and that’s when the cops pulled into our driveway.

Last year’s Christmas story featured some classic Mom antics. Trust me, she had her moments this Christmas as well. (At church: Me – “Who’s that?” Mom – “Yes, I’m excited about the rolls, too!”) But this year, it was all about the police and marijuana.

Don’t worry, the two are not related. This story doesn’t end in prison.

First, we’ll start with how we all awoke this morning. It was kind of like a poem. But kind of not.

We set our alarms for 7am. I was up at 5am because I’m ridiculous and still get just as excited for Christmas morning as I did when I was 5 years old. But shortly after 7 we all heard the sound of silver bells…or security alarm bells. My dad tripped the alarm on his way downstairs which caused my mom and I to spring from our beds to see what was the matter. We didn’t spring too quickly because accidentally tripping the alarm is something that happens on a daily basis often around here.

After the alarm goes off the security center calls the house to make sure there isn’t an actual perpetrator on the premises. They usually call immediately afterwards, but since we are so good at setting the alarm off they probably run a few errands, grab a cup of coffee, maybe send out some belated emails before calling our house.

Except for this morning, they called back while we were in the middle of setting the alarm off for a second time so we weren’t quite able to get to the phone in time.

So they just sent the police over.

Merry Christmas! There’s a cop in the driveway!

We gave him a plate of cookies and brownies and our condolences.

About 30 minutes later we were opening Christmas presents. At which time my dad, who is 77 and does full-time prison ministry, felt compelled to utter, “It makes you wonder: how many people are opening Christmas presents this morning, and there’s marijuana inside?”

At which time my mom, who wouldn’t know marijuana from marigolds, felt compelled to sniff the envelope to her card and utter, “Mmmmm, pot.”

And that’s how my senior citizen parents and I started Christmas morning.

Here’s hoping that all of your mornings were equally joy-filled. And less filled with cops and hash.

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the 25 days of pinning (and christmas eve musings) : day 24

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My family is weird.

We have more desserts than people in the house right now. (Two shoo fly pies, one pan of brownies, one chocolate cake, and a rustic apple tart…and we would have made cranberry bread if I hadn’t left the recipe in Rochester. Meaning the ratio is two desserts per person. I call the pies.)

Our tree is BRIGHT RED. No really, it’s like Rudolph’s nose. If you squint from wherever you are you can probably see it.

We don’t leave the house on Christmas. If you hadn’t noticed from our similarly antisocial Thanksgiving celebration, we don’t get out much.

Speaking of, this year we’re repeating Thanksgiving for Christmas dinner this year because it was just so darn good the first time around. The turkey is brining as we speak.

And this year is happier than most because we can watch a lot of football. A LOT of football. Which means we can watch a lot less Lifetime Christmas movie marathons. (And all of God’s people said, Amen.)

I’ve never known anything but our off-kilter Christmas traditions. But really, is any family on-kilter? I think to qualify as a tried-and-true family you have to be at least a little abnormal.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Merry Christmas Eve, friends! Hope you are spending it with the ones you love in whichever fashion fits you best.

beka stays committed : to controlling the (blog) mayhem

I did something beneficial for my mental health yesterday.

(Some of you are probably thinking it has to be something born out of this post, but it actually isn’t. Although tonight I’m still wearing my pants, so we’re clearly making progress.)

My love for blogs – both writing and reading them – is well-documented. As is my devotion to Google Reader. But recently things have gotten out of hand. I was, perhaps, too devoted considering the amount of time I had available to devote. I was subscribed to about 120 blogs. My consequent daily reading list was usually over 100 items long. Which meant that whenever I didn’t have hours of free time to click through pages upon pages of blogs (which, let’s face it, is always) they snowballed into an overwhelming heap of reading material. And with each passing day the snowball grew larger and larger until I felt like it was going to roll out of my computer, into my living room, and squash me whole.

Now, I love blogs. I love keeping up with them through Google Reader. But I don’t love getting stressed out by something I love. That’s just a killjoy.

So I did something about it! First things first: I whittled the subscription list down to less than 100 blogs. (And yes, that means 99.) Then, I organized my main list into folders so I can quickly browse through whichever topic is important on a given day – food, photography, motivational, etc. But the best thing I did, the thing that will dramatically change my angst over hundreds of unread items, was make a Top 25 folder.

The Top 25 folder holds the 25 blogs I routinely check first anyway. Now they’re already grouped together. This means that instead of feeling like I’ll never get to the bottom of the pile when I open Google Reader at the end of a long day and see 347 unread items I can just go to my Top 25 folder and read through the  20-30 posts there before calling it a day. The other posts are still important to me, but they can wait until later.

Want to see the list? I’m sure that it will change over time, but here’s the December 2011 edition of the Top 25:

a cozy kitchen

big mama

bower power

can you stay for dinner?

carpool queen

composing nows

cookies and cups

eat live run

how sweet it is

jasmine star

jon acuff

joy the baker

making things happen

nancy ray photography

nat the fat rat

packers

peter king

the pioneer woman

quiet life

seth godin

shannon nicole smith photography

snoodlings

southern weddings

tim teblog

young house love

It’s a good mix, I think. There are plenty of food blogs, a few sports blogs, some about health and fitness, a bunch of fun ones, a handful of photography blogs, and a couple of pretty ones thrown in for good measure. It’s basically all of my favorite things in one tiny folder. My little blog-lovin’ heart couldn’t be happier.

People, I’m SO pumped about this development! Give it a whirl over the holidays. Your unread items mountain will thank you for it!

beka stays authentic : you will still sleep tonight if you don’t read this [part II]

1. I’m craving coffee in the worst way right now. Not as a caffeinated entity, but just in all of it’s pure, freshly ground, good to the last drop glory. This probably has something to do with the fact that I’m obsessed with Finger Lakes’ Kranberry Kreme blend, but still, I seriously contemplated going to bed early because it would get me that much closer to waking up and making coffee.

2. I also contemplated going to bed early because I’m the kind of overtired that makes a person useless to the world. Literally: useless. Which may explain point number three…

3. I accidentally kicked my Nalgene bottle over tonight, spilling it’s contents onto the wood floors. Since my apartment is not unlike Pisa in that it leans significantly to the left, the waterfall began gaining momentum towards the wall where all of my electronics live. I responded by sitting there and watching the glug, glug, glug of flowing water for several moments before having the presence of mind to pick up the water bottle. Then, noticing the impending doom approaching my laptop/internet/hard drive/camera/printer, I did what any normal person would do.

I took off my pants. I took off my fleece pants so quickly you would have thought they were on fire and threw them and myself onto the floor to act as a barricade.

It was at this point that I started to wonder why a towel wouldn’t have afforded the same benefit with a less shameful result. Why this didn’t occur to me pre-stripping is a mystery only point number two can answer. And because I was a) wet, b) tired, and c) annoyed at the time I didn’t find this whole situation very amusing. But now that it’s just a few hours later I think it’s hysterical. I crack up every time I replay the moment when I decided that bolting out of my clothing was clearly the best answer to the problem at hand.

4. I’m going to Trader Joe’s in less than one week. I already have a list of a dozen items I can’t wait to bring home. Joy to the World.

5. 5 – as in the number of days until Christmas. This pains me. I need more time! I need more snow!

6. Today at the gym I was contemplative. I ran 6 ugly miles. They were ugly because I was SO not into them so they felt extra long and laborious. But that’s not the point. The point is that while I ran I looked around and saw many a female sweating it out on their workout machinery of choice. And I wondered, as I often do, what their ultimate goal was – to lose weight? to stay healthy? to be happy? And then I listened to conversations in the locker room – about Christmas cookies, how it’s not safe to bake them and keep them in the house, why it’s almost time to really buckle down for a new batch of weight loss resolutions. And then I wondered how much time we as a gender spend thinking about things like this – how we look in the mirror, how we look compared to the girl next to us in the mirror, how much weight we want to lose, how many calories are in our Christmas cookies, how many minutes on the elliptical equal how many Christmas cookies we want to eat?

And then I thought: what if we stopped? What if we stopped constantly (oh, constantly!) thinking about body image? Stopped degrading ourselves, torturing with comparisons, killing joy with calculations? What if we just stopped the insanity?

How much more brain space would we have for things that actually matter? Like being present in the moment, enjoying food and exercise as blessings and not punishments, realizing that life is bigger, better, more important than a number on a scale?

I am the guiltiest of the guilty. I need a change in my perspective. But those are just the thoughts I was thinking today. And I thought I’d share them with you too. Girls, what do you think? Have you ever been in this boat?

7. Along the same lines, I spent oodles of time pouring over this blog tonight. Andie’s story is filled with inspiration, honesty, reality, and – perhaps most importantly – kindness. It’s definitely worth stopping by and reading a few (thousand) wise words.

8. I’m going to bed now. (Which means only a few more hours until coffee!)