The Beard and I: A Tale of a Doomed Relationship

At the beginning of November, my roommates decided to not shave for the rest of the month. For some inexplicable reason, I joined them.

Some background: I had never attempted facial hair before, aside from a feeble attempt at a goatee shortly after graduating college. I abandoned that quest after a week when I realized that (A) it didn’t look very good and (B) goatees are for jerks, anyway.

So, I grew the beard. I did shave my neck, however. There’s no way I’m growing a throatee. The beard came in nicely, although I realized I didn’t have much facial hair on my cheeks. It was kind of scraggly and I didn’t particularly like the upkeep on the beard – it was almost as much trouble as shaving. Not to mention the constant itchiness against my face. I did get some compliments on the beard, but then again, I got some compliments after I got rid of it, too.

So now the beard is gone. I think I’m going to stay clean-shaven from here on out. I personally didn’t like how the beard looked, and I’m willing to put up with the trouble of shaving because it’s preferable to the trouble of not shaving. And besides, while many consider beards to be manly, I take a particular kind of manly pride in the art of giving myself a clean, close shave.

And of course, this post is useless without pics, so here they are – the beard, and what I did in the process of shaving the beard.

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Learning from our children.

We have all heard that you should never stop learning, and that learning can come to us in many different forms.  Book learning is my favorite.  Often when I develop an interest in something I will reserve books at the library, pick them up and then spend some time reading about a topic.  Classes are another way to learn something new.  I have learned to crochet and sew from taking classes.  Experience is a teacher as well, although the lessons learned there come with a price.  We also learn from others, directly or indirectly, by observation. 

Recently Leslie (oldest daughter for all blog readers who are not family) had a catastrophic computer failure, you know the kind.  She was horrified when she figured out that she had many years of photos on that computer and had not backed them up anywhere else.  I was upset also but figured Mark (next to youngest son) could probably yank out the old hard drive and retrieve the photos.  He worked on the project on Saturday and after looking for various cords and working a while came to the conclusion that her hard drive was toast, there was nothing he could do. 

What I have learned from my children from this episode.  1. Don’t buy a hard drive from anyone but Western Digital.  Mark has never had a failure with one of those.  2. Back-up your photos several different ways.  If they are on a computer you need to back them up on another computer, burn them on a CD and back them up on another hard drive dedicated to photos only and then keep that somewhere safe.  3. Even someone who works miracles can not bring a hard drive back from the dead. 

I feel sad that Leslie doesn’t have photos of her older children when they were little, but on the bright side this sure will make scrap-booking easier.  I have very few photos of me or my siblings growing up and I am okay.  Having photos is fun, and important,but if you don’t have them that is okay too.  So now for the plea.  We all need to find photos of the Oliver family and share them so she can start collecting photos of her family.  This can be fun for all of us.  Dad is downstairs right now collecting photos (from our triple backed up archives) and will burn them onto a CD for the Olivers.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

What a change from last year!  We were in Germany with our two sons.  We had a lovely time, but we missed being with the rest of the family.  Last night we spent Christmas Eve with most of the family and had a really nice program.  We actually used the program our ward choir presented last year, with a few modifications to make it short enough for the kids.  It was fun to have the children dress up and participate.  I was glad that Hayden (15) and Porter (13) were not too cool to dress up with their siblings.  Hayden was a very buff angel and Porter a well-dressed king.  Regan was Mary, Turner was Joseph, Landon a shepherd and Cooper was a lamb.  We took pictures, but I’m not going to post them here.  We sang around the piano and played Uncle Wiggly.  We also showed Turner and Regan where Santa was with the NORAD Santa tracker, very fun to have believers in the house.  I read a story at the end to get everyone settled down and the Oliver’s went home and eventually to bed.  Apparently the story didn’t do the trick because Turner didn’t go to sleep and today he was grouchy.

We got up and I fixed a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, bacon and eggs.  The Nadeau’s arrived and they ate too and then we all sat down in the downstairs family room and opened the funny gifts this year.  They were all nicely down, even though some of them were last minute, nobody had just a piece of paper to read.  I think the biggest laughs came with Carolyn’s gift from Leslie which chronicled some of the naughty things Rose has done this last year in the style of the No David books, very funny.  We also laughed at Mark’s gift from Dixon about dating,  it was a multimedia presentation that made him laugh so he didn’t mind too much.

We then went upstairs and opened regular gifts and everyone was excited.  We all enjoyed that even though it got kind of crazy and we had to ask after about what others got.  It is too hard to ask the children to wait to open gifts while someone else opens a gift. 

We had the roast in the oven and almost forgot we had other food to cook, but quickly got that done and everything served by two.  I like to eat early in the day because then the kids don’t snack as much.  I would have liked the food to be ready at 12 or 12:30, maybe next year.  We didn’t play games in the afternoon, but we spent some time singing songs and playing with the children.  Turner was really grouchy and hard to manage, the rest of the children did great, though we did have some tears here and there and Carolyn will be able to add three pages to her No Rose book. 

My house needs some attention, but not tonight.  Dale and I will tackle it tomorrow.  We have New Years to look forward to next week, although I doubt if we will have any family that evening.  Right after that we leave on our cruise, and I am really looking forward to a week of reading and resting.

Still dreaming of a White Christmas

White Christmases seem to be the romantic ideal for this time of year, so I started to think, how many White Christmases have I ever experienced?

My memory is a bit hazy prior to the Berlin years (1989-1992).  I’m fairly certain my Christmases in Garmisch were snowy, and that my Christmases in the first four years in Oly were not.  I have no recollection of the Heidelberg Christmases, but my mother informs me that there was no snow.  After moving back to the USA in 1985, we traveled to Logan, Utah for two Christmases, which I believe were snowy.

However, since then, I have only had one Christmas with any kind of snow.  That would be 2007, when we got a light sprinkling of snow.  None of it stuck to the ground, however.  Apparently there was an abundance of snow last winter, but I was in Germany, and the part of Germany I was in…had no snow!

So, let’s list these out:

1980, Heidelberg: No Snow
1981, Heidelberg: No Snow
1982, Garmisch:  White Christmas
1983, Garmisch:  White Christmas
1984, Garmisch:  White Christmas
1985, Logan:  White Christmas
1986, Logan:  White Christmas
1987, Olympia:  No Snow
1988, Olympia:  No Snow
1989, Berlin:  No Snow
1990, Berlin:  No Snow
1991, Berlin:  No Snow
1992, Olympia:  No Snow
1993, Olympia:  No Snow
1994, Olympia:  No Snow
1995, Olympia:  No Snow
1996, Olympia:  No Snow
1997, Olympia:  No Snow
1998, Olympia:  No Snow
1999, Comodoro Rivadavia:  It’s Summer in Argentina
2000, Plottier:  It’s Summer in Argentina
2001, Olympia:  No Snow
2002, Olympia:  No Snow
2003, Olympia:  No Snow
2004, Olympia:  No Snow
2005, Olympia:  No Snow
2006, Olympia:  No Snow
2007, Olympia:  Holy crap, a smattering of snow that didn’t stick to the ground!
2008, Grafenwohr:  No snow
2009, Olympia:  No Snow

Dang, that’s a lot of Christmases.

One crazy day.

Earlier this week Carolyn asked me if I would watch the girls on Saturday afternoon while she and Dave went to the temple with the youth.  I was happy to do it for her knowing this will probably be her last trip to the temple in a good long while (the baby is due late next month).  Landon had spent the night and he and grandpa headed off to run some errands.  Regan came over and we chatted (mainly Regan talking to me that is).  Lacy and Rose were dropped off about noon and then the fun began.  I fixed the girls some lunch and they played for a while.  Grandpa got home with Landon, they had gone to MacDonald’s for lunch. 

The fun really started when Leslie showed up early in the afternoon and wanted to sew the skirts for Lacy and Rose.  At least I had cleaned up the sewing room from making place-mats the night before and that morning.  Leslie started cutting cloth and I started sewing and pressing seams open.  We decided that we really need a serger to do this right.  We did the best we could with the equipment we had.  With all that cutting and sewing we were pretty busy  And let’s not forget grandpa who had the task of keeping the children from destroying the house.  We had 5 children 6 and under that he had to entertain, feed, and watch.  All was fine until he had to get ready to go out with the young men and women to deliver Christmas baskets to ward members at about 6 PM.  That was when things got crazy, the baby sitter was gone.  We were doing really well until someone yelled that Cooper had taken off his diaper and peed on the floor.  I think the child is ready to be potty trained if he doesn’t want to pee in his diaper and is able to get it off before he starts the water works.

Carolyn and Dave arrived after 6 and stayed a while as we finished up the elastic waist on the last skirt.  We now have three little girls who have twirly Christmas skirts to wear.  They should all be lovely tomorrow in church. 

We ended up going out to dinner because we were hungry and too tired to cook.  I broke my rule of not eating a meal after 7 PM and am now paying the price.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to get to sleep.  I hate that about me!  Guess I will stay up and do some cleaning.  Hope I don’t disturb Dale, he has a 7 AM meeting tomorrow morning.

My stage debut.

Tonight was the Relief Society Christmas party and it was lovely.  The decorations were beautiful.  Many of us brought nativity sets from home for display and there were some beautiful ones there including two of mine, my Polish nativity and one I got at the Nuremberg Christmas market.  The nativities were on the tables for display, along with evergreen branches, electric tea lights, strings of lights and yards of tulle. 

The food was very good and not typical for a Christmas dinner.  We had fruit to begin, then chicken cutlets with either marinara or Alfredo sauce, noodles and a yummy salad.  For dessert there was a chocolate fountain with fruit or sweets to be covered in chocolate.  Everything is better if it is covered in chocolate. 

The program consisted of several women who assumed the role of a woman at the time of the saviors birth, including Elizabeth, Mary and others.   It was nicely done and very touching. I was asked to take the part of the mother of Joseph, I even had a costume that I had made several years ago.  

The evening was successful, everyone enjoyed the entertainment.  We all enjoyed being served by some of the men in the ward.  We also had some men who served in the nursery so moms who had no one to mind the children at home could enjoy it with us.  There was a very different feeling at this party.  The ward party was a little disappointing because we never talked about the birth of Christ.  It was a great party and lots of fun but…

So I have found that a successful and satisfying church Christmas party needs to include appropriate seasonal music, decorations that are tasteful and remind us of the birth of the Savior, food that is yummy and entertainment that reminds us of what we are celebrating.  Sounds easy, but I’m sure it is not.  I do not enjoy planning parties, I am glad someone else planned this one.  It was lovely, thanks to all.  I did my bit and helped clean up.  I can do that very well.

Christmas gifts…

According to my calculations, I think this is the exchange for this Christmas:
  • Dale gives to Kurt
  • Les gives to Dale
  • Carolyn gives to Les
  • Mark gives to Carolyn
  • Kurt gives to Mark

Let’s keep it simple, inexpensive, and thoughtful.  No gift cards, homemade is encouraged.

A previous post has the exchange for funnies.

CAN’T WAIT!

Preparations

It is not too early to think about feasting during the season of Christmas.  I have sample menus for meals and would appreciate input from the family.  I have decided we will eat a big meal on Christmas Eve and then just snack on Christmas day.  It will save us from having to miss out on all the fun on Christmas day and to be able to concentrate on feeling the Christmas spirit instead of just feeling tired. 

Christmas Eve dinner will be: Ham, scalloped potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, favorite salad, tossed salad, rolls and a dessert to be determined.

Christmas Day will be: Clam dip, Cheese ball, chili cheese dip, creamy Southwestern chicken dip, pina colada dip, pumpkin dessert dip, sandwiches, crudites, spiced nuts and desserts to be determined. 

I am hoping Dale wouldn’t mind doing the “bar” again.  That was so much fun.  If anyone has any ideas buy drink ingredients and we will have our drinkmeister mix them for us.  I will try to find a punch bowl for the popular sherbet drink. 

Mark, you can make whatever you want when you get here.  If you need special ingredients and you won’t get here until late on Christmas eve just let me know and I can shop for you.

Kurt, we are depending on you for the uplifting music, and whatever else you want to provide for our evening and day of fun.  You don’t have to be with us the whole time if you get over stimulated (that goes for all the bachelors). 

Leslie and Carolyn, let me know if there are special recipes you want to have for either day, and Carolyn let me know which day you will be in Shelton.

We will have a Christmas eve program which will involve singing and hopefully some musical presentations by the grandchildren.  I am trying to assemble some costumes for our pageant. 

Let me know what I have forgotten here.  I am sure you all have wonderful ideas, so post them.  This will be our forum for planning.

On Christmas day I want some stations set up downstairs for fun.  A table for games and one for puzzles and maybe something else.  Let me know what you want.

Advent

Today is December the first, the beginning of the countdown to Christmas.  Sunday was actually the beginning of Advent, four Sundays before Christmas.  Germans make a bigger deal about Advent.  I didn’t know what it was until well into my adulthood because we don’t make a big deal of it in church.  It’s a shame that we don’t do more with advent, besides opening the little doors of an advent calendar and consuming the chocolate behind the door.  We miss out on a lot of anticipation without Advent.

Each activity that we enjoy should have an advent period attached where we think about and anticipate that activity, whether it be a family vacation, a birthday, or a made-up holiday (why not?).

Dale’s birthday is this month, I am not only looking forward to and anticipating Christmas, but also the birth of my eternal companion.  I think I shall read some of his dad’s journal this month and look at baby pictures of my husband.  I don’t want his birthday to slip by unnoticed.  Any other ideas out there?  There will be feasting and gift giving for both events.  I am looking for an unusual way to let my husband and family know how much I love and appreciate the man who is my best friend and eternal companion.