Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sweet Times at Yuletide

I'm so glad Jesus was born and I'm so glad that we have a holiday to celebrate that. I don't know if He was actually born on December 25th and I don't know how much of our holiday trappings have pagan roots but I don't think that is so important. The most important thing is that we actually take the time to celebrate Him!

This year has felt especially sweet for me. I think it's because I wasn't originally planning on being here. Like a surprise bonus added onto the year 2006. Wonderful! Thank you Lord! I love your type of bonuses.

The Christmas festivities of my life started on Friday the 22nd. We had a Shekinah reunion at Renee's parents' house and we had a sweet time together chowing down on old favorites like baby hot dogs and funny cake. Renee, Lashonda, Brie, Ailene, Bekah, Danae, Cheryl, Sarah were there as were my FIVE Shekinah scrapbook albums (I'm not even done those yet!). We reminisced over the past year and enjoyed each other's company.

the Shekinah gals, together again!

Christmas with my family was on Saturday the 23rd and started out with a grumpy grandmom Kleinschmidt. Dad and I were late getting to her house in Hammonton, NJ (which was my fault of course, you would think that with all the extra time I've had since September that I would be so on top of things and never late....sigh). We enjoyed our reheated food and then spent time opening gifts. We gave Katelyn & Judah (actually Wendy because Judah really didn't seem to care about anything besides sleeping) their gifts first and then everyone else. Present opening at grandmom's always seems a little chaotic. It was a good time with my family and I even got some dancing time in with Katelyn!

John, Wendy, Judah & Katelyn (kinda - she refused to pose!)

Everyone enjoys their gifts: Dad, his socks and grandmom the calender with pics of Judah & Katelyn.

Christmas Eve started out early for me because I had to be at my church at 8 am before the start of the first service. We had three services in sucession and it was exciting to be a part of it even though I was only dancing during one song. I and two other gals from my church were the dancing angels during a song that included a pagaent. It was a little was very squishy up in the front. My church is not huge but that morning we had 40 adult choir members, 70 member children's choir, a drama which included 7 people and a table and chairs plus band and etc. Overall, everything went well despite having to dance very close to someone's bass and the scariness of trying to dance around veils with tripping over them. Thankfully, we didn't run into any wisemen or hit too many people in the front row with our veils! :0) We even had one wiseman who wanted to dance with us.

That night I met up with Starr and we went to her church service. We had dinner together and watched "It's a Wonderful Life." Can you guess? I fell asleep right in the middle. It was quite an exciting day! I stayed over at Starr & Heidi's that night. In the morning, Heidi and I had a yummy Christmas breakfast of crepes with banans and chocolate and got ready for the day. We had dinner with Starr's son Ross and his family and exchanged presents. It was a very sweet time and I ate TOO MUCH!!!!
I spontaneously stayed overnight again and Heidi and I hung out the next day. It always feels somewhat like being at home when I spend time with Starr & Heidi. I'm sure it's because I used to live with them for 6 years.

Starr & I have a seed-spitting contest at the sink!

Speaking of being with people that I've lived with before, this past Friday was our Stillwaters get together. Margie, Renee, Bekah, Emilie and I stayed over at Mandy & Rosie's apartment in Germantown. It was such a fun time! We made calzones together and exchanged gifts. Of course there were the typical gifts of underwear and socks! Yay for a reunion! The interesting thing is that all of us have never lived together at the same time. Margie got married and moved out and then we had Emilie for a year before the END. But we all get along and it was a blast! I didn't get too much sleep because Rosie the cat was very hyper. On the bed, off the bed, running over Emilie's face, eating the plant, etc. Margie was very concerned about it! Oh well, I think if I was Rosie, I would have been excited too!

Well, that's the tale of my Christmas adventures! I'm so glad that I was able to experience all these sweet times with dear friends and family!

Yay for the Christmas bonus!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cracker gets a new heart!

The saga of my aging car is not over yet and I'm sure you would all be dreadfully interested in reading about it!

Read on then, oh brave soul....

Recently my car's been losing power and not starting. A couple of weeks ago I had a hair appointment and I went out to start my car at 2pm. No go! After visions of horrible things being wrong with my car, I called AAA and they came to jump it. It worked and the guy told me to clean off the corrosion on the connector bolt (disclaimer: I don't know proper car verbage). Well, I cleaned off the corrosion like my dad taught me with some baking soda and a toothbrush (it's amazing how hard it is to find an old toothbrush in the Ensinger house...I think Mandy would be appalled!).

Cracker was a little grumpy the rest of the week when I started him but at least he started. Well, come Friday night when I needed to rush off to dance practice at church, it didn't start! Bummer!!! Thankfully, my nice roommate, Esther lent me her car and Cheryl's dad jumped Cracker the next day. He told me that I should get the battery checked to see if I needed a new one. Did I listen? Not until my car wouldn't start again on Monday. Thankfully, Mr. Ensinger left me his jumper cables and being the empowered woman that I am :0) I jumped Cracker with Esther's car.

I took Cracker to a garage to get the battery checked and the test said the battery was BAD! Oh bummer a bad battery! They wanted to charge me $75 for a new one and I (being the resourceful person that I am) decided to find an alternative option. My alternative option was getting my own battery and having someone put it in for me. Who would do such a task? Who would brave the battery acid, the corrosion, the aging interior of my delapidated (I've always wanted to use that word) car???? Who? Who else but Luke Scheetz, fixer of helicopters, husband of Margie and former "honorary" Stillwaters boyfriend???!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so Luke pretty much dislikes my car strongly and has a very bad opinion about it. I think it has something to do with it being an economy foreign made car. Who knows but he agreed to operate on Cracker. Thankfully, I was able to get a battery at Wal-mart for $35! Luke changed it in a flash (it looks so easy, anyone who has tools could do it!) and then was going to try to tighten one of my belts. Fortunately (for him) he changed his mind and decided not to get into it! Ah, the poor person who will have to deal with Cracker's quirks in the future. Cracker has a new economy brand heart (it may not last 11 years like the last one but do I care?) and thankfully it didn't cost me too much to replace it.

Thank you Luke, disliker of Trackers but changer of batteries!

And thank you Lord, that it was just a battery.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wreathed in Joy

I decided that since I'm going to be around for the holidays, that I might as well go at it with full force! So, I'm participating in all sorts of seasonal activities. Woohoo for Christmas! This past weekend, I went to a cookie swap.<< cookie swap, cookie swap...hoorah for a cookie swap! >> In case you've never heard of one of those before: it's where everyone brings some cookies and you take home all the different cookies that you want to. I made chocolate cookie pretzels and cream cheese crescents and came home with sugar, chocolate nobake, cranberry white chocolate chip, triple chocolate chunk, chocolate cream cheese, and regular chocolate chip cookies. whew cookies!! The sad thing is that three days later there are only 3 cookies left at our house.

My other seasonal activity this weekend was making wreaths and arrangements with the Finger family. For the past couple of weeks, I've had a strong desire to create wreath! I don't know if you've ever had those strong creative urges but I have them quite usually involves some sort of impractical creative project. Thankfully, I was just in time for the Finger family wreath/greens weekend. Two of the women whom I used to work with at Printworks reserve a weekend in December specifically in order to create things for the holidays from fresh greens. So, I got to join in on the fun and learn how to properly construct a wreath.

Here are the steps to wreath making according to Momma Mary Finger:

STEP 1: Prepare your hands!
Slather lotion on your hands and fingers to protect you from the onslaught of sap created by the fresh greens. Put bandaids on your fingers to protect your tender flesh from sharp wires. (you may want to cover your lap with a drop cloth to prevent sap on your lap)

STEP 2: Create a bag o' bundles
This step is the most monotonous one. You gather greens together (pine, boxgloves, etc) and make bundles by twisting wire around the stems. Watch out for sharp wire edges --sometimes they like to bite (like what happened to my thumb! ouch). Bundles greens, bundle greens, bundle greens until you have a brown bag 3/4 of the way full. With your bag o' bundles you are ready to go to the next step!

STEP 3: Attach the bundles to a wreath ring
Take your metal or wooden wreath ring and tie some green string around it. Put your first bundle on the ring and separate the greens in order to wrap the thread around them and then around the frame. Repeat the wrapping of the string at a different place in the greens and then wrap a couple of times at the bottom of the bundle. Take another bundle and depending on how bushy/thick or thin you would like your wreath place it next to the attached bundle on the frame (the closer the bundle is to the other bundle, the thicker and bushier the wreath will be). Repeat the whole wrapping process again and again and again until the entire wreath is WREATHED IN GREENS! when you get to the end, tie your string to the place where the original string was tied on and cut of the extra.

STEP 4: Protect the back
In order to protect the surface wherever you will hang the wreath, you may want to cover the back of the wreath frame. Hot glue small peices of green to the back of the frame.

STEP 5: Embellish the Wreath
Now comes the fun and creative part: Decorating your wreath. Before getting to far along in your decorating, you may want to take a pipe cleaner and create a loop on the frame for hanging purposes. You can decorate the wreath with ribbon, pine cones, glittery decorations, fake berries or whatever you would like. It's amazing how creative you can get with a wreath!

STEP 6: Enjoy it!
Find a lovely spot to display your wreath and it should last until the end of the holiday season. In the end, you can remove the dead greens and decorations and reuse the wreath ring next year.

Yay for wreaths! I ended up making two wreaths and an arrangement that looks like a Christmas tree. I put one wreath on the Ensinger front door and gave the other to my brother and sister-in-law. I still need to find a home for the arrangement because it wouldn't last long in the Ensinger's house with Tony and Aaron the cat on the loose!

Judah Caeden Kleinschmidt

I'd like to introduce you all to my nephew:
Judah Caeden Kleinschmidt
born on Wednesday, November 29th, at 4:20pm weighing 9lb. 1/2 oz., and 22 inches long.

I drove to Harrisburg yesterday to meet him and hang out with my brother and his family. My neice Katelyn (who is two) and I (An' Cayee) had lots of fun playing together! Our toy of choice yesterday was a blanket. We each had one and we pretended that they were our coats and that we had to go outside. Of course everytime we did something, Katelyn would shout, "do it again!" :0) We also had fun dancing together but An' Cayee's arms got a little tired when Katelyn thought it would be more fun for me to dance with her in my arm so that she could swing a blanket around.

It was great to see Katelyn's interaction with "babee Judaah." She kept wanting to kiss him but unfortunately she has a cold so they had to deflect her kisses to the top of his head. She also wanted to hold him (she kept on insisting upon it while her mom was trying to nurse Judah, I had to distract Katelyn with a ball). I think my brother and his wife will definitely have some attention and sharing issues to deal with but Katelyn seems to be adjusting pretty well!

It was so wonderful to spend the day with them and I'm glad that God decided to bless me with the chance to meet Judah before I went to Peru! Yay!

Is Baby Judah already living up to his name as a "Praise Warrior"? ;0)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Put the Lights on the Tree

The Christmas season has arrived! I found out from the mission agency that I won't be leaving until after the holidays which means that I get a chance to celebrate Christmas in PA. It's a lovely gift to be able to celebrate this season with friends and family. I'm excited about spending more time with my neice and nephew! I'm excited about the Stillwaters dear friends Renee and Bekah will be back from lands afar! I wasn't planning on Christmas in PA but I'm glad for it.

As many of you know, I've been living at the Ensinger household since August. My friend Cheryl's brother, Ryan really likes Christmas. He has a 10 ft tall Christmas tree with over 2000 lights on it sitting in his house's entryway room (which has tall ceilings and a huge front window). It took him 2-3 hrs to put the lights on and despite the cuts on his fingers, he says that it's worth it all. I'm not quite so sure but it looks impressive and we certainly don't need to turn any lights on in that room. Yes, reading by the glow of the very bright Christmas tree... ahhhh Christmas...

You know this all reminds me of a certain Sufjan Stevens song. Follow this link for a fun video!