Gingerbread Houses

Olisha and the girls (plus Olisha's sisters) invited their former neighbors to the house to decorate gingerbread houses. The children seemed to enjoy and get into the spirit of Christmas. This is the third year for gingerbread houses. They all seem to be colorful, different and fun. See for yourself.

Christmas Songs

I have to agree with this blogger in this post that when it comes to Christmas songs, there is only one iconic singer and version of that song. These resonate through the decades.
Have you had this experience and feeling? "
Because it’s December, the background music at Cracker Barrel was a series of Christmas songs and among them was a version of “Holly Jolly Christmas” by some singer who was not Burl Ives, which triggered me to go off on a rant."
Also, "Let us stipulate that many other artists have recorded versions of “The Christmas Song” that have some musical merit. But while I have no personal beef against, e.g., Michael Bublé, when it’s chestnut-roasting time, only Nat King Cole can get the job done right. Having a hit Christmas song guarantees a performer a sort of musical immortality. A singer’s entire catalog of recordings may be forgotten, but if he had a big Christmas song, kids will still be listening to it long after he’s dead. Like, Nat King Cole was one of the most successful singers of his time, with a long string of hit records, but does any kid ever listen to “Mona Lisa” anymore? No, but every Christmas, those chestnuts are still roasting, baby, and it’s the same with Bing Crosby's "White Christmas"."
Let the traditions continue!!

First Christmas with Ryan

Rising early, we got right in and got the prime rib seared and into the oven. Fruit salad and herb rolls, here we come. Soon the boys and families arrive. We settle in to eat a wonderful meal of goodies. Way too many things to snack on. The children went more for the Popcorn Chicken and french fries. Foolish young’uns. They don’t know what they are missing. Soon, it was present passing and opening. I think all went over well with the group and everyone should love what they received.
Ryan’s first Christmas in Berlin

Shasta, Nicolas, and Denver are IPod movie watching
The adults are all settled in for Christmas dinner in 2013. Yum!!!

2013 Christmas Concert

Last night was Nicolas’ grade school, Cascade Elementary, Christmas pageant. The girls were dressed like little dolls and the boys were a mix. Nicolas’ grade is a large group of kids. They did a fine job and I got video of that section of the show. He was dressed up very well. Ryan seemed to have a fun time until he got tired and wanted his Mom near the end. Here is Ryan with Papa Bob T.

Holiday Donation Drive

The annual Berlin Holiday gathering and donation drive was held yesterday at the Berlin Fire Station. Due to the snow, we did not have a large turn out though we had a lot of goodies and good cheer. We spent a lot of time chatting about what we have been doing and our plans for the holiday. Eleven people showed up including ourselves and we gathered some nice items to donate to the troops and Safe Haven. Here is a photo of some of those who were there.
Here are our decorations and the tables for food and beverages. Connie Hartman did a nice job with decorations.

fs-holiday-table-bottom-12-8-13FS holiday table


Kids and Storybook Land

We did not attend though we heard a lot about the opening night of Storybook Land at the Linn County Expo Center in Albany. It appears that Melissa and Renee with their kids made the stroll around the center looking at exhibits and the kids told their wishes to Santa. I am hoping for a photo of Ryan with Santa. The best I could download was with him bundled up in his stroller, Jasmine pushing, and Melissa and Renee tagging along. Christmas is coming!

Mornings on Christmas Day

Last year, there was the most spectacular sunrise on Christmas morning here. It was so bright that the picture windows of one house about one mile down the road looked on fire at one point. I was able to get some photos of the beautiful morning show. We were on the way to Deb and Mike’s house in Sodaville area. Each Christmas morning, they open their home to friends who wish to stop by to eat and talk with others. Deb makes the best cinnamon rolls. Savoring one of those with a good cup of coffee leads to a relaxing Christmas Day for us. Today, the weather was way too rainy and gray. A day that is hard to get motivated to accomplish much. We should get some days of sun next week. We do need to see blue sky for longer than a few hours.

Sunrise on Christmas Day, 2011


Deb Fell-Carlson frosting her Christmas cinnamon rolls.

Christmas Memories

As we started eating Christmas dinner yesterday, I brought up the subject of what was a favorite memory from Christmas. I know my most memorable Christmas was as a child going out to dinner in town on Christmas Eve. When my parents and I got home, they showed me into our spare room (next to my bedroom) and there laid out on the floor was a train set on a plywood base. I remember that engine and rail cars with a figure 8 track. I am sure my Dad had fun getting it all put together without me knowing about it. It was a surprise and it was special. There are lots of Christmas gifts we treasure though that particular Christmas has stood out over the years. It does emphasize the need for doing something memorable yet having those family traditions that mean so much.


Early Christmas

We had Christmas celebration 2 days early so other families could get together too in the next few days and Renee has to work on Christmas Day. Both David and Scott’s families could come and eat with us, plus share presents. It was fun getting ready while listening to traditional Christmas music from one of the TV channels. Listening to Karen Carpenter who had one of the clearest singing voices ever do her holiday song. Sooooooo good!
Renee’s parents, Bob and Sandee, came to join us for dinner and that was a very nice addition.
Here is the table set for guests and a 2012 Christmas.

Renee, Nicolas, and David


Shasta, Melissa, Denver, Scott, and Jasmine



Little Hobbits

Bob and I went to see “The Hobbit” last night. We enjoyed the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy so we were interested in this movie. It was not up to the viewing pleasure of the LOTR trilogy though it could have been handled worse. It is a complex story that would be difficult to bring to the screen. I think if it had been handled with the care and less child oriented look to it, the result would have been better.

Just want to share the look of two of our little hobbits in the extended family. Nicolas and Nathan displaying their musical talents while waiting for William and Elizabeth’s wedding. What little gentlemen in their suits.

Babies All

How can one describe the comparison between attending a joyful school Christmas pageant with the unconscionable killing and loss of 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Last night, we attended Nicolas’ Christmas program at the River Center in town. It was packed with excited, loving parents waiting to see their child sing Christmas carols with their classmates. Innocence on display. Today we are witnessing the loss of that innocence in the shooting of our babies. Our hearts weep and not nearly to the level of the parents’ who lost a child or a family’s loved one. They won’t be home for Christmas ever again.(A Moment of Silence)

Christmas Program

Parents and other family members got to sing Winter Wonderland and Silent Night along with the Kindergarten through 5th grade students of Cascade Elementary School. The main auditorium of the River Center was packed to SRO. I have never seen the parking area so full of cars and people except when the site used to be a Walmart (before it moved). Girls in bright dresses and many boys spiffed up in good clothes. There was a little bit of naughtiness in watching some children yawn and fold their arms………..we are not enjoying this. Then, there was the little boy who poked a girl on the face as he was leaving and she said “Ow”! A boy tormenting a girl? Heavens, how does that happen? ☺

Trimming Christmas Trees

After three or four years of neglecting to put up a Christmas tree and place decorations around, we have made the effort this year to do our part for holiday cheer. With more kids around the family, we had our own version of Santa’s elves to help trim the lower half of our tree. It all looks lovely this year and you can see who helped make it so.



Last night was our first time at attending the volunteer fire fighters’ holiday dinner. It was held at Station 34 near Cheadle Lake and was a barbecue/potluck. There was probably about 100 people present as a mix of families with children. The children were enjoying the games and toys available for them. We sat with our next door neighbors the Hartmans and also another couple from Fire Corps, Ron and Jackie. Ron and I spent a bit of time talking about books, reading, and history. He was quite impressed with “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is the basis for the movie out now, Lincoln, which is getting good reviews.
There was a white elephant gift exchange. Our gift of a P-Touch labeler was traded a few times, so it was popular.We ended up with a book, “How Mrs. Santa Saved Christmas”. We will probably give that to Jasmine or one of the families to enjoy. All in all, it was a nice evening had by all.

Today is also December 7, the day that will live in Infamy--Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. In memory of all who we lost that day.


Christmas Tree Ceremony

Bob and I hoped to catch up to family members last night at the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at Ralston Square in Lebanon. It got too rainy and windy for the kids to stay longer and we ended up staying home and eating homemade ham and bean soup. Nice on a cold, damp evening.
David sent on this photo of Renee and Nicolas while they were waiting for ceremonial functions to start.


Berlin Christmas Cheer

Yummmmmm………………….made two batches of brownies. One double chocolate and the other was turtle variety (caramel swirled through it). The brownies made a trip down to the Berlin Fire Station for our annual Berlin Christmas party and donation drive. We collect supplies for the troops in Afghanistan and also supplies to take to Linn County’s only private shelter, Safe Haven. The gathering was for 2 pm to 5 pm. We had a nice group of neighbors stop by to chat, listen to Christmas music, and eat goodies while drinking coffee or cocoa. It just reminds us that we can share and do go things in the world, even in small amounts. Plus we have a good group of neighbors.

On another note, we had a lot of rain last night and a couple of really strong gusts of wind last night. One gust slammed the house and seemed to just rake the house like it was knocking many things over outside. It definitely was a surprise. Some of the neighbors heard it and others did not. We sure did since both gusts woke us up.

Christmas party-tree-top-12-1-12

Our Berlin Christmas party tree, courtesy of the Hartmans.

Buck Windom, Era Lewis, and our friendly holiday Moose.
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