Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Kid

I'd be remiss if I didn't update on the Kid.  He's in his second year at State and is having the time of his life.  He's working hard on academics (3.8 this semester, including a 4.0 in Calculus - a first for his tumultuous history with Calc).  He has a job working for researchers on campus, providing computer programming support.  He has also been offered a TA position for next semester, working with his favorite professor in a class he just completed.  He has leased a townhouse for next year with two of his best friends at State (the other 2/3rds of "The Musketeers") and he and his girlfriend are very happy together.  He is thinking about the future, but not obsessing over it.  He is focused on his academics but finds time to relax and play.  He and his girl are wonderful together, but don't want to rush into anything. 

Sigh.  We raise them to be independent, successful and happy.  It's just the most amazing feeling when they ARE.

That said, this is the same kid who stood with me in the checkout line at the grocery store holding a can of olives that bears the name of dear friends of ours.  "Lindsay olives?!"  he said.  "That is so cool!  I mean, how awesome is it that you KNOW the people who grew these?"  I just stared at my brilliant child.  "I just think it's awesome," he continued, "that they grow these right on their property!"

"They grow grapes, Jacob.  You've been there.  They have a vineyard full of grapes surrounding their home.  Not olives.  Grapes."

"Oh yeah, right.  Grapes."

Sigh.  I suppose no matter how old or successful he gets, we'll still have those moments of our Little Flash, won't we?

Decorating at the Farm

Decorating for the holidays has been so much fun on the farm.  It goes something like this:  I get an idea in my head.  I ask The Mister to go fetch me a few things from around the property.  Some branches, some evergreen boughs, maybe some pinecones.  And then I put them all together into something festive!  
The garland on the front porch looks fabulous!  (The Mister even put lights on it for me!)
I put together a rustic centerpiece for the table. 

Even the chicken feeder on the coffee table got a holiday upgrade.

I have so many mason jars it's impossible not to include them in the decorations!

The box by the front door was perhaps the easiest of all to put together but it's The Mister's favorite. 

My favorite?  The evergreen that The Mister fought with to adorn with Christmas lights.  The tree is up by the house, far from the road, where we didn't really think many would even see it.  He did it just for me.  Because I mentioned once that "Someday" we should think about lighting it.  I came home from work to see the love of my life with two long poles duct taped together desperately trying to get lights to the top.  He calmly welcomed me home and then said, "Go inside."  I watched from the kitchen window as I made dinner and he fought with the branches, the poles and the cold to get the lights up on the tree.  It turns on every morning when I am getting ready for school, and again when I am scheduled to come home. 

While it turns out you can see it from a mile or two down the road, I know that he did it just for my eyes to see.  My heart sees it too, Chief.  I love you back!

The Gift Certificate

Last spring when we were shopping for couches our new home, I registered to win a gift certificate from a furniture store in Grand Rapids.  Had I not registered immediately upon entering the store and waited until we had browsed through it first, I might have skipped it altogether.  As it turns out, we won the $250 gift certificate, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing.

We made two trips to the store following our great win and both times walked out shaking our heads and empty handed.  With a new house just waiting to be furnished, how could we not find something worth putting our gift certificate towards?! 

Maybe it's because even the silk plants were outrageously priced. 

After taking Jacob to the airport on Tuesday, we decided to try one.last.time. to spend the gift certificate.  I promised The Mister one way or another I would never make him browse through this store again.

After nearly a half hour of wandering around the store, this table was the only thing that didn't require us adding significant money to the gift certificate.  Problem was, I kept telling The Mister, if this table had been at a garage sale, marked $25, I would have talked the seller down.  I just couldn't do it.  $229 for a plant table?! 

Instead, we spend $14 on this pair of milk bottles.

And then had to spend the remainder of the gift certificate on fake plants.  This one was $50 on clearance.

This one is tiny.  It's much smaller than the picture appears.  It was only $7, but the funny part to me is that it is labeled on our invoice as being in a "self-watering pot".  Very important for a fake plant, indeed.  (And there's no way it's a self-watering anything.)

Finally, we spent the remaining $150 on this arrangement.  I shook my head as we walked out of the store.  These were all clearance prices.  This one was originally $399.  Maybe they never actually charge full price, but who in their right mind is spending $150 on a FAKE PLANT?!? 

In any case, we spend the gift cert.  I am certain we did NOT make our saleswoman's day.  We came home with some plants I cannot kill.  I suppose it's a win-win.  Someday way down the road, Jacob will be selling all our stuff, and he'll put a $25 tag on this plant.  And someone will talk him down to $15.  And that will even be too much.

First Snow on the Farm

The first snow was unbelievable.  For a snow-hater like myself, I have to say, it was persuasive!

Every bit of red stood out, from the old chicken coop... leaves left on the weeping cherry tree.

The pond was serene.  We can't wait to see it when it freezes over!

The lane was beautiful as well.  Who could have imagined this would be our path home every day?

Every tree was draped.

Home sweet snowy home.

Going Postal

The Mister's brother is unhappy at work.  He works for the US Postal Service and is ready to retire but has a few more years of frustrating work ahead of him first.  He put a kibosh on our annual exchange of gift cards for Christmas, a move that we did not necessarily support as we wanted to spread a little cheer and joy his way during the season of giving.

To that end, we decided to send some local beverages his direction; a little wine from the local winery for his wife and some beer from our small town brewery for his enjoyment.  The winery was generous enough to even provide me with a great box that would ship both bottles nicely.  :)  I got the package ready and The Mister stopped by UPS on his way home from work one day to mail it.  Going through the long list of shipping-related questions, the clerk asked what was in the box.  The Mister told him, "Wine and beer." To which the clerk responded very coldly, informing The Mister that it is "Illegal!" to ship alcohol.  The Mister, full of holiday cheer, responded by saying, "Then I'll just come back tomorrow, and there'll be a vase in the box."  Ahem.  Probably not the smartest response.  He left, package still in hand.

But when The Mister hears words like, "illegal" he simply translates it into "more challenging".  What does he do?  He goes to the Post Office!  Of course he does.  He avoids the counter and the same litany of questions and goes to the self-service package area where he happily (and quickly) skips through the screens asking him about what he is shipping, adheres the postage and drops the package in the chute. 

Because that's what The Mister does.  He sends an illegal package to a disgruntled postal employee. 

(I must add, that thanks to tracking services, The Mister was also able to revel in the delight of this development by noting when exactly the package arrived at his brother's facility in Cincinnati.  There might be more evil in this man than I originally knew!)