Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree!

Well, not quite. This year we haven't got one spare dime for "extras" at Christmas, so we broke down and bought an artificial tree on ebay. None of us are thrilled, but the kind of tree we'd want fresh would cost well in excess of $65. We got the fake one for about $20. It's not great, but we'll be able to hang our ornaments.

Getting any tree at all is a sacrifice this season, but our ornaments are an integral part of our family's Christmas. Our history is on that tree -- no fancy ribbons and themed colors for us, our tree contains hand-made ornaments from various family members and friends. I have the clay rocking horse my friend Janet made me in 1977; Jack has the shell snowman made by his scout buddy, Kanji; we have the exquisite shell-encrusted balls made decades ago by my paternal grandmother... these people are no longer in our daily lives, but they were important to us. Their presence and memories are reinforced when we place their treasures on our tree. My favorites are the pig and butterfly ornaments colored on one side by my mother, and scribbled on the other by me at age three.

In addition we have shiny happy ornaments that we've picked up on various vacations. I also buy the boys a new ornament every year that represents something that they love in their lives. One day they'll get married, and I'll box up their ornaments and make a very precious wedding gift to my sons and their wives. They'll start their own traditions with some that they already love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Trying to get regular...

And no, I'm not taking more fiber! Life has been somewhat chaotic here this semester with Jack taking two out-of-the-house classes in two different cities. Both classes/teachers are excellent, but I'm doing a TON of driving and our homeschooling has a very different look this year.

I keep thinking back to the pioneers and how they'd walk or ride five or six miles (or more) to visit a neighbor. It keeps me from complaining about the 40 mile round-trip commute twice a week, that's for sure. Of course, their fuel was growing alongside the road while I'm utilizing carbon-based fossil fuels that pollute the environment.

Along that note, it was time to get the old covered wagon overhauled. The "check engine" and "brake" lights have been flashing, so the car was trying to tell me something. I knew my rear brakes needed attention, and had been told by my tire dealer that the rear shocks were worn and needed to be replaced, so I figured it was easy to kill two birds with one stone and do everything at once.

Much to my very happy surprise, my mechanic said the shocks were fine for several thousand more miles, the engine light flashed on at a routine mileage point (he checked all that out), and yes, the brakes needed replacing. Total cost: $250 instead of the close to $600 I thought it was going to be! I LOVE MY MECHANIC. Note to self: don't let the tire dealer anywhere near my car for repairs, just tires.