How was your Christmas? I hope it was a blessed one, full of love and gratitude. One of my many Jen friends had a baby on Christmas Eve – does it get better than that? Not really, but short of that, our Christmas was a good one.
Our Christmas Eve was a little busier than I would have liked, but it wasn’t too crazy. Next year (and I say this every year) I’ll do things a bit differently. I want to have more presents wrapped, ideally as they arrive at the house, and have more things baked earlier. Next year we’ll have a deep freezer, so I can get an early start and freeze cookies and quick breads a month or two early. That’s the plan, anyway. God doesn’t like me making plans, though.
In the late afternoon we were all rushed and irritable. Philip had to arrive at church an hour early to sing in the choir, and Boo was serving at mass, so he went early, too. That left me, Pumpkin Girl and Bip to get ready and sit by ourselves. I have to admit that I was quite put out by that and Bip didn’t help by whining through mass and I had to take him out. Mass was long and filled with incense – and just listen to me, could I complain any more? Someone smack me, OK? Ah, much better. Sorry about that.
Despite my grumpiness and Bip’s 3 year oldness, I was able to appreciate the beauty of Philip singing solo during mass and the joy of being surrounded by good friends. We are truly blessed by our faith community here.
Back at home, we had our traditional tamale dinner and we let the children watch “A Christmas Carol” for the first time. Our favorite version is the one with George C. Scott as Patton Scrooge, but it can be a bit intense. I read A Christmas Carol to the children this month – an illustrated classic version- and when they saw we had the movie, they begged to see it. We skipped one bit and they really enjoyed it. Philip and I have watched it every year, either on Christmas Eve or Christmas night, since we’ve been married.
We sent the children to bed with dire warnings to go to sleep, no talking, no playing or no presents. We also threatened them if they so much as whispered before 7 am the next morning.
Of course, Christmas morning I was awakened by rather loud whispering at exactly 6:48. It was still dark, STILL DARK I tell you! At 7:00 they were running up and down the stairs and by 7:10 they had pounced on us in our bed. No amount of feiging sleep could convince them to leave us alone. Alas, resigned to our fate, we dragged ourselves downstairs.
Everyone got something that they really, really wanted and some other really cool gifts, too. We stayed in our pajamas until around noon, eating cookies, playing Wii and reading books. It was a good day.
Now we are in the final week of the year. The week after Christmas has always been my favorite. I love being at home with almost no commitments, no where to go and nothing to do. Of course, Pumpkin Girl’s birthday is this week, too – so we’ll celebrate her.
All is well.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.“
Merry Christmas, from my family to yours.
Don’t forget to track Santa all day as he travels around the world: Norad Santa
As I write, he’s over Daegu, South Korea which is not all that far from where we used to live. Make sure you click on the video symbols you see over various cities for a close up view of Santa, his reindeer and famous landmarks.
Our celebration of Rebecca’s birthday yesterday included going out to dinner and a visit to the Festival of Lights, as we’ve done on her birthday for the last 4 years. If you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend seeing the Festival of Lights – it’s only $5 a car/van.
So now we have celebrated the birth of our baby and we’re in the proper mood to celebrate the birth of another baby. As I type, we are listening to the audio book of The Autobiography of Santa Claus, so I’m feeling festive. Here’s a quick tour of just some of the decorations around our house.
Here is our Advent Wreath which we made as a family at an workshop put on by our parish. It sits on our buffet table, next to our dining room table. Right behind it is what looks like a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but it’s not a painting, but a puzzle! We bought it in Cozumel last year.
I found this ornament at Disneyland. There is a Christmas store in New Orleans square, right near the exit of Pirates of the Caribbean. We stopped in there, either right before or right after eating at the Blue Bayou, our favorite Disney restaurant. I was pregnant with Pumpkin Girl at the time. She arrived just after Christmas that year, but I hung this ornament on the tree when she and I came home from the hospital before the New Year.
My itty bitty Santas. The one on the left is a Lego Santa that came with a tube of toothpaste sometime when I was in high school. I think I bought the star Santa and the pencil Santa at a little country store in Kentucky.
Bip saw a Santa lotion dispenser in a magazine and insisted that he needed one. He asked about it every day until I went online in search of one like the one he saw. I found this one at the Sears website, on sale. Bip loves it! It’s hard to see in the picture, but his beard is glittery.
I took these pictures at random, whatever struck my fancy as I walked through our house. As I described them here, I realized that so many of our Christmas decorations reflect the travels of our lives. Everything has a story. I’ll have to tell more of them next year.
However good this life gets, it pales in comparison to heaven. Five years ago today, we were given a glimpse, just a glimpse of heaven, as our daughter, Rebecca was born. For just 8 short months, everything was perfect. We honestly couldn’t ask for anything more. She was all toothless grins, fat little legs, big brown eyes and deep dimples. Life just didn’t get better than that.
If life could be that good, imagine what heaven is like.
But we don’t have to just imagine, we’ve already seen a glimpse.
Happy Birthday, dear sweet baby. Eternity won’t be enough time to hold you again.
I’ve been meaning to tell you all that I updated my blog to a winter scape. If you’re reading through a feed reader or through email, come on over and admire my handiwork.
Also, I put up 2 posts at The Homeschool Classroom on quick and easy crafts to make. Even though Christmas is quickly approaching and you probably have all your gifts all figured out, these two projects make nice gifts from your children to their various teachers, coaches, and family members.
The first one is a God’s Eye ornament, which our Catholic home school group made for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They were such a hit that Philip had his Cub Scouts make them and then I had my Girl Scouts make them, too.
The second craft is a candle made from a recycled jar. This one is also very fast to make. Pumpkin Girl made a similar one as a school art project last year. Philip needed another fast project for his scouts, so they made these, too.
I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to make some serious progress on my house. It is so small that there is no where to move. If you start any kind of project, from paying bills to making crafts, it completely takes over the house. Trying to get to anything requires bending, stretching and bruising your knee. I’m just tired of everything being everywhere.
I dream of having a real office. With a work space. And a little basket for the incoming mail. Then bills can be paid, sensitive documents shredded, important papers filed – all without having to drag something out of the way. I dream of doing laundry without having to drag boxes into the hallway so I can reach the washing machine. I don’t know, I’m funny like that.
So this week I’ve tackled the mail. The little basket will have to be in the dining room, even though the shredder has to be under the computer desk in the living room.
I repurposed a storage box for some of the extra yarn that seems to have found it’s way into my house.
I found a basket for Bip’s coloring books and crayon box so that they look pretty on the shelf in the dining room instead of like a whole heap of junk.
I cleaned out my school box, reducing it to only the stuff I use every day. All the extra stuff can be moved outside to the storage shed.
I cleaned out my kitchen. We took our little pumpkins from the pumpkin patch and set them outside for the squirrels to eat. I hate squirrels, but they are God’s creatures and it’s cold out, so hey, “Merry Christmas, foul rodents!” I threw out my husband’s smelly sponges (blech!) and put away the Halloween water bottle. I hung my Mickey Mouse cookie cutter on my wall with a piece of ribbon. I’ll think I’ll hang some other cute ones up, I just have to find more ribbon.
I have a huge stack of papers and stuff that need to be put away and I’m procrastinating. That’s the worst part of this – putting away all the stuff that should have been put away a long time ago. But look at it – doesn’t it scare you?
Well, it looks like our PC may need a reformatted hard drive. Alas, poor computer, I knew it well. At least we’d been doing daily online backups, so if I really wanted, I could restore all our files right to the laptop. Except that I have a love-hate relationship with Windows Vista (WHERE is “my computer” already?!?!).
I was all set to tell you how Philip and I get to sponsor our neighbors and friends into the Catholic church. We had a very interesting Rite of Initiation at mass today. But later in the day, we lit our candle for Becca during the World Wide Candle Lighting. In doing so,we unleashed the proverbial flood of tears in Boo.
Boo had a tough time when Rebecca died. He has always loved babies and he was very close with her. He was only 5 years old when she left us, old enough to remember. He surprised me tonight with the amount of details he recalled and with the level of grief he is still experiencing. It’s hard to guide a child through that kind of grief, you just don’t know how they’re truly doing.
We watched a lot of TV that first year. I was pregnant with Bip, wading through my own grief, still schooling Boo and Pumpkin and overall trying to survive. We watched Oprah and Dr. Phil whenever the subjects were OK for the children to see and Boo wanted to go talk to Dr. Phil. We did see a family counselor during this time, but he had wanted to work with just Philip and I at first, then we moved before he got a chance to talk to Boo.
Boo doesn’t like to think about Rebecca because it hurts too much. That makes me so sad, because they loved each other very much. All three of my oldest children had such happy times together and those times are worth cherishing. Boo needs to reach a place where he can remember her for the blessing that she was. He says that he would like to go talk to someone who can help him, as long as that person is nice like Dr. Phil.
It’s been 4 years now and Boo needs to heal. I don’t know what sort of stuff Boo has been bottling up this whole time, but he needs to set himself free. He needs to grieve completely and get to that place – I guess it would be “acceptance” on the grief chart- where he can be at peace. Though none of us will really accept Rebecca being gone. We just learn to live with it.
My boy has much work to be done. Please pray for him as we start this new journey together.
I had such great plans. Well, not great plans, but plans nonetheless.
Everything for my Girl Scout meeting was ready, I was just waiting to get the rest of the recipes from the parents before pasting them into a Word document. It would take me, oh…10 minutes to format 7 recipes into 6×4 blocks, and maybe 10 more minutes to print them out and cut them to size.
I’d also planned to show you pictures of my Christmas decorations, already downloaded and edited on my computer.
My day had been a little aggravating and I’d even hidden from my children for about an hour and half. I got them their lunch and left them to their own devices while I retreated to my room with a good book. I was really looking forward to going to Catholic Women of the Chapel to discuss our book, continue our Bible study, have some snacks and enjoy some fellowship.
And then I’d come home, refreshed and execute my plan. You remember, the one about formatting and printing recipes, then sharing pictures on my blog.
I would have plenty of time the next day to have school in the morning, get a haircut, then go to the Girl Scout meeting.
So what really happened was that sometime around or after dinner, our computer tried to shut itself down. I suspect one of those automatic Windows updates, but the shut down got stuck. Lacking a reset button, the only way to unfreeze a completely frozen compter is to unplug it, plug it back in and reboot. Which Philip did, but the computer didn’t. Reboot,that is.
Instead he got a very lovely message about a corrupt or missing file and please insert the original start up disk to try to repair right.
And that would be the start up disk that didn’t come with the computer? Or the laptop? Or my neighbor’s computer? And the other option of downloading it to a floppy disk – to the laptop without a floppy disk? Yeah. Not so much.
So at 9:00 at night, there I was, not formatting, printing and cutting recipes and definitely not uploading pictures to my blog.
Fortunately, something is wrong with Outlook Express on the now dead computer, and it does not delete emails from the comcast site, so using the laptop, I was able to access the recipes in the emails, copy, paste and format them and save the document to email to a friend who could print them out for me.
But Philip offhandedly mentioned that I could also plug the printer into the laptop. Of course, he didn’t actually do that for me, but at least he recommended it. grumble grumble grumble
The pictures – not going to happen.
So this morning found me under the computer desk, trying to locate which cord out of the thousands (thousands!!) that are tangled up back there is the one to the printer. Cable found and plugged in to the laptop I waited for the drivers to load. In the meantime, one of many Jen friends has located a Windows start up disk! So I’m printing and collating and yikes! It’s 11:30! Quickly get the kids lunch then drop them off to a friends house while I get my hair cut.
After the haircut I stayed too long at my friend’s house, because I can never just drop by for a minute, then while loading children into the car, I stepped into dip in the gutter, washing my entire foot with water because, oh yeah, it was raining. And the hem of pants had fallen down and the whole bottom of my pants was wet.
Back at home I now had only 10 minutes to cut the recipes down to size, slice an orange for the juice we were making and load the children and all my Girl Scout junk into the car.
No time for new pants.
Onward to Girl Scouts and all seemed to go well, despite the fact that my sliced oranges were still sitting on my dining room table.
As far as that start up disk, well, it has the potential to work, but it’s going to take more than just pressing “r” at the first screen like my computer keeps telling me.
Alas, the Christmas pictures are just going to have to wait.