December 7th, 2013 | 11 Comments »

We just had a majorly COLD ice and snow storm (bad for Arkansas).

Poor Little Christmas Light1

Poor Little Christmas Light

I know for some Northern people, this is no biggie; however, the one thing I missed when I moved to Arkansas was SNOW.  I was raised more in snow-areas than not, and while there were times I thought, “I can’t take any more of this stinkin’ snow and ice” – when I moved South, I missed it.

I remember when I lived in Louisiana it snowed once.  The funniest thing I ever saw were the people who’d never seen snow before.  Imagine, if you will, people in t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops out in their front yards looking up at the snow falling and trying to make snowballs.  The juxtaposition between their flip flops and shorts, and them dancing in snowflakes stays with me to this day!

It really never used to snow in Arkansas; yet the first year we were married there was a major snow storm.  Then a few more here and there over the years.  So every year I begin confessing, “I want snow for Christmas!”  Alpha Hubby starts confessing, “There will be NO snow. No, no, no.”  Then I say, “I don’t think that is fair.  You know you love me so I should have snow for Christmas.”  Then he whines (being cold is the only thing that makes him alpha-whine), “Well, fine but only on the ground, not the roads.”  Score!!

Clear Drivewa

Now I’m not a photog so while I’m sure these could be better, they are what they are – MY SNOW:

Isn’t it funny how snow can turn a colorful world in the black and white, with shades of grey?

A Shade of Grey

And I certainly won’t be drinking my morning tea on my deck for awhile!

My Office Deck

Human vs Nature in Christmas decorating!

P1110077

We’ll probably have to knock the snow off the outdoor Christmas decor.

A Snow on Christmas Decor

And there won’t be any more fresh herbs either!

Backyard 12-2013

I love the beauty of snow (when I can stay inside).  I love looking out my huge office windows:

A Window & Blue Bottles

Side Window & Blue Bottles

And looking out my kitchen window, through icicles, to the green snow covered trees and blue sky!

snow trees and icicles

So that is my snow adventure for this week!  I will leave you with something to think about – ho ho ho!

A Flip Flop in Snow

December 21st, 2012 | 11 Comments »

I’m not ashamed to say Merry Christmas.  I don’t do “Happy Holidays” simply because I don’t like it and don’t want to.  I don’t mind if others use it and I don’t have a problem with others being upset with Merry Christmas.  It isn’t about them – it’s about ME and what I believe.  So there.  MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU.

I got to thinking the other day and realized how precious it is that people can forge unbelievably strong friendships with people they’ve never met in real life – e-friends.  I have so many e-friends and am so grateful for each and every one of you.   You make my life a better place to be!  You are fireworks.

I heard a motivational speaker say one time – a person is only a true friend when they believe in what you do and support that.  They get behind it.  They encourage you.  They leave comments.  OK, maybe he didn’t say that last bit but the rest of it is so true.  I have in-real-life friends who don’t bother to read my blog, much less comment.  They know I write one but they don’t have time to read it.  So who is the true friend – the e-friend who supports or the IRL friends you’ve known forever but don’t bother to?

RIGHT.  The e-friends.  And I love you for that.  You are stars in my life.  Gifts to me.

The other thing I thought about is how blessed I am.  Not just in my e-friends, but my family.  God has been very good to me and I don’t take that for granted.  I have an amazing son (and his beautiful wife).  He continually surprises me with his heart.  He cares so deeply about some things – like standing up for the underdog or being totally bummed someone stole two blow up yard oraments from his yard.  It isn’t the money – it is the ulgies behind that act.  He may be a gruff, macho Alpha son, but his heart is pure.

This is the guy who quit his job so he could help his grandmom stay in her home when I couldn’t find anyone faithful to hire to do that.  He did everything for her but bathe her.  He spent a year and a half with her cooking, cleaning, taking her to hair appointments and out to eat.  They had an amazing relationship (as he did with his granddad) until the very end.

And Alpha Hubby.  What more can I say that I haven’t already said excessively?  After all these years, it just keeps getting better.  I don’t know how that works, but I’m darned glad that I’m living this life with him.  He is definitely getting NO coal under the tree this year!  He’s been a very nawty boy and I thank him for that!

Christmas means different things to people.  For me, it is about the birth of Jesus.  He is my Reason for this season.  I am not ashamed of Jesus and I think most of you know that.  Not everyone agrees with me and that is your choice.  I just want you to know I love you.  That is all.

From our home to yours, may you relax and enjoy this Christmas season.  May you NOT get so focused on this:

that you feel this:

Focus more on this:

and this:

and especially this:

And be sure you take time to tell those you love that you love them, very much.

Love very much from me:

December 10th, 2012 | 14 Comments »

I wish we could get snow for Christmas.  Instead, this December we have unseasonably WARM weather (bah HUMBUG).  Even thought we rarely get snow where I live, we did have this awesome stuff in February 2011:

Guess Who’s Not Wild About Snow?
Hint: It isn’t the cows.

Through Front Door 2011 New House

It isn’t fair – we even had snow at our old house in January of 2010.

Jan 2010 Backyard Hagarville

It gets WORSE – we had snow in 2009, too:

Little Store from Porch 7 Feb 2009

AND EVEN WORSE?  Also 2008 – IS THIS FAIR???

Sandals, Alpha Son’s Dog March 2008

Why should it skip a year?  Why???  I want snow again.  I WANT SNOW AGAIN.  I want it, I want it, I want it!!  

Alas, no matter how many fits I throw, I fear this is not going to be a Christmas Wish that is fulfilled.  Sigh.  It almost makes a girl think there really is no Santa Claus.  And while I know God loves me, He seems to be fulfilling Alpha Hubby’s prayers for no snow far more often than my cries for “snow snow snow, pleeeease!!”

And even if my snowmen pray, jingle AND do a snow dance, nothing has changed.  My only snowman fix has been fulfilled by gazing at other peoples’ with hunger:

And digging mine out:

Jake & Elwood Sing “I’m A Snow Man”

I would really rather see this:

Someone went to a LOT of trouble

…even if their leader looks like this:

…than see this in December this year:

From front of house 2012

 “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.”  ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

 –AND SNOW!
 
December 17th, 2011 | 27 Comments »

     

There are a lot of blogs aimed at or written by younger mothers who blog about their children.  I think that is wonderful.**

But this isn’t one of them.  I’m from the other side.  The dark side.

I am here to tell you something.  Shhhh. It is a very well kept secret.

There are definite benefits to having your children moved out of the house.  OK, there are major benefits to having your children moved out of the house.

You have reached a different stage of enjoyment with your kids. You are blessed to be able to see “who” they have become.  Alpha Hubby and I love  that our son is also one of our best friends (along with his wife and their friends).

Be that as it may, after he moved out (and my short heart-aching meltdown), it didn’t take long to realize the benefits.  I looked over at Alpha Hubby and we shared a very sly grin together.  Helloooo, baby!

I was blessed to have a mother who warned me to take care of business so that when Alpha Son was out, Alpha Hubby and I would still know each other. She warned to protect our relationship so we didn’t look at one another after 17 years and think, “WHO is this person?”

The best years ever as a couple are those after you have finished the years of raising children.  I know each stage of your child is wonderful and you never stop loving and praying for them.  But you let them go to spread their wings to fly or hit a wall, their choice. You are there IF they need you but your focus has changed.  No.  That’s not true.  My focus has always been on Alpha Hubby, but I was also mom.  It isn’t the same during as it is afterward.  “Mommy, why is the door locked?”  No, it never happened but it could easily have!

You can now get back to the business of chasing one another around the house.

Alpha Hubby and I didn’t get that when we married. He took on the responsibility of Alpha Son and I believe Alpha Son would not be who he is today were it not for Alpha Hubby. He is the one who completed the manly-man training.  I mean, I have to blame someone for this:

So anyway, my point is that there is more of this under the tree and less little metal cars:

We will sit in front of this on Christmas eve and share what we love about one another:

There will be this:

      

And some of this:

And lots of this:

And…

…well, needless to say, that simply is NONE of your business!

No matter what stage you are in your life, ENJOY it.

Oh, and the title?  Well, it caught your attention didn’t it???  HO HO HO!!

  

Santa Baby, slip a sable under the tree – for me
Been an awful good girl
Santa Baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight -0 de dum de dum dum da dum….

**Not to imply that mothers who blog about their children can’t do these things, too.  I know they do, thru experience.  I’m talking about once the kids have moved out of the house and you’re free to run wild without embarrassing interruptions.

December 20th, 2010 | 12 Comments »

It is Christmas season and it brings to mind so many things to ramble on about, but I decided to chat about something very, very important to most of our hearts – SNOWMEN!!

Yes, yes, yes!!  Snowmen are the bane of my husband’s existence.  He dreams of snowmen and blowtorches together.   He talks about hiring a snowman hit man to take my entire collection out in one fell swoop.   He threatens them all the time.  Talk is cheap.  The price he would pay is far more expensive than he would really want to pay.  Really.  Trust me on this.  Don’t mess wit ‘da snowmen, baby.

Hubby really thinks I’ve gone overboard so I have really been cutting back on snowmen purchases.  It is hard but I guess there really is such a thing as too many snowmen.

 Nah!

Got you there for a minute, didn’t I!?  There is NO such thing as too many snowmen.  If someone dares to tell you this, they are lying through their teeth.  They are secret snowmen haters.

 

So trying to keep in the spirit of the season and keeping the peace in the house, I’ve been careful to only pick up a few very special or unusual snowmen.  I believe I have been rewarded for my loving kindness toward my husband.  I have discovered that God really did make snowmen and meant for me to have them.  Click on picture to make it larger.

See?  I have proof.  Not only do I now have snowmen raising their hands and, what I believe, praising God, I even have one in the middle that is praying.   What more proof do I need that it is OK for me to collect snowmen??  Oh?  Those other two?  Ummm – they were cute?  They begged me take them off the empty Lowe’s shelf and take them home?  They were on sale??

Of course, he likes Jake – you press Jake’s hand and he sings, “I’m a snow man… I love the cold!”  So how can he like one and not love the others?  Is it fair he gets to pick and choose?  I say NO!  Love one snowman, love them all. 

 

 

It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas – everywhere I snow… dum de dum la la la la la — I think I will leave the pictures on his camera – ho ho ho!  Send some to his camera phone – he doesn’t know how to take them off, so I’m good.

Celebrate the joy of the season.  Stay at peace.  Don’t overextend your finances.  Realize that there is always another day to do what needs to be done – or don’t do it.  Anything that causes you stresses needs to be re-evaluated.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Relax and remember the real reason for the season – and it isn’t finding that perfect gift for someone who will probably exchange it anyway.  Count your blessings and be thankful.  Take a deep breath – that’s your first blessing to be grateful for.  You are alive and have the choice to enJOY your life!

I really like that dead plant up there in the planter.  My best decoration yet!  And he’s not such a bad Alpha Hubby.  He could have popped this snowman last year but instead, he ensured the snowman didn’t blow away by securing him to the porch.  I think he loves me.  Yep, a lot!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Posted in All Blogs, Nan's Blogs
December 14th, 2010 | 11 Comments »

Posting a semi-previous post until I get time to write!

So I almost got in a fight with my Christmas tree last night. We have a new tree and I am just not sure I like it yet.

We got one that is flocked.  That makes everything look different.  It is pre-lit with white lights.  It also came with these clear plastic dangly things held on to the ends of the branches by plastic string.  They’re supposed to be little decorations.  I call them… well, I can’t say that on here.  Grrrr.

I put blue lights on the tree, intending to go with a blue and silver theme this year. Something was missing. I put red lights on it and then felt like saluting the tree.  I had a red, white and blue tree.  Not quite what I had in mind.  I put blue and silver rope around the tree.  Now it just looked cheap and garish.  I felt like I needed to put it on a street corner so it could earn the money back we’d spent on it.  

Every step of the way, those dangly things caught onto everything – including my clothing – and fell off or created a tangled mess.  Then there were gaps in the tree and I couldn’t make the branches bend to cover the holes.  I stuck huge silver and blue balls in there but it just looked stupid.  I finally got mad and took everything off the tree, wrestling those dangly things all the way.  My intention was to re-do the red and blue lights (below is 2008 year’s tree).

Hubby came in and asked, “What ARE you doing??”

I replied that I was preparing to burn the tree down.

He was, understandably, concerned, “The heck you are.  You are NOT burning down that new expensive tree.”

I knew that but still.  So I replied, “And I am getting ready to cut all those stupid dangly things off because they tangle in everything I put on or near the tree, including me.”

His mistake, “Oh no, you’re not! You are not going to do that either.”

Oh NO???  Was that a challenge I could meet?  And win?  Yes!  I promptly got scissors and began cutting those stupid dangly things off the tree.

Common sense finally prevailed (plus there was a LOT of them) and I stopped cutting them off.  Didn’t matter.  They were propagating on the tree while we were talking and I was cutting.

I explained my problem and he agreed to put the lights back on the tree for me since I am a bit vertically challenged and had been fussing and cussing at the tree, the lights and those blasted dangly things.  I was NOT having a holly jolly Christmas.

He began putting the lights on – I heard a slightly muffled sound coming from behind the tree.  Could that have been a curse word?  Surely not!  But yes!  He had gotten tangled in the dangly things.

HA!  I am vindicated.  

He had actually cut his hand while trying to break off the dangly thing without telling me.  That plastic string is truly amazing stuff.  I rather smugly took my scissors to him.  

So in between the dangly things that are left and spraying canned snow on the green wiring that was so obvious in the white branches, the tree is up.  We even got the branches bent to cover the gaps.  Am I happy with it?  Nope.  Am I done with it?  Yep.  Know why?

Somewhere between the last of the dangly things and some sleep, I awoke this morning with a new attitude. Christmas isn’t about the perfect tree, perfect gift, or perfect decorations.  It isn’t about the perfect food, perfectly wrapped matching presents, throwing a perfect party or having perfect Christmas pictures.

Once we get that down, we’ll have a much better holiday season.  We’ll just let go all the stress and enjoy ourselves.  I am catering my food this year (except for the goose) so that I can spend time with family and not in the kitchen cooking, baking, dish washing, wiping countertops, cooking, baking, blah humbug.

So in the midst of wrestling lights, trees, and dangly things (ho ho ho), I am going to stop and simply ENJOY the season.  Stop and count my blessings.  Take stock and realize I have a lot to be grateful for.  

I know I do – I am sneaking in at night and cutting those dangly things off the tree, one at a time.

(Update Captain’s Log 2010. We are still finding and destroying the enemy dangly things. It has been a long battle and we’ve lost many men in this on-going fight in the galaxy of… oh.  Different story.  But yes, we ARE still battling blasted dangly things.  Here is this year’s version of the dangly thing tree.)

    

December 11th, 2010 | 8 Comments »

(Pulling out another old ramble from the www.Joy-Cafe.Com during this busy time)

My oldest friend – scratch that.  Let me reword it – the friend I’ve known the longest in my life sounds much better, right?  Actually, she’s my ONLY longest-known friend.  That’s what happens when you move every 2-3 years (Army brat).  Anyway, she’s not old.  She’s four years younger than I am – but then again, that means less and less as those number go up and up!

I’ve known Robin Rene’ Robo Car Wash Riley (long story on the name) since 1974.  I was her roommate and she is one of the most giving persons I know.  To this day, she still thinks of others first!

Robin is the first one who taught me about unconditional giving.  She would do things “just because.”  If we were both home and she discovered I’d had a rough day, she’d bring me a cup of tea in a beautiful tea cup.   She shared freely of everything she owned.  She is the epitome of the words, “generous” and “giver.”  She did things for no reason other than it is who she is inside.  Thoughtful – always thinking of others.  She loves to make things and times special for those around her.

Robin used to work for Hall*ark.  I don’t know if that is when she began this tradition or not, but it was around that time.  She began sending me cards for EVERY holiday or everything you could send a card for – from July 4th and Mother’s Day to the more obscure ones that I never heard of.

Without fail (except for the few times she couldn’t find me in life, when I moved, we lost touch [but never for long], etc.), she sent cards.  After I had my son, she sent him cards with $1 in them for years – which thrilled him to no end.  Even today, he still remembers those cards.  I can honestly say that Robin is one of the people who taught me how to share, give and live life to the fullest!  She taught me that it is the littlest touches that can make life special.

Thirty-six years later, Robin still sends cards – every holiday and celebration, without fail.  This is an amazing form of giving that always brings me a smile and “feel good” feeling.  This is a tradition worth celebrating. 

Some people tend to develop holiday traditions that are not good.  Every year people scurry around in a near-panic, desperate to find those perfect last-minute gifts.  Tempers are frayed.  Patience is at an end.  Politeness is often nowhere to be found.  Kids are screaming, “gimmie, gimmie, gimmie” in stores while parents are threatening them with, “Santa won’t bring you anything if you don’t stop this!”  Some mutter, ‘Yeah, you sure can tell it’s Christmas again, bah humbug!”  Others claim, “What? You think I’m made of money?”  (I heard all this yesterday while standing in a checkout line!”)

There are parties to attend or give, extra gifts to buy, musicals to either put on, be in, or listen to, food to eat, dinners to fix, cookies to bake, candy to indulge in, diets to worry about, houses to clean, cards to email or find, address, stamp and snail mail, gifts to wrap and hide (then remember where you hid them), and on and on and on.

Why do I call all this a tradition?  One meaning is of the word tradition is, “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior.”  If we are stressed every year, it is a tradition!  If we become depressed at this time of year, every year, it is a tradition!  If we overeat every year, it is a tradition!

You know, we can replace those traditions with better ones.  We can actually develop more patience – it’s sort of about where the  focus is!   We can drop more than change in the Salvation Army buckets!  Shock ‘em – drop in a $5, $10 – even a *shock* $20!   Then your focus is on others.  We can keep our tempers.   We can be polite to everyone, even scroogey people.   We can take time out for sitting and contemplating our belly buttons.  No, that’s not right.  Contemplating… what we are thankful for!  Contemplating what is good about life.  Contemplating what we are grateful we have instead of what we don’t have.  There is so much to be joyful about.  

Christmas isn’t about THINGS.  Christmas is about memories, good traditions, and love.  Christmas, for Christians, is about Jesus, because without Him, there would be no Christmas.  Christmas is about making new memories, touching the lives of those around you – for good or for bad.

 

Christmas is about thankfulness and JOY, giving and helping, sharing and loving!

December 9th, 2010 | 11 Comments »

( I’m still Christmassing, so I am borrowing a post from my website www.joy-cafe.com – from last year.)

Let me tell you the tale of… the Abominable Christmas Tree.

Now you wouldn’t think a Christmas tree could be abominable, right?  You just don’t associate that word with Christmas trees.  Well, you don’t unless you use the obsolete meaning of the word which is:  EXCESSIVE; LARGE!

Once upon a time, I was a firm believer in live Christmas trees.  When I lived near my parents, we would all get together, tromp out into the woods and find the Most Perfect Christmas Tree (MPCT).  Of course, that would usually begin the annual “Bickering of The Cooks” Christmas tradition.  

None of us could agree on the MPCT since dad tended to pick ones that looked like Charlie Brown Christmas trees, Josh (son) picked out monstrously huge ones, mom just wanted to have it done with, and I could never decide.  Yet, usually after dragging home the tree, it really would become the MPCT once all the decorations were on it and plenty of loaded eggnog had been swallowed!  No, no – just kidding. *hic*

Anyway, after meeting and marrying my KISA, I discovered my first and only flaw in “happily ever after”.  He liked fake trees.  FAKE trees.  (Oh, KISA: knight in shining armor, sorry.)  Live-fake, live-fake.  We ended up going with fake because, as he always points out, we don’t have to deal with tree droppings or fire hazards or watering or needles - and I like to keep the tree up way past Christmas which isn’t easy to do with a live one.  So for the past 14 years, we’ve had beautiful but fake trees for Christmas.

Last year… oh my.  Son came over and told me he had just come from the local Christmas tree farm.  He wanted to know if I wanted one because the lady was going out of business and was selling the remaining trees cheaply.  Added incentive, all the money was being donated to a local church’s fund.

I thought to myself, “Oooo, a good cause AND a live tree.”  I started romanticizing live trees.  

“Oh the scent,” I dreamed.  

“Oh the beauty of a perfectly shaped live tree,” I drooled.  

“A real live tree,” I fantasized.  

So I went to my loving KISA and told him about the lady selling her trees inexpensively and that it was going to a good cause and how about a live tree this year?  His reply?  A dog-house-worthy NO.  

NO???  No discussion and no chatting but a flat out NO?  Who the heck did this tarnished rusty has-been knight-wanna-be think he was?  He was TELLING ME NO???  WHAT?

Obviously men and women arrive at conclusions from different angles.  If you will check out the paragraph underneath the Knight and his lace, above, you will see his thought process – the end result of his decision is what came out of his mouth.  If you will check out below, you will see my reactions -

              

 shock, growling and tears.

Ok, I got over it.  Mainly because he was rrr… rrr… – shades of Fonzie!!

My darling KISA later came to me and said, “If you really want a live one, then let’s get one; it’s OK, really.”  I declined because he was rrr.. rrr… rii… right and I was simply needing the “discussion” to get to the same conclusion.  I gave my son money for a donation to a good cause and sent him on his way.  All was well.   Compromises reached. Happy Nights ensuing.

So here comes son back with typical son-thinking: “They have to get rid of the trees anyway and the money is going to the same place no matter what, so why not take a tree, too?”  He brought me home a live tree.  Not just any live tree but an Abominable Christmas Tree.  Yes, folks, a large, huge excessive 12 FOOT Christmas tree.  Oh it’s a beauty – beautifully shaped and colored.  Now it is 11′ since the only place it would fit was my dining room where my ceilings are only 11′ – but, by golly, it’s up.

Hubby has stated that I will have to put up every last one of my tree ornaments because the tree is abominable.  I wasn’t even sure I would have enough lights to fit the tree!  I have NO idea how I am going to decorate it but there it is – big, bold, beautiful, and abominable!

Christmas is about compromise, working together, true love, and fun surprises.  I know Alpha Hubby was surprised by the 12′ tree neither of us was expecting.  I’m sure glad we made the peace before the Abominable Christmas Tree showed up or it could have been… brrr, shivery here in the Land of Snowmen – another way I drive him nuts.

(click on picture to enlarge – these are from our previous house; we moved this year)

            

           

(And yes, it shedded, it tried to fall over, we had to put it in a huge bucket, and did I mention it shedded and shedded and shedded?  Oh but it was so beautiful and smelled so good… )