Posted in everyday musings, Zooma the Wonderdog

Zooma the Wonder Dog takes over to lift the winter blues

It’s been a while since Mom has let me take over the blog. For those of you who don’t know who I am, I’m Zooma the Wonder Dog and from time to time I like to take over the blog so you have something actually interesting to read. Shhh…don’t tell Mom I said that. You can read more of my posts (you know, the good ones on this blog) here and here and even here and oh yeah..here too.

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You’ll notice I’m calling Mom Mom now and not “mommy”. That’s because I’m finally a teenager and my childish ways are behind me. Mom says my childish ways are not behind me since she’s caught me in the trash more than once and chasing the cat more than once, as well, but I ignore her because, well, I’m a teenager. I don’t have to pay attention to what my parents say.

I know, I know. Some of you may claim you saw me running around the yard the other day, being silly and acting like a young pup again, but you’d be wrong. I was simply working out to keep myself young and trim and looking good for the boy dog I saw walking by the other day.

Mom is such a killjoy. She says I can’t be around boy dogs until I’ve been spayed. I don’t know if she has a lisp or what, but I can’t figure out what being spayed has to do with me liking to bark a hello at the boy dogs walking by. I mean spaying is what they do to keep you clean right? With water and a hose? I don’t know for sure but Mom says I’m going to be spayed in a couple of days so I’ll find out then.

I saw a dog get spayed on TV on one of those shows Plaything 2 watches and that dog had soap and warm water so I hope I get spayed like that. I’m not a fan of baths, or soap, but being spayed with water might be fun. I’ll let you know what I think about it all in my next post.

Since moving here I’ve grown pretty fond of – I mean, I’ve grown accustomed to living here with my human family. Mom and Dad are pretty cool. Dad is grumpy sometimes when I wake him up early to pee but then he’s even grumpier if I let him sleep and pee in the living room. It takes a lot to make him happy it seems. Mom doesn’t like when I rip toilet paper up all over the bathroom floor or the backyard and she keeps telling me to leave The Beast alone.

The Beast has started to love me. She has. Don’t let her tell you any different. She misses me when I’m gone – like when I went to Grandpa and Grandma’s for something everyone called Christmas. There was a lot of food there but Grandpa and Mom were the only ones who gave me any. Grandma kept reminding Mom of that time Mom said it was bad to feed me from the table.

Now I know where Mom gets her fun-killing attitude. I can’t imagine why it’s bad to feed me from the table.

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The new human Kim was nice and if I didn’t love my current family so much I’d have gone to live with her. Of course, I decided going home with her wouldn’t be so much fun since the other new human (who Mom called Butthead, but I don’t think that’s his real name), said they live with a beast even bigger than The Beast and that it would rip my face off. I don’t want my face ripped off. Then  I couldn’t sneak food from Plaything 2’s plate when she leaves it down, which is always, because she’s almost like a teenager, like me, and doesn’t listen to Mom and Dad.

Wait, did I say I love my family back there? Um…yeah..well..I know I’m a teenager, but I guess I sort of do love Mom and Dad and my human brother and human sister. And of course Grandma and Grandpa. Mom says Grandma isn’t really a “dog person” but she is now because of me. That makes me proud. I’ve clearly charmed her.

Just don’t tell my family I said I love them.

Talk to you soon.

Can’t wait to tell you about the spay and if it really makes my fur feel better or not.

Posted in 10 on 10, everyday musings

10 on 10 for January or the one where I barely had any photos to share

I’m not going to lie. I’ve barely touched my camera since the weather grew cold and the sun left us for what seems like for good. I am not a fan of dreary winter weather so trying to be creative in the midst of it is a true struggle. When the ladies in my group were talking about sharing 10 on 10 posts for this month I was excited until I realized I have very little to share. The idea is to share ten photos from the same day but I don’t even know if I have taken ten photos from the same day in a couple of months or even longer. So today I thought I’d share ten photos that represented our December. Mainly we prepared for Christmas by preparing my dad’s star to hang up on the hill behind his house, going to cut down a “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” from Dad’s other property (where I grew up), and hiking in the woods behind the home to cut princess pine.

Hopefully the next few months will inspire me to pick my camera up more than the last couple have but since we are in the midst of a very dreary and sunless winter, I am not sure how that will unfold.

Since this is part of a blog circle project, I hope you will continue on to the next blog by finding the link at the bottom of the post and then find another link in that post and so on until you come back to me. Take a journey with our photographers and you might just take a virtual and visual journey around the world.

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To continue the circle please visit Penelope’s blog.

Posted in everyday musings

Keep singing me that song, sweet girl

dsc_0620“Mama, I have something to show you,” you said while I was trying to cook dinner one night.

“Um..not now, honey. I have to cook dinner,” I told you.

“But moooom…” you sighed and rolled your eyes with your head tilted back like you had been doing a lot lately.

I sighed myself, without the eye roll and set the chicken aside so I could sit in the kitchen floor with you.

“Today is a special day to tell you how to feel, in my own way,” you sang with the song on the app and slid into my lap. Your voice was tiny and sweet.”I really want to tell you Mom, I love you so. I love you so. You take care of me and help me grow. When I am sad you always know. When you teach me things I feel so proud. You pick me up when I fall down. You pick me up and keep me safe. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be, than wrapped up in a hug from you, ’cause I love you and you love me.”

You leaned against me and looked up at my face as you sang and somehow I think you knew what would come next. Tears. From me. Not simple little …. tears but big, full-on ugly cry tears.

You continued to sing and sway a little in my arms. Supper was later than usual that night but it was worth it. It was even more worth it when your dad came home for supper and you sang him his version of the song. Apparently I’m not the only one who ugly cries.

Every once in awhile, at least once a week you come into the kitchen with the phone and you hold it up to me and push play. Each time we sit next to each other and I hold you close and you sing the song to me.

Sweet girl, please never stop coming to me with that song.

Never stop asking me to let you sing it to me.

Never stop looking at my face to see if I’m crying again.

Never stop waiting for those kisses on the cheek and the gentle squeeze as I pull you against me.

I know I can say it, can ask you to always sing this sweet little song to me and love me when you’re older as much as you do now, but I also know one day you won’t sing to me anymore.

One day you’ll rush off to play with your friends, go shopping, or rush to practice and simply wave at me over your shoulder on your way out the door.

You may one day very well forget how much you wanted your mama to know you loved her, but your mama will never forget it and I will also never forget the feeling of being the center of your world.

May I never take for granted these days that can sometimes seem so long but are rushing by so quickly and may I never take for granted your love for me.

And may you always know the love I have for you.

 

 

Posted in authentic, everyday musings

Word of the year: contentment

“If thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven, Then, to the measure of that heaven-born light, Shine, Poet! In thy place, and be content. . . —WILLIAM WORDSWORTH”

Once upon a time I picked out a “word of the year”; a word meant to set the tone of the upcoming year. It is closely related to the idea of a New Year’s resolution but instead of promising to do something to change yourself in the new year the idea is to change how you think about your life.

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A couple years ago I chose the words “peace” and “simplicity.” Everything in my world was not peaceful or simple during that year but there were periods of peace and simplicity at least. Decisions were also made with those words at the forefront of my mind, as much as possible anyhow. To keep with the sentiment behind the words I also cut out some people and aspects of my life that created little more than stress.

This year the word “contentment” has been on my mind a lot lately and I think one reason is because I am rarely content, but am getting better. In fact, two days after I chose contentment as my word for 2019, I wound myself up in an anxiety-ridden ball of discontented stress induced by the restless feeling that I should be doing more with my life. I was agitated, snappy and definitely not content with life for three days straight.

Being discontented isn’t always a bad thing. Someone in a bad relationship or a dead end job might say “I’m not content to stay where I am in this life” and in those cases discontent is not only understandable but acceptable. The good discontent leads to positive and needed changes. Sometimes, though, we need to learn to embrace contentment in our lives; contentment in where we are and what we have and who we have in our lives.

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Blogger Stacey Pardoe wrote on her blog recently:

I’ve always been drawn to the familiar words of Psalm 46:10, “Cease from striving and know that I am God.”

Some translations read, “Be still and know that I am God.”

For years I assumed the words “be still” meant to stop moving and focus on God.

What I didn’t know was that in the original language, the word for “be still” loosely translates as “let your arms hang loose or slackened.” A more literal translation is, “Let your hard-working arms hang limp and loose. Lay it down.”

I thought of those words as I stood in the shadow of the crescent moon. And in the milky glow, I let my arms hang loose. I laid down all my careful plans and all my striving to bring the plans to pass. It was terrifying.”

This year I want to do my best to be still while I try to embody the word contentment.

Contentment with being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom.

Contentment with people who reach out only when they want something from me.

Contentment with the lack of strong friendships.

Contentment with the journey to better health being slow but purposeful.

Contentment with what plans God has for me.

Contentment in the waiting.

Contentment that I may not always embrace contentment.

And when I don’t embrace being content I hope I will square back my shoulders and try again, relying on God’s wisdom to show me if I need to be content with where I am or if God is calling for a change.

I hope this new year, and each new day in it, we all remember contentment is how we hope and strive to feel.

It may take time to reach the level of contentment I feel I should have but when I fail I pray God reminds me to be still until I find it again.

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All images by Lisa R. Howeler


Lisa R. Howeler is a wife, mom, writer and photographer. She resides in Pennsylvania and is a former journalist. She currently provides photographs for bloggers and for stock agencies, Alamy, Cavan, and Lightstock.

 

Posted in everyday musings

Logged back on Facebook. Experienced full body shudder. Logged back off.

After 30-days of Facebook detox I logged back on this past week and almost immediately regretted it.

From someone calling someone else they disagreed with a Nazi to fear-mongering posts about health issues my heart was pounding within a few minutes and I logged back off again and reached for my Teddy Bear.

Facebook has become a landmine of stress for this anxiety-ridden soul, which may be something I need to seek out a therapist for, or it may be simply a sign I need to stay off Facebook as much as possible.

The odd thing is that I don’t even follow any controversial people or news pages so the fact every day people are now flipping out on each other over the simplest of things seems to be a sign that we’ve lost respect and decorum. Obviously this has been happening for a long time but nowhere is it more evident than in social media where people forget there are real people behind the computer or smartphone.

This latest incident involved a thyroid expert I follow who had been featured on a show people didn’t appreciate. She wasn’t exactly called a Nazi but she was told the views of the people were Nazi views, which makes me realize that this far out from World War II some people need to read some history and remind themselves what a Nazi actually is.

Since I haven’t yet seen this particular organization call for the extermination of all Jews, but in fact supports them in many ways, I don’t see how they received the Nazi label, other than this is what certain groups seem to call people now when they don’t agree with them.

Well, anyhoo, based on of the idiocy that is modern discourse and the tendency for everyone to be offended by everything, I’ve decided Facebook may be a once a month thing where I check in on some friends and family but then log back off. My blog posts and photos on Instagram are automatically shared to the platform and luckily don’t require me to log into my timeline.

If you’re going to stay on Facebook and want to avoid stress, I highly recommend avoiding scrolling your timeline and instead visit the individual pages of friends or family members. That way you can avoid being slapped in the face by bizarre articles about girls who think they are boys because a therapist told them they were, people who think anyone who wears black shoes are racist, and politicians calling each other Nazis and immoral while they all conducting themselves in immoral ways.

You can also avoid headlines like “three foods to avoid in 2019” and “What you’re eating/wearing/drinking/thinking may give you cancer” and “New test will determine what day you’ll die” and the ever popular “The end of the world is near. Read here for the signs of the end times” (save yourself some trouble with that one and see the headlines and article topics above for those signs).

Bottom line? If you don’t have to use Facebook, avoid it. Go out and experience life. Take a walk, read a book, study God’s word, watch a comedy, write a silly blog post or two about Facebook or notice you have children and play a game or two with them.

You’ll be better off for it.

I know I have been.

Posted in everyday musings

I’m not just here to serve my kids

Sometimes I think my children think I’m their humble servant. I sit down to start work on a blog post or edit photos or cook dinner or read a book and I hear “Mama? Can I have a drink?” “Mama! Can I have a glass of milk?” “Mama, can I have a snack?” I won’t lie. All I want to say back to them is “I don’t know. Can you?”

I mean seriously. What did I do to make these children think I’m going to wait on them hand and foot and do everything for them?

Oh right.

I know what I did.

I waited on them hand and foot and did everything for them. For years.

Read the rest of this post at Her View From Home:

https://herviewfromhome.com/im-not-just-here-to-serve-my-kids/

Posted in authentic, everyday musings, honest stuff

Because she would want us to

My aunt Dianne was sitting in her recliner bundled up in a thick sweater pulled over her plaid button-up shirt she’d been wearing almost every day for two months with a thick, fluffy blanket across her legs. A knitted shawl with a hood was draped around her head and shoulders.

She looked – as she might say herself – like a tick about to burst.

“Lisa, is that heat on?” she asked and when I assured her it was she shivered. “Well, good gravy, I don’t think it’s working.”

On the TV Ree Drummond was pouring half a quart of whipping cream into a bowl of potatoes and telling viewers “Now, don’t judge me, or judge me if you want, but I just think these mashed potatoes are so much better with all this whipping cream.” Then she smiled at the camera.

“I can’t believe she’s not 300 pounds,” I said.

“All that cream is a little overboard isn’t it?” Dianne asked, rhetorically.

We both knew it was overboard.

We laughed a little and shook our heads.

We watched The Pioneer Woman whip up the potatoes and set them aside.

“Now it’s time for my famous chicken fried steak, which cowboys just love,” Ree said and smiled at the camera again, dimples showing.

I rolled my eyes.

“How hasn’t anyone in that family had a heart attack?” I wondered out loud, the irony not lost on me since my aunt had had at least two heart attacks already. I hoped she didn’t take my comment as a personal jab at her.

“Well…..” Dianne said and shrugged a little, leaving the rest of her response to be guessed.

The Pioneer Woman drives me nuts with her fattening recipes but her chipper personality and knowing I can modify the recipes for a healthier option make looking away hard to do.

Next to me the Christmas tree was bright with lights and ornaments. Out the window Dad’s star was shining bright against the dreary winter clouds at the edge of the field and woods.

 

Before long my aunt was asleep in her chair, chin into her chest. She’d been falling asleep a lot like that lately, sometimes almost in mid-sentence, and I knew her health was getting worse. So that day we enjoyed her when she was awake and tried not to think about how much longer we might have her with us.

A couple weeks before she’d been messaging me, asking me for gift suggestions for my son and daughter and I knew she was anxious to spoil them and see them smile as they opened their gifts. She was planning how to make sausage balls, a Southern tradition, without “poisoning me”, knowing I was allergic to corn and had also gone gluten-free. I told her not to worry about me and simply make the treats for the rest of the family. I offered to make some as well so she wouldn’t have to do all the work. We messaged back and forth and then I accidentally bumped the video chat button in messenger. The button is annoying and most days I hate it because I rarely want to video chat with anyone, especially via Facebook. I missed her call but she tried to call me through the ap and her voice was recorded. It was only for 17 seconds,  enough for me to hear her voice call my name, thinking I’d picked up. I didn’t discover it for a couple months, when she was already gone.

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Sometimes, when I’m missing Dianne the most, I scroll back to the recording and listen to her call my name. Of course, I always cry. When I first discovered the recording I hit the play button without thinking. Her voice could be heard throughout our house and my son’s head lifted quickly. He looked at me in confusion and then we burst into tears.

My mom said many days Dianne could barely make it from the bathroom to her chair without needing to sit down and catch her breath but she sat the kitchen table for hours and made the sausage balls, kneading the meat and flour and cheese together and rolling them to put in the oven to be cooked.

“She just seemed so delighted she could do that,” Mom remembered. She grew quiet and I saw tears in her eyes. “Well, anyhow…” her voice trailed off and I knew she was trying to stay happy and not bring the mood of the day down.

On my phone is a video of my aunt opening a gift from her grand-nephew, my son. She could barely catch her breath, but she seemed excited and hugged him and told her how much she loved the gift.

Four days later my husband’s phone rang and I heard him from upstairs.

“No! Oh no!” I heard emotion heavy in his voice.

He came downstairs and held the phone against his chest.

“It’s your mom,” he said.

I didn’t want to take the phone but I did.

“Dianne died,” Mom said in a voice mixed with sadness and shock.

She’d called my husband first to make sure someone was with me when I was told, just as she had when my grandmother had died 15 years before.

Though I knew it was coming my head still spun when she said it and I had to sit in the floor because my legs didn’t seem to want to hold me.

I sat in my parents living room the other day.

The chair was empty.

The Southern accent couldn’t be heard.

I couldn’t kiss her soft cheek or try to squirm away when she blew “zerberts” (messy, slobbery kisses) against my cheek.

I couldn’t feel her arms around me or hear her laugh when one of the kids said something funny.

Somehow it feels a lot less like Christmas this year with her gone.

Still, I know she would scold us for dreading gathering without her.

So we’ve promised each other to cook the sausage balls, decorate the tree, wrap the gifts and to cook the collard greens I forgot to get her last year, even though she asked.

We will drink hot cocoa while we watch her favorite Christmas movies: “It’s A Wonderful Life” and the black and white version of “A Christmas Carol.”

We will share the funny stories and laugh as we remember her.

We will, somehow, find the joy in the midst of sadness and enjoy those who are still with us because that is exactly what she would have wanted us to do.

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Posted in everyday musings

What I have time to do now that I’m off Facebook

A couple of weeks ago I explained I’m in the midst of a 30-day Facebook detox or break, whichever you like to call it. I like the term detox because it does feel like I’m flushing some toxic thoughts and feelings out by restricting my Facebook access.

My ramblings about this break aren’t meant to convince anyone that Facebook or social media is evil, because while I feel it can be, I don’t feel it always is. Nor am I saying I’m better than someone who decides to be on Facebook on a regular basis.

People can connect with each other in many positive ways through Facebook, share images of grandchildren with grandparents, sometimes calmly share new ideas (emphasis on sometimes), and connect with people who have shared interests. These are all good things.

What isn’t good is how Facebook is set up to addict you to the constant need to never be left out and to feel you are loved simply because your notification bell made a little ringy-dingy (yes, I did just say that in Lily Tomlin’s voice. Yes, I am old enough to remember her doing those skits and if you’re not, do yourself a favor and look it up on YouTube, which can also be a time suck, so beware!)

I feel bad that last week I made my list of what I’ve learned so far with this break so negative, which is why I thought I’d share some of the positive aspects of signing off Facebook for 30 days. These are not listed in any particular order of importance.

1) I have had time to actually be bored and think. Yes, being bored, as I’ve mentioned before, is a good thing. When we give ourselves time to be bored we not only feel less rushed internally, but we open ourselves up to ideas – creative and otherwise.

2) I have more time to explore my passions and interests. I’m interested in photography, as you know, but I’m also interested in art and cooking. I’m finding more time for exploring cooking, but haven’t really sat down to get back into art like I want to, so that’s something I will be working on as this break continues (and hopefully beyond).

3) I have more time to gain knowledge or relaxation through books. I’ve been able to dive into books that make me think and books that don’t require me to think too much. I’ve been enjoying working my way through the latest Mitford books by Jan Karon and then for some deeper reading I’m reading about how our mind works via Dr. Caroline Leaf’s books “Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking and Health,” and “Think and Eat Yourself Smart: A Neuroscienctific Approach to a Sharper Mind and Healthier Life.” I’m also reading “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” by Mireille Guiliano which I wrote about on my health blog which you can find HERE.

4) I have time to actually think about what I am eating. Both Leaf and Guiliano put emphasis on slowing down while choosing what you will eat and also while you eat. Leaf says our bodies take in nutrients better if we think about what we are eating and have a relaxed, positive attitude while eating. Standing up to eat, watching TV while we eat, talking on the phone or rushing around are all no-no’s to Guiliano and Leaf.

5) I have had time to cook some food ahead of time and freeze it to be able to pull out quickly on busy days so I don’t make bad food choices. This goes along with my effort to get healthier. I’ve made a few batches of homemade applesauce, froze some sweet peppers and some kale and also marinated some chicken in olive oil, sea salt, balsamic vinegar and garlic salt and froze that to pull out one day for dinner.

6) I have time to listen to podcasts and sermons. I enjoy listening to podcasts while I cook and I was able to do this some even when I was goofing off on Facebook but now I’m doing it even more. I mainly listen to Christian podcasts like Joseph Prince and Elevation Church. For humor I listen to The Skit Guys and for psychology I listen to Dr. Leaf (and then I spend the rest of the day talking to everyone in a South African accent and they answer me by asking me to stop talking to them in a South African accent.)

7) Time to exercise. That’s right. I’m actually exercising. Mainly just “Walking At Home” with Way-Too-Perky-Leslie Sansone. If you haven’t seen Leslie before she leads an aerobic type program of working out that mainly involves walking in place with some other movements thrown in. I like this workout in all seasons because I can actually burn some calories. If I try to walk with my children outside we have to stop like 500 times to look at bugs or see a dog or point at birds or tie our shoes or pick up leaves or wait for someone to catch up or … well, you get my drift.

I’ll list additional benefits to this break in future posts.

Things I still need to get better at, despite the Facebook break: folding the laundry faster, cleaning the kitchen after I cook, sorting through my closet and getting rid of old clothes I don’t wear anymore, consistently exercising, reading the Bible, and pondering my place in this world (which I don’t do because it sends me scurrying down the rabbit hole of thinking about how far off course my life seems from where I thought it would be by now.)

The bottom line is that so far I’m actually enjoying my time off Facebook. I’m missing knowing what’s going on with some people, but I can always catch up with them later and even call them to find out how they are.

Gasp!

I know!

Actually call someone?! Crazy!

At this point, I can’t imagine spending as much time on Facebook as I once did, even when I start signing in regularly again.

So, how about you? If you haven’t thought about a full-on, long Facebook detox, have you thought about reducing your time on it to accomplish some goals?

 

Posted in authentic, everyday musings

Slowing down for Advent

We don’t have a big family or tons of events we attend for Christmas so physically rushing around has never really been an issue for me. The rushing I experience during the season is often mental “rushing.” My mind races over all the things I should do or be able to do but can’t, for various reasons.

This year I saw a way to remind myself to slow down for Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, when three photographers I follow on Instagram offered a photography inspiration guide. The goal of the guide is to slow down and really take in each moment of the days leading up to Christmas by photographing the small and simple moments with our families. The guide, The Advent Inspiration Guide was offered by Ginger Unzueta, Mae Burke, and Kyla Ewert.

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The prompts in the guide are helping me to slow down my mental thought processes this season but also to think more about what Advent is, or should be. I’m finding it is also reminding me that cutting things out that complicate life it makes it easier to truly enjoy each day instead of rush through it.

As I thought about this project I began to think about what the word Advent means and became curious about the history of it. Originally, Advent was not held around the Christmas season, but was simply around a time leading up to the feast of Epiphany, when new Christians were baptized in January.

“During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, there was little connection between Advent and Christmas,” according to Christianity.com.

It was the Roman Christians who began to tie Advent, which means “coming” in Latin, to the second coming of Christ. By the Middle Ages Advent was tied to Christmas. Today we recognize Advent as being a time to slow down, to reflect on what is to come through Christ and where we are in our own lives.

“The promise for Israel and the promise for the church is Jesus Christ; he has come, and he will come again. This is the essence of Advent,” Christianity.com writes about Advent.

“Unfulfilled and fulfilled promise are related to each other, as are dawn and sunrise. Both promise and in fact the same promise. If anywhere at all, then it is precisely in the light of the coming of Christ that faith has become Advent faith, the expectation of future revelation. But faith knows for whom and for what it is waiting. It is fulfilled faith because it lays hold on the fulfilled promise.” – Karl Barth

Our family has not attended a lot of Christmas events this year but we have participated in a couple holiday-related activities, including baking cookies to give to local police officers and taking my dad’s Christmas star up to the field. Beyond that we’ve been enjoying simple moments like my daughter playing with the nativity scene figurines like they are her dolls and rearranging the ornaments on the tree over and over.

While my daughter was playing with the nativity set last week, I was shocked to realize I’ve never actually sat and told her the nativity story. We remedied that by using the figurines to tell the story and then we watched a cartoon about it as well.

 

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