Thursday, December 06, 2007

Taking a Break

I've decided that blogging is distracting me from things I ought to be paying more attention to. I'm going to take a break from it for a little bit and see if I can't get better focused on the important things in my life.

I thank you very much for reading!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Oh, Ella!

We watched this today instead of doing artist study. I think it was a fair exchange. She makes us smile, and even laugh.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Decking the Halls

I am typing this next to our Christmas tree, which sits in the corner of our living room. We finally got it lit last week, and what an adventure that was. It is a prelit artificial tree-- full, yet slender. We never had a prelit tree before this one, and I was pleased to acquire it. Hanging lights is my least favorite Christmas job, though I love the effect. But even as we pulled the tree out of the box four years ago, Mr. Honey and I wondered how long it would take for the lights to quit. They don't make 'em like they used to, and all that.

Well, it took four years on this prelit tree. That's a good long time by today's standard.

We left the tree standing undecorated for most of last week, which goes against our tradition-- basically to pull out and set up every bit of Christmas as soon as we can after Thanksgiving. I rearranged plugs. Triss rearranged plugs. Mr. Honey rearranged plugs. We read "How Christmas Lights Work". I learned more than I ever wanted to know about bulbs connected in series. I opened the tiny bags of replacement lights and began painstakingly replacing single bulbs. I did get a few (three) to light up. I called my dad. I emailed my mom. Repeatedly.

We still don't know what is wrong with those lights.

Finally, I began to consider alternatives. Should we go with a live tree this year and hang our own lights? Or should I listen to Mariel, who came up with an alternative idea-- one she has been dreaming of lo, these many prelit years.

See, the lights on the tree are all white. And Mariel lives in technicolor.

She suggested, over and over last week, that we simply string colored lights through our prelit tree and ignore the white lights. And later in the week, in a completely unrelated thought process, my mom suggested the same thing.

So that is what we did. We have a tree in full color this year. :O)

And, in keeping with the colorful, childlike tree, I allowed the children to decorate the house.

That is how our sweet Bob-doll exchanged his cowboy hat for a paper one inscribed with, "Santa Claus cowboy is coming to town!!!"

(Bob is a rugged and handsome boy china doll, around a foot and a half tall, that my Aunt Ruth made. He is dressed for the range: jeans, boots, bandana, vest, and even some fringed gloves. The girls have decided he is their adopted brother. He's very quiet for a boy.)

They set out our nativity scenes, draped with silver and gold curling ribbon; put the wreaths on the doors (wait, I did those); pulled out every Christmas book we own and placed them under the tree; and hung the stockings by the print of the Big Horn Mountains (alas, we have no fireplace).

Only one sad event marred the celebration of decoration: our beloved ivory china angel for the top of the tree had to be retired this year, as the plastic cone under her dress has come all to pieces. She can only sit. We placed a cat dressed in royal robes on the top instead, but it will never be the same. We appreciate the years of service our ivory angel gave-- 25 years topping a tree! She was my angel given to me when I was in junior high, and I gave her to Triss several years ago. She must continue to be a part of Christmas, even if she cannot occupy the highest place.

And on a lighter note, at Walmart tonight we saw a stuffed turkey that sings, "Deck the Halls". He looked like Thanksgiving and Christmas collided.

We used all of Mr. Honey's Christmas lights to light up our tree, and had to purchase some more so he could decorate the front of the house. We made his day with all-green lights. Mr. Honey likes green. A lot.

So now we are ready for Christmas, minus the presents and the cards. Those are forthcoming. We are using our housekeeping hour each weekday morning to work on them. We are doing a Christmas letter instead of cards this year, for the first time.

Since I want to greet all of you, but don't have the addresses of everyone who reads this blog, I will post a version of our Christmas letter here-- after I have mailed all our hard copies. I can't allow those of you whose addresses I do have to read the letter without the full benefit of stationery and presentation, now can I? (Whew, that *is* rather a clumsy sentence, isn't it?) Anyway, afterward, dahling.

We have only handed out three letters so far. You know who you are. :O)

Okay, I really need to get some sleep. Going to bed now.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Meanings of Things

"Memory overload, memory overload..." Triss murmured as she went through her box of ornaments.

In a house which becomes a home,
One hands down and another takes up
The heritage of mind and heart,
Laughter and tears, musings and deeds.
Love, like a carefully loaded ship,
Crosses the gulf between the generations.
Therefore, we do not neglect the ceremonies
Of our passage: when we wed, when we die,
And when we are blessed with a child;
When we depart and when we return;
When we plant and when we harvest.
Let us bring up our children. It is not
The place of some official to hand to them
Their heritage. If others impart to our children
Our knowledge and ideals,
They will lose all of us that is
Wordless and full of wonder.
Let us build memories in our children,
Lest they drag out joyless lives,
Lest they allow treasures to be lost because
They have not been given the keys.
We live, not by things, but by the meanings
Of things. It is needful to transmit the passwords
From generation to generation.

--Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Multilingual Learning

Okay, that's a pretty ambitious title, isn't it? My topic does involve more than one language, and it is about learning, but isn't near as scholarly as all that. I simply want to share some Christmas carols we are learning in different languages.

I did not intend to get all multilingual with the Christmas carols this year. Except for the Spanish, it was a little tangent-- it just kind of happened in the good way tangents sometimes do, leading to where we were actually hoping to go all the time but were afraid we weren't well enough equipped to get to. I really like it when tangents do that. It is the saving grace of my children's education.

We discovered that we have the lyrics to some of these songs in more than two languages in our various Christmas books at our house. (Adeste Fideles, for example-- Latin, English and Spanish.) It is interesting to compare the three languages and note similarities and differences.

And here are some of the carols we happened upon (and I had enough background-- or enough friends with background-- to figure out how to pronounce!):

In Spanish:

¿Qué Niño Es Este? (What Child Is This?)

1. ¿Qué niño es éste que al dormir
en brazos de María, pastores velan,
ángeles le cantan melodías?
Él es el Cristo, el rey.
Pastores, ángeles cantan,
«Venid, venid a él, al hijo de María.»

2. ¿Por qué en humilde establo así,
el niño es hoy nacido?
Por todo injusto pecador
su amor ha florecido.
Él es el Cristo, el rey.
Pastores, ángeles cantan,
«Venid, venid a él, al hijo de María.»

3. Traed ofrendas en su honor
el rey como el labriego,
al rey de reyes, salvador,
un trono levantemos.
Él es el Cristo, el rey.
Pastores, ángeles cantan,
«Venid, venid a él, al hijo de María.

In Latin:

Adeste Fideles (Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful)

1. Adeste fideles, laeti triumphantes;
venite, venite in Bethlehem;
natum videte regem angelorum.
venite, adoremus Dominum.

2. Cantet nunc 'Io' chorus angelorum;
cantet nunc aula caelestium,
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
venite, adoremus Dominum.

3. Ergo qui natus die hodierna.
Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Patris aeterni Verbum caro factum.
Venite, adoremus Dominum.

In French:

Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes (Angels We Have Heard On High)

1. Les anges dans nos campagnes
Ont entonné l’hymne des cieux;
Et l’écho de nos montagnes
Redit ce chant mélodieux.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo,
Gloria, in excelsis Deo.

2. Bergers, pour qui cette fête?
Quel est l’objet de tous ces chant?
Quel vainqueur, quelle conquête
Mérite ces cris triomphants?
Gloria, in excelsis Deo,
Gloria, in excelsis Deo.

3. Cherchons tous l’heureux village
Qui l’a vu naître sous ses toits,
Offrons-Lui le tendre hommage
Et de nos coeurs et nos voix!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo,
Gloria, in excelsis Deo.

In German:

Stille Nacht (Silent Night)

1. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

2. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Hirten erst kundgemacht
Durch der Engel Halleluja,
Tönt es laut von fern und nah:
Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, der Retter ist da!

3. Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Gottes Sohn, o wie lacht
Lieb' aus deinem göttlichen Mund,
Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund'.
Christ, in deiner Geburt!
Christ, in deiner Geburt!

And one more Spanish song, because I think it is our current favorite. Guess what it is (hint-- clap out the syllables, as the words do not strictly translate to the same words in English):

Cascabeles, cascabeles,
Musica de amor!
Dulces horas, gratas horas,
Juventud en flor.
Cascabeles, cascabeles,
Tan sentimental
No ceces, oh cascabeles
De repiquetear!

Hmm, it sure would be fun to hear some of our international bloggers sing carols in, say, Turkish or Polish. Hint, hint.

(And I really would like an Italian Christmas carol to round out the group. Must do some research on that.)