Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve and I am up way too early, which means that I am most likely NOT going to be the life of any party tonight. But I do love mornings. It is so quiet and dark here this morning, it feels very peaceful to me.
I should be reflecting on the past year and making plans for the new year, but I guess I am just not in that kind of mood this morning. Posting my never sent Christmas letter yesterday, was enough of a reflection on the past year. Plans for the coming year. . . I have made my resolutions, but will keep them to myself so I won't jinx anything yet. Lets just say that if I succeed in my plans I will have less time to blog and will be spending more mornings at the gym!
Yesterday was quite busy for me. I had some end of the year matters to take care of, including sending off my taxes, which meant a visit to the bank and the post office. Randy and I made a quick trip South to reclaim his debit card which he left at a restaurant a few days before. Then back home to meet with an installer for a national internet company. . . that totally did not work out at all. It seems that what the phone representative promised could not be delivered by the installer. We have found that one of the drawbacks of living in the country is keeping modern conveniences working. I don't mean the electric and home phone, which we have had minimal problems with. But the internet, tv and cell phone service has always been a struggle here. We had dial up for years, and finally bit the bullet and paid for wireless, which has to be worked on several times a year. . . our cell phones only work if we go on the porch and face east, and well, the television seems to be working now, but in bad weather watch out! It gets frustrating sometimes. The frustration tends to fade away when we get to glimpse wildlife or beautiful sunrises out the front window. Not a bad trade off for some inconveniences.
Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This is the Annual Christmas letter that I wrote, but did not get sent this year. I thought I would post it here instead.
Dear Friends and Family:
I know, I know. I am usually an early bird when it comes to sending my annual letter and card. You will just hae to forgive me this year. I am either: a) lacking in motivation, b) lacking in time, or c) both of the previous! I was never very good at multiple choice questions, but I am going to have to go with C this year. I am just so happy that I got the tree up and gifts bought!
Why am I lacking in time and motivation you may ask. . . well, let me share my year with you.
In January, Jessica moved to Springfield, Mo. She left on New Year's Day, which was actually very symbolic for her. . . a new job, a new city, a new life. It was a tough adjustment for me, and I shed a few tears. . . yes she is grown, but I loved having her near. Thank goodness Josh, Amanda, Maddison and Mason still live close. In March, Jessica moved into a new apartment (she had been staying with her cousin Mindy, and family) and met Scott. By April, we had been to Springfield to meet Scott and by Easter they were engaged. Scott (nervously) requested our permission to marry Jessica, which was nice and old-fashioned. I have to admit that an August wedding took my breath away, but they both knew what they wanted and decided not to wait.
In June, the program I supervise, rolled out a new computer system, which completely changed the way we do business. The staff spent a week at training, which in no way prepared us for the changes we encountered. It was no surprise to me that the gray hairs began popping out!
In July, our favorite "little man" turned two. He is everything a two year old should be and more. He puts a smile on our faces. Mason does a great imitation of his papa, loves to be read to and can't get enough of anything with wheels, motors or horns. In spite of his rough and tumble personality, he is affectionate and loving. A great combination.
Also in July, most of my family journeyed to Colorado to enjoy a week's retreat at a beautiful mountain cabin. We had the great fortune to meet my mom's sister and two cousins and their families there. It was a wonderful reunion and a gorgeous place to spend a week.
In August, Jessica and Scott got married. They chose August 14th, because it was Randy and my 30th anniversary and the anniversary of Randy's parents. A small ceremony was held in the Wilderness Chapel at Silver Dollar City, followed by a reception in Moberly. It was a special ceremony, attended by all of our immediate family. The reception was a lot of fun, and a bit challenging because we did our own decorating and catering. Amanda, bless her soul, provided beautiful decorations for the reception, did the girls hair and makeup, and even read at the wedding. It was indeed a family affair, and we couldn't have done it without lots of help. A note about Scott. He is a student at Ozark Technical College, majoring in chemistry. He puts a sparkle in Jessica's eyes, and seems to tolerate our crazy family. Bless him!
In October, there were more major changes at my job. I won't go into details, but it was the biggest program change in 30 years, and kept the job challenging for me. Randy also took on a new challenge this year when he accepted the Chief Union Steward job at the plant. He has honed his diplomacy and negotiating skills, and often brings his work home with him.
In December, Miss Maddison turned 5. She proudly told us that now she was 5 like all of her other friends. Maddison is my little soul mate, my cooking pal, my nap partner and sometimes my boss! I cannot remember life without grandchildren, and I am not sure I would want to. They keep us young, entertained and looking at life with new eyes.
Somewhere this year I discovered Facebook (thanks, Jan). It is a great way to connect to people and keep in touch.
And for anyone who doesn't know. . . this blog is named after a column I used to write when I worked for the local newspaper (right out of college). It is theraputic for me to write. . . and it makes me nervous to share the things I write with my friends and family. I don't go crazy proofing this blog, it is more of a creative expression of my thoughts. I will keep posting as long as I have thoughts that need to be shared. Feel free to post comments, and I'll try not to take any criticism personally. It is not easy to hang your feelings out for others to share. . . I hope you enjoyed sharing my writings. Happy 2010!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another cold and dreary day in Missouri! I was out early and there was some precipitation, mostly a biting combination of ice and rain. . . fortunately, it was too warm to stick.
Don't you just love lazy Sundays? I got most of my chores out of the way early today, so this afternoon can be filled with want to's, instead of have to's. On the agenda are baking more cookies, this time oatmeal raisin nut cookies, which are Randy and Josh's favorite. I am having a hard time getting motivated, which is most likely why I am blogging now. I came to the realization today that I am finished shopping. . . if I don't have it by now, it is not going to be bought. That is kind of a nice feeling, but it is also sad, because half of the fun of the holidays are the preparation for them. This year has been fairly easy in terms of knowing what to get for people. I have had some good input, which always helps. I am still holding out on not being one of those people who write a check and leave it at that. I am sure my time is coming to be one of those people, but for now, it is kind of fun to plan, shop, wrap and enjoy the opening of gifts.
I have to work two days this week, and then I will have 5 days off, work two more days and then 5 more days off. I try to let my staff have the time off they want during the holidays, and this year one asked for the week before Christmas off, and one the week after Christmas off. So I am piecing together some days so I can enjoy family.
I guess I had better get to the kitchen. Those cookies aren't baking themselves.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. . . Sorry, I couldn't help myself after I ventured outdoors for a minute. It is dreary, dreary, dreary out there. At least we aren't getting the avalanch of snow that is forecast for the East Coast today. After swearing off holiday baking for the rest of the year, I had a change of heart today and baked some banana nut bread and peanut butter cup cookies. Both turned out well, and I have tucked some in the freezer for gifts for holiday company. There is something so relaxing and domestic about baking on a Saturday morning. I even enjoyed some of the bread warm out of the oven (which is the only way to eat it!). I often wonder if I would be happy to be a full time, stay at home wife. I stayed home for most of the first 8 years of my marriage, when the children were small. I loved being with the kids, participating in their activities and providing a clean, organized home. As with every choice in life, there were also downfalls. I remember feeling bad that I wasn't contributing to the financial well-being of our family, and I worried about how I would support the kids if something happened to my husband. Of course, when I returned to work full time, I had to give up some of the things I loved, such as baking. There just didn't seem to be enough time to work, keep up with the house and follow the kids activities. Now that the children are grown and gone, I have more time to call my own, and I am revisiting some of my earlier passions. High on that list is my love of writing, reading and baking. This just reinforces my ongoing belief that most of life takes place in a circle. . . how you begin, is sometimes how you end.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What a treat I had tonight! When I got off work, I was facing a lonely evening at home, since Randy was working late. Shortly after leaving work, Amanda called and invited me to supper with her and Maddison and Mason. I got to see Mason's tiny red cast protecting his broken arm. It was cute, and he was very proud of it! Maddison ran to me and gave me a big hug and told me that she loved me. Not much better way to end a hard day than that. After supper I came home to a dark and quiet house. It makes me appreciate even more the life I have. I am blessed with a wonderful family, a comfortable home and someone to share my life with. I don't ever want to take any of this for granted, because you never know when it may end. I know that sounds rather morbid, but it is oh so true.
Work was stressful today. I suggested at my work that we forego exchanging gifts this year, and instead pool our funds and sponsor a family or two in need. My idea was to purchase items that cannot be purchased with food stamps, or that no other social agency supplies. There are so many families in need this year, it seemed wasteful to purchase trinkets for each other when the money could go to help others. The response was wonderful. We collected over $300 and lots of items were brought in. A co-worker and I shopped for the four families we selected, purchasing personal hygiene items, paper products and cleaning supplies (also lots of diapers and wipes). However, something happened later in the day with one of the families that was disheartening. It resulted in the parents going to jail. I think we are going to select a different family to share with, but the situation is especially sad, since children will have to now go into foster care. Even though I see sad situations all year long, they seem so much worse during the holidays. It sure makes me count and recount the many blessings in my life, not the least of which was loving and stable parents. Oh how I wish every child could have the love and stability they need.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Only nine days until Christmas! I love the holidays, but really, if my days get any longer or fuller, I think I will just crash. Up at 4 this morning because I couldn't sleep. . . tried going back to bed, but my mind was busy writing my "to do" list. I gave up on sleep and got back up about 5. I was at Wal-Mart early, and almost finished my shopping. Then work for half a day, with a holiday staff meeting and followed by a trip to Columbia. The purpose of the Columbia trip was to help Randy get food and beverage for his annual Union Party. The budget was $700, and at the end of the day, we have $28 of that "allowance" left. There were some thing we couldn't find, so it was back to Moberly and home by 7. I unloaded my morning purchases, which still need to be wrapped. But that will have to be another day, because I am done, finished, completed for today!
The one nagging activity I have not attempted yet this year is my annual Christmas letter and cards. Since I signed up for facebook, I feel connected to most people I normally send cards to. I would still like to send a letter, but I may try a new approach with a January letter. . .
So, I am down to one gift to purchase, a counter full of gifts to wrap, and a letter to write and send. I think I can do this! Keep reading to see if I get it all done. . .

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Well, Mason has a broken arm. He has to go back to the doctor today to get a cast put on his left arm. It will be odd to see such a little fellow in a cast. I can't believe that a cast will slow him down much.
Mason is one of the funniest children I have ever been around. He is a ball of constant motion and sound. Last night at my house he was so full of enery that he literally ran circles around my living room area. He would stop once in a while to give someone a hug or a kiss and lay his head on their leg. At first glance, you would not peg him as an overly affectionate little boy. He is rough, tough and full of action. But if you watch him, you will see a very compassionate and loving child. He is the first to kiss a boo-boo, give someone a hug if he thinks they are sad or share what he has if someone needs or wants it. (Okay, he may make an exception if the someone wanting to share is his sissy).
One of this favorite activities is being read to. I know, that doesn't fit the picture you now have in your mind of this active two year old. Well, let me say this, he loves to be read to, but sometimes he can't sit still for the entire book. His favorite book is "Maybe A Bear Ate It". This classic (sic) book is engrained in my mind forever. In fact I think I dream about it at night. The book is about a cat who is in bed reading and his book gets lost. He loves his book, so he has to go looking for it. His imagination kicks in and he wonders if maybe a "bear ate my book", and then he wonders about the other stuffed animals taking his book. I have no idea why Mason loves this book so. We read it over and over and over again, and every time we read it he acts like it is the best book he ever laid eyes on. He will pretend to cry when the cat does, he will help the cat look for his book, and then he always cheers at the end when the book is found.
Life with a two year old is like going on vacation. Something new to be discovered every day. Part of me wants Mason to stay two forever. His emotions and feelings are so exposed and apparant it takes all the guess work out of being around him. He can be crying and laughing at the same time, or one of those feelings can quickly turn into the other. Being around Mason can be exhausting, but it is always worth the trip!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday morning. . . what a weekend we had! It started with a day off on Friday, which turned out to not really be a day off at all! I was up at 4, and was grocery shopping by 5. I had to go to work to download some computer updates, and then decided to pick up Mason so Josh could get some sleep after working all night. Mason and I came home and unloaded groceries with Randy's help. Then we picked Maddie up from preschool early and headed to Columbia for some shopping. On Saturday, I got up early again, and made some sugar cookies for the kids to help me decorate. I also mixed up the batter for "Laura Bush" cookies (the first time I have tired this recipe). Oops, we needed to go back to town to get nuts for the new recipe. After Amanda dropped the kids off and we ate breakfast, we loaded up to go to town for a quick store run. We ended up at Lowe's to pick up something, and discovered that they were doing a kids workshop on ornaments. Maddison and Mason joined in the fun, and got a fun apron and goggles, plus some fun decorations.
So, back at the house, we mixed up some colored icing and went to work on the cookies. The decorating was a big success (with the exception of a few tears shed when Papa took away Mason's icing because he kept licking and dipping. . .) Then it was off to nap time so the kids could be rested for Maddie's bowling party. Have you ever seen a two year old bowl? That was about as much fun as I have ever had! Anyway, after bowling we stopped by a local fast food place, and finally headed home for the day. Whew was I tired! On Sunday, the kids came out for chocolate chip pancakes and a day of rest. . . or maybe not! We managed to squeeze in some outdoor time, which ended when Maddison fell and soaked her pants. It was way too cold to stay outside with wet pants. So after a little lunch it was nap time for all of us. Then back to town (don't ask), home for supper with Josh and Amanda, and then rest, wonderful rest. Somewhere in all of that activity, I managed to sweep the floor about 50 times (sprinkles, sugar, flour) do some laundry and even make some beef stew. It has been a long, long time since we have had such a busy weekend. Well, actually it was just a few weeks ago at Thanksgiving! Oh well, tis the season for activity. I can always rest in January.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Puff the Magic Dragon. A few years ago a book was written based on the song, "Puff the Magic Dragon". Along with the book was a CD with the song and a few other selections. I came across the book and CD today, and wanted to share the story with my grandchildren. I popped the CD in the player, and sat down with Maddison to read the book. About a fourth of the way through the book and song, I was so overcome with emotion that I couldn't finish. I was trying to hide my tears from Maddison and Mason when my husband came into the room. He could tell right away that something was wrong. Maddie and Mason noticed too that MiMi was suddenly sad. I am not sure they have ever seen me cry, so they were at a loss on how to act. Maddie patted my hand, and Mason gave me a hug. They couldn't have been more surprised by my tears than I was. I have been thinking about the reason for my emotion ever since.

As a child, I owned the 45 rpm version of Peter, Paul and Mary's "Puff the Magic Dragon". It was my absolute favorite song throughout my entire childhood. Even as a young child, the song made me sad. I would go to my room and play the song over and over and over again. The song is about a little boy, Jackie Paper, who had an imaginary dragon for a friend. They had lots of adventures together in a mysterious land called "Honalee". But one day, the little boy outgrew the imaginary dragon and "came no more." I remember feeling sad that Jackie Paper had outgrown the dragon and left him alone and sad. As a child, I had a strong desire to stay a child. I was not one of those children who anxiously awaited moving on to the next milestone or grade. I would grow sentimental when I thought about the time when I would leave home and the security and love of my parents and my home. Today, listening to the song and looking at the story come to life in a book, an avalanch of memories flooded my mind. In the last few months I have become increasingly sentimental about life and the purpose of our time on this earth. I think the fact that I turned 52 this fall, which was the same age my mother was when she died, has made me spend a great deal of time reflecting on life. I try to enjoy every day and the gifts the day provides. Having two precious grandchildren who will be grown and gone before I know it makes me want to squeeze each day and hold onto it just a little bit longer. I dread the day when "Jackie Paper comes no more". It will mark the end of a childhood and a life where imaginary playmates are gone and forgotten.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I forgot to mention this earlier. . . hubby slipped several times to day and called Maddison, our granddaughter, Jessica (our daughter) and then called Mason, Josh (our son, and the grand's father). It was really odd. I often feel transported back 25 or so years when our kids were that age.
The day was a success, but the shopping was a bust. I think it is because all of the easy shopping has been finished, and I am now trying to tie up some lose ends and buy for the more difficult people. The grands couldn't have been better today. On the way out of town, we stopped at Bass Pro and enjoyed their Christmas for kids area. We were there at least an hour, and the little ones got to race cars, watch a miniature train and have some "target" practice. It was not crowded, and all the employees were wonderful with the kids. I tried to buy something just to say "thanks", but I guess that will have to wait for another day.
All in all, I got most of my tasks accomplished for the day. Tomorrow I hope to do some more wrapping and then a little baking and cookie decorating. Sometime this weekend I will get my reliable list out and see exactly what I have left to buy.
I mentioned to my family tonight that I was contemplating not writing a Christmas letter this year. It seems like I am keeping up with friends and family through facebook, so there isn't really that much new to share. The reaction I expected was one of apathy, but instead they voiced disappointment and then were encouraging about the tradition being continued. I will have to think on this, since I am out of fresh Christmas letter ideas. Maybe a month by month review of the years highlights. . . I have been looking back over some of the letters I have sent in the past, and I seem to always include a "score" sheet, so to speak of years (the number of years we have held our jobs, lived in this house etc). I know for sure that I am eliminating that from this years' letter, if I do one. It makes me sound old, boring and oh so predictable (come to think of it, I am actually all of those things. . . )
So, for the remainder of the weekend I must: finish wrapping gifts, bake and decorate cookies, write Christmas letter, compile list of gifts left to purchase, finish laundry, do some light cleaning, attend a special 5 year olds party and maybe watch "White Christmas". Okay, I squeezed that last item in for pure enjoyment. I had better get to bed. There is lots to do!!!
I am up early this morning for a very full day. I had planned a day of vacation, but I have to go into work early to download some program updates. That shouldn't take more than an hour or so. The grocery shopping, and grandchild duty. I will pick Mason up after I shop, then come home to unload and put groceries away. Ater that my hubby and I will pick up Maddison from preschool and head to Columbia for a little Christmas shopping. I am tired just thinking about all of that! Tonight we are invited to a company Christmas party, but will most likely skip that. The problem with getting up at four thirty in the morning is being ready for bed by about eight!
The big weekend plans include baking and decorating cookies with the little ones. I have to remember to keep this simple so I don't get overwhelmed with the process. I love having them in the kitchen with me. It sure brings back memories of when my children were small. I may take a shortcut and buy the premade sugar cookies to decorate. After all, the important part is the sprinkles and the icing!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Whew, what a day! It was busy from the time I got to work until I left, about 30 minutes later than normal. I worked through lunch, and did not get my errands run, which means I will have more to do on my half day off tomorrow. The big talk at the supervisor's weekly meeting was the skyrocketing cost of insurance and the less than desirable policy we seem to be adopting. A family could potentially have to shell out $15000 to meet their deductible a year. Yikes! This madness with health care costs has to end somewhere, or no one will be able to afford insurance or health care. Enough on that. . . how depressing!
When I got home I realized that I had left my Christmas gift wrapping mess on the kitchen counter. I have just been trying to do too much in the mornings, and have been running late all week. It is getting down to crunch time, and I have quite a lot of shopping left to do. I guess it will all get done somehow.
I am almost positive that it should not be this cold this early in the winter season. (zero degrees). The colder it is outside, the more I want to stay inside. Last night when I got home, I could not wait to get into my sweat pants and slippers. As I was starting supper, I reflected on the way my life has changed in the last few years. When my children were still at home, most nights we had somewhere to go (sports activities, music programs etc). Now, when I get home I become like a bear preparing to hibernate for the winter. I hang up my work clothes, turn on the fireplace (gas logs are great), light the Christmas tree and a few candles and start supper. I was feeling very old in my thoughts of home and comfort until my husband reflected the same feelings. Without sharing my thoughts about this, he told me that all day he looks forward to being at home. One of the best feelings in the world, he continued, was to be at home, in sweats and relaxing. It is almost frightening how hubby and I think alike these days. After thirty years together, we are very much of one mind on most subjects. Of course there is always the subject of politics, where longevity in marriage has made our views part instead of come together. But that is a whole other topic for another day. For today, I am just happy to have a warm and comfortable home, sweat pants, soft house slippers and someone I love to share my life with. Life is good!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wednesday morning brings cold temperatures and a howling wind to our little farm. It sure would have been great to stay in bed this morning! There is something rather lonesome about being at home alone in the morning with the Christmas lights on. Somehow different than the lights in the evening.
I am trying to work up the gumption to wrap some presents before I get ready for work. Once I am set up to wrap, I enjoy it. But it seems to take some time to get all the necessary "ingredients" assembled.
I guess it is my age that is keeping me calm about all the holiday "to do's" this year. I used to approach the holidays with a "have to" attitude. For example: I have to finish my shopping, I have to find time to bake and mail out cards, I have to finish decorating the house. This year, it is more like a "want to" list. I want to bake cookies with my Grandchildren, I want to buy the people I love gifts that they will love and I want to make my house feel cozy and warm for my family. The want to versus the have to is a little more relaxing.
This blog sure gives me a reason to postpone my chores. I love to write!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I just got home from work. I have about an hour from the time I get home until my hubby comes home. I usually start supper, check my email and facebook, and listen to the quiet. I have wanted to be home since I went to work today! It is a cold, rainy day in Missouri, and I would have loved to stay home and wrap Christmas presents. The highlight of my day was seeing Maddison and Mason for lunch. I picked up some Princess cupcakes and a Tinkerbell balloon at the store and delivered them on my lunch hour. Maddie was so excited about her birthday (remember what it feels like to look forward to getting older?). She had on a paper birthday hat and couldn't wait to show me her new Leapfrog game. Mason (2) was a little wound up, too, but I am not sure if he knew why he was so excited. He takes a lot of his cues from his big sissy, and he was definitely feeding off of her excitement. Amanda invited me to stay for a sandwich and homemade chicken and noodle soup. It was the best lunch hour I have had in a long, long time! Just the pure joy of children makes me want to cry. They can go from ecstatically happy to crying and then back to laughing in the span of five minutes. I was sorry to have to return to work.
It is a great night to be at home. The temperatures are supposed to drop tonight which means that this rain will either turn into ice or snow. It should make for an interesting morning. But for tonight, there is a fire in the hearth, soup on the stove and a husband on his way home. Life is good!
December 8, 2009
Five years ago today I became a Grandma! I was a little nervous when I first found out that I was going to join the ranks of the "grand", but nervousness soon fell away and was replaced by a special kind of love that I did not realize existed. Today my Granddaughter, Maddison turns five. Reflecting back on this last half of a decade, I realize that few joys in the world can equal the joy of having a grandchild.
Maddison and I share many similar interests including: cooking, reading, coloring, playing games and sliding down hay bales (but that is another day, and another story!). I am so fortunate that I get to see Maddie and her ever so funny, brother, Mason several times a week, and at least one full day every weekend. Our newest adventure is going for "nature walks" on our farm. I will share more on that later.
I hope to use this blog to satisfy my craving for the written word. And even if no one ever reads this site, it will be my modern version of a journal. The prospects are endless!