Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sorta White Christmas

I was not expecting to have a white Christmas this year, especially since on Sunday the temperature was nearly 70 degrees outside!  It turned cold again, and we had blizzard conditions on Christmas Eve in the morning.  By Christmas morning, it was below freezing, with a dusting of white remaining everywhere.

We spent the weekend with JP's sister in Virginia since we stayed home for Christmas day.  We worked together to make nearly 100 tamales, which we stuffed ourselves with, and brought home several dozen frozen ones for later.  We went out for dinner on Sunday, and were seated next to Santa!  J and cousin H sat on his lap for a photo op.

 
Miss L threw a temper tantrum that lasted every bit of 3 hours on Sunday night.  She ended up losing the opportunity to have a Birthday party with her friends, as well as some other things.  We were both embarrassed and furious with her.  She was apparently exorcised during the night, and woke with her typical charming and loving persona.

L serenely sewing before she became possessed
 
The girls were VERY excited last night, so we told them that they were not allowed to come in our room until 8:00 this morning.  L set the alarm on the cell phone that she plays with, and although I heard them up and around at 7:15 (and I joined them in the great room), they kept their word, and did not go in our bedroom to wake JP until 8!

Typically we make the girls struggle through breakfast and dishes before opening presents, but today we let them head to the tree first thing.  They were both already dressed in their Christmas finest, even  J, who is usually in PJ's!


It was a relaxing day, and we enjoyed being together as a family.

I'll leave you with this photo of JP from Christmas 1972:

 
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Message in the Sky

At this time of year when we remember the story of the birth of the Messiah being heralded by angels appearing in the night sky, and an amazing star directing 3 foreign dignitaries to his bedside, one has to wonder if the sky still can reveal messages to us on Earth.

Based on several amazingly beautiful portraits that I've witnessed in the sky lately, I'd have to say that it is possible.   The only "message" that I have been able to translate, however, is an overwhelming sense of awe and wonder.  That can be message enough since I've been feeling rather underwhelmed by the upcoming season of joy.

Last night we drove up our hill in the late evening to see the (nearly) full moon directly ahead of us, low in the sky, bright white and massive.  The December full moon is known as the "Cold Moon", for good reason.

In November, we witnessed the full "Beaver Moon", wreathed by a rainbow.

 
Last week, the clouds made so many patterns in the sky that I had trouble driving home from the city since I was watching the sky almost as much as I was watching the road!


I also witnessed what looked to be a pillar of flame rising up from the hills across from Poplar Ridge.


Wonder is a good message to receive this time of year, so I have tucked it under my sweater to ponder on as Christmas draws closer. 

For their part, the kitties are just trying to make it through this "Cold Moon" phase by snuggling up in the Kitty Kastle.



Keep warm my friends, and keep the wonder of this season close to your hearts.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Three Strikes

CRAZY day yesterday!  Let me repeat that...C-R-A-Z-Y!

I had to take the van for an alignment up in the next town, so I decided to finish up my shopping.  (Yep, all done!)  When I returned home, several hours later, and took the dogs out, I noticed a Red Tailed Hawk fly up from somewhere very close to the chicken run, to a nearby tree.  He kept hanging around, which made me nervous enough to check on the chickens.

Sure enough, he completely decapitated one of my hens, and it hadn't been too long previously by the looks of the evidence.  We got 5 eggs yesterday - the most we've had in a day for 2 months!  Now all the ladies are going to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and stop laying again.  I guess this is why the Red Tails have the nick-name of "Chicken Hawk!"

The girls had their Well Child Exams last night, and we didn't get home until 6:30.  Dr. N called L a "Skinny Minnie", just like we do.  I told her that since 3 medical professionals have diagnosed her that way, it must be true!  J got 2 shots, which she was not at all happy about, but now she is good for 10 years!  It's strange to think that she's been around long enough to need boosters on all those baby shots!

Last night was a heavy homework night.  J has been working on a Math project for the past several days (the teacher who came up with this idea is ingenious!)  She was supposed to spend one million dollars on an activity.  This required researching prices, itemizing things, learning to budget, and much Math.  She went the thrifty Mennonite way at first, with economy class airfare for 3 friends, herself and me (as the chaperone) to Australia for 56 days, PB&J and BBQ potato chips for meals, and rental car for 1 week only, with bicycle rentals for the rest of the time.  Then she realized that she had only spent $500,000!  We bumped things up to first class airfare, luxury hotel suite, several shows at the Sydney Opera House, yacht rental for one week with a scuba guide, and stretch limo rental with chauffeur for the entire time (kept the bikes too...you never know!)  She was also philanthropic with her money, and adopted 1,000 koalas for 10 years each, and bought each of us an iPad Air to play with on the flight.  By the end, there was still $11,000 spending money for each person, and the final 2 cents went on to my clothing budget...hooray!

L has been having a huge mental hurdle to her piano practice this year.  When she is assigned a new song, she cries that she cannot play it because she doesn't know the notes.  At the end of last year, her teacher had her write the notes in the book, to help her realize that she does indeed "know the notes."  She doesn't want her to rely on that however, so asked her not to do that this year.  Didn't work!  Major melt down at practice time to the point that she wanted to quit and her Dad told her that was completely fine with him!

Our compromise is that I will photocopy the songs, so that she can write the notes in, and play them from that music twice.  After that, she must play from her books without writing in them.  It seems to work, but writing out the notes takes her SOOOOOOOOO long!  I think she spends more time counting and recounting how many notes she has left to label than actually pounding out the work!

In any case, the girls got to bed about an hour late last night, and consequently were extremely reluctant to get up this morning.  I gave Lauren half a cup of coffee with her breakfast (you're welcome Ms. 2nd Grade Teacher...enjoy!)  Luckily, Christmas Break will be upon us in no time, and much sleeping in can occur.  That's good news for all of us, especially JP, who is taking a well deserved break too.

I was woken in the wee hours this morning by bells.  Unfortunately, it was not Santa, but Kali.  She has re-learned to ring the bells on the door to go outside.  I figured it was an emergency for her to ring them at that time of day, so hurried to let her out.  It was indeed an emergency!  I wasn't back in bed for more than a couple of minutes before Stella cried in her kennel.  She also had an emergency, and had already vomited in her bed.  She rang the bells to go out later, while the girls were eating breakfast - the first time she's ever done that!  Such smart dogs!

Today I will have to be on the alert for sick dogs who need to go outside and Chicken Hawks prowling around my hens.  If I get around to it, I'll look into a therapist for group PTSD counseling too.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

On Parades and the Holidays in General

It is cold and blustery today, with snow swirling about.  As usual, the 1-2 inches of snow forecast for the morning has resulted in less than an inch on the ground.  It appears, however, that this time Winter is here to stay...and the garden is not sufficiently winterized yet.

This back thing really slowed me down this Fall, I couldn't do too much without paying for it later, and now I will pay for it in the Spring when it is planting time as well.  I was actually feeling significantly better early last week - possibly from a break of greater than a week from PT and a week off from exercising.  I really wanted to take advantage of the warmer weather mid-week last week to work in the garden.  I did get quite a bit done, but there is a lot more to do...and now the stiffness and catching in my back when I bend and sit has returned, as has the cold weather and frozen ground.

I need to learn to stop fretting about things beyond my control.  I would like to be Supreme High Emperor over my own little world so that I COULD control everything:  the weather, bad drivers, kids that throw rocks and break windows.  Until that happens, I need to work on FLEXIBILITY - it might help my back as well!

In the meantime, Christmas is creeping ever closer.  I'm not feeling the jingle bells and holly and ho-ho-ho yet.  Somehow my efforts to be organized and prepared this year seem to have fallen short, although the girls' presents, including L's Birthday gifts are already neatly wrapped and hidden in a closet downstairs.

I completely screwed up too.  I gave permission for J to do something special with a friend on the Friday after Christmas, and only just recently realized that day is L's Birthday.  Now I'm trying to come up with something special for L to do with us that evening instead!  PHHHBBBBTHH!

I thought about skipping Christmas baking this year, since neither JP nor I need the extra calories.  I broached the subject with him this morning, and he said "But it's CHRISTMAS!"  I guess the cookie baking is still on!

Waiting for the Parade to start
Our town's little Christmas parade was held on Saturday afternoon.  The Hospital asked all the employees to walk in the parade "to show our support for the Hospital."  We didn't feel like we could go watch it after that plea, so the girls and I walked in our first (and ONLY) Christmas parade.  Of course the temperatures had plummeted from 60* on Thursday to 20* on Saturday, so we were popsicles by the time it was all over and Santa had ridden by on his tiny red Fire Truck. 

 
We had a nice snowfall Saturday night into Sunday.  The girls had a good time playing in it that afternoon.  Later on, although we all felt lethargic, and sore (JP was splitting wood on Saturday), we dug deep and found enough Christmas spirit to put up the Christmas tree and watch "Elf."

video

J has a school Christmas concert tonight, and a Voice Recital on Saturday.  Next week is the last week of school before the Holidays, so their school parties and my office one are coming up quickly.  This morning JP suggested a Holiday get-together with our friends in the Burg this weekend.  I keep telling myself, "Go low key...no need to make yourself miserable to have a Merry Christmas!  It will be FUN anyway, even if there are only 3 kinds of Christmas cookies and I didn't put up all of the decorations!  Yay Christmas!"  Maybe I'll record that and treat myself to some subliminal messaging during the night.

Right now, I'm off to learn how to make Wassail for Christmas parties.  It's going to be FUN!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Sick Days

L has been home sick for the past 3 days.  She actually felt better after the first couple of hours on Tuesday, but continued to have fever (and then Pink Eye), so it hasn't been terrible hanging with her this week.  We played board games, and snuggled on the couch watching endless episodes of "Magic School Bus."  We worked on the instrument that she was supposed to fashion for Music Class at School.

L and her guitar
 
Yesterday we piled 12 garbage bags of leaves into the van, so today I worked on mulching them.  L asked to play in them a bit before they were all mulched.

Last night, J brought home homework for her sister, which caused tears and yelling.  I DO NOT miss those moments from Cyber School!  The same thing happened tonight, but escalated to the point that L, being angry at her sister, threw a rock, which hit (and BROKE) a window.  I did not freak out, but the first thing out of my mouth was that she will lose her allowance for an entire year!  (Interestingly, that was one of the first things JP said as well!)

Oops!
 
Tomorrow I head back to work, and L is going back to school.  Hopefully we can keep rolling right into the Holiday Season!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Tryptophan

Our final round of guests left this morning.  Today I have been doing the laundry and the weekly cleaning, along with catching up on things that didn't get done over the past 4 or 5 days.  L is on the verge of being ill - crying easily and frequently, and complaining of sore throat.  It hasn't taken much to set her off today, and J is doing that regularly.  The only way I could get a little bit of quiet was by putting a movie on.  Whatever.

I was considering sitting out in the tree house with my rifle this afternoon for the first day of deer season, but I don't feel up to it.  I'm feeling drowsy this afternoon.  No energy.  Don't feel like doing much.  Maybe it's the tryptophan from all that left-over turkey leaking out of the fridge and affecting my brain.

Our Thanksgiving holidays were a whirl of activity.  JP's sister, her husband, and their son arrived on Wednesday night, along with JP's nephew's new fiancee (who is a lovely person.)  We cooked forever, and then feasted on Thanksgiving day.  They had to leave Friday morning, so that afternoon we went out to a matinee of "Frozen" - fun movie.

On Saturday afternoon, Mom and I went out to my favorite park, for a wreath making class.  Each of us came home with an evergreen wreath that we had fashioned ourselves.

 
Saturday night, 2 of JP's cousins arrived.  They stayed to visit on Sunday - they played board games with the girls and we watched "Despicable Me."

So...today we are back to the grind, albeit no school in honor of the first day of deer season.  It's a new week and a new month.  We are counting down the days to a new year.  I've got a few things to do before then...