Making Christmas instead of Buying Christmas (List #1)

September 28th, 2007

I am a sucker for homemade. I wish every year when our family draws names for Christmas, that Nana will get my name. She makes the BEST stuff. She makes quilts, knits sweaters, crochets Sock Monkeys, paints cute signs, embroiders works of art, etc. She’s amazing. She also doesn’t spend a fortune on Christmas gifts. They come from the heart and through hours of labor. I like that idea.

Unlike many Americans, our family doesn’t rack up our credit cards for Christmas shopping. I look high and low for amazing deals before Christmas (i.e. clearance sales, great deals on Ebay, etc.). We also make gifts when we can’t find that perfect thing. Yup, we’re cheap.

In the past, our family has made gifts for friends & family. It takes some planning and hours of work, but the results are always appreciated. What have we made in the past? Things like:

  • Homemade Cactus fruit (known as tunas) jelly
  • Mosaic flowerpotsHomemade soap
  • Handpainted aprons
  • Homemade candles
  • Picture frames for a special picture
  • Handpainted wooden items (i.e. paper towel holder, etc.)
  • Handpainted coffee mugs
  • Paving stone Family Name sign

The one thing I really want to try is making soap. I looked into making soap and was amazed at how labor intensive (and expensive at first) it is to make natural soap. I don’t mean the glycerin soap kits that you can buy. I want to make the “nubby” country soaps that are so popular at craft shows. However, I think that will have to wait a bit. It is an expensive process to begin, and one that will have to wait until we have a bit more money.

So, I am contemplating our Christmas gifts. Hmmm…what to make? I guess it is time to start coming up with ideas. There aren’t that many weeks left before Christmas. Now, where did I put those craft books?

Why can’t they all think like Elvis?

September 27th, 2007

“I don’t like people who are in politics for themselves and not for others. You want that, you can go into show business.”
Elvis Presley, American rock ‘n’ roll icon (1935-1977)

Ah Elvis, you were so right. Our country is wrapping up a presidency and hunting for the next “shiny penny” candidate to replace him. Newspapers and news shows are buzzing with who will be on the ballot. It is everywhere you watch & read. So are the actors & actresses. army Elvis

Actors and actresses are paid for their talent. They are paid to be someone else in front of a movie camera or on a stage. They aren’t paid for their political views (or slandering of other parties). They are paid to entertain.

I have to say that I do get very peeved with actors/actresses that throw poisonous verbage towards our leader and country. We do have the freedom of speech. That is something that I believe and stand by. I may not agree with your words/views, but I do believe that you have a right to your opinion.

Actors/actresses like: Johnny Depp, Alec Baldwin, Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Tim Robbins, etc. do bother me when they cut down our leaders and country as they do. Instead of condemning our leaders and country, get up and do something about it. Learn the issues, get folks to donate, and CHANGE the world. You have been blessed with a recognizable face and funds. Use what you were blessed with the stop diseases, poverty, the excessive use of natural resources, starvation, increasing spending and taxation, etc. Start by supporting our country, our troops, and hard-working men & women that make this country great. Anyone can put down others. A better person would take their frustration and turn it into support for those that need it.

Just remember “The King’s” words:

In a press conference in 1972, Elvis made his philosophy clear when asked what he thought of war protesters and whether he would refuse to be drafted: “Honey, I’d just soon to keep my own personal views to myself. ‘Cause I’m just an entertainer and I’d rather not say.”

Elvis, you were a smart man.

Men’s Clothing vs. Women’s Clothing

September 26th, 2007

When my husband got dressed this morning, I had a funny thought. He wears casual clothing to work (jeans & a t-shirt) and had on a pair of Levi’s. I noticed that his jeans had the classic size label on the back. That struck me as funny.

Men don’t care what size they are. They even advertise it on their jeans. You would NEVER catch a woman wearing clothing that advertises their size. Can you just imagine it? “I know that these jeans say Size 12, but it is a mistake. I actually wear a 2.” How funny.

Another thing you notice is the more expensive a clothing brand/label, the smaller the sizes are for women. The label might say “Size 4”, when in actuality the woman wears a size 10. That smaller size is all psychological. Women want to be a smaller size. Men want smaller women.

Men don’t really care about what size they wear. They do want a trim lady that wears a smaller size. Here’s an idea for men looking for a Christmas gift. Buy an expensive pair of pants for your lady. Buy the smallest size on the rack.  When she opens it, she will be flattered that you think she is a “Size 0” and love you forever. Sure, she will exchange the pants. However, it is the smaller size that counts.

Women smoking CIGARS?! Why not?

September 24th, 2007

My wonderful husband likes cigars. He realized this about 6 months ago. Since then, we have visited ourCigars & women local cigar shop and found cigars that he likes. Not the grocery store cheap cigars. No, these are the sit for 2 hours and enjoy $5+ cigars. To me, they smell wonderful. My dad used to smoke cigars when I was a little girl. I remember asking for the cigar ring and wearing it with pride.

Here I am, 30+ yrs. later and enjoying the smell of cigars once more. About two months ago, my husband asked if I wanted to try a cigar. As my mom was a cigarette smoker that frequently battled Bronchitis, I wasn’t ready to sacrifice my lungs. However, my husband instructed me on the proper technique for smoking a cigar – don’t inhale. Just take in the draw into your mouth and then slowly blow out. I thought I would turn green (just like in the movies), but I didn’t. It wasn’t bad. Nothing to write home about though. I enjoyed the smell of them, but wasn’t interested on lighting up.

Months had passed and we had visited the cigar shop more. As I am approaching 40 and have been good all of my life (never gotten drunk, just tipsy….never taken an illegal drug…never toiletpapered a house…never lied on my taxes…never smoked a cigarette…etc.), I thought that I would be “daring”. Ok, daring for ME. I thought that “maybe” I would smoke a cigar.

My husband smokes a cigar 2-3 times a week. I think that is called a light cigar smoker. He does it to relax. Every now and then, he will have a small glass of whiskey to go with it. As our weekend was closing, he decided to smoke out on our back porch. As I had been working out in the yard for hours and had hung drywall for a bit in our remodeled bathroom, I sat on the porch to relax. I asked if I could try his cigar. I took two draws and said I thought the one he was smoking was a bit strong for me. Would I like to try one for myself? He suggested that I get one in the house that was more mild. I thought: “Why not?”

After some instruction on cutting, lighting, and getting the cigar going…I was enjoying a Vegas 5 Gold. Not a bad cigar. Not expensive and not strong. I have to admit that it was REALLY WEIRD to be smoking a cigar though. Women don’t do that! Well, actually..they do. I have been reading a bit, and it seems that some women do enjoy cigars. Some find it to be a feminist thing. For those that know me, that would be like saying the Moon is made of crepe paper. It is so far from the truth for me.

I can see why my husband finds smoking a cigar relaxing. You are forced to sit still for 45-120 minutes and r-e-l-a-x. I enjoy the exotic aromas too. I wasn’t prepared for the light-headed feeling I got after smoking one. My husband said that was the nicotine. Hmm…I’m already loopy. Not sure if I need to exaggerate it more though.

Will I smoke another cigar in the future? I probably will. As for drawback, I really only had two complaints. I wasn’t crazy about the “cigar breath” that I had for several hours afterwards. I didn’t like the light-headed feeling either. It was sort of like having a shot of liquor. I guess I wasn’t expecting that from a cigar. Not bad, just different.

What did I like about it? The smell was wonderful. Being forced to relax with my crazy schedule was great. Being able to enjoy something else that my husband likes was a perk too (not really into cars or computers like he is).

I am far from cigar aficionado. However, I just might try another one in the future.

Distant relations? Quite an eye-opener!

September 21st, 2007

My father-in-law wanted to do a family tree for our children. He originally started investigating on his own, but realized that it was tough. So, he joined a well-known geneology site. What he found out about my side of the family really surprised me. I have some famous relatives. Who would’ve thought?!

In my family tree are:

  • John Wayne (actor and star of my Favorite movie-The Quiet Man)
  • JFK (35th president)
  • Franklin Pierce (14th president)
  • William Taft (27th president)
  • Winchester (as in the rifle)
  • John Parker (a revolutionary war hero)
  • Samuel Morse (Mr. Morse code himself)
  • James Abram Garfield (20th president)
  • Will Bill Hickok (gunfighter & law man)
  • Robert Frost (famous poet)
  • Barbara Bush (wife of George and mother to George W.)
  • Chester Arthur (21st president)
  • T.S. Elliot (poet)
  • Bette Davis (actress)
  • Shirley Temple (actress)
  • John Steinbeck (author)

Geneology is pretty cool. My husband’s side of the family is just as impressive. If you ever get a chance to research your family tree, you will be surprised at who you are related to.

How does the Duggar family do it?

September 21st, 2007

Duggar FamilyWe were watching the Today show this morning and saw that the Duggar Family was being featured. Jim Bob, Michelle, and their seventeen beautiful (and extremely well-behaved) children were happy to be in New York and welcomed to the show. As I listened briefly to their trip and the questions that were asked, I asked myself: “Why can’t I be on the ball like that?”

I don’t have seventeen children to teach, clean up after, take to lessons, feed, or clothe. Yet, I can’t seem to get our homeschool life to run so smoothly. I pray for a calm spirit and an open mind when it comes to teaching. However, I still get frustrated and raise my voice from time to time. My family isn’t always neatly dressed, my home isn’t always spotless, the chores aren’t always done. There are evenings when I have no clue what to make for dinner. I am not blessed with seventeen children, so why can’t I do that?

I have read some responses from other blogs regarding the Duggars. Many feel that having that many children is abuse. To these people I say, does a loving atmosphere where the Lord’s word and harmony prevail fall under abuse? Jim Bob and Michelle live DEBT FREE and raise seventeen children. How many that are putting this family down can say that are living debt free and raising their children to be well educated, caring adults?

For those that make fun of their clothing, educational practices, hairstyles, and way of life…”Let he who cast the first stone…”

Even after watching a special show on this amazing family, I just don’t see how they can do it. They are amazing. Although I can never see myself being the mother of so many, I have high respect for Michelle. I lose my patience with my children when our school doesn’t go well, chores aren’t done, whining occurs, etc.

I am secretly hoping that Michelle writes a book in the future. God has blended the patience of an oak tree with the energy of a thunder storm in Michelle. I would love some of that to rub off on me.

Learning Espanol hurts my brain

September 20th, 2007

I took Spanish in high school. My teacher, Mr. Villa, was a tyrant (well, I thought so). When I was a freshman, I got a D (for “didn’t do homework”). My parents weren’t happy. I blamed Mr. Villa. Learning a new language is really tough. I did go back in my Junior year and got a B. After that, I walked away from Spanish.

Here I am, a homeschooling mom, with a child that is learning Spanish. He is taking it from his tutor. He thought he was being sneaky by not doing the homework for 3 weeks straight. Sneaky caught up with him when he failed his first test this last week. So, Mom is stepping in and learning Spanish again.

Funny thing about a foreign language that you once studied, it comes back to you when you need it. As I was going through my son’s notes & flashcards, I started to remember what good ‘ol Mr. Villa taught me. It was like riding a bike. Sure, I have fallen off for the last 22 yrs., but I do sort of remember how to ride. Huh! Who would have thought that I actually learned something?

I thought when we put our son into two tutored classes that I could relax for those two subjects. Wrong! A good parent steps in and makes sure that all assignments are done. Yes, my son thinks my husband and I are “mean parents” for ensuring that he knows his subjects. Me? I think that is what parenting is all about.

To Mr. Villa, sorry I thought you were an evil man with a textbook full of answers. I did learn something from you. I had no idea I would need that knowledge 20+ yrs. from when you were teaching me. Gracias senor. Muchos gracias.

How fragile is life?

September 19th, 2007

My husband is on a Land Rover site where owners talk about their cars and such. It is an international board that has members from every corner of the globe. One of the members lives in the U.K. Recently, his friend got on the board telling everyone that his friend had gotten into a horrible accident and that 4 of his 8 children had drowned.

Here is the story from BBC News 100 accident

This story hit me hard this morning. How incredibly horrible it would be to lose a child. Then to have that feeling multiplied by four. I can’t even wrap my mind/heart around that. Those poor parents.

My husband said that many have condemned the parents for having all of their children in one car. First of all, the Land Rover 110 can hold up to 10 people. It isn’t a small car. Secondly, how often do each of us take the entire family out in the same car? How ridiculous to condemn these poor people on something so frivilous.

My heart goes out to this family. What a horrible tragedy to have to endure. I thank the Lord each and every day for my own family. They may get on my nerves and drive me crazy. However, I love them with all my heart and want to keep them with me for a very long time.

Buy a purse or feed a village for a year? What to do..

September 16th, 2007

Hideousness at its best Well, I have heard of ridiculous things in my life, but buying a purse for $52,000 takes the cake (for now). Introducing the Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork purse. It is a purse made of “recycled” Louis Vuitton purses. Yup, it’s hideous. Yup, the ticket price could feed a starving village in a 3rd world country for a year. Yup, it is all over the news.

I read that there were only 4 issued to the United States. Singer/actress, Beyonce, bought one. Doesn’t that kind of say: “I have more money than I know what to do with. So, instead of helping needy organizations like children’s hospitals or Aids research, I am going to go buy something that I will wear maybe 2-3 times and then put into my closet.” How sad. When fashion takes precedence over world hunger/welfare, we have reached rock bottom.

To all of you that have forked out $52,000 for a purse, think about this: When you sling this bag over your shoulder, think of how many mouths you could have fed or vaccines you could have bought with what you paid. A little bit of leather and a label might be important to you. A rumbling tummy, lack of sickness, and fresh water are important to others. Yes, you have earned the money and the right to buy that purse.

That $52,000 could have built a family home in a poor community. It could have fed many that are homeless. It could have bought coats and blankets for those that needed them. It could have bought books for those that want to read. It could have built a church. It could have bought medical supplies. It could have helped save lives.

Fashion vs. humanity. What a funny world we live in.

What exactly is Compatibility?

September 14th, 2007

My husband and I always watch news in the morning before he goes to work. Just to see the headlines and the weather, etc. This morning, I noticed a commercial for eHarmony regarding compatibility. That got me to wondering – what is compatibility, really?

My husband and I are a bit unusual in this day and age. Neither one of us dated before we found each other. I had one group-date with a boy named Ray in my junior year of high school for a dance. That was about it. My husband and I fell in love early and got married at 20 & 19 yrs. old. We have been married over 17 yrs. now. We have never known the nerves of a blind date. The uncertainty of who will pick up the restaurant check. The waiting by the phone to see if he/she will want another date. We have been lucky.

Back to compatibility. I have never taken a test asking me tons of questions about my likes/dislikes to see if someone out there is right for me. I don’t know what formula or system dating services use to find the right person. As far as I know, it really is a shot in the dark. We are all different. We all have our: hobbies, types of things we enjoy, things that we detest, goals, spirituality, and quirks.

When I first met my husband, I couldn’t stand him. I had no idea that underneath, he was the perfect balance for me. We had so many things that didn’t fit. I am outgoing, he is shy. He says what is on his mind and doesn’t beat around the bush, I keep what bothers me bottled up inside. He likes spontaneity, I like planning. He lives for today, I plan ahead. He had a Leave it to Beaver home growing up, I didn’t.

However, that all “fits”. We have our hobbies and things that we personally enjoy. We have learned that having all the same things in common can be pretty boring. When each side of a couple has likes/dislikes that other doesn’t share, it adds some spice to the relationship. It creates “balance”.

As far as compatibility goes, I really think that it boils down to the big stuff. Things like religion, raising children, finances, and politics are subjects that need to be discussed BEFORE marriage. Although my husband and I don’t see eye-to-eye on all of these subjects, we are in general agreement on most of them. I wonder if the dating services take these things into consideration before suggesting a partner?

I firmly believe that each of us has the right match out in this world. I won’t say a perfect match, because relationships aren’t perfect. They need to be nutured and worked on constantly. They need to be fed love, patience, and understanding. There needs to be open communication and a want to make the bond work. THAT makes compatibility. Two individuals giving everything they can to the relationship. Honoring each other for their differences and loving their individualism.

What exactly is compatibility? Hard work, dedication, forgiveness, willingness to be open, and love. After that, the rest is easy.

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