Friday, December 31, 2010

10 in 11

Happy New Year! We had a quiet evening but still the new year came. Hubs dropped me at the grocery store yesterday morning along with 8167 other shoppers while he went to wash the car and run a couple of errands. Everyone had their carts piled high with party food and drink and the lines were ten deep. It made me a little sad to think that this time last year we were all together welcoming 2010 with friends in Times Square and this year we're home on the couch with one daughter many states away.

But quiet felt right this year. Daughter2 may not agree but she was a good sport. We're tired. And did anyone else feel a little bit old when they saw The Backstreet Boys at age 30+? Once upon a time there were some little girls in my house who loved The Backstreet Boys. How many of you can say you've seen Aaron Carter in concert? At least I think it was a concert. Mostly what I remember is the shrieking and the subsequent hearing loss but my then 10 year old girl and her pals were ecstatic. Aaron wasn't part of the group but was Nick's brother and used that fact to make his own 'career'. Who thinks I know too much Backstreet Boys trivia?

Anyway, we finally made it out of the grocery store and out of the parking lot and off the road that felt like a parking lot. We went to see True Grit yesterday afternoon and again, daughter2 was a good sport because I'm pretty sure this was not on her list of 'must sees'. That being said, we all really liked it. We came home and daughter2 made's so nice to have my own personal chef and I'm going to miss that when she goes back to school in another week.

She made a recipe we'd seen on Pioneer Woman's blog for spicy lemon garlic shrimp. Yum! Definitely a keeper...

You must have some really good bread with this dish in order to appreciate all the juices and we added a green salad to counteract the artery cloggy-ness of the butter. That's how it works, right? Besides it was 2010 so we were still in the 'I give up' mode of last year's resolutions and the new ones hadn't technically kicked in.

Speaking of resolutions...I've challenged my girls to join me in setting some goals for the new year. I prefer the term goals as opposed to resolutions because goals feel like something to aim for and resolutions feel like something else. We're calling it 10 in 11...10 things we want to make happen in this brand new year. I'm not posting my list but will share it with my girls so they can
make me do stuff help me stay accountable. I know it must seem like I blab about every last detail of my life but believe it or not there are one or two things I manage to keep to myself.

Happy 2011...I wish you all a new year filled with peace and joy!

"For last year's words belong to last year's language and next years words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning." T.S. Eliot

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You want Christmas, I've got Christmas

NJ is a long way by car from Tennessee but I'm so glad we decided to drive rather than fly this year. The airports were most definitely not the place to be Christmas weekend. We headed south on Wednesday and when I say we did not have one spare inch of space I am not kidding.

Oh the pup had plenty of was just us humans who were jammed in with bags beside us and between our feet and piled up over the windows and on top of the car. Dixie slept peacefully for most of the 12+ hour drive and that's what's important, right?

Daughter1 had to work up until Wednesday so she was making her own way over the mountain from South Carolina on Thursday. The weather cooperated and she arrived around lunchtime. Hubs was going to meet her so she could follow him up the mountain to the house but her gps told her to exit the highway far earlier than we anticipated and it brought her to us on some small winding mountain road that we'd have preferred she not navigate. Hubs and I passed the time wrapping, cooking, fretting and pacing. Do you ever stop worrying about your children? I'm afraid the answer to that question my friends, is no.

Now that daughter1 has left university life and entered the working world this is how holidays will unfold. Letting that thought sink in has been a process for hubs and I. A gradual awareness and acceptance of a new stage in life. But for the sisters this is a new thought. At some point during the morning daughter2 chimed in and said, 'I can't wait for daughter1 to get here!' My girls live in the same town and spend a lot of time together. I know mothers who say they feel like they are part referee but I have never experienced that with my girls. They are best buds and have been from the word go. Daughter 2 had been at home in NJ for over a week before Christmas and was missing her sister. And sister was missing her too.

The idea that one day they may not spend Christmas Eve and day in the same house is something they hadn't considered until recently. It dawned on them this holiday week that one day in the not too distant future they will spend Christmas in two different places. They will have homes to decorate and in laws to share the years and children of their own to create traditions and memories for too. We're all learning as we go in this growing up business.

Christmas Eve was so nice...we spent the day together enjoying the beautiful views from the cabin, finishing up the last minute wrapping, and preparing a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings. We ate late in the afternoon then headed down the mountain for church.

I think the Christmas Eve service is my favorite part of Christmas. I love the music and the calm and the quiet and the candlelight. The retelling of a story I've heard thousands of times that never gets old. The chance to step back from the activity of the holiday and think about why we are even celebrating in the first place. Life has a way of getting knocked off kilter sometimes and this is the moment I feel myself regain perspective.

Afterwards we headed back up into the mountains for the traditional opening of the Christmas Eve pjs, setting out treats for Santa, and finally Grandpa reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with everyone gathered round.

Its special for my in laws to have all their children and grandchildren in one place. We're all so spread out and have been all of our married lives which means this doesn't happen very often.

We woke up Christmas Day to snow. I mean SNOW!!! It was absolutely beautiful. Truly, words do not do it justice. However, lots of snow means lots of inconvenience particularly when you are perched atop a mountain. We had hoped to just hop in the car and be down at the main house to open stockings at 7 am (little boys in the house can't wait much longer ya know!) but the icy weather and steep steep hills made this impossible. Thankfully the snow plow operator came to our rescue with door to door service...he brought the plow up the mountain and we followed him down. He did this several more times during our stay and not only that, he did it with a smile...gotta love that Southern hospitality!

Stockings were opened while we snacked on coffee cake followed by our traditional breakfast of sausage and egg casserole. More presents were opened...

and modeled...

and played with...the uncles used the excuse of 'playing with the nephews' but secretly they couldn't wait to get their hands on this particular toy.

We had lots of hors d'oeuvres later in the afternoon along with the leftovers from our turkey dinner and a honey baked ham thrown in for good measure. I feel like we should have purchased stock in Kraft back in November because my goodness, the amount of cream cheese we consumed over the holidays was staggering. I am happy to see lettuce and raw vegetables this week.

There is still a bit more to tell but I think I'll save the rest for part 3 since per usual, this post is getting long. I'm sure it would be better to record the Christmas festivities as they unfolded but who had time to be on their computer?

Technology is a beautiful thing.

So is real life.


Before I get started with the Christmas pics I feel it is only appropriate to first take a moment and discuss the Christmas weather. Weather ruled the day and besides... y'all know how I love to blog about the weather, right?

Question for you...why do they call the Smoky Mountains the Smoky Mountains?

Beats me.
They're beautiful aren't they?

the mountains too...

And covered in snow?

More beautiful.
Yes the mountains are still there.

I believe this is what is known as a whiteout.

Besides being beautiful covered in snow they are also just a wee bit of trouble.

More than a wee bit if we're being honest...

Not our car by the way but still, it could have been.
We were in a Jeep and hubs likes to say things like, "Let's see what the Jeep can do."
Let's not.

Obviously we did not do a lot of sitting on the deck but a few of the crazies did dash barefoot thru the snow one night so they could sit in the hot tub.

On Monday the clouds lifted and the snow f-i-n-a-l-l-y stopped falling and the sun shone bright and beautiful...

Snow and sun on the Smokies with family all around...

are all that you need to make 'another tender Tennessee Christmas' complete.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Christmas wrap up has got to start somewhere

Who else feels like there is so much to say they don't know where to begin? I started a post on Christmas Eve and its still sitting in my draft folder waiting to be posted. I mean deleted. Because Christmas Eve was eons ago wasn't it?

We spent Christmas in a beautiful cabin in the Smoky Mountains with the hubs family. And when I say in a cabin I mean in a cabin because my word, the snow. It was memorable y'all. Hubs brother owns a vacation home way up high so we stayed with them while the rest of the family stayed in a second house a little further down the mountain. We trekked back and forth for meals and gifts and game playing and hanging out and thanks to the extreme weather we even got stranded one night. This required what we like to call adventure sleeping, aka everyone adjust and scoot over and sleep in your clothes on couches and floors and in beds from which young nephews have been ever so gently evicted. And may I just say that being snowed in sounds wonderful and romantic but when you are over 40 waking up in the same clothes you went to bed in is not really all that glamorous.

I know by the time I get all the way home, unpacked, reorganized, pictures downloaded and pictures uploaded everyone will already be writing about their plans for ringing in the new year, posting resolutions they may or may not keep, and stating diet goals which, let's be honest, often go the way of those new year resolutions. I'm still going to write about Christmas though, because while there are many reasons I blog the biggest is to record life's moments.

Which means there will be pictures coming soon.
And words.
Quite possibly lots of them.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol 7-Making spirits bright

Nobody is busy are they? Surely you came here today just looking for something to do. I have a day today so I may not get around to reading the linked posts until tomorrow but I'll do my best.

Wishing you and those you love a very happy Christmas!

1. Share your Christmas Eve traditions.

We have our big meal which is an early dinner, followed by church. When we get home we open one present and it is always pjs or a robe or something related to sleepwear. Grown up boys get nothing. Sounds harsh, doesn't it? It's really not...the men around here are happy to dive into the Christmas cookies while the girls open their Christmas Eve gifts and little boys do get pjs or maybe some other early Christmas present. Once the Christmas Eve gifts have been opened we all run upstairs and change into the new stuff and take a picture. Then we'll snuggle up on the couch while hubs reads The Night Before Christmas to his girls and any parents and siblings nieces and nephews who happen to be hanging around. And he always gets a lump in his throat because that's a neccessary part of the tradition carried over from his childhood.

2. What was the best book you read in 2010? (we're not going to include the Bible here)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett....loved it!

3. Do you have pets and if so do you allow them on the furniture?

Yes I have a dog and no she is not allowed on the furniture.

Okay, 'technically' she is not allowed on the furniture. We have a club chair she claimed as her own the minute she was big enough to hop up on it and I finally held up the white flag on that one. She also has another parent, one who may or may not share my views regarding animals on the furniture. The 'other parent' has been known to try and coax our pup onto the couch or into our bed until I shout and grumble that she sheds too much, is too big, and is way, way too slobbery. He reluctantly makes her get down but not before telling her he loves her best and this just proves it.

4. What event in 2010 are you most thankful for?

I have two...Daughter1's university graduation of course but also, my mom's 80th birthday...I'm lucky to still have my mom in my life.

5. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?

I reached the half century mark. I think we can all agree I talked about that enough when it happened.

6. Brussel sprouts...friend or foe?

These days I'd say friend. As a kid they were my worst enemy. I despised them and tried to come up with clever ways of getting them off my plate and into the trash when my mom wasn't looking. They're one of my favorite vegetables now though and I especially love them cooked with a little pancetta, garlic and chicken broth.

7. Who would you nominate for man/woman of the year?

The Chilean Miners. Hubs actually said it first and I'm stealing his answer. They were a group of imperfect, hard working people thrown into a perilous situation and they rose to meet the challenge. In fact they more than rose~they triumphed. For a moment, the whole world was united and hopeful, moved by the power and resiliency of the human spirit.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

In my blog post Monday I mentioned that hubs had taken the pup, who was wearing an antler headband, for a ride in the MG. I had a few comments about the fact that there wasn't a picture so here you go...

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas to all and to all here's the Hodgepodge

If you're playing along this week I'm impressed! You must be all shopped and wrapped and baked and ready to go. Or perhaps you've given up and are hiding out in your blog. Whatever the reason, I'm glad you're here. Please note-I'm going to take a break from the Hodgepodge next Wednesday (12/29) as I'm traveling part of the week and I'm not sure what my internet capabilities will be. That means after this week's Hodgepodge our next set of questions will be asked in a brand new year~2011.

Wait, what???
I've only recently gotten the hang of writing 2010 on my checks.

See you back here tomorrow (Wednesday) to link up answers...

1. Share your Christmas Eve traditions.

2. What was the best book you read in 2010? (we're not going to include The Bible here)

3. Do you have pets and if so do you allow them on the furniture?

4. What event from 2010 are you most thankful for?

5. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before.

6. Brussel sprouts...friend or foe?

7. Who would you nominate for man/woman of the year?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Merry Christmas to all and to all thanks for playing!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The geese are almost fat enough

Do you remember that nursery rhyme...

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny then a ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha'penny then God Bless you.

Is anyone actually cooking a goose for Christmas this year? Just curious because that's not something you hear about too often anymore. In case you are wondering~I'm not. I do know that potatoes roasted in goose fat are the best potatoes in the universe. That's my helpful, but perhaps not so nutritious kitchen tip for the holidays.

We had a nice weekend and I am finally feeling more ready for Christmas to arrive. I've decided having a child in the house makes all the difference. And if that child happens to be 20 years old, so much the better. Because while toddlers are definitely a lot of fun this time of year, they are not a lot of help in the baking, shopping, wrapping department, all things in which my 'baby' girl excels.

On Friday we got an early start (keep in mind early is a relative term to a tired college student still recovering from a week of exams) and agreed the first thing we needed to do was fortify ourselves for the day ahead with a nice breakfast out. It's important to keep your priorities straight this time of year you know.

We buzzed thru the mall in record time and I think even my daughter was impressed/amazed/aghast at how quickly the money spends. We had several more errands to do before heading home but we managed to maneuver successfully thru the holiday traffic (seriously, get off your phones while you're driving people!) skip lunch (see, we knew breakfast out was important), and still be home for a cup of tea by 4 PM. The wrapping commenced soon after and daughter2, who used to work for a retailer of fine handbags, knows how to tie some beautiful ribbon so she had that job finished in no time flat.

Now, can your toddler do all that?
I thought not.
Put this one in the pro column for kids growing up.

Saturday the hubs ran a few errands which may or may not have included driving the dog around in the MG wearing an antler headband. The dog, not the hubs. This is especially fun because the MG is a right hand drive car and nothing beats the reaction of the person in the car beside you when they look over to see a dog with antlers in the 'driver's seat'.

While he was out and about I did a little wrapping and a lot of dusting and vacuuming and sweet daughter2 made a wonderful middle eastern style salad she'd seen on The Barefoot Contessa the day before.

Does your toddler make you lunch?
I thought not.

We had a family friend stopping for lunch on his way home from college and we were all excited to see him. My girls were very good friends with our across the street neighbors when we lived in Maryland and while we're all still in touch we had not seen the boy in about 6 years. The boy and daughter2 are the same age and they shared many hours of childhood together way back when. I think you know that our mischievous toddler girl grew up and guess what? So did that little boy. In his place is a grown up man making a cross country road trip home for Christmas break. How did that happen? I'm pretty sure it was only a minute ago my girls and his sister were trying to talk him into a game of My Little Pony...

I think you can tell from the look on his face they did not succeed. I like to think they helped prepare him for military life which is where he's headed. I'm pretty sure my backyard is where he learned to take orders. A four star general's got nothin' on a group of little girls when it comes to being bossy.

And it only took me six tries to capture this lovely blurry picture.
Hey Santa!
We need a new camera!

After a late lunch we sent him on his way with coffee and cookies and all I could think was, coffee?? How can he drink coffee?? Shouldn't I be offering him a juice box? Somehow that feels more right to me.

Hey time!
Slow down!
Better yet, back up!
It only marches on. Sigh.

We finished up the weekend attending the Christmas cantata at church. The music was absolutely beautiful and it just fills you right up to the brim. I like to think I am not completely distracted by all there is to do this time of year but if I'm honest, most days my head is full of lists and tasks to be done, stops to be made and food to be bought and prepared. Sitting in a dimly lit sanctuary with a sweet daughter by my side I let myself forget about all those things and I gave myself a gift...a moment to think about the why.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11

In the busyness of the season I pray you find a moment too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Twas the week before Christmas

The child was nestled all snug in her bed....

While visions of sugar plums danced in her head....

Easy Peanut Brittle Bars

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp butter


2 cups salted peanuts
1 cup milk chocolate chips
i jar (12 oz.) jar of caramel ice cream topping
3 Tbsp all purpose flour

1. Heat oven to 350. Grease a 15 x 10 x 2 in. baking sheet. In a large bowl combine all base ingredients except butter. Using a pastry blender cut in butter until crumbly. Press evenly in bottom of greased pan. Bake at 350 for 8-14 min. or until golden brown.

2. Sprinkle peanuts and chocolate chips over warm base. In a small bowl, combine caramel topping and 3 Tbsp flour, blend well. Drizzle evenly over chocolate chips and peanuts.

3. Bake at 350 for an additional 12-18 minutes or until topping is set and golden brown. Cool 1 hour or more then cut into bars.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Friends are Calling Yoo Hoo-Wednesday Hodgepodge Vol 6

Does anyone still say yoo hoo? It feels like a word I might use here on Wednesdays~you know, 'Yoo Hoo! It's time for the Hodgepodge!" Obviously I've had that song Sleigh Ride on the brain ever since Monday when I wrote the title to this post. It's catchy! And doesn't it feel sort of like we're all neighbors here?

Its not too late to join the fun...the 'rules' for playing along are just above the button on my sidebar. And yes I know Christmas is less than two weeks away but who needs to be shopping, baking or wrapping when they can be wasting time blogging?

1. What does it mean to have the 'holiday spirit'?

I think holiday spirit is that little kernel of excitement on top of that little kernel of anticipation all mixed together with a sense of contentment deep in your heart. I have to say I haven't quite captured it yet this year and I think that's due to a number of things including, but not limited to,

a. I am not hosting Christmas in my own house this year oldest is working now so naturally there are complicated logistics to be sorted and accepted
c. because we're spread out we haven't done any fun holiday things all together as a family yet and I'm not sure if/when we will because see #b.

Figuring it all out is just another step towards the new normal known as the empty nest. And here is what I do know... I do know that the real spirit of Christmas doesn't ebb and flow with our circumstances, our schedules, our pocketbooks, the weather, or any of life's big and little disappointments. The real spirit of Christmas is eternal.

2. What's tops your tree (s)? Why?

We have an angel on top of our sun room tree. We bought her when we were first married so she's been with us a long time.

sun room tree, 2010

She has always been lovingly placed atop our main tree but in this house she is on the second tree. Our main tree, which is in the family room, is taller and bigger and for some reason she doesn't sit properly on the top branch. Right now there is a ribbon and bow and some sparkly picks on top of the main tree and that works too.

3. When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back?

I guess that would be while traveling a couple of weeks ago. I like my hubs to travel with me because a. he carries all the stuff and 2. he deals with any inconvenience while I sit in a chair and sip a latte. Well, there are other reasons too but those are the big ones.

On my most recent trip I had to sort out re-booking a cancelled flight once I got to Heathrow (along with thousands of other people), deal with a missing bag in Germany, and maneuver all my fragile and awkwardly shaped boxes thru three airports and into the overhead bins for the flight home. Everything, including me, arrived in one piece so yay me!

4. Which of your senses is most sensitive this time of year?

Probably my sense of many wonderful smells that are particular to this time of year...I'm not sure any other season can say the same.

5. What is there too much of in your kitchen?

Plastic grocery bags? I jam them into a basket in my pantry and I'm pretty sure they multiply in there. I try my best to use canvas bags at the market but about 50% of the time I leave the bags in the car and don't realize it until I'm checking out. Bother.

6. What do you do for meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Big meal? Breakfast tradition? Open the cookie tins and have at it?

We'll have a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings on Christmas Eve late in the afternoon so we can attend church together as a family that evening. Christmas Day will be more casual...we'll add a baked ham to the turkey leftovers, some delicious hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, a yummy punch along with all those cookies and we'll call it a day. Our Christmas morning tradition dictates that we have coffee cake and/or home baked cranberry bread while we open stockings. Once we finish with the stockings we sit down for a nice breakfast featuring a sausage and egg casserole as the main attraction. And when breakfast is over that's when we'll open the gifts. I love breakfast on Christmas morning.

7. What is the best thing about winter?

Snow and ice on the trees...makes me think of fairy tales and peace and God's amazing attention to detail....

February, 2010

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Daughter2 took her last exam of the semester yesterday and I will be seeing her sweet face at the airport today. As soon as we collect her very large suitcase we are going to lunch and then home to start on our holiday baking. I haven't made a single cookie yet which is a shame but is also probably a good thing since no one has been home to eat them but me and the hubs. I'm looking forward to sharing many hours together as we mix and bake and taste test during these next few days. I mean, ya gotta taste test, right?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's lovely weather for the Hodgepodge together with you

First, a bit of business...I will always post the Hodgepodge questions on my blog sometime on Tuesdays for you to answer and post on your blog sometime on Wednesday. Occasionally I might want to blog about something non-Hodgepodge related on Tuesdays and if I do then I might put the questions in their own post like I did last week. Or, as I'm doing today, I'll ramble on a bit and add them at the bottom. But Tuesday is the day for the questions to be posted, one way or another.

So, Merry Christmas! What sort of Christmasy goodness have you been up to? This weekend we hit the tile store as we have plans to re-do our master bath shower and maybe the floor too. I know what you're're thinking, 'Why Joyce, that's fantastic! How great it must feel to have all your baking, shopping, and wrapping done two full weeks before Christmas."

And I agree that would indeed be great.
Too bad it isn't true.

Here's the thing... I have been married for 26 1/2 years and I know that when hubs is set on getting a project completed it is always full speed ahead. That's how he rolls and its usually best if I just roll right along with it. So I did. After we finished at the tile shop and the shower shop we decided to go see a movie because really, what else would we do 13 days before Christmas? As we drove past the mall my hubs actually said these words-out loud-'So, do we need to do any shopping?' HA! Really, there are just no words y'all.

We saw The Tourist and we both liked it in spite of the crummy reviews we'd read beforehand. I am not a huge Angelina Jolie fan but she looks positively stunning in this film. When the movie ended we decided we will need a trip to Venice pronto and I will also be needing that wardrobe made in Paris to go with.

I saw her in person was in a tiny little market in our village in the UK. She lived nearby for a while and apparently shopped there frequently. I was having tea with a friend at a table outside and my friend casually said, "Oh look, there's Angelina Jolie and her baby." I turned just in time to see her strolling into the market with baby #1 on her hip.

Now, somebody please explain how I got on that topic?

Here are the questions for this week's Hodgepodge....some are Christmas related and some are not because really, how many Christmas memes can one blogger answer? See you tomorrow with the link...

1. What does it mean to have the 'holiday spirit'?

2. What sits atop your tree (s)? Why?

3. When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back?

4. Which of your senses is most sensitive this time of year?

5. What do you have too much of in your kitchen?

6. What do you do for meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Big meal? Breakfast tradition? Open the cookie tins and have at it?

7. What is the best thing about winter?

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Home Tour 2010~ Falalalala lala la la

If you have a blog you do know that you're required to post a few pictures of your Christmas decorations each year, right?

I read that in the handbook.

Or somewhere.

candle holder proclaiming 'Welcome' in German
Christmas Market, Nuremburg Germany, 2004

Do you change your decorations very much from year to year?

hand made German pyramid
Christmas Market Salzburg, Austria~Dec, 2010

Or do you take comfort in keeping things pretty much the same?

Colonial Soldier, London~2006
St. Nicks Tree Farm~Snow Village vingette, USA~2002

One of the things I like best about pulling out the boxes and bins and bags each year is seeing the old and familiar....

our Maryland crab, Annapolis, 2003

I look forward to unwrapping ornaments that were tucked into tissue paper just one short year ago.

our favorite ~ the British taxi, 2004

I welcome the flood of memories that wash in with the ribbons and bows....

suitcase ornament, gift from a cherished and well traveled friend,
Munich 2008

happy memories of travels with family and friends,

Alpine ski smoker
The Christmas Market, Dresden Germany~2007

of sights seen close to home...

Rockefeller Center, NYC~2009

and those seen miles away.

Anne of Green Gables House
a visit to friends on Prince Edward Island~2009

I will open an ancient JC Penney box and find a play dough star...molded by a sweet soft girl who loved glitter and paint...who thought deep thoughts and dreamed big dreams, even at the tender age of 3...

She still loves glitter and her paints...still thinks deep thoughts...still dreams big dreams. I will give her the star and she'll take her time...she'll choose precisely the right branch on which to hang her play dough gift.
Still my thoughtful girl, so careful in her choosing, full of grace and beauty...I'll smile inside to see the sweet soft three year old still there, in my girl of 22.

I find the precious hand prints of another sweet, soft impulsive, laughing four year old whose bright eyes twinkled...whose love of life was contagious and oh so hard to tame.
Her hand prints are 20 now but her infectious smile still brings joy...her eyes still twinkle...she makes us laugh, and still she loves so hard.
I'll watch her when she isn't looking and I will feel so grateful for the mighty toddler child turned woman who is still her mama's girl.

Finally, nestled amongst the old and the new,
I'll find the heart of the matter...

gift from a neighbor, Maryland, 2002

A true life love story whose message never lessens,

our first Christmas together, December 1984
Knoxville, Tennessee

never dulls,
never ceases to amaze...

Christmas Market, Cologne Germany, 2008

It's the reason for the season.
May yours be blessed and merry!

This post is part of the Holiday Home Tour 2010...visit The Nesting Place
and/or Show us Your Life at Kelly's Korner on Monday to add your own link or to see more homes.