Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lost and Found



These are my dollies. I thought they were lost.

When I was a little girl, my grandparents did a lot of traveling - especially my mom's parents and my dad's dad. As a result, and due to the fact that I was only granddaughter for several years, I assembled a nice little collection of dolls from around the world. My Maw and Paw tended to travel to places like Mexico and Puerto Rico, while my Grandaddy made yearly treks to Israel and places like Greece and Spain. To be honest, I am not sure where the 2 Asian dolls came from... Maybe a Worlds Fair?

Anyway, a long time ago I left my home in Juneau and went to college, leaving my dollies behind (of course - not cool to take dollies to college you know.) Eventually my parents also moved from Alaska, following me back to Arkansas. They packed my doll's and other childhood items up, along with everything else they owned - including containers of flour and oatmeal, and a ton of Current Jam (don't ask.) The move to Arkansas was fraught with lots of... "bumps" shall we say? The end of a long story being that on March 1, 1997 my parents and siblings were living in Arkadelphia when a tornado plowed through and destroyed almost everything they owned and the small rent house they occupied. Because the house was small and their stay recent, most of our childhood belongings and household items were in the attic of that house, the result being that they were "tornadoed" that weird March morning.

After the tornado 2 things happened - First, People - friends and strangers came and cleaned up everything they could salvage from our house, washing it off and packing it up for us. Secondly, my parents rented a small apartment, furnished with donated items and put everything else in storage for the next 2 years.

They eventually built a great house, on the same property their rent house had been. Over the next few years - in between marrying off 2 daughters, getting another one through high school and into college, and watching her grandchildren grow, my mother begin the long process of unpacking all the boxes. Boxes from the move from AK, boxes from the tornado, box after box after box. The first Christmas that we had some of our original family ornaments on the tree I finally felt like I had come home - it was familiar.

Ever since that Christmas, there have been other visits home when mom will pull out a box and say "will you kids go through this and get what you want?" Last year it was baby clothes. This year it was my dollies. I can not tell you how happy I was to see them. I just assumed they had been lost and tornadoed like so many other memories. These faces that stared down at me from shelves and window seals all my life, are now back. They are tattered. Some are a little water damaged, some are losing their hair and need some repair. But I still love them all the same. They have been found and now they are back home, with me. They will sit in my office now and look over me and my work. Inspiring me with their color and their history and their familiarity... All things I find encouraging as I ring in this new year.

Friday, December 29, 2006

On the occasion of her day...

For Judea

Happy Birthday
to my littlest sis...
AKA
Aunt Juju
Next Great Singer-Song Writer of Our Times
Fashionista Supreme
Hot Bloggin' Chica
Photoshop-a-holic Genius
Softball Queen Galore
All Around Girl Next Door

May all your dreams - current and future- come true, and may you embrace and enjoy year 22!

A Haircut in 3 Parts


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Favorite Week

I love the week between Christmas and New Years the best.
I love that I don't have to clean my house for a whole week - letting the gifts and goodies overtake the house and letting everyone enjoy them.

I love the post-Christmas sales where things are 50% off. I always get my calendar then (this year going for the File-calendar for the second year in a row) and a good book that didn't make it under the tree (this year: Audrey Hepburn.)

I love getting to enjoy all my new treasures. Like my books - I always love to receive books for Christmas because the week after I always have time to inhale them properly.



I love that my kids are home, and that I am home and that the week begins with friends and family and great food (Christmas Eve) and that it ends with friends and family and great food (New Years Eve.)
This year I am especially loving a much less dramatic entrance into the New Year than last. No church drama. No work drama. Just a low key beginning. That is Hope to me.
I celebrated by buying this Nativity set that I have been dreaming of all season. It was in a store near where my little shoppe is. Every time I went to check on things in the shoppe, I would drive by and peak in the window and see if it was still there. Yesterday I went in and ta-da! There it was waiting for me, and at half price no less. So I bought it, did a little jig and brought it home.
I love this Nativities simplicity. I love that it only comes with the basic figures - no large gawking crowd of shepherds and wisemen and sheep to arrange. Just an intimate family moment, sweet and memorable. For me it will always represent the hope and peace that comes with a inauspicious and quiet entry into the New Year.



Some Images from Christmas


The boys at dinner on Christmas Eve Eve.

Christmas Eve Dinner Table

The BEST pie, made by Jenni Jo

The Redneck Christmas Continues with Handy Man Miles

and...

The General Lee.

My new Pom Pom Slippers. So perfect for the princess momma.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Silent Night, Holy Night


















Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Please make Yourself at home
Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome to our world


Merry Christmas to you and yours. May this Christmas and this year be filled with hope and joy and most of all a peace that passes all understanding.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Soon it will be Christmas Day


Well, it is almost here folks. That day I have been working towards for almost 2 months. I think the reason I do so much (besides the job part) is that I love Christmas and I don't want to only get to enjoy it on 1 day - what a let down. Much better I think to enjoy it for a good 15 -30 at least. Here are all my last minute details to round out this season of joy...




Here We Come A Wassailing....

Easy Wassail:

Use crockpot or saucepan.

Fill 3/4 way up with Apple juice or cider

Fill 1/4 with Cranberry juice

Add a bunch of Red Hot candies, 1 Candy Cane and 1 Orange Sliced

Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. Leave on all day for a yummy smelling house and easy beverage for all. At the end of the day, just put leftovers in fridge and start again the next day!

The Gifts Are All Wrapped... (well, almost)

This year I decided to go with a newspaper inspired theme (see my garland) and I carried it over to my wrapping too. For each gift I used a combination of Newspaper (picking out pages that went with the theme of the gift of course,) a bit of wrapping paper for contrast, cheap red velvet ribbon (that actually looks good when just knotted) and mailing tags. I also added plastic snow flake ornaments for a little extra loveliness. I think they turned out well - don't you?? Shame they'll all be ripped apart in 48 hours.

First Gift

My Nana has reached that stage where she is doing her "shopping" for us in her house. What I love about that is that I always seem to get the sweetest gifts. This little Nativity figure plays a song and turns. She had it in her house when we were little and now my kids will have it to enjoy.

I love that it makes a little music and does a little turn, but doesn't require batteries and it doesn't flash and scream. It's small and simple and sweet - just what something like this should be.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Soft Glow


A soft glow is starting to take over my house (could it be all the lights and glitter?) I feel relaxation coming on. It has been rainy and wet and cold again and I love it. Makes me want to huddle in my house and enjoy being home. Today I even took a nap. It was bliss.
My shopping is almost done, but not so done that I can't still enjoy it. We really scored for the boys yesterday - I can't wait for them to see what all we got them at the Army Surplus store. My list for them is now short and sweet - only 2 sleeping bags to go.
As for work, I only have one drop off for a client and all is done there.
A wrapping party with hot chocolate and Family Man looms ahead for tomorrow or Friday night. I love to wrap and I love to enjoy wrapping - I love the whole experience.
As for tonight, well tonight I am going to continue reading A Year in The World by the soft glow of my white tree. I know I am on vacation when I get to really lose myself in a book.

I love being on holiday.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Only 5 More Shopping Days Left


Are you ready for Santa?

*pic by Auntie JuJu

Monday, December 18, 2006

Human Beings not Human Doings


My friend Amy is always coming up with great comebacks or observations. Recently while discussing some of our mutual frustrations with the way people think about how to "do church" she remarked something to the effect of "We are after all Human Beings, not Human Doings."

In the Christmas season it seems easier than ever to exist as a Human Doing instead of a Human Being . And all of us - Type A's and B's alike - get very wrapped up our identities as either Success' or Failures in regards to all the Doings to be had.
Either you love the holidays because you excel at Checking Things Off List, Buying Perfect Presents and Speed Baking or you hate the holidays because your Bows Are Less Than Perfect and You Never Get All Your Cards Addressed. Either way you are centered on your performance and how you feel about it. And that's not really the point of Christmas is it
?

On Saturday our very sleep deprived family attempted some holiday merriment by baking. Let me state for the record that you can not bake and fully involve your children and expect the cookies to turn out perfect looking and glorious. You cannot foster creativity in your children and then tell them exactly where you think they should put the sprinkles. You cannot expect to make Martha proud. But hopefully you can make a sweet memory that will somehow absorb into their little hearts and souls and create some joy in their holy space. After all we are Human Beings not Human Doings.

When I was 9 my family moved to Florida. My parents bought their first house and within months of moving-in my Mother did one of the smartest things I have ever heard of. She took up all the carpets in our rooms and exposed the industrial strength (think school house) tile underneath. Why did she do this to her new house you wonder? Because we kids liked to craft and color and glue and cut and she decided it would be much easier to wipe glue off off that tile than cut it out of the carpet. To her, our creating was more important than her having a magazine-perfect house. She would rather we create in our rooms than be worried about them. Childhood is not the time for worry and she has always understood that better than anyone.

This week is the week on the advent wreath between the candles Joy and Love. I hope that this season, and this week, and this lifetime I can teach my children to embrace Joy and Love and to share it. To not give over to Worry and Perfecting and Striving. To not feel shame for what they are not, but instead to celebrate who they are and who others are. That they understand what it means to be a Human Being and not a Human Doing.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Overheard at our house today

Exhausted Mother to 6 Year Old Son Outburst-ing in Frustration While Playing Mario Bro's on Nintendo from 1993.

"Learn to deal with not doing it perfect OR turn it off."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tree's

Trees in our House: A Sampling

The Tree in our room

The Boy's Tree
Powder Room Tree

Mantle Tree's



More Mantle Tree's

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Simply Ornamental

Today it was back to the Doc for Mr. Miles. Turns out he has an ear infection in both ears. That would explain the screeching-in-pain cries and grabbing of the ears all night. In my bed. Also he soaked our sheets, climbed on my head and demanded juice every hour on the hour. Sick kids are hell on the sleep I tell yah.

But despite my tears of exhaustion at 5:30 AM this morning, I am much relieved. A) To have a new drug for to kill this ear monster that threatens to ruin the weekend. And B) To be done with work. (Almost. Just one delivery to do and that billing I keep mentioning, but it doesn't feel weighty or urgent. All that is for next week.) So guess what is on tomorrows agenda? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.Hurray! Hurray! If Miles doesn't sleep tonight, so what? I don't have to be anywhere or do anything or see anybody all day. Of course I am desperately hoping he does sleep. And that maybe he sleeps all night. But I will not fret either way.


So to celebrate my new found freedom I am posting pics of ornaments from our fairy tree...
This is the one Wylie refers to as the Angel Hat. He made it 2 years ago (?) We always manage to find a way to prop it up on a limb.



This is a mix of new and vintage balls. Lovely and so shiny bright.
Can you spy the little skates? They are vintage and probably homemade. So sweet. Also, I firmly believe that on fairy tree's one can never have too much tinsel.

A reproduction glass Santa I received in an ornament exchange a few ago. He is my largest ornament and always seems to keep the other smaller and unruly ornaments in line.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

So Tired


We are all tired. I am tired, the boys are tired, Nathan is tired. Even Chloe the Brave is tired.
Miles had strep throat last week so nobody slept. This week has been all about tying up loose ends, which for some reasons seems like it takes way more energy than it should. I still have billing and returns to do, but if I can just get some curtains hung tomorrow for a client, then the only time-table I am on is mine. I need that release very, very badly. I need to sleep and rest and let my body recoup from all this merriment.

Today I had a little St. Lucia day Christmas party for my kids and the kids of my Christmas assistants. It was delightful and fun was had by all. We crafted with glitter, drank lots of hot chocolate and had a Cowboy Shoot-Out. All the things you need for a successful Christmas party, but not much to do with poor St. Lucia I reckon. But as much fun as it was, I am glad to have it behind me now too.

I promise to post something much more interesting soon. But for now I hear the sweet call of my fluffy bed and I must go and nest there, like this sweet little birdie on my mantle.

Monday, December 11, 2006

On Becoming Real


Here are some of my gals right before we all toured the Garvan Woodland Gardens Christmas Lights. It was lovely. Cold and Christmasy and lovely. We were late and missed the hot chocolate and marshmallows but still it was lovely.

I look at this picture and I hope that someday we will take a picture like this when we are pink and grey haired old ladies. When we have to hang onto each other's arms to walk the trails.

My grandmother still has friends like this. She has 2 in particular whom she has been friends with since she was my age. They raised their children together, fought for their marriages together, cared for their grandchildren together, and now compare pictures of their great-grandchildren together. They have stuck together for a lifetime and that is no easy task.
It is a wonderful thought that we will all be together through thick and thin. Especially when it seems like there is more thin than thick.

I think part of Christmas is being open and honest about what you are grateful for in your life even though so much of it is broken. Over the past few years I have come to believe that Christmas is as much about the hurt and the sadness in our lives as it is about the hope and the joy. And I don't think that is a bad or depressing thing. If you didn't know sorrow how would you know joy? It's about becoming real and looking at the whole picture and not just at what we want.

I think the Skin Horse from the Velveteen Rabbit says it best.

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse.
"It's a thing that happens to you.When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you can become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit?

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once. like being wound up?" he asked, "Or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easy, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The End is Near


Tomorrow is my last Christmas job. Hurrah! Hurrah!
Christmas decorating is one of my favorite jobs to do and one of my favorite jobs to be done with.

After that I am headed out of town with the girls for some R&R and hopefully lots of giggling and some non-decorating shopping. Unless it is for me of course. There is this great new shop that is all very pink and girlie (like me) in downtown
Hot Springs. I intend on visiting it even if I have to drag everyone else with me. I will happily go to Old Navy in exchange if needed.

Next week I have a few loose ends to tie up for work, a few small non-Christmas jobs to finish, and then it is all about the nesting until Ol' Saint Nick arrives. I am so excited. I intend to wear nothing but PJ's for at least 3 days straight.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

All About Advent

I have always loved a good production. I was the kid who was putting on the neighborhood plays, making everyone's Halloween costumes, & decorating our house for every little event. In college I did so much time in the Theatre department I almost had enough hours to claim a minor in it.

So I guess it is not a surprise to anyone who knows me that my love of plays and productions and theatre has translated over to my own little family and our observance of holidays. I guess I shouldn't be surprised either that I have at least 1 kid who is as much into it all as I am (Miles is too young to tell - right now whatever Wylie likes, Miles likes, but that could all change as he grows a mind of his own.)

So this year we started our Advent traditions - complete with wreath, candles, readings, a calendar, and of course food and parties.

Here is what we have done so far:

Made a Wreath

Had our first dinner & lit our first candle (Hope) and read some readings, including some out of here
Made our calendar
Started counting down the days till Christmas with ornaments, small candy canes and thoughts like "dream" and "let a child lead you."

I also have big plans for St. Lucia Day, Twelfth Night and Epiphany. So stay tuned. Right now I am going to go lay on the couch and try not to get Miles' cold. Send me your good wishes and prayers!

Monday, December 04, 2006

See what can get done when I don't post?


Voila! I did it! I got my house (mostly) done and decorated for Christmas and just in time for Advent.
This is from the bath. I just like how this pic turned out.
This is the hutch in the dining room - I made some newspaper garlands/trims this year and I think they turned out lovely. (Note: Only one vintage ornament lost it's life in the making of this arrangement.)

Here's our advent wreath. Since our church doesn't follow advent officially, and since I don't really like purple, I decided to change up the colors of the candles according to what I had on hand. Except for the white one for Christmas day. That one I bought special.
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