Monthly Archives: December 2008

Merry Happy Joy

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Oh, the travels!  Oh the travails!  Was your Christmas Merry?  Ours was a DELIGHT!

The kids and I rocked the house on Christmas Eve with our 3 puppet shows at 3:00, 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. for the under 5 crowd.  Chris joined us for that last service, but the bulk of the crowds were come & gone by then and I was one weary preschool teachin’ mutha.  42 preschooler/kindergartners at the 5:00 and there wasn’t one speck of carpet visible as they sat mesmerized by the puppet love of Joseph and Mary, the awesome angels and the bold and brave shepherds!  Also the noisy animals of the stable were a hit so we all joined in the barnyard/stable sounds.  A long day but way fun to pass those hours waiting for Christmas to come…

After some last minute, late hour prep, hubby and I settled ourselves for a long winter’s nap…lawn, clatter, shutters, sash, bowl-full-of-jelly, you know the drill.

Our gang woke us up at 4:00 a.m.  Yes, that’s FOUR.  Of the CLOCK.  I barely remember the words they were saying.  But I clearly remember what Hubby and I were saying through squinty grumpy eyes:

WE SAID NO EARLIER THAN 7:00!  NOW GET BACK TO YOUR ROOMS AND BE QUIET OR ELSE WE’RE HAVING ONE MAC-DADDY GARAGE SALE IN THE MORNING!!!!

Amazingly they survived and thrived quietly doing who knows what until 7:00 at which time we gathered (way more cheerfully) on our bed, Bibles in hand, and took turns reading the Christmas story and answering questions.

Why did Herod want to know where Jesus was?

Why were the shepherds afraid?

What was Mary thinking about in her heart?

Why do YOU think Jesus is the best thing about Christmas?

Then it was present time.  Here are some hilights:

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christmas-2008-006Then it was TRAVEL time.  8 hours to SC.  Just like I remember from my childhood.  The way is slightly different, but the destination was the same.  Here are some hilights from the trip:

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I wish I had pictures of the time at Uncle Boogies with EVEN MORE cousins on the trampoline, EVEN MORE food on the grill and EVEN MORE hand holding and prayer-saying.  Jesus was the guest of honor everywhere we went, including our awesome Parris Island Gateway condo, complete with Marine Bulldog mascot.

I’m excited and thrilled about 2009.  I have high hopes for myself,  my family, and my world.  Stay tuned!

Come on in and set a spell…

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Hey there faithful friends who are dear to us! 

Thanks for gathering near to us! 

Once more!!

Here’s the door:

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Thanks for coming over on Christmas Eve. 

You must surely be busy.  Have you heard from Steve?

Do you have your stockings hung by the chimney with care? 

Don’t worry, cause Santy Clause is already there!

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Wanna see some favorite things?  

Like skaters who move and angels who sing?

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These skaters can move–I’m not toying!

But we turn down the music since it sooon gets annoying.

 

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The angels don’t match but they all sing with glee. 

They scared those poor shepherds but they don’t scare me!

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“Why all the singing?”  One might say,

It’s all for the baby asleep on the hay.

But where are the shepherds?  The camels?  The mule?

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They’re on PS2 cuz they’re so darn cool.

(Actually they’re all broken but somehow work together,

I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhether).

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The baby of God, with Mary and Joe,

With a sheep and a donkey and no place to go.

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Baby Jesus was given amazing gifts–three.

The wise men brought presents, and now, so do we.

 

Merry Christmas, my friends. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Birthday to Jesus.  You are GOOD. 

Happy sigh.

OH WAIT!   I almost forgot to add my RECIPE!

Don’t worry with writing it down.

They’re so simple to make, and easy and cheap,

You’ll be driving them all over town.

Just take a Ritz cracker, smear it with Jif & top it with a friend,

Melt yummy almond bark, dip with a fork, bang away until the dripping will end.

Then sprinkle with abandon, red and green sugars,

Or rainbow pareils to make them look merry,

Set on wax paper to dry, guard them with your life,

And to teachers and exchanges, do carry!

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SongSlayer Returns with Songs of the Season

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No more zippers torn apart,

That workouts never start,

And fat would leave all Tarts,

Every fat thigh has a friend,

And knees would always bend,

And guts would always blend,

This is my fat girl’s Christmas list.

 

…and for those in my family who would rather shop than make something, much to my dismay:

I can’t make you crafty if you’re not,

I can’t make your hands be like a robot,

Here on Christmas Eve Eve, in these final hours,

You will lay down the store card, to shop now with power,

But I won’t, no I won’t,

Cause I can’t make you crafty if you’re not…

Sure, better to give…receiving’s a close 2nd

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Giving is SUCH the all-star of the Christmas holiday.  And rightly so.  wisemen

 

But I am thinking today that the spiritual discipline of receiving is sometimes overlooked and under-rated.  There truly is an art to receiving graciously.  It’s almost harder to do than giving generously, one might say. 

And that one would be me.

I was considering the receiving of gifts today as I taught about the wise men with their thoughtful and intentional gifts to the Baby/Toddler Jesus.  Gold, fit for a King.  Frankincense as used by the Priests.  Myrrh appropriate for a sacrifice.

So at Christmas we give to each other just like the wise men gave to Jesus, right?

But what about receiving like Jesus did?

He surely modeled receiving graciously–even as a baby.  Do you picture Him content in the swaddling clothes on the straw of his crib?  Did He express riveting wonder at the shiny containers brought by the people all dressed up and riding on ginormous camels?  Did he giggle at the antics of the sheep all over the place as the shepherd lads just wanted to come closer to Him?

Receiving is important too.  It is what the giver is waiting for.  The response to the gift.

I can not even count the number of times I’ve been personally challenged to think of something to GIVE in honor of Baby Jesus during the tremendous celebration of his arrival on the earth.  But maybe I should be working harder to receive something with grace and gratitude.  Not some thing.  But something.  Something else.

Our Director of Youth threw a perfect arching spiral football from the platform in church today to my husband, the wide receiver in the balony who caught it with pride.  DURING the service.  Both men were thrilled.

Jesus gave his heavenly life to become a man.  Then he gave his example, his wisdom and his life.  THEN He gave the Holy Spirit and a whole slew of promises.  But all that happened after He first received.   

Have I been a “wide receiver?”  Am I waving to Jesus with both hands that “I’m open?”

Open to a new prompting from the Holy Spirit,

Open to receive peace he’s ready for me to have.  Or patience. 

Or how about a fresh new heaping supply of self-control? 

Not every gift is what we had in mind or the item at the top of our wish list.  But you can be sure that the gifts God has for us that we choose to receive are picked out with extreme purpose and given with love and expectation.

Continue to give to others with joy, at Christmas time and always…

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But don’t forget about the power of receiving with love, grace, gratitude and openness, for this is a gift in itself.

(The one that keeps on givin’ the whole year long…) 

Traffic? BRING IT!

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I just traded vehicles with my neighbor.  Here’s the thing:

We both live on the same street which is way across the Naval Air Landing Strip on the other side of town from, well, everything we need to get to.

We both work on staff at church.  I with the wee Kindergartners, she with the Big Man On Campus.  

We both have 3 or more children, 2 or more of which are in middle school and signed up to usher, haul equipment and perform all manner of physical labor at a Toys For Tots event tonight at 7:00, arrival time of 5:00.

We both help each other out when there’s a church event or outing.  I guess it’s what one might call A Random Carpool With No Apparent Schedule–busiest mom wins, available mom drives.

So I’m Available To Drive Mom today.  And I’m primed and ready.

Last Friday there was a parTAY at church for ye olde middle schoolers.  Only one of said neighbor kids needed a lift.  No problemo.  Both of my girls had invited friends, however,  and one friend had a sister who also wanted to come.  Ther more the merrier, right?  So I hauled 7 giggly Tweens to the bash.  After the first pick up, 5 of us stopped for the mandatory gift exchange gift at our friendly neighborhood Walgreens.  Neighbor Boy insisted on a Pet Store hampster box with the urgency of a woman in labor.  It seems there was a PRIZE for MOST CREATIVE and he was ON IT.   He hauled patootie 3 doors down to acquire the coveted hampster box with catnip mice inside.  Perfect.

Stop #2 we pick up the sisters.  Who also didn’t have presents for the exchange.  So the 7 of them and I proceed to the friendly neighborhood Farm Fresh Grocery Store to find those Just Right gifts for random strangers.  Sister 1 drops her $20 somewhere in the store, shed nary a tear (it wasn’t HER money) and proceeded to keep telling me to turn up the music she brought (’cause apparently she doesn’t share my affinity for the Carpenters, and the Twilight soundtrack is SO November 2008).  About this time I realize that the 4 dozen cookies I was asked to bring are still sitting on my kitchen counter on the other side of the Naval Air Base and the party STARTED THREE MINUTES AGO!  Middle-schoolers know nothing about being “fashionably late.”  So I dump them off, reveling in the quiet.  The hours pass too quickly and before I know it, they are scrambling back in like puppies.  Middle-schoolers know NOTHING about “same seats.”  Each with their newly aquired presents from the swap.  A good time was had by all, though we can all testify that just because a vehicle boasts it CAN seat 8, doesn’t necessarily mean it SHOULD.  Especially if 7 of the 8 are rapidly growing even as we trek across town.

Tonight is round 2.

Tonight is the Big Christmas Concert in town.  The GOC of Virginia Beach, I’m only guesstimating, since I haven’t seen the concert yet.  Because it is a Toys For Tots event, and admission is an unwrapped toy, this gang will be hauling presents to the stage, and then onto the truck for delivery at concert’s end.  As I mentioned before, they need to be there at 5:00.  Neighbor Mom is working for the man until 4:00 then arriving at the concert as a Lead Usher so no time to drive across town on the other side of the Naval Air Base to retrieve her 3 kids.  So she asked me to bring them along with my 4 and she sweetened the deal with her Sequoia.  Which REALLY DOES seat 8.  Comfortably.  With room to spare. 

So she’ll be Bee Boppin around town in the Too Laaaaate Pilot 2006_honda_pilot_ext_1

while I’m living large in the Mac Daddy Toyota. sequoia

You gotta love a neighbor who not only trusts you with her kids, but her WHEELS!   You can bet I’ll be driving the speed limit today and jammin on the XM.  And no, I will NOT turn the music up.  Unless Karen’s singing.

From Atlantic to Pacific/

Gee, the traffic is terrific!

Low low low low low low low

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Humility, in my experience  is never any fun.  but man, is it useful.  I would always rather be hearing applause and praise than be left alone to figure out how I could have done something better, completely different, or shouldn’t have at all done anything.  Or even worse, corrected.  (shudder)

Like, for example, when a kid’s mom complains that they are not having any fun or learning anything new in Mad Science.  (No offense to the teacher).  ((None taken)).  (((Yeah right))).  Or like when you get invited over to someone’s house who KNOWS how to decorate, hasn’t moved 12 times in 1 marriage, and is (get this) WISE with their money.  Humbling.  No fun.

BUT there’s a bright side to humility.  Wait for it…wait for it…oh yeah…now I remember.  God likes the humble ones.  Of course God loves everyone, but He LIKES the humble.  He USES the humble.  We are the stable.  Have you ever figured that one out before?  Because it’s new to me this year.  We are the stable.  Or we ARE TO BE the stable. 

That dirty smelly stable was not the greatest place for a baby to be born.  A King should not have to be humble.  The creator of the universe could’ve MADE something…a brand new garden, perhaps, for His Baby to be born in, put down on, and cuddled for his first human moments.  But no.  The trough wet with animal spit ( I KNOW!  I’m talkin’  HUM.  BLE.) was not exactly what Mary had in mind for her very first baby.  And how ’bout that Heavenly Plus Sign she had?  Greetings from On High.  You are a faithful nobody who God knows will cooperate.  That’s why you were chosen.  Congratulations.  But I digress…back to the stable.

We are the stable.  Smelly with sin and bad choices.  Filled with animalistic desires.  More food.  Time to rest.  Do I have to work?  AGAIN?  I just worked yesterday.  Oh, alright, but I’m not gonna cooperate.  Moo.  Hee Haw.  Baaa.  I know what the cutesy nativities display, but do you really think the animals cared beyond a fleeting “Well, that’s something new? ”   I think it was quickly back to the cud-chewing.  Just like me.

So I’m TRYING to think of humility as a gift.  It prepares me for something AWEsome to come and be in me so that I can be better than I was.  Recognized in the Heavenlies.  Because I can scrub the barn down, change out the hay and shovel the manure all myself, but that can not compare to just being humble, useful and chosen for a special dwelling.  Even if I’m not the best or most appropriate choice.   I am the stable.  Be the stable.

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Humble Advent to ya~

The Adventures of SuperSonic Shannon–Dry Ice Capades

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OK, yesterday was FUN!

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(not actually me or my picture)

It is Dry Ice week for my classes, also it’s week 5 out of 6 so there’s a little extra joy around Mad Science camp.  Which has nothing to do with the chili cook-off party scheduled for later this week.

There’s really no point to this story, so don’t be expecting a big punch line. 

My 2nd-3rd grade girls did a wonderful job acting out molecules in solids, (all bunched up) liquids, (partially connected but able to move freely) and gasses (completely separated and moving even faster).   As we “heated up” the molecules, they separated, had more energy and changed states of matter.  Oh, and I learned from a 2nd grader there’s a FOURTH state of matter.  Plasma.  Did you know this?  (The manual doesn’t tell me how to act THAT one out).

Wearing my dashing goggles and sturdy gloves, I carried a chunk of DEADLY (not really) dry ice around the class which we oh-so-carefully blew on, put a pair of scissors and spoon on to hear/feel the vibrations.  Then I added water to the spoon and we watched it freeze in about 25 seconds.  Now I know what God feels like with the oceans in his hands–it reminds me of the lyric “Who told the ocean you can only come this far…”  but I digress.

THEN we got to do the Mad Science that every kid has been dreaming of since their parent signed them up.  Colorful water in an Erlenmeyer flask bubbling over with “smoke.”  Actually, the CO2 gas was trapped inside the bubbes and it snaked out and all over the flask onto the tray.  Who’s the coolest in-control Mad Science teacher???  Oh yeah, that would be me.  SuperSonic Shannon.  (Or whoever is doing Dry Ice on any given week).

Then we used the same experiment to channel the energy from the reaction to blow up balloons–trying different ways–more Dry Ice, more hot water, etc.

You should’ve seen the looks on the mom’s faces as I poured “smoking” water into the take home color-changing cups for the students to drink as they left.  What fun!

On to 1st grade Wednesday!!

Under the Tunnel and through the Hills…

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Now THAT’S what I call a Christmas partay!

After a whirlwind week of unpacking from NC and repacking for N VA, hauling kids around caroling and then back to some very hospitable neighbors, Hubby and I got to ride the mac-daddy Spectrum bus to The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA.  33 of us co-workers and spouce/guests left the Spectrum parking lot at 6am on Saturday morning for the 5 hour drive.  The fun began with a riveting 2.3 minute game of Bingo, then it was on to the Christmas word search (which I won) and some maddening brain teasers (which I bailed).  Fortunately we were done before the long and winding road up the mountain.  I asked if Dramamine was going to be the prize for the next game.  No one laughed.

After a fabulous lunch buffet (next to the Virginia Young Republicans:  “Vote McDonnell”–thanks for the Hershey kisses–now THAT’S change we can ALL believe in) inspiring speeches WITH SCRIPTURE (can I get an AMEN!) by the bosses and team building cheers by the departments, complete with napkin pom-poms and a “pyramid,” we checked into our room and marveled at the view.

Homestead view

She is lovely, n’est ce pas?

I believe what happened was an almost overbookage at Ye Olde Homestead.  But not to fear…one Brave Leader…how shall I say this…potentially “ripped someone a new one” last week and voila–somehow we managed to get the pimped out rooms (note the appropriate use of current youth lingo.  A sure sign of the parent of a teenager). 

Just look at the porch off our suite:

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                                                                     I mean,               Come.  On.

So then after a delightful nap, we went swimming at the naturally heated mineral water pool.  I have no picture because I know you are beginning to hate me. 

We walked around some before dinner, marvelling at the wine room,

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…the gingerbread village,

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…and the giant REAL tree.  How did they get that in there?

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So dinner and conversation was delightful.  My bargain blouse from Steinmart was deemed “funky” which gave me much joy.  I was pleased with my dessert choice (key lime pie) even though hubby wouldn’t share even one bite of his chocolate pecan pie, one of his coworkers gave me a bite of his.  We busted some moves on the dance floor even though I wore neither apple-bottom jeans, nor boots with the fur.  Chris had a killer AC/DC air-guitar solo.  And by solo, believe me when I say EMPTY DANCE FLOOR except for him.  And, for about 30 seconds, the DJ.  But Chris tromped him and sent him back to the turntables (?)  And, my darlin’, we looked wonderful tonight. 

I had a creative worship experience as I took a 45 minute Sunday morning swim.  Then instead of the $30/person (not-included) breakfast buffet we opted for a muffin and yogurt with a few others at Martha’s Market (AKA: “Recession Cafe”).  We found some great ornaments and thank you notes for the families who had put up with our children for what they may later admit was the longest 48 hours of their adult lives if they weren’t so darn polite, and it was around this time we began receiving various texts, “when r u gonna b home?”

After a brisk walk in the snow and some more general lolling…even the hallway OUTSIDE the spa is relaxing…

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…it was time to board the bus for home.

I really should wind it up here, but I can’t resist sharing that we watched The Princess Bride and football on the way home and stopped at Panera for boxed lunches.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.  Or a weekend. 

Oh yeah…the kids were safe, had fun, and were even glad to see us too.  And we were all home in time for the Amazing Race finale. 

 

I don’t know WHY God is so good to me.  But let’s just say even though it was a killer Christmas party, it’s still Thanksgiving around here.

Over the River and Through the Woods

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To Grandmother’s house we went!

You know how it is when you go on a trip, scurrying before you leave to get “everything” done?  And you know how it is when you get back and have twice as much to do since you were gone for several days? 

Me too.

But we had a FABULOSO time in the Hills with Grand & G-Daddy, Sisters, Brothers, Cousins and Foreign Exchange Students from Brazil (Fred) and Germany (Katia).  So it was as international as that there H.O.P. 

It all began on Thanksgiving day as I sat on my BEhind for multiple hours watching the parade and Hubby at the grill.  Two–count em TWO turkeys destined for NC.  We ate ribs.

Chef Hubby

 

Oh yes, perceptive reader.  That is indeed bacon on the turkeys.  Mmmmm

So then we proceed to pack our intentional pajamas, many movies for the car, and our cold-weather clothes and trek 7 hours to West Jefferson, NC.  We barely beat the St. Louis contingent who left a day ahead of us.   But we did manage to make it just in time for some chocolate pecan pie.

Saturday morning found 19 of us on a mission to find the Best Christmas Tree Ever from the Cutest Little Tree Farm You Ever Did See.

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The trees were so great and so cheap, that we bought four!  One for GrandView, one for Atlanta, one for St. Louis, and one for Virginia Beach!  We got to go on a hayride which stopped on the side of an actual Blue Ridge mountain and practically dumped us out like we were on the Titanic.  Only on dry land.  On a farm.  In a wagon.  And not actually life-threatening cold temperatures.  But we still managed some drama.  Shocking.

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Then it was back to Grands for our ACTUAL Thanksgiving feast.  Total Yum Fest.

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Cousin Taylor (GA) headed up the crew with cousin Darby (TX) and Bo and Whitney (VA).  They did an awesome job making Breyers coffee ice cream balls covered in crushed oreos with Grands fudge sauce on top.  (Grand was resting while the oreos were in crush mode).

THEN came football.  Next were showers.  Then before we knew it, it was CHRISTMAS!   There’s a lot to be said for celebrating early and saving on shipping costs.  All my sisters and neices (and Foreign Exchange Cousin) loved their Children of the World bracelets from cousin Anna Grace in Alabama!

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Then after we all tucked our clean selves in for the night (7 in my room) we were up & packed and out the door for church by 8 a.m.  That’s EIGHT OF THE CLOCK.  Packed.  Dressed.  Prepared to worship.

Bethy & Bo were baptised by G-Daddy along with their cousin Chandler.  It was an awesomely wonderful Family ThanksChristgiving.