Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas recounted

We all had a wonderful Christmas this year. On Christmas Eve we went to church and heard the final advent message. We need to worship more, consume less, give more and love all. I left the service feeling very loving. I haven't been doing so well with the consume less part but I now have something to work on, right?

We then went to Outback Steak House which has been our tradition for the last several years. We were seated almost right away and the food was as good as ever. The only down side was that Laurel's boyfriend's meal was misplaced and he received his food a lot later than the rest of us. They apologized and gave us his meal for free. He thanked us for inviting him along and we said "gee, your meal was free you can come anytime!"

We then came home and everyone opened one present. I received a beautiful sweater from Laurel. Next we played a rousing game of 'Apples to Apples'. (the Jr. version) Leah really impressed me with her reading ability, needing help with only a few words. Laurel did the best by far. She seemed to be able to judge what would be the most likely chosen word. For instance, Leah always picks the funniest answer.

The next morning we opened more presents. Santa was kind to us this year! Steph and Leah received many Webkinz and Nintendo DS games. (they also received some clothes but that wasn't as exciting) For Laurel it was mostly movies and clothes. I received a book that I have been wanting to read, 'Breaking Back' by James Blake. I know you are thinking, but Barb that is a non-fiction book. I know it is but it has it all, my love of tennis and I am a huge fan of James. I, of course have finished the book already and loved it.

We had Christmas dinner with my dad's side of the family. It was crazy with way too many people for the space but a lot of fun. My baby cousin Meredith is absolutely adorable. I think every year that it could be the last with my grandmother, who is 93 but still going strong. I hope for many more Christmases to come with her.

We will be celebrating with my mom's family this weekend.

I will definitely have to start to 'consume less' with the start of the new year.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


My husband and I taught our first lesson for the middle school students at church this past Sunday. We are going to be teaching once-a-month and I really think that I am going to like this even better than teaching the younger children. They pay attention, participate and are pretty funny and we have doughnuts after class. So, all good.

The lesson was about 'what Christmas is all about'. For most people it is about 'giving and receiving' which is a big part in my family. I love to buy gifts for my children and see their excitement on Christmas morning. I like to see how much they enjoy shopping for the people on their list. (they take after me) Of course the down side of this is : What if you get a bad gift or don't get what you want? Is your Christmas ruined? So much of this relies on others, to buy you the right present or for them to like what you picked out.

Another big part of Christmas is 'gathering together'. I have a very large family, my dad is the eldest of 7. So with lots of cousins, who are starting to get married and have children of their own it makes a huge group. Even if some people don't come we overflow the house. This year we are going to my aunt and uncle's in Cranberry Twp. (bless them) I wonder if some time in the future we might have to rent a hall. It is really nice to get together with everyone. I am enjoying my cousins most of whom are grown-ups now, although my youngest cousin is ~9 months old and is absolutely adorable. At the lesson we talked about 'the weird family member'. We all have one right? We mentioned that the weird person in your family could be you. All of the children assured us that it wasn't them and then told us about various strange family members they have. We had to reign them in at this point, everyone wanted to out-weird each other. Do we want to hear about groping relatives? No!!

Next we talked about getting in the 'Christmas spirit'. Decorating...baking cookies...sending cards... shopping...wrapping presents...going to concerts... the list goes on and on. Do we all have to be like Martha Stewart? I am definitely not!!! I do put up a wreath and we have some white lights in our bushes but we look like minimalists compared with some of our neighbors. There is one family in my neighborhood that goes way overboard. (I bet you have one too!) They have a wide assortment of light-up plastic figures, tons of lights and even boxes with moving figures like store windows. It has so much going on it looks a bit trashy, but they love doing it and its not just for Christmas, they decorate for all holidays.

My husband and I are a little bah..humbugish when it comes to this spirit thing. He doesn't care if we decorate at all. Cookies? Do we really need them? Christmas cards? I rarely send them although last year we had a family picture taken at Disney and sent it to relatives. I still have some if any of you would like to put it in a prominent place and gaze fondly at us throughout the year. Any takers? Okay, I admit that I do like shopping and I don't mind wrapping presents although I haven't started yet.

So, what is Christmas really all about? We know right? Jesus coming to earth as a baby to redeem us all. I love Christmas Eve. The work is done and we can focus on God's wonderful gift to us. I hope that you all have a wonderful stress-free Christmas and find the time to focus on Jesus this season.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


It is the time of year when the schools put on their 'Holiday' performances. So far I have gone to see Steph's band concert and my nephew Tim in the Heinz Chapel Choir. Laurel's concert is coming up. I'm not sure when but I am sure she will let me know.

Steph is in the 6th grade band and also the jazz band. I was surprised that they had flutes in the jazz band , not being a typical jazz instrument, but I think they want to provide everyone the opportunity to play more ie: practice more. We heard the 5th grade band preform first. I thought they did a good job. (way to go Kit on the drums!) The jazz band and the 6th graders also did really well. It is good to see the progress that one more year of playing makes. Unfortunately it was hard to hear the flutes. I did see Steph moving her fingers so I assume she was playing.

One of the band teachers came to the microphone and told us that perhaps he was maybe even more excited to hear the bands as we were. And then went on to say it was because he taught the students in elementary school and was anxious to hear their progress. I thought his first statement was really funny. I can't say with all honesty that I was excited to go to this concert, so his being more excited was very probable. I know that it is important to go to the concerts and be supportive, but to say I was excited would be going a bit far. I was more resigned to going. Of course, I did think it was a good middle school concert as far as that goes.

Tim's concert was something all together different. The Heinz Chapel Choir is the best choir I have ever heard. They are absolutely amazing. If any of you have the chance to see them I highly recommend it. I went to the concert with my husband, parents, my sister and her first grade son Danny. I was concerned about Danny's behavior because he is normally really rambunctious and sitting through an hour and a half concert might be difficult for him. I was really impressed with how well he behaved. I think that his attention span is greatly improved since going to school all day.

Before the concert we had dinner at the Pitt cafeteria. It is 100 times better that it was back in my day. (wow, I sound so old saying that) They have different stations that you can go to and it is an eat as much as you want type of place. I went to the Japanese stir-fry place. You put whatever vegetables you want in a bowl and then when it is your turn they take the bowl and cook the veggies with the protein choice you make. When they give you back your food you can choose between 4 different sauces to put on it. It was really good although the rice was kind of mushy. I spoke with several students that said they like the changes but that you get bored with the choices after a while. I bet they wouldn't like manna for 40 years.

It was a fun night. Do any of you have concert stories?