Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Spirit Is Still Alive

An amazing thing happened to us at Cracker Barrel a week or so ago...

As the hostess seated us at out table, I noticed a young man/ teenager at the table in front of us finishing up his dinner. I also noticed that he was looking a little longer at Anna than I thought was polite. As this happens more frequently than I would like to admit, I went back to my usual "let's not make eye-contact with anyone, lest I'll get my feelings hurt while they try to decipher what's wrong with my handicapped child" stance. The waitress came, took our order, brought our drinks, and our dinner continued as normal until...

The young man finished his dinner, and before he left, stopped by our table, knelt down and began to talk to my husband in a low, soft tone. He explained that Anna reminded him of someone that he had grown up with as a little boy, and though he didn't have much cash on him (only two dollars, actually), he asked us if we would take it and buy something she would like for Christmas with it. I jumped up from my chair and proceeded to embrace him in a death-hug (a signature move of mine). The only words I could utter were "Thank you! God bless you!" as I unsuccessfully choked back my tears.

I "happy cried," as Jamie Ruth calls it, through most of dinner and thanked God for the kindness, the mercy, the gentleness, and the compassion that was shown in this young man's actions. It was the best Christmas present I have ever received and I will never forget him for as long as I live. Thank you, young fellow in the navy pea coat. It's obvious that Santa, angels, and even Jesus can take on the appearance of hungry patrons this time of year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday... O Holy Night

I had the privilege of seeing David Phelps in concert several years ago. He has one of THE BEST voices on the planet and this video is one of my favorites of his. I said last week that "Ave Maria" had become my new favorite Christmas song, but depending on the day, this one keeps sneaking back into first place! David does this song like no one else I've heard. Enjoy today's music therapy as we prepare to celebrate the most divine of all nights...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Homemade Teacher Gifts

I'm a little late posting these, but I wanted to show you what I made for teacher gifts this year. I am horrified because I have just now realized that I misspelled a word on the tag that I gave to three TEACHERS and a NURSE! Oh well, that's what happens when you stay up past midnight for two nights in a row trying to finish Christmas gifts at the last minute! You put "We 'wisk' You a Merry Christmas" instead of "We 'whisk' You a Merry Christmas!" MORTIFIED, people!

Anywhoo... at least the towels are cute and there isn't anything permanently misspelled with embroidery or anything. Mental note: explain to the teachers and the nurse that even English majors with a college degree (AND Spelling Bee Champions of their 5th grade class!) succumb to the occasional whoopsies. Maybe there's a Hallmark card for that. I'm holding out hope! LOL! Murrrie Christmass frum hour howse two yorz!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dr. 35950

I'm a sucker for shows about plastic and reconstructive surgeries. I blame this, in part, on my secret desire to work in the medical field. And I guess I like a good "before and after" photo. Anyways, I used to watch a lot of "Dr. 90210" and follow Dr. Robert Ray and his crazy antics, but I don't think the show comes on anymore. So when an old friend of mine was in desperate need of a rhinoplasty, I thought, "Hey, I can do that. How hard can it be?"

Meet Frosty. (Did I have you going? For just a second, even? Nah, I didn't think so.) Sometime last year this poor guy lost his nose. Apparently, my husband was unaware (I, of course, had his nose safely tucked away in the kitchen junk drawer) because he was a little freaked out when he couldn't find the missing part in the attic. This snowman has sentimental value to both of us because it was the first Christmas decoration we bought when we got married. If memory serves me correctly, Frosty rode home from K-Mart strapped to the top of our clown car, I mean, our tiny Honda Civic. We proudly displayed him on our front porch in all his tacky, plastic glory. Ahh, memories....

So I HAD to help a fella out. I mean, he's like family. Dr. Pearson to the rescue! I prepped him for surgery by cleaning the affected area with alcohol and then scuffing it up a little with a sanding block (per the instructions on the bottle of E 6000. Don'tcha just LOVE E 6000? It and duct tape are my faves. Oh, yeah, and super glue. But I digress...).
Look at the poor fellow. Frosty without his carrot nose... a travesty, I tell you. A complete travesty.
After I waited the appropriate amount of time to let the glue get sticky, I reattached his nose. But then problems arose in the operating room. Because the nose was so tall, it began to lean.... Look, Frosty can't be greeting my guests with a crooked nose. I've got an image to uphold. So in comes the blue tape (I love blue tape. It should have been included with the aforementioned list. Again I digress...) and viola! Straight as an arrow! Sporting the blue tape, he looks like a real plastic (no pun intended) surgery victim, I mean patient.

Frosty recovered, lying down of course, for the recommended 24 hours like the E 6000 instructions dictated. And now, he's as good as new! He's still taking it easy, though. I've not yet put him outside, but I think he's enjoying hanging out with the inside decorations this year. I can't be sure, but I think his little nose-job has boosted his self-esteem. I thought I overheard him tell our wooden, stand-up Grinch figurine that he's thinking of asking for a little lipo next year...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday... Ave Maria

I heard this version of Ave Maria yesterday for the first time and undoubtedly it has become my new favorite Christmas song. I had the instrumental version played at my wedding and until yesterday, I had only heard the lyrics in Italian. What a wonderful love song it is! I've cried listening to it and it gives me goosebumps every. single. time. I cannot imagine the way Mary must have felt in the months leading up to the birth of the Messiah, but I think this song is a beautiful description of her heart. I'm sure when she was told she had found favor with God that she never expected the the road her life would take. Enjoy today's music therapy. It will truly do wonders for your soul!

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." Ave Maria, indeed!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Money Matters Monday: Keeping a Lid on Christmas Spending

Yes, I DO realize that I have only been blogging on Mondays and Thursdays, thank you very much. If you're still following along, bless your sweet little heart! I realize there hasn't been much variety to my lil' ol' blog, but that's going to change, I promise. You understand. It's CHRISTMASTIME, for crying out loud. I'm up to my neck with everything, just like the rest of you. Here's hoping y'all are keeping things together better than I am. But that's another post...

One thing I'm NOT crying about is the state of our finances. At Christmas. Talk about an oxymoron! This is what we already know: Christmas is WAY too commercialized. Any given family spends ENTIRELY too much at Christmas on things. Christmas lists grow by leaps and bounds from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. And I'm not just talking about what to buy, but also whom to buy for. I've taken a little more control this year, and it's made all the difference. Well, that and Chuck's big fat bonus check! All I can say is "Whoopity-doo!"

We have been blessed beyond belief because Tyson Foods had such an excellent year (thanks, Tyson!). There have been years where we didn't get a Christmas bonus, but when we do, we almost always buy Christmas with it. This year we were able to do that PLUS pay off several of our bills and start an emergency fund (would Dave Ramsey be so proud, or what?!). We still have a ways to go, but what a relief it has been to cut our bills in HALF. I can only imagine the weightlessness I'll feel when it's ALL gone. This has only fueled my fire to get the heck out of debt. It really is a big ol' burden. You don't realize just how much a burden until you are released from it (or part of it, in our case!).

I've also played it smart this Christmas. I began picking up things earlier in the year. On SALE. At the end of the season. To the tune of, like, 75% off. You can't do this with everything and everyone, of course, but keeping your eyes peeled for deals all year long is smart Christmas shopping. I also like to shop at stores like Tuesday Morning and Ross where you can find really nice things at a discounted price. I guess it goes without saying that I'm also making some presents too. They are for the girls' teachers. I'll be showing those soon.

We are also not exchanging gifts with extended family or friends this year. I know that a lot of you think it just can't be Christmas without giving gifts to all those we know and love. But it adds up. Quick-like. I prefer to give my friends a birthday gift and let them know that my Christmas presents will only include the immediate family. I've flat out told friends, " Do NOT buy me a present this year. Your friendship is my present!" (Yeah, I'm smooth like that.) But you know what? The relief on their face was priceless. I consider that my gift to them!

If you feel you must buy presents, agree to keep it just for the children. We all have more than we need, anyway. And so do the kids, for that matter. You might suggest to girlfriends or extended family about having a get-together for breakfast, or finger foods one evening, and just enjoy each other's company. Your pocket book will thank you and you won't have to up your Rx of Xanax come January when you're trying to balance your checkbook and pay the bills! Merry Christmas, all! Here's hoping you wallet is the only thing getting fatter this holiday season!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday... Happy Birthday Granddaddy!

Today is my granddaddy's 85th birthday! For as long as I can remember, he has played the guitar and the banjo and I have always loved to listen to him play. He even played in a bluegrass band until just a couple years ago! "The Possum Song" was always a crowd favorite, but today I've chosen to play "Man of Constant Sorrow" just because it is one of my favorites and one you will probably recognize. I love bluegrass music. I don't know if you have to be southern to appreciate it, but I hope you will, wherever you hail from. Happy birthday granddaddy! I love you!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Money Matters Monday: Before and After... FINALLY

It's been a long week. And I mean LLOOONNNGGG. I've completed a month-long sewing project, lead a Girl Scout meeting, attended a funeral, walked 10 miles, celebrated a birth, organized a delivery for food, went shopping for Christmas presents, wrapped said presents, (okay, I'm not even done with my list, but you get the point, right?!)...

So I'm just now getting around to showing you this awesome "Before and After" that I did a couple of weeks ago. I got the idea from one of the MANY blogs I stalk, I mean follow, but I can't remember which one. Sorry... But here is the before: Typical, girly, desk chair. It was okay, other than it was filthy and stained and I never liked it to begin with! LOL!

See what I mean? It was in dire need of a little "Va-va-va-voom." Cuz it belongs to my red-headed diva. And because I have a sickness. It's called "Can't-leave-well-enough-alone-itis."
I'm holding out for a cure. Anywhoo...

I unscrewed the back of the chair from the seat and turned it over to "eyeball" (technical term) how much fabric I would need to cover it. I did the same for the seat part.

Because I do not have a staple gun (hint, hint to anyone that wants to spread a little Christmas cheer my way!), I simply used a glue gun to hot-glue the fabric to the bottom of the chair and to the back of the chair, tucking the fabric inside the plastic on the back (sorry, no picture of that part!).

And here's the "After!" Tah-dah! Pretty swank, don'tcha think?! It goes much better in her pink, black, and white bedroom now. She loves it and I love it too! And it didn't cost a thing cuz this was remnant fabric that I already had on hand. Ka-ching! What do you think? Makes you want to cover YOUR desk chair now, right?! Been there, (and now finally) done that! LOL!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Music Therapy Thursday... CAN

Rick Hoyt and his father are a complete inspiration to me. Rick has cerebral palsy due to his umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck during birth. As a baby, his parents were told that he would never be a functioning member of society and they should just put him in an institution. Of course his parents had other plans...

As a child, the Hoyts brought Rick up as they did their other sons: They gave him a hockey stick to hold while his brothers pushed him around in his wheelchair. They held him in the pool so he could splash and "swim." Because of a computerized communication device, Rick is able to "talk" to his family, though he has never uttered a word. He went on to graduate from high school AND college.

Rick and his father, Dick, have competed in numerous marathons as a team. This began when Rick was young and wanted his Dad to "run" with him in a charity race for a boy who had become disabled. Rick wanted to show this young boy that just because he was disabled, his life could indeed have meaning. Many years, and many races later, Rick and Dick are known as "Team Hoyt" in racing circles and their motto is "You CAN."

This video is a wonderful representation of a father's love for his child. I like to watch it when I feel that I'm at the end of my rope and I'm struggling to be the kind of mother that my handicapped child needs. The words of the song say "I know my redeemer lives" and I know that he does because the love that is displayed between this father and son goes beyond the natural love we have for our children and our family. It's supernatural. When we live our lives by focusing on "us" less and "others" more, we are displaying the kind of love that Christ has for us. I hope this video inspires you the way it inspires me. When you're down and think you can't go on, remember that "you CAN."

"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13