Archive for the 'Holidays' Category

“Poem in your Pocket” Day

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I love poetry – especially children’s poetry.  I work each day with children who are struggling readers, and one thing I provide for each child is a poetry folder.  The poetry folder is filled with lots of poems that we’ve learned and read together.  Poetry is great for children who are having trouble learning to read.  I’ve done a post on my favorite thirteen children’s poems – absolutely wonderful poems for children.

April in National Poetry Month, and Thursday, April 17th is “Poem in Your Pocket” Day.  The holiday originated in New York, and this is the first year that it has been a national event.  Hopefully the emphasis on poetry during April will bring together writers, poets, schools, libraries and poetry lovers everywhere. 

The holiday got its name from one of my favorite children’s poems, “Keep A Poem In Your Pocket” by Beatrice Schenck de Regniers. 

Keep a Poem In Your Pocket
~Beatrice Schenk de Regniers~

Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.
The little poem will sing to you
the little picture bring to you
a dozen dreams to dance to yoU
at night when you’re in bed.
Keep a picture in your pocket
and poem in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.

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What is Ash Wednesday? Why is it important?

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Ash Wednesday is one of those days we observe as part of the Christian year, and yet its meaning and significance is not always understood.  Ruth at Ruthlace has written a short but exceptionally clear description of the day and why it is so important to our faith.

When our daughter, Deborah was critically ill at age 2 months, her Daddy and I sat in the waiting room of the hospital where other people with sick children were waiting.

If you have spent many days in a hospital waiting room, you realize how you begin to interact with people. You listen to their story and tell yours. You become concerned about their loved one and appreciate their concern for yours. Each individual patient is precious to someone.

Charles and I were so distraught that someone asked, “Is she your only child?” I replied, “She is our fifth child, but she is our only Debi.”

Jesus came to earth to tell us the amazing news that each individual one of us is precious to God. We each have our own fingerprint, our own voice ascent, our own DNA. God so loved each one of us that he sent Jesus that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.

The Pharisees thought God rejoiced in the death of “sinners.” In Luke 15 , Jesus tell us there is joy in heaven when each one of us repents of our wandering and believes this greatest Good News the world has ever heard!

Ash Wednesday begins Lent and the believer’s journey to Holy Week and Easter. It is a journey of individual repentance and prayer. In the Service of Ashes, we kneel at the altar and the pastor marks the sign of the cross in ashes on our forehead.

The ashes are to remind us that our physical body is dying. The sign of the cross is to remind us that we are more than our physical body. What we call” death” does not have the last word over what God calls “life.” It is Ash Wednesday but Easter is coming!

Prayer: Father, during this Lenten season help each one of us to kneel at the cross in humility and to arise in the strength of knowing who we are in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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Happy New Year – Resolutions for 2008

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Happy New Year 2008

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  I almost always do, and I’ve been known to actually stick to them although most of the time I don’t.  The New Year is here, and it is nice to think about new beginnings.  There’s something about a new year beginning that gives us hope and an eagerness to start fresh.  That freshness usually has a quick expiration date, but for at least a few days, it’s nice.Happy New Year 2008

What do I want to do differently in 2008?  The old standbys are diet and exercise.  Maybe that’s why I’ve always needed to be concerned about weight loss and exercise.  Everything else in my life is pretty much on target.  I need SOMETHING to obsess about.  That’s not it, but it sounds good and is as good an excuse as I’ve heard from others.

I have one new goal this year.  Since I received a beautiful piano as a Christmas gift from RT, I want to practice the piano.  My goal is to select one song each week and practice it enough that I can play it well.  That way, I will soon be able to sit down at the piano and have a repertoire of music that I can play well.

Two years ago I started the Monthly Marathon – with the goal of walking the equivalent of a marathon (26 miles) each month.  That’s a very do-able goal.   I’m thinking seriously of getting the Monthly Marathon blog going again.  What do you think?  Any takers?

Another goal is to make more money from my blogging.  I was doing really well there for a few weeks, and then Google did a page rank re-assessment and zipped my page rank to zero – and having that low a page rank pretty much dried up all my money-making possibilities.  So I want to work on making a little bit of money from this pasttime of mine.

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A Southern New Year’s Day Meal

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Last year I wrote about what I make for a New Year’s Day meal.  The meal is filled with tradition and symbolism.  I can’t think of a better way to start a new year of living. Since I enjoyed last year’s New Year’s Day meal so much, I thought I would re-print that menu and description of symbolism here.  Enjoy!

On January 1, 2008,  I will cook my version of a New Year’s Day meal. Here’s the menu, the recipes and the symbolism – some serious and some definitely tongue-in-cheek:

Hoppin’ John

Tossed Salad


Sweet Iced Tea



Hoppin’ John

1 can mild tomato/jalopena mixture (RoTel) If you like things a little spicier, use regular RoTel.

2 cans black-eyed peas

1 can diced tomatoes (optional – I love tomatoes)

1/2 lb link of turkey sausage

Cut the turkey sausage into bite-size pieces – dump everything together and cook. You can serve this over rice or mix some rice in it, or eat it by itself with no rice. It’s delicious riceless or not.

Tossed Salad

Lots of lettuce, sliced tomatoes, grated carrots, diced bell peppers with grated cheddar cheese on top.

Cornbread Sticks

2 cups cornmeal MIX

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg, well-beaten

buttermilk (enough to make a good batter)

Pour into cast iron cornstick pans that have been sprayed with Pam and pre-heated in a 425 oven. The batter should sizzle when you pour it into the pans. Bake until golden brown. Serve hot. I like to crumble a cornstick or two into my hoppin’ john.

Sweet Iced Tea

4 family-size tea bags

1 gallon distilled water (You don’t HAVE to use distilled water, but that’s what I always use).

1 cup Splenda

Put the tea bags in a 4-cup measuring cup, fill with some of the water and microwave on high for about 6 minutes. Let it sit (steep) for about 5 minutes. Pour into a pitcher and add the remaining water to make one gallon. Add the Splenda and stir. DELICIOUS and refreshing!


The blackeyed peas in the Hoppin’ John symbolize coins – a sign of prosperity for the new year. May there be lots of that in 2008. The turkey sausage symbolizes my American heritage – the wild turkeys from the first Thanksgiving. For me, it also reminds me of the land where RT and I live – dozens of wild turkeys reside here. The tomatoes and jalopenas symbolize good taste and spiciness. May I never grow too old to be spicy.

The leaves of lettuce in the salad are a symbol of folding money – currency. Again, may there be lots of that in 2008. The tomatoes remind me of the fruits of summer, the carrots for year-round bounty, and the cheese for the perfection of aging (I wish!).

The corn in the cornsticks is another symbol of my American heritage. Enough corn for good health, enough oil to smooth out the rough places in life, an egg to remind me of the newness of life, and the buttermilk to remind me that the sour places in life make the good places all the more sweet. Baking the cornsticks in cast-iron pans reminds me of what the American pioneers used in their travels cross country to explore new lands.

The iced tea is symbolic of my Southern roots. Sweet iced tea is pure Southern! The Splenda makes it something I can drink without worrying about calories. RT and I go through a gallon of this tea about every two or three days. I make several gallons every single week. I have to admit that I almost always used decaf tea so I can drink it in the evenings without worrying about it affecting my sleep.

There you have it! A New Year’s day feast with some traditional and some Carol-grown symbolism attached.

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A small bloggers’ convention and “O Holy Night”

Friday, December 28th, 2007

On the day after Christmas, my family had our annual Christmas get-together.  In addition to having the family altogether, it was also a mini-convention of bloggers.  There was Ruthlace (my mother), Daddy’s Roses (my sister, Joan) , Alone on a Limb (my brother, Terrell), Blue Star Chronicles (my sister, Beth) and The Median Sib (me).  I was probably a pest, but I kept asking until my brother, Terrell, sang “O Holy Night” for us.  I’m so glad he did.  Here is the history, lyrics – and you can click on this link to listen to the music.  My all-time favorite Christmas song.

The words and lyrics of the old carol ‘O Holy Night’ were written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847. Cappeau was a wine seller by trade but was asked by the parish priest to write a poem for Christmas. He obliged and wrote the beautiful words of the hymn. He then realised that it should have music to accompany the words and he approached his friend Adolphe Charles Adams(1803-1856). He agreed and the music for the poem was therefore composed by Adolphe Charles Adams. Adolphe had attended the Paris conservatoire and forged a brilliant career as a composer. It was translated into English by John Sullivan Dwight (1812-1893).

O Holy Night 

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

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An early Christmas present from RT

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

You might recall that a few weeks ago I wrote about playing my mother’s piano while I was visiting her at Thanksgiving.  RT listened to me play the piano then, and just a couple days later my son sent me an email telling me about how much he enjoyed listening to me play the piano when he was growing up.  So pianos have been on our minds lately.

This morning I heard a truck drive up in the driveway, and I told RT’s mother (who’s spending a couple weeks with us) that I hoped it was the things I’d ordered from Lands End.  I went outside, and RT was there.  He smiled at me, and said, “Merry Christmas.  Here’s your Christmas present.”   The men on the truck brought out a beautiful piano which they brought inside the house and set up in the library. Below is a photo I just took of my Christmas present.  It’s a wonderful Baldwin piano.  I immediately played “Silent Night, Holy Night” which is the only song I have memorized.  Then I spent about an hour going through boxes in the barn until I finally found the one with my collection of hymnals.  And I’ve played the piano off and on all afternoon.

Baldwin Piano

I called my daughter to tell her about the piano, and Sweet Stuff answered the phone.  Her mom was in the shower and so I told Sweet Stuff to tell her mom that PawPaw had given me a piano for Christmas.  I told her that when she comes to visit she can play it.  I taught her one simple song a few months ago, and she still remembers how to play it.  My daughter called me later to tell me that Sweet Stuff was beside herself with excitement.  She plays the simple little song I taught her whenever she visits anyone who has a piano.  She wants to take piano lessons now that she can practice on my piano.  -)

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From “Heidi” to “The Sound of Music” to Vienna, Berlin, Munich and the Bavarian Alps

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

As some of you may know, my sister is currently in Germany for a couple weeks.  While there, her Army son will be marrying his German fiance.  She has already written on her blog about the wonderful time they’re having there – all the activities that are going on and the beautiful sights they’ve seen and the sites they’ve visited.

I am a bit jealous that she is traveling in a part of the world that I’ve always wanted to visit.  Ever since I saw “Heidi” as a child and then later “The Sound of Music” when I was in high school or college (can’t remember which -) ), I’ve longed to visit Austria, Germany and all the beautiful and scenic places I saw in those favorite movies.

Just imagine gazing at the magestic mountains of the Bavarian Alps, seeing the Schonbrunn palace in Vienna, or visiting the Brandenburge gates in Berlin.  The great thing now is that you can do so much of the planning for those once-in-a-lifetime trips via the internet.  You can find wien hotels, hotels in berlin, hotels in muenchen, and hotels in deutschland.  You can follow links to find activities and sites of interest in all the places you long to travel.

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Thursday Thirteen – My 73rd edition – Thirteen favorite Christmas carols

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen of my favorite Christmas carols: First, though, a little Christmas carol history:

Christmas carols are based on Christian lyrics and relate, in the main, to the Nativity. Christmas carols were introduced in to church services by St Francis of Assisi in the 12th century. As for the word carols, “carol” is a derivative of the French word caroller, the interpretation of which means dancing around in a circle. Carol and carols, eventually came to mean not only to dance but included music and lyrics.

(1) Silent Night, Holy Night

(2) It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

(3) O Holy Night

(4) The First Noel

(5) Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

(6) O Come All Ye Faithful

(7) Away in a Manger

(8) Mary, Did You Know?

(9) The First Noel

(10) The Friendly Beasts

(11) Little Drummer Boy

(12) There’s a Song in the Air

(13) O Little Town of Bethlehem

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Sunday Seven – 37th Edition

Friday, December 14th, 2007

This week I am writing about seven Christmas traditions that I am thankful for:

(1) Christmas stockings – I love planning and shopping for items to go in everyone’s stockings.  It’s just fun.

(2) Christmas Tree – There’s nothing more beautiful than a pretty Christmas tree.  Everytime I look at our Christmas tree, I like to squint my eyes so that only the lights stand out – and they look softer and beautiful.

(3) Colored lights on the Christmas tree – While all white lights look pretty, there is just nothing more Christmasy than colored lights.

(4)  The star that our daughter (now almost 33 years old) used in a pre-school Christmas play 30 years ago.  Each year it is the star at the top of our Christmas tree.

(5) And next to that star on top of the tree is the angel our son made in school 25 years ago.  So we have a doubly wonderful tree-topper each year.

(6) We have always had the tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve.  Everything else has to wait till Christmas Day.  It’s always fun selecting the one gift we want to open early.

(7)  Christmas caroling…There is absolutely no music more beautiful than Christmas music.  “Silent Night”  “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”  “O Holy Night” ” Hark the Herald Angels Sing”  “Mary Did You Know?”  “Away in a Manger”  – along with the more secular “Christmas in Dixie” “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” and “Tender Tennessee Christmas”

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Thursday Thirteen – My 72nd Edition – Christmas Gifts for hard-to-buy-for MEN (and women, too)

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

We draw names in our very large family (over 50 people!), and sometimes when someone draws the name of an adult male, there’s a little groan because men can be so difficult to buy for.  It’s not that they are unappreciative, but it’s just hard to know what they’ll like.  Here are some suggestions that should be helpful – or at least give you some ideas if you’re shopping for a man.

(1)  The Kindle is the newest electronic gadget to have.  It’s the new wireless reading device.   It’s really cool, and if your man is a techie, then this will make him happy.


(2)  You can’t go wrong with an iPod.  If your man doesn’t have one, it’s a great gift idea – especially if he really enjoys music.

(3)  Here is something I absolutely love – and so does RT.  My Keurig single-cup coffee brewer brews a k-cup of RT’s so-strong-it-would-choke-a-normal-person coffee one minute, and the next minute it brews my so-mild-RT-can’t-drink-it coffee the next.  It’s the one coffee maker that keeps us both happy.  Plus they have hot tea and hot cocoa k-cups now – so the it covers all bases.


(4) One of the best inventions of mankind is the cordless drill.  Before RT and I remarried, I had a DeWalt cordless drill, and RT had one, too.  So now we have two which was absolutely wonderful when we were putting in doorknobs, towel racks, blinds and other jobs around the new house.  We’d put a drill bit in one and a screwdriver bit in the other – and we were a team getting everything done.


(5) Many men have TV shows they particularly enjoy – or TV shows that they’ve heard about and thought sounded good but never watched – or TV shows that they like so much, they enjoy watching reruns of shows they’ve already seen.  Sometimes we start watching a show in its second or later season and wonder what that first season was like – how the story and characters were developed up to the point when we started watching it.   If any of those scenarios are the case, then a DVD with a season’s worth of shows is a great gift.  We never could afford to have HBO, and so we never watched “The Sopranos” when it was on its regular run on TV.  Now, though, we can buy the DVDs and see all the shows.

(6)  I read the story of Burt’s Bees products not long ago, and I already loved the stuff.  It’s great for your skin – both men and women.  This particular kit has grooming essentials for men – shaving cream, soap bar, body wash and after shave.   


(7)  I LOVE this cookbook.  When I was single, I gave it as a gift to some of the single men I know.  It’s a simple cookbook that men who are not accustomed to cooking can use with relative ease.  The directions are simple, the ingredient list is minimal, and the recipes taste good.  Great gift idea for any man who wants to start cooking for himself.

(8)  Okay, so this is probably not a male gift idea.  However, I love my paraffin spa so much that I decided to throw it into the mix here anyway.  If you’re looking for a gift for a woman, this is it.  I absolutely adore the way this makes my hands instantly softer and smoother.


(9)  I bought a webcam for my laptop a few weeks ago, and it has been so much fun playing around with it.  There’s just something about seeing the video on the computer screen immediately – and playing it back over and over.  I found I had a little bit of an actress in me – is YouTube in my futre?   Your guy will most likely want to start making his own YouTube videos if you get  him his own webcam.

(10)  Okay, now this gift is for the guy who already considers himself a good cook – or simply a connoisseur of fine pizza.  A pizza stone is the ultimate in making wonderful homemade pizzas.  You cook and serve the pizza on the stone.  It keeps the crust crispy and hot.  A perfect addition to any kitchen – for both men and women.


(11)  No matter your man’s interest, there is a magazine related to it.  A magazine subscription is a great gift.  I give magazine subscriptions every year.  I usually buy a recent issue and place the gift subscription card in it  – and then put the magazine in the person’s stocking – or in a gift box or bag. 


(12)  Every man needs a pair of Crocs for everyday wear around the house – or out and about.  They’re comfortable, washable and practically indestructible.  RT has one pair, and I have two pairs.  They’re the ultimate go anywhere shoe.


(13)  Every man needs a small tool kit – one that has the essentials for the home.  Well, every woman needs one, too.  I have one for the home and another one in my classroom at school.  I use them both quite frequently.  RT has his own tool kit that he uses often, too.  It’s so convenient to have everything altogether in one kit, and I have found that we go ahead and take care of little things that need done around the house when the right tool is near at hand.


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