Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 Survey

12 hours until we pick up Gregg’s parents and grandfather at the airport. I’m only working a half day today, so I can get some last minute things around the house ready. Since Gregg’s been off this whole week, he’s already accomplished a lot of the things that needed to get done, which I am extremely grateful for. So, not much else to do really but clean the bathroom and make up the guest beds.

Now for a fun year-end survey that I found on Christina’s blog. Since I completely forgot about yesterday’s Thursday Thirteen, this will sorta make up for it. It’s always fun to take a look back…

1. Where did you ring in 2006? On the living room couch in front of the t.v. Yup, we’re such par-tay animals.

2. What was your status on Valentine’s Day? Happily married. Gregg & I had a romantic dinner of frozen chicken tenders and store-bought cupcakes on a cardboard box “table” that night, since all our furniture had been moved out the day before and was on its way down to Florida.

3. Were you in school (anytime this year)? Nope.

4. How did you earn your keep? I worked as an administrative assistant/bookeeper at a crisis pregnancy center, the best job I ever had.

5. Did you ever have to go to the hospital? Thankfully, no.

6. Have you ever encountered the police? Goodness, no.

7. Where did you go on vacation? Um, nowhere.

8. What did you purchase that was over $500? Our house!

9. Did you know anybody who got married? Yes, two couples from church.

10. Did you know anybody who passed away? Gregg’s grandmother, in November.

11. Have you ran into anybody you graduated high school with? Not actually in
person, but I did sort of “run into” someone through their blog and started communicating again through email.

12. Did you move anywhere? Obviously to Florida, at the beginning of the year.

13. What sporting events did you go to? None.

14. What concerts did you go to? A local Christian band who played at our church.

15. Are you registered to vote? Yes, both here in the city where I live now and in the town where we’re from in NJ.

16. If so, did you do your patriotic duty on Nov. 7? Yes.

17. Where do you live now? Beautiful Palm Bay, FL.

18. Describe your birthday. I had to work that day, but when I got home Gregg took me out to my favorite restaurant, The Olive Garden, and gave me my present- an MP3 player.

19. What’s the one thing you thought you would never do but did in 2006? Buy a house! When we lived in New Jersey, it seemed like we would never be able to afford

20. What is one thing you regretted this year? That I didn’t appreciate some of the things I took for granted when I lived in NJ.

21. What’s something you learned about yourself? I am even more of a control and neat freak than I thought. Having a house to take care of seems to have brought out all of my neurotic tendencies.

22. Any new additions to your family? Our 1 yr old Boxer/Terrier/Whatever dog, Tess.

23. What was your best month? Probably January. We celebrated our third anniversary, and Gregg was offered his dream job which meant moving 1,000 miles away to start a whole new life- something we had prayed about for two and a half years.

24. What from pop culture will you remember 2006 by? I’m less into pop culture now than I was a few years ago, but I’d have to say American Idol, Season 5.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Past

The Christmas rush is over. My favorite radio station has switched back to playing non-holiday music, and I’ve returned to work. The past weekend and Christmas itself flew by, but we had a good time. On Saturday we went to the mall because I still needed to get Gregg’s gifts. He dropped me off at the entrance and met me about forty minutes later by Starbucks. We decided to drive out to the beach which is only 15 min. from the mall and had lunch at the Beachside CafĂ©, choosing to sit outside since the weather was gorgeous. After eating, we walked down to the beach which was packed with people laying out in the sun and surfing. I couldn’t believe that this was only two days before Christmas!

When we got home, I gave my dad a call because he had left a message the night before thanking me for the present we sent. At 5:30 we started getting ready for a Christmas open house we had been invited to by one of the choir members. We were by far the youngest people there, but it was nice to mingle with people from our church and enjoy the goodies that were out.

Sunday there was only one service in the morning so we slept in later than normal. After church, we had lunch with some friends from Covenant at their house. Their two daughters, 6 and 7, thought that Gregg was hysterical and kept asking him to do funny things like wear their dresses on his head. I was stuffed after all the food and sweets I had, and wanted nothing more than to just take a nap but we only had about an hour before we needed to go back to church for the Christmas Eve service. We left at 4 because Gregg had to set up the stage, so while he was doing that I fixed my make-up and read a magazine.

People started trickling in about fifteen minutes to six, stopping to take a candle that would be lit for the traditional singing of Silent Night. I had mixed feelings that evening. I was glad to be celebrating a joyous occasion, but kind of sad that Gregg wouldn’t be sitting beside me since he had to be up in the sound booth. The young adults we’re friends with all had family with them, so I sat by myself feeling rather odd and self- conscious.

The service was beautiful though. When it came time to sing Silent Night, the last hymn of the night, I felt my eyes welling up with tears. It was so moving- everyone singing the words we all knew so well together in a quiet and reverent tone, coupled with the tiny lights of candles in an otherwise dark sanctuary. I forgot that I was sitting next to virtual strangers instead of my husband, and drank in the moment. Afterwards, the room was buzzing with happy wishes for a good holiday and the excitement of knowing that there was only one more sleep ‘til Christmas. When Gregg was done packing up and whatnot we went out to dinner, then came home and went straight to bed.

The next morning we woke up around 7, showered and got ready to go out for breakfast at Denny’s, one of the only places open. The restaurant was packed, but we didn’t feel rushed to leave. We enjoyed sausage, eggs, pancakes and French toast- another diet buster in the long line of indulgences we had already partaken of that weekend. When we came home, Gregg got out the digital camera and we prepared to open presents. We started with the ones that came from his sister and the kids. Our oldest niece, who’s 9 ½ and very crafty, made Gregg a scarf and me a necklace, bracelet and earrings out of colorful beads. The bracelet was big enough to fit around my husband’s neck, but it was still a very nice thought. Of course, we took pictures of each other proudly wearing the hand-made gifts. Next, we opened the presents sent from Gregg’s aunt & uncle on his mother’s side. They got us a $50 gift card to Cracker Barrel and a welcome sign to hang on our front door, with our last name engraved on it.

Then I gave Gregg his presents, the newest Chris Cagle cd and a couple pairs of boxers. He put the cd on and started handing me my gifts one by one. He got me a few cute shirts, a pair of white sweatpants aka “apartment pants”, and Jeremy Camp’s worship album. (Sidenote: I must say that this cd is AWESOME. I borrowed it from a friend last fall and played it until I thought I had broken it. I’m so glad to have a copy of my own now!) We took pictures of the crumpled wrapping paper and opened boxes strewn all over the living room, and Gregg uploaded all the pictures from that morning onto his laptop so he could send them to our parents.

After the excitement of unwrapping presents, we hit a lull so I took the time to call my family and wish them a Merry Christmas. We cleaned up the mess and a few hours later, went out to dinner. It was either Denny’s again or Golden Corral, so we chose Golden Corral and were surprised to find ourselves waiting on a Disney World sized line to get in the door. It took about twenty minutes before they found us a table, which wasn’t too bad. The buffet that day was really good, with sirloin steak, chicken n’ dumplings, pot roast, ham, and all kinds of yummy ooey gooey desserts. We ate ourselves silly.

On our way to the car, Gregg’s family called so we took turns talking to them on the way home. Once we got home, I started a load of wash so I’d have clean clothes for work the next day and Gregg called North Carolina and we talked to Lori (SIL) and our nieces and nephew. Our 7 year old nephew, Sam, told us that he saw Santa Claus going to the bathroom on Christmas Eve. I have no idea what that was about, but he thought it was pretty funny!

A few hours later, I got to see how a dryer works. For the past few days, our dryer had been making this annoying humming noise, which kept getting louder every time we ran it. When I moved clothes from the washer to the dryer that night and pushed the start button, the noise was now so loud we could barely hear ourselves think. So, Gregg being the handyman that he is, took it all apart and tried to see what was causing the problem.

He suspected it’s the motor, but wasn’t able to really fix it. I helped him put everything back together, and when we started it again the noise was still there but a lot quieter. Since then it’s just gotten worse, to the point where I can’t be in the kitchen when it’s running because I’ll get a headache. So frustrating. It was brand new when it was installed last September by the guy who flipped our house so now it’s past the warranty period, even though we only got the benefits of using it since February when we moved in. It still dries clothes and everything, but the noise is ear-splitting. I hope it can be fixed easily and cheaply.

Well, December 25 may be over, but there are more festivities for us to enjoy with the arrival of my in-laws in two days. Jeff and Liz came down ahead of Gregg’s mom, dad and grandpa so they could vacation in the area. They got into Orlando yesterday morning at 10:30 and visited with Liz’s parents who live in Tampa. Gregg called up Jeff on their way to the hotel and invited them over to our house for dinner. It was kind of last minute, but I just made extras of the baked chicken I was already planning on making and Gregg ran to the store to pick up an apple pie. Since he was off all day yesterday, he cleaned the house, did yard work and even folded laundry, so I didn’t freak out like I normally do about company coming over.

It was really great to see them again. We made the house very cozy by starting a fire (since it was about 40 degrees) and turning the Christmas tree lights on. Over dinner and dessert, we got somewhat caught up. They gave us our presents- the book Weird Florida and a roll of Taylor Ham! Liz has a small baby bump now, which was just barely noticeable under her sweatshirt. It was really nice to be with family again, and now I’m looking more forward to having everyone over for “Christmas, Take Two”.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

I’m breathing a lot easier today. It’s my last day of work before the Christmas break, and I’m getting excited. Yesterday, Gregg and I worked on de-cluttering the house. He got rid of the junk that was sitting around in the living room and I cleaned up the kitchen & did a couple more loads of laundry. After dinner, he helped me fold the mountain of clean clothes and put them away. It’s so nice to have a clutter free house again!

The pile of presents under the tree is growing as more packages show up on our doorstep. Christmas cards continue to accumulate on the sill of the bay window in the kitchen. Our counters are full of home baked goodies that we’ve received from co-workers this past week. With all these adornments, the house is looking very festive. Last night, Gregg and I opened the ornaments his mom sent with the large package that arrived on Tuesday, the ones that she engraves herself every year. There were two identical silver snowflakes with our names and the year on them, which we hung on the tree. Yes, our home is looking a lot like Christmas indeed.

There’s still a list about a mile long of to do’s before Gregg’s family arrives next Friday, of course, but I’ve posted it here in a nice, neat (belated) Thursday Thirteen. Having it down “on paper” and out of my head helps me to focus on what really matters this Christmas holiday. These are just things to do, and they will get done!

13 Things I Need To Do Before The In-laws Get Here

1. Go grocery shopping for the “Christmas Feast”.

2. Finish wrapping the presents.

3. Sweep the floors, vacuum, dust.

4. Wash bed sheets and make up the guest beds.

5. Clean the bathroom. (ick)

6. Fold and put away laundry; stack fresh towels in the bathroom closet.

7. Recycle cardboard boxes.

8. Clean out the refrigerator.

9. Organize/put away papers that are piled in various places in the kitchen.

10. Give the dog a bath.

11. Sweep out back porch.

12. De-clutter our bedroom and the spare room.

13. Relax.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Let there be peace on earth

... and let it begin with me. I’m trying to start by creating peace within my home. But honestly I’m freaking out that all I see when I’m there is a big mess. Since we cleared out the storage room to make space for the bed, we now have that junk in the living room, creating a rather dangerous obstacle course. There are leftover cardboard boxes propped up by the fireplace, from when we needed an assortment to ship the Christmas gifts up north. We still have wrapping paper and bows out because there’s one last present to wrap yet. The laundry is in various stages of being done- there’s a load in the washing machine (wet), one in the dryer, and at least three that are getting wrinkled sitting in a pile on our bed. I just can’t relax when there’s crapola all over the place. And the house in general is in need of a serious cleaning.

This class on the Breaking Free series I’m taking is helping me realize that I do have a lot of strongholds, things that take me captive and prevent me from living the Spirit-filled life God has planned. My neurotic obsession with having everything neat and orderly is just one of them that appears to rear its ugly head nearly every day. I either need a maid or better time management skills. I feel like I get buried under the weight of trying to keep the house in order, and I never really get caught up.

It makes me anxious and frustrated, ultimately taking my focus off of God and putting it on my house. I sometimes just reel from the thought of there being so much freakin’ stuff to do every day. And I’ll work hard to get all my tasks accomplished, but at the end of the day there’s always things I forgot or didn’t have time to do. So I obsess about what didn’t get done instead of what did and drive myself crazy, which is completely counterproductive. I know a big part of this comes from my mother who, when I was growing up, was always freaking out about the house being neat & clean. She also tends to focus on the negative, instead of the positive.

Having a clean house just isn’t a big priority to my husband, unfortunately. Gregg will come home from work and turn on the t.v. or get on his laptop (which he’s already been on all day); meanwhile I’m making dinner and moving 50 loads of laundry around, and I just want to scream “Stop relaxing! We have stuff to do here!!” As this Christmas approaches, the peace of Christ does not reign in my heart.

Anticipating the arrival of my in-laws next week only increases my agita. While I am looking forward to it on one hand, I am stressing on the other. It’s a big deal for me to host my first Christmas, per say, in my first home. I have grand visions of the tree being all lit up with colorful presents underneath and a fire going in the fireplace while something yummy bakes in the oven and carols play softly in the background, all in a non-cluttered, dirt-free house. But I know I may have to settle for less than the Norman Rockwell painting, and I’m praying I can be okay with that.

I really want to put away my neurotic tendencies and focus on having a wonderful and memorable Christmas. None of the treasured memories I included in my past two T13’s are special because they happened in the perfect setting in a spotless house. They are looked back on fondly because they’re about spending time with loved ones and celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

So This Is Christmas

Over this past weekend, I started getting a little homesick. It feels weird not be making plans to visit my family on Christmas Eve, or anticipating the yearly tradition of spending the whole day Christmas with Gregg’s immediate & extended families. I can’t help but feel just a tad bit jealous when I hear of somebody who’s getting ready to travel home to see family. You know what they say- “There’s no place like home for the holidays”. And honestly, it’s just so strange to me that the temperature hasn’t even broken 60 degrees the whole month of December, and we’ll probably be wearing shorts and t-shirts on Christmas Day.

Gregg and I haven’t figured out what we’re doing on the 25th yet. We got a very nice invitation to join some other people who don’t have family in the area, but we may just go it alone, like we did on Thanksgiving. It’ll probably end up being like any other day, since we’re planning on having Christmas on the 30th instead when Gregg’s family will be down here. We’ll do presents, and I’ll probably make a roast of some kind and heat up some of those delicious pies from Cracker Barrel in the oven (shhh, don’t tell anyone!).

That, I am looking forward to. It will be fun hosting my first Christmas, and having them visit with us for a few days. We’ve already started preparing the house for their arrival. On Saturday, we bought a cheap twin bed for the third bedroom/storage room for Gregg’s grandpa to sleep in. There was just enough space for it, too, once we reorganized everything. Sunday after church we dug out all the presents that were in the spare room closet and wrapped them. We packaged the ones for Gregg’s sister’s family and mine in cardboard boxes so they could be shipped out to North Carolina and New Jersey. UPS said they’ll be at their scheduled destinations by Thursday.

We spoke to Gregg's parents and brother Sunday and they’re all excited about coming. Jeff told us that he and Liz found out they are having a girl! I’m sure my MIL is going to spoil her rotten.

Some Christmas presents have started making their way to our house. My mom sent a package which we picked up from the post office on Saturday and just yesterday a box arrived from Gregg’s sister, courtesy of DHL. MIL said that their gifts should arrive today and tomorrow. The box that came from North Carolina was stuffed full of little gifts that were obviously wrapped by our nieces and nephew. So cute. We’re waiting until Christmas day to open them. And, I got an early Christmas gift from my boss. He very generously gave me a $1,000 bonus. Score!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… even if the weather doesn’t make it feel that way.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #3

With Christmas less than two weeks away now, I wonder where in the world this year has gone. It seems like just yesterday that we were wondering if we’d be asked to come for an interview with Covenant, and now Gregg has worked there for ten months already. Crazy.

We’re about to celebrate our first Christmas in Florida. Funny, I thought that it would seem less like Christmas here because of the need to turn on the A/C in the middle of December, but it hasn’t really taken away from the holiday. Just like every year, those 24 days before (or 31, if you start counting right after Thanksgiving) are filled with certain sounds, sights and smells which call to mind specific memories of Christmases past. So much anticipation and planning, with all the frenzy of going to parties, decorating, baking and listening to Christmas songs ad nauseum- they all make up the days leading up to December 25. Whether you celebrate it in 20 degree weather, or 80, it’s all the same.

Over the years I’ve discovered that these days leading up to Christmas are always better, strangely, than the actual day itself, with the exception of the presents. While most of us can say we have found that it is truly better to give than receive, who are we kidding? We all still love to get gifts. Though the nature of the presents have changed throughout the years and my excitement of waking up on Christmas morning has waned, it’s always a thrill to open up a carefully wrapped package that was chosen especially for me. With that in mind, I bring you this week’s

13 of the best Christmas presents I’ve received

1. The Christmas of 1985, I opened many gifts from my parents (who wrote Santa on all the tags, of course) that would have made any 6 year old’s day, but one in particular stood out from all the rest: a Fisher Price tape recorder. In the years before MP3 players and Ipods, this was hot stuff. I took that thing everywhere with me, tape recording stories my sister & I made up, my parents’ conversations, and my favorite songs off the radio. Somewhere in my mother’s house, she still has the audio tape of that Christmas morning 21 years ago.

2. Christmas ’04, my husband braved the crowds at the mall to actually go into some of my favorite stores to pick out clothes and ahem, some personal items, for me. Everything he got was pink, which is my favorite color! They were all things I would have bought for myself, too.

3. I awoke Christmas morning in 1991 to find a shiny, new purple twelve speed beside the tree. I proudly rode that bike around town from then on until the year I turned 19.

4. The first Christmas we were married, Gregg wrapped up a big box and placed it on the kitchen table for me to find that morning. Unbeknownst to me, this was just a decoy and my real present was a brand new ski jacket he had secretly hidden in the hall closet. While I was opening the empty cardboard box, he triumphantly brought out the jacket from its hiding place and my jaw hit the floor.

5. That same year, my sister bought us a beautiful album from Things Remembered for our wedding proofs and had it engraved with our names there.

6. My mother loved to fill our stockings with little trinkets and one year when I was a teenager, she stuffed mine with a jar of chunky peanut butter. Every time she went grocery shopping, I asked her to get me the chunky kind because everyone else in the family preferred smooth. Well, she decided to surprise me with it at Christmas instead of just putting it in the pantry!

7. Last year, Gregg bought me a bright pink fleece blanket because I was complaining I didn’t like using an old comforter to stay warm under. It’s so very soft and snuggly.

8. Christmas ’86, my sister and I each got our very own My Child doll which was all the rage that year. They were these soft dolls that came with all different hair & eye colors, because they were meant to look just like you. My sister got one with brown eyes and curly brown hair, and I got one with blue eyes and straight brown hair. We thought it was so cool that these dolls sort of resembled us and we pretended they were our daughters.

9. 2002 was the first year I got to experience Christmas with Gregg’s family. I found out that the presents come out and just keep on coming! I got a bread machine, which I was floored about since I’m sure it must have cost nearly $100. Over the years, I’ve used it to make all sorts of yummy breads like Banana, Italian Herb and Cinnamon Pecan Swirl.

10. The Christmas of 1996, I received a radio/tape/CD player from my mom which I used extensively throughout high school and college to play all my favorite cd’s and also make compilation tapes of songs from friends’ cd’s. Again, this was highly useful in the days before MP3 players or Ipods became available.

11. When I was ten, I got the coveted American Girl Doll, Molly, for Christmas and
had lots of fun fixing up her hair and changing her outfits so she could look just like the pictures I had seen in all the books.

12. Christmas of ’98 my mother bought me a VCR for my dorm room so that I could
watch movies and tape my favorite shows like Friends, Dawson’s Creek and Felicity.

13. Last year, Gregg got me Carrie Underwood’s debut cd because he heard me
mention one time how I’d like to have it after hearing “Jesus Take the Wheel”. On my 45 minute commute to work, that was my cd of choice and I played it so much, I almost wore it out. Now whenever I listen to it, it reminds me of the last few months we lived in New Jersey.

26 years worth of Christmas gifts, and I struggled to come up with just 13 of the best ones. Goes to show you that you don’t need to go crazy buying the latest and greatest stuff for your kids since they likely won’t remember ¾ of them when they’re an adult!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, December 11, 2006

A quick Christmas Meme and a recap of the weekend

I saw this on Erin and Christina's blogs and decided to play along. After all, I've been listening to Christmas music pretty much non-stop since the day after Thanksgiving...

1. A favorite ’secular’ Christmas song.

Probably "White Christmas", the Bing Crosby version. It reminds me of my parents for some reason.

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself– the cheesier the better).

Silent Night- it gets me every time.

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire.

Ugh, Bruce Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town".
It's. Just. Awful.

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss.

Absolutely! Any song that is easy to make up your own lyrics to is okay with me. I especially love The Muppets singing this song and Miss Piggy squealing "Five golden rings!" I also like The 12 Things at Christmas That Are Such a Pain to Me. "You're so smart, you rig up the lights!"

5. A favorite Christmas album.

Steven Curtis Chapman's Christmas- it has the traditional hymns that are done beautifully, as well as a few originals which always choke me up.

Well, this weekend was pretty much a blur. Gregg spent the majority of it at church because of the Cantata, which gave me time to get housework done. I even did some ironing! On Saturday, he didn't have to be at church until 3 so we were able to spend a little time together. We grabbed lunch at the mall food court and walked around for a while. We still only have his mom to buy a Christmas present for, but we just don't have any ideas. At least we have until the 29th to figure it out since they're his family isn't coming down here until then.

Gregg came home Saturday night around 7:30 and we put together a hodge podge of leftovers for dinner. As per our annual tradition, we dusted off the VHS tape of A Muppet Christmas Carol and popped it into that ancient machine called the VCR. It was way cheesier than I had remembered, but still great.

Yesterday, I started a new adult Sunday school class on the Breaking Free series by Beth Moore. It seems like it will be really intense, but just what I need. The Christmas Cantata was at 7 that night. I thought it was done pretty well. The choir sang beautifully and I got chills when they sang "O Come O Come Emmanuel". We stayed until after 9 tearing the set down and as usual, were some of the last people to leave. We contemplated going to Denny's for something to eat, but ended up deciding to just go home and reheat leftovers again since I was pretty tired and had to get up early for work this morning.

This week won't be quite as busy for Gregg, but he still has to work two nights. Our last small group meeting for the year is tomorrow, and he'll miss that unfortunately. At least this weekend looks free so far. Just two weeks until Christmas!!

Friday, December 08, 2006


Tonight my husband is at a rehearsal for the Christmas Cantata, so I'm home by myself. Tomorrow they're doing the last run-through and showing it to the senior citizens, and then Sunday night is the actual performance which I'll be going to.

I'm so glad the weekend is here again. I have a fine evening planned consisting of lounging around in sweats eating popcorn & watching Trading Spouses and maybe a Christmas special or two. Yay for relaxation!

Anyway, here are some pictures from my mom and stepdad's trip to Florida last month. My stepdad sent them to me just yesterday.

Me and my mom.

Us at the beach. It was very windy that day!

Mom & Art

Our doggie

And here is a random and very grainy picture of our Christmas tree, taken with my cell phone.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #2

As the days count down to December 25, I get more and more excited about that most wonderful time of the year. I love everything about it, from getting the tree all lit up and decorated to the mystery and wonder of the Nativity story. So… I thought I would devote this week’s Thursday Thirteen to my favorite things at Christmastime!

1. Mistletoe. Who doesn’t like an excuse to pucker up with your sweetie? A few years ago, my MIL got us a real one to put up. We now have it hung between the entrance way to the kitchen from the living room.

2. Candy Canes. I’m a sucker for these pepperminty treats. From when I was a little kid, I’ve always eaten them from the bottom up. They’re great for stirring hot chocolate, too.

3. Christmas Songs. From O Holy Night to Jingle Bell Rock, I can’t seem to get enough of these festive tunes during the holiday season. Some remind me of the power and meaning of Christ’s birth, others transport me back to my childhood, and then there are just those silly songs that I love singing along to like Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer and Dominic the Donkey.

4. Exchanging Presents. Every year, I find it fun to pick out gifts for people that I know they’ll love, which makes giving way better than receiving. But, receiving is pretty nice too. :)

5. Christmas Eve Service. I’ve always enjoyed this beautiful and meaningful service. Hearing the Christmas story read from the Bible, lighting the last of the advent candles, singing Christmas carols. The church that I grew up in had an 11 pm service, which meant that my sister and I were allowed to stay up until midnight. The next to last hymn of the evening before it turned 12 and we rang in Christmas morning was Silent Night, which we sang with the lights turned down low. It would inevitably move my mother to tears and now, as an adult I find my eyes welling up when we sing it.

6. Time spent with family. No matter what conflicts you have with your family the other 365 days of the year, Christmas brings everyone together and builds lasting memories that stay with you into adulthood. I always look back fondly on the times we spent celebrating. It’s hard to grasp that this is the first Christmas in my entire life that I won’t be with my family, which makes me sad. I will greatly miss seeing them, but they will be in my heart.

7. Celebrating the Birth of Jesus. I mean, that’s the whole reason for the season right? I love that during this time of year, the name of Jesus is openly proclaimed and heard even on secular radio stations. There is so much mystery and beauty surrounding this event which took place over 2,000 years ago and we do well to reflect on the fact that God became one of us. When you really think about it, it’s just overwhelming.

8. Decorating the Christmas Tree. Getting to open up those boxes of ornaments after they’ve been stashed away for a year and placing each one carefully on the branches is always a treat. I think it’s so special because you fill your tree with little trinkets that are personal to your own family and they tell a story about you, as well as contain priceless memories. When we got married, the set of ornaments Gregg had been receiving every year since he was born was passed on to us. The Christmas that we were engaged, his mom started giving me my very own because I was now part of the family.

9. Baking Christmas Cookies. There are fewer better smells than that of cookies baking in the oven: sugar cut-outs, peanut butter blossoms, snickerdoodles… No wonder that was all Cookie Monster asked for from Santa in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.

10. Eating Christmas cookies.

11. Christmas Specials. Every year I look forward to the myriad of Christmas programming that runs from Thanksgiving to December 24; classics like Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life and The Muppet Family Christmas. It’s also fun to bust out the old VHS tapes of specials, some that don’t even air on t.v. anymore. Such as- A Claymation Christmas. People come on, we gotta bring that back! Who’s with me?

12. Admiring Christmas Lights. “One light goes out, they all go out!” It’s fun to see how people creatively decorate their houses with gold, blue and multi-colored lights, sometimes spelling out words of holiday cheer. Our one contribution to the neighborhood display growing up was always the “Christmas tree” out on the front lawn which my father made out of planks of wood and colorful lights.

13. Snow. Okay, barring a miracle I know there’s no way we’ll have a white Christmas here in Florida. So, since I’ll be admiring it from afar this year, I’ll just forget about the hassles of shoveling and that it ever made it difficult/borderline treacherous to drive and choose to remember the good parts: the way snow peacefully blanketed the ground and trees, turning our street into our very own Winter Wonderland and giving the holiday that special extra touch.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

You are all weirdos!

I was tagged by Erin to do the 6 weird things about me almost a week ago. Whoops. Here’s how the rules go: Each player of this game starts with “6 weird things about you”. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own with “6 weird things” as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you are tagged” in their comments and tell them to read your blog. So without further ado-

1. I can’t sleep in our bed until it’s made. The sheets have to be tucked in at the corners and the bedspread must be smooth. It irritates me to no end that Gregg always pulls the sheets on his side out and wraps himself up in them and the comforter like a cocoon.
2. I have trouble saying the words union, sixth, community, church and thirty. I don’t like how they sound coming out of my mouth and how it has to form in order to say them, so I try to avoid using them in normal conversation if I can help it.
3. I’m a freak about having things straight and lined up. I just can’t stand to have loose ends! When I’m at work stapling or paper clipping documents together, the edges absolutely must not overlap each other, even a fraction of a millimeter. When I tear a piece of toilet paper off the roll and there’s a small piece that is still hanging, I have to fix that also. Yeah, obsessive compulsive much?
4. When I was born I had blue eyes and blonde hair, taking after my grandmother on my father’s side who is German. But as I got older, my hair turned a medium brown and my eyes became green. What am I, a chameleon?
5. I will not eat a whole slice of a tomato because it just grosses me out; however I will eat ketchup, tomato sauce, and tomatoes which are chopped up & put on sandwiches.
6. I love garlic. Good for me, bad for Gregg. I even used to put garlic powder in my scrambled eggs before he asked me not to, because I’d end up reeking for the rest of the day.

Since I’m so late in posting this, I think everyone else has probably already been tagged but okay, I tag anyone reading who might not have.