31 December 2009

wrap it up

Well, here we are again; it's new year's eve. Where did 2009 go exactly?

I try not to look back at any year with regrets; rather, opportunities to make things different and maybe even better in the coming year.

It's how I roll.

Therefore, let me start by saying thank you to each of you who read my drivel every day. Whether you were here in 2008 or new in 2009, thanks. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, thanks for caring about me and my family.

If I could give you all giant, squeezy hugs right now, I would.

We've had some ups and we've had our downs, but God is good and He's been faithful and really, that's all that we need, isn't it?

He sees down the road at that moment when we think that all is lost, and He knows. And really, I like a plan, but that picture would be too big for me to handle. So it's good that He's got it covered.

Cancer journeys are hard. Grieving the loss of my grandmother has been more difficult than I ever imagined. But with those difficulties come new perspectives. That life must be lived, now more than ever, because we never know what's around the corner.

And you know what? In the process, I've seen my Dad with more sparkle in his eye and spring in his step than ever. (Not bad for an old cuss who just had a birthday last week!) And I've been able to reconnect with family that I'd sorta lost over the years. And that's been a lot of fun!

So, what does 2010 have in store? I'm not sure, but I'm excited to find out! I say, bring it on!

Happy New Year, everybody!

29 December 2009

stunning

When my brother married his girlfriend this past April, he became daddy to a 4 year old girl. She's blond, sweet, dramatic, determined and ornery- everything he deserves.


She speaks her mind too.


She was asking Mom what was for dessert and so I called her over to me, thinking I was going to let her in on the information that there were cookies in another room.

As she climbs up on my lap, the first thing that comes out of her mouth is "You're looking kinda old, you know."

Even if it's true, it's Christmas. Santa was still watching her like a hawk. Not that she cared.

I'm stunned, so all I can say is "alright. No cookies for you then."


I realize that she's four and so to her, I really should be looking into becoming a member of AARP in the new year, but still.


She went crying to Mom about how I told her she couldn't have a cookie and Mom told her that maybe if she said she was sorry, I'd change my mind.


Which of course, I did. I may be old, but I'm not completely heartless. ;)

Kids.

28 December 2009

what on earth do we do now?

Here we are. Celebrating Christmas is over and done. And thanks to the fact that we have this kitten, my house doesn't even look like we celebrated Christmas at all, and it hasn't for several days.

We dealt with freezing rain in Indiana on Wednesday, but fortunately there was enough traffic to keep it from getting too slippery. About 5 minues after we crossed the border into Michigan, the roads were clear and the sun came out. I asked Mom if she ordered that.

We had a great time with family. I personally laughed a LOT and got to hold the baby as much as I wanted, pretty much. You know, seeing as how he'll probably be walking when I get a chance to see him next.

I don't really see the youngest of my boys much when we are at my parents house. My sister's oldest child and my youngest are 366 days apart in age and get along so well that it's kinda scary. Mom said that you'd think that every once in a great while, there'd be some sort of a tiff between them, but not these two. And that's so nice. Caleb told Mom this week that Sean is his "best cousin yet!" Sean's pretty great, so I can't wait to see what comes down the pike next. he,he,hee.

Our trip home yesterday was uneventful. We sorta like them that way. It snowed most of the way home, and was below freezing, but once again, enough traffic to keep the roads from being too bad. We did get a chuckle out of Matthew asking if there was school today. Um, no son, you're on Christmas break. Oh, good. Teenagers.

But now, we're sorta in Christmas letdown. Wait, maybe it's just me. Anyway.... We can't take the time to undecorate the house, the cousins are gone, or rather we're gone, and we have all week this week.

I need to come up with something and I need to do it fast!

But for now, I leave you with video of my nephew Carson enjoying his very first peanut butter ball. Or rather, the yummy chocolate on it. Yep, it was me that gave it to him, he was so interested, I couldn't resist! Being an Auntie is awesome!

21 December 2009

18 December 2009

don't walk. run. seriously.

My friends, Mckmama is giving away Photoshop Elements AND Lightroom 2.  You have GOT to get over there and enter for a chance to win.





Seriously.

Go.
Giveaway closes Sunday.
What are you still doing here?

NOW!

Oh, click here.  heehee.

Seven Quick Takes Friday 3rd edition



Super quick, here are my seven quick takes for this week!

1.  One concert down and one to go.  The middle school bands did a great job last night.  Unfortunately, having only arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule, we were unable to get good video.  Dang it, if the girl in front of Matthew didn't sit up straight as soon as I was focused on him! :)

2.  Caleb's concert is this morning and my in-laws are here.  They attended Jon's neice's concert on Wednesday, Matthew's concert last night and will head home after Caleb's concert this morning.  I need to get the fruit from the middle school fruit sale and then come home and get to my fifth, yep, the fifth batch of peanut butter cups!

3.  Santa brings our family gift tonight!  Woohoo!  Actually, he already brought it in as far as the den closet, but it still needs wrapped by his trusty elves.  heehee.

4. I get to see my family in five days!  Woohoo!  Can't wait!  Pray for good driving weather on the 23rd, will you, pretty please?

5.  My brother and his family are moving into their first home this weekend.  That's exciting stuff.  As I understand it, my sister-in-law is in the running for sainthood once this is all over.  I *knew* that she was good for my brother!  I can't wait to see the inside of the house, I'm almost as excited as when we bought our own home last year!!

6.  Caleb's behavior is better in school.  I am hopeful that he's turned a corner and seen that life without any toys or privileges is no fun.  Every day this week has been without poor report, so that's good news!  Of course, it makes me mad, because it just gave Jon more reason to be right.  And as I told his mother, that man does not need ANY more reason to think that he knows all there is to know.  (Love you, honey! :) )

7.  By Sunday, we will have occupied our home for one year.  It seems as though it was only yesterday that we were loading boxes upon boxes into the truck from our tiny apartment and headed here on a drizzly, cold day.  And yet, at the same time, it seems as if we've never lived anywhere else.  Now it'd just be good to meet some of the parents that our boys go to school with, since this is where they will graduate.  Takes time, I guess.  I'm just impatient and hate feeling like an outsider.

Okay, that's it!  Got to go!  Have a great weekend!

15 December 2009

thankful

This morning, I'm thankful.

I'm thankful that our home is warm.  Not overly warm, around 67; but compared to outdoors right now, a tropical paradise.

I'm thankful for my home.  And even more so, I'm thankful that after living here a year, it's starting to feel like home just a little.

I'm thankful for my family in more ways than I can express here.  Earlier this year, I struggled with the fact that time does not stand still.  Even when you're sure that you have more time; maybe you do, maybe you don't.  Dad's diagnosis of prostate cancer in June and then of Crohn's disease in July were reminders to all of us that whether we like it or not, time is finite.  He's taken that and run with it; getting more joy than ever out of life. Joy in his sometimes very difficult work as a hospice chaplain, and joy in learning a new hobby- the drums.  It's wonderful to see him so happy.

We all experienced the loss of my grandmother this summer and that was difficult; more difficult than I had ever anticipated.  It brought up my own mother's mortality and even mine as something that really kind of smacked me in the face.  It wasn't pretty.

Let's just say that the passing of our Grandma served as a reminder to me to tell people that you love them, because you may not get another chance.

Even amidst the uncertainty, I'm thankful for my husband's employment situation.  Business is such that he could have easily become unemployed weeks if not months ago.  But we're super thankful that hasn't been the case.  There are some questions about the future that remain unanswered, but we hold on to the hope that God has a plan and we'll be able to see what that is when the time comes.

That's good enough for me.

14 December 2009

let's call the whole thing off

Warning, this is gonna be random!!  Hang on.
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I had literally been fighting back a cold for the last two weeks.  And not just any cold, but one that makes me sound as though I have swallowed a frog.

Perfect timing for the Christmas cantata on Sunday, don't you think?

Then I got an email this morning that our director of music would like me to share a special on Sunday.  Sure, I can do that, I replied, as long as I have voice left by then.  Fortunately, I've chosen a song that works well with the lower range of my voice. 

Especially considering that frog.
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All the kids at church did wonderfully with the Christmas program yesterday!  I'd even show you video of each of my boys, if I knew how to load the videos onto the new post editor for blogger.  But I can't seem to figure it out, so that'll have to wait.

Matthew's band concert is Thursday evening and then Caleb's concert is Friday morning.  Each grade at Caleb's school gets a 20 minute segment to perform.  Sounds exciting, I know.

The best part is that I will be able to kill two birds with one stone, as they say, and pick up Matthew's fruit order on Friday while I am in town.  Saves me a trip, at least.
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I've got two different kinds of cookies in the deep freezer that are going to need attention in the next few days.  The butter cookies and the gingerbread men will need different sorts of attention.  I decided that the boys could help with the gingerbread men and we'll do that Friday after school.  As to the butter cut-outs, I still haven't decided on the best kind of icing for them yet, so I'm unsure as to when they will be finished.

I just finished my fourth batch of peanut butter cups.  I had made a double batch for the Andersen family Thanksgiving, and then a batch as gifts for Jon's co-workers.  This morning I finished the fourth batch, half which I will give away and half are going to the office Christmas party on Saturday night.  (That was Jon's boss's only request, the peanut butter cups.)

And I told Mom that I'd make a batch to take to her house next week.  That's where most of the cookies are going too.
------------------------------------

We thought we were finished shopping and I guess we are, but we forgot our godchildren.  So we're just going to send cash.  I have enough wrapping of gifts to do before next Wednesday.

Caleb has reminded me at least twice that "Grandpa has two gifts and one needs birthday paper, Mom".  Good thing he's keeping track.

Santa comes on Friday night.  Yep, we're aware that it's early.  But he has to deliver a very special family gift, and it's the kind that may be challenging to get back home again if he delivers it to Grandma's house.  So there's that.  I think that the boys will be excited.  I know I am.
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Whew.  I need a nap!

11 December 2009

send in the clowns

You'll have to forgive me if this offends you, but something's bugging me. (Wait a second, no, you don't.  My blog, my thoughts. Read or don't- I don't care.)

Why in the world would parents want to remember the experience of their precious son or daughter's first visit to Santa with red faces, screams and tears?

We took Matthew to the circus when he was about three.  From the instant he spotted a clown, he was terrified.  Did I at that instant insist that he get as close to the clown as possible?  Nope.  For our entire experience of the show, we stayed as far away from the clown as we could get.

He's 13 now, and if you ask him, he remembers loving the circus, but hating the clowns.  Seriously.

Same goes for Santa.  Everytime we happened to be in the mall at Christmas time, he was pretty much the only kid who wasn't clammering to get in line to get close to the jolly ole elf.  As a matter of fact, when he was around four years old, as we were passing the incredibly long line of anxious kids and harried mothers, he said to me, "Mama, walk faster.  I don't wanna look at that man."

Lucky me.

So, in case this isn't clear, forgive me, but I will never understand what the big deal is if your kid is too afraid to sit on Santa's lap.  So what?  Who cares if you stood in line for an hour and then the kid freaked out.  Is that the point at which you say "Now, honey, you need to sit on Santa's lap." or "Let's get out of here!" ?  And to document the insanity with pictures? Craziness.

Is it more for the parents or the kids?  I sat on Santa's lap all of once, and I don't even remember it.  There's a picture and it's pretty tame, but Mom decided that since I didn't care whether I sat on Santa's lap or not that it was okay if I didn't.  And guess what?  I still got nice gifts, some that I still treasure to this day.

Now, I know that my nephew and my two neices have indeed sat on Santa's lap.  And while the pictures look like they just may be a teensy bit frightened, it worked out okay.  And that's great.  But if your kid freaks out, is it the end of the world?

I just don't get what the big deal is.

10 December 2009

welcome interruption

Due to a fairly major snowstorm in our area, we were all home for the day yesterday.  Even Jon, whose boss called at noon to make sure he was okay. Sure he's okay; the Honda wasn't going anywhere for at least an hour.



We played in the newly fallen snow. Well, to be fair, some played, while others had to use the snowblower. hehehe.


We baked my favorite cookies. At Christmas time, Mom always made Russian Tea Cakes, aka Mexican Wedding Cookies aka Snowballs. 


Yummy!


We made homemade pizza for dinner.


All in all a great day!

08 December 2009

sometimes

Sometimes the sound of my children's voices is comparable to nails on a chalk board.

Sometimes I think that if I could just run away and be alone for a couple of days, everything would be okay.

Sometimes I have to settle for screaming at the top of my lungs inside the garage where no one will hear me.

Can anyone relate?

07 December 2009

Do you like Christmas music?

Really, who doesn't!

Then you wanna get in on this!  25 days of Christmas music- one song download featured each day- for free!

Go here!


05 December 2009

Six Word Saturday!



It's that time again!  Join the SWS carnival hosted at Call Me Cate by clicking here.

My six words:

It's looking quite Christmas-y outside! Yay!

04 December 2009

Oh happy day!

After eight days of having a bare room and next to no privileges, Caleb brought this home yesterday.



Hey, it's a start, right?

03 December 2009

sweet success

This post could be titled many things: "never give up", "don't be a quitter", "when good enough isn't" or maybe even "perfection issues multiplying".....ahem.....

I'm so very excited to tell you that my second attempt at making and baking gingerbread men for the season was, as the post title states, a complete success. Here's what I had to say about the first attempt.

Yep, I need more excitement in life, that's for sure.  But only good kinds, not the kind that leads to anything stressful.

Anyway, back to the cookies.  I still used the recipe from last weekend, but I modified it a bit and it worked out beautifully.  I went back to the old-school metal cookie cutter too and that worked better.  I guess GB* men are supposed to be chubby, right?  At least this time you can tell he has appendages.


*gingerbread, NOT Green Bay!

What?  They're missing appendages?  Certainly not...wait a minute.

These are ABC cookie cutters.  Yep, marketed as such, and as I choose to believe, NOT the same as abc gum from grade school.  I got these cutters as a gift a couple of years ago and the boys have been dying for me to use them.  I'm excited for when they get home to see the tasty creations.

Aren't they cute?


And yes, they will be decorated, but that'll be closer to Christmas.  For now once they are finished cooling, I'll stack them in an ice cream bucket and they'll hang out in the freezer!

I'm so excited; I just love when a plan comes together!

01 December 2009

stubborn

Nope, I'm not talking about me- this time.

Dina is up to no good when it comes to the Christmas decorations.  And she doesn't care what method we try to use to keep her away, she's gonna bat at the ornaments if she fat well wants to.

She's worse than the boys when they were small.  Matthew at less than two years old, was into rearranging ornaments to his liking every time he was in the room with the tree.  I'd leave the room for 90 seconds and every ornament he could reach was arranged in a clump on all the branches he could reach. In my foolishness,  I'd have to go behind him and fix what he'd done.

That was an exhausting Christmas.

At nearly the same age, Caleb would just take the ornaments off the tree and lay them on the ground. He never touched them once they were on the ground, but every ornament he could reach got taken off the tree at every opportunity.  I spent a lot of time putting ornaments back on the tree at naptime.

If Dina weren't also destructive, it wouldn't be so bad.  The poor ornament that she managed to destroy used to be a stuffed dog in a stocking.  Not anymore.  First there was the hanger here and some fur there.  Then I went into the kitchen and saw what was left of a nose and eye all over the rug at the back door.  Oy.

Good thing it was Jon's ornament- he was none too happy and I don't blame him, but he doesn't get as attached as the rest of us.

"Black Santa" didn't even make it onto the tree this year.  He's ceramic and I made him in preschool and he's irreplacable as far as I'm concerned.  So he sits in a box, just to be on the safe side.  That was more Jon's idea than mine- he said he wouldn't want to deal with the aftermath if Santa got broken.




It wouldn't be pretty.

So Dina gets locked in her pet carrier at night.  We tried just closing her in the den the first night and about 10 minutes after Jon came to bed we heard a loud crash.  She was chewing on a frame and it hit the ground.  And the frame will  have to be replaced.  (It was a piece of art that hug behind the tree, so we took it down.  That was probably a mistake.)

Whose idea was it to get this kitten anyway? ;)