Friday, December 30, 2011

New things for a new year

A new year means new things happening. And as I work towards wrapping up some loose ends before 2011 leaves us, I have to ask myself, what new things will 2012 bring? I know what it WON’T bring, but I have to wonder what it will. And what sort of path I should take.

On a personal level, there’s the usual suspects: Lose weight, learn how to swim, and eat healthy. (How many times am I going to make these things my New Year’s resolutions?? Sigh.) As to losing weight, I don’t exactly have a particular diet to follow, though I have been interested in the Mediterranean diet. I am starting a fitness plan. I’d love to get back into martial arts (I think that injury I had has healed by now) as well as get back into running. But gotta take things slow at first. I have had very mild exercise this year. Nothing intense. That will change in 2012 and I hope to gradually work my way back to martial arts and running as part of my workout regime. Yes, swimming will be in there, too. At some point.

But I also decided that it’s time to stop thinking “if only” with certain things and just learn them! I know I had trouble learning web site design in the past, but I KNOW I want to be able to do this, so I’m going to work harder to learn it next year. Ditto with learning how to make quilts.

On a bigger level … well, I know there is a job hunt in my near future. In the past, I have not had much luck getting a part-time job outside of the home. I had all the luck getting write-from-home jobs. So is it any wonder that I wrote from home for so long and so often?? But I’m done with that and now it’s time to get work outside of the home. I am nervous about succeeding in landing something, anything, but I’m going to give it a try! I have to.

Also, I know I want to work in book publishing, but this year I found out that editing and proofreading are not a good fit for me. But I still want to have my hand in that in some form. I actually learned about a new publishing company that is starting up next year and I put my name into their hat. They contacted me and said they’ll let me know if they could use me. This won’t be a paying gig, unfortunately, but it will at least help me to see where my strengths lie and give me some experience there.

Jennifer is excited because next year, I am signing her up for piano lessons. She’s been asking for them for years and I finally found someone who is affordable. So she has that to look forward to next year. As for Jesse, he is going back to preschool full-time. He is super-excited about the prospect of getting into a swimming class (that boy will swim his time away in the bathtub if I let him!) but I want to get him into other activities, too. That will have to happen in its own time, though. For now, I’m not going to throw the kids into EVERYTHING I see. Though Jen wouldn’t mind that. Ha! She likes to stay as super busy as I do.

We’re excited about a new year on the horizon. I am excited about this new journey I will take, these new things I will bring into my life, and see where those paths will go.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The perfect Christmas

We had a great Christmas this year. Even though things got a little frantic on Christmas Eve, complete with remembering that we needed last-minute gifts as well as last-minute items from the store in preparation of stores being closed on Christmas Day, Christmas Day itself went really well. It was peaceful, happy and filled with lots of laughs and good cheer. Aside from receiving really bad news about a family member that made me really sad that I can’t talk about here, it really was a blessed day.

I woke up early on Christmas. For once, the children slept in! I used this time to tidy up a bit then sat at the desk to do some writing. After I was done writing, the kids were still asleep, so I enjoyed a peaceful cup of coffee and just relaxed for a while. Then I took a shower and after I was dressed, Jesse woke up. It was almost 10 a.m.!

So after Jesse woke up and I gave him hugs and kisses, wishing him a merry Christmas, he saw the tree with all the presents, got excited and woke his sister up. It didn’t take much effort to wake Jennifer up once Jesse told her that Christmas was finally here! Even though the kids had to wait for their dad to get out of bed for the unwrapping of presents, Jennifer could already see that she had the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie in her stocking. She could see this because it was sticking out of her stocking! (Her Christmas stocking is the smallest. I told her that next year, we should get her a bigger stocking. But that matter was resolved later when the kids opened the box of presents from their grandparents [hubby’s parents] and got new stockings. Jennifer was happy about this and said the stocking she received would be her new Christmas stocking. Thank you, Jim and Mindi!) She was happy that we finally owned this movie. As to Jesse, he’d received the movie he had specifically asked for: A Charlie Brown Christmas.

When we were all on the couch, Jennifer played Santa and handed everybody their presents. Well, except for the time that Jesse grabbed one present he knew was his. For days before Christmas, he’d seen this present under the tree and he always reached for it and held it in his hands, eager to open it. It was one of the gifts from me and hubby. Two books, one about fish and the other about farm animals. He opened this present first and got really excited over them. Jennifer got him a book, too; a Spiderman pop-up book. Jennifer also got books; I got her the new Wimpy Kid book, Cabin Fever, as well as Diary of a Zombie Kid. She was so excited about the first book (it was on her Christmas list) but a little surprised by the second one. At first, she thought it was funny, but as she paged through it, she thought it was a little weird. I’d seen the book when I was buying the Wimpy Kid book and I thought it was an interesting spin-off of the popular series (though it’s not by Jeff Kinney). To say the least, she was a little unsure about this one, but appreciated the book nevertheless. (She is a big Wimpy Kid fan!)

Hubby and I did not receive books but we did get each other a gift card to Barnes & Noble, so we were happy with that. Yay! We get to buy a new book! I know just the one I’ll be buying: The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

The kids were happy about getting books but I think they were really excited to get the things they really wanted for Christmas. For Jennifer, it was a Dragon Ball Z Kai game for her DS and for Jesse, it was a remote controlled Mater. (He likes the Cars movies.)

And I got what I really wanted, too: A PRINTER!!!!!!! YAY! I GOT A PRINTER! I GOT A PRINTER! FINALLY!!! I GOT A PRINTER!!!!!!! WOO-HOO!!!

I was sooooo happy to get a printer. I actually excitedly jumped up and down when I saw it! Hubby got a super-big hug and kiss from me for that! He knows I really wanted a printer. The last time he got me a printer was on Valentine’s Day, I think … about seven years ago. It had conked out on us eventually and we’d been printer-less since. And I’d been taking many trips to a local Office Depot to get stuff printed out : A contract from my publisher, notes for an article that I needed to use my Hi-Liters on, interviews for book projects and resumes. Now I would not need to do that anymore. BECAUSE I GOT A PRINTER!!!!

Hm, I sure am gonna miss the folks at Office Depot who have grown so familiar to me because of all of those trips there to get stuff printed…



You can tell I am excited about this, right?? I told hubby it was funny that he got me a printer because I spent some time on Friday loading stuff onto the flash drive that I was going to take to Office Depot to get printed out. Now I don’t have to do that. BECAUSE I GOT A PRINTER!!!!

OK, OK. Enough of that. Heh.

As to gifts for hubby, Jennifer got him a book light (which was on his list) and Jesse got him an Oregon coffee cup. We had tried to get him a pirate coffee cup, because the one he had broke, but there weren’t any black ones at Fred Meyer. Only pink ones. (Jennifer has the pink one. The two of them share a like of pirates. Arr!)

And something else I got him was a chainsaw. I’d wanted to get him one in the past, but when Jennifer heard about that, she got really scared and begged me not to get him one. I didn’t understand why the thought of her dad having a chainsaw scared her so much. Good grief, it’s not like she has ever seen the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies. She’s seen characters using chainsaws on TV shows, but never in a violent way. I wanted to get him one because, well, we live in the Northwest! He should have one! (He is a Mountain Man in the making. Heh.) So when I went to get his gift from me, Jesse was with me. At this point in time, Jennifer was not so scared of the idea of her dad having a chainsaw anymore. But this time, it was Jesse’s turn to be scared of it! I was confused over how frightened he acted at the store when we were looking at the chainsaws. He actually tried to convince me to get his dad a leaf blower instead! (Sure, a leaf blower is fun, but they are insanely loud. I have read a lot of letters in the local paper from people complaining about the noise from those things, so I did not buy one for him.) I got him the chainsaw anyway and I guess Jesse was relieved when the cashier covered the box with paper bags after I told her that, yes, it was a Christmas gift. After hubby unwrapped it yesterday, he took it out of the box later on. Jesse chose that moment to walk into the room and he saw the chainsaw. I watched him fearfully back up, his eyes never leaving that thing. (What the heck???) I assured him it was okay, he didn’t need to be scared and it was safe to look at it. Once I calmed him of his fear, he grew curious about the chainsaw and walked over to examine it. Hubby held it up for him and even answered a couple of questions Jesse had about it. That pretty much got him over his fear and he seemed to be okay with it after that. He went right back to playing with his RC Mater.

After all was settled down from the unwrapping of gifts and excitement over presents, it was time for a Christmas tradition in our home: Eating cinnamon rolls while watching A Christmas Story. Jennifer, however, also wanted scrambled eggs with her cinnamon roll, and Jesse also wanted yogurt. (I had some scrambled eggs, too. It was a nice complement to the rolls!) I called my mother to wish her a merry Christmas then soon it was time to get Christmas dinner started. This year, hubby made the turkey for Thanksgiving, which was a nice change because A: I got a break from making the Thanksgiving turkey! And B: It gave him a chance to work his culinary skill in the kitchen. (He is a good chef!) This year, he took over making the Christmas ham, as well. It was REALLY good!!

The day ended with me and the kids cuddled up on the couch to watch A Christmas Carol. This year, I’d been fixated on A Christmas Carol (for some reason! I even mentioned the story in a Christmas story I am currently writing) and this version of the story, with George C. Scott, was the latest movie version we were watching. It was good, but we all agreed it was not the best one. Sorry, people, I still like the one with Patrick Stewart the best. Jennifer likes that one, too, but the one with Mickey Mouse is her all-time favorite.

Well, I do still need to watch a couple more before reaching a final decision on which one I like best. But, I gotta tell ya, I can only take so much of Tiny Tim saying, “And God bless us, everyone.” I’m ready to cover my eyes and scream at the top of my lungs, “Enough, already!!” And God bless us, everyone. And God bless us, everyone. And God bless us, everyone. All right, kid. We get it.

When we were eating dinner, Jennifer told me, “This is the best Christmas ever.” I had to agree. Even though the kids did fight a couple of times, it was still a good Christmas and we all enjoyed being together on this special day.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas paper chain

I remember making these paper chains when I was a kid. I also remember how I would tear off one chain link each day, counting each link that was left and excited about Christmas getting closer and closer, until the very last one was left on Christmas. And I always marveled over how they were the exact number of links that led right up to Christmas Day. Silly me, it never occurred to me that my teacher just made sure we used enough links for it to last until then.

Recently, we saw the movie Jingle All The Way, and in the movie, there was a Christmas paper chain hanging on the wall, which we must assume was made by the young character, Jamie. The chain in the movie had a lot of links on it and I thought that was odd since the movie starts two days before Christmas. I guess they were not using it as a “countdown chain.”

The kids didn’t make these chains at school, so I thought it would be nice to include this activity for them to do while they are on Winter Break. Of course, it’s too late for it to work as a “countdown chain,” but when Jennifer had heard about this idea, she was really insistent that we do this. They had fun tracing lines along the ruler to create the strips on the colored paper (I cut the strips out), and it was a challenge for them to glue together the links to keep each link perfectly round and fit together to form a chain. In the end, they were happy with their creation and Jesse was so proud of himself for gluing almost every single one of his links together.

Today’s Christmas movie is The Santa Clause.

Here are the kids with their chains:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Seeing Santa

Today, the kids got to see Santa. Yay!

Being 10 years old, Jennifer took one look at all of the little kids in line and said, “I think I’m getting too old for this.” What? Too old to see Santa?? Never!

Well, I think never, anyway.

Today's Christmas movie is Frosty the Snowman.

Here’s a picture of their picture with Santa:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Paper Christmas trees

The kids are really enjoying their “time off” from school – and a school schedule! I am also enjoying the chance to sleep in this week. I am still getting up early in order to get things done, but not at 5 a.m. like I usually do during a school week. Ahhh, no more waking up and making my way through the bedroom in the dark! The kids are enjoying getting their extra sleep, too, and being able to eat cookies or ice cream at night. Plus, they get to stay up past their normal bedtime. I reminded them they’ll be going back on schedule next week to get ready for when school starts again, so they are enjoying this fun while they still can!

And while I have been lax on some rules this week, I won’t go easy on all of them. Everybody still has to take their baths, brush their teeth and comb their hair!

Today the kids decorated a paper tree. I thought they were going to go all-out with the decorating – using glitter, string, etc. – but it seems they were content to just use crayons. The one on the right is Jesse’s tree. Jennifer decided to turn hers into an ornament.

Today’s Christmas movie: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A gingerbread house ... picture

It’s Day 2 of Winter Vacation! Woo-hoo!

Last year, Jennifer created a gingerbread house. And I thought she’d be up to doing that again this year, but she told me that she wasn’t interested. (No Christmas without a gingerbread house?? The scandal!)

So, instead, she wanted to DRAW a gingerbread house. I wasn’t surprised; that girl will draw every chance she can get! She wants to be an artist someday, so I was just as pleased that at least we would still have a gingerbread house, even if it was one that she drew.

And I must say that, after seeing her picture, I sure wished that was a REAL gingerbread house! It sure would look neat!

This year, we are watching as many of the Christmas Carol adaptations we can. We have seen three of them so far (including Scrooged) so tonight we continue this mission with the next adaptation, the 2009 version with Jim Carrey. Yay!

Here is the picture Jen drew:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gingerbread men

Today officially marks the beginning of winter break for the children. I decided that we would do something for every day of the week for the first week just to make it special. To go with each activity, we would watch a Christmassy movie.

For Monday, the activity is to make gingerbread men. The movie we are going to watch is Home Alone.

It was fun to make the gingerbread men. Jennifer helped with the mix then she got to roll out and cut the first half of the dough. Jesse got to roll out and cut out the cookies, too. It was really cute watching them create their own gingerbread men.

The icing, however, proved to be a challenge. Usually, I buy the icing at the store, but hubby forgot to buy it while he was out and we were not able to buy any. The box of the mix had a recipe on the side for making homemade icing. I wasn’t sure if I was up to that. I have never made homemade icing. I even asked hubby to do it instead and he asked why. “I’ve never made icing before!” I said. “What if I mess it up?”

“It’s easy,” he said, then he went over the ingredients and said to just follow the directions.

Retreating to the kitchen, I figured, what the heck? I’ll give it a try. So I made up the icing – and I must point out that I had to use more water than what it said to use on the box. In fact, I just added water until it was actual icing and something that could be drizzled over cookies.

Next, we decorated our gingerbread men. I told the kids that they could each have 2 cookies. They each decorated their own cookies. Once again, cuteness overload while watching them dress their cookies up with icing. We didn’t have any candies or decorative goodies for our gingerbread men, though. So we just ate them with icing. Yummy!

Here’s a pic of the kids with their cookies. Mine are in the foreground. They couldn’t stop licking at the icing. I had to smile about that; I guess I done good.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

12 wished-for books for Christmas

Since I had some free time this evening, I decided to check out one of several articles I have bookmarked to read at leisure. One such article was "The 12 books of Christmas" by Sarah Crompton. This inspired me to create a list of 12 books I would like to receive for Christmas. Of course, I know I won't receive all 12. (LOL! Sure is a nice thought, though.) But I decided to go ahead and create the list, anyway. Besides, I had to wonder if there are 12 books I'd like to receive as gifts for Christmas, what would they be?

While creating this list, I decided to have a theme for it. I don't have a whole lot of Christmas-themed books on my mega wish list of books I'd love to own someday, but I DO have a lot of Bible and religious-themed books. So these are those kinds of books from my wish list. Since I am planning to really work at studying and reading through the Bible next year (one of my personal goals for the year), I have some books on my list that might compliment this. Also, I am writing a book about prayer, so I also look for those kinds of books, too. I don't have a Kindle or e-reader, so I had to limit the books on my wish list to books that are available in print.

1. A Bible
(Unfortunately, my KJV Bible is falling apart. I am sad about this because I have had it since 1985 and it was given to me by my dear aunt and uncle. So it's time to get a new one and the one I have will be a keepsake.)

2. Know God and Love Him by Joanne M Rypma

3. You Were Made for More: The Life You Have, the Life God Wants You to Have by Jim Cymbala

4. The Peace God Promises by Ann Spangler

5. The 52 Greatest Stories of the Bible: A Devotional Study by John Alan Turner and Ken Boa

6. Bible: The Story of the King James Version 1611-2011 by Gordon Campbell

7. Through the Bible in One Year: A 52-Lesson Introduction to the 66 Books of the Bible by Alan B. Stringfellow

8. Revelation of the Magi: The Lost Tale of the Wise Men's Journey to Bethlehem by Brent Landau

9. The Authentic Letters of Paul by Arthur J. Dewey

10. Meetings with Mary: Visions of the Blessed Mother by Janice T. Connell

11. Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand

12. How to Pray Without Talking to God: Moment by Moment, Choice by Choice by Linda Martella-Whitsett