Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesday's Proverb

He who walks honestly walks securely, but he whose ways are crooked will fare badly. (Proverbs 10:9)

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Day in the City

We had a family outing to New York City today. We took the train in to Penn Station and from there walked hither and yon around Manhattan. We saw Macy's and Times Square. We almost got run over by some guys moving some Good Morning America furniture out into the street (will we see that set on TV on New Year's Eve?). We saw the tree in Rockefeller Center and of course the ice skaters. The window displays at Macy's and Sak's and Lord and Taylor. We went in Barnes and Noble (can never resist a good bookstore, but since the gift cards were all at home we didn't buy anything). We went into St. Patrick's cathedral and lit a couple of candles. We went into the New York Public Library, but couldn't find any books (don't laugh at me, we were running out of time) - nice builiding though.

The crowds were immense. I can only imagine what it must have been like before Christmas. And New Year's Eve must be insanity itself there. I enjoy the vitality of New York. I love looking at all there is to see there. And this time we didn't even do any museums or shows. But the crowds are a bit much for me. I like a bit of elbow room in my life - and that was something there was very little of today in the city.

It was a lot of fun. And now I'm tired.
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cousins and Best Friends

A few years ago my nephew, Anthony, asked his mother if cousin meant best friend. Because he and Harry were cousins and best friends. They are a week shy of being one year apart in age and when they were in pre-school spent many many hours together. Anthony and family moved away a few years ago and now their visits are once - maybe twice a year - if we are lucky.

Today was one of those lucky days and the two cousins got to be best friends again for the afternoon.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve - and a Happy Birthday Wish

The Christmas Eve that I recall the most clearly growing up was the year that I was seven. My two younger brothers and I were in the TV room watching cartoons early in the morning when our dad came into the room and said he had something to tell us.

"Mom went to the hospital last night," he said.

"No, I just saw her go into the bathroom," I answered.

"No, she's at the hospital," Dad said. We went back and forth for a little before he convinced me that Mom was really not in the bathroom - in fact, not in the house at all.

"And," Dad said, once I finally agreed, "She had the baby."

The baby wasn't due for a couple of weeks yet. This was before regular ultrasounds told you if the baby was a boy or a girl before it was born. But I knew it had to be a girl. After all, I already had two brothers. In seven-year-old logic, that made perfect sense. And besides, my parents had promised me I could have a bunk bed like my brothers if I had a sister.

I'd been referring to the baby as "Virgina" for weeks now. I was ready for my sister. And now the baby had been born.

"You have a new baby brother," Dad continued.

My mouth fell open to a shocked 'Oh.' How was that even possible? Three brothers? And no sisters? Where was the fairness in that?

It only took a moment though before I was excited about my new baby brother named Leo.

Then the realization dawned on us that Mom was not going to be home for Christmas. How was that going to work? Who was going to cook the turkey and do everything else? It turned out that Dad was up to the task - making a wonderful Christmas for us all.

Though apparently he had a few rough moments during the evening. He tells of the phone call to the hospital after we had all gone to bed and the nurse telling him that it was after visiting hours so she couldn't put the call through unless it was an emergency.

"Listen," Dad told her, "I've got three kids seven and under and a room full of unwrapped, unlabeled toys."

She quickly agreed it was an emergency and put him right through.

The next morning Dad got his 8mm movie camera ready and called the hospital before we were even allowed downstairs. The phone, off the hook, was left on the floor, where we could run over and tell Mom about the presents we got - and in the meantime she could hear the background noise. And Dad filmed us all, so Mom could watch it later, when she got home.

Mom says that was her best Christmas ever, as she relaxed with her newborn son.

And I must say, that the brother I got for Christmas 35 years ago makes that my best Christmas ever too!

Happy Birthday, Leo!

Edited to add: If you want to see the baby picture of this little brother - head on over to my mom's blog, Morning Glory Alley, where she posted a page from Leo's baby book!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Caroling

Today was our annual Christmas Caroling party. We've been doing this for the past few years on the last day of school before Christmas break. The kids come here for a couple of hours after school and their parents get a chance to do any last minute stuff they might want to.

They practice the songs and then we go around the neighborhood to whoever happens to be home in the middle of the afternoon.

Then it's back to the house for hot chocolate and cookies. This year - thanks to my mom's help - we had gingerbread cookies for the kids to decorate and eat.

They certainly don't lack enthusiasm! The only problem was to make sure they were all singing the same song at the same time. And, you know, pretty much on the same words.
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This is a party I love to host every year because it is just a winner in every way. The kids always have fun, the mom's like the break, and the people who we do catch at home enjoy hearing the singing. Sometimes they even give the kids money - which we put in the poor box at church. After all, we're not in this for any kind of gain - just to spread the Christmas spirit.

And all this for a few hours of my time, a bunch of hot chocolate mix and Christmas cookies!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gingerbread House

What are Christmas preparations without a gingerbread house. This was one of the easiest kits ever. It came with a tray that had grooves to help hold the walls, and the icing was all ready to use, in a tube - no mixing with water.

And other than the fights about who ate more of the candy - the construction and decorating went fairly well.
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cookies and Friends

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Long-standing traditions are sometimes the most fun. My friends and I started getting together during high school to bake Christmas cookies. We let it go a little while we were in college, but once we were married and had our own places we started up again.

I remember the year that the twins (pictured with Pippi in the center picture above) were six months old. I was eight months pregnant. Poor Liz did most of the work that year, as I sat to rest and Linda had to keep an eye on the babies.

When all the children were little we would let them play while we baked actual cookies - from recipes we had selected ahead of time.

We've gotten smarter as the children have gotten older - though as my friend Linda (who hosts this great event) points out - it doesn't seem like there's any less work for us now. Now we buy packaged cookie dough. Hand it out to the kids along with cookie cutters. They fill their cookie trays - and later ice and decorate the cookies by themselves. Or, in the case of the boys, glob a lot of icing on a cookie, throw some sprinkles on, and immediately eat it.

What we've learned along the way is that it isn't the cookies that are really the important part of the day (though we make sure through all our busy schedules that we manage to schedule our cookie baking day). What's important is getting together with friends and sharing a tradition - that for the kids - goes back to before they were even born.

Time To Make The Cookies

As we embark on our annual cookie baking extravaganza, I'll give you a taste of what this event has looked like in years past.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Home is...

Pippi had to write a poem for school. The title and theme: Home is...

Here is what she came up with:

Home is...
by KRM (6th grade)

Home is guitar music
Set to blasting,
Echoing on the stairwell.
Home is the tapping of keys
As Mom's fingers dance
Over her laptop keyboard.

Home is Dad, sleeping
On the couch downstairs
Quiet, like a cat.
Home is our dying
Maple that isn't as young
As it used to be.
Home is books
Scattered around the
Living room haphazardly.

Home is red raspberry bushes
In the sweltering summer,
Prickly stems, bright berries, and all.
Home is rosebushes
In the springtime
Surrounding the backyard
With their sweet aroma

Home is love,
All year round.

Writing Wednesday

I have a Writing Wednesday post over at Simply Put.

The Mysteries of Shipping Packages

Usually it's pretty straight forward. I order something online (usually books) and a few days later it arrives at my door. I often try to get to that $25 threshold for the free shipping. I like free shipping, and I don't mind that it might take a day or two longer (it's usually not an urgent purchase.)

So, I ordered some books and the order was split into three packages for shipping. Each was sent on a different day. One was shipped UPS on December 9 from Nevada. I got that last week. The other two were sent from Monroe, NJ.

Now, I live in NJ. Monroe is maybe a half hour away - maybe longer if there is traffic. These two packages were shipped via DHL. One was shipped on December 8. It went to Maryland and then was transferred to the regular postal service. That got here on Monday.

The other was shipped on December 7th (also from Monroe) and went to Kentucky, where it was transferred to regular postal service. Following the tracking information it made it back to NJ on the 13th (to Jersey City - a half hour in the other direction from Monroe). It still hasn't arrived at my door.

The mystery I'm pondering is WHY? Why on earth did my packages have to go to Maryland and Kentucky - when they started out so close to here. I know the shipping is free, but, seriously, is that really the most efficient way to ship?

I feel fairly confident that the package that is in NJ, but not here yet, will arrive by Christmas, but... why did it have to go to Kentucky first?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday's Proverb

A wise man heeds commands, but a prating fool will be overthrown. (Proverbs 10:8)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Philosophy on a Friday

Pippi - on observing the full moon: "How do we know that the moon is round and not shaped like a potato chip or something?"

Me: "Observation. We can see it. It's round."

Pippi: "But what if it's not?"

Me: "But it is. The first step in scientific discovery is observation. You look at something and see what properties it has."

Pippi: "But in philosophy they say your eyes can deceive you."

Right. So maybe the moon is just a big potato chip.

Memories of Christmas Past

Want to see what I wanted for Christmas when I was little? My mother found an old letter to Santa of mine and posted it on her blog, Morning Glory Alley.

I Made Another Hat

Harry wanted a hat when he saw that Pippi had one. So, I made one for him.
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Christmas Pictures

We took our Christmas card picture yesterday. Then I noticed that the dollhouse family was all ready for their picture too!
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Anticipating Christmas

The manger is empty and waiting for its special occupant.
Mary and Joseph (and a lazy donkey) have made it as far as the sunroom.
The wise men are still in the kitchen. But I can see that their camel is in the spirit of the season.
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I Made a Hat

Pippi with the hat I just made for her. I only had to re-start about six times to get it right.
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Tuesday's Proverb

The memory of the just will be blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot. (Proverbs 10:7)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Getting Ready for Christmas

We got the outside lights up. The doll house family has been busy decorating too.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tuesday's Proverb

Blessings are for the head of the just, but a rod for the back of the fool. (Proverbs 10:6)