Tag Archives: creative

4 days until Christmas…

A friend of mine had a very interesting question for me yesterday.  He asked, “Would you still be blogging everyday if you were married?”  My reaction at that moment was yes, probably, but the process might look a little different.  I might just be blogging random stories, and would not have made the 25 day Christmas commitment.  I walked away and didn’t think much about it.

Yesterday was busy, at work in the morning, then a photo shoot scheduled for the afternoon and more work in the evening.  My Sunday afternoon photo shoots usually consist of driving to small towns and looking for abandoned houses with a group of people.  Yesterday, I photographed a band called Moving Colors.  They rock the house everywhere they play and I really enjoyed doing the shoot.  We did some silhouettes behind the big screen, what a blast!

After I left the shoot, I had to run to the bookstore to find some Luke 2 images for a video.  As I was on my way there, having a small amount of time for personal reflection, I couldn’t help thinking about the question again.  Why did he ask that?  Curiosity got the best of me, I had to email him and find out.  I typed it at a stoplight, not while driving… just for the record.

I went to dinner with a friend, one whom needed a break as badly as I did, and had some nice ‘down time’.  Through the course of our conversation, it was apparent to me that nobody gets enough personal time or down time, especially during the Christmas season.  I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but certainly there has to be some holiday balance.  Where?  I have no idea.

I’m intrigued by the name Moving Colors.  I forgot to ask how they came up with the name.  As I look at it, it’s very descriptive of the way I see things in my world.  Life moves so quickly, it sometimes looks like a blur of colors in a time-lapse video.  The name is obviously based on their incredible talent and I’m quite sure, has nothing to do with a fast paced life.

I received a reply to my email, “…when you are married one tends to process life issues out loud with their spouse.  Since you don’t have one right now you seem to be processing life in your blogs.”  I had never really thought about it that way.  Hmm.  More food for thought.

Trying to live this Christmas more outside myself has been an extraordinary experience.  Spending time doing things for others, not for myself, is just an awe-inspiring way to spend time.  I plan to do this well into next year, not stopping after the Christmas season.  As Jim Johnson said in his message yesterday about living upside-down, we tend to forget the changes we have made to live differently and go back to the same daily grind.  Next year at this time, we’ll start the whole process over again.  Jim suggested we leave a Christmas item out of storage this year to remind us of our promised change.  Being the weird artist type that I am, I already do that, so I’ll have to choose something different that my usual Christmas lights.  Maybe an ornament.  One for me and one for each of my kids.

To answer the blogging question, honestly, I really don’t know what would be different.  I don’t really have a definite answer.  I might be blogging, I might not.  Blogging might be a substitute for adult conversation and relationships.  It might be a daily cure for loneliness.  It might be just for fun.  It might be my down time.  It might be a place for me to express my humorous and complex viewpoints on life.  Whatever it is, God is involved in it.  Maybe I don’t need to leave anything out of the Christmas box.  My blog might be the thing I need to remember the changes I have made.  I suppose I should read my blog every so often throughout the year so the tinselectomy changes don’t fade away.


6 days… no, wait, 5 days until Christmas…

Whatever.  I can’t count!  Leave it to me to try and change the birthdate of Jesus.  Okay, math has never been my thing.  I’m focusing more on the artistic process here, not the time, or time-math.  Work with me people.  Only one person has been brave enough to point this out, and as soon as he gets out of the hospital, you can ask him about it.

Have you read The Five Love Languages?  I have, and although I may not know my love language, I know what it’s not.  It’s not gifts.  With that being said, please enjoy my 2009 Christmas gift giving guide.

The 2009 Christmas Gift Giving Guide by Jody Wissing (aka Jody’s List)

Your most memorable childhood gift.

What was the coolest, most mind-blowing gift you received as a child?  No silly, besides the box it came in?  Mine was a Krazy Kar.  It’s that bright yellow thing with the swirly peppermint wheels.  I don’t recall how long I had it, but I know it was several years.  I’m guessing it was completely worn out, not suitable for anything but plastic recycling, as I loved it to death.  I had no idea what this was called until last week when I posted this photo on Facebook.

The Amloid Krazy Kar Ride-On is available on amazon.com for $75.99

Product description: The Krazy Kar is as equally wild as it is wacky! Drive it forwards, backwards, or in circles for indoor and outdoor fun all year long! Features giant 3′ action ride-on and big 18″ wheels. Made with safe, rugged, durable construction and holds up to 70 lbs. Colors may vary. Adult assembly required.

Although I like the new edition of the lightening bolts, I’m a little saddened that the swirly peppermint wheels are gone.  Oh well, nothing a little paint can’t take care of.  And 70 pounds?  How am I supposed to show my kids how to ride this if I can’t?  Their Green Machines hold up to 180 pounds, not that I ever take advantage of that.  But hypothetically speaking, let’s say you want something like this so you can ride it too.

The Deluxe Whirly Wheel is available at amazon.com for $99.99

Product description: Kids use their hands to power this innovative twist on the conventional ride-on. Lightweight construction helps riders cruise right along, safely take corners, and spin 360s on almost any surface. Features a steel frame, rubber tires and a padded seat for riders up to 110 lbs.

Okay, so I don’t weigh 110, wishful thinking, but I’l only a bit over it, so technically…  Also, if you buy one of these for your kids and they choose to keep spinning in circles, keep them outside for a little while before bringing them in the house.  Is your favorite toy still available?

Creative, memorable and just downright awesome.

What is the most meaningful or creative gift you have ever received?  The most creative for me was a bouquet of paintbrushes.  I’m not a flower kind of girl, and this gift giver, although knowing me for a short period time, gave me a meaningful gift.  I was married for eight years and the man still gave me flowers when he was in the dog house.  That made me angry, spending a crazy amount of money on something that’s dead upon arrival and will look like it in three days.  I cannot comprehend this.

The most memorable gift?  Flamingos and Skelemingos.  Again, this friend took the time to know what I would like, not jewelry, not flowers, not a sweater, but something quirky that nobody else would ever think to buy.  Not that your friend will want these, but just in case…

Skelemingo Pair available at thepinkflamingo.com for $15.95

Product description: NEW!!! One pair of s-c-a-r-y, b-o-n-y flamingoes! For All Occacsions: Halloween, Over-The-Hill Parties, Special Birthdays, Block Parties, Special Occasions, Retirement Parties etc. Can be used indoors or outdoors. “Perfect for the party…then in the yard for the rememberance!” When assembled they stand approximately 34″ high. Made in the U.S.A. of HDPE plastic.

How well do you know your friends?

Red fish, blue fish, old fish, new fish.

Dr. Seuss might be on to something here.  Why do we feel like gifts must be something new?  What’s wrong with old stuff?  Anyone can go into the cookie cutter stores, purchase mass produced material goods (available in many colors and styles), take the stuff home, wrap it in a bunch of fancy mass produced paper and call it a day.  Thought process?  “I’ve made my expected purchases, checked it off the to-do list and I’m on to my other busyness.”  What has been accomplished here?  We’re supporting financial insanity and overseas sweatshops.

Now don’t get me wrong.  We need people to buy lots of new stuff, because without that, there would be nothing at the thrift stores.  I would not have found my $1,300 grill for $70 or my son’s $595 Sleep Number bed for $6.  Okay, I’m being sarcastic, but seriously, if you are supporting thrift stores with your old stuff, please continue!  These stores raise money to help needy people, so why not go treasure hunting?  It’s three times better!   You are saving money, you’re supporting people in need and you’re spending the time to look for something special for your loved ones.

Favorite resale shops:  CCA (Christian Community Action) in Lewisville and The Colony and Frisco Resale, obviously in Frisco.

You can Google these for locations and also look for other resale shops, as there are many great ones in our area.  Buy gifts with character.  What would that person on your list fall in love with and not regift?  Oh, and don’t get me started on the re-gifting thing…

Judge a book by it’s cover.

With all of the used bookstores around, and to use a car dealer term, why not buy some pre-owned books?  There are many great reasons to do this.  First, you can write a special note in it for the person you’re giving it to.  (Unless you’re buying a book for Jerod Chambers, then you need to write on all of the pages in the book, as he loves that!)  Second, with the the endless number of topics and abundant, ingenious styles, it’s easy to find a book for any person on your list.

But my favorite part of giving books as gifts?  Altering them.  That’s right, altering them.  Write notes, scribble, paint, tape things, glue cutouts, add bookmark strings… the list goes on.  There’s two ways to do this, make a book into a completely new books by gluing pages together and adding your own embellishments, like the vintage books pictured here.  The other idea is much simpler, just add your own stuff to the book on the blank pages, creating a personalized copy of whatever book you’re giving.  Either way, I doubt this gift will end up in a thrift store.  Oh, what a dilemma, which idea should you choose?

Personalized recycling.

At the risk of offending anyone who’s done this, I just have to say, this has brought a whole new level of ridiculousness to gift giving.  I have to add this to Jody’s list, but as a ‘don’t do it’.  What is it?  Personalized wine bottle etching, the gift that keeps on… recycling?  So let’s suppose you get one of these treasured heirlooms, and instead of keeping it in a rack, you actually want to drink it.  Hmm, now you’ll have an empty bottle that will look really nice, if you just happen to love empty wine bottles all over your house.  Great, just what I need, a guilt trip if I throw this bottle away after enjoying it, as it was intended.  Or maybe I should keep it, and I’ll set it on the counter when you come to visit.  No, this bottle will be a wonderful addition to my recycling bin.

Look, I’m all about the free stuff.  The engraving is free at Market Street if you buy a bottle of wine over $10.  I have to ask, what is the engraving guy thinking?  He didn’t look all that happy to be doing this, or he might just have been in his engraving ‘zone’.  Do your friends really need a name on their bottle of wine to know it belongs to them?  If you’re not sure, look inside their coat and see if their name is written on the tag with a Sharpie.

Your resources.

I was at a party last night, one where the white elephant gift exchange was the football half-time event.  Cool!  Because I’m all about finding an unusual gift.  The gift I walked away with last night was a good one.  It was someone giving me two hours of their time for whatever I might need it for.  This got me thinking.

This Christmas I’m trying to live differently, giving my time and money to people in need.  Let me just say that I am giving money, but I don’t have a lot to give.  I’m also giving my time, and even though there’s not a lot of that either, I have more time than money.  What are your resources and how can you use them to help people?  My kids and I chose to sponsor Casa Hogar Elim and The Sons of Lwala this year, financially and with an allotment of our time.  What would your friends think if you did this in their name as a gift?  My experience?  It inspires other to do the same thing.  Give to someone that can’t give back this Christmas.  Set an example of giving goodness for others to follow.

The ultimate gift.

God gave us the greatest gift of all, his son.  When gift giving this Christmas, or any Christmas, just remember why you’re doing it.  Don’t get sucked into the vortex of materialism and meaninglessness.  Celebrate the Ultimate Gift by giving gifts with the true meaning of Christmas in your heart.  (Yes, even if it’s an impractical engraved bottle of wine)


9 days until Christmas…

Tick.  Tick.  Tick.

Only 9 days now.

Tick.  Tick.

Christmas will be here soon.  I have this gut feeling… I’m forgetting something.  What is it?  There’s no time to think about it.

Tick.

Time, our most valuable commodity.  Time, our best friend and our worst enemy.  Time is money.  I think the Eagles understand the meaning of time.  In their words, “…you can spend all your love making time.”  I don’t pretend to even come close to understanding love, but isn’t it something about relationships?  Isn’t it about people?

I was talking with my friend Thom the other day, complaining because I didn’t have enough time to get everything done, and he asked, “If you’re saying you don’t have enough time, isn’t that like telling God he didn’t give us enough of it?”  Hmm.  I think he’s right.  Why are we so busy?

I’ve received a few Christmas cards so far this year.  I don’t send Christmas cards anymore, mostly because it’s a Christmas expectation.  It’s that feisty, non-conformist part of me that just won’t do it.  I don’t want to send a meaningless, mass produced piece of cardstock to someone, only for it to get lost in a sea of empty tidings.  Everyone complains about no having the time to prepare their many Christmas cards.  If it’s such a hassle, why do it?  Do we even notice if one of our friends doesn’t send the obligatory Christmas wishes?

I do like seeing the family pictures, as this makes the cards more personal.  This is also where people get creative, maybe because they need to top last years photo or make their card funny so it’s more memorable and stands out from the others.  I have some friends that not only create the funniest cards, they have the next eight years’ ideas planned.  And we all think the same thing, “My, how everyone has changed since last year!”  Time really flies.

The cards I find the most interesting, are the ones containing family updates.  I’m not quite sure where this process originated, but I suppose if you only hear from people once a year, it’s important to catch up on the entire time span.  Limit: one paragraph per person please.  These updates usually reflect the family busyness in a comical way or highlight the achievements of the role-model kids.  If someone read these, without knowing the people, one might believe they have achieved worldly perfection.  Where are the ‘reality cards’, the ones saying it’s been a tough year?  My kids are struggling in school, I lost my job and oh, by the way, you can take his name off the card.  He doesn’t live here anymore.

Tick.  Tick.  Tick.

It takes a lot of time to achieve excellence in anything we do.  This blog is taking a good amount of time to write everyday, so why am I doing it?  I’m doing it to enhance my writing skills and to communicate my Christmas story.  My story is filled with the hatred of consumerism, the love of watching people interact with the ‘season’, the sadness of our culture, the happiness of watching people change that culture, the lack of time and the process of making more time for the right things.

Honestly, when I start writing at 5am, I’m trying to create a masterpiece instead of just writing from my heart.  I don’t spend enough time in my heart, only in my head.  To me, it’s a much safer place to be, although C. S. Lewis would disagree.  Time to reevaluate my goals.  Regroup.  If I’m doing things for the right reasons, not because of an imposed cultural burden or a self-inflicted nonsensical expectation, wouldn’t that give me more time to do the important things in life?

Tick.

I think we try to take all of our normal activities, which there still isn’t enough time in the day to do, add the Christmas craziness on top of it, and we turn into a bunch of crabby Christmas robots, programmed to accomplish, not experience.  No wonder everyone is stressed out.  If it’s how we function as a society all year long, why should Christmas be any different?  Could we change this?  Do we even want to?

Instead of focusing on society’s definition of success, I think I’ll define my own.  The word balance comes to mind again.  Balance of time and achievements.  So what if Cole can’t tie his shoes yet?  Who cares if my kids don’t want to learn to ride a bike?  I don’t want to teach my kids that they have to do what everyone else is doing.  They don’t have to keep up with the Jones’.  Who chose this family to represent our portrait of success?  The thing I find funny here is that nobody has ever met them, although you’ve probably receive a Christmas card from them every year.

Tick.  Tick.

My Christmas cards, if you choose to call them such, are different this year. It’s giving away tiny little gifts to people I know and to those I don’t know.

Your time is valuable, so no, you don’t have to click on other links to figure this out.  Here’s what is posted on the blog:

Why did we give you a tiny envelope with words?  To wish you an inspired, fun and very special Merry Christmas!  There’s a few more reasons, but first here’s a few things you should know.

  • The first thing you need to know is that we did not hand select your words.  All of the words were randomly placed into small envelopes and sealed for your safety.  🙂
  • There are Spanish words because we are encouraging everyone we know to learn a few words.  Then you can go with us to Casa Hogar Elim.
  • We want you to place your words on a metal surface that you look at frequently so you can always remember this – everyone is creative in their own way.  What is your gift?
  • Christmas is about relationships and we want you to remember all year long that we’re glad you’re our friend!

In a nutshell, words are great, but we don’t take enough time to use them.  Once Christmas nears and the exhaustion sets in, and we are all worn down, trying to figure out this whirlwind called Christmas, we might take a few moments to remember something about the birth of a baby.  A baby named Jesus.  Yes, that’s what I’ve forgotten.

Time goes quickly.  Life will pass us by.  Maybe we need a visit from the ghost of Christmas past.


10 days until Christmas…

Yesterday I was pondering my favorite Bible verse, Romans 12:2.  It’s so applicable to the Christmas consumerism and might just be another clue in finding the Christmas spirit.  Here is the verse in two popular translations.

NIVDon’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The MessageDon’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

This one short verse floods my mind with vivid images, many of them exist as photo light paintings in a collection I’ve entitled “excessable”.  I was also inspired to paint this abstract rendition of Romans 12:2 earlier this year.

The details on this canvas were painted with cookie cutters and guitar strings.  I always start painting with brushes, but end up painting with my hands and three dimensional objects.  I guess I do that because I like the feel of the paint and the energy that goes into the painting by touching it.  I also like finding objects that produce intriguing impressions, creating a visual adventure on the canvas.  You can often find the ‘hidden’ eye candy in my art pieces if you look long enough.

The cookie cutters symbolize our current culture and represents the expectation placed on us to conform to our society.  The guitar strings could represent the ‘strings attached’ to us, but truth be told, I just love painting with them.  This painting was auctioned off last month to raise money for the Sons of Lwala benefit.

I’m thinking about Romans 12:2 lately because I desperately want Christmas to be different this year.  Does anyone realize that we’ve all been sucked into this vortex of materialism, buying things because we feel we have to, not because we want to?  If it’s the thought that counts, what does this say about how we feel and what we think of people?

The more I take notice of my surroundings, the more I see a contrast of rich and poor.  Also of good and evil.  However, I also see that people are slowly coming over from the dark side, doing random acts of kindness and serving mankind in very creative ways.

We have the ‘tinselectomy’ thing going on at the church and they’ve asked people to blog stories of helping others or stories of something nice that was done for them.  The problem is, this can’t be done anonymously, so most choose not to share their experiences.  They don’t want to be boastful or prideful about it, but we need to find a way to get their stories out there as an inspiration for others.

In talking to people and simply paying attention in my day to day activities, I’m witnessing so many stories!  People are doing wonderful things for their friends and for people they don’t even know.  I’m going to share some of these stories without using names.  There are so many, and I’ve tried to update my journal frequently to record all of them, but I know I’ve missed some.  I’ll just share a few of them.

The most recent story happened yesterday.  My friend called me to see if I needed anything, as I had a sick child at home.  I needed some Sprite and crackers for him, but I did not want to take him out of the house.  She brought everything he needed and also something for me.  All of my neighbor’s, together, picked up my other child from school and brought him home.

This friend that brought the supplies, whom has been out of work for several months, has a job interview in a couple of days.  To understand this situation a little better, her husband has also been unemployed.  She mentioned her coat being in hock at the dry cleaners.  She needed to get it out, but didn’t really have the money to do so.  Another friend overheard this, went to the dry cleaners, picked up her coat and brought it to her.

She didn’t get the coat right away, because she and several others were out serving lunches they had made for the day laborers, the guys standing in the cold, waiting for any paying job they can get their hands on.  These men sometimes don’t eat for a couple of days at a time.  We plan to make this an ongoing ministry once the Christmas season passes.

Knowing these men are standing in the cold, another guy I know, but not very well, bought a bunch of coats to give to homeless or impoverished people.  We have experienced some incredibly cold temperatures and I’m sure those coats are going to be much appreciated.

Many of these men have families they are trying to support.  Our church sponsored a party for the kids last week giving them some toys and an opportunity to talk to Santa.  Another friend, knowing many of these families don’t have cars, not only tried to arrange transportation, but she gave rides to anyone needing it.

I could go on writing stories all day, spanning from friends collecting money to buy a shower chair for a special needs orphan to paying for a person in line behind them at a restaurant.  Although these people have chosen to remain anonymous, their hearts are in the right place.  Are they experiencing the Christmas spirit?

Do you want to participate?  There are plenty of ideas available on the internet, or just try this simple exercise.  Look closely around you, through the lens of kindness and mercy, and you will see things you’ve never seen before.  Your mind will be transformed, as will your heart.

Also, if I peaked your curiosity earlier on the ‘excessable’ collection, here are some of the images.  Not really Christmas related… or are they?


18 days until Christmas…

You know, when you look at the way we do Christmas these days, the commercialism, the chaos and the excess, it’s no wonder why at some point, we have to poke fun at the ridiculousness of it.  Here are some great pics of Christmas weirdness, fun and creativity.

This guy wins the award of creativity.  I wish I had thought of this!  Nope, it’s not a real guy hanging there.  He staged this, but after a couple of days, had to take it down.  People were frantically trying to run over and help him.  A few cars actually drove into his yard in a panic, worked quickly to get the ladder back up, only to find out there was no guy up there.  I call this performance art.  I wonder if he had a video camera set up?

I Googled ‘dead Santa’ yesterday before writing about the Christmas spirit.  I came across a few images that were intriguing.  This dead Santa illustration was created by Brandon Reese.  This was one of many funny Christmas icon illustrations.  It’s odd, but I love the retro look and colors.  I can’t help but wonder why he created this image and how it was used.

This one came up on the dead Santa search too.  Did you notice the peppermint candy border on the rug?  Great artistic details.  Good thing they don’t outline all the dead ones laying around in people’s yards.  Wow, wouldn’t the 3M tape company love that?

One of my favorite sitcoms of all times is The Drew Carey show.  Beer kegs in Christmas lights?  These have to be full of Buzz beer.  Maybe he’s going to have a block party.  If this was my neighbor, I would have to go check to see if any of these actually had beer in them.

Where does one get this many kegs?  Notice the extra keg behind the keg tree?  I’m guessing his patio table base is also a keg, and judging by the looks of this place, he probably has a basement, full of kegs.

Okay, so we started the tree segment with a beer tree.  I found lots of unique Christmas trees out there, ‘out there’ meaning on the internet.  Don’t worry, I plan to have many more of my own crazy photos in future posts.

Our Christmas message series at church this year is called Upside-down Christmas.  I was so excited when that was decided because we were going to finally use the idea Rod and I talked about, upside-down trees.  Sadly to me, nobody liked the idea this year.  I thought about hanging my tree upside-down.  Problem?  It’s a 10′ tree that works like an umbrella.  Four extremely heavy pieces, that if placed upside-down, would fall together and look like a tree that should be strapped to the top of a car to take home.

Let’s start with the upside-down tree.  This is one of the newest fads in Christmas decor, although there is much controversy about the symbolic meaning of it.  For some, this is just to be different, for others, it creates more space for this Christmas icon and makes more room for gifts.  Clearly we need more room for all of the stuff we are expected to, and probably will purchase.

Others have said an upright tree points to heaven, an upside-down tree, well, not so much.  Anytime you mess with tradition, there will always be a group of protestors.

Why do I like the upside-down tree?  I like it for the same reason we are doing a message series about an upside-down Christmas.  When you turn something upside-down, it usually makes a mess at first, but then you think about it, reorganize all of the pieces and maybe put everything back together in a different and better way.  Turning Christmas upside-down is an intentional action, with results you may never have thought of otherwise.  Giving, celebrating and living differently as been an amazing experience for me, so amazing that I cannot go back to my former, selfish ways.

Here are some other cool and creative trees.

Okay, so just one more.  I had an idea of something crazy I wanted to do with my hair when it was long.  My stylist, Steve Hodges, agreed to bleach and color a peace sign into my hair.  Although we have all of the technical details worked out, there’s still the reality of my curly hair.  When I wear my hair straight, the peace sign will look like a peace sign.  When it’s curly, it will look like an abstract color blob, which really isn’t a problem for me, nor would anyone question it.  In the mean time, maybe I can have Steve do this with my hair.

I think Christmas fun might be part of the Christmas spirit.  I don’t think a ‘tinselectomy‘ means that you have to spend less time decorating, however I do believe you should encounter joy in it and create some great life moments with it.  If it feels like work or feels like something you have to do, then don’t do it.  No matter how you choose to express Christmas, make it your own self-expression, depicting what is in your heart, not what society is promoting today.


22 days until Christmas…

God is awesome!  He arranged some ‘bonus’ family time.  I usually don’t have my boys on Thursdays, but he knew we needed some crazy, fun, out of the ordinary time together.  We ditched homework, house work and everything else we didn’t really want to do.

We went to the hospital to see a friend’s new baby, then to the store to buy candy for our Christmas boo bags.  (Christmas boo bags will be explained in a future post)  We also bought some hot chocolate and lots of marshmallows, now prepared to start our new family tradition… Santa shooting.  Again (from yesterday’s post), this is not with a gun, it’s with a camera.  We picked up a couple of the boys friends and took off in the car to look for quirky Christmas yard art and photograph it.  Oh, and we had our hot chocolate, each cup with enough marshmallows for six cups.

People in west Frisco don’t seem to enjoy the hazy plastic people yard art, unless it’s in the form of a nativity scene.  The west ‘Friskies’, as Hank Stuever calls them, are on the conservative side with yard decor, that is, everything with the exception of lights.  There were basically three types of lights.  First, the ‘hired’ lights.  These people spared no expense in purchasing lights and they were clearly hung by professional elves.

Second, the ‘I have lights on my house because it’s a Christmas expectation’.  These lights are sometimes required by the HOA, but probably more often a husband putting up the three strands of lights in an awkward manner to check it off his honey-do list.

Third, the ‘bountiful jumble’.  These houses have as many strands of lights as they can possibly place on the outside electrical system without blowing a fuse.  These random sets of non-matching lights have strands added every year.  Half of the yard is traditional lights, the new strands are the bright LED’s.  Basically, they have replicated the WalMart sample light display into their yard.  After these people put their lights up, they most likely look up and down the street to be sure they have clearly won the “I have the most lights” contest.

Although I was disappointed not to see yards filled with Christmas weirdness, I can always find a photo opportunity.  This one was light painting.  Instead of trying to explain this, I’ll just post the photos.

The kids got to play, we learned some new photography skills, but most importantly, we all had some great family and friend fun time.  Living differently, a tinselectomy of sorts.  More tomorrow…


25 days until Christmas…

Only 24 more shopping days until Christmas!  Oh wait, maybe they’re actually going to open stores on Christmas now.  I feel awful for the retail workers.  Not only is this a crazy time of year for them, but they didn’t even get to enjoy Thanksgiving.  I know this, because I worked in retail for several years.  Doorbusters have been around for many years now, but as everything we do at Christmas, it has reached the point of ridiculousness.  If we can’t open earlier than the store down the street, than we’ll open the day before… Thanksgiving.

Let me just say I am all about getting a good deal.  Why can’t these stores just all give good prices and run some regular sales instead of creating mass chaos?  The stores are controlling people.  The stores decide when we shop, how we shop and what we buy.  And if Black Friday isn’t enough, we now have Cyber Monday.  UPS, get ready.

My 24 days left will be spent avoiding stores.  The few gifts I am buying were purchased at a local discount, hole-in-the-wall store.  Yes, they do still exist, but they aren’t easy to find.  I also made my one online purchase, the one gift my kids are getting besides their passports this year.  The gift was $19.95.  The rest of the money we would spend on Christmas?   It’s going to Casa Hogar Elim in Mexico, to the Sons of Lwala in Kenya and to some local compassion ministries in Frisco, Texas.  Have a tinselectomy!  I did.

Elizabeth and I found a new form of holiday entertainment, well, probably more like a hobby.  We went Santa shooting last weekend.  No, not with a gun silly, a camera.  We will be doing this throughout the ‘season’ and will share some photos with you!

This is our first find, and quite honestly, the most funny and somewhat disturbing.  I like to call ‘The Symmetrical Hazy Plastic People Nativity Scene with Flying Peanuts’.  Yes, because inflatables aren’t weird enough just sitting on the ground, let’s bungee it across the walkway so Charlie Brown and Snoopy can hoover over baby Jesus and hit people in the head if they come visit us.

If this is your house, and you’re reading my blog, just know that I also do some weird Christmas things, so don’t be offended.  We’re just having a little fun.  I use flamingos in my yard and I have a full size mannequin named Darla.

More Christmas fun tomorrow…


light painting with the kids

I love it when I can share art with kids!  I am in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico at Casa Hogar Elim orphanage.  Last time I was here, we did photography light painting with the kids.  This time, I brought lots of flashlights for the kids to use, and with a supply of color gels to color the flashlights.

Not familiar with light painting?  Simple, and yet most cool process.  If you have an SLR, place it on a tripod and set the shutter on ‘bulb’.  Hold the shutter button down and have people ‘paint’ with the flashlights.  Anything that has light on it will show up in your photo.

The kids down here love to light paint.  When we break out the camera and flashlights, they know exactly what we’re doing.  They get so excited and like to see the photos right after we take them.  With that being said, I have to hold on tight to the camera because the stampede of children will come after every photo.  The excitement on their faces is awesome and it’s wonderful to watch them come up with creative ideas for the next shot.

Enough words.
Photos below.  J



a friend-ly reminder

This is what happens when you have creative friends, a broken key on your PowerBook and a spare 5 minutes.

mac buddies

So just messing around with Jerod’s broken laptop… we thought, “Hey?! Wonder what the old keys would look like with the new lit PowerBook??” So it started. We changed out the ‘:’ key that keeps popping off. It looked cool, so then we had to switch out one of the Apple keys. Then Jerod said, “We have to switch some of the letters too”. So he choose 8 letters that spell three words. (Thus the ‘3’ key that I switched out) Can you guess the three words? Letters may be used multiple times.

a e d r y n j o

I’ll post the answer in a few days. Unless of course someone gets it.


blogging

In my efforts to me more culturally relevant, I set up my new blog! Welcome!

moblogging seminar

me, jerod and randy


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