Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year Dear Readers! Thank you for all you comments this past year. More writing to come....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hoping For Christmas Letters

Real. Something you can touch. Hold. I’ve been cheap these last two years, sending out e-mail Christmas letters and photo attachments, but this year I’m returning my old-postal-service-ways and spending way too much on a stamps.

My frugal tendencies may now be giving me what I deserve...not a lot of snail mail Christmas cards have come my way. My parents and I share a mailbox; I look with envy as each day they average three to five Christmas greetings. I am jealous of the older generation who has not completely given up on traditions in favor of Facebook efficiency.

My mother-in-law decorates the door frames of her house with their Christmas cards: glittery snow scenes, angel choirs, sleighs, and the babe in a manger. I have a mere three to tape around my door. I kept waiting for more to arrive, but finally decided to go ahead and put my meager assortment on display. Perhaps I should tape up some from the last couple of years, no one would ever know...

Christmas cards and Christmas letters, are they a thing of the past? Please say no. I find myself nostalgic for these items that took some time and effort on the part of the sender. I enjoy the letters just as much. Some people have strong aversions to long, Christmas letters, complaining that writer’s are bragging about their wonderful years. I’m sure others think there is no need: we read their status update daily, sometimes multiple times a day.

But my family is pretty big into Christmas letters. My mother faithfully typed them up. I can still see her pull down our heavy typewriter and painstakingly plunk out the yearly story. I remember how the keys would get stuck, several of those long arms containing the ink stained letters would bunch up near the white typing paper. My mother used whiteout when a mistake was made, or even just cross it out and kept going. (I wonder if my sons will ever purchase white out. Do they even sell it anymore?) Then my mother would run to town to make her photo copies. As a child I always liked hearing the paragraph devoted to me and my happenings. My sister would sit around her as she read us the finished product.

My grandparents stayed with us each Christmas, and one of my grandma’s pastimes when she visited was to sit in my mom’s green rocker and go read through each card and letter that filled a festive basket.

Letters, to us, are a time to reflect and be thankful. To realize how many blessings we have, and I find it personally therapeutic, so even though the price of stamps and printing has gone up, I march on with the dying tradition that continues to feed my soul.

I looked over at my husband the other night still trying to find ways to save, “Should we really keep sending out pictures and cards to some of the people on our some of your friends who we never see or hear from anymore?”

He thought yes. They probably appreciate it, are glad to know.

I know I am. I know I am glad for the hello, the synopsis, the connection with something tangible and real. Something concrete to hang on my bulletin board.

I’m pleased when people come to my house and stop and look at the smiling faces on my wall. I’m proud to share my friends and relations with others.

So, what do I want for Christmas this year? A complete boarder of Christmas greetings around the door of my kitchen, I’m trying to be good. I’ve made my list and checked it twice. I’m bracing myself for the grand total at the postal counter. I’m forgoing the cheap, efficient electronic route. I hope it pays off.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Good Tradition

I like traditions, but I am also pretty flexible with them and know they are only for a season...especially with Christmas and the evolution of family.

One distinct tradition that we do right now is that I wrap roughly 10 gifts and place them under the tree...10 days before we leave for the grandparents. We never have Christmas in our own house, under our own tree. There is no Christmas morning for just us, so unless I think outside the box a bit our family wouldn't have any special Christmas memories for just us....around the concept of gift giving.

Each night the boys open one more gift until they get to number 10! This spreads out the joy and helps with their inpatients for the big day. I start very small and work our way up....many of the gifts are shared items. (Plus it helps them slow down and enjoy each one. When we open our items all on one day it is very exciting, but often gifts upstage each other.)

This is what we've unwrapped so far:

1. An ornament for each boy
2. Lifesaver books
3. Mini-white powdered middle's favorite
4. Each received a new book
5. A new game for the older two and a spinning, light-it-up toy for the "baby"
6. Calendars for the older two and a puzzle for our youngest

Anyone curious what gifts 7-10 are going to be?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow.....

Being an Oregonian, I never needed snow to feel like Christmas had arrived, but now that I've been married to a man from the wilds of Northern Idaho for just a bit over a decade....I have the serious need for white stuff to feel merry and bright.

Here are some pics that we shot just before Christmas! My whole family was feeling happy and festive that day and it wasn't even officially the Christmas Season. Maybe if I post these we can get another glorious dumping. I use dumping can see the leaves through the light dusting.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Popular Posts

Roughly a month ago I put on a new gadget, "Popular Posts." I and readers found it interesting....some or our favorites didn't make the cut. Sally noted that her favorite post ever was the one I wrote about Dutch Brothers, and I have to agree. I was in a very punchy mood that day and thought it turned out quite well.

I let you all know that I'd be removing that feature and then revisiting it to see if any new popular posts surfaced.

Still, Coffee tops the list. That is funny to me. There must be some browser related to coffee that is sending readers my way. Is that how it works?

But, there are some new ones that are making their way in the blog popularity contest: Conversations , I Finally Have A Hero, and I Did The Unthinkable.

I am a sucker for top tens and end of the year reflections, so in the coming weeks I will have to do a recap for the year and let you all place your vote on your favorite from the list, my list vs. Blogspot.

Hope you are all enjoying the holidays.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Crazy

The Saturday after Thanksgiving starts our Christmas basically this order: decorate the house, get the tree, start playing Christmas tunes, make sugary yums, begin the advent calendar, last minuet shopping, make a gingerbread house, make x-mas crafts, wrap presents, and begin unwrapping them.

Because we never get Christmas at our house, with our own family, we have created our own special tradition.

The boys begin opening one present each night, 10 prior to leaving for Poppy and Grammy's. They love it, and so do I. It spreads out the fun and makes the waiting game a bit more bearable, especially for my middle son who loves gifts and giving. This morning he was just sitting under the tree looking at all the gifts....I actually had empathy for him, but not enough to let him open a present. (Pst, the gifts starts small like an ornament or pack of white, powdered donuts.)

The other plus to this arrangement is that each night they having something exciting to do, and subsequently, usually, something fun to play with.

These pictures should give you a hint to why I haven't been posting very much lately.

Too much fun!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hollywood Family

I've been envious of all those family pictures I've seen over the past few know, the ones which make the families look like famous, good looking movie stars...taken on location is aesthetically pleasing settings versus the Penny's Studio. And I am feeling like we, my family, are in the prime window for cuteness. I mean, my boys aren't going to get any cuter being they are currently all under five, and my husband and I aren't getting any younger.

So, we took the photo shoot was stressful. First my niece was coming with us and was being dropped off by a friend who was over an hour late. Then we got on the road and ended up in game day traffic. Not sure why none of us remembered about game day...oh, and it was homecoming on top of game day craziness. My middle was having a panic attack over the pictures, but thankfully took advantage of the traffic jam by falling asleep. He woke up a bit better and somehow pulled it together when I bought him candy. (Oh my husband decided to go to some soccer thing that morning and also did not show up at our house in time to leave, so instead texted me that he'd meet us there....and swing by Freddy's to buy something to wear.....)

Knowing all this, you should be very impressed by the shots that were pulled off, but the stress is not over for me. Which one do I blow up and place on that one monumental wall. This is our forever picture, I feel. We will never ever look this way again, and I'm sure I will never replace this family photo once I place it in the frame.

You tell me...remember, it is going to be blown up rather large, so keep that in mind when you give me your feedback.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Not That Tune Again!

Sometimes I think I might die if I have to listen to any more songs about elephants and their trunks, or about ducks hatching from classroom incubators. Sometimes I wish I owned an iPod so I could plug myself away from my children’s favorite travel music. I remember being grateful when they loved Paul Simon, but if I have to listen to “diamonds in the soles of her shoes,” one more time I think I might throw my shoes, or myself, out of the moving mini-van. American Girls by Counting Crows is a bit of a breather for me, and for that minor obsession of my oldest I am grateful. I have to agree that it really does have, “Good bass.” But still, I wouldn’t mind listening to the rest of the songs on the CD, all the songs after “American Girls” versus “American Girls” over and over again.. But the three rockers riding behind me have promised to start a riotous mosh pit if I deviate from their music preferences. I believe them.

My husband looked at me on our way home from church and said, “Why don’t they make it so that you can play two different listening selections at once, one for the back and one for the front?” And? I agreed. We miss our Sunday afternoons with Prairie Home Companion. Steve from the Marvelous Day soundtrack isn’t the same as clever ads for catsup.

It could be worse, probably will be. In about eight years I’ll be wishing for these days of sweet Jesus songs when my teenage boys are listening to dark, depressing rants against authority figures or whatever it is they like in their independent, searching-for-self-years. The major difference will be that the boys will probably each own their own personal listening devises, and I will be the one left out. At least now we are all listening together. I’m included, not excluded.

I won’t know all the annoying lyrics to their favorites or know which songs have the best bass unless I force myself into their worlds and subject myself to genres I would never personally enjoy. I remember spending way too much birthday money on a rap CD that I didn’t really like, but thought I should because everyone else my age liked this particular group. I remember my mom not exactly enjoying the bad Christian rap, but I pretended I thought it was brilliant even though deep down I agreed that it was annoying. She allowed us all to be tortured and we listened to the whole thing, her showing her skills at tolerance and me showing my skills at acting.

I supposed that if I could feign interest at 13, I can probably find a way to endure future music choices. I really hope rap is not one of them, or hip hop, or heavy metal. Do you think there is any chance they’ll like folk music? I like folk music. I’m good with Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. Didn’t Johnny Cash’s last CD do phenomenally well, you know, the one that came out after he died? Wasn’t that because a bunch of teenagers discovered just how cool he really was? Or maybe my boys will discover the grunge music their father listened to? I like that stuff. It’s sort of nostalgic for me now.

Which is probably how I’ll feel about our current music of choice, there will come a day when I’ll miss the innocence and awe of this current musical season. Since being in this mothering thing five years now, I’m learning that all things pass, and when they’re gone there is no going back.