No Filter December- Day 18: Feliz Navidad

We went to church last night.  It was the regular Wednesday night service at Capilla Calvario/Calvary Chapel Rosarito, but since it’s so close to Christmas, it was a Christmas themed service, complete with special Christmas music.

Not to mention an entire set of congregational Christmas carols in Spanish and English.

To start with, I think I have already mentioned how cool it is to have a church service in both English and Spanish. I may not have mentioned, however, how much fun it is to sing familiar worship songs in another language.  This is only magnified when those songs are Christmas carols.   Spanish is pretty easy to sing along with, too, once you get over the whole combining vowel syllables between words thing.

The hardest part, actually, was the clapping.  Mexicans default to clapping on the on-beat (1 and 3), while American churchgoers have taken in the past 30 years to clapping on the off-beat (2 and 4) in their church services.  Since the worship team at this church is half Mexican, half American, and the worship songs are largely translated American worship songs, the clapping is leaning more and more towards the off-beat.

I remember, back in the late 70s, when our ultra-hip worship leader introduced off-beat clapping to our congregation of seriously white on-beat clappers.  The result was the same kind of cacophony of clapping, so last night I recognized the looks of confusion on some of the faces as people struggled to clap along with everyone else but just couldn’t seem to get their hands to obey their brains.

My British father had struggled with this clapping thing when it was foisted upon him in the 70s.  He had been clapping on the on-beat for over 40 years and just couldn’t retrain himself to switch beats.  Being an engineer, however, he came up with a solution.  He would jerk his hands down and to the side on the beat, and then bring them together on the off-beat.  I wanted to offer this solution to a couple of people I saw struggling last night, but fortunately lacked the language skills to pull it off.

I say fortunately because in hindsight, I realize that might have been rude.

We finished up the carol-singing portion of the service with a rousing rendition of Feliz Navidad.  We clapped on every beat for that, so everyone relaxed and joined in with gusto.

The guitar class performed for us next – 15 guitars in unison, some strumming and some playing the melody.  They did very well.  The youngest member of the class, a darling little girl of about 9 with a half-size guitar, did occasionally stay on the same chord for half the song, but she smiled while she did it and sang along, so it really didn’t matter.  They finished up with a rousing rendition of Feliz Navidad.  We clapped along.  On every beat.

Christmas service cropAfter the sermon, which was on the Christmas story as told in Lucas/Luke 2, in English and Spanish, the pastors gave an altar call.  I’m used to hearing altar calls, especially around Christmas or Easter, when the pastor asks if anyone wants to commit their life to Christ for the first time.  This altar call, however, was not the usual perfunctory, “Anyone?  Anyone?  Raise your hand while everyone else’s head is bowed” kind of thing.  The pastors took their time. They also insisted, since Jesus had always asked for a public confession of faith, that the people wishing to commit their lives to Christ walk down to the front of the room.  This made it a little more than the quick shrug and nod-to-the-Almighty Prayer for Fire Insurance to which many altar calls have sadly degenerated.  This was a commitment.  People had to mean it with every step they took, all eyes on them, toward the front of the room.  The pastors knew this, so they didn’t hurry.  They gave them time to think it through, and asked the rest of us to pray silently.

Christmas service 2Sure enough, after a few agonizingly quiet minutes, a man stood, accompanied by another man, and made his way toward the front.  The congregation erupted into cheers and applause.  And once the ice was broken, people started toward the front.  The pastors crouched down and shook each of their hands, congratulating them and pointing them toward the prayer room at the side where some other pastors would give them Bibles and explain to them the impact of the decision they had just made.

The service was now technically finished, except that we had been promised a long-awaited performance by the children’s choir.  In costumes.  It was everything a Christmas children’s choir performance should be.  The first person on the stage was a little shepherd, who stomped across the stage with a wry grin.  I have led Christmas children’s choirs, so I recognized this kid right off the bat.  He was The Troublemaker.  But, you know, so cute, and so good-humored, the choir director would just roll her eyes and smile and ask him to tone it down and secretly favor him over the others.  At least, that was always my reaction.

The rest of the kids filed on and shuffled and tripped and pushed smaller kids forward and dropped their props and clumped together and had to be physically pulled apart by the director and her helpers and told to spread out across the whole stage.  While this was occurring, the sound guys were scrambling around adjusting mic stands, and the first soloist was frantically trying to check the wireless mic, but since no one was in the sound booth, no one had turned it on, so no matter how many times she tapped the mic and checked the switch, nothing came out of it, causing the panic on her face to increase exponentially with every tap.

Eventually everyone was in place and the song began.  The little girls who had narration roles nailed their parts, not missing a word, and even more impressively, somehow managed to get the microphone up and down the line to the next narrator without anyone missing a cue.  The mic then ended up in the hands of the lead singer for the song, a boy with a red shirt and black tie who knew the song cold.  He belted it out with confidence, not missing a beat, and hitting every note… about an interval of a third or fourth below where it was supposed to be.

And it didn’t matter.  It just didn’t matter.  The point was, he had a solo, he had worked hard on it and he was just so happy to sing it.  Nobody cared that he completely missed the key.  Apart from that, he nailed the performance, and that was all that anyone wanted from him. This is one of the beauties of Mexico – priorities in the right order.  So the performance wasn’t CD-ready.  So the kids were singing along with a track that already had voices on it.  That wasn’t important.  What was important was that the kids had worked hard and were singing about Jesus and everyone appreciated it.

At one point, five children held up large glittery letters, but since the boy holding the U forgot his cue, the word they spelled was JESS.  After a few seconds, one of the S-holders whacked the U-boy on the head with her S, causing the U-boy to look panicked and quickly hold up his U.   The cue then came for the letter-holders to hold their letters high above their heads, and this time the U-boy was ON the cue, holding his letter high with exuberance… and promptly dropping it.  He disappeared into the crowd for a moment, then emerged with the letter and thrust it victoriously back up into the air.JESUS choir

Towards the end of the performance, Troublemaker-Shepherd, who had actually been behaving himself quite impressively up to this point, apart from some facial expressions and elbows into the ribs of the Shepherd Number Two beside him, suddenly noticed that there was a live mic on a stand right in front of him.  With a grin he leaned forward, stopped singing and yelled something into the mic.   Then he stood back up and recommenced singing with a wide grin on his face.  It was just too much to resist, though, so he leaned forward and repeated it, just as the choir paused for dramatic effect. Then he elbowed Shepherd Number Two and got him to try out the mic.  The two looked very pleased with themselves as the song ended and the congregation applauded.

The service ended then, and the sound guys put on a CD of Christmas music. The first song was a rousing rendition of Feliz Navidad.  We didn’t clap this time, but the guy in his 60s down the end of the row I was sitting in did stand there and do a little head-bobbing dance-in-place for a minute or so.

It was the best Christmas service I’ve attended in a long time.



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No Filter December – Day 17: Why Not?

Today I packed up the kids and went back to Mexico. You might ask me why, the week before Christmas when there are so many errands to run and parties to attend, I would leave the country for a couple of days.

Well, because I could. Because last year I finally renewed my passport just so I could do stuff like this.  Because I had a small window of opportunity and if I didn’t take it, I would be delivering my missionary friends’ Christmas presents in February.  And because if it wasn’t that big a deal last week for my husband to unexpectedly jump in the car and drive to the border to deliver me my green card, then it shouldn’t be that big a deal for me to drive another 20 minutes past the border to visit my friend.

And really, why not?

Even though Alan couldn’t take any more time off from work and come with us, I was confident that I could manage it. So I did. There was a horrendous rainstorm the night before, but by the time we hit the road, it was a beautiful day with spectacular clouds.  Again, I apologize, but we Southern Californians just don’t get weather like this much.  We must have shot 30 photos of the clouds.  And by we, I mean the 19 year old and the 14 year old, because I was driving.  Both hands firmly on the wheel.

Unlike this guy, who was driving in the fast lane next to us as we went through San Diego.


As soon as we crossed the border, the rules changed.  For example, this is the freeway in Mexico.


So, you know, in Mexico, if you need to get somewhere, you just walk there. Freeway, whatever.  It’s a road.

At some point it suddenly hit me that I was driving.  Me.  Driving.  In Mexico.  So the 19 year old took a picture for posterity’s sake.


I really wasn’t gripping the wheel as tightly as it looks. I was quite calm and relaxed, enjoying the scenery and wondering what the speed limit was and how that translated into MPH.


Just in case you are wondering, I put my passport AND my green card in my purse before I packed anything else.



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No Filter December – Day 16: Retail Mayhem and More Weather

Today was the first official day I had off since we broke for Christmas Break last week. I celebrated by going to the dentist to get the permanent filling put on my root canal at 9 a.m.   After this I went Christmas Shopping at a local mall.  This leads me to believe that I may need to rethink my idea of the word “celebrate.”

After an hour and a half in Marshall’s, I finally emerged with a good chunk of my shopping completed.  This isn’t all that big a deal, except for the fact that I had intended to go to Home Goods, not Marshall’s, but I accidentally went in the wrong door.

Which, again, wouldn’t have been a big deal, but it took me ten minutes to notice I was in the wrong store.  And by then I had stuff in my cart so I decided to stay there.

So I’d say I was functioning on a par with most of the other shoppers I ran into. The 19 year old met me at the store, which helped a lot, because after walking up and down aisle upon aisle of miscellaneous department-store overstocks, I felt like my eyes were about to roll back into my head.

I arrived home bag-laden and foot-sore, pleased that I had finished such a daunting task, until I realized that I needed a few more items.  I then broke my hardest and fastest December Rule. I went to Target at 3 in the afternoon the week before Christmas.

Also, just then, it began to rain.

Somehow, though, the rain just brought us all together, and there was a cheerful atmosphere among my fellow shoppers.  I had a moment of solidarity with a young couple in the toy section when a little boy reached into the cart his mother was pushing and pulled out a toy, saying, “HEY!  Why is this in our cart? I said I liked it but I didn’t put it in here!”  His father burst out laughing, while his mother looked over at me and mouthed the words, “Darn it!”

The best moment of the day happened on my way out of the store.  The exit was clogged with people stopping to pull out umbrellas and put on hoods, because the rain had just started up again, and just ahead of me was a family with three kids.   Their youngest, a little boy who looked to be about 4, ran out the door and stopped just at the edge of the overhang, then threw his arms up into the air, exclaimed, “Bye-bye, cwuel world!” and stepped out into the deluge.

I was still chuckling by the time I got home.


First we get rain, and then we get a rainbow. Will the weather incidents ever end here in L.A.? Pretty sure this will be on all the news channels tonight, in detail.


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No Filter December – Day 15: Christmas-Intentional

My youngest is 12, so our Christmas decorations have settled down somewhat to normalcy.  In fact, it’s the youngest who has spearheaded the whole decoration thing for the past couple of years.  As previously mentioned, he does get a little insistent about his concept of the correct way to do things, but since he is not only helping, but cajoling and threatening his siblings into pitching in, I can’t complain.

So all in all, the house should be looking more Christmas-Intentional these days and less Oh-No-Is-It-Really-Christmas-Already-Chaotic.

But then again, I have young piano students.  Some of these young ones bring along their even younger siblings, and there is one thing I have observed in my many years of having children in my house: little people tend to leave pieces behind, especially when they come in groups.

This explains why our nativity scene this week looks like this:


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No Filter December – Day 14: The Stocking Conundrum

I have this friend who likes to mail gifts for no apparent reason.  I discovered this a few of years ago when I received an antique teacup in the mail.  She didn’t ‘fess up for two years that she had been the one who sent it, even after I posted a photo of it on Facebook.

Since then, she has sent me many miscellaneous and, at times, downright weird things.  This is fine with me.  I speak her humor language.

There was the hot pink rabbit’s foot with an accompanying note, “Because everyone needs a rabbit’s foot.”

There was the shopping tote that folds up into a credit-card sized pouch.

There was a comical coffee mug.

There were countless odd cards and postcards.

And just lately, there was a package of pink and white fondant mice.

001 (10)cropThat one really had me scratching my head, so when I saw my friend today, I was about to ask her about it. Before I could, however, she blurted out, “So tell, me, what is the deal with the fondant mice?”  It turns out she bought them on a recent trip to England, simply because she thought they were odd. Since I am British, she sent them to me, thinking I would understand them.  However, since I haven’t lived in England since I was five years old, I had forgotten about them and had nothing to offer her by way of explanation.  A quick search of the Internet revealed four things: 1) they are more commonly known as sugar mice; 2) they have been a traditional Christmas treat for British children since Victorian times; 3) there is a song named “Sugar Mice” by Marillion, an 80s British band and 4) sugar in even moderate levels is toxic to mice.

The thing is, it didn’t matter what was in each package.  What mattered was that I got mail that was not a bill or a request for a donation.  It mattered that someone had thought about me long enough to purchase something and ship it, even though she was probably going to see me the next day.  It wasn’t the content – it was the extravagance of the gesture.

So each piece of unexpected mail, each surprise package catapulted me back to childhood days, when Christmas was still a miracle and I knew I could count on happy things in wrapped boxes at least twice a year.

A week after the fondant mice, one more box came.  This one contained four small packages wrapped in Christmas paper, and I debated whether to open them right away or put them under the tree.  As I dithered, it suddenly hit me – herein lay the answer to my yearly Stocking Conundrum.

Those of you who aren’t mothers may not be aware of this problem.  You see, the person to whom the responsibility for the Stuffing of the Stockings at Christmastime falls is generally the mother.  This is fine, because the mother is usually the one who knows what to put in the stockings. However, the one giant loophole in this arrangement is that the mother also has a stocking that needs to be filled, but it often doesn’t occur to the rest of the family that THAT stocking is their responsibility.  So on Christmas morning in these households, everyone happily digs into their stockings, oohing and ahhing over the trinkets within, and the mother sits and smiles, taking delight in their expressions, and all the while her inner child is quietly whimpering inside her because there is nothing in her stocking.

And since this is the mother, this means she comes stocked with extra emotions, so it’s a little hard to compartmentalize.  She is good at putting herself last and rising above and faking a smile and all the things that come along with motherhood, so she probably won’t say anything.  But she will feel it, even just a little.

Marla Cilley over at the Flylady has come up with a solution to this Conundrum.  She tells her followers to buy themselves some stocking stuffers, early in November if possible, and to wrap them and put them in the stocking. By the time Christmas time comes around, they will probably have forgotten half of what they bought, and at least they will have something to unwrap when the time comes.  Does this sound childish?  Perhaps.  But if you haven’t sat through a stocking session with an empty stocking, you might not really be an impartial judge.   And the weird thing is, it works.  It doesn’t take away the sting completely when no one in the family has thought about Mom, but it does help.  Sometimes Mom just needs to give herself a high-five, and considering that Christmas is like a part-time job that she loads up on top of her already busy schedule, it’s as good a time as any to do it.

The day that I receive this box from my friend, however, I suddenly saw a new solution.  How about we Moms give EACH OTHER a high-five? How about we all take care of each other’s stockings?  How about we confess to each other that yes, it is a bit of a disappointment and yes, we would welcome even a cheap pair of fuzzy socks and a facial mask from the dollar section, because then we would feel a little more cared-for come stocking time.

Think of the fun in this — if you have a friend whose home you visit regularly, you could sneak a little something into her stocking the next time you’re over there.  Or you could mail her a couple of little things with a note that says “for your stocking.”  You could even make it anonymous if you wanted.

But then here’s another thought – this doesn’t need to end on December 25.  We can stuff each others stockings all year round.

Of course, you may want to take that euphemistically.  Or at least wait until your friend takes them off first.


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No Filter December – Day 13: A Boy And His Christmas Tree

Two out of the Three Men of the house (the third has succumbed to the stomach flu the rest of us had last week) went out foraging for a Christmas tree this morning.  It was the 12 year old’s first time really getting his hands in there when it came time to prep the tree.

First, he helped tie it to the roof and untie it when they got home.  Next, joy of joys, Alan actually let him use the chainsaw to cut the end of the trunk off.

And then we decorated.  Well, we tried to decorate.  All that lumberjacking and chainsawing apparently went to his head, because he insisted that we were putting the lights on the tree the wrong way.  Which would have been okay, but he went on to insist that not only was it wrong, but that we had NEVER DONE IT THIS WAY BEFORE.  Okay, but I can think of at least, well, 22 prior Christmases since this family was founded.  Not to mention the ones I had at my parents’ house before that.  Ever since I was 16 and my Dad realized it was a more efficient method to string the lights vertically instead of wrapping them around the tree, the lights went on up and down, not round and round.  My Dad was an engineer.  There was no reason to ever do it the other way.

Before I could do more than mention, “Pop taught us this way,” the 14 year old jumped in, so I stepped back and let her take over.  All the debate training she has had this year in Classical Conversations came into play.  It got vehement.

The 12 year old is stubborn, however.  Mulish.  So we let him win, which meant he got to string the lights on all by himself.  We waited for him to get overwhelmed, but he was so happy with his win, he set about stringing the lights quite happily, singing along with the Christmas carols playing on the radio.   “‘Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree O, Christmas Tree…’  Hey!  I totally know these lyrics!”

The lights are uneven and clump together in spots, but that’s just how we will leave them.  Because sometimes you have to choose between being “right” and being happy, and Christmas is definitely one of those times.


Categories: Around Town, Christmas, Family, Relationships | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

No Filter December – Day 12: The Spa For Teeth

007Today was the Day Of The Root Canal, and fret not, I will spare you the gory details.

I did get a picture of the back-lit ceiling tile, however, and wanted to share it:

I must admit, it did help during the procedure.  It was certainly better than counting the dots in the regular ceiling tiles.

This was my first root canal, and it appeared to be a fairly uneventful one. The endodontist worried me a little when, after giving me anesthetic, she bounced back into the room and said, “So, are you numb?” When I said yes, she replied, “Good, me too!”  Then, seeing the look on my face, said, “HAH!  Just kidding.”

Then again, perhaps I deserve this endodontist.  Perhaps it’s all a cosmic scheme aimed at helping me to see myself more clearly. Towards the end of the 2-hour procedure, she actually started SINGING.

Yep, pretty sure I would do that if I were an endodontist.

I had brought my iPod with me, so during the whole nastiness of drills and such, I was happily floating away to tunes by Gungor and Kari Jobe, and between that and the “tree” above me, I was almost able to forget what was going on. The fact that I’m a lightweight and Novocaine goes straight to my head helped as well.

So all in all, it was a successful appointment.  I celebrated with a cup of hot tea when I got home.  Pain-free hot tea.

My regular dentist provides earphones and a radio when he does work, so I was not a stranger to the concept of music during dental work, but I found that bringing my own iPod was a vast improvement.  Two reasons:

1) no commercials

2) no unfortunate choice of music.

As a musician, I am finely tuned to the music to which I listen, so it is unfortunate when I settle into the chair and discover that KUSC has chosen the absolute wrong piece for the occasion.

This happened with my regular dentist once.  He was doing a filling, so it wasn’t a terribly lengthy procedure, but just as he started and I tuned into the classical radio station, the beginning bars of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue were playing.  This was okay at first.  However, the more it progressed, the more I couldn’t help but think of the animated piece that accompanies it in Disney’s Fantasia 2000.  So by the time I got to the last minute of the song, it struck me how fitting the song was with all the drilling and bits flying and water spraying that was going on in my mouth, which then tickled my funny bone so badly, it was all I could do not to burst out laughing. And believe me, the wrong time to laugh is when you are reclined in a dentist chair with drilling and bits flying and water spraying going on in your mouth.

After undergoing that ordeal, I thought I had experienced the worst.  That is, until the next time I needed work done, and just as the dentist maneuvered into my mouth with the giant syringe of Novocaine, the song warbling on the office speakers hit the chorus… “Do you really want to hurt me…” I snorted, and he backed out of my mouth, and I explained what had happened and apologized, and quickly put in the earphones he had provided, turning up the radio to drown out Boy George.  This worked well for about a minute or two, but halfway through the drilling, Edvard Greig’s In The Hall of the Mountain King began to play.

So in the future, I will bring my own dang iPod to all dentist appointments.

Which brings me to the photo of the day.  I have blessed the header with the pre-sunset cloud formations visible out my front window.  We don’t often get weather in So. Cal., so it was a photo worthy sight for my neighbors and I.

As for the photo to end the post… Well.  I can choose between a close-up of the Very Zen Fountain from the waiting room, or a headshot of me laughing with half my face frozen, which, besides looking very creepy, caused my nose to twist to one side.

I will be merciful and go with the Zen.




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No Filter December – Day 11: The Christmas Party

Now, in the title I said “party,” as in singular, but what I really mean is parties, as in Oh My Goodness, People, Does EVERYONE have to have a party this time of year and how on earth do you guys find time to plan these things, let alone cook and decorate for them and now my son wants to have one too and I just laughed at him and now he is looking at me funny.

You get it, right?  Parti-bus?

You get it, right? Partibus?

“Pars, partis” is Latin for the noun “part.” The plural form of this word for both the dative and ablative cases is “partibus,” which I found delightful when I was learning Latin.

I mention this simply because I spent 6 hours with my Classical Conversations students today, at least half of which, after the Dreaded Logic Final (5 pages, baby) and six Art Lecture Presentations (they were all brilliant), was spent having a Christmas Party.  We told embarrassing stories, drank tea, ate food, sang Christmas carols and took group pictures.  And let me tell you, taking group pictures with a bunch of 15 year old girls should be classed as an Olympic sport.

I am now exhausted, and therefore punchy. That’s my excuse for my strange sense of humor today.  (The rest of the year, well, let’s just say I really need those filters I have eschewed this month for my No Filter December Jig.)

At any rate, last Monday night I had two different parties to attend, both of which I missed due to the stomach flu.

On Wednesday the two younger kids had two parties (one in P.E. class, one at youth group), one of which required a treat to share (and we’re gluten-free, so that’s not something you just pick up on the way there) and the other of which required an unwrapped toy per child, to be donated to a local hospital, and a wrapped white elephant gift each.

This morning each kid had a Christmas Party Potluck in their CC classes, as did I, which meant three sets of (gluten-free) Potluck Fare, two wrapped Secret Santa gifts and eight wrapped Christmas gifts for my students, not to mention the other things I mentioned yesterday that I had thought would be spiffing to bring to class today.

We are then party-free until Sunday.

This is then followed by another party on Monday, which requires another white elephant gift.

And then we have another on Thursday of next week. This one requires only (gluten-free) cookies.

This brings us to the next weekend, when we will be missing my good friend’s birthday/Christmas party, because we are hosting not a Christmas Party, but a 21st Birthday Celebration for my oldest.

And then this is followed closely by Christmas itself.

So two things:

1) Do any of you seriously still think homeschooling is dangerous because of the whole “socialization” issue?

2) If I accidentally say “Bah, Humbug” in the next week or so, well, I’m hoping it will at least be understandable to the twelve people who read this blog. (Hi, Mom!)

Here is the Official Picture of the Day:


I forgot to mention that today was Ugly Christmas Sweater Day as well. I didn’t have one, but I did have 34 years worth of Christmas jewelry to choose from. I chose all the pieces I could find at 7:30 a.m.  My husband bought me the light-up necklace and flashing earrings from The Home Depot. Yep, I’m livin’ the dream.

And here, just because it is cool, and because readers who scroll to the bottom deserve to be rewarded, is a Bonus Photo.  This is a pillow I received as a gift from the one student who gets certain of my jokes during class.  Last year I made at least 4 Doctor Who disciples; I still have another semester to go with this crowd, so I have high hopes.

It LIGHTS UP, people.  With a BLUE light, because Alan insisted it couldn't be a white light and fixed it. (Sharpies fix everything)

It LIGHTS UP, people. With a BLUE light, because Alan insisted it couldn’t be a white light and fixed it. (Sharpies fix everything)


Categories: Around Town, Blogging, Christmas, Education, Family, Homeschooling | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Filter December – Day Ten: What, Me, Procrastinate?

There will be no TBT post about Mexico Day 2 today, because tomorrow I have a Logic Final to administrate and although it is 9:45 p.m. the night before, I still haven’t gotten around to proofing it or printing it out. If I think hard, I will be able to list what I did instead, but it escapes me at the moment.  I do know that TV shows and bon bons were not involved.  I would have remembered that.

It also occurs to me that I must also grade Art Lecture Presentations tomorrow, so I will need rubrics, not to mention running a Christmas Party, and that somehow in a moment of weakness I promised to make them all Real British Tea in Real Teacups.

Which reminds me I may have also promised to bring my keyboard and some Christmas Carols…

We will also be watching The Scarlet Pimpernel, the Jane Seymour version.  We just finished reading Tale of Two Cities, and this is how I have justified the movie.  Same era.  We will discuss the two different viewpoints of the two stories.  It may boil down to, “That was different from Tale of Two Cities, wasn’t it?” … “Yeah.  I like this one better.”

At any rate, here is a picture of Christmassy stuff that I took this weekend in Mexico.  I’ll put another one in the header.  Happy 10th Day of December.  If anyone needs me I’ll be over here in the corner typing furiously and praying that the printer doesn’t decide to jam tonight.

Baja Mission 12-2014 044crop


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No Filter December – Day Nine: Back To Mexico

I didn’t actually go back to Mexico today, but since the 14 year old and I brought home a souvenir of our trip last weekend in the form of a stomach bug, we won’t be going anywhere soon.  This cuts down significantly on my No Filter December photo ops for the day, and I have 308 photos from the weekend just begging to be posted somewhere, so I will spend the next few days doing a TBT of sorts.  Despite the fact that it isn’t Thursday.  And that I’m only throwing back a couple of days.

Friday, Dec. 5, 2014

Mexico 2013 Best of (2)We arrived in Rosarito at lunch time and met up with our missionary friends, the Wilsons, at Mariscos Tito’s.  Just as I had predicted.  There are certain elements of these missions trips that are predictable, and this is one of them.

The rest of the trip, also predictably, generally falls under the category of The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men.

In fact, David Wilson’s favorite thing to say when working with mission groups is, “Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be broken.”  It’s just an unavoidable aspect of taking 27 people from one country and coordinating efforts with a handful of people and a couple of organizations in another country, crossing both language and cultural barriers.  A veritable plethora of cracks through which details may fall abounds in situations like this.

So one can either get bent out of shape that the Schedule Was Not Followed, or one can see these cracks as New Opportunities instead.  We know this going in, so while we have an Itinerary, it’s considered, like the Pirate Code, to be “more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”

Baja Mission 12-2014 035cropThe rest of Friday actually did follow more or less according to the Itinerary, with the ten under-15-year-olds in the team joining with a local group of missionary kids to make Christmas cards to be given out through local ministries.

It must have been a little surreal for the kids, however, considering that they got up early in the morning, drove a long way on the freeway, then reached a scary place with high fences and guards with guns who might at any minute pull over one of the cars in the group and search it, and then found themselves in a place that looked completely different from the only world they had known so far in their lives, where everyone was driving crazy and nothing was in English except the signs for Office Depot, McDonalds and Burger King.

As if this wasn’t enough for one day, after an hour or so of acclimating to the foreignness of it all, these kids were piled into cars, bumped down some pot-hole-ridden roads and before they knew it, they were sitting around at a house on the beach with a bunch of American kids, eating sugar cookies and making Christmas cards.

Kids are resilient, so they handled it well.  The cards were made, the kids filled up on cookies.  At this point, however, due to some last-minute shuffling of team members, a couple of the mothers who had probably not intended to drive in Mexico found themselves faced with piling more kids into their cars than they had seatbelts for and following a caravan of cars through the streets of Rosarito at dusk during rush-hour.  And let’s just say that traffic laws in Rosarito are another thing that tends to be treated like the Pirate Code.  These women deserve an Award of Bravery.

Baja Mission 12-2014 046In the meantime, the rest of the team was setting up for an appreciation dinner for volunteers at Capilla Calvario/Calvary Chapel Rosarito.  The name of the church is such a mouthful because everything they do there, from the sermon to the worship songs to the announcements and signage, is bilingual.  It takes a little longer, but it results in a wonderful melding not just of two languages but of two cultures into one, unified body of believers numbering above 1500 members.  It takes a lot of staff and volunteer members to keep a church of that size going, and our team was privileged to be the ones serving them at the dinner.

The waiters waiting to wait.

The waiters waiting to wait.


Baja Mission 12-2014 089It was just as well there were 27 of us, because it took all members of the team, from the 6 year old to the 66 year old, to get that much spaghetti and salad delivered to the tables of guests.

Baja Mission 12-2014 100By the time the dinner was served, and the team was fed, we were all exhausted.

Except for the kids, who were playing in the church playground.

It was at this point that our leader, Andy, told us he was coming down with the flu, so we pulled the kids off the swings and headed back to the guest house where we were staying.


Baja Mission 12-2014 028The adults sat and rested then for a while… while the kids played basketball.

I’m pretty sure the kids would have kept going all night if the parents hadn’t insisted on bed, knowing that we had to be up at 5:30 the next morning.

Youth is indeed wasted on the young.


Categories: Blogging, Faith, Family, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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