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  • Archive for November, 2009

    Abundance, or clutter? Buying, or giving?

    Monday, November 30th, 2009

    Today while Z is off to the car show with her Daddy (what can I say, the girl loves cars),  I will be scooting around town with A, finishing up the Christmas shopping. Luckily A is still small enough that even if she remembers seeing me buy a gigantic stuffed Nemo,  she won’t be able to say anything coherent about it Christmas morning. (You know, other than “feesh! feesh!”)

    (Disclaimer: I usually don’t have all the shopping done this early. But this year I  felt driven to get all of the shopping done before Thanksgiving, a goal which I obviously didn’t meet. I’m not sure if we’re going to get hit by the flu, or what, but I’ve really felt like I need to get it all done and finished. )

    My husband and I come strongly from the school of “more is more” at Christmas.  We agreed before Z’s first Christmas that when Santa came, he left a BUNCH of toys, (even though you only get to ask him for one).  There’s just something symbolic in a loving, kind man, who gives you plentiful gifts, simply because he loves you and because you tried hard to be good.

    In preparation for  the new things the girls are receiving, I cleared out a bunch of toys that they no longer play with, and in the process, realized that a lot of the toys that were hardly ever played with were those I bought at Christmas time LAST year, in an attempt to either balance out what the two girls were getting, or to just fatten out the pile. What I really ended up doing was just fattening up their room.

    So this year I’m focusing. They’re each getting their “big” toy (and a couple others), and the rest will be things I think they’ll actually use, not just filler.  I’m going for puzzles and games over cheapie plastic toys.   Books instead of junk.  Clothes instead of a repeat of something they already have.

    I read somewhere that at Christmas each kid should get something to play with, something to wear, and something to read. I really like that.

    Besides the girls, we have a decent sized extended family that everyone buys for, and of course, I usually over buy there too. (Remember that whole “gifts love language”? That was me.)  So I went really simple on presents this year, trying to focus on one thing that each person would really like.  And for the most part, I think I succeeded.

    And the result of all this? I feel like the things I’m giving will really be gifts, not just stuff. Hopefully they will have meaning to the recipient, but even if they don’t, they have meaning to me.  They really will be an expression of my love and understanding of the person I’m giving them to, not just an expression of my largesse.  And with all the presents purchased at the beginning of December, hopefully I can focus on some other elements of the season, like giving to those who could really benefit from it.

    How is your gifting going?  Do you have any great go-to gifts the rest of us could benefit from? What do YOU want for Christmas?

    It’s time for Christmas songs!

    Sunday, November 29th, 2009

    Well, Thanksgiving is over, which means the Christmas tree is up, and the Christmas music is back on the play list.

    I grew up in a Christmas music loving family – my mom finally had to institute a rule that the music couldn’t come out until July 1. Yes, you read that right.  She didn’t, however, ever give a date that we had to STOP the music, so we ended up dragging that out until at least the end of January.  I have a few Christmas songs that I listen to year round, but for the most part I keep them for the Christmas season, as a special treat.

    So today I went through and created two play lists ; one of Santa type Christmas songs (a whole 76 of them) , the other of more spiritual songs (keeping the lead at 86).  And as I made the lists, I couldn’t help but listen to some. So here, for you, are some of my favorite Christmas songs, some are admittedly cheesy, but I love them, and I bet you secretly do too.

    Christina Aguilera singing Oh Holy Night

    and with a completely different take on the song, Tracy Chapman singing O Holy Night

    Sting singing Gabriel’s Message

    Christmas by Blues Traveler

    Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) sung by U2 (Seriously, this song starts and I start grinning.)

    And now the cheese: Do They Know It’s Christmas? That link is to the concert version, which I’d never seen until today. But I link to it because 1) David Bowie starts off the song, and hello, David Bowie. 2) Everyone in it is just so freakin’ adorable. I think I just renewed about 15 old crushes. But here’s the original if you want to watch that instead.

    There are plenty more, but I’ll stop for now.

    I’m always looking for more great songs, so please, share with us your favorite songs, your favorite versions.  Link to them if you like, or just list them.

    Thank you

    Thursday, November 26th, 2009

    Today, before the bounty of turkey and pie, before the hubbub of family and friends, we hope you’ll take a moment (a second? Take what you can get!) to consider your abundance, your blessings, the moments of grace that fill your life.

    Thank you for visiting us day after day, for commenting and supporting us as we explore the ins and outs of these lives we’re living.  It wouldn’t be the same without you.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


    Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

    Some thoughts for your holiday from tonight’s Vespers Office:

    We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land, But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand; He sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain, The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain.

    He only is the Maker of all things near and far; He paints the wayside flower, He lights the evening star; The winds and waves obey Him, by Him the birds are fed;  Much more to us, His children, He gives our daily bread.

    We thank You, then, O Father, for all things bright and good, The seed-time and the harvest, our life, our health, our food; Accept the gifts we offer for all Your love imparts,  And what You most desire, our humble, thankful hearts.

    (a shameless plug, but my own blog has more thoughts on Thanksgiving…)

    Frito Boat

    Thursday, November 19th, 2009

    The other night my wonderful fiance introduced me to my new favorite meal–a Frito boat.  It was fun to eat (I felt about 5) and super yummy.  Enjoy :)


    1 small bag Frito corn chips per person

    1 large can chili

    grated cheese


    1) Heat chili

    2) Open bag of corn chips

    3) Grate cheese

    4) Pour chili into bag of chips and top with cheese

    5) Eat!

    Does anyone have any fun (and maybe slightly embarassing…) meals to share?  Frito-Lay ingredients admired but not required :)

    Traditional decorations

    Monday, November 16th, 2009

    As I was growing up, our Christmas tree was always an eclectic conglomeration of ornaments that my parents had collected across the years and countries they visited. Each ornament had a story; where it was purchased, why, or for whom.  There was the ornament I snagged off of the Christmas tree at the bank as a little tyke (the bank people said I could keep it), the corn husk angels to remind us our our great grandmother, the ornaments that we made as children,  the birds.

    There were two birds that sat in the Christmas tree, just regular looking birds, nothing fancy, but to this day they are my favorite ornaments. I’m not really sure why.  But I remember being so excited each year if I got to be the one to put them in the tree- always up toward the top.

    Last year I saw a bird ornament in a store, and decided that our Christmas tree needed a bird. Doesn’t it make sense that birds would have been present at Christ’s birth, raising their voices along with the angels? So I bought the bird, and then another, and another. And this year it continued.


    Some are shiny and ornate, others are kind of homely and sweet:


    (Seriously, I die over that owl. )

    I have about 16 now, and I have no intention of stopping.  My goal this year is a tree with silver ornaments,  full of visiting birds.

    And four of those silver ornaments will look like this:


    I found these little boxes years ago, before I had kids. I snatched them up instantly, in preparation for another tradition.  Growing up we had 5 little shoe ornaments that we hung on the tree. On Christmas morning we would each find the quarter that Santa’s elf left for us in the shoe ornaments. I loved that as a kid, and when I saw these little boxes, I knew they’d be perfect. Instead of a quarter, the girls get a little treat, last year it was a little toy necklace.

    A new tradition that we’ve started is that each year the girls get an ornament that reflects their interests of the year. The ornament is delivered by “Peter Pan”, our shelf elf.  This year Z is getting a Lightning McQueen ornament, A is getting a fish. (What can I say, the girl loves fish.)

    Do you have decorations that are traditions for you? Ornaments with special meaning? Do share!

    What matters most?

    Friday, November 13th, 2009

    “Despite the changes which come into our lives and with gratitude in our hearts, may we fill our days—as much as we can—with those things which matter most. May we cherish those we hold dear and express our love to them in word and in deed.” – Thomas S. Monson

    I’m struggling with this right now- our days are filling themselves up quickly, but I’m not sure they’re filled with those things that matter most.  How do you determine what matters most to you? How do you keep those things at the forefront of your days while still keeping dishes washed and floors clean? (Unless, of course, clean dishes and floors are the things that matter most to you. It’s possible.) How do you find the balance between the urgent and the important, in real, practical terms?

    Finding Him at home

    Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

    From yesterday’s Vespers Office:

    …that I may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and in the breaking  of bread.

    The experience of Communion is usually how I come to know Christ in the “breaking of bread”, but upon further reflection I think that I can come to know Christ at home, as I “break bread” with friends and family.  For example, I’ve learned so much about the love of God from hearing my grandfather say grace at Thanksgiving dinner.  His careful petition for the Lord’s blessings on his family is moving in it’s simplicity.

    What are experiences you have had over a meal that have helped you come to know Christ?  What are ways we can create those experiences for those who eat at our table?


    Friday, November 6th, 2009


    I love holidays.  I love time with family and food and presents.  I also love decorations.  My house feels dressed up, and I get to be creative.  I bought the Indian corn, gourd, and pumpkin at the grocery store for $5.00, and the mini straw bales from a craft store for $10.00.  I’m happy with how it turned out :)

    Do you decorate for holidays?  Do you just hang a wreath on the door or do you have an inflatable Santa and 9 reindeer on your roof?  How do you decide and why?

    Giving thanks

    Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

    With Halloween behind us, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching. When I was little, Thanksgiving was just another occasion to eat and play with my cousins, but that was the extent of it.  In comparison to Halloween and Christmas, both of which we prepared for and celebrated for an entire month, Thanksgiving felt a little … hollow. I knew the history of the holiday, but while it felt like we were celebrating, it never felt like we were celebrating anything in particular.

    So this year, I’d like to actually celebrate. I’d like to have the same feeling of excitement and celebration that I have for other holidays.

    This is my plan.

    Stealing an idea from Valerie, I’m going to try to post a gratitude post on my personal  blog every day leading up to Thanksgiving. (I say try because I already missed a day yesterday. But what can you do?)  I have so many things to be thankful for, and the process of writing about them helps me to recognize and solidify those feelings of gratitude.

    I also want to write a thank you card a day. Whether it’s to my mom, a loved friend, or the maintenance man who came and fixed our door alarm when it was going off at 4:30 in the morning, there are people in my life to whom I should show more gratitude.

    I heard recently (from who, I can’t remember for the life of me) that in order to receive, we must show gratitude for what we have, and that we are better able to give when we feel thankful. Thus, it is no coincidence that Thanksgiving comes before Christmas.

    What do you do to celebrate Thanksgiving?