Monday, December 27, 2010

The Greatly Revised Night Before Christmas (with strange fonts..not sure why)

Twas the night before Christmas, when we left grandma's home
We were so stuffed  with latkes, that our mouths they did foam.
We watched Santa on Radar. Channel 5, with  great care.
And rushed to Bandera to meet the man there.

The children were tucked in both of our cars.
They put on their headphones and looked for the stars.  
Austen and I dressed in jeans and our coats.
When we took a short detour to feed some friends' goats.

When just as we turned down the road in the muck.
I see Santa driving buy in an old pickup truck.
"Did you see him?" I ask my dear son, "He's still in view!"
But lost in his music, he hasn't a clue.

We arrive to our friends, but  concerns soon arise.
When the gate is unlocked yet we continue. Unwise.
My son walks in the house, while I wait with phone in hand.
He quickly returns, and scans the surrounding land.

Nothing is missing, but things are not right.
We debate what to do on this strange Christmas night.
A few calls are made, and we continue on our way.
I wonder. Oh, I wonder about that Santa with no sleigh.

Once back at home, with our family near.
We open the treasures which so miraculously appear.
E-books and clothes. Bows and arrows and more.
I 'm enticed to the deck to find a chiminea in full roar.

We warm ourselves by the fire and comment.
On how such a strange evening still leaves us content.
We are truly blessed without a doubt.
And now off to bed, before the sun peeks out.
As I cover myself with my blanket in bed,
I replay Christmas eve. Rewind in my head.
And as I nod off, I know all is right.
"Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good-night!"

What's for Dinner?
Sunday: Caprese pizzas
Monday:  community dining-spaghetti with (or without) meatballs, green beans, french bread  
Tuesday:  parmesan crusted chicken with creamy risotto, salad
Wednesday: grilled portabella bruschetta
Thursday: salisbury steaks or veggie burgers
Friday: New Year's Eve-Cajun Crab Boil
Saturday: tacos


Monday, December 20, 2010

Dear Bug...

Dear Bug,

  First let me start with, I'm sorry you have acquired the nickname Bug.

What can I say? Sometimes these things just happen. I realize that  Uncle Brian, your cousins and myself have been merciless. Snuggle bug,   bed bug, snotty bug, little bugger,( insert bug name here)...and now we have taken your beautiful name: Levi Thomas..and you have been dubbed Bug.   Please is said with full affection from all.

Now the main reason for this letter is to let you know how glad I am to have you with us this Christmas Season. (your first!)..and. to help you understand some of the nonsense around you.  Maybe I can even give you a clue or two on how to survive this Holiday Season .

But first things first. I had NO IDEA last Christmas season, that we would have the honor of sharing this time with the wonderful, growling monster, tree-eating, boat motor spitting, bug you are.  I am so proud of that big  heart you so openly share. You are a true LOVE BUG. What a pleasant surprise for us! Sometimes? Life has those sneaky little surprises. I hope you learn to recognize and LOVE THEM when you get old like me.

Now..onto this Christmas stuff. You know how we have spent Wednesday evening at the soup and salad dinner and then advent service at the church. Well that is because we like to get together to celebrate this time called advent. Advent is the time of pregnant anticipation in which we await the coming of Christmas Day. We can go into more details about Christmas day when you are older.

For now..just know..we celebrate with family and friends. As we enjoy our food, we  remember and reach out to those who are hungry. As we warm ourselves by the fireplace,we remember and reach out to those who have no shelter.  As we enjoy our time with family and friends, we remember and reach out to those who are lonely. It is also important to take some time during this season, to allow ourselves to grieve for those who are no longer with us.

Compassion, love and hope are key themes that this season represents.

Now, one of the ways we celebrate Christmas is by sharing gifts..and sometimes we even receive them. Then, of course, is all the magic that comes with that Santa Guy I told you about.

But for now,  back to these Christmas gifts, and the sharing of Christmas magic...that is why the house has been SO CRAZY lately.

So here are a few hints to help you through this and future seasons.

Hint 1: Not everyone is as meticulous as Cody and Ellie. So when buttons must be is not necessary to sort  them by as many details (or to place them in patterns)as they choose. Your cousin and his ever gracious girlfriend are simply a bit quirky sometimes.It is okay to be a bit more laid your Aunt Nicole...or Justin.  But taking the example of these guys and jumping in to help make always appreciated during the holidays.

Hint 2: While Aunt Sandy appreciates the help in the kitchen. It is not necessary to show her how you spit while you are around the banana-bread batter. You CAN help mix things and laugh and play while you do it like your cousin Austen and Devin if you want. Help in the kitchen IS also appreciated during the holidays.

Hint 3: Not everyone who practices music for various holiday occasions puts the wrong guitar strings on their guitars. That is simply because your Aunt Nicole and Jack are amateur musicians. Real musicians? They are a little more put together. But professional or amateur doesn't matter. Music is one of the coolest parts of the season...and music reminds me of our next hint.

Hint 4:  Many families listen to Christmas music. The usual repertoire consists of songs like Silent Night,Oh Holy Night, Frosty the Snowman and here in South Texas Feliz Navidad. Now a few of these songs you have heard (and will hear)in church. The rest? Well..I am so sorry. Your cousins have been a bit difficult about my Christmas C.D.'s this year. So for now, you will have to be content with AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nickleback. Maybe things will be different next year.

Hint 5: Now this is your last and final hint. But it is probably the most important. Your Aunt Nicole is not a chew toy. For that matter, no human is a chew toy. Some people would even call it biting. Please refrain from chewing on us. It hurts.

I believe that is enough for holiday-season hints.

Your cousin Brian and Angee both missed you the other day. They will see you when they return from Colorado. They also LOVE YOU VERY MUCH.

On Christmas Eve we will all (like your mom, your brother, aunts, uncles and cousins) go to church with grandma and grandpa. After church we will go to grandma and grandpa's house for tamales, crackers and oysters, eggnog, etc. It will be a late night for you..I would suggest a nap during the day.

All for now, we have community dining to prepare for. I think a bath is in order before company arrives. After all, Stink Bug is not a flattering name.

With Much Love,

         Aunt Nicole

Friday, December 10, 2010

Full Day Ahead

  I read a quote on the SonLight Forums (SonLight being the Lit program we use) last week. A mom simply stated

I keep having the feeling that something great in my life is going to happen..just around the corner. And then I is here. I am living the something great. here. now.

I have been thinking about her statement quite a bit in the past week. I know the do many. That the great thing in life is coming..tomorrow, next week, next year. I just need to x, y and z first. So I stopped planning and took a long hard look at my life, now

I have learned much from the guys at the prison where I occasionally worship. I am learning to live life fully. To appreciate and celebrate every moment of it. I am realizing how wealthy (not necessarily monetarily) life can be for all.

 ...and I realize I am living the something great. here. now.

I know some of my friends and readers are very skeptical about using the word blessed. But blessed is how I truly feel.

I truly do not believe in a Santa Claus God that blesses some and punishes others based on their acts. I believe in a God that is love. And sometimes good things happen and sometimes bad things happen because we are human beings that live in an imperfect world. I think our blessings come in how we appreciate or recognize what we have, no matter what the circumstances in our lives are. The blessings come in appreciation and the message of hope.

It is as simple as that.

That said. Today is the last day the older boys and I are doing any type of formal studying for about a month. The past 5 weeks we have gone nonstop. Writing, reading, mathing (we are pretending that is a word), discussing and all over again. I have almost finished the work I need for my Parish Ministry Training Program classes this week. What is left should not take more than an hour.

Now? Back to life, This simple thing known as nothing extravagant, ordinary life.

I wake a crying baby. We snuggle..Big B still calls him Clingon. I prefer Snuggle Bug. Coffee with Big B..then? Play/carry the Levi kiddo for a couple hours.

We learned this week, that my sister has been accepted into a transitional housing center. Meaning? She and Levi have an opportunity to call someplace home for the next 2 years. Also? The center is fine with Levi continuing to stay with us during the week. So..Yay. 

It is 9 a.m. now..and here I am, playing on a blog. In a few minutes I wake up the older kids and we eat french toast and scrambled eggs while discussing economics. I really am savoring this time at home. I have no idea what my life will hold in 6 months. I will be working, somewhere. It will be a necessity. So I savor this time I have now.

 This afternoon consists of a trip to the library, a Christmas Tea, a short stop at the Club, a soccer game and then off to the beach.

It is a wealthy life we live. All of us.

 I challenge all of my readers- all couple of you- to take a moment to reflect on the wealth  in your own life.

 To live life fully. Here. Now.

What's for Dinner?
Saturday: ?
Sunday: tacos
Monday: community dining (Arguelles home) Chicken soup..and chocolate martinis(?)
Tuesday: lasagna (spinach and mushroom), french bread, salad
Wednesday: meatball sandwiches or veggie burgers, fruit salad
Thursday: eggplant  parmesan, bread sticks, salad
Friday:  make your own pizzas

Sunday, December 05, 2010

My House Exploded


We have a sign on our back deck that says Danger..

Originally, the sign was created for that time of year when Odyssey of the Mind teams took over our house. various "works in progress" continued to take over our deck year-round. (I.E...rockets, recycling copper, building missiles, plant experiments, etc.) We also added to our deck decor another sign...stating simply Leaders in Progress.

But Leaders or Not..this weekend the house literally exploded with people, furniture, paint, grinders, etc.. The mess is all compliments of the big people....and this weekend was FULL of creative-messes.

Friday? Not too messy, actually. Just your usual to-be-expected-when-learning-at-home  type mess. The boys (Cody, Austen and Devin) spent the morning writing essays and studying economics. So other than books all over the living room floor? We were still okay.

Then Devin, Austen, Levi and I headed to SA. Cody (ahem) stayed back to study more???? The rest of us visited with my parents and then all of us..(Calvin, my parents, Devin, Austen and myself) went to the hear the Christmas Vespers at Texas Lutheran University.


Saturday is when the real explosion started....
 First came the venison processing (What do you expect? It's hunting season, here in the Texas Hills)

  Pictured are Sandy and Crystal just goofing around in the kitchen while we start the meat grinding (lovely, no?)

Then? Big B and Ricci start packaging the meat.


  Cody, Devin, Austen and I return to the den. It's time to paint. We find some fairly safe paint for Austen to be around in San Antonio...uhmm..until we run out. We kick Austen out of the room (and later the house) while we finish with paint we buy locally. Above is Odio rolling out the spots I made too thick.

As we wait for paint to dry, Sandy and I take the opportunity to drink choco-vino and put blondish highlights in my hair..and then?

 Andy arrives with his deer. More processing and packaging.

And before you  completely gross out. I would like to set the record straight that EVERYTHING the meat touches is sanitary. The hair highlighting and painting are happening in other rooms of the house.

By nightfall, we are exhausted. None of us remember going to bed. We just sort- of ..woke up this morning to a crazy, exploded house.

Sunday  I leave early in the a.m. for another day of worship, prayer and fellowship at a local prison. When I return..................

My living room looks like this!

For those who have been to my house before? You know this means most of my furniture is missing and the piano has found it's way back to my living room. For those who have not been to my house before? This means most of my furniture is missing and the piano is back in the living-room. (It's been several years)...

This room is a pleasant surprise after tripping over people and furniture all day yesterday..But Hmm...Where Oh Where Could the Couches have gone???? 
AHA! Here they are. The Shaggy Boys are sprawled out on them in....


What's for Dinner?
Sunday: Turkey, green beans, dinner rolls
Monday: (Community Dining) 15 Bean Soup, taquitos..and waffles???
Tuesday: Minestrone and grilled sandwiches
Wednesday: Baked fish, baked potatoes and peas
Thursday: Quiche (plain or kale and mushroom), salad, tomato soup
Friday: Leftovers- Cody has game. Big B and I are off to the beach!
Saturday: ? Boys are on their own..Big B and I ..still at the beach!