Monday, December 28, 2009

Turning 21...again and again!

We recently celebrated my birthday. This year, I turned 21...again! (Don't ask how many times I have turned 21. That really is none of your business!) The day started with presents. For as long as I can remember my birthday presents have always gone under the Christmas tree. It is like Christmas all over again, except all the focus is on me! This year, Husband scored major points with the presents. He got me an authentic Russian Nesting Doll! I have always wanted one and must have mentioned this to him once upon a time, and for some reason, he remembered! We have a friend who went to Russia this summer and Husband arranged for her to purchase a doll, and ship it to him. So, he has had this present in the works since August! I was so excited when I opened the doll! I love it! I even named it Ella in honour of my friend who picked it out.

Little did I know that this box held my beautiful nesting dolls!

My dolls!

Usually I go to a movie on my birthday, but this year there wasn't anything that I wanted to see. Yes I know that Avatar is really, really good, but there is no way I could sit through a movie that is over 3 hours long without peeing my pants! Instead of a movie, we decided to visit a town nearby called Gruene (It's pronounced Green, in case you were wondering). Gruene is a little town with cute shops and great restaurants. We at lunch at an old gristmill. The weather was so nice that we were able to enjoy our meal outside while overlooking the Guadalupe River.

The Guadalupe River

Gruene water tower

This cat wandered from table to table looking for food.

The view from our table

Happy birthday to me!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

We hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! Husband and I had a great Christmas. We started our celebration on Christmas Eve making pizzas. Then we went to look at Christmas lights. After getting lost, and spending almost an hour trying to figure out how to get back to a main road (note to self: Never go looking at Christmas light without taking the GPS!), we got some sleep so Santa could come. Christmas day was full of presents, stockings (I finally found husband's stocking stuffers!), food and spending time together. A nice quiet Christmas with just the two of us. That's the way we like it. (Although an inch or two of snow would have been nice too.)

Husband is getting pretty good at making the pizza dough.

Look at those Army Strong hands kneading that dough into submission!

Yummy pizza!

No need for smaller pieces here...just eat the thing whole!

One of presents, wrapped by Husband. Does this remind anyone else of a sweater from the 1980s?

Everyone wants a hippopotamus for Christmas! Husband got four!

I really need to remember to put lipstick on before pictures! Sheesh!

Our Christmas dinner. Yes it is just for the two of us. And yes, I do need serving dishes! Stop judging me!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

One Solitary Life

A few years ago, I attended the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The show was fun to watch. How those women are able to kick so high is beyond me! At the end of the show, they had a manger scene, and then a voice read a poem. A person sitting near me incredulously stated "What does Jesus have to do with Christmas?" I was shocked. I wish I knew who said it and I wish that I would have had the courage to tell her what Jesus had to do with Christmas. What does Jesus have to do with Christmas? about everything? Without the birth of Jesus Christ, there would have been no death of Jesus Christ. Without His death, there would be no way for us to be forgiven for our sins. If we can't be forgiven for our sins, we cannot return to the presence of our Father in Heaven. Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind. It is through His sacrifice that we are made clean so that we can stand spotless before God and enter into his presence. Not only does Jesus have everything to do with Christmas, He has everything to do with our daily life. Instead of just keeping Christ in Christmas, let's keep Christ in life.

Here is the poem that was read that day:

One Solitary Life
(by Dr. Jame Allan Francis, the date on the poem says 1926)

He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three
His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth

When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind's progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sometimes I am too smart

I have just spent over an hour searching the house for Husband's stocking stuffers. I bought them last week, and hid them somewhere until I had time to wrap them. I had to hide them in a good spot because Husband is what I call a "seeker and a shaker". He's like a kid when it comes to presents. I pride myself on finding good hiding places, but this time I have out done myself. I hid the stocking stuffers so well that I can't even find them! I know I can go out and buy more stuff so he doesn't have an empty stocking on Christmas, so an empty stocking isn't my main concern. My main concern is the chocolate that is now hidden somewhere in my apartment, just waiting for all sorts of creepy creatures to consume it! If I can't find everything by tonight, I think I will send Husband on a search mission. I don't think he will mind.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas tree of memories

Husband and I put up the Christmas tree last night. We got the tree in July from someone who was giving it away on freecycle. Last night was the first time we had opened the box. I was a bit worried that the tree would look horrible, but to my surprise, it wasn't that bad. For the price we paid, I am happy with our tree. After all, you can't beat getting something for free!

As you can see, I still need a star or something to put on the top. I spent hours last year looking for one, and this year has been no different. I just can't seem to find something that is satisfactory.

Decorating the tree is like taking a walk down memory lane. Over the past few years, I have collected ornaments from various places I have travelled to. As I unwrap each ornament, the memories of that place wash over me. I think of the people I was with and the things we did there. Here are just a few of the ornaments and the memories behind them. This tradition started on my first visit to New York City. It was New Year's Eve, so all the shops still had Christmas stuff up. (Just a side note, I do NOT recommend NYC on New Year's Eve! It is so not worth it. Stay home, nice and warm with a bathroom nearby and watch the ball drop on your TV.) I bought this Statue of Liberty ornament to remember the day. Every time I pull it out, I not only think of that New Year's Eve, but I also think of the proceeding trips to NYC. Until I lived just outside the city, I only went once or twice a year. I would always go at Christmastime. There is something special about Christmas in NYC: seeing the tree in Rockefeller Center, the Macy's window displays, watching the Rockettes Christmas show, seeing people dragging Christmas trees down the busy sidewalks, eating roasted nuts from a street vendor. All the sights, sounds and smells of New York City come back to me as I place the Statue of Liberty on my tree.

A couple of years ago, when Husband and I were dating we wanted to go hiking in the Adirondacks. Due to poor planning on our part, we never did find an good hiking trail. Rather than turn around and head home, we decided to drive up to Lake Placid. What a great idea that turned out to be. The town was home to the 1980 Winter Olympics, and even in the summer it feels like a skiing town. We spent the day wandering the streets, popping in and out of shops, and visiting the various Olympic event sites (right in front of the high school is the speeding skating track!). This spontaneous trip to Lake Placid is one of our favourite memories, and we reference it all the time. Who knew that poor planning could end with such a great day?

Perhaps my favourite place to visit in Boston is the Habour right next to the Aquarium. I could sit for hours at the Harbour and watch the ships as I listen to the water. Anytime anyone came to visit me, I would make sure I took them to the Harbour. This ornament brings back more than memories of the Harbour, though. It reminds me of my years spent in Massachusetts. It reminds me of the trees, the ocean, the beach, the crazy drivers, and the wonderful people who I met there.
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This New Hampshire outhouse ornament is one of my most cherished and favourite ornaments. It reminds me off my dear friends, The Willard's. You would be hard pressed to find better people than Alicia and Jon. They are two of the kindest, most caring people I have ever met. They would literally give you the shirts off their backs if you needed it. They are always there if you need anything, ready and willing to help. Jon's family has a small rustic cabin (complete with an outhouse) in New Hampshire. Alicia and Jon would invite me to go to the cabin a few times a year. Those weekends at the cabin were fantastic. There is no TV, no radio and very spotty cell phone reception. The weekend would be spent hiking, relaxing, shopping in the cute little towns nearby, swimming in the lake, skiing, and driving through the White Mountains. The cabin was where I found peace and solace. It was where time stopped for a couple days, where life became clear and centered again. It was wonderful to get away for a weekend, especially when life was bit stressful. I was at the cabin just a few weeks after my father died (and I might add, it was also about 5 weeks after Alicia and Jon got married. That's the type of people they are. They knew I was going through a rough time and they knew a weekend at the cabin would do me a world of good, so they invited me to go with them, even though they had been married less than 2 months!) It was at the cabin that I decided that I wanted to marry Husband. I miss the cabin more than I miss anything else about New England. That cabin was my sanctuary

When we went on our cruise last year, I wanted to find a nativity set to bring back. We searched every island we stopped at but had no luck. I was starting to give up hope. Finally, on the last day at the last island, we found one! Not only was it a nativity, but it was an ornament too! When I see this ornament I think about the cruise and about search for the nativity. Then I laugh a bit because I think of the craft market I went to here in Central Texas a couple of months ago where there was an long table full of these exact same ornaments! All that searching in the Caribbean for something that could be bought in a town just an hour down the road!

Although it wasn't always easy to find ornaments on my travels and I am missing a few (you try finding a ornament in Kentucky in July!), I love my tradition! It makes decorating the tree more fun. I am able to share stories with Husband of my life before him, and then we reminisce about the places we've been together. We laugh as we share memories then we hang those memories on our tree.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Let it snow!

This is what Central Texas snow looks like. I think I prefer this snow over the snow we got last year in New York. (By the way, this snow melted before it even hit the ground.)