Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hero rats

Just watched a cool Ted talks video about rats!

These rats are "hero rats." Some are trained to sniff out land mines, others to sniff out tuberculosis.

The director of the program is a guy who quit his job as an engineer to solve some of the developing world's most pressing problems. I admire him.

I'd like to donate to the cause. Have to figure out my reluctant PayPal account first.

Those rats are both clever and cute!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Boxing Day!

We had a lovely Christmas day. There were lots of presents! Here are a few favorites:
Robe, fedora and large balloon for Eli.
Nanodots for Robbie. These tiny spherical magnets have proved addictive . . .
A pelican cap for me. What a great mascot for the Myrtle Beach team who played the Delaware Blue Rocks when we were out east this summer! I guess I'm more into actual pelicans than I am into the team . . .
A slightly scary cat toy and some lick-able mint gum.
Bruce has already used the ice scraper the boys and I picked out at True Value! (He did get some other presents, too.)

Later in the day, we went sledding at the park, played our new Rock Band disc, played Flinch--our new card game--and ate some Chicago Deep Dish Pizza sent to us by the Dudeks.

All in all, a relaxing and enjoyable day. I kept thinking of a line from the prayer from Lessons and Carols--"You make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ . . . " It certainly is worth celebrating, the opportunity to be "made glad!"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Silent Night, Holy Night

We're having a white Christmas Eve here in Iowa.

But everything's cozy in the house.

I missed the Lessons and Carols from King's College, so I dug out an old tape of the Wooster Chorus doing Lessons and Carols--a wonderful substitute.

We're off to church soon--I'm singing in the choir, Robbie's playing trumpet with hymns, and Eli and Bruce are ushering. I love this evening service--the candle light, the quiet mystery, the joyous singing . . .

A blessed Christmas eve to all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas memories

Putting up Christmas decorations is always nostalgic--remembering when we got each ornament, each decoration. Many of my Christmas decorations are special because they remind me of loved ones.

I love getting out Mom's Hummel creche.
Grandma's bell ornaments (they really ring!) hang on garlands in my dining room.
I love this candle globe that was a gift from my mother-in-law.
We also have some decorations from places we've visited:


Living History Farms

Frank Lloyd Wright museum. (yes, that's a bubble light next to it--like the ones on Grandma's tree)
Unfortunately, the star at the top of our tree broke last year in a tree-tipping incident. Eli told us he'd make a new topper for us. I think it'll become one of my future favorite decorations.
Can you tell he's reading Tolkein right now? We laughed and laughed at this--Christmas in Mordor!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Pub

Just had dinner at our favorite pub, the Tic Toc.

When we lived on Longwood Drive, we could walk there. We drove tonight, but it's still close--in the Coe neighborhood.

We especially like dinner time there--it's filled with lots of people--older folks, families, single people at the bar. On the weekends, they have their "smokehouse" menu, with ribs, pulled pork, etc. It's relatively small and a bit tackily decorated, in a welcoming way. Lots of clocks on the walls and various other odd stuff. Our usual waiter didn't appear until after we'd ordered, but he greeted us when we left.

I had one of my "usual" meals: cheeseburger and fries. Had a Guinness instead of Blue Moon ("girl" beer with a orange slice) because the cold weather seemed to demand dark beer.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Christmas Traditions

Maybe "new traditions" is an oxymoron. But I'm thinking these may eventually become "old traditions."

The first is the annual trip to Wal-Mart to buy poinsettias. Early in December, our Wal-Mart store has them for $10, in many different colors. And they're HUGE!
I would say this one is at least 2 feet across.

I'm sure they're a loss leader, but I just go in early in the morning, buy my poinsettias, and leave. One I take to church--that's the Grandma and Grandpa poinsettia. We used to sign up to purchase one in honor or memory of someone--now they ask everyone to pick out a poinsettia and drop it by the church, so there are all sizes and not just red ones. It's not quite as impressive as a uniform bank of red ones, but probably easier for the church. And I think of my parents and Bruce's parents when we see it during advent.

The other poinsettia goes by the hearth in our living room, where it looks great through the whole Christmas season, then survives until mid-January when I get sick of it and toss it on the compost.

The other tradition is going to the Indian Creek Nature Center Christmas sale, Nature's Noel, with my friend Anne. She invited me last year with the caveat that she likes to get there early--to be the first in line!

So we get there at 8:15 and stand in line until they say we can go make our purchases. Then we RUN over to where they have the kissing balls hanging and pick out the one we like. You have to get there early to get one--they're sold out within minutes. Here's the one I got this year.
Nature's Noel also has wreaths, roping, decorated yule logs, arrangements, and, inside, food items.

It's a very festive time--it snowed last night!--and it's fun to do just about anything with Anne, so I think I want Nature's Noel to be a tradition!