These last two weeks have been hectic beyond belief. We had our Christmas concert on December 22. We had a 2:00 pm and then 7:30 pm concert. It was incredible. Dr. Craig Jessop, our guest conductor,(previous director of the Mormon tabernacle Choir) taught us more in 9 hours of practice than we had learned in years of singing in church and community choirs.
He was so humble and amiable, while at the same time sharing his expertise in a powerful way. He truly is a master teacher and a professional at the top of his field. It was a pleasure to work with someone of that caliber and not only that, but to work with the choir members and orchestra, people who had sacrificed so much time to work so hard to serve others through the inspiration of music.
My family had arrived from Houston, Missouri, and Kansas while I was at choir practice, so I did not see them until later. However, I had cooked several meals in advanced (3 large pans of Goulash, which nick and David made…2 large pans of Enchiladas from leftover Spanish Turkey, and a large pot of beans) as well as 40 small loaves of Poppy Seed and Apple Coconut bread. Having the loaves before Christmas allowed me to give loaves to people as needed. There are always last minute gifts needed around this time.
On Sunday, it was such a relief to know that the choir was over and now I had my Sundays free again. We played games, ate good food, and visited with each other. The grandbabies played with each other, were carried around by everyone and loved and kissed.
I made Pupusas. I had made the meat and cheese mixture beforehand so I only had to cook them. Monday was a relaxing day, as well, as the presents were bought, food was ready, and decorations had been up for more than a month.
The choir had taken a lot of time, but knowing that three days right before Christmas would be dedicated for rehearsals and concerts had forced me to prepare even earlier, actually making the final preparations less rushed.
I do have to note, that Fito and I were not giving gifts to each other as we had already given gifts to each other. He and the children had made a manger and he had bought the Holy family for me for Christmas. I collect nativities and have always wanted an outdoor manger scene.
But then on Thursday, I had realized that I wanted to have a present he could open on Christmas morning. I spent several hours on the Internet, looking at Craigslist, calling pawn shops, and just looking for either a log splitter or a pole saw. He needs both, but both are expensive tools.
Last summer, he was on a ladder cutting a tree branch when the branch fell and swung down knocking the ladder out from under his feet. He grabbed another branch with one hand and was hanging by that hand while holding the chain saw with the other hand. Thank goodness, Felipe was nearby and put the ladder back up. A pole saw would be great and SAFER.
I couldn’t find a log splitter in my price range (I didn’t realize just how expensive they were), and was becoming discouraged more and more as I called more and more pawn shops, box stores, home and garden stores, and farm equipment stores. I ended up calling every pawn shop in OKC (4 pages worth), and still no pole saw.
However, I knew by then what type I wanted, what brands, and so on…so I then simply googled that information. Voila, a Husqvarna saw was on Amazon.com for just $212. The shipping was $20 and I clicked on 2-day shipping, just to see what the difference would be. It was just $10 more. Yea! I found a saw and it came before Christmas. Incredible! I love the Internet.
Christmas day was wonderful. We make everyone wait, start with the youngest and open each present one by one. That way, we can see what each person receives and see their face and reaction. I was very pleased as I think I surprised several people (Or they sure did a good job of acting surprised to please me).
My mom for sure, I know I surprised. In the summer at an antique mall, I found a uranium glass punch bowl set. She loves glass, especially uranium glass, and the set was a beautiful group. I also surprised Fito with the saw.
When the long box had come in the mail, I had told him it was a new Christmas tree for me. For some time, now, I have wanted a new tree, so he believed me. He had no idea it was for him until Christmas morning when I told him to open the package.
Elizabeth wanted these metal anime keys that go with some show she watches. At the anime store they were around $8 each and there were 18 in the set, definitely beyond our price range. I had told her I might buy a couple, then one day when Maria was with me, I asked her to look online and she found a complete set on Amazon.com for just $39. Wow.
They were ordered and she was really surprised and happy. Maria sold me her DS really cheap and that is what I gave Rebeca. In addition, I had received an I-pad when I did my Lasik. I took it to Best Buy (after taking it to 3 other stores first). I spoke with the manager, explaining how I had received it (it was still shrink wrapped, but I did not have a receipt).
I told him I had nine children, two in-laws, and 3 grandchildren to buy for. I simply could not spend that much money on one individual. He very graciously allowed me to return it for store credit. We used that to buy several of the gifts.
I made a Spanish Turkey, mashed potatoes, peas and corn, beets, homemade rolls, and homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas dinner. I even did the dishes and did not ask for help.
It snowed about 2 to 3 inches on Christmas day and everyone went out to sled. Matthew tripped and fell just as he was going down with the sled and smashed his face on the ground. He scraped his nose, chin, and cheeks. Got a bloody nose and black eye. He looked really sore, poor guy.
It was Celeste’s first time to see snow. Oh the joy of a child’s first snowfall.
Wednesday, was spent getting people on the road. It was bitter cold, around 13 degrees so packing the cars, etc. was not fun. We also cleaned the house and I made two huge bowls of Pupusa mixture, a large pot of beans, rice, and Guatemalan guacamole to have ready for a party we were having on Thursday.
I actually had a pot of small red El Salvadorian beans and took 4 plastic containers I had of black beans and combined them. They were a yummy combination.
Thursday, we spent looking for tile/granite/travertine….something to use for our kitchen counter. Sunday night, Matthew was leaning on the bar area when it cracked loudly and the whole slab broke and fell to the ground and shattered. For some time now, we knew we needed to replace our kitchen counters.
There were several cracks, another area where it had swelled up from a hot griddle. We called a contractor friend who wants our enclosed trailer. He is going to do the labor in exchanged for the trailer. Therefore, we only need to come up for the materials.
We went to Habitat for Humanity to look for cheap stuff. We also went to a derailed commodities place, but I still do not know what I want to use. Clearly, if cost were not a factor, I would use onyx or something of that nature, but as always, I have champagne taste on a beer budget.
Nevertheless, just watch and see. I am the queen of make- do. I will find something incredible at a good price. God always helps me.
Our friend did come over Christmas Eve in the early evening and at least replaced the broken counter with plywood. For the party yesterday, I just covered it with a table cloth and day-to-day, I am putting newspaper on it to protect the wood.
We also extended it out on two sides to give me an even larger counter which is needed with all the baking and entertaining I do.
We also had dentist appointments the week before Christmas…they weren’t planned but we had switched companies during the year and had not gone in for the second yearly checkups. We were able to get everyone in except Felipe and it was time to get Elizabeth started on her braces. I knew it was coming, but they were more expensive than I thought. He also put spacers in Rebeca’s mouth as she will need braces, too.
David needs a new mouth guard, Benjamin needed two crowns…and now we are in debt again. The ever continuing saga of the Sagastizado’s. Oh well… c’est la vie… Life goes on.
And we have been blessed beyond measure. Maybe we owe a few grand for dental work, but we live in a country and have the means for our children to have their teeth taken care of, to be able to have glasses, to have food, to have a beautiful warm home that protects us from the elements.
To have one another, work, our health, our minds, and freedom.
May you all have the same blessing and in the coming new year, may each one of you be blessed with the righteous desires of your hearts and be comforted in your trials, and have discernment in your decisions, is my prayer and blessing for you and your family.
Just a note: We are in Houston...it is new year's Eve...will tell story later and will put family and choir pics on later. Happy New Year!