Category Archives: Christmas

What I Really Wanted For Christmas

It was a pretty great Christmas for our family.  We opened a lot of presents, ate a lot of cookies, and spent a lot of time together.  Our vacation officially is over today because everyone is back to work and school.

After each holiday, there’s always a bit of a disappointment, as I pack away the decorations and get my home back into order.

Sure, I got the Barbie I wanted for Christmas. 

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But once all these packages were opened, I realized there were a lot of things I wanted that I didn’t get.

Call me spoiled.

Call me a dreamer.

But, whatever ya’ wanna’ call me, I gotta’ let you know there were things I really, really wanted for Christmas, but didn’t get.  Same thing happened to me last year.

This is what I really wanted for Christmas.

1. Magic Carpet.  Who wants to face Seattle traffic?  Why can’t I fly above the city with my hubby when we wanna’ go somewhere?  Instead of looking for a parking place and then paying exorbitant parking fees, I’d just roll it up, tuck it into my oversized purse, and off we’d go. Should reduce my insurance, too, ‘cuz no fender benders in the sky.

2. Can of Invisible Spray.  Since the kids have found all my hiding places for all my things that I have to hide from them – chocolate and scissors and pens and tape – I want a spray that with one ozone-ruining poof could make them invisible from my children and save them from inevitable extinction.  The spray has to work on me, too, so if I don’t feel like answering, “Mom, where’s my _____________?” for the 187th time, I won’t have to.

Adapting a song I remember from Laugh-In when I was a little girl,  the theme song for this spray would be “AND PPPFFFTTT, MOM WAS GONE!”

3.  Booger Resistant Paint. Paint has changed since I had started having kids.  Now you can buy mildew resistant paint for your bathroom.  You can buy chalkboard paint and magically turn anything into a  chalkboard. Kids haven’t changed.  Kids and grandkids alike have this inability to discern the difference between a tissue and a wall.

C’mon, work with me, people, it’s not that hard.

Tissue is usually white 8×8 square piece of soft paper to blow your nose on.

A wall is a mixture of 2×4’s, sheetrock and siding that holds your roof on the house.

But, until children of all generations learn this lesson in discernment, I want paint that instantly repels nose candy.

My walls will say, “I’m rubber, you’re glue, repels off me and stays stuck on you.”

4. Teflon Carpet.  OK, if they can make pans that nothing sticks to, why I can’t I have carpeting like that?  This is 2013 and we put man on the moon decades ago.  Can’t they come up with a way to keep women from having to dig raisins out of their carpet fiber?

5.  Self-Cleaning Toilets.  I put a toilet brush right next to every toilet.  Every bathroom is stocked with cleanser, glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, and jumbo containers of disinfectant wipes. Clearly, it’s not working. After having company last time, I went into the bathroom and was mortified by our toilet.  EEWWW.  I will spare you the details. I was thinking how horrible they must think we are, until I realized it might have been the company that left the bathroom in that state???????

6. Peace and Quiet.  OK, those gorgeous Miss Universe contestants can try to wax eloquent about world peace in a dress that cost more than a rocket launcher, but I would settle for peace on a much smaller scale.  I’d settle for peace between the offspring. I’d settle for not hearing those little bickerings over who ate the last cookie, whose turn it is to do dishes or who is the coolest.

If I can’t have peace and quiet, I would like the arguments to change to topics such as “Who’s going to buy Mom the most expensive birthday gift?”
”Who’s going to weed the entire garden without being asked?” or
”Who’s going to clean the three toilets on a weekly basis until death do us part?”

7.  Alice.  I want my own Alice. Ya’ know, the Brady Bunch Alice? Someone to make all the meals meals, pack lunches, do the laundry, grocery shop and break up fights between the kids.  She must be willing to wear sensible shoes, an ugly uniform, and live in a 10×10 room. So what did Carol Brady do with all her free time?  No wonder her hair was always done and she could walk around the house in a cool outfit without a hair out of place.  Without Alice she would have looked more like Phyllis Diller.

8. Boomerang Bed.  The sheets and blankets should fly back into place the moment I hauled my bum out of bed each  morning. At 48 years old and  I’m tired of making my bed.  According to my calculations, I’ve made a bed over 16,000 times!  If you count the times I made the beds up for my kids, that number increases.  Since I’m pretty sure I made my bed every day without grumbling from the time I was 5 years old, I won’t count for a large margin of error on my estimation.

9. Garbage Bags with Legs.  Do you know how many times I’ve had to say “Take out the garbage!  It is flowing all over the floor, it stinks and it growing maggots?” Too many.  It would be so much easier on my lung capacity if the garbage bags could take their own sniff and weigh test to determine when they should jump out of the can and march themselves straight to the dumpster.  Then they would automatically summon the next garbage bag to dutifully take its place in the empty garbage can.  Oh, that would be bliss.

10.  Talking Refrigerator.  Instead of mommy having to say, “Hey, close the door, it’s been open so long the food is room temperature” the fridge would do my nagging for me.  It should be programmable to nag according to the needs of the frustrated matriarch or patriarch of the family to say such things as ~

“Did you eat your fruit and veggie quota for the day?” 
“You spilled that milk, now wipe it up!  Pronto!  And don’t you sass me none!”
”That gum goes in the garbage can, not in here!  Last time you did that I had lime green smudges for weeks.’
”That pop is full of harmful chemicals and the carbonation decreases lung capacity.”

Since kids usually believe anybody other than their parents, a talking fridge would probably aid in the overall health of all of my children.

And if they listen to the fridge about their nutrition, I’ll add other instruction, as well.

”Go take out the garbage.  The maggots have to go.”
”Go make your bed.”
”Stop arguing with your siblings.”
”It’s your turn to clean the bathroom.”
”Stop eating in the living room.”
”Go find a kleenex!”

”Your mom?  No, I don’t know where to find your mom, her chocolate, scissors, pens or tape. I haven’t seen her since she got that Magic Carpet for Christmas.”

Yes, I’d truly be happy if I’d been given What I Really Wanted for Christmas.

I Got A Barbie For Christmas

Yea, you read that right.

I got an awesome Barbie for Christmas.  Yep, it was for me, and yep, I asked for it.

Why should I break a good Christmas tradition?

Our first Christmas together in 1986, I asked my husband for a Cabbage Patch Doll.  I knew we were a match made in Heaven when he asked for a Stomper Truck. Remember the battery operated pick-up that could drive over a stack of books?  It was one of those great Christmases where we both got the exactly what we wanted.

When we started our family we had kids to buy toys for. Those were the best years,  when they were  young and  didn’t want clothes or electronics.  I loved buying them toys as much as they loved getting them.

Then came the dreaded time when our kids outgrew toys.  Seriously?  Who outgrows toys?  Apparently, my children did. 

So, I went back to buying toys for myself.  My husband once joked that I musta’ had a deprived childhood.  No, my childhood Christmases were magical, I always got that one special toy that made my heart happy.  We weren’t spoiled, my parents didn’t run up debts and produce selfish children, but they worked hard to provide the one thing each child wanted.

Toys proved dreams could come true.

That’s why I love toys.

christmas 1971

See?  We’re all lined up, ecstatic over our Christmas gifts.  (L to R, Lee, Joel, Me, Allan, Laurie, Angie) OK,  Angie, looks scared, but I think it’s because she’s almost falling off the piano bench. Allan isn’t holding his toy, I think he already dismantled it, as he did every Christmas, trying to figure out how it worked.  He’s a Construction Engineer now, but has no toys left from his childhood.

In 1st grade, I was given the Malibu Barbie. She came with a fringed yellow towel, sunglasses and a blue swimming suit.  

In 2nd grade, I got Malibu Ken. 

In 3rd grade Malibu Skipper was added to my collection.

In 4th grade it was the Cut and Curl Barbie.

In 5th grade my Barbies could go camping, because I received the Barbie Camper Bus.

The best year of all?  In 6th grade I got the Barbie camping set AND the Sunshine Family.  The Sunshine Family has become the Ingalls family this year as I homeschool Rebekah through the Little House on the Prairie books. Guess Mom really scored that year, I am STILL playing with those toys.

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This is my new Barbie.

She’s styling my kinda’ clothes, skinny jeans, high heels, a jacket and a huge purse.  The purse has a notebook computer in it, of course.

But, I named her Novelist Barbie, ‘cuz she’s a writer, ya’ know.  That’s why she wears cool clothes and carries a computer everywhere she goes, just like me.  (the computer, not the cool)

I chose her for inspiration.

Not that I’ll ever look like that again, I really don’t care that when I sit down this smooshy stuff, my tummy, lands in my lap. I just tuck it into my waistband and pretend it isn’t there.

It’s not just her clothes and her computer that inspire, it’s the moto she’s posing by. I know she’s saying,“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot

I’m nearing 50, I’ve almost  finished raising my six children, I’ve had cancer three times, and have suffered innumerable tragedies and disappointments that I’ve allowed to  derail my ambitions in life.

Never again.

I wanna’ write.

As Anne of Green Gables said, it’s time to dust off my ambitions.

My Novelist Barbie is the perfect Christmas toy to remind me that dreams still can come true.


Repurposed Vintage Christmas Tablecloth

As a new bride, I craved vintage.

Not the Avocado Green and Harvest Gold that was in every rental, that wasn’t old enough to be cool yet.

I started buying red-handled kitchen utensils, vintage tins and doilies when I could find them cheap and I had a few extra dollars in my pocket.

There was nothing in my life to feed my desire for tacky décor, except an occasional well-used Country Living magazine at the laundry mat that I would devour page by page with my poverty stricken eyes. There was no internet, blogging or Facebook.  There certainly wasn’t any Pinterest.  I rarely ran into anyone who had my same taste for the chippy and faded items from the past.

I just loved, loved, loved me some vintage. 

I saved my husband’s pocket change until I had enough to justify pushing the stroller a few blocks to the thrift store.  This was back in the day when $1 or $2 could buy several items.  Remembering those prices makes my heart pound. When my husband had a dollar for a can of pop, he would use two quarters and leave the two quarters in his pocket for me.  It was the only time in our marriage where I supported him drinking something that wasn’t good for him.

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I was thrilled to find this beautiful tablecloth in about 1989 and used it for years on my kitchen dinette table.  My centerpiece was usually a vintage glass pedestal bowl with fresh pine branches and red glass Christmas balls.  I loved  creating Christmas magic in my home without spending a lot of money.

The linen was only retired to the closet when we bought a real oak dining room table that was too big.  It hung around for years, because I couldn’t part with it.  It gathered more yellow stains.  After a few years of dreaming about it, I got brave.

I pulled out my trusty Ginghers, not the pair my husband used to cut carpeting,  the pair he bought to replace the pair he used to cut carpeting, and began dissecting before I lost my courage.

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Two panels were cut from the length of the tablecloth, using the printed pattern in the center  as a guide.  When I want to “get ‘er dun” I’m not all picky about perfect measurements. For the bottom, I simply folded the seam up to the bottom of the red border, ironed, and sewed. The valance 12 inches from top to bottom. I left 1/2 inch along the top to make a little ruffle and about 1 inch casing for the tension rod to fit through. 

If you don’t sew, you need to know about Stitch Witchery. It’s iron-on fusible webbing you can use to hem things. It may make the fabric a bit stiff, so you want to use it with heavier items. I didn’t use it here, but I’ve used it even when hemming clothes.

A memory of Christmas Past became a memory of Christmas Present.  I look forward to hanging my valance for all the Christmases Yet to Come.

Wise Men Still Seek Him

Setting up the nativity sets at Christmas always bothers me, just a little. Most come with three Wise Men, two little sheep and one shepherd leaning on a staff. (didja’ sing that to yourself?)

I want lotsa’ shepherds and lotsa’ sheep because they were part of that special party in the barn.

Luke 2
15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

The Wise Men weren’t there yet. They don’t arrive until the Lord Jesus is a toddler.  We really don’t know if there were three of them, if they were traveling by camel or donkey or walking. 

We  know they were following The Star.

We know they were willing to leave their homes and seek after the One sent from Heaven.

We don’t  know if they truly believed in the Savior and Messiah as they set out on their journey, or if they came to faith along the way as they read Old Testament prophecies and marveled over the words of the Lord. 

We know when they saw Him, the Christ child, they worshipped.

Matthew 2
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

This year, instead of staging all the Wise Men far away from the manger as if they were still traveling, I  staged my own encouragement.

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This is in my refinished foyer from the beginning of December.

Notice the Wise Men on the bottom shelf are are crouching towards am empty spot?

Wise Men Still Seek Him

I just needed to frame the message these men preach with their diligence in seeking after the Savior.

Lamentations 3:25
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him.

Luke 11:10
For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds.

Psalm 22:26
Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever!

May we all be like the Wise Men in 2013 ~

Seek Him…

Find Him…

Praise and Worship Him

The Real Grinch Who Steals CHRISTmas

(Originally blogged December 6, 2010)

I woke up to a new week.

A busy, busy week.

A week filled with wonderful holiday activities we love and never-ending chores we don’t really love. The never ending doctor visits adds its normal light frustration and concern.
This morning, to borrow a phrase from blogger friend Nan, "Christmas threw up in my living room." It’s looked that way for days. I haven’t had a time slot long enough to finish decorating.

My laundry room grew a mountain over the weekend. If it continues at this rate, I may need a professional guide or crampons to conquer it.

My single sox must have eaten all the food in my cupboard before they ran away.

Monday looms like an unfriendly foe in my heart and mind.

But, really, it isn’t just the house and the demands on my life that made me not want to face the day or the week.

Four years ago today, my husband and I lost a child to miscarriage. I had this weird notion that someday I would "get over it." I thought maybe I wouldn’t have the bouts of weeping nobody can enter in. You never "get over it."

The loved ones’ absence, instead of presence, graces every moment, every day and ever celebration, an uninvited guest that refuses to give up their seat around the family table. Sorrow and loss is the real Grinch that wants to steal CHRISTmas and every other moment of joy. The real Grinch can steal something as small as a normal grocery shopping trip, when it ends in tears and a retreat out of the store.

The Lord understands the loss of a child. In Proverbs 30:15-16, He tells us that are four things that NEVER stop their devastation.

"There are three things that are never satisfied,

Four never say, “Enough!”:

The grave,

The barren womb,

The earth that is not satisfied with water—

And the fire never says, “Enough!”

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He compares the loss of a loved one and the emptiness of a womb to the horrific natural disasters of drought and fire. He knows the agony of loss and of suffering.

The treatment for all four is virtually the same. Drought and fire need to be saturated with water from the Heavens. The empty heart and empty womb need to be saturated with Living water from the Heavens.

It’s easy to see the morning as an impossibility to face. I choose to let these many things be the reason I face today and this week with faith and grace, not the excuse to ignore my world.

A quick Word study on "morning" gave me the Living water I need for the drought of my aching heart.

Psalm 5:3
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.

Psalm 59:16
But I will sing of Your power;
es, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning;
For You have been my defense
And refuge in the day of my trouble.

Psalm 119:147
I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.

This morning, I’m not letting the Grinch of sorrow and loss steal the joy of CHRIST from my life.

I’m seeking His Living Waters to quench the natural disasters of my heart.


Help Yourself Hospitality–Hot Drinks

I come from a big family.

My husband comes from a big family.

We had a big family.

When family isn’t around and we’re lonely,
we invite friends over to fill up the house.

In other words,
there can be many people in my house at any given time.

We love having people around,
and enjoy making them feel at home enough to

Help Themselves.

During the winter holidays,
hot drinks are made available on my kitchen counter,
ready for expected and unexpected company.

I like drop-in kinda’ company.
It’s a Midwest thing we love.
It says they like the real me enough to be
willing to throw things off the couch to sit down.

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I start with jars of mini-marshmallows and red-hots.

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I add festive tubs of hot chocolate and hot cider mixes.

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I add one pretty hot pot.

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Mixed all together on a metal tray,
and you have a

Help Yourself Hospitality Center for Hot Drinks.

We normally don’t drink hot chocolate and apple cider
or give my kids marshmallows to eat,
but at the holidays,
there are some rules that are meant to be broken.

Of course, the coffee pot is always on.

Regular coffee is brewed until supper, then we switch to decaff.

The evening meal is called supper if you are from farm country,
because lunch is called dinner,
and lunch is the meal you bring to the farmers in the fields
between dinner and supper.
Lunch can also be a snack between breakfast and lunch,
if ya’ got up really early to work in the fields.

So, if you followed that little rabbit trail,
the order of meals for Midwest farmers goes
breakfast, lunch, dinner, lunch, supper.
Got it?

(See, another trick in hospitality. 
If you invite someone for dinner,
you better know where they’re from.
We had a friend who didn’t know this
and invited someone to dinner.
She was surprised when they showed up at noon.)


My good ol’ Norwegian relatives drink a lot of black coffee.

Nothing is added to the coffee,
no milk and no sugar,
we drink it black,
because they dunk their cookies in it.
That’s where the sugar comes from.

My Mom calls cookies and coffee,
"A Norwegian Breakfast."

I love being Norwegian.

The generations that have lived through the Depression make
their coffee so weak, you can see the bottom of the cup through the coffee.

My brothers call this "Lutheran Church Basement Coffee."

Norwegians who know the Depression is over
make their coffee strong.

My brothers says it will grow hair on their chest.

Depending on who made the coffee in the morning,
I either add a little hot water to dilute
or  drink a few extra cups to wake up.

In the mornings,
I feel no pressure to get up and rush out to the kitchen,
because I have established the ability for my guests to

Help Yourself.

I don’t have to wake up,
until I smell the coffee.

Help Yourself Hospitality–Breakfast

A lot of women get up and make delicious breakfasts for their company.

I get up.

Years of living with cancer has changed my view on life
and my definition of hospitality.
I’ve learned to accept my limitations.

If my guests haven’t stayed overnight in my home before,
I casually let them know that if I haven’t slept well,
I won’t be up early.
(Sometimes, I need to sleep until 8 or 9am)

They’re shown where everything is in the kitchen,
the bathroom and the linen closet,
so if I can’t meet their needs,
they can

Help Themselves.

Mornings come too quickly.

Especially during the holidays.

Especially if you’ve been up talking with relatives,
drinking decaf,
watching holiday movies,
wrapping presents,
or reading a good book.

It’s hard to be up-and-at-’em early in the morning,
with a house full of early-rising old,
I mean experienced, people.

I like to have things out and ready, so if I’m not out in the kitchen,
my guests feel comfortable

Helping Themselves.

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I start with one jar of regular rolled oats, for those healthy on-a-diet kinda’ guests.

Add one jar of Trader Joe’s low-fat vanilla and almond granola.

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Add one tub of instant oatmeal packets of various flavors.

I try to find ones that are low in sugar,
but it can be a challenge.

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Take jars from your craft room, wash, and fill in with healthy mix-ins for the cereals.

(L to R) I have dried cranberries, dried apricots, raisins and slivered almonds.

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Display on a tray with a doily and you’re almost ready for breakfast.

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These three jars are always on my counter filled with cold cereal.

I was tired of having so many opened boxes in the pantry,
spilling and getting stale,
so this was a pleasing solution for all of us.

Breakfast 008

This is another standard on my kitchen counter.

In our early years of marriage,
someone wisely advised it’s cheaper to eat healthy,
than to pay for a doctor.

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The bread basket is another company staple.

I fill it with good breads, bagels and English muffins,
so my company has a lot of options for

Helping Themselves

in the morning.

Cancer has taken much from me,
but I won’t allow it to take hospitality.

I’m healthier and stronger today
and have learned to PACE not PUSH.

But, there are three meals in a day,
I know I can’t give them each100%,
so I choose where to put my energy.

I help myself
by allowing my guests to

Help Themselves to Breakfast.