Monday, December 22, 2008

How do you get two adults, three kids, five suitcases and WAY too many Christmas presents in the car?

Weather report doesn't look good for Illinois and Missouri tomorrow, and since we're supposed to drive across both states, B and I have made an executive decision. We're leaving today.

Know what that means?

Pack like crazy. Pray the laundry in the dryer actually gets dry. Hope the Christmas shopping is done. Drink copious amounts of caffeine. And head on out.

We'll be enjoying sunny, and hopefully warmer-than-here, Dallas for Christmas. I'm not taking my laptop and won't be blogging, so check back with me around New Year's Eve.

And have a wonderful time celebrating the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seven Quick Takes Friday

I’m joining Jen’s group today to give you 7 Quick Takes from my week. Hop on over to Conversion Diary . . . after you've read mine!

-1-

I’ve never been an athlete . . . or a photographer . . . but I sure wish I had had a camera with me when I visited the 5th grade gym class this week. Parents were invited to come play volleyball with their child’s class during gym time and, of course, I was summoned by the queen. I couldn’t even come up with a lame excuse to miss this one.

So there I was with the 5th grade class and three other suckers parents playing volleyball with a huge, soft, colorful volleyball. And it was fun, by golly. It was fun! The kids got such a kick out of us “old folks” trying to hit the ball and not get hurt. Thankfully, I didn’t fall down or embarrass myself too much.

-2-

The same cannot be said for a couple of other times this week. On the way over to the elementary school for the holiday program I wiped out—with an umbrella in one hand and a bag holding Maggie’s shoes and my video camera in the other hand. Quite unflattering and embarrassing. AND I pulled a muscle in my arm. Oh help me.

Then, yesterday morning, on my way out to the garage with an armful of packages to return to various stores, I wiped out on our driveway. Unfortunately, the Nordstrom bag didn’t fare so well, but thankfully my knees survived.

Let this be a lesson to all you new drivers out there (you know who you are!), snow on top of an inch of ice makes for VERY slippery conditions.

-3-

Costco. Christmas season. Need I say more?

I think, yes.

How on earth can a parking lot with probably 2,000 parking spaces in it be completely filled up? It just didn’t seem possible—and with a week to go until Christmas. But, friends, I’m here to tell you that it IS possible.

Yesterday, on my last day to do errands, I needed a couple of things at Costco. O.K., “needed” is a relative term here--I had coffee cake (have you tasted their coffee cake?!) and croissants on my list. But when I could barely even squeeze the ole’ mini-van into the parking lot, and then, after driving around and finding nary a parking space, I decided that coffee cake and croissants would have to wait. I’ll just have to improvise. There is NO WAY I was going to tackle the store if I couldn’t handle the parking lot, so I turned around and left.

-4-

Is anyone else as paranoid about gift-giving as I am? Just wondering, because every time I buy a gift I think, “I have no idea if this person will like this.”

I wish I could change that about myself.

-5-

I got home from my big day of errand running to find the strangest sight in the middle of our street—packages strewn about . . . in the middle of the street! I wasn’t sure what to do, but I stopped my car and opened the door to check them out. Both were being shipped through FedEx and both were being delivered to the same street in our town. One box, I could see, contained a ham because the box had broken open and the ham was falling out.

Obviously the FedEx man had taken the corner a little too quickly; I’m guessing the back door of his truck may not have been closed.

So, being the good citizen that I am, I put the packages in my car, pulled into my driveway, and took them into my house. Both of the names on the packages were, thankfully, in the phone book, so I called both numbers. (I did NOT want to have to deal with FedEx!) The one person who called me back was so happy to get her package from L.L. Bean that she had her husband drive over immediately to pick it up.

He took the ham with him and was, I think, going to deliver it to their neighbor. Unless they needed something for their Christmas dinner.

-6-

In case you hadn’t heard, we had a snow storm last night. Well, it was kind of like a sleet storm here—I woke up all night to the sound of little sleety pelts hitting the window. So, no school today for the kiddos, which is a true bummer because the older two were supposed to finish up finals today (now they have to wait until the day after break) and my youngest was supposed to have her Christmas, oh—excuse me—holiday party at school. Youngest is obviously sad; older two are obviously rejoicing (until January 4 when they realize they have to study for finals again!).

So we’re dealing with snow and ice and REALLY cold temps over the weekend. GRRR. (Note: I don’t want to fall into the I’m-constantly-complaining-about-the-weather-on-my-blog thing. It’s just an anomaly, I promise.)

But would someone please tell my family in Dallas to stop telling me it’s going to be 75 there today?!?! Enough already!

-7-

We absolutely love our little elementary school; it is the most precious place. It’s the smallest elementary school in town with only two classes per grade, so we pretty much know everyone there. It’s two blocks away from our house, so all of my girls have spent countless hours walking to and from school. And it is filled with the most wonderful families and teachers you could ever ask for.

Anyway, this has been a year of “lasts” for us since Maggie is in 5th grade. The last first day of school. The last Halloween parade. The last curriculum night. And this week was our last Holiday Program.

I have to admit that, as I listened to the kids singing “Up on the Housetop” and as I watched some of Maggie’s dearest friends dress up as elves to do a dance, I got a little nostalgic for that dear place. And I was especially thankful for our music teacher (and for our principal who allowed it) who finished up the evening with everyone singing “Silent Night.” I had tears in my eyes as I saw my neighbors and friends (some of whom are Jewish and Muslim) singing about the true meaning of Christmas. Hey, it is what it is—there should be no denying it. The spirit of unity was amazing, and our common love for that sweet little school brought us together.

We will certainly miss it next year when Maggie leaves that place.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Caution: Spoiler Alert

I'm going to tell you about Santa. If you don't want to know the truth, don't keep reading.

O.K., I admit it, we played Santa with our kids when they were little. It was fun. It was harmless. Don't judge me, please.

I had determined when they were born that I would not lie to my children--about anything. Of course, you might be thinking that even playing Santa for your kids is a form of lying. Semantics, I say. Anyway, I had decided that if questions started coming up about Santa, I would answer them as truthfully as I could. I would even tell "the secret" if pushed.

About five years ago, I had the last "Santa talk" with Maggie.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was shortly after Christmas, and the girls and I were at the local mall, probably exchanging a sweater for something more useful. At any rate, the time came for lunch and we headed to our favorite place to eat in the mall--A & W--where you can not only get a frosty mug of root beer, but you can also get your complete fat intake for the week in one chili cheese dog. Heaven.

So we were sitting at one of their "high" tables with the stools, happily munching on fries and sipping ice cold root beer when Maggie blurted out, "Mom, is Santa Claus real?"

I think I spewed root beer all over the table. Where was this coming from?

So I started "the talk" as I had started with each of my older girls. "Maggie, I am not going to lie to you. Are you sure you want to know?"

"Yes, I think so," was her reply. I've found, after having been through this three times, that they usually don't ask the question until they pretty much know the answer.

So we trudged forward.

"You're sure? Because if you're sure, I'm going to tell you."

"Yes, Mom! I'm sure."

"O.K." I said. And then I simply and slowly shook my head.

Quietly, her reply came. "I thought so," she said.

"Are you sad?" I asked.

"Kind of," she said with tears forming in her beautiful brown eyes. "But I kind of knew it was you. Santa's handwriting looks just like yours. Why didn't you try to disguise it?"

Good question, I thought. But the reason I never tried to disguise it, I told her, was because I sort of wanted them to figure it out. The whole Santa thing was fun, but didn't need to be carried on until they were teenagers. I figured by the time they were five or six they would put two-and-two together.

We sat in silence for a minute, and then came Maggie's next question. "Mom, does that mean you're also the tooth fairy?"

"Oh, Maggie, I'm so sorry. Yes," was all I said.

I could feel her world shifting beneath her, and I felt so terrible that there was nothing I could do about it. Things were changing for my baby, and I couldn't stop it. She would look at the world differently from here on out.

Maggie sat quietly, contemplating.

I sat nervously, awaiting the next question.

"Mom," she finally said, "if you're Santa AND the tooth fairy, . . . then don't even tell me about the Easter Bunny!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Tour of Homes


Well, I'm late to the party, as usual. I hope Boo Mama doesn't mind.

Even though I'm late, I wanted to invite you in to my home and to show you some of my favorite Chrismas decorations.

Let's start in the family room where most of the decorations are anyway. Here's our tree, or at least part of our tree. Last year we got a new tree that's about 9 feet tall, a little on the slim side, and, here's the best part, pre-lit! Consequently, I can't really show you the whole tree at once, but here's the bottom half . . .


And here's the top half . . .


Every year my parents give each of my girls a Lenox ornament which I absolutely love. As their collections have grown, my tree has certainly gotten more beautiful. This year our tree is mostly adorned with these ornaments, and I think it's lovely. Unfortunately, in just a few short years when my girls leave home and take their Lenox ornaments with them, my tree will be seriously lacking.


My mantle is simple this year--just a few greens and pine cones--but I like it that way. The stocking holders are simple silver with candles sitting on top. (And, yes, Thunder gets her own stocking!)


Now, let's take a closer look at one of those stockings. My mom has made one for each of her grandchildren when they were born, and I think they are just about the most beautiful Christmas things we own. The designs are by Mary Beale, who is a cross stitch designer who--I found out after I already had the stockings--lives right down the street from me and who also attends my church! Isn't that weird?!

Anyway, here's Kate's stocking:


If the stockings are my most beautiful Christmas decorations, I'd have to say these little gems are my most treasured. I have a handprint wreath for each of my girls--they made them when they were in preschool, and I absolutely love those little handprints. So precious.


Probably one of the best ideas I had this year was to adorn my transom windows with greenery and candles. I have thirteen transoms in my family room, so it's kind of impressive when you see it. Here's what they look like:




Finally, my sister gave me this little doorknob hanger a few years back. It's a prayer that I pray regularly for our little family. I pray the same for yours.


Have a very merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ho, Ho, Ho . . . Where did the time go?

Well, the holidays are upon us and with that brings cookie baking, party going, and guests arriving.

And very little time for blogging.

So the next few days might seem a little weird around here, as in not-too-much-blogging-going-on, but keep checking back. You might get a little surprise here and there.

I am so excited about this weekend because some people we met in Switzerland who actually live in Spain are coming to visit. I always worry when new people come to visit us because we have this dog, see, and the Wonder Dog is pretty darn friendly. I'm just hoping she won't bowl them over with her "friendliness."

At least she's clean--she spent the ENTIRE day at the groomer spa yesterday because her mama got the drop-off time wrong (showed up an hour early--oops!) and didn't have time to pick her up all day. Good thing she loves beeing cooped up in a cage at the PetSmart.

Anyway, be sure to check back in on Monday because I am taking part in Boo Mama's Annual Christmas Tour of Homes. Not that they are anything special, but I will give you a small peek into our Christmas decorations.

BooMamaChristmasTour

So I'm off to eat cookies and to party with my pals. See you back here on Monday!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quick! Hide the cookies!

When B was a much younger boy, his mom had to hide food. Imagine, a house full of boys and she had to HIDE the food.

In fact, when things got really bad, she resorted to putting a lock on her chest freezer in the basement. (Being an English teacher, I realize that I'm bordering on misplaced modifier in the previous sentence, but GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER! That's my mother-in-law we're talking about.)

Back to business . . .

When I first came into the family and heard stories of all this food-hiding and freezer-locking, I have to admit, I was appalled. Having grown up in a household full of girls who ate just the right amount, no more and no less, and who actually ate slowly then sat around for the conversation after the meal, it was hard to get my brain around B's family's habits. It was a bit of culture shock for me.

After 23 years of living with this boy, however, I have grown to relate to my mother-in-law on a whole new level. The food level.

Last night I had a small plate of cookies sitting out on the counter which were left over from earlier in the day when a couple of ladies stopped by. This statement in itself would just leave B scratching his head. "Cookies . . . left over?" Does not compute.

Anyway, the cookies were sitting on the counter as B came through the door and, as is his custom, he ate one. Before dinner. Oh, don't get me started.

And then he asked, "Is this all you have of these? They're my favorite."

I slyly smiled and shook my head. "No, there are more."

"Where are they?"

"You think I'm telling you? Not a chance, Buddy!" O.K., those exact words probably didn't come out of my mouth, but something like that was implied.

Suddenly, the lightbulb went on in B's head. His eyes got wide, and he turned to look at me. "You're hiding food, aren't you?"

Ya think?!

We're having guests this weekend. OF COURSE I'm hiding food! And not just from B. We also have three daughters who love these cookies too.

And so, in honor of my beloved family who could easily find the cookies if they wanted to (hey, his mother is not the only woman in his life with a chest freezer), I'm giving you the recipe for our favorite Christmas cookies.

These are called Brun Brot, and they are a Swedish cookie which I learned how to make from my dear college roommate, Bonnie. Bonnie was a Swede-of-all-Swedes--too blonde for words. And, thanks to that lovely Swedish complexion, she looks the same today as she did in college.

Every so often Bonnie would grab a pound of butter and make these delicious yummys. I started making them a few years ago, and now my family begs me to make them every year at Christmas. They are so easy to make, I should do them more often than just at Christmas, but for some reason I don't. I want to keep them special.

A couple of weeks ago, when I made my "stash," I actually took pictures to help guide you through the process. So here we go . . .

Brun Brot (Swedish Cookies)

3 sticks of butter, softened
2 Tbs. Karo syrup (light or dark)
2 tsp. almond flavoring
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
3 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
Colored sugar

Mix all ingredients together except the colored sugar. (Bonnie says it works best if you do it by hand. I'm a bit funny when it comes to stuff like that, so I use a mixer. You do whatever you like.)

Place on a cookie sheet in 4-6 long ropes. Barely pat down the tops of the ropes and sprinkle with colored sugar.

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until barely brown.

This is how they look when they come out of the oven.


After the ropes have been out of the oven for just a few minutes, cut them into strips. (Don't let them get too cool or they won't cut easily.)


Here's how they look when they're done.


Enjoy!

And hide them, quick!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Are YOU Second?

Well, I've been trying to get to the 'ole blog all day today, but with all the excitement in the Late Great State of Illinois, I was pretty much glued to the T.V. Well, that and a field trip and the usual running of kids everywhere. Then throw in some Christmas cookie baking and you have a full-fledged DAY.

But I really wanted to share this video with you. (Of course, it took me a while to figure out how to "embed" a video into my blog. I tell you, this blog really keeps me on my toes!)

Anyhoo . . .

As some of you know, our family got into American Idol last season. I even "suffered" through the reunion concert here in Chicago last summer just to see our favorite Idol, Jason Castro. Gotta love those dreads!



Anyway, my darling neice, Kira, who attends the same large university that Jason did down in Texas (go Aggies!), sent me this video via Facebook. I loved it so much, I wanted to share it with all of you. It takes a few minutes to watch, but it is so worth it.



And this is just the reason that I now adore Jason Castro even more.

"I Am Second" is a new internet project, and it's beautiful. You can find out more about the project, and you can watch several other stories by some famous and some not-so-famous people by clicking here.

Basically, the premise of "I Am Second" is this: If Jesus Christ is first in my life, then I am second.

And I suppose that if we took this idea a little further and counted the other people in our lives before ourselves, maybe this could become the "I Am Third . . . or Fourth . . . or Fifth" project. Wouldn't it be great if more of us lived our lives like that?

Monday, December 8, 2008

And the winner is . . .

I've been working all morning on a post, but I have to learn some new bloggy stuff first, and it's taking a while. SOOOO, I thought I'd go ahead and announce the winner of this weekend's giveaway.

Congratulations to Busymom who is the winner of my Cool Christmas Giveaway. She has won a $25 gift card to either Borders or Barnes & Noble (her choice).

If this was your first visit to my Life on the Wild Side, please come back for another visit sometime. I'd love to get to know you. And if you've been here before, please come back again . . . and leave me a comment next time! I love comments.

Thanks for playing, everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cool Christmas Giveaway



Welcome to those of you who have popped over from Lysa TerKeurst's blog to participate in the Cool Christmas Giveaway. I'm so excited to participate in my very first giveaway. If you're new here, please feel free to look around and definitely stop back again sometime.

So here's the deal . . . we are big into books at our house. Most (ahem!) of us love to read, so I thought the most appropriate thing for me to give away would be books. So, I'm giving away a $25 gift certificate to either Borders or Barnes and Noble (you can choose) so you can get some good books and READ.

All you have to do is leave me a comment (along with your email address so I can get in touch with you if you win) telling me one of two things: either the best book you've read lately OR your favorite holiday movie. We've been talking about both topics lately around here, so I'd love your input as well. I'll choose the winner on Sunday night and post the name on Monday morning.

Thanks again for stopping by, and have a very Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Anything for ratings



Since I'm such the blogger now (yeah, right, I hardly think of myself that way), I thought it would be fun to participate in a couple of holiday bloggy things. (Good sentence, huh? You'd never know I used to be an English teacher.)

Anyway, tomorrow Lysa TerKeurst is hosting a Cool Christmas Giveaway, and I've decided to play. Primarily because I love Lysa, but also because this is just the time of year to give stuff away. So check back tomorrow to see what I've come up with. We'll both be surprised!

The second "bloggy thing" I'm going to participate in will happen on December 15 when Sophie at Boo Mama is hosting a virtual Christmas open house of sorts. So come back on the 15th to get a little glimpse of what the Wild household looks like at Christmas.

BooMamaChristmasTour

Jingle Jingle, everybody!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Strange Coincidences?

Sometimes things happen and you end up scratching your head thinking, "Hmmm, now was that a coincidence or what?!" I've started looking at these "coincidences" a little more deeply lately, and I'm beginning to think there is no such thing as a coincidence.

Here are a couple of examples:

Through this blog I became involved with Inspired Bliss and through Inspired Bliss I became acquainted a little bit with the other women who are writing devotionals. One gal, Michelle, sent me an email one day asking if my husband was related to a family her husband knew when he was growing up. Turns out, it WAS my husband's family. I learned from Michelle that my father-in-law taught Sunday School to her husband when he was young, and my brother-in-law (B's brother) had a great influence on Michelle's husband when he was in high school (still following me?). Michelle's husband is a pastor today. The little "coincidence" of my writing a devotional for a fairly random blog ended up being a nice encouragement in that I got to "meet" Michelle and hear about how my husband's family influenced her husband.

Today Michelle sent me a note on Twitter that said, "BTW Thanksgiving conversation revolved around the W's and your wedding. Apparently my in-laws were all there. :)" The coincidences continue, right? I just thought it was interesting that I would start writing for a website, meet this girl, and find out how closely involved her husband's and my husband's families were. I hope I have a chance to meet her someday. And there won't be anything coincidental about it.

The second "coincidence" happened just this morning as I was speaking to a group of women at our church. I had known for weeks that part of my talk would be centered around John 3:16, but I hadn't really mentioned that to anyone. Well, just before it was my turn to speak a group of 3-5 year olds got up to sing a few songs and to say the Bible verse they had been learning this semester. You guessed it . . . they recited John 3:16!

I must have sat there with my mouth hanging open. Was it a coincidence that those kids would recite John 3:16 just before I was to go up and speak on John 3:16? I think not. I really think there is no such thing as coincidence.

And I think God is very cool for doing that this morning.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Wanna win a computer or four?

Gear Live is giving away over $6,000 worth of computer products, including four, count 'em, FOUR laptops of various sorts. And here's the cool thing--they are asking whoever wins to give a part of their prize away. Believe me, this prize is so good you'll have plenty to share. Click here to find out more.

Who would you give part of your prize to?

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Snow

Talk about a rude awakening! Here's what I woke to this morning. I took these pictures at 7:00 a.m.--right after I took my two oldest to school.



All I can say is that it's a good thing it's beautiful out there or I might just think this came a tad too early this year.



And, yes, here's my one attempt at being artistic with a camera. I'm no photographer, that's for sure, but it wasn't hard to capture a pretty picture this morning.



Time to hunker down. Looks like it's going to be a LONG winter.