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Saturday, December 30, 2023

Christmas Decorations at Our House This Year 2023

Oh my, I started this blog post two weeks ago and never got around to posting it! For some reason (conducting a certain little sheltie dog hunt) I never got around to finishing it up...

So better late than never!! 

Here was the finished product, but I will go into the step by step with some quick paragraphs, mostly pictures!

The day after Thanksgiving the some of the grandkids were off school and decided to come over and give us a hand. The weather was warm and we were able to get up a lot of the outside decorations. We are outside in light jackets and sweatshirts. 

Clayton was in charge of our electrical connections and was figuring out everything to put up the lights and the garland along the front porch. 

When the kids were all done unloading the decorations, they even carried all the empty boxes back into the garage for me. 

Chelsea arranged the bows and Claire helped hang up the stars and tie the strings. Pretty soon we had everything back into place just the way it was the year before. 

Our skinny little Rudolph is standing guard between the two dining room windows.

The red tinsel bristle brush tree is set up in the corner. It's quite vintagey looking and really cute in the corner of our red and white farmhouse. 

The stars are made from dollar store hangers and wireties as connectors and glued on sequins.  

Chelsea balanced out all of the swag garlands and arranged the bows. 

Some bouquets of silk flowers were plopped into the ceramic planters by the she-shed windows. 

The grandkids wound velvet ribbons around the columns of the pergola. After we were done, we realized one side was wound in the same direction as the other. We wanted them going in opposite directions! I tried to leave it the original way for that one day. It drove me nuts. The OCD in me had me go back out and unwind it and put it in the opposite direction!! 

Tah dahhhhhh all lit up at night!  

The little tree is really red, but in the photo it shows up as pink.  We found this at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore a couple years ago.. 

Inside, I had cleared all of my dishes out of the china hutch. This is where the grandkids help to set up the Christmas village on all three glass shelves. 

Everyone pitched in and helped. Each child took a shelf and they added all of their extra little delightful statues and trees and clumps of batting for snow. 

And here is the finished Christmas village for 2023.

All lit up at night for dramatic effect. 

Now it was time to haul in all the parts of our artificial tree. Littlest Claire made sure she knew which part went first second third fourth and 5th. With her handy dandy tape measure, she had it all figured out! 

Chelsea and Clayton took care of assembling the tree section by section. The tree is actually taller than this when it's up in the main part of the house where the ceilings are 9 ft tall. But this year we decided to put it together down in the She Shed where it's closer to maybe 8 ft tall at this end of the vaulted ceiling. So we had to omit the bottommost section to make the tree shorter. 

Way up up to the tippy top! Sure is nice to have grandkids to do all this assembly for us. 

Claire helped figure out the light sets and evenly distributed all four sets around the tree. We gave her a little help. And she got to do the final plug in and have another "tahhhdahhh"  moment. 

The ornaments went on a little bit at a time. The grandkids had to go home so I finished arranging them here there and everywhere. Each one has sentimental value and has a story behind it. There's a lot of great memories included on this tree. 

At night, Steve plays with the remote control for these LED lights. He can make them flash or alternate between white or colored etc. 

Upstairs in the living room, I finished hanging the little snowflakes from the open arch doorways. The stockings were all hung by the chimney with care... 

Last year, Chelsea measured out the exact distance of the openings and then divided by the proper number of snowflakes. We made tiny spots with push pins so we know every year now we can evenly spread out the snowflakes. She is a little OCD like Grandma!

I added a few more things to the top of the buffet. Steve changes the light bulbs into flickering flame bulbs in both of the light fixtures. The candy dish was filled with treats, waiting for the next visit from some of our grandchildren. 

Bit of decor here and there really makes the house feel festive and bright. 

Across the top of the mantle I have pine garland with little colorful lights woven into it. Along the front edge I have my wooden rocking horse collection. Every year I look for a few more. My "stable" is just about full. 

The stockings are all hung, as well as the little teddy bear is waiting in the sleigh with a stack of Christmas story books. 

The silly little metal tree with magnetic ornaments we fondly call the "Grinch Tree". It looks like something straight out of Dr Seuss. There are tiny seed lights that flicker and flash in alternating patterns in strands strung around the tree for at night. 

Tiny little plastic Rudolph has made it through all seven of my grandkids chewing on it from baby on upwards. If you wiggle his tail his nose lights up!

These adorable little wine bottle cork deer were made by my friend Vicky. Totally adorable as well as the cork pine tree next to them on the shelf. 

My mama's little toy soldier nutcrackers that I got after she passed away. These are the gold and silver ones.... 

And these are the more colorful traditional ones.

Some cute little reindeer made from pine garland. I forget where I got these or homemade them but they sure are adorable. 

Stained glass holly and berries carefully hung on the mirror in the center of the dining room. I love stained glass! 

This delicately cut out tree was made by a fiber friend in my weaving guild about 25 or so years ago. It's made out of stiff cardstock cardboard and she cut the entire thing out with an exacto knife. If you look close at the top it's the partridge in the pear tree, and each row down is from the 12 Days of Christmas. I folded it up flat every year and store it away carefully. Such a treasure. 

Steve hung up our mistletoe. We don't get fresh mistletoe every year, so this little artificial one does the trick just as well. I still get kisses----

These silly jump up toy ornaments are made out of wood in an old fashioned manner. I know they are newer but they are really cool. I used to try to hang them on the tree but they wiggle too much if you try to pull the bottom knob to make them jump. So instead we put them on these command hooks for the grandchildren to play with for the season. Someday they will get back on the tree again if there's nobody around yanking on them. 

On the kitchen table bar top we have to have a scraggly old Charlie Brown Tree. Doesn't everyone? It has little teeny tiny ornaments and the kids like looking at it if they come over to eat a snack. 

The last tree in our house is a fiber optic one. We had this one for in the motorhome when we lived in full time for a period. On this tree there are stuffed ornaments each one personalized with the name of all of our family members and extended family. Of course, we call it our "Family Tree".  We keep this one right up in the front of the house by the dining room windows and turn it on and off each night. Since the main tree is down in the she shed, this is the only one that can be seen from the road. 

Before Christmas, I spend time painting all of the grandchildren little village houses of their very own. I've been doing this for years. Every year they get a different village house and I have to make sure that I never give the same one to the same child. I keep a spreadsheet. Lol. 

While I paint, I have some of my most favorite music playing. I remember this album cover when I was a child in the 1960s.

Well, that's it for my belated post on Christmas decorations around the house.

It still seems like "before Christmas"  here, because everyone was sick on Christmas .... we did not have a family gathering yet. So instead, we are all going to get together when we have our epic bowling day in January with all of the kids and grandkids. We will exchange gifts then.


As an update on our newest family member, Little Nicholas is fitting right in. We had our newest vet appointment on Monday, which gave him great results. We have a neutering appointment set up for early next month. He is recovering from his ordeal. He was severely starved and dehydrated during his time alone in the woods. 

Our house is now filled with the joy of another canine family member. (Look how skinny he is!)

Binney is absolutely delighted to have him as part of our pack. 

Happy New Year!!! 

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

St Nicholas Came - and He's Not Who You Thought He Would Be!!!

For Christmas, all of our family members were sick! So we postponed our family gathering until early January. We all get together for an epic bowling day and Mexican meal for the grandkids anyhow, we will just add our gift-giving to the same day. 

But we weren't alone, oh no no no!

We were busy busy busy helping track down a runaway 1 year old Shetland Sheepdog! The owner could no longer adequately care for him, and she has huge upcoming medical issues facing her. So she turned over ownership to us, if we could possibly catch it. 

It was his second time escaping (we helped catch him the first time in November after he was on the run for a week) and he didn't know anybody or anything cuz he was just recently adopted by her two weeks before! 

Since he had already been out on his own alone in the woods the week before, this time he was even more sly and trickier to catch. He learned to stop moving around during the daytime where people were trying to grab him. Instead, he was only moving at night.

He had a leash trailing behind him, and we were so scared of it getting snagged up in the woods somewhere.

This is the type of terrain he was hiding in:

This time around, the weather was at least warmer at night. In the high '30s instead of the freezing temps. We had tracked him down and figured he was eating food at the neighborhood feral cat feeding station. We assume he was getting fresh water from the river which is not yet frozen over. We know he was sleeping somewhere in these concrete columns and yard waste from the city municipal workers.

We were utilizing the services of a local non-profit called Get Toby Home. 


They have all of the equipment and the knowledge. They brought us multiple large live traps along with game cameras, and also Wi-Fi GPS cameras which emit a signal back to their waiting computers in Green Bay. Their volunteer staff monitor the cameras 24/7. Any movements are detected, as well as any other feral cats, opossums, raccoons etc that get into the trap. The volunteers will bark or hiss or make noises through the cameras' speakers to scare off the animals before they get into the trap. Sometimes we had to go and let out various critters that got contained by accident. 

We did a lot of the leg work on our end because we are at the far fringe of their service area. We were replenishing bait as well as moving traps from location to location. Depending on the sightings and graphing on the maps, we got pretty good at figuring out his routine and route that he would wander late at night. 

They even sent up one volunteer with a thermal imaging drone who went over the entire woodsy marsh area that we knew the dog was holed up in. 

So we spent two weeks tracking and following sightings and baiting live traps and moving Wi-Fi cameras around. 

We were handing out flyers and talking to people and searching searching searching. 

We were contacting property owners and obtaining permission to place live traps on their property. 

10 large profile signs including a photo were set up around town at all major intersections. We plastered social media with posts and getting updates from helpful residents. And some "not so helpful"  comments. Why are some people so mean when they are behind the invisibility of their keyboard? Some of the comments were just horrible!

We drove around and around and around many miles at slow speeds with flashlights at night because that's the only time he was moving around. I think we went through three or four sets of batteries in all of our flashlights! 

At one point we had no spottings of him in five or six days. We were really concerned that the leash had gotten snagged up somewhere and he was dead. Either that, or he became coyote food.

Imagine our delight after 6 days he showed up on a camera again, this time dragging the leash only half as long. The end was all chewed off raggedy. So we are sure he was snagged up somewhere on a tree or rocks and had to chew himself free! He looked definitely skinnier by this time. He was starving!

He was becoming more and more clever each time we were sighting him on the cameras. We actually have a trail of food going into the cage where he just needs to step on the trigger panel for the door to shut behind him.

We also left pieces of our scent around so he would get used to our smells. I wove Binney's dirty bandanas into the mesh of the cages. He would stop and smell her scent every time. 

Every day when we would go back to re-bait the traps, we would bring along Binney and have her walk through the area. Many times she would obligatory leave a spot of pee. We would also grab any of her morning poops in a doggy bag and bring it to the trap sites. We would scatter it around so he would get used to her and also be attracted to come back to the area because she is a female. He is an intact male, never neutered!

So many times he would just come in so far, and back out. We needed him to step on this slanted piece of the cage to trigger the door shut. He would only go so far and stop. Arrgghhh! 

Twice he actually decided to get to the food he would just grab the blanket and pull it backwards out of the cage! Watch this video!

So then we had to get up at 3:00 a.m. and go out there and pull the blanket away from the opening so in case he did go back in, the trap door could shut correctly. If it happened to only go part way and get caught on the blanket, then he would be really really smart and never go back after such an experience. 

Each time we saw him on the cameras, we were just so close! But just not enough for him to step on that trigger panel. 

Our efforts were rewarded on the FIFTEENTH DAY!!!!----- on Christmas Eve we finally were able to capture him! 

The Get Toby Home team were monitoring the cameras, even on Christmas Eve. They were ecstatically calling to us to go go go and get him!

We placed the entire trap cage into the back of our Saturn and drove home into our garage and shut the door tight. 

He was very very scared, and very very skinny!

I was giving him soothing sounds of my voice and I actually got some licks on my fingers through the mesh of the cage. He even leaned in and let me scratch his ear for comfort.

We carefully transferred him from the end of the large live trap into our smaller dog crate. He willingly went in! 

Now we could carry the secure crate into our house where he would have no opportunity to get outside. 

He is very skinny and was dehydrated. It's hard to tell with all the hair in the picture but he is all skin and bones.

We got him inside and gave him water and a small amount of food. He ate it gingerly, he didn't wolf it down so we knew he was pretty weak.

He met Binney nose to nose and he was extremely interested in her, as well as her in him.

We removed the awful dragging leash that was chewed away by his little teeth to escape wherever he was snagged up. We also removed this slip choke collar which is definitely a no-no!  He is now fitted with a secure harness as well as another buckle collar. 

Just look at this little guy! He has no idea about the wonderful world that is going to open up to him now that he is in our home. And Steve is right there to spoil him rotten!!!

He was so exhausted that he went to sleep. I think he was comforted by the warmth and the soft sounds in our house. We kept things extremely quiet. Here he is falling asleep from sheer exhaustion, but still wanting to keep his head upright and alert!! 

I believe that he is extremely thankful and appreciative of a warm home and kindness. Even though we have a fenced in yard for going potty, we are letting him out on dual leashes. One on the harness and one on the collar. With me standing at the other end monitoring him every second.  He is also been outfitted with an air tag.

So we spent Christmas Day traveling to the ER vet and getting him medically checked out. He is only 12 lb and just feels so frail underneath all that fluff. We also got out all of the burrs and twigs that were embedded in his coat. 

We have been rehydrating slowly as well as small amounts of food throughout the day, to not overstress his system.

We will be following up this week with our local vet, and of course get him in for all of his shots as well as a neutering session.

We are already bonding with him as well as our little female Sheltie Binney!

Meet Nicholas, 
as in St Nicholas 
who came on Christmas Eve!!!

If you are looking for a really good place to donate this year, this local Get Toby Home organization is made up of all volunteers, a registered non-profit, and nobody gets wages. They rely totally on donations for all of their equipment. 


What a Merry Christmas to us!