Sunday, December 28, 2008

12 Days of Christmas - The Big Reveal

I have to tell you--this has been the most fun ever! The anticipation each evening...from our family, from you all, from Ted's co-workers and even from the kids' friends, has been such a kick. We thought we had it nailed as to who was blessing us, but we were oh, so wrong.

One of Caleb's friends finally fessed up last night. He's such a dear, along with his whole family. He told us that each year his family prays about who they should do this for. They want to bless a family who has especially blessed them throughout the year. We didn't even know we had blessed THEM at all! But what joy they have brought to us. Each gift was accompanied by a card that reminded of us the REAL reason for the season--the Christ Jesus came in the flesh as God's unspeakable gift to us here on earth. What a lovely reminder and beautiful way to share God's love at Christmas time. We can't wait to start this as our own tradition next year.

EXCEPT just one thing:

This guy?

Claire HATED him...she was absolutely terrified of it--especially when we turned it on (it's animated and played the sax). She ran and hid if we even picked it up to move it. Fugeddabout pressing the start button. We even put a cookie for her on it's nose and she never ever warmed up to it. And Claire LOVES her cookies. Cookie is her favorite word in all of human speak. She did, however, finally snatch the cookie, after many false starts and with lots of encouragement from us.

So, this has been a great Christmas. We took the tree down yesterday (Ted's getting ready to finally finish off the
Texaco bathroom) and are looking forward with great anticipation to a new year. And next Christmas, if sometime on the evening of December 14, your doorbell rings and mysteriously, no one is there, but there is a little gift for you...who knows...this could be the start of something big!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas Everyone!

Christ is born, the angels sang, the shepherds watched, the wise men came. And that's just the very beginning of the story...He was wounded for our transgressions, scourged for our sins and was crucified, died and was buried for them. And He rose! HE LIVES! For you and me! Not only for our salvation, but so that we can have life to the fullest. He loves us, He really, really loves us!

With unspeakable joy and a full heart, Happy Christmas to you and yours from The Hoyles (and Claire). (EDIT: I am supposed to also add here the names of the Bigdogs, Otis and Staley, and Baggie the cat, who do not have a cute Christmas dress to wear).

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stay tuned

Several of you have either commented or sent me emails about what came next...
Well, as of 6:30 this evening, I finished Christmas shopping. Tomorrow morning I go to our local homeless shelter to volunteer for a couple of hours and then at 4 tomorrow afternoon, I check in at church for worship team practice for Christmas Eve service. I have fallen behind in pretty much every area, but I promise to post soon.

You're all going to have to wait to see what our secret friend has brought us.
We are delighted with everything and are looking forward to paying this forward to another family....

Stay at 11.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the 4th Day of Christmas...

...we received from our ding-dong ditcher a pretty little glass Christmas tree filled with chocolate. My personal weakness and a food group in an of itself....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On the Third Day of Christmas

For the multitudes (ok, the ones) of you following our story...
Last night, true to form, the doorbell rang at about 9:15....strange how that happened right after I returned home from a meeting with one of my suspects. Who, of course, acted completely dumb and confused when questioned. Hmm.....
Anyway, last night's gift was a beautiful wintery throw with aqua and white snowflakes on a Royal blue background. And soft? Oh, my. Think of a "soft as" dial and go about 4 clicks up from the "Cloud" setting.
This is just so much fun! I'm already planning on doing this for someone else next year! I would do it this year, but you can't really do the "12 Days of Christmas" with only 8 days left. I guess I could start on Christmas Day and extend it out that way, to 12th night? Anyway, stay tuned. I am hoping to post photos soon (when The Girl tells me where she's put the digital camera).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ding-dong Goes the Bell..

Sunday night, at about 8:30 p.m., our doorbell rang. This is pretty unusual. On the one hand, almost everyone who knows us, just taps on the door and walks right on in (yeah, we keep it unlocked usually. Probably not the safest thing, but I have 3 dogs who alert me if something’s up). On the other hand, those folks who do know us know that Ted tries to get to bed before that because during the week, he has to leave for work at 3:30 a.m. Not a typo. Three. Thirty. A. M. The good news is he’s home right after normal people eat lunch.

But I’m digressing. My doorbell rang. We all were startled. Claire, aka “la femme Cujo,” was especially indignant that the bell rang at what around here is a pretty late night. When the kids opened the door, there was a card and a pretty Christmas door mat. The card wasn’t signed, but it said “On the First Day of Christmas,” in handwriting that looked like someone was trying to disguise it. I counted...yep...12 days from Sunday and we're there….

Then last night, Monday, we had a pretty wild snowstorm. I whined and whimpered enough to get out of driving to a staff meeting. It snowed so much that by 8 p.m. last night they delayed school for 2 hours. And then cancelled this morning. At around 6:30 p.m. last night, Tanner was standing near the door watching the snow fall. And a little boy who he didn’t recognize came up to the door and rang the bell while putting his finger over his lips in the universal sign language for “SHH!!” The gift from last night was a bottle of apple cider and some mulling spice. The 2nd Day of Jesus' love.

I quick sent a text to the person I thought was responsible: my boss’ wife, who also happens to be my pastor’s wife. She has the sneakiness factor (the whole tp’ing incident was her idea) and the means—she teaches 3rd grade, so has access to a number of little boys that we wouldn’t recognize. She had no idea what I was talking about. But said that she WISHED the idea was hers.

So, we’re snowpacked and icy. Yes, I know that 5” is not a lot of snow to many of you. But ice is ice, and if it’s on the road just ½” thick or ½’ thick, it’s still slick, and everything around here is pretty much shut down for the day. So we’re wondering if our secret Santa will be like a postman and make his or her appointed rounds. This is so much fun…stay tuned and we’ll let you know what happens!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No bad gift...

goes unpunished.

Usually, by Thanksgiving, I have completed my Christmas shopping. Not so this year. The pretty little tree in my sidebar tells me I have 16 days left before the big day. That means 15 shopping days. You all realize I work for a church, right? That this is probably my busiest time of the year? And of course, since we are in a new building now, I have been told that we have to empty out our giant, filled to the gills 10’ x 20’ storage unit by the end of the month. In my defense, I wasn’t able to drive at all until around Halloween. And then, my stamina was limited. Now, we’re pretty broke, so I’m thinking just an afternoon or so and I’ll be able to wrap things up in one fell swoop, so to speak. But, in your quiet times, please say a little prayer for me that I can get it all done, as little as there is to do this year. Hopefully we’re getting the tree up tonight. SHEESH! And rumor has it that the in-laws and out-laws may even be coming here for Christmas. I gotta get myself in gear. Can Flylady come visit me?

Speaking of gifts, I freely admit that I am NOT the easiest person in the world to buy gifts for, but over the years I have lightened up to the point of tricky, up several steps from difficult, or fuggedaboudit. However, I have to protest that one of my reasons for being difficult is that I have been badly scarred from past gifts. There was my 16th birthday, when my dad gave me jumper cables. Or the first birthday after my wedding, when my husband got me a set of canisters. Yes—right after my wedding…showers, etc. You see where this is going? (and they were pretty ugly, too). Or we won’t mention that 1st Christmas together when I got (gasp!) a microwave/convection oven. Nevermind the fact that it was 1980, and said oven cost approximately the National Debt at the time. I was hurt. Not only because I felt like these kinds of gifts were impersonal, but because my mom, who died when I was 18, was probably the all-time, most phenomenal gift chooser on the planet. She knew exactly how to read someone's heart's desire and then act on it. No matter the occasion, you felt like you had been thought about and loved on and you were special to her. Now, I am all about the practical gifts. When I have specifically requested them. Like my Sears all-in-one tool box that was just for me that I still treasure. Or the comforter and sham set (Foley’s Catalog, 1989, pg 38) that I still love to this day, and only removed from my bed this past summer because my friend had an intervention for me and told me "it was time." But, really…if it has a 3-pronged plug on it, or if it will reside on a countertop, or just for utility’s sake, please don’t, unless you know for sure that I have dropped numerous hints and direct verbage towards you about it. Like: “Hey, honey…see this cool food processor I picked up today that you bought me for Christmas? Let me just whip up this batch of appetizers and then you can wrap it for under the tree!”
Even gift cards are sketchy now…what with stores like Mervyn’s and Linen's N Things going out of business and Circuit City filing for bankruptcy protection. Cash and checks work well, thank you very much. But, all in all, if you see Ted or my kids shopping around tell them this: Pam doesn’t want anything extravagant, or even impossible to achieve, like Peace on Earth…just peace in the house for one day. And a huge hug from each of you, knowing that you are safe and warm in our little home. And an evening of family games would be nice, too. What I want is costly: I want their time. Probably the only thing that you can’t ever earn back, once it’s spent. Just time with momma and the family…

And, on a lighter note, I got a HUGE laugh out of this video. It’s kind of what inspired this post….

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Infected....(or, it's Never Too Early)

Have you ever been around someone who always seems to make you feel stupid without seeming to mean to do that? I have one of those people in my life.
No matter what I say, it always seems to be the wrong thing. Or come out the wrong way. I am often gently edited or gently corrected or gently teased by this person. I firmly believe this person holds no animosity towards me, nor do I think that they dislike me at all. I think they genuinely like me. I think the person just wants to clarify what I am saying, or improve upon my delivery. I just seem to always get ‘foot in mouth’ whenever I speak in front of them. I need this person to know that I’m not stupid. Blunt, yes. I don’t pull any punches. I admire this person and desire the respect of this person. Every time I am around this person I pray that God would put His arm around my shoulder and His hand over my mouth. And it seems like every time I end up disappointing one of us.

I am sure that God is trying to teach me something here. I will listen more closely to Him. I will ponder what I say, before I say it. I will sand off some of my rough edges and not be as blunt as I am. But I will not forsake honesty and forthrightness. If I were to be less than honest, or not forthcoming, I wouldn't be me. I know that I am shaped that way. I think that God is just molding me somehow. That is going to be a fine line, and (at least for me) something to be achieved only through great effort. It’s a little early for New Year’s resolutions, but that’s my plan.
In a nutshell.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008 charged

So....I didn't got to jail. I feel kind of bad...someone DID give money towards my bail. And I will send the kind people at March of Dimes a check. But the week came crashing down and I ran out of time and out of me.
As a substitute sentence, I DID spend an hour and a half at the Motor Vehicle Division getting 2 duplicate titles issued on some trailers we recently sold at church. And I couldn't go to the MVD Express (15 minutes, or less....In-DUN-GO!!) because they can't do duplicate titles there. So I got to rub shoulders with all the other losers unfortunates who either couldn't do their business at MVD Express or didn't want to fork over the $15 that you pay for the 15 minutes or less gig. It's interesting how many people:

a) are missing one or more permanent teeth, usually in front. Usually these people have at least one "homemade" tattoo on their body. Sometimes it's a teardrop on their sad

b) bring their toddlers to the MVD in their pj's. And then buy them snacks out of the vending machine that said toddlers proceed to sprinkle over their fellow MVD goers.
c) appear to be shocked and surprised that there is a wait at the MVD.

So, jail is apparently off my horizon. At least for now. No more tp'ing for this mom! I don't even want to think what the sentence/bail might be for a 2nd offense.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I know you thought I was kidding..

But really I'm not...I really am supposed to report for jail on Wednesday at noon...that's a little less than 36 hours as I type this. And I've raised exactly....drumroll....

Towards my bail. Please help these little babies...and please help me get out of jail quick! Just clock on this link: and you can donate directly. If you would like to help out, but would rather mail a check and want the address, please leave me a comment and I’ll get the information to you.

I know you thought I was kidding.. and you can donate directly through them. If you would like to help out, but would rather mail a check and want the address, please leave me a comment and I’ll get the information to you.