Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Auld Lang Syne

It's about fifteen minutes before my family back east celebrates the beginning of yet another year... We've still got an hour and fifteen to go here in my neck of the woods.  For the first time since I have lived here we don't have to get up early tomorrow.  Both Hubby and I will stay home and enjoy a day off.  One would think we might be celebrating... One would be wrong.

Our kids are off doing what 20 somethings do as an old year fades and a new one full of hope and promise dances in with great excitement!  I never really got into that and it's been a long time since I have seen midnight arrive in my own time zone. I usually celebrate one of the times in Europe and find myself sleeping blissfully through the noise makers, fireworks and excitement outside. 

Hubs has been in bed for a bit and I am curled up on my sofa in my warm jammies watching a minute or two of  New Years Eve in New York.  I have been working on a project for my son, and enjoying the night. 

Soon I will crawl into bed, my phone turned up all the way beside me, just in case one of my kids needs me.  Mom's taxi service will readily be available.  For me it really isn't about the craziness of the night. It is just another night.

Do you have resolutions?  As a general rule I don't.  I pretty much always have the same ones, I wonder if that makes me really lazy and bad at setting and achieving goals, or realistic.

Each year my resolution is to strive to be a better person than the year before. Perfection will never happen.  But if I can be a bit kinder, more empathetic, make more time for loved ones and have more patience with others... Is that really a bad thing?

2013 has been a year of changes, a year of ups and downs.  I have been able to watch my children reach for stars that seemed to be out of reach and find them resting softly in their hands. Hubby and I have made some decisions that seemed difficult at the time, only to realize they were decisions whose time had come. 

As we stand on the edge of 2014, it's with great excitement and anticipation, with a touch of apprehension thrown in for good measure.  So many changes are happening... So many things will never be the same again... I will miss some of the things from 2013, helping my daughter set up her new life, road trips to UCIC to spend a weekend with my son, late night chats with my son, so much that will never return, but has been filed in the memory banks to pull out each year around this time to remember and cherish.

I don't think I will set resolutions again this year...

I think I will stick with my tried and true...

Hubby and I will face the new year arm and arm... bring on the changes we are ready!

I pray that 2014 brings much love and happiness to all of you.  That each of us can find peace, and if we can't find it that we let it begin with ourselves.  I pray that we will come together as American's and once again find our glory and greatness, that we can yet again become a valued part of our global community.  And that our dreams, wishes and of course goals come true! 

Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


As 2013 slowly creeps off, 2014 shimmering in the distance, I feel a strong urge to start fresh.  Is that something we are programmed for?  Was it something my parents trained me to do? 

I remember as a kid the ritual room cleaning that had to happen.  It was always right after Christmas, before any "new" stuff could be introduced to our rooms, we had to clean out the old.  Go through the closets, what clothes fit, or didn't, what we hadn't or wouldn't wear, all put into boxes for either donations or to hand down to cousins and friends.

After the closets we moved on to the toy boxes and later (once we had outgrown toy boxes) just our stash of stuff.  Everything had to be gone through.  There was a method to the madness.  If we hadn't used it, it needed to go.  Occasionally it was put aside for a yard sale or something else, usually it was donated.

I just always assumed it was because we were military and you only had a certain weight allowance when you moved around so much.  We couldn't simply keep everything.  Until ten years ago, I still thought that.  As I carried the tradition forward with my children.  For every new and old had to go. 

Next we moved on to cobweb dusting, walls washed down, carpets cleaned, all the heavy cleaning happened as the tree and decorations started to vanish.

When I started working crazy hours about 10 years ago, things slowly started to change for me.  I no longer had the time.  I stopped worrying about it... ten years is a long time to accumulate "stuff". 

It is driving me crazy!  As there are big changes happening around the house this winter, I think it is finally time to tackle some of the stuff. 

2013 started the ball rolling, our oldest moved 45 minutes away.  That doesn't seem like far, until you really start to think about it, and try to incorporate it into your life.  At which point it becomes very far away.  
In my eyes this man is still my baby!

Our son wrapped up his college career and has finally found a job that he is looking forward to starting.  It means that shortly after the fireworks and champagne that brings in the new year and before we celebrate his next birthday he will be moving.  He will be the furthest away of all the kids and it will be the hardest for me to deal with.  After all, despite the fact that he doesn't like me to say it... he is my baby and we've never been so far apart before.

Hubby with his youngest two angels!
The twins... well they are typical teens.  Between school, work, friends and enjoying their senior year they have very little time for us.  We see them rarely.  We see the youngest of the two the most.  She is the one most like Dad and makes the most time for him and her older sister. 

All of this means one thing... we truly have become empty-nesters.  It's bitter sweet.  With it comes more freedom for us as a couple.  It also brings much quieter holidays and weekends.  I think we are both okay with it, but it does signal the need to start making some changes. 

This week I will be helping the boy sort out what he still needs from his college days to carry forward to his adult life, and in the process start cleaning out the house.  His room will basically stay the same, as he is the one most likely to come home to visit and stay with us.  We will make a decision about maybe moving the lizard into his room to keep the turtle company.  As Picasso has definitely gotten used to having someone in there with him and Yuri is lonely.  Poor guy was rescued for girls that wanted a lizard so badly and then are never here to spend time with him.

I am feeling a strong need to clean it all out.  To start fresh, to redo spaces and clean out clutter that has been accumulating for far too long. If the boy was not moving so far I would gladly give him much of it to furnish his home.  Like we did with his sister as she prepared to start her adult life. 

It's time to start cleaning out cobwebs... and start refeathering our nest...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Welcome to my Snowglobe!

Sorry to have been away so long...

This is one tired elf, hard to believe it is only three days past Christmas! I have been crazy busy for weeks.  Some of it for me, some of it for others, a lot of it self-inflicted by my inability to ever say no.  I love to help others be able to make smiles happen.  Absolutely love it! Two days before Christmas my hands were seriously starting to talk to me. 

I have been to far too many memorial services and wakes in the past few weeks.  Celebrated lives lived fully, and mourned those gone far too soon. I've said so many prayers for those that are near and dear to me, and for complete strangers struggling  with losses and health problems this past holiday season.

I have savored moments with my family that will never come again.  Laughed at the insanity, enjoyed the chaos.  Snatched quiet moments with hubby to sneak out for a random motorcycle ride when the temperature has reached an unseasonable high, and snuggled on the couch with hubby and son watching movies and sipping gluwein when the snows were swirling and leaving us a beautiful winter scene to enjoy.

I never did finish decorating, somehow it didn't seem that important, in the hustle and bustle of insanity, the time with hubby, son and the girls when they could fit us in seemed far more important.  The tree, the Christmas village (so important) and a few odds and ends were all that managed to be unpacked this year.  Maybe next year...

Grand baby hosted an amazing Christmas Party with a special guest!

One last hug before Santa heads back North

Can't skip a hug from the big girl either!

So many hours were spent creating and working with hubby (my fellow elf) to create memories to keep.  No silly gifts for gifts sake, but things that were truly wanted, needed and valuable.  He created memory quilts for the two youngest... amazingly they seemed to love them!  Considering the fact that we have never given them a gift they used/took home, much less something they treasured, WOW!  That is pretty much all there is to say about that.   Hubby's skill has really improved and they turned out beautifully!  I hope they realize the love that went into them.

The smile says it all!

Great job Daddy!
Just before Christmas news arrived that will change out lives... As it simmers and brews we are learning to adjust to the change.  It is fantastic news, just not mine to share.  It is going to be hard, yet so wonderful!  I am still adjusting to that, and as it comes full circle I will share.

Yesterday I finally knit the final stitches on a gift for my oldest, blocking and a button and she will have it.  I had planned it to be finished Christmas Eve, but instead of going with my gut I followed the directions (okay that is something I never do!) and ended up not having enough yarn.  I had accepted a few last minute projects to help others out and ended up not starting it until last... It's okay, I know she will love it just the same.   And it will make her smile! Although I am already making some "policy" changes for next year... because I don't mind doing good for others, my family won't be last again.

Searching for the perfect Christmas Eve gift to open!
Christmas morning...
Wrapping paper coma... hey that blankie looks familiar

I'm a Christmas present too!  And I think I need more of those edible ones!
Hey Big Brother... wanna share this cozy blanket that you snatched from Mom??
After much unwrapping... what the?  Hey, wait this is SOOOOOOOO cool!!

Baby Bubby did AWESOME!!  I didn't think anyone was going to get me footie jammies!!!
Christmas Day at my girls house surrounded by family and friends put the bow on the quiet Christmas Eve and Morning we had spend just the three of us.  All together a wondrous and blessed day!

Hubby and his big girls

Yep... family together...

Great job Mama!
she slaved for hours over that turkey

Surrounded by treasures and treats
After dinner calm in front of a roaring fire, my babies unwind...
Yesterday afternoon, the whirlwind started to slow down, it should have been morning, but had a few issues at work that absorbed a full 6 hours of my vacation.  Talk about making me a grouch!  Sadly it was stupid stuff.  A couple of hours on the back of the motorcycle enjoying the odd warming definitely cleared that up. 

The snow in my snow globe is slowly drifting down to the bottom, there is a stillness that has been missing.  I stood outside this morning with my old dog (the one that makes my heart soar and who's winter slow down makes me hold my breath) looking up into the pure beauty of a cold winter sky.  Crisp, clear, with the sharp crystal pinpoints from the stars.  Feeling that it was time to start typing again, no pressing projects on the needles, no sharp deadlines nipping at my heels... just simple peaceful beauty.  A chance to wake up and start the day anew.

Hubby and I are getting ready to head out in a few hours, the temperatures will be warm enough to ride again today, so ride we will.  We're going to pack a picnic lunch in the saddlebags and head up the Great River Road... maybe we will be able to find a few Bald Eagles that have made an early return to Alton and Grafton or soaring high above Pere Marquette Park.  Tomorrow the bitter cold is planning to return, so we need to steal a few hours today.  Tonight will be a family dinner with us and the boy, curled up warm watching another episode or two of Sherlock Holmes... 

Welcome back... I'm so glad for the calming...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's not in the presents... it's in your heart...

Mainz at the base of the Cathedral
These mad weather shifts are sure making mornings rough. Living in the Mid-west is a unique experience.  You don't know what kind of weather is going to be waiting for us.  And it is entirely possible to have at least two or three seasons in one week.

Right now this insanity is making life hard.  I have so much to do and I am struggling to make the old body work.  Lots of orders to finish, a house to decorate, a craft show this coming Saturday and a BUSY week ahead... and I have hands that are not liking life.  Heck even typing is not feeling so great.  After the holidays I am definitely going to need to slow it down a bit.

I am also struggling with feeling like the Grinch.  We went out to pick up a couple of things yesterday.  The darn fiber fetish cat managed to lose my crochet hook mid-hat when he pulled it all out of the bag to make out with it.  He sure is crazy about the full skeins of yarn... it's so odd! And hubby has a quilt he's working on and needed more supplies.

Three hours later, we had a few more things off the old list, and both of us were crabby and stressed.  When did this time of year become about who could buy the most stuff?  I had a little old man in Bed, Bath and Beyond literally run me over in his quest to get a Keurig that they had on sale.  Pushed me right out of the aisle.  Really?  Is a coffee maker that important?
Looks like all of them are the same...
And unfortunately a trip to Wal-mart that couldn't be avoided was it's own special kind of horror show.

Is it asking too much for kindness, for people to remember the season is not about what you wrap and place under your tree?  It is about the greatest gift we've ever been given and it wasn't wrapped.  It's about love.

I hate wishing someone a Merry Christmas, and hearing "you too" back.  What??  You said two words to my two words, couldn't they have been appropriate?  Christmas is not about retail.  But somehow that is what it feels like.

I remember when I used to be able to watch sappy Christmas shows until my head spun... now... finding one is a challenge.

To me... it is time with my family.  It is love. It is charity (and no I did not put anything in the unmanned Salvation Army pot hanging there so forlornly with a big pad lock on it, it was too cold, just put your money in). It is about being a good and kind person to all you meet.  And it definitely should not last just one month but for the entire year.
I am less and less inclined to buy into the hype and more and more incline to hide, to create and give things that are from the heart or not at all.

Am I imagining this?  Or is it really becoming a holiday that is focused on who can bankrupt themselves buying the most?

I miss this...

I miss the sweet Christmas Market's, walking for hours in the cold, sipping Gluhwein or Hot Spiced Rum.  Munching on potato pancakes, hot chestnuts and potato pancakes. Buying gifts that were carefully considered and planned.  Hand blown glass ornaments, wooden treasures, beautiful handmade gifts from the heart. Soft carols being sung by a real choir, snow flakes falling as you enjoy all the people around doing the same exact thing.

The mall (yikes - there is a terrifying thought!), all the stores filled with people, it just isn't the same...

Our mall and yes it is that pathetic!

I don't want to be the Grinch, but I would love to see the magic of Christmas come back... I think I will make a pot of Gluhwein to enjoy today, while it is bitterly cold, put on some German carols and work on bringing Christmas to life here at home.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

It's just a bit of snow...

Brrrr.... it's a quiet, cold morning... just perfect.  Folks are still at home sleeping, not rushing down the streets, so I can actually hear the tick, tick, tick of my clock on the wall. Faintly I can hear the sounds of hubby's television down in his man-cave. I have a busy day ahead, so I am enjoying this quiet and peaceful start. 

I was so amazed at the number of people that didn't go to work yesterday.  It was unbelievable.  Anything for a day off, because yesterday sure didn't warrant it. Heck in the city we barely needed salt on the sidewalks.  Yet, the streets were barren of cars and folks hid behind their closed doors afraid of the cold.

I will give you it was a bit chilly, the teens are always a bit too cool for some folks.  But... seriously? 

I feel like we've created a caricature of ourselves.  Are we wimps?  At home in Pennsylvania folks are still living their lives and wading through deep snow to go to work. We get a dusting and close up the streets?  Heck Dallas got his harder than we did.

Is this what we have become in this country?  Or was it more it's December.  Maybe people were looking for any reason to have an extra day to finish their decorating (I am doing that today), get some extra shopping done, and just spend time with family?  I guess we will find out when these "storms" hit in January, February and March.  Or maybe there are that many children that parents did not know what to do with as school was closed and back up plans aren't always realistic?

beautiful... but...

Or... is this more an outcome of our politically correct society.  The one where no one loses, everyone gets a trophy, no one's feelings get hurt, each person gets a "fair" share?  Because of all of this have we lost our cutting edge?  Our desire to do more and more and succeed regardless?  Have we forgotten how to face things and over come them, have we raised a generation that never learned?

I had a staff person call me yesterday, as I was heading to work at normal speeds on nice clear roads, and ask me what they should do.  More snow was predicted and they just weren't sure... More Snow???  There was not an inch on the ground in St. Louis and the prediction was for maybe an inch accumulation. I had a hard time answering that.  This wasn't a child that had called me, but an adult a few years my senior. A big sturdy strapping guy.  This should have been no issue. My answer probably did not provide comfort, it wasn't meant to.  My answer was simple.  Make your own choice, if you wish to lose a day of pay and have an unexcused absence, go for it. Needless to say, he made it in and a full five minutes before the start of his shift.

Definitely not a reason to stop the world...
I understand the one that fell on the ice the day before and needs to stay in bed.  I understand when it is too slick to get safely to a bus, or when it is bitterly cold and you have a health reason to avoid it... that I get... but just because it might snow?

I am not a cold hearted person.  I'm not.  But I am a realist and I am tired of the wimpy attitude that seems so prevalent.  I am tired of the look what life has done to me attitude, what about a look at what I have done with life attitude?

I encounter people everyday that are down-trodden. I encounter those that gave up and those that chose to rule the world. Life is what we make of it, not what it does to us.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Oh the weather outside is...

Cold yes... Snow event.. NO!
The first "snow" of the season has fallen.  It isn't much... just the faintest dusting by Erie standards. It looks like someone shook a shaker of powder sugar over the yard.  But here in the Mid-west it's brought life to a virtual standstill.  Schools are cancelled everywhere, the military base has let "non-essential" people stay home... and I can still see grass!

I am thinking heaven forbid we had a snow event like they used to have in the 90's. When did we become so wimpy? This isn't really a snow event, in fact, even in the heaviest hit areas it's only about four inches.  I am pretty sure that we can handle it.  You bundle up a bit more, you drive a bit slower and you don't look for a short cut out of life. 

I would hate to be called a non-essential person, if I am important enough employ shouldn't I be important enough if there are two inches of snow? I would worry about my future if that was the case.

I love snow, the more snow the better, I am from Pennsylvania after all.  I just don't understand the need to shut down the world when it falls.  Sure ten inches or better, I get it, especially in this area that doesn't get that kind of snow, but two inches?

In a few minutes I will get ready for work. I will put on wool socks to keep my toes nice and toasty, I will put on my hat and gloves and shovel the little bit of snow and sleet mixture off my front deck - don't want to slide off like I did yesterday. I will concede to wearing a pair of really dark jeans, so that my legs don't get cold if I have to help with the walks once I get there.

It won't slow me down. 

It's quieter now than it was on Thanksgiving evening.  It bothers me that a family holiday get's less people to stay home than a snow day.  Unbelievable.

We might get a bit more... but not enough to stop the world...


Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's just one week...

Why is it a one week shift in the holiday schedules and my life goes in the can?  It's one week... but it sure makes life hectic.  Here it is Thursday and I am carving out a minute.  And what a week it's been.

I was blessed to see one of my "kids" from Germany for about 30 minutes on their cross country trek to their new home.  She brought her sweet baby girl for me to meet and her hubby!  It makes me so happy to see how good her life has turned out and to see her beautiful smile at both of them.  That just made my day! That was Monday...

Tuesday I got to spend time with my boy helping him find all the information that it needed to fill out a full security clearance form.  Whew... good thing I hold on to things.  And even then we needed a few "life lines".  He had a point when he said "why do they need all of this... the NSA already has it all!" That form is the devil and definitely ate up some serious hours... but it's the first step in the next stage of his life - so it needed to be done.

Wednesday ended up simply being toast... Big event at work, extreme exhaustion from lack of sleep the two previous days and a late night at work... The bonus was a surprise coffee and visit from my sweet daughter.  I had asked her to come to the event as a seat filler (she thought I wanted her to help me "fill" a room by moving stuff) as we were worried our RSVP's wouldn't show up. She had something at 1:30, so I had told her to not worry, I didn't want her late for her appointment.  So it was a total happy surprise when she showed up, bringing coffee on top of it all.

Here it is Thursday and I am wondering where did the week go?  I have so much to do and not sure where the time is going to come from...

I still haven't even finished decorating!  My tree is up so is the Christmas village and that is it...

The weekend will come and I will catch up... maybe... anyone else struggling with this darn missing time?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

So confused...

Interesting... just over two months ago our insurance company dropped all of our doctors.  Everyone of them gone.  We didn't check mail yesterday, guess we should have the news was quite interesting.  Seems that all of the sudden our insurance is being accepted by all of our doctors again. 

Now I wonder... does this have anything at all to do with that nasty bit of legislation formerly known as "Obamacare"?  You know the one that he now calls "Affordable Care Act"... or maybe, just maybe it has a lot more to do with good old capitalism vs. corporate greed?  A lot of people in this area have United Healthcare, a LOT... and when they "dropped" an entire hospital and all doctors related to it and there are only two on this side of the river, is it possible that it was hitting them financially?

I am not sure how to feel about this change.

I am glad to have all of my doctors back.  It isn't that we need them often, but it's like a well worn sweater on a cold day, you are thankful for the comfort of what you know.  It is reassuring to have doctors that you can trust, when you need them. 

I have had the wonderful uncertainty of government run healthcare.  I can testify with my entire heart that it is not something I ever want to experience again.  It wasn't that they were bad, ironically some of my current doctors were military doctors. It was the fact that the consistency wasn't there.  And that different personalities work differently together. 

I remember a pediatrician that had never been a parent.  She was always telling people what to do, based on books not first hand knowledge, and she was famous for prescribing antibiotics for everything.  I know several children that cannot hear the soft chirp of a baby bird or much of anything for that matter, because that was not the correct course of action.  Her word was law, and there was no arguing the point.

I could not stand that doctor.  I was thankful to leave and not have her near my children. 

That was the frustration that we were dealing with for two months.  A flare that I could not get treated, I couldn't find a new doctor that was accepting patients. A phone call could have fixed that before...

So... is this going to be a yearly issue?  Is it something to worry about annually?  If so why?  Because bureaucracy needs to control us?  Because of corporate greed? I mean after all the government wants control and the insurance companies are truly in it for the money. 

Still... I am confused as to why this has happened?  We all know the President cannot order any insurance company to do anything, that the law of the land is just that... the law of the land.  So... what is going on? 

Why do I all the sudden have my doctors back?  Is this a sad attempt to get me to remember that they gave back what they took away at election time?  I won't forget the pain that I did not have to endure.

Hmmm.... this is quite interesting... and seriously needs a bit more exploration... I am thankful that I work and can afford my insurance, I just wonder what is going on with it...

have you tried...

I am learning.   It's a late day for me and I am enjoying the solitude of the morning.  I am working on bringing some balance back ...