Friday, December 30, 2011

Innovative Name...

This morning, I had to take food out to church to be served at a dinner after the funeral today for one of our elderly -and very strong -members who died on Christmas Day. And also, I had to work in the kitchen then too to help the other women there in serving and clean-up, of course, after the meal.

These events, while sad are also nice occasions in many other respects though too. For openers, if it involves a family you may be really familiar and close with, it provides an opportunity to see and have a chance to talk to people you don't get a chance to see very often otherwise. That was definitely the case with the funeral today as the gentleman who died was a brother to one of my close-by neighbors, whose wife is also one of my closest friends. As a result, all five of their children were present plus most of their grandchildren as well so I had a chance then to visit a bit with their kids. An added bonus is that I also know another sister-in-law of the man and her children too -and those kids and their Mom I rarely get a chance to see them so it was doubly nice for me to have the opportunity to visit with that branch of that family too.

But in addition, because the women who generally work to help put one of these dinners together is usually pretty much the same people from our women's group but today, was a bit different as one lady who was there to help today rarely is able to work at anything like this because she works full-time but it just so happens that this week, she had the entire week off from work, so she came up and gave a hand then too.

What was fun about that is that one of her sons is getting married this spring so she's just full of all kinds of things going on in her life right now as she's trying to help her son and future daughter-in-law in the planning phases for their wedding. She was discussing a bit today about the work involved in getting a florist -for openers -as well as wedding invitations too. She kept talking about Checkerboard Wedding Invitations which initially threw me for a bit of a loop as I couldn't figure out what the heck a Checkerboard Wedding Invitation was. Yes, I can be more than a bit dense at times! Imagine my surprise when she said that was the name of an online company the kids were checking out as a possible place to order their invitations -and not, as I had initially thought, the type of invitation they were getting!

Sometimes, I really do amaze myself when I don't fully understand some things!

Steady Business!

Boy, that cookbook our church women's group put together this past summer and were able to begin selling it in early November has turned into quite the handy-dandy little enterprise for us.

No, we haven't yet sold out our inventory of cookbooks but now, we're running into other things that we're trying to address. So far, it's not become problematic, but I think we're going to have to set up some sort of program to address our needs if/when we do have to re-order reprints of our book.

It's not so drastic that we would need to invest in document imaging software or anything like that but I do believe I'll have to set up some type of program -perhaps just some relatively simple thing in Excel or something like that will do the trick, at least I'm hoping that's all we'll need.

The thing here is how to handle things if we do need to order reprints because of the way the Publishing Company would bill us for reprints. We would only have 30 some days to return the FULL payment for the order and to be able to do that, we would have to have a way to trace that we have enough requests for more books to cover that reprinting cost completely and that's what worries me -how to track that and guarantee the income to our treasury, ya know.

We're not to that point just yet, but if and when that time does come, I want to have myself prepared on how we can and will handle that tracking!

Leave no stone unturned, as the old saying goes, ya know!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Easing Up

Yep, your read that title correctly. I do believe things are going to go a little easier around here in the near future now.

Not that I think this smoking cessation thing is going to be a walk in the park cause I haven't actually "Quit" yet -not in the true sense of the word. But I have made some good strides, if that means anything. Like today -okay, so I had Mandy pick up a pack of smokes for me when she was in town tonight but still and all, I only went through a total of 10 cigarettes today! That's only a half a pack in a day and that's ten fewer cigarettes than I had yesterday, which was about 20 cigarettes fewer than I was going through about 2 weeks ago too. So doesn't that count as some sort of progress.

Well, it does in my book anyway!

I've been doing something else this week too that I haven't done much of in quite some time as well. Can you guess what that might be?

If you've been reading my posts over the past couple days, you know I read a book on Monday -the one Mandy got me for Christmas. Well, yesterday I started to read (finally) the book my best friend gave me back in October for my birthday -"Black Hills" by Nora Roberts. And tonight, I finished that puppy! I enjoyed every last line of that story too.

Now, I'm thinking while I'm on a roll with respect to the reading, perhaps I should launch an attack on the stack of books out in my room that have been there for going on two years now and I haven't taken the time out to stop and even look inside them, much less read them! Ignoring good books on hand just waiting to be read was never my method of operation and I think it's high time that I get back into a little more normal vein.

To be truthful, the past two weeks all I really wanted to do was sleep -and then, sleep some more. Just couldn't seem to keep my eyes open much of the time. I don't know if it was that I was THAT exhausted, certainly not from any hard physical labor or anything, or if it may have been my body getting accustomed to the meds I was taking in addition to my normal pills for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol control. Just before I began to take the Chantix (smoking cessation stuff ya know) my doctor had also given me an anti-depressant to take as she said sometimes the Chantix can cause problems with depression and that's something I've often had to deal with in the past so, track record taken into consideration, anti-depressants were on the agenda. And, sometimes they can make a person a bit tired early on, ya know.

But anyway, aside from the furnace running out of fuel and our doing some scrambling to scrounge funds to cover getting a delivery tomorrow, the house is far from warm tonight but it's a darn sight warmer that it was earlier today. Thanks to Kurt's TSS, Miss Dawn, who was concerned about us maybe freezing here, and she went to her home and returned with her own personal quasi-Edenpure heater for us to use till our fuel oil arrives! Gives us a chance to try something like this out too and see if it might not be a good investment for us to cut back on the fuel usage, perhaps, a bit. Worth a try to see if it would help much in that arena.

So now, I'm gonna head off to dreamland in the room that has NO HEAT but my own little furnace is out there sleeping away now and will have that bed all nice and toasty-warm for me to climb in there with her. I told her when she came back home today how much I missed not having my bed buddy here for the past two nights as I had no one to warm my toes up for me! Grandchildren serve many purposes, ya know!

Pleasant dreams to you too!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gonna Be Some Rough Sailing Ahead

I guess I can share this latest bit of news here now. What's one more item in a long list of problems from time to time? Right?

Well, hopefully this bit of news will work out for the absolute best though -once I get through all the pain in the dupa stuff of something called "withdrawal."

I've thought about this for a long, long time now. Actually, I did successfully do this about 12-13 years ago. (WOW! Has it been that darned long?) Granted it only held up for a little over three months but at least I know if I put myself really to the test, I can do it.

I started about a little over a week ago now to quit smoking!

And boy, if it was a tough thing to try to do 13 years ago, imagine what it's like now since I've been indulging in this bad -really bad -habit for darned near 50 years now!

Isn't it just incredible how stupid we can be and how easily ingrained things like this become too?

I haven't managed as yet to stop completely. So far, I've been able to cut back from a bit over 2 packs a day down to 1 pack a day and today, so far, I've only had 3 cigarettes.

 I don't really want to put myself through the full anxiety of going completely cold turkey but rather to wean myself off so that perhaps the physical and psychological aspects of this addiction will wan away somewhat before I stop completely.

I have no idea if my game plan will work or not but I'm gonna find out.

Only two people had been aware so far that I was trying to quit -both of them blogger friends and both of them smokers too. My good pals Jim at Suldog and Dave at Rather Than Working. Jim, to my knowledge, is still smoking but Dave has been trying to go cold turkey for a little over a week now too. If we're both successful, maybe we can through a "virtual" stopped smoking party sometime in the future and celebrate!

Mandy didn't even realize until this afternoon -after I had smoked the last two cigarettes in my pack and bummed one from her -that I was actually trying to quit.

I'm hoping and yes, praying too, that I am successful at this venture and also, that if I can succeed, perhaps I can get Mandy to stop as well.

Just think. If we both quit, we could darned near be rich in a year's time with all the money we could save!

Now that alone should be darned good incentive for either or both of us. I know if I can make this work it will sure make several doctors very happy too!

Wish me luck and please, say a little prayer for me while you're at it too, will ya?

More Winter Woes?

Okay, I just finished writing about our having run out of fuel oil today and how we're skirting around issues in getting more oil delivered and how to pay for it -all that jazz.

Since we had no oil left in the tank today, Mandy had gone up to the truckstop and purchased five gallons of fuel oil there and dumped it in the furnace. She couldn't remember how to bleed the furnace and reset it but got Ken to come down and do that for us.

However, with the weather as cold as it is right now -and bound to get a whole lot colder tonight -we figured that five gallons probably would barely take us through till tomorrow a.m. so the plan was for her to go get another five gallons of fuel oil to add to that. Ten gallons over the next 24 hours should be adequate, I hope!

So with that in mind, away she went, got the oil and back home but when she went to open the cap to pour the oil in, she found out she apparently had a whole lot more strength than she realized -either that or she'd finagled some welding supplies and managed to get the cap on so tight that she couldn't get it off now!

That'll teach her -maybe -to not fasten things so darned tightly. At least, I hope it will anyway!

Winter Worries

Well, we'd been pretty lucky this year during fall and as winter began to arrive.

I'm referring here to our fuel usage and trying to keep the house at least semi-warm and the hot water flowing.

We got 150 gallons of fuel delivered the end of September and about 3 weeks or so ago, a good friend of Mandy's who doesn't rely primarily on fuel oil for heat, gleaned a little over 50 gallons of fuel from his tank and brought it here, dumped it in our tank and that kept us functioning a bit longer.

That is, until today when the well went dry!

I noticed when I was washing up dishes and the hot water wasn't going beyond luke warm and I put two and two together and figured we'd probably just run out of fuel.

Wonderful! Say that with a sarcastic tone of voice though when you read that, will ya?

I knew it was going to take some fancy maneuvering around to get some more fuel delivered since we still owed a smallish amount on the last delivery in September But between the two of us, we moved some funds around -borrowed a bit from my line of credit -and tomorrow, we should be receiving another 150 gallons of fuel oil.

I doubt that amount will last us the three months that the previous 150 gallons took us though.

I found a website where I can find out about small business equipment leasing but I'm thinking what we really need here is simply just a small business loan -something to keep us up and running ya know.

Now to figure out a way to have the household qualified as a "small business" and we could really move on from there, don't 'cha think?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tongue Lashing Time...

I think it's probably pretty safe for me to say this -and assume the worst -but I am pretty sure that the doctor's appointment I have coming up now in early January is not going to be a pleasant visit at all for me!

I rather suspect -judging by the few (very few indeed) times I have been brave enough to set foot on our bathroom scale that I am probably going to be in for a bit of a tongue lashing, big reprimand time, from my doctor when she sees the weight on my chart!

I have been very, very lax of late in my exercise routine -which as you may recall is simply walking the dog at least once a day. It's  not that much exercise and truthfully, it usually isn't that difficult either, but for the past almost two months now I have rarely ventured out with poor Sammy, leaving that task to either Mandy or Ken to try to walk him once or twice a day.

At the rate I've been going with that meager bit of exercise out of my picture, to drop some of the weight I'm sure I've gained (we won't discuss actual poundage here), I'd need to go sign up for some program or other at a richmond gym and walk myself there to get a jump on the weight loss, ya see!

I kept telling myself from just before Thanksgiving on through Christmas too that I really do need to reinstate this walking program but just seemed to never have the time to get around to doing it -too darned busy either with embroidery stuff, or trying to sell cookbooks, or baking things for both big holidays too! Of course, the baking stuff isn't so much the problem as is the eating way too much of those goodies, right?

Well, as soon as the cookie containers are empty, there will be no baking refills for them for a good long while so I can eliminate that problem area then. (As long as Mandy doesn't thwart by efforts by smuggling candy -especially chocolates, which I love -into the house like she sometimes has a tendency to do to me!)

Spring Ideas?

My son at times can be a strange young man with lots of diverse interests -although the overwhelming focus for him generally tends towards the automotive end.

However, a very good friend of his is heavily into biking -especially participating in various events covering a goodly distance of bike riding -generally mountainous type of terrain too.

Now, my "favorite Son" as he is often called by his sisters and jokingly too by some of his friends, is talking off and  on about getting the same or a similar type bike to what his buddy owns and then, joining him in some of his riding adventures.

Knowing my son, he probably has given little to no thought though about all the things he will need to acquire -beside the prerequisite mountain type bike. Little things ya know -like oh, thule bike racks just for openers -for one example. And of course, can't forget helmets and special gloves and well gee, who knows how many other varied and sundry things he would need to accumulate to do something like this right.

And just when does he think he's going to even have the time to begin to condition his body to have the stamina for riding in things like this anyway when he's already crying now about how, come spring and summer, he never has near enough time off from work as it is to keep his grass all cut and trimmed?

Well, who am I to remind him of those issues?

If he really wants to give it a shot and decides to give it a try, I say go for it, Kid!

A New and Different Realm Ahead!

This morning -that would be Tuesday morning to those of you reading this and not yesterday (Monday morning) as time in my world functions a bit differently than for those normal kind of folks -things are going to happen that will produce a whole lot of changes in my world.

Mandy has to take Kurtis for a check-up with an audiologist for hearing tests and to have the tubes in his ears checked out and after that, the changes will begin for us.

Those changes will be Allergy Shots!

When he comes back home, we have to begin trying to eliminate the many things which he has tested positive for on the allergy scales and many of those items are dietary measures.

We are going to have to remove several foods from his diet for the next 8 weeks and after that, we can begin re-introducing them to him again to gauge for any reactions.

Among the foods to be removed -first up is pork products! Mandy deliberately had the shot regime delayed until after Christmas since we had been planning on having ham for Christmas dinner and that just happens to be one of the meats the boy would willingly eat. That, as well as sausage, pork chops and bacon are going to limit not just him but us too over the next two months.

Green beans and peas are also on the list for removal too and of course, wouldn't you just know it, about the only other vegetable he would eat besides those two is broccoli but thankfully, that one isn't on the endangered species list.

But the biggest change for me is going to mean a total change in the way I cook other things because high on the list are onions and garlic -two substances which are staples in my cooking repertoire. Mandy, who has always professed to hate onions, had to adjust to the fact, early on, that Mom used onions in almost everything that got cooked here and she survived okay. But there's a big difference between like and dislike and allergic or not too, so I will, however grudgingly -and probably with a great deal of difficulty for me too -try to adapt my cooking to work without those seemingly all important onions!

Who know too but when this 8-week ordeal is over and done with, maybe I'll have enough skills using other seasonings and such that I could apply for some Chef de Partie Jobs some place or other.

Never rule out any possibilities, ya know! But truthfully, I'm hoping that things never come to that extreme.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Nice Little Honor

About two weeks or so back, both the kids came home from school showing off that each of them had been given an award by the elementary principal.

No, it wasn't anything like engraved plaques -nothing quite that fancy, but it was certificates each child received stating they'd been given a Good Citizen Award for outstanding achievement in Community Service! I have no clue what the kids were being given credit for having done, but whatever it must have been, apparently didn't go unnoticed at any rate.

And yes, Mandy and I were both very proud of Maya and Kurt for their receiving these certificates! A very nice touch for sure!

Last Thursday -the 22nd -Mandy went to the school to see the children's Christmas programs, put on by each class room. She took her camera along and got this video -which has a lot of background noise in it and the audio isn't all that great either as most of the kids are difficult to hear their little pieces.

Well, until you get to Maya and two of her best friends -who spoke out quite well! Check this video out and see for yourself. (Maya's the one with the pink top with a gray vest over it.)

She had no fear doing her little part and I really do believe that her participation last year in the youth theatre in Philipsburg is what gave her that amount of confidence she displayed here! The little girl on the very end -the last to speak -also participated in the youth theatre program too and she -like Maya -did a great job in her presentation too!

But anyway you cut it, this all makes me one very proud Grandma, and don't you forget it either!

Let The Games Begin!

Today -Monday, the day after Christmas -begins what has to be akin to Black Friday, don't 'cha think?

It's time now for folks everywhere to flood the stores with returned merchandise and then, the opportunity to partake -of course -in those great, big "After Christmas" clearance sales!

I personally love these sales and usually do try to get out at some point to look over what's left, what's been marked down to a bargain basement price, that's for sure. But with all the stuff the kids got for Christmas, considering my closet it already filled to the brim (but of course, who can't always use some new duds, huh?), and cash is still a bit on the slim pickings side of things, I may pass on these golden opportunities this year.

Well, I say that today but who knows, by Friday -if the weather is decent -I might just have a change of heart too.

Anyway -if you like these bargain days, here's hoping you have happy shopping at 'em! Start the New Year off right with some good savings maybe?

Hope You Had a Merry One!

The biggest events of the year are now history, aren't they? Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, that is.

Of course, if you are a believer in Christianity, Christmas -or the spirit -is or should be with us always. We may not see it that way at all times, but in reality that really is how things should be. It's a season where giving is what is the main thrust of the celebration and we, as believers, receive this gift on Christmas and have it with us and to share throughout the year, don't we?

And it is that giving should become paramount to all of us -not just at Christmas but forever.

Christmas -getting things ready -was quite a procedure here for me -a lot of baking took place and finally got to do a bit of Christmas shopping. Then, waiting Friday night till the kids -and Mandy too -were all in bed so I could get those few gifts all wrapped and ready.

When the kids got up Saturday morning, the excitement began to build for them when they saw the piles of packages sitting in some boxes and an empty laundry basket in the dining room. You can bet they were looking at tags on them to see whose name was on each present, that's for sure!

In an effort to try to ward off problems -mainly with Maya (who has a major obsession about equality in gifts) I didn't wrap the kids gifts individually. Instead, I found two fairly large boxes that all the items I had for them would fit into and then wrapped their stuff as one big gift for each child. That way, if Maya decided she had to check the numbers -how many items Kurtis received vs how many she got - I could point to the box and show her she got one big gift and so did he. (It also cut down a good bit on the usage of gift wrap paper too in that process -an added bonus when it was clean-up time, ya know.

Mandy had to work Saturday morning but I was able to keep the kids fairly well occupied with only some minor spats. I thought it was going to be one of those days when one or both of them was going to be roaming from one thing to another of getting into mischief when I got up, and there was Maya in the bathroom, rinsing her hair! A good bit of water splashed -of course -all over the bathroom floor and that sight didn't give me very positive vibes, that's for sure. There she was with her bathing suit on -of all things on a very cold morning -head over the sink, cold water running and a small container in her hand that she was using to collect the water and to try to rinse the obvious soapsuds out of her hair. I ended up turning on the shower and having her kneel over the tub and rinsing the suds out and admonished her with the fact that any more stunts like that today and Gram was gonna get on the phone and make a call to a very important number. After all, I informed her that she needed to remember I just happen to have Santa's number on speed dial!

Apparently that warning did some good because both kids were actually pretty calm after that start to my day.

Around 2 p.m. it was time to get ready for church as there was to be a candlelight service at 4 p.m. and the children from our church were going to be doing their little pageant at the opening part of that service. As such, they were doing a nativity scene and Maya had the honor of being Mary, while Kurtis was to be a shepherd. They were both thrilled to be in this pageant and therefore, there were no complaints about getting ready for church that day.

Here's the video Mandy did of the Nativity as presented by the kids at our church this year. 

After church and back home, time to get supper on the table! I had fixed a ham, cheesy hash brown potato casserole, broccoli and cauliflower, along with cranberry-orange relish, Swedish Bondost cheese and nut rolls of various flavors all sliced up on a big platter. Considering how picky both kids can be about food at times and especially Maya where potatoes are concerned, supper went relatively smooth enough with Kurtis being the one who was doing a good bit of lollygagging around, playing with his food but finally finishing up.

We were going  to wait to do our gift exchange till Uncle Clayton, his girlfriend, Elizabeth and her son, Ryan got down to the house but decided to preserve a bit of our own sanity, we would go ahead and distribute presents and then open those family gifts. Then, when they finally arrived, the kids got the excitement of watching them open presents so it lasted for a second round that way!

Surprisingly enough, both kids went to bed very nicely a bit later than their usual bedtime -around 10 p.m. -but no fussing over having to hit the sack that as both of them were pretty darned tuckered out by then. (They're both accustomed to a pretty firm bedtime of 8 p.m. so two hours over that time and yes, they were happy to head off to dreamland!)

They were up and at 'em though by 8 a.m. Christmas Day and this time, I think they were just about overwhelmed with all the gifts they received!

Both kids got an abundance of presents for sure! Mandy had signed them both up for a program run by a church about 18 miles or so from us that does a gift campaign for children and through that as well as a friend who enrolled them in the Toys for Tots program too, they had one fantastic Christmas, for sure! Lots and lots of new clothes and a goodly number of toys as well so both of them are very well outfitted now.

The rest of Christmas Day was a very lazy day as both Mandy and I spent the time relaxing while the kids enjoyed checking out their new toys with only one minor incident late today when Maya started to get ready to claim that Kurtis got more than she did but I was able to cut her off at the pass on that incident as soon as I saw it beginning to surface. Thank goodness for that small favor so the meltdown was avoided completely!

And now tonight, as I type this, I wish everyone could have a Christmas like ours was -peaceful, calm, food in abundance and more gifts than two small children really needed, for sure.

But as great as all that was to enjoy what I'd really love to see is people taking the opportunity to worship on this special occasion to recognize the REAL reason for this beautiful and very meaningful holiday. To share in the Good News that Christ, the King, came to earth 2000 years ago with the gifts of love, peace and goodwill toward ALL is the most beautiful present of all.

Merry Christmas! And, of course, a Very Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rather Exhausting Week!

This past Sunday I guess you could say -to some degree anyway -that the Christmas Season kicked off here in our little town.

Sunday morning was hectic as all get-out, trying to get both kids dressed and myself showered, dressed, hair-dried and finding my envelope box for the offering too -all to get out of the house and cover the 4 miles from home to our church and get there on time. But we made it and with only one close call of coming near to tears from Maya! Remarkable!

Pastor Carrie tried her best to have a nice children's sermon with the kids gathered around her but it was really obvious right from the start that Kurtis had his focus elsewhere and it was strictly to keep announcing to her, over and over, that he was "Gonna see Santa this afternoon at the Moose!" And yes, that was true enough as that was the game plan to take the kids to the Children's Christmas Party Sunday afternoon at the Moose -something that my Mom would have cringed to even think about much less allow me to go to such an event.

Of course, when I was a kid, things were different then. The day Santa showed up at the Moose meant you got in line, walked through and Santa handed you a box of Chocolate drop candies and out the door you went! Even with that brief amount of exposure though, that was something I secretly attended with other kids from the neighborhood and I don't think I ever mentioned to my Mom that I was going there to see Santa or told her that I'd been there either for that matter. The Moose, back then, at least in my Mom and my Grandma's eyes was the equivalent to a house of ill repute ya know!

But these days, the leadership in the Moose really does go all out to try to have a fun party for the kids with games, pizza, cake, candy and soda and yes, of course, a chance to see Santa!

Here's Kurtis -along with another little boy from our church no less -busy coloring as they waited for Santa's arrival.

And here's Maya, stuffing her face with sprinkles while she waits for Santa too!

This year there was a bit of a surprise with two extra special guests attending. The two reindeer here are local celebrities of a fashion around the towns in the area between Thanksgiving and Christmas and have been for many years now. Let me introduce you here to Rudolf and "Little Rudy." They had a pretty busy schedule Sunday as they had to make three appearances that afternoon and evening. I don't remember where the one place was they had to be but I did hear that when they left the party at the Moose they were on their way to participate in the Christmas Parade up at Irvona -which is roughly 40 miles from where we are located! Hope the sleigh was all gassed up and ready to roll for them!

Anyway, their appearance was quite the big thing Sunday -especially so apparently for Kurtis who was geared up to meet Santa but unprepared to have these two reindeer there two. As he was in line to see Santa, he told Mandy he didn't "Want those reindeer to touch me!" When he finally got to Santa, he wouldn't talk to him, but did eventually manage enough courage to give him a high five! Maya shook Santa's hand. Don't know if she actually spoke to him or not though.

So needless to say, by the time the kids (and Mandy and I) finally got back home we had two really hyper children on our hands -high on junk food and candy. The good thing was that they both went to bed quite easily that night as they were pretty well worn out and so was I!

Monday afternoon and early evening I started my baking for the holidays. Using a recipe from our church's new (and really neat) cookbook, I made nut rolls. The recipe had been contributed by the granddaughter of a lady who had lived about four doors up the street from me and who was known around the area for making a very good nut roll. So I decided to give the recipe a try and to my very pleasant surprise, it all went together quite easily for the bread dough. The recipe made enough dough to make 6 nice sized rolls and I filled two with apricot filling, two with almond filling and the last two with poppyseed filling.

As I was preparing the first rolls -with the apricot filling -Maya appeared at my side, asking what I was making and I told her these would be apricot-filled rolls. She asked me then what apricot tastes like and I told her to go ahead and put her finger into the filling and get a little tiny bit of it and then to taste that. I was surprised that she did that as normally, any suggestion to try something new is met with a turned up nose and a response of "I don't like that!" But this time, she really surprised me when she said "Mmmm. That's really good Gram!"

The rest of the evening while the bread was rising, she was badgering me, wanting to know when the apricot rolls would be done. Finally, when they came out of the oven, she was right there, waiting anxiously for me to slice some of the fresh rolls so she could taste it. I made her wait a few minutes to give it time to cool down very slightly then sliced her a piece which she took one bite -a bit tentatively -then pushed the rest of it in her mouth and announced she wanted more! Kurtis was watching all this and next thing I knew he was begging for a taste of it too! Then it became a contest of sorts between the two of them to see who could eat their slice of apricot bread first and beg for more! As a result, we polished off almost all of one loaf of the apricot bread before it had a chance to get cold!

And this mainly through two small children who prior to that evening would never have had anything at all o do with tasting, much less hogging away, anything with apricots in it! Go figure, huh?

Tuesday, I continued my baking spree and got about 6 dozen peanut butter cookies baked as well as 8 dozen gingerbread cut-outs and almost 9 dozen sugar Christmas cookies done too! I also got a batch of dough mixed up to make tiny tartlet cookies (some people refer to these as "Tassies") but they are still in the refrigerator, waiting for me to have time to  press them into the special small tart pans that you have to use for them and also, I have to mix up the fillings for them too. (I usually make several with pecan filling along with some with a chocolate fudge-brownie type filling, pumpkin and sour cream and lemon filling too! Once in a while I also include a filling of cranberry-nut which is very good.)

Today, I got no baking done as I had a doctor's appointment at the cancer center -my monthly regular appointment to go in and have my port flushed. This is supposed to be done every 4 weeks in order to keep the port open and ready if the need should arise for the doctors to have to use it for some type of infusion or other.

After that, I went and did a little bit of shopping to make sure I have something -not much, but something anyway- to give to each member of my family come Saturday night. Nothing spectacular -just a little gift for the season from Gram.

Tonight, I worked a bit more on a tablerunner I nearing completion- -finally! Hope in the next two days I can manage to finish it as well as to do the rest of my baking -which will include making at least one, possibly two, more batches of the nut roll recipe! At least one of those rolls will be going to each of my kids for Christmas along with a container of cookies too!

We had a bit of excitement this evening in this area -weatherwise -as we had a powerful electrical storm pass through here! About 7:30, I'd just sat down to watch one of my favorite re-run programs -The Big Bang Theory -when the lights went off very suddenly, then came back on right away. It was just enough disruption of the kind that tends to scare the living daylights out of both kids who were already in bed but not yet asleep. So Mandy had to run upstairs as fast as she could to get to Kurtis and console him. The end result of a few more brief power outages was that both kids are now asleep downstairs -one on the loveseat and the other on the sofa!

And I find myself to be pretty tired now too -ready to turn in but with Maya on the loveseat, looks like Gram will be minus her bed buddy tonight! That is unless I want to risk waking Maya up and getting her to go out and get in our joint-custody bed ya know! As cold as my room is with very little heat in there, she makes for a darned good little furnace to keep one's feet warm.

Nite now!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Snippets on a Snowy Saturday Morning...

Here it is, Saturday morning, a week to go before the biggest event of the year -in a child's mind anyway -and because I am doing my normal procrastination routines, I decided to add to that by writing a little post here too.

It's snowing -very lightly right now -here and I haven't watched any news programs this morning nor did I click over to the Weather Channel or nose around online at the AccuWeather site either so I have no idea if this snowfall is going to increase, much less if we are going to get any really noticeable accumulation today into tomorrow. I don't mind the flurries we're getting right now at all as that does kind of put me more in the winter and of course, Christmas, mood. But if it is going to switch over to heavier snowfall, that can put a big damper then on the good mood scene ya know.

I've been up since a little over 7 a.m. today -which is quite an early hour for me to be up and awake, especially on a Saturday morning to boot. The fact I gave up puttering around on the computer around midnight and simply went to bed then may have something to do with my waking up so early this morning.

Mandy had a bunch of errands she had to run this morning -one of them she had to be at a place in Clearfield at 7:15 a.m. to pick up a package there for the kids and after that, she had a few other stops to make before she would be ending up with Ken, working on painting the interior of a house a local landlord has up for a rental unit.

So that meant that it was just me and the kids and that hopefully, the kids would be in a good mood and willing to behave nicely to each other. That's always a bit of a dream here but thus far this morning, things have gone relatively smooth.

Note I said "Relatively smooth!" Not that there weren't a few blips on the radar screen so far today.

Kurtis came downstairs this morning, walked past me and gave me instructions "Don't talk to me!" Okay, Buddy -if that's the way you're feeling, a bit uncivilized, I can deal with that and thanks for giving me the heads up so I didn't speak to you then and really ruin your day!

A few minutes later I mentioned to him about maybe having some breakfast and he started to get ready to whine and then, apparently thought better of that idea as he announced he'd like some cereal. So off we headed to the kitchen where he picked out some sugar pops or some such cereal along that line. I suggested maybe he might like some oatmeal instead of the cold cereal but he decided against that so cold cereal he got while Maya and I feasted on some good hot oatmeal, cooked with a dabble of butter and a bit of brown sugar in it to flavor it up a bit! (I LOVE oatmeal fixed that way and so does Maya!)

While I was fixing the oatmeal though, the kids were playing -or at least Maya was playing but with her, it's more like just bossing Kurtis around. She does an excellent job at that! I don't know what the heck kind of game they were supposed to be playing but anyway, she told him he could call himself any name he wanted just as long as it wasn't a Spanish word or a "China word." Hmmmm. Wonder what brought that on?

Breakfast over, dishes soaking now and Kurtis brought some clothes down, asking me to help him get dressed for the day. He had picked out a pair of sweatpants -appropriate for the cold weather, yes -and a tee shirt. Not a matching set but close enough to suit me. The shirt was one I'd never seen before and honestly, it felt like it was maybe brand new so I asked him where he'd found it -thinking maybe he'd found a Christmas gift stash Mandy might have squirreled away upstairs but he said "I think Mommy gotted it at MallMart for me!" (Mallmart, in case you're wondering, is his version of Walmart! And no, I don't think she got this shirt there as it was a really nice, heavier cotten knit tee shirt!

Maya -always the very fashion conscious little girl she is -got dressed and appeared in the living room then, a vision of loveliness for sure in a white, light-weight cotton skirt with a hem that is all in points the whole way around the bottom of the skirt. With that, she had found a really cute little summer-weight cotton knit shirt in a pale pink item with little cap sleeves (very NOT appropriate for the weather today, but that's pretty much the norm for her!) and she's been busy now dancing in circles around the living room, taking time out only briefly to do a little peasant type summer dance routine for me -interspersed with a few insults tossed out to her brother and a few rules of the road for him to follow today.

The peaceful atmosphere ended though when he wanted to read a book and she insisted he couldn't read the one he wanted but rather had to read some other book. When I interrupted their little spat, she stormed away, tossing a bunch of insults back at him -mainly calling him bad and an idiot! When I reprimanded her for that, she then pointed at him and insisted he had just called her a bad word and that "it was the 'A-word, Gram and I'm not lying!" Hmmm. Usually any time Maya insists she's not lying means that she's telling a whopper! But anyway, I then asked Kurtis if he had indeed said the "A-word" and honest as the day is long little guy that he is, he admitted he had said that!

So, now the day is actually beginning to become what is really another "normal" -or more normal anyway- Saturday in this household.

Wonder how many timeouts will be required to keep me in my peaceful, rather tranquil mode today?

And, in case you aren't on Facebook or I haven't sent this little video your way, here's something to watch that might just make you feel really happy after watching it today!

If nothing else, maybe it will put you in a Christmas mood! It sure helped me to make it through the first four hours of my day today!

Agitation and Worries...

Right now, I am rather agitated and yes, very worried and concerned too about what's going to happen to me in the next couple of weeks.

This all has to do with my Social Security check and how much I may actually receive when I get the next couple of checks or so.

Because of the amount of income I receive via  has been considered to be under the Poverty Level line, the state was paying my medicare payment. That is until the last raise Social Security recipients got about 3-4 years ago anyway. At that time, I got a raise that January but in April, when my check was deposited in my account, they (Social Security or the state?) had deducted $300 from the check as they said I was no longer eligible for the state to pay my medicare what with the increase I'd received in January to my Social Security payment.

Okay, I can understand that. There has to be a line of demarcation, certainly. But it sure would have been a lot easier to bear had they informed me first and given me an option to have them deduct what they said I owed in back payments -that $300 -by giving me a bit of an easy-payment plan, don't ya think?

I considered myself to be very fortunate in that my daughter and I live together (along with her two children) and as such, I do not bear the brunt of all the household expenses by myself but supposing I were living alone, paying rent and all the other bills alone, I would have been totally screwed to lose that much money in one fell swoop, for sure! Even making payments on that amount would have been difficult for a person on a very limited income -which Social Security is -but at least, it would have been easier to manage if folks were given that option.

A year ago this month now, when my Social Security check arrived, it was larger than normal and I got a notice that was because the state -once again -was paying for my medicare payment. Hmmmm. When did they change the rate for the Poverty Level then I was wondering. Apparently it had been increased but I'd never known about that however, I was not about to quibble with them as I sure could use that extra bit of money.

Now, about two months ago, when Mandy had to fill out papers again for the fuel assistance and food stamp programs, she of course, has to list my income too on her form and as a result, she got a notice that due to my income, we were no longer eligible for those two program and also, that I was -again -ineligible for the state to cover my medicare payment.

At least this time I did get a bit of a forewarning so I figured probably with my December payment, they would begin deducting the medicare payment again, but they didn't -much to my surprise.

However, Mandy had to go refile her papers for the assistance programs because they said there was an error on them and when she did that,  the case manager then told her that yes, the medicare payment would again be deducted from my check but that was an error so it would be deducted but then, would be repaid to me.

Oh really? And what's interesting about all of this too is come January, we Social Security recipients will also be receiving another increase to our checks. Considering the last time this happened, I ended up getting $36 a month less that I had been getting prior to the increase that time -which took me back to the same level I'd been receiving 3 or 4 years earlier! I wonder what I'll end up with this time around?

All this stuff -the way they operate with their deductions, their Poverty Level that sure as heck didn't take into account that over the past 5 years our fuel bill alone is more than double what it normally had cost and that says nothing either about the increases to our electricity bill that is now at least 30 percent higher than before too but what the heck do I know about stuff like this.

I wish there were some legal recourse I could take to avert these issues but I suppose the only way I could do that would be something as outlandish as contacting someone like this -commercial litigation lawyer raleigh nc

- to get any recourse -if indeed any were available! It would definitely be something that would be totally difficult to procure assistance to right this problem, you can count on that for sure!

Needless to say, I'm really worried about how much they are going to clip from my check, when it will happen and if, they will ever restore that money and make me "whole" again -as the legal term is used there!

Should be interesting although not the kind of thing I'm really very "interested" in seeing ya know!

Deer Hazards?

I tried to post this last night but couldn't get my computer and Blogger to cooperate so here it is now, a day late but at least the system seems to be up and running again!

I think I've mentioned this before about a program our church has for new mothers in our parish wherein we provide a full meal for the family of the new baby the day or day after the mother and baby come home and then again, the next day after that. Well, this week, our church family had a new addition with the birth of a beautiful little girl to a young couple in our church. And, as we've been doing for several years now, and as the one who administers that program, I had set in place for three people from church to provide supper for the new baby's family.

My daughter had volunteered to be the one to fix the entre and had made a nice meatloaf along with au gratin potatoes. Another lady was providing the salad and rolls or bread and a third was making a dessert.

I got the job of delivering the entre to the family -which I don't mind doing at all as it also gives the opportunity then too of getting to see the new baby too! Always a fun thing ya know.

But on the way back home, as I drove through the little village where the family lives, I got a bit of a scare when a big old deer ran out, right in front of my car!

Lucky for me in that I saw it in time and was able to slow down and avoid hitting it but it went racing across the road and across a yard there of a family who just so happens to have a fairly large in-ground swimming pool. I know that they have a pool cover on that but still it got me to thinking about the whole thing -the deer running at full tilt and what would happen if it would try to run across that covered pool? Would that cover withstand something like that or would the deer end up perhaps crashing through into the water and drown?

I'd sure hate to think something like that might happen to the poor deer, ya know! Although, if the family that lives there are perhaps deer hunters, they might appreciate that as a fast and easier way to acquire a buck or doe, in or out of hunting season and some venison that way too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Allergies - Everywhere!!!

Oh boy! Last week, Mandy had Kurtis over to DuBois to finish up the scratch allergy testings they wanted to do on Kurtis.

The results are in now and WOW, lots of changes gonna take place around here by the end of the month I do believe!

He has several things check on the food category that we will have to begin eliminating after Christmas. One thing checked is pork and that's really unfortunate because pork or things with pork in them just so happen to be some of the things the boy would actually eat without major hissy fits in the process! Wouldn't you just know it! He loves bacon, but of course, at least we can get turkey bacon and sub that for him. Sausage -I don't know is there any sausage substitute? We put off the food elimination till after Christmas so he can at least still have some Christmas ham that way because he will eat ham. New Year's pork and sauerkraut though is not on the problem list since he won't go near that to begin with.

We've been checking other items on this list too and things we're supposed to do with respect to other aspects in the house -like get plastic covers for the mattresses and pillows -thankfully, we don't have to worry about something like a latex mattress though!

I'd really be ready to go into cardiac arrest if we had to go buy a new mattress set for him right now.

I had to laugh a bit about this whole allergy thing tonight though as I was getting ready to cook supper. Maya asked what I was fixing and I told her, "Fish and mac'n'cheese -just like you asked for!" To which she turned around and told me "Just be sure it isn't Lake Trout though Gram, because Kurtis is allergic to that you know!"

She probably knows everything that's checked on that list better than Mandy and I do by now!

Remember This?

A friend of mine -who recently had major abdominal surgery -and I were chatting a week or so back, comparing notes on our surgeries and such. We got to talking too about the surgeons we'd each dealt with and I told her the story about how I just about scared the living daylights, I think, out of the guy who had done my colo-rectal resection.

I'd gone in for my six-week checkup. The nurse had been in and taken my blood pressure, weight and those little preliminary things and after a brief wait, the surgeon came in, all smiles and happy.

"And, just how's Miss Jeni today anyway?" he asked.

I looked up at him and tried to put the fiercest glare I could possibly muster up in my eyes and in a very firm, angry voice, I told him, "Buddy, I hope your coverage's from is all up-to-date because I'm gonna sue you for malpractice and just about anything else I can think of as well."

I wish I'd had a camera with me to get a picture of him because the stunned look on his face was something to behold!

He stuttered and stammered around a bit, finally asking me what was wrong that I wanted to do that and I told him, "You told me before I had the surgery that I would lose at least 10-12 pounds, ya know." And, he nodded, saying "Well, how much weight did you lose?"

With that I started to laugh and told him "Two lousy pounds and no, you're not going back in for the other 10 that were left behind!"

I swear he looked about ready to break out into a cold sweat before I finally told him that last line.

I do love pulling stunts like that from time to time, don't you?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Toys, Toys!

How do people keep up with all the toys on the market these days anyway?

I know I sure as heck have no clue about many of the things other people talk about when it comes to things like toys, that much is for sure!

The other day, I had to make a trip to Walmart and I had the pleasure (say that sarcastically, please) of having to take Maya and Kurtis, both, with me! Now there's an experience, believe me!

(Kurtis may have announced the other day that he doesn't like going into K-Mart because he doesn't want the blue light talking to him, but trust me, he has no fears, no qualms, whatsoever where Walmart is concerned!)

I had to get some prescriptions filled so had to kill some time till they were ready and of course, the kids wanted to look at toys. Okay, look but don't touch and don't drive Gram crazy over the stuff. Sounded like a decent game plan to me until Kurtis started announcing to just about anyone he saw in the aisles that he was going to get this item for Christmas and this one for his birthday and back and forth and so on went his little litany throughout the toy department. It was vaguely reminiscent to me of years back when his mother used to grab the Christmas Catalog and then mark her name by almost every item shown there to indicate to me that she wanted those things!

Like Mother, Like Son, I'm thinking!

At least when my kids were growing up I didn't have to try to figure out what various toys were for anyway though -like a wii sports resort for example! What the heck is that anyway? I have no clue!

Life was a whole lot simpler back then when my kids were growing up -Cabbage Patch Dolls and Tonka Trucks -now those things I understood.

But guess this just shows I am truly an out-dated old Grammie after all, doesn't it?

Shopping Spree?

So, have I mentioned before that Miss Maya has an obsession? Well, actually Miss Maya has more than one obsession but the one she has that sometimes has been known to drive her Mom and me a bit bonkers pertains to shoes!

She is so much like her Aunt Carrie in this respect as she figured out -after we let her play on the computer a bit now and then -how to find various websites that have shoes for sale!

Just a darned good thing that she doesn't have a clue about how to order stuff online yet, that much is for sure!

But she has learned how to bookmark the sites she loves to look at and she does frequently click into them and likes to point out to us exactly which shoes she thinks we should order for her too!

Yeah and I stumbled on some of her favorite bookmarked sites recently too! Like this one that she had pointed out to her Mom that she really does need a pair -or several pairs actually -of easy spirit sneakers!

Nice try, Maya, but you already have two pair of sneakers that fit you just fine and dandy so I don't see that as being in your cards for a Christmas gift -at least not this year!

Of course, if she tells her Aunt Carrie about this major need in her life -more shoes -it's entirely possible that she will at some point in the future be able to con her aunt into getting her another pair -just so she has a different pair of shoes for virtually every outfit she owns, ya know!

That's an idea that Aunt Carrie would definitely believe is something everyone should have, judging by the number of pairs of shoes she already owns too!

One Really Lazy Day!.

The day went fairly well -even though I woke up way too early, like around 6:30 a.m. Anyone who knows me knows that for me to be up and about at that hour it usually means I'm probably thinking about going to bed, getting some sleep and not being up and "at 'em" to start the day!

But that's how my day began anyway. No rhyme or reason for it, just awake so I had toast and coffee then with Mandy as she was getting ready to wake the kids up to get ready for school.

By 11 a.m. though, my wide-awakeness had disappeared. My feet were feeling very, very cold and when that happens, it also seems to send a signal to my sleep center telling it that a nap would be a wonderful way to warm the tootsies up and so I crashed on the sofa for a nice little snooze. I woke up a little after 1 p.m. and was going to go get dressed when a friend showed up at the front door -lovely, my greeting her in my pjs in the middle of the day, but what the heck, ya know. She stopped by to pick up a cookbook that our church women's group put together and we're selling plus, she purchased one of the  Christmas tabletoppers I had embroidered too as a gift for her daughter for Christmas. Which reminds me I should send a Facebook message to a friend of my daughters who bought a whole bunch of my embroidered stuff last year just before the holiday and see if she wants to look at this year's accumulation of stuff I have completed. If I can sell a couple of these pieces it sure would make the bank account very happy!

But anyway, aside from that, it seemed every time I would think about going and getting dressed, someone else would show up before I had a chance to perform that task. (Yes, some days, getting dressed does seem like a task, a chore, to be performed, ya know and today was definitely one of those days!)

Another lady from church stopped by to pick up three of the cookbooks so I managed to sell four of 'em today with barely a flick of a finger. I like that! Keep that inventory level dropping is my current goal!

By that time, the next arrivals were at the door -Kurt's TSS and the mobile therapist who comes every Tuesday to work mainly with Maya but also has Kurt as a client in school too, so she often ends up splitting her time with both kids when she is here.

While they were here with the kids, I had to get supper started as the step-granddaughter was coming down today to spend the evening -supper and time with her siblings which Maya and Kurtis both enjoyed immensely. Mandy had a church council meeting and dinner at the Pastor's house with the council so she was fixing some special cheese-pepper biscuits to take to their dinner while I was cooking supper for the rest of us.  Trying to figure out what to fix is always somewhat of a challenge here because the kids tend to get finicky at mealtime -a lot -but at least the chicken I fixed tonight went over quite well and there's enough of it left that we can polish it off for supper tomorrow now. (I especially like that deal since that means I won't have to deal with trying to come up with another meal to cook. Yippy skippy on that plan!)

After supper, the kids were supposed to be getting ready for bed and were in the bathroom to get Kate, the older sister, to help them when all of a sudden Maya comes out to the living room and announces to me that she has dog poop on her foot! What? How in blazes did she manage that?

Well, although Sammy, the mutt, is housebroken, every now and again, he doesn't come and let us know he needs to go out and well, seems tonight was one of those nights and he had made a deposit in the middle of the bathroom floor which Maya, in her gracefulness, had somehow managed to step in that nice gift! Although we do put down "puppy pads" on the floor in the bathroom for him in case of emergencies during the night, he had not aimed for that item -unfortunately. So as I was cleaning that little mess up, I was grumping to Kate about needing to find some kind of incontinence products geared specifically for dogs!  Yeah, a nice thought, I know and one that wouldn't probably be something needed here if I had managed to get myself clothed adequately earlier in the day and taken Sir Muttley for a nice walk -something I have been extremely lax about doing much of that lately. I really do have to get myself on a decent schedule with the walking routine again! Just that I really haven't got myself accustomed to the cold weather I guess but since it's just going to get colder and colder here over the next 3-4 months, I suppose I best be biting that bullet.

The kids -thankfully -were both in bed or asleep (in Kurt's case, he was crashed on the sofa) by 8 p.m. and I settled back to work on a table runner I'm embroidering now. Didn't get much accomplished on that piece as by 9 p.m., I was asleep in the recliner! Woke up after about a 45 minute nap and saw Kate had apparently gone upstairs and crashed in one of the kids bedrooms. Mandy got home from her meeting around 10 p.m. and she too was beat, so she went to bed shortly thereafter too.

And there I was at 10 p.m. then, wide awake, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as the old saying goes. Well, to be honest, really I was just awake -not exactly bright-eyed and definitely not the latter part of that expression either!

I remembered then that I had promised to e-mail a video I got earlier in the day from an online Swedish magazine site I read to the lady who had purchased the three cookbooks so I had to rummage through my facebook wall to find the website and url for that video. This particular video is almost all in Swedish -which I do not understand as I probably only know maybe 10, perhaps 15 words in Swedish at most but regardless of that aspect, I had very much enjoyed watching this piece this morning as the music is just beautiful! It's a concert filmed last year at a concert in Sweden in honor of, who else, St. Lucia! And how appropriate that this video landed on my facebook on my computer on St. Lucia Day too!

I had thought earlier in the day to e-mail it to a few of my Swedish cousins and one of them, my cousin Paul, had written back to thank me for sending it to him saying it made him feel very proud to be of Swedish ancestry. And knowing he'd enjoyed seeing that then made me feel really good too!

 It's a long video -almost a hour in length -but I'm going to post the url for it here so if anyone is interested in hearing some beautiful music, sit back and listen to it!
I got so carried away listening to the music on this video that I spent about the next two hours tonight then surfing through more Swedish Christmas videos online and enjoying listening to the music of my ancestry.

A great way to end my day and who knows, maybe when I do go to bed tonight I'll have pleasant dreams about Christmas that will help give me a little more incentive to get some things accomplished over the next few days -baking, getting things in order in the house a bit for the holiday and such.

Maybe it will help me to not be quite this lazy again for a long, long time too!

Now there's a dream, for sure!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stocked up

Last week, I finally had a chance to make a trip over to DuBois where I could do a little needed shopping at the Joanne Fabrics store.

The need to go to either a Joanne's store or perhaps a Michael's crafts place meant I was going to have to make a trip either to DuBois or to State College because those two towns are the closest places to where I live where they have stores of either of these two chains. This tends to aggravate me a good bit because that also means it is about a 40 mile trip, one way, to get to any of these places so that comes to about 80 miles round-trip and with my gas-guzzling jeep, that comes to about 4 gallon of gas that will be used to do that amount of travel.

And yes, that comes then to a cost of between $14 and $15 dollars for the round trip and that makes it for me a trip I plan so that I can hit more than just one place, run more than just one needed errand, if you will, ya know!

I hadn't planned initially on going to Dubois the day we went there though but as it turned out, Clate's girlfriend had set up a plan to take Maya and Kurtis up to their house Thursday evening to bake and decorate Christmas cookies with her little boy, Ryan, so while she had the kids there, Mandy and I decided to make use of the free time to us and do a quick run to Dubois. Actually, Mandy did need to make a trip there although she'd been there earlier that day when she had Kurtis over to the doctor and he had more allergy testing done.

She'd done a bit of shopping at that time and didn't realize till she got home that an outfit she had found for Kurtis -which was on a sale rack at 30 percent off, that the set rang up at the regular price. So, she had called the store and asked about it and the clerk told her that if she brought the slip in, they would gladly refund her the $12 difference between what she was charged and what the actual sale price should have been, soooo -you see Mandy's and my logic then about going over there since she'd have to make the trip to receive the discount, since I needed to go to that Joanne store -well that savings she would get would cover, pretty much, the gas involved, wouldn't it?

So away we went and Mandy dropped me off at Joanne Fabrics and headed to the store to get her refund. Even though the kids were with Elizabeth that evening we still didn't want to spend too much time out running around because the kids still needed to get back home and not be overly late in going to bed then either.

Which meant when Mandy met me back at the Joanne store, and I was about the get checked out, she was getting a bit antsy then as she saw what it was in my cart that I had purchased -embroidery floss skeins! And not just 5 or 10 of those babies either but a fairly large amount -like close to 40 of 'em! And of course, each one of those little things had to be run through the barcode scanner too. This usually is a fairly rapid job as long as each of those little things on the package show up with no hassles on that machine. Lucky for us, there were only 2 or 3 that the clerk had to stop and work with to get the things to scan but it could have been a whole lot worse, ya know.

But before I forget too, I have a funny little story as well about what had happened with Kurtis earlier in the day when they (Mandy, Kurt and his TSS) had gone to the K-Mart store in Dubois. Kurtis has been there before on numerous occasions with no problems but on Thursday when they pulled up there, he began to fuss and whine, saying he didn't want to go in there, that he didn't like K-Mart and such. So Mandy and Dawn began to question him about why he was having this little hissy fit now about K-Mart. His answer? You ready for this? "I don't want that blue light talking to me!"

Kids! You gotta love the answers they pop out with at times, don't 'cha?

Christmas Gifts?

Just as the true reason for the season of Christmas is rapidly approaching, so too is that other aspect that stems from Christmas being a time of receiving a great gift -or in some people's minds -great gifts!

The older I get -and the more I see too of people going all out to get their kids EVERYTHING imaginable (or so it does seem at times) for Christmas, spending inordinate amounts of money too, the more I think of what it was like when I was a kid and yes, my cousins and I got gifts, but we certainly weren't showered with oodles and oodles of things either.

Gift-giving then was a lot more simplistic than it appears to be today.

Financially, I simply am not in a position to buy that much for my family -my kids, my grandkids -but in order to at least get a few things for everyone, I tend to do Christmas shopping all year-round too -watching for things the grandkids could use or would like -that wouldn't create an overload -and buy them when I see them on sale at good prices, even if it is in April or July or whenever!

This year though, I think the financial pinching began to really hit home with my kids too because they decided this year we would draw names between the adults and my older grandson -who at age 14 was deemed old enough to qualify for this lottery, of sorts. We're supposed to adhere to a limit of $15 for the gift for the person whose name you drew and then, not to worry about getting a bunch of things for the rest of the grown-ups in the family.

Sounds like a good game plan to me except for the fact that this past summer I had stumbled on a really good sale at Penney's and had purchased several t-shirts for the older grandson - some of them cute and funny but none of them were really outlandishly bad. I also had found several little shirts for Kurtis then too and each of them just so happened to come with a neat little hot wheels type vehicle attached to the shirt too. And, like most any little boys his age range, I know that those -along with those little cars or trucks -will suit his fancy to a Tee, won't they?

Maya, on the other hand -well, I don't have much lined up for her as yet because she tends to be -like her aunt before her -just a wee bit of a diva and yes, she's only 8-years-old and already things have to be specific colors, select items too, ya know! ARRGH! She -and her aunt -are gonna be the death of me in this department cause I just happen to still hold a bit of the old "tomboy" attitude I had as a kid in which a gift is a gift and it's new to me not does it meet this or that criteria.

Oh well, I survived dealing with this aspect this long, I'll just dig in and work my way through it again I guess!

Try Anything...

Did I ever mention to you one reason -aside from the cold, snow, high fuel costs, bad road conditions -that I tend to dislike about winter -like dry, itchy, flaky skin?

Well, I'm telling you about it now cause it's a bit of a problem for me as well as for both my daughters too!

It can get mighty embarrassing too at times when your skin -especially on your stomach and abdomen, to say nothing of your backside, legs, arms -all over -begins to itch all the time. You can try all kinds of remedies to cure or at least curb this problem but if it in fact is caused by psoriasis  in particular, good luck in getting any relief from this condition!

Mandy and I are both about ready to try anything we can get our hands on now to relieve the dry, itchy symptoms we're both dealing with now -including even going so far perhaps as to try something we'd never heard of before - seaweed powder!

I'll be honest and say I have no clue if this stuff works or not -the way it says it is supposed to do -but believe you me, we're both considering telling folks we'd appreciate this item as a nice Christmas gift and hopefully, we even get a tad of relief from this stuff in the process then!

Just about anything at times seems to be worth a try.

The Season Starts!

Although in our church, the Christmas Season begins with the first Sunday in Advent -and yesterday marked the third Sunday in Advent in our church, but for me, the Christmas Season begins with the pot luck dinner and program we have every December on the Sunday the closest to December 13th.

Why December 13th? What's so special about that date that we have this special dinner and program?

Well, quite simply, because December 13th is St. Lucia Day and in Sweden, that is a very, very special day as St. Lucia is a patron saint of Sweden.

But, you say, Jeni -you live in Pennsylvania -born and raised there so why then is a Swedish Saint honored in your church?

It's a Swedish traditional thing and the founding members of our congregation were almost all from the same area in Sweden; many were close relatives or at least often distant relatives to one another and this is a way of paying homage to our ethnic roots.

And St. Lucia is a very endearing story about a young woman who actually was Italian but the first missionaries who arrived in Sweden more than a couple hundred of years ago told the story of this martyr when converting the Swedish people to Christianity and the story came to hold a special meaning then in the hearts of that community. So much so, that St. Lucia became a patron saint then in that land.

St. Lucia heralds light -as in Christ being the light of the world -and as such, this is indicated by the crown she wears of lit candles as she makes her way through each Swedish home in the wee hours of the morning on December 13th, serving coffee and sweet buns to her family.  This is not a complete description of the story of St Lucia but rather my simplification of the tale. The task of portraying St. Lucia is given to the eldest girl in each family and in our church, each year for the past 31 years now, we have been selecting the oldest girl (high school senior usually) in our parish who will then portray St. Lucia in our little pageant with all the other girls and boys surrounding her as part of her court -attendants (girls) and star boys. It's a  very traditional event -very pretty -and meaningful to most everyone in our church as well.

Yesterday was the big day for this year as we had our dinner followed by the St. Lucia pageant and our next door neighbor's younger daughter had her turn this year to be St. Lucia. Maya, my granddaughter, was once again one of the attendants in St. Lucia's court and this year she again was trusted to walk in the procession in front of St. Lucia, while carrying a lit (yes, an 8-year-old carrying a lit one) candle! She was so proud of herself that she actually got to carry a candle while it was burning!

As the youngest member of St. Lucia's Court, Maya was the first one to enter the Social Hall ahead of the three other attendants and of course, St. Lucia. You have to admit she does look pretty doggone sweet in this shot, doesn't she?

Here's Joan Fetter-House -the lady from our church who probably has coached every single girl who portrayed St. Lucia over the past 31 years -as she cues Kylie (this year's St. Lucia) as to when she should take her first steps forward to be welcomed into the Social Hall  in her official role! (By they way, Kylie's mother, Deb, was St. Lucia in our first program/dinner event 31 years ago when we reinstated having this Christmas tradition as part of our Church Calendar year and Kylie's older sister, Alina, served as St. Lucia 6 years ago too! Both my daughters had the honor as well of portraying St. Lucia near the end of their high school careers.)

And here, is the whole court -St. Lucia for 2011 at Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lanse, PA -with all four attendants and St. Lucia.

From left to right -there's Sarah, Maya, Kylie, Rachel and Jenny! A lovely group, agreed?

The dinner was quite nice last night too. We had Swedish meatballs -of course -along with lots and lots of other dishes ranging from roast pork to various potato dishes, casseroles, salads and some really great desserts! I got a bit daring last night and made a traditional Swedish dish called Panakaka -which in essence is just a plain baked custard but is a bit of a favorite at church dinners in our parish, along with a big casserole dish of fried cabbage and noodles! Now that dish -cabbage and noodles, or Halushki as many know it around these hills, is not a traditional Swedish dish but rather is Slovak in ethnicity but the ethnic backgrounds of many in this region tend to be either Swedish or Slovak plus, I happen to dearly love Halushki and have a recipe for it that I got from the lady who used to own/operate the truck stop where I worked for several years so I figured why not mix in a little of the other ethnic foods along with the Swedish stuff too! Oh, and I also made a batch of Swedish Limpa Rye Bread too -from a recipe I got via one of my Mom's cousins who just happens to be one of the best bread bakers I know -and I could tell from the "feel" of the dough for this bread as I was kneading it on Saturday afternoon that it was going to turn out really nice. And, I'm really happy to say I was right in that it turned out beautifully -perfect texture, nice and high and browned just right too! It looked and tasted just exactly like my cousin Arline's bread which really made me feel pretty darned good for having that accomplishment!

And now that this program, the dinner, is history for another year, for me, it means the Christmas season is here now -beginning to make me feel like it's a lot more like Christmas around the house, around the village and in neighboring towns.

And, I sense that feeling has spread to lots of others around too because people -those well-known as well as strangers -all seem to have a friendlier spirit about them now too.

Now if that same spirit -the smiles, the joy, the anticipatory feelings one gets from being around little children as they talk about what they expect to find under the tree Christmas morning -dare I say it, even the love that seems to be so bountiful in the air now -if that same spirit could just spread all over the world, think of what joy that would bring.

Peace on Earth and Good Will to Men! And maybe some of it began with the simple lighting of some candles to show the way -to be "The Light of the Earth!"

I don't know about you, but it works for me!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

By Comparison?

Okay, so here it is, early Saturday afternoon, and just Maya and me here in the house. Quiet time, I think, and a good time perhaps for me to be able to sit and concentrate on the satin stitching (lots and lots of it) that I have yet to do to finish the tabletopper I'm working on now.

Seemed like a decent enough idea, a plan, for me.

However, about the time I started to stitch, Maya decided to have one of her whackadoodle obsessive rants!

This one came about as Mandy was driving up the road to take the teenager home, who was here this a.m. to try to keep the two little ones calm and prevent them from doing any mayhem to each other or the house.

Anyway, Maya plopped herself down on the sofa and began to twirl the largish pink plastic heart-shaped ring she had on her index finger around and began to wail and moan -in a voice that I supposed could be compared to the sounds made by Irish women, keening, at an Irish wake -maybe not quite as loud in Maya's case, but on a wave length that was definitely very annoying.

Occasionally, she would toss in a statement or two about the dire consequences that were now about to happen all because Mommy left already with Keeley and Maya didn't have a chance then to give Keeley this pink heart ring and wah, wah, wail, wail and moan some more, it is truly the end of the world as Maya sees it!

To say that I understand the whys and what-fors of Maya's obsession when they surface -such as this one today -would be akin to my saying and your believing that I know what an Asus Eee Pad is and what all one can do with such things. Fact of that matter is I haven't a clue -on what that item really is and can do nor do I have a clue as to what to offer to Maya to redirect her right now.

I will say this much with respect to Maya -these little spells or spats come on totally out of the blue so they tend to catch a person completely off-guard. Forewarned is forearmed, ya know, and had I but known the least thing about her wishes prior to Keeley's departure, you can bet your bottom dollar I'd have tried to get this set up so as to avert this issue!

But now, since she has subsequently found something -finally -on her own to occupy her time and mind and the mourning period, at least for the time being anyway, has ended, for that I am really and truly thankful!

Thirty to forty minutes of her whining, bemoaning, wailing and such (all with nary a tear either) is more than long enough to just about drive me to drink!

But since peace has -for now -been restored and I can return to my recliner, to my tabletopper, to stitching and listening off and on to the droning of some Christmas-type movie on the Hallmark Channel to kind of aid me in telling what time it is, that's what I'm gonna do now! The quiet will end soon enough when Mandy and Kurtis return home so I'd best take advantage of this now while I can!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Wishful Thinking

When my daughters and my son were growing up, things were often a bit on the rough, sometimes wicked side even, in our home -especially financially speaking.

Raising kids is no walk in the park no matter what one's status might be -rich or poor -there are still always problems, often conflicts galore even in a stable two-parent home. But in a single-parent home, such as ours was, it was often like walking a tight wire at times. One misstep and boy, the pile of doo-doo you could land in!

It sure was not the kind of life I had dreams about when I was a kid, growing up, thinking about how someday perhaps I'd marry and have a family of my own -not the white picket fence with a little bungalow house necessarily -but a nice home and a life that included two parents were the main items I wished for in that home.

For a while, I did have the little ranch house that my ex and I built and the three kids, a dog (always at least one of those) and even a cat too! But then things began to fall apart and eventually, went the way of those nice dreams we have but we wake up and can't remember them.

And, as my ex and I were splitting up, that house went down the tubes and when my Mom passed away, the kids and I moved into her house, which had been my grandparents home and also, the house were I had lived most of my childhood.

My kids still deal with a lot of the aftermath of growing up with a single parent. For many years, they had virtually no relationship at all with their Dad as he moved out west and they rarely heard from him except once in a blue moon he might remember the existed and call them. Visits were even more infrequent then too.

Through it all though, over the years, when it was evident that things were going on in the kids lives, in their minds, regarding their Dad, I did try to explain to them that regardless of how infrequent his phone calls might be, no matter how obnoxious he might be when talking to them too on the phone, that they still needed to remember that underneath all of that mess, he still did love them, but that he was sick and didn't really realize it at the time. I told them that perhaps someday things would be different, that he would find a way to change his life and lifestyle and return to being at least some semblance of a caring parent.

It's something that did eventually happen and for the past 18 years now, he has managed to rebuild a fairly decent relationship with all three of our now very adult children!

I had hoped when my girls each got married that they would find the kind of happiness and satisfaction I had once wished for with a good husband and children of their own.

Sadly, that hasn't been the case as my older daughter has been divorced for several years now although, in her case, her son -who is now 14 years old -still has a strong and good relationship with his dad. I'm very grateful for that aspect in his life too as well as seeing that although his Mom and Dad still don't see eye-to-eye about everything, they both do work very hard to make sure their son, my most handsome grandson, gets a strong, well-rounded and very grounded too, life.

Younger daughter is in the process of getting a divorce and in her case, it really saddens me because I see so many of the same issues cropping up in her life and especially in the lives of her two little children too, with respect to their dad -her sometime-to-be-ex-husband.

What often makes it worse for those two little grandkids is the fact their Dad lives in this area and could still have a good relationship with the children but instead, he's running a track very similar to that of my ex-husband's -way back when -except in this case, he's providing way more drama, and a lot more heartache for Maya and Kurt than children should ever have to experience.

The actions he often chooses now are absolutely mind-boggling at times! The lies he tells these children are going to confuse them way more than they already are and that is so totally unfair to them as well as completely unnecessary as well.

 Add to that a cast of characters he surrounds himself with and you have the makings of a major tragedy on the horizon.

To my ex-husband's credit, at least he did always provide for our children by paying child support fairly regularly. Not always timely, but eventually it would come through. Not always pleasant about having to pay that either, but he did at least adhere to the court's guidelines and pony up what the judge said was his dues to the kids.

My daughter is going to have one rough and rocky road ahead I'm afraid judging by the way her "ex" is acting which is to say he is being totally irresponsible about supporting all the children he has -which is two more in their teens as well as the two younger ones he has with my daughter. But, when you don't go out and find a decent job, don't take steps to keep a job when you do have one, paying child support becomes something he pays zilch attention to doing!

And, if someone had told me when they first married, when Maya and Kurt each were born, that he would come to being the person he is today, I would have never believed it could be possible for that to happen.

It's often said -although this is used in reference to other aspects -that history repeats itself. And, boy, my family sure can attest to that!


Every Sunday, after church, I take a quick run up to the local grocery store to pick up a copy of the Sunday edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

I used to purchase the local Sunday paper -published by the Centre Daily Times -but when they stopped including a tv guide magazine thing and also, quite running a good Sunday crossword puzzle and stopped carrying either Dear Abby or Ann Landers column, I stopped buying their Sunday paper and switched to the Pittsburgh paper's Sunday edition.

They have a decent enough tv guide section that, combined with the one in our local daily paper in their Friday edition I can generally get a fair-to-middling idea of what is being shown on the channels available in our cable system. Plus, the Pittsburgh paper also has two wicked crossword puzzles every Sunday and occasionally, they also run a third crossword puzzle too. Unfortunately, they DO NOT carry the advice column but in truth, my main interests were in the tv guide and crossword puzzles anyway.

However, it has become an even more important purchase for us to make EVERY Sunday now because my daughters -yes, both of them -have become addicted to trying their hand at copying those shoppers on the "Extreme Couponing" program on tv! So, if older daughter happens to be here or is coming here for dinner only on a Sunday, I now have to buy two of the Pittsburgh papers along with the Philly Inquirer -just so my daughters have access to more coupons!

However, I had a little fun with them and their slight addiction recently when I told them I had come across this web site that offered not just regular but the best buy coupons you could get anywhere!

I'm just sorry that I couldn't see the look on their faces though when they opened that website as I was on my way out the door when I told the girls about that url!

Always nice to prank my daughters when I get a chance!