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!