Dec 30, 2008

I See What You're Saying! -- Second Edition

Well, here it is! This is such an exciting day for many of us in ye olde blogging world!

Special thanks to Lidna Linda over at 2nd Cup of Coffee for hosting this most memorable day. I can't wait to see everybody's video! If you hadn't decided whether or not you were going to do this, just DO IT! You know you want to.

Enjoy the vlog...and then go pay a visit to the other crazy participants at 2nd Cup!


Dec 16, 2008

Christmas Tour of Homes

Do you see the date on that button? Story of my life: Always a day late and a dollar short.

Not really. But it sounded fitting.

I probably won't be able to link up now, but I thought at least one or two of my online buddies might be interested in all the Christmas paraphernalia I have around de casa. And maybe my mommy. If you're not one of them, then just carry on. It's okay.

I might be at risk for crashing all of blogger with all the pictures I plan to post, but HEY, how much fun would life be if it weren't for the unexpected, right?

Here is what you see if you were to come to my front door. It's really comical that I'm posting this first, as if you were coming to my house and actually coming through the front door, because nobody ever uses the front door. There's about an acre of land that is our front yard, and there is no sidewalk, stepping stones, or even a worn trail leading up to our front porch. Nada. Nuttin. Nix.

How's that for some alliteration awesomeness?

On with the tour:

There is one of these wreaths on all the sets of windows on the front of our house. I would have taken a picture of the whole front and shown you all of the windows in all their glorious splendor, but it was raining when I took the pictures.

And this little guy has a thankless job: he greets the numerous visitors who grace our front porch through the holiday season. I think one time in six years he's seen a UPS man drop off a box. Poor guy.

Once inside, you would walk around and see this, our family Christmas tree. We have an artificial tree, but someday I would like to have disposable money enough to purchase a real tree again. Oh, the glory years. How I miss them. Well, in reality, we just haven't made it a priority in several years to get a real tree. Ultimately what I would like to do is put this tree in our bedroom, and get back to purchasing real trees. I miss the smell, but mostly I miss the shape of a real tree. They are less triangular-shaped, and more...well, tree-shaped. Natural, that is.

As you can see in this picture, we have an electric train track immediately around the tree. But we also have a much larger track that circles the entire living room. That track has since been taken down so that mom doesn't break her neck tripping over it while carrying alpine loads of laundry through the living room.

Yes, God gave me this old farmhouse with pink carpet in the living room to test the manhood of my family. Believe me, they pass...with red-blooded, macho colors.

Anyway, here's another view of the train sailing through the house.

One of our family traditions is to collect one new train car each year. We started out with the locomotive and its tender car, and then we bought one car for each boy. Now we add one car per year, and will continue to do that until they all leave home. That way, when we're dead, they can fight over who gets which ones.

Okay, moving on...

Since we don't have a fireplace (well, we do, but 160 year old mortar doesn't hold up so well, so somebody walled it up about a decade ago. Shameful, I know.) Anyway, we don't have a fireplace that you can see, or hang stockings on, we just hang them on the TV cabinet.

Moving out of the living room now, I'd like to share my kitchen with you. This centerpiece is, unlike our tree, made from real balsam fir. Funny, I actually typed "fur." I think I need some coffee. As I was about to say, our home school co-op sold these as one of our fundraisers this year. I couldn't be more pleased with it!

The ornaments you see around the bottom are actually laced together with a ribbon and go all the way around the centerpiece. They are very old ornaments I picked up at a flea market years ago. I absolutely love love love vintage Christmas ornaments, so I have plenty. Most of them go in bowls around my house:

Some of them actually go into a glass box my daddy made years ago that I now use as an end table. Normally, there is a statue of Clint Eastwood with an old revolver, a belt with bullet slots, an old pocket watch, and a few Dirty Harry VHS movies in there. (I told you we have ways to battle the pink carpet for the testosterone domination in our house.) But for Christmas, we stash these treasures:

I took that picture with just the Christmas tree lights on, so it gave it that reddish-pink hue. See how it makes the carpet look almost white! The battle, it never ends.

Anyway, one year I filled that glass box with waded up white tissue paper, and then placed the ornaments tucked inside the folds of the paper against the glass. I spaced them out so they looked like polka-dots and then wrapped the outside of the box with a wide, gold ribbon and tied a bow on top like a present! It was one of the coolest things I had ever done. I would love to show you a picture, but it got wiped out with our old computer. Sniff.

Okay, almost done: The kitchen has the near-death-experienced cabinet I wrote about here. Needless to say, it's the showpiece of my kitchen (at least it is for DH and me).

I have a garland on top with (you guessed it) old vintage lights that my grandmother gave me years ago. I don't know why I like old stuff so much, but I do. The bubble lights are new, but they are an old concept.

I've placed all my Christmas china in one cabinet, so it's actually displayed during the holidays (what a concept!)
I have a nativity on this cabinet that Brown Eyes has decided he wanted to use as an interactive nativity.
I guess the first thing you might notice is just exactly how empty it is. That's because it's not Christmas Eve yet, and neither Mary and Joseph nor the kings have made it to the manger. So here's Mary and Joseph on their pilgrimage to the manger, and every day Brown Eyes moves them just a little closer to it.

The three wise guys stay hidden on the other side of the kitchen (afar), but get mysteriously moved every so often. *wink*

I also have another nativity on a shelf in the living room, and I'm sure you observant ones would notice there is no baby Jesus. He will find His place guessed it again...Christmas Eve night.

But still staying in the kitchen, this is the little tree we keep in here. It sits on top of my grandpa's old ice box. For you young-uns, it's a wooden box they used to keep a block of ice on top (thus the term ice box) and the cold would fall into the bottom part, where they would keep their foods cool. I guess you could call it the pre-refrigerator. Anyway, here's the tree:

I love a nativity because it reminds us of the reason we celebrate this season in the first place! I think too many people get wrapped up in the tinsel and lights, the gifts and food (basically, the consumption of it) that they don't remember or don't care about the real celebration. I don't want that to happen in our home, so I have a nativity in just about every room in our house. Here are the ones in my kitchen and bathroom.

This second one is my favorite of all; it's made of olive wood in the holy land. My grandmother gave it to me years ago, and I cherish it most of all...even as simple as it is.

This is the one that is in our office/schoolroom on Mini me's desk. It belonged to DH's grandmother. My friend Dena at Green Acres has the same one posted on her tour! Such a small world, really.

I was going to show you some of my favorite ornaments on the tree, too, but I think I'll save that for another post. I would like to post at least one more time before Christmas (Lord, help me!) so I thought I could share those plus our favorite Christmas traditions. We have many to fill up the huge Santa gap that some people think we must leave empty for our kids. Not so, it's just not so.


Dec 12, 2008

Back to Bethlehem

So yeah, everybody's busy.

Me too.

I just wanted to share with y'all what I've been up to that has been consuming my time (aside from school, of course).

Back to Bethlehem is a ministry where we build a replica of the city of Bethlehem during the night of Christ’s birth. It’s a very moving experience to go through it. I am the first storyteller that people listen to right before they enter the city. They then walk through and see the Roman census takers and soldiers, as well as people dressed up as townspeople, merchants, etc. We have an innkeeper and his wife (I play their daughter…and I tell the people about how my father had a young couple come in who was GREAT with child, and he sent them out back to sleep in the STABLE!)

The city is built in the parking lot of the church, and it’s lit only by fires burning in torches above the city. The ambiance is indescribable. When you go through the city, you can stop and talk to the merchants, who all “sell” something in particular (bread, spices, fish, fabrics, etc.) They are knowledgeable about their product during that time, so you get many history lessons has you go through and visit.

We even have camels, llamas, goats, sheep, and chickens being walked around the city! They come from a local petting zoo, and the kids love to pet the animals.

Then at the end of the city, you find a living nativity complete with angels and beautiful music, and then you walk further toward the building and there is the place of crucifixion and resurrection, too! I myself have been moved to tears at this part of the presentation.

After our visitors have made their way through the whole city, they find themselves in the fellowship hall for coffee or hot chocolate and cookies. They get a chance to warm themselves there before they head home. It's a very pleasant experience for all.

Anyway, here's a video from last year just so you can get a better idea of what we're doing for nine nights here. Copy and paste the following link in your address bar to watch the movie, or I found some still shots on youtube as you'll see below: