Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Advent Activities

Late last night, I finished my list. Found it a bit hard to fill in some spots, once looking at my calendar, and being realistic about a few very busy days planned, but here is what I've finally come up with. Hope you can get some good ideas out of it!

1. Make paper chains and use them to count down Christmas!
2. Check email for message from Santa (using this incredible website).
3. Create crafty gifts using recycled and repurposed items from around the house.
4. Fifi goes to Panto with Daddy, and Lolly goes see Granny!
5. Make paper lanterns to decorate for Christmas.
6. Cut colourful snowflakes and hang them in the window.
7. Make a family video e-card and send to family and friends.
8. Make gingerbread men for the Christmas tree.
9. Go on a treasure hunt to find a special present (I have made two Christmas black apple dolls for them to find)!
10. Have a Christmas picnic in our pajamas on the floor.
11. Make festive cookies and deliver them to our neighbours.
12. Look through old photo albums and talk about the pictures.
13. Read a story about Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus.
14. Wrap up presents in brown paper and decorate them.
15. Take a walk and pick pinecones to decorate.
16. Make a wreath using paper plates and tissue paper.
17. Pack bags for a super sleepover at Granny’s!
18. Go to Lolly’s birthday party and eat cake!
19. Perform in your nativity play at church.
20. Drink hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie as a family.
21. Make reindeer food and put in little bags for your friends.
22. Eat dinner by candlelight only with the fancy dishes.
23. Make chocolate chip cookies.
24. Put out a carrot for Rudolph and milk and cookies for Santa.
25. Eat chocolate gravy for breakfast and open presents!! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Blues - and No Pie to Cry On

Going back through my archives, I've written about Thanksgiving every year except last year since 2003, when I started my blog.

I have nothing to write about this year, because it is the first time in my entire life I will not have celebrated it.

This makes me want to cry.

I have all the stuff in to make the dinner, but no time to do it. I considered just making it tomorrow as a normal dinner but didn't take the turkey out in time to defrost, so I guess it'll be a vegetarian version. And we'll have turkey on Saturday, with leftovers before I dart off to work.

It's been a sad day for me. Not just Thanksgiving-wise, but a few other things too. Nothing I want to discuss too much on here at the moment, as it's still quite sad for me to get so personal online about. The gist is we've decided a few things about our family's future, which includes sending the children to private school like we've always intended... but to do so involves going back to work full-time and putting Lolly in with a childminder. It would break my heart more if it weren't for the fact that my wonderful Maria is going to be Lolly's childminder, and Maria, as far as I'm concerned, is practically family. It also means (here's where the waterworks keep trying to play up) no more children for us. And I'll say nothing more on the subject because there go the stingy eyes. We've got to do the best we can for the children we already have, and private school for three kids is just... well, it's a recession.

(But I held a baby at Mothers & Toddlers this morning, and seriously could barely keep from sobbing. That mixed in with the homesickness and Thanksgiving. I could just cry now.)

(Yet I've made it all day without crying, so I intend to persevere.)

As for Thanksgiving, since I've nothing to say on this fourth Thursday of November 2010, I'll leave you with links to all the previous posts on Thanksgivings. (My favourite is 2003.)







Monday, November 22, 2010

Advent Blog

I'm thinking that since I didn't manage NaBloPoMo, I might try a DeBloAdMo. Yes, that stands for December Blog Advent Month. Last year I did an Activities Advent calendar with my kids, where each day, instead of a chocolate, they pulled out a slip of paper saying one special thing we would do that day. I intend to that this year (or shall I say, next week!!), and perhaps I can turn it into a Blog Activity as well. So anyone who's up for a Blog Advent Calendar, let's give it a shot. Post every day in the month of December until Christmas one special idea you can do as a family, a couple or a group of friends. Of if you're really clever, post a wee thought each day about Christmas or something. I'll see how clever I end up being but don't count on much.

And I'll post my activity calendar in the next couple of days in case anyone wants to steal some of the ideas and use it yourself.

In the meantime, I have to get out to panto rehearsal. That, too, is next week! Aughh!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Princess Fifi

"Once upon a time, there are a beautiful princess called Fifi, and her was looking for her family. And then her couldn't find them, so her found a new family. Amen. "

They Are Just Things

It happens to us all, but some must feel it more than others: the eventual erasure of evidence that we used to be someone else, the slow fade of memories and mementos from the lives we once lived, the perpetual passing away of the ever-growing past.

I wonder what it is like for others; does every person feel this as distinctly as I do? How could I know? For me, my life is broken into two halves - the Arkansas-dwelling Lori Arnold and the Scotland-dwelling Lori McFarlane. The two lives, separated by marriage and ex-patriation, are very clearly split in my mind. When I think of the past, I think of it in two parts. When I face a vague, distant memory, I first begin to track its origin by categorising it in one of the two parts of my past. From there I can begin to decipher the rest of details.

I am faced now and again with this distinction by small little keepsakes from that first journey of my life. When I moved here, I came with only three and a half suitcases full of belongings. Everything else was either sold, given away, or, for only a small number of things, stored at my parents' house. The things I brought with me, aside from clothes, now seem very arbitrary; they are also some of my most prized possessions. There is the framed photograph of the Bag Lady, which hangs in my living room (and Scott hates), that I bought at an art exhibit, the bumble bee and ladybug coffee mugs that I somehow procured from Joshua and Kristen Rudd, my jewelry box from Target, my red dishes from Ingrid and Amanda from my 21st birthday, and the Post-It note on which I scribbled the words,
'You're worth the trouble and you're worth the pain, you're worth the worry, I would do the same. If we all went back to another time, I would love you over.'
which was the Belle & Sebastian quote that Scott IMed me, and which constituted his first technical use of the word 'love' to me.

Over time, these things have started to chip, break and fade. The Post-It, which was once pinned to the board in my office in Fayetteville and now hangs on my fridge by a magnet, is only this:

I have always known these things are material and won't last forever, but it still saddens me. I think, superstitiously, what happens when those words on that Post-It fade for good? What will happen to us then?

Well, this week I saw another two such souvenirs come to their bitter ends. Two pint glasses, saved from Thursday Pint Nights at Common Grounds on Dickson Street in Fayetteville, have broken and been relegated to the rubbish bin. I always meant to make it more often to Common Grounds on Thursdays to pick up my free pint glass, each week featuring a different beer and accompanying glass to take home. But I only ever got three, one of which I gave David Motter, and the other two of which I wrapped in t-shirts and packed in one of those suitcases. The first to go was my clear one, which oddly, neither Scott nor I can remember what was printed on it, despite using it for over six years, as it had finally cracked through. Then today, Fifi came rushing into the living room to tell me, 'Lolly broke your glass.' And there, on the floor, was my other one, the green one, in three pieces surrounded by tiny green shards and a barefooted Lolly holding a broom and dust pan (bless her).

One by one, they go, they fade. I can't help but wonder - Will all of me eventually fade with them?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


You know what it's like with kids. If one kid gets something better than the other, it's war. And you, the parent, are the traitor.

So, we were having fish and chips the other night. The chips were alphabet shaped, so I spelled out the girls names on their plates. But Fifi has five letters and Lolly only has four, so I added Lolly's last initial to make it even.

Heh heh, we never even realised.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fifi's First Post

An Interview

What's your favourite colour?
Pink 'cause it's light.

Who's your best friend?

Rowan. Her played with me sometimes, being angry with me, sometimes her loves me and sometimes her loves Ceiteidh.

What do you want for Christmas?
I want a toy teddy and pussy cat toy. Hello Kitty toy. How do I need to say all these words? I want to talk to it. I want to talk to it now.

Okay then.

Take Two

Well, if you listened to my audio blog below, you'll know I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar in the Greenock Arts Guild last Friday. Well, I also went on Saturday. I was helping out front of house and stayed to watch the show again.

The second time was a different experience for me. I'd already been very critical the night before of the bad (and downright wrong) theology, so I knew when those parts were coming up, and rather than looking for them and being outraged by them, I was able to just ignore them and just watch the show. Many things, because of that, felt very different for me the second time.

For instance, there's a song (and I don't know the names of the songs, because I'm not all the familiar with the show) where Jesus says to Simon,

Neither you, Simon, nor the fifty thousand, nor the Romans, nor the Jews, nor Judas, nor the twelve, nor the priests, nor the scribes, nor doomed Jerusalem itself understand what power is, understand what glory is, understand at all.

(Gotta love Wikiquote.) I missed this the first night, but felt very moved the second night at this line. The context is that Simon is trying to convince Jesus to fight against the Pharisees (or the Romans?) to get even more glory and power. While I don't know that that sort of instance really happened, the sentiment still worked. Neither the disciples, nor even we, understand what Jesus was ALL about, or what glory and power really are. Jesus' glory and power were eternal and heavenly; they were not about things of this earth, as the disciples and the Jews expected their Messiah to be. This even applies today; so many Christians expect Jesus to fulfil all their earthly desires, often quoting 'He shall give you the desires of your heart', without realising that his fulfilment of our needs are primarily spiritual, and the physical is secondary. (Remember the paralysed man on the mat? Jesus forgave his sins first, and only after told him to get up and walk.)

The other thing that really got me the second time was Jesus crying out from the cross, 'Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing'. The first time, something about that annoyed me, and I couldn't put my finger on it. The second night I realised it was simply the way the phrase was turned. I think I'm used to hearing, 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.' I know it's all English translation, and I wish I knew what the Aramaic actually would've been. But I like the 'for they know not what they do' translation better. Perhaps it's because I have a different view on the interpretation of that. Most people interpret that as Jesus saying, 'Forgive these people who are crucifying me because they don't know what a big deal this is, or who I am'. I don't really think that. I think that that was Jesus' darkest hour, literally. Moment later he would cry out, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' God had turned his face away from His Son during this time, for whatever reasons, many of which have been widely speculated on, which I won't go into at the moment, and not one of us can understand even remotely what this meant for Jesus. Jesus was God, and yet while on earth, he was also fully man. Yet even as man, he had perfect communion with the Father. He often stated that he only did what he saw his Father doing. He did everything according to His Father's will while living on earth. So can you imagine what it felt like for him to see that communion darkening as the Father turned His face from him? To be fully experiencing separation from God? When Jesus had been One with the Father from before the beginning as the second person of the Trinity, to begin to feel what mankind feels, prior to any revelation of God, which is a total and utter separation from God... that would've been excruciating. (And part of why even if one of us were to physically experience all Jesus did, we'd still never have suffered as he did.) So when he calls out 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!', I think he was saying, 'Father, forgive my elect, because they, in their utter darkness and separation of you, do not know just how wicked they are, they cannot see you, they don't know you at all!'

For the record, Scott totally disagrees with me on this interpretation. He takes it to literally mean those crucifying Christ. Since it's technically his blog too, thought I'd throw in his 2 cents.

So anyway, when I thought of that during the show, of Jesus asking his Father to forgive them, to forgive US, to forgive ME, for they, WE, I, do not know what we are doing, I was thoroughly broken. And that's when the sobs came. And from that moment on, I sobbed through the rest of the show.

(Fifi, the girl next to me, sobbed through it too. We were a noisy, embarrassing pair, the two of us. And once we noticed the other crying, we started giggling, which then made us cry harder and louder, and oh my goodness, were we a pair.)

So I'd say that, while I still do not like the show, I am glad I went the second night. I feel it really did change something in me. And the whole night after the show, at the after-show party, there were serious conversations all over the place about the Bible and religion and faith, and that, in my opinion, can only be a good thing.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What? As If Blogging Wasn't Already Self-Congratulating Enough?

The inherent narcissistic, self-involved nature of blogging has taken on a new level. Introducing my new Audio Blog (by audioBoo).


Oops, That Was Today?

Was gonna blog about seeing the musical Jesus Christ Superstar last night. But then I got a text asking if I was going to my friend's son's birthday party today, and I totally didn't know it was today. So instead of blogging, I've thrown on the same dress I wore last night, threw a dress on Fifi, sent Scott to the shower, and as soon as he's out, we'll wake Lolly from her nap, put her in a matching dress to Fifi and hit this party. Stopping at the shop on the way to pick up his birthday present...

I so thought his party was next week.

More on the musical later. Might even attempt an audioblog on the subject, if I can manage to get away from children long enough to do so.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Here's The Thing That I Don't Like About Me and Worry Other People Perceive as a Negative Trait In Me

I wish I were better at keeping in touch with old friends. Especially my friends from back home. But if it makes you feel any better, I'm not even good at keeping in touch with my own mother, father and brothers!

This started out as a Facebook status, but there is actually more to say about it than is recommended for a Facebook status, so hey ho, a blog post!

Sometimes while Facebook-stalking old friends, I get quite sad realising how few people I keep in touch with any more. I still send a helluva lot of Christmas cards, with my self-involved annual family newsletter enclosed, but that's really sort of the grand extent of it.

It's sad really. I have always been blessed with lots of friends, and I truly love my friends dearly. It's not hard to get into my affections, and it's not hard for me to fall in friend-love with you. But one of my fatal flaws is how easily I move on once our everyday encounters cease.

I hate that about myself.

But it's not that I stop loving my friends, just because I don't see them as much. I just don't put much effort into keeping in touch. That sounds really horrible, like I don't care, but I do. I really, really do. Unlike my marvellous friend Lorna, who can literally run herself ragged making sure she keeps in touch with the millions of friends she has (and who I secretly wish I could be like), I just don't worry much about it. I suppose I just hope that those people who really care about me as much as I care about them understand what it's like, being busy all the time and not being able to see as much of them as I'd like, and won't take it personally.

I think in reality, most people are like this, they just don't admit it. And I think a lot of people also allow themselves to get all hurt and offended when people don't keep in good contact with them. But I don't. It doesn't hurt me at all. It's just what life is like.

I still have two people I call 'my best friends back home' - Devon and Amanda. I don't talk to either of them hardly at all, except the odd Facebook comment. But when we see each other, which of course is extremely rarely, there's none of this 'Why haven't you called me/ emailed me/ written me? I'm in a huff.' We just pick up where we left off, and we enjoy seeing each other again and catching up. I love that about them.

As my original comment mentions, I don't even keep in touch with my brothers. And yet I love my brothers. I am extremely proud of my brothers and talk about them a lot like they are fantastic superheroes (and they both kinda are, in my opinion). But I don't really call them often or write them. But I hope they know I love them just the same. I'm pretty sure they do. And they don't write or call me either, so I think we all feel pretty much the same about it. I'm over here, they're over there, and we'll see each other again at some point and catch up then.

But I get sad when I think of people who I really love and who probably are (or at one point were) offended that I don't keep in contact with them. I wish I could see them all face-to-face and say sorry for that, explain that it's just what I'm like, and, I don't know, hug them or something. One guy comes to mind always when I think of this, and while I don't know for sure he was hurt that we lost touch when I moved to Scotland, I still wish I could find him, hug him and tell him every time I think of him, I still smile and remember what an amazing friend he was and that actually, I really still miss him, six years later. And we'd have a Tequila Sunrise together like old times and listen to The Faint.

And if I could see my sister- and brother-in-law in Texas I'd so the same. Maybe not with a Tequila Sunrise and The Faint but perhaps a cold beer and some Johnny Cash.

And it's the same with my family. Especially nowadays - my mom and dad are divorced now, and I wasn't great at calling regularly when they were together in the same house, let alone now trying to keep up with both of them separately. I never even got around to telling my mom that I'd changed my email address and blog address until well after the fact (and many lost emails along the way), and I never told my dad that my mobile number wasn't working for nearly a month, and poor Dad thought I was ignoring his voice mails and screening his calls.

But there's no question, at least I hope not, that I love them both to death. Just don't take it the wrong way when I don't cry when we say goodbye at the airport or I forget to call back; it isn't personal. I just have to get on with it. I'd be a rubbish ex-pat if I couldn't get on with it. I'd be miserable day in, day out, if I couldn't get on with it.

I suppose that's exactly what it is. I can't live day-to-day where I am here, with my old life always on my mind. I have had to settle here. I've had to make my home here. I have enough friends here to try to stay in touch with. It's hard enough to make sure I keep up with the loveliest of people here, like Heather, Mhairu, Pauline, and the aforementioned Lorna. After all, they are the ones I might run into at Tesco, and I don't them cross with me. (Luckily, I don't think any of them are the type to get cross; they're all busy women too.) I just don't want people to think that I'm a fair-weather friend. Because I'm not. Boy, do I love my friends and family. I'm just not that good at, I don't know, SEEING them.

In fact, I barely even see my sister-in-law who lives two streets down, and I love her to bits - I mean, I love her so much. So, see, it really is just me, not you.

Okay, so. That's the end of my wild tangle of a single, almost-passing thought. A moment on Facebook immortalised into this. And take it as a sort of mass apology, if an apology was ever needed. All sparked because I requested to be friends with a guy called Tommy on my Facebook, and I started to think of all the good times with that whole crowd of people and how much I miss them, and then I went to see if Arkansas Rockers was still around, and then I just got really sad about not seeing any of them, probably ever again, and then etc etc etc.

Monday, November 08, 2010


Years ago, when I was a blogger extraordinaire, I did things like NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I was pretty dedicated to things like that.

I attempted it last year, I believe, or the year before, but didn't get too far. And this year's month started with me away for three days in the first place, so there's no sense in me hoping to achieve it this year either.

However, it is giving me a bit of incentive to try posting MORE in November, and everytime I see Alex's posts on Facebook, it motivates me to get on my blog and post something.

So, since my house is really tidy (shocking!) and there's only a few things I need to do this morning - aside from giving my baby daughter some attention, of course - I'll post something for you.

Here's what is the nicest thing in my life right this very moment:

I'm having a cup of tea, in a clean quiet house, and eating a Butterfinger. It's truly blissful.

But to break it down a little more truthfully, my house isn't ALL that quiet. Lolly is banging her cup against the TV while watching Dora the Explorer singing to the Pirate Pigs 'Give us back our treasure!'. And yes, it's clean, but not immaculate. I keep looking at the floor and thinking, 'Must get out the hoover.' But when I look at my floor and my only thought is 'Must get out the hoover', that means my house is amazing. Well, and there is a cereal bowl that needs to go into the dishwasher. And when I finish this cup of tea, it'll need to go in too. But really, it's still really nice this morning.

But deep down, life is far from unstressful. I have SO MANY THINGS on my mind. Some of which just need DONE, some of which just need handed over to God (very difficult), some of which don't seem like achievable goals and some of which I just downright cannot be bothered worrying about - and yet they worry me.

I keep making lists, thinking that'll help me organise the things I need to do, the things that I can't be bothered doing, and the things that feel unachievable. But each time I sit down to make a list, I can't remember it all. Then when I do remember, I've lost the list. So I go on feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.

But above all that, I feel fine. I'm drinking my tea (actually, I've finished my tea), and Lolly is shouting 'abre!' at the TV, and whatever happens with all these little things that concern me is really incidental, in the end. My family is happy, I am happy, and that's kinda what really matters, isn't it?

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Just because it's been awhile (it's always 'been a while'), we've had a lovely start to the month of November.

On Tuesday, the 2nd, Scott and I, along with Sarah and Ian, Simon and Maria, and Kate and Faisal, headed off for the Glenmorangie House (pronounced 'glen-MOR-angie', like 'orangey') for three days. There we got to take a free (everything was free actually) cruise on Loch Ness, go clay pigeon shooting (I hit three out of ten in the air!), and take a tour of the distillery, followed by a whisky tasting.

The hotel - what a disservice calling it a 'hotel', it really is a house - was amazing. Our room, Morayshire, was massive, with a super-king size bed and a large, deep bath... ah, bliss. It overlooked the Avenue of Trees and further down, the water.

Each night (after pre-dinner drinks and canapes, of course), we were served a five-course meal, by one of the top chefs in Scotland. I couldn't pronounce even half of what was on the menus, but I loved nearly all of it. I especially loved how they served nearly half the courses with some sort of Glenmorangie cooked or poured in. Each morning we were served a four-course breakfast; I mean, I didn't know breakfast could HAVE courses. And for our 'light lunch' on the second day, we had sandwiches, butternut squash soup and salad. All this, of course, helped soak up all the whisky we drank.

We also had time to go take a walk by the seaside. It was beautiful. After our morning shoot, we wandered along rocks and sand of the shore and collected interesting shells and stones. Shells far more interesting than what you'd see at Lunderston Bay. And get this - we even saw a dead minke whale washed ashore. We thought it was a seal, at first, as it was already torn apart by the vultures and was missing a head, but it was in fact a whale. With a dead squid in its stomach. It was FASCINATING. Could only have been there a couple of days. I was furious my camera batteries had died halfway through clay pigeon shooting, meaning I couldn't get a photo.

It was such a lovely break. It was even nicer spending it with friends. I have such a greater appreciation of whisky now, and can even say I understand why the older the malt, the better. I used to like Glenmorangie Original, but now that I've tasted its 18 year old, its Qunita Ruban and its Nectar D'Or... oh yum.

But that's not all. We came back on Thursday night and collected the kids. Friday we just tried to have a relatively chilled day, and then Saturday we took them to Battery Park for the Myths & Legends festival, where they got to listen to storytelling and get their faces painted. Then that night we went back to see the fireworks and the mythological phoenix rise from the ashes. It was fun. I love fireworks and this year they did not disappoint.

So that's November so far. We've got a few other things planned, so it ought to be a fun month. The opening night for Panto is at the end of the month, so I've got lots of work to do, getting ready for it. And two kids' birthday parties, Cameron and Caspar. And probably some other stuff. Oh, yeah, like Thanksgiving! It's going to be a busy, busy month. But methinks it'll be grand.