Over the years I've gotten an education of sorts about Hess Collectable Trucks from my father-in-law. Every year the Hess Company (a gas company in the northeast) puts out a special toy truck. These are heavy-duty serious much for collectors as they are toys for children.

Poppa has been collecting the annual Hess trucks for several years now. He keeps them on display in his office at home, on a high shelf. The kids all know that they can look but not touch without Poppa being present. Julian admires the growing collection every time we visit. The trucks are very detailed and interactive, with lights that flash, doors that open, rotors that spin, etc. It has been mentioned that the collection will be passed on to the boys when Poppa passes on to heaven-- but I for one don't really like to consider that very much.

While my in-laws were temporarily residing in the southland, my fil always had his mil buy his annual Hess truck and ship it to him. Now that they've returned to "Yankee country" for a while, he is happy to be able to buy his own truck as soon as they become available right before the holidays.

As luck would have it, this year the featured vehicle is this Emergency Vehicle with an on-board SUV. Of course, he knew that Jules would have to have one of his own this year, being that it's a fire truck, of sorts.

Of course, Julian was a very happy boy today when he opened his very own Hess and found out that it's a fire emergency vehicle. Poppa showed him all the bells and whistles, passing on his enjoyment of the truck to a grandson who loves them because Poppa does. It was one of those moments that brings pride to my mothering heart. Grandfather and grandson in serious conversation, sharing something they both enjoy. I am so proud that they share that connection and many others and that Julian has been able to grow up knowing his grandfather--his Poppa aka "Big Boss" so well, even tho we've always lived a pretty significant distance apart.

It was a very good day on many levels--all the siblings behaved and the cousins played nice. We took lots of family photos...I can't wait to see how they turn out.

PS...The new Bon Jovi album rocks!! Remind you to tell me why I enjoy Bon Jovi so much at some later date.

She Blogs

Thanks to my sweet father-in-law, I have the use of a snappy laptop computer for a couple days while they are here...and can I just say (if anyone is still reading my long-neglected blog) how much I have missed this. I have read that blogging started out as a web-based journaling program and then "caught-on". I can see why.

To catch up:

--Merry Christmas. Our Christmas was on the quiet side this year. For the first time in a decade we stayed home. No travelling to the parents in other states. It was weird but nice. We broke with a tradition that my family has had for as long as I can remember...and opened presents on Christmas morning (instead of Christmas Eve night). It was nice. The boys dragged us out of bed at about 5:30 am...we enjoyed the opening of gifts and then had some breakfast.

Grey was the headliner this year--we gave him his first real bike. I wasn't about to try to wrap the I tied a huge red bow and a cluster of jingle bells to it and made an oversized card for him. It was so cool to watch him climb on and get rolling on it.

Julian asked for three items this year and we were so proud of his wise choices and happy that we were able to fulfill his wishes. One of his requests was a leather "working man's" toolbelt. I don't think he's taken it off since Christmas Day, except to bathe or go somewhere. It's funny because instead of wearing it slightly lower than his waste like a normal toolman...he pulls it up around his waste. My father would get a huge kick out of this if he could see it. He looks funny...but he insists it's more comfortable and easier to keep it under control. That's so Julian.

Poor Joal...asked for music as always...but I opted to buy him the book on his list--The entire set of Chronicles of Narnia instead. Every year he asks for music...I just wanted to do something different. He likes it. He's been reading it to the boys lately...I really like that.

Insert note here--on Dec 21 we celebrated or 14th wedding anniversary. Yep. I am blown away every time I get a chance to look back at all we've done together in those 14 years. Joal is an amazing man. I am blessed beyond words to have him in my life.

Our sweet friends Doug and Heather volunteered to look after the boys for us for the evening of the 20th so we could celebrate. We went out for dinner and to a movie--The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I will definately have to blog about this movie later. It was excellent. Excellent with a capital *E*!! Loved it. Very moving. Not cheesy. Loved it enough to own it as soon as it comes out.

Back to Christmas--Joal presented me with two things I've been wanting for a while: a nice pair of red leather gloves and a Rachel Ray cookbook! My hands get cold at the end of August and don't thaw until the middle of March. I needed gloves. I was stunned that he chose such stylish and indulgent ones as red leather. Made me feel very spoiled.

We are celebrating Christmas again this weekend with Joal's family. His parents are here from PA and his brother (and family) and sister (and family) are here from MS. What a big day we will be having in just a few hours.

I diverted with traditional colors this year and decorated with blues and white and snowflakes. I adore snowflakes and the blue and white just goes so well with them. I like reg, green and gold but I have a hard time focusing on red and green together so it always makes me feel anxious. Blues and white is so calming.

I take some mostly good-natured ribbing from some of my extended family for my insistance that I wrap all our gifts in the same paper and adorn them with handtied matching bows. Each gift is wrapped crisply and the bow is fluffly. This year the paper was blue and the ribbon white. I also used some silver jingle bells and silver glitter die-cut snowflakes as gift tags. Yes, I know it takes way longer for me to wrap a gift "just so" than it does for it to be opened by even the slowest opener...but it brings me great happiness to see all our gifts under the tree, looking attractively arranged and matching. Wrapping presents is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Some people cook. I wrap. I love to wrap.

Because of this extra Christmas tomorrow, we still have our tree up. It's positively crispy, having been lit and exposed to central heat for about a month now. It was perhaps the most beautiful tree we've ever had. I will post photos later. Each night of this month I have sat with my wanna-be-coffee in the quiet after everyone else has been bedded and thought about all I have to be thankful for. The list is endless. I will miss the tree when it finally leaves but I think I will try to continue the nightly ritual of contemplating the blessings of the day. It makes for a restful sleep and a more contented soul.

Because my computer died, I decided to finally get around to rehabing my library card (ie pay the outstanding fines). I've hated being without a computer but I have really enjoyed getting back to reading. Serious reading. It appears that surfing and web-work took up alot more time that perhaps I realized. I now have a slew of books to discuss (and blog about).

Being a southerner by birth and choice, I am always drawn to books by southern authors. One of my finds at the library is a small book called "A Very Southern Christmas". It's a collection of Christmas short stories by southern authors, edited by Charlene R. McCord and Judy H. Tucker. It appears to be a wonderful book. The first story in it made me long for a way to write (read:type) my own holiday stories. It's called "This Charmed Day" by Tim McLaurin. It's beautiful. It made me cry...not because it was syrupy sweet and Rockwellian...but because it was real. I haven't finished the other stories in the book yet, but I get the feeling they will be the same.

The other thing I like about this book is that it includes a few holiday illustrations by the wonderful watercolorist Wyatt Waters.--also a southerner. If ever there was an artist who lends a stunning natural wonder and beauty to everything he paints, it's Mississippi's own Wyatt Waters. His fish series is one of my all-time favorites. But I digress. I think I may need to buy this book. It's worth having.

OK, this long long long piece doesn't scratch the surface but my eyes are drooping and I have to bake 3 dozen sweet rolls in about 4 I need a little sleep.

More tomorrow...or rather, later today.


Sad News

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I haven't fallen off the hard drive crashed and a new computer is on its way. I will be offline for the month of January but should be back at the beginning of February. Happy 2006!!


Angels at Opryland

While my mom and sister were here last weekend, we went out to Opryland Hotel and Resort and to the Opry Mills Mall. The hotel is more than a hotel--it's a tourist destination, even if you aren't a guest. It's gardens and fountains and waterfalls and attractions are always spactacular but it's decorated to the nines during the holidays. It's an excellent adventure anytime really. The shops are fun (where else can you find a pink felt cowboy hat with silver cowboy boot decorations on it?), the people-watching interesting (to say the least) and walking is good excercise too.

We had a great time. I blew thru 4 rolls of film...really really need to do the digital thing and fast. The holiday decorations didn't disappoint--they were stunning. The outdoor pool (one of three swimming pools) is (obviously) not in use during the winter months, so it's surrounded by these beautiful oversized white plaster figurines that tell the story of the birth of Jesus. The photo is one of the stands about 8 feet tall.

This was perhaps the most impressive nativity I have ever seen. All white plaster. All oversized. Very serene. Totally remarkable.

I enjoyed this angel for a while and my other favorite piece was one of Mary, atop a donkey with Joseph walking in front, respresentative of the holy mother-to-be on the journey to Bethlehem. Can you imagine being pregnant and riding a long distance on a donkey? What utter fun that must have been. (Not.)

I love this time of the year. More on our trip a little later.


Ever Feel Like Sticking Out Your Tongue and Saying "I Did It Firrrrst!!"

Sometimes--as childish as it is--I do. I'm an oldest. I like to be in the front.

In general, when something new-ish becomes a trend in scrapbooking and moves into the mainstream, there is inevitably someone who sorta rains on the parade and says "I've been doing that forever. What's so new and hip about that?" I guess it's kindof the scrapbooker spin on that old song "I was Country When Country Wasn't Cool". Ya know. And I usually find it somewhat annoying.

Unless of course...I'm the one saying it. LOL!

But now I find myself having to hold back from saying "I've been doing it this way for a really long time and I know people who have been using this approach for even longer than me" with regards to the whole *new* scrapping approach called The Big Picture, as launched from the newest publication by the same name from Stacy Julian and the Simple Scrapbooks group.

Honestly, tho, I am happy that Stacy and friends have seen fit to take the "message" to the masses. It's a good message. It takes the stress and the "I-must-hurry-to-get-caught-up" guilt out of scrapbooing. I view that as a positively wonderful thing. Given the flutter of activity the launch is generating on Peas and other message boards, I'd say it was going to be very well received and make a great deal of difference in the way many people approach their hobby.

I hope so. I happen to know that it already works really well.

If anyone is qualified to carry the torch of this improved approach, it certainly is Stacy Julian. The woman has always managed to step out into the front of the pack and be the leader into new territory when it comes to scrapbooking approaches. If I weren't such a fan, I'd definately feel a little a good way. She's worthy of emulating.

If you haven't already...check it out at Big Picture Scrapbooking. It's an approach that's highly recommended by Stacy Julian, the girls at Simple Scrapbooks and of :)


Get Your Bah-Hum-Bug Vaccine Today

For Immediate Release:
Get your Bah-Hum-Bug Vaccine as soon as possible. Protect yourself from those around you who may be carrying and worse--spreading the Bah Hum Bug Disease! Symptoms of BHBD include extreame grouchiness, impatience while standing in lines, erratic driving accompanied with cursing at other drivers, lack of concern for others, irritation with cashiers and general whiney "it's all about me" disposition. Those who seem most highly susceptable to BHBD are tired shoppers, overworked cashiers, and other humans who have not been innoculated.

Self-Innoculation can be acheived by:
--Remembering that it's Christmas...the time for peace and good will
--Listening to seasonal music
--Doing something nice for someone who is not doing something nice for you
--Embrace the thought that it really is better to give than to receive
--Find joy in something other than material things
--Count the ways in which you have recently been blessed
--Refuse to give in to the Bah Hum Bug Spirit

Get yourself innoculated today and enjoy your Christmas!


Cutting Red Rubber...makes me giddy!

Cutting out red rubber stamps makes me positively giddy! (I know...simple joys.) I've purchased several unmounted sheets lately and finally got a chance to cut them all out this afternoon...and it just reminded me how much I love doing it. Really.

Holiday Shopping

So I was shopping with my sister and mom and son yesterday at a The Apple Barn in the Opry Mills Mall. The store sells a variety of items having to do with apples--butter, decor items, clothing, books, actual apples, gift baskets, dishes,'s a very large store, with two locations in this state. They have a bakery where you can go and get handmade fried apple pies, frozen cider, hot cider, etc. It's one of my favorite places to go in this mall. It's about the most unique and home-y store in the mall and I trully enjoy going there. (If Stacy Julian ever comes to town, I'm going to volunteer to take her there! She would love it!)

So as we are checking out, I noticed that there is a small sign posted near the cash register that says something along the lines of "We know that sometimes accidents happen and we are happy to share the cost of breaking or damaging a product with the responsible customer by only charging 50 percent of the price."

Insert *confused* look here.

Now ya'll know I am *all* for personal responsibility, but "you break it, you buy it (even at 50 Percent off)" ?? I have never seen this be a store policy before--he only place I've ever seen this is at flea markets...where there are signs posted every 12 inches informing you of your risk. Seems like breakage should be considered a cost of doing business and keeping customers. They sure had everything out and available for handling...

I was a little shocked. It got me to wondering if other places are this way and I've just never noticed. Is it unusual?

My only problem with the policy is that it's stated on a very small sign...less than a half a sheet of paper...not in an overly obvious place. Seems like if I am taking a huge risk by shopping or even brosing there, I should at least be made aware of it long before I get to the checkout. We shopped for more than an hour before I knew about the policy...because it's posted at the check out.

Another question that plagues me: what will they do if a cash-only customer (like me) accidentally breaks that $300 platter? I (maybe) have $50 or $75 in my pocket. I am far more likely to be browsing than actually doing heavy-duty shopping so I typically don't carry much cash. Will they call the police? What is the procedure for forcing a customer without enough money on her person to pay for something? Will I have to wash dishes in the kitchen..or what?

For the record, I have worked in several retail establishments and the breakage policy was always to remove the tags and turn the label in so that it could be deducted from the inventory as "damaged". It was a cost of doing business. There was never a charge to the fact we were trained to be curteous to the customer, make sure they weren't hurt, and soothe any embarrassment they may feel. Yes, it is a loss to the store, but again, that's just a cost of doing business.

Last week, I was the mom who walked past a display of resin Santa figurines in Hobby Lobby and my jacket sleeve brushing against one was enough to send it crashing to the floor. I scooped up the pieces of the $4 item and took it with me to the check out. I told the cashier what happened, apologized, and she reassurred me that it happened often and she would take care of the broken pieces. While I was prepared to pay for it if they insisted, she didn't even bring it up.

There is no way I would have walked away without handling the matter. What kind of message about personal responsibility would that send to my children? Not a good one. Even if the boys hadn't been there, I would have done the same thing. It's just the right thing to do. I wouldn't want someone else to trip and fall on the broken pieces or a child to get cut picking it up off the floor.

I guess there is a fine line. I am all for being responsible but I am also a customer and, given my past training, have come to expect a certain level of *grace* while I shop in your store. If you aren't going to extend me the presumably normal amount of grace, I should be informed before I enter or upon entry about the risk I am taking.

In 20 years of being a shopper, I have only broken one item. That's a pretty good track record, right?

I can guarantee you that if I were *forced* to pay for something I broke in a store, I would never return to shop there again. I'm not sure I will be returning to The Apple Barn. I'm not sure I feel comfortable taking such a risk for a few minutes of shopping pleasure.

At least if I shop online I can't break anything.

Heart Shaped Medallion

If you've not heard of Davild Wilcox, this is the perfect song for his introduction. He's a folk artist who writes lyrics that are as anti-pop as they can be. Thoughtful, unique, twisted, human and beautiful...not for the lazy listener. This is one of those artists that you will love for his lyrics before his guitar--althought he is exceptional on the guitar. His lyrics are his art.

Burgundy Heart Shaped Mediallion
How Did You Find Me Here

If I had a spell of magic
I would make this enchantment for you
A burgundy heart-shaped medallion
With a window that you could look through
So that when all the mirrors are angry
With your faults and all you must do
You could peek through that heart-shaped medallion
And see you from my point of view

© David Wilcox, all rights reserved


A Prayer for a Boy

Tonight there is a little tiny boy sleeping in a bed in an orphanage about half way around the world. I hope he's sleeping peacefully and pray he's warm and snuggly and comfortable as every little boy should be. I pray God keeps him safe from harm and illness and that peace surrounds him through the night.

See, he's too young to know that his life is about to change drastically. He's too young to know that God, in His infinite mercy and wisdom, is moving and working on his behalf, in the hearts of a family in Nashville, Tennessee...and has been for a while now. He doesn't yet know that he's about to be introduced to the loving arms of a mother and the sweet protection of a father and the sheer awesomeness of two big brothers. He doesn't know that in just a few days he will become the newest member of a very special family and his life will never be the same--and as with the arrival of every new child into a family, neither will theirs.

He's not aware that he has been chosen by love to become a new son and a new brother to two parents and two boys. Maybe he's too young to know that countless people across the globe are praying for him tonight and will be every night and day until he and his mother are safely home from their journey. But they sure are. We are. I am.

Sleep soundly, sweet boy, in the arms of Jesus.
Dream of all the things a boy can dream of.
Be safe and healthy and happy and content.
Your mother is coming soon.
And with her comes the love and blessing of a family
And the crowd of people who are already blessed to call your family their friends.

Sleep soundly, sweet boy, in the arms of the Savior tonight.

From Mayberry to Bellevue

I have a *thing* for old tv shows and the show at the top of my list is The Andy Griffith Show. There's something soothing and sincere about innocent television. There's something special about television that you don't have to be concerned about sharing with your children. I have turned my boys on to The Andy Griffith Show and you should have heard my trying to explain to Julian how it came to be that Opie was on Jay Leno a few nights ago, only he's all grown up now. :)

The man behind this smile still smiles like this. I know because I saw him in person shopping at Home Depot in Bellevue today. His name is George Lindsey and he played many characters on television but none more famous than Goober Pyle on The Andy Grifith Show. He's much older now (of course) but the smile is still the same.

I'm not usually one for celebrity spotting but this made my day. An American legend shops at (my) Home Depot. How cool is that?


The Quandry

I'm in a bit of a quandry.
**How badly do I want a Diet Sunkist tonight?**

Because it is too dang cold to be going to the grocery at 11 pm...but I really really am thirsty. I have a serious love for Diet Sunkist and the need has been unmet for a whole day and I'm a little bent out of shape about it.

But it's cold and I don't want to go out in the cold.

I think my brain has frozen.

In other news, my sister has been here since Thanksgiving and I have loved it so much. For some of you who don't know, I am the oldest and I have 2 brothers and a sister. The boys are in the middle. My sister is 16 years younger than me. She was 3 when I got married so for all intents and purposes we grew up separately. Same parents but just so far apart in age and physical address that it was almost as if we grew up in different families.

Nevertheless, I adore her. She 17 now and reminds me of me. The me I barely remember. Having her here has been so wonderful. My boys love her and she sweetly puts up with them. Julian is teaching her what it means to be the constantly-pestered older sister, I think. Tonight she put Grey's hair up into 2 tiny was hilarious.

She's supposed to go home this weekend. I dread it. I will miss her so much. Just being near her has been so sweet to me.


Crafty Clipboard Joy

Now back to your regularly scheduled scrappy blog--

Funny how joy can arrive in the smallest of packages!

Made a quick trip over to The Paper Moon today to scoop up a stack of Kraft cardstock (more on this in a while) and was pleasantly surprised to find a selection of these mini-clipboards by rob and bob studio! How cute are these?? Click here to see the whole collection of clipboards and here to see all the Rob and Rob Studio line offered by Provo Craft.

There are 2 in each pack--the largest being slightly larger than a business card. I selected some green ones and some unfinished chipboard ones.

I have about 20 uses in mind for them...especially for Christmas tags, ornaments, magnets, etc. I'm not sure who Rob and Bob are but they sure do know how to make a girl happy on a dreary winter day!!

In other news from The Paper Moon, I finally pulled out my calculator to see how much 8.5x11 cardstock costs per sheet when sold for 25 cents per ounce. Come to find out it's less than 12 cents per sheet. (!) Chris sells her 8.5x11 regular cardstock (non-Bazzill) by the ounce (it avoids the hassle of counting) and I've always wondered exactly how much that would be per sheet but just never took the time to pull out the calculator and figure it out. (I'm a purely right-brained, creative person...math does not compute in my head.) Anyway, for certain projects, I use non-Bazzill 8.5x11 cardstock and as it turns out, this is the best (most-economical) price in town!

Last night my friend Heather came over for some scrap assistance and we stayed up (along with my scrappy sister) working until 2:15 AM! Today I am dragging as a result but man, it was fun. It was also ultra-productive! Heather was preparing some pages for 2 gift albums and we worked together on her project. Granted as usual, she got more done than me, but I'm still working on my contribution. :)

I've really missed Scrap Nights with the girls since we began our hiatus in October...can't wait to get going again soon. We'll have so much catching up to do by then.

In other news, under the heading of another thing to add to the list of ironies...

Deb and the boys and I went to Hobby Lobby today (Joal was hosting Christmas band practice in our great room so we needed to get out). As per the *mommy-code of required speeches*...I was reminding my children constantly not to touch the fragile Christmas ornaments and figurines "because they are very fragile and could break easily". Apparently I have given birth to two children who learn best by touching because this is a sermon I seem to give quite often.

Anyway...I was pushing Grey in the cart, holding his paws...when of course, *my* jacket sleeve brushed against a charming resin fisherman Santa and it crashed to the floor with an appropriate splat!

Lovely, huh!

On a happier note: If you'd like to see my Letter to the Editor published in the January 06 Creating HERE! It was pretty heavily edited but the thought remains the same--I adore the work of Rebecca Sower and will miss her gifted writings in the pages of CK.

Happy Saturday.


Pass the Peas

I have a feeling my time as Punchie Pea is coming to an end. I have enjoyed being a Pea for several years now but lately it feels like a collasal waste of time. Maybe it's just me but the more time I spend reading posts at peas, the more *different* I feel. Many of the pea-ple who participate regularly on NSBR are so open-minded that their brains have apparently fallen out. There is no room in their world for someone (like me) who believes in an absolute right and wrong and in an absolute truth. Many call for tolerance and yet, they clearly refuse to extend that tolerance to Christians.

When has a post on a message board ever really changed someones mind about anything? I've been around two peas long enough that I can now anticipate who's going to pop in to a thread and say what, for the most part. There's a list of peas that I automatically assume I will vehemently disagree with 99% of whatever they post. I'm sure they feel the same about me. I'm not complaining about that...I'm just saying that the chances of me (or anyone) actually having an opportunity to be "salt and light" in this arena are about as likely as the chances that I am going to be swayed by one or their posts. It aways comes down to being a matter of "agreeing to disagree" (or worse) because in most of the areas of discussion, I know where I stand and that's not going to change. I can only assume that other peas generally feel the same why bother? If everyone is spewing their opinion and no one is listening, what good is it?

For the record, the AFA petition re: Christmas post is what started me down this road. I generally don't agree with many of the things AFA does. I believe that AFA has gotten off track. Instead of promoting positive ways to encourage the strength of the American family, they have set themselves up as a totally negative unfortunately-Chrisitian organization who does nothing but complain about all the negative stuff going on in this country. I used to get their magazine (the president of the organization is a client of my husband's company) and it was the most depressing thing I have ever gotten in the mail. I am fully aware that the family is under attack--I get it--but surely, there are good things happening in families across America that could also be shared. Balance. I think they've lost the will to be balanced and I choose not to support any organization that is not making a positive impact.

Spewing negativity has never added to the light in this world. If you are going to complain, you should be doing something about the darkness...not just complaining.

The things AFA produces, such as the petition that a pea posted at 2Peas, are always reactionary and are always negative. Frankly, I think AFA makes Christians look like a bunch of whiners who expect the world to revolve around them. What good does that accomplish?

2Peas is a unique place. I have, for the most part, enjoyed my time there. I'll still thrive on the gallery and the garden, but the rest will find me silent.