Thank you, my sweet, sweet friends for the holiday greetings. What a delight to return home to such warmth!
We had a delightful, albeit it chilly, time up in Oklahoma. It was impressed upon me just how very spoiled to my mild south(ish) Texas weather I have become. Yes, I have grown quite fond of seventy degree winter days, and I am not one bit ashamed to say it. Like a plaintive but hopeful stray cat, the cold has followed us down here and my nose and fingertips are not the least bit appreciative of all this Arctic air!
I know there are those who don't really care for the end-of-the-year countdowns and look-backs that run so rampant in the days between Christmas and New Year's Day. As for me and my household, well, I can't help myself - I love them! A sentimentalist to a fault, there are few things as comforting to me at the close of another year than to think back on all the year has accomplished.
I mean, really, who IS this Santa Baby?
Oh, the difference a year makes. Miss Thang had no idea at the time that the coming year would crown her Big Sister. Her mom and dad hadn't a clue either, but just a few short days into 2007, Little Sister would make her presence known via two pink lines on a peed-on stick.
The beginning of the year also delivered to us a lesson learned the hard way about putting our trust in man rather than in God. That painful situation gave way to a rewarding outcome that included a long-anticipated promotion for The Coach.
Two thousand seven . . . the year in which I survived
morning all-day-long sickness, terrible two-dom, turning thirty, and a move. D found her voice while Dad found the confidence to lead in a difficult season. God saw fit to once again deliver perfection wrapped in pink into our arms.
And then there's ya'll! What fun I have had this year getting to know so many amazing women. What blessings you have been to me - each and every one of you. I value your comments here and love reading about your lives in your internetty homes. Thank you, thank you, and thank you for sharing yourself with me this year. I esteem each of you highly and so look forward to getting to know more of you in two thousand eight!
SortaCrunchy has moved!
Come see me there!
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thank you, my sweet, sweet friends for the holiday greetings. What a delight to return home to such warmth!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Last week, my mother-in-law, whom I love and admire very much, called to ask about a possible gift idea for AJ. She had found a really neat swing with all the lights and sounds and stuff that Fisher Price is convinced babies need on swings.
The thing is, we already have two swings. A simple one and a lights/sounds/overstimulation contraption. I sorta had to scratch my head a bit because my mother-in-law has been in our home very recently and had to become quite familiar with our ridiculous amount of baby gear. And honestly, I am just not a swing kind of mama. Granted, I have two of them, so it would be hard to guess that swings aren't my thing. It's just that I would rather tuck a baby in a sling rather than buckle her in a swing - and I find that most often, the desired outcome is still the same. Sleeping baby.
I was telling my sister later that day that I felt just a little bothered by this gift idea. I have a very close relationship with my mother-in-law, but her very generous, very thoughtful idea of getting AJ a new swing made me feel a little bit like she doesn't really know me as a mother. Know what I mean?
Juxtaposed against the swing suggestion was the arrival yesterday evening of my husband's gift to me. Our new camera.
I quite literally had butterflies in my stomach as we excavated the camera from its layer upon layer of packaging and protection. As we tinkered and toyed with our newest baby, I couldn't help but to reflect on what a meaningful gift this is for me. Not only did the man devote all of his share of the money given to us by our parents for Christmas presents toward the camera purchase, he also spent hours and hours researching what the perfect choice would be.
It made me wonder . . . Could it be that on all those road trips of our youth, when we would just talk and talk our way down the flat highways that cut through grassy plains of Oklahoma, could it be that he was really listening as I talked about the things I loved as a child? Did he remember how I had told him once how I so treasured the back issues of National Geographic my aunt would save for me? That I would drink in the power and mystery and beauty captured by those lenses?
And did he know that it was always the photography exhibits that called to me from the corridors of museums? That, yes, Botticellis and Jackson Pollacks make for amazing art, but what really moved me were the photographs. A hummingbird caught mid-sip. A new baby cradled in the arms of a new daddy. A village unconcerned with the advances of modernity. A brilliant diamond wedding ring on the finger of a hand dulled and weathered by time.
Eleven years ago tonight, a good-lookin' football player from Small Town, Oklahoma, slipped a diamond engagement ring onto the finger of his sorority girl girlfriend from Another Small Town, Oklahoma. Eleven years ago. Having dated for ten whole months prior to our official engagement, we thought we knew each other so well. I don't think my nineteen year old self could quite have conceived how much there was still to be discovered in that man.
This camera . . . it's extravagant. It is way, way more than I would have asked for or ever felt I deserved. But for me, it quite unexpectedly became a concrete fulfillment of that abstract desire I think every person shares . . . that longing to be known.
It's certainly that time of year. Amidst the twinkle lights and silver bells, all your favorite tabloids and their TV counterparts are doing their yearly wrap-up of the Top! Ten! Biggest! Stories! of 2007! And there's something garishly inspiring about the year-end wrap-ups that speaks of a fresh start for the new year.
Are you looking forward to a fresh blogging start in 2008? Then Christy and I cordially invite you to our Big Bloggy Move party! I am going to send you over to Christy's place to read all about it today because even in the midst of welcoming her hubby home from a six-month deployment (!!!) she has still managed to eek out the time to line out the details and qualifications of participating in shin-dig. I bow to you, Christy. (Ya'll go on over. If you are going to play along, grab the code for the button while you're there! I'll wait.)
Okay! So. Let me just say, by way of clarification, that I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with Blogger. I have been perfectly happy here for two years! I am just ready for some change and ready for the features other platforms can provide. Namely - the ability to have conversations via email with all of my commenters, not just the ones who check the box. And yeah, I am looking for a three column layout, too.
Thanks so much for everyone's feedback and recommendations! At the moment, I am leaning heavily toward TypePad, but we'll see. Note that Christy and I are giving you until mid-February to get your new home all spiffied up for company!
Looking forward to partying with you, and even if you aren't making a bloggy move in February, I hope you'll still join in the fun. There will be, after all, prizes involved.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I am knee deep in photog books and blogging platform research which lends itself to being drained dry of creative thought. As I was breezing through my G Reader, I saw that super cute, super chic dcrmom over at Musings of a Housewife is hosting a super cool giveaway! And really, who does not love Lands End? I hear their diaper bags are amongst the best.
If yourself or someone like you (yeah baby, vintage Matchbox Twenty) is in need or want of a new Lands End bag to add the bag stash, pop over to Musings to enter her Lands End Giveaway!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Some of my fondest Christmastime memories from childhood are of my parents bundling us up, buckling us into various car seats, boosters, and finally - when you knew you were really a "big kid" - just the lap belt, and taking us to tour Christmas lights around town.
As most of you already know, delightful BooMama is hosting her Christmas Tour of Homes today! Although I am camera-less at the moment and therefore having nothing to show off, I do look forward to touring around today and enjoying the sights!
(And hopefully I will find some great inspiration for the Big Bloggy Move. I cannot for the life of me decide if I want to go WordPress.com or TypePad. It shouldn't be this hard to make up my mind, right?)
(By the by, do you know of you any up-and-coming blog designers who have openings after the first of the year? All my faves seem to be booked up.)
Friday, December 14, 2007
Oh yes we are!
Now, is that not just the cutest little button you have ever seen? Christy just whipped it up last night! So yeah! We are doing it. We are leaving our Blogger homes for some wide open spaces elsewhere. (yes, yes, it's true that Blogger has fixed the commenting issues . . . I still feel the need for a new start though!) Anyone else wanna make a fresh bloggy start in 2008? Make sure you swing by Christy's Big Bloggy Move post to pick up the button code. Details to follow!
We have decided on a camera (more on that to come), so while I await its arrival, let me entertain you with this hoopla which Stacey at the truest thing has tagged me to play . . .
The Random Christmas Hoopla!
1. List 12 random things about yourself that have to do with Christmas
2. Please refer to it as a 'hoopla' and not the dreaded 'm'-word (which, for you bloggy newbies, is meme)
3. You have to specifically tag people when you're done. None of this "if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged" stuff is allowed...then nobody ends up actually doing it. The number of people who you tag is really up to you -- but the more, the merrier to get this 'hoopla' circulating through the blogosphere.
4. Please try and do it as quickly as possible. The Christmas season will be over before we know it and I'd like to get as many people involved as possible.
12 Random Christmas Things About Megan:
1. When I was in the fifth grade, our librarian read us The Polar Express. It was the first time I had heard it and when she got to the end, I cried with delight. It captured my heart and put words to my belief in the power and spirit of Christmas.
2. Like Stacey, we also don't have a nativity set, and I am deeply saddened by that. It's weird. I am not normally perfectionistic, but for some reason I have never found just the "perfect" nativity, and therefore remain paralyzed in my inability to buy one that is simply okay.
3. I think eggnog is disgusting.
4. My first Christmas home from college, my (then junior in high school) sister and I were horsing around when we were supposed to be clearing off the dishes after Christmas dinner. The details are kinda blurry now, but I somehow fell against a dining room chair and busted my eyebrow open. There is nothing like shopping the post-Christmas sales with a big ol' butterfly bandage across your eyebrow to garnish the stares of strangers. I wonder if they thought I had maybe been in a bar fight?
5. Another Christmas story involving Sis and I . . . one Christmas we spent taking turns heaving in the bathroom with a nasty, nasty tummy bug. It was glorious.
6. I mentioned this in an earlier post, but we have a tree up this year for the first time since our first Christmas together nine years ago. It's so much easier to have a Christmas tree in a cat-free home!
7. Fave Christmas movie: Christmas Vacation
8. Fave Christmas song: O Holy Night . . . but I love O Come, O Come Emmanuel, too
9. Fave Christmas food: Houska
10. Other Christmastime favorites: cheesy Christmas commercials (remember the Maxwell House one where the grown son arrives home a little earlier than expected? "Oh, Peter! You're home!" Yeah, getting all teary just thinking about it!); sharing Christmas with family; halls and stores and cars all decked in holiday cheer
11. Christmastime bummers: crowded parking lots and miserable check-out lanes
12. Top Three Christmas presents from my man (in no particular order): diamond engagement and wedding ring set, diamond stud earrings, and on its merry way to me - a Nikon D40!!
Now let's see . . . Melissa, Missy, Keara, Lori, Corey, Sheila, Melanie, Julie, and Julie - ya'll are tagged. And so is anyone else who wants to play! (I hate tagging.)
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Short and sweet today, ladies!
As usual, I called upon random.org to help me choose a winner for my lip balm drawing. The winner of the tube of lip balm of her choice from Clear Hills Honey Company is Gretchen from Lifenut! Gretchen's comment (My thoughts are kinda chapped, so I will play along.) was concise and witty, just like her amazing writing over at Lifenut. And for those of you wrestling with some "what should I blog about? why am I even blogging, anyway?" thoughts right now, I highly recommend you check out her "Bravery" post over at Mile High Mamas. Heck, go read it even if you aren't a blogger. It's good stuff.
Okay, gush over.
On with the show.
Thank you to everyone for the feedback! I haven't quite decided what I need to do about managing my blogging time. I am sorta afraid the answer is to pare back on the blogs I am following. In fact, that seems the only realistic thing to do, unless of course as a special Christmas gift just to me, God creates an extra two hours in my day so I can sit and do nothing but read and comment . . .
* * * * * * * * * *
I am sad to report there will be a dearth of D and AJ photos for a bit. Our camera bit the dust yesterday. I am currently camera shopping which is overwhelming with a capital Yikes! Hence the short, blathery post today.
Do you have a camera you just love, love, love? I will never be a pro, I just need something that shoots non-blurry pictures that I don't have to photoshop the life out of to get the lighting and color halfway decent. Recommendations? I am all ears.
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Finally, I am thinking about moving. Oh, not moving away from my sweet house under the shady trees! But I think the time has come to move away from Blogger. Christy at After a Cup of Coffee . . . or Two and I are toying with a big moving party. Is anyone else entertaining the idea of leaving Blogger?
Also, if you left Blogger, where are you now and do you like it there?
Obviously, I am in need of lots of hand-holding today. Thanks for tolerating my neediness!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
My "baby" brother and his wife welcomed a sweet baby girl into the world yesterday evening, so I am excitedly distracted today. Been burning up those phone lines between here and Louisiana!
I do have just a minute to share two recipes for Karla's
The first one is SUPER fast and easy. Perfect to whip up for holiday parties or just to have on hand to indulge in over coffee on a wintry afternoon.
Brown Sugar Shortbread
from Judith Sutton's Sweet Gratitude
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp (NO substitutions or it isn't shortbread!)
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/8 t. salt
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1. Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and both sugars with an electric mixer on medium speed until thoroughly blended - about one minute. Scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in vanilla, then beat in salt. On low speed, add the flour in two additions, beating just until incorporated.
3. Turn the dough out into an ungreased 9x13 baking pan and, with your fingertips or a sturdy rubber spatula, gently press it evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the shortbread is golden brown (edges will be slightly darker). Do not underbake. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. With a sharp heavy knife, cut the shortbread, still in the pan, into 36 rectangles. Let cool completely before removing shortbread from pan. Keeps in airtight container up to 5 days.
Here's another quick and easy - Monkey Bread! I have signed up to bring Monkey Bread to my Bible study group's Christmas party on Friday, but I am going to go out on a limb and change up my tried and true recipe. Michelle at Scribbit shared her Sticky Buns recipe a while back and I've been waiting for just the occasion to whip it up. But if you need a fast, simple Monkey Bread recipe, I think you'll find this one won't disappoint!
Megan's Mother-In-Law's Monkey Bread:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 to 4 cans of refrigerated biscuits
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup crushed pecans
1/4 cup cinnamon
1-1/2 sticks of butter
Mix together the sugars and pecans and cinnamon and put in bowl. Set aside.
Use kitchen shears and cut the biscuits into fourths (if you use bigger biscuits you can cut them smaller). Roll in the sugar mixture and arrange in bundt pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. (A loaf pan will work if you don't have a bundt pan). Set aside.
In a small sauce pan melt the butter and add the sugar mixture that you rolled the biscuit fourths in. Once the mixture comes to a boil lower heat and cook approx. 2 min.
Pour hot mixture over the biscuits in the pan lifting edges so it can seep down to the bottom.
Place in oven and bake approx. 30 to 45 minutes. When it is done allow to cool a couple of minutes on stove top and invert onto a serving dish. Best when served warm but still good if it cools.
You can vary the ingredients and it will turn out. It's fail proof.
Thank you, Karla, for hosting such a yummy par-tay!!!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
In every person's life, situations and circumstances come along that reveal the truth and depth of character that person possesses. Sometimes these situations and circumstances are big. Life-changing. Other times, it's an utterly ordinary scene that exposes the ugly hiding beneath the pretty.
A crucible, if you will.
There are few places on this planet that turn up the heat on my own personal crucible as hot as the open-twenty-four-hours-a-day-seven-days-a-week flame that is WalMart. And I'll tell you where I get singed every time . . . Not when I am walking the three point eight miles from one end of the store to the other because I forgot that now they stock the watercolors in the back by the toys and not in the front by the office supplies like they used to. It's not the snarly employees or the crying babies or the skanky bathrooms or even the mealy produce of questionable freshness. It's the check-out line. Every stinkin' time.
And so the last time I was there, I had AJ strapped on in the mei tai carrier and D riding shotgun in the cart which was filled to the brim with our weekly groceries. And wouldn't you know it? Wouldn't you just know it? At the Not-So-Okay Corral of check-out lanes, there were exactly two regular lanes open, two express lanes, and then the self check-out lanes. All of those were open, you bet.
Now I might not be the smartest mama on the block, but I do know better than to purposefully station myself in an already painfully long line near the check-out counters with a toddler in tow. A toddler who to this point had been amazingly patient and gracious while her mother zoomed her up and down the aisles, but a toddler, nonetheless, who was also known to go a little nutso upon spying the deliberately placed goodies next to the counters. After all, who can resist the glittery packs of gum? And what of the light-up pens? And the plethora of Dora playing cards? And the siren's song of just one more sippy cup?
So the two (and I am really not exaggerating for effect here, ladies, there were two) regular lanes were out. Express lane? Sure. Yeah, that's out. And what does that leave us with? Those darn self check-out lines.
Deep breath. Don't curse. She's talking now, remember?
No lines at the self check. So that's good. I start throwing things on the mini conveyor belt, muttering to myself about how this the last time, the last time I tell ya!, I will be shopping at WalMart and I am gonna go home and write me a letter, that's what I'm gonna do, and on and on. Meanwhile, a sort of (how shall I say this?) scruffy looking middle-age man gets in line behind me and starts chatting me up. I
glared glanced at him and sorta half-heartedly responded to his attempts to chit-chat, but what I really wanted to do was bring about violent retribution on the check-out machine because every single time I tried to swipe an item, it would wait about five seconds and then instruct me to place the item in the bag and if I didn't do this on it's time frame, it froze up and I had to start all over.
Must. Not. Hurt. Anyone.
So I think you get the picture. By the time I endured that ordeal, I was exhausted. And annoyed. Annoyed with Chatty McSmall Talk, annoyed with WalMart, annoyed with the world.
Well, not at all coincidentally, the next day I was looking up a word in my Bible's concordance, and as I glanced through the listings, a word jumped out at me. Annoyance. I sorta chuckled and thought, "I don't remember annoyance showing up in Scripture." Curious, I turned to the lone verse listed under annoyance.
A fool shows his annoyance at once,
but a prudent man overlooks an insult. Proverbs 12:16, NIV
Well, hello Conviction. Good to see you.
Monday, December 10, 2007
So here's the deal . . . I am struggling with keeping up with my blog reading. I think probably I am not managing my blog reading very well and I would love to hear how you guys do it. I also know we are all pressed for time these days, so I want to make it worth your while to share your secrets, hints, and tips with me!
If you will answer these questions for me in the comments for this post, I will enter your name for a fun little drawing. The winner will receive one lip balm of her choice from Clear Hills Honey Company! Because CHHC is about to close for the holidays, I will close this drawing at 2 pm central time on Thursday, December 13. Winner will need to email me her address no later than 8 am on Friday, December 14 so I can get the order in promptly. (both bloggers and non-bloggers are eligible, so that means all my lurky and/or non-blogging readers are more than welcome to de-lurk today!!)
Okay, so here is what I am wondering . . .
1) Do you use a feed aggregator like Bloglines or Google Reader to do your blog reading? If yes, skip to #3
2) If you don't use a feed aggregator, how do you keep up with your favorite blogs?
3 a) If you do use a feed aggregator, how often do you "click through" to the actual blog to comment?
3 b) If the blog you are reading publishes truncated (shortened) feeds, does that make you more likely or less likely to click through and read the whole post?
4) For everyone - how many blogs do you read/subscribe to? Overall, are you happy or unhappy with how often you are able to read AND comment on your favorite blogs?
5) Feel free to share any advice or feedback that you think might help me better manage my blog reading time. :)