front row L-R: Uncle Craig, Julia and Rachel (my nieces - daughters of Lori and Ken)
second row: Cousins: Torrey, Pam, Maggie (daughter of Torrey and Pam), my Mom, Aunt Carolyn (Pam's Mom, my Mom's sister and Uncle Craig's wife), brother-in-law Ken (Julia and Rachel's Dad - Lori's husband)
third row: sister-in-law Roberta, brother Rob (Roberta's husband), Ashley (Rob's daughter) holding Makayla (Pam and Torrey's daughter), Your's Truly (that would be ME), Olivia, and Brillo Man (aka Randy), Randy's eldest daughter, Stephanie, my sister Lori (Ken's wife, Julia and Rachel's Mom)
missing from photo: My youngest brother David, My nephew Michael (Rob's son) and Kelly (Randy's 'former youngest daughter'-before Olivia became the youngest!)
In exactly twelve hours from from the time I'm typing this blog entry, 20 of my family members will be descending upon our doorstep, ready to spread Christmas cheer as we feast and exchange gifts and celebrate the birth of Christ. (a little late --but that's my family...)
This year it was my turn to host. My sister and my aunt both offered their homes, but I declined; deciding that it would be a good excuse for me to clean my house.
Note: Here is a photo of the coffee table --as it appears right now --in real life. 20 people in a little under 12 hours...I think I should think about cleaning it off. It's piled with stuff - McDonald's boxes (that was dinner tonight), discarded wrapping paper, camera cables, Christmas gifts...etc...ad nauseum... Here's the real deal....one of my stepdaughters arrived earlier this afternoon bearing gifts from herself and her sister who couldn't be with us this weekend because she has to work. (what is UP with that?!) Upon opening gifts from the girls, I received what I think may be my favorite gift this year....a refrigerator magnet. When my relatives arrive tomorrow and my house isn't spotless (because it NEVER will be EVER in this lifetime....), I will just flash THE MAGNET! Enough said! Party on!
Occasionally...no...all the time, Brillo Man takes off his shoes when he comes in the door and walks around in his white socks. There is no place his white socks won't take him --through the mud/laundry room into the garage (where he frequently takes off his muddy boots) to get to the freezer to get the ice cream - or down into the basement to do whatever it is he does while he's in the basement. Needless to say, Brillo Man's white socks tend to be not-so-white at the end of the day.
To remedy this problem, whenever I do laundry, all of Brillo Man's white clothes - including his T-shirts and Tighty Whities go in the washer together with Tide and scoop of Oxiclean added to the load. I always wash them in HOT water and let them soak for 30 minutes to insure that all the garage dirt and mud room mud and basement crud is washed out of the socks, not to mention the olive oil stains on his T-shirts from eating Italian bread dipped in oil with Italian spices added. (but that's another blog...)
Moving right along...Olivia always takes off her shoes AND socks the minute she walks in the door and refuses to wear anything on her feet when she's in the house. She took off her socks and instead of putting them in her "Dora" hamper, she asked me if she should just put them in the washing machine with Daddy's socks. "Sure", I replied, "Thanks for being such a good helper!"
When I opened the washer to transfer all of Brillo Man's bright white freshly washed clothes into the dryer...I pulled out a pair of not white, but PINK tighty whities. Olivia put her socks in the wash --they were red. oops.
Great. Mission Impossible - make the pink clothes white again. The clothes are now back in a 30 minute soak of HOT water, a cup and 1/2 of bleach and two scoops of Oxiclean - sans red socks! With the bleach, mingling with the Oxiclean and detergent... I'm thinking anyone who enters the mud/laundry room may need a gas mask or respirator because of the fumes.
In 45 minutes or so, I should know if my mission was successful --hopefully, Brillo Man's tighty whities won't be tighty pinkies any longer. (Side note: One good thing...on Christmas morning, after opening some new packages of boxer briefs which were colors other than white...Brillo Man commented that he was glad I didn't buy white. So this whole pink thing should be okay with him, right?!) And if my mission doesn't work, I'll tell him it's high time he got in touch with his feminine side!
As many of you know, we are in the process of converting one of our garage bays into an art studio for me. Since we've been married, I really haven't had any space to paint or create. In fact, many of my art supplies have 'spilled' into our living room and many are still packed in boxes in the garage - where they've been since we moved into this house. I've been wanting a studio space forever and since Olivia will be starting kindergarten next year, I will have some more time to devote to creating!
Randy surprised me with a big tool chest (on wheels!) which I'll be able to fill (in no time at all) with art supplies. Since it's mobile, I'll be able to roll it around wherever I'm painting or whatever. He also bought me a really nice easel - something I've wanted forever! ...and a mat cutter - so I no longer have to pay someone else to mat my art work. And---a scroll saw, a router and a table saw --for woodworking. The scroll saw (when equipped with diamond tipped blades) will also come in handy for cutting glass for my stained glass projects --something else which I hope to get back into when I have a little more time.
All of that --along with some beautiful jewelry, the new WOW worship CD, an audio book by Max Lucado and a new Bible (parallel NASB and The Message). I'm sure I'm forgetting something he gave me....I told him that he spent way too much! On the other hand, it's nice to be spoiled once in awhile!
I'm excited to get my studio finished and of course, will be posting photos when that project is complete.
Okay --Olivia is beckoning me to go play a game with her....
I hope everyone had a great time celebrating our Lord's birth!
As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, my prayer for you all this year is that God would "grant you according to the riches of His Glory,
to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." -Ephesians 3:16-19
Some of you have talked about the sounds of Christmas --the carols sung, the bells ringing, the laughter of excited children....
Here in our home, we have a whole new definition of the sweet sound of Christmas....
Last night, I arrived home from a short shopping trip to the outlet mall (I thought that since I hadn't yet visited a mall this season, that I should do so --just so I could say I did.) When I walked in the door, I heard scrambing and scruffing and Olivia came running over saying, "don't you even think about opening that door Mom!" Brillo Man looked at me and said, "You're home way too early." "Oh, wrapping presents?", I replied. A couple of sheepish grins and a "yep" from both of them...
Soon, I was relegated to the bedroom while they finished their wrapping frenzy. And "frenzy" is an understatement....
From the bedroom, I heard the strangest noise --you know, that annoying, scraping, screeching, stretching sound that a tape dispenser makes when you pack a box for shipping? I heard that sound - again and again and again and again. "What in the world are they doing? Wrapping an elephant?", I thought as I calmly sorted through a box of my own presents which needed wrapped.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, Olivia came bounding into the bedroom announcing that it was safe for me to return to the land of the living. I followed her into the living room only to discover that they had indeed wrapped an elephant -- or at least a baby elephant! Next to the tree is this HUGE package - encircled by miles and miles of packing tape! Notice the beautiful, holiday dancing light (glare) that comes from the box...
Olivia squealed, "Mommy, I helped with all the wrapping and the one on the very top I did all by myself without any help from anybody!" "Wow!", I laughed at her excitement and added that I would probably need her professional help when I wrapped presents for Daddy. She dashed away and started down the stairs, calling as she descended... "Okay, but first I have to go downstairs with Daddy and have some 'Olivia time'. When you're ready to wrap and I begin to hear that sweet, sweet sound of the tape, I'll be right up to help you!"
After I open it, I'll let you know if it really is a baby elephant they've wrapped!
This is a Christmas card design I did several years ago. Jesus left the magnificent splendor of heaven, to come to earth as a Child, to give His life so that those of us who have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior could have a peace beyond any that is comprehensible.
My prayer this Christmas season is that all of you will find the True Peace that only comes in knowing Jesus.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. -Isaiah 26:3
Last week at our church Christmas party, my friends, Dave and Dawna portrayed Santa and Mrs. Claus. Thinking that since Olivia knows and speaks with Dawna every time they see each other in church, Dawna decided that she better not interact with Olivia while dressed as Mrs. Claus because she didn't want Olivia to recognize her and spoil the fun.
Earlier today while sharing the photo with Grandma Leanne, Olivia said, "I sat on Santa's lap and he talked to me, but Mrs. Claus wouldn't talk to me."
Grandma: "She wouldn't?"
Grandma: "I wonder why she wasn't able to talk to you..."
Olivia: "I don't know..."
Olivia said to me a few minutes later...."I'm thinking that Mrs. Claus probably didn't know my language, or else she just had a giant frog in her throat!"
Many of you may disagree, stating that it's tough to get into "the Christmas spirit" without visiting a mall full of hustling, bustling, usually impatient, pushy, grabby, crabby Christmas shoppers, but I find it a veritable nightmare to enter a mall during this time of year.
I for one, am proud to say that I have not set foot in one mall this season. Not one Target, Not one Best Buy nor Kohls nor KMart nor Macy's nor Sears nor JCPenneys. I did make a couple of stops at StuffMart (aka WalMart).
All of my shopping was done via the internet. I didn't have to wait in line. I didn't even pay shipping costs in most cases shopping on sites which offered free shipping for the holidays. The few items that I did purchase in the stores were purchased several months ago and stashed away, hidden in the house from snooping little eyes.
Another Christmas without going to the mall!!! Yeah!! Besides, why would I want to go to the mall when I can sit here and be entertained by Olivia who is presently sitting in the middle of the living room floor pulling one yard (as in three feet) of dental floss through her teeth while singing Jingle Bells?! (What is up with that?!)
This afternoon, I put the final crocheted stitches into the last lap robe which many of you know I've been crocheting (along with several other women from our church) for the residents of our local nursing home.
I've prayed for each resident who will receive these gifts....that if they don't already have a relationship with Jesus, that they will come to a saving knowledge of Him and His great love!
I hate these tag things too --but after being tagged by Sara, I realized that I needed something to blog about that wouldn't require too much effort. It's been a long night and day --Olivia is sick and neither of us have had much sleep.
A - Available or single: Definitely not single and definitely not available. B - Best Friend: Brillo Man C - Cake or Pie: Pie - Peach or Black Raspberry please D - Drink of choice: Cherry Pepsi E - Essential Item you use everyday: Toothbrush F - Favorite color: I don't have a favorite --I like all of them. G - Gummy Bears or worms: bears --easier to manage H - Hometown: New Castle, PA I - Indulgence: too numerous to mention --homemade bread is one, chips is another --basically anything which contains major carbs. J - January or February: what kind of a question is that? neither. May or June K - Kids & Names: 1 - Olivia L - Life is Incomplete Without? Jesus, Brillo Man and Olivia M - Marriage Date: June 2, 2001 N - Number of Siblings: 3 O - Oranges or Apples: Oranges P - Phobias or Fears: Failure and dying too young so as not to see my daughter grow up and have children of her own. Q - Fave Quote: Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings while the dawn is still dark. - anonymous R - Reason to Smile: Olivia's laughter S - Season: Autumn T - Tag 3 or 4 people: If you're reading, you're tagged. U - Unknown Fact about Me: I pull out every grey hair that I find on my head to avoid spending the money on hair dye. When I'm bald, I'll know it's time to pay the salon. V- Vegetable You Don't Like: I like them all. W - Worst Habit: overeating X - Xrays: too numerous to list --first was an ankle when I thought I broke it playing kickball (whacked my leg up against the corner of a friend's garage). Next --a broken arm when I fell 20 feet into a ravine while swinging on a vine..... Y - Your Fave Food: PASTA - specifially Mom's homemade ravioli Z - Zodiac Sign: Gemini --but I hate astrology --it's a waste of time and energy.
Olivia did most of the decorating, so if there are two snowmen ornaments next to each other - or two red ornaments next to each other - consider it a display of her artistic license!
The detail photo shows an ornament with a picture of Olivia - her 2nd Christmas, a dragonfly and a Canada Goose --two creatures very prominent on our property. If you visit in the Spring or early Summer, you'd understand why we've dubbed our pond, "Goose Poop Lake". and of course --there's the Armadillo. If anyone doesn't know the armadillo story....I'll include it in a future blog. I thought I had blogged the armadillo story --but I'm unable to find it amongst my posts.
So --Tree is up. One less thing I have to worry about!
Now I just have to get the four 8'x4' panels painted for the scenery for the church Christmas play.....I have less than two weeks to complete that project....ugh!
This morning Olivia and I went to have breakfast with Santa. Before we left, she insisted upon taking one of the "art projects" we made this week as a gift for Mr. Claus, but changed her mind at the last minute. Deciding, instead, to give Santa her gift on Christmas Eve along with some cookies and a carrot for Rudolph.
Here she is with some of the other kids playing a game. Her "Red Sparkle Shoes" allow her to run "really, really fast!"
And finally, on Santa's lap. When Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas, she put her hand on her chin and said, "I just need to think about it for a minute." After a few seconds, Santa asked her if she had decided. She said, "No, I just need to keep thinking..."
One of my favorite artists is Andy Warhol. I don’t know why. Probably because in a high school art class we were required to research an artist, and then portray him or her while giving a report as well as presenting some art work inspired by the artist’s style. I chose Andy. I was tall and thin with short hair and I wore glasses. It would be fairly easy for me to dress up like him.
In my research of Andy Warhol, I discovered that he was probably more eccentric than most. Artists, in general, tend to be on the eccentric side – in one way or another. Andy gave the word ‘eccentric’ a whole new meaning. For instance, he never threw anything away. Never. .” He was said to have “packrattitude”. He stored things in boxes which he referred to as “Time Capsules.”
Now –the reason for this post is that I, too, live amongst a bunch of bins and boxes and objects which I’m henceforth going to refer to as “time capsules”. If Brillo Man complains that I have too much stuff (which he often does) I’m just going to tell him to ‘get over it’ because I’m an eccentric artist and these things are my time capsules.
I tend not to throw things away. I’m not a messy housekeeper….I have packrattitude. You never know when I may need something. For instance….in the art that follows, I put to use a small piece of golden brown foil from an “autumn” edition of a Hershey’s Kiss. The foil was colorful. I had to keep it. I might be able to use it. Someday.
And I did! Note the butterfly –it would not have been nearly as eye-catching had I chosen to render it in colored pencil. Rather, I chose to make it the focal point of this work of art with golden brown foil. Pretty impressive, huh?! Never mind that I presently can’t find the surface of my coffee table because it’s covered in stuff that I need to sort through because I may need it someday and my house is cluttered with overflowing boxes and bins which I have to figure out where I’m going to stash so I can at least make it presentable enough to decorate for Christmas…..I am an artist with packrattitude and I am proud!
This post is dedicated to my friend, Pat – not because she has packrattitude – but because she loves me in spite of it! (Of course, she’s never actually seen my home….I think she would have a seizure if she did!) The secret is –make sure all your friends live at least 200 miles away so they can’t just “drop in”!
Additional note: As I was typing the last line of this post, Brillo Man called to say that he was bringing home two of his employees so they could work on a project together….which PROVES the theory that Pat shared with me yesterday –that I’d clean if I HAD to!!!
This morning, I awoke to a beautiful sight. As I sat up in bed and looked out through the french doors, past the balcony/deck to the pond beyond --and the trees covered in a blanket of snow. The world enveloped in a blanket of white.
Immediately, a song came to mind which was written by a dear friend, my former worship leader, . "...Whiter than snow, whiter than snow, Jesus, Your blood makes me whiter than snow..."
It's such a simple analogy; the earth and all the dirt is enveloped in a beautiful blanket of white just as the sin in our lives is covered when we accept the Lord as our Savior. All the dirt and grime and junk - now remains unseen. The Lord no longer sees us with all our imperfections and flaws, rather He sees us as pure and white and wearing a robe of righteousness. All the 'dirt' is covered. Covered in a blanket much like the snow comprised of millions of beautiful icy crystals - each unique in its own way - yet equally lovely.
We are all unique. Yet we are all equally lovely in God's eyes. A dear friend blessed me so much this morning by telling me that she sees me in a completely different light than I see myself. The list she compiled of who she sees when she looks at me goes far beyond what I see in myself. I'd like to think that she is seeing me through the eyes of the Lord.
I am so thankful for God's unending grace and mercy. -Thankful that He has chosen me to be a child of His. -Thankful that He looks beyond all the junk and sees me as a beautiful creation, shining and sparkling for Him. As Christians, we all need to be reminded every now and then that we are a beautiful creation...we need to not focus on the 'junk' but focus on the potential that God sees in each of us.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. --Psalm 51:7
I had to chuckle to myself when I read an email from my sister this morning, part of which reads, "Ok, I should go rewash a load of laundry that’s been in the washer for days. I’m sure it stinks."
Sorry, Lori - you've been "outed" as a RE-WASHER! My sister will now have friends (because I have it on very good report that at least one of her friends reads my blog ---and NEVER comments, by the way - that friend is a "LURKER" --but I'll deal with that in another post....) Anyway...now my sister will have people looking at her in horror and disbelief whenever they realize that the clothes she is wearing may have sat in a washer for days and then been RE-WASHED probably in a heavy solution of Oxyclean or some other heavy-duty laundry cleaner to attempt to get that familiar mildew smell out of them.
(Wait, did I say, "familiar"? Nah....I could NEVER be a RE-WASHER!)
By the way...in another friend's previous post I read..."When load is complete, within three to four days (my husband) will approach and cram the items into the dryer."
So, dear sister, don't despair. There are indeed other RE-WASHERS out there living in our world. Perhaps you could start a support group....
Okay --gotta go get that load of laundry out of the washer which I put in there last night --quick! - before it mildews and I have to join the group! I've got too much on my plate now --no time for another group...