy.

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    The 100 Greatest Movie Characters

    This list on Empireonline.com was pretty dang good. But I take issue with them including the likes of Wall-E and excluding Holly Golightly AND Barbarella. As for their ranking - has Tyler Durden really upstaged Darth Vador? I'm not entirely sold. But it seems as though this list was compiled through some sort of democratic process. Maybe just not enough of us turned up at the polls. Wouldn't be the first time. Check it out for youselves.

    The Dude, as portrayed by Jeff Bridges for "The Big Lebowski" ranked #7

    Friday, December 05, 2008

    What i love about Christmas time

    Christmas may be all overly commercial and stressed out. And for some sad reason it has to come right in the beginning of flu season. But that doesn't mean it isn't the MOST wonderful time of the year. Here's a list of things I love about Christmas time:

    1. Christmas movies - I don't mean the lame ones like the Santa Clause or Fred Claus. I'm talking Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the Polar Express, and lately the Nativity Story.

    2. I love going to the Walk Through Bethlehem at the local Lutheran Church. They have done it every year as long as I can remember. Its better than a live nativity because they do the whole village, and everyone talking about the census and the strange star shining and the poor woman they saw riding a donkey. As you pass through, some shepherd boys stop you and tell you about seeing angels - this is where I always start crying - and then you go through a door and you see hosts of angels proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah. Out one more door into the cold parking lot that has a stable built and there is the holy family with some donkeys and sheep. They don't say a word. Its just beautiful.

    3. I love going Christmas shopping all by myself. No one else keeps the same speed as me. They always want to go somewhere else or get tired before I am. I like to just wander through the stores by myself and take my time and buy a little something here and a little something there.

    4. Christmas cooking. I'm talking sweets, baby. I am going to try a new thing this year. You cut snowflakes out of tortillas, deep fry them and sprinkle them with powdered sugar to make snowflake fritters. So pretty and yummy.

    5. It's my birthday and even though I never get a party and I always get two-in-one gifts, there is still something special about it being my birthday.

    6. I love drinking hard liquor in the cold - like hot toddies or Irish Coffee at the courthouse lighting. I know it sounds bad, but I'm not talking about getting wasted. I just like the heat of it sliding down my insides when it is so cold on the outsides.

    7. Christmas Eve services. I am such a sucker for little kids singing praises to Jesus, and they don't ever do it as enthusiastically as at Christmas time. I cry and cry all through church. Its wonderful. Especially when MY kids are involved.

    8. Waiting for it to snow. Even though we live in Arizona and it rarely snows here until around February or March, I still like to look outside and think "This could be it."The skies get all grey and dreary, and we are all walking around blowing our noses and the only thing that would make it all worthwhile is some big, fat flakes falling and sticking to the ground. Its wishful thinking but it does really happen sometimes.

    9. Driving around looking at people's lights. We also incorporate the Town of Prescott Valley's City of Lights display into this, but I'm most excited about the lights people (mainly dads) go out in the cold to staple, hang, wrap and smother their homes in. We don't do outside lights, but Daddy does do the lights on the Chrismas tree. That's a daddy's job.

    10. Fun and excitement are in the air. I know that most of it is commercialism. But I just read the greatest thing about Christmas in Anne Rice's book "Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession". I already returned the book to the library, so I can't quote, but she talks about how those storefront displays and those carols on the radio and over the speakers at the mall, etc. are the closest many people get to the Lord at Christmas time. They DO remind us of the hope that is in the coming of Our Lord. And that excitement may be over what we are getting and what we are giving, but more than a few times during the season, everyone remembers that God came down to be one of us, and he didn't do it in splendor or pomp. He came as a baby, and a poor baby at that. So that every thing we go through in life we can know that he has been there.