Getting Back in the Groove…or at Least Trying

Hi there, my faithful friends and followers. Thanks for hanging in there with me. It’s been a stressful month, well, two months. Hopefully, things will settle down, and I can bring you some nostalgia and some recipes. My delicious sugar cookie recipe still on the agenda to appear!

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Christmas with the Cuties

Ava saying "cheese" for her Christmas pig; Kate just saying cheese.

Here are some of the pictures of the girls and me.  We are making Christmas cookies.  They have on their little pink aprons because I did not get around to putting the gingerbread men on their little red aprons.  I may do that this week because we still have to make our gingerbread house.

Yeah, I know.  Christmas was yesterday.  This has been a bad month.

 

Ava still saying "cheese" for her Christmas pig and Kate acting like a monkey. I think.

We had ingredients galore; a big, big mess; and two wild girls.  They cracked eggs and mixed with the mixer and stirred and flipped dough all over the place as they stirred.  It was exhausting!  And messy!

Ava still "cheesing" for the pig; Kate running to make some kind of ridiculous pose. (sigh)

The sugar cookie dough was finally made and wrapped in plastic wrap… to take home!  I love those words:  Time to go home now.

They took their prized creation home for Momma to help them cut the cookies.  I checked later and they were lovely, delicious cookies.

Ava STILL pig cheesing; Kate STILL acting like a monkey. I think.

I will post the recipe tomorrow.  I’m still recuperating from Christmas.

WhataLottaMonth

In Fairview Heights or O’Fallon, somewhere up in the St. Louis area, is a restaurant called Lotawata Creek that has great food and a lot of it.  That is what this past month has been.  Full of great things and a lot of it!!!

My computer was fixed although I did lose a bunch of my dictionary and did have to stress significantly on transcripts.  My friends’ daughter was married for whom I played the keyboard.  The wedding theme was Winter Wonderland and was beautiful.  The keyboard playing… not so beautiful, but I guess it was okay because people were kind enough to tell me it was good.  Still, it was another major stress activity.  Our family party was the same day as the wedding, so as soon as I was finished playing, I hightailed it up to my sister’s.

The social calendar in my life is usually fairly bare, but this month I’ve had two events on the same night at least three times.  Bummer. I want to fit everything in.  And so far have been able to squeeze them in although it’s running from here to there.  So glad I did because I won over $30 at the poker party!!

My poor little blog has been left behind, just stagnating as I gad about.  I felt so bad about it this morning I thought I would sit down and just throw in a few tidbits of why it’s been left alone.  Poor blog baby.

What have you guys been up to this season?  Do you have time to throw a word in here to let us know what’s happening on your calendar of events?

Star of Wonder, Star of Might

There is just so much to say about stars!!

star gazing

I love lying on a blanket on the ground in the summer and locating the constellations, getting together with friends for a meteor shower party and yelling, “There’s one!”

I enjoy remembering the burned-in-my-brain images of the two or three most awesome sightings of falling stars and shooting stars.  There’s a difference, you know.

falling diver

Falling stars gracefully fall into the earth’s atmosphere, as a beautiful diver makes a beautiful dive from those tall cliffs.  Some are faster than others, but they all fall straight down.  Shooting stars shoot across the sky.  During meteor showers there could be hundreds at one time, but generally it’s a lone star followed by another lone star.  They are all amazing to me.  Well, the heavens are just amazing to me.

To know that I’m looking into eternity, that it never stops, is just, well, overwhelming.  The astronauts, way up there, are no closer to the end of it than I am down here.

There are many websites and blogs that talk about stars; that are filled with information.  And they are great!  Click the stars link and you will find all sorts of neat stuff, including some cool pictures… like this one.  This is exactly what the star that fell to the ground in front of our vehicle looked like.  It truly was that bright!

Hubble star

Many years ago when my children were small, we as a family all went out to the country to watch one of the most fantastic light shows I have ever witnessed.  It was a meteor shower, and the shooting stars were everywhere.  They couldn’t be counted there were so many whizzing by.  Nate and I were talking about it, and he remembers it as I do.  That was the only time I’ve seen anything like that, and I’ve been on many meteor shower quests.

Another moment in time that I will never forget is standing on the balcony outside my bedroom on one of the upper floors of a Florida hotel late one night.   The details of who I was with and why I was there are fuzzy, but I know that I was heavy of heart at the time.  As I stood there gazing at the sky and the ocean, the most beautifully large, slow-falling star fell right in front of me.  Such a bright star!  It brought me comfort and joy, a sign; a sign in the sky from God that I needed at that very moment.

Or maybe I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

But I can’t help but wonder who else saw that lazy, beautiful falling star at the same time I did… maybe needing a sign as well.

The Star of Bethlehem

A few Christmases ago, I went with a couple of friends to an Amy Grant  and Vince Gill concert.  On the way home a falling star fell in front of the car I was driving.  It was so bright that it looked like it fell right on the pavement in front of us.  Unbelievably awesome!!  I can’t begin to tell you what an experience that was.  Every Christmas I remember it and am wowed all over again by that powerful sight.

bright star

So as I put up my stable scene of Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, and all the other participants on that amazing night, the star that led the kings from far away to find the Christ Child was on my mind.  This star had to be magnificent, out of the ordinary to the nth degree.  It would have stayed stationary, unlike the stars that come and go as our earth turns.  The group of three would have been able to see that they were getting closer and closer to it until they stood directly underneath it.  I can’t imagine the feeling of finally arriving at the location I had studied from afar and placed its GPS location by a faint but brightly burning star, burning ever brighter the closer I came.

Were these three the only ones who were privy to such a star?

Did they see the star?

Did God hide it from the eyes of the masses?  To those people who qualify all that happens in the world through science and logic, the answer is a scoffing no; those people include the Spirit God among the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.  But for those of us who have experienced the supernatural, who know for a fact that there is an intelligent force much greater than ourselves, someone we call the Father God, we know that anything is possible.

The Bible talks about signs and wonders, and they come in many shapes and forms, human and inanimate, powerful and gentle, roaring and whispering, joyful and heartbreaking, explained and mysterious.

My blindingly bright falling star was a wonder.  A wonder that reminds me every Christmas season of the power of the Son God, the power to give life to the dying, a new birth.

May you experience the supernatural this Christmas, for that is what the Christ Child is:  a spiritual experience outside the boundaries of earth.

starry night full of wonder

Catch a Falling Star…

On the way home from Alton this evening I was graced with viewing two falling stars and one burst of some kind of extraordinary light in the sky.  Nate and Mike googled meteor shower, and sure enough, there was one since Thursday.  The next viewing will be on December 13 and 14.

meteor shower by Simon Filiatrault

Every year there are numerous meteor showers.  The Perseid in August and the Geminid in December are the ones I have been able to view this year.  They are awesome! There are some great pics and good information out there in the webosphere.  Environmental Graffiti is one of them.

Wikipedia has a table as to the names of the meteor showers and when they will be as well as whether they are weak or strong showers and the best viewing times.  Click on the link; it is very interesting.

Try to get out and see the Geminid this week.  You should be able to see some falling stars by 6:00 or so — we saw ours around then — and make lots of wishes.  Click on this link to read all about wishing on a shooting star.
May all your wishes come true!

Living the Good Life

I actually made a salad!

Home fries -- very tasty

My tired buhiney is sitting down for a minute after a long, arduous day of cleaning house and working on transcripts.  My head was pounding, but all it took to fix it was a couple of Excedrin and a short, little lie-down.  The short little lie-down has my pace slowed a bit, so decided to look through some of my pictures.  Then decided to share them with you!  All that deciding has really tired me out!

In keeping with my blog motivator, I actually cooked last week.  Since I’m starving right now, these pictures got to be first.

a piece of the fruit of my arduous labor

The new flocked tree was decorated with whatever was in the big plastic container I dragged in from the garage.  It was pretty just with the lights and flocking.

the girls with our new puppets

The glare from the piano is, of course, me with the camera.  Jeez. The smiling little munchkins are, of course, my sweet grandgirls.

my just scrubbed grandduck

There is nothing that makes life good like having children around, whether they belong to me or someone else.  Today I talked to two of the girls who used to come over when they were in town at their grandma’s and play dress up.  Now they are in college; one going to graduate next year.

The fun of posting pictures of the family, silly pictures, and waiting on them to find them, just brings a smile to my face.  Except when they are silly pictures of me.  I can’t see why that would be one bit enjoyable or make anyone feel good.  So please, I beg you, don’t post any.  Please, please.

worn out family from partying all day on the farm

Living the good life may not be the same to everyone.  And it changes from time to time for me as well.  Getting things accomplished, even when I have to give up a trip to the cookie walk, makes me feel good.  Knowing that Excedrin is the best headache medicine of all time is fantastic.  Having food in my house and being able to still enjoy playing makes me feel great.  Celebrating the birth of Jesus the Christ with a lovely tree, well, that’s just good stuff.

The Christmas Piano Recital

WHAT in all that is musical are we doing here?

Sunday, December 4, was the piano recital for my four piano students.   We must have had a lot on our minds when this pic was taken.  We can do better than that.

Ah, yes. Our sweet little selves are shining through.

We practiced a bit and finally got a smile or two that was pretty good.

I just gotta tell you about my awesome students.  They only started in the spring of this year and can already read and play Christmas songs.  Since I think they are so awesome, we had a recital with a small cookies and punch reception afterward.  I’ve had several comments about how other people think they are awesome as well since they heard them at the recital.

Emily

Lindsay

Emily with the long, dark hair is a senior in high school.  She played Christmas songs, hymns, and a duet, Swan Lake, with Lindsay.

Lindsay is the high school science teacher.  Since she also plays saxophone, she could read the treble notes well when she started.  Putting the paper notes with the piano keys has been a smooth transition for her.  She may not think so, but for such a short time taking lessons, it has been.  Both her and Emily have busy, busy schedules to fit learning piano into.

Little Emily

Little Emily is nine.  She likes to pick out the tunes and then learn them by memory, but she also is learning to read the notes.

I don’t know how Suzie managed to escape a solo picture.     She is in the sixth grade.  Her songs were Jolly Old St. Nick and a duet with me.

Learning music is learning a new language.  Students learn to read and then speak (play the instrument) the language of music.  They learn to hear it and know what’s being said (know the notes, melody, harmony, timing).  It’s tough.  The joy comes each time they make a step forward in their progress.

Little Emily is always saying she doesn’t know what the note on the paper is… until she stops for a few seconds and thinks about it.  Then she always knows it.

It’s been a great pleasure of mine this year to teach them.  One of my goals for 2011.  My pastor videotaped the recital, so next year we can see how far they have come.  I’m excited about that… and them.

I like these guys!!

Christmas Haps and Mishaps

My sister and I were talking about the family get-together this Christmas, what all we were going to have to eat and who was bringing what and how to make it fun for everyone.  We are hoping Santa will show up… she’s looking for him.

One of the things we love is the new tradition tree.  Each year each family will bring at least one ornament that reminds them of someone in the family.  For example, one of the ornaments I have is a boy playing soccer.  I am going to paint Jack and Sam on the shirt which, of course, will make the ornament represent them and their soccer playing.  I have another one I am bringing but it is a big surprise, so I can’t tell you just yet what it is.  Our party is December 17, so after that evening I will post pics and the ornament.  It is just way way too cool!  I don’t even want to think what kind of ornament the fam would pick for me.

bingo game

We are also going to play bingo.  Dar has bought this neato paskeato bingo game, and we are going to round up a few prizes plus make everyone pay the big bucks for a card… a dollar maybe?  But the most fun idea is the one where everyone comes up with the most memorable Christmas.  I think we should all put a buck in the pot and the best story should win.  It’s going to be a hoot, and hopefully everyone will be over any ill feelings they may have had from that memorable moment or maybe it will bring back such good memories we all get the fuzzies.

If I were guessing, Davy’s story will probably be about the year he gave his Uncle Benny a fake lottery ticket.  Before I go any further, I have to clarify that we are of Scottish/Irish descent and full of mischief, albeit some not quite as funny to the recipient as it is to the purveyor of the practical jokes.  Davy is a huckster as are some of my other cousins, and sometimes he can really bring out some doozies.  As he did with the fake lottery ticket.

fake lottery ticket

As we sat around opening gifts, everyone was tense knowing Ben was getting ready to tear into a fake lottery ticket.  Everyone that is but Davy.  He was all pumped for the big “win.”  The rest of us were sort of watching sideways, getting ready to jump up and run out of the room when Uncle Ben killed him.  So the gift is open, Ben scratches off his lottery ticket, looks at it, looks again.  Then gets excited!  He was talking new carpet and fixing this and fixing that… and we were one by one making our way to another room.  His wife, Annie, started to get excited as well until she noticed the exodus and either Dar or me or both were shaking our head no.  Annie takes another look and tells Ben it’s fake, but he’s so far gone with the joy of winning some badly needed extra money (I think he had been out of work at the time) that her voice fell on deaf ears.

Finally, she was able to calm him down and get him to really look at it.  Oh, man, that was just sad!!!!  At least Ben didn’t kill his nephew.

We have been waiting ever since for the other shoe to fall.  Davy keeps one eye looking over his shoulder all the time.

The Cure for Down Days

cousins after a hard day of playing

I can remember these days… back many moons ago.  Playing hard all day long, coming in to get a bath, then sitting down with a snack to watch tv.  Mine was usually a big bowl of New York Vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate and then swirled with a spoon till it looked like the soft chocolate ice cream of today.

Dairy Brand Ice Cream

Here are from left, Sam, Owen, Maci, Ava, and Kate.  Leader of the pack Jack was sitting in the big people’s recliner next to Sam.  This pic is from the trip to Kansas City early in November for the fall party Owen’s and Maci’s Daddy and Mommy held at their little farm.

It’s about five acres, just enough for two cows to be fed hay, a chicken coop, a fat cat, and two dogs.

Either Dora or Diego guarding the chickens

The kids had a great time tormenting the chickens.  If they laid for the month of November, I would be surprised.  It was a great adventure traipsing through the chicken poop in the coop.  Kate wore her Southern belle dress with the hoop skirt all day with her big long sword stuck down the back through the belt of the dress.  It was hysterical.  From the front she looked all prim and proper; when she turned around to run off, there was that big sword in her dress.

The three boys and Kate found all sorts of neat, secret stuff that weekend.  They had a clubhouse down in the dry creek bed.  There were villains galore to fight with their swords.  There wasn’t much time for fighting amongst themselves since they were so busy fighting imaginary bad guys and hanging out in the secret hang-out spot.  By the time evening rolled around and they all had baths, they were ready for a little S&T, snack and tube.

Nothing like being around kids to make one forget bad memories, to remember that life goes on, and to put a smile on a face.