Tag Archives: Holiday

Mary Did You Know?


Garden of LightsChristmas is coming up fast, it seems. I feel like I am so far behind and totally not ready. Maybe it’s because it’s so warm yet. My brain thinks it’s still October. Anyway, I thought I would share a little exercise that I am doing with my friends from church – it is helping me practice gratitude and reminding me of the joy that came with the birth of Christ.

The holidays are busy for everyone and some of us fly south for the winter (not me, in case you were wondering – although with El Nino upon us, I’m not sure you can tell the difference between Florida and Wisconsin right now) so we are participating, via email, in prayerful reflection (lectio divine) over a single scripture.

The scripture we are reflecting on is this:  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. Luke 2:1

Yeah, what a fun one…government and taxes.

But of course, we all know the “rest of the story..” (read in Paul Harvey’s voice for best results).  Because of this decree, Joseph and Mary have to schlep from Nazareth to Bethlehem of Judea – 80 odd miles via roadways made 2000 years ago (translation:  really crappy roads).  On foot.  For over a week.  During the rainy season.  Wearing layers of woolen cloaks.  Up and down and up and down hills.  Sleeping outside.  In the mud.  And the cold.  Carrying all of their own provisions.  With Mary 9 months pregnant (NINE MONTHS!).

Oh wait – they had a donkey.  That makes it so much better.

I just realized that Mary had the perfect labor and delivery story to use on Jesus.  “I had to walk 80 miles!  Pregnant!  In the rain!  Uphill!  And after we got there, we couldn’t find a hotel and ended up having you in a cave.  And then a bunch of smelly shepherds piled in and then those singing angels!  Oy!  The singing!  The noise!  The smell!  And the next day we had to go pay taxes.  TAXES!  You should be so lucky.  So don’t tell me you’re “too tired” to heal the sick.  I’ll give you “too tired….”

Meanwhile Jesus is rolling his eyes and picking at the food on his plate, wondering why all the OTHER kids get to go to the camel races.

I remember my ninth month with both of my pregnancies. I don’t recall it as being a “good time”. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as a time for an 80 mile hike – with or without a donkey.  I couldn’t see my feet, which is surprising because they had grown a size and were swollen to the point that the only shoes that fit were Dave’s slippers. I had to pee every 5 minutes which meant I had to somehow negotiate the physics of sitting down and standing up without tipping over into the bathtub.

I couldn’t stand very long without my stomach muscles threatening to flee the country and when I sat down, my pelvis felt like it was burrowing it’s way to China. Laying down was marginally better, except the having to pee every 5 minutes thing and flopping around like a big ole fat fish trying to get out of the waterbed (a sight to see, mind you. And stop raising your eyebrows about the waterbed. This was the eighties. I’m old, remember?).

So the very idea of poor Mary and Joseph spending the last week of her pregnancy hiking thru the hills of Galilee and Judea gives me a new appreciation for my millennial comforts.  I think I shall go out in the garage and hug my car now, thank you very much.  And my accountant.  And my nice hospital where I gave birth to my children in my fancy birthing suite.  And that county road worker over there, laying down the new asphalt so I can drive my car on nice smooth roads.  Oh wait…he’s running away.  Why is he running?  Wow, he is fast!  Fine!  Don’t get your hug then!  Your loss, buddy!

So “it came to pass” that cars were invented and hospitals and accountants and yoga pants and cute maternity tunics and Skechers.  And women sometimes took these things for granted until they read about Mary and then became ever so grateful that God had allowed them to be born in a time that did not require 80 mile hikes and riding on donkeys and giving birth in caves in front of smelly shepherds because it was weird enough having half the nursing and intern staff staring at her nether regions.

May the peace and joy of our living Savior follow you throughout this holiday season, as we celebrate His humble birth.

Joyous-Grateful-Christmas-Tactically yours,

Sue

PS.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. – Luke 2:7-14

 

Final Photos of 2013


It’s that time again!  Time to see what’s been going on since my last photo entry.  It has been a busy 6 weeks with Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.  And snow.  Lots and lots of snow.  Which means lots and lots of shoveling.  I haven’t broken out the snow shoes yet, but that will be coming this weekend.

Enjoy the photos – next week I will be back with plans for 2014!

First off – The Avett Brothers with Dawn!

My last bike ride of the year.  I think this was the weekend before Thanksgiving, and after our first or second dusting of snow.  It was a beautiful fall day and not too windy.  Perfect for cruising down the Fox River Trail.

Fox River Trail

Chilly!!

Then this happened….thankfully only a warning for this lead foot.

Uh-oh....

Uh-oh….

With the unseasonal below zero cold, fat cat is starting early with his laying in front of the fire-place.

Midnight

Look at me! Look at my awesomeness! Do not turn away! Look! LOOK!!!

And the dogs still get walked – even in 2 degree weather!  And yes, it really was 2 degrees this day.

Lucky and Daisy

HURRY UP MOM!!!! WE’RE FREEZING!

The tree went up.  We were looking for this guy to warm things up, but the Cold Miser is winning this year.

Heat Miser

Where are my minions???

On the 14th, me and a couple of friends (Dawn and Debbie) went thru the Botanical Gardens Garden Of Lights.  Beautiful as usual.

Me, Dawn, and Debbie.

Me, Dawn, and Debbie.

Garden of Lights

The Big Tree!

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights

Dawn under her tiara!

 

Garden of Lights

Warming up by the fire

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights

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Then, contrary to popular belief – proof that I’m on the “Nice” list!!

IMG_1506

A Christmas decorating contest at work brought out some holiday creativity.

The Winner!  And yes, this was my row!  Woot!

The Winner! And yes, this was my row! Woot!

Bumbles bounce!!

Bumbles bounce!!

Weirdos in the Christmas Village!

Weirdos in the Christmas Village!

SANTA!!!  I KNOW HIM!!!

SANTA!!! I KNOW HIM!!!

And then we had the first annual Conard Cookie Baking Expedition.

The calm before the storm.

The calm before the storm.

In the midst of 200 cut outs...

In the midst of 200 cut outs…

Niece Rachael, my mom, sisters Terri, Celeste and Maribeth.  Looking at my mom you are all realizing the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Niece Rachael, my mom, sisters Terri, Celeste and Maribeth. Looking at my mom you are all realizing the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Same people, minus Terri but plus me!  We had a great time!

Same people, minus Terri but plus me! We had a great time!

And finally – Christmas Eve mass with my dad, while my mom sang in the choir.

Yes, I know it's crooked.  Couldn't get a straight picture for some reason.  User error I am sure!

Yes, I know it’s crooked. Couldn’t get a straight picture for some reason. User error I am sure!

May you all enjoy the rest of your holiday season!  I will see you all again next week!

Sue

 

A Thanksgiving Story. Or Not.


Today is Thanksgiving.  I was torn about what I should write about.  I thought it should be something monumental, given the day.  But everybody and their brother is talking about what they are thankful for.  And it’s not that I’m NOT thankful.  I truly am.  But I couldn’t decide – do I post about the smarmy things I am thankful for like my family and friends?  Or do I go the funny thankful route, and talk about things like shirtless pictures of Hugh Jackman (actually pretty thankful for this) and the invention of Poo-Pourri?

poo-pourri

It’s a real product. Seriously.

Instead, I have decided to share a Thanksgiving story with you.  And it’s a bit of a stretch to call it specifically a “Thanksgiving” story.  It’s really more of a “fall-ish” story, but I am pretty sure it happened close to Thanksgiving so I should get some points for that.  And it’s a dog story.  Who doesn’t love a dog story?  Well, maybe if you’re a cat.  Cats might not love a dog story.  Not because cats hate dogs, but because cats are pretty much like honey badgers, in that they just don’t care.  I have a honey badger cat sitting right here, on my lap, trying to crawl on my keyboard and write his autobiography with his butt.

Honey badger

Anyway…

This story involves our old neighbors, Dave, me and the best dog ever, Rocky.  This is him.

Rocky

Awesome Dog

While he didn’t fly through the air with his cape and Sweet Polly Purebred or rescue Timmy from the well or unmask any villains with his tribe of meddlin’ kids, you can still see he is awesome.  Damn awesome.

The neighbors loved him too.  They let him poop in their yard (seriously, they didn’t care) and would call him over for scritches and pats and snuggles.  Because Rocky was so awesome, we didn’t need a fence, because he never left the yard (except to poop at the neighbors).  No fence could contain him anyway.  When we first got Rocky from the Humane Society, we lived at our old house that had a yard with a 7 foot privacy fence.  Chuck Norris Ninja Dog found a way to get over it.  We never saw him do it, and we never figured out how he did it.  But the evidence was plain – we put him out the back, and he came in the front.

This story takes place in November in Wisconsin, so it’s dark by 5pm.  And I don’t mean “dusk”.  I mean dark.  Like, Lose Your Black Cat In The Yard dark.  It’s the time of year where you wake up in the dark, drive to work in the dark, and come home in the dark.  If you work in a windowless cubicle with nothing but fluorescent light to bathe you, it’s quite possible that you may not see the sun for 6 months.  You think I am exaggerating?  November, December, January, February, March, April and sometimes May.  So really that’s 7 months.  And yes, I know what the calendar says – but the calendar was made by old, dead, Europeans who didn’t live in Wisconsin.  I say, any month it might snow, is winter.  And yes, it does snow in Wisconsin in May.  By rights, I should also include October, but for some reason, October is usually hotter than September.  You know how all the leaves change to those pretty yellow, orange and red colors?  It’s because the sun is setting them on fire.  We live on the edge here in Wisconsin.

Okay.  Carrying on.  It’s fall – close to Thanksgiving.  We let Rocky out to go poop in the neighbors yard.  He loved the cooler weather, so if he was gone 20 minutes or so, we didn’t panic.  He liked to patrol around the house or lay on the cement step in the garage or just read a magazine while taking a good long poop.  Who knows.  We just knew he was around somewhere.  He was funny in that he didn’t bark.  Not to come in, not when he played, not at strangers.  I think in the 12 years he blessed our lives, I heard him bark maybe 5 times.  We just got used to watching the patio door and when we saw his white wooly form in the dark, we would open the door and let him in.  This night, Dave happened to see him first.

I was in the living room, and heard the patio door slide open and shut, followed by Dave yelling, “Hey, hey, hey!”  We lived in a new subdivision, so I figured Rocky found a mud hole or something so I ran in to help with damage control.  No mud, but Dave says, “He’s got something in his mouth”.   The “something” was long and brown, sort of like a short walking stick.  I could see him fruitlessly trying to hide under the table but he was an 80 pound hairy beast with a gargantuan stick in his mouth that kept getting caught in the chair legs.  “He has a stick,” I observed.  Dave gave me a “Why, thank you, Captain Obvious” look, and said, “I don’t think it’s a stick.”

Dave grabbed the hind end and I grabbed the front end and we push/pulled him out in the open with his prize. And here is when we noticed his stick had a hoof at the end of it.   Where in the hell did he get a stick with a hoof?  For some reason, the hoof was throwing me for a loop.  “Holy shit, it’s a deer leg,” said Dave.  Ah.  Lightbulb moment.  That explained the hoof.

By now, the kids were in the kitchen.  Lindsay was laughing and exclaiming about how gross and disgusting it was and Matt thought it was cool, and proceeded to run back and forth in the kitchen and then sliding on his socks.  While the hyperactivity and excited jabbering of the kids escalated, I noticed Rocky trying to disappear into the floor, while hanging on for deer…I mean, dear…life to his “stick”.

Rocky

Rocky with a chewy stick.

Before he got any ideas about carrying it into my living-room, I grabbed the leg and told him to drop it, which he did.  (Because remember, he’s awesome like that).  I held it up gingerly, careful to keep it well away from me, and his eyes followed it back and forth, his tail waving gently on the floor and his tongue out.  Dave grunted and said, “I think I know where he got it.  When I came home, I saw the neighbor in his garage dressing his deer.”  Oh great, I thought.  Pooping is one thing.  Stealing a guy’s deer leg is another.

I walked over to the neighbors.  Sure enough, his garage door was open and his deer was lying on a canvas tarp on the garage floor.  Mr. Neighbor was nowhere to be seen, however.  I was a little fearful at first that maybe Chuck Norris Ninja Dog took out the neighbor in his deer leg quest, but that really would have been out of character.  Rocky was awesome, not evil.  So I gently tapped on their door with the hoof.  Mr. Neighbor answered the door with a fork in hand – I smiled and giggled and held out the deer leg, hoof first.  “Um, Rocky just brought this home….”  Mr. Neighbor burst out laughing.  “Oh boy!  Wait till I tell the guys this!  I just took a break to eat some dinner!  Never thought to shut the garage door!  That Rocky!  What an awesome dog!”

“Well, I don’t know what else he may have gotten into when he was over.  He might have eaten or taken something else,” I explained.  Mr. Neighbor did not care.  Mr. Neighbor laughed and waved me away with his fork.  “No problem!  That Rocky!  Hahahahahahaaaaaa!”  He took his deer leg back though.  Relieved, I went back to our house.

The next day was a Sunday.  We let Rocky out for his morning constitutional without incident, and then Dave and I and the kids left for church.  We came home a couple of hours later, to be greeted by an unholy stench the likes of which our nostrils had never before smelled, and prayed would never smell again, along with a football sized pile of…something….on the rug right in front of the door as we came in.  This would be the “he may have eaten or taken something else” portion of Rocky’s big deer leg adventure.

“I hope you don’t want this rug,” Dave said as he rolled it up like a giant barf burrito.  “The whole thing is going in the garbage.”  I didn’t argue.  No way was I touching that, and was indeed thanking my lucky stars that I was not the man of the house and therefore did not qualify for the “Exceedingly Gross Chores” portion of the marriage.  Yes, I know that is stereotypical and sexist, but it works for us.  I handle Standard Gross Chores, like snot noses, cat barf, and toilet bowl cleaning, and he handles all the rest, plus spiders.

While we had no more vomiting of rancid meat from the depths of hell, we did have to deal with Awesome Dog’s awesome gas, for at least a week.  This was a gas so awesome it had the power to melt your face clean off.  The Chuck Norris of gas.  We ran from the room and hid in our closets when we saw Rocky coming.  We were like the kids in Jurassic Park, hiding from the Velociraptors.  As surely as those velociraptors wanted to have Timmy for lunch, we knew Rocky’s gas was hunting us down.

Eventually, his digestive system returned to normal – meaning he still had gas but at least our faces were safe, if not our noses.  And he returned to being the most awesome dog on earth.

Best dog EVER

Best dog EVER

Someday, I will tell you the full Rocky story, but until then, do you have a funny dog story to tell?  A favorite pet?  A dog or cat more awesome than Chuck Norris?

Happy Thanksgiving!
Sue

 

PS – Your Welcome:

hugh-jackman-shirtless

I’m Back!


It’s been a while since I posted.  The last couple of months have been fraught with distractions, like eating Thanksgiving pies, Christmas cookies, Marge’s homemade angel food, Dave’s birthday lasagna, cheese cake, Christmas ham, Lucy’s yummy chocolate truffle cookies, and assorted dips, cheeses and crackers.  Not to mention half of the tin of homemade cookies my mom gives us every year that I assured her I would leave entirely to Dave (I cannot be trusted to promises made when it comes to baked goods).

Christmas Cookies

Mmmmmm….cookies!

I have also been distracted by a game on my iPad, introduced to me by my nephew.  My adult nephew, who is 30 years old and expecting his first baby and whose care-free video game playing days will soon be coming to a crashing sleep-deprived halt.  Excuse my cruel chuckle as I experience the empty nest days of doing whatever the heck I want whenever the heck I want to, as long as it doesn’t break any laws, interfere with my job, breach national security, or send us spinning into bankruptcy.

The game in question is The Simpsons Tapped Out.  First, let me say that I don’t even watch The Simpsons.  I think, in the entire 500 years it’s been on the air, I may have watched 3 episodes.  I have paid enough attention to pop culture to know who Homer, Marge, Maggie, Bart and Lisa are, but that’s really about it.  I would never have looked for this game on my own, because I wouldn’t have cared enough to even think it might exist.The Simpsons Tapped Out

So, when David showed me the game on his iPhone, I thought it was in complete innocence, one gamer to another.  No.  He was seductively trying to suck me into the vortex so he could add another friend to his game and fulfill a quest.  I watched in fascination as he clicked on people and buildings, collecting cash and making Bart go to church and Ned Flanders take power walks.  My eyes dilated and my finger reached tentatively out towards his phone.  Then he said the magic words…”It’s free, Aunt Sue”.

This is not a game for those afflicted with OCD.  I became obsessed with rebuilding Springfield and fulfilling quests.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner were soon filled with the sounds of my finger spastically tapping on glass.  I started bringing my Ipad to work to sneak extra game play during the day, where I hunched over my iPad, tapping furiously while casting furtive glances over my shoulder.  I needed to buy more land and build more buildings!  I needed more cash!  More Halloween Treats!  More Christmas coins!  More friends!  I visited Tapped Out forums to find strangers to add to my ‘friend’ list and forced my friend’s 12 year old son to “add me”.  I almost went as far as buying fake donuts with real cash, just to be able to build the mad scientist volcanic lair.  Oh yeah.  I was hard core.

The Simpsons Tapped Out Volcano Lair

This baby cost 200 donuts.

Somewhere between Christmas and New Years, we ran out of the Christmas cookies that I was using to feed my gaming frenzy, and I realized I needed to get my life back.  The dogs were picking thru garbage and hanging out on the street corner, harassing the neighborhood collie (Hey you.  Yeah, you!  Look at you behind your fence, pansy boy!  Oh yeah?  I dare ya!  I triple-human dare ya!). The cat was cooking ‘nip in the basement and selling it to unsuspecting kittens.  The boys were mixing lights with darks in the laundry room while surviving on Hot Pockets and Tina’s frozen burritos.  I had 10,679 unread emails just from Kohl’s alone (Save 30%!  Free shipping!  Get Kohl’s Cash!), and was so far behind on Facebook that I didn’t recognize any of my friends.

Catnip

“Pssst. Little kitten! I have some candy for you!”

So I quit.  Cold turkey.  I don’t recommend this to the faint of heart.  First came the shakes.  Then then the delirium.  I cried.  I giggled maniacally.  I sobbed in hysterics.  I beat on my Ipad, shouting “WHY?  WHY?” And then I crashed.  It was the worst ten minutes of my life.

And now I’m back to my barmy old self, ready to motivate the hell out of you  to work out, eat right and pray your socks off in 2013.  Are you ready?  Let’s ride!!lets-ride_o_134792

Mixed Messages


Christmas Tree

My sister’s tree – so beautiful! This is why she is in design!

Is anyone else having a hard time getting organized this Christmas?  I feel like I can’t get the fuzz out of my brain.  I guess that makes me a cotton headed ninny muggins this year.  Son of a nutcracker!

ELF

“You smell like beef and cheese!”

And is it me, or is it just a little depressing this year too?  Maybe it’s all of the talk about the “fiscal cliff”.  I mean, honestly.  How is one supposed to celebrate when they feel like the Marshall family, about to plunge over the waterfall into the Land of the Lost, where they will have to fight for survival with poorly animated dinosaurs, reptilian Sleestaks and Cha-Ka?  I have no where else to go with this analogy, other than to say I hope we have better luck at getting out of trouble than the Marshall’s did.

Sleestak

The Sleestak is probably the least scary of any villain. Even I wasn’t afraid of them.

If we don’t we’ll be like the castaways from the SS Minnow, making cars out of bamboo and vines while living on banana cream pie.  Hmmm.  That actually doesn’t sound that bad.  Oh wait, add giant spiders, head hunters and the occasional radioactive meteor in the mix.  And icing on the cake – a professor that can make a Death Star out of a coconut, but can’t fix the radio.  Of course, we may have a few visits from the 1% portion that is in the entertainment industry.  They’ll invite us up on stage, we’ll sing some songs, they’ll promise to help rescue us, but in the end, leave us stranded in our Honey Bee costumes.

Gilligan's Island

Giant spider from Gilligan’s Island. Still scarier than a Sleestak.

When it’s not the fiscal cliff, we are entertained by war and rumors of war.  Shootings in spas, malls and movie theaters.  There certainly doesn’t seem to be any peace on earth or good will towards men.

So, I have been dealing with this the best way I know how.  Walking the dogs past the neighbors, listening to Christmas music and checking out the local light displays, fueled by Christmas cookies and chocolate.  And prayer.  Lots of prayer.

Dudley Birder Chorale

Dudley Birder Chorale Holiday Pops Concert. It was awesome! My brother in law is in the last row, third guy from the right…

The hope I cling to is the reason we celebrate in the first place – the birth of a Savior.  My Savior.  Your Savior.  Our Savior.  Like the Whos in Whoville, when faced with the loss of their Jing Tinglers, Flu Floopers and Tar Tinkers (not to mention the Roast Beast!) , my Joy must come from within, regardless of the Grinches in this world, and I will sing on Christmas day for my love of the Son, who came to rescue me.  For where my treasure is, there my heart will be also.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Sue