Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Wishes

A grandchild safely stashed in front of the tv eating oatmeal or chicken noodle soup and watching Dora the Explorer -- a comforting sight for a grandmother when the grown children's problems are much more difficult to solve.
Both Jonah and Jill stayed over last night and Jonah and I indulged in an old tradition of watching Jurassic Park and eating chocolate milkshakes as we did when he was little. He was never afraid of that movie even when he was two. I don't know how or when he saw it for the first time. I only remember that the part where the dinosaur tries to eat the children alive was his favorite. He and I knew the dialogue by heart and were both asleep in no time on Friday nights when we popped it in the VCR. We had popcorn and chocolate covered peanuts last night instead of ice cream. Jill watched it with us and somehow didn't get scared once or wake up with nightmares. Her natural fear seems to have been overcome by her enormous desire to do everything that Jonah does. Jonah is eight now and it has been a year or so since we watched this movie together. This is probably the last time for this particular ritual.

This morning we built a beautiful fire and made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. With all the problems and worry in the world, it is these little moments that mean the most to me and that I hope the children will remember. Roger seemed to enjoy them, too.

Tonight I hope to have dinner for Karin and Alan for New Year's Eve and a belated anniverary party. I hope Alan feels well enough. We will pick up a bottle of champagne and I cooked some chicken and red wine yesterday. It smelled wonderful. I had trouble saving it for tonight. I imagine we will also babysit for Mia so her parents can celebrate a little.

I wish everyone a safe and warm New Year's Eve with someone they love and a Happy and Hopeful New Year for 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Inspirations - Mary's house

Mary and friends

We lined up the Teddy Bears and took a picture to sell on Craig's List at Chrsitmas. No luck.

Lion Cut

I've discovered a whole new world of blogs and am busy adding my favorites to the list. It is so much fun to take a peek at other people's homes and lifestyles. Here are a few images from one of my real life inspriations, my friend Mary's house and her cat with it's lion cut. She said the kitty was uncomfortable with the cut at first but it helps "cut down" on cat hair in the house.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Melancholy Christmas Songs

Riding and singing in the car

Christmas day on the new tricycle

I have a special love for sad, bittersweet Christmas songs. Once I started searching for them, I noticed there are many. That makes sense I guess. After all, Christmas never matches all of our hopes and expectations after the age of about five or six. Once you begin to doubt Santa, a whole new stage of life and view of Christmas begins. One of the first hard lessons is that life is not fair, but we have to find a way to make the best of it anyway. So here is my list of favorite Christmas songs. You may not have heard of all of them.

1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Perferably Judy Garland's or Frank Sinatra's versions

2. I'll be Home for Christmas - The soldier's homesick Christmas song. Frank Sinatra?

3. Blue Christmas - Elvis, of course

4. Please Come Home for Christmas - Bluesy, Rocky, Don't remember the first artist, but I love the Eagles version

5. If We Make it through December - Merle Haggard. Popular when I was broke, newly married and a new mom

6. Hard Candy Christmas - Dolly Parton. Technically not a Christmas song, but I love it anyway

7. Pretty Paper - Willy Nelson. Not really one of my favorites, but I do love Willie.

I know there are more. What's the one that ends with Auld Lang Sine? I know this is spelled wrong and can't think of the title of the song right now.

Other favorite Christmas songs remind me of my children and have now been taken over by my grandchildren. We love to sing them in the car.

1. Old Toy Trains - Roger Miller. Popular the Christmas my son was two years old (1973). I used to rock and sing to him and he would "sing" along. Later I sang it for Jaime. I got a CD a couple of years ago and when Jonah and Jill heard this story, they begged to hear it over and over again and we always sang it in the car.

2. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer - Popular for obvious reasons, but my mother especially loved this song. The kids sing it at the top of their lungs.

3. Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms. Our favorite for 2008. The radio station had a contest to win $1,000 if they played it twice in a row. We didn't win, but we sang it anyway. I even heard little Mia singing it to herself yesterday.

4. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee. Our other Christmas favorite to sing to. Sometimes we get it mixed up with #3.

I will try to figure out how to attach a url for one of these songs.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

Jonah's best present. There is a baby gecko in there if you look carefully.

Nibbles and Squeaky Toy

Mia and robot

Karin, Alan and Joyce

Jill with cookies


Connor and Vannon and stockings

Christmas morning tree.

Christmas mantel

Christmas Eve dinner

Christmas chandelier and Santa Elf

We had a happy Christmas Eve day with many friends and family. I literally cooked for two straight days and managed to not get stressed out. I WAS worried about where to put all the people and the two dogs who were coming. And the noise. With the parquet floors, sounds in this house tend to ECHO. But everyone helped. People just came in and started setting up, washing dishes, helping with the last minute cooking and putting it on the buffet table. Without this help, I could not have managed. Thank you to everyone. Somehow it all worked out. Of course, Jaime did everything including cooking a beautiful prime rib. We both think she is the reincarnation of my mother who was the queen of everything Christmas. It kind of skipped a generation with me so thank you, Jaime.
We also had phone calls from Roger's children and grandchildren up in Michigan in blizzard conditions. Martin made the most of it by going skiing and April and Ken and the kids got through the snow to spend Christmas with her mom and grandma. Cory and Troy called, too. They all thought it was funny when I told them Floridians sometimes truck in snow and people line up to play in it. It's true!
Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

White Christmas

Here is our Florida version of a white Christmas. Fog. If you look closely at the top picture you will see two golf carts. The crazy golfers were trying to play. I heard them calling to each other to find the CART. Don't know how they found the golf ball!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Visits to Santa

Briel and Santa

Jonah and Jill with Pinky and the scooter

Sean, Mia, Jaime and Jonah

Mia not so happy about Santa

Jonah visits him "just in case ..."

Jill - Starstruck!

Christmas House

Santa visited our neighborhood last night at the house with all the lights, just a short walk across the golf course. Karin and Alan came and Cory (Jill's dad) was here. I picked up Jill and Jonah since Mia and her friend Briel were still taking a nap. On the way over, Jill said, "My tummy feels funny." She was very nervous at actually meeting Santa in person. There were no lines and no busy mall and no charge for taking pictures. Jonah rode his scooter across the golf course and along the sidewalk. Even though it is used, he loves it and can do tricks on it already. Except for some family drama, everything went pretty well. Jill was awestruck and loved the pink elephant Santa gave her. She named him "Pinky". Jonah acted way too grown up to see Santa but finally relented and seemed to enjoy himself. His mom and I both encouraged him to talk to Santa "just in case". Later, Jaime and Sean brought Mia and Briel by to see Santa, too.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Preparations

The tree and Rick and Darlene's house with the beautiful feather ornaments.

My brother, Rick and wife, Darlene

Me and Roger at my brother's house.

Our Christmas tree with train and plastic decorations. Decorations are kid-proof. Train -- not so much.

Jonah earned a dollar for putting the train around the tree.

Well, I haven't wrapped a single present. Haven't bought very many. Only a few for Jill. I see things for her everywhere. Oh, and we got a basketball for Jonah, but still looking for a little goal to hang up. His biggest present is in the garage with a sheet over it. A big terrarium with a black base. Very fancy. It has a big branch in it which was his favorite thing. Jaime saw it at the neighbor's garage sale and Jonah begged for it or at least for the branch. I went down and paid $20.00 she gave me and they picked it up. There is a little lizard at home in a shoe box who is waiting to move in.

What I have done is bake a lot of Christmas cookies. They are all eaten so I have to bake some more for Christmas presents. I am so proud that I have finally learned to make good cookies and cut them out into the shape they are supposed to be. CHILL THE DOUGH! That is the secret. Whatever made me think I could cut shapes out of gooey dough? I find that a lot of other people make the same mistake, though. Now I am trying to learn to decorate them so they look right. My neighbor makes a beautiful plate of decorated cookies every year. The trick is to get the icing to harden and not just stay stickey. I confess to eating a lot of them, but not as many as Jill, who has been helping me. I flavored them with a little orange juice and some orange zest. The tangelos on the tree outside are puny this year, but they add a nice flavor to the cookies. Especially since I am long out of vanilla flavoring.

I went to Jonah's Christmas breakfast yesterday and they had a little play. Jonah was in the choir. Mrs. Goodknight is leaving to have her baby and won't be back till April. Meanwhile, the kids are out of school for two whole weeks! I went early to Jill's class but found them all napping. They had the party earlier and I missed it. At least I tried.

The tree has a train around it this year. Roger's Christmas present last year. Jonah had to crawl around and help us set it up. I paid him a dollar. Jill wanted to help, but he wouldn't let her and even blamed her when he had trouble with it. I had to ask him to do it again yesterday after Mia's visit. He complained and banned Jill from the living room, but finally got it going again. The decorations came in one box from Walgreens. All plastic. They would already be shattered by now if they were not. Still, it's a cute tree. Don't you think?

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Simple Christmas - Kinsman Family Portrait

Everyone heads over to the pool/lake for picture taking.

Mia and me. She is smelling a flower (flowler she calls it). Only way to get her to hold still.

Family photo. The best of the bunch. Everyone looks pleasant. It was before Mia's meltdown.

Obviously not in order. Here is the start of the parade to the lake.

Erica and even the cat lagging behind.

With money tight for everyone this year, we are cutting back to essentials. Good food and friends and presents only for the kids. This year we really mean it! It is strange, but also strangely liberating. This site is for family and friends and especially for Jonah, Jillian and Mia as a record of their childhoods and their grandma who loves them!

We went to the lake by my daughter's apartment last weekend to try to take some family portraits. Jaime got everyone together and found white shirts and khaki pants for them all. We trooped down to the lake which provided a beautiful background, but the light was too strong and the baby got progressively more irritable as the photo shoot went on. We got a few memorable shots anyway. I will try to post them now.