Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas with My In-Laws and Then a Blizzard

Our family had a terrific Christmas Day at my sister-in-law Betsy and her husband Phil’s home; that’s Uncle Phil to all you folks in the know! We arrived mid-afternoon at their home in South Jersey; as we were the last family to arrive, gift opening commenced soon thereafter. Paper flew! Thanks were exchanged! Ohhhs and Ahhhs were exclaimed!

Poppop, with his usual generous nature, provided his grandchildren with their heart’s desires:

Max received a Kindle!

Pat received a rugby jacket; he's an awesome player himself and has his favorite teams.

Katie received some high-end designer boots that she loves!

Tory received a Nakona softball glove; oh yeah!!

Andrew and his Poppop gift somehow escaped my camera’s lens! Help! Some help here, family! What did Andrew receive?!

It’s fun spending time with my sisters-in-law and their families; they are funny, chatty and always ready to debate and discuss anything and everything. The back-and-forths can get lively and we always laugh, a lot. This year was the first time Betsy and Phil hosted Christmas and we had such a great time that I’ve already asked if we can return for Christmas 2011!

A home brew with a subtle but sincere kick!

As the afternoon wore on into the evening, I watched Uncle Phil sip the lemoncello I made for him and my brother-in-law Joe. I loved that when I asked his opinion of this year’s batch that Phil gave me his honest opinion; he’s dependable that way. I enjoyed watching the movie Elf with my nephew Andrew, son of Betsy and Uncle Phil. I’d never seen the movie before and Andrew made some wry observations that made it that much more enjoyable. Then all of us sat and watched a political comedienne. Wow! Opinions and catcalls and abuse flew thick and fast in our crowd.

All too soon we went to bed (except my son Max, who, according to his sister, finally turned off the TV at 3 a.m. and then proceeded to snore at a high decibel level until we woke them both at 9 a.m.) and woke up to bad weather news. Both my husband Mike and his sister Betsy are weather junkies. As we drank our first cups of coffee and tea, Mike and Betsy talked weather; Uncle Phil jumped in with his opinion. He has a huge right to his weather opinions, I think, since he works for a large Central NJ township and one of his many jobs, in addition to keeping his employees in line, is to plow the miles and miles of snow-covered roads in the event of a big storm. I’d bet Uncle Phil is still out plowing, making the roads safe for those who venture out tomorrow.

When we heard the forecast, we jumped in our car and headed North to home. The weather deteriorated and this morning we woke up to this:

The front porch drifts were 3 feet high! Sunny, Tory's beloved VW Bug, is freezing her butt off!!



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Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Christmas, Family, Food, Lemoncello, New Jersey, Snow and Snowstorms, weather

Outdoor Christmas Decorations: Arizona Style

Day 4 of Fun in the Sun with My Mom

Living my life on the East Coast in a state where we celebrate all four seasons (that would be Spring Summer, Fall and Winter for those of you who might live somewhere other than where I do in New Jersey), I’m finding it really cool to see how a desert area of our good old U.S of A. decorates for Christmas; in New Jersey, it’s freezing cold and often snowy at Christmas so I’m used to Santas, reindeer and a myriad of Christmas decor that “shows well” in cold conditions.  Late today with temps hovering in the 70s and dressed in shorts, t shirt and flip flops (unlike the residents who are dressed in pants and sweaters), I took a walk up the street where my Mom lives in Sun City, AZ. And, yes, I did see many “traditional” East Coast-style Christmas decorations. You know, the twinkly lights along the roofline, the wreath on the front door. That sort of decorating style is what I’d expect to see, being from the East Coast and all.

Pretty standard decorating style, albeit with a rock front yard.

When I switched direction and walked down the street where my Mom lives I saw a whole ‘nother style of outdoor Christmas décor.





Since we don’t have cactus surviving our Jersey winters I’ve never seen this:

I have never seen anything like this Christmas "shrub." Have you?

Or this:

These characters made me laugh out loud. I mean really!!

The décor was desert-style Christmas all the way. And I laughed out loud at the sheer innovativeness of the designs: simple, but oh so effective.

I just wouldn’t want to have to un-decorate these yards after Christmas. I hate prickly shrubs! And cactus? Forgettaboutit.

Would you?

P.S. For those interested in our shopping exploits, Mom purchased a preowned Broyhill dining room table and four caned-backed chairs this afternoon. We were in Estate Resale, a shop close to her home, when she spotted the creamy-colored set and fell in love with it. A family in-law was quickly called and we loaded the set onto his pickup truck. While Mom scrubbed the set super clean, I finished hanging a bunch of pictures on the walls, bound her new mudroom carpet, prepped some large pots for her to plant herbs in come January and re-arranged some more furniture.

Mom's new dining set. She loves it. (Hey. Take a look at the pictures hung on the wall. I did massive math calculations and hung them! My husband Mike would be proud, I hope.

And, yes, my friends, I am finally worn out. I wing my way back to Jersey tomorrow.

Mom said she missed her daily naps during my visit, but is happy to report that she has truly settled in and will be residing in this wonderful home for at least another year or so. We’ve had a lot of fun together and she’s already planning the projects for my next visit!

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Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Aging, Arizona, Christmas Decor, Shopping, used furniture

Christmas Eve at Our Home

Mike and I are ready to leave for church.

All ready and waiting

Max keeps us waiting just a bit as he pulls on his fancy shoes in the main hallway prior to blastoff. Okay, he’s ready. And joins us and Tory in the main hallway.

Ready for Church

Off we go to 5:30 church service. . .to see our old friends and folks — God bless each and every one! — who helped raised our kids to be who they are today.

All Are Welcome Through These Doors

With a new choirmaster we are waiting to see what ‘old’ and what’s ‘new’ for the traditional Chrismas Eve service of carols. It’s a huge sound in the sanctuary and many voices in the choir and many people in the pews. The service is majestic and interesting and welcoming. And best of all, we have candlelight.

Silent Night and Joy to the World

And dinner afterwards.

Merry Christmas to All.


Filed under Christmas

Let’s Talk Books

“The Best (Worst) Christmas Pageant Ever”

I’ve been looking for a particular Christmas book for years, not in the ‘hell bent for leather’ way I ride a horse (long story, another post, ok?), but in the “Gee, it’s Christmas and I heard that book is good so why can’t I find it’” way. Can you figure out how many years I’ve been idly looking for this particular Christmas book? I’ll give you some hints: The type size in the book is about 14 point and it’s 108 pages long. Give up? I’ve had this particular book listed in my “Books to Buy, Rent or Borrow” book for ten years – since my teenagers were little!

I'd Be Sunk Without My Lists

 Author Barbara Robinson tells us about the Herdman kids, six untamed and unsupervised ruffians, who roll into their local church one December because they heard if you participate in church you get free cake (coffee hour). The kids end up in all the major roles (by threatening every other kids there) in the annual Christmas pageant, even though they know absolutely nothing about the Christmas story. With the usual director laid up with a broken leg, the stand-in Mom director takes on the kids with surprising results while the rest of the parish children and adults watch and wait for the “inevitable” trouble to ensue.

 Once they learn that Mary and Joseph had to sleep in a barn (no room at the inn) and Baby Jesus was tied up (swaddling clothes) and put in a feedbox (manager) the Herdmans went wild with fury at the treatment of the Holy Family.

No Room at the Inn

And after learning that the three kings were sent by King Herod to locate the Christ child so he could be killed. . .well, all I can say is that it’s a good thing Herod wasn’t depicted in the play because the kid playing him wouldn’t have made it out alive.

The Three Kings

 It’s a doozy of a story. I laughed, I shook my head, and ultimately I thought about the Herdmans and how much they had missed in their lives without a church connection. That said, they gave everyone in the congregation a new appreciation for the Christmas Story. I plan to read the slim volume out loud with my teens because I know they’ll enjoy it. What about you? Read the story. Let me know what you think.

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Filed under Let's Talk Books

A Big Secret

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Mike and I have a big secret. You’ll NEVER guess what it is either. Nope. You can guess and guess, but I don’t think you’d ever guess correctly in a million years. 

We are trying to line up a really special Christmas gift for someone we love. I’m so excited about the surprise that I got Mike, Mr. Calm, Cool and Collected, excited too! How about that?! We promised each other we wouldn’t tell anyone ahead of time since it could ruin the Wow factor for the person we are gifting. . .Loose lips and all that. That said, I am about to burst and all I’ve thought about since Saturday afternoon is THE GIFT. . .Yikes! 

Mike and I got up really early Saturday morning and travelled a distance from home to see the gift in person. I mean we did our due diligence as best we could ahead of time, but this gift has to be seen in person. Well, it was almost perfect. Note I say ‘almost.’ We have a couple of issues to work through, but I’m optimistic. We’ll know more by next weekend. I know I shouldn’t even TALK about this gift until it’s a done deal, but you know what? Even if this particular gift doesn’t work out in time for Christmas we can still give it at a later date. 

Do you have a big secret gift you’re giving this Christmas? Has someone ever completely surprised you with an awesome gift? Tell me about it and help redirect my mind. Come on, spill the story, right here, right now!


Filed under Secrets