Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christ the Savior is born


...And the angel said to them "Do not be afraid. I bring you tidings of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you: you will find a baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger." ~ Luke 2: 10-12

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Night before Christmas - Politically Correct!

Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck…
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves",
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.

And labor conditions at the north pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.

And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.
And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their roof-tops.

Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.
His fur trimmed red suit was called "Unenlightened."
And to show you the strangeness of life's ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose

And had gone on Geraldo, in front of the nation,
Demanding millions in over-due compensation.
So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she'd enough of this life,

Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.
And as for the gifts, why, he'd ne'er had a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.

Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.
Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.

Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that's warlike or non-pacific.

No candy or sweets…they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.
And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.

For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.
No baseball, no football…someone could get hurt;
Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.

Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passe;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.
So Santa just stood there, disheveled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.

He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,
But you've got to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.

Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;

Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere…even you.
So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth…
"May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth."

Notice: This poem is copyright ©1992 by Harvey Ehrlich. It is free to distribute, without changes, as long as this notice remains intact. All follow-ups, requests, comments, questions, distribution rights, etc should be made to mduhan@husc.harvard.edu .

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mortgage rates fall below 5%

From Cefcu's website - a conventional 15 year fixed rate mortgage loan is now 4.675% and NO points! I never thought we'd see the day.

So although the message "now is a good time to buy" can be overly simplistic and in my opinion should not be advised without caveats, from a mortgage standpoint, it most certainly IS a good time to buy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chicago!

With the state of Chicago (ah-hem!) being such a hot topic these days, I felt inspired to post a few photos from our Thanksgiving excursion to the appropriately named Windy City.



It all came about when Chyah of the Peoria.com forums recommended signing up for the Travelzoo Top 20 weekly best deals e-mail list. Travelzoo.com is a website that consolidates the best deals from all the major travel websites.

Thanks to Travelzoo, we booked a hotel suite a block from Michigan Avenue for $119 a night. We then spent a few days enjoying Chicago over the Thanksgiving School holiday.

The first order of business was to get a metro pass. We only had to pony up a cool $20 bucks for the 4 of us to enjoy unlimited public transportation for the duration of our stay. No cabs here. Public transportation is a hoot and the kids loved it!

I was anxious to check out the giant bean at Millennium park. OK, cool. Now I saw the giant bean. It looks like... a giant bean. I can rest peacefully. It was pretty cool though and the kids enjoyed making goofy faces and posing in it's reflection. Come to think of it, so did I.



My little brothers and nieces and nephews joined us the following day. The brave ones among us took an elevator to the top of the Sears building and the weenies (like me) kept the home fires burning at the ground-level Starbucks. They could have spent all day up there as far as I was concerned so long as they didn't insist my ass be with them!

That evening we walked from our hotel to the Cheesecake Factory in the John Hancock Building for dinner. While there, we stumbled upon a lavish Christmas Village and model train display in the lobby. It was easy to get lost in ones dreams while watching the trains winding through the village that was literally as big as a house. It made me realize how lame our "Thomas around the Christmas Tree" set really is, but fortunately, I don't think the kids made the same connection.



Thanksgiving morning we checked out of our hotel, but not before we caught the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade winded its way down State Street and we meandered through the crowd and found the perfect spot to observe. The floats were huge to the point of intimidating and there were marching bands from all over the state of Illinois. The only thing that we will do differently next year is arm ourselves with a thermos of hot chocolate and a thick blanket. Otherwise it was an awesome experience.



This was such a blast we decided to take a similar excursion over the Christmas Holiday. I see on the Travelzoo list there is an $89. deal at the Chicago Marriott Courtyard. This time though, we'll leave the car at a park-n-ride outpost. The hotel parking bill was $48. a day. Yikes! But aside from that, we are THERE!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More funny kids stuff...

My hubby John and our boy Jim were leaving Independence Village yesterday after a Tiger Scout Christmas caroling gig. As they approached the parking lot John cautioned Jim to avoid a car that was backing out of its parking space.

Hubby: "Jim come over on the other side of me."

Jim: "Why, Dad?"

Hubby: "Because I don't want you to get hit by this car backing out."

Jim: "Well Dad, I don't want you to get hit either."

Upon which, John felt a warm fuzzy feeling welling up inside of him. But not for long...

Jim: "If you got hit, who would drive me home?"

Ahhh, the self absorption of a 7 year old!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Peoria rocks at the Historical Society Candlelight tours...

This is the final weekend for the candlelight tours of the Peoria Historical Society's Pettengill-Morron House Museum at 1212 W. Moss Avenue. This years theme, Silhouettes of Lincoln, has been extremely popular! The attendance this year was more than double that of last year.



As we prepare to celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, we thought a fitting tribute would be to tell some of the little known facts about Lincoln during our Candlelight Tours this year. Enjoy!

The house is decorated to the hilt by the Peoria Garden club. They did a wonderful job and the results were amazing! The house has never looked more beautiful. Tonight I volunteered in the gift shop, where visitors can purchase historic books, post cards, Christmas ornaments and various novelties.



Tomorrow is the final day of candlelight tours, and the house will be open from 2:00 - 4:00. It's a great experience for the kids, so don't be shy about bringing them. Tell them if they don't break anything, they'll get a cookie at the end of the tour.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mayor Jim Ardis kicks off his re-election campaign

Over 100 supporters of Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis convened Wednesday evening at Weaver Ridge in a huge show of support for Jim's re-election. Many are battle-weary from November elections, but it was obvious that there are still plenty who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get back to campaigning for one of our most popular mayors since sliced bread. Below is Mayor Ardis with State Representative David Leitch, and Congressman Ray Lahood who both turned out for the event. Congressman-elect Aaron Schock was out of town for Legislative training, but I feel confidant in saying he was wholeheartedly present in spirit.



The crowd was an eclectic mix. Democrats and Republicans, incumbents and candidates were all schmoozing and making nice. The shared commonality was of course, an appreciation for what Mayor Ardis and his council have brought to the table over the past four years -a more cohesive and approachable government, decreased crime rates, and an overall enhancement of the image of Peoria.

Being the pre-election season, various petitions to get on the ballot were being circulated like crazy. Candidates for Patrick Nichting's 5th Council seat were present and working the room. Below is Douglas P. Crew, Governmental Affairs Manager for Caterpillar, running for Nichting's seat. Nice man, cute smile, firm handshake. Two thumbs up! I met his opponent too but it was later in the evening where drinks were flowing freely and well, I just can't remember his name. Nice guy. Will report back later.



Below are two of my favorite Dems, 4th District council member William Spears, and Peoria County Circuit Clerk Robert Spears. You simply have not lived until you have been to one of Bobby's 3rd of July backyard BBQ's. Bobby is pure rompin, stompin fun all the time, and generous to a fault. He is also a great single parent to his three beautiful daughters. So many of us recall the beautiful spirit of their mother, the late Regina Spears, who will always reside warmly in my heart.



One of my most fondly recalled conversations of the evening was one I had with Peoria County Board of Review Chairman Gary Shadid. Gary and I have squared off a time or two, but I think the world of him and his family, and we both understand and respect the other's task. Mine is to help keep real estate assessments fair and accurate and his is to... on second thought, guess you'll have to ask him. Ha ha.. just kidding. Sort of. Gary is running for City Treasurer against opponent Patrick Nichting. I think Gary would fill that position with competency, honesty and integrity. What more could you want from a treasurer?

All in all it was a pretty tame, laid back event, just the way Ardis likes things. Later in the evening on the drive home, John (my dh) was reminiscing about his old "Lucky Lady" days, where he worked alongside Jim as a bartender and DJ for a few years. John holds the entire Ardis family in the highest regard, and feels they were brought up with wholesome, traditional values in their shared Columbia Terrace neighborhood. John was particularly close with Jim's sister, the late Ann Ardis Centers, who answered the call from our Lord just a few months ago after a long battle with cancer.

John and I plan to work extra hard towards Jim's re-election. We feel he has and will continue to do a great job as Mayor and represent the citizens of Peoria with the utmost integrity and highest ethical standards.