Saturday, December 13, 2014

our christmas music date night

It's been our tradition every year to have a date night that includes really good Christmas music. This year we had talked about going to the Portland Symphony on December 21st, but when we went to get tickets, the show was sold out. I was a little bummed, but we persevered. I put a post on facebook asking for ideas of where to go and got a few. Several people said we should go to the Singing Christmas Tree, but you know, I have no earthly desire to ever see a singing Christmas tree program again thanks to Tennessee Temple University and Highland Park Baptist Church. Three years of that in a row was enough for me. We had a suggestion to go to a youth theatre musical, but that wasn't getting my goat either. There was a Bluegrass Christmas show that I would've loved to have seen, but it was on a Tuesday night and that totally won't work for Phil's schedule. We thought about having a repeat year, but I like it to be something new and different. Then Phil's aunt posted that they go every year to see a local group called The Trail Band. We checked it out, and got tickets. The next day she called and said they had tickets that they were going to give us, but it was too late.

After a quick stop at Burgerville, we headed to the old Aladdin Theatre in southeast Portland. Didn't see any genies, in case you were wondering.

We got there right after the doors opened, so we just hung out in the balcony and listened to the music that was playing before the show.
And took a date night selfie.
There are 8 musicians in the Trail Band and they all sang at one point or other and they played a ton of different instruments. My favorite was the hammered dulcimer, but they were all really good. They have an eclectic set of music - several Irish pieces, jigs and such, a little bit of New Orleans, Beach Boyish tunes with some Wipe Out thrown in, traditional, Gospel, and original pieces. They had a guest vocalist sing a few songs and another guy came and played the banjo and slide guitar. He was incredible. The whole crowd joined them on Silent Night and that was pretty spectacular too. Then they had a comedian come out. His schtick was that he was playing a kid, dressed up as a shepherd, and he used his toys to tell the story of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem. It was hysterical. 
On the way home we were talking about whether or not we've gone on a musical date night every year since we've been married or not. Here are the ones I remember. . .

  • the Nutcracker
  • Michael W. Smith
  • Manheim Steamroller
  • Michael Allen Harrison, piano
  • Aaron Meyer, violin
  • Tuba Christmas
  • the Grotto Festival of Lights

I'll have to keep thinking and see if I can come up with any others.

This December date night is one of my favorite traditions. Thanks, Babe, for taking me out last night.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

christmas listing

Making these gooey salted caramel vanilla butter cookies. . . a test run as a potential cookie for the exchange on Sunday. If all goes as planned, these will be the ones. If not, I may have to resort to rolling 5 dozen buckeye balls because I don't really have a backup plan.
Planning to do Christmas cards this year. I think it's been at least two years since I sent out more than like 5 or 6. I may even throw in a newsletter this year. I got the stationery for super cheap last January.
Counting the cards we've received so far. . . 4. Three in the mail and one at church. 
Revisiting my old December daily and Christmas scrapbooks. I put them out in the living room for the month of December and it's just fun looking back at what we did, and how our decorations have changed, and where we went for our annual musical date, and all that jazz. For the record, I bought myself a sweater: my annual Christmas present to me. I haven't bought my Christmas CD yet, but I have two or three in mind that I'd love. 

Crossing off a few things on our to do list. First, the outside lights are up and done - YEAH! Sunday afternoon was a great day to get the outside stuff done. Bonus points to Phil505 for risking life and limb up there on the ladder.
Second, we went this afternoon and picked out our tree, a 6 ft. Noble fir from the same lot we went to last year. It's down the street and they have a good selection. Plus this year, the guy didn't charge us tax! It's currently drying out (it rained today) so I'll decorate it tomorrow.

Listening to channel 975 on Dish - The Christmas Message. I have yet to start listening to my Christmas CD collection. Right now, the tv is just easier.
Loving, loving, loving the Pentatonix version of Mary, Did you Know? A.MA.ZING!!! Seriously, if you haven't heard it yet, click the link.
Learning a new Christmas song, Come and Worship. Old familiar words, new tune. And it has a great piano part. We taught it to the congregation on Sunday and it was like they've known this song all along. It was absolutely beautiful.
Appreciating my parents. We love you.
Getting lots of requests to sub, but I'm booked thru Christmas break, so I'm turning people down almost every day.
Needing to get some stuff up on the walls. So boring around here lately. I took the stuff down in the kitchen and dining room when I painted and have only hung a few of the things back up.

Drinking ginger ale. Regular for now. Cranberry for the cookie exchange. (It's tradition.)

Thinking about buying a sewing machine. Phil's aunt has one she said she'd sell me. Question is, would I use it enough to make it worth while? I've wanted one for the longest time to sew on scrapbook projects and occasionally something else with fabric. We'll see.
Trying a new recipe. Actually I made it last night, so that should be tried a new recipe. Korean Beef. It's made with ground beef and has a little tiny Asian kick to it. Served it over rice with steamed broccoli. It was really good. I had leftovers for lunch and it was still just as good. Definitely going into the rotation. Pinterest for the win!

Deciding on niece and nephew gifts. Always a challenge when you don't get to see them nearly enough. 
Reflecting. Well, the lights are reflecting on the pond and I like it.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

winter wonderland

So yesterday was the ladies' event I've been planning for all year. Seriously, I picked the theme just a few days after the party last December and have been pinning and planning and crafting stuff for it ever since. It was such a fun theme. I envisioned tons of snowflakes everywhere. I pictured the stage decorated as if snow was falling. And since I had plenty of ladies sign up to host a table this year, I didn't have to figure out a centerpiece and set up a table. So I went full-fledged on making the stage look pretty. I don't think I did all that bad bringing my vision to life. I had help stringing the cotton balls, but the rest of it I did myself. I was at the church for about three hours three nights in a row to get it all made and up there.

I had glittery snowflakes, styrofoam snowflakes, cotton balls, and these big 3-dimensional snowflakes I made hanging on fishing line from a wire. The shadows on the wall really added to the effect. I learned about those snowflakes several years ago. I taught my 3rd and 4th graders how to make them and we had them hanging in our classroom from the ceiling. They are big and so pretty. I just used regular copy paper.
We had 11 tables set up. I got to sit at this one. My friend Kathy crocheted the huge snowflake in the center, the smaller snowflake coasters (which we got to take home), and the trees. She also made all of us a pair of earrings which were in the boxes that she also made. She has a degree in art, that girl, and she is amazing.
There were lots of cute snowmen all over the place, but these cookies won the prize in my book.
We brought back to life the metallic cardboard trees that I cut out and spray-painted last year. This table holds all the baby clothes, diapers and wipes, toiletries, and blankets that we collected for Options360, our local crisis pregnancy center.
My dear friend Barbara made the banner. They all have a little bling with glimmery jewels. Barbara is all about the bling, and this was perfect.
Barbara's sister-in-law, and a dear friend of mine, Sue, was our guest speaker. She shared an amazing devotional with us. Her husband is a pastor of one of the churches in our conference and she was recently voted as our new conference women's president. She is a super talented paper crafter, so you know we're kindred spirits there, but she loves the Lord and she is a faithful prayer warrior, and she was the perfect choice to have come and share with us.
So now that it's over, I can work on getting our house decorated (we did the outside lights today) and get the tree up (probably Tuesday), and get ready for our musical date night (Friday) and my cookie exchange (Sunday). After that, things should slow down a bit :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

great and precious promises

So I mentioned the other day that I'm going through an Advent Scripture reading plan every morning. Yesterday I happened to read the account of Abram in Genesis 12 when God told him to pack up his family and move to the place He would show him. "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."  I thought about how we, as Christians, are a recipient of that blessing. Through Abraham as the first listed in the geneology of Christ in Matthew 1, we have received the promised one. Emmanuel, God is with us. That led into more thought about promises in Scripture. I sat there and thought of a few and reflected on how He will never leave us, that He will complete what He has started, He will satisfy our needs, He heals the broken-hearted, He will give you rest, His love is unfailing. So many wonderful things. In fact, we briefly touched on the same topic in church recently. The pastor had people in the congregation call out promises that we can claim.

So, I get in my car and leave for work and as I turn off our street, I see the most amazing sunrise. You know what immediately popped into my head? His promises are new every morning. I kept adjusting my side mirror so I could see it better. 
The sky was like electric. That yellow was glowing. I finally had to pull over in the Safeway parking lot so I could snap a picture. I think when God is pounding something into your head like that, it's good to stop and take a picture. It's kind of like how the Israelites built the stone altars to remember the things God had done for them. I zoomed too far and it turned out blurry, and rarely does a picture ever do any sunrise justice, but it was too beautiful to pass up. I was also hoping to snag Mt. Hood in it, but I'm pretty sure that it's hidden by the trees.
So I continue on my way and I get into traffic and head for the freeway. I turn right to merge onto it and what do I see right in front of me? A rainbow. Anybody seeing a theme here? 
I get off yet another exit and turn right again, and I kid you not, there's another rainbow. Well, maybe it was just the other end of the first rainbow, I don't know. I didn't take a picture of that because, well, I do mostly try to drive safe. But it was the neatest thing, to have that all play out right before my very eyes in the matter of about two hours time. 

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. 2 Peter 1:4

Thursday, December 4, 2014

santa came to school

I was subbing for a reading intervention teacher today and had a bunch of small groups. Just after lunch I had a small group of 2nd graders come in. The first boy said, "Look Mrs. B., I got new shoes!" I oooed and awwwwed and made it out to be a big deal, because to them, it is. These kids don't have a lot. Most of them get free breakfast and lunch, they go home with food bags, they visit the family resource center for school supplies and clothes. Getting new shoes is a pretty big deal. So I was surprised when another one of the boy says, "I got new shoes too!" I was like, "No way, you both got new shoes?" And then one of the girls pipes up and says, "Ya, Santa came and brought all of us a new pair of shoes, our whole entire class!"

You guys, these kids were so excited about their shoes. They had the biggest, happiest smiles on their faces. I don't know, it's like I immediately felt the spirit of Christmas wrap around my heart, and if I had a moment, I would've teared right up in front of them. At recess a little while later, I went in and talked to the teacher and told her how stoked her kids were about their new shoes. She said, "I know, isn't it great?" And I think we both got a little teary eyed.

So, whoever it was that donated shoes for an entire class of 2nd graders, thank you. You reminded me again of what it's all about.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

4th grade art 101

The class I was in had art today. Some of them stayed in at recess to finish up a mural. I'm thinking this is one of the coolest art projects I've seen in a while that wasn't on pinterest. Each student got to make their own individual picture with the monochromatic blue background and then six or seven of them finished this one. I had to turn in a laptop to the library before I left and this caught my eye on my way down the hall. I had to just stand and stare at it for a bit.

It reminded me of a Christmas Nativity scene art project I did with my students a couple of times. We'll revisit that in a much larger format sometime in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

early december stuff

December's here, people. Only 23 more days until Christmas. Haven't even started our shopping yet, so there's that.

I'm going to attempt another December Daily, a little scrapbook project that documents the month of December. I don't think I've actually finished any of them that I've started in years past, but what I do have done and documented, I love. You can see some of mine here. So I'm starting 2014 by including the following random bits of December.

Our new pastor asked Phil and I to help with the Advent candle on Sunday. Phil read the Scripture passage and I lit the purple candle. Growing up, Advent wasn't something that was really ever talked about in our church. It wasn't ever mentioned that I recall until the pastor got married and his wife got the church going with the Advent wreath. But, both churches that we've attended in our days of marital bliss incorporate Advent in the Sunday morning services leading up to Christmas. I like it. I like the reflection. The promise of hope that it brings. The sense of thoughtfulness that you feel across the congregation. I like that it includes the softer, more mellow carols like Come Thou Long Expected Jesus and O Come O Come Emmanuel.

I tend to get all stressed out in December. There's always so much to do right at the beginning with the women's ministry lunch, and then once that's over, I have to hurry up and get the house decorated in time for my cookie exchange, and then figure out what kind of cookies to make and then get them made, and then there's list making and shopping and trying to budget and figure out how to do all that. I hate that feeling. So this year I've decided to try to get my focus off the stress and remember what it's all about in the first place. I'm following along with a couple of daily Advent Scripture readings that I found on pinterest. I pull the verses up on and then read them in a couple of different versions. Here's one of the passages from this morning in Isaiah 9.

Needless to say, I had Handel's Messiah running through my head all day.

Today I was in the staff room eating lunch and I noticed these cute little Hershey's kisses. I tried one and fell in love. Guess what I bought at the grocery store? It makes me want to figure out how to make peppermint bark.
I also came home with some egg nog for Phil. First quart of the season. It's always a special day. Only I forgot that last year he started getting the non-dairy kind because of his issues with milk products. Sorry babe, it's the thought that counts, right??? And at least it's the low-fat kind. I should get some bonus points for that anyway.

Happy December! Now go make some memories.