Monday, December 22, 2008

"It's a Wonderful Life" -- and I mean it!

Saturday night Judy and I treated ourselves to a fine little holiday drama at Southern Pines' Sunrise Theater. Five actors from the North Carolina Stage Company performed an adaptation of our favorite Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life." It was enacted as a 1946 radio show in the studios of WBFR on Christmas Eve. The five actors became dozens of characters, used live sound effects, and gave an old-time authenticity that swept you back in time.
I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes from the movie. Clarence the angel sums up the movie's basic premise, demonstrated dramatically when George Bailey has a chance to see how the world would have been different--and far worse off--if he had never been born.

Clarence: Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?

Mary knew a long time before George that they were destined for each other.
Little Mary: Is this the ear you can't hear on? [whispering in his bad ear] Little Mary: George Bailey, I'll love you 'til the day I die.

The photo below shows them getting re-acquainted some ten years later.

This nostalgic view of Bedford Falls at Christmastime is forever etched in my mind. Could anything disturb the tranquility of the season?

YES! Mr. Potter is the very embodiment of evil and is as frightening as any movie monster or villain.In this heart-felt monolog, George stands up to Potter once again. I'm only half-joking when I say this is why I'm a Democrat.

George Bailey: Just a minute - just a minute. Now, hold on, Mr. Potter. You're right when you say my father was no businessman. I know that. Why he ever started this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I'll never know. But neither you nor anyone else can say anything against his character, because his whole life was - why, in the twenty-five years since he and Uncle Billy started this thing, he never once thought of himself. Isn't that right, Uncle Billy? He didn't save enough money to send Harry to school, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter, and what's wrong with that? Why - here, you're all businessmen here. Doesn't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers? You - you said - what'd you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they're so old and broken down that they... Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you'll ever be.
The final scene is one of the most moving Hollywood has produced, and Frank Capra handles it masterfully.

Zuzu Bailey: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings. George Bailey: That's right, that's right. George Bailey: Attaboy, Clarence.

Of course, there is a happy ending. If you haven't seen this classic film or haven't watched it in years, it would be an uplifting and inspirational addition to your holiday agenda. Let me assure you, that, like George Bailey, YOU touch a lot of lives!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Food, Folks, and Fun

I know some fast food chain already copyrighted "Food, Folks, and Fun," but my alternate title was too long. Loyd/Short/Kirby/Talbert/Clayton/Riley/Smith Holiday Festivities. See what I mean?

The past two weekends Jennifer and Matt hosted two of our traditional Christmas get-togethers. They were wonderful occasions.

Even though I had to sneak in this picture from Christmas 2007, it was the only one I had with Judy, her mom (Thelma/Granny) and our girls (Jennifer and Amanda). Some might call them the Steel Magnolias. They're AWESOME!

This photo of Joy is also from last year, when I hadn't yet begun blogging. She successfully evaded my camera this year! Way to go, Joy!
Gail and Judy. These gals know how to party. At least when they're together!
Jennifer and her Granny
Older cousins adore younger cousins. And maybe teach them a few tricks.
There's no doubt Stephen is a favorite playmate.
Judy and I couldn't be prouder of our girls and their hubbies. They're the BEST!
Strange, but out of the assortment of folks at these festive gatherings, only TWO are pregnant. Guess who!

Friday, December 19, 2008

White Christmas? No. Singalong? Yes.

Christmas celebrations have been a long-standing tradition at Sandhills Farm Life School. I was grateful and thrilled to be invited back for the 2008 Christmas singalong. Two, actually. One for 3rd-5th grades, another for K-2nd. Both were superb and a wonderful spirit was evident among both students and staff.

I didn't get a lot of pictures because I was a participant in many of the numbers, but I will post what I have and try to "paint" a picture of the rest.
Each singalong included about half of our school's 525 student body and students participated enthusiastically. Some highlights were
  • Tone Chimes Choir-- similar to a handbell choir
  • 5th grade chorus
  • Mrs. Virginia Frye with a stirring rendition of "O Come, All Ye Faithful"
  • Miss McNeill brought the house down (so to speak) with "Let There Be Peace on Earth." She showed once again why parents, students, and staff are so lucky to have her leading the way. She sang from her heart and touched us all deeply.
  • Mrs. McFadyen's new Sign Language Club taught everyone how to sign "Silent Night" and "Jingle Bells"
  • Mrs. Bullard, our assistant principal, read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" as the entire 5th grade plus staff paraded across the stage with icons, signs, or seasonal articles that matched the words being read. It was a great hit, and ought to become a 5th grade tradition!
  • Mrs. Heather Greisz led K-2 in the Reindeer Hokey Pokey. I wish had could have taped that! But I was glad to play for it.
  • Both groups did several singalongs with me, culminating in the entrance of the Man in Red! That would be Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Sinter Klaas, or whatever you prefer to call him.

I was impressed with the behavior of all the children, but also that they were so reverent and responsive to the songs which focused on Christ's birth. Our school has long been blessed by the Christian heritage exhibited by our community, and embraced by our principal and staff without apology.

I visited briefly in the office before leaving and it was wonderful to see old friends one more time before 2008 expires. You can imagine the warm fuzzy feelings I was enjoying. But to top it off, I noticed these words on the school sign as I was driving away. I had missed them when I arrived, but now I turned the car around and came back for a photo.

I think it caught my attention because it would have been just as appropriate placed in front of a church as a school. I like it a lot better than something like "Knowledge is Power." What better time than Christmas to acknowledge that what we believe, not just what we know should guide our lives.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Family Who Hated Christmas

By special request from Debi, I'm posting a Christmas story I wrote. She asked for something traditional, touching, simplistic. I don't know if this fits the bill, but this is one I wrote with my students year ago. I hope you enjoy it.
The Family Who Hated Christmas

Up and down the cozy little lane, frost glistened on the rooftops and clouds full of fluffy snow eagerly waited to blanket the countryside. It was Christmas Eve, and even the houses on Amber Lane seemed to know it. Smoke from chimneys rose skyward in light wisps. The wreaths on doors and the twinkling Christmas lights seemed to say “Welcome, and Merry Christmas.” A peaceful silence had settled in over all the homes and families as they awaited Santa’s visit. In all but one, that is.
At the fine, new home of the Spencer family, things were different. Black, angry clouds of smoke tumbled from their chimney, and hung heavily over their yard. They had turned out their holiday lights some time before to save on their electric bill. But they were not asleep. No, they were in the middle of another roaring family argument.
“Same thing, every year,” Mr. Spencer was barking. “Bills, bills, and more bills. It’s bad enough having the new house payment and two car payments. But you have to single-handedly keep every store in the mall in business. ‘Isn’t that cute?’, you say, or ‘We’ve just got to have that!’ “If we’re not careful we won’t be able to afford that boat and vacation cabin next spring.”
“That’s right, blame it all on me,” retorted Mrs. Spencer hotly. “Just because you ordered your new deer stand and all that other hunting equipment on the Internet doesn’t mean you’re not just as guilty as me. And if I can’t enjoy getting what I want for Christmas, I’d just as soon forget about it.”
Now Sid and Cindy, the Spencer children, chimed in. “All we know is, we’d better get our share,” grumbled Sid. “We’re the only kids at school who don’t already have the latest video games and Guitar Hero. And if you don’t come through, this Christmas will be a flop, just like last year.”
“That’s right,” agreed Cindy. “The other kids talk about how great Christmas is, but they’re crazy. Maybe I’d like it better if I was in somebody else’s family. They ALL get way more than us!”
At least that comment united her parents. Her mother hissed angrily, “Why you spoiled brat. Has it ever occurred to you that you’re part of our family’s problem?”
“Well, if you think I’m spoiled, just look at my parents. What YOU want always comes first! No fair.”
Mr. Spencer had not yet responded, and that was probably fortunate. But his face was growing redder by the moment, and he looked like a volcano about to erupt.


Up on the housetop, Santa had heard enough. “One of the toughest cases I’ve come across in years. But not hopeless. From his deep fur-lined pocket, he pulled a small vial labeled “Concentrated Christmas Spirit.” He sprinkled just a pinch down the Spencer’s chimney and started to put it away. Then, as an after-thought he sprinkled one more pinch.
Inside, his magic began to set off an instantaneous transformation.

“Well,” said Sid in a soft voice, “if we could just have a happy Christmas for once, I wouldn’t care what I got, I guess.”
“I’ll do whatever I can to help work things out, too,” said Cindy apologetically.
Mr. Spencer turned to his wife, and with a glazed look in his eyes humbly stated, “I know I’ve been as careless with our money as the rest of you, so I have no right to fuss. As leader of our family, I’ve failed to set the right priorities. Believe me, I’m going to make some changes. Hey, what am I saying?”
His wife took him by the arm. “Maybe you’re saying that money and presents aren’t as important as we thought they were. I can’t believe how backwards we’ve let things become. And how we’ve buried the true meaning of Christmas beneath all these things we thought we wanted. Isn’t it enough for our family to be safe and together, and to know that God loves us, in spite of all the foolish things we say and do. Loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to us, and for us. The greatest gift ever given.”
Mr. Spencer went to the mantle where stockings were hung. He reached for a slightly dusty family Bible and motioned for his family to gather with him around the firelight of the last glowing coals. “This dust reminds me it’s been too long since I-- since we-- visited the tale of the miracle of Jesus’s birth. Way too long.

Up on the now snow-covered roof, Santa smiled with satisfaction, climbed back into his sleigh, and gave a familiar whistle to his team of reindeer.
“What, Santa?” exclaimed Blitzen. “No presents for the Spencers this year? Their list was one of the longest!”
“No, Blitzen. We can give the things we had chosen for them to some truly needy folks. As for the Spencers, they just got the one Christmas gift they were missing.”

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Quotations II

Here we go again. Hope these provide some laughs or smiles.

As the elves stuffed Santa's sack with toys, one of them said,

  • "All these toys, and all we get is lousy candy canes."
  • "He's got everything but the kitchen sink in here. Oh, here it is, too!"

  • "I wonder if I'd get in much trouble if I hid in this Barbie Dream House."
  • "I wonder if Mr. Loyd's class is going to write about me again this year."
  • "Has Santa ever considered using UPS to deliver all this junk?"
  • "Hey, I remember the day I made this Nintendo. It was the same day Mrs. Claus made tacos for supper."
  • "Uh-oh. We packed it too tight. All the Tickle-me-Elmo's just started shaking and quaking."
  • "I wonder who will get this Furby that we taught Eskimo language.

As Rudolph got ready to guide Santa's sleigh, he said,

  • "Let's see, I turn left at Scotland. . . or is it right? Oh, brother."
  • "I'm so nervous. People don't realize how much pressure it is to remember where every boy and girl lives."
  • "Hope you don't mind, Santa. I thought I'd try a blue light in my nose this year. When those airplanes see a blue light behind 'em, they'll pull over!"
  • "I'm not so wild about this new 'clap-on' switch for my nose. For one thing, I can't clap!"
  • "Sometimes I wonder what it'd be like to have a pierced nose, but I'm scared of what Santa would say."
  • "Remember guys, no tail-gating. Those antlers are sharp."
  • "I bet people would pay a lot for my autograph. Now, how do you hold a pencil with a hoof?"
  • "Oh brother. That Blitzen thought he could take my place. But he needed an extension cord for his light bulb."

When Mrs. Claus waved goodbye (God be with ye) she called,

  • "Say 'Hi' to my Aunt Gertrude in Miami."
  • "If you loved me you'd take me along for the ride."
  • "Remember, Nick, the list of bad kids is in your left front pocket."
  • "Nick, don't forget to pick up a pound of bacon and some eggs at the Piggly Wiggly."
  • "I may not be home when you get back-- there's a big bingo game down in Greenland tonight."

When Frosty the Snowman saw Santa Claus he said,

  • "I hope you brought that new silk hat and scarf I ordered."

  • "Hey, whatcha say we get together for a few games of poker after you finish your rounds?"

  • "I sure could use some electric socks. I think. . . ."
  • "I hope you packed something special for all the Masters of Multiplication. As for me, I'm scared I'd melt if I tried burning my times card."
  • "Hey, Nick. Stop back by later. Old Man Winter and Jack Frost challenged us to hockey at the 'pole.'"
  • "Hey, old man. Can you give me a lift? I ran my snowmobile into a big mama pine tree!"
  • "I once had a friend that wore a red suit like that. Poor fella melted plumb away-- just like that!"
  • "I'd love to go along, but I'm afraid I'd melt in Australia."
  • "Hey chubby, that electric blanket you left me last year was not one bit funny!"
  • "Hey Santa, I'm tired of being called Frosty. How do you think Fred would sound?"
  • "Santa, I can't feel anything in my arms. ACK! They're gone! Somebody swiped my stupid sticks!"


Vixen, while pondering the great questions of life, thought, "I wonder what I'd be doing right now if I had been born as a giraffe."

Santa, suffering from his seasonal stress, mumbled incoherently, "Red and white, red and white, why couldn't I have chosen blue and yellow?!"

Mrs. Claus stood under the mistletoe and called, "Old man, get yourself in here right now or I'm gonna kiss Prancer instead!"

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

Funny Christmas Quotations

As at Halloween and Thanksgiving, I always had my students do sentence completions for Christmas characters to work on punctuation and creative writing. Also, to make language skill practice more fun!

From my collection:

As the elf watched Santa get in the sleigh he said,

  • "You win the bet, Twinkles. He still fits."

  • "Ya know, Santa makes the Pillsbury Doughboy look like a stringbean."

  • "Whatcha wanna bet Rudolph stops too fast and that new airbag goes off?"

Rudolph whispered to Blitzen,

  • "Since you're riding behind me, I better warn you I just had some of Mrs. C.'s red hot North Pole baked beans."

  • "If you don't quit calling me buffalo butt I'm gonna clobber you."

  • "If you'll give me your dessert I'll let you ride in front."

  • "I hardly slept a wink last night. Couldn't turn my doggone nose off."

  • "Pass the word-- we're bustin' outta this joint tonight."

  • "I've got a song about me and you don't."

The little boy thought as he put out milk and cookies,

  • "I know someone who needs these cookies a lot more than that fat old man who ought to be on a diet anyway!"

  • "I sure hope I get more than I deserve."

  • "Well, I've got the burglar alarm set and the video camera aimed up the chimney. All systems are go!"

On Christmas morning the Grinch climbed out of bed and said,

  • "I turned rotten the year Santa didn't bring me an electric train."

  • "Oh, man. I forgot to steal Christmas. Oh, well. I'll just steal Valentine's Day instead."

  • "Oh, what a nightmare! I dreamed I was Santa's little helper with . . . yuck. . . red and white tights!"

  • "Maybe if Mama hadn't named me Grinch I wouldn't be in such a bad mood all the time."

Frosty the Snowman looked around and said,

  • "Is it hot in here, or is it just me?"

  • "Has anyone seen my corncob pipe? I can't see much with these eyes made out of coal."

  • "I'm still pretty shook up from seeing Bigfoot's footprints in the snow last week."
  • "Does anybody see where I left my legs?"

As Santa hopped into his sleigh he said,

  • "I hope I remembered to turn on my teddy bear night light."
  • "Don't worry, reindeer. Mrs. C. gave me a membership in Weight Watchers."

  • "Yahoo! Ride 'em, cowboy. Oops, I forgot. I'm not a cowboy, I'm Santa Claus."

  • "If we hurry maybe we'll have time to stop at Granny's Doughnuts."

  • "Hmmm. Has this sleigh shrunk, or what?"

  • "Now let's see if I can remember where the ignition is on this thing."

More to follow soon! Try some yourself (especially you teachers out there!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Brain Games for Babies!

I've been threatening/promising to blog about this topic for a long time. Well, the time has come. I hope some things I share over the coming months help a young parent, or a grandparent to see what a fertile field a young child's mind is, and how crucial it is to cultivate that field from birth, if not before.

Most of my ideas will be plagiarized from Jackie Silberg's book, 125 Brain Games for Babies, which has impressed me immeasurably. I would not endorse these if they were just attempts to make superbabies, or transform babies into the next Einstein. Rather, these are simple, relaxing, and enjoyable activities for both the parent and child. They stimulate and nourish the innate hunger for knowledge and experiences that every child has-- at least until they hit school!

Here is the premise for these activities as stated on the book's jacket:

The baby's brain is growing at an incredible rate, and learning constantly. Every perception, every stimulus, every piece of information becomes part of the baby's foundation of knowledge for the rest of its life. The baby's brain is the most responsive organ known. It is hungering, yearning for stimulation and interaction.

Many of these activities are disarmingly familiar, natural, and simple. And that is the beauty of them. As in the book, I will use "he" and "she" interchangeably rather than saying "he or she" ad infinitem. I hope you enjoy these.

What Brain Research says:

Birth to 3 Months

The more gentle the stimulation you give an infant, the greater the number of brain synapses and connections that are formed.

  • Infants as young as one day old recognize the voices of their parents. If you patted your tummy and talked to your baby while she was in the womb, she will know the sound of your voice.

  • While your infant is lying on her back, walk to one side of the crib and call out her name.

  • Keep saying her name until she moves her eyes or her head toward the sound.

  • Walk to the other side of the crib and say her name again.

  • Gently massage her body as you smile into her eyes and say her name.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An Afternoon with Baby Evelyn

We had a most enchanting afternoon with Sally and her 5 month-old darling Evelyn today. Amanda joined us for lunch and we played and chatted until late afternoon. Here, Evelyn is quite intrigued by my book 125 Brain Games for Babies. She said there were a few she hadn't tried before (Evelyn, not Sally).
If you don't like silly captions, just look at the pictures below. As for me, I LOVE silly captions.

"Hey, where did these come from?"
(Alternate: "Wow, I'm symmetrical!")

"Are you thinking what I'M thinking?"

"Okay, will the real Santa please stand up?"

"Listen, sweetheart, I know some things about your Mommy that'll knock your booties off."

"Er. . . I don't mean to sound ignorant, but how do you steer this thing?"

"You put your left foot in, and you shake it all about. . . ."

"Presto! You're alive!"

"Having to do all my disco moves on my back really cramps my style. But just wait!"
"Hey y'all, are you aware of the optical illusions on this quilt?"
"There. I've got a good grip on the big one. Now, honey, if you'll come just a little closer. . . ."

I'm ready to be a grandpa anytime!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Before and After: The Eclectic Christmas Tree

A couple of days ago I showed you this lovely Sandhills-grown cedar tree. It has now been fully adorned.

With festive music of the season for our background, Judy and I systematically wrapped 300 bulbs and 30 feet of garland around our beautiful 8 and a half foot tree. It is truly an eclectic tree, with a varied assortment of ornaments, many of which have stories behind them. We have no over-riding theme-- we just select the decorations that strike our fancy or mood at the moment.

Judy especially loves angels, and we chose this lovely lady from three candidates that have topped our tree from time to time.

I love pewter, and several years ago used a gift card from my principal, Miss Nora McNeill, to purchase a beautiful set of nine pewter ornaments, each depicting something from Clement Moore's classic poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" ('Twas the Night Before Christmas). Each has a portion of the poem on the reverse side.

Many of my favorite ornaments were received from students. Here is St. Nick in his hand-tailored Carolina Blue attire (Alexander Julian, I'm sure).
We also spent part of the day assisting Thelma, Judy's mom, with her Christmas decorating. Amanda joined us for soup and sandwiches, and a good time was had by all. In my opinion.

Speaking of food, other than decorating, attending Christmas dinners has been prominent in our schedule of late. Monday night 50 of us enjoyed Beulah Hill's Men's Class dinner at Golden Corral. The previous Saturday, Grace Church of Southern Pines hosted a prime rib dinner for all church volunteers (that would be Judy). The food was excellent, and the entertainment was stellar, with Kevin Baker morphing from praise and worship leader into Buddy Holly. Kevin is immensely talented and infectiously funny and enthusiastic.

Going all the way back to last Thursday, we kicked off our holiday festivities with a delightful evening at Sandhills Teen Challenge. We have known Sal and Debby DiBianca almost as long as they've been in the Sandhills. Their Christian drug rehab program has been in Moore County 22 years, and the national program just turned 50! It was initiated by Nicky Cruz, of "The Cross and the Switchblade" renown.

Everything from the food, to seeing old friends, to moving testimonies, to the rocking singing of the Teen Challenge Choir made for a grand holiday kickoff. Visit their national website or our local Teen Challenge website to find out more information or how you could offer assistance.

As you can see, we've already had several highlights, and we have many more on our calendar. I'll keep you up-to-date. And I hope each of you has a meaningful, encouraging, and inspirational Christmas season as we focus on the birth of our Savior and what He means to us as His unique creations.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Deck the Halls! And Everything else!

Last week Chipper visited school with me and shared smiles with Jessie and other children. He was re-christened "Chipper Claus" by someone.Brent and Dalton make me glad 5th graders aren't too self-conscious to be photographed with my favorite monkey!

Back at home, we got a start on decorating last week. The Polar Express, it ain't! But it's a Christmas train, and as you know, I love trains. Plus, I got it at a yard sale!

Here's Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, and entourage. With these lights, it looks more like a Holiday Inn Express or Motel Six.

But here's what our nativity scene really looks like.

Not only did this Christmas village come from a yard sale, but it was when I was on one of our West Virginia mission trips. They have yard sales every day of the week up there!

A Christmas visit at church gave me this Santa and helpers with ladder several seasons ago. At school, I used it to do a little brainteaser. I gave the children Math clues to help them guess which rung of the ladder Santa, elves, and Frosty were on. (Algebra-- and yes, it's in the third grade curriculum these days!)

And finally, our 2008 tree. Donald and Shirley generously offered for us to cut one on their property, and we thought this one was as perfect and full as any we've ever had (and we've had some real winners, as well as our share of Charlie Brown types).

In its undecorated state, like all evergreens, it symbolizes the eternal life Christ came to freely offer mankind.
I'll post before/after pictures when the decorating is complete. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 5, 2008


Why are these people smiling?

Even though I'm the THIRD family member to blog about this, there may be a couple that haven't read Jennifer and Amanda's blogs (click on Green Grass and The Talbert Report at the left for the best details). The big news is. . . Jennifer has joined Amanda in the ranks of our pregnant family members! And there, I think, the list will end.

Amanda's gonna have a girl and Jennifer won't find out for a while yet. It's a win-win situation, anyway! Teachers, students, and office staff were ecstatic on our behalf when I shared the news at Farm Life yesterday. A huge number of folks there know Jennifer and Amanda or have kept up with over the years.

Lots of my future posts will pertain to all things "Baby." I've already got lots of ideas. Just one little tidbit today. Michael Blackwell, President of the North Carolina Baptist Children's Homes included a list of Top 2008 Christmas Gifts in the December issue of Charity and Children.

I'll close with this short version, which I wholeheartedly endorse:

While no one would advocate an end to Christmas gift-giving, there are some gifts that you don't have stand in line for at Toys 'R' Us -- or even bother wrapping-- that are sure to make your child truly happy.

  • Start with your full attention, for at least a little while, every day.

  • Like them as well as love them.

  • (My favorite) As a rule, children adore their grandparents, and with good reason: their grandparents adore them. Spending time with them gives children the opportunity to interact with a set of adults who aren't constantly expecting something of them. (ha,ha)

  • Give the gift of "loose time." The ability to work- and play- alone is an important predictor of future academic success. And one-on-one time with a friend, or more important, with someone who could become one is essential.

  • Talk with your children about cutting back on the hype and buying meaningless gifts.

  • Teach your children how to have healthy sense of skepticism when it comes to advertising.

  • Give a book. Presenting a book to a child tells him or her that you value words, stories, and reading as much as you do flowered tights from Gap Kids.

  • Finally, when you give the gift of spirituality, you're giving your children a lifelong friend, a lifelong source of compassion and love.

Parents, don't get caught in the trap of comparative giving. Do the hard work of buying a meaningful gift that will convey your love in a special way to your child. Bless a hobby, enable an experience. We all cry every year about spending too much money at Christmas. This year, save your money, and spend your time.

Dr. Michael C. Blackwell

(speaker, author, husband, father, and grandfather)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

If I Remember Correctly

(Here's the "teaser" picture from Aberdeen Lake-- nine more are at the end of this post)

With a memory like mine, it just doesn't pay to go too many days without blogging. What's done is done, though, so I'll try to fill you in on what's been going on since Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving itself was wonderful, including the meal, family time, and a nice walk at Rassie Wicker park.

Friday, I cut wood from about 8 to 10, then got cleaned up for a lunch with Amanda and Stephen and his family from Atlanta. We enjoyed our usual meal at 195 in Southern Pines. Afterward, Judy and I went to Aberdeen Lake and walked their trail for the first time in years. It was the most pleasant weather of the week and we delighted in the wild ducks and scenic boardwalk.

That evening we had a terrific time at Joy's, featuring the grand tour of her new home, plus oyster stew, hot dogs, salad, and dessert. Good times, believe me!

Saturday we dropped by the Habitat for Humanity store, hoping to use two half-price coupons. Sadly, we could find NOTHING that seemed like a bargain, even at half price. The trip was far from wasted, as we made up for this at Aberdeen's new Salvation Army store. I found some exotic salt and pepper shakers (S&P's will be blogged about sometime this winter) and a couple of intriguing videos, Easter Parade with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, and The Count of Monte Cristo, filmed in 1934. They were 99 cents each, compared to $3.00 at Habitat. See what I mean?

Judy made her famous turkey soup while I did some genealogy searches and checked up on ACC football. By 3:30 we had made some soup deliveries and I settled in for the Duke-Carolina football game. It was a great game, and I wouldn't have been at all surprised for Duke to pull an upset (a la N.C. State), but we survived.

Sunday was a pleasant day with turkey soup and grilled cheese. We were home early, but couldn't go walking because of the rain. That was okay, because church was called off that evening, allowing me to watch UNC play UNC-Asheville live instead of taped. It was a fun game, but not a close one. I finally finished reading my second "Jason Bourne" novel that night. It was very good, but I plan to read some shorter works during December.

Monday was a catch-up day and I actually did more than I expected. We headed to Staples so I could order 40 more copies of my book (let me know if you need one), then on to Wal-mart for a short list of items. Having easily resisted participating in Black Friday, we were jubilant as we breezed through the checkout lines with no waiting! After a delicious lunch featuring left-over ham, I hung and strung Christmas decorations outside. I may post some pictures of that later.
Today, I cut and hauled wood in our "outback" until getting cleaned up for lunch. Then I took Chipper (in his Santa suit) with me to play the piano at the hospital. I played Christmas music exclusively today, and wore my Looney Toons Christmas tie. Judging from the swaying, gyrations, and toe-tapping of the hospital staff and passers through, Feliz Navidad and Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree were today's favorites.

Well, for the moment that brings me up to date. I've got plenty of blog ideas for December and beyond. For now, I'm only going to post pictures from Aberdeen Lake.
Ducks galore!
I couldn't resist experimenting with lighting effects.
An artist's pallette of lily pads. Made me think of Monet's garden.
View from the boardwalk.
View OF the boardwalk.
That's the aeration fountain-- not a giant waterbird on steroids (Judy's contribution to this blog's humor).

All parks need Troll Trees!

At the gazebo, I utilized our camera's self-timer for the very first time ever!