Thursday, January 30, 2014

Don't Judge

We had our quarterly pest control treatment last week.

Cody, our friendly pest control technician, made a point to tell me 
he'd be careful not to get the treatment on the Christmas decorations.  

He was totally judging.

Now it's true there's a tree on the front porch ...
but it isn't decorated for Christmas ... it's decorated for winter

Mr. Pest Control Cody doesn't understand how much I love the four seasons.
All four, and especially fall ...although I may have been swayed this year
by all the winter-time hot chocolate and fires in the fireplace.

Anyway, Cody doesn't know I decorate for each season ... 
December thru February: winter,
March thru May: spring
June thru August: summer
September thru November: fall.

Each season gets a quarter of the year ... three months to shine.

If you looked in our window, it being January - winter, if you will - you'd see this:

because every time I catch sparkly twinkly reflections like so ...

or come into the family room and see this ... 

it makes me happy.  
I've removed all the overtly Christmas things, and the tree just has a few red accents and lots of white lights,
like sparkly stars in the cold winter sky.

It helps me pretend that it looks like this outside:

Cody the Friendly Pest Control Technician won't be by again until spring.
He only shows up every three months.  
But I try not to judge him for it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Friends by Mail

When I was a teenager, I had a subscription to Seventeen magazine. 
 I poured over each issue for weeks and anticipated the next delivery to our mailbox.  

Remember that?  
Waiting for things in the mail?  

When my kids were little, my mom gave me a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens. 
In those years, there wasn't a lot of time or budget for home decorating, 
so my BHG magazines were a wonderful outlet ... 
 I could look at beautiful homes and dream.

I kept those magazines until there were too many to have out all at the same time, 
so I grouped them and rotated the groups throughout the year.  

Later, Mom gave me her collection of Southern Living magazines
and occasionally I run across notes in them that she made to herself
about things she wanted to do with her house ... those are always sweet encounters.  

Eventually, I separated all my magazines into months so I can rotate them monthly (or thereabout). 
It's part of enjoying and celebrating the pleasures of each season.

These magazines have been around for so long, they're like old friends ...
the kind you can sit with for a long time, never say a word,
and walk away feeling like you had a great conversation. 

I don't subscribe to magazines anymore,
but I do kind of miss looking forward to opening the mailbox and finding a new issue.
But I've got plenty of these old friends to keep me company.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Acres of Diamonds

Do you ever get stuck,
 because you were going to do something,
but you haven't done it yet, and then you can't do the next thing,
 because you haven't done that one thing you meant to do?  

That would be me :o)

Before Christmas, we had a spectacular ice storm here ... it rained all night and all day and 
everything was covered with inches of ice.
It was cold.  It was inconvenient.

But it was beautiful ...

The trees were so laden with ice, 
they made me think of girls in long gowns with heavy skirts ...

(dress image source )

It was perfect winter pleasure ... 

And when the sun came out ...

... diamonds, everywhere.

Since then, of course - this is Texas - we've had glorious days 
with daily high temps anywhere from 50 to 70 degrees.

But for a little while, there ... we were diamond farmers :o)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Shelf Life

We were late comers to the Elf on the Shelf movement.  
It was a great epiphany for me to realize that even though my kids are grown, 
it's not too late to get in on the fun.  

After reading }this{ post from Barb at Second Chance to Dream,
I was inspired to get an elf and do it anyway, 
and my family agreed to play along.  
We took turns and everyone had their assigned days to decide what the elf would do. 

I will say that having six people to spread the responsibility among was a great thing ... 
I'm not sure we'd have made it to Christmas if it was all up to me and LtDan every single day.  
Even so, there were a few mornings when oops, someone forgot :o)  
Moms and Dads of young kids and doing all things Christmas and Elf on the Shelf, we salute you!

We named our elf Keebler, 
and his arrival was celebrated by the stick people on top of the entertainment center ...

After his big welcome party, Keebler was hanging from the ceiling fan ... 

He got stuck inside the postbox ...

Spent a night in the pantry ...

and considered changing his hat ...

We think he liked the new wreath ( click }here{ to see how I made it ... it was super easy!)

This is where the fact that we have teenagers participating becomes clear ...

and again ...

and yet again, naughty elf ...

We used Barb's cute free printables ...

There were the obligatory antics in powdered sugar...

And of course galavanting with reindeer ...

One night Keebler managed to get himself locked outside ...

He had a great view of all the fun from the light over the kitchen bar ... 

And finished up his tour just so ...

At first, everyone was clearly just indulging mom and I know my kids thought it was dorky, 
but as the month progressed, they caught the vision and in the end admitted it was fun.
We had a great time adding this new layer to family Christmas tradition ...
I think it's going to have a long shelf life!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Family Surfing Night, #11

The videos are downloaded and queued ... the whole family is here in the TV room ...
it's Family Surfing Night!  

Click }here{ for an explanation of this family fun activity.  
Take a moment to remember the original winning entry ... 

and if you're ready for some good laughs, read on! 

Tonight's entertainment begins with Abbie's entry of a great performance by Bon Jovi.  
Well, Bon Jovi and that guy ...

Melissa's entry is an adorable rendition of "Tonight You Belong to Me" ... 
with a few interruptions to listen for fireworks:

From Dan, an epic split Christmas greeting from the unstoppable Chuck Norris:

Aaron submits a video from Kids React, 
where the kids are asked to comment on le Internet Medley, 
a video packed with so many internet memes it's mind blowing:

From Nathan: a video showing Darth Vader's ... ummmm, "lighter" side:

And from Ben, a super creative remake of the Depeche Mode song Enjoy the Silence:

 It was a musical night tonight and when it was time to vote,  
there was a tie between "You Belong to Me" and "Enjoy the Silence".
Stiff competition for a run off!  

And the winner is:

woo hoo!

shhhh!  fireworks!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Gift that Changes the World

I was a teenager when the miracle of CableVision came to town.  If you were willing to pay, you could have more than the standard three (free) channels on TV.  You could have movie channels.

In the beginning, it seems like Cable TV was marketed primarily by door to door salesmen.  One afternoon I answered the door to a young man ready to set my family up with CABLE TV.  I was starry eyed at the idea of movies movies movies.  And okay, I was a teenage girl - I thought he was cute.  He expertly explained how easily this miracle could happen.  Yes!  It was possible!  He was professional.  He was confident.  He was ready to close the deal.

Then my Dad entered the room.  My Dad (you know, the one who pays the bills?) was having none of it. Cable TV was foolishness and a waste of time and money in his book.  Over the course of about 30 seconds, I watched the salesman go from polished professional to dorky highschool kid wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and yes, it's true ... a hat made out of beer cans that had been crocheted together.

I think I remember this day so vividly because of the astounding transition I witnessed. The boy went from hotshot salesman to wet dishrag and left with far less spring in his step than when he arrived on our door. I felt sorry for him.  What made that happen?

I think it was the Gift of Sight.

I saw the boy as a legitimate professional, offering a valuable service that I wanted.  My Dad saw him as a punky, full of himself kid.  Maybe my Dad and I were both right.  

Except for the professional part - because what professional in their right mind wears a hat made out of beer cans when they're on the job?  And what kind of Grandma crochets beer can hats?  But ... I digress.  

I was willing to see the young man the way he wanted to be seen: professional, confident and polished - and so he was.  That's the Gift of Sight.

My Dad saw the young man as someone bothering him in the privacy of his own home, trying to sell him something he didn't want.  And so ... after a brief moment of being flustered and trying but failing to hold on to the person he wanted to be ... he lost it.

When my kids were little and we encountered people in public who weren't on their best behavior, I taught my children to give people their privacy by looking away.  Sometimes that's the best you can do for the child throwing a public tantrum or the angry customer giving the salesclerk a piece of their mind.

But sometimes, when they're not at their best, people need the Gift of Sight.  Sometimes they need someone to see them with eyes of grace, that see them for who they're meant to be and that see them as their best anyway.

I watched my son handle placing a pizza order last weekend with the Gift of Sight.  The girl who answered the phone was super awkward and stilted, but my son talked to her with considerable charm as if she were the best order taker on the planet.  By the end of the phone call, she had loosened up and was putting some effort into being personable, right down to saying, "Have a um, merry um ... uh ... new year!"  :o)

The Gift of Sight can also come to you indirectly.  I grew up in a relatively small town, and if people didn't know you personally, they probably knew who you were, or who your parents were.  As a kid, this was occasionally inconvenient.  But experienced as an adult, I felt the hugely positive effect.  People knew my parents, and they were dearly loved for good reason.  I felt blessedproud for my family and my mom and dad, and it made me want to be good.  Not good as in not-naughty ... good as in fine and upstanding. Looking at me through the lens of my family, people gave me the Gift of Sight, and that made me want to reach for their high opinion of me.

Every morning we get up intending to be our best self.  Some days we come close to it.  Some days ... well, some days are just days.  But our best self is in there just the same.  The cherished child of God, the one created to be exceptional and worthy and loveable and good, is in there just the same.  It's the people that have the grace to see our best self - sometimes in spite of our selves - who help us return to it when we've lost it.  They call us back to our God-breathed uniqueness and our God-inspired greatness.

This year I'm going to change the world by giving the Gift of Sight.  Grace, offered most especially in those moments when we're not at our best ... that's a gift that changes the world.