Archive | December 2011

Pennies from Heaven

This morning I was thinking that I should get out of bed and get blogging about something.  I wanted to write a blog about my Grandpa, the woodcarver.  There is so much to write about Grandpa, that I thought he deserved his very own blog.

I thought I should really think about this before I go off starting a new blog.

I ate breakfast, and took Lila for a walk.  All the while I thought about my Grandpa and all the things I could write about him.

Grandpa lived just down the block from us.  Every night, my Mom made up a plate of food for Grandpa.  Grandpa’s dinner was whatever we were going to have that night.  Every Thursday, Mom made sausages, boiled potatoes and sauerkraut.  I watched her scoop up Grandpa’s portion.  Then she covered the plate and food with the top of a pan and gave it to me.  I walked down the alley, carrying Grandpa’s plate of food.  I always entered Grandpa’s house by the back door.  He sat there waiting for me at the kitchen table.  He liked to look out the window.

“Hi Grandpa,” I would say very loudly.

“Hello,” he would say, and he was sure to share a story or two with me.  He took out a dollar bill and gave it to me.  I went back home and ate dinner with my family.  Everyday Grandpa gave me a dollar bill.

Today, after my walk with Lila, we went into our backyard, and I scooped up some of the little/big messes that Lila leaves behind.  We walked on the side of the house, and because Lila has such a fascination with paper, I noticed that she sniffed out something close to our house, next to the raspberry bushes.  Lila picked it up and gave it to me.  Usually when Lila gets any kind of paper, she automatically eats it.  Today, I was surprised when she ran over to me and gave me the piece of paper, which just so happened to be a $10 bill.

“Good girl,” I said to her over and over again while I petted her head.

Of course, I took this as a sign because Grandpa always gave me one dollar bills.  Since I haven’t delivered him his dinner in almost 35 years, I took it as a sign that I should blog about him, and with inflation, a dollar bill from back then might be the same value as a $10 bill today.

I hope you will check out the blog about My Grandpa, The Woodcarver:   www.mygrandpathewoodcarver.wordpress.com.

Let me know what you think.  Do you believe in signs or would you have just thought it was a coincidence?

Christmas Times Change

Our three children slept pretty peacefully those Christmas Eve nights when they were little.  I remember telling them that they needed to go to sleep so Santa could come.  My Mom told me that too when I was little, and it worked.  I wish I could have followed that advice – I was too excited to see how our little children would react to what Santa had left for them – so my Christmas Eve nights as a Mom to our young kids were spent tossing and turning!  I wanted my children to keep special memories of gifts from Santa in their minds like I do.

I remember being little and removing the Christmas wrapping to find a small toy that looked like a radio.  I turned the dial, and the toy radio played “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  The pictures revolved around on a little screen in the front as the tune played.  The pictures told the story of Mary and her lamb.  My Mom said the gift was from Santa.  I wondered why Santa left me a toy – I didn’t even know him!

I hope our children will remember how their Dad made sure that they left out cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve.  We left a plate of cookies right by the fireplace.  The children thought Santa would like the sugar cookies the best, and, of course, Santa had to have a peanut blossom cookie too.  Mike also made sure that we left some carrots for Rudolph.

Christmas mornings I lay in bed quietly waiting to hear the pitter patter of our children’s little feet.  The kids took turns every year coming into our bedroom.  Sometimes it depended on who was the youngest at the time.

One Christmas morning, Laura came into our bedroom to tell us that she heard Santa’s sleigh on our rooftop that night when she was starting to fall asleep.  That made me even more excited to see what Santa left.

“Mommy, can we go look to see what Santa left for us?” each one would say over the years.  We sometimes had to wait patiently for the other children to wake up.  While we waited, we cuddled together.  Since they kept asking when we could go look, it wasn’t very long until we woke up the sleepy heads in the house to remind them what day it was.

The first thing we did was to go to the fireplace to see if Santa took any of the cookies.  Sometimes Santa ate all the cookies and sometimes he just left a cookie with a bite out of one or the other.  Then we commented on how hungry or how much a hurry Santa must have been in depending on how the cookies looked.  No matter how the cookies looked, Santa always drank the milk.  Sometimes the carrots had teeth marks in them, or they were gone too, so we knew Rudolph had enjoyed a little bit of a snack with Santa.

Christmas times change, and now we have seemed to forgotten to leave the cookies out for Santa and the carrot sticks for Rudolph.  Now I wonder if I should think it’s silly to miss those sleepless nights when I excitedly waited to see how our little darlings liked their gifts from Santa.  I loved to see the kids’ smiling faces when they looked to see what Santa had left in or underneath their stockings.  They always smiled with joy and showed us what they received.  Watching them receive what Santa gave was a special gift to me.

Since we haven’t been leaving Christmas cookies out for Santa, I have been sleeping better on Christmas Eve night!

What Are Some of Your Favorite Christmas Decorations?

I used to dread going through what I thought was the chore of putting up all the Christmas decorations.  Now, each time I open a cardboard box, it feels like I am visiting old friends.  Each box holds a treasure.  
 

I have known this beautiful angel most of my life.  My Mom created her.  I used to love looking up at her when she was on the Christmas tree when I was a kid!  We are so lucky to have her on our Christmas tree.

I remember making these pine cones decorated with glitter when I was in school.  I was thrilled when Laura brought one home for our Christmas tree when she was in first grade.

When Katie and Matt were in kindergarten, they made Santa faces that were in the shape of their hands.  Now I can look at the Santa, and it reminds me how small their hands were then.

Katie’s Brownie Troop made these fancy pieces of candy when she was in third grade.  I remember that it was a bit of a chore because there were sequins all over the place, and since we used glue to stick the sequins on to the styrofoam balls, those sequins stuck to our hands and lots of other things! 

My Mom gave this shelf to me many years ago.  It used to be in our dining room when I was very little, and I remember my Mom holding me as I pointed at all of the knick knacks.  Most of the knick knacks on here were given to us by friends over the years.

One Christmas I enjoyed crocheting these angels to give as presents.

It is also nice to receive handcrafted items.  I treasure this counted cross-stitch Santa that Mike’s Aunt Colette gave to us one Christmas.

Mike’s Mom gave us a beautiful set of dishes that she used for many Christmas celebrations!  The dishes bring back memories of the times we shared together at Mike’s Mom and Dad’s house.

See how we barricaded the Christmas tree?  This is how we are protecting our precious ornaments from Lila, our curious dog!  We have only lost two ornaments so far.  I remember seeing a picture similar to this on Life with Sampson and Delilah, a blog about two labs.   

What are some of your favorite Christmas decorations?

Oh Christmas Tree – So Glad to Meet You

“Hi, can I help you find something?” the girl said with a smile as she looked up at me.  Her red cap covered the top of her head of long, brown and shiny hair.

“Well, right now, I am trying to find my husband. He got away from me right when we got here. I don’t know where he is,” I said.

“I have heard a lot of people say that they are looking for someone today.”  Her smile was contagious.  This was our first time getting a Christmas tree without any of our children along to help.  Since Mike is always in a bit of a hurry, I should not have been so surprised that he disappeared from me so soon.

“Really?” I asked, as I spotted Mike coming out of the forest of Christmas trees in the lot.  He walked towards us.  “Oh, there he is,” I said to the girl.

“How tall of a tree do you want?” the girl asked us.

“Oh, about that tall,” I said, as I held my hand over Mike’s head.

“That’s about six feet,” said another worker as he walked by.

“Where are the Fraser Firs?” I asked the girl.  Mike went off again to find some fir trees that he liked.

The girl showed me some fir trees and named many other types of trees as we walked along the dirt path.

“A blue spruce is good if you have a cat because it is pokey. It will poke a cat if it wants to play with the tree,” she said.

“We have a new dog, and I don’t know how the dog is going to react to having a tree in the house.”

“My dog doesn’t play with the tree, but it does like to drink the water.”

Mike found a Fraser Fir that he liked, but we noticed that it had two tops that had grown a little above the center of the tree.

“We can cut some of that off, if you like,” said the girl. “What kind of top do you put on your tree?” she asked.

“We have a star.  The star could fit right over all these little things poking out,” I said.

Mike twirled the tree around and we noticed a bare spot in the back.

“We can face that part towards the wall,” I said.

“Would you like a fresh-cut?” she asked.

“Yes.”  The girl quickly found her brother and asked him to saw off the bottom of the tree.  She told him that Dad showed her how to do it, but that Dad didn’t want her to do that yet.  The brother sawed away some of the branches and the bottom as he mumbled some things that we couldn’t hear.  It made us realize why his sister was the one out selling trees.

“Do you want to haul this out to the car for me?” Mike joked to the girl.

“Oh, I can find someone to help you,” she said.

“Oh, that’s okay,” Mike said, as he started to haul the tree to the van.  We exchanged “Merry Christmas” wishes as we said our goodbyes and thanked each other.

Since our own children were not with us, I was so glad to meet a very nice and helpful young lady; someone who shared some Christmas cheer with us.

After we got home and had the tree all set up, Lila sniffed at it a little. I put water in the stand, and it was if the sales girl had been predicting the future:  Lila drank some of the water.

If things continue this way, it looks like I am going to have to water the tree more than usual this year!

Making Friends at the Dog Park

When I opened the door to the van to let Lila out, she almost got away from me.  I managed to grab her leash as she ran off to greet the other newcomers to the park.  I was thankful that my arm did not get dislocated as Lila pulled me along.  Lila greeted two leashed dogs as she circled around them and their mom managing to get her leash wrapped around the legs of the mom who was standing just outside of the gate.  

“Sorry,” I said, as I tried to untangle Lila’s leash from the lady’s legs.  Sometimes having a dog can put us in embarrassing situations, and this time I felt I was breaking the boundaries of closeness between humans.  I figured out that it would be best if I grabbed onto Lila’s collar.  I unfastened and refastened the leash and got it untangled without knocking anyone over.  The lady and her dogs were free to go into the park, and so were we. 

Thankfully, dogs can go off leash after entering the park.  Lila ran off to see the other dogs and humans.  Lila is often attracted to people who have a Chuckit Ball Launcher.  People pretend that they are not irritated by Lila retrieving the balls that belong to their dogs.   One time a man wanted to play Chuckit with his dog.  The man did fake throws to two labs.  Yes, Lila was one of them.  The labs did get faked out and ran for the non-existent ball that was nowhere to be found.  While they were happily running side by side in search of the ball, the man chuckled while he threw the real ball in the other direction to his dog.  The man did three fake throws before the labs realized what was going on. 


Chuckit Ball Launcher

Since I was slightly embarrassed by Lila running off and playing with others who had a Chuckit, I decided to buy one.  I thought we would have a lot of fun playing fetch together.  At first, Lila was very excited and she did a great job of playing.  Then the novelty wore off.

“Drop, drop,” I said to Lila as she firmly held the ball on one side of her mouth while her tongue hung out the other side.  She continued to walk around me, her eyes on mine, not dropping the ball.  I held the Chuckit Ball Launcher in my hand waiting to scoop up the ball.  I waited for her to drop that ball so that I could chuck it, but off she ran to greet a human who was walking along the path on the other side of the park. 

“Hi, Buddy,” the lady said in a very high voice as she petted the top of Lila’s head.  This is when Lila dropped the ball for that lady.  The lady bent over, picked up the ball and threw it in the center of the park without even using a Chuckit Ball Launcher.

“Jeez,” I thought to myself.  “I am the one who buys her food, buys her treats, makes sure she gets fed on time, lets her outside, takes her for long walks, takes her to the dog park with a brand new Chuckit Ball Launcher, and what does she do?  She goes off and plays with some other lady.  What about me?  Is she forgetting about the own members of her pack?  The ones who love and take care of her?”

Lila ran off to chase the ball and brought it back to the lady.  I decided to walk along the path too, my hands in my pockets, shoulders slumped, face to the ground, making sure not to step into any droppings, and feeling a little unloved.

Lila found me and pranced around as if reminding me that she did not forget about me, as she firmly clutched the ball, still not willing to drop it for me.  

As we walked along the path coming back towards the entrance, I met the lady who called Lila “Buddy.”

“My dog went over to you with the ball.  I can’t believe that she…”  I said, without saying hello first.

“Ya, my dog does that too.  Sometimes I go running after my dog trying to get the ball.  I know that you’re not suppose to do that, but I do,” the lady said.  “Your dog is so sweet and friendly.”

She bent down to pat Lila on the head, and her dog growled showing her jealousy.  I realized that I felt just like that dog!

What else can I do but chalk it up to Lila showing me how to make friends or could it be that she just likes to see me annoyed?