Monday, December 31, 2007

Peace on Earth?

What happened to my Christmas village?

I'm not up on all the warring toys, but I think these are either Bionicles or Transformers or maybe both, either fighting in, or attacking, or defending my Christmas village. Ah the joys of having a boy.

Reminds me of Christmas two years ago when Calvin was using the PlayMobile Nativity set as weapons and the Christmas tree as the basis of covert ops.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

All That Glitters Isn't Gold (ha! I wish)

Either I got in a fight with Tinkerbell or my daughter gave me a makeover with her new makeup kit.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Sharing the Meaning of the Season

We had one of the most memorable Christmases this year, but maybe not for the reasons you'd think. It's been a hard year. I had told the kids not to expect much for Christmas. One of my clients had gone under and didn't pay me. It was a significant amount, money that I was expecting to pay December and January's bills plus Christmas. I could get the kids one gift each and bills still wouldn't be paid. I felt terrible.

The church secretary called me and said someone wanted to adopt a family for Christmas and would we be willing to be adopted. I was a bit surprised. I hadn't shared much of our story with anyone, but a few people knew we'd had a hard year. So I agreed, but I didn't tell the kids. I didn't want to get their hopes up in case it fell through.

When she called back a couple weeks later to ask when I wanted to pick up the gifts, she told me there were eight boxes.

"Oh, that's nice," I thought. "The kids will get four presents each. That's really sweet."

"Eight boxes two feet by two feet," she continued. "The pile is up to my shoulders. Plus they're bringing you food for Christmas dinner."

I was so stunned I couldn't speak.

I told the kids that someone had adopted us for Christmas and that we were going to pick up the gifts at church. When we walked into the room, Sissy's face lit up. "Mom, this is exactly what we prayed for! God took care of us!"

I started to cry.

It took two trips with a hand truck plus several more trips by me carrying food and our little Jetta was overflowing. Food sat on the back window and under the kids' feet. We couldn't have gotten one more thing in that car.

When we unloaded the presents and put them around the tree, they had to be stuffed into every nook and cranny. I'd never seen so many presents in all my life.

What amazed me what how much time and thought was put into the gifts. It wasn't just a matter of spending money. Clearly whoever bought the gifts knew my kids enough to know their tastes. Plus there were homemade cookies and hand-knitted afghans for each of us. They even got gifts for me.

We always hear how it's more blessed to give than receive. But in Blue Like Jazz Donald Miller makes the observation that it can be hard to receive because it implies need, and we don't like to be needy people. We like to be the ones who have the surplus to give from.

I know that's true of me. This year has been very humbling for me. It's hard for me to accept other people's help. It's hard to write this blog post. But the Bible says to tell of the Lord's wonders and faithfulness. Psalm 78:4 says, "We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did."

Because bottom line, this is about God and His faithfulness. He provided for us. Not just for our needs, like He's promised to do. But for some of our wants as well. And abundantly. What a wonderful lesson for my children. And me too.

I don't know who adopted us for Christmas. I do know they will be rewarded in heaven, but I also hope they'll get some little reward here on earth too.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Advent Vespers at Valparaiso University

A couple of weeks ago we (Mich and our kids) attended advent vespers at the Chapel of the Resurrection at Valparaiso University. I told you I was behind on blogging. It was a beautiful experience. As I'd mentioned before, we don't come from a ritual-rich church background but I feel it's important to experience it occasionally as a way of focusing on God's holiness and on the rich traditions of the Church.

I had never attended any services at Valpo's Chapel so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I had spent some time poking around their website which explained the meaning behind the different parts of the church, including the stained glass windows, the baptismal font, and the crucifix. I was eager to see them for myself. Also, this advent vespers focused on using a variety of art forms to express the message of the Gospel. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know this is something that fascinates me. So I was excited to see how this would play out.

Unfortunately, we were late so we didn't get to see the visual arts displayed on the ground floor of the chapel. But the combination of church ritual, candlelight, dancing, classical organ music, university choir, hand bells, and orchestra, along with Scripture readings made for a rich spiritual and sensory experience. Even Calvin remained entranced for the full hour and 45 minutes. I have to admit, when the choir came up to the balcony where we were seated and surrounded us and began singing, I started crying at the beauty of the voices so unique and yet so perfectly on pitch. I was so touched.

Another thing I treasured about the evening was the printed programs. Many of the visual works were reprinted in the Order of Service, along with wonderful quotes about faith and art, and the words to the songs. This is something that I will keep by my desk and refer to often for inspiration.

I think we have found another tradition to add to our Christmas, one that is full of meaning.

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

A couple of Saturdays ago we went to Hensler Christmas Tree Farm. Which might seem a bit unusual since we already have our tree up and its fake. And we're allergic to pine.

We didn't go to get a tree.

We went to see Rudy and Angel. Reindeer in case you can't tell. I think they're napping. It was a balmy 25 degrees.

We watched the reindeer a bit, walked through the petting barn where we saw donkeys and peacocks. I took pictures of the kids in a wooden replica train and in front of an old Model T truck which became our Christmas pic. We also took a ride in a wagon pulled by Belgian horses. Those boys were huge!

After watching everyone select and cut their trees, we were pretty chilly, so we went inside to get hot chocolate, hot cider and cookies. They had a pianist playing Christmas carols so as we were eating our snack Sissy and I entertained those nearest us by singing along. Who can resist singing to Christmas carols? Apparently some people but not me.

After our snack we checked our their ornaments, handmade wreaths, and quilting display. It was a fun trip, and I think it will be a regular holiday tradition made perfect by the addition of snow.

Saturday Night Fun

Photo credit

I'm still alive and have a lot to blog about, but between getting snowed in and the Internet going out, I've been playing catch up all week.

A couple of weeks ago Sissy participated in a cheerleading camp hosted by the local high school cheerleaders. The finale of it was that the girls would cheer in the stands at the high school basketball game and do the dance routine they learned at half time at the varsity game. So Calvin and I went to watch and video tape.

I hadn't been to a high school basketball game since I was in high school, and I was pretty much expecting to see what I saw then.

Boy was I wrong. First of all, I'm now old enough to be the players' mother.

Second, we arrived during the girls' game and they were GOOD! They played as aggressively as the boys and were far more talented in shooting and running plays than the girls on my high school basketball team were.

Third, I don't remember basketball being played on Saturday night. Then again, the production they put on was worthy of Saturday night entertainment. The boys' team came in with an introduction and warm-up routine worthy of the pros. Between the cheer routine, the music, and the tossing of t-shirts to the audience, it was quite the event.

The press thought so too. The local radio station covered the game live with two reporters. I also saw three photographers and one print journalist.

However, some things remained solidly Midwestern. Like the guys on the opposing team who thought long white knee socks with baggy basketball shorts were a great fashion statement. Or their coach, a Pat Riley wannabe, complete with the decades-old couture.

But I really can't make any judgments about anyone else's fashion statements when close to home I had issues of my own to deal with. Part way through the game I happened to look down at Calvin and really notice what he was wearing. His thermals. Only his thermals. No pants. Hmm. Luckily they were black. I usually have to remind him to put on a coat and gloves, and sometimes socks. Never thought I'd have to remind him to put on pants. Then again, he's a West Coaster. He's never worn two pairs of pants at the same time before.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Christmas Gift?

This cracked me up, though granted, I have a warped sense of humor. I think I might buy it for myself.

101 Reasons to Stop Writing looks like those inspirational posters or calendars with the glossy photographs but with the reasons we've all thought of to stop writing, printed out for the world to see.

And as contrary as I am, I just might find it good motivation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Not a huge tackle today. A low pressure system moved into the area and my knees are killing me.

But my dining room table has been bugging me for awhile. Does anyone else have this problem? Why is it the dining room table attracts all sorts of papers, craft projects and homework? I think in our house it's because it's the largest horizontal surface. Lately we've just been pushing stuff aside to eat. Not any more.

I notice our advent candles are a little bare looking and our candle chimneys need to be cleaned. And I wish the radio could go some place else. But at this time of year, we have to listen to it every morning to hear about school closures and delays. Ah well.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My Kind of Music

Who knew Midwesterners had rhythm? This group of guys from Indiana University, Straight No Chaser, sings a capella in cool combo of creativity and tradition. I love it. Credit to Chris Mikesell for the link.

If you prowl around You Tube, they have a couple more videos, including one at Hardees where they serenade the staff.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


To fellow Misfit Angie Poole and writer bud Chris Fisher for being nominated for the Pushcart Prize in short fiction. Way to go, guys!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hey, I Made the Newspaper!

The front page even. Luckily, below the fold. The above-the-fold story was about the Pak-a-Sak getting robbed. That wasn't me. But A-1 below-the-fold coverage is quite nice, thank you very much. Even if it is a small town paper. That's me in the middle if you haven't figured that out yet.

The photographer came to our Tuesday dress rehearsal of our Christmas performance, which is this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I'm actually glad that it's earlier in December rather than later, like I'm used to. It's an hour-long program of all singing, with a bit of narration. Ten songs. Lots of standing. Lots of water. Say a prayer if you think about it. We're supposed to have snow and ice this weekend and I've been fighting a migraine. Tis the season.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Winter Wonderland

We got our first substantial snow last night, as in, the school's were delayed opening two hours, and I got to stay home from work. I think we ended up with six inches of beautiful powder. Makes me want to go skiing, except for the fact that Indiana is so flat.

Our Black Lab, Charlie, was so funny when I let him out this morning. He pranced around the snow in the back yard like a horse, clearing trying to figure out what had happened and what he was supposed to do with this stuff.

For my part, I sat in the parking lot last night with my Starbucks watching these perfect snowflakes fall in the light of the lampposts, looking like glittery sugar and watching their perfect little snowflake selves on my windshield. I know my goal this winter will be to get pictures of snowflakes.

But for now, you get the oak tree in my front yard and some mock cherry bush in my back yard. I was hoping it'd keep it's bright red leaves when it snowed because I think that would look so pretty, but alas it was not to be.

On another note, this is a picture of the tree of boxes that is our Advent calendar. When you pull the box out with the date (and eat the chocolate inside!) you reverse the box and put it back in to make some sort of scene. The kids love it. Me too, actually.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

On the First Day of December I Decorated My Tree

Okay, so that doesn't really work with the meter of the song. Nevertheless, it's true. The kids and I had fun putting the tree up and recalling memories associated with the ornaments.

While we decorated we listened to Nat King Cole, Mannheim Steamroller, Lyndsey Lloyd Wallace, and Take 6. Interesting story behind the Lyndsey Lloyd Wallace CD. She was on the worship team at Saddleback Church and recorded her Christmas album while I was there. I got to sing back up on one of the songs. I was in the local Christian bookstore when I heard the song playing over the speaker system. I kind of stopped in awe for a moment. I always thought that kind of "Hey, that's me" moment in a bookstore would be because of a book, not a CD.

To top it all off, it snowed today. The kids went out and played in the snow then came in and had hot chocolate and watched a movie.

We also began Advent tonight. I know it doesn't really begin until tomorrow but we got this adorable Advent tree made of boxes of chocolate at Starbucks and it starts on the first. Our church tradition doesn't have a lot of rituals, and most of the time I appreciate that. However, we've been in the habit of celebrating Advent with candles, carols, and Scripture readings. I think some rituals can be meaningful and build memories. So tonight we said an Advent prayer for children, discussed John the Baptist's call to repentance and fruit (and what that means), and sang "Come O Come Emmanuel."

Hopefully the traditions and rituals will help us all to remember the real reason for Christmas.

What Kind of Writer Am I Anyway?

I got this fun quiz from Georgiana.

What kind of writer are you?

You're a Narrative writer!
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

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Hmm, kinda funny really. It's a fun quiz with a few saucy options in the answer section. Take it and tell us what kind of writer you are.