Friday, December 31, 2010

Bring on 2011!!

What are you doing this New Year's Eve? I will be partying it up with some friends at Jon's. Baked brie, raclette (I got an awesome Swiss made grill for Christmas), fondue, and a chocolate fountain (borrowed, we weren't going to splurge for a rental) are all on the menu. Of course, there is to be wine and after dinner liquors, and any other beverages our friends may bring. As I've told many people we're sending off 2010 and ringing 2011 in style.
In random Oklahoma weather news, yesterday the temps hit 70, there was a tornado warning in the middle of the night, it's windy this morning as a cold front is beginning to move through, and tonight the temps are supposed to drop into the 20s and apparently a winter weather advisory has been issued for later tonight.
I guess Oklahoma wants to send off 2010 and ring in 2011 with some flair too!
Happy and Safe New Years to you!! May 2011 be filled with many joys and triumphs. I look forward to the new year and I count myself lucky to have so many friends willing to ride along. As the French say, gros bisous!! See ya next year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Blog-versary!!

My little ol' blog is two years old today!! Woot, woot! Last year I totally forgot about the blog-versary until about two weeks after the fact. I decided I wasn't going to miss it this time around.
Two years. Gosh it feels longer than that! I've been so lucky to gain some fabulous friends through this blog and I am beyond grateful for each and every one of you who come here and read my musings. You guys are the best!
So while there will be no wild parties to celebrate this occasion (I am though hosting a fab New Year's Eve shindig tomorrow) I am celebrating in my heart you guys who make this blog possible. I've enjoyed all the 'conversations' we've had and hope for many more if you don't mind. Here's to another blogging year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 'Hangover'

A cute picture of Tibby, napping on my legs, and demonstrating perfectly what I've been up to.
No, I am not suffering the effects of a holiday bender. Just,the fatigue and lack of motivation to do and go places that the end of Christmas brings. I have practiced Irish dance, and kept some of the house clean, so, it's not as if I haven't done anything. Just a whole lot of laying on the couch, not thinking, and yet still having a weird feeling that I need to go to work- like tomorrow. I'm not going to lie, this is nice. A recovery of sorts, time to appreciate the finer things in life like not having to be somewhere or get something.
Hope you all are having a lovely post-Christmas recovery too!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas Indeed

I was going to have a cute picture of Tybalt during his first Christmas, but, he's not cooperating (make no mistake though, he's still cute). So here's me! In glasses to boot! Aren't you all feeling special. Seeing me for one, AND in glasses. :-P At least, the tree looks great.
Okay, enough of that. I just wanted to jump on here and say I hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas filled with love, peace, and good memories. I was so blessed to have a good one this year, nothing spectacular, but, yet one where I finally felt in sync with new and old traditions. An one where I consumed copious amounts of very yummy food. Now to enjoy "A Christmas Story" and some hot drink. Merry Christmas to you, my dear and most loved, friends!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Twelve Christmas Memories: Part V

1997. This was the first Christmas I spent without my grandfather Pap. Just a little over two weeks before Christmas he passed away from cancer. He actually lived with us before his passing. To say it was difficult is mild, but, what I had to go through was nothing compared to my mother who was with him every minute she had and then some. One day I may get around to posting about that time, or the day he died.
Pap always came to our house, no matter where we lived, for Christmas. When my great grandmother was alive he flew in on December 26 so he could spend Christmas with his mother and then our family; my brother and I for the longest time fretted about what would happen if Santa didn't get our letter explaining why he needed to come a day later to our house for Christmas. After my Nana passed away he was at our house before Christmas day. I loved Pap, so his arrival for the holidays always made me happy even if it meant my bedroom would be commandeered as the guest room and I would sleep on the couch. I would often go up to my room and peak to see if he was awake. The man had some saintly patience to put up with me.
The Christmas without Pap stands out, not because it was sad, but, because I felt an even stronger conviction to celebrate the holiday to its fullest. I was sad he was gone of course. Yet, in that typical fashion I knew he would want us to remember him and live our lives and celebrate. He even said so, in so many words, before he died. Though we didn't spend Christmas day together we did so much before he died that it was almost as if we had two Christmases that year. I will never forget my mother wheeling him out, while I was practicing, from his room so he could hear me play Christmas music on the piano he had bought me. The look on his face will never, ever leave my memory.
I felt sad today remembering this time and other difficult Christmases, but, then I realized how much strength I had even after Pap passed away. I watched him battle cancer, with such integrity though he was in a so much pain and the emotional side of facing death, I can't even imagine. His last gift to me was showing me how to be brave and strong, and how to find goodness and happiness even amongst the darkest of hours. Thank you Pap, though you are gone, you continue to teach me more and more. One of the most amazing gifts any person can give another.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Twelve Christmas Memories: Round IV

A little piece of this year's Christmas tree. It's a real one which is so exciting for me! First real one in a LONG time.
If you haven't been able to figure this out, know that I freakin' love Christmas trees. L-O-V-E them. It's odd as I do not have decorative inclinations when it comes to the house any other time of the year. Whip out a Christmas tree and I'm all about making that sucker look good and sparkle. I sometimes think I was a raccoon in a previous life- I really dig shiny things sometimes. I think trees in the home, for me, is that idyllic symbol of Christmas. Something that we all gather around and have many happy moments with the gift giving and all that. And, no matter where we moved we always had our tree at Christmas time to make me feel not so far away from family and friends. That's how evocative a Christmas tree is to my memory banks.
One Christmas when my family gathered around to decorate the Christmas tree a major argument broke out. Full on verbal assault. My mother was probably tired and worn out from her job (she was working in an elementary school while dealing with a slew of major health issues), my father was likely worn out from traveling during most of the week and having to come home to project after project and my brother being the combative type wasn't having their negativity. What a combo!! Naturally I tried to settle the argument a role I took up many times for one reason or another. Heck I don't even remember what that particular argument was about. It was one of many pointless angry battles that would sometimes go through the house like a terrible wildfire that I couldn't put out.
Things reached a point where my parents and my brother wouldn't have anything to do with one another and no one was in the mood to decorate the tree. Except me. My father scoffed and said, "Fine do it yourself!!" And so I did. Lights and all. My brother came in later to help me out what was awesome as it was a really tall tree. I think this Christmas memory sticks out because despite conflict I still clung to traditions and the ritual of making Christmas special. I put the Christmas movies tape in and went to it, bound and determined to get our tree sparkling. Later that determination to find something, anything to be happy about with Christmas would serve me during some difficult Christmas seasons. Let's face we all have a couple that definitely didn't turn out the way we wanted. I've learned to be okay with that as those not so great Christmases help to make the next ones more special.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Little Interlude

Mina on top the Ann Taylor box (my gift). What can I say? The cat has good taste.
Yes, I know, I am not writing more Christmas memories. I will continue those I promise, after all I have until January 6th (Epiphany signifying the last of the 12 days of Christmas) to get all those Christmas memories in there! This is just a little update what I've been doing lately. The current Christmas memories I'm forming right now if you will.
I have been taking care of lots of Christmas business since I went on break. I am happy to report that the load of shopping with Leo in tow was not only successful in terms of his training and present getting, but, actually fun. I know, Christmas shopping in major stores and a mall a week before Christmas doesn't seem like it would be fun, but, people seemed more friendly and happy to see Leo in the stores. That and I was given wide berth thanks to the service dog 'attatchment'. Made things a lot easier for me.
Today I'm taking care of a sick boyfriend and getting things cleaned up around here. I'm happy to report, this house is almost as clean as pre-sick, worn out due to work me! Woo hoo!! Okay, the laundry still needs to be done, but, there are enough clean clothes to keep going. Presents have been wrapped, a Christmas activity I love to do. In fact, I used to be the 'family wrapper' of sorts. Not only could I wrap gifts well, I also had a horridly messy closet and under bed where the little treasures could be hidden until I got around to wrapping. In fact, one year I managed to hide wrap an industrial sized car jack that weighed God knows how much. Fun story, but, not an feat I'd like to repeat any time soon.

Louie and Leo tired after lots of playing. I'm pretty sure, Lou likes having us around all day.
Baking activities will be commencing Thursday at Jon's parent's home. After the scare Jon's mother had last week (hospital visit, but, all turned out a-ok) we are making sure to spend plenty of time with her this season. I plan on baking chocolate and chocolate and peppermint macarons and palmiers and maybe make another from scratch pumpkin pie. I will also be getting a visit from my brother soon too. This is turning out to be a great Christmas for me despite all the busyness of work. There's a real tree, many decorations, lots of music and Christmas movie classics, and a sense of happiness at the thought of being around loved ones sharing food, laughter and good times. I'm feeling quite lucky and blessed this season and I hope you are feeling the same too.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


This isn't a post persay, but, I just wanted to share this link with you all. My friend The Pliers told me about a blog and the community around it who are doing some great things to spread Christmas cheer to people in need. Please stop by The Bloggess and read all about it. And, if you're able to help please do. If not, then just spread the word. This is what Christmas is about guys and Lord knows we need to bring attention to how much goodness and good people are out there in the world don't you think?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Twelve Christmas Memories: Round III

At first I wasn't sure which Christmas memory to share next. Then today at school it came to me. My teacher friends were talking about a particular student expressing that she and her family were probably not going to have Christmas this year as they didn't have much money. My friends being awesome, bought her some gifts to take to her so she could have a Christmas. Then I remembered about the year that Christmas almost didn't happen
I lived in Iowa for two years back in the early '90s. In fact, I lived in an over 100 year farm house on a working farm (we rented). There were lots of cows around and more corn than I care to think about. When I say we lived in the country I mean country. Our nearest neighbors were a mile or more away. We lived in this house because it was halfway between my father's work place and the small city where my mother worked. My father eventually got fed up with his position and quit. I know this wasn't a decision taken lightly, but, I can't help but think he didn't realize how hard it would be to find work.
Months stretched on, my father was on unemployment and I even remember going with him to pick up his check. That check and my mother's teacher salary was barely enough to keep our family going. I remember not being too worried about the lack of things around the house, but, I do remember being worried about them. My parents seemed to be worried most of the time and when Christmas rolled around their concerns seemed even heavier. Being an oblivious 11 year old I didn't really think much of what all they could be worrying about.
We had Christmas and I remember thinking it was odd Santa gave my brother and I more candy in our stocking than usual. Typically, we had lots of goodies and a bit of candy. I also recall noting, that there weren't a lot of gifts either. Years later my mother told me that that Christmas happened because of her teacher friends and my grandparents that year. In fact, we almost didn't have a Christmas that year. I still to this day don't know who helped us at my mother's school, but, I really wish I did because I would love to give them a hug. Talk about the true embodiment of giving.
Please allow me a quick post story shout out. To all those who provided for my family thank you. To all of those who give a little to charity, or a surprise gift to someone who doesn't have much, or just being kind towards one another thank you. To the teachers at my school who give to those students who don't have much, thank you.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Twelve Christmas Memories: Round II

This one should be entitled, "The Year I Learned Peach is NOT a Christmas Color." Oh yes, peach. My family moved around quite a bit growing up, and while we lived in Michigan we had an annual tradition of going to Frakenmuth, Michigan a Bavarian town that had Christmas everything- I would only go to that Santa as he was the only one who had a legit beard, thus, he must have been Santa. I L-O-V-E-D this place. I even pushed through a stomach flu once so we could make our pilgrimage to this town; which my mother oh so appreciated when I threw up chicken noodle soup all over the bathroom floor of a lovely Bavarian restaurant. But, I digress.
Because Frankenmuth had Christmas everything there were tons of beautiful, high quality ornaments you could purchase for your tree. One year my mother found this beautiful angel for the top of our tree and she bought it. Unfortunately that angel 'inspired' her to make our Christmas tree more, 'designer' like what you would see in a catalogue or on display in a store front. Now, to be fair, I'm down with themes and color schemes for a tree, but, what horrified me the most about my mother's inspiration was that she was going to decorate the tree in ONLY sage green and peach decorations and a few neutrals that would not conflict with the main colors.
Thus, the Christmas of '88 none of our traditional, much loved, and some [poorly] handmade ornaments were not permitted to be on the tree. I was angry. Like, really, really upset. Sage green balls, peach ribbons, [peach and green themed] floral pattern bows??? Seriously, I think the word that would best describe my state of mind was disgusted. That wasn't Christmas at all!! How could you have a tree like that and call it a Christmas tree?? Oh people you have no idea how I suffered that Christmas because of my mother's themed tree. Me, a Christmas junkie already at the tender age of 7 could not even look at that tree with any sense of magic and wonder. And folks, I loved me some Christmas magic and wonder. I still get that feeling even at the hardened old age of 29 when Christmas season comes again. Even my grandfather's much anticipated annual Christmas visit (I adored that man) was marred because of that tree.
Mercifully, we never repeated the designer Christmas tree look again. Oh my mother still persisted in using the green and peach stuff, but, over the years those decorations broke, got torn, lost in moving etc. I still to this day will never forget 'The How NOT to Decorate a Christmas Tree Christmas.' Today my tree decorating ritual must include nostalgia, hot chocolate and marshmallows, and sometimes old and loved decorations (the few that I have).
Not that I have an opinion on the matter or anything. ;-)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Twelve Christmas Memories: Part I

My blog/FB friend Michelle Fabio, from the fabulous blog Bleeding Espresso, inspired me to blog about twelve Christmas memories as she had back in 2007. I don't know if I have twelve worthy of being blogged about, but, as I think my blog needs some life breathed into it (ie: I need to blog more!) I figured what the heck?
And away we go...
My earliest Christmas memory is from when I was just four years old. My family lived in Yukon, Oklahoma (home of Garth Brooks for anyone who knows who that is). My father's family lived (and still resides) in California while my mother's was mainly in Oklahoma and Texas. That Christmas we, along with my grandfather Pap who lived in Texas, took to the road and made the nearly two day trek to California. Just one thing, we did it in a bus.
To this day I hate traveling in buses.
We made it, more or less intact. I remember being so exhausted and then very overwhelmed by the sheer number of people when we got there. My father has three sisters and another half-sister. Add a spouse and a child or two, my family, and my grandparents, there were more family members there than I had ever seen! I singled out my Aunt S and cousin M as the people to stick to- like glue.
I don't remember the Christmas presents so much as the activities and misadventures during that time. One night during the mass bathtime, that was neccessary with so many small children running around, being that I was the only female cousin my age I actually attempted to use the toilet in the fashion that my young male relatives, and brother, did. I was not successful and quickly corrected that said technique does NOT work with girl parts. Please keep in mind I had just turned four and I really, really didn't know any better. I remember sleeping in a big room with my cousins and waking up before everyone, seeing one of my aunts, but, my sleepy mind thinking she was a bear walking quietly amongst us. I remember the cats around my grandparents house that was in the woods near Yosemite National Park.
I think that Christmas will always be about the experience of being somewhere new and being around family that I had never seen in one place. I remember them and all the new and sometimes strange things they did and this big woodsy place in California where we all had gathered. My first Christmas memory, which is appropriate as I love going to new places and being around people gathered together to celebrate and/or just appreciating being around one another. I think that Christmas set a tone that has always been around my whole life.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What Do You Say?

Today I had to report child abuse to my principal. Obviously, for privacy reasons, I cannot go into any details whatsoever. I can say that I'm very, very shook up by this, as hearing what I did today stirred up many memories of the fear I lived in as a child. It's good to face things for sure, but, wow the pain I felt back then and feel now for that kid is hit me harder than a Mack truck and is surprisingly acute. That said, I'm an adult now, not a scared child and I know how to deal with these emotions. That little one on the other hand, does not have any of those luxeries.
I don't know what to say really. However, if you're the type that believes in prayers, good thoughts/vibes, and all that please send some that kid's way. They need help and I hope that somehow, someway good things will happen for them soon.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Little Shout Out

To these two gorgeous people.
To this crazy nice guy.

To this precocious and sweet child.

To this amazingly strong young lady.

Four dancers, one teacher. They all went to DC this weekend for the Southern Region Oireachtas (o-rock-tahs, a major Irish dancing competition). Lots of competitors and even more pressure. If you score high enough there not only to you get bragging rights, but, a chance to go to the National competition, even the World stage.
Every one of these dancers not only did well enough to make it to the third round (roughly half of the competition), but, they all scored high enough to qualify for the National competition to go. I couldn't be prouder of all of them. The young lady broke her elbow two and a half weeks ago and competed in a cast- she's going to Nationals. The crazy sweet guy has had to make major changes in his technique- he's going to Nationals. The precocious, sweet kiddo has learned hard lessons about motivation and worked even harder to improve- she's going. My gorgeous friend has worked her tail off and pushed through many doubts and moved up thirty places from last year- she too is going.
Then there's my gorgeous teacher who has worked so incredibly hard this year, not only with us dancers, but, also in hopes of passing the difficult TCRG examination.
Not only did she bring dancers up to be able to go to Nationals, but, also passed the TCRG (only 30% do at a time!). Now we are about to become our own school and we're so excited. So, I had to give a shout out to my friends who have worked incredibly hard and long for this. They are so deserving of a little bit of attention!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Robitussin and Christmas Movies Help to Make the Season Bright..

I'm sick. Again. lol It's almost ridiculous actually. I think this is the fourth time I've been sick this semester! I knew, going into my new job, that the first year (and even the second) one works at a school they use up all their sick days and then some. I have been told that I will not get sick after this immune 'boot camp'. I know they're right, I do. Just right now, feeling a little pessimistic. ;-)
I do feel a bit bad about so many posts centered around being sick or having a hard time at work. I promise, my life is not all sickness and hard moments. Things have been great, but, very busy. Irish dance is awesome, though I am working really hard right now (in between illnesses) to improve which of course comes slower than my perfectionist self wants. Then there's Leo who's training is coming along great despite this horrid teenager phase, Louie who is as sweet as ever, Mina who reigns supreme, and the newbie Tibby who is getting ridiculously cuter and sweeter with each passing day. Of course, Jon's still around working and beginning to actually think about fixing up the house to his liking. In between all of that I've been out with friends, had my productive moments, and so on and so forth.
So you all see, I really do have a life outside of illness and work! lol I think I'm still adjusting to keeping it all in balance and then getting around to post about it. But hey, it'll come with time and more experience right? In the meantime, I'll be thinking happy holiday thoughts via the classics (Rudolph, Charlie Brown, etc), the vacation that's coming up, and thanking the makers of over-the-counter and homeopathic medicines which are keeping me quite mellow and content right now.
ps- Please don't hold any typos against me. Decongestants make me a bit... foggy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Surely It Gets Better

I seriously believe this is what is in store for me this December
Just as my body begins to heal from November's 'trauma' December has already handed me some doozies. You remember how I mentioned December at an elementary school means staff and faculty go into survival mode? Yeah, it's true. Soooooo true.
I won't bore you with the stories of the misbehavior and other issues that came with the first of December. Though, the 2nd grader peeing all over the bathroom wall is a good one. I just felt the need to go 'DEAR GOD HELP!!' on my blog. I hope you all don't mind. I really do love you all and I hope this month won't be full of 'Holy crap, today was....' entries.
That said, I made NO promises. ;-)