Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Meme

I've been double dog dared by Carol at Sardines in Can. Having just watched 'A Christmas Story' I am particularly susceptible to the double-dog dare and since I have a million other things to do today I will take 20 minutes and do this meme. :D

The Tree
1. When Do You Put Up the Tree?
Third Sunday of Advent

2. Real or Fake?
Fake. We used to do real but I got sick of cleaning up needles into July and the hives I get from touching the tree during decorating and watering are icky. Of course, someone else could do the watering but let's be honest if I didn't do it we'd end up on the 10 O'clock news or in a fire dept 'don't let this be you.' safety tape.

3. Lights - What Color?
I like all white. Kids like colored. We have both.

4. Garland?
No. No tinsel either. Yuck.

5. Theme or No Theme?
Theme? BWHAHAHAHAHA. Our theme is and will be for the foreseeable future..."Breakable ornaments up top, non-breakable down below"

6. What Kind of Topper?
Angel. Karen, Nancy and I all bought the same angel topper many, many moons ago at Bridgewater Commons. They have probably moved on but our pretty little Victorian angel will probably top my tree forever.

7. What's Your Favorite Ornament?
Probably the Lenox train ornament.

8. What does your tree skirt look like?
my mom made it. It is reversible with two Christmas fabrics and eyelet trim. The cat loves to sleep on it :P

9. Where Do You Put Your Tree?
In the corner of the living room by my bedroom door. I prefer it in the dining room window but I am outvoted.

10. Who Decorates the Tree?
We all do, mostly the kids. I just try to keep the peace.

11. What's Under the Tree?
The cat. He thinks he is all sneaky and 'jungle-like' under there. Gifts go under on Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass.

12. Do You Put Candy Canes On Your Tree?
You have GOT to be kidding me. My kids. the sugar addicts who eat all my chocolate chips before I can make cookies, mooch all the cookies before I can give them away. You really think candy canes would stay on my tree as decoration? Really?

About the Food:
1. What's Your Favorite Christmas Cookie?
Creme de Menthe bars. Always have been.

2. Do You Bake Cookies and Give Them Away?

3. Any Special Foods You Have Only at Christmas?
Yep. A lot of the cookies are only made at Christmas, same with Peppermint Bark and fudge.

4. What Do You Eat Christmas Eve?
We have no special tradition of food on Christmas Eve. It is usually something super simple as Christmas is our big eats day.

5. What Do You Eat Christmas Day?
Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. I think I would have a mutiny if I tried to skip this. Real hot chocolate too. Dinner later is usually ham, sometimes something different, but is a big meal. Not quite as big as Thanksgiving but more then a typical dinner.

6. Do You Like Eggnog?
Yup. So do the kids. I buy HEB brand. It's one of those things I 'just don't make'

7. Do You Like Candy Canes?
Not a fan.

About The Decorations:
1. Where Do You Hang Your Stockings?
On the fireplace.

2. Do You Put Lights on Your House?
Yes. At this house whatever Chris feels like doing. In CT I did it as I hung them inside the porch.
3. Got Any Outside Lawn Decorations?
No and I have a particular dislike for inflatable decorations. Yes, I'm a snob. I've been contemplating a blog post on our 'cartoon culture' but this one sentence will probably be as much as I ever say on the subject.

4. Do You Put Up a Nativity?
Over the years my breakable on has been well, broken and I didn't even bother bringing out what we have left-Mary, Joseph, baby jesus, maybe a shepherd and a couple Wise Men. We, unlike it seems every other Catholic family on the planet, do not have a Fontanini set or intend to get one. I have two advent calendars-one which doubles as a nativity set when done and I just bought a Playmobile nativity set which has been a HUGE hit and I can't believe I didn't get one sooner.

5. Do You Hang Mistletoe Over Your Door?

6. Got a Wreath on Your Front Door?
Yes. Usually a basic evergreen one with a red bow. This year Chris picked up a fake red berry one with some Texas-y iron stars etc.....I think it is cute. Jack hates it. Jack hates anything that isn't the same as last year. He is having issues with the 'bunched ornaments' on the tree among other things.

7. How Long Does it Take You to Decorate?
One evening to do the tree, one evening to do the rest of the house.

About the Movies/Shows:

1. Favorite Christmas TV Show?
Old Rankin/Bass Rudolph.

2. A Wonderful Life / Miracle on 34th Street / A Christmas Carol
Miracle on 34th St. I loved, loved, loved this movie when I was a kid. I looked forward to watching it every year. I like it is A Wonderful Life but can survive not watching it. I don't like A Christmas Carol, never have

3. Favorite Christmas Movie?The Polar Express, A Christmas Story and Elf

4. Have you ever seen the Nutcracker Suite Ballet live?Nope but every year mean to take the girls but always fail to deliver.

5. Ever Been to the Radio City Music Hall Show? No. Despite living within 60 miles of NYC for most of my life. I have been to RCMH, just not the Christmas show.

6. Ever Gone to the Movies on Christmas Day?
Yes. When we were in CT it was one of the few times a year we had a babysitter :D Thanks Mom!

Other Christmas Things:

1. Favorite Christmas Books?
Anything by Tomie dePaola.

2. Do You Stuff Your Stockings With Any Types of Food?Yes. Candy is my default, "oh crud, I don't have enough stocking stuffers!!!" stocking stuffer.

3. Do You Go to Church on Christmas or Christmas Eve?
Midnight Mass. A) because the boys are usually serving and b) it is so much nicer to get up on Christmas and not have to go anywhere.

4. Have You Ever Gone Caroling?
Yes but not for a long, long time. The kids have gone around the neighborhood the last few yeas.

5. Favorite Christmas Carol?
O Holy Night - Josh Groban singing.

6. Do You Believe in Santa? St. Nicholas or Santa Claus? In our house Santa Clause is a fun game-right up there with other pretend play but is no more real then Spiderman or imaginary friends.

7. Do You Leave Santa Cookies?

8. What About Rudolph?See above.

9. What Was Your Best Christmas Gift?Dollhouse my grandfather made me.

10. Worst Gift?
I honestly can't think of one.

11. Do You Go To a "Work" Christmas Party? Most years. In CT Chris' work usually through a REALLY nice party, I looked forward to it all year. Here, they have a nice one, not fancy but nice and I enjoy seeing friends from work. Yes, I am friends with people Chris works with.

12. Do You Hate Going?

13. Do You Send Christmas Cards?
I try. Some years I succeed, others I fail. Let's just say I am super grateful for photo cards and internet ordering.

14. Do You Make a List?
A) I'm Arlene's daughter. If I didn't make lists I'd be tossed out of the family.
B) I have 8 children. Eight. If I didn't have lists I'd be in big trouble.

15. Do You Check it Twice and Thrice?
Constantly. I can't ever remember what I've bought for who.

16. When do You Start Shopping?
When the money's there.

17. Do You Shop on Black Friday?
Rather chew glass.

18. Are You Ready for Christmas?
I'm doing OK. I need to send some packages today and then cross my fingers that when the USPS says 2-3 days for priority they mean it, even this week. As for the 'in house' stuff I'm set except for a lot of wrapping and maybe 1-2 small things.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Could *you* forgive?

I'm a fan of Imaculee Ilibagiza. She is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide and has written two books on her experience. Left to Tell is a brief biography and the story of her survival during the 3 months the genocide went on, and a bit of her life aftewards. Led By Faith, is her follow up about her journey to forgive and her life after the genocide including marriage and emigration to the US. Sure, I had heard of the Rwandan genocide and watched the requisite Hollywood films but I didn't have the understanding of the scope and horror until I read Left to Tell. Still I have to say it wasn't Left to Tell that impacted me the most, it was Led By Faith. It took strength, faith and endurance to survive what she did, but I can't help but think finding it in herself to forgive, to really forgive those that perpetrated this evil was the truly heroic act. Now there has been a documentary made about the journey to forgiveness of the entire country. Due to the impossibility of prosecuting and imprisoning the 40,000 confessed murderers the gov't of Rwanda made the bold and controversial decision to release them back into society.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Not mine.

I am so looking forward to this film. Babies, motherhood, life......the universality among the diversity is just wonderful. You can't tell me that that opening scene hasn't been witnessed by mothers everywhere for all of history.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

UT priorities

The University of Texas at Austin is ending participation in the National Merit Scholarship Program, the largest single campus departure in years from the program, which enjoys considerable prestige in some circles but is controversial in others. The university plans to shift the funds to need-based aid.

Last year, Texas was second only to Harvard University in the number of National Merit Scholars it enrolled (281). Some of the scholarships in the program (and all of those at Harvard) are sponsored by companies and other groups, but 213 of those who enrolled at Texas were sponsored by the university, which in recent years has sponsored more of the scholarships than all but a few other universities. (Last year, the University of Southern California sponsored more, 216 -- most colleges don't even top 50.)


University of Texas football coach Mack Brown will be paid $5 million a year, plus annual increases of $100,000 beginning next season and running through 2016, when his contract ends, the school’s governing board decided today.

The revised contract, recommended by UT President William Powers Jr. and men’s athletic director DeLoss Dodds, means that a one-time $2 million “service payment” in February for staying on the job will become part of his annual compensation package. His pay this season is $5 million — $3 million plus the $2 million service payment — but the previous contract did not provide for continuation of that service payment.

Brown’s guaranteed compensation will be $5.1 million next season, $5.2 million the following season and so forth.

For this season, Brown is also set to earn $250,000 for advancing to the national championship. Winning the national championship would add $450,000 to his bank account.

UT says they eliminated the NMS to focus that aid on need-based scholarships. Fine, put more money into the need-based kitty although I hope the decision isn't just based on who needs the money the most but on a combination of need and merit. And why was it necesssary to do away with *all* NMS instead of just cutting back the number they award?

Yet, not surprisingly, there are plenty of funds to make Mack Brown one of, if not the, highest paid college football coach in the country.