Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Pretty Good Year

In reading blogs the past couple of days, a few of my favorite bloggers mentioned doing a post -for the new year -by doing a little review of the past year. The idea suggested was to take the first post for each month of the year and list it with a little information about the post so as to give an idea of some of the things that had happened or what was going on then. A "Day in the Life" sort of post except being a little more specific with respect to the "when" of each of those days.

I thought about this for a while and decided it might be a bit fun to see what I was doing, what was happening here to me, to the grandkids -whatever. So, here's my Year in Review done just for you!

Because at Christmas last year I had given myself a little present -a nice, snazzy -fire engine red -Kodak Digital Camera - for my Christmas gift from Me to Me, I finally had the ability to take pictures, download them immediately to my computer and use them right away then in a post. Before that, I either had to rely on scanning in photos or with newly developed ones, make sure they were on a cd that I could then drop them into my computer at will. This opened up a lot of new and exciting avenues for me with my blog. Probably opened the flood gates for my readers to be really bored out of their gourds too, viewing picture after picture of my grandkis I suppose.

But heck, when you've got some of the cutes (and best too) grandkids on the planet, why not show 'em off? And so, I did!

There were a few things during the year that were really funny -mostly the little kid things, tricks that Maya pulled on me, on her mother -especially her special brand of artwork, some of which is displayed here and there on my blog.

In April, my family and a bunch of our friends all participated -again -in the State College, PA "Cure Autism Now 5K Race and 3K walk in honor of my two youngest grandchildren, Kurt and Maya -both whom are autistic. Our team did great -raising over $2,800 for the Autism Speaks Foundation. And we couldn't have done that, could never have raised that much money if it weren't for the support shown our team by family members, friends locally and definitely from so much support given to us by so many of my friends from the blogging community! Mandy and I were both totally blown away by the overwhelming generosity in the donations from you -my readers, my fellow bloggers! I still can't thank each and every one of you enough for your gifts to our team!

Back in March, we got the official word then that Kurtis had also been diagnosed with autism. It had only been 11 months earlier that we had received the diagnosis that Maya is on the spectrum -PDD-NOS -and now, Kurtis was diagnosed as "Straight Autism." Thankfully, were a lot more "in tune" and knowledgable as to the various signs and symptoms so he had begun receiving therapy a little earlier then than did Maya and we were much better prepared for the road ahead with him that way too.

So many people tend to get this really sorrowful look on their faces when they learn both these beautiful little children are autistic -very "Doom and Gloom" attitude too as they tell Mandy or me how sorry they are to learn of this misfortune that has befallen our family.

Because none of us here regards the autism as being an "end of the world" type diagnosis, one of my goals with my blog is to post many of the things the kids do -good and bad stuff -and hopefully by doing that, to show that although autism does present a lot of challenges for us and definitely for these two kids, it is not the end of the world as we know it! They are just two little children who learn but who learn in a different manner than do most other children of their age range. They are sweet, loving -and extremely loveable -energetic, playful, mischieveous, and just wonderful to have come to bless our lives. Because they do have their little quirks here and there -meltdowns too -and such, they do sometimes have to work a little (or a lot) harder than other kids may have to in order to learn to speak, to socialize, to perform academic stuff -so when they do master a skill, it is a big deal for them and for us! And so far, both children have been doing very well -somethings come easier for Maya, other things that she may have struggled with, seem to be a bit easier for Kurtis but isn't that the same that happens with all children, the world over that they don't all learn everything right off the bat, with ease? The important thing is not the timeline, but that they are receiving therapy, and advancing to the fullest of their capacity -whatever that may be.

So with that said, here's a little review of my blog over the past year.

January 1st - "And So It Begins..." It's the New Year - 2008 - and you know what that means now don't you?

Only 385 more days to go! - (This was the first "Bushisms" for the year 2008.)

February 1st - "A Very Short Trip" Well, my friends, my "peeps," it does look like I am about to go up and away -over the edge for sure.

It's not bad enough that I am already addicted to food, caffeine and nicotine and abuse/use all three quite liberally, but I came across something else yesterday that is probably gonna be the end all, do all, of addictions for me. (A post about admitting I have an Addiction to blogging.)

March 1st - "Ahead of the Game" -- I'm trying to get a few things done tonight - not put them off till tomorrow -so I decided I would post the Bushisms for the coming week tonight and get that done -ahead of that game. (Trying to get a jump on my blogging by posting the Bushisms for the week ahead on a Saturday instead of the usual Sunday post.)

April 1st - "Kaboom!" -- KABOOM! Crash, bang, rumble and other odd noises along those lines got my attention -big time -here at about 3:45 this morning. (When the middle shelf in the cellar way collapsed in the middle of the night, sending all kinds of canned goods rolling down the cellar stairs and scaring me half to death in the process.)

May 1st - "Slowly Returning" - I'm slowly trying to sort through things of the past week -along with loads of things that go back over the years too -and as I'm doing that, I'm going to try to get back into the blog stuff once more. (The day after my Aunt Mike's funeral. She was the baby of my Dad's family and the last of my aunts and uncles -a very, very special lady who my kids and I loved dearly and miss her presence very much.)

June 3, 2008 - "More Absurdities from "The Shrub" - The late (and really great) columnist/writer, Molly Ivins, frequently referred to DUBYA as "The Shrub" - a nickname I always thought was pretty appropriate. Hence the title of this week's Bushisms -which as you can see, are once again posted a bit late. My apologies. It's been a busy weekend and first day of the new week too. (Bushisms, posted a bit late in the week.)

Wednesday, July 2nd - "Of Kitten and Small Children's Surprises!" - Tonight, when Mandy went to get the dishpan out from under the sink, she had a bit of a shock waiting for her.

She wasn't looking -just reached in under the sink to grab the dishpan and felt something different -a little strange as she touched something soft -also, something moving.
(How Mandy found the newest place that Mama Cat Jorge was using to hide her babies.)

August 1st - "Another "Faithful Friday" - How quickly time does fly. And in a week's time -since my last "Faithful Friday" post, how many more things have come my way, happened, for which I am thankful. Some things, I'm only sort of thankful for today as they have come to me as kind of a back-handed complement type thing if you know what I mean. But, the fact I am still breathing, still walking too -well, being thankful isn't just about every little good thing that happens to us, is it? (Things I was thankful for that day.)

September 2nd - "Unbelieveable Weekend" - The past couple of days have been filled with all kinds of things -a few good things but all of it still tinged with the tragic events of Sunday evening when two people lost their lives in a terrible crash of four ATVs just down the road from my house. (recap of Labor Day Weekend and the accident that killed the fiance of my former neighbor, along with two other people.)

October 2nd - "Batten Down The Hatches" - Boy, it just doesn't seem possible that it is now October! Where the heck did this year go so quickly?

Bill's been trying to take the time to do some extra winterizing on the house this year. Last year's fuel oil prices were bad enough to deal with and now, we're looking at another winter already with the wind blowing, snow falling, ice storms and such. Something I don't particularly relish, for sure! (Getting the house ready for winter.)

November 1st - "Of Tricks and Lots of Treats!" Last evening -just as most all kids across the continent went trick or treating -Kurt and Maya dressed for Halloween and even though early in the getting ready to go phase, Kurt was not exactly the happiest camper on the planet, they did both eventually venture out, visited the neighbors' homes (with their parents walking with them) and then, eventually came home, hopped in the car and drove off to hit up a few friends, including Pastor Carrie, who don't quite live within walking distance of the house.(Going Halloweening with Maya and Kurtis)

December 2nd - "Ta Da!" ALL RIGHT! I did it! Finished the table topper I've been slaving away at for the past two weeks now tonight. And to prove it to you, here are some pictures of this cloth as well as the one I finished just before starting the floral one. (On finishing the floral tabletopper I made for Mandy and the Red Reindeer tabletopper that went to Pastor Carrie.)

Along the way through this past year, I learned I am now not just addicted to blogging but also to embroiderying too! Between August and Christmas, I was busy-busy all the time, working on what seemed an endless stream of embroidery projects to give to my kids as Christmas gifts this year. I'm happy to report all three of the kids loved and appreciated the items I had made for them. And, after a two-day break from the hoop and needles, floss and patterns, I started working on yet another embroidery project -another tabletopper cloth -about 34 inches square. I have a fairly good sized "stash" on hand now too of other items, waiting in the wings for me to pick each one of them up and make, as Maya calls them, "A pretty!" All for future use or gifts for various people.

And now that I finally completed this post and am really tired too, ready to go to bed (about time since it is now almost 6:30 a.m.), wouldn't you just know it but Kurtis has decided he wants to wake up now! I don't think so, little boy! Hopefully, he'll trash around a little bit, re-tire himself out and fall back to sleep without creating a major racket and wake up the rest of the household!

If I don't get around to reading every blog post in my reader today and wishing each of you a very Happy New Year with the best that life can possibl bring your way, let me say it here and now then too!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meals -on my Mind

I know I mentioned before that as a general rule, I tend to do most of the cooking here for the family. Sometimes, I try to set things up and kind of force Mandy into venturing forth into that vast area known as the kitchen and to get her to try to fix balanced meals every now and again. I do this because I think she needs to do a bit more of this. Learn more about cooking and really get her feet wet.

I keep telling her she needs to do this more often simply because Mom is not always going to be around to cook full meals for her and the family.

She knows this. I really know this too. But it's a long, sometimes arduous project I keep working on to try to impress her that it's not the best idea to exist on pizza, cheese steaks, tacos or french toast and scrambled eggs. Granted, I enjoy those food items too from time to time - especially the french toast, scrambled eggs and a good bit of bacon with that as well - but so far, she hasn't had a light-bulb moment when she's discovered a larger liking for playing in the kitchen.

Now, this week there's yet another holiday and one that possibly will mean more than just us here for dinner too. That may be just my son but one never knows -the older daughter, her fiance and my grandson could possibly show up. It could happen.

Fortunately, on one hand, cooking for New Year's Day here is generally fairly simple as we follow the tradition of this region and it's pretty much mandatory that we have pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes. I'll toss in a package of hot dogs too mainly for the two little one's benefit because they won't even think of touching the pork and sauerkraut. That is pretty much guaranteed. Most likely I'll have to fix a package of macaroni and cheese too -just for them -so they have something besides a hot dog for dinner.

One thing I like to have as a side dish though with pork and kraut is a nice big dish of applesauce too. Just sets my meal off in my opinion there.

So what's my issue with this? It all sounds pretty clear-cut doesn't it?

Well, for openers, Mandy and I have a running argument about how to cook the sauerkraut and meat. She prefers just putting the two items together in either an oven dish or crockpot and let 'er rip. I like to add brown sugar to my sauerkraut and the meat. To me, that gives the kraut an even better flavor.

But this year, the thing I'd really like to serve is something that someone from our church brought to a St. Lucia dinner about two years ago and that was applesauce with pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top of it!

Part of me hesitates to try and serve this as it would be a totally new thing for everyone here. But then, considering I can't seem to locate any pomegranates ANYWHERE -in any of the grocery stores in this area, I don't think I'll need to worry about pulling a surprise food item on the family to welcome the New Year.

Now, if I thought Pomegranate trees would be able to survive in this climate, I would really give some very serious consideration to purchasing and planting a tree so I wouldn't have to worry about whether the stores here carry this item or not in the future then. Heck, if they could withstand the cold temps of Central Pennsylvania, I might even consider planting a couple of 'em -just in case, cause you might remember gardening -of any type -isn't necessarily my strong point either. But it's a thought I am seriously entertaining for sometime in the future. Maybe?

But for now, guess I'll have to deal with plain applesauce and a little shaker of cinnamon, won't I?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Review

Just thought I'd give a little more of a run-down here on the past week, Christmas and all that stuff. I've a couple pictures to share with you along with a few little stories too that we thought we pretty cute.

First, some news that started out rocky but has now begun to get better.

About three weeks or so before Christmas, Mandy got a phone call from one of her closest friends telling her that her younger daughter -Emmy -who is I believe 12 years old (give or take a year) was in the hospital down at Danville, PA -Geisinger Hospital, that would be. And considering that hospital is about 100 miles from here, if someone from this region is there, things are serious.

Seems that morning when Emmy woke up, she could not walk! Her legs were paralyzed and they had no clue what was wrong with her. I don't remember now the exact order of things -if they took her first to Clearfield Hospital and was transferred to Geisinger from there or if they took her to State College Hospital and they transferred her there, but anyway, it was a really scary time for Emmy's parents, Jen and Nick for the next couple of days and also, over the next 2-3 weeks as well.

Initially, the doctors at Geisinger thought Emmy had what is called "Conversion Disorder" -which is some type of psychological condition which causes the patient to have a paralytic type state. When they came up with that diagnosis, they recommended Emmy be transferred to Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA. Once at Hershey though, the doctors there determined it was not a psychological condition after all, but a neurological one called transverse myelitis. More tests, therapy was begun and finally, last weekend, Emmy was discharged, able to come home, but still paralyzed. She has to have therapy every day now for two hours a day and is in a wheelchair at home though. For the time she was in Hershey, her parents stayed there with her which left their two older kids home basically, on their own. Their son is 17, the older daughter is I think 14, maybe 15, so they were capable of taking care of themselves with a little aid from their grandparents and friends of the family looking in on them and a lot of phone calls back and forth from Hershey to home to check in on them too.

That's the good news there with respect to Emmy's illness. The rough news with all the ups and downs and absence of parents, meant a lot of extra expense which Jen and Nick could ill afford since he is currently laid off and Jen is unemployed as well. Gas may have dropped in price a whole lot but still, if you are trying to make a 120-130 mile trip -(that's one-way mileage) once or twice a week, the gas costs really mount up rapidly along with extra meal expenses and the like. That, plus the fact that although they do have health insurance for the kids, it doesn't cover the cost of ambulance transfer from one hospital to another, so the ride from Geisinger to Hershey was another unexpected bill of $1,500! Add to that, Christmas, being away, no time to shop, no funds either, made for a rather bleak picture for the family but Mandy found a way to get some assistance for them so that she and the administrator of donated funds went shopping and managed to get a few small gifts at least for the kids so they could have something for Christmas.

Now, that's the back story. Here's the rest of it.

On Friday, Mandy had to run a lot of errands and since that was the day I was totally under-the-weather (big-time), she didn't want to leave the kids here with me to worry about but Jen had said she could drop Maya off at their house and she liked that idea. Maya often goes and spends a couple hours with Jen and Nick and their kids as she loves all three of the kids -who dote on her -and never fusses a bit about being left there.

Maya knew nothing though of the medical issues involving Emmy so she was a bit taken aback when she walked in and there sat her bigger "buddy" in a wheel chair. Upon being told Emmy was sick and couldn't walk now, Maya immediately took it upon herself to be Emmy's helper -and instructor too as she told Emmy "Here, I'll show you how to walk. It's easy. Like this..." as she then sashayed about the room, giving Emmy a demonstration not just in walking but the fine art of running and skipping too!

Saturday evening, Mandy once again dropped Maya off with Jen and the family and when she returned that night to pick Maya up, she was informed that Maya had taken it upon herself to play "Preacher" apparently as she was going around from one member of Jen's family to another, giving each one a cookie or cracker, putting her hand on their head and repeating the prayer Pastor Carrie says to each communicant at church when she administer communion!

"The Lord bless you," along with "This is the body of Christ, given for you."

Hmmm. Well, we know she is getting something out of the church services now, don't we?

And just wait till Pastor Carrie gets back here from spending the week (she left Friday) in Wisconsin with her family and she learns that Maya is apparently getting ready to take her place as our minister too! That should be interesting, don't 'cha think?

Now, for my other little story and this one requires a little bit of back story to it too.

When Mandy was about two, almost three years old, for Christmas that year, her big sister, Carrie, had recieved one of those Farrah Fawcett doll heads -the kind that little girls could style the hair and practice applying makeup to the face too.

It was one of the "treasured" items Carrie had received that Christmas.

And a couple weeks after Christmas, she came home from school and my Mom was at the house, watching Mandy and Clate -nothing highly unusual about that. Except that my Mom was afraid that Carrie was going to rip Mandy limb from limb because she discovered that Mandy had gotten into the make-up stuff for the doll and had proceeded to plaster the stuff on -smearing it about an inch thick (or so it seemed) ALL OVER the face. The coloring was so dark -reddish brown -that it most certainly made the lovely Ms. Fawcett's likeness look like she belonged to some totally different ethnic group or culture!

To this day -roughly 30 years later - Carrie still has not totally forgiven Mandy for that deal either!

Well, Miss Maya received a doll head -of one of the Bratz dolls -and it is similar to the Farrah Fawcett doll except this one doesn't have makeup -just a massive head of hair that the child can comb and "style." Oh no, you're thinking now I suppose -don't tell me that Maya cut the doll's hair?"

No, she didn't. But she did do her own special take on "coloring" the hair! Excuse the quality of the photos here -I'm not really sure if you can see all that much of the coloring bit but if you can't, just take my word for it. The doll's hair has distinctive tints of green and purples streaks -with a dabble of red thrown in for "interest" I guess!

Here's a somewhat blurry picture to give you an idea of the hair and the color it is supposed to be -all over.

And, this shot is intended to be sort of looking down at the top of the head which is where the tint job took place! Hopefully you can see a bit of the artistic action there!

Now when and how did she do this fine job?

Well, near as I can tell, it took place this afternoon when I allowed her to set up her paint set and brush, with a little tiny cup of water, on the chest-table in the living room so she could paint one of the balsam-type wood Bratz dolls I had given her for Christmas. It was a set of several of these type wood dolls -like a large paper doll type thing ya know -but that a child could then color (or paint) the clothes, etc., on the doll. She had actually done a fairly neat job -by that I mean, she hadn't slopped all over the place, hadn't painted the table or anything (that I was aware of anyway). As a matter of fact, she was so proud of her paint job -the clothing was green and she had painted the body all in black -that she mentioned to Mandy when she showed off her handiwork, that she had made the Bratz doll "a black lady." Hey, she's learning diversity too, isn't she? And that, we felt was a good thing too!

It wasn't until late tonight, after Maya had fallen asleep, that I noticed the doll head thing sitting on the floor in front of the tree and did a bit of a double-take as I caught a glimpse of the extra color in the hair. I asked Mandy about that -if the doll came with tinted hair or not and she said in a rather terse voice, "NO, it did not!"

Hmmm. I do believe I detected a lot of attitude coming from Mandy with that response. Yes indeed.'

And, I do believe too that when Aunt Carrie calls home the next time to keep tabs on us up here and if Mandy doesn't tell her what Maya did, you know, I will!

And I know Carrie will howl laughing and maybe even realize that you see, one of the things I always tried to teach the kids was that it was wrong to get angry and try to get even but much better to just sit back and wait. Cause if it was something that was meant to be dealt with in a "getting even" type manner, it would come about on its own.

There you have it -the proof is in the pudding, isn't it? Or is it that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree?

Either one, I think is an adage that fits the circumstance, don't you?

Just Around The Bend

And now, the end is near. It's just ahead, around the bend. What's that? Well the year! And with it, the end of an era is almost nigh too which means of course, only three more weeks left of Bushisms!

So, here they are -the lovely statements, or should I say "mis-statements" for the week ahead.

Monday, December 29, 2008 - 22 days left

"I knew it might put [Senator John Breaux] in an awkward position that we had a discussion before the --before finality has, you know, finally happened in this presidential race."
--Crawford, Texas, December 2000

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 - 21 days left

"But all in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me."
--Washington, D.C., December 2001

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 - 20 days left

"[T]he best way to find these terrorists who hide in holes is to get people coming forth to describe the location of the hole, is to give clues and data."
--Washington, D.C., December 2003

Thursday, January 1, 2009 - New Year's Day - 19 days left

"It was just inebriating what Midland was all about then." --George W. Bush, reflecting in 1994 about growing up in Midland, Texas.
--To Bill Minutaglio in First Son, 1994

Friday, January 2, 2009 - 18 days left

"Kosovians can move back in."
--Inside Politics, CNN, 1999

Saturday and Sunday, January 3/4, 2009 - 17 days and 16 days left

"I understand that the unrest in the Middle East creates unrest throughout the region."
--Washington, D.C., 2002

Have a great week and a very Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Surprise Package!

Earlier this week -Tuesday or Wednesday (I'm not sure which day now -see my "Memory" post for clarification) -the FedEx delivery guy pulled up in front of the house. Mandy asked me if I was expecting a delivery and I said not to my knowledge. Of course, considering how well I remember -or actually don't -that comment is open for debate.

Well, after waiting a bit while the driver apparently was rummaging through the truck to locate whatever he had there to deposit at our house, he finally strolled down the walk, carrying a relatively large package. I signed for it, brought it in and deposited it on the table.

The return address was that of a lady in Nevada -a former girlfriend of my ex-husband. From the time Mandy learned she was pregnant with Maya, this lady pretty much adopted Maya, then Kurtis, as her grandchildren too. Over the years, she has been extremely generous in sending many packages of lots and lots of pretty little outfits for both kids. One year, she even made one of those plush blankets -the kind that don't require any sewing because you have these ties that you loop around the edges of the blanket as fringe. That cover is probably the warmest blanket you'd ever hope to have and it's come in handy here not just for the kids but for lots of adults trying to keep warm on a frigid day or night, for sure.

She had kept in contact with Mandy via e-mail even after the ex married someone else. My son knows her as he lived in Nevada and then Arizona for a couple of years and he tells me that of all Dad's ex's, he thinks I probably would like this lady as a friend because she's nice, friendly, funny -all the neat attributes one generally appreciates in a friend.

Addressed to Mandy, this package contained a present that most definitely would sell me on her as a great friend. It contained a coffee grinder and seven boxes of the wonderful Gevalia coffee in two different flavors! Being coffee hounds, Mandy and I have both been reveling in the generosity of this gift all week now.

However, at the rate we've been consuming coffee -since we have some really GOOD stuff here to make and drink right now -we're liable to burn out the old pot and may need to look into coffee makers to consider a replacement.

This coffee is sooooo good, I've even taken to using my Penn State coffee mug -which holds about 2 1/2 cups of coffee at a clip.

So if you're reading this blog, here's a toast to you, Jacque Mustard, with utmost thanks for a delicious, super good treat!

Wanted: Memory!

Ya'll know by now, if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, that I'm not exactly a spring chicken. Not by any means, for sure. I'm moving along quite rapidly into that dark night, approaching, or who knows, maybe I've already arrived at my "dotage." My kids think I did that many years ago though.

Be that as it may, the holiday season brings on more reminders about just how forgetfulness is more and more a major part of life.

Take addresses, for example. I have a drawer in my desk in which I have a stash of envelopes that I saved mainly because the return address on them is a newer address than the one I had before in my address book. So, I saved the envelope with the intent to update my address book. You know that old expression, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions?" Well, my road should be very, very well paved as for several years now those envelopes have been accumulating and still, I haven't gotten around to updating my address book with the newer addresses. I think about it once a year -when I start addressing Christmas cards!

I can't remember when I have appointments -doctors, church group meetings, luncheons and the like. My friends tell me I should mark these on the calendar and that way, I'll remember them. Problem is, I rarely even glance at the darned old calendar! (Mandy is my reminder-person there, telling me when I have an upcoming appointment the majority of the time.)

Don't you wish there were something available -a computer chip of some type that we could get installed in our brains specifically to aid in remembering stuff? They have them for computers you know -removable little things that we can store things in and then, pop them into the computer or digital camera, whatever, to use for "spare" memory.

I don't know about anyone else but I'm thinking a nice compact flash card may just be the ticket to help me keep track of everything and anything. Just set it up with different folders like appointment, put the dates and times in and then, go to that flash card and read what's on the schedule for any given day.

Sounds like a good way to aid memory loss to me except that unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to get a place to insert the card in my brain.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Christmas 2008 is now "history." It wasn't all smooth sailing -a few bumps along the way -but overall, things ironed out and it was totally a good thing!

The "bumps" for us actually began Monday morning although we didn't see it as such at that time. Mandy had a doctor's appointment that day for Kurtis and had planned to take Maya with her so I could have the house to myself to sleep, recuperate, as it were, from the "all-nighter" I'd pulled Sunday night into Monday morning embroidering the table cloth.

Things didn't quite work out that way though as right after she and Maya got out of the shower, Maya got sick to her stomach and threw up all over the bathroom floor. Ok, that ended the idea of Mandy taking Maya with her and also, put the kabash on my getting a little bit of much needed sleep then too. I did get Maya to lay down with me in my bed, put a video in the dvd player there and was able to doze off for about an hour while she was occupied watching the video.

Monday night, I caught a couple more z's sitting in the recliner early in the evening -enough so that I pulled yet another "all-nighter" in order to get the embroidery work completed then! THankfully, I finished up about 9 a.m. and was able to sleep -peacefully -until about 2 p.m. Got up then and started gathering the items I needed to begin doing some baking. I did up double batches of all the cookies I baked except for the peanut butter cookies and that recipe, I tripled. (My older grandson is a huge fan of peanut butter cookies and I planned to make up a tray of cookies that he could take home with him to share with his Dad.) We ended up with chocolate chip cookies (about 14 dozen of them), Gingersnaps (8 dozen) Sugar cutouts (12 dozen), Chocolate oatmeal chips (8 dozen) and Fudge Fantasys (9 dozen). So far, we are down to about half of what I baked being left now!

While I baked, Mandy was kind enough to get the gifts I had purchased out and wrapped them for me. About 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, Mandy went to bed, leaving me here as I tried to polish off more blog readings. Along about 4 a.m., I heard a strange sound coming from Kurtis and glanced over just in time to see him sitting up and barfing all over himself and the playpen! Not a pleasant sight, for sure! I hollered upstairs to Amanda, telling her I really needed her to get up and come down and help me. Now, cleaning up barf is probably no one's favorite task, I'm sure -I know it isn't mine -but for Mandy, it's something really difficult as it is all she can do not to add to the mess. However, I was so proud of her in that she managed to take the pad out of the playpen and scrubbed it down, replaced the pad too with a spare one, while I took the little guy and scrubbed him from top to bottom.

Then came the task of trying to get him to settle down, go back to sleep which was made more difficult because apparently his first go round with the upset stomach hadn't cleared everything out and he ended up throwing up again, this time all over Mandy and the recliner where she was sitting, holding him! Got that cleaned up and about a half our later, same procedure -shampoo, rinse, repeat -ya know! The poor little kid was just exhausted but after the third go round, it was pretty evident he had emptied his little stomach then and finally, he fell asleep then. Heck of a way for him to start Christmas Eve, wasn't it?

I had wanted to go to the early church service at 4 p.m. because Maya was singing at that service with the Children's Choir, but because of Kurtis, I ended up staying at home, putting the finishing touches then on our Christmas Eve supper - barbequed meatballs for meatball subs, macaroni and cheese, watergate salad and lots of cookies!

A little tidbit here from Maya occured at the end of Pastor Carrie's sermon which was that Pastor Carrie had said "Hooray, Christ has come." THen repeated the HOORAY! After she did that, Maya then piped up too saying "Hooray!" in a pretty loud voice. As you can imagine, this reaction by Maya was met with a lot of chuckling then among the congregation and upon hearing the laughter, Maya turned and asked Mandy "Why is everyone laughing?" Too cute though and Pastor Carrie and I shared a little more giggling over Maya's comment after the 9 pm. Service ended.
Here's the five siblings -Kurtis, Sierra, Shane, Katie and Maya -after having opened their gifts on Christmas Eve.
Here's Kurtis and his dad (Bill) opening one of his gifts Christmas Eve. As it turned out, this package was one of his favorite gifts -a package of about 15 airplanes -and he was totally thrilled to get this -kept running his hand over the cellophane cover on the box, trying to touch the airplanes behind the wrapping!

After supper, the three step-grandchildren were here so they, along with Maya and Kurtis, had their gift exchange then. About 8 p.m., my son arrived at the house -all decked out in his "Sunday go-meeting" finest apparel -yes, he really looked quite sharp -and he brought with him a female friend of his, her daughter and another young girl who is a friend of the daughters to go to the 9 p.m. Church Service with us.

Now, having my son go to church with me for ANY service is something that really makes me quite happy but to have that happen when I had not begged him, had not tried to put him on any guilt trips, and the like -but rather it was all of his own volition, well that was indeed the very best present I received Christmas Eve!

After the late service, Mandy, Bill, my son and I exchanged our gifts then and by 2 a.m., Clate had gone home and I was in bed! Hard to believe that I actually was in bed and asleep in record time too that early on a Christmas Morning!

Thursday morning, Maya woke me up -shaking me and all wide-eyed, she informed me I had to get up because "Santa has been HERE!" To say she was excited and very happy, would be a bit of an understatement. Even little Kurtis got into the fun of unwrapping his gifts and frequently, when asked what this or that item was he had just opened, he was able to articulate and tell us -"Car" or "Elmo" and such! There was another great gift for sure to hear him able to name so many of his gifts!

Thursday afternoon, Mandy and I had the ham in the oven and because I was still a bit tired, I lay down for an afternoon nap, leaving her to fix the scalloped potatoes we were going to have with our dinner. The older daughter, Carrie, her fiance, Robert and the older grandson, Alex, were due to arrive about 5 or 5:30 for supper -and big surprise here, they were actually a bit early in their arrival! Talk about a shocker, that was one as normally, Carrie almost always tends to run late!

After supper, we had our final gift exchange then with Carrie, Robert and Alex! Both the girls were very happy with the tablecloths I had made for them and my son was the recipient of a little lunch cloth and a set of pillow cases that I had done with him in mind. He likes little things like that so was very pleased then with that part of his gifts -along with several clothing items that each of us had given him. My son had been shopping the other day and saw this really sharp Navy blue "Pea coat" and thought when he saw it that maybe Alex would like something like that too. So he had phoned Bill, Alex's dad and inquired if he thought Alex would like it and Bill had said yes, he was fairly certain the boy would appreciate it. The store where Clate found the coat was having a very good sale -buy one, get a second for half-price -so he got a coat identical then to his for his 11-year-old nephew and yes, it most definitely met with Alex's approval as he wore it the entire evening then! He and Clate, standing together with their new coats on both looked so handsome!

Here's Uncle Clate and nephew Alex modeling their new coats as they shared a toast using the Guinness glasses sister, Carrie, had given her brother -along with a tee shirt that says "Guinness" on it too!

This is Carrie, my older daughter, looking a bit shocked here. And rightfully so too because Mandy had just informed her that the two packages of "princess" underwear she had given Maya were adult underpants, not a size for a child Maya's age! Needless to say, Carrie was rather dumbfounded to learn this! She said she's going to go back to that store and complain to them that they shouldn't be peddling underwear with those designs on them for adults, especially when adults who are shopping might just b e really tired and not realize the sizes on the package were adult, not children's sizings.

Here's a little video of the two little ones as they were opening their "Santa"presents on Christmas morning. It was so great to be able to watch both of them, see the look of pure enjoyment and happiness spread across their little faces! I don't know who enjoyed this part of the day more -them or us, the adults, watching them!

So that took us then up through Christmas Day's activities. Late last evening, I was trying once again, to read blogs, get caught up there a bit and decided to give myself a treat by way of a nice cold bottle of beer to indulge in while reading. No problem with that, is there? Normally, no. Ok, I had one bottle, then decided I could handle a second one and opened it. About 1/3 of the way down this second bottle, my stomach started feeling a tad on the queasy side. I told Mandy about this and we both agreed that it surely wasn't from one full bottle of beer and 1/3 of a second one that could make me feel a bit on the yucky side there. As I finished the second one off, I started feeling very cold then -chills, big time. Oh no, not a good sign at all! My stomach was churning and churning all the more but I was really tired too so I decided, for safety's sake, I would sit back in the recliner, pull a big old blanket over me to try to get warm and maybe I would be able to fall asleep and wake up to this all being gone, everything being ok, ya know.

About 4 a.m. I woke up alright but unfortunately, things were far from alright as I ended up then making a mad dash for the bathroom just in the nick of time! Got the first batch of whatever was making me sick out and back to the living room this time, I ventured to the sofa and before I lay down, I had gone ot my room and removed a thick comforter from my bed, placed it over the blanket I'd had around me earlier and lay down, trying to get warm! This reprieve lasted till about 6 a.m. when I awoke with a rerun of the same yucky sick feeling in my gut and yes, made a second trip to rid myself of this bug!

Thankfully, apparently the last bout of being sick did the trick as I haven't had any repercussions since then, but I have been just really, really tired all day and still a bit on the cold side too. I took a very long nap then this afternoon so when our friend, Joe, stopped by for a cup of coffee, I was out like a light and he and Mandy ended up chatting over the coffee today.

Now I'm going to relax for the next couple of days, dig into the books my kids gave me this year -I got five new books! Yay, yay! From Mandy, I got "Dreams From My Father" by Barack Obama and "The Longest Trip Home" by John Grogan, author too of "Marley and Me" -which my kids and also, Grandson Alex, all loved! Carrie gave me "The Invisible Wall" by Harry Bernstein and Clate presented me with two books -one is a beautiful book by Better Homes and Gardens called Stiching Pretty with all kinds of lovely Cross-stitch patterns in it. However, these are geared for "counted cross-stitch" which I am not very adept at, so I'm gonna have to get my friend Shirley or her sister, Kate, to maybe help me if I try to do one of the patterns in that book. The other book Clate gave me is "Me of Little Faith" by Lewis Black and I've already started reading it. So far, I have to tell you, it is hilarious -very irreverant to be sure, but hilarious all the same!

This afternoon, when Mandy went to pick up the mail, she brought home a package for me. I had forgotten all about this -that last week, I had ordered about 5-6 more items to be embroidered from Herrschnerrs! So now, I have my embroidery stash very well stocked up -should last me the better part of the year to work on and finish all the projects involved there!

The church services on Wednesday were beautiful -two of my very good old friends from back in the day (a LONG time ago) when I was in the choir, and also, when I was organist, came back to sing in the choir for the late service Wednesday night. Always makes me feel so good to see and hear Marge and Larry up there, singing!

Now, if I could just get rid of the crick in the back of my neck and across my left shoulder in the back -and get warm and stay warm too -I think it would be the topper for a beautiful holiday for me, for my kids and especially for the grandkids!

Sickness aside, it has all worked to be all very good things for this Friday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Countdown to Christmas




Just click the above on to get your gift -from me to you!

And, for just a bit more Christmas Greetings, from my house to yours, click this:

Now, I really have to get busy -clear the counters, dig out the flour and butter, nuts, chocolate chip, cherries and well, you name it -so I can get some cookies baked and start organizing my plans for our Christmas Eve as well as Christmas Day dinners.

Church tomorrow at 4 p.m. -which will be the service that Maya and the Children's Choir will sing and then, tomorrow night at 9 p.m. -the service which my son announced to me yesterday that he is planning to attend. That little bit of news from him is enough to make my Christmas complete right there as I hadn't said a word to him about attending church this year! And any occasion that I can manage to get him to set foot in church is a good day in my book but even more so when he has decided with no "guilt tripping" (that he says I normally give him on this topic) whatsoever that he wants to attend services with me!

Today, Fed-Ex delivered a package to us -from a very dear friend of Mandy's (and, actually a friend of her Dad's) -which she had to open and there, inside, was a coffee grinder and seven -yes seven -packages of Gevalia coffee beans! Can you believe that? How awesome for this lady to send us a box of coffee beans, all delightfully flavored and making such wonderful, delicious smelling too, coffee -which I am enjoying right now, as I write this! Thanks, Jacque -if you're reading this! It was most certainly a gift Mandy and I both very much appreciated!

More presents today of the intangible variety came when the speech therapist arrived to work with Kurtis and he imitated several words -all new ones -for her. Mickey (for Mickey Mouse), Goofy, Car, Cow, Santa! How awesome an early present is that? Words, mere words, just can't describe how wonderful it is to see and hear him interact with his therapist!

And now -this time -I really AM heading to the kitchen to begin doing some baking to bring just a little bit more holiday cheer here for my family -and yes, for me too, cause I do love me some homemade cookies to dunk in my excellent, freshly brewed from freshly ground, coffee!


DONE! Now, Let the Baking Begin.

Here it is -in all its shining glory. That item that has kept my fingers very busy for the past three weeks now -the last tablecloth production of the year 2008!

This does not show the entire tablecloth -can't fit that in with my little camera. But the above picture is of the center portion. Each corner on the ends has a cluster design like those shown above as well as there is a little "spray" of pine, red berries and two gold stars centered along each of the borders

Here's the closest I can get to a "full" view of the item -intended to be for younger daughter, Mandy, for Christmas.

And this is a closeup of the center of the cloth.

No more embroidery now till at least December 26th! Actually, I think I will hold off now until January 2nd before I start on the next embroidery project which will probably be another tablecloth -a full sized one -that might have a chance of ending up as Mandy's birthday present on February 11th!

Sunday night, just like a college student, I pulled an "all-nighter" -embroidering until about 9 a.m. Monday morning.

The plan was that since Mandy had a doctor's appointment yesterday a.m. for Kurtis, she would take both kids with her instead of leaving Maya home with me and that way, I could sleep while they were gone.

But, you know that old adage about the "best laid plans" don't you? Well, it held true here, for sure!

Mandy had just finished bathing both kids and all of a sudden found herself with Maya upchucking in the bathroom and Kurtis "escaped" -running out to the living room in all his shining nakedness with Mandy hollering for me to grab him and dress him while she got the mess in the bathroom then cleaned up.

Because of the sudden onset of an upset stomach with Maya, Mandy decided not to take her along and there went my planned naptime for the morning and early afternoon hours. However, she decided there was a way around that and since Katie, the 17-year-old (who no longer lives with us) didn't have school yesterday -their Christmas vacation having begun -she called and asked her if she would come down and watch Maya so I could get some much needed sleep.

Katie said she could do that and would be down in about an hour. Hmmm. Her hours must differ from mine though as here it is, almost 24 hours later according to my clock here and I have yet to see her make that appearance. No phone call explaining her absence either so I guess she figured it wasn't worth her while to show up -or to call.

I was highly impressed with her change of plans and no notification -NOT! Actually, the lack of sleep for me was a small part of the problem as Mandy had told Maya that Katie would be coming down and spending the morning and afternoon with her so this then produced a lot of anxiety -and near meltdown too -from Maya when Kate didnt show up.

Oh well, such is life in the fast lane of a teenager I suppose.

But the nice thing about the entire day however was Maya's behavior overall. She was as close to being angellic as any five-year-old possibly can be! Now, that did impress me -greatly!

Now, today -after I get a couple hours of sleep in here as soon as I post this -I will be starting a mini-marathon of baking cookies for the holidays! Normally, by this time I would have baked at least 5-6 different kinds of cookies. (Back in the 80s and 90s though that number would have been anywhere between 15-20 kinds of cookies in amounts of at least 4 dozen to as much as 10 dozen of certain cookies but with the average being about 5-6 dozen per type. I would then fill my big cake taker container and cart a large assortment of cookies into work everyday for about 2-3 weeks. The folks I worked with at that time, if they saw me coming carrying that cake taker, would meet me in the break room and begin the demolition process, like a pack of vultures descending on its prey! That's was okay with me though because that was the main reason I baked and brought them into work -for my co-workers to have lots to snack on and put 'em on a big old sugar high in the process!

Over the past five years however, my cookie production has dropped significantly. I don't have the energy nor the need to bake that much. So no doubt it will amount to my making gingersnaps, chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies. Maybe some nut tassies if I am really ambitious and energetic or some really good chocolate cookies. I'm not quite sure as yet what all I will bake in the cookie line today. Time will tell about that.

So now, I'm off to bed for a nice nap!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Listen, Listen!

Last week, after our St. Lucia Pageant at church, I posted photos plus a couple little videos from that event. There was one other video that I wanted to post but couldn't get it to work -couldn't get blogger to load it.

Well, yesterday, I figured out a way to get it available!!!

I set up a YouTube account for myself and got it on there!

I'm just going to give you the url -not try to load it -cause even though Dr. Sardonicus (over at Pole Hill Sanitarium) has tried to give me instructions on how to upload a video from YouTube, now I can't find were I put those darned instructions! So, as a result, I'm taking the easy road tonight by just posting the url and letting you click it to open and view it. Keep in mind, my son did the video for me because you see, I am part of the group singing. Be patient -he is definitely not a videographer, but then again, neither am I so I can't be one to get all critical then, can I?

This is the members of our current choir who were present at the St. Lucia program along with any former choir members (like me) as well as anyone else who felt brave enough to tackle singing a song in Swedish! The name of this song is "Lyssna" and the first line of it -in English is "Listen, listen, hear the angels song." That's also about all the further I can translate of it although I do know the words to it in Swedish by heart -just don't know the exact meaning of them is all.

In other things going on around here, I finally got my Christmas cards mailed out Saturday morning! What a relief that always is to get that job completed, out of my hair! I hate addressing Christmas cards mainly because within about 5-10 minutes, I start getting writer's cramp and my penmanship -which is not the greatest to begin with -turns to absolute crapola then! I used to take the time to do little newsletters to include with some cards -for those who I don't see, rarely talk to and usually, those with no e-mail too. But this year, I only did one "newsletter" and that was to my best friend from my days of working in D.C. at the good old NRA. And even had I wanted to do other newsletters, I wouldn't have been able to do so because my black ink cartridge went dry on me as it was printing the last page of the one I wrote to Joan! So now I have to -absolutely HAVE TO -get another black cartridge and I may as well get a color one too while I am at it. Thankfully, since I got this printer a few months back, it won't cost me an absolute arm and a leg for the two cartridges! The printer I had before -the cartridge costs were outrageous -like $28 for a black cartridge and over $40 for a color one! Sure am glad I got rid of that puppy and got this printer!

Last night was wicked here. Both kids fell asleep early. Maya was out like a light before 8 p.m. and Kurtis was down for the count -or so we thought -shortly after 8 p.m. However, the peace and quiet was very short-lived, unfortunately. Maya woke up shortly before 11 p.m. and it was about 1 a.m. before we were able to convince her to go back to bed. Kurtis though -a horse of a different color!

His sleep between 8 and 11 was very fitfull to begin with -thrashing around, crying but not quite waking up. However, shortly after 11 p.m., he woke up and was totally miserable. Nothing we did seemed to soothe him. He wasn't running a fever or anything like that but just the way he was crying, we were thinking maybe he had a bit of a bellyache or something along those lines. Anyway, both Mandy and I were up till after 3 a.m. with him -taking turns holding him, rocking him, trying to calm him enough so that he could get back to sleep.

As a result, Mandy and I both overslept this morning -didn't wake up until after 9 a.m. -so it was too late for us to get ready then to make it to church. Mandy did however, manage to get herself and Maya dressed and they then made it out to Sunday School.

This evening though, we had a wonderful visit from several of the kids from our church youth group -Christmas Caroling! Their leader -our neighbor, Deb -had called me on Friday to ask if it would be ok if the kids stopped here tonight with their caroling and I saw no problem with that. So we had told Maya all day that there would be Christmas carollers here this evening. Not sure that she knew what was meant by that but we were able to use it as a little leverage with her in the "good behavior" department anyway.

When the kids -along with three of the leaders and Pastor Carrie arrived, Maya initially got a little shy. I picked her up and stood her on one of the dining room chairs beside me as the kids began by singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. By the time they got to the second line of that song, Maya was beginning to smile and when it came to the chorus, she very gingerly started to chime in a bit. Kurtis was just all smiles throughout the whole visit!

The kids sang several songs then -Away in a Manger, Deck the Halls and We Wish You a Merry Christmas -the last two which Maya surprised them and sang along with them, rarely missing a word as she pretty well knows both of them almost completely now. Then they did Jingle Bells too and she chimed in right away with that one too!

The Youth Group also gave out little fruit baskets at various homes tonight too -homes with what are considered have "Shut-ins" and I guess because of Kurt and Maya's autism, they considered them to be "shut-ins" so we got a lovely fruit basket.

The biggest surprise really came after they left though when Maya opened the fruit basket and, of her own volition, tried eating grapes for the very first time! No one egged her on to trying these -she just picked a couple and tried them. Later she told me they were good "But only the white ones, cause the red ones have seeds in them, Gram!" Mandy and I were both really surprised and very happy though to see her trying a new food item without any hissy fits. Kurtis will be happy with the bananas in the basket. Guess that leaves the tangerines, apples and red grapes then for Mandy and me, doesn't it?

Because Maya's school is now on Christmas break that means she will be home EVERY DAY now for the next two weeks! The hard part of that is going to be trying to find some structured activities we can do with her on many of those days or else, she will drive us both totally nuts!

Tonight, since she has no school in the morning, she didn't have to go to bed as early as she normally does, and she busied herself with some paper and crayons at the dining room table for quite a long time. Then, she began "wrapping" things -we don't know what she wrapped in these little packets she did up, but she labeled them mainly with names of some of the kids in her class and then, brought them in and put them under the tree. Whatever is in this wrapping -which consists of white, lined, notebook papers -she was quite meticulous in her work and insistant that these packages go under the tree. The first presents to be under the tree so far this year too I might add.

I'm still busy working on the tablecloth but I am finally -I think -starting to see daylight with respect to finishing it! I am down to now only have two colors of floss to work with -a dark red (garnet shade) for a big ribbon at the bottom of each poinsettia-candle bouquet and gold floss for the candles and stars. I managed tonight to get the last of the green stuff done and have 1 1/2 of the ribbons completed now -so only 6 1/2 more ribbons to go! Then, I have six candles and the stars to complete after that so hopefully by late tomorrow night, early Tuesday morning -if all goes well -I should have it completed then! Cross your fingers and wish me luck there.

When I showed it to Mandy a little earlier -after getting one ribbon done -she asked me then if this table cloth is for her saying "It better have my name on it!" That's my intent, my dear baby daughter!

Carrie and her fiance stopped up here Saturday afternoon to pick up some things Mandy had for her that she needed and while they were here, I showed them all the items I have done so far. She and Robert made little approving comments about the items but when they saw the light green tabletopper -with the yellow flowers, one of the first "fancy-type" I had completed, they both gushed over it! And they both also loved the tablecloth I completed a couple weeks ago too -both of which I had posted on here if you recall.

My plans originally -and with a few words from Maya too -were that I was going to give them those tablecloths and the way they showed how much they liked both of them yesterday, I was happy I'd made that decision. The tablecloth with the pink and blue flowers, Maya had told me that I should give that one to her Mommy so, that's who will get that one then! Looks like Uncle Clate will get the bright red and bright green tabletoppers for his house!

My intent in doing these items is that one, I do really enjoy doing the embroidery. And two, it's going to be my way of giving my kids something tangible, that they can have for their homes, long after I am gone. I like to sew, knit and crochet as well as embroider, but the kids are not that big on the things I am able to sew -well Carrie isn't although Mandy is much more agreeable to handmade clothing for herself as well as for the kids. My older grandson on the other hand, loves it if I can make him fleece sweatshirts however, this year, I haven't been able to find any fleece in prints that I know he would like. And I really haven't had time to do any sewing either. I've made each of the grandchildren at least one or two hand-crocheted afghans -baby blankets -and did two embroidered quilts too -one for Alex, one for Maya before they were born. I have yet to finish the one I started for Kurtis though -see what I mean about my tendancy to start but not finish some things? I also have another baby quilt that I embroidered, put together with fill and backing for Maya but it is also unfinished -mainly because I am scared to do the binding, which is something I've never done before! One of these days I'm gonna call the wife of a classmate of mine who does quilting for the church they belong to out in Drifting and have her come down and walk me through doing the binding so I can finally get that crib cover completed then. Mandy can put it back and save it then for someday down the road when, who knows, perhaps Maya or Kurtis will make her a grandmother and she can give it to her grandchild then. Nothing like planning ahead, is there?

And that's the latest from this house for now.

Hopefully, if I finish this tablecloth by Tuesday morning, I will then have time to get a little bit of baking -cookies and bread -done in time for Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner!


Pretty Soon...

Time once again for my weekly dose of Bushisms. As the title of the post says, "pretty soon" this will all be a thing of the past -history! With that said, let's move right along and see what great things are in this week's group of spectacular sayings by the great DUBYA!

Monday, December 22, 2008 - 29 days left

"We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job. That's what I'm telling you."
--Gulfport, Missouri, 2005

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 - 28 days left

"I'm not the expert on how the Iraqi people think, because I live in America, where it's nice and safe and secure."
--Washington, D.C., 2004

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 -27 days left

"We will make sure our troops have all that is necessary to complete their missions. That's why I went to the Congress last September and proposed fundamental --supplemental funding, which is money for armor and body parts and ammunition and fuel."
--Erie, Pennsylvania, 2004

Thursday, December 25, 2008 - 26 days left

Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Karl Rove's birthday, 1950

"As people do better, they start voting like Republicans--unless they have too much education and vote Democratic..."
Karl Rove

Friday, December 26, 2008 - 25 days left

"I am mindful of the difference between the executive branch and the legislative brnach. I assured all four of these leaders that I know the difference, and that difference is they pass the laws and I execute them."
--Washington, D.C., December 2000

Saturday and Sunday, December 27 and 28, 2008 - 24 days left and 23 days left

"Dick Cheney and I do not want this nation to be in a recession. We want anybody who can find work to be able to find work."
--60 Minutes II, December 2000

And that does it for this week. Just over three weeks to go and I guess I'll have to find something else to poke fun at then. Somehow, I'm thinking it just won't quite be the same though.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ah, To Sleep!

Yeah, I know I was moaning and groaning here earlier about being so darned far behind that I'll never get caught up. That I have sooooo many things to do, not enough days, not enough hours in the day, to get all the stuff done and all that. And here I am, back again.

Well, I figured before I do get around to going to bed, I may as well try to make up for a bit of lost time -is that possible -and toss out another post here today. Get a jump on things with respect to the blogging anyway, I guess.

But guess what? Just as I start thinking about hitting the sack, Kurtis decides maybe he will try his hand at thrashing around, doing a little bit of fussing. Just some off and on stuff there with him -or at least I hope that's all it will be.

With the early morning news on the tv now, I see that so far almost all the school districts around us are closed today due to the really inclement weather conditions. Well, right now that is all except OUR school district anyway. But then, they do seem to take their sweet old time about making that decision as to whether to have school or not. But since the Clearfield Schools are closed today, odds are that so is Maya's school.

And that means that since she has again taken to wanting to sleep in my bed, sharing my space with her, when I do get to crawling into bed with her, I'll have to move her over from being sprawled all over the twin-size bed I have in my cramped little bedroom quarters.

And in doing that, I'll also find myself reminded that sometimes my good old bed, while warm and cozy and even more so with Maya already having it all toasty from her little furnace body heat, is not always the most comfortable of beds either though.

Hmmm. Soon as I hit the lottery I'm gonna look into first, adding on to the size of my room and then, investing in a nifty, comfortable, back-pain lessening sleep number bed!

That sounds like a really good thing right now to me!

Sleep tight!

It's All Good!

Ah, it's Friday -already -and time again for that blog event begun a few weeks ago by Miss Shelley over at This Eclectic Life -titled "Only the Good Friday." I almost forgot and bypassed this today because of the issues I mentioned in my previous blog -being really bogged down and way, way far behind in what I need to get done over the next 5-6 days now.

But last night, I fell asleep in my recliner -embroidery on my lap -and woke up around 2 a.m. -pretty well awake too I might add. I decided to check my e-mail, drink a cup of the pot of coffee I'd made around 9 last evening (and had only had one cup out of it too before falling asleep) cause I sure as heck didn't want it to get pitched because it had been sitting for so long that it turned bitter and about as thick as tar. That would totally go against my frugal upbringing, for sure. Waste not, want not, ya know.

Don't let that paragraph above fool you into thinking I am a real nut about being frugal cause I still do way too many things that would be considered by those who tried their best to instill this "frugality thing" in me, many years ago -my Mom, my Grandma. Ok, in some aspects they did a good job there on teaching that to me, but there are yes, some areas that I'm still a bit lacking in when it comes to that topic. But wasting a perfectly good pot of coffee? Well, that just isn't one of the things where they failed with me!

After checking my e-mail and glancing up at my reader and the 300 plus odd posts it was showing there, I was really feeling a bit intimidated as well as encumbered by the numbers there. How was I ever going to get caught up with my reading?

So the decision was made then not necessarily to get totally caught up right now but at least to try to whittle it down a bit. And that I did! I got it down -in about two hours -to just over 100 posts left to be read. This number though isn't really quite as large as it seems because, you see, the blogs I "Follow" also show up on my reader but when I read a blog post on my "Reader" and it clicks off the count, the same thing doesn't happen to that same blog post which also shows up on my "Blogs I'm Following" segment. So once I got the Reader posts cut down a bit, I dropped down to the Followings and just went through there, clicking on the blogs I'd already read and that then, is what really cut my count down a good bit, you see.

Of course, by late today, those numbers will be back up there -high as all get out once again and the whole process will repeat itself in how I will deal with this in a day or two -or three, maybe!

So what you may ask is the intent here with respect to the Only The Good Friday thing?

Well I'm using my older daughter's favorite phrase there. It's what she says no matter what happens in life -good, bad or indifferent -that "It's all good, Mom. It's all good."

And yes, Carrie, you are so right there. No matter what happens, it is or it can be or quite soon, it will all be good!

I may not be the healthiest person on the planet but overall, compared to how things could have been for me had I not managed to be diagnosed with the cancer when I was and received chemo, radiation, surgery, more chemo, things could be a whole lot worse! A WHOLE lot worse in that gee, I might not even be here, able to read, to type, having a blog. But I am and I do and I'm glad -mighty glad, mind you, of that!

My life may not have been a peaches and cream existence, but the events of it are what come together to make me who I am today. Regrets -sure, I have many. There are lots and lots of things that if I play "Monday morning quarterback" I can see that it might have been a lot wiser to have made this choice instead of some that I did make. But that's water under the bridge a long time ago for many of those things and its really just speculation now that had I made the other choices, things today would be oh, so much better. I don't know that, never will now and I'm plodding along with what remains of them -wise or unwise -who knows, really. And yes, I do think many of them actually were "all good" in the overall, long run, scheme of things.

I have my children -all three of them -and in my mind, they are the best kids ever! Oh yeah, that still doesn't stop me from grumping and growling at them -a lot too -or so they often think. But I hope they realize by now that regardless of how ticked off I may get at times with one or all three of them -thankfully, not usually all three at the same time -that I do love each of them unconditionally! It still holds true what I used to tell them when they were all still living here with me that I will always love each of you but that doesn't mean I will always like you every single day either. There's a big difference in that -love and like thing -ya know!

And then, there's the grandkids! Can't say enough there about how much their being in my life means to me. It's a bit of an opportunity to redo some of the things I maybe mucked up a good bit when my own kids were little, as they were growing up. And really, with them, it's so much easier too as I try to mend the errors of my old ways with their parents, or their uncle!

The oldest grandchild, My Prince Alex, is a gem -smart, loving, lovable, handsome (oh my, is he ever), considerate, and thoughtful young man he is growing into being as I see him now at age 11. He'll go far for sure as he has the commitment of both his parents to see to it that he has his needs met, and the opportunity to keep moving forward with their support even though they, his parents, are no longer together as a couple. They have both focused on joining forces to work to make sure that Alex does continue to do well, to be able to understand right from wrong, to realize the importance of education now and for his future. And Alex himself does have the knowledge and grasps that they are there for him always and forever.

The little Princess -Maya, the diva, Maya the hairdresser of herself, extraordinaire, Maya the meltdown queen at times too. Maya -my sweet, beautiful, intelligent little elf and imp! Could I have ever asked for anything better? Well, of course I could have asked but would I have received anything better? Not on your life! She's the best granddaughter -stubborn as a little mule, for sure, irritating too all so often with her adamance about refusing to do what we tell her to do. That's usually pretty much a guarantee that if she's asked or told to do something, her respnse is going to be a flat "NO!" Reverse psychology does work occasionally but more often than not, even that fails so we move on to acceptance that this is part of what makes Maya who she is today and that sometime -hopefully in the near future -this too shall pass! I wouldn't trade her for all the tea in China, that much is for certain. Life without these little quirks of hers would be nothing but dull and boring!

And finally -there's my Sweet Pea, the little Duke -Kurtis. It is such an especially exciting time with him now as I can see him coming out more and more every day, learning new words, beginning to communicate a bit with all of us. It is so cool too when I look at pictures of my son at the same age as Kurtis is now and gee, it looks like I am seeing my son's twin -that's how much Kurtis looks like his Uncle Clayton! And that, most certainly, is not a bad thing -not in the least -for him to look like Uncle Clate! Kurtis is just a joy, an absolute joy, to have him as part of my life today.

I have been blessed throughout my life too with family no longer with me physically, but in memory now. My Mom -even though much of my life with her was a bit on the rocky side many, many times, she was still my Mother, hard-working, a bit distant with respect to showing outwardly her love but in retrospect, I know it was there. She could be a bit of a pain in the behind at times, but then, who among us is innocent in that regard anyway? If she only knew how much I actually miss those daily squabbles we had -almost like clockwork! Oil and water -trying to blend together -that would be me and my Mom for the majority of the time I had with her. But hopefully, I can still pull the good things from that and also, pass them along to my kids, to my grandchildren too, day by day!

I grew up with my Mom's parents -the best grandparents one could ask for. Yes, really -they were that! Quiet -both of them were quiet, generally mild-mannered, plodding souls doing what they knew best which was work, work, work and then work some more! Grandpa taught me to read and in doing that, gave me his love for books -something for which I will be eternally grateful. He also inspired in me a love of history of my ethnicity, for music too and for fairness whenever, wherever possible. Grandma showed me through her unique ability to sew, to crochet, to quilt, the beauty in those crafts. She and Grandpa together taught me the importance of family, of love for them and of keeping in contact as much as possible too. So many things I gained from having grown up under their roof, with their day-to-day contact and touching my life in so many ways that are just impossible to define.

I was so blessed to in that I had such loving aunts and uncles -all who afforded me so much in seeing how families should be toward each other. My Mom's siblings all did whatever they could to show their appreciation, love and respect for their parents, and their willingness to help each other in any way they could too. I can only hope that what I learned from them I will somehow have been able to pass that on to my kids and now, to my grandchildren as well.

My Dad's siblings -those who I was fortunate enough to know fairly well -were I do believe the most affectionate and unafraid of showing that affection, their love, outwardly too! It was virtually impossible to be around those aunts and uncles without being stopped by them and kisses or hugs requested and freely given back too. That wasn't something very much done by my Mom's side of the family but it was an aspect I realized as I became an adult and then a parent that I loved very much about them and I have tried my best to instill that in my kids and yes, in the grandkids too. It's also something that I can see that I did succeed with that practice there too as my kids when talking to each other or to me on the phone or in person, do not end a conversation without saying "I love you!" When they visit, they don't leave without at least a quick kiss, usually a hug and a kiss though. The grandchildren too have learned that lesson well and are quick to share hugs and kisses -with or without reminders too! I know this does not mean my Mom's family loved me any less than did my Dad's -but just that they were not that open, that outward in showing their affection but rather did it in other ways, kind of behind the scenes type of thing. Nothing wrong, exactly, with that but I guess I am geared a bit more like my Dad's family there, that's all that means.

I may bitch and moan about this old house -the things it lacks, the things it needs, the things I want in it but under it all, I do love this old barn of a place! It's not a house -it's home! My home, my Mom's home, my Grandparents home -and I hear their voices in it, see their faces as well as those of my aunts, uncles, cousins, old family friends too it in every single day. And I think it is those memories, embedded in the core of this house that makes it a thing of beauty to me. Sometimes a really messy thing -quite different in that respect than it was when I grew up here -but still, it is beautiful through and through to me for all it holds within the wood, stone, cement and walls!

So many friends -way too numerous to go into detail there -who have entered my life and some who have already played their role in the drama and comedy too that is my life and exited. Neighbors who were surrogate parents to me as a child have played a huge role in my life over the years. Friends from early childhood to the present too -whether still with me in that role or now gone -the memories are there and will remain, most certainly, for the rest of my life -something for which I am now and will always be oh so grateful!

I was raised in the Lutheran faith and still am part of that community. Maybe not always the best parishioner but I do try to remember the things I was taught at home as well as in the church and do try to let those teachings guide my way. I may not always succeed on a daily basis but still and all, yes it is a very good thing.

Having the good fortune of ancestors who left their native lands -Scotland and Sweden -well over 100 years ago now to come to this country -this beautiful land, to find a life with more opportunity for themselves, for their families -to be able to live in the freedoms afforded by our government, our society here -is truly a blessing beyond belief. Doesn't stop me from griping now and then -or even often -about things I see that I'd love to see changed here but then, that's all part of the great thing called the American way of life too isn't it? Where else can one be that free to do that anyway? And yes, I realize every country has their own places of extra special beauty but it's pretty darned hard to consider the vast expanse of this nation of ours and NOT think we have to have the most beautiful places in the world most of the time anyway, is it? Not only am I blessed but so are each and every one of us who lives here, who utilizes this land and its tenets to enjoy life as we know it here. It truly is the land of so much opportunity!

And to sum it all up -it is then, just as my daughter says then, isn't it?

It's all good!

Better believe it is! Always, ever and oh so good, this life!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lost in Space?

Since I received not one, but two messages today with respect to my posting, and also, since I am so far behind in my blog readings now I may never, ever get caught up, I figured maybe I would be a good idea to drop a little post in here to let everyone know I'm still breathing.

It's been a rather hectic week.

To answer Debo Blue's question, yes I have been working away on the current tablecloth project. It's coming but not as quickly as I would like. Definitely not as quickly as I really want and need it to go though.

As if I haven't done enough embroidery stuff over the past five months, I ordered more items last week as well as some other things just last night too. I'm gonna be embroiled in embroidery from now to kingdom come at this rate!

Actually, I do have a bit of a game plan with these other items along with what I already had in my stash. If I start working on these acquistions after the first of the year, I should be able to have all of them completed and probably buy some more things (on sale, of course) between January 1st and December 24th of 2009. Think it will work? Well, I hope so and that's the truth. Pffft!

The other message I received, from my friend, Vic Grace, at Cariboo Ponderer, was prompted by the date of my last post before this one -December 15th. She thought her reader wasn't updating my blog and also, that my blog itself wasn't updating. So I had to e-mail her to explain that I hadn't posted anything since this past Monday and as a result, I was really, really, really behind at this point in time. However, there are still many issues apparently with my blog and Google reader as many folks have commented to me that they can't access my blog via their readers and that my blog is definitely still not updating there.

This has been an ongoing problem since back in late July now. I have no clue whatsoever as to how to correct the problems there and I still can't get any response from anyone in the know-how department at Google as to how to fix this issue. One alternative that could be used -at least I think it works -is to check off that you want to "Follow" my blog. However, I don't know if it works if you just click on the "follow this blog" on my sidebar so you may have to sign up to do that on your own blog. \

Several people have asked if I am going to post a picture of Maya without the tooth she lost last Friday. Between Mandy and me, we finally got several pictures of Maya in which she actually looked at us and opened her mouth enough so that you should be able to see the gap there from the missing tooth. And I'll post those for your perusal here now.

Even though on this picture below you can't see Kurt and Maya's faces, I really liked the shot for the feeling I think it conveys. Just seeing the two of them sitting in front of the tree, looking at it so lovingly, acting like they really love each other too, is just so neat.

Yesterday, I had the monthly lunch engagement with three other girls from my high school class. This one was especially nice as we met at the home of classmate Rose Little Wick where she had prepared a very nice meal -fruit salad, a very delicious sub sandwich she had made and which was served on a plate and looked like a nice big bread wreath and then, delicious homemade pumpkin roll for dessert. Rose and her husband Durvin (also a member of our high school class) have a beautiful ranch-style home on the outskirts of Kylertown-Grassflat and Drifting. How the heck did they manage that? Well, it's on Drain Lick Road which runs kind of between those three villages, that's how. It was just the four of us who met yesterday -Rose, Kate Nelson Eyerly, Linda Wertz Payne and myself but it was a most enjoyable lunch and time to visit -keep au courrant with each other for the month of December. Next month we will be back to meeting on our regular day -the last Thursday of the month. So if there are any folks reading this from the 1962 graduating class of West Branch Area High School -Cooper Center, Lanse, PA reading this and if you'd like to join us for a little lunch, time to remember those good old days, catch up with what others from our class are doing today, give me a call and I'll fill you in on the where and what time, etc.

Tuesday night, I finally finished addressing my Christmas cards -all but three whose addresses I had not updated in my address book so I had to go on a search and destroy mission to find them. Got two of those three finished now but I still haven't located the latest address for my cousin, Kenny Eld. Where in the heck did I put that anyway? I hate it when I put things so I know where I them and then, promptly forget where that place is! Anyone else here who does that too?

Today, Mandy insisted we had to go Christmas shopping so I could -hopefully -get mine all finished up so I can wrap the stuff then on Saturday night. I have no clue why Mandy is insisting I have to have the stuff all wrapped on Saturday night but I have news for her -I'll do it when I have time and that may very well mean just putting the items each in a plastic bag from whatever store I happen to have one of those from, ya know!

Although I like to see gifts all wrapped, so gaily, and pretty, I think my Scrooge side or my Scottish ancestry must kick in here because I also consider it to be just another major rip-off too. More money spent and for what -to have kids rip it to shreds? Now, my family would never have survived very long at Christmas if they'd been around when I was a kid because my Mom and Grandma both would go behind people, picking up the wrapping paper, all the while chiding everyone to "Be careful, don't rip the paper in the middle" and then they would gently smooth it out, fold it up, ever so neatly and store it in a gift box -or some other larger box that may be handy so as to re-use that wrappying paper the next year -and many times, several times again over a string of Christmases! Can you say frugal? That was my Mom and Grandma -both of 'em -for sure! They made darned sure that NOTHING went to waste -not if they could help it anyway!

But anyway, I did get almost all my shopping done this afternoon. Tonight, Mandy has a meeting in State College with her Autism Support Group so she's going to stop by the Barnes and Noble store over there and try to finish up my shopping for me. I got a list today from grandson, Alex, as to what books he would like so Mandy has that information and can see what she can track down along with picking up two copies of "The Shack" as I want to give a copy of that book to my older daughter as well as to my son, and then too, for her to find the latest book by David Sedaris for me to give to either my son or his older sister -not quite sure which one will be the recipient of that book because they both really love David Sedaris's works. (So do I for that matter and I think I'm getting a copy of his latest work from Mandy because when I told her to look for that book tonight, she advised me not to get it because she was pretty sure Santa had it on his list for me. That is until I said I wanted to give it to either Carrie or Clate and she told me then to ignore the previous message as it may have been a false alarm. Sometimes, she cracks me up how she goes about her business of shopping for me, for her siblings and such.

So now, I'm going to put the supper dishes to soak, sit down and work some more on the tablecloth project -probably till the wee hours of the morning. Sometime between now and next Wednesday I still have to stop everything and get myself into a major baking mode as I have not done a single bit of baking for the holidays as yet! Boy, if I don't get some cookies made, the world and Christmas as my kids and I know it is liable to all come to a crashing end! Well one thing for sure, I won't be baking upwards of 15-20 different kinds of cookies this year though like I've been known to do in years past! I'll be lucky if I manage to bake maybe 5-6 different kinds of cookies this year due to lack of time as well as energy!

If I haven't been around to read your blogs, comment now and then, it's not because I don't want to, but rather because my eyes are glued to this tablecloth at the moment and reading 5-10 blog posts a day as I can just isn't really doing much to get that job done.

Hopefully, I'll find a few minutes of time to pop in and give a little update from time to time though between now and Christmas.

Probably will need to take those breaks just to give my poor pin-pricked right index finger a little bit of rest!