Tuesday, December 30, 2008

No Place Like Home

Yesterday was a tough day for me. Yesterday was December 29. Yesterday marked fifteen years since my mother died. Even though my spiritual journey over the past 15 years has brought me peace and taught me acceptance for the most part; I still hate the reality that my mother is not here with me.

Yesterday was also a tough day for another family. Bro. Bobby Renfro, one of my former pastors, lost his battle with cancer but won the prize of a race well run. Bobby affected so many people in so many ways, that his presence will be strongly missed.

In the MercyMe song Homesick, Bart writes:
"You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home"
And so today, I am homesick. Homesick for a place I've never been, but I know I belong. I know I belong because my mother is waiting for me. But even more important, because the Father is waiting for me. And there's no place like Home.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The 1st Ever QuirkyBee Christmas Bazaar

I'm a glutton for punishment. Always have been. Back in November, I mentioned to Paige and Elizabeth that I was thinking about maybe, possibly having an open house to try to move along some of my excess jewelry inventory and take custom orders for Christmas. I asked if they would like to provide refreshments since they were also thinking about maybe, possibly starting a cupcake business. But, the more I thought about it, the more I talked myself out of it. What if nobody comes? Would they be disappointed once they got there? It's a very busy weekend. I have to clean my house...and so on. So a few days later, when I casually mentioned to Paige and Elizabeth that I'd decided against the open house, Elizabeth informed me that they had already planned the menu and started advertising. (Eager-beaver, over-achiever) And so The 1st Ever QuirkyBee Christmas Bazaar was in the works for the first Saturday in December.

We didn't do a lot of publicity, just a Facebook invite and a few flyers. We had no idea what to expect. But all in all, it was a lot of fun. There was a pretty steady stream of visitors the entire time. I got several jewelry orders (which is one reason I haven't blogged much lately, because I was working feverishly like one of Santa's elves trying to get them finished in time for Christmas). Gert & Lillie's cupcakes were a tremendous success. Paige and Elizabeth made their first sale, took holiday orders and booked at least one event. It also turned out that our new friend Robyn was in town seeking support for the orphanage in Peru, so she set up an information table as well. I didn't get a single picture of my table display...I was a little frazzled. But I did get these great pics of the other gals that helped make the Bazaar a tremendous success. Be sure to check out their links! And mark your calendars for the 2nd Annual QuirkyBee Christmas Bazaar next December...

Gert & Lillie's Cupcakery (aka) Paige & Elizabeth

Robyn from Hogar de Esperanza

So being a glutton for punishment isn't always bad...especially when good friends are involved! And cupcakes. Yes...good friends and cupcakes!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Deck the Halls--Froo-Froo Tree and Hometown Friends

This icicle angel is part of an icicle nativity ornament set of 12 pieces that was made by my high school pal, Tina. I took about 142 pictures trying to capture its beauty, but just couldn't get one that completely does it justice. I'm not sure how many years ago she gave it to me, but it was shortly after my mother passed away. I loved it so much, I purchased it its own tree which we now call the "Froo-Froo Tree"--all matchy-matchy with gold, red and white ornaments. But the nativity pieces are definitely the focal point of the tree.

Last night we celebrated our annual "Hometown High School Gang" Christmas with Tina and company. This group is made up of three guys and three girls that grew up in church youth group together and their spouses. Four couples in all because two of us married within "the group". We get together every year. One couple has relocated to another state. Three of us are somewhat local, but still don't see each other much during the year. I'm sure there were many times in the beginning where C & T, the two spouses not born and raised in Hometown, felt uncomfortable because we would re-tell and re-live the days of our youth each time we got together. But it has been interesting to me, that as time goes on we are less about the "good ol' days" and more about making new memories.

Over the past 20 years we have been to weddings, celebrated the addition of 9 children, mourned the loss of parents and even survived a bout with cancer. These are the people that I may not see from one Christmas to the next, but I know would be there in a heartbeat if I needed them. These are the people who pick up right where we left off last year as if it was only last week. And these are the people who, like my icicle nativity ornaments have their own tree, have their own special place in my heart.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's Big Joel's Birthday!

Isn't that a hunky man? Today is his birthday. He says he doesn't feel 28...that's because he isn't. He's finally as old as me, but I'm still smarter. After all, I married him, didn't I? Happy Birthday, Baby. Just remember that 41 is the new 31 and you don't look a day over 50!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oh, the Irony!

I've been terribly delinquent in blogging lately. To be honest, I've been terribly delinquent in lots of things...laundry, housework, filling jewelry orders, Christmas shopping, showering...I could go on, but it depresses me. So, I just had to post this quick funny about Hallie and then I MUST get to work! I. simply. must.

This morning on our way to school, I was "strongly encouraging" Hallie to be more responsible with correspondence from school. I'm forever finding notes about things that have already passed. To her credit, most of the time she tells me about these events and gets most of the details. But things can get a little dodgy if you rely solely on an 8 year old for information. I was trying to explain this to her. She stood firm on the grounds that "we haven't missed out on anything." She was adamant that we are completely, totally informed on all the happenings at Hometown Elementary School.

So as I dropped her off this morning via "rolling stop" in the car lane, I was not paying much attention to others around me. I was hoping if I didn't notice them, they wouldn't notice that I was wearing flamingo PJ pants, a sweatshirt and Big Joel's toboggan. (I was also praying that I wouldn't have car trouble or be involved in a traffic accident that would require me to get out of my vehicle.) As I pulled out of the school parking lot, I saw three children in "plain clothes" (not plain as in Amish, but plain as in not the standardized dress required by our district) Then I stopped at the crosswalk to allow an entire herd of children to pass...in non-standardized dress. Finally, I knew something was up when I saw my friend's kids running gaily into school wearing jeans and regular shirts. I quickly used my "Phone-a-Friend" lifeline to find out what was going on. Yes, you guessed it. Today is Free Dress day at school and my well-informed, know-it-all, "don't-worry-mom-we're-not-missing-anything" daughter who despises standardized dress MISSED it!

While this would have been a valuable life lesson for Hallie about responsibility (and arrogance), it is party day. When her normally strict, you're-in-3rd-grade-now-so-suck-it-up teacher called me, her exact words were, "Its up to you: you can teach her a lesson or you can bring her some clothes to change into since its Christmas and she's sobbing uncontrollably. I'll support whatever you decide."

Needless to say, Big Joel is on his way to school with some "plain" clothes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Deck the Halls--Feliz Navidad

A little turtle ornament and nativity set from our trip to Mexico this past January.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Deck the Halls--White Christmas

Two more of my favorites...given to me by my in-laws.
Karen Lawrence is the artist.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Deck the Halls--Joy to the World! The Gourd Has Come

I know. Such a corny play on words. I just couldn't resist. Elizabeth brought me this nativity from her first trip to Peru. It is inside a gourd, hence the horrible pun.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Deck the Halls--I <3 Christmas

I don't really know where this ornament originally came from, but it belonged to my mother. IYit.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

If at First You Don't Succeed...

I mentioned that Hallie is trying desperately to convince us that she deserves a pet. Unbeknownst to me, she struck a deal with her daddy that if she didn't whine until Christmas, she could have a hamster. However, now there seems to be some discrepancy over the terms of the agreement.

Overheard yesterday between Hallie and Big Joel...
H: Daddy, what will I do with my guinea pig until we get its cage?
BJ: What guinea pig? (Yes, its supposed to be a hamster, but she's trying to convince us that it was either a hamster OR a guinea pig...Have I mentioned that Hallie likes to make up her own rules as she goes?)
H: The one you said I could get if I didn't whine between now and Christmas.
BJ: I don't think you've really kept up your end of the bargain. Remember how you acted on Saturday?
...long pause...
H: Well, what about lying? I haven't done that in a while. Can I get a guinea pig if I don't lie between now and Christmas?


So since she doesn't seem to be getting very far with her daddy, now she's going over his head. She brought this letter home from school today:

Dear Santa,
For Christmas this year, I want only 3 or 4 things. It sounds glorious that I only want 3 gifts, but listen now, these are priceless to me. This year I want...a camera, a phone and a DS game. BUT the thing I want the most is a furry guinea pig friend. A brown one, a black one, a pink one even. All I want is a furry friend. If I can prove to my parents that I'm responsible, they will approve of my furry friend. I will feed, bathe, love and cherish it. I will love you and believe in you FOREVER. I've never not believed in you, but I always will if you bring me a guinea pig. Thank you SO much!
PLEASE bring me a guinea pig!

Deck the Halls--Brought to You By the Letter U

I have a circle of girlfriends that get together once a month for "Girls' Night Out". Each December, we have an ornament exchange. Last year, we decided our theme for 2008 would be "colors and letters". So we passed around 2 baskets and each person drew a letter of the alphbet from one and a color from the other. For example, I drew "U" and "purple"; so I had to find an ornament that fit that description. We had the whole year to find our ornament. I kept it in the back of my mind, but, a purple U ornament proved harder to find than I first thought. The obvious choice was an umbrella, but not only did I not want to be obvious, I never came across a purple umbrella. I considered painting a horseshoe with glittery purple paint, but decided that a U shape is not the same as the letter U. I was tempted to go with purple underwear, but who wants lingerie on their Christmas tree? (Unless maybe you're a Victoria's Secret model or Playboy bunny...which my friends are not.) So...after much deliberation and brainstorming...I settled on...are you ready...purple sea urchins! The internet is such a wonderful thing. I went online, found a company in Florida, and purchased two real-life purple sea urchins. I embellished them with a tassle, some ribbon and glitter spray. The end result was...interesting. It will probably end up on the back side of someone's tree hidden from view, but that's okay...at least its not underwear!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Deck the Halls--Where It All Began

This is our very first nativity. Joel and I bought it on our first anniversary. Sixteen years and forty+ nativities later, it is still my favorite. One of my most cherished memories is from HannahKate's first Christmas. She was 4 months old and we had her in the baby bouncy seat while we put up the tree and decorations. Joel showed her each piece of this nativity as he placed them on the coffee table. I remember him saying, "And see this? This is Little Baby Jesus. He came to earth and laid in the hay...just for you." Priceless.

Weekly Pic--Trip the Light Fantastic

Abstract artistic photography? or An amateur trying to photograph in the dark without a tripod? Either way, it's the Christmas lights on our house

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Deck the Halls--Mele Kalikimaka

Not that anyone has really noticed, but I've been out of the blog-loop (could I say "bloop"?) for a couple days now and I've missed you all. I'll have to fill you in later on everything I've been doing. Let me just say, I've been having a wonderful time, thoroughly enjoying myself but staying up way too late at night and getting up way too early in the morning. I'm exhausted, and somewhat afraid I will say things I'll regret later if I try to write too much now. So, I'll just share another ornament from my tree. We got this one in Hawaii a few years ago. It mimicks one of the famous Hawaiin quilt patterns.
Mele Kalikimaka! (Merry Christmas)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Deck the Halls--Sweet Little Jesus Boy

My friend Kristi gave me this nativity several years ago when she lived in Colorado Springs. It was made by a local artist from terra cotta clay and coated with a milky white glaze. There are also 2 little lambs, but they seem to be out to pasture in this picture. Something about this set reminds me of a sugary confection. It is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Deck the Halls--Miss Poinsettia

My mom and I picked out this little porcelein ornament as a Christmas present for my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Burns. She wrote us the sweetest thank-you note in her oh-so-perfect handwriting. Mrs. Burns is one of the reasons I chose education as my profession.

When I was in fourth grade, there were two classes at my elementary school. Mrs. Meanie taught one class. She was old and grouchy; and she had purple(ish) hair and bright red lipstick. Mrs. Burns taught the other class. She was young and beautiful with long brunette hair that reminded me of Breck shampoo commercials. Her voice was sweet and sounded almost like singing even if she was just giving a spelling test. I could not believe my good fortune of being in her class when my best friend was suffering next door in the evil clutches of Mrs. Meanie. But my luck would soon change when Mrs. Burns explained to us that no, she had not swallowed a watermelon seed, but was in fact, going to have a baby and would not be finishing the school year with us. I was devastated.

About 10 years ago, or shortly after we moved back to Hometown, my father-in-law delivered a little gift bag to me and said it was from Mrs. Burns. Inside, was Miss Poinsettia and a letter. I immediately recognized the oh-so-perfect handwriting. Mrs. Burns told of how she had enjoyed Miss Poinsettia for many years. She said she thought of my mother and me each time she hung it on her tree. But she felt that perhaps now, I might enjoy Miss Poinsettia in my own home. And I have.

Wasn't that thoughtful of her? That's why Mrs. Burns was one of my favorite teachers and why Miss Poinsettia is one of my favorite ornaments.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Deck the Halls--Santa Gator

I enjoyed having a theme for November (Thirty Days of Thankfulness), so I was kind of at a loss when December rolled around. But as we were decorating our Christmas tree and trying to find places to display all my nativity sets, I had the most brilliant idea! One of the best parts of putting the ornaments on the tree is recalling when and where they came from. Every year I think to myself, "I should write all this down to pass on to the girls after BigJoel and I have ...well... 'passed' on." It may or may not be of much interest to anyone else, but I've decided to dedicate this month to sharing some of my favorite ornaments/nativities. So, don your gay apparel and fa-la-la-la-follow me down Memory Lane.

Joel and I bought this little gator guy on our honeymoon in New Orleans 17 years ago. It was one of our first purchases as husband and wife. We left the store with it and Joel promptly proceeded to swing the bag into a post causing the gator's tail to break off. Had I been a superstitious person, I might have been concerned that this was an omen. But fortunately, a little SuperGlue works wonders. The ornament survived and so has our marriage.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Weekly Pic--On Top of the World

Each year Hallie begs to put the angel on top of the tree. But, since she takes after her mother, she is somewhat "vertically challenged". This year, she was certain she'd be tall enough to reach the tippy-top...and she was...well, with a little boost from her daddy.