Baby stuff: Heather and I spent all day planning, then buying exactly what we need to buy for the church's children's ministry. I feel a little less overwhelmed knowing that we have at least most of what we need. But boy, its a lot of stuff. And most of it is still sitting in my car.

Four-day weekend: Because all federal offices (including the Navy) are closed by executive order to honor President Gerald Ford on Tuesday (and Monday is a planned holiday for New Year's Day), I have a four-day weekend. Maybe I'll finally paint my kitchen and/or bathroom. Or maybe, I'll just work on church stuff.
Christmas gifts: Here's a list of my favorite Christmas gifts this year (both given and received):

* The word cloud mug I gave Nick, based on his blog - this was the most exciting to watch someone open.

* The 20 questions game I bought for my cousin Michael - my friend Bernadette bought one and we play it all the time at work. We keep trying to trick it (and don't succeed as much as you would think).

* The J Crew magic wallet Kelli gave me - I've wanted one for a while, but couldn't justify the price tag.
Generosity: In keeping with the coming new year, I've been doing some thinking about my goals for the coming year. And along with some of the usual, very practical goals (think money, diet, exercise) I've also been thinking more about qualities or character traits I want to practice.

As I've been thinking about these things, it occurs to me that it is much easier to be generous during December. I want to go overboard on gifts, I think of all kinds of things that people in my life would love, I want to donate money to all kinds of different causes. Why is it more difficult to be generous the rest of the year? Actually, the better question is, why does it seem there are less opportunities to be generous the rest of the year?

I think looking for opportunities to be generous might just be one of them.
Party: I hosted my small group Christmas party last night, which is pretty much the same as saying I hosted my church's Christmas party. Lessons learned:

1. The key to hosting a party at your house, when you're leaving for vacation the the next day from work, is planning ahead. I only wished I had started packing Wednesday night, but otherwise, things went really, really smoothly. And I'll come home to a clean house.

2. More snack and appetizer foods, less desserts. The spinach and nachos dips disappeared quickly, and the veggie pizza was gone except for one piece, but there are still plenty of both kinds of brownies left for my housesitter.

3. Never host a party that includes white elephant gift exchanges at your house, especially when you have friends like mine. After everyone left I looked around to gather all the stuff, and as I only found two of the chicken wall hooks that came in a set of four, I'm pretty sure I haven't got it all. Also, be prepared for them to start redecorating, too.
Christmas gifts: I finished the last of my Christmas shopping this past weekend - woo hoo! And it's all wrapped and hanging out under the tree. My LiFE group's Christmas party is here on Thursday night, and since I'm leaving for home after work on Friday, I'll be packed (mostly) by Wednesday night.

Sunday: I was thinking over my schedule for the next few months (prompted by wondering when I'm going to be able to give a couple Christmas gifts) and realized that with our first Sunday service on January 7, I'm not taking any weekends away for a while. Guess that means everyone I know will have to come visit me. :-)

Ornaments: I think these are my favorite ornaments, ever. I bought some this year, but Pier 1 is one place I'm definitely checking out for post-Christmas sales.
Water: I really like living here, and I think my favorite thing about it is that I see water all the time. Its annoying when I have to deal with tunnel traffic (twice every weekday), but otherwise, I usually find myself smiling whenever I go over a bridge, no matter how many times I've seen it before. On my way out to my car each night, I walk over a catwalk that elevates me just enough to see the water a few blocks away, and all the ships docked there (when you see them in person, aircraft carriers are just unbelievably huge). I took a picture with my camera phone this week, though its not a greatest shot, you can get an idea of the gorgeous colors when the sun has just set.

Behold the Lamb of God: A couple years ago, Andrew Peterson (and friends) released Behold the Lamb of God, and I think this is actually my favorite Christmas CD. Its unlike any Christmas CD you've ever heard, first because nearly every song is an original, and second because it tells the entire story of Christ, starting not at His birth in Bethlehem, but with God's plan to deliver Israel from its slavery in Egypt.

I couldn't even pick a favorite song. The entire CD is powerful and moving, especially as a whole, and even its funny in parts (check out the song "Matthew Begats"). You can listen to the entire CD online here (click "Open Player"), if you're interested.
Thanksgiving: The holiday, and my trip home, was full of mixed emotions. I spent a ton of time with Jake - he spent the night with me on Thursday and Friday nights, since Katie and Mike were working crazy weekend-after-Thanksgiving hours. About the only bad part of all of that was sleeping with him. What is it about kids that makes them take up way more room than a full-grown adult? And, I finally saw The Polar Express, at Katie and Mike's, since they have the full home theater setup.

It seems like there's a lot of stuff going on in my family lately, a lot of which hit that weekend, hence the whole mixed emotions thing. In a way, I was ready to come home and get back a little to my everyday life.

Christmas: Christmas is seriously my favorite time of the year. I love it - I love the decorating and the entertaining and the gift-giving - the whole thing. I was going to go out to dinner and a parade at the beach with friends, but I was having too much fun decorating a new house for the first time. My tree is up and so full of ornaments, I don't know where I could put more. And I've got a whole list of other stuff to buy, too.

I've been listening to Christmas CDs (I have tons, and buy more each year). My favorite, so far, as weird as it sounds, is a Victoria Secret 2-Cd set I bought last year. Hate the cover, but love the CDs.