Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Well, its almost here! Just a couple of days until Christmas. Fortunately, I'm finished with my Christmas shopping and most of my gifts have been wrapped. Now I just have tons of house cleaning to do to prepare for my visitors on Christmas Eve.

Whenever you are entertaining friends and family in your home, there is so much preparation. From cleaning the house to preparing the food, there is just so much to be done. Sometimes it can be stressful, but I really enjoy having my friends and family in my home, so it is worth the work. I'm trying not to let myself get frazzled thinking about all I need to do between now and Wednesday.

Christmas has always been such a joyous time for me. As a child I can remember feeling sad on Christmas Day after the gifts were unwrapped. When you are a child, you spend all year counting down the days until Christmas, and then it is over before you know it. As an adult, I am able to appreciate the entire day spending time with my family.

I've been frustrated for the last few years around Christmas because the "politically correct" mob is trying to take Christ out of Christmas. They want to remove any reference to Christ, so now they have "Holiday Parties" in school instead of Christmas Parties. My mother works for the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) in their Childcare Enrichment Program, and they aren't even allowed to put up a Christmas Tree unless they also put up items celebrating Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. The YMCA is a non-profit Christian organization, and even they have cowered under the pressure from the PC mob. Why would anyone be offended to see a Christmas Tree if they have enrolled their children for childcare at a Christian organization?

The PC mob wants to remove all references to Christ and/or religion from the public eye. We have to stand up and let them know that in this country we have FREEDOM OF RELIGION as well as FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Don't let them remove every reference to Christ from the public eye. I encourage you to tell others "Merry Christmas." I know that I would never be personally offended if someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanzaa. So why should they be offended if I wish them a Merry Christmas? We have to stand up for our Religious Freedoms before they are taken away from us entirely.

This problem has been really bugging me more and more in recent years. I won't let the PC mob take away my freedoms, and you shouldn't either, regardless of your personal beliefs.

Okay, so I've had my rant for the day.

Christmas will be over before you know it, so make sure you take some time to appreciate the joy of the season.

Have a Merry Christmas!
Waves Crashing

Waves Rolling In

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why Does the Cold & Flu Season Coincide with the Holiday Season?

The past two weeks have been pretty miserable for me. I'm just getting over a terrible cold and now my husband has the same cold. Why does cold & flu season have to coincide with the Holiday Season? Last year, I was very, very sick over Thanksgiving weekend. This year I'm sick right before Christmas. It is difficult to get everything done when you are mentally and physically exhausted from being sick. I'm sure I'll make it through somehow.

Other than being sick, another thing on my mind this Christmas is the economy. There are so many people out of a job this Christmas. I just pray that the economy will improve soon. My husband and I are fortunate in that we still have jobs; however, we have been affected by the economy also. I don't think either of us got a salary increase this year. My company dropped our annual Christmas luncheon and Christmas bonus this year. Normally, we get a 1/2 day off work and the company pays for everyone to have a nice lunch together. We also usually get a $100 Visa gift card. We aren't getting those things this year. Two of my close friends were "downsized" recently, so overall the atmosphere in the office is pretty depressing. My husband usually gets a Christmas bonus too, but that isn't happening either.

Even though our pockets are empty this Christmas, I can still be thankful for for many things. I'm thankful for my wonderful husband. I am thankful for my family and friends. I'm thankful that I have a job and transportation to get to my job. I'm thankful that I have a warm bed to sleep in at night, food to eat, water to drink, and clothing to wear. I'm very thankful for all of these blessings and many more.

I am most thankful for the greatest gift that was ever given, and that is Jesus Christ. People often get so wrapped up in the gift giving and receiving that they forget the real reason for Christmas. This year, take some time to appreciate the gift of eternal life that was given to us by Jesus. He sacrificed is own life so that we could spend eternity in Heaven with Him. We shouldn't take that gift for granted as we celebrate His birth.

Merry Christmas and God Bless!
Grazing Deer

Kentucky State Bird

Cardinal Framed by Tree

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Survey

I was reading a blog that I frequent ( and she had a survey regarding Christmas on one of her recent posts. I thought it was a great way to get to know people, so I'm posting it here as well.

Eggnog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate. I've never been a fan of eggnog.

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa wraps them unless it is a really large gift, like a bike. Those gifts he just leaves unwrapped under the tree.

White or multi-colored lights on tree/house?
I love multi-colored lights on my tree and house.

Do you hang mistletoe?
Sometimes. I didn't this year, but I did last year.

When do you put your decorations up?
The day after Thanksgiving. My mother, my sister, my aunt, and I get up early on Black Friday and do some shopping. I usually come home and take a nap and then I put up the tree. However, this year I got out the tree and the decorations but I was too exhausted to put the tree up. I put it up on Saturday morning instead.

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
I think I was around 7 or 8 years old. We were living in a small two-bedroom apartment (we being my parents, my sister, and myself) and my entire family was sleeping over for Christmas (entire family being my grandparents, my mom's siblings with their spouses, and their children: about 12 additional people). All of the kids were sleeping in my room on the floor. The adults were sleeping on the beds and sleeper sofa. It was a packed house. We usually did this every year, but we rotated between our house, my grandparents house, and my aunt's house. I was really excited waiting for Christmas morning to arrive. I couldn't sleep so I got up and went to go get something to drink from the kitchen. I saw my parents and my aunts bringing presents in from the cars outside. That is when I knew there was no Santa. I was completely crushed! I guess I must have suspected it for a while, but when I saw them carrying gifts and the surprised look on their faces when they saw me, it confirmed my suspicions.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
Multi-colored lights, gold garland, various glittery ornaments along with a few traditional, solid-colored balls, with a gold, glittery bow with streamers as a topper.

Snow! Love it or dread it?
Love it. I live in Kentucky and we have fairly cold winters here; however, we don't get a whole lot of snow. We'll have flurries a few times during the winter and maybe two or three times we may actually get 2 or 3 inches of snow. Once every few years we might get 4 or 5 inches. About every 10 years we'll have a good snow of 8 to 10 inches.

Do you remember your favorite gift?
My favorite gift was my camera, but I got that for my birthday. My favorite gift as a kid is a tie between my first bicycle (with a Pink Panther banana seat) or my first computer (Commodore 64 - remember those! lol You had to purchase an external floppy drive that used those big disks to really do anything with the computer).

What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?
Getting together with my family.

What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Pecan Pie with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Yum!

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I love all of it. My family used to do a gift exchange on Christmas Eve. On Thanksgiving Day everyone would put their names in a bowl and each person would draw a name. This gift would be opened on Christmas Eve. I think our grandparents devised this as a way to keep the kids from asking over and over if they could open "just one gift." When my sister and I were kids we would wake up early in the morning and go stare at the Christmas Tree. We had to wait until 7am before we could wake up my parents. We also had to have a pot of coffee brewed for my Mom and a Diet Pepsi for Dad. My sister would wake up really early and then she would wake me up. I would start thinking about opening the presents and I couldn't go back to sleep. There were a couple of years where she got up around 4 am. Waiting 3 hours when your a kid who wants to open gifts seems like an eternity!

What tops your tree?
A hand-made bow with streamers that extend down the length of the tree.

Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?
Everyone love to get gifts. I love to give, especially when I've picked out a gift that I know someone is going to be excited about getting.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
I love them all! I burn an mp3 CD with over a hundred Christmas songs by various artists and play it over and over in my car. While I'm at work, I listen to a local radio station that plays Christmas music all through December

Candy canes?
I have a couple on my tree but I don't usually eat them (unless they are chocolate or fruit flavored).

Favorite Christmas movie?
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - hands down.

What do you leave for Santa?
When I was a kid we would leave out cookies and milk. Since I don't have any kids right now, Santa doesn't come to our house so I don't leave anything for him.

I'd love to hear about your Christmas traditions.

I've been really sick this week with a severe head/chest cold with a sore throat and an ear infection in each ear (happens every time I get a cold or sinus infection). It has been a real bummer. There were some things I wanted to get finished this week (like maybe doing some more shopping and wrapping a few gifts), but I've been too sick to get them done. I hope I get well soon so I can really enjoy the Christmas season!

My Christmas Tree This Year

Poinsettia Ornament

Bow Ornament

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Grand Canyon

On February 14, 2006 (my wedding anniversary), my husband and I took a drive from his parents' house in Tucson, Arizona to The Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona. My husband was born and raised in Arizona, so he had seen The Grand Canyon. Although I lived in Tucson for two years, I had never ventured more than 100 miles from Tucson. Being a photography addict, of course I would want to photograph The Grand Canyon!

We drove approximately 350 miles to Tusayan, Arizona (just south of the park entrance) and checked into the Holiday Inn Express. Then we started driving towards the park. I was so excited to see The Grand Canyon. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. As we got closer to the rim of the canyon I caught a glimpse of it through the trees. My heart began to race. We parked and walked to the edge of the canyon. I remember standing there, looking at the immensity of the canyon with tears glistening in my eyes. The view was breathtaking. I took hundreds of photos.

We drove back to Tusayan where we watched an IMAX movie about how The Grand Canyon was found by explorers. After the movie, we walked outside and noticed that the sun was setting (see the photo titled "Sunset in Northern Arizona" under the post titled "Clouds."). I decided to drive back into the park to take some photos of the canyon at sunset. After taking a few hundred more photos, we went back into town and had a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant adjoining a hotel in Tusayan. I had bison for dinner. I don't recall what my husband had. During the dinner there were Native Americans performing traditional dances and playing music. It was an amazing day.

The next morning we drove up to the rim of the canyon so I could take more photos (of course). It was freezing cold with gusty winds and I was dressed in carpi pants (which are totally suitable for Southern Arizona weather in February, not so much for Northern Arizona weather!). I could hardly pull myself away. I took photo after photo even though my hands were numb from the cold. My husband had retreated to the car. He finally had to come and coerce me to get back in the car.

I will never forget that first glimpse of The Grand Canyon. That moment is forever etched in my memory. As a photography addict, I live for those moments when you are able to capture something so amazing with the lens of your camera. I want to share that moment with you.

The South Rim of The Grand Canyon

Red Canyon Walls

The Cliff's Edge