Thursday, December 31, 2009

Nine Highlights of 2009

1. 2009 began with such hope and happiness. We got a new president! Remember his inauguration day? What a joy-filled and hopeful time! I was thrilled that Obama became our president. I still am. I am happy I voted for him and would do it again. Don’t forget where we came from… what Obama inherited was a big, stinking mess. I now look forward with hope (Obama’s influence) instead of with dread and shame (the Bush era)!

2. In 2009 I changed the focus of my blog. I used to concentrate on my quilting, so most of my readers were quilters. This year I began to expand my discussions into the daily goings-on of my life… sometimes quilting, sometimes everything else. I started talking more about my faith and my thoughts. I lost some readers because of the change from a quilty focus. But I gained other readers. I’m happy with the way my blog has evolved. To be honest, I’m shocked that I have so many readers! And I love that! It feels like a huge compliment that people come here to read my humble little blog.

3. I got a new camera in ’09, and I totally love it. I’m still learning its little tricks and magical qualities. I love taking photographs!

4. My friend M’s baby, Emmy, almost died in early 2009! She was very seriously ill. Now she is lively, robust, and full of life. What a joy!

5. Hubby and I decided to start the process to adopt a teenager. Then we changed our minds and decided not to do it. I still feel a little sad that we are not doing this, but it feels right for us and the stage of life we are in. I will try to help in other ways… am still pondering what this might mean.

6. One of the all-time happiest days of my life occurred in July, 2009. Our son got married! We love our daughter-in-law, and the wedding was fabulously happy, loving, and fun. It spoke beautifully to their values and life dreams. It warms a mommy’s heart to see her child find great happiness in life.

7. Both our adult children found new jobs this year (son graduated from college, a joy in itself, and then found a job, which is nearly a full-fledged miracle). Both are doing well and are appreciated and valued by their bosses. This warms a mommy’s heart, too!

8. Quilting - continued happily with this hobby. I made some awesome, quilted paraments for the pulpit and altar at church. Big job, but worth the effort. With friends, made a quilt for a girl who lost everything in a fire. Won third place in a quilt contest held in New England! And made my usual commitment to quilts for kids all over the world.

9. Travel: Participated on another mission team week with my church. These trips are always a good opportunity for gaining insight into oneself, teamwork, learning compassion, doing some helpful work to benefit others, and learning about another culture and even a different geographical region. I have never regretted attending these mission weeks. Went to the lake cabin with B. I love that place! Hubby and I had fun in Philadelphia when my conference there was done.

On to 2010 and a new decade! May we all enjoy good health, happiness, and find ways to help one another and make this world a better place!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Going Backwards to Laughter

I didn't post any photos of the Big family gathering for Christmas, which took place on Dec. 27, so I thought I'd do that now. I have to go backwards in time, before I went to see my mom, stayed with my great-nieces, etc.. Tomorrow I might write a little backwards look at 2009. We'll see if I'm in the right contemplative mood to write that sort of thing.

You can see us having some silly times and laughs. This gang always has fun together. I love that.

How boring life would be without a good sense of humor! I'm thankful for laughter.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Enjoying my Break

When I get an extended break, I get to squeeze in several fun activities. First were all the Christmas parties. Next I decided to visit my mom.

Yesterday I drove up, in a leisurely fashion.. stopped for lunch, even took a little nap, and stopped at my favorite quilt shop and spent all of my Christmas money and then some. Got some beauties on sale for $2.50/yard!! Too fun.

I had a nice visit with my mom; we watched the Vikings lose, but at least it was an interesting game. They did lousy until Mom returned home from a meeting, and then things really picked up. Not quite enough for a win, but it was entertaining, at least.

Today I had a short visit with my great-nieces and great-nephew and was able to stay with them during the interim time when one parent was on the way somewhere and the other parent was en route back home. Believe it or not, we all sat and looked at a book about Obama and talked about history and politics! They are ages 3, 6, and 9! Precocious kids!

Here they are picking each other up: the (almost) 6 yr-old picking up the 9 year-old picking up the 3 yr-old. Cute enough for ya?? I had told my niece she would be mad at me because of what I gave her kids for Christmas... they each got a whistle!!... but she said she's so used to a noisy house, and the whistles actually have a pretty nice sound - not obnoxious. I'm glad. Here's a movie of them whistling (below).

We went out for lunch, did a tiny bit more shopping, and then I returned to my lovely home town just in time for book group meeting at which only two of us attended. We had a nice chat, though, even though we were perplexed as to where everyone was.

Now I'm home catching up on emails, facebook, snail mail, blogs, and chatting with Hubby. Tomorrow I hope to stay home most of the day and start playing with the gorgeous fabrics I bought!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas, So Far

It has been happy, quiet, a little noisy, and tomorrow will be raucous (well, maybe "noisier" is a more polite term). On Christmas Eve Charles and I had a nice, quiet day. He did a lot of snow shoveling... testing out his new toy (a new-fangled shovel), but my day was relatively quiet. I did a tad bit of lazy cleaning.

Later we went to candlelight service at church and then came home, ate dinner and opened gifts, just the two of us. Didn't take long as our new furniture is our main gift this year. Charles gave me just what I wanted and needed: a new ironing board cover! A quilter appreciates these sorts of gifts.

Christmas Day: we worked our buns off. It had started snowing the previous day and just kept coming and coming and coming. Charles had to shovel again, several times. Meanwhile I was making two kinds of soup, two kinds of bars, and we were both working on cleaning the house, and Charles made cinnamon rolls. By bedtime on Christmas Day night we were both exhausted and slept very well!!

Boxing Day: today. Our children and their SO's came for our little private Christmas. It was so great! I just love when they are all here; even my bones are happy. Autumn's BF, Harley, brought along his son, Sean, whom I had never yet met. You can see that he is a cutie, just like his dad. He even managed to eat a vegan cinnamon roll and survive the ordeal.

After gift opening we played Sean's new board game, Fact or Crap, and had a lot of laughs.

The whole, big extended family was scheduled to come today in the afternoon, but a large number of them are still snowed in. They live in the area that was blessed with the most snow in the whole state (from this recent storm)! So it is quite a job getting everyone plowed out. Hopefully they'll be able to emerge by tomorrow. With all the comings and goings and the party postponement, Christmas is extending itself over many days!

I love all these fun family gatherings, from quiet to raucous. All the laughter is good for my soul!

Our cat wishes you all a Merry Christmas, Post Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Chez Moi

Christmas Eve Snowfall

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On This Snowy Christmas Eve...

...I give you my wishes for a happy, healthy, and safe Christmas... and a kind of puzzle picture.

Can you guess what this picture is?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'll Never Grow Up

Sometimes it seems like I'll never grow up. I'm a Girl Peter Pan. Maybe it's because I'm the youngest of four siblings. My sibs always teased me about being spoiled, which I hated, but deep down I knew it was true. My parents were too tired to be as strict with me as they had been with the older ones. There were certain things I knew I could get if I wheedled things just so.

Plus, there is just something about me that is such a goofball kid. Still! (And I'm 57 years old.) I've never trusted myself to have any real authority. It's a good thing I didn't become a teacher, because I could never have controlled a classroom. I don't believe I have the right to demand control or to possess any authority. It's weird. This was a problem while parenting, too, as you can imagine.

After many years of feeling embarrassed about various parts of my personality, I finally figured out that I likely have some level of ADD in me. It has never been diagnosed, but I know... it's there. I'm impulsive and fidgety, and I have a hard time keeping myself organized. These have been problems my whole life.

I used to wonder why other people sitting in meetings could just sit. And pay attention. Without moving. I would wonder about it so much (while changing positions every few seconds) that I would lose track of what I was supposed to listen to in the meeting. See? Thanks, ADD.

What's really bugging me lately is that I am going to retire in June, and I still don't feel like I've grown up enough; I'm still learning about how to be a good employee and how to help myself be better organized and less silly. It's sad to think of completing an entire career without ever really figuring myself out during that whole time. When I look back, I see so many mistakes I made, or foolish things I did that a real grown-up wouldn't have done. I'm so embarrassed!

It's the curse of being the youngest, a little spoiled (I won't admit to being entirely spoiled), and just foggy enough in my thinking to make things harder than they need to be. I'm not dumb. In fact, I like that I'm pretty smart. I just can't think clearly! Like I said, weird.

In my early 50s I used to say that the 50s are the BEST decade. I was old enough to feel I had gained some wisdom, and I started being much more introspective and reflective about life. I liked how I was able to think about things! But now I'm in the last half of the 50s, and my thinking is beginning to feel more like regrets about all the things I messed up.

What do you suppose is in store for me as an immature retired person? Will I spend my days thinking about all my goof-ups? Or will I find Never-Never Land where everyone is just as un-grown-up as I am, so for once I won't be the only scatter-brained, fidgety big person?

Never-Never Land, ready or not, here I come! Apparently I'll never grow up, so here I come!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Weekend Before Christmas...

Is it really Sunday night, and do I really have to go back to work tomorrow?? Usually I get two full weeks off at this time of year. So I’m in the “I’m on break” mode, even though this year’s calendar changed. I have to work Monday and Tuesday and then I get my (well-deserved) break.

It would be nice to just be home and begin the official Christmas preparations, but this year I’ll have to be like the average American and scramble up to the last minute.

Actually, we are surprisingly low key this year, and very unstressed about it all. I am enjoying that a lot. Charles has enough days off to use up by Dec 31 so that he and I will both be home the same number of days. That’s nice! We’re planning a quiet Christmas and then we’ll pretend we are Canadian and will celebrate Boxing Day. That’s the day all our relatives are coming over.

Let’s back up to Friday night, the beginning of my weekend. I went to an after-work party at the home of a now-retired co-worker. That was very nice. We stayed several hours, chatting and eating lots of good food…. a nice, relaxing way to start the weekend.

On Saturday I did a bunch of errands out and about. I did a Christmas toy drop for The Toy Society. These are happening all over the world this weekend. What fun! I placed my toy at a children's clinic to be found when they re-open on Monday.

At home I managed to do one Christmas-prep activity: I made a stocking for Daughter-in-Law.

I also started working on a scrappy pink quilt top. The cat helped me arrange the rows.

Charles ordered himself a new shovel, called a Snowovel. It came on Saturday, and he was so excited to try it out! He is hoping for a big snowfall so he can give it its first real test. So far he loves it and says it's easy on his back.

On Sunday at church we had a display of people’s nativity sets. That was great! What a wide variety of types!

The kids did their Christmas pageant. I loved watching this little angel who had so many things to think about, learn about, and explore. Naturally with all that to do, she couldn’t stand still for very long. Too cute!

Tonight I got an email from my pal and her daughter in Czech Republic. They did a Christmas toy drop for me in their country! I believe it is the first official toy drop in Czech Republic, ever. They had to translate the little note explaining the project, and they placed it at a nursery school, and sent me the pictures. I hope we find out who rescues the toy! Odds are we won’t, but it’ll be exciting if we do.

Charles and I have spent some time tonight planning menus for our various family gatherings. It’ll be fun and delicious, and most of it can be made ahead, which is a big plus.

On to another week and soon to Christmas. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ornaments Through the Years

Take a walk with me through time and learn about the history of some of our family Christmas tree ornaments. These are a few of them from way back and dating right up to the present.

Purchased last summer in South Dakota from a Lakota woman.

purchased from an Ashinishabe woman in northern Minnesota

Eskimo moccasins made by a Tlingit woman (my husband's tribe). I bought it from her in Alaska.

A gift from hubby's parents when they lived in Florida - a sea shell decorated for Christmas.

Made in Czech Republic and sent to me by my friend and pen pal there.

Made in Russia. I bought this in honor of my cousin's two children who are adopted from Russia.

made in Ecuador

a Hmong woman in traditional dress (Hmong people are mountain people from Laos and now many of them live in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and California.)

made in Jerusalem

Last year my friend and fellow member of our church book group made us each a little Christmas book for our trees.

When I was beginning to learn sign language and starting the process to become a sign language interpreter, I went to a sale at a Church of the Deaf in this area. I bought this ornament. It's special because it represents all the great deaf people I have known over the course of my wonderful career.

In our first house our next-door neighbors were a retired couple who were fabulous neighbors. The wife was a knitter; one year she invited us (daughter, about age 4, and me) in to see her Christmas tree, and she let us pick an ornament off her tree to take home and put on our tree. This is what we picked. I love it, and I think of our former neighbors every time we hang this ornament. I believe they are both angels in heaven now.

commemorates the couple of years that our daughter worked at Caribou Coffee

When our daughter was about 4 she found this in the "cheap" box at the church bazaar. It cost only one penny.