Christmas Cards

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I had an interesting Christmas. It wasn’t bad. I went to church Christmas eve then went to a friend’s house to eat crablegs and brisket and play cards until the wee hours of the morning, as that is when cards are best played. My friend Harry entertained us with his version of “The bear necessities” from Jungle Book complete with several verses and some back-scratching action as well, (the fact that he is built quite a bit like Balu only enhanced the image) We are still laughing!  Then Christmas day I did the un-thinkable. I invited my mom and step-dad and my dad and his girlfriend to dinner. I also invited Harry as a buffer. Partially this insanity was to avoid having to feel like I had to go two places and eat two meals. I made a roast and potatoes. Everyone brought the rest so it worked out well. My mom asked that we play cards so we would have something to occupy our time. So we played cards. Mom’s daring side came out and she went set several times, and took her partner Harry down with her. Later she called and made a comment about how she hoped Harry wasn’t too mad about losing because of her. I said I didn’t think he cared about winning that much. He told me later he had a good time, and I think we all did. The best part for me was setting my dad three times in a row…

In other exciting news, we get to wear blue jeans and “book” tee-shirts at work on Thursdays if we have “book” T shirts. Otherwise we have to wear slacks (or in my case probably colored jeans because they don’t make too many “slacks” with a long inseam). I don’t have a lot in the way of “book” shirts but I got approval to wear a kick-ass jersey (once I get it bought) which has Vonnegut across the shoulders and the number “5.”  They also had “Poe 13” (because his wife was 13 when they married and “Thorou [except they spelled it right]23” because he was 23 when he went to live on Walden Pond, and a bunch of others. I love the inside joke! novel-t.com

 

Wildflowersp

Ho Ho Holy Cow!

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I looked for it on the NPR archives so I could attach it but I suspect I might heard it over ten years ago. A young man was speaking about believing in Santa. He had grown up in an isolated place, as in there may have been fewer than ten kids in his school. Picture somewhere in Montana. His parents were hard-core Santa promoters and he didn’t have television or even many cohorts (in the statistical sense of the word) to disavow him of this notion.  His parents would go to the lengths of tossing 2X4s on the roof and letting them slide off so they would look like sleigh tracks in the snow. He was in high school before he found out about Santa. I honestly don’t remember if he felt this was a good thing or a bad thing. I just remember how his parents worked hard to make things magical for him, and how long they kept it going.

I am working to keep the older two from ruining it for the younger two at least until Paul hits school.

Snow Pictures

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It is a good thing Santa flies because he couldn’t have driven here.

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The duchess baked a cake (and the duke apparently visited B#tch*ng Bob’s Tatoo Parlor).  Actually those turned into cinnamon rolls, a pan of which is in the fridge waiting to be baked today.  

 

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This is what the water tank looked like two weeks ago.

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But at least I can fill it in a matter of seconds (it amounts to about a 10 inch faucet).

We are officially snowed in, GD can’t get the tractor down the road, but he keeps coming up with excuses to go outside.  He is currently playing with the four-wheeler.

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The trees around our house provide great protection most of the year, but they are a great snow catcher too.

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Yesterday.

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Today same pickup.

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Topped with CoolWhip.

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The deck.

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The deck from the inside.

I haven’t left the house since Wednesday, and that was just a run to the babysitter so I could wrap presents.

Maybe by Monday or Tuesday.

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The children on their best behavior.  Leo wore his suit to the baby sitter last week.  That and his Lightning McQueen Crocs.  At least he took off the Darth Vader costume.

clean garage, messy house

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I feel like I should write something philosophical instead of just discussing my mundane life.  Oh, here it comes! I do have something philosophical (and mundane).

It has been cold here and snowy.  The kids missed school two days last week.  My husband is busy taking care of cows; thank God nobody plans to have calves any time soon.  Last week he said something about cleaning up the shop so he could get his pickup in so it would start so he could go do the things he needs to do.  Lows have been close to -20 a couple of times.  It is -5 and dropping as I write this.  I told him I would clean out the garage.  He said something that amounted to “yeah right.”  I got three kids out there and we cleaned up the side we don’t park in.  It was ready for the pickup when he came back, and he was pretty surprised. So my garage is clean.  My bedroom is almost too messy to walk through.  I have Mt Laundry on the couch again and the kitchen is a never-ending process.  The living room floor is relatively clean, and the furniture even got dusted this month.  The coat room and laundry room and even the office are pretty darn clean too.  I feel like I am shifting my mess around.  I didn’t put anything from the garage or coat room in my bedroom, but somehow the mess seems to migrate.  Some part of the house always has to be the catch-all.  As you can see I was unable to put that in a neat little package like OBL does with her parables.  Sorry.

Today GrandpaDaddy chopped ice in the water tank out at the cornfield, I chopped it at noon and tonight it was solid again.  He rigged up some tank heater/generator thing and plans to use it for a hot tub by morning, maybe.  I will send him with a rubber duckie just in case.  It would sure cause people to slow down and stare.  Anyway, he has been busy taking care of critters.  A person should think of that when they grocery shop, someone out there in -2 or even colder weather making sure your future food has water and feed.

I plugged the lights in to see which one was the string we could use on the tree and four strings of lights were only half lit.  (If only it were me…)  Clearly I need to toss some things.  Even the pretty blue lights I got LAST WEEK for the kids’ tree only half lit up.  I haven’t given up on that one, but it is discouraging. So I bought new lights.  I hate living in a world where I am expected to annually dispose of things that should last for a long time.  They all say “Industrial Grade,” like they are supposed to be sturdy.  So what qualifies as industrial?  I would say four little kids and a kamakazi kitten would come close.

In other news, I wrote a Christmas letter for my grandmother.  She always sends cards out, and she won’t be able to this year.  I wrote it, printed it off, and put them in addressed envelopes.  I then put them in a box to mail to Dad so he can return address them and stamp them.  As I was doing this I realized that I still hadn’t made it to the Dr’s office.  He wanted my kidney stone so he could test it.  I think I am going to wrap it up pretty and mail it to him, because I don’t have time to drive it up there to him.  He has a good sense of humor, I hope.  Anyway I am kinda bummed I don’t get to keep it.  So here is a photo.

 DSC02671 (You can tell I used to work for the NRCS because I put a pencil in for scale.  That is what we do, it makes up for it being out of focus.)

So, clean garage, messy house.  Cold, ice, lights don’t work, ouch.  No real theme, but that pretty much covers it.

I have got problems (just little ones)

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 Leo loves my little village.  He twisted a lamppost then beheaded a windmill and a tree.  It all comes down after the next casualty.  It is not an expensive village, just resin, but I like it because it is small, so I can have lots of houses.  It is hard to find accessories to scale without looking at railroad stuff, even the stuff from this outfit is way off.  You can see the dump by the light.

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Jane came home from pre-school with gifts for us.  Then she opened them.  She is four.  Almost five.

I have all of my gifts wrapped and prettified with ribbons etc.  They are in a big box in my room, although I would love to put them under the tree.  I don’t dare between a four-year-old who should know better and a 2.5 year-old who has very little self control and a one-year-old who probably remembers opening his birthday presents.  I hate to waste such prettiness.  I am thinking I will pile the gifts on my bed.  I have a bed in my livingroom.  Seriously, it works.  I put the nativity set up there (which you can’t see), and I could surround it with gifts.  I don’t know, that will probably be too much.  Mom says it looks like we run an orphanage with all of our stockings. lol

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Mae or Jane took this photo.  I bragged to mom that I had gone through my closet and gotten rid of a lot of stuff.  She then proceeded to find three things in her closet for me.  I sent two to the YWCA career closet and kept the third, a Stewart plaid kilt she got in England in 1980.  I am allergic to wool, so I need to get a slip thing to keep me away from the waist band.  Thanks to support hose, I fit in it.  *Note to self, don’t let anyone shorter than you take your picture while you are standing.

Leo tinkled on the potty today.  Not in it, but he was on; it just went all over the floor because I was getting him the seat with the back stop thing while he did it.  He would prefer to wear a diaper to tinkle into, but I wouldn’t let him.  I even gave him a Donald sticker for tinkling all over my floor.  He runs around the house bottom-less these days.  He started today with training pants and Bob the Builder underwear over them.  Don’t ask why, I will never tell you.  After he wet those, I just let him run around nude.  No photo of that today.

In other news, we are getting lightning, thunder and sleet pellets for weather as I type.  Of course they postponed Jane’s program from tonight until Monday at 7.  Mae’s program is Monday at 7:30,  20 miles away from Jane’s.  We are going to have to divide our forces to conquer all the festivities.

I let the kids decorate the tree.  (Not a cedar!!) They ended up hanging ornaments on the light strings.  Not safe, but really cute.

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Doesn’t this tree need gifts?

New Moon.

Man she is a whiny teen-ager.  The first interesting thing happened around page 240, then she goes off with the wrong guy.  Is that what true love is like?  I dunno, this might be my last adventure with Bella.  The two guy thing isn’t nearly as compelling as Evanovich makes Morelli and Ranger…who is of course the right guy.

Downsizing Christmas

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I was with some friends yesterday who were talking about how much they decorate for Christmas and how they had downsized to simplify this year.  I decided I have always had a healthy attitude about doing the Christmas thing.  I have some stuff, I put some of it out, never all of it, I also get rid of some each year.  I never have bought all new stuff to do a “theme”.  My theme is what ever ornaments my kids have…because theirs are newer than mine.  I decorate the living room and put a few things around the house, nothing in the bathroom or bedrooms, we just have one tree, well, I gave the old fake one to the kids, so technically two, and it is in a bedroom.  I make cookies sometimes if I have time, and maybe some English toffee. 

We exchange gifts with our parents, my Nebraska grandparents and our children, plus my husband’s sister who lives in town, no other siblings or friends.  My kids will get one or two things from Santa, and something from us, plus a few fun things in their stockings.  For Christmas I give my grandmother printed address labels of her Christmas card list.  She doesn’t have to dust it or store it and since she sends out 60 cards, it will save her at least hour, and hand cramps.

It is possible to love Christmas and not make your house look like the North Pole.  It is probably better to love Christmas without spending weeks decorating, making all kinds of sweets to exchange and spending hundreds in gifts for everyone you know.  The memories your children will keep are not whether you used snowmen this year or a nature theme, they will remember sledding and how magical the church looks when lit by candles. 

 

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real, and hopefully not Cedar again

3. When do you put up the tree? When ever we get around to getting it

4. When do you take the tree down? After Jan. 1

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes, especially spiked!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? my saddle, or the Barbie doll clothes my aunt made

7. Hardest person to buy for? My husband and my stepson

8. Easiest person to buy for? Leo

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, several

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A used dress

12. Favorite Christmas Movie(s)? It’s a Wonderful Life or maybe Christmas Vacation

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I used to start in January, but I don’t get that ambitious anymore.  I get things all year long and stash them in a closet to be forgotten until sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don’t think so

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? I can’t narrow that down, I like to eat sweets and most things I didn’t cook

16. Who will you miss seeing at Christmas? My brother

17. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay Home

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Unbelievably, yes

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning

21. Opinion of Christmas newsletters – I like them.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Stupid Christmas songs, like Grandma got run over by a reindeer

23. Favorite ornament, theme or color? I like snowmen and mittens

24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Roast beef and tart cherry pie

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? that is a tough one, I need new clothes, books, maybe a tea set…

Christmas decor

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A few years ago I found the top of a fake Christmas tree blowing around in the parking lot at work.  It was an old tree nine years ago.  Always drawn to orphans and lost causes I brought it in and decorated it with paper chains and lights.  I stored it at work until I resigned.  They insisted I take it with me.

Several years ago my grandmother downsized her Christmas by giving all of her ornaments to her grandchildren.  I ended up with aproximately 1/6 of her collection.  The number of ornaments matched the number of branches exactly.  GD even made me a little wooden stand so I wouldn’t have to prop it up in a coffee can of sand.  This year I decided I had gotten my money’s worth out of the old tree.  I wanted to keep the ornaments separate; Grandma took the time to write up a little note about the origins of each ornament.  Several are quite old, like the clip on candle I have never lit and always panicked about loosing when I took the tree down.  (It is the small red thing on the branch that sticks into the middle of the wreath.)  

I looked for a decent fake tree, with no luck, the nice looking ones were 15 feet tall and the 4 foot tall ones were nearly as bad as what I already had.  Then I saw the wreaths.

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Fortunately my wallpaper disguises the light cord quite well.  I am passing the tree on to the kids, they can put their homemade and unbreakable ornaments on it and keep it in the toy room.

Christmas

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Christmas found us with a cedar tree from the pasture. Since Husband decided we were going primitive with the tree, I decided to go primitive with the decorations. We put up lights, popcorn/cranberry strings and paper chains. I had forgotten how frustrating it is to string popcorn. Husband wanted to hang ornaments, but I decided since I get to take the tree down by myself, I was not going to do any more than I had to. Frankly, I think it looks pretty nice. I was opposed to the whole cedar idea, but we “aged” the tree two weeks in the garage, and most of the smell had dissipated by Dec. 23, when we brought it in. Pine has a nice scent. Cedar smells like you could make vodka from it.

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Jane got the fish she asked Santa for. A close look at the aquarium will reveal what genetic modification can do. Unless they came up with a fish tattoo… Regardless, we overheard something about “fwopping on my bwankie” from the other room. A quick count revealed all four were back in the tank, but one still looked pretty nervous. We had made the mistake of leaving the net beside the aquarium, and the temptation was too much for Jane. Remember this is the kid who likes to experiment. I guess we will keep the aquarium in the kitchen. I could put it behind the computer and use the light for a desk lamp, it does get a little romantic in this corner. I am a little afraid that Leo will be tempted. He is a climber.

Fish with heart

Leo was completely enthralled with his Little People Gas Station. He is a fan of anything on wheels these days. I took everything out of the boxes and constructed it several days ago. It took me 30 minutes to get the garage out of the box and about 20 to put it all together. Altogether, I came out nearly 30 twist ties ahead, but I lost nearly an hour of my life. Toy packaging has gone from obnoxious to plain old evil.

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Santa got each kid a toy, and we bought each kid a toy, so we didn’t accumulate too much. Mae was a little lost, I think she was hoping for something more, but she didn’t know just what. She got her train and a doll with clothes. We got the ladies Groovy Girls dolls. Mae fell in love with Laila Ali this last spring while she was on Dancing With the Stars. We even wrote her a fan letter, but she didn’t reply. I got Mae a darker skinned doll and a sparkly gown.

The biggest hit was the flashlights. We play safari sometimes before bedtime. I take a bunch of stuffed animals and hide them around the living room. I then turn off the light and let them look for the animals with flashlights. This is huge fun, but the best part is our grownup flashlights will still be operational should the power go off.

My favorite gift was the one from the person who had the least understanding of Christmas. Paul slept from 11:00 until 5:30, and in his bassinet! Husband got me something I really didn’t need, or have room for, but he did put thought and effort into it, so I won’t complain. He got me plates, about seven or so. My dishes were premiums at grocery stores or gas stations in the 1940s or 1950s. They are nothing special, you can find them in antique stores all over. They usually run about $7 each. I have 12 plates already. This means I can go a looong time between washing dishes! He was looking for a butter dish, but didn’t find one. I would rather have a teapot, but they are maybe $100 or so, and pretty rare.

I got Husband a cordless drill. That is what he asked for, and in that many words. When he opened it, he cautiously mentioned that it didn’t have certain features he wanted, like being ½ inch and having more volts or whatever. I showed him where the receipt was attached and explained that I had about 30 to choose from and knew he would be taking it back. No harm no foul.

My sister-in-law and her friend came over for dinner. It was a nice meal, but not too big. The friend ran interference with the kids so we could get the meal put together. I made a homemade sour cherry pie. MMMmmm. She brought leftovers from her meal last night. After dinner, we loaded the dishwasher and looked at the pile still towering on the counter. I told her it wouldn’t bother me a bit to let them sit until the dishwasher was empty again. She was ok with that, so now I have to get them washed.

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Sledding in Nebraska.  We live in a river valley, so we don’t have hills, although Nebraska does have lots of hills.

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Paul’s birth announcement picture.

Not in the Christmas Spirit

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Bah Humbug. I have hardly put out any Christmas stuff, not even the pretty lighted tree for the front yard. We have the stockings up, a wreath on the door, the manger set up and a quilted wall hanging in the dining room. That is it. I don’t dare put the village up, since Leo is into everything. The tree is actually in the garage, for just that reason. I guess that isn’t very fair to the kids, but I just am not up to it this year. I think we’ll bring the tree in this weekend, otherwise Jane’s goldfish will get cold when Santa drops them off. I am thinking we’ll do the old fashioned thing and just use popcorn, cranberries and paper chains to decorate the tree. I did get my cards out. I do a newspaper looking thing, in third person. Hopefully it’s not too offensive, I would rather read a Xeroxed letter than look at nothing more than somebody’s signature at the bottom of a card.

I got everything sorted out among our six kids, and put together Leo’s car/ramp thing. I can’t wait to play with it! Still need to do all the wrapping. Janine, a senior in High School is getting a tool box with tools. I got a floral handled screwdriver for Christmas last year, and Husband has been coveting it. It was made like a tool for a man, not a cheap “girly” tool, so I got one for her, and some other tools, including a 7oz hammer, just the right size for a woman. I also got her the Daring Book for Girls. It looked like it had some practical advice for the college freshman. Don’t know what to get James. Might wait until after Christmas, if he is not coming anyway.

Betcha didn’t know that I am a grandmother. Yeah, neither did I until last week. Step-son James and his girlfriend had a little girl this summer. We really like the girlfriend, and we are the last people to judge someone for an unexpected baby, as two of ours were just that (although we were married), but James has been reluctant to tell us, actually he hasn’t yet. The girlfriend sent us a Christmas card with her and her daughter’s names and a photo.     I have since spoken with her on the phone. Husband last spoke to James November 9, after Paul was born (and Husb’s birthday), but he had not been in contact much for several months, and it is worse now. The kids live in different towns, about two hours apart, but they are dating again. They broke it off for a while, and got back together after the baby was born. I hope they can make it work. Babies need Daddies, and when James grows up some, he will be a super father! He was great with our kids when he lived here last fall. He didn’t do diapers, but maybe on his own kid it would be different. {an aside…The sexiest thing I have ever seen a man do is change somebody else’s baby’s diaper, seriously.} James is currently selling vacuum cleaners door to door. That can’t be an easy life. She works at a gas station and as a nanny and is completing an associate’s degree online from a local college. Just writing that makes me tired.

I guess I will try to see the baby as I will go through their town on my way to see my folks, who live two hours beyond. Maybe I could see my step-daughter as well. I miss her. I did find out that although she won’t answer her cell phone, or return calls, she does return texts. Immediately. I told Husband that is was worth 10 cents a pop to me to be able to communicate with her. I actually texted her when I opened the card from the girlfriend. She called as soon as she got out of school and did some explaining. It is a long story, and there is no need to repeat it, as that horse is out of the barn and over the hill.

My mother is excited to make a quilt for the baby. We need to make one for Paul too. I guess I will go visit back home after Christmas.

All I want for Christmas is a…

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This looks to be a long night, Baby Paul is wanting to be loved, and definitely not wanting to sleep.

Today we went to a party where Santa made an appearance.  Mae told me it was a guy in a costume, not the real Santa.  I told her not to spoil it for anyone else.  All three of ’em sat on his lap and enjoyed it.  Paul slept, looking back on it, maybe I should have got him up for the occasion.  Since we don’t get Nickelodeon or Disney or anything like that, my kids are at a loss as for what they “should” want for Christmas.  Mae asked for a train engine to pull her Daisy train car around, and her own set of tracks, the second part is not likely to happen, but maybe we can add to what we already have.  Jane asked for, get this, a goldfish.  I am thinking we can swing a goldfish, not sure where to hide him though.  I really should get a satellite dish.  Santa had a gift for each child, we got Connect 4, Chutes and Ladders, and Memory. 

Three new games inspired me to clean out the game closet.  We have a zillion games, and didn’t have any of those we received.  I found all sorts of things, the hat from our Monopoly game and the missing piece from the Barbie puzzle which has been lost since Janine put it together 10 years ago.  I got rid of some games that the step kids have received.  I moved them to a less accessible closet.  The games fit in their two shelves like one of those puzzles where you have to put the tiles in the right order by sliding them around.  Only I can get anything out of the closet.  I did leave the Jenga and Dominoes towards the front, because those are favorites to use as blocks.

My husband did a lousy job of shopping for my birthday present this year.  I am not a huge snob about getting gifts, but when someone says, “I need ideas, and it has to be something I can get between 9 and 10 on Sunday morning” you know you are in for something special.  Especially when your birthday is Tuesday.  I made him go though, because I made a big deal about gift shopping for him with the kids.  His b-day was Friday of the same week mine was.  I got a notepad with flowers on it.  I had asked for stationery, like what I could use for thank yous and such, but I guess I will just use a plain envelope.  Today I looked through my Williams-Sonoma catalog, and circled a few things, (I am hoping for the knife) and wrote “Christmas Ideas” on the cover with a magic marker then left it on his dresser.  If they have overnight shipping, I guess I could come out ok this Christmas.  I still don’t know what to get him though.  At least I am thinking about it now.