Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

As Christmas nears, things get a little crazy around here. First, let's start with Advent. I'll describe last night: The kids are starting to get on each other's nerves as they are excited about Christmas but don't want to admit it and their excitement manifests itself in crankiness. Fun. Advent begins with everyone arguing about which candle they get to blow out. Singing evolves into the words of one carol being sung to the tune of another. We all dissolve into laughter but, you know, some of the songs don't sound too bad with a new tune. And don't forget that "We Three Kings" has more than one version, which Alec has relished singing and acting out. Spare me. When the candles are finally blown out, we all sit in the dark and try to be silent, all the while trying to make someone else make a sound. Stupid, I know, but these are kids, remember. It's usually all in fun but not always. All in all, I've been trying to keep the kids busy to make the time go by quicker. When bickering erupts, you just deal with it and, if necessary, threaten to remove all the gifts. But things are mostly calm and we are having fun.

I spent most of Tuesday getting all the Christmas cards sent out. We took a Christmas photo in the morning (for which I threatened Carmen with great punishment if she caused any trouble!) and Todd put it onto the newsletter I'd typed out a few days before. Chad helped with stamps and Alec & Carmen helped by not bothering me all afternoon (bless them). Tonight, I happened to re-read the newsletter ... finding two errors in the last paragraph. Big, big, sigh. You know how much I hate typos; at least the errors just involve spacing and an extra "a". Still. Grrr. The photo looks good, though.

We received a gift of fruit and candy from a company in Texas. The label had our names but did not say who it was from. I assumed it was from my sister who lived in Texas until last month, since she usually sends us gifts from there. However, today it dawned on me if may have been from my oldest sister (I have my reasons for believing this). The only issue is that I've already sent a thank you to my used-to-be Texan sister. Oops. My Mom will be seeing sister oldest tomorrow and is willing to help me in this matter. Little sigh.

A few years ago, I sent one of my sisters a gift of a specialty popcorn. The company ran out of that particular gift and sent her 2 pears instead (it was in the same price range). They gave her no explanation nor did they notify me of the switch. My sisters and Mom all pondered the meaning of me sending 2 pears to my sister and her family. Finally, my oldest sister had the guts to call me and delicately ask if I had sent pears. Apparently, they thought I was playing a mean joke or something. Stupid, right? I mean, why didn't the sister who received the gift just call and thank me for the pears. If she had done that, I could have contacted the company for an explanation. After finding out from my oldest sister, I did contact the company and they sent the other sister the correct gift, at no extra cost, with an explanation. Of course, my sister never, ever thanked me for either gift. You know what, I didn't send her a gift this year (I have my reasons, other than this.)

What is funnier still is that my husband's Dad sent us a thank you right after that, saying that they were enjoying the pears! We had sent them a gift from the same company, however, this gift was a bit larger and we are pretty certain it was the right gift. Still, my heart stopped for just a second when I read that note.

O.k., back to the present. I've gotten all my baking done, the dishes are done and I'm off to shower and bed. Todd is working but has the next two nights off. Praise the Lord!

I wish you all a Merry Christmas! God bless you wherever you are!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Season 2010

We have really been enjoying Advent this year. I love how much better everything seems to be as the kids get older. Advent has been particularly fun, everyone loves singing and they all pay attention during the Bible reading. We've been celebrating Advent every Christmas for about 10 years now and each year has gotten better. I'm so glad. I think they miss it when Christmas is over. I wish there was some way to continue it throughout the year but I know it wouldn't be as special, it would become too routine. Funny, we have Bible study, though not as frequently as I wish to, and it's not nearly as much fun. Perhaps we should sing and light candles for Bible study - I might be on to something there!

Carmen has really gotten into Christmas this year. Everything seems very important to her and I am really enjoying having another girl in the house. Until last year, she was just a kid but now, she's matured enough that we are more on the same level. She is good at wrapping gifts and has helped out a bunch with that. She's also making a gift for Alec, which has caused much whispering and closed-door work, with my assistance. We let her put up Christmas lights over her window and she loves looking at them before she goes to sleep.

This year, after Todd put the lights on the tree, the kids went to work decorating. I had to make dinner and, fortunately, they left a box of ornaments for me to put up. In fact, they left those ornaments especially for me. The kids also took over decorating the rest of the house. I did some of it but mostly, they enjoyed the job.

Since we had kids, Christmas decorating became so exhausting to me. And wrapping gifts always took place on Christmas Eve ... leaving me wiped out. How wonderful that the kids all participate now and we can put out wrapped gifts earlier. Call me quirky but I much prefer the "now" Christmas over the Christmases of overly excited kids and diapers to change.

I've even had time to make fudge and cookies. I hope to make carmels as well, something new for me. Now if I could just get the kids to write a newsletter and sign Christmas cards!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh, Deer

Ah, nothing like waking up on a weekend morning, knowing you don't have to get up early. You roll over to doze off again and - BOOM, BOOM, BOOM-BOOM! Yes, 'tis the season to go out and shoot a deer! I just don't get it. When we moved to this area nearly 20 years ago, it seemed like everyone either fished or hunted or both. We don't do either. Which means we are different and that's fine with me. But this season (which spans from, like, October until who knows when), it seems like I've been hearing gunfire a lot more. We live just on the other side of the hill from town but not that far from the rural area that becomes a hunter's dream this time of year. What's worse is that all year, we've been watching the deer grazing on the empty corner lot across the street and encountering deer all over the hill when we walk. It is no surprise that there are less deer sightings of late. Makes us sad, you know? How anyone can shoot such sweet-looking animals is beyond me.

I'm always wishing the hunters would go home empty-handed. Todd hopes they'll bag a deer soon so they'll stop shooting sooner and go home. These people even hunt when it's raining buckets or freezing cold! I'm laying snug in my warm bed and they're tramping around in the mud, soaked to the skin. My impression of them, at least. Certainly not my cup of tea.

Reminds me of a family I knew that was so excited one year because they'd gotten a bear tag. Apparently there is some kind of lottery-style set-up where only 50 or so people can hunt bear in the eastern part of our state. Getting a bear tag is big deal (who knew?)

Of course, not everyone adheres to the no-shooting-in-town ordinance. Last weekend, we heard the usual gunfire in the distance, mostly during the morning. But on Saturday night, around 10:15, we were in the kitchen when there was an extremely loud boom-boom, sounded just down the street. We live 3 houses down from a forested strip of land, where the deer live but is obviously within city limits. Of course, Todd was working (he always seems to be working when I hear noises at night). The kids and I looked at each other, wide-eyed. A few minutes later, there was another boom-boom. I called the non-emergency police line and began describing what I heard and where I was. The dispatcher said, "I know where you live, this is Wanda." I love it - only in a small town can you personally know the police dispatcher and she happens to live across the street from us! She said they had received other calls on this and were sending patrolmen out. After that, we just stayed away from the windows and I got everyone to bed. About 11:30, I heard another shot but it was dark down the cul-de-sac and I didn't see or hear anything else. Funny, we weren't afraid really, we just talked about who it could be and why.

It's certainly not the first time we've heard gunfire so close. Over the years we've been here, I've heard a random shot perhaps 4-5 times. A few days after we moved here, someone drove up the street, shooting the entire time. Todd and I were in bed and we instinctively ducked beneath the window at the head of our bed. You could hear the car going up the hill and turning toward town, still firing. I was shocked! Before we moved to town, we lived out in a rural area and I really don't recall hearing gunfire except out at the firing range. That's different. But in town? I think it was last year that I was home on a weekend night, Todd was working, and again, someone else drove up the street, shooting. Again, I heard them go up the hill, turn toward town and continue all the way to the main street down into town. I just ducked until they passed the house. Now, you know this could be very dangerous to someone but it probably isn't going to hurt you. Maybe. After both of these incidents, we checked on the kids just in case (their bedrooms face the street).

The closest to home was back when I was pregnant with Carmen (10 years ago, now). We were saying goodbye to guests and we heard what sounded like firecrackers popping. It was early summer so not such an odd sound to hear on a Saturday afternoon. A few minutes later, police pulled up at the side of our house and ran onto the back of our property and up onto our deck, guns pulled and aimed at the house behind us. It turned out that the troubled druggy teen that lived behind us was seen waving a gun out the window and a neighbor had called the police. An officer came to our door and suggested we leave the house. We gathered the boys and went to the beach. All was quiet when we returned and we later learned that the boy had been arrested. That's another story (and he has since moved out).

Our neighborhood is one of the best and safest areas of our town. However, guns are a big part of life in these parts. It's not uncommon to see a gun mounted in the rear window of a pick-up. But it's still foreign to me. I grew up in Southern California and guns and gunfire always meant big trouble. They can mean big trouble here, too, but not always. Unless you are a deer.