Monday, December 31, 2012

ya gotta be kidding...

We bought a microwave today. Whohooo!
Until I got it home, out of the box and on the counter.
It's too big.  As in, I have NO room on my counter beside the stove. AT ALL.
So tomorrow morning it will go back in the box and will be exchanged for a smaller model.

I'm blessed to live in a country, where exchanges are possible.
I'm blessed to live somewhere where we have multiple choices in appliances.
I'm blessed to have a semi-open schedule tomorrow so it can be returned.
I'm blessed to have multiple things to cook with so it's a luxury item and not a necessity.

And yet I still hate returning and exchanging things.

2013...the year I WILL rejoice and be glad!

Friday, December 28, 2012

getting started

It's not a lot, but it is a start.
I made out a menu for next week.
Granted, it will be changed and modified as the week progresses.
But nevertheless, it is a menu.

And simmering in the crock pot now? Chicken chili. And since it's just two of us, that will last us through Sunday night.

So on the schedule for this next week:
  • finish a quilt top
  • put up Christmas decorations
  • get caught up on ironing
And the other things (taking relatives to the doctor, enjoying last days of Bobby's vacation time, making out a budget for next year, etc) are just normal routine housework items that don't make it on my "special schedule".

So that's a start...2013, here we come!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


One of the disadvantages to family living far away is that you seldom see them.
One of the advantages to family living far away is that when they do come to visit, everyone tries to spend as much time with them as they can, and it makes the holiday seem longer and bigger than it really is.

So this morning, I have one bag (reading stuff) left to unpack from our weekend trip to Alabama to see my family (I'll have to post pics later), I'm already on laundry load #3, and I've got some general housework (bills, sweeping, etc) to do before we rejoin the Bryan clan for another day of puzzle-working, game playing, chatting with the TN tribe who is "home" for two more days.

AND, today is my parents 50th wedding anniversary. Kudos to you Mom and Dad, for putting up with all of us, for loving each other through the hardships (cancer, auto-immune diseases, moving, ministry jobs, etc) and teaching us all that it's okay to laugh, to cry, and to admit you're wrong. Love you more than you'll ever know!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

more favorites

Last night we got home in time to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special, though I missed part of it because of laundry. :/  And then immediately afterwards NCIS: Los Angeles came on, which is one of the few shows I actually try to watch. One of the things I love about the internet is that if I miss a show (which is often), I can watch it online whenever I find the time.

I contemplated watching the Muppets Christmas program, which was also on last night, but since it was a 2 hr show that put it a little lower on my radar. The Muppets are always good for a few laughs, but it's just tradition and heart-warming to watch poor old Charlie Brown agonize over the commercialism of Christmas.

And it doesn't look like we'll see the story about Ralphie this year, either, which is another all time favorite.

What I do hope to see this holiday season is the movie Elf. I've never seen it, but one of my nieces constantly tweets phrases from the movie and even follows a character or something on Twitter. She normally has good tastes in movies, so hopefully we'll see it.

We did have tickets earlier in the month to see The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, but I had to give mine to someone else thanks to the Shingles. That wasn't exactly how I envisioned that event panning out. It probably worked out for the best, as the group of three arrived to discover the ticket seller didn't pass on the information that there were 2 companion seats with a wheelchair seat because it was "open seating and didn't matter", so one person in the group had to sit somewhere else because the handicapped section is never open seating and all the spots were reserved. It's best I don't even go there today.

I keep thinking each year we'll find a Christmas movie that is a "must see" (we'll want to see it every year), but other than the ones above, that's yet to happen. And given how busy this month has been, I'm actually okay with that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

nothing new under the sun

When I was a kid, I always wondered about that verse in Ecclesiastes that says there's really nothing new on earth. Nothing new? Preposterous!

But now I'm old (according to my niece, but then she also told me in the same conversation I couldn't be married because I didn't look like a married woman should look...still puzzled on that one!) and I realize that history really and truly does have a way of repeating itself. If you need proof of that, just look at the world of fashion. (That's a semi-joke, by the way.)

Several months ago, a couple in our church took a sermon on the prophecies of Jesus and their fulfillment, and started writing them into readings, and slowly selecting songs to go with them. They had NO idea what was going to take place 2 days before this service was to be performed. One of the things I've always loved about the Christian faith and its Scriptures is that it doesn't gloss over the ugly of life and the consequences of sin. One of those prophecies, which the reading titled "Slaughter of the Innocent" dealt with Matthew 2:17:
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more."
That still gives me chills when I think about it. The horror of what Herod did, and unfortunately,  history tells us that wasn't his only acts of insanity.
This holiday season I know so many who are hurting and grieving. No one expects to lose their vibrant young adult son who was only sick for three days. A missionary wife dodn't expect to come home on furlough and find herself dealing with everything on her own because her husband took his life. A wife who expected to be grieving her father this Christmas but instead is grieving the loss of her husband, a young girl in her early 30s suddenly planning a funeral for her Dad instead of Christmas dinner, not to mention a nation thinking about 20 sets of parents doing the same for their children, and a score of siblings who would like nothing more for Christmas than to argue/play/sit with their brother or sister one more time.
And yet, what better time to be reminded of such sorrow than during Christmas. His name shall be called "Emmanuel, meaning God with us."
God with us. Not watching us suffer, ignoring our pain, pretending it doesn't exist. WITH us. Abiding with us, in us, through us, among us, one of us...going through our very pain with us every step of the way.
That's not a "happy holidays" sentiment. But it's a candle lit in the darkness sentiment. A flicker of light, of hope, giving a spark of warmth on a cold and dark night. And that's enough to make me smile and say "Merry Christmas" when inside I may not feel anything at all.
He is with me.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sunday is coming

On days like today, I'm reminded of that old sermon "It May Be Friday, But Sunday is Coming."

18 years ago this week, my family had an experience that shook my very faith to its core. There's not a holiday season that goes by that I don't remember, don't hurt some inside, and re-ponder some of my old questions.

This weekend brought a lot of that all back.

I'll just say this:
I have a lot of mixed emotions on gun ownership.
I have a lot of mixed and heart-rending thoughts on mental illness.
I think it's time everyone took their heads out of the sand on both, specifically Christians.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2nd favorite

I love stockings.
Growing up, it was the first thing we did on Christmas morning. Stockings held the basics: toothbrush, toothpaste, hair accessories (for us girls), one tiny gift and then...CANDY!!! Always hershey kisses, years when finances were good we got peanut M&Ms as well, and peppermints. Mind you, I don't like mint (my parents used them as cough suppressents during church) so in my way of thinking the peppermints fell in the category of "necessities" along with the toothbrush and toothpaste, but since I've become an adult I've discovered that no one else thinks like that.
But I digress.

After I left college and headed overseas, my teaching teammates (and roommate) were horrified to discover that I didn't bring my childhood stocking for Christmas. I didn't tell them that my parents had six stockings and five of the six were identical. Dad wrote our names on masking tape and taped them on each year. So for my birthday that year, I got a stocking from my teammates. It had a bear on it.

When I got married, Bobby had two stockings. One from his childhood, and one from his early adult years. His first year out of college he taught and coached at Wake Christian Academy. His girls softball team gave him a stocking that read "coach" in glitter at the top. So I hung both of his and bought a small one at the dollar store and we had four stockings hanging from our bookcase (we don't have a mantle).

And this greatly bothers children, some more than others. I have not had a child yet come in, get a puzzled look on their face, and ask "Who will be here for Christmas?" or a question along that line. I know now what they are thinking, and I just smile and say "Just us."  Some of them then frown and silently ponder that, while others who are most greatly bothered by this will ask "Then why do you have four stockings?" Last year I got a little cheeky when asked that and replied, "Because we both have two feet!"  Bobby felt that wasn't a good answer, as the kids are probably thinking our stockings get filled, which they don't, and they might want/expect more than one stocking at home now.

A few years ago I saw these embroidered stockings in a store that I thought were beautiful. Every time I went in this store for something, I would walk by and look at them. Close to Christmas, I mentioned to him how much I liked them but didn't see a point in buying yet more stockings. He mentioned that two of ours were worn out (one had a hole) and we could replace them. I decided to wait until I got an extra coupon, knowing they might not have our initials then, but was very pleased to find out the next week they were on sale AND still had our initials. What I wanted, a sale price, and a coupon! Triple score!

I wonder sometimes what people would think if they came into our house and I had stockings everywhere. In another ten years when it's time to replace our tree, I might downsize it significantly, ignore convention and decorate each door frame in the house with a stocking or two. That would be so cool.

So if you come to my house one year and it's full of stockings, I'm not hoarding people or centipedes. I just like stockings. :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

decorations, 3

If you have ultra-conservative views on the sanctity of Christmas or very stringent theology, you don't want to read this post. That's my one and only warning.
Today's decorations...the first of my nativity sets. :)
It's not actually the first nativity set I've ever owned, but it's the first one I've put out this year and it's VERY special to me. :)  (In case you've not been to my house or read Christmas posts from years gone by, I have quite a few nativity sets. They're one of my 2 favorite decorations.)
Someone very special gave this one to me a few years ago, even though he thinks such things are a bit sacrilegious.  My parents have a Native American nativity set that my brother gave them several years ago and it has a teepee for the stable. That bothered this person, and I horrified them even more by laughing and saying, "If I ever find one in bears, I'll be very tempted to buy it."  So imagine my surprise MANY years later when I received this. I've never seen another like it, and I think he spent quite a bit of time scouring the internet in search of it. Regardless, this set is my second favorite nativity set (but my favorite small set).


Tell me, what could be more precious than a bear nativity set?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

decorations, 2

 Several years ago my parents gave me a table set of blue candle holders with a matching fruit bowl. I used them for a little while, then they went in the China cabinet. While at JoAnns, I found these silver candles on clearance, and decided it would match the set perfectly. I already had the silver leaves from last year, but after fitting them in the bowl realized there wasn't enough. So I headed to Michael's, only to discover silver is not the "in" color this year and I was stuck with what I had.

So I added toile and hershey's kisses to cover up the empty spots. I told Bobby I  knew a silver table runner would match this and make it look more magazine-y, but my grandmother made this, and it seemed stupid to buy something I don't really need when I have something I already like. It's not often I take the tablecloth and pads off the dining room table anyway, so there's really no point in buying something extra. I think my grandmother would be proud.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas decorations

I've been taking my time putting things up this year, instead of trying to get everything done in 2-3 days.

Here's our first tree to go up:
the topper :)
the bottom; what the state knows/does best

What? You didn't know the red & white of Christmas represented the Crimson Tide?
Different team, I know. But the fierce competition wouldn't be there without the rival!

Yeah. Even if it's the "other" team, it's still from my home state!
I've seen a few ornaments that have the state bird, motto, etc, but they were super expensive. Spending a large amount of money on a glass ornament is crazy, especially when you consider the floors are hardwood and my hands are clumsy. Those aren't good combinations. But since it's a small tree, I don't need to add much more. :)

And this is tree #1.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

simply the best

The first year we were married my husband pleasantly surprised me. I know how much he hates to shop, and I know it's impossible forhim to wrap presents. I full expected a box to arrive from one of 2 places, and that would be Christmas. So imagine my surprise that first year when I got a phone call from my mother-in-law, asking if I had ordered anything from two places. It had Bobby's name on it, but her address. :) I told her I hadn't, but I'd check with him and see. Not sure if he forgot to tell her they were coming or in the busyness of life she forgot, but she wrapped my presents for him. Now THAT is a super nice Mom-in-law. And form my birthday, his best friend helped him out.

In less than 2 weeks, I will enter a new decade. There's a good possibility we will be out of town on that monumentous occasion, so yesterday I was very surprised when my mother-in-law showed up. Well, not so surprised that she came bringing some gifts, but with this:

 a birthday cake. A not just ANY birthday cake, but a home-made cake with her special icing.
Chocolate on chocolate: it doesn't get much better than this.

It's been a VERY long time since I've had a home-made birthday cake I haven't made myself. And the fact that a)my husband asked her to do this and b) she did it with a smile is incredibly awesome.

And no, neither one of them are available. I claimed them 13 years ago and have no plans of that changing. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

small towns

Yesterday as we were attempting to create 2 sets on stage, our pastor walked in and said "You've got a lot done." I don't remember what my comment was, but I was feeling like the set was thrown together and a bit on the tacky side. He laughed a little and said, "Well, you know, it's Bethlehem. It's just a dirty little town."

I was shocked speechless. When I think of Bethlehem I think of white buildings stacked on a hillside. Maybe it's from seeing too many sanitized Christmas cards. Yet if you look online, the images aren't too far from what we see there. I'm sure back in the day there were very few pristine cities.

But then it got me to thinking about home and how people viewed the county where I grew up. There are some very nice homes, but often you can't see them for all the trees (though the tornadoes 2 years ago took care of a large chunk of that problem). But for the most part, the town is made up of very small and simple mill houses. Some have additions, whether nicely or crudely done. But still, it's my town. And yet, if someone from around here were to visit there, I don't think they'd be impressed.

I can't help but wonder how Jospeh felt about having to head back to Bethlehem. I'm sure it's not the homecoming he'd envisioned. Did he have any family left living there? Was he close to them? Or was it like the Chinese, who even though 3 generations may have lived elsewhere, that was still their "hometown" because that was where the family origins were? Had he ever been there? Did he spend holidays there as a child?

So while we're going to make a few adjustments and completions to the set today, Bethlehem on stage is going to be a simple, small town. And yes, I think a few adjustments are in order. The 2 yr old waiting on her Mom quickly picked up on my question "Does the inn look like a building or a tomb?" and repetitively replied "I like the tomb!" I told Bobby I'm sure she simply liked the sound of the word, but it didn't reassure me very much. So we'll probably modify that some this afternoon.

Onward, ho!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Last night was one of those crazy nights where we needed to head home as reasonably as possible, and it just didn't seem to be happening. The music men were going to clean off the stage for the play set-up, and I didn't stick around to see that it happened.
And so I dreamed about it last night.
Celia and I arrived on SATURDAY (which is the dress rehearsal, NOT our stage prop time), and found not only were the musical instruments off the stage, but the stage itself, the curtain, the overhead...all of it was GONE! Not moved, but gone. As in, there was a cement floor and unpainted grey cement walls. (Which everyone from our church knows the wall behind that curtain is painted and there's carpet under the staging that matches all the brown everywhere else!) All that was there was a metal pipe that had previously held the black curtains (as opposed to our nice little curtain rods). They had THOROUGHLY done their job. They even moved out the choir risers, so the kids were voluntarily stacking up chairs to stand on.
So while kids are pouring in wanting to practice and help, Celia and I take our time to discuss what prop goes where and whether or not to duct tape or crazy glue the wall backdrop to the cement walls.
I know the rest of the dream was just as crazy, though I don't remember all the details.

We attempt to set up in a few hours. I don't know what I'll find, but I KNOW our sound and music guys didn't empty the chair for us THAT much! :) But if they did and my dream comes true, I'll certainly take pictures. :)

Monday, December 3, 2012


They always tell you to exercise with a friend.
That has never appealed to me.
Until now.

This afternoon we were told that Bobby needed to do arm exercises (since he can't walk and we need to help the blood flow to the pressure sores he's been fighting since the beginning of Oct). Bear in mind he's had no exercises since I don't know when.

So tonight he said we needed to exercise. I pulled out my old arm weights, put them on him, and grabbed my dumbbells.

We laughed. We exercised. He quit and informed me I had to keep going. I have to admit to laughing at him, especially when he told me I may have to drive him to work tomorrow. I think this is delightful payback for those days when I started at the gym and could hardly move to do his exercises in the morning, much less get him dressed and transferred. And since I have been woefully inconsistent (ahem, okay. Basically not going) at the gym since October, this is good motivation for me to get back in the routine.

Soreville, here we come!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December 1

The Alabama tree is up. :)
It's not even 3' tall, goes up quickly and is VERY easy to decorate.
So easy, in fact, I wish (as I do almost every time this year) we did not have the 7' green monster we have. Whoever came up with the idea of creating Christmas trees taller than the average person needed their head examined. I can assure you, if I were into the real tree thing, I would NOT be buying a tree bigger than me.
So today is the day I'm putting our tree up. I'm 3/4 of the way through the lights and I'm already starting to get aggravated with the whole tree thing and how pointless it is when I decided it's time to take a break and do something relaxing for a few minutes.
I am taking a different approach this year. I'm actually leaving the dining room table OUT (as opposed to pushed against the wall to make room for the tree and still let Bobby have a path through the room) and it's already decorated. We may actually eat supper in there this month, just to make the time of putting the tree up worthwhile. Otherwise, the only time we'll be in there is when his great-nephews open their presents. Since Bobby can't open packages, I usually have his in a wrapped open box on the kitchen table Christmas morning, and I either bring mine to the table or we both go to the tree for a moment. Ten minutes of tree time for 3 hours of work. That's not a bargain in my book. One year I did put it up in the living room so I'd see it throughout the day, but Bobby prefers it in a place where it can be seen from the road.
I had a friend tell me once they didn't realize how much life a child or descendants added to their life until they became foster parents. He said they hadn't even put up a Christmas tree for several years until they got her. I can certainly understand both sentiments. As an adult, trees are simply time-consuming decorations. For a child, it's festive and magical. I would agree that having a child brings things to life, but I don't know I see the act of having a decorated, lighted tree as a sign of life.
Maybe it's just a bah-humbug attitude, but a part of me will be glad for the holidays to hurry up and end.