Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sleeping In

Oh, how I love my Christmas vacation time. It was long enough to get some tasks that I needed longer stretches of time to complete. I was able to enjoy a wonderful holiday and visit my mom's house a couple of times and spend some great lazy time just sitting around with everything done and the boys and I visit or play games or read together. It is very relaxing.

The most enjoyable part of vacation time is when there is nothing on our agenda and I can sleep until I wake up. The kids didn't let me do much of that before Christmas, but on this side of the holiday they are sleeping past 7 a.m. Daniel has been sleeping even longer. Since their bedtime is two hours later than school days, it is nice to not have to get up before dawn. Getting eight hours of sleep each night for several nights in a row is also very physically and spiritually rejuvenating. I am not pushing my body or soul. I can just get up refreshed and begin my day.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Day of Melting

I could get used to this. The other day I was wishing that the patio furniture was still out, and today I am feeling the same way. The melted snow left a vision of brown grass on the lawn. I could get used to the warm, but since winter is only a week old here, I am not holding my breath. I ended up taking a walk, but it ended up being a bit muddy with all the melting happening.

Anne and Kevin left today and the house was quiet for about three hours until Joe and Steven returned from their time away. Joe was visiting his dad with a few of his siblings and Steven was visiting with his Grammy.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

First Things First

I have decided to do a review of the resolutions that I have made over the past couple of decades. It is interesting to me to see the changing of resolutions as time passed and priorities changed in my life. I had to do a bit of work to find resolutions from the past, but I found the goldmine of my journals that I have saved and a couple of years ago brought them all together into a single box along with a few other keepsakes. I guess I should have it in something a bit more special than that, but at least they are together. Would you believe that when looking through my journals January had the most frequent entries over the years? I hope you can hear the tone of sarcasm clearly enunciated. There is something about the fresh start that a new year brings, so I should not be surprised to find I have almost always made a resolution and I almost always documented it. The first day of the first month of the year was the day that I started on many new journeys of growth. There are a few years that are missing documentation, but for the most part I found dozens of resolutions. There were some years when the resolution was the same as the year or two previous and some years there were resolutions made into multiple parts of my life. Spiritual, family, health, and organization are some general themes that have repeated through the years. And I know that some resolutions were made at times other than New Year, or I jumped in a bit earlier as I wanted to start during my break in late December.

The next most frequent time for me to record in my journals was in the spring. I usually still had the resolution I made on my mind at that time, but I would either be making excuses as to why they were not being fulfilled or I would be recording checklists at how far I had progressed to meet my goals. Some goals were multiple years worth of steps, and some were expected to be changes that were made immediately and continued forever. Some resolutions took several running starts and some just crashed and burned with little hope beyond the first week or two. Life simply takes over and the resolution sometimes fizzles out despite the early enthusiasm or promise that my life or soul would be improved by the change.

So now to reflect again on my most successful and life changing resolutions.There is no other habit that brings a better sense of starting my day than making my bed each morning. If the rest of the house is a bit cluttered, then the bed being made neatly with pillows piled and bedspread smooth across the plane of our king-sized furniture brings hope that the rest of the tasks I need to do can fall in place soon. The idea is that I can have peace and feel productive all with one act that at most takes a couple of minutes of my time. It also sets the day's momentum. The day's routine has began and I have crossed this task off the list with an effort that makes me feel like I am disciplined and in control of the day.

There is an unsettled feeling for me if I am walking out the door with the bed left unmade. It happens because someone else is still there, which is a phenomena at our house from time to time, but I still do not like it. More often than not, if I walk out the door with the bed unmade then I return home to the unkempt room with an overwhelmed feeling. This is just not right. I have made the bed at 5:30 or 6 p.m. before just to get the peace that it brings.

Since the day over thirteen years ago when we moved into our brand new home and I resolved to take on this task daily (December 8th, 1995) I walk into my bedroom, and there is order and beauty that comes with having everything in its place, including pillows, sheets and bedspreads. Yes there have been days over the years when the habit was left undone, but through reflection I discovered it is very little effort for a big mental payoff. I resolve to continue.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Wet White Day

Joe left very early this morning to visit his dad in Oklahoma and left in the middle of a thunderstorm that soon turned to ice and snow storms. I was thinking we may be in trouble as soon as it was light because the rain that was coming down was freezing as it was so cold on the ground. Often that is what happens before the power lines go down and we are out of electricity for hours or sometimes days. Since we bought the new generators after last year's ice storm, I think we may never have to use them. It is funny/strange how that is how it works sometimes.

While we enjoyed the snow coming down, my sister and I pretty much just sat around and visited. The weather let up just in time for the road crews to clear the roads before my son Joe had to go to work. The boys were trying out more of their new Wii games and we watched new movies.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

Yesterday was wonderful. We spent the day at home. The little boys were told not to get up before 7:30 and we were sipping our first cups of coffee and enjoying what was in our stockings at nearly 8 a.m. We have a tradition of opening gifts one at a time, and in some order as each of the boys opened a gift and after they opened a couple Joe and I would open one.

We had a brunch of an egg scramble and cinnamon rolls. Later in the day we decided that no one wanted another big meal so I fixed the macaroni and cheese and a ham for a late dinner. My sister and Kevin came over to spend a few days and my nephew Alex also came for some visiting time. The boys tried out new games and Joe brought up Rock Band to try out the new guitar.

Today started out rough as I had to get up and help Daniel before I even had a chance to get my shoes on this morning. There is more than one reason that I wear shoes and the most important one is that I don't like to stub my toes. Well, it's too late this morning. As I was passing through the great room into the kitchen I stubbed my toe royally on the edge of the couch, and I suspect it is broken. I hate going without my shoes, and it is rare for me but oh well. The pathway was narrowed more than usual because Daniel still had his jungle set he got for Christmas set up for play. He has had so much fun with that toy set.

We did get to play Scene It with Anne this evening. We played the movie version. I won a game and Anne won the next.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's Time to Celebrate

The morning of Christmas Eve has arrived and the boys were up early again! I had to make the jello salad and the cherry cheesecake early enough to chill for the dinner this afternoon while they were eating breakfast, so I started that right after I showered and dressed this morning.

We spent the afternoon at mom's for a dinner and the little kids did a gift exchange. We had 19 there for dinner, including all 10 of Mom's grandkids. Mom topped off the day by giving herself a gash on her finger as she was getting the meat off of the turkey after dinner. Joe had just sharpened the knife when he did the carving before dinner.

We made our gift deliveries before and after going to Mom's and we didn't get home until well after dark. The boys didn't get to their cookie or countdown surprise until after nine p.m. The surprise was Jan Brett's The Night Before Christmas, of course. This version has many wonderful surprises in the pictures on the sides of each page.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Still in a Freeze

Joe and I went into Wal-Mart for eggs and fruit and ended up coming out with a full cart. I did all my shopping on the grocery side. It is amazing how little food is left around our house since we have been out of school since Thursday. I was feeling pretty good as my gift shopping and wrapping were finished, and we were just picking up enough to tide us over until the Christmas leftovers were done.

The boys and I also baked over 9 pounds of cookies for family and neighbors, and a few dozen for here. The dough was made and I just set myself to baking one batch after another. I tried a new recipe for chocolate covered pretzels, but I didn't like it at all. The recipe was much like my no bake cookie recipe, but instead of adding quick oats I dipped the pretzels into the mixture, and there was no peanut butter. The pretzels got soggy and the chocolate was dry. Raymond liked them.

For tonight's countdown surprise the boys opened the book Here Comes Santa Claus. There is only one cookie left on the boys cookie ribbons when they went to bed tonight.

Here is Daniel reading to one of his new friends.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gingerbread and Sugar Cookies

The weather report--it is 6 degrees below zero F, but the sky is clear and the sun is shining brightly.

Despite the threat of snow and ice later today, the little boys and I ventured out to visit Grammy's house. The mission: Raymond and Daniel were making cookies with their grandma and visiting with their cousin Kevin. My sister enlisted me to another journey, out to shop for some gifts she still needed to purchase. So after the first gingerbread boys went into the oven and other gingerbread people were being cut out, we set out to find those last items on my sister's list. It was a good thing that we enjoyed the trip, because otherwise it was a bust as she didn't find either of the items she was searching for and we had to get back to the kids before mom left for an afternoon meeting. We picked up pizza for lunch and visited while the boys played for a couple of more hours.

The boys and I made it home before dark with a box full of our gingerbread family and an assortment of sugar cookies.

The countdown surprise tonight is the story Santa's Toy Shop. We are looking forward to Santa's visit.

Baby Steps

Getting started...Why, that's easy!

This time of year at our house we often watch the Christmas program called Santa Claus is Coming to Town. In the story, young Kris Kringle sings a song about change..."You put one foot in front of the other and soon you'll be walking 'cross the floor. If you put one foot in front of the other, then soon you'll be walking out the door."

No matter what it is that you want, or have, to do, you can only do it one step at a time. Keep focused on your steps as you go. Once you get finished with a task, or feel steady doing a new part of your routine on a regular basis, then you can concentrate on your next task or habit to make.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Arrives with a Dip...

...In the temperature that is. We had a high of 9 degrees F today. As I am on the recovery side of this cold bug, we didn't go out today at all. The Chiefs lost yet another game to end their season. I couldn't even watch them play in the cold. It was no advantage to their game with Miami Dolphins.

More cookies were baked today; chocolate chip walnut and peanut butter.

The surprise today was the book, "Bialosky's Christmas", another Golden Book. A bear prepares for a Christmas party, and it is fun to see the mess behind each of his creative efforts. There are only three cookies left on the cookie ribbons now.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Well I don't mend socks, but I am hoping that I am going to get better soon since I actually don't feel worse than I did yesterday. Unfortunately, I don't feel better yet either.

It feels like winter has decided to make an early appearance. Today is the final day of autumn and typically should be a day with a temperature that reaches above the freezing point. Joe took Rick, Steven, Raymond and Daniel to Olathe so the older boys could finish up their shopping today. They visited Toys R Us, The Great Mall, Wal-Mart, Target and had dinner at Ryan's. While they were at the mall, the boys found a Bookcrossing share book, "The Twits" by Roald Dahl. Raymond is excited to read it and then report his find on the internet before passing it on to the next lucky recipient. If you have never heard of Bookcrossing before, it is a very interesting way to pass along books and then track their whereabouts. Santa was at Ryan's and Daniel told Joe that this Santa was a fake because he had a Ryan's tag on and the real Santa is not an employee of Ryan's. They did not get home until late and we had to wake Daniel up for the surprise of the day and to get the cookie off the cookie ribbons. Both boys saved their cookies until tomorrow as they had eaten a large meal and dessert and they were pretty tired.

I stayed home to rest and continue recovering from my cold. The antihistamines that I take to stop my nose from running also have a tendency to knock me out and today was no exception. I rested with frequent naps, some Lifetime Christmas movies, a couple of podcasts and my trusty box of Kleenexes with lotion. I am so thankful that I had some handy, otherwise I would have a much sorer nose than I already do.

Tonight's surprise was the story, "Santa's Christmas Surprise". It is a cute book that has Santa creating a surprise that ends up being the book we were reading. Daniel was barely awake for the story so I am sure I will share it with him again later.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ice Day

It was supposed to be the final school Friday for 2008. Having school has been an iffy proposition all week long. Yesterday ended up not being bad at all. They had predicted the possibility that we may have had a sheet of ice to drive on yesterday. In reality the precipitation was extremely light here to our benefit and we were able to go about our day as normal. Due to the rain yesterday evening and overnight, the country roads in our area are icy and the boys and I are out of school yet again.

The boys did not stay in bed though and were up at the normal time and had breakfast before seven a.m. I spent the day wishing for a nap that never came. Although I am not feeling well today, I still would have rather went to school and enjoyed the plans we had for the end of the quarter.

The surprise for tonight was the story, "Merry Christmas, Strega Nona", by Tomie de Paola. In the story there is a surprise that brings disappointment first, and then when the surprise is revealed, there is a real celebration. The boys were commenting on how lazy the character Anthony was by not helping Strega Nona, and when they found out that he had actually put in a lot of effort without Strega Nona knowing about it, they were surprised, too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ice Is Here Again

Actually it is freezing rain. I am blessed that it was not a problem on the roads I had to drive on today, and so I made it to and from work with no problem. I did get a phone call mid-morning that they canceled Daniel's preschool for this afternoon. The rain is supposed to stop later this evening and then hopefully the roads will be treated so we can make it to school safely tomorrow.

It is a good thing that I gave a test today as I have completely lost my voice. I am drinking as much water as I can. It is a bit easier since I am not actually teaching a lesson today. I have tried to get a cup of tea in a couple of times today as well and that felt good, especially when it was very warm on my throat. My throat is not really sore, just congested as are my sinuses. I am aiming at sleeping early tonight. Daniel is already out, I will let Joe deal with Raymond (who is convinced somehow that he will not have school tomorrow).

In between the rain, there was a break just long enough for the boys to play outside in the snow. They have a plastic toboggan they rode down the hill at the back of the house and Joe had put a set of chains on the go cart so they had fun for a little more than an hour. The neighbor boys had come over to play and outside always works better with the four boys playing.

Tonight's surprise was the story, "Frosty the Snow Man". When Raymond was really little he LOVED Frosty and would listen to the story or watch the video over and over again. I think he has both of them near memorized even to this day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Back to Normal !?!

A warm up to 26 degrees F is expected today. We had school today, but the rest of the week is iffy as they are predicting ice, snow and some very low temperatures during traveling times in the coming days. I had to postpone a Math test, and I hope that I can get it in by the end of the week/quarter. We have a day of fun activities planned for the students Friday and the choir program was postponed until Friday at 2:30 in the afternoon so the students may go to it also.

Tonight's surprise was the story, "Christmas in the Big Woods" an excerpt from one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's early books. Raymond commented on how they didn't have a tree, and that the children received only a pair of mittens and a peppermint stick in their stockings. Laura was the only one that received a toy, a special doll.

I am still pretty congested, and have lost my voice since about 7th period today. I am turning in early as the boys are already down for the night.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snow Day

I noticed on the news at 5:35 a.m. that my school had closed for the day and I got the phone call about 20 minutes later to confirm. I had to anticipate whether or not the boys would go today since it had snowed some overnight here, but the morning snow at the house had not started although it was only 7 degrees F. After their alarm got them up at 6 a.m. we watched on the news that we were now expecting 3-5 inches of snow. About 10 minutes later the boys school came up on the news list as well, the snow was coming at a very fast swirl, and I sent the boys back to bed. Well that didn't work. They are having a snow day camp party in Raymond's room this morning.

So I am thinking that this day off is an answer to my prayer as I am not feeling well today and I really didn't want to have to call in during this last week. I did not do much throughout the morning, but am very grateful that I did not have to drive in this mess today, or worry about my kids out in it either.

Tonight's countdown surprise was the Golden Book, "Jingle Bells". Santa's reindeer are sick so he hops on with the bear family and friends as they ride in a one horse open sleigh.

Monday, December 15, 2008


It is only 2 degrees F here with a windchill of -14. Yikes! It is cold.

Tonight we snuggled for the countdown surprise of the night. "The Christmas Tree That Grew" is about a live tree that grew three stories over the weeks before Christmas and brought three families together too.

Now for a picture to remind me of the warmth of July. This is a picture of the boys visiting Santa at the North Pole, CO this past July.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Working Inside Out

We took the little boys to see Santa last weekend. I picked up the picture today. Raymond had already talked to Santa in July
when we visited the North Pole in Colorado (as did Daniel) and told Santa to read the letter he sent earlier in the week.

The hard work is done, and the celebrations have began. I still have some wrapping to do even though my deadline has passed, I do still have time. I will not be wrapping after hours on Christmas Eve, nor during my Christmas break that starts Friday night.

Today I have
(X) Spent 45 minutes giving the Master Bathroom a thorough cleaning
(X) Spent 30 minutes cleaning the bedroom
(X) Joe and the little boys worked on the walkway next to the new railing at the back door
(X) Patio furniture and outdoor toys put away for the winter
(X) Cleaning of the dining room and great room
(X) Last of the decorating completed (I still have not pulled out my snowmen. Now where could they be?)
(X) Watched several Christmas movies with the boys; ELF, A Christmas Story and Muppet Christmas Carol
(X) Enjoyed a family dinner and a fire in the fireplace throughout the very cold afternoon/evening.

The Countdown Surprise was the book, "The Littlest Christmas Elf". And there were only 10 cookies left on the ribbon when the boys went to bed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wrap Up Weekend

Yes, I am planning on getting all the wrapping completed. That means all of the shopping needs to be finished today. I still have a few small items to get and need to pick up oats for the no bake cookies. I also have the last of the decorating to do and some Christmas movies to enjoy with the boys. It is doable as I have been working on it during the week. I also need to do some cookie baking so I can get the cookie ribbons up on the wall before dinner time.

The surprise tonight was "The Twelve Days of Christmas". We have several versions and Joe and the boys did some research on the internet today about the true meaning of the gifts from the twelve days. The boys enjoyed their first cookie from their cookie ribbon tonight too.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Finally Friday

This week I am finishing up my wrapping and decorating (yes I still have a box of stuff that I want to display). With the Christmas Countdown complete, I am working to streamline my house this weekend so it can survive the fun in the weeks ahead, following the Housework Holiday Plan that CEO also designed to go along with her book. I have just a week left until our Christmas Vacation.

Tonight's surprise was Arthur's Perfect Christmas, by Marc Brown. If things don't work out the way you plan, maybe that's okay.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Purple Crayon

Wow! I still have a lot on my life list. It is a good thing I feel that at least parts of it are under control. I keep telling myself to focus on what I have accomplished and then do what I can to get anything else done by priority.

Last night the three older boys went out for haircuts (Thank You!!!!) and then did some shopping. They didn't even set out until after six o'clock and they go to some macho guy sport styling salon. The little boys went to bed at 7 after opening up their next countdown surprise, the book "Harold at the North Pole" by Crockett Johnson. This is the same Harold and his purple crayon that Johnson wrote. I turned in early myself, and I was probably out before the boys.

Daniel is collecting the notes attached to each countdown surprise. The surprise basket is getting lighter each evening.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

100th Blog!!!

What a milestone it is for this blog, and I have enjoyed placing my thoughts into this format during the past eleven months. I do have plans over the next months to develop some new ideas, so I hope you stop by often to see what is new. God willing, I will have the time and means to continue in this journey to stay connected to people in my life and to organize my life.

It was Daniel's turn to open the countdown surprise and in it was the book, "Merry Christmas Mom and Dad" by Mercer Mayer and starring Little Critter who tries to help his family prepare for and celebrate Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cats in the House

Rain and snow are in the forecast for the rest of the day. We are expected to get snow until this evening, with just a couple of inches of accumulation but lots of blowing around. There was no day out of school for a snow day here.

The Countdown Surprise tonight was the book "Christmas Cats". Daniel could read many of the pages after I read it to the boys.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Another Surprise

A chill is in the air and the decorating continues, although slowly. We are supposed to get freezing rain and then snow in the area, and the kids at school were talking about a snow day tomorrow.

Tonight's Christmas surprise was the book, "Arthur's Christmas" by Marc Brown. Raymond was really interested in this one, and was a bit disappointed when he found out it was not on the Accelerated Reader list at school.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tree Trimming and Shopping Time

We have been wrapping up the decorating and shopping today. Joe did not go out hunting this morning so we took advantage of having him home and did some shopping with the little boys. They did all of their shopping for their brothers today. They already had their shopping for cousins and school done just after Thanksgiving. We decorated the tree today while Joe and all the boys were home, too. It really turned out nice and I don't think I did much at all to help. Joe took charge of putting the lights on. We skipped putting garland on the tree, and Richard took charge of the boys putting on the ornaments. The boys also enjoyed peanut butter cookies baked by Rick and eggnog.

Tonight's countdown surprise was the collection called, "Christmas Stories and Poems". It has a definite Old English influence.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Deer Sightings

There was not a lot accomplished today. The tree has been up in the stand since we picked it up Wednesday evening, and Joe keeps asking when is it going to be decorated, but I told him it would have to be when everyone was around to help or at least watch. It really looks good and smells so good even without trimming. Martha Stewart says that you need to pick up your tree and decorate it during the third week of December, so I know I am ahead of her game. She does suggest that you decorate during the second week.

Trying to keep caught up with work has been a much more difficult challenge. There is always something on the list to do, and there is never a time when it is all caught up. I have two parent meetings next week and a couple of deadlines for testing that I need to prepare for as soon as possible. I think I can. I think I can. Well it is not going to all get caught up this weekend as I didn't even put a dent in any of my work tasks today.

Joe's deer hunting has finally proved successful as we now have a deer hanging in the shed waiting for processing. He still has another tag, so will continue going out until he gets it filled or the season runs out.

Today's countdown surprise was the book, "The Wild Christmas Reindeer", by Jan Brett. She has some other favorites for this time of year such as "The Mitten", "The Hat", "Gingerbread Baby", "Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve", "The Trouble with Trolls", "Christmas Trolls", "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and "The Night Before Christmas". She also has a Christmas Treasury with many of these stories in it. My kids spend a long time looking at the details of her illustrations on each page of each story book. Her latest books are "The Three Snow Bears" and "Gingerbread Friends".

Friday, December 5, 2008

Another Bell?!!

The bell theme continued tonight as Daniel opened the next countdown package. Inside was the book, "The Polar Express", written by Chris Van Allsburg. Daniel had taken a bell to school for show-and-tell today, inspired by the Old Lady book last night. He wants to take it back to school Monday. Raymond and Daniel listened to the story and then, since it was Friday night, we watched The Polar Express movie.

What's Left? and The Cookie Ribbon Tradition

My checklist is not as long as it has been in years past at this time. It is so nice to have much of my shopping finished, and by the end of the weekend the decorating will be finished as well. I was hoping to shop with Joe this weekend, but I think that the hunt for deer will continue for some days to come. Maybe we can get out Saturday evening with the little boys. I usually shop at least once with my sisters, but we don't have anything planned this year.

Shopping online has been a wonderful experience for me, and nearly all that I ordered has already arrived to be wrapped, and the last package is due to arrive tomorrow. I have made a list of the few remaining items and will need to go out tomorrow to finish my shopping. The little boys need to go out to get shopping done this weekend as well.

I am going to pace myself to do some of the wrapping every day or so and have it finished up next weekend.

I did write our family Christmas letter, and still need to get the boys' school pictures ready to go out with the Christmas mail. That should not take long. I hope to have them all in the mail on Monday.

Next weekend, on Saturday, the cookie ribbon Christmas countdown begins. The history of the cookie ribbon in my family began when I was probably nine. We each got a long wide ribbon with a poem on top, a bell on the bottom and a dozen cookies in between. I think they were vanilla wafers the first year, and something equally as simple until we were a bit older and my Mom baked pinwheels, snickerdoodles and a couple of other types of cookies that were just the right size (they must be small in diameter) to fit on our ribbons.

My boys have had cookie ribbons for many years. Theirs are made from Christmas print fabric ribbons. I am probably only going to make one for each of the little boys this year as the other three are in their twenties now. The poem reads:

December 13th 'til Christmas
Is the longest time of year.
It seems as though Old Santa
Will never appear.
"How many days 'til Christmas?"
It's mighty hard to count.
So this cookie ribbon
Will tell you the exact amount.
Take off a cookie every night
As the sandman casts his spell
And Christmas Eve will be here
By the time you reach the bell.

I try to have several varieties of cookies on the ribbons, so we will be baking later this week, and Saturday for sure. I like to have the ribbons on the wall before dinner time on December 13th, but it is nice to have fresh cookies on them as the last few are on there for over a week. I wrap each cookie individually and tie it onto the ribbon with yarn.

Here is a sample of a cookie ribbon before the cookies go on. I reuse the ribbons each year, or for at least as long as they look nice. (See the comments for this post for measurements.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Swallowing Bells?!!

Okay, Daniel has figured out we are opening books every night. Raymond got to open the package tonight and in it was the book, "There was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Bell!" It is a new book the boys had never had read to them, so they were excited that there was something new to this countdown surprise. Reading the book is always fun, too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hunting Day

Today is opening day for deer hunting season so we had family members up before dawn dressing in orange and spraying dirt scent on themselves. After the hunters and people who went to school or work returned home in the early evening, our family went hunting for a Christmas tree. We were much more successful with the tree hunt than the guys were with the deer.

If you have ever heard of fishing excuses (you know, the stories about why the big one got away), then you will understand the reasons we have heard about why we do not have a deer waiting to go into the freezer. The scheduled hunting "spot" had been taken by someone that did not belong there, so they had to find alternate spots and by that time the morning was nearly gone. The bullets were duds and so the rifle didn't fire properly. There were more excuses, but I think that you can comprehend the conversations that will be continuing until the two tags are attached to deer waiting to be processed into steaks, roasts and ground into venison-burger.

It was 28 degrees F as the seven of us went out into the cold on the hunt for the perfect tree for our great room. We stopped off first for a dinner at China Buffet and then on to the tree lot. We looked through a couple hundred possibilities and settled, after Danny had made at least a dozen laps through the lot, many of our finger tips turned numb and all noses were red from the frigid air. Danny said he was going to pick the tree, but I don't think he stopped long enough to help make any decision. He liked them all. The rest of the family looked at me to be the tree expert, so I let them know the types of trees we had picked in the past and why they would or would not work for us. We selected a Balsam Fir tree that was at least a foot taller than what we needed, but it was full and we could cut off the bottom to make it fit into the corner we had cleared for it at home. The tree was tossed into the back of the truck and then we headed home to set it up. Tree trimming will be this weekend, as the tree needs some time to fully unfold after being wrapped and shipped to Kansas.

When we got home the boys opened their newest countdown package. Inside was a book. "The Biggest, Most Beautiful Christmas Tree". It is actually one of Rick's books, and Rick and the little boys listened in as I read tonight before the boys went to a late bedtime.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Cozy Blizzard

Raymond had the honor of opening the package labeled "Open Dec. 2 ~ 23 more sleeps until Christmas". Tonight's surprise story is The Christmas Blizzard by Helen Ketteman. It is a tall tale that I bought through Scholastic several years ago and we also have a cassette tape with the old man telling the story of the Christmas of '22 when he was a boy. Tonight we listened to that tape while looking at the book. They are predicting snow tomorrow in our forecast.