Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012...

As we say goodbye to 2012 we think back of our memories from this year.  The TV networks are all running "best of" moments and remembering those that passed.  Even Facebook "mysteriously" has picked our highlights from all our posts and pictures and has a feature about the past year.

One of the reasons I like to blog is to record what happens and to try and keep life in perspective.  So, that's what this post is about today.

For me, 2012 had some wonderful highlights.  I think back on family times:  Easter in Charlotte, our summer gatherings, especially our annual 4th of July, and the Milheim Lakeside week.   We gathered again at Thanksgiving...and we spent a special weekend in Las Vegas.  The year was topped off with family being here at Christmastime.

We saw job changes in the family over the year.  And, there is still uncertainty going into the new year. 

A personal highlight for me was the time with hubby and the Lewandowskis in Nashville for the CMA Festival.   It's a new tradition. And, I'll be there again in 2013!

When I think of our nation, 2012 had the usual political satire and frustration. I was glad to see the election finally happen, and yes, I was happy to have our president re-elected.   I know that one man can not change the course of the big, bad, political machine and 2013 will have more of the same craziness.   It is what it is, but we still live in a wonderful country.  The diversity of people and places is absolutely amazing here and I consider it a blessing to live in America.

Narrowing my world abit, I continue to LOVE the lowcountry of South Carolina.  We got to see it's beauty from the rivers this past year, and a whole new world opened up to me! 

I thank God for all the good, and turn to Him for hope even when such bad is still out there.  We all hurt over the whole Sandusky scandel, and the horrible mass shootings, and endless war overseas.  And, closer to home, still too many of our neighbors struggle with trying to live with basic needs, and crave love.

My family gained a beautiful little boy this year, and thankfully, nobody suffered with serious illness.  No death in the family.   I lost a dear neighbor, and some church friends though.  I know they are now "in God's hands."

I plan to celebrate 2012 tonight and raise a glass of wine to another year come and gone.   What will happen in '13?  I don't know.  I'll make a couple of personal resolutions (yep, I got to get back into an exercise program), but I am excited about what I don't know will happen...  

so, goodbye 2012.  It's been nice knowing ya.   Cheers!!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

The party's over...

Today is December 28th...

3 days after Christmas.  (Ok. Technically,  we are still in the Christmas season. Yes, there are 12 days of Christmas, so it's still Christmas until the first day of Epiphany. I know that.) But, the hoopla is over. The presents have been opened, and the wrappings are in the trash.  The food and baked goods have been prepared, and mostly eaten.  The leftovers are starting to get stale. The Christmas music isn't being played anywhere anymore. The quiet has hit.  Family and friends have come and gone.

But, it seems life is in "limbo" as we wait for New Year's Eve and Day.

This week, these days following Christmas Day until New Year's, always feel kind of strange to me.  We all have "peaked" with our celebrations.  We are now done, a bit tired, and the holiday partying is over.  So...

Now what?

How do you spend these days?   I know some people who had to jump right back into work.  But many people take off these days between Christmas and New Year's.  What are you doing? 

There's cleaning to do.  Perhaps a movie to see (if you can get a ticket!)

I have a hard time slowing myself down. How about you?     

 Really? I can sit now - and read a book?  Do a crossword puzzle?  OK.  Sounds good.  I need to pay some bills that have piled up the past couple of weeks.  I need to do some laundry. 

All good things come to an end.  2012 was a VERY good year in our home.  No complaints.  No serious concerns...much to be thankful for as we finish up the calendar. 

I guess this quiet week is good for turning attention to the new year ahead.  2013!   My next blog will do just that.  I will spend a couple of days now and think about what I can do better, or do more often, in '13.   Stay tuned.

Monday, December 24, 2012

This time put Christ in Christmas

Hi blogging and Facebook friends,

I'm sitting here at the computer Christmas Eve morning, listening to Christmas music on my ipod, thinking about what the next 2 days will bring in this household...

Family together

Good food


Opening presents

All wonderful events, and ones that will take place across this land in many homes.

Is this what you will experience? 

I encourage you, if your list does not include it, to attend a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day worship service.   Listen to the scripture reading of the birth of the baby Jesus.  Sing the classic Christmas hymns.   Spend just a little time recognizing what Christmas REALLY is all about... and open your mind and your heart to this gift from God.   A gift of love that came to earth, a gift of grace, of  eternal life.

Come on,  try it.  Wander into church...   see what it is like.

If it's been many years, or if you have never been in a church, this is a good time to go.  If you have never taken your children, let them find out the real meaning of Christmas.   Put away your old feelings of how religion used to be.  Open yourself up...

make your CHRISTmas complete.

Celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, sent to ALL of us to show us how to live, to love, and to offer everlasting hope!   Merry Christmas to you! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"The Sound of Silence"

This is the last Hodgepodge for 2012.  The blogger community has designated today as a day to be silent in memory of those taken at Sandy Hook Elementary, and to pray for all those suffering.  So, I suppose I really should not post this today - but the "sounds of silence" are the sounds of breaking hearts, of missing the children's laughter, of the years ahead of stolen beautiful moments. 

Amid the aftermath of this tragedy we need words of comfort, prayers both silent and in unision, and scripture readings assuring of hope beyond the sins of this world.  We need to speak out on gun control while our leaders are feeling the pain, and we need to stop the silence when a community ignores the needs of the mentally ill. 

We can NOT stay silent!  

So, I go on with the Hodgepodge as I prepare for Christmas, the celebration of the baby Jesus, the  one who came to earth to forgive our sins, and to show us the way to everlasting life.

1. How will you spend 'the night before Christmas'?

Christmas Eve is a beautiful time for me.  It's time with family,  and its when we attend our beautiful candlelight church service together.  We sing the Christmas hymns and hear the familiar reading from Luke.  The music is "tingling" and not just because I play in the handbells. ha.  I love to sing "Silent Night" by candlelight, and then "Joy to the World"!   After the service, we come home and sit and enjoy the Christmas tree lights, have a bit of liquid "Christmas Cheer" and open one present - which is always a new pair of pajamas to wear that night.

2. What is one thing you are not?

I am not super-woman.  To quote an old Helen Reddy song, you will not hear me roar!  I learned long ago I can't do everything, and I certainly can not do everything well.  So, I do what I can...with my heart in the right place.

3. Fudge - are you a fan?  Your favorite flavor?

Of course I'm a fan! Who wouldn't like all that sweetness?  My favorite flavor is chocolate. I don't eat it often because it's so loaded with calories that I feel guilty.  Fudge pieces are small, but they make a person bigger.  Not fair.

4. Did you attend any craft/vendor fairs in the month of December? Do you prefer homemade goodies or the more professional stalls?

I have not attended any fairs this month but I do enjoy them.   I do not buy many homemade items, but I very much appreciate when family & friends make homemade gifts for me.  I live in an area with many artisans and art galleries, craft stores, etc.  So year round I have the opportunity to go in them and shop.

5. What's your favorite type of holiday gathering?

A relaxed one...with lots of laughter and love!

6. We're approaching a new year...what's going to be different in 2013?

An interesting question.  First, is anybody else thinking about how we are going into '13? I'm not a superstitous person but I do wonder if others are "fearing" what may come this year.   What will be different?  Day to day not much.   But I am optimistic that our country will improve economically, and that our leaders will make some good decisions.  Yes, I'm still optimistic!  I hope to see positive changes in gun control, in health care, and in the needs for the poor in body and spirit.  

7. Share a favorite scripture, quote, saying, or song lyric relating to peace.

I have this on my Facebook page:  "Make me an instrument of thy peace." - St. Francis of Assisi.  I also love the song "Let their be peace on earth and let it begin with me." I went to a school program when my girls were little and the children sang this song - and it brought tears to my eyes.  It was so beautiful to hear from those innocent, little voices. So hopeful - so without prejudice.   Of course thinking of that moment now in light of the Sandy Hook tragedy is so sad too. 

8.  My random thought.

I hope everyone can LISTEN to the sounds this Christmas - to the TRUE story of Christ's arrival on earth, to all the beautiful music, to the laughter with family and friends.  It's really NOT a time to stay silent - but instead to rejoice and be thankful!

Be safe - and I'll see all my hodgepodge friends in 2013!  Merry Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Counting down

I'm counting down for a few special things right now.  First, my birthday is this weekend and I'm counting down for our trip to Las Vegas to see Tim McGraw & Faith Hill in concert there.  I've never been to Vegas (and I never really had it on my bucket list to see) but I'm a huge country fan and I love Tim McGraw. This will be my 4th time seeing him in concert.  My family is coming with me so it will be a great, fun weekend for us all.

I'm counting down to Christmas and events that celebrate it. I'll be baking next week, wrapping gifts, preparing for the Christmas Eve service (I play in a handbell group), and preparing for more special family time.

I'm counting down with the weekly Hodgepodge too.  It's that time again, so here are the questions and my answers.   Joyce, our wonderful leader, loves to hike, and from time to time she posts pictures from her outings through the New Jersey woods.  Yes, NJ has woods!  And lakes and mountains!  You just have to get away from the Turnpike and go north and west. 

1. When did you last take a walk in the woods?  A stroll on the beach? A drive going nowhere in particular in the car?

I can't remember when I hiked through the woods. I enjoy the woods - as long as I don't have to camp in them.  The stroll on the beach?  That's an easier answer since I live at the beach!  Just a week or so ago.  And driving without purpose?  I think the days of the "Sunday drive" are over due to the price of gas and the fact that we all spend so much time in the car anyway. 

2. Are you sending Christmas cards this year?  About how many do you send?  Photo card or something more traditional? How do you display the cards you receive?

Yes, I will be sending Christmas cards out soon. I  have started addressing them, and have bought stamps, etc. but I'm waiting until our return from Vegas in hopes I can get a great family picture while there.   In the past I have sent traditional cards, and have included a "family update letter". I have sent pictures in the past too.  I enjoy receiving cards from friends who send along letters and pictures - I love to see & read about their past year.  So, I try to do the same.  It's a bit different now since Facebook has kept me in touch with some friends all the time.  But there are still those out there that I only hear from once a year at Christmastime and I really enjoy receiving their cards.  Displaying cards?  I do not display them, but I keep a basket by the kitchen table and collect the cards there.  After Christmas when everything is quiet again I go through the basket and enjoy the cards a second time!

3. What's a word you've heard too much of in the past week?

Tough question.  I can't immediately think of one annoying word!   Perhaps "snow"...but only on the news.  I do NOT like snow AT ALL and am happy to now live in an area that really never gets any. But I admit when I hear that word I still get a chill up my spine. 

4. December 13th is National Cocoa Day - are you a fan?  Plain or flavored?  Marshmallows or no marshmallows?

Yes, I like cocoa...but I never think about making some for myself.  It's a nice winter drink when the word I mentioned in the question above is happening.  If I have cocoa I prefer no flavoring besides chocolate - and a few marshmallows are nice.

5. What is something you do to help alleviate the hectic pace of the Christmas season?

What I "try" to do is take it a day at time, and realize I am not good at everything associated with the season.  I'll bake a little but I'm not a big baker, and I will stay out of the stores as best I can.  I love the music so I concentrate on it, and I attend my church's Advent services and activities to keep centered on the CHRIST in Christmas.

6. Besides jewelry, what's a favorite sparkly - glittery item in your home or closet?

I do not consider myself a "bling bling" type of person.  I don't wear flashy, sparkly clothing.  So, at this time of year my favorite sparkly thing is the Christmas tree.   At other times?  I keep a tree lit with white lights year-round in my Carolina room.  Guess what?  I have lived here over 6 years and have never unplugged it - and it's still lit and pretty! 

7. Share a favorite line or two from any Christmas carol.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.     (Ok, it's not really a Christmas song but I love it.)

8. My random thought.

Thinking back to question 5, I count my blessings every day and thank God for my life and my family...   and yes, the glitter and glitz is fun at this time of the year, but it's important to remember that it all started in a humble, dirty little animal stable in Bethlehem.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What's important and what's not...

This past week went by fast, and finding the Hodgepodge questions this morning took me a bit by surprise. Oh ! It's Tuesday already!  I have a list of things to do today but I will take a few minutes here first to answer the questions.

1. Share your traditions surrounding the Christmas stocking.

My mother handmade 3 Christmas stockings for my brother, sister, and I.  Each Christmas season they were hung on the mantle of the fireplace.  We never really got gifts in them, but it was tradition to have them hung, and to sit under them for a Christmas picture.  Each year.  If I can find one (and find the time to search) I will post a picture on my FB page.
Now, my family members (hubby, both daughters, and I) each has a stocking, and they are really beautiful - and a gift from our friends from NJ, the Hoos'.  I hang them each Christmas season, and I fill them each year too.  In fact one of my favorite shopping experiences during this time is finding small, fun, cute, items to go into the individual stockings.  We usually "open" the stockings Christmas morning before starting in on the gifts under the tree.

2. How many hours of sleep do you average at night?  Is it enough?

I average 7 hours.  Yes, it's enough.  I try to go to bed around 11pm and am up 6:00am-ish.  Of course my doggie has been known to wake me earlier!  That's ok.  If I don't get enough sleep at night I am REALLY GOOD at dozing in front of the TV in the evening.  ha!

3. If you had to give up one thing for the remainder of this year, what would it be?

Hmmm. I'm not sure where Joyce is going with this question.  I think it's easier for me to answer what I would NOT want to give up!  I would not want to give up the family time and the special Christmas Eve service. I would not want to give up the music!  Anything else I could give up:  shopping, baking, etc.    Now, if Joyce is asking about a "non-holiday" thing that I had to give up, I guess I would give up laundry and food shopping.  Oh yes, if I must....    ( :

4.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (also known as Wills and Kate) have announced they're expecting a baby. Do you follow news of the Royals?

I know a few people who follow news of the Kansas City Royals!  Oh, wait, the question is about the British Royals!   I am not a huge "fan" of the family, but I will say that Wills & Kate seem to be in love, and they are representing the family well.  I wish them well with the crazy British media and with the expectations on them.  

5. For me, the sound of childhood is ____________ .

Giggling! When children laugh they "giggle."  You never hear of adults giggling....

6. Fruitcake - yay or boo?  What's your favorite dessert made with fruit?

Nay on the fruitcake.  I'm not a fan.  My favorite fruit dessert is pie... apple or peach.  With some vanilla ice cream on top!

7.  What is one thing you want to accomplish before 2012 comes to an end?

Again, one thing?  I want to accomplish making it through the busy holiday season.  I want to remember the "reason" for the season. I want to prioritize what's important and stay true to it.  God, family and friends, then the other stuff.   I want to make a toast on New Year's Eve to a wonderful and blessed 2012 and put my trust in God for 2013.  

8. My random thought.

For you readers out there, I'd like to suggest you go to and  use it.  I love sharing book ideas there, and giving and reading reviews.  I'm in one local book club where we read a book a month, but I also go to the Goodreads site often  to see suggestions.   It's a good spot to look for a Christmas gift too.  Nothing beats a beautiful book to give!

Remember the December mantra...     don't stress....  don't stress....   don't stress....

Have a GREAT week!