Sunday, December 29, 2002

I'm posting this from Arkansas where I'm visiting my mother. As a Christmas present, my niece and I gave her the privilege of housing, feeding and entertaining four young teenagers plus a 10 year old and almost 2 year old. We've had lots of fun, from rubbing gravestones at the Bates Cemetery, to playing charades and board games loudly, to swimming in the largest indoor pool in Izard County, to antique shopping in Hardy, to building dams in and campfires by the Strawberry River, to reading, to raking Grandma's leaves, to letting Grandma show off her ten progeny (including in-laws) at church. We left Christmas morning, after giving the boys only two of their presents. Rick was concerned that his parents "went poor" on him. The first half of the twelve hour drive was tense due to unplowed roads after a six inch snowfall. The highways were clear in southern Illinois onward. We surprised the boys with the rest of their gifts Christmas night, so that their Grandmom could share in their pleasure.

Monday, December 16, 2002

One of my pleasures is reading and now I have time to be part of a book club. Here's our 2003 reading list:
Fiction: Son of the Circus by John Irving, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Non-fiction:Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, Revenge: A Story of Hope by Laura Blumenfeld, Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan, Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press by Kristina Borjesson, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, and The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

Today is my birthday. Ron gave me my present within five minutes of waking up. Actually, he gave me the present he bought me for Christmas. It was a sweet surprise. The boys sang to me on the way to school. I tried to convince them that I did not need a birthday cake because there are too many sweets in the house now with my rabid baking binge, but I suspect this father-son baking tradition is as much for their pleasure as to honor me.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Butter, Sugar, Flour, Vanilla
There must be 10,000 Christmas cookie recipes based on these four ingredients. This year I've made a serious effort to bake them all.

Christmas Tree
We planted 25 Scotch pines in 1995. Last year we cut the first tree for Christmas. It was definitely a Charlie Brown tree, but we loved it. This year my husband and son cut another tree and it is beautiful. Because we do not prune the trees, it is a natural, full, lush shape, not some hard cone head. It is about as wide as it is tall and the branches are spaced perfectly to display ornaments. There was only one slight problem with balance and the fully decorated tree toppled one hectic school morning with the school bus waiting on top of the hill.

Favorite Blogs
If I invest some money and time into this blog, you would see a list of links on the side. Since I'm taking the low budget/low maintenance approach, here are some links that I enjoy and I hope you do too.

Going Bridal tops the list.
If I log on to the internet, I have to visit this site. I haven't quite figured out why because my wedding was over ten years ago and my sons' weddings are far, far in the future. It's probably her excellent writing and fine attitude. I've commented on this site under a nom de guerre. Can you guess it?

Another one I follow is Julie/Julia ( where Julie is cooking all the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. Watch out for language on this one though.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Christmas 2002
The boys are 13. What a poignant age - part man, mostly child. They are taking the lead in family traditions this year – cutting the tree at the Highlands, baking cookies, decorating the house, and even scouring the ads to find presents for their cousins.

We planned to start decorating on Saturday. Ron woke up at six and started to clean the house, Mom’s prerequisite to decorating. I was amazed - another Christmas miracle. They even got the Christmas boxes down from the attic. I just sat back and watched them open the boxes with the joy of discovery as they carefully unwrapped the familiar, yet somehow new, Christmas decorations. They set up the nativity, checked the lights and placed the decorations around the house.

Rick made us homemade blueberry pancakes. I suspect that will become “tradition” by next year.

They were six years old our first Christmas together. I had such plans, or, more accurately, dreams, for the traditions I would start with my new family, blending the traditions from Steve and I with whatever the boys brought with them to their forever home. Of course, I never had kindergarten boys before and I found out that traditions have their own way of being made. At Grandma’s Christmas Eve gathering, she gave them hot wheels, tracks and several power boosters. When I was ready for the family to leave for the candlelight and communion midnight services, the twins and their father had tracks and wheels all over the house. I tried to convince them to leave (not really nagging), but gave up and reveled in the joy of their play.
Welcome back. I had to create a new site because I outsmarted myself. For six months, I relied on Pyra to remember my user name and password. When it expired, I could not remember my password. When I asked the system to send it to me, it! I must have used this phoney e-mail when I created the blog last spring. So if you want to see the previous posts, go to