Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

From all of us to all of you!

May this year bring
painted cabinets
organized drawers
vintage linens
steaming cups of coffee
angelic muddy grins of impish children
sloppy kisses from spoiled doggies
new hardwood floors
long mornings buried in feathers
cleaning challenges from friends
new fluffy towels
a new cast iron set of pots

for all of us that like those kind of things...

It might be Christmas on this blog for a while yet...

I have a bit of catch up to do, and we had such a wonderful Christmas that I dearly want to share it with all my bogger friends.

This is my dad. He is reading the Christmas story from Luke 2. Usually we do a choral reading but we strayed a bit and did something different this year. Marme and PaPa hid several ziplock bags that held figures, essential to the Nativity story and my children ran gleefully around the house trying to find each one. They brought them back to PaPa, who let them tell why that figure was important to the story. Then my kids sat in awe as he read, a story so old, and so fresh. I am always amazed how much the Christmas story reminds me of Spring.

Here the kids are looking at an ornament that I painted when I was a young teenager. It has Joseph on one side and Mary on another.

Save this idea for your next Christmas day. It worked out wonderfully. The kids were so excited to find the "treasures", and it was a heart softening experience for the adults who looked on.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The best gift ever

So many of my readers already know about my close relationship with my sister. Growing up, we shared a bed, we shared clothes, and we fought like cats and dogs- ones that hated each other. Many were the times our fights ended with me holding a hunk of her hair, and with her smiling at me with that smile that said, "I might have the black eye and a bald spot...but I have indeed won this." And then I would learn that revenge, in the hands of a mastermind, is indeed no fun at all. Those were good times... I have no idea how we emerged from our childhood with what is now a solid bond stronger even than steel. But, sometimes life hands you friendship on a golden platter...sometimes it comes through trial by fire.

Renee and I walked through the fire and came out better than when we went in.

Until her husband joined the military, Renee and I had done everything together. We cleaned our houses together, we got pregnant together, we nursed our babies together, we played strategy games together. Even when she moved to Ohio, we made sure to plan our vacations together and we saw each other every several months.

Then came the bad news. Devastating news for the both of us. A move, on her family's part to what might as well be the other side of the world. Rome, New York. I seethed at her husband Jesse for taking her so far away from me. I railed at God for moving her to a place in which distance was the great separtaor. I cried when her fourth wee one was born and I could not be there to see her.

As Christmas approached, we neared the mark of one year without seeing each other. We both had new homes, and she had a new baby, all of which we could not share with each other. We talked on the phone several times a day...but that distance was starting to overwhelm us. More times than I could count, I would say good bye and hide away in my bathtub for a good cry.

I missed my sister in such a way that I can not even describe.

And then... Jesse...that dear man I had been seething at. He called me and asked me if I would mind being my sister's Christmas gift. I think I sat on the phone stunned, not knowing exactly what he meant.
"I would like to fly you up here for a gift to Renee." he said.
And I cried. For joy.

I had to keep the secret for four long weeks. The longest weeks of my life. The Christmas season was jammed for me. I would be in New York the two weeks before Christmas which meant I had a lot of work to do. On top of that, I couldn't share my excitement- or my stress with Renee. I even found myself avoiding her calls because I was so afraid I would let it slip.

It was worth it on the Thursday night when Jesse walked into his living room and told Renee that he had an early Christmas gift for her. Then I walked through the door.
She stared
and stared
and stared some more.

And then I grabbed my beautiful baby niece Karist from her arms and held her for the first time.
Renee was still staring. And then she cried. For joy.

I could not have received a better gift. I soaked in everything, held my nephew and neices as much as possible, played star wars legos, got trapped into watching Star Wars and My Little Pony, and became a good witch who trapped children in their rooms until they got them cleaned. I helped Renee decorate her home (she is quite and expert, and everything looks so lovely), and I listened to my niece Devonae tell me wonderful night time stories about the aunt and the little girl who got lost deep in the dark dark woods and had to build a house where they lived ever after.

I am sorry about the suffering that my blog took while I was away, but I was busy. Busy hugging, and holding, and loving. Which, is, by far, better than writing.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas has come and gone...

Someone seems to have given me the gift of the flu. SCROOGE! I have been sick since the day after Christmas and this illness seems to be of the never-ending sort.

Here are some pictures of our Christmas decorations. I was out of town for most of December as well as Christmas day and so we skiped the tree, opting to decorate some garland instead. I think it makes a lovely alternative.

I made this button ornament the first year Dustan and I were married. It is simply buttons glued onto a clothespin.

THis is the first ornament in a series that my mom and dad buy us every year. It is for a fund raiser for their local rescue mission. I love receiving these every year. I love un-packing and hanging them too. Each one is different but they alll have our names on them. It is a sentimental treat to see the names grow from just Dustan and Becka, to Dustan, Becka, and Marcus, and then the addition of Weston, and lastly our complete family...Dustan, Becka, Marcus, Weston, and Esther. Maybe next year mom will remember to include Heidi.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Speaking of Work in Progresses

I am working on a quilted appliqued wall hanging as a gift for my Mother In Law. I have never done an applique before. I have never quilted before. At some point during this project I realized I was out of my ever lovin mind. At some point yesterday, when I looked at the almost completed top, I realized that it is fun, and often times surprising to be a bit crazy. Dustan's mother collects nativity sets, and I think she is going to really love this.
I still have to add the batting, do the quilting, and then bind it. But it is close enough to done that I am confident I will be able to finish. I am a little worried about my machine being able to take such tight turns (especially for that hay), but she is a glorious little hard worker of a machine, and she will do her best.

What do 50,000 words look like?

I am a nano winner and I couldn't be more proud of myself. Somewhere, around 40 words shy of reaching my goal, I realized that I have an issue with finishing things. I have no problem setting lofty goals. I race hard and quickly at the sound of a starting gun...but somewhere, in view of a finish line. I stop. Just stop. I have done this my entire life and just never recognized it for what it was. I still don't know WHY I do this. I have a big pile of WIP (work in progress) projects, some dating back to when I was a teenager.
I sat at 49,560 words for over a week.
But I didn't stay there. I looked at my computer screen for over an hour and wrote the final 40 words. I completed. On time. I finished something that few people can ever say they have done. I wrote an entire 50,000 word novel in a month's time. It is not good writing by any means. But it is mine. And it looks so pretty all typed up, and it feels so heavy in my hands.

It's December and life is supposed to be crazy

But it doesn't help to have 850.00 worth of tree clean-up. We had planned on doing most of the work ourselves, but life is already slipping us by...and we were going to have to have someone come and repair the trees anyway (We have three large Oaks that were damaged badly enough to need professional help) and so, we will add on some extra $$ and have them do the cleanup as well. The good news is that we will never have to buy wood for our campfires again. In fact, I don't think anyone in a 30 mile radius needs to buy firewood for a long long time. There is a free for all on firewood around these parts. It is sad to see the damage, and to think of how many people are still without power.

Here is a humorous side to the storm: It seems like we have a couple of new trees. But looks are deceiving and these are just a couple of branches thrust deep into the ground. One branch fell upside down. It makes me chuckle to think about it. It's always good to find a smile in the middle of a situation that has you doling out several hundred dollars.

Friday, December 01, 2006

And because, sometimes, I do actually feel grown up...

Someone could also buy me THESE EARRINGS for Christmas. Or they could buy me a ring from the ring page...or a necklace...or a bracelet...

or a whole set...I wouldn't turn it down.

But, if you are feeling generous, and are wealthy enough to spend some $$$ on me, and if you love me so much that you would actually WANT to spend $$$ on me... I wouldn't mind having one of the gorgeous watches

Ice Ice baby...

Lots of ice. Everywhere. We had a scarey night here, the cracking and groaning of trees kept me awake in the tense anticipation of the next fallen limb. I was scared to death one would come crashing through the roof, but we were spared. So was the roof and our van. Our neighbor's roof was not so lucky. And our trees are a sorry sorry sight. I truely hope that they will be able to recover from this. I love my trees. As I type this, we have lost another branch, and I hear the creaking of trees, trying hard to hold themselves together. Poor trees.

We have power. That is always a good thing. If you are going to spend a harrowing night, convinced you will die with a tree branch stabbing through your heart, you might as see the morning in with a warm cozy house. I have no idea how we have kept our power, but I am grateful to God- and to Ameren UE for the warmth we have, and the ability to cook our food. I have, however, decided that we need to get an emergency kit together. Should our power have gone off, we would have had no flashlight (batteries are dead from shawdow games the kids like to play) and we would have had no water suitable for drinking. You can't boil water without electricity. We do have a fireplace, but it has not been cleaned or inspected, and I would hate to add a fire to any other emergency.

Anyhow, we are fine, and God willing, we will lose no more trees, especially those over our house. Our van has been moved to a safer location. I know there are others not as fortunate as we are, and my prayers are with them.

May all of you have a cozy and warm day. I think I will make myself another cup of hot choco and bury myself into my feather bed. You?