All I know about dating, I learned from Christmas movies…

I have been watching a lot of cheesy made for TV Christmas movies lately.  I love them.

And I’ve been learning a lot from them.

I thought I’d take a moment to pass along some of the relationship tips that I’ve picked up in the past few weeks.

Number 1:  Christmas might be just a few days away, but it is NOT too late to find love in time for the holidays.

Sure, your love might start out as contrived, fake, or unwanted.  But soon (very soon)  it will blossom into a true Christmas miracle.

Number 2: Deceit is a great beginning to finding love.

You usually are trying to deceive your mother.  But really who can blame you – she is putting all sorts of pressure on you to be married.  This pressure really only bothers you at Christmas.

Your mother will forgive you once she realizes your fake boyfriend is a great addition to the fam.

Number 3: If your actual boyfriend (or fiance) dumps you right before Christmas, really the only option is to put an ad in the local paper, online, or by hanging an ad in your store front.

This is actually pretty amazing to know, because in 100% of people (movies) polled, the guy who answers your ad will be your one true love.  #greatnews

Number 4: Realizing that this stranger-man is actually the love of your life requires your mother to have you both stay together in your childhood bedroom.  This is awkward at first, but he will offer to sleep on the floor.  Then neither of you will be able to sleep.  So you will stay up talking.  And fall in love.  But neither of you will admit as much to the other person.

Number 5: Your feelings will be solidified when you are forced to kiss in front of friends and families to prove your love.

Number 6: If you don’t put out an ad to find love, coerce someone to be your fake boyfriend, or pay them to pretend to like you, someone else will put you in an equally awkward position.  It might be your son entering you in a contest to find a husband by Christmas, or a well-meaning family member setting you up on a blind date for Christmas Eve.  You will be unhappy about it at first, but in 90 minutes or less, (give or take a few commercial breaks) you will be wondering why you didn’t see what a brilliant idea this was right off the bat.

Number 7: Wedding are super fast to plan.  And after your family has a couple minutes to get over the fact that you initially lied to them and faked your relationship, they’ll be so happy that you ended up falling in love with this amazing imposter who has no family of their own to celebrate with so they were willing/forced to pretend to be with you but is actually a super quality guy, better than anyone you’ve ever brought home before, that everyone will join the planning-fun and you will be married by New Years (or sooner).

You are welcome.  And congratulations on your newly-found happiness and joy.

I am off to a Christmas Eve Eve Eve party, but am already looking forward to getting home again and either (a) cleaning up the Christmas cookie mess I left in the kitchen, or (b) checking out my Netflix line-up.  I still have a lot more Christmas/love stories to watch.

And then there are all the Christmas/puppy movies.  I’ve always wanted a pet!  Maybe me and my fake boyfriend will bring home a dozen of adorable Golden Retrievers for Christmas.

Winter Break Bliss

The first few days of winter break are about two things for me:

1. Rest.

2. Maximizing the Christmas in my life.

I think that so far I’m doing pretty well. Here is how I have spent my time in the 27 hours since my winter break started…

I mailed a Christmas package. And I only had to wait like 5 minutes at the post office! A true Christmas miracle.

I went to Rusty Taco for dinner with my roommate. It isn’t really Christmassy, but it is amazing. It is possible that we have been twice in the past 10 days.  I would go again tomorrow if I had someone to go with.  Yum.

I went to the mall and visited the Madewell store for the first time. It was as delightful as I’d dreamed it would be.

While at the mall, we stumbled across a delightful little Christmas concert by a brass ensemble.20121221-193823.jpg

We sat down with the elderly and the babies and were filled with Christmas joy. Our favorite parts was this baby in a cart. Because why wouldn’t you love a baby in a cart?20121221-193857.jpg

And when the sweet lady playing french horn shouts across the mall, “Scott! Come quick! We need you” and their friend Scott rides to escalator down and is coerced into playing the jingle bells for the next song. She assured him that the music would just come to him…20121221-194427.jpg

After that, we visited the most beautiful Christmas tree. (Well, this is not counting the tree at Rockefeller Center, as they are in two different genres of Christmas trees).20121221-193917.jpg

But seriously – how amazing is this? I love it so much.20121221-193937.jpg

We chatted for a bit with the man who lives there – he is really sweet and gave us the award of best tree fans of the night – pretty much no one else had been willing to brave the cold (and tresspassing??) to go get a close up look at the tree. (And by the way, if you go visit the tree, you are welcome to walk down their driveway – he loves visitors and seeing how much joy their tree brings to people).

Then I was sleeping by 9:30 pm.

Today I got up for the furnace man’s arrival and drank some of Caribou’s reindeer blend coffee.

I may have been forced to have Christmas cookies for breakfast, as my milk was expired. Desperate times and all that…

I wrapped presents.20121221-193949.jpg

I made Christmas ornaments.20121221-194004.jpg

I finished a Christmas puzzle.20121221-194033.jpg

And I watched a stellar Christmas movie on Netflix.20121221-194018.jpg

I think this winter break is off to a great start! Now I am going to sit by the Christmas tree and drink some tea with my slippers, a blanket, and a good book.

Schoolhouse Rock vol. 50: Christmas is Coming!

The weeks before winter break at kindergarten are always… well, they’re something. Fun? Exhausting? An adventure? you warm my heart

Yesterday spontaneous Christmas caroling occurred in the middle of math. I may have told the children that they needed to be quiet so we could finish our math lesson, and then followed that up with this pearl of wisdom, “You might be singing in your heart, but your ears can still be listening.”

Today one child was reading a book from their book box and exclaims, “It’s Baby Jesus!” “Nope, that’s a turkey…”

Today was pajama/polar express day. When we brought them to gym, one boy asked me, “Are we going to take our clothes off in gym?” and all I could think of is when my pastor quotes Princess Bride saying, “I do not think it means what you think it means…”

Did I mention the kiddo who can’t go a day without wearing a sweater vest so he wore one OVER his pajamas?? Awesome.

And I’m always on high alert to intervene in case of conversations spilling the beans about Santa.

Have you seen our Christmas tree forest? Our friend Jessica provided the most beautiful picture in the middle, which has been an inspiration for us all… Photo on 2012-12-18 at 16.00

generous hearts

christmas donationsThe kids ministry at Hope Community Church, where I attend, decided that it would be awesome to collect Christmas presents for the kids at my favorite orphanage in Uganda.  I went to all the Sunday school classes and shared a little bit about Rafiki Africa Ministries and showed a short video with all the kids in it, and invited the Hope children to bring presents for the Rafiki children.  The kids were all super excited about it, and had lots to say.  I loved their enthusiasm and was so encouraged by it.

But the moment that touched me the most is when I was visiting the first grade class (who I taught last year in Sunday school and adore them all) and after we took a picture for a Christmas card, one little girl came up to me, took a bracelet off her wrist, and said, “Do you think the orphans in Africa would like my bracelet?” and without hesitation, she put it in our donations box.

I loved so much that this sweet little one’s heart immediately was so filled with love and generosity, that she gave up a bracelet off her wrist.

Merry Christmas, Rafiki Kids – know you are loved by these kids in Minneapolis who have never even met you.

A Snow Day

My Facebook newsfeed is covered with pictures like this

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This can only mean one thing: the first big snow of winter has hit Minnesota. And since it is on a weekend, people are choosing to revel in its beauty rather than bemoan their commutes.

On the agenda for today’s snow day:
1. Wear sweats, slippers, and a scarf
2. Drink excessive amounts of coffee with peppermint mocha creamer
3. Listen to Christmas music
4. Tomato soup and grilled cheese with bacon
5. Finish up my Bible study for tomorrow
6. Work on a Christmas puzzle
7. Watch Home Alone
8. Make hot chocolate to take on a roommate walk to enjoy the neighborhood Christmas lights and fresh snowfall
9. Warm up with cider by the light of the Christmas tree
10. Curl up under a blanket and watch The Holiday
11. Go to bed dreaming of snowmen and sugar plum fairies before returning to the reality of work in the morning

Need a Christmas Tree?

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Do you need a Christmas tree??

Don’t be like my sister who bought a fake one and then realized she had no way to get it home and had to break it into little pieces in a parking ramp and put it in her trunk… (ok, this was actually super hilarious. Shopping trip highlight).

Instead, you should get a real tree, and consider supporting my cousin Eric who works for Timber Bay Ministries, making a difference in the lives of youth in Minnetonka.

*Rachel would tell you to support Eric. She only is not buying a tree from him because she is supporting Safety, by not buying a real tree that she may or may not be home to properly care for. If that is your situation, you can be like us and buy a pretty wreath instead!

Feliz Navidad from Julio

I’d like you to meet Julio, my favorite NYC horse.  I spent a little bit of time getting to know Julio on Sunday afternoon, and I’d like to give you the chance to get to know him as well. Here are some fun facts about Julio that I learned. 

  1. Julio loves Christmas (as evidenced by his choosing to wear a Santa hat)
  2. Julio’s favorite food is carrots (as evidenced by the carrots in the carriage)
  3. Julio’s favorite color is dark green (as evidenced by the color of the fabric in the carriage he chooses to pull).
  4. Julio has been chauffeuring people around New York City since 1862 (as evidenced by the black and white photo) 
  5. Julio loves New York, but his favorite part of the city is Central Park (he spends a lot of his time there).
  6. Julio doesn’t actually speak Spanish (as the title of this post implies) but rather, Portuguese.  I know this because our driver was originally from Brazil.  Unfortunately I don’t know how to say Merry Christmas in Portuguese and saying thank you, hello, or where is the bathroom wasn’t as catchy of a title for the blog post, so I went with Spanish.  I’m sure Julio can still understand it though.
  7. Julio loves America (as evidenced by the flag in his carriage)
  8. For as much time as Julio has spent in Central Park, he has surprisingly enough never gone ice skating at Wollman Rink or ridden on the carousel.
  9. Julio is a people person.  He meets lots of people in any given day.  He may have told us we were his favorite new friends.
  10. Julio brings the magic into Christmas at Central Park.

I have always wanted to go on a horse drawn carriage ride.  As magical as it would have been to tour Salzburg in this manner this summer, I’m glad that I got to share this experience with Rachel Larson – she was the perfect travel companion for ridiculous magical dream fulfillment.  And Christmas in Central Park – a perfect backdrop.

Where the Dream Began… Rockefeller Center

Merry Christmas Eve, friends!

As my Christmas gift to you this year, I’d like to invite you to come ice skating with me below the tree at Rockefeller Center.  This is really the mutual lifelong dream which began my Christmas trip to New York with Rachel. 

My whole life I have dreamed of skating in this magical place.  Let me tell you: it did not disappoint.

We saw the tree from a distance – glorious in all of its lights.

We got in line, and thought, “are we going to make it through the line in time?”  because we knew there was a private event happening after the next skating timeslot.  We couldn’t stop taking pictures and gazing at the tree while we waited.  It was the most festive and pretty queue I’ve stood in. 

Then, they let us in!  It was a tremendously exciting moment.  The moment we knew our dreams would be coming true.

We went into a super tiny warming house, bought our tickets (cost an arm and a leg, but TOTALLY worth it) and then got our skates.  We had them store our boots and bags.

We step out onto the ice.  This is always a terrifying moment for me, as I generally skate once or twice a year, and in that first second of finding your skating legs, you never knew how it is going to turn out.  Falling the moment I stepped on the ice wasn’t part of the dream.  And thankfully it wasn’t part of the reality either. 

We began to skate.  There was Christmas music playing softly in the background.  Along one of the long sides of the rink you could look up and see the people waiting in line.  On the two short sides of the rink, you could look up and see trees covered in white lights, along with gold and silver flags lining the rink, and blowing in the wind.  And let’s not forget the throngs of people standing on the sidelines, watching the festivity on the ice below.  Then on the fourth side of the rink, the main attraction, the tree.  If I thought it was a sight to behold while looking at it from eye level, the view of skating below it and gazing up at the colorful splendor, was really something.  

There was a fountain with the iconic golden statue below the tree.  The fountain was the perfect white noise to give you a feeling of privacy, like you were the only ones on the rink, as you couldn’t readily hear the conversations of those around you. 

When we started skating, it was a bit crowded, but soon it thinned out and towards the end of our time on the rink, there were not many people left on the ice at all.  Even at the most crowded times, the rink was still comfortable to easily skate at your own pace (unless your pace is speed skating) because they limit the number of people on at any given time.

on the ice!

It was fun to watch our fellow skaters: the mother and daughter in adorable jackets and hats, the family, the couples, and the pageant winners.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  A group of about a dozen pageant winners/contestants, in their fancy short skirts and coats, complete with sashes that say things such as Miss Arizona Teen USA came on the ice with their videographer.  Utah: great skater who twirls and everything.  Arizona: just like it was impossible to count the number of lights of the tree, it was impossible to count the number of times she fell. 

This evening was Christmas magic at its finest.  We listened to Christmas music, shared Christmas memories and favorite Christmas traditions as we skated rounded and round.  We couldn’t stop smiling – there was so much Christmas joy in our hearts that evening.  And there continues to be overwhelming Christmas cheer whenever I think back on this amazing evening.  Dreams really do come true. 

My writing probably cannot do this event justice, so we’d like to invite you to join us at Rockefeller Center and skate with us, in the video below.  Remember to tie your laces real tight for good ankle support, toss some tinsel in the air, and press play. 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. 

See you on Boxing Day!

A Christmas Spectacular

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

On our last day in NYC, the last big thing we did was see the Rockettes.  They call it the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.  And it really is a Christmas Spectacular.  

We joined the throngs waiting to get into Radio City Music Hall, having no idea what lay ahead.  As we entered the music hall, we were blown away from the crowds and the decor.  It was beautiful!  

We eavesdropped on a tour and learned a few fun historical facts.  We sat in the ladies room lounge because we could.  

We found our seats – the very back row, but still a great view. 

We perused our programs, and looked confusedly at the 3D glasses.  We learned that Santa would be telling us when to put them on.  I’m not sure if this increased or decreased the confusion.

The show was SUPER fun!  I would totally recommend it to a friend.

Here are some things I was surprised by:

  • I did not realize the Rockettes also sing?  I just verified this on the internet, and the audition information informs me that if you are cast as a dancer, your voice quality is not as important as the general ability to sing and dance at the same time.
  • I did not know there would be a storyline outside of high-kicks and sparkles.  But it makes sense – the girls need time for all their costume changes.
  • I did not know there were kids in the show (don’t worry, I also learned they are provided with tutors since rehearsals/performances take place during the school year/school day)
  • I did not know they would end with O Holy Night and a live nativity complete with camels and sheep. 

Things that I particularly enjoyed or was impressed by:

  • In one of the scenes, there are giant furry toys that are singing and dancing.  The ability to dance in the equivalent of an intense mascot costume truly impressed me. 
  • When the Rockettes dress up as toy soldiers, they do this thing where they all line up and they slowly fall like dominoes.  It was so great.  
  • Super fun costumes!
  • The backdrop really made you feel like you were in NYC!  (which we were, but still, it was great) 
  • The dancing and the precision was superb.

All in all, it was a fantastic way to end our trip!  

Santaland! Santaland! Santaland!

Can we talk about Macy’s?  Because Macy’s was an amazing Christmas experience.  Christmas joy to the max.

To prepare for the big day, we watched half of Miracle on 34th Street the night before. 

Because we care a lot about Santa (or because we don’t like long lines) or some combination of the two, we checked to see what time Santaland opened, and planned our morning accordingly.

When we walked into Macy’s, Christmas spirit was hanging from the ceilings, lighting up our hearts and lives.  Then we rode the escalators up to the 8th floor.  We thought the rest of the store was decked out in holiday cheer, but we were not prepared for the true magic of Santaland. 

Santa’s oh-so-helpful elves told us where to stand in the line.  They also told us things like, “Feel free to stop and take pictures, but then know that it is ok for other groups to go around you.”  To enter the north pole, we went on a train ride – we could see children playing in the snow and ice skating out the windows.  We could feel the wheels of the train turning below the floor, and hear the whistle as we slowed to a stop.  Walking through the north pole, we took in all the sights of a winter wonderland filled with all sorts of Christmas cheer. 

Soon, it was our turn to see Santa.  An elf greeted us at the entrance, and another elf walked us to Santa’s room (seriously, a genius set-up to ensure children only see one santa, but also keep the line moving at a pretty fast clip).

Santa was so happy to see us.  He said, “I remember you from when you were this tall!”  This was actually my first time seeing Santa, but I’ve been told I have a familiar face, so I will forgive him this confusion. 

We took a picture with him, and he asked what we wanted for Christmas.  We knew that we were going to be mailing him a letter, so we let him know to watch for it.  He said that if he didn’t get it in time, he would surprise us. 

After picking up our picture, we headed to the in-store Starbucks.  To maximize the Starbies experience, we got our drinks at a little kiosk on one floor and we drank them at a Starbucks on another floor.  While drinking our delicious holiday drinks, we wrote to Santa and tried the bread pudding that his elves gave us upon our exit from Santaland. 

We browsed the ornament section of the floor and then dropped our letter in the mail for Mr. Claus. 

That night, we found ourselves walking back past Macy’s on our way to the Empire State Building.  You might think this is because we are poor planners.  I like to think it is because we wanted to ensure we would experience the full magic of Macy’s in both the daylight and at night.  Because Christmas magic was bursting everywhere at 34th Street in NYC.