Friday, December 15, 2017

Holiday Bakers Beware

My eldest sent me this photo of our patient, recovering on the couch from her trauma,
 apparently none the worse for wear. 

"Hello, this is All Creatures Veterinary, Brittany speaking. How can I help you?"

Hi. I'm calling because my dog just ate a full-size bag of Hershey kisses, foil wrappers and all.

"Well. She's a rascal."

Yeah, that's one word for it. I'm not too concerned about the chocolate because she's eaten a lot of chocolate before and not been sick. But I'm a little concerned about how all that fooil might play through her digestive system. 

"Yes, you need to make her throw up right away."

Ummm okay. How exactly do I do that?

"First of all, you'll need a turkey baster and some hydrogen peroxide…"

* * * * *

Thus I found myself on the phone at my student's house, while she labored over her midterm exam, consulting with my first- and fourth-born daughters at home as they ran out to buy said turkey baster, loaded it up with hydrogen peroxide, and administered the maximum dosage before Gracie's iron gut finally wavered.

She then erupted like Mount Vesuvius, so I'm told, and deposited untidy heaps around the patio that my poor dry-heaving daughters were left to inspect and analyze.

We certainly wanted to be sure she was empty. 

Reports are that Gracie bounced back immediately after her treatment, and by the time I got home an hour later, she was her usual happy, wiggling self. 

And the entire Streicher family has now been served notice: even a sealed plastic bag of chocolate, pushed all the way to the back of the counter, is not safe around our red-headed eating machine,  Let the holiday bakers beware. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

December Days

As December flies by and Christmas waits just around the corner, here is how the holiday preparations are coming along at my house:

^ My Christmas cactus is totally on point. Brilliant pink buds began to open exactly two weeks before the big day, and the cascading blossoms could not be more festive. So glad I moved this baby closer to the window last August; she has never looked better. 

^ With wild enthusiasm and an immodest pat on the back, let me report that all of my Christmas packages hit the post office by December 13. That is a world record for me; my annual ornament workshop often runs straight through till the twenty-fifth, and my shipments often straggle out until the six, seventh or even eighth days of Christmas. Feels so good to finish early and get that monkey off my back. Huzzah!

^ As I was digging through the disheveled holiday bins at Target, I came across the last few stragglers of these geometric designs. Always seeking inspiration for my own annual ornaments, I decided to snatch them up though I wasn't keen on paying even the displayed sale price of $12 for the lot of them. At the self-check-out, I noticed they carried no bar code, no price tag, and I knew for a fact that these were the last of their kind in the entire store, so I whistled over the supervising staff member and asked him for guidance. 

He looked down at the treasures in my hand, paused a beat, and said, "Just take them." 

"Thank you," I said, "Merry Christmas."

"Same to you," he smiled.

And that was a very nice moment. 

^ Gracie has not been impressed with my late nights of ornament making and package preparing. By midnight, she is ready to go tuck herself into a warm comfy bed, and wonders why on earth I insist on standing out in the cold garage over my table full of paints and glitter throughout the wee hours of the night. Thankfully, some of my tasks can be done in the warm house, and my pup is grateful for her cozy spot on the couch. 

And I am thankful for her company and her patience. 

* * * * * 

Despite all these holiday preparations, I remind myself once again that Christmas is more than just a single day in late December. 

I remind myself again that Christmas is 

an attitude, 
a mindset, 
a commitment to peace on earth and goodwill toward man, 

every day of the year. 

May your busy December days be filled with the true Christmas spirit. 

Red-Headed Soul Mates

Christmas tree farms are good for lots of things.

They are, of course, good for finding Christmas trees.

They are good for family outings on crisp, sunshiny days. 

They are good for taking some exercise and exploring nature. 

And really quite excellent places for portraits. 

But as Gracie and I learned this year, a visit to the Christmas tree farm is a great place to meet other like-minded creatures. You might just stumble across your red-headed soul mate. 

* * * * *

More Christmas tree farm adventures:

Friday, December 1, 2017

Julie Swims

Julie (far right) and her team of crafty babes. 

My friend Julie just got back from twelve days in Chengdu, China.

She and three other women from her church crossed the Pacific Ocean to make crafts. Supported by established missionaries on the ground, Julie and her team held seven events designed to give the Chinese women a rare opportunity to experience creativity, get their DIY on, and receive their first taste of Christian love. The team also broke bread with these ladies and tried to build bonds over a sizable language gap. By the looks of the dozens of photos I've scrolled through, it seems that Julie and her team accomplished those goals in spades.

And I'm proud of Julie for that.

But laying mission and ministry aside, I'm proud of her for something much more simple and yet much more profound.

I'm proud of Julie for saying yes to this trip. 

For taking a chance.
For trying something new.
For stepping far outside the bounds of her happily ordinary life and putting herself into an unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and undeniably vulnerable place.

I'm proud of her for committing to the trip before she knew how she would pay for it. 

I'm proud of her for trusting that her family - including her four-year-old boy - would be fine without her for two weeks.

I'm proud of her for taking a deep breath, stepping out from the safe shore of ordinary, and throwing herself  headfirst into the deep, dark waters of life experiences. 

Chinese taxis are not for the faint of heart. But Julie (far right) survived. 

By taking this trip to China, Julie swam through some high waves and powerful undertows, and came through it all with a smile on her face and buoyant spirit. Now that she's home again and back to her routines, she looks like her usual sunny self.

But  Julie has swum in deep waters now. And in her heart, I know she will never be the same.

* * * * *

Photo credits to Julie, the ladies on her team, and their missionary support in Chengdu. <3