OLD Home Movies & Ghosts of Christmas Past

For many years I’ve been delaying doing something I really wanted to do; transferring my very old, well okay, archaic, 8mm movies to DVD. I recall first looking into the transferring process back when it would have been put on VHS. It was very expensive, especially when you have reels upon reels of the stuff. So, it was one of those things that had to be put on a backburner because I could never justify the cost. It’s gone down some over the years, but last time I checked several years back it still seemed like for the amount of film I had it would just be too steep and after all, we did still have an old movie projector that worked. Even though it was more than a pain to operate, we’d haul it out every so many years and show some movies. 

When my mom was here over Thanksgiving we attempted to fire up the old projector and show some of these priceless films only to discover the old projector had given up. The hubby convinced me to check into transferring again making the point that some of the films were already forty *cough* years old! Over time the film degrades and once it’s gone, it’s gone, so being something so irreplaceable I decided to just get it done. To my delight, it actually was not nearly as costly as I’d feared. 

The first batch came back and the DVD was filled with Christmases, birthdays and other events of me beginning at around age 2. I teared up when I saw long, lost relatives; my maternal grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even my father, all gone now but there they were on the screen. It was really awesome.
So I’d like to share a little clip with you.
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Of course there was no sound back then (something that seems so odd to us today!) but I am so thankful to even have just the video. Those happy family moments are very much cherished. As I continue to make my own happy moments now within my family, I realize just how precious they are. I could write a lengthy and rather sobering post about issues regarding family members who don’t bother to keep in touch or put a priority on getting together or who are just plain unkind. But I won’t go into that because it’s not worth it. As both the hubby and I have learned, particularly with regard to family, you cannot change the way people choose to act towards you, you can only choose how you react to it. As much as it’s painful when some family behave as though they simply “don’t care”, just as with any negative in life, whether it’s a habit, a situation, or even a relationship, you simply have to remove yourself from it. Life is far too short for negativity regardless of where or who it’s coming from.

So as I see these old home movies, I remember the joy and cherish the memories with fondness. And I choose to keep that joy within me and share it with all those who are close to me and who truly have my heart.

Enjoy the Holidays MORE by doing LESS

It would be great to see people just enjoying the holidays instead of actually being stressed and worried about them. At Christmas, as well as other times, we get too caught up in having it all and doing it all, not to mention buying it all.

As a Professional Organizer, I've encouraged people to use simplification, organization and economy as the rule of thumb as opposed to the excess, complication and expense that is so often encouraged today.

A general rule: "if it’s stressful instead of joyful, either find a way to simplify it or eliminate it."

Instead of spending all your spare time baking, decorating and shopping, pare things down to the point you are comfortable with.

DECORATING:

Take notice of any decorations you find you don’t use this year & haven’t used in the past; maybe they are too much trouble to put up or you simply have enough other decorations, but whatever the reason, consider getting rid of them and simplifying your holiday decor.

Then, put everything away in an organized manner after the holidays this year, & make things easier next year.  Use cord wraps to store lights, use divided ornament boxes to house all your ornaments safely, and store all your wrap and bows in a wrap box.

BAKING:

Pare it down: instead of baking several kinds of cookies, bake your very favorite 2-3.

TIP: Put all your favorite holiday recipes in one place, separate from the rest, so you can easily get them out each year without having to rummage through several cookbooks or recipe boxes

SHOPPING:

Avoid the holiday rush, stress and crowds by taking advantage of buying gifts on-line. Shop throughout the year when you see things that catch your eye as the perfect gift for someone on your list, and combined with on-line shopping you can be done before most people even start their holiday shopping.

TIP:  Make lists of not only those you buy gifts for, but what you think they might want or the item you intend to get for them. This will help you keep track as you shop.


GIFTS:

Consider giving useful, & unique gifts to be used and enjoyed rather than giving “things”.

For example, Gift Certificates for:
  • special services (massage, pedicure, etc.)
  • restaurants or coffee houses 
These are always enjoyed and appreciated, where a knick-knack or trinket you pick up at a gift store may not only not be someone’s taste, but end up adding to their accumulation of clutter.

Homemade gifts:
  • various food items
  • a certificate for a free night of babysitting or a car wash
  • an audio or video recording of a parent, grandparent or any family member reminiscing about the past or telling funny stories 
When you simplify some of the more hectic & stressful aspects of the holidays you can concentrate on enjoying your favorite parts and maybe you’ll find you actually have the time to leisurely wrap your gifts by the fire while sipping eggnog when you aren’t running around at the last second shopping, baking and putting up an abundance of decorations.


November

November is a busy month for us crammed with lots of events.

First off, we have our anniversary. The hubby and I took a little trip to Wine country and enjoyed a nice dinner out. It was one of the best Italian meals I’ve had in a while complete with dessert. The hubby had Crème Brule and I had Tiramisu.

photoNormally, we’d get something and share it, however their desserts looked too delicious not to each have our own.  The hubby also pointed out that apparently I am not very good about sharing dessert. As he so bluntly puts it; “Even when you say you’ll share dessert.”  Okay, maybe he’s right.

 

The middle of month is Teenager’s birthday. He’s 19 this year, so I guess it’s officially his last teenage year. That’s so hard to believe.

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He chose to have a gathering with all of his friends that entailed them bringing over their computers, one of them bringing his entire desktop set up, hooking them all up to a network and playing computer games. Yeah, I don’t understand it either. At first I thought he was kidding me. No, this is what he wanted to do, he told us. So we ordered pizza for them and a got a good photo of this geek fest before getting out of the way. It was like an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” right in our family room.

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Lastly, of course, is Thanksgiving and my parents were here to celebrate with us. It was nice to all get together and have a family holiday. Thanksgiving is always over too soon for me and as much as I love Christmas I wish I could just string out the Fall season with all the Fall décor a little longer before turning it over to Christmas. I’ve held onto my Fairytale pumpkins though, figuring they are more “Christmassy” than the standard orange ones that the hubby says have to go.

As is our family tradition, we head up the hill to cut our Christmas tree after Thanksgiving. DSC06650

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This year it was so sunny that I couldn’t get a good shot of us all; the looks on the kid’s faces because of the sun cracks me up!

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Now begins the whirlwind of Christmas decorating, parties, etc. In the middle of all the holiday chaos I am trying to focus on just enjoying my family and friends and being happy and content with life. Good things to do and remember this time of year and all year through. I have the perfect picture to end this post as it’s great symbolism for the simple, happy things in life.

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Another YouTube Sensation

When you have a kid like little guy, the entertainment pretty much never stops. We knew at a very young age he was musically inclined as he was very receptive to his music therapy.  We’ve recently discovered he can also bust out some impressive dance moves! We find it hilarious that he adds his own personal flair to his routines and his specialty move appears to be the “bum wiggle”. When you combine all that with wearing jammies, the incorporation of his brother’s skateboard and then put it all together with a popular song, it makes for one entertaining video.  So here you go.



Teenage Wit and Wisdom

Parents of teenagers are all too familiar with how difficult they are to get up in the morning. Especially boys who don’t have a lengthy “getting ready” routine to complete before leaving the house.

This morning, after several mornings in a row of not hearing Teenager’s alarm go off, I headed into his room and hollered at him that it was way past time to get up.

At breakfast I decided I needed to get to the bottom of why he hasn’t been getting up on time and using his alarm so I asked sarcastically if it wasn’t working. He responded that he has in fact been using his alarm and it works quite well. Every morning, he says, my “alarm” marches into my room and hollers at me that it’s time to get up. He then went on to state that he could either; A) set an alarm that may or may not go off in the morning or B) rely on one that always does.

Yes, he’ll have to learn to get up on his own one day, but wow, it’s hard to argue with that logic! I have no doubt that he’s going to do great things in life.

Home Made Fragrant Foaming Hand Soap

One of our favorite money saving strategies combined with our desire to use products that are as natural as possible is making our own foaming hand soap. My recipe for this has evolved over time as I’ve played around with it. I’ve now come up with what I think is a pretty awesome strategy that is very adaptable.

 Little guy walked by and insisted on being in the photo. So I had him do the "Vanna White" thing.

First, you simply need to have a foaming soap pump. I’ve collected several of these over the years and always aim for getting the nicest looking ones (since what’s inside doesn’t matter much when I’m going to be making my own).  I’ve found some great ones in colors and styles that I like and that go with our rooms and décor as well as some cute ones for kids. I avoid the “cheap-y” looking ones with the wrap around plastic label and aim for those with a color and a label I can remove. If you want a basic clear one, the Method brand is nice looking and a good shape.

I use a non-scented, pure castile soap from Dr. Bronner’s. This is the “baby mild” version as it has no scent. We buy a gallon of this stuff at a time for the best price and this is the same soap we’ve used as baby bath for the little guy over the years. I’ve also found an unscented version from Seattle Organics which I discovered at my local Grocery outlet for about 1/3 the regular price. Either of these work well.

The soap is easily and naturally scented by using essential oils. Although your initial investment in a few of these oils may seem like a lot, you’ll use them for a very long time and for various uses. When we started doing this, we already had a good sized collection of essential oils so we never had to actually buy any for this purpose. I’ve used lavender, grapefruit and peppermint the most. One of my favorite scents, which I generally have in the guest bathroom is Vanilla Mint, accomplished by using a few drops of peppermint and a few drops of vanilla extract. It smells wonderful!

You’ll need to play around a bit with the quantities as it will depend on the size of your soap container and strength of the liquid soap, but generally speaking you want to squirt about an inch or so of soap in the bottom of the container, then add a few drops or more of the essential oil and fill the rest with water. It’s as easy as that! You’ll know if you’ve not used enough soap because it will simply not feel very “soapy” and instead will feel too thin to clean, even though it's foamy. You’ll know if you used too much soap if it is difficult to pump out of the dispenser. 

As I was setting up the items to photograph the hubby came by and asked what I was doing. I said I was writing a blog post about how we make our own hand soap. His response; “We make our own hand soap?”

Let me know if you try this and how you like it. Happy soap making!

My Unique “Dear Photograph”


Little Guy has one of those motorized vehicles, a yellow Jeep, that he received several months ago and loves driving it around the back yard. Ironically, the Teenager, back when he was Little Guy’s age actually had the same Jeep in red. It occurred to me that I had a photo of Teenager driving his Jeep in the backyard circa 1998. I thought it would be a fun to take a photo of LG in his Jeep in a similar position as the old photo of a then young Teenager in his in the very same backyard. Not to mention the irony in the fact that back when Teenager rode around in his red Jeep he gave his Winnie the Pooh a ride; the very same Pooh that I kept and passed on to LG.

As I was forming this idea in my mind, I heard about the new website Dear Photograph where you take a picture of the present at the same time as holding a picture from the past. I thought my idea would be a unique take on this and pretty special considering my situation of having two sons, nearly fourteen years apart with one now in college and the other in Kindergarten. It makes it even more nostalgic when you add in the very same backyard and the same stuffed bear and the kid from the past in the present photo all grown up. Surprisingly, the folks at Dear Photograph have not yet posted my photo. I don’t know if they just haven’t gotten to it yet but they are clearly missing out on a great photo to post to their site. I don’t want my readers to miss it, so I’m going to share it here with all of you.
 
 

A little bit of trouble

So far, little guy has been doing quite well in school. He enjoys it, has never complained about going or had an issue with being left there. He’s learning, coming home singing cute songs and so far has avoided most trouble. We’ve only had a couple small incidences. The most recent incident involved his teacher pulling me aside and trying not to smirk too much as she proceeded to tell me that he’d gotten himself into a bit of trouble... for kissing girls. Oh dear. We’ve tried to explain to our very affectionate little boy that we just cannot do that in school and that while it’s okay to hug and/or kiss our family and perhaps close friends outside of school, at school it’s not okay. He was slow to comprehend this concept and we had to more emphatically state that’s it’s a rule, a school rule; “No kissing”. He looked at me quizzically and said; Okay Mommy, but…. where’s the ‘no’ sign?  It took me a moment to understand that he was talking about one of these;













Apparently he felt that if school was going to have a no kissing policy there should be clearly posted ‘no’ signs indicating this. Despite the fact that I had to impress upon my child that he could not do this and it wasn’t okay, as a parent the humor was certainly not lost on me. I have to admit he’s got an adorably amusing point.