The day comes when you fall out of the habit of even minor updates to the blog. Well, it's time to get back on the horse, and this will be a Random Recap.
First off, Haiti. If you'd like to help check out the Center for International Disaster Information, and CNN has put up a list of aid/relief sites you can support. Physically useful items like the ShelterBox are hugely helpful. A full box costs $1000, but every donation helps support another box and another shelter for 10 people. If you are looking for an American, please check the State Department website on how to go about finding them. If you'd like to make an instant donation to the Red Cross, simply text "HAITI" to 90999 and $10 will be charged to your phone bill. You all have cell phones, put them to good use.
More than 100 U.N. peacekeeper staff are missing. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians feared dead. This is on par with the tsunami of 2004.
When I was in high school, my dad spent 18 months serving in Haiti. He lived in a house on the side of a big hill, and so did I when I spent the summer with him, up a rough and bumpy trail of a road more pothole than road itself. I would guess that house no longer stands.
So, as we continue on into 2010 and count our blessings while praying that those blessings are shared and helping those who desperately need help...
The last you heard from us, we were expecting a white Christmas and we finally did dig out from our nearly 2 feet of white stuff. But the snow, which is now large blocks of glacier ice where the plows piled it up, still lingers. Another dusting to an inch of the powder made everything white again. We're thankful not to be in the midwest where they have been pummeled by snow accumulation and frigid arctic air. Yet across the country, we are plain, frozen, cold. Even Texas and Florida are suffering. The crops in Florida may not make it if the snap doesn't end soon. And iguanas are falling out of trees again. Lengthy cold can kill them, which is either a good or bad thing, depending on who you talk to about these non-native reptiles. The frigid weather continues but a break is on the horizon.
I won't go so far as my friend, Danie, who spent a winter in Halifax, Canada and chose to embrace the season above her grumbles and complaints. I have chosen to suffer silently and try to spare my family from two more months of whines and angst. I imagine the past month hasn't been pleasant for them, so as an additional Christmas gift I will button my lip about how cold my feet are each and every day. I. Don't. Do. Winter.
Except for hockey. No, I don't play hockey, that would require an ability to skate well and funding for a ton of gear and a desire to intentionally be frozen on a sheet of ice for hours at a time. Right. But watching hockey, that's a different story. Ian and I gave the kids to grandparents the day after Christmas so we could go downtown, stay overnight in a hotel, and watch the Washington Capitals play the NJ Devils live at the Verizon Center. Caps won, I joined the Scarlet Caps for the fun of it and Ian might take Katherine to a game for her birthday. We watched the Winter Classic on TV on Jan 1st, and on Jan 2nd we took the kids to the Caps practice rink at Ballston Common to watch the FBI vs. US Secret Service. At $5 a ticket going to charity it was a perfect Saturday afternoon outing. Now if only I could figure out a way to put Jonathon in hockey. It would be perfect to expend some of his energy since you can't ever really relax or get sidetracked. Something to think about next winter.
Winter also brings Christmas, and Christmas I do. Christmas was great. Everyone got several special somethings. From fuzzy blankets and slippers, to new cameras and perfume, to gadgets and gizmos and clothes galore. After Midnight Mass we allowed the kids to exchange their gifts to each other and to us, but all the rest waited until my parents and maternal grandmother (Babcia) arrived on Christmas afternoon for lunch and brought a trunkload of gifts to share. We spent the entire afternoon opening, having dessert, opening, having another dessert, opening... No pressure but so many thoughtful gifts it was a bit overwhelming. As it is every Christmas. We are blessed to lack for nothing and be able to shower each other with tokens of our affection. The Holiday Shop at the boys' school saved the day with affordable and appropriate items for everyone in the family. This was the first year the boys really got in with the gift-giving and they really put a lot of thought into their choices of picture frames, jewelry and tools. As is the goal, they were as giddy about giving as they were receiving.
My goal next Christmas is to finally get each person in my family to choose a Kiva.org or GoodGifts.org or a similar program to join. What's your favorite service? Christmas should be a time for more than just our family to feel good. And once that idea gets going there's everything that says it should spread throughout the year.
Speaking of good feelings, a little aside - I attended the PTSO meeting at the girls' school on Monday. What a poor showing of maybe a dozen parents from a school of 1075 students (I'm to blame too, I had no intention of going) but Katherine was there as SCA president to introduce herself to the PTSO board and the rest of us. Before the meeting, Katherine's band teacher was chatting with her (he plays with an adult band group that practices at the school). One of the adult band members came up and her teacher introduced her by calling her a "gift from God" to his class as a good flute player and a good kid. Last week Katherine was moved to 3rd chair flute in band class, so to say that this is helping her reevaluate music in her life and giving her a positive influence outside the home is an understatement. It's these things that can truly form a person's character. Katherine has a good heart and being acknowledged as a good person can plant a wonderful seed of self-determination.
OK, back to my quick recap. Before my grandmother returned to Wisconsin, my dad took us all out for trip through ICE! and a fantastic dinner at the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor. ICE! really was surprising, and if we thought we were cold outside it didn't compare to how frozen we were in the tent surrounded by millions of pounds of carved ice sculptures. Before entering everyone was give a hooded parka jacket and you could tell most people thought it was overkill on top of their own coats and hats. It wasn't. By the time we made our way by the funky penguins, our feet were aching with the cold. The clear ice angels and nativity were the most impressive in my opinion, though the fishing Coca-Cola bears were my favorite overall. If the ice artisans are coming by your neck of the woods some year, I encourage you to see their talent. They have a gift.
Speaking of gifts (again), a gift I'm giving myself this year is better health and a stronger body. Maybe next year I won't be so miserable in the cold if I'm feeling better and have more muscle overall. I'm attempting the hundredpushups challenge and maybe even the twohundredsitups challenge. I've pulled out the Wii Fit again (and the new Wii Fit extra, whatever that's called) and will try to do it each weekday. I've told myself I won't eat after 8 p.m. and I'm allowed a treat a day. What is a treat? A treat is a cup of hot cocoa, or cookies, or a piece of chocolate, or a slice of cake (you get the idea) but not all the above. Basically any source of empty calories is a treat. I initially had "a soda" in there too, but decided I'd just toss soda out entirely and I'm not missing it. I've had good days, I've had bad days like yesterday, but I figure a bad day doesn't mean I toss the whole plan out so I plug on. I'm also trying to eat breakfast before 9 a.m. and I'm trying to make breakfast a heavy protein meal, lunch a heavy vegetable meal, and dinner a more balanced lower fat meal. Today, I missed breakfast, so one strike there already. Tomorrow, I'll eat breakfast, promise.
So there you have it.
Except for one more thing. The other day while watching TV there was a toilet paper commercial. The commercial claimed that with its new thicker product a used could cut down from using 28 squares of TP to only 7 squares.
Is it me or did anyone else choke on those numbers? Who in their right mind uses 28 squares of TP, even of the worst, thinnest paper around. Who? And now we can "cut down" to 7? Really? ONLY 7?
I don't even know what to say.