Saturday, December 31, 2011

a year in review - well almost

I posted my first blog entry in February of last year. Almost a full year of blogging. Really? I've had months where I posted quite frequently, and months where I posted almost none. I don't have huge numbers of readers, but it is fun to check those stats and see that there are readers from all over the world - thank you for taking time to share a bit of my life.

As I thought about my almost year of blogging, I thought about maybe doing top ten posts list. But then I thought - they read those; maybe I should share something else. So here's my list, in no particular order or category.

I'm a terrible wife, especially before I have coffee and thirty minutes of quiet. I wrote about my morning routine in don't talk to me.

One of my favorite pictures ever of Lovey ends welcome home, a post about Lovey and his boxers.

When I first started blogging, Melissa was hosting a Saturday Confessions linky each week. And I joined her almost every week. Like here, here, and here.

Many of my posts are about the kids that I love. Like lessons learned from on Easter Sunday. They have all learned to just consider themselves blogged when I get out the camera.

And some of my posts are about my job. I've even listed my top 10 reasons for being a teacher. As much as I love my job, I do frequently ask is it Friday yet? And I sometimes get on my soapbox about standardized tests.

And Lucy Mercer makes an appearance quite frequently, sometimes with her socks, sometimes with her secrets,  sometimes she brings a friend,  and always with her partner in crime, Jacob.

When I started blogging, I had no plan, and I've written about a variety of subjects. I can jabber on and on about the funny, the bizarre, the strange. I don't frequently bare my soul. But there are a few times when I have gone a little deeper. Sharing my memories of 9/11, getting a little preachy about the predicted rapture last May, even hinting at the difficult relationship with my oldest son.

And I've posted the truth. Us, in all our unmatching, torn, stained wornout glory. Working cows and going to the bank. And even showed the dust bunnies bravely peeping from every corner of my house.

It's been a blessing to share these bits of my family and my life with you. I do enjoy knowing the posts that were your favorites, or the ones that you didn't like at all. Thank you for commenting whether on here, at church, or on Facebook.

Take a few minutes to review your 2011. What do you want to remember? How much have you already forgotten? If you don't journal or blog, think about doing it. It's great to look back and be reminded of the little things that happened throughout the year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

friday fun

Brooke and I took the youth kids to Little Rock to ice skate at the outdoor rink today. It was a great day - sunny and 68. While we waited to skate, I tried to get a group picture of the kids.

It's an almost impossible task. Just when I would get the attention of two or three, I would completely lose another few. And Chan always tries to hide behind someone else.

Finally, they got their skates and got on the ice. And then were almost immediately told to exit the ice so that it could be smoothed.

No Zamboni machine here - just some shovels, a golf cart with a box blade, and a water hose. Finally, they were skating,and I had a few minutes to day dream about joining these people.

I tried to get some action pictures of the kids. The lighting wasn't great. And with they were trying to avoid pictures. When I got home, I found this one.

Not a great one of LKN, but who's the guy giving me the thumbs up? I don't know him!

And then they all ended up at the rail in front of me. Another chance for a group picture.

Not bad, the best I got all day. But it quickly turned to this.

They crack themselves up.

We had to drive over a hundred miles away. And who do I see when we get there?

One of my neighbors! It was a difficult to get a picture of him as it is to get one of Chan.

When skating was over, we walked the bridge before going to get supper.

The lighting was beautiful. I loved the reflections in the water and the uplighting on the beams of the bridge. And it was still warm enough that we weren't rushing to get to the truck.

I have no idea what happened here. But it's kind of pretty.

sorrounded by friends and family

It's great to share the holidays with friends and family. And we have done just that. Christmas Eve at my mom's, Christmas day at Lovey's mom's, and yesterday my daddy and step-mom came for a visit. And just a few night's ago we had a little fun with cousins and friends.

We played a little Jenga. Did a little bowling and country dancing on the Wii.

It's great to be cousins and friends.

And brothers and friends.

And friends for so long that the line between family and friend has blurred.

What is this? Lovey has his eyes open, and mine are closed? How did that happen?

I give him such a hard time about those squinty eyes that he has developed what HE thinks is a good solution. So now we take a picture with his eyes closed, a picture with his eyes bugged out, and hopefully one with his eyes open.

To avoid the squinty, bug-eyed issue, we may just kiss in all pictures from here on out.

As 2011 draws to an end, we all like to take a bit of time to review and evaluate our year. And I am blessed to live close to family and be able to spend so much time with the people I love.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

when just what you've always wanted comes true

I've always wanted a room of my own. I'm almost 50 years old and I've only had a room of my own for a few months here and there during my lifetime. My sister and I always had to share a room. We had fun, and we share lots of great memories, and we still speak. But I need want a space that's just mine.

When Lovey and I were looking at house plans, I always searched the plans for little nooks or small rooms that could possibly be my area. When we finally chose a plan there was a small room on the front, but it was designated as the boys' TV room. While they were in school, they didn't have TV and video games in their bedrooms - Baby Jus would have never slept. But now that they are  "big boys" we have moved TV's into each of their rooms. And the once TV room has been waiting for me to move in.

A few weeks ago, my brother and sister-in-law got a new TV that required new furniture, and they posted a picture of their cabinet on Facebook offering it to anyone who would come and get it. After a day or two, I asked if it was still available and staked my claim. It is HUGE. And has lots of storage. Just right for a sewing/craft/office space.

So yesterday I started cleaning out the boys' stuff. Trying to decide what to keep and what to chunk. And after about an hour, I just had to stop. My heart couldn't take anymore. We don't even have a VCR. And who wants to rewind a tape when we can just go to the menu of a DVD? Why do we need a Nintendo 64 or Gamecube? But how do I throw away the things that were such a huge part of their childhood? Baby Jus has the Star Wars movies on DVD, so why is it reasonable to hold on to those stupid tapes that he watched over and over? Big Boy will never again watch Forrest Gump on a VCR, but he sure wore that one out. They haven't played any of those video games for years, but I can remember the Christmas mornings or birthday parties where there were so excited to open them. And the excitement just a few hours later when Baby Jus beat them for the first time - it never took him long.

I've made it almost to 50 without a room of my own. Would any of you be interested in touring my museum of videos and games of the 90's child?

Monday, December 26, 2011

pintrest inspiration

Yes, like many others, I could be considered a pintrest-addict, well at least frequent user. I've made several of the recipes that I came across while pinning, and this year I gave several handmade Christmas gifts that were pintrest inspired. 

The first project that I completed was etching some baking dishes for my momma. She does lots of cooking for church and family meals and is always taking food somewhere. She has used those sticky address labels to identify her dishes for years. Now she has personalized dishes to carry where ever she goes.

I also etched some glasses for sisters-in-law. However, I did one set at the last minute and was trying to multi-task. I will be re-doing a few glasses. I got these glasses at the Dollar Tree - yes eight bucks for eight glasses. And a pretty good gift.

For my sister, I did one of the melted crayon canvases. I like the colors on the black canvas. When she opened it, she said that she had been planning to do one for herself with "dream" along the bottom. So I guess this one was a failed gift.

I like the scarves made from t-shirts. Three of my nieces got scarves made from one t-shirt purchased from the clearance rack for only three bucks. To add a little sparkle, I got three on those stretchy rings from another clearance rack, cut off the stretchy part, and glued the pretty part to the knot of the scarf.

But quite possible my favorite project was also my last minute-can't-think-of-anything-to-do project. I had a neat little frame that I bought at a yard sale a few months ago for a couple of dollars. It was gold with these little circles all over it (sorry, no pre-project picture). I painted it black, covered some cardboard with burlap, and used the cricut to cut her initial from brown glitter scrapbook paper. I will be on the lookout for more cute little yard sale frames.

And for another gift, I mod-podged some doilies to a canvas and painted it. Then painted an inspirational phrase. I really wanted to keep this one for myself.

Pintrest has also inspired me too create a craft/office space that I have wanted for a long time. I'll post pictures when I get it finished - if you've read much of this blog, you know not to expect anything too soon.

tradition or habit?

Traditionally, Santa leaves presents for the boys on Christmas morning. It's habit that we sit in front of the Christmas tree to open all of our gifts. This year I didn't do the Christmas tree thing. Santa still left some presents - we just opened them in front of the fireplace instead of a tree. And instead of sitting on a cold, hard concrete floor, I sat in a comfy armchair.

Baby Jus asked for an xbox. It was the only thing he really wanted. I warned him ahead of time that we were cutting back this year, and he would not be getting something so expensive. And honestly, he was very understanding. So much so that I was determined that he get the dang xbox even if he didn't get any other gifts. But I never let him have even the slightest idea that he might get his wish. So I shopped and shopped hoping for a great deal. Because surprises on Christmas are a tradition.

With the old habit of sitting in front of the tree, I might have gotten a better picture of the grin, but I loved the quiet grin that I caught just as he opened the first box. I stepped out of the room for just a second, and he grabbed the small box with the extra controller in it. When he saw what it was he knew that the big box would be the new gaming system. And he didn't say a word; he just gave me a knowing smile and went on opening presents, saving the big box for last.

When the boys were younger, I gave them new pj's on Christmas so that they would look cute in the Christmas morning pictures. I so wanted the tradition of nice color coordinated Christmas pictures. I gave up on that dream when I realized that Big Boy had developed a habit of coming out of his room in whatever he wanted and then adding clothing as he opened his gifts.

I hadn't realized until this year when I loaded the pics from Christmas night, that it is a habit that he learned from watching his father.

I mentioned earlier that I don't like traditions to be changed. For years, it has been tradition that we go to my momma's for Christmas Eve, then have lunch on Christmas day at Lovey's mom's. But this year our nursing SIL works weekend option. So we had to considered just what was habit and what was the real tradition. For me, it was an easy choice - eating at particular time is a habit; having everyone there is a tradition. Change the habit; not the tradition. And I am so glad that we did. We even lined up for a family picture.

I had never used the timer function on my camera, so I had to play with it a bit.

After everyone lined up, and I knew how to work the timer, I jumped in let it click and then told everyone to hold positions so that I could check to see that everyone still had their heads and no eyes were closed.  Right away I noticed a problem: I looked like a white elephant in a room full of tiny people.

So we had to redo. Because I had to find a way to blend in with these tiny people.

I scooted in a bit more, but then Baby Jus was just a floating head. And Chan was having to squat so that his head wasn't blocking someone.

Better? Chan wasn't happy that he had to sit on the floor, and my boobs seem to be wrapped around Lovey's neck and resting on his shoulders.

The camera was resting on a bean bag Santa that I found sitting on Nannie's table. Apparently it was settling back just a little more with each picture, notice that in each one the fan gets more and more prominent. I was so worried about camouflaging myself in a room full of tiny people that I didn't pay any attention to the damn fan creeping into the pictures.

I think that we'll make a family picture a new tradition. And I'll make it a habit to wear black to Christmas so that I can blend in better.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

their favorite day of the year

As I have said already, my momma claimed Christmas Eve many years ago. Before there were spouses and grandchildren and great grandchildren. And as our families have grown, the pile of presents around the tree has too.

The kids all have stockings hung on the mantle.  And usually get to peek at those early.

We don't have the normal Christmas dinner - because when my momma started all this, we had turkey and dressing at Grandma Norton's on Christmas day. So it's sandwiches, vegetable trays, chips and dips, and lots of Christmas candy. Once it's all put out, we say the blessing then everyone just grazes throughout the day.

The newbies got to open my presents before the mad rush began.

Eli love opening presents.

I did really good this year and followed the rules. I bought age appropriate toys for the babies. If you have a little one, this remote control car is so fun. It's controlled with the rattle! And it can be set to just go in a circle around the sitting baby, then when crawling starts, it can go straight for chasing.

Eventually, we all gather in the living room and the younger kids pass out the presents.

If things aren't moving along fast enough, others jump in to help. And the presents pile up! We have established sitting places. Mine is in front of the TV. This year I was squished into a tiny, crowded little spot, so my pictures are not the best. I was holding the camera above my head and clicking.

The rule is to wait until all of the gifts are passed out and then someone says go. But this year, we noticed that Nannie was cheating. She opened this one while the presents were still under the tree.

It was from Dusty and Leah - a family picture from their wedding this summer.

Brother couldn't resist teasing Brooke a little bit. He replaced a picture of her with the new family picture. Then knocked a wall hanging down on one of the nativity scenes.

Once the presents are delivered we all start opening. And the paper and boxes fly. Literally. Someone always throws a wad of wrapping paper across the room, and then the battle is on.

Small children could get lost in this mess.

And Natalie always does. Can you see her peeking from under the polka dots?

After presents are opened and the mess picked up, there is time for a little cuddling.

Then we make our version of the gingerbread house. I know this picture has bad coloring and blurry spots, but it sums up the day. There's lots of love, lots of laughter, and someone is always talking about someone else's butt.