Friday, December 24, 2010

A story

 (Here's a story, for those of you who are just checking blogs today... now I'll get back to work.)

Christmas Shoes

It was only five days before Christmas. The spirit of the season hadn't yet caught up with
me, even though cars packed the parking lot of our Houston area Target Shopping
Center. Inside the store, it was worse. Shopping carts and last minute shoppers jammed
the aisles. Why did I come today? I wondered. My feet ached almost as much as my head.
My list contained names of several people who claimed they wanted nothing but I knew
their feelings would be hurt if I didn't buy them anything. Buying for someone who had
everything and deploring the high cost of items, I considered gift-buying anything but
fun. Hurriedly, I filled my shopping cart with last minute items and proceeded to the long
checkout lines. I picked the shortest but it looked as if it would mean at least a 20 minute
wait. In front of me were two small children - a boy of about 10 and a younger girl about
5. The boy wore a ragged coat. Enormously large, tattered tennis shoes jutted far out in
front of his much too short jeans. He clutched several crumpled dollar bills in his grimy
hands. The girl's clothing resembled her brother's. Her head was a matted mass of curly
hair. Reminders of an evening meal showed on her small face. She carried a beautiful
pair of shiny, gold house slippers. As the Christmas music sounded in the store's stereo
system, the girl hummed along off-key but happily. When we finally approached the
checkout register, the girl carefully placed the shoes on the counter. She treated them as
though they were a treasure. The clerk rang up the bill. "That will be $6.09," she said.
The boy laid his crumpled dollars atop the stand while he searched his pockets. He finally
came up with $3.12. "I guess we will have to put them back, " he bravely said. "We will
come back some other time, maybe tomorrow." With that statement, a soft sob broke from
the little girl. "But Jesus would have loved these shoes, " she cried. "Well, we'll go home
and work some more. Don't cry. We'll come back," he said.
Quickly, I handed $3.00 to the cashier. These children had waited in line for a long time.
And, after all, it was Christmas. Suddenly a pair of arms came around me and a small
voice said, "Thank you Sir." "What did you mean when you said Jesus would like the
shoes?" I asked. The small boy answered, "Our mommy is sick and going to heaven.
Daddy said she might go before Christmas to be with Jesus." The girl spoke, "My Sunday
school teacher said the streets in heaven are shiny gold, just like these shoes. Won't
mommy be beautiful walking on those streets to match these shoes?" My eyes flooded as I
looked into her tear-streaked face. "Yes" I answered, "I am sure she will." Silently I
thanked God for using these children to remind me of the true spirit of giving. Christmas
is not about the amount of money paid, nor the amount of gifts purchased, nor trying to
impress friends and relatives. Christmas is about the love in your heart to share with
those as Jesus Christ has shared with each of us. Christmas is about the Birth of Jesus
whom God sent to show the world how much he really loves us. Please show this love as
we think of the upcoming season.
-Author Unknown

I'm dreaming of...

... a relaxing, peaceful, care-free, happy Christmas, where I can just sit back and enjoy.  Yep.  Just dreaming.  Anyone else have a manger scene that looks like this?  This is about how I feel right now... I'm a little frazzled trying to get everything clean, wrapped, packed, baked, and ready for the big day tomorrow.  We're traveling tomorrow afternoon too, so that adds a whole new dimension to our Christmas this year.

I guess I should be grateful that the boys like to play with the nativity, and I see that Mary still has a good hold of baby Jesus!  :)  Everything will be great.  Now, back to work...

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I think he's pretty stinkin' cute.  He's a mini Alex.

We got to celebrate Owen's birthday with cousin Nicholas.  We went to a great play/pizza place for kids called Super Franks - for the most part, the boys were on the go too much to get any good pictures.  We had cake and ice cream afterwards.  Owen loves M&M's, so that's what his cake was, a giant half M&M and cupcakes - pretty simple.  It was nice to do a simple party after so many planned, themed friend parties in the past. 

San Francisco trip

 Alex had a business trip in San Francisco last week, so we decided to go with him.  It was the first time we've joined him and maybe the last?  I'm not sure Alex will want to take us with him again...   it wouldn't have been so bad if Nathan and Owen hadn't gotten sick (puking) the first 2 days.  Anyway, we planned on driving the scenic coastal highway on Monday to get there, but most of it was completely foggy.  And on the return trip on Saturday it was about the same.  Bummer.  But we did get a few peek throughs during the afternoon and a beautiful sunset.  We loved this little waterfall, and the other hike involved a tunnel so the boys were really excited to use their flashlights. 

 One of the evenings we ventured out into the city (our hotel was downtown and we weren't very comfortable walking around alot - for the most part, it seemed like the city just had a bad spirit about it).  Anyway, we ate at a place called Mel's Drive-in.  The boys loved eating their burger and fries out of a cardboard car and the balloons on the way out was also a hit.  We enjoyed the lights of the city and saw a huge Christmas tree in one of the stores. 

 Owen's birthday fell during the middle of the week, and on Alex's busiest day, so I took the boys out to the Aquarium of the Bay and Pier 39.  We even took the public transit to get to and from (yes, I'll take the "way to go" and "you're a supermom" for this... because it was so hard to do by myself).  But it was Owen's birthday, so we had to get out.  We ate at Hard Rock Cafe for lunch and ended up sharing the $12 nachos (have the burgers always been $22 at Hard Rock??  - wow.)  The boys had fun I think.

Here's a few other things from our trip (minus the one in the post to follow).  We wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge, but again it was foggy and rainy.  We stopped by the Oakland temple and saw the Christmas lights and nativity.  We made a quick stop to a lighthouse and a stop at the beach on the way home.  The beach wasn't planned, but became necessary after a little mishap driving.  As we were heading out of San Francisco, we were driving past some cars parked along the side.  All of a sudden, we whacked into something.  I thought for sure we had hit a pedestrian.  We immediately pulled over and discovered we had only hit an opening car door.  Just bad timing.  No one was hurt and there was no damage to the other vehicle.  The only damage was the driver side mirror, which shattered.  However, my mind had already told my body we had hit someone, so I went into a mild shock and started hyperventilating.  It took a while for me to calm down and start breathing right again.  Thus the stop at the beach.  The boys didn't mind playing around while I tried to recover. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

O Christmas tree

We actually did this last week, but I'm just getting around to posting about it.  The sugar cookies were fun and surprisingly easy.  I just happened to have different sizes of star cookie cutters - the trees are just stacks of stars placed in opposite directions.  I colored the dough green and then we put a little bit of frosting and sprinkles on the trees.  The boys also had fun putting up the Christmas tree and decorating it.  However... we shouldn't have put on the breakable balls.  Nathan found the OSU ball with Pistol Pete, one of our favorites.  Owen also liked that one.  He liked it so much that he pulled it off the tree and threw it.  It shattered all over the kitchen floor.  Luckily we had taken a picture of it at least...

Yesterday we also made cookies - sugardoodles, dipped in SALT...  oops (that was Alex's fault).  We made another batch and ate them as we listened to a (cheesy) CD of Christmas carols (thanks mom  :)), drinking hot chocolate, and trying to think of the angels singing the news of Christ's birth.  Maybe we'll find a little more reverent CD of carols... we had a lot of laughter.  I guess the angels brought good tidings and great JOY, so we accomplished the JOY part of the tradition.  I'm actually very grateful for the box of stuff my mom sent - a box of "stuff" with activities/lessons on having a Christ-centered Christmas.  It's based on the book A Christ-Centered Christmas by Emily Freeman, which has 7 traditions to bring us closer to Christ, using each figure of the nativity (Mary, Joseph, the angel, the shepherd, the wisemen, the lamb, and the Christ Child).  We did the angel yesterday evening.  The angel "embodies a heart that runneth over with the good tidings and great joy of the season.  The angel is a reminder that the anticipation of good things to come should fill our hearts with warmth overflowing."  It says we often feel this from Christmas carols and suggests filling our home or heart with carols of the season.  Maybe next time we should spread the joy by going caroling or singing the songs ourselves.  Or find a little bit more reverent CD.  :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

No girls allowed

I was looking through some past pictures of Nathan (it's his "superstar" week) and came across these ones.  We only had Nathan and Jared at the time.  This has so much more meaning now - Nathan has quite a club going, with NO GIRLS ALLOWED!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

We had a nice Thanksgiving with Ashley, Daniel, Jaden, and Hailey and with Daniel's sister Tina and family.  I only wish I had some pictures of Tina's family.  They were so nice to let us join them for Thanksgiving.  It was fun to see Jaden and Hailey again - I hadn't seen Hailey for a whole year (and that's a lot of growing at her age).  I couldn't get over how cute she is and kept snapping pictures.  Owen liked seeing another little person his size.  Nathan and Jared had a great time playing with Jaden.  We didn't do any special outings over the weekend - just went to the park and walked along the beach, but it was perfect for the boys.  Oh, by the way, we saw that huge dog on our walk along the beach.  I'm glad he was on the other side of the fence.

I did try the midnight Black Friday at Wal-Mart - my first and probably last Black Friday experience.  It took me 2.5 hours to get what I needed and 2 hours standing in line for the check-out.  Ridiculous.  I saved money, but I don't think it was worth it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ready to get married...?

After church on Sunday, Jared announced that he wanted to marry his friend Marielle.  He was wearing these goggles and I just had to laugh (and grab the camera).  He's so random and goofy sometimes.  Besides his announcement, what was really funny was that he wanted the straps tighter.  Why? So he could keep water out of his ears! If you look closely, you'll notice the goggles make his ears bend down - that's what he thought they were for.  Anyway, I hope Marielle doesn't mind marrying a silly guy... I guess he's all goggly eyed over her.  :)