Friday, December 30, 2005

Changes

Well, it's that time for me. The wrapping paper is finally all gone, the left-overs are looking depressing, and I've stepped on enough Duplo blocks that I have banished all toys to the bedroom. Yes, it's that glorious after-Christmas letdown.

But in some ways, it's a relief. Christmas just wouldn't be so special if it wasn't confined to a small part of the year. (although I'll admit to celebrating it for a bigger part of the year than most, lol!) We would not be able to keep up all of these festivities and whirlwind jolliness for twelve whole months. Besides, Santa needs his vacation just as much as the next person.

I do like to try to keep that spirit of giving and thankfulness going all year. That's why I shop and craft for Christmas all year long. But the lovely thing about that is the fact that you can take it in small doses and then go on to your gardening, or swimming, or football, with the rest of the world being none the wiser. No need for full-scale gaiety, lol!

So now, I go back to stodgy, old, practical mommy, with too much laundry and not enough patience, but in the back of my mind is that little glimmer of Christmas lights and holly that I can take out and dream over in anticipation of next year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Back Again

Oh, I warned you all, didn't I? I told you in the beginning that I had very little in the Powers of Concentration department. Be thankful that I made it all of the way to the Nineteenth!

But onto more pleasant topics...


Christmas was really wonderful this year:

* We spent two nights in a row at home together enjoying our booty and each other's company

* I received too much as I am very blessed

* My husband pulled out all of the stops and presented me with an amazing, very-unlike-him gift that actually made me sit at the foot of our tree and cry Christmas Morning

*I had the strength to fight my pack-rat ways before the holidays and removed ten garbage bags of toys, clothes, and household items from our home, which were put to very good use by other people, allowing me the ability to find homes for all of the new things without cursing and sweating.

* Santa brought my Peanut a play kitchen for Christmas, so I have had the fun of sitting down to pretend meals of "Juice-covered Pancakes" and "Peas, Carrots, Eggs, and Cookies Casserole" lovingly prepared by my two-year old (but she still makes me do the washing-up!)

*We got a chance to see family that we probably will not see again , until next Christmas and of course I wallowed in the compliments on my child's beauty that were piled on by one and all!

* I went to see "Pride and Prejudice" all by myself and enjoyed it immensely, knitting my way through to Lizzie and Mr. Darcy's kiss. (my husband won't let me knit when I go to the movies with him. He says that it's distracting and embarrassing, lol!)


I hope that everyone else is enjoying a lovely holiday. Give your families hugs from me!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jokes

Day 19

What do you get if you deep fry Santa Claus?

Crisp Cringle.


If athletes get athlete's foot, what do astronauts get?

Missile-toe!


What is the best evidence that Microsoft has a monopoly?

Santa Claus had to switch from Chimneys to Windows

Monday, December 19, 2005

Pregnancy

Day 18

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke 2:4-7 ESV


The distance from Nazareth to Bethlehem is roughly 70 miles. A trip that would have been 4 or 5 days long. Now imagine that you are nine months pregnant and fifteen years old, riding on a saddle animal or walking. Swollen ankles, aching back, and exhaustion. My goodness, how Mary's faith must have been tried! I can remember complaining about the smallest things when I was that far along, lol!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

What Christmas is Coming To

Day 17

As a little girl climbed onto Santa's lap, Santa asked the usual, "And what would you like for Christmas?"
The child stared at him open mouthed and horrified for a minute, then gasped: "Didn't you get my E-mail?"

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pillow Talk

Day 16


The pillow talk that occurred in our bedroom last night:

Me: "So, are you all finished with your Christmas shopping?"

DH: *yawn* "No, I still have some things to pick up."

Me: "When are you going to make a trip to the store?"
(knowing full well that his schedule is packed from now until the 23rd, and that my DH hates going to said store at the best of times)

DH: "Oh, I don't know. Definitely not this weekend, the stores will be too crowded. Maybe next weekend."

Me: (after a few beats) "You do realize that Christmas is next weekend?"

DH: "No it isn't! Is it?"

Me: "Afraid so."

DH: "Do you think that everything will get here in time if I order it online?"

Me: "Please say that you have already bought my present."

*30 seconds of Silence*

DH: "Of course! It's not like I forgot about Christmas!"

Me: "Um, technically, you just did."

DH: "Feeling like coal this year, are we?!"

Me: *snoring* (deciding that discretion is the better part of valor and that being right is not nearly as important as having something under the tree Christmas morning with my name on it)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

New Christmas Memories

Day 15


This morning my Peanut awoke at 5:00AM, bright-eyed and ready for the day ahead. Mama, who is a notorious insomniac and therefore usually runs on 3 to 4 hours sleep, also awoke at 5:00AM, not so bright-eyed or quite ready to face the day ahead. You see, Thursdays are my errand running days and if there is ever a day that I need adequate sleep to prepare for, it's Thursday. I try to do all of my "running around" in one day to save on fuel and time, but this means that I run from morning until evening and to simplify things, Peanut usually spends the day with Grandma and Papa.

But back to our pre-dawn rising.

Here we were, with a whole day of errands to do, and it was too early to start out. I also knew that if I didn't get started on my day, I would be all too tempted to turn on a Wiggles video and snooze in the chair while Peanut bounced around the livingroom, effectively killing my drive to do anything else for the rest of the day.

Then it occurred to me. Our market is of the 24 hour variety. There was really nothing stopping me from going grocery shopping, even though it was an early hour. So that just what we did. I bundled up the Peanut, got my list, and we were off. Believe it or not, it was lovely.

First of all, it was so quiet and dark. Very peaceful. Plus, it was snowing this perfect movie snow; beautiful even flakes with no wind. Add to that the fact that most of the Christmas lights on our street were turned on and you had a veritable winter wonderland. Peanut and I just stood in the front yard for a few minutes and enjoyed.

The market was not crowded, Peanut behaved beautifully, and I even remembered my coupons. All was right with the world!

I think this has been my first truly magical day of the holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Oh Tannenbaum!

 
Day 14

Our cozy Christmas tree! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ha Ha Ha

Day 13


Two of my favorite Christmas jokes


Q: What do you get if you cross Raquel Welch and Santa Claus?
A: A thank you card from Santa.

Q: Why does Santa wear pink underwear?
A: He's a man. He did all his laundry in the one load.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Snow

Day 12



Snow

Blanket of white covers all
muffles mankind's din
yet sharpens our perception

by impromptu-mom, age 11


Found this old poem while digging through some of my old school papers yesterday (I'm easily distracted and was supposed to be putting away the empty decorations boxes. I really was working! No, really!) It was in an old book of poetry that I had written for some independent project in 5th grade. I fancied myself a poet at the time, and I had written a Haiku for each season, (I went through a period of Asian interest about then, lol) and illustrated them with some very bad drawings of trees. Definitely not an artist! After the 5th grade and poetess didn't work out, I moved on to playwriting for the next two years (the boy that I had a crush on also wrote plays. It gave us an excuse to hang out in the library together, lol!). If anyone is ever feeling down and needs a good laugh, I have enough failed writing attempts lying around to cheer anyone out of a funk!

I thought that the winter Haiku was appropriate for the advent calendar and our current weather. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Wonder of Men

Day 11


The Shepherds and the Angels

8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"[c]

15When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." 16And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Luke 2:8-20 ESV

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ha, Ha, Huh?

Day 10


Why is an elephant large, grey, and wrinkly?

Because if it were small, white, and smooth it would be an aspirin!



This was the joke in Peanut's Christmas cracker today. Maybe it's an English thing, lol!

Thursday, December 8, 2005

And On a More Sober Note...

Day 9

FIREPROOFING CHRISTMAS TREES

Into 1 gallon water mix

* 1 cup ammonium sulphate (available from garden supply store)
* 1/2 cup boric acid (available from drugstore) and
* 2 tablespoons borax (available from grocery or hardware store)

Mix well. Pour into a spray bottle. Spritz on tree and pour the remainder into the tree stand instead of in water.


What can't you find on the internet?

Christmas Memories

Day 8


One of my favorite Christmas memories involves my Grandparents and their love of Christmas.

My family with it's large Irish roots has been too large to gather at any one person's home for years now, what with all the Children, Grandchildren, and Great-Grandchildren (we are often 44 for Christmas dinner, and that's just three generations of immediate family). So, we started the tradition of renting out a local hall for all our holiday get-togethers. We pot-luck it and laugh and sing and eat. But the highlight of the Christmas festivities is the annual 'Christmas Show'.

Starting from around the time that I was 9 or 10, my Gram decided that we kids were too focused on the gift exchange. So, to entertain our thoughts and make the night last a little longer, she insisted that we "work" for our gifts by putting on a Christmas program (one of the benefits of a large family, there are always enough kids around to put on a show, lol!). We would work through October and November, memorizing poems and lines, praticing songs and pieces on our instruments (for those of us of the 'band-geek' persuasion ;)), and thinking up costumes for Mary, Joseph, and the Wise Men/Women. And thanks to my very fertile Aunt (mother of 9), we almost always had a real live baby Jesus, lol! I remember loving it when I was young and scorning it in my teen years, but until I was married, I took part in it faithfully, every year.

Now that I look back, I am so thankful that my Gram helped us to create those memories. My Grandparents' healths are failing and the family is so busy that "The Program" is often a put together a bit hastily on Christmas Eve, but I still have the memory of those great family Christmas productions, and they really mean a lot to me!

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Gifts

Day 7


Eight Gifts that Don't Cost A Cent...

1) THE GIFT OF LISTENING... But, you must REALLY listen. No interrupting, no daydreaming,
no planning your response. Just listening.

2) THE GIFT OF AFFECTION... Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back
and handholds. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and
friends.

3) THE GIFT OF LAUGHTER... Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will
say, "I love to laugh with you."

4) THE GIFT OF A WRITTEN NOTE... It can be a simple "Thanks for the help" note or a full
sonnet. A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a
life.

5) THE GIFT OF A COMPLIMENT... A simple and sincere, "You look great in red," "You did a
super job" or "That was a wonderful meal" can make someone's day.

6) THE GIFT OF A FAVOR... Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.

7) THE GIFT OF SOLITUDE... There are times when we want nothing better than to be left
alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.

8) THE GIFT OF A CHEERFUL DISPOSITION... The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind
word to someone, really it's not that hard to say, "Hello" or "Thank You".



From a lovely site called "Home & Holidays"

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Christmas Cheer

Day 6

Christmas: When you exchange hellos with strangers and good buys with friends.



Had a marathon wrapping session last night, four hours!

I really do like wrapping presents. It's one of the few useful skills my Mom taught me. She was a perfectionist when it came to our presents. She says it's because we never had very many things under the tree, so she wanted to make them as pretty as possible. Truthfully though, I never realized that we didn't have much until I was older. Christmas was always a blast at our house!

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Jesus

Day Five

Jesus

By
Jason Shulman


The mysterious child,
our mysterious boy
only he, alone among his friends
could say the secret words
that could stop the moon
He looked up at his mother:
she was fifteen and blamed no man
for her situation
She smiled the same smile
the hanging air spoke to her
from above.
She knew this wordless infant
was teaching her heart to love

Friday, December 2, 2005

The Gift of the Magi

Day Four


I remember reading this story for the first time when I was eleven or twelve years old. Then, as now, I would go on reading jags; finding one story by and author and liking it so well that I would read everything else that had their name on it. After discovering "The Ransom of Red Chief" I went to the library and found a nice tome of some of O. Henry's collected works. When I read "The Gift of the Magi", I cried. Not just cried, I bawled. The story just touched me in a strange way, somehow. Since then it has always been a favorite of mine.


"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."

The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pierglass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! What could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"

Jim looked about the room curiously.

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! A quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

Merry!

Day Three


"Christmas Pie"
by George Wither

Lo! now is come our joyfull'st feast!
Let every man be jolly;
Each room with ivy leaves is dressed,
And every post with holly.

Now all our neighbours' chimneys smoke,
And Christmas blocks are burning;
Their ovens they with bakemeats choke,
And all their spits are turning.

Without the door let sorrow lie,
And if for cold it hap to die,
We'll bury it in Christmas pie,
And ever more be merry.


I've always loved this poem! I think that "joyfull'st" in one of my favorite words of all time!

Ha Ha Ha

Day Two

Just a few Christmas Jokes for you!

Question: Why does Santa have 3 gardens?
Answer: So he can ho-ho-ho.

Question: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
Answer: Frostbite.

Question: What do you get when you cross an archer with a gift-wrapper?
Answer: Ribbon hood.

Question: What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?
Answer: Claustrophobic.

Question: What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
Answer: Snowflakes.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

I-Mom's Advent calendar

Well, I'm hoping to give you all a little Christmas countdown, with a holiday-related post every day until Christmas. We'll see! (I have no illusions about my own powers of concentration, lol!)


Day 1

Why is Christmas sometimes spelled Xmas?*

... especially when combined with the word "sale"?

According to the book Did You Ever Wonder... by Jeff Rovin, the word for Christ in Greek is Xristos. The use of the shortened form "Xmas" became popular in Europe in the 1500's. The word "Xmas" is common in advertising most likely because "Xmas" and "Sale" have the same number of letters, and "Xmas" is significantly shorter than "Christmas".


Who knew? I actually have relatives who will not write or use the word Xmas because they feel that it dishonors Christ. Just goes to show that none of us are as smart as we think we are, lol!


* For more great fun Christmas facts like this, scoot on over to How Stuff Works!