Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chewka's Day Out!

Chewka and I have enjoyed going outside for quite some time now; it's a break in the monotony for both of us. We haven't been able to go out on a regular basis lately because of a hawk that has been "haunting" our neighborhood. He discovered that our neighborhood is teeming with birds and squirrels and he has turned it into his personal hunting ground. I have seen him land in our yard several times, so I have been hesitant to chance taking Chewka Marie for her daily romp.

However, things have been rather quiet lately on the hunting front, so I decided that today was the day we were going to risk it. (Also, she has been driving me crazy because the more bored she becomes, the worse she chews!) So out we went. She had the greatest time!

First, she played around on the stash of firewood that we keep on the back porch. There was much crawling around, sniffing, and chewing:

After finishing with the wood pile, she ventured out into the yard, found an acorn, and in her usual squirrel's fashion, proceeded to bury it:

The only thing better than burying an acorn is finding an acorn that was hidden by someone else. Jackpot!

Not only did Chewka Marie's mother keep a sharp eye out for hawks, Toffee was out patrolling the yard, too. And of course, there was no way that a hawk could have gotten past Cookie:

We stayed outside for quite awhile, but the time came that the birds began congregating in the yard next door for their late afternoon feeding. Chewka decided that the great outdoors was getting a little too crowded, and she popped through the doggie door, leaving her guardians outside.

I truly enjoy spending time in the yard with Chewka, and she never ceases to amaze me. She has lived inside the house with us since before her eyes even opened and is more familiar with the sound of the television and the washing machine than she is the sound of birds or rain. Still, she instinctively makes nests in her little house, and once she gets a nut she is not satisfied until she has found just the right hiding spot. She is a champion jumper and climber, and have I ever mentioned that she is a great chewer? I didn't teach her any of these things -- she is brilliant all by herself!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Even More Christmas! (The Great Outdoors!)

Robert is in charge of the outdoor decorations, and even though he didn't have time to do a LOT of outdoor decorating this year, he did make sure that he put out the family favorites.

Ever since they went to Wyoming, Lori has been absolutely enthralled with all things moose! Imagine her delight last year when Robert surprised her with this big guy:

It quickly became one of Lori's all-time favorite outdoor decorations, and she can't help but smile (plus pet him a little) each time she sees him.

Dee Dee loves the "fireball" lights, so Robert surprised her a couple of years ago with those. Even if nothing else goes up, he makes sure they are hanging out front!

Last, but not least, Dee Dee made her own contribution to the outdoor display when she came home with the candy cane lights. We love those, and they are the perfect item to round out the outdoor menagerie that is Christmas at the Woodbury house!

A Little More Christmas!

Alan has been attending the Single Adults' Ward here on a very regular basis lately, and he seems to be enjoying himself quite a bit. He MUST be enjoying it, because he doesn't miss going to church or the activities for anything! For their recent Monday night activity they made gingerbread houses and he brought home this cute little house. He and his friend, Alex (girl, not guy), made the house and even put a little scene on the inside. (Just a little peek inside the window...)

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas! (By Lori)

We finished decorating for Christmas a couple of days ago, and I must say that I am starting to get excited about Christmas already. As I look at our skinny little Christmas tree, I can't help but smile. We used to have a big, beautiful tree with white lights, but it was given to Mandy. You see, the only place that we have in our house to put a big tree is in the front window in Robert's office. Cookie loves to run to the window whenever she hears a car to see if Robert is home yet -- whether or not there is a tree in the way. So about three years ago I got tired of broken ornaments and having the tree laying on its side half of the time, and I went to Dollar General. I bought a little fiber-optic tree that will fit on our hearth (safely out of reach) and lots of cheap, plastic, made-in-China-and-probably-toxic ornaments.

I was hoping that it would just be a temporary thing and that I would somehow be able to find a way to have my big, beautiful tree with the hand-blown glass ornaments again. Then a magical thing happened: somewhere along the way, I came to love my little, cheap, cheesy tree. I now put it up, not just for the sake of space, but because it has helped me to appreciate this special season even more! It goes up quickly and is not much work at all; no more hours and hours of trying to fill in a big tree. It comes down quickly after the season is over, thus alleviating that dread of having to put a ton of things away. All of this prompts me to decorate early in the season; therefore, I am free to move on to other things!

The ornaments themselves bring me joy, too. When I was a little girl, "Grandmother Carrie's" house was a special place. She was actually my father's grandmother, and she lived just down the street from his parents. If you were lucky enough to wrangle an invitation to spend the night with her, you were in for a treat. During this one-on-one time with her, she would make you feel so very special, making your favorite breakfast and pretty much doing whatever you wanted her to do. For me, that was playing the piano. I had always wanted to learn to play, but I didn't know any more than what I could teach myself, but SHE knew how to play, and would play any song that I wanted to hear. My favorite was the Christmas song, "Silver Bells", and I was so tickled to find a cheap strand of garland for my little tree that actually has little silver bells on it! I think of Grandma Carrie every time I see them.

My little tree brings back memories of my mother's mother, "Ma". Ma was the kindest, sweetest woman you would ever want to meet. She was of very limited means and didn't have a whole lot, but she would always share whatever she had with anyone and everyone. There were many times that my mother, my sister, and I would go to live with her (like when my father was in Vietnam). She was a frail woman, in bad health, and she died when I was around ten or so, but she was so important to me that I will always remember the feeling that I had when I was at her house, too. My little tree has some ornaments that are shaped like ribboned-candy, and I think of Ma whenever I see them hanging there. She always had the hard, old-fashioned ribboned-candy at Christmas time, and to the child that I was then, it tasted even better than chocolate does to this old lady now!

There are other "memories of years gone by" at my house. During the time that I was a little girl, the Santa Claus pitcher and Mr. and Mrs. Claus salt-and-pepper shakers were all the rage. Everyone had them: my mother, both grandmothers, and even my great-grandmother! At some point through the years, I was lucky enough to get a pitcher and some shakers for myself. Even though the red paint on the Santa pitcher flakes off (you wouldn't dare actually want to USE it for fear of lead poisioning), I put my Santa stuff out each year. Each time that I look at it I am transported back to those years as a very young child, when I believed that the world was a safe, wonderful place, and that all was right with it. For just a brief moment, that hope washes over me once again whenever I see Santa's smile.

There are new favorites, too. When my mother moved in with us, she brought many of the Christmas decorations that HER grandchildren looked forward to seeing each year. She divided her belongings according to who-wanted-what, and I was lucky enough to get her nativity set. It sits prominently on our mantle as a reminder of what the season is all about. It is so special to me to know that the special tradition that lived in her house now lives in ours! I also have a porcelain doll that is "The Little Match Girl", a thought-provoking story, to be sure! Seeing her reminds me of the need for giving to others!

Another addition that makes me laugh out loud is my moose that sits in a rocking chair. Not only do I love him because I absolutely LOVE moose, but when you squeeze his hand he rocks back and forth and sings another of my favorite Christmas songs, "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer". What can I say? I'm just a little bit twisted. He was joined by a singing squirrel holding an acorn and singing, "I'm Getting Nuttin' for Christmas" (a gift from my son). They both were joined this year by a "Grandma Moose" that Mom bought for me. Once again, at our house, the animals rule.

My decorations are not the only thing that I have simplified in my attempts to enjoy Christmas more. In addition to finishing my decorating early, I have made an effort to start shopping early, too. It originally started as an attempt to spread out the financial aspect of Christmas gifts over time, but now it's more than that. By having most of my Christmas shopping done by this point, it allows me to enjoy the rest of the season. From this point on, I only have to worry about the things that I choose to do, leaving me time to spend with friends and family and to commit random acts of kindness. More importantly, I have time to ponder the gift that God gave to each of us when He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to be our Saviour on that very first Christmas, so long ago.

I am giddy with excitement! Let the Christmas season begin!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Meet Our Family!

Robert - The patriarch of our clan is a Hydrologist and Civil Engineer who loves his career. He is well suited for his job, as he has always been interested in fixing problems and making things. Lori has said that if you were ever stranded on an island, Robert is the guy who you would want to have with you. When he isn't working or performing some type of service at church, he likes fixing up old cars. His dream car is a 1968 Mustang - he has a 1968 coupe and a 1968 convertible, both of which he is working on. He also likes camping, hunting, and fishing, and working with the Scouts. He hates sitting still, and is always up to something! He keeps things around the house working, and he keeps Cookie under control.

Lori - The matriarch of the clan worked outside the home in various jobs until she was able to quit that stuff a couple of years ago and be home full-time. She now spends her days trying to learn all of the things that she didn't have time to learn when she was younger, and even though she is no domestic DIVA, she is having a great time learning all of those new things. She has experimented with gardening (her triumphs and defeats are chronicled in her blog, "The "Gan"-"Green Thumb"), and is learning all that she can about home food storage, while trying to summon the courage to take on sewing and quilting. Lori loves scrapbooking, and as the family "historian", she will probably be the one to write most of our blog entries. She also drives Dee Dee to all of her doctor's appointments and tries to keep the pets from running the zoo!

Dee Dee - The "grand" matriarch of the clan, Lori's mother moved in with the family a few years ago when her health began to decline and the neighborhood in which she lived was experiencing a lot of crime. By having her live with us, we don't have to worry about her being sick and alone, and we sure cut down on our phone minutes! Robert built a large bedroom with a bathroom onto the back of the house so that Dee Dee can hide out when she wants, or she can come hang out with the family whenever she wants. Whenever she is feeling good, Dee Dee loves cooking and we are so glad -- she especially likes to try new recipes, the latest being Pumpkin Butterscotch Fudge. Dee Dee certainly keeps up with politics, and can actually name individual senators just by the sound of their voice on the television, even if she is in the other room! She is each family member's biggest cheerleader, and the person to whom you want to go to whenever you've had a bad day. In our own ways, we take care of her and she takes care of us!

Alan - Alan recently graduated from cosmetology school, and unfortunately for him, he graduated during one of the worst economic periods of recent history. He is still looking to get his foot in the door at the right place, and in the meantime, Dee Dee and Mom are reaping the benefits of having a built-in stylist in the house. Dee Dee especially likes the pampering that she receives when Alan rolls her hair for her or gives her a manicure. Alan is also very handy to have around the house -- with two short women who have trouble lifting heavy things, he is always being called upon to carry boxes or reach that top shelf. He also is usually willing to help his Dad out whenever there is a service project going on! Alan also likes to draw (a talent which he had as soon as he was old enough to hold a pencil).

Cookie - Cookie, our registered Brittany, is the one pet that we actually planned on having. She is incredibly smart, but when you combine her brilliance with her being the most high-strung dog on earth, it means that she pretty much runs the household. She is eight years old now and is slowing down a bit, but is still always willing to play "Go Git-Git" the minute her Daddy gets home. She has Lori and Dee Dee trained to give her a treat whenever she wants one.

Toffee - Toffee came along when Cookie met a border collie that jumped our fence. We thought that we had found homes for all ten of Cookie's puppies, but after just a few months Toffee's owner was unable to keep him, and Toffee came back home. He was a very needy, timid little guy for a long time. However, lots of love and his last trip to the vet seemed to fix many things, and now he is much more mellow and content. He is very loving and sweet, and although he does love to play, thank goodness he is not as high-strung as his mother!

Chewka - We never in a million years planned on having Chewka Marie Woodbury, but when she fell from her nest at only four weeks of age, we truly didn't think that she would make it through the night, so we didn't take her to a rehabilitator. Boy, were we surprised! She is now over three years old, and even though she lives in the house, believe it or not, she does get to go outside and play. Every once in awhile she gets a little hard to corral, but most of the time she is ready to go back inside after a little while in the yard. In fact, if she is startled by a loud noise, she will run through the doggy door, into the house, leaving Lori standing outside by herself. She is very loving and sweet, but you have to be willing to accept the fact that she likes to chew things sometimes. You have to watch her like a hawk when she is playing in the house, or your furniture will suffer greatly!