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12-15-2002 @ 4:55 p.m.
What a Crazy Couple of Weeks!

Holy cow--these past two weeks have been a blur of activity. Between the Festival of Trees and our Christmas party and the Christmas Tea Party downtown and Joey's concerts and recitals and trying to squeeze in some shopping, I've been on my toes!

Let's go chronologically. The first week of December is always dedicated to the Festival of the Trees. This year it was a concept tree--Mark made it out of maple plywood. I can't describe it really--it had 8 "leaves" that were cut out to resemble an evergreen tree and big red and gold crackle (kugel) ornaments hung from outcroppings and in openings in the "leaves". It was on a cherry base with halogen lights mounted facing up to light the tree and was topped by a giant crackle gazing ball. it was really quite spectacular, if I do humbly say myself. It's got to be just about the most memorable tree ever at the festival because it is so unique. But, because it was made the way it was, Stacey and I had to go down there last Sunday night to take it all apart and package it for delivery. Usually the trees are wrapped in plastic and delivered to the purchaser as is but this one couldn't be delivered that way.

We had our bookgroup dinner and ornament exchange last weekend (the 6th) and it was very nice. I really enjoyed myself that night. My friend and I made a late-night stop at T0ys R Us since it was open until 10 or 10:30. That was nice--no kids. But they've changed the store all around with shelves that went to the ceiling so it made me feel kind of claustrophobic. I felt like I was in a maze. Maybe that's their evil plan.

Joey had 2 recitals and 2 concerts last week but had to miss one of them because of a cold. Fortunately the cold has been short-lived and she seems much better now. Whew! Thank goodness for healthy, strong immune systems.

On Thursday, we had our annual Christmas tea downtown at the He@thm@n Hotel. It's the highlight of the Christmas season for all of us girls. We get all dressed up and have our dainty tea and goodies and then we take pictures around the tree. Afterward, we go to a downtown mall where they have a really great Santa and get pictures taken and do a little shopping. All in all, it's a great afternoon/evening. I really cherish the memories I have of our many tea parties.

And last night was the piece de resistance--the big Christmas Bash. Ah, it was delightful. Ed dug in and helped a whole bunch and everything went so smoothly! I had all the food done when the guests arrived, which doesn't usually happen, so I was able to greet them at the door myself and welcome them to my home. The food was good--I added one of our tapas dishes from International Dinner Group and it was a huge hit. The gift exchange was great, too. Lots of funny things--one of the gifts we gave was a beautifully wrapped box with 6 lbs. of bacon inside. It was hilarious! Someone brought a toilet seat (new) which was the butt (ha!) of many jokes throughout the night. I ended up with this killer square hole punch for scrapbooking. It's the smaller version of the one I already have so I'm quite excited about the possibilities. Makes me want to break out the scrapbook stuff and get rolling again!

We had about 30-35 guests which is quite a lot in our small house. But we made it work. The more the merrier, I always say. I really love entertaining. I just love the whole thing--decorating, planning the menu, preparing the food, arranging it artfully on a tablescape, enjoying everyone's company, getting dressed up. It's just so darn much fun. I'd throw a party every month if I could afford it!

That brings us to today. Time to sleep, relax and hang out. It's been a relatively quiet day except for church this morning. Mark and Stacey will likely be visiting later this evening while they're out and about looking at Christmas lights. Ed and I went through our finances and set up a budget and made plans for 2003. We have some debt that we need to reduce/eliminate and we've made plans toward that. I feel very good about our plans. We haven't done very well at budgeting--actually we've never really set out a budget--so this will give me the limits I need and without which I go crazy. I can be very naughty when it comes to spending on things like clothes for Joey and scrapbook paraphernalia and parties and gifts. Time to pull back the reigns. And in an odd way, I actually welcome it.

I'm looking forward to a fairly relaxing week. Even though I have a number of things on my list--finish shopping, wrap gifts, pack for our trip to Sunr!ver, put on the class Christmas party and help out with the school store, I still feel like it will be a big relief from the frenetic pace of the last two weeks. Piece o' cake. I may even have time to update a time or two more before we leave.

I'd better go. Joey is jonesing for some computer time since Ed and I have been monopolizing the computer most of the afternoon. Hope all your Christmas preparations are going well. Hmmm...I just remembered that I haven't sent out Christmas cards. Well that does put a big item on my list. I'll have to think about how I'm going to handle that.

Later,

--L

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