Sunday, December 23, 2012

The 2012 Xmas Tree Strike is Over

 T'was the week before Christmas and Mac the Labradoodle began her Christmas tree strike.

"No tree until the Hillcrest Cottage guys plus the awesome new girl have arrived."

No one dared to cross her picket line. Hillcrest Cottage was in solidarity with the shaggy canine's plan.

Hillcrest Cottage has a very unique philosophy regarding Holiday frivolity. Traditionally, there is no tree until two weeks prior to the big day. After all, who wants to dust their Christmas tree; trees must always be real. I truly do not get the fake tree pulled out of a dusty, attic box the day after Thanksgiving. Who can sustain a "fa la la la la" for that extended period of time?

Mac Staging the Great Christmas Tree Strike of 2012

And behold, when there were yet three days until Christmas, the fullness of time had come for Hillcrest Cottage to get its Holiday tree. For, in all honesty, Hillcrest Cottage has come to realize the tree means nothing without a family to enjoy it.

The Strike is Over!!!!

The Expedition, loaded with the most important people in the world, headed to the tree farm. And the quest for the perfect tree began.

"This one?"

Our Good Friend Assists Us.

First Christmas as Married People

Clayton Saws the Trunk

Jeff Drags the Tree Toward the Car

Total Silliness...Of Course

Wow. The Griswolds.

 One for My 2012 Christmas Frame
Hillcrest Cottage's tree is not of the designer variety. It is real. It sheds needles all over the floor. It needs to be watered. It has no theme. It could have used more strands of lights.

However, it was chosen by a family who loves one another. It was decorated with ornaments from Christmas' past. It gave us a very fun and memorable Hillcrest Cottage memory. With a married son in the military, we know he will share future Christmas' with his new family and may even be many other places... but... for now... this Christmas... we are thankful to have everyone next to this very beautiful tree decorated with the love that only a family can provide.

Ta Da!
P.S. Thank you, God, for the 8" of snow which You brought to Hillcrest Cottage on Christmas day. My 2LT had been ordered to return to post by Christmas night at 11:00 p.m; the snow allowed an extra day. We had a very fun late night romp in the snow with Mac the Labradoodle, Lucy, and the entire Hillcrest Cottage family. Icing on the cake to the best Christmas ever. The days which followed were full of record-breaking power outages (80% of our city), but Hillcrest Cottage survived unscathed!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Revelry

So...our caroling was cancelled due to rain. 

This following is a public service message for those who might be inclined to consume too much fudge this holiday season.

 Warning: These images may be disturbing to those with coulrophobia (may be referred to as 'chuckie syndrome' or the fear of clowns and dolls).

Monday, December 10, 2012

Best Finishes from 2012

When my children were small, we had a daily dinner-table tradition. We would ask our boys: What's the best thing that happened to you today? As you can imagine, some days were filled with incredible tales from the grade school playground; other times it is was struggle to find even a grain of goodness. With our house of boys, imagine some more about the crazy responses Jeff and I would receive.

As my year named  "Finish Strong" is ending, I am reviewing the 2012 goals. I am wondering if I have finished well... or even finished at all. 

I stumbled upon this December 31, 2011 journal entry where I was anticipating 2012.

December 31, 2011

I don't do well with transitions, so a day like today finds me sad. I look ahead and see nothing but changes in 2012. There will be goals achieved. There will be celebrations of huge importance. One son will toss his cap into the air in a way which only a West Point cadet can truly understand

Class of 2012 Hat Toss
A month later that son will have birdseed tossed at him with a zeal which only wedding guests can joyously perform.

Wedding Images by Stephanie Parsley Photography

My youngest son will finish high school and begin college.

Welcome to Dorm Life

I will finish 23 years of parenting and begin to hear Hillcrest Cottage's walls quietly whisper the story of grade school sword fights, marathon video game parties, late night study sessions, and the laughter of family gatherings.

Hillcrest Cottage's walls will talk. They will talk a lot. They will speak of the love we do here, of forgiveness, of grace, of the thousands of "I love you's", of acceptance and belonging somewhere special in this big, impersonal world. The yucky stuff, sifted through grace, will be trampled underfoot and swept aside. The good stuff will rise as a sweet aroma full of goodness... like the smell of bacon frying on a snowy morning.

I will think about "finishing" in 2012... a lot. I will try to understand what it means to accomplish a worthy goal. This new 2012 will be a roller coaster ride where I imagine the highs and lows to be quite exaggerated. 
Okay...So... This Would be an Exaggerate High from 2012...the Mother-Son Dance

Most of all, I pray that I will sprint to the end and "finish strong".

Hillcrest Cottage is a home where our greatest accomplishments are people. Since my children have left we have not been lonely or bored. A typical week may have 15 to 25 people come through our Hillcrest Cottage doors to share a meal, spend some time around the chiminea, or to encourage one another in our relationships with our Creator. Our days are very full... just in a different way.

Thanksgiving was incredible as everyone was home plus the two new German Shepherd grand pups.

Gotta Take a LOT of Pics to Get a Good One... Got It!

Every time we have together becomes more precious... especially with having a cadet-turned-2LT- married- Army man in the family.
Lots of Hello's and Good-By's These Days

Following in the dinner table tradition, I asked myself...What's the best thing that happened to you this year? 

The answer: We got a brand new Kinley... and she's a girl!!!!!