Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

HO HO HO..... and Merry Christmas.
Our celebration was held on Saturday, December 19th here at our house. It's not always easy to get our crowd together.....but we did it!

There were 16 of us that night........from 5 1/2 months to 94!

OK.... so I have to show off the youngest member, Wyatt:

(In chronological order that would be Wyatt, Katelyn,  Landon, Carson, Ethan, Lauren, Stephanie, Andrew, Brian, Sarah, Walter, Pam, TK, Ron, Meme Hamilton, Gigi Sharpley) Phewwww......

We know how to be serious, but laughter and talking at the same time seem more likely to happen when we are in the same place, especially at the dining room table.  
Every year we draw names(adults). Following is what Santa's Helper emails to each of us:

"The gift exchange will work the same as it has in the past. Just send me your Christmas list by e-mail, or snail mail, I'll print it out or write it on a card, put it in a blank envelope, shuffle them up and mail them back out. If you don't want anything specific, just let me know and I'll write "surprise me" on your list. Remember that the limit is $50!!
Please send me your list by Monday, November 23rd and I'll try my best to get them in the mail before Thanksgiving, that way everybody will have time to shop.
Let me know if you have any questions...can't wait to see everybody."

"Santa's helper" stuffs our lists of suggestions in an envelop and mails each of us one of these:

It was simply a magical evening!
The noise, the music, the funny faces, the surprises, the food, the wrapping paper.....and the love.

 Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

TK and Ron

Walter, Stephanie, Ethan, Carson
Brian, Sarah, Landon, Katelyn

Lauren, Andrew, Wyatt

Monday, December 14, 2015

December 14, 2015 Please Pass THE CARD...

Please pass THE CARD.
Happy Birthday, TK. Love Dot

It's not about the presents.
It's not about the birthday.
It's really not about the person (well maybe a little).
It's all about THE CARD.
Everyone in our family knows about THE CARD.
It's just a simple birthday CARD.
But, it is almost sacred.
I'm pretty sure one family member purchased a safe, to accomondate  THE CARD.
And I'm thinking that this person also made a copy of THE CARD, in case of a fire.
Our funny family tradition started in 2006.
Oh the stories and near catastrophes of misplacing  THE CARD.
There are currently10 adults involved in this exchange. You'd think it wouldn't be so difficult to keep up with THE CARD. HA! We celebrate birthdays in February, March, April, May, July, August, and December.
You'd think that we would no longer be surprised when it was our turn to receive the CARD. HA!

The following was written by Lauren, our youngest daughter, August 6, 2009 (3 years after the tradition began):

The CARD:  A Family Tradition
Anyone in my immediate family knows about the card. However, for those of you who don't, this is the story of the card.
This new "family tradition" started about 3 years ago around my mom's birthday. My dad's mom gave my mom a simple pretty birthday card for her birthday. Apparently, my dad hadn't gotten mom a birthday card yet, so he just took the card that my grandmother had given to my mom, crossed out my grandmothers' note and signature, and signed his own note and name and simply "recycled" the card. From then on, whenever anyone from my family has a birthday, they have the pleasure of receiving the card. It is then their responsibility to keep the card until the next person's birthday and then pass the card onto the next person. And thus, the tradition of the card was born.
This year marked the 3rd time that I have given the card to my mom as my birthday is before hers. The card lived on our refrigerator from May through July and it is now time to part with the card yet again. As I put the second paper insert into the card because we have once again run out of room to write, it is really neat to look at where the card has been and the birthday notes that are written within it. Hopefully tradition of the card will continue for many years to come. And God help the person who misplaces it. this is the story of the card

December is a busy month. We have 3 members who have birthdays this month....Walter (Dec8th), Stephanie (Dec12th), and Andrew(Dec 16th). 
THE CARD is now in route to the last recipient for December. While we appreciate all of the lovely Christmas cards this time of year, heaven help the post master general, if this thing is lost.
It's all about THE CARD, you know!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A walk in the woods

There's nothing quite like a walk in the woods.... on a Wednesday afternoon, in December!
Weather temperatures are unusually warm.
It feels great to soak in the outdoors. The sun on my face is soothing. Sunglasses required!

Ron and I live on a mountain.
The walk to the intersection of our street is 1/2 mile (ish).
Just past the stop sign, on the right, there is a short cut-through walk to the Roanoke Mountain Campground.

The path is clear, though side-by-side walking. Some people feel more comfortable with walking sticks, as it is not paved. Walkers and runners use this 4 mile one-way loop road frequently.

You never know WHO you will see!

Oh wait...... here comes our son, Walter, running towards us! Small world....and a nice rest stop for us OLDER, SLOWER people!(He runs. We walk.)

You never know WHAT you will see.

Looks like someone decorated their own tree!

Looks like someone had made a teepee fort!

Leaving the campground area, and crossing the street, we start on another loop, known as the Chesnut Ridge Trail<----click on this to read all about the trail! 
"The trail is on the Blue Ridge parkway and one of the Roanoke Valley's most popular trails."
One of the nicest features of this trail is the solitude.....whether it be summer, fall, winter, or spring.
The winter months are great for viewing the lay of the land.

I'm back home... refreshed, relaxed, and NAILED IT on my fitbit! (11019 steps = 4.79 miles)

A walk in the woods.....anyday.... is a good day !

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 5, 2015 The stockings were hung.....

The year was 1975.
Ron and I had been married for 5 years.
Ron's Mom, Dot Sharpley, had lovingly hand-knitted 2 Christmas stockings, for us to hang on our fireplace mantle.

Our family increased. Dot would graciously knit another stocking. Soon our mantle was loaded with 5 stockings.
Dot never put away her knitting needles.
When Walter, Sarah, and Lauren were married, their mates (Stephanie, Brian, and Andrew) were given Christmas stockings.
Each couple was also given "one extra stocking" for whenever their family grew in number. (I think the stockings may have been used for pets as well as children!)

How sweet! 
One minor detail.... NOT ENOUGH STOCKINGS! 
Regretfully, Dot is no longer able to see to knit. Her voice, however, still rings in my ear: "TK, you really should learn to do this. It's easy, and I know that one day you will need more." 
Nah...I didn't listen to her.
Shame on me!
Phew........After searching through that one closet, stuffed with memoribilia, I found her instructions........(seriously? I'm suppose to follow this?) She'd completed 11 stockings, using this same pattern.

Looking at the instructions alone, is O.V.E.R.W.H.E.L.M.I.N.G. The needles, the yarn, the jewels, the names, weaving the different colors, counting the stitches, knit, purl, knit, purl, increase, decease. What in the world is "slip, k and pass"? and "pass the slipped st over the knitted st."? and "pass through 2nd st of front needle as if to p but leave st on needle"?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

This pattern was a "vintage" pattern. Thank goodness for google. 

Today I ordered a new set of instructions, and will be calling out for help from a few of my friends that can guide me through this next adventure.......... But not until 2016. 

I'll gladly take all of the help I can get! 
Our mantle looks a little skimpy this year, with just 2 stockings....that are hung by the chimney with care.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Elf Fails to Move, Presumed Dead

It was a sad scene in Concord, New Hampshire this Friday as 7 year-old Bailey Norman and his 4 year-old sister Samantha laid to rest their Elf on the Shelf.

“Sparkle hadn’t moved in three days. It was time,” sniffled Bailey.
During the backyard ceremony, young Samantha touched the small crowd of mourners with a soulful rendition of The Wheels on the Bus.
“You’re the angels’ Elf on the Shelf, now. Peace out, Sparkle,” whispered Bailey as he threw a handful of mini marshmallows on the casket. Sparkle was buried in a plot adjacent to the family’s late hamster, Churro, and six fallen goldfish.
A candy cane vigil is scheduled for Saturday night at 5pm. Guests are asked to wear red and white, Sparkle’s favorite colors.

Our hearts are with the children. ♥


Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents

This post has been shared before. 
I did not write it. 
It originated in 2005.
I read it every year to remind myself that :

All I want for Christmas is Peace, Hope, Love, and Joy.

Post written by Leo Babauta.
I love Christmas. I love the snow-themed everything, even when I was living on tropical Guam, and Santa and elves and reindeer and snowmen and candy canes. Yes, I even love the non-stop playing of Christmas music for two months.
Most of all, I love getting together with my family — eating Christmas cookies, singing Christmas carols together, gossiping and laughing at each other. It’s tremendous fun.
I don’t love Christmas shopping, or the overconsumption, frenzied malls, consumer debt, environmental waste, wasted time wrapping, and over-accumulation of needless stuff that goes with it.
Bah humbug! I love Christmas, but the shopping has got to go. Here’s why. Warning: This will be a rant of near-epic proportions

1. The focus is on buying, not on sharing. I love the idea of giving to people you love, but that idea has been twisted. Now people go out in a mad rush to shop, like ravenous vampires feasting on new blood. We shop for a month, rip apart the packaging one morning, and then forget about it the next day. Is this about giving, or buying?

2. Giving is great, but buying is not the solution. Again, I’m in love with giving … but do we need to buy to give? We seem to think that buying is the solution to any problem, but that has lead to a society that is deeply in debt and piled high with needless stuff. We can find other ways to give: bake cookies, wash someone’s car, babysit so they can go on a date night, create a photo album, be there when they need help moving.
3. The waste, oh the waste. Let’s start with packaging: the packaging for every toy is double the volume of the toy itself. From cardboard to plastic to metal twist-ties, it’s ridiculous. Then every item we buy must be brought home in bags. We often put everything in boxes. Then we buy wrapping paper and wrap it all up. All of this gets thrown away on Christmas day. Finally, there’s the gift itself — people get so much stuff they can’t possibly treasure everything. So it goes into the closet to be forgotten.

4. The sorrowful debt. Most people spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on gifts and wrapping. Not to mention all the money spent on gas, driving to different shopping places, and the money spent on fattening food at mall food courts. This goes on credit cards (and around our waistlines), and we then must pay for this — with high interest — during the year. Even if you don’t get into debt, you’re spending money earned from long hours of hard work — is this really how you want to spend your life, paying for needless stuff so corporations can get rich?

5. The horrendous, insipid, seizure-inducing advertising. I can’t stand advertising, and it only gets worse on Christmas. The ads pound on you relentlessly until you give in — and it works. That’s been proven — those ads are getting you to buy more, to want more, to lay down the credit card. I don’t watch TV, read newspapers or magazines, or allow ads in my browser (AdBlock) so that I don’t have to be subjected to this.
6. The fuel. If you drive all over the place to shop, you’re using lots of fuel. Even if you just order online, think of the fuel it takes to deliver these products (overnight!) to your home. And the fuel used to create the products, to get the raw materials to the factories, to cut down the raw materials, to ship the finished product to the stores or warehouses from around the world (most likely from China), not to mention all the fuel used to create and ship the packaging. It’s a few million metric craploads of fuel, wasted for giving some presents that will be forgotten.
7. There are still hungry people in the world. In the frenzy that is Christmas shopping, we spend ridiculous amounts of money that is pure waste. In other countries, people are struggling just to eat, or get medicine, or find shelter, or get clean drinking water. We spend so much in a show of consumerist greed, when that money could go to feed a few dozen families. If you have money to waste, consider donating it to an organization that is helping these types of families. I know this sounds preachy, but really, this kind of reminder is necessary in times like these.
8. The neverending clutter. What happens to all the gifts? They go on our shelves, in our closets, on the floor. We already have so much clutter — do we need more? We already have problems figuring out what to do with everything we own. Why do we want to clutter our homes even more? Why do we want to force clutter on our loved ones, oblige them to find a spot in their already cluttered homes for this gift we’ve given them, so they won’t offend us when we come to visit? Is this obligation really a gift?


Q: But what about the kids?

A: Kids love getting presents (I have six kids — I should know!). I sure did when I was a kid. Are we to rob them of this? It’s a difficult question, but another side of the equation to consider is what we are teaching the kids. They don’t just participate in the opening of presents — they see all the shopping too. They are being taught to shop, and to value material goods over anything else. Imagine their lives when they’re grown — a life of shopping and debt and waste, because that’s what’s important, right? So for the joy of opening a few presents for a couple hours on Christmas day, we’re imparting on them consumerist values that will last them a lifetime.

I think, instead, this can be a great opportunity to have an open discussion with kids about buying and spending and debt. Did you receive this kind of education when you were a kid? Would you have been better off if you had? This is also a great opportunity to teach kids about giving to others, about volunteering and helping the less fortunate, about finding other ways to spend time with loved ones that don’t require shopping. My kids do want presents — but I don’t want them to think that’s what Christmas is all about. We’ve been having this discussion and we will continue to this month.
Q: But what about family?

A: Family, believe it or not, will survive without a few presents from us. They can continue to shop and give presents, but you can simply tell them that you don’t want to participate this year. Send them a link to this article to explain why.
This is also a great opportunity (you see how I love turning problems into opportunities?) to create new traditions with your family — go caroling, string popcorn for the tree, make Christmas cookies, bake pies, play football outside, create Christmas scrapbooks, volunteer.
Q: But I love giving presents!
A: Sure, who doesn’t? And you might also love shopping. Shopping, for many people, is a pleasure like no other. This can be a problem, in my mind: you might be using shopping to give you temporary happiness, to fill a hole in your life, to make you happy when you’re depressed or stressed or lonely. I’m not saying you are, but many people do, and it’s good to take a look at these things. Richer happiness can be found in simpler things that don’t involve spending: being with loved ones, creating, reading, getting outside and doing something active.

Even if you aren’t addicted to shopping, you might just love giving presents. And that’s OK — but you might consider giving more meaningful presents that don’t require lots of shopping. Creating a photo album or scrapbook for someone takes time and thought, while laying down a credit card at Macy’s doesn’t.
Q: How do you convince a spouse who equates lavish gifts with love & appreciation?

A: This definitely isn’t easy. It’s an important discussion to have, however. You’ll need to do it without accusations, without resentment, without making the other person feel he’s under attack. Bring it up as an ongoing discussion about things you’re thinking about — maybe even point to this post as a starting point.

This is such an important discussion because so many couples get badly into debt for this reason — one partner has different values about material goods, shopping, debt, gifts, and so on, and the other partner hates to fight about it so doesn’t talk about it. Financial issues are also a big reason couples split up. So finding a healthy way to talk about values, about financial goals, about how you want to live your lives, is so crucial. Do it gently, with compassion, as a way to live together as a team rather than two people struggling against each other.
A good way to get started is to write a blog post or a letter to your spouse about your feelings — again, without being attacking. You might explain why you’re not into giving presents, that you still love your spouse but want to show it in non-consumerist ways, that there are other traditions the two of you could start together to share your love.

Alternatives to buying

There are so many good ideas, but a few:
  • Do other things with family, such as caroling, baking, watching It’s a Wonderful Life, playing football outside.
  • Volunteer as a family at a homeless shelter.
  • Ask people to donate to your favorite charity in lieu of gifts.
  • Make meaningful gifts.
  • Do a gift swap where you put a valued possession (that you already own) into the swap.
  • Bake gifts

  • Have an experience instead of giving material goods: do something fun together, go to the beach or a lake.
  • Find hope. Christmas has so much potential to be about so much more than buying — it can be a season of hope, renewal, loved ones, inspiration, contemplation. Talk to your family about this — how can we find ways to be hopeful, thankful, cooperative? How can we be more present instead of worried about getting presents?
  • Get stuff at Goodwill. It’s recycled, and the money helps a good cause

Monday, November 23, 2015

No apologizes...none!

I am  officially, and unapologetically, listening to holiday Christmas in NOW!
In fact, I've cleaned my CDs (ya'll youngins don't use these now, right?), got Pandora play list loaded, and I'm singing  to myself. The music gets me excited. It puts a smile on my face! I get energized.

What holiday Christmas season is complete without hearing "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer", "All I want for Christmas is You", "Oh Holy Night", "Jingle Bells" least a few times? I love the oldie goldies, the country, the traditional Christmas hymns, the big band orchestras, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Michael Buble....the list is endless.

It will always be 
Christmas music to me....Always! No apologizes! 
Christmas music, 
Christmas music, 
Christmas music!

One of the sites that I follow on-line is Scary Mommy . Check it out. It's cute, funny, and "is intended for people who have a sense of humor, an appreciation for sarcasm, and who wear panties that don't easily get in a wad". YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!

Here is War-Of-The-Christmas-Music by Kathy Radigan:
Each November, my family and I enter into the War of the Christmas Music.
Yes, it’s me against my husband and the three little darlings whom I brought into this world—I should add after a collective 36 hours of labor and three C-sections.
This year, I’m taking a proactive stand. I’m taking my case to the people. Mommy wants to listen to “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” without the groans and moans from the backseat of the minivan. I would like to enjoy all 55 versions from 55 different artists of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” without hearing my husband call me a “lame-o.”
Here are 10 reasons why my family shouldn’t give me a hard time when I listen to the holiday music that gives little old me such joy:
1. I don’t play the “I carried each of you for 9 (actually 10) extremely long months” card very often, but this year I will. Remember that without me, three of you would not be here on this earth and one of you would not be a father. I think that deserves a few fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-las for a few weeks.
2. Contrary to what some 16-year-olds claim, listening to large amounts of holiday music will not cause permanent damage to anyone’s psyche or cause anyone to turn to a life of crime.
3. Hearing “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” puts me in a much more peaceful mood and makes my head less likely to explode when a certain 8-year-old asks me 55 times if we could have mushrooms, then asks another 55 times if the mushrooms are ready, then looks at them and with a straight face tells me he doesn’t like mushrooms.
4. If I could listen to Elmo singing the alphabet, Steve from Blues Clues sing, “We Just Got a Letter!” and Dora the Explorer singing “The BackPack Song” for the rough equivalent of two full years of my life, surely you can listen to Karen Carpenter sing, “Merry Christmas, Darling,” for a few weeks without bursting into tears.
5. John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen have done Christmas songs. If it’s good enough for them, surely it’s good enough for us.
6. There comes a time every Christmas when Santa needs some extra elves to help with all the seasonal preparations. Who do you think he is going to ask for help? Yes, you are right—me! Happy elves spread holiday cheer, and nothing brings more cheer than a few choruses of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
7. What holiday season is complete without hearing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” at least a few times?
8. There really was a part in our wedding vows that said, in sickness, health and listening to holiday music every year. I’m not sure why you don’t remember that? Weren’t you paying attention on the most important day of your life? Don’t you love me enough to remember the vow you made to me 22 years ago in front of our family, friends and God? Doesn’t our marriage mean anything to you?
9. When Mom is happy, everyone is happy. When Mom is not happy, well, you know what happens.
10. Some of my most precious holiday memories are of nursing a 2-week-old, trying to decorate the Christmas tree while nine months pregnant and holding the hand of a 3-year-old, watching three of the sweetest children squeal with delight over what Santa brought them, and snuggling on the couch with the one I love, all with the sounds of the season playing in the background.
Truth be told, there is something that just warms my heart every time I hear a Christmas song. They trigger all the best memories of holidays past. And, if that doesn’t move you, remember your survival sort of depends on, well, me.

I'm turning up the volume! No apologizes....none! 
Bring on the Christmas music!

Here is an hour's worth of utube Christmas music....just click here --->Christmas Music 

More than likely....Ho Ho Ho ...I'll also be putting up a 
Christmas tree, 
Christmas Lights,  
Christmas ornaments, 
Christmas wreaths, 
wrapping a few Christmas presents, 
wearing my Christmas scarf, 
going to a Christmas parade, 
saying Merry Christmas,
and playing Christmas tunes, on my piano !