Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sometimes real life is so glaring that it can't be ignored...

I know that the blogging world is supposed to be a happy place, where we talk about people and things that we love and fun activites and our beautiful world, but something reality creeps in and things are not so rosy as we'd like to think. This was one of those weeks...

I have tons of happy celebrations, thoughts, dreams, friends and family gatherings that I could write about, but just couldn't pretend that everything was peachy and ignore that we got some very sad news this week. Our son, Kevin and daughter-in-law, Erin are separated and planning to get divorced.

It wasn't a complete surprise since we were aware that they were struggling and trying to work on the issues over the last months, but the finality of the decision was still very painful for everyone.

As parents we never want to see our children hurting. We want to shield them and protect them from all harm. We want to bandage their wounds and make it all better, but as they become adults it's not our job to do that anymore. We have to let go and allow them to make their own decisions, no matter how painful they might be. We have to trust that God is truly in control, even though we can't immediately see the good in the situation.

These last months have been ones of testing for us in that regard...but we're hanging on...and still trusting...

This is a picture of Erin from last Christmas. Doesn't she have a beautiful smile? It matches her heart! We love her and will dearly miss her!

Goodbyes are never easy...but we'll continue to keep in touch with her.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!
I got up early Chrismas morning to finish wrapping presents. We knew that Amy and Andrew wouldn't be coming over for a while, so decided to get a good night's sleep and finish today. That's the first time I've done that, but as mentioned before, it's been a busy month. I imagine our traditions and plans will change often in the coming years as we adjust to the potential of the kids not being in town over the holidays and figuring out ways we can still be together somehow and then adjust again when grandkids come. We're looking forward to experiencing all those different seasons of life.

Terry and Kevin slept in, so the house was quiet. I turned Christmas music on quietly and finished up the last of wrapping and stuffing the stockings. By the time Amy and Andrew arrived around 11 a.m. we were all up and ready to go. We missed not having Erin there with us.

Christmas is a relaxing day for us. You'll notice that several of us are still in our pajamas and it was probably early afternoon by then.

No big plans beyond opening and enjoying our gifts, some food and each other. We do our extended family gatherings on days other than Christmas, so as to reserve that day for relaxation and immediate family celebration.

We usually try to have a pretty simple meal so that we can just eat when we're hungry. That started when the kids were too excited about their gifts to stop for a nice dinner, and when I decided that it should be a day of rest for me as well. This year Terry cooked a turkey on the grill. It turned out well, but I think was a little too ambitious for him because he also has a bit of a cold, so didn't get to relax too much. We also had mashed sweet potatoes...they were just o.k. and a green salad (one of Andrew's favorite things). We've never established traditional foods for Christmas so we get to enjoy different things every year.

In talking with others lately about their holiday, I realized that we all have just a little bit different traditions and habits. Here are some of ours:
  • Everyone gets to open new pajamas on Christmas eve. Terry doesn't really wear traditional pajamas so I'll usually get him aT-shirt that he can wear anytime. This year I got him a glow-in-the-dark skeleton playing guitar. He said it surprised him when he got up in the middle of the night and saw it in the mirror.
  • Everyone gets a Christmas ornament on Christmas eve. We try to gear the ornament to an event, milestone or interest of the person that year. When the kids moved out, we let them take their ornaments with them so it gave them a good start on their tree. We continue the tradition now with the spouses too.
  • We always put an orange in the toe of the stocking. This goes back to my days growing up in Ohio when it was a special treat to have citrus in the winter.
  • Everyone gets a new toothbrush in their stocking (to take care of all the treats that they get).
  • We put favorite candy, snacks and treats in the stockings. My family likes things like beef jerky, dark chocolate, Nerds, etc. Terry likes strange foods like oysters, clams, and sardines. This year "Santa" got him a can of spiced octupus...we'll see what he thinks.
  • Andrew thinks it's strange that we wrap the little gifts in the stockings. For me it just helps with the suspense.
  • On Christmas day we only open one gift at a time and go around the room so we can all see what each person gets. It takes a long time but is much more fun than rushing through it. Besides it takes months to prepare, so even when we're done it seems to end too soon.

Terry makes up strange names for the gift tags, because he gets bored with the same old standards. He writes things like; To Lady, From the Tramp or he'll give one of us a CD from the first name of a musical artist. I got one from James this year (Taylor, that is). Amy & Andrew got a book from Boris (Diaw, of the Phoenix Suns, that is). Now Kevin does it too, but his names are so random that they're just funny.
  • We set up our nativity every year and leave the baby Jesus out of the manger until Christmas day, since that's his birthday. When the kids were little, it was the job of the first one up to place Jesus in the manger.
When looking for a nativity I really wanted to find one that was somewhat natural looking. So many of them make the people look so perfect and unusual, not like real people. The one we have isn't too bad, but as you see from the photo, the baby isn't wrapped in swaddling clothes (he must be cold) and for some reason his hands are outstretched (probably because he's cold).
Have you ever seen what a new baby looks like when they're not wrapped in a blanket? They can't stand being exposed and not securely wrapped. They're used to being in a warm, safe, cozy place, after all. And Mary looks a little bit too fresh, clean and neat considering she just gave birth.
I'd love to find a nativity that's more realistic. If anyone knows of a set that looks like real people, in a real stable, I'd love to hear about it.

Well, that's just a bit about our day. Amy wrote more about it too. Terry and I have the whole week off so I'm looking forward to lots of relaxation, blogging, scrapping and spending time with friends. I'm even hoping to work on finally getting my scrapping area set up and organized...a little too ambitious, you say? ...we'll see.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bits of news:

Just wanted everyone to know that we're still alive. It's killing me to check everyone's blog and see how much cool stuff is being posted. I've just been too busy to post myself, but I know how boring it is to keep checking back to see nothing new (hint to Randy and Don).

As mentioned before, our son Kevin is home from Air Force training. His wife, Erin and their dog, Afton arrived on Dec 10th. As you can see from the pic below, Afton is a lovable dog. They taught her how to carry her dish outside to be fed. Very cute! She's very smart and still really just a puppy at about a year old. Unfortunately smart dogs often get into trouble. A few days ago she jumped the 6-7 foot fence in our backyard when we were all gone and proceeded to run around to the brand new front door and scratch it up trying to get into the house. Kinda good news that it's actually being replaced again due to some unrelated issues. Sad news is that the people who are replacing it were planning to use it as their own front door and now it's scratched up. We haven't quite decided what to do about it. Amy blogged about Kevin trying to find Afton a new home and they've found someone to take her in Apache Junction. They have 2 acres, another dog and 3 kids, which will probably be just about perfect to keep a smart dog like her busy and entertained. I think she'll be happy in her new home.

Last Sunday part of our scrapping bunch got together to work and had the joy of having Erin join us. Miranda had a big project to work on, so she was plowing through. Erin has just started to scrap recently, so I let her use some of my supplies and she got several cute pages done. Linda and I were just too tired from the busy month to scrap, so we spent time looking at all the photos from her birthday party...another blogging opportunity delayed or missed.

Well, that's all I have time for...there's still grocery shopping, Christmas shopping, cooking, wrapping, etc. and we're celebrating Christmas with our Perkins family tonight! Hopefully I can post tons of stuff after Christmas.

If I don't post again before, please enjoy a Christmas filled with the love of family and friends!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas tree shopping and gelato:
I know that I'm really behind on blogging and there are things that have happened before this, but I decided that this is what I want to blog right now. I'll go back and do other things, like our anniversary trip and other recent activities later.

Tuesday, Dec 12, Terry, Kevin, Erin and I finally found time in our busy schedules to go Christmas tree shopping. Since we've only been in the house for 2 Christmases we don't really have a favorite spot to buy trees. We visited a few places and finally ended up at the Home Depot tree lot. Since it was only 13 days before Christmas, the trees were pretty picked over. A lady at the lot told us that they were out of Noble firs and weren't expected to get more in at all...disappointing. We've bought Douglas and other types of trees in the past, but do like the look of the Noble, if the price is within reason.

We were persistent and stayed at the lot anyway, spread out and started to look at the trees. We checked out a few Douglas firs, all of which were very flat on at least one side and hard to picture what they would look like IF the branches fell back in place. Erin was poked in the eye by one of the needles, which REALLY hurts! You'll notice in the picture of the three of them that it made her eyes water until the lot guy gave her some eye drops.

After some searching, Terry saw what looked like a beautiful Noble fir! How could that be? Well, upon further examination we realized that it was TOPLESS! You can see from the picture that the top foot or 18 inches was chopped off. Besides that glaring flaw, it was fresh and beautiful. So we gathered around and laughed at it. For anyone who knows Kevin, you know that he has a tender heart for the underdogs and the helpless, hopeless ones of the world and this was no exception. Somewhat joking and somewhat serious we all stood there wondering how we could top it off and give this headless tree a home. Several ideas surfaced, but we were still laughing about it when the lot guy joined us.

Lot guy: "So you're looking at my topless tree huh?"

Us: "Yeah" (laughs all around)

Lot guy: "How about if I make you a deal? That tree would normally be $58. How about if I give it to you for $20."

Terry: (more laughs, but considering the money he'd save) "Hmmm...I don't doesn't have a top. What do you think guys?"

Kevin & Erin: "I'm sure we could figure out something for the top. How about a bird and nest or something?"
Nancy: Are you kidding?

Lot Guy: "O.k. how about if I give it to you for FREE?"

Now he's talking Terry's language!

Terry's sold on the price, Kevin and Erin are sold on the Charlie Brown factor, so everyone looks at me...they know I get the final say because, after all, I'm in charge of the decorating and I'm not sure this tree is really salvageable.

Imagine the look your kids gave you the first time they asked for a kitten...

Long pause...

"...O.K. fine. We can get it. It'll make a great story for my blog and besides if it really doesn't work, we're not losing anything but our time."

So once we had our "special" tree secure in the car, we decided to head for The Gelato Spot, (the dessert lounge of Italy) my new favorite place, to celebrate our great find.

If you haven't been to one fo these places, you HAVE to go! It's amazing stuff! Much better than ice cream!

The funny thing is that when we were there, I was taking pictures and the girl behind the counter asked, "Are you from out of town?"

It was then that Kevin decided I should be called the "Tourist of Life". Blogging and Scrap-booking will do that to you. It's amazing how you look at things differently when your're thinking with the perspective of capturing memories. What fun!

So after we enjoyed our gelato, we headed home to set up the tree.

Check out the picture of Terry when we were decorating the tree. We don't remember what was wrong but there was obviously something that he didn't like. He got over it though.

Erin had a great idea to put silk poinsettias at the top of the tree to hide the missing piece. We also interspersed some others throughout to balance it out and I must say, with the lights and decorations, it looks beautiful! What an awesome find and fun, creative solution!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Remodeling - the good, the bad and the ugly

For anyone who calls us friends, if you EVER hear us talking about having work done on the house before a big event or a holiday, PLEASE tell us we're insane and DON'T let us do it!

This is what our house looks like right now. We just had 2 new doors, 4 new windows and new trim around 7 other windows and doors installed. It seemed like a small enough job and the workers did almost everything last week, so that was great!

The sad part is that we decided we would do all the trim painting ourselves (to save hundreds of dollars-a good thing). Now we don't have time to get the painting done (a bad thing) and therefore can't put up any Christmas decorations until we do (an ugly thing).

The house is all torn up from moving furniture away from the work areas, the floors are filthy from the construction work and there's that thin layer of dust on everything! I spent most of the day Saturday cleaning all the windows and Sunday prepping and taping for painting.

Fortunately Kevin didn't have to go in to the recruiter on Monday so he got most of the priming done. Now all we need to do is paint 7 door and window trims. I will try to get motivated when I come home from work tonight, but it's kind of crazy to try to paint after the sun goes down. You can't see well and tend to miss a lot...but we'll see. It seems to be our only option. We're also going out of town this weekend for our anniversary, so we can't do it then either.

I'm getting frustrated and depressed that my house looks like this right now. I want to take time off work to get it done, but also want to save my vacation time for vacation. This reminds me of two years ago when we moved from our rental house to this house the day after Christmas. That was a crazy year as well.

I don't want to complain because at least we were able to have the work done and it will be beautiful when it's all finished! I'm sad because I don't have enough time at home to take care of what needs to be taken care of...especially this time of year. Next time, we'll know to wait until after the holidays are past. It was a stupid decision to do it now.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Kevin's home!

He got here 7 hours past his scheduled time on Saturday due to flight delays, but now he's here for at least the next few weeks. Hurray! We're excited
to have him home.