Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ho-Ho-Holiday Preparations

Oh's almost here! I am so excited as always. How are your holiday plans coming? I really do love this time of year. Irv and I headed out early this morning to finish up the shopping. My plan was that I was not coming home until I was done, and I did it! I must say that Mr. Bah Humbug started to get a bit cranky when we left the mall and headed into town to hit a few other stores. He can only tolerate so much holiday spirit in one day.

Me, I could have circled the mall all day and been very happy. I love the atmosphere. I love the people and the decorations. Ho-Ho-Ho!!!

We went into the pet store and Mr. Humbug wasn't pleased that I spent over $30 on the four dogs. We have two and the boys each have one. Good dog toys aren't cheap. Ours are getting the fleece toys without the stuffing because no matter how strong it says they little toy fox terrier, Sparky can destroy it in no time and she throws that stuffing everywhere! Mine got the cheap toys. It's the boy's border collie and aussie that cost a bit more. Hey, they are bigger and require bigger toys. Ho-Ho-Ho. I don't care. I love the dogs.

We finally got home and Mr. Humbug started straightening up the "guest" room, figuring someone will be sleeping in there. Mr. Humbug was crabby. He didn't want to be cleaning the guest room. I said I would do it, but Mr. Humbug likes to do nice things and then complain the entire time he does them.

Then we talked to Matt and he thought the basement might be a better place for him to sleep because it's bigger and he travels with a lot of stuff. So, Mr. Humbug went down and cleaned up a bit down there. Now, even though Mr. Humbug complained, he made it so nice down there with the little fake fireplace and some Christmas lights. I told you he does a lot of nice things, I think he just likes to hear himself complain.

I sat on my workshop floor (and let me tell you...sitting on the floor is not very comfortable anymore) and got all of the gifts into the boxes and started wrapping and after two whole gifts I ran out of tape. UGH! I had hoped to get everything wrapped tonight. So, Mr. Humbug went to town to get a new furnace filter and tape....and Subway for dinner.

After dinner I will dig in and start wrapping again. Matt just called and he will probably stop for the night in a couple hours. He's been driving for 15 hours already on only 3 hours of sleep. He hit some nasty weather in Colorado that slowed him down a bit and his windshield squirter things were plugged up and wouldn't squirt! He wants to be home by 11:00 tomorrow...he didn't say why, but I would suspect that it has something to do with football.

Oh, we also have to fix our little Charlie Brown tree...he is trying very hard to fall over. We will never, ever buy that type of tree again. The trunk is very soft as are all of the branches. The lights are having a hard time staying on the branches and now he is falling......timber!!!!

I was talking on the phone earlier to Mr. Humbug's and my daughter, Tresa who I shall from here on out call....Ms. Humbug. Ms. Humbug decided that next Christmas I am going to go shopping with Chris, her soon to be husband, and she is going shopping with Mr. Bah Humbug. She likes Christmas about as much as he does. She went shopping today and hated the snow, the people, the lines and everything else about it. Hmmmmmm....wonder where she gets that from.


Friday, December 19, 2008

You Can't Sell What You Don't Have Listed

I have heard people a number of times in the etsy forums, joking about not being able to sell things that you don't have listed. I'm usually pretty good with getting things into my etsy shop soon after making them....until recently. It seems this new blog, that I really am enjoying, takes up a bit more time each day than I had anticipated. In the evening when I would normally be listing or renewing things in my shop, I am busily ticka-ticka-ticking away on my little computer...putting all of these wonderful words of wisdom on my blog.

I've noticed that I'm having a hard time finding balance between tending my FourDogDay shop and tending the blog....and the blog seems to be winning....and that is not allowed. What will I do when I reoopen MyOtherShop in a few weeks? Hmmmmmmm.

My etsy business, FourDogDay has to come first. My shop has brought me so much joy and has filled such a void for me. I love creating and I love owning my own business. It gives me purpose.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago my husband found these cute little bowls at a resale shop that would make perfect Fun and Fancy pieces for my shop. I've blogged about them before. Well, I had also stopped at an estate sale and had found a couple of wonderful plates. I was excited and made a Fun and Fancy with one of the little bowls and with one of the plates and set them aside to dry. Well that was 2 weeks ago and it doesn't take that long for the glue to dry!

This morning I was blessed with a snow day and didn't have to go in to work. I made my to-do list and the first thing on it was to photograph and list those two pieces. I got the house cleaned and took the photos. The ones for the little bowl were not great, but I thought I would just get the two things listed and then redo the photos tomorrow.

I got them both listed and started experimenting with some decoupage and went back to my shop a couple hours later to find that the little bowl Fun and Fancy was sold! Holy cow...that was a nice surprise. I never expected that. I have sold a number of them, but never that fast. I did that little etsy happy dance and shared the good news with Irv.

I posted in the forums about what happened and did some laughing when I found out that I am not the only person that makes things and doesn't list them. It seems to be a common malady. I kept working on my other stuff and went back to etsy and NO WAY....the other one sold too! This one however sold because someone heard me talking about the first one in the forums and went to see what I was talking about. She fell in love with the other one and bought it.

First, I am going to hit the resale shops tomorrow to buy supplies to make more Fun and Fancy pieces. When I make them, I will allow them the proper drying time and then I will list them, because you can't sell what you don't have listed!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ho-Ho-Holy Terrified Toddlers

I remember making plans every Christmas to get my kids to the mall to visit with Santa and get that oh so special picture with Santa. There was a time when the photos were complimentary, or you could take your own, but those days are long gone. I've seen some malls where you almost need to take a loan to pay for the picture with Santa!

When Tresa was little there was a wonderful looking Santa at one of the malls. He had the real beard. I do think he was tired of the Ho-Ho-Whole thing though, because his personality wasn't quite as jolly as one might expect of a jolly old elf! Then there were some really bad looking Santas, the ones where you could see the elastic that held the curly beard in place!

Looking at my picture with Santa collection that I display every year, I laugh at the pictures of my kids crying hysterically, and trying desperately to get away from the guy in red. What's really funny is that I have one of those for each of my three kids, and that always occurred around the same age.

Tresa's screaming with Santa photo came when she was 15.5 months old. The boys were both 19 months old. The one with Michael crying is great! Tresa is 7 years old and at that age, she could just ignore her screaming little brother and smile for the camera.

Then there is the one where Matt is screaming and Tresa is highly embarrassed! She was 10 years old and that's an age where you really don't want the attention to be on you. After all, you already think you might be too old to be sitting on Santa's lap, and then your little brother starts screaming and everyone is staring at you and laughing at the little spectacle on Santa's lap!

Oh, those were the days. When I look at the pictures now, and see the terror on their little faces, I actually feel kind of guilty. Then again, if it really harmed them psychologically, they would all be in therapy. Right?

When the kids got a little older and started asking questions about Santa, the ones that most parents don't like to answer.... I told them this, "When you stop believing in Santa, that's when Santa stops coming."

My kids are 25, 28 and 34, and Santa still stops at our house every Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

We had a bit of ugly weather yesterday afternoon that turned the evening rush hour into a commuting nightmare for thousands of people in the Chicago area. I get off work at 3:30 so it added an extra 20 minutes to my drive home. Not too bad. It took my son 3.5 hours to get home and my daughter a whopping 4.5 hours! Not a fun way to spend the evening.

Going in to work this morning wasn't too bad, however the National Weather Service just issued a Winter Storm Warning for tomorrow evening into Friday. Depending on where you live you are either going to get a ton of ice, or a boat load of snow. We are closer to the snow line, but you just never know what kind of tricks Mother Nature is going to play.

Take the winter of 1979 for example. Mother Nature hit us with one major storm right after another that year. We kept shoveling and shoveling and shoveling and before long the piles on the sides of the driveway were so high that you couldn't even throw it up there any more. We finally had to have a guy come with a front loader to push the snow into the yard and give us more room to throw the never ending snow.

Tresa was in her glory. She was 5 years old and I don't know too many 5 year olds that don't love the snow. She never wanted to come in. It was funny because the vent for the dryer is on the driveway side of the house, and it kept melting the snow we threw over there. It made a great little hiding place for a 5 year old.

A not so great thing that came along with the snows of '79, were roof collapses. The roof of the bowling alley we use to bowl at came crashing in one night, destroying the building and the family business that went with it.

Irv was the Operations Manager at Carson Pirie Scott at that time. They had just finished a huge remodel of their Junior World department, and that roof came crashing down too destroying merchandise and a big section of the brand new department.

For many years after '79 when we would get heavy snows, you could see people on the roofs of businesses shoveling the snow off.

I don't anticipate another winter like that, but there are many years that we don't see snow until some time in January and we have already had many snows that have required shoveling.

I don't like to see bad roads because it causes so many accidents, but I must say I am kind of keeping my fingers crossed that we get just enough snow for the school district I work for to be closed Friday and the call to my cell phone with the recording that says, "District Office Personnel can work from home today".

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Teaching Children to Care

Today I wanted to share with you something Matt's third grade class out in Telluride, Colorado just did. One of the parents from Matt's class has been involved with sending boxes of clothing over to Afghanistan for the refugees. The following information comes from an e-mail between that parent and someone that helps distribute the clothing in Afghanistan.

There are hundreds of Pakistanis and Afghans that are fleeing from the Northwest Frontier Provinces of Pakistan into Afghanistan. The camps across Kabul and the adjacent provinces are filling up with those seeking refuge from the Taliban and Al Qaeda. It's particularly tough in the winter as food prices are very high and the UN and World Food Program are short on food and tents. The weather is now getting cold and we are expecting snow. Many Afghans in Kabul continue to scour the garbage and the streets for edibles and combustibles.

After hearing how terrible things are over there, Matt and his class decided to collect clothing to send. The next couple of weeks they collected clothing from home and from family and friends. When the kids were done with the collecting portion of the project, they got boxes and helped pack up all of the clothes. While they were packing up the clothes, one of the kids said to Matt, "I don't know why, but I feel really good." How cool is that?

The next thing they had to do was come up with the money to ship the clothes, so the kids went in supervised groups, to businesses around town and asked for cash donations for their project. The kids raised $450!

With that done, it was time to mail the boxes. They loaded the boxes into a parent's car for the drive to the post office. Telluride is a small town, so Matt and the kids walked. At the post office, the kids were responsible for handling the transactions and a short while later.....their boxes were on their way...all 300 pounds worth!

The boxes get shipped to an Army Colonel who heads up the humanitarian relief. He distributes the boxes to heads of the individual camps and the heads of the camps distribute them directly to the people that need them.

I truly believe that if you teach children compassion and caring, that they will become compassionate, caring adults. Then in turn, hopefully they will pass those qualities on to their children and so on and so on......

So way to go Telluride Elementary School third graders, and way to go Mr. Matt! You should all be very, very proud.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Deck the Halls with.....

What do you deck your halls with or more specifically, what do you deck your tree out with? After my kids grew up and moved out, I decided it was time to go from my "kid" tree to a "big girl" tree. My kid tree was decorated with the same decorations year, after year, after I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but I was at a point in my life where I was ready for a change. A change from the ornaments that I had made over the years, and the ornaments that the kids had made way back when to a more grown up looking tree. I had a vision of the decorations I wanted and they were nothing like the decorations I had. (The green beaded ornament on the left was made by my mother-in-law. She use to buy the satin ornaments and a ton of beads and attach them to the ornaments with straight pins. She enjoyed making them so much. I have a couple that I always put on our tree. They make me happy and sad at the same time. She's been gone for 26 years.)

So last year I talked Irv into all new lights and new ornaments. I went with mostly clear glass ornaments, with some red ones thrown in for a bit of color. The tree was beautiful! There were a few really special "kid" ornaments that still had a spot on the tree, but everything else was new. Even the kids thought the tree looked great, except for maybe my little traditionalist, Matt. Matt would be happy if nothing changed...ever. (The little felt angel is Matt. He made this with the help of his preschool teachers when he was 3.)

I always loved the ornaments that the kids made. Each one was so unique. Their teachers were very creative. Each one was so special and they were always so proud of their work. (The red and green stocking was made by Michael when he was 7. It's a wood ornament that he painted.)

Well, a funny thing happened this year....and I have not yet mentioned this to anyone....I've decided that want my old tree back. I want all of the handmade ornaments on it, and I want to make new handmade ornaments. I want my old sequined felt ornaments of Santa and Mrs. Santa, and Holly Hobby, and cookie monster, and Paddington Bear. I want them all on my tree again. I want the big old fashion lights back. I think I want to string popcorn again and have some ornaments made from nature like I use to. Am I crazy or what? Irv usually reads my blog at work...I can only imagine the e-mail I'll get when he reads this one!

There is one ornament that is always on our tree. It is a white styrofoam boot that Tresa made in 1981 in her religion class at church. The kids got to pick a plain ornament and then decorate it. On it they were to write, "I Pray For....and fill in what they pray for. In December of 1981, Michael was about 19 months old. It was his name that Tresa wrote on her little ornament. See, Michael was born a very sick little boy. We almost lost him when he was 4 days old and he had 3 surgeries by the time he was 14 months old. I'll write about it another time. It just always touched my heart that Tresa, who was 7 at the time thought of her baby brother with such love.

Every year when that ornament comes out of the box and gets hung on the tree, my tears start flowing. When the kids were a little older, they always knew it was coming. All eyes would be on mommy. It was a very difficult time in our lives and that little boot reminds me not just of the difficult days we had, but also just how very fortunate we are.

Last but not least is the most beautiful BLUE angel in the entire world. In fact, she is probably the ONLY blue angel in the entire world. Don't ask me how I ever thought this little angel was cute....but way back about 30 years ago, I did. Over the years, she has lost her halo, but basically, she still looks about the same. It was quite an honor in our house when it was your turn to be lifted into the air by daddy, so that you could place the beautiful little blue angel on the very top of the tree! The kids took turns each year, and it was the last thing we did after decorating the tree.

This past weekend Michael was over and we were all sitting in the living room. I had placed the little blue angel on the shelf when I decorated the house, since she doesn't really go with the new decorations on the tree. I happen to look up at the tree, and Michael had placed her on top of the tree! We all had a good laugh. I might just leave her there and see if Tresa and Matt notice when they are here for Christmas next week!

Well, the "big girl" tree will have to do for this year, because it is already up and decorated....but look out Christmas of 2009, I think it just might be time for a change....again!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful....

but that could mean a day off of work! I really don't think it is going to be that bad, but I am keeping my fingers crossed. I could really use an extra day off right now! They are predicting rain...which it is doing right now, then temps dropping to the 20s and then ice and a few inches of snow tomorrow. I just hope we don't all get to work and then get stuck there!

I had such a great day today. We went and did our grocery shopping first thing this morning. I spent some time last night working on my shopping list, leaving off things from my "avoid" list and adding things that I can eat. Even though I am not making the big switch until after Christmas, I've decided to start eliminating things from my diet that are easy to eliminate. I can give up the potato chips, and potatoes, some of the vegetables and things like that.

For example, my son was here for dinner tonight and normally I would have loved the baked potato with asparagus, carrots and onion baked on top of it......but instead, I had a salad with romaine, red, green and orange peppers, kidney beans, egg, ground flax, chopped pecans, sunflower seeds and carrots with a little fat free Italian dressing. Potato and asparagus are on the "avoid" list....along with a million other things.

I made sure I bought a lot of different vegetables and fruits today since those will be the largest part of my diet. I intend to finish up things I still have some of like my oat cereal and my loaf of bread, but then I will be done with those for a while. I'm not as freaked out as I was the other day....just a little sad to say good bye to some of my good sugar and croissants, but I can do this!

After the store we headed out to a different mall since we bombed yesterday and only ended up with two gifts. Within 20 minutes of walking in the first store I had gifts for my son and soon to be son-in-law and my daughter. It was great! Everything was on sale, plus I had an all-day 20% off coupon that was good on many of the things. I can't tell you the great stuff I got because my family tends to read my blog fairly regularly and I don't want to spoil the surprise. After that mall, I had to go back to a different mall where I had bought something yesterday that I wasn't thrilled with, but bought out of desperation. Then I found something else for my soon to be son-in-law and headed home. It was a very good shopping day for sure.

I came home and made 3 new funky plates for my etsy shop, but I can't show those to you either, because the glue is still drying. They are so cute, I can't wait to get them listed this week. One is full size and 2 are soap dish size that I made with the little dishes from the resale shop yesterday.

I think I will pack up my lunch tonight since I will have to leave really early for work tomorrow if we do get the ice and snow they are predicting. So, we will keep this short and sweet today. Off to make my lunch!

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