Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010 (By Lori)

Christmas this year seemed just a little different...not necessarily better or worse, just…different. For me, one difference was that I did not do a very good job of bringing service into this holiday season. In years past there has been at least some cookie baking and delivering said cookies to friends, neighbors, and those at church whom I “visit teach”. The year that our family picked an angel off of the angel tree at the mall and went shopping together was an absolutely wonderful time. Although we did do some things to help out others this year, it just wasn’t the same effort as in Christmas past, and that left a little something lacking in the holiday for me. Hopefully next year I will be in better health and all bathroom remodeling issues will be resolved, and I can do some things that will make me really get into the Christmas spirit.

Surprisingly, music played a much more important role for me this year. As a girl whose favorite song is “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, I don’t get overly involved in music other than enjoying my favorite song and some of the Christmas classics (“O Holy Night” is a great one!). But I happened to catch the end of a special featuring Faith Hill, and it helped me feel the Christmas spirit so very much! I knew that she sang “Where Are You Christmas”, and this song has struck a chord with me because there were some years not so very long ago when I had that sentiment and shared those feelings. However, I had never heard “A Baby Changes Everything” until this year and I did not know that she sings it until I saw her special. What a powerful song! It absolutely made my Christmas season and helped to remind me what it is all about. If you would like to hear it,
click here .

The one thing that stays the same, no matter how you feel physically and no matter what shape your bathroom is in, is loved ones, and I am so grateful that we were able to spend Christmas with ours. Thanks to QVC, HSN, and the UPS guy, there were presents under the tree for everyone (although I doubt that I made all of their dreams come true this year!):

On Christmas Eve, Miss Popper arrived looking somewhat stunned by the whole affair:

However, her mother and her “Grump-Pa” were able to get her warmed up a bit:

Alan had to work Christmas Eve, but we were delighted when he showed up an hour earlier than we had expected (I guess business was slowing down). I don’t know what he and Paisley were up to, but they look a little suspicious to me:

We ate sub-sandwiches, along with cheese ball, etc., watched a video called “The Nativity”, and then opened some presents. Mandy and Jeromy always manage to look so very excited, no matter what the gift:

I loved EVERYTHING that I got, and I received some very special gifts. Alan got one of my favorite Disney movies, “Beauty and the Beast” on DVD for me – I was very glad, because it was one of those things I just have not got around to doing yet, but I certainly am happy that he did that for me. Mandy and Jeromy got me a digital picture frame, fully loaded with pictures both new and old (another wonderful thing):

And Robert got me two special things. The first gift he gave me was an old-fashioned nut cracker. It is great because I love vintage/antique things and it also says, “Squirrel Cracker” on it. To further honor Chewka Marie’s memory, he bought me this cute little figurine (also from the antique store) of a mother squirrel and two babies. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought of Chewka Marie, and I appreciate his remembering her and how much she meant to me.

After a wonderful evening, Miss Popper and her parents went back to their home, but returned the next day to celebrate Christmas Day with us. Miss Popper was certainly decked out in her Christmas finery, complete with little silver shoes:

Mom and I took a short-cut to Christmas dinner this year. We had picked up barbeque and potato salad from Riscky’s Barbeque the afternoon before, so all we had to do was heat the meat and whip out a couple of side dishes. It was actually very good, and a nice change. I was excited that I got to use my new ceramic bake ware/serving ware with the polka dots (I love silly little things.)

I certainly hope that everyone had as much of a wonderful holiday as we had, and may the new year bring forth God’s blessings upon you!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Ornament for Paisley

My daughter and her husband have started a wonderful tradition for my grand-daughter (in fact, I wish I had thought of this for my kids!). Each year they attend an ornament exchange with Jeromy’s family, and this year they actually included Miss Popper in the exchange, so she went home with her very own ornament. Mandy is going to save them in a box for her and then add an ornament from Miss Popper’s mom and dad so that she will have a little box of ornaments of her very own to take with her when she leaves home. I thought this was so sweet that I wanted Miss Popper’s Grump-Pa and her Lolee (me) to get in on this deal, so I started with an ornament for Paisley on her very first Christmas.

At first I was tempted to get her an owl ornament. Her parents love all things “owl” and have even done Miss Popper’s nursery in an owl theme. In a cute twist of fate, one of Miss Popper’s first “tricks” has been to hoot like a little owlet; if you would like to watch a video of Paisley saying, “Whooo….”, then
click here . But then I stumbled across an ornament that has a lot of meaning for me, and I decided to pass this along to my girl for her first Christmas.

Anyone who actually knows me knows that I had a pet squirrel who lived in my house with me for four years. Most people don’t understand just how much she meant to me. Even though she required a lot of care and drove me crazy at times, life with her was a very unique experience and the love that I gave to her and received from her was beyond description. She brought home the fact that there is nobility in even the smallest and simplest of God’s creatures. I had hoped that Miss Popper and Chewka Marie would have the chance to meet one day, but as fate would have it, Chewka Marie left this world just as Paisley Grace was about to enter it. Chewka died the afternoon before Paisley was born; in fact we had not yet buried her when we got the call that Mandy was being admitted to the hospital with preeclampsia. So I said a hurried good-bye to my dearest little friend before heading to the hospital to check on my daughter.

I have never been the type to believe that one being can take another being’s place; to me, to say this would be an insult to them both. Each loved one in my life holds a unique place in my heart, filed away in one of the little drawers that I keep there. But I am so grateful that Miss Popper arrived safely and soundly, and she has brought me more joy than I had ever dreamed. Her arrival helped me through a tough time and she is one of God’s tender mercies, not just for her parents, but for her Lolee as well. I had made a scrapbook of Chewka Marie a couple of years ago (in story book format), and when Paisley gets old enough I will read it to her. I will show her the squirrel ornament that her parents bought for me because they know that I love all things “squirrel”. I want to give her a little squirrel for her tree to help her remember that as a window shuts, a door is opened, and we can be comforted during our dark times, even if it is in ways which are unexpected.

My squirrel ornament:

Miss Popper’s squirrel ornament:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Waiting for Christmas

Each Christmas season for the past two or three years I have been lucky enough to get an early start on the season. I had the tree up and the decorations out within a couple of days after Thanksgiving. By this point, my Christmas shopping was all but complete. I loved this because it allowed me to just relax and enjoy the spirit of giving service, the joy, and the time with family that Christmas is supposed to be. However, this year the only things decking our halls are boxes of tile and building supplies for the bathroom. Having the bathroom “poop out” on us just before Thanksgiving was not conducive to holiday decorating! Robert is working on it with every spare minute that he has, but remodeling a whole bathroom is just a major project, no matter how you look at it or how hard you work. So this year I am “waiting for Christmas” in more ways than one. I am just trying to enjoy the things that ARE available to me.

We had a family Christmas party at church. It was not only fun, but it certainly fulfilled the idea of giving service at Christmas. I will soon be posting more on the story of the actual party on my new blog,
“Womanly Decadence” (I think I may need to join a 12-step program for compulsive bloggers). Anyway, at the party they had set up a cute little “forest” of trees and I noticed that many families were having their pictures made in front of them, so I persuaded Alan to let me take his picture. Can you see the boyish glee on his face at being around all the little kids running around? (Me neither! But, I’m glad he was a good sport and went with me.)

Meanwhile, at Miss Popper’s house, Christmas is up and running! Her mother and father have put up not one, but multiple trees. She also had a great time the other night when her parents took her to her first official ornament exchange with Jeromy’s family. This is a tradition of his extended family, and I really like it. Since there are so many members in his extended family, the annual ornament exchange is the one opportunity for the whole clan to get together at the holidays. Each participant brings an ornament; I’m still not clear if it is like a “white elephant” game or what, but at the end of the evening each participant goes home with a different ornament. Mandy is starting a box for Miss Popper’s ornaments from the annual party, and Mandy and I plan on each adding an ornament, too. The idea is that when Miss Popper leaves home someday she will have a good start on a tree of her own with decorations that have a history and meaning.

Here are Mandy and Miss Popper, ready to go:

At the ornament exchange Miss Popper was passed from relative to relative, and seems to be having a great time:

I had bought the little outfit that she was wearing and was so tickled to see that Mandy took this shot. What a cute little bum!

Hope you are enjoying the Christmas season!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ever So “Grate-Ful”!

Early in the week, I was getting the feeling that this Thanksgiving holiday was going to be a little different than those in previous years. The right side of my face is still dead from Bell ’s palsy, and I still have headaches and dizziness that keep me from being what I used to be. It’s amazing how illness can sap your spirit if you let it. Everything I normally do has become so hard, and it has really been grating on my nerves. Then, the day before Thanksgiving, while taking a shower I noticed two tiles in the back of the shower completely bowed out away from the wall. I had been concerned about the grout, etc., in this original shower in our 1970’s house, but we had thought that we could hold off on remodeling it until next spring sometime (well AFTER Christmas and the financial damage that is done during this season). Not so…bulging tile could only mean that water was getting behind the tile (for quite awhile, I’m afraid), causing who-only-knows what kind of damage. I had thought that this Thanksgiving was going to be different, and I was right!

However, in a strange way, those bulging tiles helped me to get back to seeing things in perspective and brought a new sense of appreciation to my week. I’m grateful for a husband who is willing to spend his precious days off dutifully working on said bathroom without complaining, and I’m glad that he has the know-how to do it (he was working construction and remodeling when I met him). That has really touched me. I’m also grateful that he’s the kind of guy who didn’t have a cow and berate me when I lost control of the cart while he was loading sheet rock at Home Depot, sending the cart scraping along the underside of the tailgate of his truck. This loss of control resulted in some pretty good scratches on the outside of his tailgate. I’m also grateful that Target sells scratch repair kits. I’m grateful that we had the means (albeit borrowed) to be able to buy the materials to make the new bathroom possible. After living without this bathroom for a few days, I’m grateful we even have it in the first place.

So now we have a new remodeling project to document. Here is what it looks like now:

I also am grateful that Alan seems to be enjoying work so much more now. After returning from Yellowstone, he returned to working at Albertson’s. Apparently, they got a new store manager while Alan was gone, and this new guy is very personable and caring towards ALL of the employees. A good manager can make all the difference, and Alan seems to be much happier in general.

I’m grateful that Molly-Anna Marie came into my life. While it is true that she is a loping, big galloot, she is also very easy-going and just a joy to be around. In the quiet times (when she is NOT pouncing and wrestling Toffee), sometimes she and I just hang out together and it is quite comforting. I sure love her.

I'm grateful for all that my Mom has done for me, especially lately. I don't know how I would have made it during this time, especially the period immediately following my first coming down with my illness. I guess you're never too old to be helped by your mother.

And of course, no post is complete without being grateful for Miss Popper. She is the most cuddly, sweet package of drooling goodness in the whole world. Here is a picture her mother snapped while their little family was out doing some “Black Friday” shopping. Miss Popper’s dad will filling the car with gas and Mandy looked in the back seat to see if Miss Popper was okay. She seems more than okay – I think she knew her parents had decided to give her the big activity set/seat (intended as a Christmas present) on that day instead of waiting until Christmas. I guess we both have lots to be grateful for!

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Room…New Alan

I am still having some issues with my health, and because of that I have been sidetracked somewhat. I totally forgot that I was going to write about the guest room/Alan’s room remodel! It was finally finished just a few days before Alan returned home (I like living on the edge), and I must say that it turned out okay.

As a refresher, here is the “Bordello of Blood” room that was left behind when Alan went to Yellowstone:

Here is the new room. I did a lot of purging and sorting and whittling down on things in that room. When it became a more manageable volume, I was able to put some of the things that Alan really likes on his bookshelf, along with some new organizing stuff from the Container Store:

I then replaced the cheap plastic knobs on this chest of drawers with some cheap brushed nickel knobs from Lowe’s:

I moved this cabinet from another room and hid his television and a whole bunch of video games in it:

His new bed is soft and comfy (and notice, no more blood bordello!):

Alan came home to a new room, and we got a new Alan. He has lost a lot of weight and seems to have a lot more confidence. He is also an uncle now, and he seems to think that Paisley is pretty neat. He often asks, “Have we heard from Mandy today?”

“Yeah, she called a little while ago,” I’ll say.

This is ALWAYS followed by, “How’s Paisley doin’?”

Here’s a picture of Uncle Alan with Paisley:

I think they are both as cute as can be! (That is totally unbiased, of course!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Look at What’s Popping Up in the Pumpkin Patch!

Last weekend Pod’s parents decided to take her to the local pumpkin patch to take some pictures (you have to remember that Pod’s mother is a wedding photographer). According to Pod’s mother, the shoot did not go as planned. Apparently, my sweet Pod was quite tired and wanted to sleep through most of it. Ever the photographer, poor Pod’s old mother would have none of that, and my poor little girl was stirred from her sweet repose, just to satisfy some photographers need for that “perfect” shot:

Sleeping Beauty:

After the Awakening:

Ready to Rumble (her grandmother’s favorite picture):

Looking Beautiful:

The pumpkin patch never looked so lovely!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

An Unwelcome Surprise

For anyone who has noticed that I have not been keeping up with my blog lately, this is to let you know that I really haven’t been doing much of anything. Shortly after my little stint with my sinus infection and COPD, my right ear started to hurt. This was about three weeks ago. In fact, I felt so crummy that I stayed home from church and just wanted to sleep. I decided to take a couple of Motrin and go back to bed about 8 o’clock that morning. When I woke up at 10:30, the entire right side of my face was paralyzed. I thought it was just a bad reaction to the Motrin (I’m usually more of an aspirin user), but when I went to the doctor the next day, I found out that I have Bell ’s palsy. I had never even heard of it, but apparently it’s a viral infection that gets into some nerve endings located just behind your ear (that explains the ear ache) and it can lay dormant for quite some time. Until it decides to wake up one day. Surprise!

I took my antiviral medication, but unfortunately I am told that it just takes time to recover. It’s funny that I had never heard of Bell’s palsy before, but now that I have it, just about everyone I know has a friend or relative who has had it. I have heard stories of recovery that took as little as two weeks, while others took almost six months to recover. I think I can live with the facial paralysis if my head will just stop “shorting out”. You know that sensation that you sometimes get when you are first falling asleep, and you feel like you are falling and you jerk real fast and wake yourself up? That’s what I feel like when I’m awake. Once about every 3-4 minutes. Even when I’m walking. It’s very disconcerting and makes it hard to get anything done. It also makes it hard to read more than a couple of paragraphs of anything at a time, and I LOVE reading. I am looking forward to having this part of this condition pass, and I know that it will. I just have to learn patience, and it’s probably a lesson that I could use. Robert’s sister just found out that she has cancer for the second time, and when I watch her, I am so inspired! It’s hard to feel sorry for myself when I know all that she is going to have to go through.

So there you go – this is what I have been up to and why I have been so lazy on the posting. I can’t wait until I’m able to show you pictures of the newly remodeled room. And of course, a day without pictures of Pod is like a day without sunshine…or water…or air! Hopefully, I’ll be up to speed soon, with lots of posts and lots of pictures.

Until then, I am grateful for friends and family who take the time to call me, and patiently listen as I try to talk like a normal person. I am grateful to my husband, who lies through his teeth and tells me he loves me just like I am (Really? Someone who looks like a comic book character? Well, aren’t you freaky?) . I’m especially thankful for my mother. I had wanted to have her live with us so that I could take care of her, but she has ended up taking care of me, instead. I know she feels bad, too, but she has been doing all of the cooking and cleaning and shopping. And she is doing it cheerfully! I am going to owe her so BIG for this one!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Still Here

Assuming that anyone actually reads my blog, they might have been wondering if I fell into a hole somewhere. Well, yes, sort of. I fell into the hole that is my son’s room as I have tried to remodel before he comes home next month (he’s been working at Yellowstone this summer). I figured it would be easier to do it while he is gone, and I actually had hoped to do it long before now, but I’m a “performs best under pressure” kind of girl.

The last incarnation of his room had been inspired by a picture I had seen in a magazine. THAT room had red walls and an Asian-themed d├ęcor. It was vibrant and sophisticated, just what an out-of-high-school guy needed. Somewhere along the way, what had looked so put together and classy somehow morphed into a room that we later laughingly called “The Bordello of Blood”. Add the habits of a young adult male, plus the whirlwind activities of packing and leaving for Yellowstone, and here is what I faced when I opened his door:

So Robert and I have been remodeling. I have done a LOT of painting: ceiling, walls, and trim. Robert has been working on putting down a laminate floor (whoever thought that nailing a textile to the floor and then walking all over it was a great idea had to have been crazy!). The floor is down, and Robert is putting the baseboards back a little at a time after he gets home from work each night. This means more touch-up painting for me as he finishes each side.

I also have pulled everything out of Alan’s room – it is sitting in various rooms throughout the house, cluttering up everything. I am going through all of the various plastic carts and plastic boxes that he had, sorting through things and putting things into categories. Young adult males will put things in boxes that should NOT be grouped together. For example, the results of a cosmetology licensing exam, pictures of friends, bank statements, debit card receipts from Subway, and an old comic book from childhood will be all together in one tub (with 500 OTHER things). Middle-aged women who are obsessed with organization will categorize and divide these things and give them separate storage facilities. It takes even longer than painting!

Making things even more exciting is the fact that halfway through this process, my COPD kicked in and I once again developed bronchitis. I have to say that I am a little ticked off about the emphysema thing. If I had been diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes, well, let’s just say that I have eaten enough chocolate and drank enough soda to have earned one of those. But, no…it had to be chronic breathing problems for the girl who never smoked. Anyway, the whole bronchitis thing put me about three or four days behind, but I am finally back in the saddle.

If we ever finish this room, I will happily blog about it and post pictures of this major accomplishment. I will be glad when it IS done, because I have been so busy (or sick) that I have been missing out on some major Pod time. Luckily for me, her mother has been good about posting pictures so that I can at least see her. Pod is doing well, and even putting on some weight. The big problems are that she wants to eat ALL the time (especially at night) and she seems to have her days and nights mixed up. Apparently she becomes wide awake at 11 p.m. and keeps her parents awake until 2 in the morning.

Here is what she looks like late at night:

Here is what she looks like at various times during the day:

I just can’t wait until she is big enough to help me paint!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pod Alert: Something Besides a Bath

I had started to wonder if my sweet little Pod was going to wash away, with all the baths her parents have insisted on giving her. Imagine my delight when Pod's mother posted some pictures of Paisley doing something besides being scrubbed (I'm also glad Mandy is keeping her photography skills sharp!).


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pod Alert: Her First REAL Bath

Paisley finally has a real belly button now, so her parents decided last night that it was time for her first real, full-fledged bath. Since Paisley’s grandmother wasn’t there to protect her, poor little Paisley had to face the dastardly deed alone. Mandy even took pictures to document the atrocity.

(Totally unrelated, here she is in her official “1 week” photo -- just beautiful!):

Here’s Paisley’s dad, all smiles as he assembles his devices of cruelty for THE BATH:

My poor Paisley, snoozing in her tub, innocent and unsuspecting of the water and suds which are to come:

I do not have photos of the actual deed as it was being perpetrated, but I have heard that there was much crying and carrying on (just as it was with the sponge bath). However, after the trauma was over, she was positively radiant:

May she always recover so beautifully from all of the little traumas in her life!