Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adios 2009 - Hola 2010

Twenty-ten. It seems an odd thing to say. I know it's gonna take some time getting used to writing that, on the rare occasions I have to write these days.

I guess New Year's Eve is a good time to look back on the year and decide what kind of year it's been. I think overall The Mitchells in Michigan have had a good year. We've had a few unpleasant episodes like Tyler's medical scare. But I would have to say overall that we've mostly had blessings in 2009. Of course, one of the biggest blessings will spill over into 2010 and that will be the birth of Amber & Andy's first child, our granddaughter. It doesn't look like she will make her appearance in time for the tax write-off her Daddy hoped for. If she doesn't arrive by January 7 she will be forced to make an appearance on January 11. That's the date scheduled anyway. So exciting! We'll all get to see her, H, Ty, Scott and I, about 5 days after that. This is going to be one exciting time in the life of The Mitchells in Michigan.

Another blessing is that it looks like Tyler will graduate. He got his grades back the other day and he passed all his final classes so he should receive his diploma, officially, soon. It's been along journey since his graduation in 2003 with several changes in his major and one huge University change which included a move from Michigan to the unknown in Hawaii! Who knows where this next phase of his life will take him? Maybe to another country, maybe he will stay in Hawaii, maybe he will land somewhere back on the mainland. In anticipation of job offers far and wide, we went down to the post office the other day and applied for his passport. It's not much of a graduation gift but it could take him far and wide and to places he's never been! I'd say it's better than luggage he would never use.

Also a blessing is Scott's health, overall. His new pump is working well and his blood sugars seem to be more controlled. He doesn't seem to have as many super high readings or the lows that he had in the past. Whatever we can do to prevent any damage to his organs will be helpful in the future. I am holding on to the belief that in the near future, with stem cell research, they will find a way to cure diabetes, possibly by being able to grow a new pancreas.

Another mark in the plus column is H has survived his company's buy-out and continues to have a job. It's not always easy and he seems to work longer hours that ever but in Michigan's economy we are just thankful he has a job. Even if he were able to find a job in another state, I doubt we could sell our house for what it's worth. People keep saying Michigan will come back but I don't think it will ever come back to what it was back in 2001, before 9/11. That seemed to be the beginning of the end for Michigan. The auto industry will never return to what it was before that. We are just hoping to hang on long enough to some day get what we paid out of this place, or at least what we still owe.

I am also grateful to have a job though I'm not sure what next year will bring. The economy is finally having a trickle down effect on the schools. Our district is predicting a $12 million cut next year. A few weeks ago some big shot from the District came to the school asking the support staff to help save money by turning off lights, saving supplies etc. I'm sorry, with a $12 million cut I just had to get to the point and asked if what she was really saying was that many people in that room would not have a job next year. She, and the Principal, admitted that was true. Support people will always go before teachers. Since I am not too high on the seniority list it's entirely possible that my job will be cut. Or it could be that I would be required to take a job that's physically impossible for me. I'm finding it harder and harder to spend hours on end standing and bending over desks. It's taking a toll on my legs and feet. Supposedly in mid-March we will find out how deep the cuts will be. I'm safe for this school year though so I will enjoy these next few months and try not to worry about it yet.

So, I guess that's it for the recap. This past week has been dismal, weather-wise. It makes you not even feel like getting dressed in the morning and there have been some mornings when the guys haven't. If there's no place to go, why bother? I'm not sure when we saw the sun last, maybe last weekend. I've been a bit slow-moving these past two days. Tuesday night, around 9:30 I started feeling really sick. From there I went downhill. After being sick every 1/2 hour until about 2:30 a.m. I was finally able to lay down and get a little rest. I was afraid I had the stomach flu but the next morning I didn't really have any symptoms other than being really tired! No fever, chills, achy joints. Today I feel like I did 100 crunches! Lots of muscle soreness so that should tell you how violent the evening was! No fun but I am thankful it only lasted 6 hours instead of 6 days! I don't think I've ever felt this sick, even when I did have the flu. I'm assuming it was some type of food poisoning though the boys all ate what I did and no one but me got sick. I've never had food poisoning before but when I Googled the symptoms, they all matched.

With me being sick and the weather being crappy, my poor little pups haven't spent any time outside lately. I think the last day we were able to get out was Tuesday. We were at the high school, near the bleachers, and someone banged on the bleachers and Charlie took off, running away from me as fast as he could. I don't know what gets into that little pea brain of his sometimes. He took off like a shot and never looked back at the crazy lady running after him shouting his name! After a few minutes his mind must have returned and he came running back. Crazy dog.

Usually Zoe will help me out and run after him then try to herd him back but there were too many interesting smells on the ground that day.
"What, he's my problem now?"

This is how dismal it looks outside. Gray and white, all day long.

Here's one of the few living creatures that bothers to make an appearance. This guy was actually looking me right in the eye. I think he wanted to come inside.

This was the only color to be seen outside on the last day of 2009.

If my windows were a little cleaner you could see what a beautiful red color he was. I'll have to get right on that, tomorrow.

Tonight we will head over to an annual New Year's Eve party hosted by our bowling partners. They have one every year, guess that's why they call it "annual", duh. I'll be making my little sausages in a blanket. I always think about making something else but people always expect me to bring these, so I do. At least I don't have to bring them home because they are always GONE by the end of the night!

I'm wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year's Eve!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

It's All Over...Until Next Year...

Merry Christmas. Cinnamon rolls have been eaten. Presents have been opened. Christmas turkey has been prepared and dishes all cleaned up.

Here are the cute little gingerbread boys and girls I baked. Unfortunately I ran out of steam before I got the sugar cookies made so there were no plates of cookies for neighbors this year. We do have lots of these yummy cookies leftover though.

Santa brought us a Garmin. This will be a nice family gift. I tried to get it to upload the maps from the satellite but the weather wasn't cooperating. Guess we'll have to wait for a clear day, whenever that might be. Today (and yesterday for that matter) was a crappy day. Today it rained quite hard in the morning and then rained pretty steady throughout the rest of the day. What little bit of snow we had on the ground will be gone soon.

H also got some nice floor mats for the Mustang.

Scott got that special computer keyboard he wanted. He was happy about that.

Tyler got an alarm clock/radio for his iPod. He also got a few warm shirts to wear while he's here.

I got a new alarm clock that I really wanted. Instead of waking of to an annoying beeping you can choose to wake up to birds singing, a light rain, waves crashing on the beach or lovely wind chimes. The boys also got me some of my favorite perfume. H bought me a gift certificate to my favorite spa so when the weather warms up I can get a lovely pedicure. Can't wait for that! I also got a new programmable slow cooker. I haven't had much luck with crock pots so I'm hoping this one will work better. It would be nice to "set it and forget it" like it advertises.

The rest of the day was pretty quiet. H spent most of it watching the new DVD's he got on Planet Earth. On our big screen TV they are pretty amazing.

I cooked a turkey breast with all the trimmings for dinner. It's a lot of work but I guess we have to eat something.

The pups were bored today. It was too nasty to go out and play. We couldn't go yesterday either. Maybe tomorrow?

They looked so cute in their Christmas collars.

I feel like an old Scrooge when I say I just am not into Christmas anymore. At least not the last few years. All the work just doesn't seem worth it somehow. All the money spent, even though this year I cut way back. Dragging the stuff out every year just to pack it all away a couple weeks later. Hours and hours spent doing all this stuff. If I could do what I wanted I would just plan Christmas away in a warm place every year, with family, but not all the fuss. Ok, enough complaining.

I'm looking forward to the next few weeks. I still have another week off which will be nice. I'm looking forward to spending some time with Tyler, if he can ever get his internal clock reset to our time and get up before noon. Then in a few short weeks we'll be travelling to VA to see the new baby. That's really something to look forward to. Can't wait.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Final Countdown...

Progress has been made. The tree is decorated.

The stockings are hung.

The gifts are wrapped.

Tyler made it home with no problems.

The cookies are made. Some of them anyway. More are being made later.

Here's where my "helpers" were hanging out while the baking was going on. They found their little spot in the sunshine!

So while everyone was sleeping in this morning, except me and the pups, I was just looking at the tree, at all the ornaments and what some of them mean to us.

This is one of my favorites. It was a gift from H's former assistant (sadly she was laid off earlier this year) who has a sister who was President Bush's Navy nurse and when we were in Virginia for "THE WEDDING", she got us into a White House Tour. Then for Christmas the sisters gave us this beautiful ornament that commemorated a White House Wedding of years ago. So thoughtful and so pretty.

And of course I love the home-made ornaments. These are a few the kids made when they were little.

I think Scott made this one in second grade. Pretty easy but cute, craft stick, glove finger, paint, little scarf, cute.

Tyler made this one. Kindergarten, maybe first grade. Early skills.

Not sure which one made this one. One of the boys I think.

This is a very early one. It was made by Amber at just 2 years old.

I was making these little mice for everyone and she wanted to make her own.

Here's another home-made one. This was when I was into cross-stitch.

I made a bunch of these Santa's. This is one of 5 or 6. It's made on a stiff paper backing.

These picture ornaments are so cute too. This one is Amber at just 2 years old.

And the boys. Scott was about 5 or 6, Tyler 8 or 9.

This is the only family picture I have on the tree. A friend gave me the frame and we had just happened to have a family picture taken that year.

Then there are the ones that were gifts. This is an ornament my Mother gave me, probably the only one.

This is a beautiful ornament that Amber picked up for me when she was travelling in Europe right after college. I just love the blue and white Santa.

This is one of the many Avon pewter ornaments I have collected over the years. This is the 2009 ornament. I think I have them starting in 1993.

This was our special ornament from last year. I bought it on Christmas Eve in Hawaii. Merry Christmas in Hawaiian.

I've been remembering last Christmas a lot these past few days. It was such a wonderful trip. Such a nice family experience. So warm! I miss warm! And I miss my family who can't be here this year. Amber & Andy will be having a quiet Christmas at home this year. I can't really be too sad though because it's for such a good reason. The baby will be here soon. And boy are we gonna have some fun NEXT Christmas!!

I have been able to take the pups to the park for the last several days. The weather hasn't been too bad and the sun was actually out yesterday and today. There are a few inches of snow on the ground which makes it perfect weather for frisbee playing! They get so excited just driving there and can hardly contain themselves before I open the door and they can get out and run and play! I'm enjoying it while I can. Christmas Eve there are predictions of icey weather turning to rain on Christmas day so we won't be having much outside fun on those days.

Their 5 hour appointment at the groomers went well. At least they looked good. From the groomers I took them straight to the park since I figured they could use a good run after being worked on and then crated all that time! I'm not sure what the heck took her to long, considering there was only 1 dog in front of us! At least that's over for another couple months.

Charlie's vet appointment went fine too. No shots this time for which he was grateful, I'm sure. They did take blood for his heartworm test and squirted stuff up his nose but overall he didn't do too bad. The Dr. said he's looking better, gained some muscle mass though really only a couple pounds. He said to keep up the good work! Now if Charlie would only let the Dr. pet him. He let's him touch him once or twice and then he moves away!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Crunch Time!!!

I've been busy. I haven't had time to sit down and download pictures. But now that I'm off for two weeks I can finally find a minute to update.

Our annual Bunco Christmas was over a week ago! We had a lovely sit-down dinner at Ann's home and had lots of time to visit since Bunco wasn't played at all!

The next night was bowling. We were tied for 3rd place so we really needed to show up and bowl! Unfortunately one of our partners, Bill, had to work so it was up to Judy, H and me. We bowled our brains out and did our best and took 3 points; two games and totals. To top it off, H won men's high game and I won women's high game and Judy won the mystery pot! We were all in the money that night. Next bowling, which isn't for 3 weeks or so because of the holidays, will be position night. Not sure if we'll be playing for 1st or 2nd.

Last weekend I spent Saturday shopping which I really wasn't planning on. One of the teachers at school decided to shop for a needy student and I decided to jump on that wagon and get her some things too. I was at Old Navy by 9:30 and really enjoyed shopping for this little girl. I got lots of bargains so that made it nice too. We gave her the clothes on Monday and since her birthday was on Tuesday it worked out perfectly. Last week she wore one of the outfits we gave her every day. It was nice to see her wearing new things that were age appropriate.

On Sunday I spent some time baking cookies for our Sp Ed get-together that was held Monday after school. I was up until about 10:00 Sunday night finishing the decorating but they turned out great.

My teacher makes home-made cards so that was my gift. They are really beautiful and so time consuming so they are much appreciated. We weren't together long, maybe 45 minutes, but it was nice for us all to have some time together since we don't get it often as everyone is so busy during the school day.

I was able to take the pups to the high school both days which was nice. It was a bit chilly and we had fresh snow but they really enjoyed their time outside! There was just enough snow on the ground so that it wasn't messy but just fun.

You can see Charlie was in rare form, snagging most of the frisbee catches!!

With just one more week at school everyone was counting down. The teachers were taking no mercy though and we had a huge Science test on Monday and a Unit test in Math on Wednesday. The rest of the week was spent taking re-tests for all the kids that had failed or their grades were so low that they needed to take the tests again. Thursday we had class parties so not much work was going on in the classrooms, just holiday activities. Friday we had our Holiday Sing-a-Long which brought a packed house! By the time I got in there it was standing room only. One highlight is when the entire school performs the 12 Days of Christmas. Each grade is assigned a day and staff gets their special day too. Support staff gets the "Nine Ladies Dancing" so we all have to sing that part and dance. Not easy to do when you can barely move and are standing in front of the door but I managed! Everyone was so happy when 3:30 rolled around and we could all leave for our two week break!

On the home front, the tree is up (thanks to Scott) and the lights are on (thanks to H) and hopefully sometime this weekend I will get the decorations on.

I have managed to get the kitchen tree up and partially decorated. I just have to make the popcorn/cranberry garland.

I also got my foyer tree up and decorated. When I unpacked it this year we discovered that the cement base inside the pot had broken so H had to repair that before we could even put it up. I managed to decorate it one evening after school.

So, we have two down, (or up, depending on how you look at it) and one to go! Also on the agenda for this weekend is some present wrapping. Right now the dining room table is loaded with boxes containing presents that must be wrapped! At some point I hope to make some more Christmas cookies so they are ready for decorating later this week.

Scott finished classes last week and has already received his grades. He did well in 3 classes and managed to bring his GPA up a bit. His grade in his Math class wasn't as good as he hoped but he did pass at least.

Tyler is finished with classes as well! Really finished!! He hasn't received his grades yet but he's pretty confident he passed everything and will graduate! Hallelujah!!! Oh Happy Day!! He has the weekend to get ready to come home as his flight leaves Monday evening. He will be home Tuesday afternoon. He will definitely be in for a shock where the weather is concerned. It's been 80 degrees in Hawaii and our high today will be in the 30's. It will be good to have him home for a few weeks though.

Amber & Andy are in the middle of a snow storm this weekend. DC is getting 1 to 2 feet of snow! So unusual for that part of the country to get so much snow. I'm afraid Amber will have to postpone her shopping outing today as that region digs out! She is counting down the final weeks now before her special delivery. The nursery is pretty much ready to go, all it needs is a baby!!

Next week I don't have too many things on the agenda. On Monday morning I will take the pups to the groomer. They are really shaggy and need their nails trimmed bad. They should look beautiful for their Christmas pictures.

Santa's Little Helpers!

Then Tuesday morning Charlie has his annual check-up at the vets. It's just routine but I am looking forward to seeing how much he weighs now. I have finally managed to get some weight on him and he doesn't look quite so skinny. You can still feel his hip bones but not at much as before.

So, guess we're all caught up now. There's still quite a bit to do but I'm not feeling quite so overwhelmed now that school is out. I hopefully will have enough time to get everything accomplished by Christmas Eve. I just have a few little things to pick up and oh yea, I have to shop for Christmas dinner. But hey, I have all week!! Plenty of time!! No problem!!