Saturday, December 29, 2012

Twists and Turns in Life

This last year has been one of the most joyous and at the same time painful for my husband and I.  We celebrated the birth of our first grandchild and welcomed a new daughter-in-love (law) into our family.  Our family grew by two and we could not be happier! We feel so blessed to have Bradley and Jessica in our lives. :)  Sadly, while we were adding to our own family, we also witnessed families being ripped apart due to many reasons, all of them heartbreaking.  The stress of some situations seemed overwhelming at times and it caused us to question and reevaluate our prioroties and even some relationships.  The silver lining though is that throughout these twists and turns,  our kids, my husband and I have grown even closer and have realized that no matter what, we will always be there for one another.  

We have learned to hold our plans loosely because things have a way of always changing.  Some for them good and even great and others...not so much.  Speaking of holding plans loosely, today we had planned on a family game night with our kids.  It has become a tradition to get together with our own kids and our hanai kids when as many of them as possible are home for the holidays.  We were looking forward to it and I had everything planned and food bought...then came the twist and turn...Jeff stumbled in this morning from work with the flu.  Poor guy is feeling simply awful, body aches, headache, sore throat, fever.  He got up for about half an hour and kept falling asleep on the couch.  He is now back in bed and I'm sure started snoring as soon as his head hit the pillow.  I called the kids and let them know what was up and told them they might want to make other plans for New Year's Eve since we were supposed to have our grandson here for a sleepover.  I don't want them or baby to get sick.  Better to err on the safe side and not expose anyone.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lessons Learned from Christmas 2012

Now that Christmas 2012 has come and gone I thought I would make a list of lessons learned.

1.  Never look a gift fish in the face. (White Elephant Gift Exchange) ;)
2.  Keep Pepto Bismal in hand at all times...all that rich food can cause quite the problem.
3.  The best gifts come in small packages!
4.  New jammies and house slippers are a must.
5.  Always have the guest bedroom ready for one of the hanai kids to stay in. :)
6.  Next year take time for naps...lots and lots of naps.
7.  Hold your plans loosely and go with the flow.
8.  Always make time to watch "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" just would not be Christmas without it. :D
9.  Plan on having a house full of friends and family at any given moment and have snacks ready. (Luckily I always have snacks on hand)
10.  Snow on Christmas makes it all the more magical!
11.  Christmas baths in Grammie's big deep bathtub are made more fun for Bradley with measuring cups to play with.
12.  Expect to run into a few Grinches along the way.
13.  Enjoy the pretty tree with the delicate ornaments this year because next year we will have to do all the unbreakables since it is just too tempting for little hands.
14.  Count your blessings and tell those that you love how much they mean to you.
15.   Pencil in a few days to just collapse and rest after all the festivities!         

Santa Baby

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Life is Busy

Dear Blog,
   I am sorry that I have been neglecting you.  It's nothing that you have done...honest. It's me.  Life has been busy.  Between work, the Holiday Season, trying to spend as much time as possible with my children, grandson and hubby and a few other matters that have needed my attention, I have not been able to give you the attention you deserve.  I am sorry and hope to have more time to spend with you soon.  Please forgive me. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cherishing My School Kiddos

This morning the unthinkable happened.  Many lost their lives at an Elementary school in Connecticut.  A clearly troubled young man not only took his own life but the lives of many others...most of them precious children ranging in age from 6-7 years old.  In his pain and anger, he inflicted the greatest damage and the most gut wrenching pain possible, on the most vulnerable people, little children.  Families are shattered, innocence for all the survivors of this tragedy is lost forever, and emergency responders will forever be haunted by what they saw. 

As all this unfolded this morning on the news, I was getting ready to go substitute teach at our local school where the staff and the kids are all people that I care deeply for and love.  Shocked and dumfounded by what I was seeing and hearing, I just could not comprehend the "why" of the taking of innocent lives, especially of the children.  For a brief moment, I was fearful...fearful of going to work.  I realized that this tragedy could occur at any school, at any time.  And then I thought of the kids, my beloved kids at the school I work at.  Every single one of them so precious and I cried.  The thought of losing even one of them like that is unfathomable, must less twenty.  I knew at that moment that I NEEDED to be with those kids, my kids.  I needed to hug them, tell them how precious and awesome they are all and how much I love them.  I teach in a very small school district so I know these kids well and have spent years with them, I have even taught some of their parents, aunts and uncles.  The staff there treats me as one of their own and to be honest, I feel like I am.  I cannot imagine losing any of them.

Today I took just a bit of extra time to really look at each of the children and to appreciate their individual uniqueness.  I was greeted upon my arrival with hugs from the kids and given more in the halls from children from other classrooms. I made sure to tell the kids how wonderful and awesome they all are and how much I love being with them.  I was so thankful that they were being protected from knowing the terror of what had happenedYes, we are a close knit group, like a family and we take care of one another.    

Being a teacher is in my blood, it brings me great joy to encourage kids and help them learn.  I never want to live in fear of doing what I feel I am called to do in life.  If I do, then the evil that happened today wins and I will not allow that.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Nine Months Old!

Photo: Why play in the seat when you could play under it? Lol

Why play in your toy when you can make a cool fort under it and your ball can't run away! ;)  

Happy nine month birthday to our grandson Bradley!

Bradley continues to entertain us with all his new accomplishments within the last month.  He can now crawl and walk around things if he is holding onto something.  He has also mastered the art of holding onto the edge of the dining room table and hanging by his fingertips from it.  His mom and dad had to rearrange things in the house and put the entertainment center in another room because clearing it out of all the dvds and things just became too tempting for our little guy.  He has learned how to turn up the volume on the radio and likes it LOUD...poor Mommy has to keep turning it back down. ;)  Being the smart kiddo that he is, he has figured out that going to the doctor usually involves being stripped down to be measured (he does not like being cold) and/or getting a shot and voices his displeasure at this and tries to climb right over Mommy to escape.  Bradley is also learning that playing with other people is fun and is exploring the world with more and more confidence while keeping a watchful eye on those people that he loves and make him feel secure.

We are so thankful that we live close enough to be able to spend lots and lots of time with our little grandson and get to experience the world through his eyes.  These past nine months have gone so quickly and have been filled with so many changes for our Bradley and for us.  Thank you Bradley for keeping Grammie and G-pa entertained and for all the love and delight that you bring into our lives.  We love you more than words could ever express!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Maybe I'm Just Getting Old and Christmas Memories

Maybe I'm just getting old...I find myself looking back on things more and more these days.  Little things, like a certain Christmas ornament, trigger memories of my father putting up an identical ornament to the one I have now hanging on my tree.  I remember him putting the delicate Christmas ornaments up at the very top of the tree where little hands could not get ahold of them and break them.  The Christmas angel at the very top of my tree was given to me by my dear mother-in-law.  Looking at it takes me back to Christmas Eve 29 years ago to the first time I met her and my father-in-law.  I can clearly remember not only the love they showed me but the gifts they gave me and what my father-in-law ordered for dinner when we went out after the beautiful Christmas Eve service.  Baking Cranberry Orange Bread takes me right back to my mother's kitchen where she would turn out loaf after loaf of this wonderful Christmas time treat to give as gifts and for us to enjoy.  I decided to continue this tradition with our friends and family many years ago and found a recipe for it in an old cookbook. Mine tasted a bit different than my mom's and when I asked her about it she told me she used Bisquick to make hers. :)  No wonder it tasted different.  To be honest, mine tastes better. ;)  Sorry Mom. :)

Maybe becoming a grandmother this year has triggered so many wonderful memories of my own grandmothers and my great grandmother (Tutu). I used to look at my grandparents and think they were old.  Then I looked at my mom when she became a grandmother for the first time to my children and was amazed to realize how young she really was and looked.  The day I became a grandmother I was overwhelmed with love for our Bradley but confused when I looked in the mirror and didn't see "Grandma" staring back at me. ;) Memories of my dear Tutu and her delight in getting to spend some time with her great grandchildren come flooding back.  I only wish my Grandma could have had that same pleasure and am so thankful that my Grambunny, Grandma Hazel, mom and mother-in-law have. 

I guess Christmas is a time for nostalgia, of remembering the past.  The memories we hold dear of happy times spent with friends and family.  For me that includes our hanai Auntie Joyce and Uncle Lorne along with my "brothers" Glenn and Drew who spent Christmas with us every year.  It was not Christmas in my mind until they arrived from California.  The atmosphere always changed to one of laughter, love and fun once they arrived and all the stresses in the world seemed to melt away.  Sadly we have now lost my Uncle Lorne and Auntie Joyce but some of my fondest  memories of them will always be of doing the Hokie Pokie with my Uncle Lorne to ring in the New Year and my Auntie Joyce's infectious laughter.  I will forever be grateful for those wonderful times and so thankful that my husband and children got to know and love them like I do.

This year I am looking forward to adding new memories that one day I will look back on.  Our first Christmas of being grandparents is yet another milestone in our lives.  My husband and I have been having so much fun picking out just the right gifts for our grandson and starting to build traditions and memories with him. We are looking forward to spending some time of Christmas Eve with my mother-in-law and father-in-law just like we have done since our boys were little but this time we have Bradley.  It will be wonderful to have those memories of Bradley with one set of his great grandparents to look back upon one day.  Christmas day Bradley will have both sets of grandparents, along with at least 1 uncle and possibly a set of great grandparents and another aunt, uncle and cousins to celebrate with.  I am going to take it all in, gets lots and lots of pictures and finally get to experience first hand what my grandmother, mother  and mother-in-law have...the joy of watching your grandchild at Christmas.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What I want my Nieces and Nephews to Know.

I am blessed to have some really awesome nieces (including a great-niece) and nephews.  They range in age from adults to young children.  There are a few things I want them to know:

1.  Uncle Jeff and I are so proud of you all and love you so much!
2.  We have been and will always be some of your biggest cheerleaders and supporters.
3.  Our home and arms are wide open to you at all times.  We love spending time with you.
4.  Every single one of you is so special to us and we count ourselves blessed to have you in our lives.
5.  We are excited for all the future holds for you.  Each one of you has many unique gifts to share with the world.
6.  There will be hard times in your lives and life will not always seem fair.  We will be here to help you through them.
7.  If you need us, let us know.  I don't care what time of day or night it is, we love you and will be there for you.
8.  You are covered in prayer.
9.  We do think you are all amazing people!
10. Again, because we never want you to forget this...we love you! :)

Much love, Auntie Debbie       

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Beautyrest Memory Foam Topper Review

My husband and I both have back problems and had been planning on buying a new bed soon.  We were debating on a memory foam bed or one of the Sleep Number beds.  Upon pricing them out we decided that we just could not swing either one.  Plan B then came into play. 

On Black Friday I noticed a huge price drop at Walmart for the Beautyrest 2" Gel Fusion Memory Foam TopperAt a little under $30 we thought it was worth a try.  We put it on our Queen sized bed and then made the bed up as usual.

The first night, I noticed a big difference for me.  I slept better and did not wake up as sore.  I was also coming down with a cold at this time and I usually do not sleep well at all when I am sick.  I actually slept through the night.  My husband also slept better (he was also sick with a cold) and his back was not as sore when he woke up.  The following nights I found that continued to sleep well and actually started to wake up pain free and noticed that my husband's back was doing much better.  He has a job that is really hard on his back so this is a huge blessing.  One of the things that I had worried about was that the topper would be too hot.  I have not found that to be the case.  It is really comfortable.  I also worried that there might be a strong chemical smell to the topper.  We did not experience that at all.  Overall, I am very pleased so far with it.  It will be interesting to see how it holds up over time.

This was not a paid review...we were just very impressed with the product.  We bought it with our own money and were not given it to try out by the company. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Plan to Survive and Actually Enjoy the Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is now a fond memory and the Christmas countdown has begun.  In years past I have been so stressed out by the time Christmas actually arrived so this year I am making it my goal to slow down, prioritize and to simplify.  

This year is very special to us all because it is the first Christmas for us being grandparents. :)  It has been such a joy to watch our grandson marvel at the holiday decorations and to see his smiles and hear his giggles.  He brings back the wonder of Christmas to us all!

Jeff and I started our Christmas shopping right after Christmas last year and have been planning out what to give or do for those precious people in our lives.  All through the year, when we have seen something that we know someone on our "list" would like, we have picked it up and put it away for them.  Another thing we have done is stocked up on baking and candy making supplies and pretty containers to package our homemade and delicious gifts in.  I love to both give and receive homemade goodies at Christmas and have found that the years that I have not given out my "signature" Christmas breads, people have missed them.  This year I need to make sure to take the time to make them and to get them out to those that appreciate them the most.

The other huge priority for me this year is to focus on relationships.  This year, probably more than any other, has made me so much more aware of how precious my friends and family are to me.  It has been a year where we have been blessed to add a grandson and new daughter to our family while at the same time gone through some things as a family that have shaken us to the core.  Some of these things have drawn us closer and helped us to reconnect with family and friends and sadly, these same things that should have made us all come together, have caused some division and hurt feelings.  Try and hope as we might, we cannot "fix" things unless everyone is ready and willing to try.  My prayer is that hearts will be softened and healing can occur during this special time of the year.  Until then, I am going to try and focus on those relationships that mean the most to me and enjoy all the wonder that this season brings. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Baby it's Cold Outside

It's that time of year when everyone in the family gathers near the pellet stove and snuggles up for the evening.  Daisy cozies into her spot on her daddy's lap, happy to stretch out on his lap and legs and his soft fleece University of Idaho pajama pants.  I think they both enjoy sharing the warmth. Can you feel the love that they have for one another? :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

So Thankful!

Thanksgiving is coming up and I have so much to be thankful for starting with my silly grandson Bradley!  How can you have a bad day when little Mr. Goofball makes faces like this at you? 

I thought I would make a list of some of the many things that I am thankful for, number one being Bradley in the picture above. ;)  Yes, I am a very proud and blessed Grammie.

~being married to a truly wonderful man who works so hard for our family and has sacrificed so much for us
~for all the years that we were able to homeschool our boys and that our children were able to learn at their own pace and pursue their own interests
~for my sons and my daughters (in-law), I am so proud of all of them and love them so very much
 ~for Jeff and I still having our parents when so many of my friends have sadly had to say goodbye to theirs, and yes, I realize what a gift this is
~for a warm and cozy home with low mortgage payments that has allowed us to do things we otherwise would not have been able to afford to do
~for cloudy and gray days because they make me appreciate the sunny ones all that much more
~for thrift stores, garage sales and other bargain hunter outlets
~my gardens that provide us with beautiful flowers, fruit and veggies to enjoy
~our hot tub that was gifted to us by Jeff's boss, we have enjoyed it so much and so have our children and their friends
~our hanai kids who are scattered all over the world and whom we love dearly
~friends and family that enrich our lives with their love, laughter and caring hearts

I pray that you all have a lovely week leading up to Thanksgiving and are able to celebrate with those you cherish most.  Be blessed!       


Friday, November 9, 2012

Frugal Friday Soup

   One of my favorite things to make on cold days is homemade soup.  There is just something so comforting about a steaming bowl of soup that warms and nourishes not only your body but your soul and warms you up from the inside out.
   Last night I made a venison roast in a red wine and Montreal Steak Seasonings marinade.  Today the leftovers of that roast, along with the marinade were transformed into a lovely soup.  This is one of those "throw together whatever sounds good" kind of soups.  Today I started with beef broth and added a package of frozen vegetables that had been sitting in the freezer for awhile.  Once that was boiling about 2 cups of quick cooking barley were added to the mix.  While that simmered away I added the broth from the roast and then cut up the leftover roast into smaller cubes and added that to the mix.  After taste testing, I realized it needed something else so I added half of a leftover diced beefsteak tomato. All this simmered away for an additional 10 minutes and lunch was ready.
   I love meals like this.  Since I made a large pot full, some will be eaten today and the rest will be divided up into meal sized portions for 2 and added to my "frozen soup basket" that I keep in the freezer.  I love having a variety of homemade frozen soups on hand at all times.  At the moment I have homemade chicken and turkey noodle, split pea and a hamburger vegetable soup in there so this will be an nice addition and provide more choices for us.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Welcome Changes Are Coming

   Today we had above normal temperatures.  It was one of those rare warm Fall days that you treasure before the big change comes.  I woke up to sunny skies with a nice breeze blowing so I took advantage of it to do some laundry and hang it out on the line to dry.  One of the loads was mainly my warm winter pajamas.  I wanted them to all be freshly washed and air dried before I wore them to bed.  There is nothing like the smell of air dried  sheets and pajamas to help me sleep well. :)  I also spent some time in the garden taking out the tomato cages and getting them and the gardening tools cleaned up and put away for the season.
   By this afternoon, the clouds started rolling in along with the darkness.  We just set our clocks back this weekend and I am having a very hard time with it starting to get darker around 3:30 p.m..  Rain is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow and then the temperatures drop and we will get snow.  I am hoping my husband can finish the hot tub enclosure's roof tomorrow before the snows come.
    This time of year brings many changes in our lives.  It is a time of slowing down and cuddling in for the long and cold Fall and Winter months.  Teas, hot cocoa, hot cider and coffee become our drinks of choice to warm us up from the inside out.  Hearty stews, casseroles, and soups served with homemade breads, biscuits and rolls are now on the menu once again.  Warm sweaters, scarves and gloves are pulled out, washed and ready to be worn to keep us from getting cold when we venture outside.  Soft and cozy throws are on the couches to cuddle under.  Our flannel sheets make their appearance on our beds along with extra quilts and blankets.  It is a time of year where we pull out our favorite old movies and settle in to watch them while munching on old fashioned, popped on the stove, popcorn.
   I always look forward to this time of year but am finding that this year I sorely need it.  Our Spring and Summer was so hectic and it seemed to have just flown byWe need this slower season to stop and catch our breath once again.  I'm looking forward to the slower pace and to the upcoming family holidays spent with the ones I love.  I am also planning on NOT making too many outside commitments during this season.  My husband and I need and welcome this change.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thoughts on Hurricane Sandy and its Aftermath

I have been glued to the news and weather channel watching Hurricane Sandy and the horrible damage and loss of lives that was done.  My heart and prayers go out to everyone that has suffered a loss of any sort but especially to those who lost loved ones.

Two things struck me through all of this.  The first is that despite the mandatory evacuation orders for some of the areas, some people decided to stay and "ride it out".   It really angered me to see how rescue workers and other ordinary citizens had to risk their own lives to try and save people who blatantly and selfishly ignored the evacuation orders.  It was especially heartbreaking to see the children, who did not have a say in things, being brought out and who were clearly traumatized by the whole ordeal and thought they were going to die.  My question as a parent is this:  How can a parent not do everything possible to keep their kids safe?   How can they risk their children's lives?  Honestly, it made me want to have all those parents criminally charged.

The second thing that struck me was how people did pull together amid the devastation.  It seemed to me that there was such a huge contrast to what we saw after Katrina where people in New Orleans were looting stores and taking anything they could including electronics and demanding that the government take care of themWhat I have seen with Sandy are stores giving away food to people, people that have electricity setting out power strips inviting others with no power to charge their cell phones, hotels inviting people to come and use their wifi so that family and friends can be notified of what is going on and that their loved ones are safe.  I have seen people pulling together and trying to help one another while the local, state and federal government try to get the mess cleaned up and get help for those that need it. 

Maybe, just maybe, most people learned some important lessons after Katrina. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Visits from some of my Favorite People

 Bradley came for a visit last week for the afternoon and we had a great time.  The only problem was that his daddy (my son Chris) got off too early and came to take him back home. ;)  Looking at this picture I am amazed at how big Bradley is getting!  Slow down baby!!!  

I didn't get a picture of Heather when I went to pick Bradley up from her but I was really happy to have seen her too! ;)

Jaysn also came over this weekend to have a belated birthday dinner with us. :)  He also spent lots of time teaching his dad how to download music to the IPOD from the computer.  Thank you Jaysn!!!  That saved me hours of work trying to figure it out. ;)

Of course I am missing my son Josh and my DIL Jess who are  currently overseas.  Thank goodness for SKYPE or I would go nuts!  It really does help to be able to see and talk to them but I miss being able to give them hugs.  Hopefully we will get to share lots of those next Summer.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy 25th Birthday Jaysn!

Happy Birthday Jaysn!  Dad and I cannot believe you are 25 already...where did the time go?  Dad and I were looking at old family photos the other night and found lots of you as a baby and precious!  It brought back many wonderful memories and reminded us of God's grace, promise and answered prayers. You are an amazing son to us, brother to Chris, Josh, Heather and Jessica, and uncle to Bradley. :)  We could not love you more or be any prouder of you and the wonderful man of God that you are.  Praying your 25th year on this earth is blessed beyond measure!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Marriage Verses to Live By

Matthew 19:4-6 NIV
"Haven't you read," he replied, " that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, " For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" So they are no longer two but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 NIV
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Proverbs: 18:22 NIV
He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord

Song of Songs 8:6-7 NIV
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm, for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love, rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.