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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011!

Christmas came early this year to our family. We headed out on Christmas Eve to do some "last minute shopping." I put that in quotes 'cause I really had no need to shop. Michael wanted to grab a few more things and I didn't want to keep the kids home, so we all went to the Superstore. Michael split off while the boys and I went through groceries. Have just had lunch, Connor was still working on his apples and was sitting in the top cart seat.

As he finished eating he started wishing random people a Merry Christmas. Connor gave me a look after a few times, kinda like "is that okay, Mom?" I told him immediate to feel free to wish anyone a merry Christmas as long as he's with me. And he did. That boy wished every single person we passed a Merry Christmas! I could see folks who were having a crappy, stressful day just brighten up after Connor's greeting. About 70% of the folks smiled at us and about 70% of those folks wished us one back. I have to say, that kid made a LOT of people happy yesterday! To me that's one of the best superpowers a person can have. I love sharing it with others, too.

Last night was great. We opened box number 7 of the What God Wants for Christmas nativity set. The boys love it as this box is the "surprise" of what you can give God. It's a mirror (fairly self-explanatory). Ian asked me what comes next in the book. "Oh, that's the prayers you can pray, Ian." "Really?" he asks. "What kind of prayers?" "Prayers to ask God to adopt you into His family. Would you like that?" "Ye-nah," he stumbles. "Really? You don't want to worship God, sing to God and be his son too?" "oh," Ian responds as a second thought. "I think I do!" "Me too!" from Connor. Best Christmas Gift EVER!!!! Needless to say,  we prayed the prayer and now comes the hard part-being a responsible parent and teacher. :)

Today it was a real treat to be woken up by two fully dressed little guys climbing into bed with us to cuddle. All four of us cuddled for awhile before getting out of bed. Opening presents was great-the kids got plenty of little things that they are already enjoying. I got to watch the smiles on their faces as they watched each other opening things. They loved receiving joint gifts, too. One thing I thought was wonderful was their sharing. Neither boy would open up a gift unless their brother had one, too. At one point Ian even muttered, "that's for Ian, that's for Ian, sheesh, where is one for Connor?!?" I loved it!

Another great treat today was being able to go to church service. It's rare to get that opportunity ON Christmas, so we were looking forward to it. I'm sorry to report that Michael had a migraine and had to stay home and sleep it off, but we prayed for him at church. He was all better when we got home. (For the record, he said it was like someone was driving the Spear of Destiny into his right temple. I know the feeling.) We had meatballs and pizza rolls (IOW, appetizers) for lunch and watched the kids play. Michael joined in with some Beyblade battles with the boys while I got dinner ready. We had a pretty modest dinner for a holiday, but it was downright gourmet for us. A roast ham, potatoes au gratin, and corn. Woohoo! Ian had cereal and applesauce, but hey, he ATE it. :)

For dessert we had a Hershey's chocolate creme pie. Before we cut it we sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. I really like that tradition. All in all, it's been a fantastic day. I played Super Mario Bros with the boys and they are now playing Lego Star Wars. Bedtime is in a few minutes so Michael can watch football in the front rather than on the old tv. I've still got calls to make, but it's been a great day.

Thanks again to our Father above for giving us the most wonderful gift of all. His Grace.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

There's nothing like crafts for the holidays

So work is finally over for the year! Great thanks to my editor for meeting with me and working a plan to keep us on track. Now it's time to turn my mind toward preparing for Christmas. I don't mean shopping-I'm done with that really. I'm talking about crafts! The kids are out of school and we need things to do. I'm hoping to find some craft ideas for a table centerpiece the kids can make. Maybe paper angels or something like that.

It's also time to restring my guitar. My twelve-string guitar is currently masquerading as an 11-string at the moment and I'm ready to fix that. Oh, and the strings are OLD. So what to do with the old guitar strings? My first thought is jewelry. I love beading, so I think I'll give it a try with the guitar strings. I'm thinking necklaces and bracelets. I've read some ideas such as making flowers, but most of those appear to require heat equipment. I'm going to try and find some time tomorrow to explore the possibilities. I'll take pictures and post tutorials if I get anything cool made.

What are your favorite Christmas children's crafts? I'm looking for ideas and I'd love to hear yours.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Earning that vacation

It's been one of those days for me. Not a bad day. Just one of those days when you look up every hour and think to yourself, "WTF, I just got here five minutes ago!" at 3pm. I'm supposed to be on vacation starting on Wednesday. The kids will be out of school starting that day and someone needs to be home with them.

However, when I got in to the office this morning I found my inbox overflowing. I might end up working at home on Wednesday to finish things up in a timely end of the year manner.I got straight to work-despite the plethora of sugary goodness sitting just outside my office-and before I knew it I was getting the alert for my 11am meeting. WTF? I felt like I'd just sat down ten minutes before then.

Today was also a very special day for my department. I work in the Business Analytics Documentation department at SAS. That's right-the BAD department. so every year around this time we have what's called "BAD GOODie day." A big table sits outside the boss's office (which is next to mine) and gets piled with sugar coma-inducing goodies. Today's offerings included the standard Brent's Bourbon Balls (without which we riot), Peter's homemade backlava ("it's all I can make" oh darn), chocolate spritz cookies from me, Michael's blueberry mini muffins, somebody's wonderful sugar cookies (Marie? Amelia?),  Dunkin' Donuts from a mysterious team member, and Polish cookies from Brendan. Lynn even came back to us at the end of the day and brought a fruitcake. Quite a good one, too; I could taste the whiskey. :)

Why do we go overboard on the sugar? Because it feels like the busiest time of the year. Let's face it-when you're filled to the brim with sugar, bourbon chocolate and whiskey fruitcake, you just don't mind staying at work late. After all, after a few bourbon balls and a bit of fruitcake, you can do no wrong! You're writing better than Shakespeare ever dreamed and everyone loves you. Or, well, so you think anywho. lol

After much goodie ingesting, I went in search of my editor to go over a few points. I was still hoping to finish up my last few changes and pass the doc back to her at the end of the day. But she was gone with the lights out. Who leaves work that early? Oh, never mind, it was 4pm. I usually leave at 3 myself, so I get the early flex schedule. I just thought it was still 1:30. I managed to finish up by 5:30 (my day starts at 7:30am) and got home soon after six. It's a long day for me, but incredibly productive.

I think this day was a message. Either a message to me that I needed to feel that I truly earned my vacation, or a message to my boss to bring in more bourbon balls when I need to stay late.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Traditions

So today was our Christmas Cantata called Down From His Glory at Union Grove Baptist Church. It's the first one I've ever sung in, so a wonderful experience. My beloved Mother was able to join us for it and that meant so much to me. The winks from Connor didn't hurt, either. lol Everyone was so good and Bea was almost giddy the entire time. I don't think Satan could have peeled the smile from her face with a carrot peeler! The best part was the true message behind it. It's not just what happened, but why.

My wonderful mother took us out to lunch afterward and that was great too. We got a little shopping done after that. If you know my family, you know the Christmas season just isn't the same without some Beach Girl shopping. :) We shopped for exchange gifts, boots, coffee, ties and just had fun. All I could think was "this is what it's all about." Time. Time together. You could give me a peanut butter sandwich for Christmas if you just give me some time as well.

Last year our family started some new Christmas traditions. I think part of what I like about them is that they take TIME. If you haven't picked up my theme yet, for me it's all about quality time together. I'd rather have four minutes of quality time with my family than none at all. One of our traditions comes from a nativity set we received as a gift a few years ago called What God Wants for Christmas. This set is unique in my experience.

It comes with a little nativity stage and seven boxes. Each box contains an item that's part of the set, including Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the rest. Each one has a page in the included book. You read the page then open the box. Box seven is the special one that contains a mirror-that's what God wants for Christmas. I'll let you do the math. The kids love opening the boxes and doing the reading. I love that we can all share in the reading this year.

So what is your favorite old Christmas tradition? What's your favorite new one?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cluster headaches?

So I am forming a theory that what I have is cluster headaches. They seem to hit me every single day for weeks. Then they stop for awhile. When they start up again they keep going for weeks again. IOW, my headaches seem to occur in cycles. Today seems to be day two of the new cycle. I'm keeping track of it here b/c I'm too lazy to do it elsewhere. I have an appointment with a neurologist and headache specialist in January. I don't want her to tell me " go keep a journal" as step one since I've waited so long. My apologies to those who aren't interested.

But for those same folks, here's a little update for the day. This morning I headed out to Jackie's place so we could carpool to the women's breakfast. On  the way I had the good fortune to see a family of deer. They were clearly a family, with Dad, mom and two younger fauns. Beautiful as ever and a little hesitant to cross the road. They did though, right in front of me after I stopped on Baptist Road. It was a moment of pure beauty to start the day.

Riding with Jackie was a hoot, especially as she unfolded what she had planned for our Secret Pal reveal! I'll link to that later; or maybe you best just go see her Facebook page if you know her. Otherwise, I think it might not be the thing to spread to the entire 'Net. :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cross-stitch is back-and so are cuddles

So last month I resurrected a hibernating cross-stitch project. I had set it aside about five years ago after the birth of my second son. That time happens to coincide with when I learned to crochet, so you see what can happen. I pulled it out last month and have been making some great progress on it. I'm almost done with the first of the five large motifs. and I do mean LARGE. Each of these motifs is about the size of any project I have done before, so it will be a long project I think. I am hoping to stay focused on it for this year and maybe have it finished before next Thanksgiving-we'll see. I'd say more, but the intended recipient might be reading. lol (and no, that's not it to the left-that's just a cool one.)

In the midst of my joy at being almost done with motif 1, I have been fighting off headaches all day. My doc says she's certain this is all allergy related. Really? Allergies in December? I guess I do miss one thing about New end to allergy season. :) I'm not convinced about the allergies, but I listen to my doc and take what she tells me. After all, I did miss that one today and what do I get? A headache. Bad Jenna.

But everything is always better when my little guy comes out to cuddle. He came out around 9 just before I put on Christmas With the Kranks. He chattered for a few minutes as he, Michael and I all discussed a few topics of fleeting interest. Then he settled into my arms as we both lay on the couch. There's just something about cuddling with that sleeping boy that always brings me a sense of peace and completeness. All I can think about is "this is what it's all about." Time with family is what it's all about for me. Especially my sweet, smiling boys. I can't wait until Wednesday when it's all family all the time for the rest of the year.

I hope you are enjoying this season of blessing as much as me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Memories

Edith Poteat, March 2011
Those of you who know me are aware that my beloved Grandmother, Edith Corinne Winkler Beach Poteat, passed away on November 30. I am happy to consider that she is in a much better and happier place for her. I like to think she's up in Heaven now looking down on all of us, her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, ready to have the best Christmas ever.

For the last few years it has been tough for the grandchildren and great-grandchildren to come see Grandmommie for Christmas. It's tough for all of us to find the time off work or the ability to travel. Grandmommie only got to see those of us who could visit. But this year she can watch all of us at once no matter where we are. While she is not with us physically, she is here in spirit.

She is in every holiday thought that I have. Her recipes are being made in my home and in those of my cousins, sister, mother, and entire family. I will enjoy trying to make her chex mix, figuring out what that one ingredient is that's different. I have found the recipe for the ham biscuits my mother always made for Christmas breakfast. My cousins and I will make cookies, thinking of the fun we've had in Grandmommie's house doing the same. We will make "David's Christmas Cookies" from the St John's cookbook from my aunt and think of the times we've burned them to a crisp. We'll skip the peanuts on the chex mix because they always got left in the bottom of the bowl. We'll brew our coffee while considering how lucky we are to not be making instant. lol

Each of us will make at least one recipe from our traditional Christmas dinner in memory of Grandmommie. Most of us will make the pineapple casserole. Some will make sweet potato casserole and others biscuits. I'll beg my mom for her marinated vegetables recipe. Maybe Aunt Judy will make mashed potatoes. We'll probably make corn.

Guy and Thelma Parsons, 2011
And in a small but strong way, we'll all be sharing that holiday meal no matter how separated we are physically. While some are in Philly or North Carolina and others in Florida, for that one meal we will all be together by our love of this woman, my grandmother, Grandmommie. And if I'm truly, truly lucky, I'll get to spend some of that time with my father's parents as well, while I can still do so here.

Have a blessed holiday, my friends.