Sunday, November 30, 2008

Getting a Christmas Tree, South Texas Style

When I was a kid my family never had a real Christmas tree. For whatever reason we always had a fake tree. Do not get me wrong, it was still a big deal, to get it out and decorate it, make the paper chains and put on a popcorn and cranberry chain.

When I got married however, I insisted on getting a real Christmas tree, which was fine with my husband since that is what he grew up doing. There is just something about the smell of a real Christmas tree. (I won't bore you with the details of how I ruined our first vacuum cleaner by assuming the needles could easily be swept up. Let's just say I was wrong.)

In Iowa where we lived after we were first married, we went to a Christmas tree farm and cut down our own tree.

In the Bronx we bought a tree from one of the corner lots selling them. Another year we lived in the Bronx, we brought a tree home from Vermont after we had gone skiing. I can't help but rabbit trail for a minute as I remember that trip and tree because of a speeding ticket my husband got in Vermont. It was absolutely crazy. We were driving a Subaru wagon loaded down with skies on top, suitcases inside, our son who was 5 months old at the time and a huge Christmas tree tied to the top of the Subaru. We were not a vision of speed. Yet we were pulled over. I am still convinced it was because of our NY license plates, but that is another story.

When we moved to Ohio we began again the tradition of chopping down our tree at a nearby Christmas farm. It always seemed like it was the coldest day of the year on whatever day we went to get our tree, which is partly why I don't have too many pictures documenting our tree excursions. That and the fact that up until this past summer I have been horrible about taking pictures. It just was not a habit of mine. It would be difficult to get the kids in the same picture or I'd forget our camera completely. It's not just me, my husband is just as bad as I am. My dear friend Yvonne had to take pictures of our son's 7th birthday party last year with her phone and email them to me because we did not bring any kind of camera to the party.

Anyway, moving to Texas has been a big adjustment, particularly around the holidays. For us it means buying a real tree from a corner lot in town, while we are wearing shorts, unless of course we wanted to drive 14 hours to New Mexico. My mind still can't reconcile hearing songs like, "White Christmas" and "The Christmas Song" with the fact that it will be warm and no snow. In fact, on Friday night when we got our tree it was 77 degrees out.

I am looking forward to experiencing some winter weather when we head to Iowa for Christmas. Until then the only cold or snow I am going to experience is in my dreams, or maybe at HEB grocery since I think their thermostat must be set at 42 degrees.

What about you? Real or fake or no Christmas tree? Let me know!

Take care,


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble, Gobble!

I have two jokes for your amusement today, brought to you by our 8 year old son Jack:

1. "What did the bird say when it found a good bargain?"
Cheap! Cheap!

2. "What does the Pasta family say when they go away?"
Pasta la vista!

I think our son has a future in writing jokes, don't you think?!

Moving on in our Thanksgiving entertainment...let me give you some quotes from my husband, as published on the front page of our local paper, concerning potential medical emergencies you might face on this dangerous holiday:*
"Minor burns from cooking the turkey. More serious burns can result from cooking on the stove...." ( Would you care for a side of blisters with your turkey?)
"Abdominal pain, often from overeating, which can mimic symptoms of a heart attack" (Help! I think Uncle Joe ate too much turkey and his gut is going to explode!)
"Football injuries such as sprained ankles..." (Just let the professionals play football, ok?)
"Car accidents injuries..." (Don't eat turkey and drive)

*Everything in "( )" are my quotes, not the newspaper or my husband, just so we are clear!

I think they left out a few things like all the domestic cases that come in from loved ones who never see each other and decide to get together on this day of thanks and let by gones be by gones until someone drinks too much and starts saying ugly things and the fists start swinging!

On a more serious note, I do have many things to be grateful for today and everyday, my faith in God and salvation which gives me hope, my husband and kids who love me faithfully, friends to laugh and spend time with, a place to live, good health and the freedoms we enjoy thanks to those who diligently serve in the military and place their lives in danger on a daily basis so I can go about my daily life with out fear. I am grateful.

Have a great day, just don't eat too much and end up in the emergency room!

Take care,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hard to Imagine

Recently I read a review for the movie "Call + Respond". (you can read the review here)In a nutshell, this movie is a documentary created to highlight the plight of slavery around the world. I was shocked to learn that there are more slaves in the world today than ever before. Check out the review and check out the link to the movie. The preview is pretty disturbing. One of the quotes from the movie that caught my attention was, "Justice is what love looks like in public." Think on that for a while.

This reminds me of a story I read in our local paper recently about a 13 year old girl being stoned to death in Somalia. I looked the story up on Amnesty International. You can read the story here. I am always shocked at the Barbaric ways we decide to execute people, our own country included. What got to me though, was the part about the spectators. 1,000 people watched this poor, helpless child meet her death by means of stoning. The article said that someone who ran to her aid was shot dead. It also stated that nurses were on hand to check her and the first time they checked on her she was still alive so she was placed in a hole in the ground and the stoning continued. This is just heartbreaking.

I am not writing these stories to depress us. It's just that somtimes, often times, I get so caught up in my life that I am unaware of what is happening around the world. Then, when I become aware of all the pain and suffering that is taking place, I feel overwhelmed to know what to do or how. What difference can one person make, right? Wrong. One person can make a difference. How? Start slow. One thing you can do is sponser a child through Compassion International. ( Compassion International is a christian organization that seeks to provide the basics like health care, education, clothing and food for impoverished children around the world through monthly sponsers like you and me. For $32 a month you and your family can make a difference and give a child hope. Recently a group of bloggers for Compassion took a trip to the Dominican Republic. They were able to see first hand what a difference sponserships are having in the lives of these kids. You can read about their amazing stories here. I may never conquor the world, but I can make a difference, no matter how small it may seem.

Take care,


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I am a DORK!

A while ago I was talking to my husband about something I read concerning the International Justice Mission and the work they do. In all seriousness my husband said to me, "Do they ever join up with the International Justice League?"

This comment went straight over my head. I looked at him and repeated what he said, only as a question, "The International Justice League?" trying to place who the International Justice League was and what work they do.

"Yeah," he said, "you know Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman...the International Justice League!"

We both started cracking up. It was quite funny.

Yeah, I can be a bit slow like that!

Take care,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Little bit of this, a little bit of that and some thoughts on Thanksgiving

Hello there!

Could you give me just a second while I wipe the dust off the keyboard?
I guess it has been a little while since I last posted. My typing and my brain both feel a bit rusty.
What is new with you? Can you believe Thanksgiving is Thursday?

Here is a random list of things from the last couple of weeks:
1. I was in an accident. I am ok, the other person is ok. The cars? Not quite ok. I backed into someones door while they were in the drive through line at Chick-Fil-A. Did not see them at all. Thankfully it was an incredibly kind and gracious military woman. She was in her uniform and everything. Turns out she grew up about 20 minutes from me. I apologized profusely and made a general fool out of myself about the whole situation. I am thankful no one was hurt and our insurance will take care of it all!

2. I cooked and participated in two of the kids Thanksgiving feasts. Which reminds me...I have always loved Chick-Fil-A, nothing beats their sweet tea and sandwiches. Their coleslaw is tasty too in my opinion. But now I love them even more after they generously donated 200 nuggets for my daughters kindergarten feast. I don't know the exact dollar value of 200 nuggets, but I am pretty sure it is not cheap! Way to go Chick-fil-A.

3. We bought Kung Fu Panda and have watched it approximately 20 times. We also bought Charlie Brown's Christmas and Thanksgiving DVD's too and have watched them about 20 times as well!

4. My younger sister in Ohio gave birth to a little girl on the 10th. My daughter now has a girl cousin to play with and help her fend off all the boys in the family!

5. This week the kids have no school! Yeah! No packing lunches, homework and the kids can stay up later and sleep in later! My in-laws are here which means my husband and I may even get to go out on a date! In fact, tomorrow my husband and I are going to go on a date and out to a Jon McLaughlin concert! Should be fun!

Thoughts on Thanksgiving:
On Sunday our pastor spoke from Psalms 107. He talked about the tough times most have been experiencing lately; economy downturn, devastating affects from hurricane Ike, illnesses in the church family and deaths. He talked about how it came make one want to say "Forget it!" when it comes to Thanksgiving. He posed the questions I am sure lots have been asking lately, Why should I celebrate Thanksgiving and What can I be thankful for? His answer? God's unfailing love. Not matter what has happened and is happening, God's love for us never wavers and if it is all we can be thankful for, it is enough.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Psalms 107:31: "Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men." (NIV)

Take care,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

January 21st, 2009

Do any of you know the enormous significance of the date, January 21st, 2009? Just in case you have not heard, it is in fact the premiere date for the new season of LOST! Have you put it on your calendar? If not, go do it now. Do not delay. It is that important. We have been anxiously awaiting the news of LOST's return. Rumors of a premiere date floating across the internet can now be put to rest. After waiting and waiting since the end of the season last May, the end is in sight. 73 days to be exact. Not that I am counting or anything, I'm just saying, fans need to be informed.

Oh yeah, did you hear how long the premiere is? THREE hours. Yes, that is correct. 3 hours. One hour to catch everyone up followed by a two hour premiere.

Needless to say I am giddy with excitement. All we have to do is get through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. No problem, right?!

Take care,

Sunday, November 9, 2008

You May Want to Do this

Kate from The Accidental Tourist is hosting The Great Ornament Exchange over at her blog. You have until the 14th of November to register in order to participate. I do not know about you, but I love Christmas and I love ornaments! This is a fun way to interact with other bloggers during the holidays! Once you sign up Kate will email you all the information you need. While you are there, check out her blog. She is a great writer and has one cute little guy, if I do say so myself.

I will hopefully post more this week. Even if I write two posts this week it will be more than I have done the past couple of weeks!

Last week I subbed in my the kindergarten and I am headed there tomorrow also. Thursday night I came home from subbing and promptly went to bed at 9pm. I was so exhausted! My hat is off to working moms who did this every day and take care of their families and keep the home running. You go moms! You deserve a vacation.

Last night my son was invited to a birthday party at the home of one of the boys in his class at school. I have never seen anything quite like it. They had three blow up bouncy toys in the back yard, a snow cone machine, a cotton candy machine, popcorn machine, hot dogs and a full buffet for the parents. They also did a money booth. The kids would go one at a time into this booth full of dollar bills. Someone would turn on a blower and each child would have 10 seconds to grab as many dollars as possible. Jack grabbed $11 and Pete grabbed $8. Who knew we could go to a party and come home with more money than before? Needless to say, the kids had a blast and were very sorry to see the party come to an end.

Hope you have a great week!
Take care,

Monday, November 3, 2008

More Phenomenons

A while ago I posted several parenting phenomenons and you all gave me some of your best parenting phenomenons. They were great. Well, the other day I was in the grocery with my youngest when I ran into my fitness instructor. He happens to own the gym as well. Let me give you some background. He's the one who kicked my butt for 4 months while I did his 5am boot camp two to three times a week in getting prepared for the 39 mile Avon walk for breast cancer I did back in April. He also led the evening boot camp I attended in May and the beach boot camp I did in June and July. Then August came and school started and I went on a trip to NYC and blah, blah, blah. The short of it is, I haven't been to any boot camps since July and I have not even stepped a foot into the gym since the end of July. To top it all off, the day I ran into him at the grocery I had not even showered yet, my hair was thrown into a pony tail and my four year old son was eating that dreaded food all personal trainers loathe...a chocolate iced doughnut. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow my entire pathetic self right then and there. He was kind and get a load of this, told me that since I had been such a faithful attendee for all those months I could do November's boot camp for free! I didn't know whether I should hug him or cry. But I am going to take advantage of the generous offer and drag my rear back to boot camp. Forget my pride, I will crawl back in for the free class. All that to lead me to my "phenomenons of life":

1. Why does it always seem like I run into somebody I know on the days when I haven't showered, my hair is a mess and my clothing choices are less than flattering?

2. Why do my best hair days occur when I am at home all day where no one but the dog sees me?

3. It never fails that on the days I get up early, shower and get dressed, the kids will sleep in later than ever.

4. How is it that I can come up with some of the most clever and witty writing when I have no pen, paper or computer around? For example, when I am in the shower and by the time I get out of the shower, poof, the thought is gone.

5. Why do men lose weight so much faster than women? All they practically have to do to lose weight is just decide to lose weight. It is so unfair.

6. Why do tele marketers use a local number when calling to leave some crazy pre recorded message, as if they know I will answer the phone if I see a local number on the caller ID?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick or Treating Texas Style

Here are a few pics from our Halloween here in Texas.
Yes, that is a pony my daughter is on. No, we didn't go door to door for candy on ponies. Instead we went to a festival at a local church in town. It was fun.
(The funny teeth and glasses came home from kindergarten in my daughter's goody bag. They crack us up!)
Where we live there are very few kids and mostly "winter Texans" or retired folks. Which translated means- lots of walking for very little candy!
So, we joined friends and had a great time playing games, eating junk food and the kids getting plenty of candy as well as pony rides. There was one game the kids did that reminded me that all is well in our world when we live somewhere that still participates in a time honored Halloween tradition...bobbing for apples. Honestly, I was surprised to see it. All I could think of was all the germs getting into the water from the hundreds of kids who bobbed for apples and got their spit in their too! But hey, we all need to live a little and risk contracting the flu, right?! My oldest did the bobbing game twice and even said it was his favorite of the night.
Did you all ever play the game as a kid where you tied either an apple or marshmallow to a string, hung it from the ceiling, put your hands behind your back and tried to grab the apple or marshmallow with your teeth? Ahh...good memories.
Hope you all had a great day.
Take care,