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Christmas Town at Busch Gardens December 12, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fun & Games, Humor, Special Events, Travel & Leisure.
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Last weekend, we went to Busch Gardens in Tampa to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas Town.

First stop, Stanleyville Station to ride the Christmas Express.  After boarding, it started to rain. At the conductor’s request, we debarked and huddled together in the station to watch rain drops plopping in puddles for 15 minutes until the conductor asked us to retrace our steps:

“A~L~L    A~B~O~A~R~D!”

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The rain slowed long enough for us to pull out of the station, seated on soggy rainswept seats.

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We took the tracks less traveled . . . and saw behind the scenes hardware.

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As we passed Nairobi, the rains came . . . offering passengers a soggy safari.

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Can you hear My Fair Lady?   “The rain on the plain stays mainly on the train.”

Giraffes craned long necks in our direction.

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They stood high, but not dry, under tall palms.

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I heard them chuckling at prisoners huddled in puddles on the Candy Cane Express.

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After de-boarding, we decided to dry off inside.  We opted to see a show ~ Opening Night Critters ~ featuring rescue dogs, cats, birds, plus a plucky pony, a shy skunk, and a prickly porcupine.

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After the show, we saw other animals ~ elephants, Cape Buffalo, orangutans, and tigers.

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And a kangaroo stationed outside of Walkabout Way.

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Flocks of flamingos paraded around the grounds.

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All decked out in their Christmas finery.

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Amid beautiful floral arrangements.

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We saw fields of poinsettias blanketing a zebra-drawn sleigh.

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Inside the market place, we spied zebras, elephants, and giraffes for sale.

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Ready to be adopted by collectors of all ages.

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Before leaving, we walked through Christmas Village to watch wee ones enjoying a pint sized train.

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As it circled round and round model trains completing smaller loops.

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The trains defied all attempts to capture an unblurred image.  The trees stood silent and still, awash in bright lights while displaying a spirit of cooperation.

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Throughout the park, Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes offered scents of the season.

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This one stood in a pool of white poinsettia.

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And presiding over it all . . . the Big Man himself.

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Urging visitors to “Bring Home The Coke.”  HO~HO~HO!

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Aah . . . that’s better!

The Four Stages of Life December 22, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Joke, Life Balance, People.
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Stage One:  You BELIEVE in Santa


* * *

Stage Two:  You DON’T BELIEVE in Santa


* * *

Stage Three: You BECOME one of Santa’s Elves


* * *

Stage Four:  You RESEMBLE Santa


Aah . . . that’s better!

The Christmas Key December 10, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Lessons, People, Special Events.
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“What should we do about the kids snooping around for presents?”

At the image of four tiny detectives inspecting the premises for Christmas clues, dad grinned.  Then said, “Shhh . . . here’s Hercule.”


Grasping Teddy, Jamie frowned.  “What’s her cue?”

“Hercule Poirot.  He’s a detective.  Like Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, and Harriet the Spy.  Why are you up?”

“I can’t sleep.”

“Give it another try.  Santa’s watching.”

“That’s why I can’t sleep.  Knowing he’s watching makes me nervous.”

“No doubt.  Back to bed.”

As Jamie shuffled off, mom frowned.  “I never snooped as a child. Did you?”

“Me?  Of course not. I paid Marjorie to snoop for me.”

“Ho Ho Ho.  Funny.  Now, be serious.  What should I do?  I leave gifts in the car until they’re asleep. Then, like a thief in the night, I tiptoe around doing a quick wrap and stash.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“They unwrap them! When they find a package with their name, they peel back the tape and sneak a peek.”

“Let’s wait until Christmas Eve to put names on the packages.”

“I’ll never keep them straight!”

“Use a code.  Instead of names, use numbers.”

“OK.  But what d’ya bet those little monkeys will find my cheat sheet?”

“It’s their Christmas.”


Pursuant to plan, mom labeled gifts with assigned numbers.  One problem: she didn’t share her key code with dad before excess holiday stress and a mounting sleep deficit landed her in the hospital.  With pneumonia.

Dad had to unlock the code.  Alone.  Without a key.  On Christmas Eve.

He made a few mistakes as he swapped out numbers for names.  Of course he did.  That’s to be expected of a frazzled parent, short on sleep, with a wife in the hospital, four kids bouncing off the walls, snow to shovel, a dog to walk, and a job requiring ample time and attention.

On Christmas morning, we held our tongues.  We “oohed” on cue.

Later, when dad wasn’t looking, we reshuffled each mis-given gift to its intended recipient.

How did we unlock the code?

Elementary, my dear Watson.  We used mom’s key.

* * * * *

Join Susanna’s 3rd Annual Holiday Contest ~> Merry Mishaps abound!

* * * * *

Thanks to a mad twist of Hamlet’s Shakespearean soliloquy, Col selected me to host Haiku Monday this week ~ Enter at Haiku Monday ~ (A Twist of) Fate  

Santa & The Nanny Cam December 9, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Fun & Games, Humor, Joke, Poetry.
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Each Christmas Eve, I tried with all my might
To stay awake long into the night
“I want to see Santa,” I thought with delight
No luck!  Each year I lost the fight

My eyes fluttered shut with passing light
Santa arrived to find them shuttered tight
My amateurish efforts, always in vain
“I want to see Santa” remained my refrain


How different my efforts this year will be
With the aid of advanced technology
I’ll capture that Sly Elf with help from Teddy
Oh, the result will be so heady

While I lie abed enjoying my slumber
Teddy will guard both tree and gifts under
In the morning, with bright wide-eyed wonder
I’ll reel in the images of our pluck and plunder

At last! At last! I’ll finally see
Santa arriving furtively
And leaving gifts for . . . me, me, me!
Before exiting via festooned chimney


At dawn, I’ll grab Teddy, to YouTube I’ll dash
“Santa’s Capture” will go viral in an Instagram flash
Wait! Maybe I should unload it on e-Bay for cash?
After tweeting about it with hashtag . . . #fatass

* * *

Christmas morn my dreams burst with a groan of dismay
Teddy hadn’t caught that fat Jolly Elf at play
Our nanny cam video would never garner bids on e-Bay
My sneaky parents had turned Teddy’s face the wrong way

Aah . . . that’s better!

Join Susanna’s 3rd Annual Holiday Contest ~> Merry Mishaps abound!

* * * * *

Thanks to a mad twist of Hamlet’s Shakespearean soliloquy, Col selected me to host Haiku Monday this week ~ Enter at Haiku Monday ~ (A Twist of) Fate  

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas December 23, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Humor, Music & Dance, Special Events.
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Now, before you get your tree-hugging panties in a wad, let me explain . . .

We DO use cloth napkins for all but the messiest meals, but Jolly Old Saint Nicholas needed something to do over the holidays.

For rather obvious reasons, we didn’t trust him with our chocolate stash or Christmas cookies.  So we asked if he could hold paper napkins for guests . . . while standing on his head.

He thought not.

Seeing our disappointment, he conjectured that he could guard the napkins while doing a split.

Well, to make a long story short, the spry little guy is S~T~U~C~K.

The Elves are on the way, but we don’t know if he”ll be unstuck in time to make  his appointed rounds on Christmas Eve.

We’ll keep you posted on his progress.

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, lean your ear this way
Don’t you tell a single soul what I’m going to say
Christmas Eve is coming soon, now you dear old man
Whisper what you’ll bring to me. Tell me if you can.

O Little Town of Bethlehem December 20, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Gratitude, Home & Garden.
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Years ago, we hosted an Open House each year during the holidays for friends, family, co-workers, and the occasional random acquaintance.

One year, my best friend’s father attended and gave me the little red Santa as a hostess gift. Always happy to add another Santa to my growing collection, I thanked him for the kind gesture.

A few days later, while moving the gift from Point A to Point B, I turned it over and noticed an inscription on the bottom ~ My First Santa, by E Dix

As the words sunk in, I realized he had hand-carved the Santa just for me! 

A more profuse and effusive “THANK YOU!!!” followed the discovery.

O Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight

Another Christmas craft idea ~ use paint, markers, crayons, or colored pencils to create a “Shaker” tree standing in a spool of thread with simple hearts and stars dangling from its branches. 

May you delight in the light and love so evident at this festive time of year.

For a darling Christmas poem (written from a child’s perspective) . . . check out The Longest Wait on Fantasy Fic.

For a darling Christmas poem (written from a parent’s perspective) . . . check out ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas on Write Up My Life.

The Friendly Beasts December 13, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Fun & Games, Humor, Special Events.
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Santas come in all shapes, sizes and colors . . . tall ones, short ones, thin ones, fat ones, jolly ones . . . and even furry ones!

Here are a few of my four-legged Santas.

“I,” said the cow all white and red,
“I gave Him my manger for His bed.”

“I gave Him my hay to pillow His head.”
“I,” said the cow all white and red.

Want more craft and decorating ideas? 

Visit Jeanne’s Texas-Style Open House . . . or the 2011 Virtual Home Tour!

O Christmas Pine December 12, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Fun & Games, Special Events.
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Another fun craft idea . . . especially if you’ve got stray buttons and felt scraps floating around. 

The star at the top and spool at the base of the tree (wrapped with thread) are cut from felt, the ornaments are mismatched buttons, and the tree trunk and branches are simple straight stitches.  

The Santa on the Ho~Ho~Ho box is made of paper mache! 

O Christmas pine, fair Christmas pine, Gifts of love we bring thee
Thy myriad light in gladness shine, Carols sweet we sing thee

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing a Guest Post by Julie Hedlund to promote her book, A Troop is a Group of Monkeys.  

To get a sneak preview of the FAB contest she’s hosting . . . click HERE.

Wanna build a snowman?  No snow?  Check out Ice Bubble Snowman to see how Mother Nature manages . . . with or without snow.

Need some new Holiday Traditions? . . . visit Tammy’s Top Ten Holiday Ideas.

Want more craft and decorating ideas?  Visit the 2011 Virtual Home Tour!

Joy To The World December 9, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Fun & Games, Gratitude, Happiness.
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To celebrate the Advent of Christmas, I’m going to share some of my beloved Santas (and Reindeer) with you. 

* The  two hand-carved Santas (on the right) are 21 and 22 years old, respectively.  Of course, Santa, himself, is timeless and ageless. 

* I painted this watercolor “Welcome” sign of reindeer antlers in 1998.  Each year when I unwrap it . . . it sings to me:

Joy to the World!  . . .

And heav’n and nature sing. 
And heav’n and nature sing. 
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing!

For a beautiful Christmas Plea . . . visit this post by Joss, The Crowing Crone! 

Want more craft and decorating ideas?  Visit the 2011 Virtual Home Tour!

Related posts:  Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Celebration (WP Prompt) * Santa Claus is Coming to Town * Joy To The World10 Holiday Classics + 2 Year Round Faves * Ho~Ho~Ho! Merry Christmas! * Christmas Music (Sidey) * Joy Maker (Under The Oaks)

The Placebo Effect of God May 16, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, Spirituality & Faith.
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Wikipedia ~ Santa Claus (in Public Domain)

Tell a child that Santa is making a list and checking it twice and the child starts to monitor and modify his or her behavior to make sure they don’t end up with a coal-filled stocking.

The child’s improved behavior has nothing  to do with Santa actually making a list or checking it twice.

It’s a placebo effect caused by the child’s belief in the existence of an omniscient being.

Because the child believes that Santa is watching, they modify their choices.

The same is true for adults who believe that a personified God is “looking down on them from Heaven.”

Adults who monitor their thoughts and modify their behavior due to a belief in an omniscient God watching their every move are transformed by the placebo effect of God . . . whether or not “God” is actually watching.

Is that a good thing . . . or a bad thing?

No rules.  Just write!


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