Tag Archives: Christmas

Whitney Family Book Swap

25 Mar

Last November I birthed a new and wonderful idea. I immediately talked to Julie and Will and they got on board. The first annual Whitney Family Book Swap was born.

For starters, all of us like to read. Some get more done than others, but some (me) have more time than others (Julie and Will). For Christmas we each purchased our favorite book we read in 2012. On Christmas Eve we unwrapped someone else’s book and made the solemn vow to read all of them before Christmas 2013.

What better time to try some new reading material than Christmas break? So here’s what we unwrapped.

book swap

Yes, Julie has brown hair now, and yes, Will is wearing a tuxedo tshirt.

I tackled Redeeming Love while on vacation in Argentina, and I just finished  West of Dodge towards the end of February. I thought this would be a cool way to try new books and something new for us to talk about rather than how crazy our parents are and who is going to change Dad’s diaper when he’s 106. Kidding.

Now, I realize that this blog post was still on my “To Blog List.” Sorry it’s way late. When I run, I blog in my head and sometimes I can’t keep track of things I post here and posts that still live in my noggin.

In October I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and LOVED it! That was my contribution to the swap. Julie really liked it and my mom sorta liked it. Will, feel free to read it over spring break!

Gone Girl is a thriller about a missing woman, narrated by her old diary entires and her husband, the prime suspect. Surprisingly, I hated all the characters by the end, but I still enjoyed the book. Both of the characters had strong voices, but Gillian did a marvelous job weaving them together. There is an element of suspense to the whole read, urging you to finish one more chapter before you go to bed. I judge a book by its negative impact on my sleep. This one was incredible.

Although “Girl” is in the title, I don’t think it’s a super-feminine book. hopefully Will doesn’t either. I picked it to gift because I thought both Julie and Will would get into it. They are both students and I knew it was a page-turner. Also, who doesn’t love a mystery?

Julie’s contribution, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, was a Christian Romance novel. I haven’t read a romance novel in years, so it was defiantly different territory than my current reading list.

Loosely based on the book of Hosea, it follows a prostitute during the gold rush in California. She is saved/kidnapped by a farmer who rescues her from her terrible life and at the same time sort of holds her hostage. The man, who is written to be dreamy (strong yet sensitive) came off a little in your face to me. It was great that he took her out of the brothel, but I’m not sure his approach was the most considerate.

The Book of Hosea is virtually unknown to me, so I enjoyed learning about it and doing some more research. Redeeming Love also opened my eyes to the cycle of prostitution and how hard it was/is for a woman to stop and create a life of her own. Those women have virtually no other life skills and very few people still willing to help them.

Will’s pick, West of Dodge by Louis L’Amour, was a book of short stories by one of the Whitneys’ favorite writers. My dad is a big Louis fan, and we’ve all read a bunch from the shelf in the basement. I was glad to read some short stories instead of a long narrative to switch up my pace. I should do that more often!

The stories were mostly about cowboys and took place in western towns. By the end of the book, they all felt a little repetitive. Good guy defeats bad guy, usually gets a girl. Louis does a wonderful job setting a scene and building suspense. He’s a gifted writer, and I wish I could do those things half as well. A quick, but fun read.

So that’s what I thought of the three books for 2012. Maybe if we start a chant Julie and Will might do guest posts?!?! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!

What was your favorite book of 2012? What book do you wish you could guilt your siblings into reading?


Jingle bells, Batman smells

24 Dec


Merry Christmas all! Thank you for visiting this silly blog and reading what’s on my mind. I hope you have as much fun with it as I do.

Now get off your computer, iPad or phone and get back to your friends and family! Here’s to traditions new and old, plans gone wrong and Christmas cookies, so many cookies.

Have a blessed season!

A very Dollhouse Christmas

24 Dec

It’s full-swing family time, but I want to share some Christmas card love since I do not have all of your addresses. Here’s the card from my roommates, the dolls.

I love holiday mail and my family takes it to the extreme! They’ve been pouring in all month. Each year I try to send as many out as I can. I know I can never top my mom’s prowess.

Each year, instead of a letter, my mom crafts an intricate poem about our family happenings. She writes one stanza for each kid and one for her and my dad to share.

stamps on lettersIt’s the talk of the town when it hits mailboxes. My mom always glows when she gets a phone call from a long-lost college friend or fourth cousin who is on the other end of the line raving about her masterpiece.

Here’s a little secret though… since my freshman year of high school (9 years ago) I’ve taken a stab at the family poem. I always give my draft to mom around Thanksgiving. She always gets soooo excited about it and tells me how helpful that is. Then a few weeks later she’ll email me the poem to proofread her “final touches” and I open it up to find… she totally rewrote it.

This year, she emailed me the poem. I cringed as I open it, because I know my poem was probably ripped to shreds. But, no. She used most of my work. Like, at least 75%, which is HUGE for me. After I made a few tiny edits, I sent it back to her. She called me the next day and our conversation went something like this…

Shannon: “It was great, as always!”

Mom: “Thanks, thanks for all your help.”

Shannon: “I was surprised, you actually used a lot of my poem this year. You never do that.”

Mom: “Well after all these years, you’re really improving. It takes a while to get the hang of it.”

Shannon: “Gee thanks, mom.”

Mom: “You should read my first few poems, they were rough.”

So here it is, for your holiday enjoyment (poem copyright of Lynne Whitney).


Merry Christmas family and friends, hope we all survive this fiscal cliff,
No more talk of wasteful spending, it just sends me into a tiff.
Our card 2 big events; Will so handsome upon his graduation,
And all 3 sibs in cousin Jen’s wedding—such a joyous celebration!
2012 so very memorable but the last few months a drastic change,
Years of constant nurturing gone by, leaving me feeling so strange.

This fall our home is way too quiet, no young birds in the roost,
A touch sad to be empty nesters, but our social lives did get a boost.
120 mile drive to Columbia, many Mizzou games we did witness.
I love weekly zumba and yoga classes, in addition to walking for my fitness.
Mark loves reading and hunting, shot a buck and butchered it with care,
Please come over for Scrabble sometime, we’re quite a competitive pair!

Will earned the President’s Leadership Award and graduated from SLUH in May,
So bittersweet to put years of student council, Kairos retreats and wrestling at bay!
He spent spring break on a mission trip laboring in a poor Appalachian community,
And performed a “senior follies” ballet in a tutu—one hilarious opportunity!
Our baby moved to Mizzou in August to continue the Whitney tradition,
Loves college life (girls and soft serve machine); mechanical engineering his ambition.

Julie spent last summer interning for Cerner(a medical IT company) in the Kansas City ‘hood,
Liked her so much, upon graduation, they offered her a job- that is GOOD!
In March journeyed to Ireland for an engineering spring break trip,
Julie also finds time to babysit most weeks, a little boy on each hip.
President of the Mizzou chapter of computer and electrical engineers is she,
For relaxation you can find her in the kitchen on a dessert baking spree.

Shannon’s in her second year at the hospital, puts her writing skills on show,
Her job includes social media, videos and event planning, her talents continue to grow.
Evenings teaches pilates and volunteers at a women’s shelter, busy no doubt,
Attended lots of weddings recently, wouldn’t miss a chance to twist and shout!
This summer started grad school, switched gears to a public health degree,
She’s back to reading school books, little time to be carefree.

May 2013 be lucky, filled with kindness and understanding,
We wish for you good health, peace and happiness, a year less demanding.
We’d really enjoy a visit, please call when you are free.
Biking? Board games? Dinner? We welcome your company!
Lynne, Mark, Shannon, Julie and Will

Have a merry Christmas, or whatever you celebrate, tomorrow! Thank you to all of the people who have to work on Christmas and don’t get to spend the holiday with their families. 

Holiday Happiness

20 Dec


Be happy. It’s like totally easy, right? My friend Erin at Art Social hosts a Be Happy link up every Thursday. So I write about happy and link up to her and so do other peeps out there trying to figure out what the heck happy is and where to find it.

Erin’ s finding happiness in full-time blogging, how lucky and brave! Aren’t we all looking for happiness and intention in our jobs and personal lives? I think there is a special brand of happiness this time of year, but sometimes it’s less simple to keep that in mind.

I wanted to do this right before we launch into full Christmas mode (Holiday mode if Christmas ain’t your thing. Christmas is my thing). Maybe Christmas is an obvious time to be happy, but sometimes it’s extra hard.

There are so many plans and friends to squeeze into a short time. The logistics are overwhelming, but you know what? We’re all together, so who cares where we are or if the drink specials are awesome.

I don’t know about you, but my family gets wrapped up int the holiday hustle. We are going 100 mph to get everything wrapped and loaded in the ole minivan. Cookies need to be baked, salads tossed and cards sent. There are a million things on the list.

We get worked up getting it done. This year, I want to focus more on the happy part of Christmas. More smiling, less worrying.  Singing instead of nagging. A relaxed approach to the overwhelming.

Since we’re all out of the house, this is one of the few times just the five of us can be together, like the olden days (1994-2007).


So lets sit around in jammies singing to Garth Brooks Beyond the Season. We’re going to be late to mass, so don’t freak out. Enjoy the company, read an extra book and remember the two things Christmas is all about: Baby Jesus and fudge.

I’m only happy when I decide to be happy. It’s decided. Cheers.

Decorating dilemma

17 Dec

I wanted to name this post: “How to decorate an orange family room for Christmas,” but that felt too long.

Here’s my dilemma, we have an orange and yellow family room. It sounds disgusting, but it’s actually pretty cute in real life. It’s rental property, so we didn’t pick. I really would consider painting a room in my (own, like someday I may own a home of my own) house orange. It grows on you.

However, it is not naturally complimented by red, green or any holiday metallic. So how do we decorate for Christmas?  Also, did I mention the three of us aren’t going to live here next year, so we don’t want to invest in a full-size lime green Christmas tree?

Here’s what we did. I collected all of the Christmas stuff from all over the house. I arranged it on the mantel and boom! We’re ready for Santa. Well, except there’s a sectional couch in front of the fire place, so I hope he know to use the front door.

Did this merit a blog post? No, but I’m feeling Christmassy, so deal.

IMG_0215 IMG_0218 IMG_0216 IMG_0214 IMG_0219I was not kidding about all of that orange. Here’s the dolls:

dolls 2012

Christmas Parodies of Pop Songs

15 Dec

Since Josh graduates today and he thinks it would help my readership if I wrote more about him, I’m going to do him one better. I’ll let him sing and play for the loyal Call Me Shannon readers.

So congrats Josh, you’re finally done with school after 6.5 years and two degrees. Way to go, champ.

If you didn’t already know, Josh is a pretty talented musician. He plays the piano and the guitar and probably 19 other instruments (violin and harmonica confirmed). Right now he’s really into playing Tom Petty and that Lumineers song on the guitar. When we saw the Rashida Jones and Jimmy Fallon Christmas parody, Josh started his own.

So, Merry Christmas and/or Happy Hanukkah to all of you lovely people. I think it’s kosher to celebrate both because holidays are great.

This is from a holiday party with our friends.

This one is from the Jesse Hall Holiday Party.

Pretty great? Feel free to leave comments. Tell me your favorite one! Doesn’t it look like Josh only owns green shirts? Want to see more Josh videos? Jealous that  I get to see this all the time? Thought so.

Ornament Exchange Part I: Receiving

3 Dec

Ahh the long-awaited sequel to my first ornament post!

To see what came in the mail for Shannon over at Polish and Spice, check out her post.

Here’s what Sarai sent to me:

IMG_0174It’s a festive knit ball ornament (technical term there). I love it! Can’t wait to show you pics of the full decorated tree… like after we decorate the tree.

I had a great weekend in Chicago, looking for a wedding dress (for Erin!), learning all about real Christmas trees and eating meat muffins. I owe you a post later this week when I get all caught up!