Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Re-Cap

Naughty or Nice?
A highlight on Christmas Eve is a visit from Santa Claus. He arrives amongst  jingling bells and carols led by Overboard!  Our friend Tom has been suiting up in character for as long as I can remember. He was the first Santa Claus my children ever met. In 1999, when Santa Tom jingled through our yard and into the Christmas party, Lucas, who was three, ran inside to the fireplace, pulled down his stocking and scurried it outside, offering it up to Santa Tom.
 How cute is THAT?
Aunt Cindy, Cousins Marinna and John
 Yes, the Red Suit means magic for little ones.
Nephew Benson is the only believer these days, but the nineteen other people there Christmas Eve watched his reaction and remembered the joy of being a believer.
Christmas morning is fun with our two non-believing teenagers. For the past five years we have held a treasure hunt for them to find their gifts. Being that they know most of their gifts, "The Hunt" sprinkles a little kid-magic into the morning. So, after we read the story of the birth of Jesus from the Bible, we set them loose with the first clue:
"This open and closes six days a week."
Can you figure out where the clue was hidden? 
The mailbox.
From the mailbox, they were sent to "Go to the bowels of Mordor."
 Yes, this clue was brought to you by my Hobbit loving husband. The answer was the BBQ and the kids immediately knew where to look. I had no idea, but whatever. They share a language.
This year we created the most challenging hunt at their request. They love to be stumped and to run around having to think clues through. It's fun for us to sip coffee from the couch and watch them shuffle frantically around, as if they are being timed.  The final clue led them to our closet, as it is one of the few places that can hide a seven-string-electric guitar and skateboard ramp.
After the hunt, we we head up to Overboard's house for breakfast and to open more gifts. Benson loved the Legos we gave him, but not as much as the matching scarf set we gifted Miss Piggy, Lui and their kid-dog Cinco. I think they liked their winter accessories and will get some use from them now that Southern California is on the cold side. 
Cold to us, anyway.
The most thoughtful gifts I received were from Teckie. Along with The Carpenters Christmas CD and "The key to his heart" was this rock with the word "Relax" carved in it. 
 I need to relax and we all know it. 
RELAX is exactly what I have done since surgery. I have another small surgery tomorrow, so you bet this coming week will hold the same ... puzzles, napping and movies.
Today I watched "Get On Up."  
Tonight it's "Homesman, 
and tomorrow's feature is "Unbroken."
Actually, being forced to relax has been a good experience. 
A blessing. 
 I hope to incorporate more of this sort of thing into 2015 :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Simply Approachable

"Off to one side sits a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor, perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him"-- and so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds."-- Max Lucado

This quote places the lowly work of shepherding
 on the "Best Paying Jobs" list. 
That is, if you comprehend where true riches lie. 
Witnessing the birth of Jesus? 
Perhaps by being a regular, non-cluttered, overbooked, simple person
 God is able to approach us to share magnificent miracles ...
 like those shepherds over two thousand years ago. 
They had time to hear him.
Wishing you a SIMPLY spectacular Christmas Eve 
with eyes and ears wide open
 to receive unexpected heavenly gifts!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Time Killers

Rest for two weeks... doctor's orders. 
Okay, then. For me, this is an out-of-balance challenge! 
I have come up with ways to kill time while I'm stagnant.
The 1000 piece puzzle starts today.  Being that I love candy, this particular puzzle sweetly clicked. It's all old candy boxes and wrappers. The six foot "puzzle lab-table"  is set up and ready to be hunched over.  Puzzling seemed like a good way to kill time over the next couple weeks.  Any local friends who want to slow it waaaay down this busy Christmas week, please come on over and puzzle with me :)
The 1000 piece puzzle takes one piece at a time
Seeing movies galore will kill time too! 
Last night we watched the final Hobbit movie, "The Battle of the Five Armies." Talk about violent! Heads chopped off left and right, Orcs killed, Elves tossed away, Dwarfs beaten and Wizards tortured. Unless, you are a die-hard Hobbit fan, it may not be the pick-of-the-week for ya. Thumbs down from me, but it received three thumbs up from my guys. You be the judge :)
Hmmmm, I am in search of mellow-time killers to see me through the next two weeks. There is always blogging to take up a Chunk O'Down-Time. That will be an interesting time filler. I have saved many pictures in my "Things that make me laugh" file, and various stuff in my "Inspirational" file.
 Get ready to chuckle and feel warm and fuzzy.
After cruising Blanche around Gilbert, Arizona
May I tell you what absolutely will NOT be happening? 
Unicycle riding. 
Por Que? No es posible!
  Side note: Did I mentioned that we hauled Blanche to Arizona over Thanksgiving?  Riding a unicycle there sounded wonderful because roads are flat and wide.  I enjoyed a cruise on Thanksgiving morning. Folks were out in full-moving force, riding bikes, walking dogs and running. There was much "unicycle encouragement" from passers by... including that guy who started singing loud circus music from his yard. That was a first!
For now, Old Blanche sits in the garage instead of our living room, as it will be a couple months before I can ride. Oddly, my unicycle is  the very thing that inspires me to write. I will need to find other ways to get the creative juices flowing. Until then, I will chillax, build a puzzle, and hang around just killing time.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Packing It All In

This past month of "elf work" has been joyfully consuming.
 I was running against the clock to squeeze in traditions, decorating and parties  before taking a hospital break for minor repairs. 
Decorating gingerbread houses is tasty and fun and always done the first week in December... so I can bark at my kids for eating off the candy for the rest of the month.  
These two kiddos have come a long way since our first gingerbread building experience twelve years ago.  
This year we imported additional Christmas spirit in hat form. It made for a silly night and the houses came out lovely!

In fourth grade, we decorated our class tree. 
 Our theme was "Let heaven and nature sing."
The kids made plaster ornaments with traditional Christmas sheet music on them. Then taking pipe cleaners, made some colorful treble clefs to accent. Personally, I think we had the best tree of all the eight classes, maybe I am biased? 

Our annual neighbor Christmas dinner and walk around the hood was fun. Many homes "over do" lights and decorations, and its an excellent reason to saddle up the Weenies, grab some cocoa and cruise the neighborhood. There was a meteor shower that night, so we spotted shooting stars up above. Very cool.
We have been living next to these folks since 1999 and watching these kids interact is a highlight. It's awkward at first, but soon enough they are giggling and watching ... what else? ELF!
 Speaking of Buddy the Elf, I treated my family to this Christmas decoration because we love watching that movie this time of year. I am sursprised we've only watched it twice thus far.
 There is more ELF to come, I just know it.
Here's another favorite decoration. This Precious Moments Nativity was a gift from my mother-in-law on our first Christmas, 20 years ago.  The backdrop is some art work Daniel made in third grade and ties this diorama together.
 A treasure. 
JOY is the ideal description of Baby Jesus coming to Earth.
AND, It wouldn't be Christmas without the traditional Italian Pizelle cookie! 
It's the ONE time of year I bust out the iron and bake my heart out. This year I had to do it twice because I messed up the first batch and they came out "not so good" AKA: horrible.  They were definitely not pizelles worthy of sharing. I scratched that first round and tried again. 
The second time they were "Pizelle Perfect." 
Buon Natale!
(That's Merry Christmas in Italian)
Then, the Christmas card struggle.
 I was NOT going to send out cards and felt okay throwing my hands up in the air over it. Then, we received cards from old friends/family who are ancient and may not have many seasons left. I know it means alot to old folks to receive a family picture card. Daniel and I whipped one up in a night.  I didn't order enough, because, remember,  I was not  going to send one out  in the first place. This card shortage stresses me out.
 The same thing happened last year - will I ever learn?
My high school peeps gather this time of year for dinner and gift exchange. It never gets old. We have been together through thick and thin, ups and downs, and I don't think I can find more accepting and loving ladies.  
True blessings is what they are. 
All. Year. Round. 
This dolled up Vixen was a gift. 
Totally adorbs, huh?
I squeezed in these festivities knowing that after the 18th I could only SIT and HEAL (Like a dog ... pun intended). 
"I just like to smile. Smiling is my favorite."
 - Buddy the Elf
Now, it's off my feet for two weeks!
 My VERY pregnant sister, Cute-Pie,  made us dinner last night. I sat back and enjoyed, however, not lifting a helping-finger felt odd. I don't sit still naturally, but am very thankful she stepped in. It was delicious and some valuable kid-cousin time was shared.
 These current conditions make for a different sort of Christmas. However, the real meaning hasn't altered one bit. Celebrating Christ's birth,  praising God for health and togetherness will always be my personal priority this time of year.
Happy Birthday Jesus!