Monday, November 29, 2010

I Must be CRAZY......

(I could not get it all in ONE pic!)

I  have WAY too much in the way of Christmas decorations!! TONS and TONS of it!

Louis Dean and I unloaded the shed attic late this afternoon......

5 Ornament Boxes.....a couple of them hand painted and handmade!
6 HUGE tubs FULL
13 tubs FULL (18 gallon size)
12 trash bags of garland and other 'debris' not suitable for tubs!
3 Christmas trees.....2 (6 1/2 ') and 1 (4 1/2') ...smaller trees in bags!
Various garlands, door mats, and other odd and end things

My long suffering husband who could NOT believe the HUGE amount of decorations!
(Even though we have been married 5 years and he has seen this all more than ONCE!)

Last year I did NOT (gasp!) decorate! At least not much! Louis Dean and I spent Christmas in Scotland with Amber and Mike. Before we left we discovered the shed roof was leaking and had ruined some of my 'stuff'! So Louis Dean rushed to the rescue and secured the decorations awaiting our return from Scotland at which time he put a new roof on the storage building. So this is the first time in two years we have unloaded the whole thing! (well....all of the Christmas things! Fall is inside the house in the attic but the storage building holds all the other seasons! And I decorate for ALL the seasons!) WHAT a job! He is also tearing out my bathroom for a major remodel! That's why he looks the way he does in the pic! Poor man! He is such a good sport! But then am I! You know he tore out ALL my bathroom (sheet rock, sink, insulation.....etc)? I did not even think about where he was PUTTING that stuff!!! UNTIL I tried to get to the storage building this morning! It COVERED the patio by our bedroom door!! He had to move all that and clean off the area before I could even get started! That is why it was late this afternoon before we could GET to the decorations to unload them! SO.....tomorrow I will actually BEGIN the process of dressing the house for Christmas!
But for now.....we are heading to the den, light the fireplace, pour us a glass of wine and watch a little TV!
We have done ENOUGH for one day!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winter's Grace....

This morning we observed the first Sunday of the Advent Season with 'Winter's Grace' Cantata and Hanging of the Greens. It was a beautiful service and reminded us of the spiritual meaning of so many of the decorations we use at Christmas.

I tried to take a few 'discreet' pictures....not sure of the etiquette of taking photos during church!

My camera does not do justice to the beauty of the service or the choir.....this lady sings like an angel!
And, YES! She is wearing a crown of candles!

Our gifted choir.

Our very talented choir director.

Even the lights were a part of the service!

At a certain point in the service the congregation was invited to hang the Chrismons we had made in a previous year. The word "Chrismon", is a medieval Latin word meaning a symbol of Christ or Christianity, or a "Christ-Monogram". ....Ornaments of Faith.

By the end of the service the tree was complete.
Let the Season BEGIN!

In the same manner in which we clean and prepare our homes in the anticipation of welcomed guests and family members this Christmas season, let us also prepare our hearts in anticipation of the Lord's coming. Christ, our most honoured and eagerly anticipated guest, desires to meet with us in a heart prepared for his arrival. So eager is he to meet with us that he offers to help us with our spiritual housecleaning, working with us; creating a resting place for Himself within our hearts.

Katherine Walden

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Lull in the Action!

I am enjoying looking at all my friends' blogs and seeing how they spent their Thanksgiving Day and are now.....if they have not already done so.......are decorating their homes for Christmas. However, here at the Chapman's there is a temporary lull in the action! I took down ALL of my fall decorations and packed them  away last week! Every single thing is stored in the attic secure in plastic tubs or heavy duty trash bags. ALL of fall is now up there including all my seasonal clothing. My house looks naked!

Or as bare as it can be with no seasonal 'debris' adorning every possible surface!

I have so many lighted wreaths and garlands that I keep year round that even 'naked' it retains a bit of coziness. I found some more of those push button extension cords that are wonderful.  I have another one for the left side of the room so three clicks and the lights are ON!

A fellow blogger at A Stroll Through Life  did a post  about a terrific product called Briwax! I ordered some off of eBay and have been shining up all my furniture and cabinets ever since! I decided to clean the whole house BEFORE hauling in all the Christmas decorations from the shed attic. I do so love the look and feel and smell of CLEAN!

Although I have not decorated yet....I HAVE been working on finishing my Christmas painting projects! This is a little tray that I will pair with a Wine Bottle Light, a couple of wine glasses and a bottle of good wine. That will be one of the gifts for our Family Chinese Christmas Tree Party we have on Christmas morning. You know the kind! Gifts are numbered and we each draw one......then as our number is called we may choose a gift from under the tree OR opt to take one already opened that you REALLY like! Of course, someone may well take that one away from YOU so you must be a good sport....or have a good game plan you have worked out with your partner. A gift can only be 'stolen' three times and then it is a done deal!

I also hung all my Christmas Santas! I usually decorate the den with red and green plaids and a Santa theme!

This lighted wreath (with a push button to turn it off and on!) hangs in my sewing/computer room year round.

SO while there has been a 'lull in the action' I HAVE been busy!

Louis Dean spent ALL of Wednesday baking cinnamon rolls as well as dinner breads for the Thanksgiving Feast at my sister's in Fort Worth.

He is a man among men and I am so happy WITH and proud OF him!

It was a wonderful day to share with family and loved ones!

We are so very blessed. I am filled with gratitude for all the Lord has done for me.
And I am grateful for the 'lull in the action' which has allowed me to accomplish a few other things before heading into the Christmas Season!

 "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Colossians 3:17

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Scotland Experience....Part 9...The END!

It was with a sad heart I finished packing our suitcases for the journey home. I had SO enjoyed being with Amber and Mike….seeing how life in Aberdeen looked for myself…..being a PART of that life for nearly 3 weeks! Amber and I held hands as I told her how much this time had meant to me. I even tear up now….even though I have been home for days now! While I am thrilled they are able to enjoy this year in Scotland and travel excursions throughout Europe during this time…as a MOM I sure do miss her! But back to the USA we go! Jesse had listed us on a 6:30 am flight on Wednesday and this time my bags really were packed and the taxi was waiting! We left the flat at 4:45 so that’s a little early to get too emotional and that was a good thing! I checked us in at the kiosk and lo, and behold!! We were issued boarding passes then and there! Then we had to stand in a 45 minute line to ‘drop our bags!’ I have a knee replacement so when we go through security I require special attention. This time Louis Dean did, too!! Apparently his two heart stints set off the alarm so we BOTH were taking things off…, belts, sweaters…..and they looked through ALL our ‘stuff’ before we were cleared to gather our things and move on. Well, we were a bit discombobulated! In all the commotion we left a carry on bag behind, never even missing it till we deplaned in London! In the meantime, British Airways had already contacted my son, Jesse, as well as Amber. The call said I had left a ‘handbag’ and they were hoping and praying it was NOT my purse!! They knew it wasn’t when our names appeared on the stand by list at Heathrow!

Security was at 100% when we checked in for our flight! They only opened the gates 2 hours prior to departure time and we then went through yet ANOTHER security at the gate. Heathrow was SO big…we were really grateful we had stayed at Terminal 5 upon our arrival when we spent the night in the airport. Terminal 5 is more like a Love Field to us and therefore not as scary and BUSY! The waiting area was PACKED tight and no screens to show the stand by passengers and status. It’s a wonder we even HEARD the name ‘Chapman’ being called out! I was handed 2 boarding passes…2J and 3J….and I was thrilled! We were going HOME! These were FIRST class boarding passes but it did NOT register on us at all until the rows for first class and business were called! What a ride!

Louis Dean was especially grateful to be on First as he is a big man.

The food was excellent and we had so much fun!

 I set Louis Dean up to watch ‘Gone With the Wind’….the FIRST time he has seen it! He was a little boy selling newspapers when it came out but he has always been so ADD he could not sit still long enough to follow it. This time he had no choice! He was a captive audience and it served him well to pass 4 hours…HALF of his flight…..enjoying this movie classic!

We were so happy to arrive back home in the USA!! What an experience! It was a wonderful time and we enjoyed every minute of being with Amber and Mike! I don’t think I will be able to get Louis Dean out of the country again for awhile and certainly not for as long a time period. However, we are planning on a tour of New England in the fall and he said, “Perhaps we should take our passports JUST in case we want to go over into Canada!”

The Scotland Experience...Part 8

Inverness and Hootananny!
(From my December 2009 Journal)

Monday dawned fairly clear with no precipitation. However, since the sidewalks continued to be sheets of ice, Mike opted for a taxi ride to the train station. A good decision! It was SO cold!!! By 10:30 we were in our reserved seats on the train to Inverness which stopped at several scenic little towns along the way. I LOVE a train ride as does Louis Dean so this in itself was a lot of fun! The trip took 2 ½ hours with a short 15 minute walk through the town center to our hotel.

We all had very nice rooms. The heating system is steam and Louis Dean especially enjoyed the hot towels which were warmed by a steam heated bar!

An Italian restaurant was 2 doors down so we had lunch there. DELICIOUS!!! ALL the food we had in Scotland was exceptionally GOOD!!! Amber says it is because they knew where NOT to take us and I believe it!!

While the young people needed a nap, Louis Dean and I walked back to the town and browsed through the shops. He bought a CD of local music which will go with the other 4 music CD’s he has now collected. It began to snow and of course it grew dark as we were out since the sun sets at 3:30!

We returned to the hotel room where they have a complete tea/coffee service in each room and warmed up by the steam heater and drank some HOT tea!!

Soon it was time to meet downstairs for our trip to HOOTANANNY! This was why Amber planned this trip to Inverness….the live Scottish music at HOOTANANNY! We made a fairly quick walk there…sidewalks icy EVERYWHERE in Scotland…and snagged a table by good fortune as the place was already pretty crowded! The food served there is Thai! And surprisingly GOOD! I just did not expect THAI food in a Scottish pub! A sign on the corner of our table said ‘This table will be removed at 9:30 for dancing.’ We were finishing our meal and Amber had just uttered the words, “I bet they don’t make us move”….when they DID! They DID allow us to keep our chairs, however, so we pushed them over to a good spot and the musicians began to play! Originally scheduled that night was a group playing bagpipes and drums. For some reason they did not make it and another couple of musicians filled in for them and they were WONDERFUL!!!

A fiddle player and guitarist! The MOST awesome Scottish music we have ever heard!

Amber and Mike made sure Louis Dean got his picture made with them. It was the absolute grand finale to our fabulous trip to Scotland! The music and seeing Amber…..well, it doesn’t get any better than this! Thank you Amber and Mike! We loved every minute of our time with you!!!

CHEERS to Scotland and CHEERS to Mike and Amber!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Scotland Experience....Part 7

Christmas, Castle and Church…..Part 7

Christmas in Scotland is not as commercial as it is here. The commercials are not as frenzied and the gifts do not seem to be the focal point of Christmas as it has become here in America. Children get a FEW presents but they are not enormous ones! We attended the Family Christmas Service at 10:30 on Christmas morning at the church we had visited. It was a warm and lovely service and the pastor was personable…coming down and mingling in the congregation. He asked for a show of hands for anyone who had received a Christmas present. There was a surprisingly SMALL number of hands that were lifted! As per the brochure advertising the service that was posted on Union Street, the children were all invited to bring a gift. (Now all the children had raised their hands when asked about a gift ) The pastor would go to each child who wished to share and let them do a ‘show and tell.’ The gifts were simple but the children did not act disappointed in them. Children here at home seem to have such HIGH expectations due in part to the excessive commercial and media exposure of GETTING with little or NO thought given to GIVING! One boy had a ‘Torch’........that’s a flashlight to us and the novel part was it did not run on batteries but used the power of winding it up! Another fellow had a wooden box ‘puzzle’ which was interesting while a younger boy showed his toy fire truck that make a siren noise. I wish we could tone the commercial side of Christmas down here at home and I for one am going to try to do that next year. The only gifts I bought this year were for my grandkids and I chose simple ones like games and dominoes that we could play together.

A lot of the focus there is on the Christmas Meal. Many of the restaurants offered ‘Christmas Meals’ for a set price, dine in menus and offered the whole time we were in Scotland…not just on Christmas Day. As a matter of fact, most restaurants, bars, and pubs were closed on Christmas Day. There was much talk of the Christmas menu and a lot of shopping for the needed staples. We bought a Christmas Pudding but never got around to actually trying it!

We had a lovely meal prepared by Amber and Mike. Christmas glazed ham, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and on and on!!

The afternoon was spent relaxing, watching movies, working the Christmas puzzle which was finished shortly before midnight on Christmas evening! It was an absolutely WONDERFUL and peaceful Christmas!

Boxing Day is the day after Christmas and is a national holiday. Friends and family give gifts to each other on or before Christmas. Tradition holds that the day after Christmas the people would then box things up for the less fortunate and deliver them IN BOXES to them. Hence the name ‘Boxing Day.’

So on Boxing Day when MANY but not all of the businesses and shops are still closed, we ventured out on the icy roads for a car trip to Stonehaven to see Dunnottar Castle. Mike is an excellent driver on these roads having mastered driving in the Scottish manner. We actually rode on some FOUR line highways!! There are NOT many of these!! The village was quaint and picturesque. The long winding and narrow path to the castle was slick with ice and nearly everyone had a few slides when walking. We ventured down as far as we could go and admired the view taking some pictures. Mike walked behind Louis Dean and Amber had charge of me…..they were very protective of us the whole time we were visiting them and I am grateful that neither Louis Dean or I ever fell! Slipped a few times, yes, but never FELL!!

That evening we all went to the movies…..Sherlock Holmes. Mike had picked up our tickets earlier so we PARKED in the car park arriving right on time for the film! Amber, Mike & Stephen all loaded up on drinks and candy and as we were prepared to enter the theater…..we were told the projector was not working and that showing was cancelled! NO signs at the entrance indicating this so MANY people were in line after having purchased their refreshments! So this necessitated another long line to reschedule our showing. They do not seem to be very organized there! Amber, however, gave them some very useful advice! We DID eventually see the movie and finished the night off with a good meal at a Chicago style restaurant. They played old songs from the 40’s-50’s so Louis Dean LOVED it!

He ‘ate’ a meal of TWO Guinesses! By the way, the movie went right over Louis Dean’s head (he has ADD) so toward the second half he went downstairs to the theater’s bar and had a beer before rejoining us for the ending! Worked for HIM!

Sunday was a lazy day with a big breakfast! Jesse and I talked on email and Skype starting to figure out our return home. Our original return date was Dec. 28th …….but then it didn’t look like it would be till Jan 7th or 8th! Louis Dean had run out of some of his medicines so we thought it would be wise to return home earlier than that if possible. So he listed us on Wed. the 30th. Can you be excited to go home and sad to leave at the SAME time? YES! Amber and Mike were so gracious and even THEY were not quite ready for us to leave! Which is a good thing! We all attended church service Sunday evening together and then they went off to do their thing and Louis Dean and I stopped at the Foundry ( a place Amber and Mike go on Wed. nights for all you can eat ribs!) for a glass of wine and some people watching. We sat at a table in the window and talked of all the memories we had made on the trip. Our time had now run out to do more but we had seen all the familiar places Amber and Mike go and I was content. We STILL had a train ride to Inverness to look forward to as a grand finale! So we toasted each other and said CHEERS to Scotland!!

The Scotland Experience.....Part 6

(Taken from my December 2009 Journal)


It is Christmas Eve as I write. The flat is all clean and tidy! Laundry done, floors swept, cinnamon rolls ready for the oven. Mike has gone to pick up his friend, Stephen, from the airport. There is an air of readiness about the place. It does seem a little strange to be spending Christmas away from home and all the familiar decorations and traditions. I would be cooking and wrapping, writing Christmas letters and getting ready for the Christmas Eve service at First Christian Church. Instead I am relaxing in the flat and watching movies with Amber! This year the only hustle and bustle I have had was at ADSA (Aberdeen’s version of Walmart) buying our Christmas week food yesterday! ASDA has 2 stories and an escalator that accommodates the wheeled carts! Pretty entertaining that in itself! As Amber and I rode up and down between the floors, I noticed the harried expressions on the faces of the shoppers and the exhausted look of the employees! Christmas CAN be stressful!! But not for me this year! We shopped every single isle and poor Amber was worn out by the time we were through! No need for spin class or kick boxing for HER that day! We have enough food to last us quite awhile. So whatever YOU are doing on this December 24th…..on this Christmas Eve…. I wish a HAPPY Christmas to all my Facebook friends, family and loved ones!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Scotland Experience....Part 5

The Church of Scotland, Penny Whistles and MORE Snow!
(From my December 2009 Journal)

 Sunday evening we bundled up and headed back up to Union Street for a Christmas Carol Service at Gilcomston South Church.

It was a beautiful and meaningful service. This is one of The Church of Scotland churches. There was a good crowd of age integrated worshipers! Loved to hear the carols sung and the scriptures read in the distinctive Scottish brogue. The people were all friendly!

( We took this pic AFTER the service! The place was jam packed when we arrived!)

We sat upstairs in the balcony so after the service ended I went down a teeny twisted stairwell to find a Ladies Room leaving Louis Dean to follow at his own pace down the better wider one we had come up. I went on to enjoy hot tea and little mince pies still warm from the oven and tasty …….all the while watching for Louis Dean to join me. After a half hour or more (the congregation lingers long to fellowship with each other! NO one seemed to be in a hurry to leave!) I went out on the street to see if I could find him. NOT THERE! I checked the entry way and what halls I could find. Finally I made my way BACK upstairs to where I had left him and there he was! A lady had cornered him and had been talking to him all that time! Regretfully, he had not understood anything she said! He THINKS she was telling him about an answer to prayer. Everyone speaks English but it can still sound like a foreign language!

I rescued him and we crossed the street to The Justice Mill. He ordered fish and chips while I had Cottage Pie. They love their starches here and apparently green peas. EVERYTHING is served with green peas it seems!

My pie was a beef dish with mashed potatoes on top served WITH chips (French Fries!) Amber tells me ‘chips’ are fries and ‘crisps’ are chips! The food was good, though, and we ate it all! I see lots of salads in the New Year for us! We enjoyed our outing and as we left the flat, telling Amber and Mike we would be eating at the Justice Mill, they said, “WHAT??? You didn’t tell us that!” They are very protective of us! As we were preparing to leave the restaurant, Amber phoned me on the cell they provided. “Just checking up to make sure y’all are OK! You’ve been gone a long time!” When did the mother/daughter role become reversed?

Louis Dean has had his eye on a beautiful tooled guitar strap so we made our way to the shop very carefully on Monday afternoon. The snow had somewhat melted and refroze over the weekend making walking treacherous.

While he shopped I sat by the window of the little tea room on the upper level and enjoyed a pot of tea and a bit of people watching……always a fascinating thing to do!

 Louis Dean made his purchases (guitar strap, tuner and a DOZEN penny whistles!!) and we headed back to the flat.

We had a cozy evening with a stir fry chicken dish along with a huge mixed salad and then settled down to watch it snow as we worked the Christmas puzzle. We may well have it done before Christmas at this rate! So, just in case, I picked up another one in town!

During the night the snow really fell!! Louis Dean and I got up to sit at the window watching like a couple of children! There is a thick blanket over everything as I write. Amber walked to work this morning but Mike stayed home. Even his company bus was not running! Our plans were to shop for Christmas Dinner food tomorrow at ASDA. Who knows?

We may be getting things from the little grocer close by and have a unique but not traditional Christmas Dinner! SO many people are stranded in their cars and airports and train stations here in the United Kingdom! I am VERY grateful to be in a snug little flat with my husband and Amber and Mike. I pray all my friends and loved ones are safe and warm and happy. As they say here in Scotland, “HAPPY Christmas!”