Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On the Sixth Day of Christmas

The Zoolians bring you more silliness with a wink to the Emperor who loves the original song!

More Christmas Fun in New Jersey

The biggest thing, of course, is that baby Jesus came, and He had a nice soft bed of hay in our manger.  He's also wrapped in a scarf because we think he looks cold.  What is it with these depictions of Jesus wearing only a diaper? Who leaves a newborn like that?  It says she swaddled Him!

We had a lot of fun at Mumpy and Pa's house.  Their lake was completely unfrozen - quite a surprise since it had been ice bound when we visited a few weeks before!

I remember many years when the lake was frozen enough to skate at Christmas.

It wasn't always cold enough for that, so Christmas skating was always  a special treat. 

This year's special treat was fishing!

We didn't catch anything (the fish who bite for rod and reel fishing are asleep at the bottom of the lake, I think), but that was a fine treat for me.  I love to cast, but don't like to catch and remove fish!

We also went off to play at the super playground. The stuff they have for kids these days is amazing! Back in my day, our playgrounds were definitely not this fabulous!

 Wow, I managed to get "kids these days" and "back in my day" in the same paragraph, the very definition of geezing!

 Speaking of amazing, Mumpy gave Zorg a beard and mustache (out of whipped cream) for Christmas!  I wish I had managed to get a better picture - it was a sight to behold!

And, speaking of a sight to behold, a day or two before Christmas, Oob lost his super wiggly front tooth!

Merry Christmas indeed!
Mumpy and Pa's Nativity Set

Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas in New Jersey

We had a wonderful time visiting Mumpy and Pa in New Jersey over Christmas!

We drove up Christmas Eve, and came back Saturday night, just in time for a Christmas celebration with Grammy and Pop and the other side of the family on Sunday.

One fringe benefit of spending Christmas with Mumpy and Pa is that they're also Catholic, so we get to go to Mass together. What a treasure! 

 Two strangers in beard hats showed up.  We don't know who they were, but they were awfully cute!

We had fun unwrapping presents, of course!

We often shake the gift and guess what it could be.

Pa always guesses it might be a bomb (he's been a bomb disposal guy for nearly 60 years).  He also guesses it might be an angry ferret, but I don't think he's worked with them as long.
Well, what do you know?  He had to be right eventually!

On the Fifth Day of Christmas

The Zoomlians bring to you... Star Wars!  In Christmas lights!! Because we're silly!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Saturday, December 27, 2014

On the Third Day of Christmas...

Zoom Times gives to you, this singularly simple, but beautiful rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen!"

Friday, December 26, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas from Zoom!  
May  your Christmas be filled with 
the Joy and Peace of Christ!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Poem of the Week

The Nativity

UNFOLD thy face, unmaske thy ray,
Shine forth, bright Sunne, double the day.
Let no malignant misty fume,
Nor foggy vapour, once presume

To interpose thy perfect sight
This day, which makes us love thy light
For ever better, that we could
That blessèd object once behold,

Which is both the circumference,
And center of all excellence:
Or rather neither, but a treasure
Unconfinèd without measure,

Whose center and circumference,
Including all preheminence,
Excluding nothing but defect,
And infinite in each respect,

Is equally both here and there,
And now and then and every where,
And alwaies, one, himselfe, the same,
A beeing farre above a name.

Draw neer then, and freely poure
Forth all thy light into that houre,
Which was crownèd with his birth,
And made heaven envy earth.

Let not his birth-day clouded be,
By whom thou shinest, and we see.

By: Christopher Harvey (1597–1663)
HT: The Journey With Jesus

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Eagle Has Landed!

 Mxyl's Eagle Project is done!

He repaired, scraped and painted the front of Fealy Hall, our parish's original church, now used as a hall.

He actually started the week after Thanksgiving: scraping, sanding, caulking and patching. 

Not just Mxyl either, 17 people contributed over 78 combined hours of work!

It turned out there were at least 5 layers of paint since it had last been scraped.

I think that's Zorg under the mask and paint suit.

The finishing touches

 Two layers of new paint later, it's DONE!

And it looks fantastic!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stuff We've Been Making That Aren't Christmas Presents

 Klenda made a banana coconut pie!!

Mmmmmmmmm. Tasty!

 Choclo made this Imperial Star Destroyer out of spare Angry Bird blocks.

Love the General Grievous pig!
 I made this gingerbread in a bundt pan.  Also delish, but it took less time so it was a bit dry.

The recipe says an hour, I took it out in 45 minutes, but next time I'll check at 35 minutes.

Nothing some whipped cream couldn't fix!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

O Christmas Tree

 We have achieved Tree!

Usually we get the tree in the first week of December, leave it outside (in a bucket of water) until Gaudete Sunday, and then bring it in and decorate it.

This year, the Emperor was still having breathing issues from what turned out to be seasonal asthma, and I had doubts about the wisdom of adding another possible allergen.

The Emperor (and the Zoomlians) had doubts about the wisdom of plastic trees.

After we had the Emperor stick his head in a Scout Wreath and try to breathe careful scientific testing, and with a dismal lack of nice fake trees for less than $400, we decided to get another real tree.

 The fire department, our usual source, was already sold out, so we ended up (several lots later) at Home Depot with this lovely and fragrant Balsam Fir.

I started sneezing in the car on the way home.

The thought that I might be allergic had never occurred to me!  Fortunately, I'm fine with an extra antihistamine.

And the house smells really nice!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Advent Thoughts

It's been the most Adventy Advent I can remember.

Advent is a time for preparation for Christmas, so you might think this means I have more of my Christmas shopping/wrapping/baking/mailing/crafting stuff done than usual.  Believe me, I don't!  I'm further behind than I can ever remember being!

No, it's been a time of interruptions. Minor illnesses. Car repairs. Health scares.Overflowing toilets. Crises and sorrows, large and small - not all of them mine.  Opportunities. 

Chances to let go of my organizational strategy and stop for the Child Christ plucking at my sleeve.

Chances for release from the tyranny of the "perfect" Christmas with one little thing missing.

Chances to focus on the One coming and see His face in my friend, in my spouse, in my own dear children.

Chances to live lovingly in the present.

Happy Advent!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Fun in New Jersey

 Last weekend I took Choclo and Oob up to see Mumpy and Pa.

What a fun trip!

Pa had gotten a pair of little remote control helicopters for the boys to play with.

We also spent some time playing and building with dominoes, and making Christmas decorations for their house.

That second picture is all of us drawing Christmas and Advent things. We all like to draw, and most of my drawing skill is stuff my Dad taught me about perspective and line.  He still draws much better than I do!

Speaking of art skill, when I was up in Mom's office, I saw this painting by my sister!  I just love the tender expression on Our Lord's face!

We had a lovely time.  We even got to explore their attic and take down their nativity set.  I wish I had taken a picture after I set it up!

It's a set that my parents made together while doing a ceramics class when I was young.  The pieces are large and white, glazed in mother of pearl - very beautiful!
They also had gotten a little gingerbread train kit for Choclo and Oob to do.  Since I had just rushed through 4 days of gingerbread madness, I thought that was pretty funny! 

But the kit was great!  Instead of a 3d train, each kid made their own 2d train, and we used the leftover parts to leave a sweet message for Mumpy and Pa!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Return of the Crowned Crane

 From the trip to the Botanical Gardens last week: I loved the crowned crane topiary, and I had to get a picture of Oob with it.

If you were reading this blog 7 years ago, you'd know why!

Oob went through a phase where he looked like this:

Fortunately, his hair settled down (eventually).

Choclo still looks puzzled by the coincidence!

Can you pick out which crane is Oob?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gingerbread! Part 2

But wait, we had one more gingerbread project! 

Zorg and Leena made this museum.

From left to right on the wall, they made a mosaic, an Egyptian sarcophagus (dipped in chocolate, the best kind!) , several mounted specimens of gummy bears, fish and sharks, and a set of fully toothed megalodon jaws surrounded by sharks.

On the floor we have a copy of Rodin's The Thinker, the Hope Diamond, a meteorite, and some interesting mineral specimens.
 At the party we had nine houses to be judged, our best turnout yet!

Choclo got an Honorable Mention, and Klenda took second in the Individual category.  Zorg and Leena's museum and our castle tied for second in the Family category.  

First Individual was the treehouse on the bottom left of the picture above.  Very impressive!  Tree houses are hard!

First in the family category was a lovely church with the best stained glass windows I have ever seen (in gingerbread!).  That's it in the front right of the picture on the right.

The party was so fun, and it was so great to see all of our friends!  I'm sure we'll do it again next year!

 And, of course, after the party...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Gingerbread! Part 1

 Pictures as promised!

This year Oob and I worked together on a castle.

I was going for authenticity and elegance, he was going for maximum candy adhesion.

I think he won. Particularly when you take into account the candy that ended up on the inside of the castle.

It was a lot of fun doing it with him, though!

Klenda did a general store with tons of cute details..

I love the kitten!

And the wood pile.

Actually, I think it's the best roof we've ever done, too.

 Choclo did a house full of kids playing hide and seek in the bushes.

A fisherman's family lives here, you can tell!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Poem of the Week: Second Sunday of Advent


Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo, faithful virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He will wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death's force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created, thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son and Brother;
Whom thou conceivst, conceived; yea thou art now
Thy Maker's maker, and thy Father's mother;
Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room,
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.

By John Donne (1572-1631)
HT: Journey with Jesus
Illustration: John Tissot

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gingerbread Crazy

Are we really only 6 days into Advent?  It feels like we must be at Gaudete Sunday by now, probably the consequence of three straight days of gingerbread (4 if you count the cookies).

None of which I can show you because they are for the co-op party/gingerbread contest happening Monday, but after that, there will be many pictures, I can promise you!  The pictures now are from a project I did a few years back called "Bethlehem Means House of Bread."

The tricky bit is that I am taking Choclo and Oob up to see Mumpy and Pa this weekend, and we won't be back until Sunday evening, so the gingerbread needed to be essentially done before I left today, which it is. Phew!

It's less that everyone needs help with actual gingerbread, and more that the logistics of providing undisturbed space for 4 gingerbread projects to cool/dry/continue to exist do need my help.

Also, having made some gingerbread in the past, I am veritable font of useful advice on which bits to glue on first, and what to do when your masterpiece cracks, breaks, bends, or is bumped/touched/eaten. 

If I had to give a single piece of advice it would be: decorate the walls before you construct the house!