Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Carol Countdown: 10 Days to Go!

The school kids are hyper all the time now. They're bouncing off the walls and can't wait for vacation. Whenever one of my students says to me, "I can't wait for Christmas!" I have to chuckle inwardly. You think the kids are anxious...the teachers are chomping at the bit!

School is like a massive sugar high these days! Lots of high spirits and squirrely-ness and exuberant behavior. If we can only survive eight more days!

One of the activities in our family's advent countdown was the Balloon Stomp. It would definitely fit the activity level I see at school. It easy peasy too! Every player gets a balloon and blows it up. I think there was a rule of not putting so much air in it that it pops when you look at it! Get some yarn and cut a 18-inch length. Tie one end loosely around your ankle and tie the other to your balloon. Each person can decide the length of yarn between ankle and balloon, the only rule being that the balloon has to touch the ground. Experience has taught that the closer the balloon is to your ankle, the easier it is to defend.

The goal of the Stomp is to break everyone's balloon by stepping on it with your foot. At the same time, you must protect your own balloon. The winner is the last person who has an unpopped balloon. 

One person yells "Go!" and the madness begins. It's wild, it's crazy, it's a madhouse. Boy, is it fun! My kids have fond memories of this game and that's the idea. Memories and traditions. Glue that holds us together.

Amazingly enough, I just heard this song two years ago. The great Louis Armstrong originally did it. I actually heard it done by Garth Brooks, but when I went to find it on iTunes the only version I could find was Louis Armstrong. And what a version!

Searching for it on YouTube, I found this incredible video someone put together. It has fantastic editing. There are clips of Armstrong himself singing the song interspersed with period cartoons. It's a treat! Sit back and enjoy: "Zat You Santa Claus"

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Carol Countdown: 11 Days to Go!

Disclaimer: I originally wrote a Christmas Carol Countdown in 2010 when I first started this blog. I had no followers, my family were the only ones who read it. I didn't know anything about blogging or linky parties, etc. So I wrote a Countdown. This year, I decided to do "The Best of..." and re-post those blogs. I wasn't good at doing it every day, so I will also write original posts. The original set of blogs can be found in the subject list in the right hand column. Just click "Christmas."

I promised to tell you about traditions our young family had at Christmas time. My mom made each of my children an advent calendar. The one she made for my second daughter had a Christmas tree with lots of little pockets below for the countdown. It was 1980 and the girls were one- and three-years-old. That was when the most delightful Christmas tradition idea sprouted in my head.

I used the advent calendar with the pockets and in each pocket I put a slip of paper with a Christmasey thing to do. Some were traditional: go get the tree, decorate the tree, and the others ranged from the boisterous to giving service. Before December, I would map out when the Christmas shows would be on TV. Watching "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and "Frosty the Snowman" were a must. A slip of paper would go in the proper day when we would watch them on TV. I might remind you right here that this was pre-video player and videos. It was just in its infancy and hardly anyone had them. We watched what we wanted to watch on TV when it was on TV at the exact time.

Next I would put in the slips for Setting Up The Manger, Reading the Christmas Story from the Bible, and also the traditional: Write Letters To Santa.

Two of the most anticipated days were for Slurping Jello and the Balloon Game. To prepare for Slurping Jello, make a regular, fruit-free jello, but add a little more water. About a quarter cup. Jello should still set up, but be a little soft. When ready, give everyone a paper plate with an equal amount of Jello on it and a straw. It helps if the straws are wider, if possible. Sitting at the table, wait for the signal: Ready, Set, Go! Everyone slurps Jello through the straw! It might be quite an easy task, I never found out. Invariably, the sound of slurped jello busted everyone out in laughter. We soldiered on until the first person slurped up all their jello and was declared Winner!

The kids LOVED it, we all had fun and it was a short little activity too. Not every one of our things took loads of time.

A couple of hints I have for Advent Activity Countdown is:
1. The slips are secret. No one knows until the pull the slip and read it aloud.
2. I would usually end up moving slips around to fit our days. Sometimes I would need a quick activity and so I would swap a longer one with a shorter one.

Tomorrow, more activities from the Advent Countdown Calendar!

I've written it before, Christmases that have children involved, around, underfoot and anticipating Santa are the richest of all.

This leads me to today's Countdown Carol. It's a song my mom often sang around Christmas and this version was done by Andrea Bocelli and children on his Christmas Special one year. Andrea is one of my treasures. I own everything he has ever recorded. One magic year, my husband gave me tickets to see him in concert! Probably about 5 years ago, the tickets were $200 a piece. It was tremendous...and all the other superlatives you can think of! Here's my pick for today. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

My sister, on right, and myself at Christmas in 1962.
My mom would always start singing that popular song, "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas" around the beginning of December. It has stuck with me through all these years, and although I don't know most of the words, I always have to hum it when I start seeing Christmas lights on houses.

The weather here in California is cooperating for the beginning of December and the Christmas season. It's been cold, very cold, in fact. We've been getting frost!

I love the Christmas season. The joy, the giving, but mostly children. I had so much fun when my children were little. In the coming days, I'm going to share things that we did when my kids were little.

Last year at this time, two of my three children lived on the East coast. My daughter, Nancy Drew, and her family, including my new grandbaby. Curly was 2 years old. My son, TGS, also lived on the East coast with his new bride.

An event that our family had been anticipating for five years finally happened. Nancy Drew and her family moved to Utah! I live in Northern California. We are only 12-14 hours away from each other. Nancy Drew moved at the beginning of September. In the Veteran Admin. where she and her hubby work, they get almost every holiday off. In October, she got Columbus Day off and so did her older daughter. She added a day to the long weekend and came out to visit for the weekend.

Next came Thanksgiving and her family, my oldest daughter and her new hubby came to dinner! I'm heading to Utah for Christmas. This is so much better than a visit once a year. And I get to spend Christmas with children. I'm very excited, to say the least.

Now on to Christmas...

The advent calendar and the Twelve Days of Christmas have always been heartily celebrated in our family. More details in the days to come! My countdown to Christmas for this blog is going to be sharing some of my favorite carols sung by the artist I think did it best! Music has such a wonderful way of bringing the Spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of Christ, into our lives. We feel the warmth of the spirit and it makes us vow to do more, help more, give more.

My first choice for Christmas Carol Countdown is by the Norwegian singer, Sissel. She has a truly incredible voice; it makes you think of angels! A few years back, she was the guest artist on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert. It was the first time I had heard her and I was entranced. The selection today is Angels from the Realms of Glory. And don't be too surprised if Sissel shows up later this month in the carol list.

Remember to check every day until Christmas for the Christmas Carol Countdown!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Common Culprit, or "All Who Wander..."

I recently got a most surprising and sweet email. It was from someone who was reading my blog last summer. When I was writing a blog. She wondered what had happened to me. She was checking, hoping I was fine. Wow.

I can't tell you what a quandary I've been in. I love my blog. I love all the quilty and crafty blogs I read (pronounced red).

But before I get lost! again. I have to inject that I love the movie, You've Got Mail! I cannot count how many times I've watched it--and who would be interest anyway. I command you that if you haven't ever seen this movie, get it, view it, feel happy. Repeat anytime you want to feel happy.
Not my husband...too old.

One more thing, but those who read my blog know, I digress. My husband still gets his email through AOL! It was the big thing in the 80's--1980's not 1880's! I swear sometime my hubby is
buried back in the 1940's, a decade he loves. We just got cell phones. I was getting a newer one, but get this! Hubby was getting his first!

Meanwhile back at the ranch!

I've written a couple of people who posted a lot online at a quilting board. No one ever answered. But I really wondered what happened to them. And now my friend emailed me. And then...the quandary.

One side is I absolutely adore blogging and quilting. Put that together and you've got the charisma of peanut butter and jelly!

On the other side, I teach and am so dang busy and worn out that I hardly quilt during the school year. Now I love blogging almost as much as I love quilting.

My last four months---is that all it's been? It feels like years! I've been like this:

That's me there waving my arm! Help! Help! How do I get out?
So we come to the common culprit of where have I been and why haven't I been blogging.

I'm amazed how worn out I am at the beginning of a school day.
It takes me an hour to hour-and-a-half to write an average sized blog.
That's too much time.
All summer I kept thinking of how I can continue blogging for 10 months of the year.
I thought of a plan, but August came, and the big tsunami wave hit me and I did have a brain cell left to think of the plan.

Then the email.
Somebody cared.
Someone who actually liked my blog.

It's all you really need, you know. I was so energized that I decided to put the plan in to action. I have time in the evening if I don't watch all the hours of TV. Actually I don't watch that much and most of it is from Netflix or Amazon. Then there's baseball and basketball. But I digress.

Thank you, my blogging friend. You got me going.

Maybe someday I will share how miserable teaching school is. Actually I love my students, it's all the other stuff.

But here I am! I could give all of you a great big hug.

Now to make it official:

I can't display what I'm working on right now because it's a secret.

But I have been doing a L/E with it. L/E = Leader/Ender. Bonnie Hunter is one of two of my quilting muses. While you're working on one quilt, you start each block (etc) at the sewing machine with a piece of another project, then end with another piece of project. You're making two quilts at a time.

I'm working on a Bonnie quilt called Sister's Choice. It's scrappy. I started out with colors I had used in another quilt: Log Cabin Neighborhood.

It's 20x20.

Then as I started pulling out scraps and sewing them into nine-patches, I thought: I shouldn't make something in the same colors. I decided to liven it up! I added turquoise and purple into the mix. Now I don't know how it's going to turn out. But in for a dime, in for a dollar!

Here's Bonnie's Sister's Choice Quilt:

Ain't it purty?

Here are 5 of my blocks. It takes 140 nine patches that are 10" finished with the outer part of the block. I've got 145 done. Chug, chug, chug.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Boy Howdy. If you ever want to know if you've gotten all the little threads off a nine-patch, just scan it in on your computer. Those little buggers show up mud on a white carpet!

Now proudly announcing:
I'm hooking up with these wonderful blogs to share my stuff. Mosey over and look at their stuff!
(Badges in right column!)

Patchwork Times Design Wall Monday
Show and Tell Tuesday
Linky Tuesday
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
We Did It Wednesday

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