Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Memories

A tray of some of our Christmas treats. Red Velvet mini cupcakes, the famous Sugar Cookies, and Peppermint Meltaways.

I put up 4 trees this year...starting with a miniature tree and growing in size up to the largest one shown here. It is full of ornaments and looked so pretty. I love my Christmas ornaments. They are so personal and bring back special memories. It had grown, though and I now spread it out between 3 trees.

I added this guy to the collection this year. As has become my tradition, I purchase two ornaments for each of my kids each year. As I was looking through the ornaments at Target, I saw this Mr. Potato Head. I LOVED him. He looked so happy I knew as soon as I saw him he was coming home with me!

A friend of mine had family that worked at Hallmark and several years ago, Hallmark had a line of I Love Lucy ornaments. I must have 6 or 7. When Hallmark quit the line, Amy found one made by American Greetings. I hadn't seen another one since...until this year. Once again, I was looking through the ornaments at Kohls and came across this Lucy with her little chicks. I couldn't resist and she came home to hang on the tree too!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This Year's Cookie

The past several years, I've decided to try new cookie recipes at Christmas. Last year I tried a recipe for some very cute "Butter Cookie Snowmen." At least they looked cute in the picture. My attempt at these cookies ended up looking more like ugly white looking rocks. They never made it to the table! I did, however try another recipe for "Cookie Dough Truffles" which were delicious.
This year, the recipe I decided to try was "Peppermint Meltaways." Delicious! A nice, light cookie confection that is a little minty yet sweet. They really do just melt in your mouth. Yep, we have a winner!

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's The Funniest Thing

I purchased this Christmas count-down calendar when Amy was a baby - 23 years ago. It was an Avon special purchase. It has hung in our home every year since then.
When the kids were young, we had to take turns with who got to advance the little mouse each night.
These days there are only two left at home. And even though they are almost 18 and 15, the little mouse still gets moved every day!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Song For His Mother

About 6 years ago, I came across a CD by a group called, "IL Divo." It is a group of 4-5 Italian young men with classical voices. The 2nd song or so on the CD was a song called, "Nella Fantasia." I LOVE this song. It is so lyrical and the melody is so beautiful. I also love the classical male tenor voice singing it and I knew this was a song I wanted to hear Josh sing. I know I told him at the time and several times more over the years but knowing that this is his last year in this school and not knowing where he'll end up next, I'd all but given up hope of ever hearing him sing this song...until Friday night when I looked at the program....and to my surprise saw that it was the final song.

Now I need to stop here and say that I'm glad he waited all these years to sing it. It would have been good before but he has fine-tuned his voice. He's learned breath and control and Friday night he sang as good as I've ever heard him sing.

He asked two of his friends to sing along with him as well as his friend, Jordan who accompanied him the entire evening. Jordan is only 19 and I was so impressed with his piano skills. He had some tough pieces to play. Also playing were a friend on the cello and clarinet.

I'm so glad I recorded this one. I've listened to it several times already. You'll see him turn directly to the camera and smile right before he sings. The smile said, "This one's for you, mom." Once again, I'm getting teary thinking about it. I smiled back at him and mine said, "I know!! and I love you!"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Recital Thoughts & Memories

From the moment I saw the poster's Joshua had printed for his recital, I knew it was going to be something special. Josh has always had an eye for detail and his recital was no exception. Was I was not prepared for, however, was how overwhelmed I would feel by the end of the night. I've been trying to process my thoughts, feelings, and emotions since Friday evening and even now its hard to put into words how the night turned out.

Everything came together beautifully for his reception. I'm amazed at how on a very small budget, we put out a reception that had people asking who catered it. In another post I'll share some of the money-saving things we did. The school provided a beautiful room called, The Meeting Place, and it looked beautiful. The support and encouragement began almost immediately. Josh works as an assistant to the athletic director. He asked if he could borrow the coffee urns they have & she gave him the key to the concession stand and told him to help himself to whatever he needed. Not having to purchase coffee and cups, sugar and creamer saved us lots of money. Several professors stopped by and wished him luck and offered any assistance if needed. It was at this point I was beginning to appreciate the fact that he is in a small school.

The recital was held upstairs in the chapel. The normal attendance for a recital is 50-75 people. We figured he'd have about 100. The people began coming and coming and coming. They had to bring in more chairs downstairs and upstairs in the balcony. In fact, it was standing room only. The president of the college was there as were all the heads of the music department. Josh had no idea of the response until he came into the room. He was blown away by the crowd of almost 300 and when he looked up in the balcony, he saw his high school music teacher had come to surprise him. He was overwhelmed and had to quickly compose himself to begin his first song.

It is an odd and overwhelming feeling to be in a venue like that where all these people gather for your kid and to hear his name talked about in very positive ways. Word got around that we were his parents and they had such kind and encouraging comments about him. One lady gave us a note and had clipped out articles about Josh that had appeared in the local paper. I was brought to tears by their support and encouragement. Cliff sat by a man who was the former head of the music dept at the college. He told Cliff that this was the best recital they've hosted in years and that Josh has brought something back to the music dept. Even as I write this I'm overwhelmed by those sorts of comments.

Sometimes the gift is bigger than the kid...and part of the journey is learning to embrace not only the gift but the Giver of that gift. At one point, Josh fought his gift and he fought the Giver. He thought he would give up music all together and go in a different direction. I knew he couldn't. I've known there is a song in him that always has to come out. It was a difficult time being his mom while he was fighting. He almost lost everything. I'm continually thankful that God, in his grace, has always kept people in his life who have been on his side and fought for him. One of those was his high school music teacher. Another is his current vocal coach...who kept after him even after he totally blew off his first college level vocal competition. At his recital, it was as if he'd come full circle. Musically you can tell he embraced his gift....he works hard at it now....continually honing his voice and it shows. And I know he's made peace with the Giver of his gift. He's at peace. And I'm so very thankful and feeling very, very blessed!

This past Sunday some of the children in our church sang and played their violins and I have a whole new appreciation for the women who work with those kids. That's where my son got his start. His Aunt Elizabeth was his first little choir director. He was given opportunities to sing at a very young age. And what better place than in God's house? God is definately very, very GOOD!!
**Unfortunately, I'm not having success uploading video today. I'll try again tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Recital Preparations

It is customary for the family to provide a reception following the Senior Recital. This came as no surprise to me as Josh and I discussed it last summer.
Most people go with cookies. My son, however, has chosen 3 of his top favorite treats...Red Velvet Cupcakes, Peanut Butter Balls, and Cream Cheese Spritz Cookies. Now, we are expecting no less than 100 people, so since Grandma is the master of the cream cheese spritz cookies she has volunteered to press out dozens and dozens. Emily and I will be working on rolling and dipping dozens and dozens of peanut butter balls, I will be baking the red cupcakes in miniature sizes so those will probably be the easiest to make in bulk and the frosting will be done there. Amy is trying her hand at a new recipe for cake pops.
Tomorrow I have to go shopping for everything and Thursday is the big baking, rolling, dipping day!!
Jacob & Emily have both been chosen to participate in District Honor Choirs on Saturday so we won't even be able to stay for the reception.
I'll try to post again on Monday pictures and hopefully a video or two.