29 December 2006

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu

Here I sit snuggled in my Christmas pajamas and the blanket my mom made us for Christmas. Ralph stands noble in his blue-lit suit. My living room is ensconced in nativity scenes and nutcrackers and stocking hung by the chimney with care. Red and green and white lights wrap around the room. Christmas carols play from my computer. It is my last stand, my last effort. Because the truth is, it’s over. Family has all gone home. Christmas movies have been watched.
Post-Christmas partum. It’s the most depressing time of the year.
And I have absolutely no reason to be depressed. My husband and family and friends completely spoiled me this year from a misfit toy ornament to Pirate games to books to a popcorn maker (you have to understand how much of a popcorn fanatic I am) to another season of M*A*S*H on DVD to a brand new car. Yup, a brand new car complete with the new car smell.
My husband and I looked at cars this past summer. My car is getting up there in years, but it still runs. We just couldn’t afford a new car. Then my husband saw that someone in our church needed a new car. Five kids in one apartment. One car. The husband takes that one car to Oklahoma every week for his job. I would say they need a car. So my husband fast-forwarded some of our plans. Donated my car and bought me a new one. It was my grandmother’s car. Grandma, you’re legacy of generosity lives on. You’re still helping those in need.
Christmas morning we wake up bluebird early and trek to Chris’ mom’s house in our Christmas pajamas. Chris tells me to open my present from him last. Very last. It’s wrapped in three different papers, a washcloth, a leftover picture after his mom’s scrapbooking, tied with a bowtie made from the wrapping paper roll. That’s my husband for you. I tear open all this wrapping. A GPS system. (I get lost all the time.) At least the box for a GPS system. Where is it? I ask. Already in your car, he answers. Let’s go play with it. The crew runs out the door while I fumble with my shoes. Wait! I cry. It’s mine! I get to play with it first! I run out the door. Right in front of the house is a black Sonata with a red ribbon. Just like the movies. My mouth gapes like a baby bird waiting for his worm (and, might I add, like my niece, Cadie, whenever she’s in a 2 mile radius of food). I cry.
I’ve never had a brand new car.
And there inside is my GPS system.
I’m completely spoiled.
Oh, and my GPS system talks. You can set it to speak with a British accent. Love it.
It makes me sad that some people, when you ask about their holidays, they just say, “I got through it.” I don’t want to let go. And there were hard things about this Christmas, one of which being the fact that because it was the turn Chris’ side of the family, I missed out on my family’s Christmas traditions, even though my side was able to come up here for Christmas.
I love Christmas. And I love my life. I hate saying goodbye.

18 December 2006

Christmas and more Christmas

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
One in each fist. After all, I've perfected my hot chocolate recipe, but you can't go the holidays without some good egg nog.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
He wraps them - different wrapping paper for each family member. It saves him writing tags and us looking at tags. We can just tear in, and boy, do we ever tear in. Our goal: carpet the living room with wrapping paper. We have to rip faster than my dad can clean it up. Mainly, we're just trying to drive him crazy.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
We did just blue lights this year, and I'm pretty keen on that look.
4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Don't need it.
5. When do you put your decorations up?
Weekend after Thanksgiving if possible. We watch White Christmas on Thanksgiving night to initiate the season.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Do I have to pick just one? I love food! The stuffing and mashed potatoes - oh, the mashed potatoes. As the joke goes, our family eats enough mashed potatoes to set off the next Irish potato famine. And the cranberry sauce, and the pink stuff...
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
Waiting at the top of the steps with our chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast and favorite stuffed animal until Mom and Dad got everything together and music turned on and lights lit (and presents under the tree, which, of course, we didn't know at the time, cuz, after all, Santa left them there last night). Then there was the one present that Santa almost forgot one year. He left it by the garage door. My skateboard.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
It was in the summer at the lake for vacation. A sort of free for all - Santa, Easter Bunny, Toothfairy. Not sure how I figured it out. I was sad, but it wasn't traumitzing. I think I got over it in a matter of minutes, somewhere between bites of the juicy peach.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Yup - ornament and Christmas pajamas. This year, we're celebrating with Chris' family, and my family is joining. We'll still do the ornament and pajamas from my side and something from his mom on his side.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
Lots of lights - blue lights, as I mentioned above. Lots of ornaments. Not really a specific theme, although the little tree in our bedroom is red and gold with white lights.
11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it - but I live in Texas now. Not too much of it. We had maybe half an inch a few weeks ago, before it went back up into the 80s.
12. Can you ice skate?
As long as I'm holding on to the rail.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
The painting chris did for me - two paintings that fit together. One represents me; one represents him.
14. What's your favorite thing(s) about the holidays?
All of it. Christmas music (the station that plays all Christmas music until Christmas); the cookies; the parties; the family; the traditions; the houses all decorated; mom in her kerchief; visions of sugar plums...
15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
Butter cookies made with the cookie press into fun Christmas shapes with red and green sugar splashed on top.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Christmas Eve candlelight service, followed by dashing through the lit streets to take in all the holiday lights. Then we go back and read Luke 2 and Twas a Night Before Christmas.
17. Did you ever see an angel?
Sorry, but no. I've heard they're pretty scary warriors with the glory of the Lord accompanying them sometimes, which always inspires fear. Either that, or they come to tell you your pregnant. So I'm okay with not seeing them for now.
18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
the giving part more and more (although I still like the receiving, so you can send gifts to...)
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Silent Night. Since I was a Christmas baby (remember the whole December birthday month thing - still accepting gifts), my mom sang it to me as a lullaby. Christmas ended; she still sang it. I must have been about 10 when I discovered that it's actually a Christmas carol. I still get sleepy when I hear it.
20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
I give 'em to my hubby, who adores them.
21. Favorite Christmas movie?
White Christmas far and above. Followed by Rudolph for obvious reasons.
22. What do you have on your list this year?
Books. Big surprise there.

And one random Christmas question I have: Jesus was born as a human, died as a human, resurrected as a human (see the part of him eating food with his disciples), and ascended as a human, and will return as a human. He chose to become human for all eternity, although he is still fully God. However, as a human, does he still need to eat?

15 December 2006


Have I told you about my surprise party?
My husband threw me a surprise party. And let me tell you, I was surprised! He told me he had a guy’s night, which they have about once a month, and that it was at our house this time, so I needed to be outta there. Nothing out of the ord. So I went to sushi with friends (who, yes, folks, were in on the whole deal).
Strange thing #1: Chris told me that guy’s night would end at 8:30. I argued with him. Why so early? That’s dumb, I said. But that’s how it is, Chris replied. Fine.
Strange thing #2: He wanted the house clean for guy’s night. I mean really clean. Huh, I thought. I mean, he has been liking the house clean more and more for guests, but guy’s night? I’m not going to argue. He’s doing most of the work, and I get a clean house out of it.
Strange thing #3: My friends asked if they could go back to my house after dinner. Oh, they worked it in so well. I was talking about a dark chocolate cocoa I had found (yes, conversations often revolve around food, especially chocolate, especially dark chocolate) with which I couldn’t wait to try making hot chocolate. Let’s try it tonight! they suggested. Oh, okay. I called Chris. Although I could hear voices in the background, he very eagerly extended a welcome. Come on down!
**Still, I never suspected a thing. Sure there was extra wine bought and sodas and waters, but my husband does that normally, which is why I ban him from the grocery store.**
I walked in the house. First thought: why on earth did Chris put up decorations for his guy’s night?
She’s not too bright, folks.
Slowly, ever so slowly, my brained worked through the mist and found the explanation. These people are here for me (hence the shouting of Happy Birthday’s!). And my friends were in on it.
Chris said I stood there with mouth agape for almost five minutes.
I love surprises. We had a great time. And, there were gifts.
Sorry, no pics. Forgot to use the camera that night. Let's just say that bold colors flew everywhere in the house. I love bold colors. And a Pirates of the Carribean poster game. I love pirates and Pirates. And banners with flowers. I love flowers. I'm such a girl.
In the interest of security, I’m following Gina’s rule: my birthday is in December, but I will not tell you the day. Let’s just call it a birthday month.
Stay tuned Monday for a Christmas list.

13 December 2006

All those Christmas thoughts in one fruit cake…

“Do we have to celebrate Christmas?” someone asked the other day.
Even as Christians, we don’t have to celebrate Christmas?
No. The shepherds and the angels and the wise men did, though (although not in December, and the wise men weren’t there for about another two years). Other than that, Christmas is not in the Bible, nor was it celebrated by the early church. I guess meeting in catacombs (i.e. tombs) was not conducive to trees and presents and pies.
But Jesus is the reason for the season!
Technically, the Christmas we celebrate was adopted from a pagan winter solstice festival. The tree came from the Druids. Seriously. The cool thing is that Christians saw this as an opportunity to point to the kingdom of God.
So, no, we don’t have to celebrate the Christmas season.
But, for me, it’s a time to remember the God who did not spare His own Son because of His love for us, the God who executed a tough but wonderful plan in order to bring His Son greater glory. It’s a time to remember the Son, who humbled Himself by becoming a man. Kafka’s roach’s got nothing on Him. And more than that, the Advent season is a time of preparation, of anticipation of the second coming, of the time that the Kingdom of God will be fully realized, when peace on earth and goodwill toward men will reign, when evil and tears and pain will be wiped out.
Now don't get me wrong. I love the Christmas season, both for the advent reminder and the family time and all the traditions we've built. I love the carols and the lights and the decorations and the baking, and yes, I love the presents, the giving and the getting. (Let's leave the materialism rant for another day. Presents don't always mean HDTV's and XBox360's and diamonds. Sometimes presents are homemade fudge. Okay, so maybe I ranted just a little.) I didn't say we weren't allowed to celebrate Christmas. We just don't have to.
Prepare ye the way…

11 December 2006

Happy Feet

I know a lot of people have been down on this movie, but to be honest, I liked it! Lots of music, lots of dancing. Who could ask for anything more? Oh, and don’t forget Robin Williams, who’s always good for a laugh. “Let me tell to you something.” Laugh-out-loud jokes. A tad bit of sexual innuendo inappropriate for children’s movies, I thought, such as the Lovelace character. A friend of mine expressed a problem with the violence, but I didn’t think the violence any scarier than any Disney movie, really, with their villains. We took my six-year-old niece. She seemed to be fine.
Two annoying factors: Nicole Kidman. Her voice reminds me of the drip that won’t stop dropping or the fly that won’t shew. And I can’t stand her (for those of you in the audience not familiar with classics, Singing in the Rain).
Second, the seal. They led me to believe that the seal factor would be this danger in the future. Every time a penguin dove into the water, I expected the teeth of the seal. But then the seal never came back. A McGuffin, perhaps. (How do you like them apples? Hey, mom! Look! No hands!) The chasing seal forced Mumble out of his ordinary world then was useful no longer.
Now, to the Christianity factor, the writer obviously had a bad experience. (Man, I’m just full of those movie references today.) The leadership of the tall penguins resemble some stoic puritan leadership with their disdain of the “pagan dancing” that leads others down some sort of slippery slope (they didn’t actually use that term, but used another favored by Christian leaders afraid of the world influences – I just can’t remember the exact term) away from the unity that will save them. The first time we see the destructive wasteland of the humans that steals away the fish of the penguins, the camera focuses on a church, steeple and all, then pans down to the crusty rusty boats reminiscent of Monet’s industrial trains. Apparently, the guy just doesn’t have a high opinion of Christianity. Here’s the ironic thing: in all honesty, Christians are the ones who have to keep dancing when the rest of the world demands something else. If you live in the Bible belt, it means living a risky Christianity when your neighbors want the Sunday-morning-I’m-seen-at-church-experience-and-let-nothing-else-touch-me-just-keep-me-safe-for-the-whole-family. If you live pretty much anywhere in the Western world, it is being dangerously Christian instead of materialistic (and by that, I don’t mean enjoying God’s creation but an instant gratification lifestyle with the gimme-gimme line). If you live in the Muslim world, it means reaping the shame of your family and banishment if not physical suffering. As Christians, we know the source of evil, and as the Body of Christ, incarnating Him everyday, we can bring healing in this world.
So there you have it folks. Dance with happy feet. Share the healing and hope of Christ.

08 December 2006

Publishing articles

Thought some of you might appreciate these articles about publishing. This one is from Forbes and is a collection of articles. I have not read them all.
This is a review of the Forbes articles.
Also, Michelle at Just a Minute has found some great online coupons and this online audible book site that has a couple of freebies. If you're still shopping (and if you're anything like me, you have barely begun to shop!), these might come in handy.

07 December 2006

Meet Ralph

Ralph is our Christmas tree this year. Beautiful, ain’t he? Also very high maintenance. We put Ralph up in our living room on Monday night and filled him up with water with plans to decorate Tuesday night. Tuesday evening, less than 24 hours from the first watering, the base was completely dry, all the water sucked up. Not a drop was stirring. I put more water in. No luck. The tree had sapped up. Wednesday night, we took old Ralphie out of the base, laid him down, and sawed off about an inch or so, maybe two inches, from the bottom, put back up, filled him back up, and set out to decorating. So now we have a beautiful, full, and decorated Christmas tree. Ralph. And he took a sip of water overnight. Just a sip.
All blue lights. Yup. Tried something new this year. And you know what? I like it!
Footnote on the Christmas stake stake-out (Erin’s pun): forgot to take pictures. Sorry. Today I had to go back to Elliot’s to get more stakes. Can I just tell you that I love this place? You walk in the door and are greeted by a group of older men who can’t wait to help you. Not like the Wal-Mart model: can I help you? Oh, no, we don’t have that. You don’t have paper? Anywhere in the store? No, we don’t carry that. Yes, folks, that is their standard answer. Drives me crazy. But back to Elliot’s. They have all sorts of odds and ends. Tea pots, slinkies, and sleds. (Sleds in Texas? Who knows.) So I asked if they have jump ropes. No, ma’am, but we’ll be happy to make one for you. And make one they did! Love this place!
So, yes, Jeanne, it’s too cold to run, so I want to start jump-roping rather than getting flabby, but I need tips. I haven’t jumped a rope since I was a wee little girl (no comments, from the peanut gallery, thank you – what are the guys names in the Muppets that always made the snide remarks? Loved those guys.). Any suggestions, Jeanne?

05 December 2006

Christmas Light Stakes

I found ‘em! I found ‘em! That’s right, folks. After two long years of painful searching high and low (literally the high shelves and the low shelves and every shelf in between), I found those Christmas light stake thingies. You know the ones I’m talking about. Those stakes you put in the ground outside to line your sidewalk with bright lights. Santa’s runway. Just to help him out, you know. Make sure he has a safe sleigh landing at our house. We had searched at Home Depot and Lowe’s and Wal-Mart and CVS and Big Lots. No stakes to be found. Then, today on the way to the library from my morning flute lessons, a road I drive almost daily, I noticed an Elliot’s Hardware. Hm, I thought. That’s new. Maybe they’ll have the stakes. Fat chance, my cynical side sneered. No one has them. Still, a quick stop, a quick prayer, and I sludged out of the car into the cold on the never-ending search for the stakes. (Note: when in line all holly and jolly with my find, I asked the cashier when they opened. “Seven years ago,” he answered. Hm. Who knew?)
I walked into the store. Christmas decorations everywhere. It looked like an elf threw-up in there. Maybe, I thought, just maybe. And there, lit up with a Madonna halo, there were the Christmas stakes. Not just the plastic ones, but metal ones, too. Different shapes and sizes. I picked up the plastic ones. Cheaper, you know. But, after two long years of waiting and searching, after two years of migraines and broken hearts, why deny myself the longevity and stability of the metal stakes? Heck, I’m splurging. I’m paying the extra 2 bucks for the metal stakes.
I’m the happy elf.
I’m so happy, if I were Texan, which I’m not, I would spit.
Seeing as how I do not spit for any reason, I did the happy dance instead (can you hear me, Balki?). Then I called my husband to share the magnanimous news. Christmas light stakes! I got his voicemail. Sharing with the voicemail was not nearly as exciting as sharing with a live person. Still, my humor could not be squelched. I got in line. A bit slow, but undaunting. (Stop editing me. It is my prerogative to create new words.) We customers laughed together, full of jocularity.
Out the door with my new Christmas light stakes, I did a leprechaun sidekick and broke into Silver Bells. It was enough to put my in the Christmas spirit. Of course, it is the most wonderful time of the year, and we got our tree last night, a fat Douglas fir named Ralph. You’ll meet Ralph later this week. So Christmas spirit lurks in my very essence. Still, the Christmas light stakes brought out the Christmas spirit like the scent of brownies when you open that oven door.
I skipped all the way to the car then rushed home to tell you all my good news.
I still happened to notice at the red light that the car behind me didn’t have a driver. Oh, wait. The driver hid behind the steering wheel. I didn’t know that actually happened. Thought it was one of those hyperbolic granny jokes. Nope. Now I’ve seen a real live wheel-hider.
Merry Christmas!

04 December 2006

Reading Quiz

I loved this quiz! Anything that has to do with reading catches me like a fly fisher.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

01 December 2006

Leah's Eyes

I constantly learn from my Dad. This Thanksgiving was no exception. In the middle of some meal together (although not the Thanksgiving meal), my Dad asked me, “What do you think about Leah?” Now, this sounds out of context, but I know my Dad, and I know that he loves to talk about the Bible. I know only one Leah in the Bible, so I answered, “With her tender or nice or fine eyes?” Bingo! And we were off.
You see, several translations of the Bible call her eyes weak, giving the impression that she was homely or needed Coke bottle glasses, as my Dad said. But, with all of the newer lexicon tools and studies, the translations are changing to call them tender or delicate or pretty. Gentle eyes. (Cf. Gen. 18:7; 33:13)
This is where my Dad took it even further, did his own studies with the Hebrew and how it is used other places in the Bible. The Hebrews often used body parts to symbolize inner features or character. (A familiar one: the heart = will.) Here, my Dad said, the eyes show mental qualities like anger, arrogance, humility, pity, etc (cf. Deut. 7:16; 15:9; 28:54, 56). Rachel was outwardly beautiful; Leah held inner beauty. Jacob chose on outward beauty. Here’s where it gets really interesting, and scary. It seems that Leah was God’s choice for Jacob, and God used Laban’s manipulation and deceit to accomplish that much as God used Jacob’s manipulation and deceit in previous stories with Esau and Isaac. Remember, Leah mothered Judah, the line of David and Jesus, the son of the promise. And, if it is true the polygamy is indeed wrong (which, I think, we all would affirm – although, technically the Bible never explicitly says it’s wrong), then Rachel should have never been Jacob’s wife.
This messes with my Western romance sensibilities. Jacob worked seven years in love with this woman. What do you mean, she should have never been the wife?
Look at the literary clues, my Dad said. (My Dad loves literary clues. Hmm. Do you think that’s where I got it?) Moses points out that Leah was buried with Jacob and Isaac and Rebekah and Abraham and Sarah. Rachel was buried somewhere else entirely. She didn’t belong.
But what about Joseph and how he saved his family from famine?
God uses even our mess-ups for His glory.
But, but, but. This just doesn’t feel right. (Aren’t we glad that God’s character is not based on how we feel something should go?)
Then I remembered a story from my life. I had a first love in college. He broke my heart. Now I am married to the most incredible man in the world. Isn’t that similar to Jacob’s story? Could he not have chosen to love Leah? And, yes, things could have gone down differently. Laban could have tried honesty.
Some thoughts to think about courtesy my Dad, a wise man.