Sunday, December 28, 2008

The After Christmas Card

We did not send Christmas cards this year. I actually feel somewhat guilty as I open cards from family and friends that I rarely see and remember that I did not even send them a little hello this year. I thought maybe I'd send an "After Christmas Card." What do you think? Or maybe I should do one of those holiday letters that some people do. Hmmm...

The past year was full of ups and downs. I'm not even sure what was happening a full year ago. Let's see...

My Mother-in-law became gravely ill this past year. Getting out of town to be at her bedside was not an easy task. As it goes, we were able to meet up with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law at the airport half-way and we visited while we sped our way into the night just to arrive at the hospital in time to catch the surgeons report after emergency surgery. It was a difficult time, but she grew stronger slowly and steadily. Even after we departed, my Handy-hubby would return every couple of weeks to check on his family and see what he could do to assist around the house. We thank the Lord for his healing touch.

In the summer I was able to bring back the love of my life... my pony. This was the highlight of my year by far. Most of you know the long story about her, but those that don't... just know that when you set a loved one free and it comes back to you... it's meant to be. The Lord heard the pining of my heart from the separation from her and answered many prayers. My bestest friend went way out of her way to help me get her home and to find a place for her to stay. Now she's in a new home and loves it. I love it. I love to take care of her. I love to brush her and spoil her and I'm happy to say that I've put a few miles on her this year. :) I even took a spill... first time in at least 10 years! First time ever off of her! WOW! I'm all recovered now.

Also this summer my Handy Hubby went to another Nascar race. He was delighted to have gotten Keifer Sutherland's autograph and many others. He is now fully set with racing attire... hats, t-shirts, and the like. He LOVES racing. Oh and his other sporty love is football. He got an authentic Steelers jersey for Christmas. He didn't want to take it off! I practically had to bribe him out of it!

The car inspection was an ordeal this year. The Saturn has pretty much run its course with us. Our good old trusted mechanic gave us a run for our money this time. After calling every day for a 2 weeks asking how much money it was going to cost and getting no answers I was a little irrate to say the least. In the end I was so furious and trying so hard not to be ignorant, but the mechanic's response was stuttered "I-I-I We-We-We..." I think I made my point. They appeased me by not charging us any labor fees, only the inspection fee and actual repairs. It's a good thing. The car is inspected for another year, but we'll be hard pressed to go through that scenario again. The search is on for the next vehicle, but not for a while yet. We need pay off the Corolla and figure out what the best next vehicle is going to be. Of course we both have differing opinions... so we'll see.

Our jobs are nothing to brag about. My Handy-hubby continues to work for Starbucks Corporation. He made a move to a different store this year. He likes what he does and thrives in the social environment that it provides. I love that he loves his job. The economy is cutting some of his hours. That's not a good thing. My job is forever challenging, stressful, and overtime is expected. After losing a co-worker last year we had a temp worker for a full year before the institution pulled the plug on that. I'm supposed to get some help from another avenue, but we'll see how that pans out as the upcoming days unfold. Overall I do love what I do. It protects not just the hospital, but the community as well.

My Dad's health has declined and at least one of his doctors indicates the severity of his illnesses. All of us kids have reached out from time to time to assist him with whatever needs he may have; however it is difficult to realize the actuality of the deterioration. The Zombecks have made lifestyle changes right alongside him and assisted with meal-planning and the like. Mom is taking him swimming occasionally. It is very important for the both of them to exercise on a regular basis, especially in this phase of their lives. Trying to maintain the focus that overcomes poor health choices is a battle we all face. It's no great wonder that I struggle with it myself. We celebrated Christmas with my Mom & Dad by taking them to the Symphony. This was my first show of this sort. It was an interesting trip. I do thank the Lord for special times with my parents and ask for continued healing and increased focus and incentive for improving their health status and especially strength for my Mom who is my Dad's primary caretaker, that she will fully embrace her role as his helper and caretaker. I am grateful that she is a nurse and able to understand the needs of a diabetic husband.

We visited Kentucky again for Christmas. My Mother-in-law was again recently hospitalized with chest pain and my Handy-Hubby's grandma was hospitalized with some health problems that will become bigger issues as time goes on. She did get home for Christmas, and we did get to spend some time with her. She has an apartment in a building that used to be a school. It's an interesting place with very high ceilings and windows. My in-laws have a new dog, Toodles. He's still a puppy, a minature poodle. I'm not much of a dog fan, but he does have a cute personality. We also got to visit with our nephew, Hayden for several days. He likes unwrapping presents, but could pretty much care less about what's inside. He's so darling.

It is difficult to witness the declining health of loved ones. It's even more so difficult to be so far away and unable to do practical things to help out. If we learned nothing else this year we have learned how precious our parents are to us and to cherish each moment with them.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Welcome To The Chirstmas Edition of Getting to Know Your Friends

Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Wrapping paper is way more fun to unwrap, but bags are pretty too. I think bags are the "easy way out" for wrapping gifts, but I also have to admit that I do use them sometimes.

Real tree or Artificial?

REAL please, but it's not always practical. We have an artificial tree. It never compares to the real thing, but with two kitties and no kiddos... why bother with the real thing?

When do you put up the tree?

Sometime shortly after Thanksgiving. No specifics.

When do you take the tree down?

Sometime shortly after New Years. Also, not specific.

Do you like eggnog?

It's ok, but I'm not gung-ho about it. My handy-hubby likes it tho.

Favorite gift received as a child?

Probably jewelry from cousin Steve. He once gave me a gold necklace with a heart pendant that had 2 rubies in it. I still have it. It is the first real jewelry I can ever remember getting.

Easiest person to buy for?

My handy-hubby. He gives me a million ideas and I know what will make him smile.

Do you have a nativity scene?


Mail or email Christmas cards?

Mail please. I have trouble keeping up with my emails and sometimes its difficult to download them. I love snail-mail, so that's my pick. Also, I have been known to recycle Christmas cards from past years by cutting the picture and using it as a gift-tag. Sorry friends, we aren't sending cards this year. As much as I enjoy it... it's not in the time or funding budgets. Gotta cut somewhere...

Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

Can't remember any bad ones.

Favorite Christmas Movie?

"Christmas Vacation"

When do you start shopping for Christmas?

I shop all year round.

Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

Yes. As a matter of fact, our very first married Christmas was a very poor one. My father-in-law gave us $100 gift-card that arrived before Christmas. We used it to buy eachother presents.

Favorite thing about Christmas?

Anticipation. I love surprises. Also time off to relax and enjoy.

Lights on the tree?

Yes. I think that white lights are most elegant, although occasionally the colored ones are pretty too. I will also take the opportunity to say that Christmas lights are made for a certain kind of tree. I think that lights strung around a maple or oak type of tree is tacky... real tacky! Especially when they run out of lights half way up the tree.

Favorite Christmas song?

Away In A Manger (sweet pony hay)

Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Yes please. If we aren't traveling, then I want somebody to travel to us.

Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer’s?

Of course, but I'm not going to give it away for the next guy.

Angel on the tree top or a star?

Angels are prettier.

Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

Usually Christmas morning, but my handy-hubby and I like to have a private one-on-one gift exchange, so that is sometimes on Christmas Eve. Besides, if he gets me something pretty I might want to wear it on Christmas?

Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

Crowds and traffic. I can't stand people in stores that aren't respectful of other peoples space. (yes I have a space issue) I don't like it when someone with a cartload of goodies is pressing me forward through a line or bumping into me.

Favorite ornament theme or color?

That's three things!

1) Ornament - the ugly ones! We have an ugly ornament contest and that is the life of the party.

2) Theme - I like to remember the religious aspect of the celebration. It's Jesus's birthday. That's pretty cool. It's a reminder that our Savior is both 100% man and 100% God.

3) Color(s) - burgundy and gold

Favorite Thing for Christmas dinner?

My mother-in-laws tea ring and cranberry nut bread. YUM!

What do you want for Christmas this year?

Top items on my list this year are...

New pitchfork - a green one please, just like I used to have

Breastcollar with running attachment for my pony

Socks for work - you know, to go with dress clothes

Fuzzy slippers - because I'm too cheap to buy them for myself

Pasta bowls - I have always wanted these

Jewelry - my handy-hubby is all over this one

Belgian Waffle maker - YUMMO!

Warm but lightweight barn boots would be a plus.
Dish towels - one can never have enough of those

Snow Christmas morning?

A white Christmas has always been lovely.
Feel free to play along... grab the questions and insert your own answers. Then post on your blog!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just Stuff

It's C-O-L-D, but our home is warm at 70 degrees. We have to keep it at least that warm for the sake of our birds. The kitties don't mind, with their furry coats. They scout around for a ray of sun and then plop down and soak it up. Penny on the other hand... she's living in the fridgid temperatures. Once locked inside for the night with her other three pals, the temperature rises and she's roasty toasty for the night. It's warm enough that the water does not freeze in the barn, so that is good. Besides, she's got a nice thick fluffy coat of fur to keep her warm.

I got a new pair of jeans at Old Navy's $12 jean sale last week. I wasn't too keen on them at first, but my handy hubby says they are slimming. I guess I'll keep them then. As a matter of fact... I might just wear them every day!

Work has been overwhelming lately. I'm more behind now than I've ever been. I hate that feeling. I was already sore for not being effecient after losing a co-worker, but now it's even worse. My boss is trying to help me. Deadlines are looming over our heads. Important projects are being put on hold for things with greater priority. Overtime is standard right now. It would be nice if I got paid for overtime... I guess I'm banking a lot of comp-time to add to my 5+ weeks of vacation I've saved up.

Looking forward to the Holidays. One day I gathered up all of our loose change and took it to the bank. $152 later I think it was worth it. My Handy Hubby claimed it to buy me a Christmas present. He's sweet. He's never had that much money to spend on me before. I did some babysitting a month or two ago and used that money to buy him a nice gift. It's something I know he'll love. Thanks to my sister for assisting me with getting it. Various other gifts were purchased a little here and a little there. We don't have a lot of room in our budget for gifts, but we do try to be thoughtful, creative, practical, and frugal.

My side of the family does not have an adult gift-exchange. Years ago we all did, and then kids came along and lets face it... we all wanted to spoil them. So we started drawing names from a hat for the adults. That was fun for a couple of years, but it's been at least a year or two since we've done that. Seriously, for adults... I think that husbands and wives should spoil one another and aside from that it's about the kids.

I do like to do something special for my parents at Christmas time. Last year we decided that we would not be buying them anymore things that they probably don't need or don't have room for anymore. We think it is more precious to spend some quality time with them. They don't go to "town" as in "Pittsburgh" much if at all. They don't go to social events other than church, work, or family gatherings. So we like to take them for something that they would not normally attend. Last year we saw the Raleigh Ringers in concert at the Soldiers and Sailors museum. This year, tonight actually, we are going to Heinz Hall to see Handel's Messiah. This is such a festive thing to do and such a nice little tradition to do with my folks. We are really looking forward to it.

We plan to celebrate Christmas with my Handy-hubby's family this year. Christmas Eve dinner at his Aunt's house has always been a grand affair. Each year it seems I fit into his family a little more. It's a shame that we live so far away. Christmas with my family will likely occur closer to New Years day... one never knows though. If we can pull ourselves away from the hustle and bustle of life before that, then perhaps we will make a surprise visit to the little ones?

My sister is expecting again, number F-I-V-E!!! Her first 4 will be here to celebrate New Years. That should be grand. We are planning to ring in the new year with a few drinks, snacks, and games at our place with the usual New Years day dinner the following day.

That pretty much sums up the happenings of late and the happenings in planning. I best go get ready for our night out.

Happy Holidays