Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

I'm staring out my window thinking it looks like early Spring in Eastern Oregon - there are squirrels taunting my little cat, the sun is shining, and the snow that dumped on us on Sunday is slowly melting, so green is showing through again. There are a few problems, however: I am not in Eastern Oregon and it's early winter.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas is playing on the radio and I'm catching up on my favorite non-profit, Soldiers' Angels. And, as inevitably happens, I am now feeling guilty about not "doing more." As cold as my house is, I am at home with a beautiful Christmas tree, my husband will be home in a few more hours, and we have plans to spend a wonderful Christmas with family. Meanwhile, my heroes on the front line will pass Christmas away from loved ones and in less than desirable conditions.

Enter Patti Patton-Bader, found of Soldiers' Angels and 2008's America's Favorite Mom. (And one of my heroes.) She received the rest of her prize last week - a shopping spree in New York - which she used as another opportunity to put our soldiers and their families in the forefront by using the shopping spree to "play Santa" to the children of wounded soldiers.

Every time I visit SoldiersAngels.com my faith in humanity is restored. There are people out there willing to give of their time, energy, and money to help others. My question is, how much am I willing to give up of myself to help others?

During this season of giving, these are the things I must ponder.

On the Third Day of Christmas...

This is the owl that started it all. In 2006 I lived in a townhouse with two other girls. It was my first place on my own and I was determined to have a Christmas tree. Every time we went to Target, I would pick up ornaments, and this little guy couldn't be passed up. He was clutching a branch, and had the cutest feathers above his realistic-looking owl eyes. I was in love.

Unfortunately, this was a challenging love, one, the ornament was inanimate and therefore couldn't return the affection, and, two, everyone else thought he was the ugliest thing they had ever seen. (Yeah, I still don't get it.) He would frequently be moved to the back of the tree where no one could see him (the tree only had about eight ornaments at this point in time and it was a pretty good sized tree from a u-cut tree farm).
In 2007, our first Christmas together, we were so involved with the Christmas musical and preparing for a week in San Diego, that we didn't get a tree. This did not, however, stop us from collecting more Christmas ornaments (I highly recommend Macy's after-Christmas sale) or our friends from bestowing Target's 2007 owl, which even I had to say was a little less than cute. In fact, I saw it in the store and said, "Yeek!" So we were rather amused when it popped up in the annual gift exchange. This picture makes it look a little cuter than it actually is. In person, it looks like an ewok. Which is fine if you're into Star Wars, but we are not.
And now we have the 2008 Target owl. I really can't decide what his cuteness factor is. He's slightly beauty challenged, but has rather cute, tufty "ear horns". His spindly stick legs are a little creepy and I'm convinced the cats are going to get a hold of him and chew them off. (Gus has already had a tussle with ewok-owl, who doesn't have things sticking out from his body to break off.) But all and all, he's one of what is becoming an annual tradition - "ugly" owl ornaments. And that's pretty cool.

Monday, December 15, 2008

On the Second Day of Christmas...

Our tree is all set up! This is our first Christmas tree since we've been married. We had one in 2006, but not last year. Dez and Andy (the cute kids on the couch) added some ornaments to our collection this year in the form of a new "beauty challenged" owl and a hedgehog, which is actually pretty cute. Last year they got us a big white owl that even I thought was hideous.

Christmas is a time when everyone's decorating personalities comes out. Jason and I like a simple, traditional country style. I have decided we need colored balls for the tree, however, because our tree looks rather bland unless you're standing next to it. The next picture is of Dez sitting next to the tree, so you can enjoy our topper.

Over the last few years I've been collecting animals made out of grass, sticks, pine cones and the like. It all started with one very special owl that I loved and everyone else thought was hideous. Since then, I have been the recipient of some rather interesting critters for my tree.

This is also Gus and Claire's first tree. Gus tried to climb it when we brought it in the house, and I wanted to let him so that when it fell over it didn't have ornaments on it and he wouldn't do it again, but I lost out. The good news is, he hasn't tried to climb it again. He is quite fond of it, however.

I love Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On the First Day of Christmas...

If you've known me for five minutes, you know that I love Christmas. Like, am crazy in love with it. Today is Thanksgiving Revisited, which is an annual "family" tradition I forced my now-husband and a couple friends to participate in a few years ago, because our real Thanksgiving dinner lacked cranberry sauce and candied yams. The obvious way to remedy that was to recreate Thanksgiving dinner. (Duh.) Now it is something we look forward to every year.

Ironically, this year Thanksgiving Revisited falls on the 12th day before Christmas, which got me to thinking, "Why don't I write a daily post about Christmassy things?" It's a wonderful way to help me focus on the season. Today, while listening to Amy Grant's, "Grown Up Christmas List," one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs I started wondering what things are on my grown up Christmas List. Below are my thoughts.

Nike's Grown-Up Christmas List:

1. That Good will prevail in every situation.
2. That every soldier will know he/she is loved and appreciated.
That we will reach out to help the hurting and lost instead of turning a blind eye.
That people will find contentment with family and friends over material goods.
5. That there will be an end to the in-fighting in our churches, our communities, and our world. We all want that same thing, we just suck at communicating that.

There are other things I would like to put on that list, but to name them would mean I would have to change my actions and attitudes. Even at Christmas, somethings are difficult to change. I think this list is a pretty good start, though.

Merry Christmas all!

Cat Psychology

I have lived with cats my entire life. Today is Thanksgiving Revisited (more on that in a later post) and as I set about preparing the turkey and cleaning the kitchen I was once again reminded how much fun cats are to live with. They provide me endless amusement, and as I write this Gus, the white 15 lb beast, is curled up in my lap while Claire is resting in her bed on the window. So, today's post is dedicated to a few things I've learned about cats.

I. If they can get in it, they will.
This is the first thing I want to discuss, because I have a recent example to demonstrate it. Last night I was on the couch knitting and Gus was on the end table next to me. At my feet there was a paper bag that was left over from a work project I brought home. I casually tipped it over and Gus was in it in a flash.
After a few minutes, I called Jason downstairs and asked him to find his cat. He couldn't. Every once in awhile he would say, "I hear him, but where is he?" convinced I had locked him in a closet. I replied, "No, he's in this room." Roughly five minutes later Gus started attacking my slippers through the bag (which was by my feet) and Jason said, "How did you get him in there?!" My reply? "I tipped the bag over."
Gus has also been stuck in several boxes over the two years we've had him. The bag thing is funny, because when we first brought Claire home she wouldn't play with him, but she would hide in bags and attack him through it. As long as she couldn't see him, she would play with him.

II. Milk tabs make cheap toys.
This I learned on accident. I dropped a milk tab (the ring of plastic you pull off the one gallon jugs of milk in order to twist the cap off) on the floor shortly after bringing Gus home. Before I could pick it up, that cat had taken it across the apartment and was batting it around the bathroom floor. I thought it was cute, so let him play with it. Weeks later he was still playing with it. When Claire came to live with us, the milk tab was a hot commodity. Moral of the story? Don't buy toys, buy milk.

III. There are roughly four distinct meows you need to be able to decipher.
1. "The food dish is empty!" This does not mean that the cat is hungry. It simply means that the food dish is empty and has caused mass panic in the house. This meow is high pitched and there seems to be few breaths taken between each meow. It is often accompanied with a weaving between the human's legs.
2. “Where have you been!” This is a general, talkative meow. Medium in tone, more breaths taken between each individual meow. Usually heard when the cat first sees you at the end of the day.
3. "You surprised me!" Sounds much like, "Mrrr-OW!" Equal to the human's "Ah!" Claire makes this noise when I wake her up by petting her.
4. "Pay attention to me!" We call this the, "Me, me, me!" meow. Cause that's kind of what it sounds like. Medium in tone, but meows rapidly fired.

III. Cats are not cuddly on demand.
I have two cats because I wanted a cuddly cat to comfort me at the end of a long day. There is nothing better than having a warm kitty curled up in your lap purring while drinking a cup of tea at the end of the long day. Gus did not cut the bill. Gus has a fifth meow, in fact, and it's the "OMG, you're killing me!!!" meow. Jason has learned what this meow sounds like and can be three rooms away and say, "Nike, are you holding Gus?" when that meow is heard. Yes, yes I am. That is the story of how Claire came to live with us in a nutshell.
Claire is more cuddly and we have a saying in our house, "Where two or more are gathered, there is Claire." Even Claire, however, the cuddliest cat in the world, has her moments. Last night, in fact, I went to cuddle her while she was in the window seat and she slapped at me and jumped three feet away to the other side of the window seat. Jason, who witness thed event, said, "Huh, that was weird."
Also weird, Gus curling up in my lap. But don't let that image fool you. He also looked up at me sweetly while I typed away before chomping down on my arm completely unprovoked.

I could go on and on about other things I've learned from my cats, but that would likely bore you. Like, don't set anything down that you don't want a cat butt on, because they will find it. This morning Claire made a bed out of my folded up holiday tablecloth. Which was on the table, which is a no-cat zone. Gus is most content when he finds a pile of papers to sit on. We try to keep plastic bags out of reach of cats because those seem to be a prize item as well.

All in all, cats are pretty great.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Day

Just an update, I've had a lot of things running through my head lately and after several nights of keeping Jason up with my blabbering I realized I've always journaled and at some point I stopped doing that. So, I am reverting this blog back to what it was supposed to be - my thoughts on life, love, work, school, and randomness. I will still be keeping a weight loss blog, because that was part of my running dialogue, but it has been moved to http://choosingtolose.blogspot.com/ I won't be posting on it until Sunday, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I'm supposed to be writing a term paper, so I'm going to get back to that. Peace!