It's Friday, and although I am in the middle of posting my silly version of the Twelve Days of Christmas, I am posting my Fave Fives because I think it is important to remember to be grateful every day, every week. The link to Susanne's Friday Fave Five is here.
Ah, Christmas! A time for family, festivities and my faith.
1. As a Christian, I love Christmas. Advent may be my favorite season. This year I have been reading through the Cetlic Night Prayers each evening and have found great joy and hope in them.
2. We are a bookish family, all of us from the littlest to the oldest. These photos are an excellent example of of our joy and love of receiving books for Christmas--our favorite present!
3. We like to be silly too.
4. And we love our super heroes.
5. We don't own large homes so when our family gathers together in one spot, we really can't have all of us sleeping on sofas, under tables or in the bathtubs. So I am deeply grateful for two family friends who offered the loan of their homes to us during our stay in San Diego. It's a win-win situation: we have a place to stay and they have house guests who look after their cat while they are gone visiting their families in other places.
I hope you had a lovely Christmas! And Happy New Year to you! See you next year.
Tonight I am writing my Fave Fives from my daughter's home near the Mexican border. The Christmas tree is decorated with white lights, gold ribbons and red and white striped candy canes. Little ones are asleep, dreaming of tomorrow when The Boy and His Mama arrive to play with them. I am still awake and remembering my week with thankfulness and gratitude. Susanne's FFF link is here.
1. Christmas Break really and truly arrived at Willow's Cottage on Wednesday afternoon when The Professor posted grades, closed his office door, and heaved a sigh of relief. It was a long semester with a heavy schedule.
2. Although our drive south to my daughter's was longer than usual, we had delightful company in the back seat. Number Two Son is here and his best friend accompanied us because they decided to spend the night with their old roomies who now live in this area. I loved listening to their discussions about mitochondria, DNA, genomes, and finances. In addition they were passing the laptop back and forth playing a games against each other while they were discussing their battle strategies and plans. Highly amusing.
3. Another thing that amuses me is watching for out of state license plates. We live near the Camino Real (commonly known as Hwy 101) connects us to The 405 and The 5 Freeways. These freeways carry cars from all over the country. On the trip from my home to my daughter's, I saw many states represented including, but not limited to, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, New York, Montana, Texas, Baja California and Nevada. I have always noticed state plates and enjoy wondering WHY those people in the car are driving HERE when they are from THERE.
4. On the 5 South Freeway, after you pass San Juan Capistrano, you swing south and crest a hill where the Pacific Ocean bursts into view. After that turn, you follow the Pacific Ocean coastline all the way to San Diego. Part of the way all that separates you from the beach is a bluff covered with bushes and grasses. We decided that the sunset view of San Clemente Island silhouetted against the yellow and orange sky and deep dark ocean is certainly one of the fifty most beautiful spots in the world, if not in the top twenty.
5. Happy cries of "It's Meema and Bapa!" greeted us. That's almost as wonderful as "Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad!"
And so I wish you ALL a Very Merry Christmas! Hug your family and keep them close.
Good Morning! It's Friday! This morning I slouched and slumped around in my jammies because I had nowhere to go. It's an at home kind of day. This kind of day makes me happy. Since I'm thinking of happy things, it will be easy to post Friday Fave Fives which is hosted every week by Susanne.
1. It rained this week. Two Days. Here in Southern California, rain is an EVENT because we don't get much of it. Fortunately, this week's precipitation was not the typical torrential blast from the heavens. It was more like garden hose misting rain. I won't bore you with a photo of the rain. We've all seen rain, right?
2. Christmas break has begun for me. Three weeks. Let the celebrations begin!
3. The last week of class before Christmas is always fun. Returning students always know that I am going to assign one short paragraph for the three week break. They are required to write a thank you note to someone for a gift they receive for Christmas or Hanukkah. I've told you before how much fun my students are. Collectively, we wrote a sample thank you note which always makes me laugh--really? a pink and blue polka dotted scarf? a bow and arrow to play Hunger Games?
4. My students are generous. Goodies such as Reindeer Mix, See's Chocolates, homemade granola, vegan cookies and Starbucks gift cards were presented. They know me! They also know that if I assign them a thank you note to write, I must do what I say. They know I will be writing them a thank you note and using the EXACT same format and style I assign to them. Actually, I enjoy it and have fun with it.
5. HOWEVER. All those sweet yummies sit in my kitchen, calling to me day and night, morning and afternoon. Eat Me. Eat Me. To counter the calorie overload, I decided to join friends on facebook in making healthy choices at Christmas. No, I'm not giving away the cookies and candy. I'm adding more exercise into my day. So--for every cookie, candy, goodie I consume, I am doing twenty jumping jacks. No, I'm not going to tell how many jumping jacks I've already logged this week.
The photos are of the Christmas stockings I have knitted for every adult member of the family. They each chose colors and motifs to make their stocking personal. The grandkids's stockings are next and will hopefully be finished by Christmas morning in time to be stuffed with little pressies.
A bonus: evidently, you can't have too many pictures of cute quail.
And now we are Counting Down the Days until Christmas! One more Fave Five, ten more days!
It's much too late this weekend to post Friday Fave Fives, but still I want to write about Five Favorites. It's good discipline to focus on Gratitude all the time, not just at Thanksgiving and not just on Friday.
1. My Christmas celebrations began last week when my Army Reserve Chaplain son changed back into his civvies. He's home.
2. Then the festivities continued. Number Two Son flew safely halfway around the world and is currently very soundly asleep in the guest room bed. Plane was on time, parking at LAX was a breeze, and #2 Son will be here for Christmas.
3. A class project resulted in this cinquain (with a slight change by me):
Grumpy as Scrooge
Stole, hid lights and presents
Sad and mad at Christmas and Whos
4. Several lines on my To Do List were crossed off, the majority of them knitting projects. Some of the hats in this photo are packaged and ready to be mailed off to Chicago to warm the heads of children there. Others were sold and the proceeds are designated for Generate Hope.
5. I received a discount on books I purchased this week because I am a teacher. I had forgotten about it and so it was a happy and unexpected surprise.
I finally caved to google and paid the monthly storage fee for photos. Thanks to two bloggers I contacted who gave me the same advice: just pay it. My other options were to stop blogging altogether, spend the time deleting old photos from previous posts, or move to another blog. While I am a frugal person by nature, I chose to pay the charge because, frankly, I enjoy blogging and posting photos, and it is worth the small amount of money I have to invest each month.
Without further ado, here are photos from my recent trip to Arizona. Just because I can.
Mogollon Rim viewed from the south at 6,400 feet elevation
Five Times Twenty-nine equals Friday Fave Five. On this 29th day of November, I am continuing to post my list of gratitude and thankfulness for Thanksgiving Month.
1. I am near the end of my research for a solution to the No Photos Allowed Debaucle. Thanks to friends who have given advice when I've asked, I may be Back In Photo Business soon.
2. Gifted. A friend knew I was looking for a side table that matched my living room decor. She is stream-lining her furniture and offered me a sleek teak table that's exactly the right height. It's perfect.
3. This week I have overcome one of my irrational dislikes. Normally, I won't walk in the rain. I'm not a rain person because I dislike getting soaked and cold. Southern California rain storms can drench you to the bone through several layers of clothing in five minutes or less. This week's rain has been more mild and gentle. I ventured out twice to walk my neighborhood. In. The. Rain.
4. It's the week after Thanksgiving. You know what that means! Christmas music! (and The Professor says to add Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee)
5. Starbucks Peppermint Mocha. With Soy. No whip.
Thanks to Susanne for hosting Friday Fave Five every week, every month, not just in November.
This evening I am thankful for the rain that has fallen today. I can't believe I wrote that considering I moved from a very rainy Pacific Northwest climate to mediterranean Southern California on purpose. I'm not a rain fan. But today was magical in a damp sort of way.
After teaching, I changed into walking shoes, athletic style pants and a rain resistant windbreaker and walked the paths of the local golf course. Since it was nearly dark, the course was mostly deserted although I did notice four crazy people hitting wet golf balls on the greens. Walking (and singing) in the rain is a wondrous thing. Today's rain wasn't the usual torrents and lashings Southern California normally receives during rain storms. It was the gentle, misty, Pacific Northwest type of precipitation. It made me nostalgic. A little.
#26. Thankful for my two day teaching week. That means I can manage my own time the other three days.
#27. Thankful for the internet. I needed a pattern for making crocheted flowers. Google 'crochet flowers pattern' and presto! I have a myriad of options.
I never said I would be able to keep up the daily pace. I said I'd try. Obviously, interstate travel and daily blogging don't mix. So I grant myself grace to play catch up on writing down my blessings.
#23 Extended family, those people who are related by marriage, bring joy and laughter. I'm thankful that my children married in to happy families.
#24 A safe trip from Phoenix to home. While there are always a few crazy drivers out there on the highways, people just want to travel from point A to point B safely. Stay in your own lane. Don't block traffic. Don't speed. I'm thankful that we arrived home in a record seven hours.
#25 I love walking in to my little cottage after traveling. Although I'm somewhat of a vagabond at heart, I love coming home. I need that grounding of 'a place of my own'. Sunday afternoons spent sitting with a cup of Earl Grey tea, a knitting project, a book, or a good movie is always a joy. Surrounded by the natural beauty of my neighborhood, I love tidying the garden, too.
I recognize that God's grace abounds in His care of my basic needs--food, water, and these days after traveling, the shelter of my home.
One week can include many contrasts. Willow's Week certainly did. I'm thankful for the contrasts in my week because they keep my week interesting. In noting the contrasts, I can also see the blessings which I share as Friday Fave Fives.
1. A visit to California Science Center near downtown Los Angeles contained the longest chronological contrast. The Cleopatra Exhibit focused on the time period of the Century before Christ's birth.
2. On the same visit to CSC, I got up close and personal with the Endeavor Space Shuttle. That's Twenty-first Century.
3-4. Contrasts exist in geology and geography, too. This week I experienced the view from 6400 feet with a 360 degree panorama of the Mogollon Rim in Arizona with its unending pine forests and also the low, hot desert of Palm Springs with the in between of saguarro cactus, manzanitas, and yellow sand. We are spending Thanksgiving weekend in Arizona. My cousin lives in the mountains north of Phoenix (that's where we found the more-than-a-mile-high views) and our son and daughter-in-law live in Phoenix. Both areas are definitely contrasts, although beautiful and enchanting, to my coastal climate along the Pacific Ocean.
5. It may be Thanksgiving but I'm knitting for Christmas. Right now, it's Christmas stockings for each member of the family. Currently, I'm working on stocking #7. (Will I finish by Christmas Morning??)
*I am again experiencing the very annoying difficulty of being unable to post any photos. Much of the enjoyment I derive from blogging comes from sharing my photos, so I am seriously disappointed.*
Linking to Friday Fave Five at Susanne's blog here.
Thankful for so much!
For a safe trip from home to Northern and Central Arizona.
For a beloved cousin who waited up for us to arrive at 11pm.
For her husband who gave us the Payson and environs grand tour.
For my husband who is my BFF.
The above list merely glosses over the events of the past two days. (Photos later after they are uploaded to the laptop)
I am also thankful that friends included me in their excursion to California Science Center in Los Angeles to view the Cleopatra exhibit and see the Endeavor shuttle in its new hangar.
Instant internet on my phone enables to me keep in constant contact with daughters and sons.
That same cyber access gave us clear directions through the mountains in the dark at 11pm.
I'm thankful for a warm and safe home.
I'm thankful for clean water and indoor plumbing.
I'm thankful for a washing machine and the electricity to run it.
I'm thankful that I am fortunate to live in a pleasant neighborhood.
I could go on and on and on. So much to be thankful for.
Because of a conversation I had this week with my lovely and brilliant TA, I have been thinking about my favorite children's books. She was singing the praises of The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli which she had just finished reading aloud to her younger sister. Of course, I chimed in with the information that the book is one of my ALL TIME FAVES of children's literature.
I have a goal to own and read all of the Newbery Award Books. The award is given yearly to the 'best' children's literature book published that year. A complete list of the Award Books and the Honor Books from 1922 to present can be found HERE. I'm close to reaching my goal needing only twelve books to complete my set. Regularly, I will pull a volume from the bookshelf and read it although there are some books which I reread. Of course, everyone has her favorites.
And so I present to you a list of recommended kids' lit books, just in case you are thinking of purchasing books for a young person for Christmas or you are looking for excellent reading for yourself. These books include but are not limited to my favorites, for how can I choose THE BEST?
Some of Willow's favorite Newbery Award Winners
From oldest to newest:
1929. The Trumpeter of Krakow, Eric P. Kelly
1933. Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze, Elizabeth Lewis
1950. The Door in the Wall, Marguerite de Angeli
1961. Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell
1972. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O'Brien
The Newbery Awards also include Newbery Honor Books, books chosen as 'also rans'. Some years, I have preferred the Honor Books to the story chosen for the Award. But that's just my personal preference.
Some fantastic Honor Books,
From newest to oldest:
1983. Homesick: My Own Story, Jean Fritz
1982. Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Beverly Cleary
1980. The Road from Home: The Story of an Armenian Girl, David Kherdian
1965. Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt
1958. Gone-Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright
Another eight Newbery Honors books, because, you know, you just can't choose five:
1949. My Father's Dragon, Ruth S. Gannett
1947. The Avion My Uncle Flew, Cyrus Fisher, pseud. (Darwin L. Teilhet)
1944. These Happy Golden Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder
1941. Blue Willow, Doris Gates
1941. The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder
1940. By the Shores of Silver Lake, Laura Ingalls Wilder
1938. On the Banks of Plum Creek, Laura Ingalls Wilder
1922. The Golden Fleece and The Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles, Padraic Colum
Did you notice that FOUR of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books won Honors but never won an Award? Who doesn't know and love her tales of settling the West?
Are you familiar with any of these children's books? Which ones would you recommend to give as gifts this Christmas? I am linking this to Susanne's Friday Fave Five although I just couldn't limit myself to five.
Also, this is my #15 post of Thankfulness: I'm thankful for the abundance of great children's literature available for adults' and children's reading pleasure.
On Veteran's Day, I must share two things for which I'm thankful.
I'm thankful for the men and women who we remember this day, those Americans who have served in the US military. Specifically, I think of those close to me, my husband who is a Vietnam vet, my son who is an Army chaplain currently deployed, my USMC son-in-law (semper fi!), my dad, father-in-law, and uncles who all served during World War II. THANK YOU!
Also, today is the sixth anniversary of my son and daughter-in-law. Although they are not together on this day, I know that they share a strong commitment to their marriage and always treasure the days they do have to spend together. I'm thankful they found each other. If you want to read a blog post I wrote more than six years ago, click here. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!
It's usually the little things in life that I enjoy most.
Today it was the 45 minutes we spent together reading and drinking our coffee at a local coffee spot. Relaxing is an activity we don't participate in often enough.
Less than an hour was spent, but it invigorated me for the rest of the day.
During November, I like to post daily to document my thankfulness. It's not that I am not thankful every day, but Thanksgiving Month offers the opportunity to focus on gratitude. Of course, with Susanne's Friday Fave Five, we do that weekly. And so here are my five faves for the week and also my additions for November eight and nine.
1. I am thankful for this young woman! For the second year, she is my TA, and this year I have the privilege of training her in all the whos, whens and whys of teaching IEW composition classes. She is a joy. She's so smart. She's also hilarious. I may be teaching her, but she's educating me about Steampunk, Slender Man, and graphic comics.
2. Rain in Southern California. It rained on Thursday and more rain is forecast for Friday and Saturday. However, even in the rain, the beach is beautiful.
3. Again this semester, the Professor was lighting director for the play produced by the performing arts department at the university. Unlike other times, he did not have to be there for all six performances because he has been training students to run the lighting boards. We attended the play on closing night, and the cast gifted him with accolades, applause and flowers.
4. Fresh fruit and fresh vegetables from our farmers market. I could list this as a fave every week. Cucumbers, romaine lettuce, apples, potatoes, broccoli--all grown locally.
5. Chocolate. After a long day. Just one piece. Gotta say, I needed it like our parched earth needed the rain.
Having a good hair stylist is important. Because I have moved more than my share of times, I have spent a lot of time dealing with the 'new kid on the block' issues. When you move to a new neighborhood or city, you need to find the best place to shop for groceries, the cheapest gas, the best doctor, the best dentist, the best optometrist, the closest coffee. It is also important to find the best barber and hair stylist. Usually the most reliable way to find these people and places is to ask neighbors and friends who have lived in the area for a long time. I'm thankful for the hair stylist my friend recommended to me. Never under estimate or under appreciate a good hair stylist!
Today I'm thankful for faithful friends. My long time friend is also 'my boss'. I'm thankful she asked me to work for and with her. She has taught me SO.MUCH. about writing, teaching and passion for changing the world.
My husband's sister lives in the same town with us, just three miles away. While we used to see each other almost every day because we worked at the same school, now we sometimes don't meet more than twice a month. Today we drove together to Orange County to babysit my two little ones while their mommy and daddy were attending a foster parenting seminar.
My husband's sister is a funny woman. On the way home, I called The Professor for a traffic update. Knowing I would need the information, he was prepared and instructed me to change my route to avoid a traffic jam. Sister in law's comment: "Having been warned by John in a dream, we returned home another way."
I found so many blessings today. It is hard to choose 'just one'.
This evening, I am thankful for long time friends, those friends who have known you so long and so well that you don't have to explain anything, those friends who love you anyway. Today I enjoyed an 'invigorating' (read: challenging) walk in a very hilly area of my town with my friend and then relaxed with a wonderful cup of coffee over which we chatted and laughed.
1. Yes I did spend four days and nights in San Diego with my daughter and her family. I drove to school, doctor, hospital, pharmacy, church, and store. I'm thankful I was available to help.
2. Riding Amtrak to and from was a wise decision as well as beautiful. On the trip home, the train was not crowded, and I never had to share my seat.
San Clemente Beach at (almost) sunset.
Sunset in Irvine
3. On Saturday, the fruit people at the farmers market gifted us with yet more bruised apples which we The Professor turned in to yet more dried apple slices. Mmmmmm!
4. Fortunately, the hot Santa Ana winds we were experiencing last week did not persist. Our weather has cooled down some, and that has encouraged my garden herbs to make a resurgence. My opinion is you can't have too much parsley.
5. It's truly Christmas season now.
Here is proof positive.
It's also Thanksgiving season. During November many people post daily one thing for which they are thankful. I am planning to do it. No promises.
November 1st: I am thankful that I could talk with my Ohio grandson, New Boy, today. The first thing he said was, "I want to come to your house tomorrow, Meema."
My week did not exactly go as I had planned. It's not that my plans were all that exciting--Sunday afternoon hanging out with The Professor and then attending a Bible Study/fellowship with our good neighbors and other friends, Monday and Tuesday correcting papers and puttering around the house doing housework. Just the usual quiet week. Then there was The Phone Call.
1. I can't imagine that there are even a few mothers (or even one) who would or could ignore a plea like, "Mom? Can you come? I need you." Of course I jumped in my car and drove to San Diego because someone had fallen and broken her arm. Mommies of pre-schoolers can't change diapers and shouldn't drive cars. I spent Monday and Tuesday acting as a nanny and chauffeur.
2. My drive south was easy and the scenery was as usual breathtakingly beautiful. All. Those. Coastal. Views.
3. We managed to duck in to our favorite San Diego breakfast cafe (breakfast for lunch) between doctor appointments. I love Mission Soma.
4. There is a new little girl living in the home of friends in San Diego, waiting for the time when that family will become her forever family. I got to play grandma, holding her and feeding her. It was a precious time.
5. Tuesday evening found me fighting my way through Southern California traffic to return home and teaching duties on Wednesday and Thursday. Miraculously, I made it home in less than four hours, a record.
I'm returning to San Diego for another four days. This time I'm not driving. I'm taking the train. Less stress. More time to relax and do things like, you know, knit and read. If I don't have an opportunity to respond to everyone who links to Friday Fave Fives, I apologize. Always, I do try, but this weekend I may be a bit busy being the Mama to the Rescue.
This has been a quiet week. I like quiet weeks. During quiet weeks, life slows enough that small and amusing things can catch my attention.
1. Although our time was limited, The Professor and I spent a pleasant half hour walking through the California natives garden and oak tree woodland at Descanso Gardens in LaCanada-Flintridge. You can scroll down or click on this link to see photos of those magnificent oak trees.
2. Descending the hill toward the exit, we noticed an unusual sight in the tall trees. Do you see it?
A closer view...
A fearless tree trimmer
3. One morning I heard the distinct calling of quail. Regularly, coveys of quail trail through our garden hunting and pecking for seeds. This covey was congregated in our driveway. As I maneuvered quietly out the door to catch a photo of them, of course I spooked them, and they scattered. Quail amuse me.
4. The week wouldn't be complete for me unless I had knitted something. This week, I made more hats.
5. Outside the building where I teach three classes on Thursdays, there is a butterfly garden. Between classes, I walked outside and found several children clustered around one of the beds. They had discovered dozens of caterpillars chewing and chomping on the plants provided for their enjoyment. Next week, we can expect to see many chrysalises (chrysali?) dangling from the stems of the bushes and then the week after, there will be butterflies!
Just five faves from my quiet week that make me happy.
Has any little thing caught your attention and made you smile?