Friday, December 31, 2010

3:00 am

Once again, it happened this morning. At 3:00 am, my eyes popped open and my brain refused to be settled.

Does this happen to you? Do you wake up with the continuous loop play in your brain of a tune from Just Dance 2? Or if you've been playing Freecell or working Sudoku puzzles, is your brain solving them over and over all night? Or do you find yourself working through, over and over, the puzzles of your day--whether it's a calculus problem or an economics paper or the language of a deposition you've recently read or some other work-related issue?

I've been patting myself on the back lately, congratulating myself for getting off of the sleep aides I'd been taking for years. And most of the time, I fall asleep at a reasonable time and awake refreshed at the time I need to rise in order to prepare for another day at work. But more times than I want to remember of late, my eyes pop open at 3:00 am and after tossing and turning for an hour, I rise, make a cup of tea, lay down by the fireplace, and listen to the chaos churning away in my mind.

And hope to drop off to sleep before it is too close to the time to get up, because I'll be useless if I fall back asleep 30 minutes before the alarm goes off.

What is this? What do you do if you live with this irritation?

If you have a solution for me, is it too late to add it to my list of resolutions?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

more or less

2011 resolutions: more or less


Just Dance
Sharing feelings


Pounds on my delicate frame
Calculus (none, actually)
Accumulation of stuff

These seem like reasonable, doable, broad generalizations that may not put too much pressure on me to accomplish. Perfect for resolutions.

Right then. Onward.

the photos

courtesy Shi's facebook page

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

you will never guess what we did tonight

Hockey. With Stu, Audrey, and Jack. Tonight. Braved the blizzard outside. Ate pizza and breadsticks and soda and cotton candy. Cheered and oohed and aahed and clapped. And laughed.

We're going back again soon. I will be posting any pictures I find online from Stu.

It was a great outing.

And some of us are going to the ballet on Friday.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

a whole lotta dog

We's had a whole lotta dog around these parts the past week.




Georgia likes to play soccer. She's the star goalie.

Team discussion.

She's going home today. We'll miss her.
But we will be able to get back to regular ball catching.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

one thing i forgot to mention

Jr made breakfast on Christmas morn. For all of us. French toast and sausage and bacon and tea and juice.

And cleaned up after himself.

Sweet boy.

there's more

The older I get, the more I value being together with family on holidays.

Perhaps I took that for granted a bit, because as a child, I always saw both sets of grandparents and numerous cousins and aunts and uncles every Christmas. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't see my brothers and their families for Christmas. And after joining Jack's family, I expected I would spend every Christmas eve with his parents and siblings and generation upon generation of family.

But sometimes, plans don't go the way you expect them to go. Families expand and change and those new family groups want part of the time I expected would be spent with me. I understand that change--mostly because I know how much I value time with family, so how could I expect others to not feel the same way about their family who is also my family?

But then there are other reasons why families don't spend time together. Hurt feelings, perceived slights, even significant wrongs--all expand and swell until somebody says too much or goes too far and then traditions end.

I don't have the answers for mending damaged relationships. I only know that the older I get, the more I value time with family.

Somehow, I didn't get any photos of Stu's and Shi's family on Christmas, so I snagged the shots on this post from Shi's facebook page. I could write pages and pages about how adorable Audrey and Ellie looked in their new Christmas jammies and robes--how delightful they were, as always, during their visit. I should have taken pictures of Ellie immediately snuggling up on her princess couch and Audrey oohing delightedly over her princess snow globe.

But mostly, the thing I will remember about this Christmas is that Stu and Shi and Audrey and Ellie were all together this year, whether at this house or mine or elsewhere--they were together. Nobody was in the hospital.

This will be a most wonderful memory.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

what i will remember from this christmas

First, there was the fun at my parent's home. Dad offering everyone clementine oranges, then mom offering everyone cheese sticks, then mom passing around a tray of baklava, then dad asking if anyone wanted a heated wiener?

There was the fun at Jessie's house--sweet Cailin, learning to stand and nearly walk:

Miss Jane not really in the posing and smiling mood:

Breanne, looking her best:

Considering the tumble she took last night that caused scraping and swelling:

But still, three adorable girls:

And their adorable mom:

And one of Georgia:

And, of course, the tree:

More tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

this year feels so good

Christmas cards ready to mail: Check!

I am having a seriously hard time not getting overwhelmed by how ready I am for Christmas when it is still over two days away. How can this be?

Remaining tasks:

  • Pick up some jeans for Jack and a Jazz hoodie for my dad
  • Wrap said jeans/hoodie and re-wrap the items sweet little GusGus unwrapped
  • Make a stop at the grocery store to pick up the fixins for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas day dinner and maybe a kitty litter scoop for my mom
  • Make cookies on Christmas Eve day
  • Prepare emotionally for the apparent insanity that will be Christmas Eve family party this year
  • Uh, wait. Strike that last one. There is no adequate preparation for when the family gets together at holiday time, right? I mean, uh, the party will be great as always.
Did I mention we have three dogs now? Yep. Jr brought home a golden retriever that has adorable furry white socks on her huge feet and a little white tip on her massive tail. Georgia is a sweetheart, afraid of the kitchen floor, but still a sweet, sweet dog. She's sleeping over for the holidays. I thought JoJo was a big dog. No. Georgia is a big dog. Lucky for us, she's older, calmer, and more sensible. We're hoping she'll teach our maniacs some manners. And we're hoping they don't ruin a perfectly good dog during her visit.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

c is for calculus

I got a C.

I am prepared to read the appropriate level of congratulatory comments.

just two things

First, Eileen L.O.V.E.D. the bracelet. She immediately put it on, oohing and aahing over the clasp as well as the colors and the crystals. So happy she liked it.

Second, came home tonight to find three presents the dogs (and by dogs I mean, Gus) had unwrapped. Luckily, he did not chew off any parts although he did leave a few teeth marks. (Sorry kids.) He has a house full of rawhide chews and squeaky balls, but it seems he's bored with all of that and prefers wrapping paper and curling ribbon.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

i am so productive!!!

Yes, today deserves three exclamation marks!!!


these are two bracelets I made tonight. (Jessie, one is for you. Sorta.)

This is a bracelet I made earlier today by following the pattern that took me three hours to complete yesterday but only took about 90 minutes today if you don't count the time I spent searching for the beads that Jo Jo and Gus knocked off my lap/work surface while they were madly romping about with Jr.

Also complete:

One batch of toffee--perhaps my best ever toffee, completed after locating a toffee recipe online since I couldn't find my copy of the recipe I've used for years and years.

One batch of caramels--which are extremely yummy considering that I ignored that brief flash of thought telling me to move the bottle of diet coke away from the stove so I didn't mistakenly add 1 1/2 tbsps of diet coke instead of the required 1 1/2 tbsps of vanilla. Yes, I made caramels with caffeine.

It seems like there were several other things that I considered completing today including laundry--washed, dried, totally ready to be hung up and folded away.

And just because I know you want to see these, I'm posting pictures of my brothers, my dad, and one of my little bro's kids from the family Christmas party last night. Don't they all look so related? And kinda cute?

Big bro

Lil bro and dad in the background

lil bro's kid trying really hard to:
a) not look at me and b) not smile while not looking at me
(because it's hard to not look at me and smile, right?)

happenings around here

A few things I'm sharing with you:

1. Still no calculus grade.
2. I bought 14 lbs of clothing online at Kohl's. Plus my dad's pjs that were delivered separately.
3. I have wrapped all of the gifts I've purchased so far.
4. All of the wrapped gifts have been tied up with that curly ribbon. (Thanks for the help, Jr.)
5. Is it lame or lazy to wrap all clothing gifts to each person in one package instead of wrapping each item of clothing individually? Because that was this year's strategy. One package of clothing per person--not so different if you're one of my kids (because I only bought one item of clothing per kid) but less presents to open if you're one of my grandbabies (but who really likes to open packages of clothes anyway? besides girls? Uh. Maybe I should rethink that decision?)
6. I had to wrap Jack's clothes in more than one package because apparently, I went crazy on the Duluth Trading website when I bought him clothes, and also, obviously, because his shirts are larger than any clothing items I buy for the girlies. So he gets three shirts per package. Makes total sense, right?
7. Yesterday, in what may be described as a desperate attempt to buy my mother's love that may completely slap me in the face if she doesn't love it as much as I do, I spent nearly three hours making a bracelet for her. It is crystal and pearl and beads and I used a little tiny needle and thread to put it together. I should have taken a picture before I wrapped it up with the nightgown I bought for her. I'm very proud of it.
8. Today I will attempt to make another bracelet, which hopefully will not take three hours, for my friend, Eileen, for her birthday, which is this week. I'm going to try to do this at my house instead of under the watchful eye of my friends at the bead store.
9. Today I will also attempt to make a batch of toffee and a batch of caramels, which I will share with Eileen as a Christmas gift because she loves caramels.
10. So I'm doing all of this thinking and planning and shopping and making and wrapping and Jack agreed to make a present for someone we give to. I came home from the bead store yesterday, proudly displaying my craftiness, expecting to find a nearly complete homemade project made by Jack. But, smart guy that he is, Jack has found just such a gift already made, so we got in the car and went to the credit union to make a deposit, stopped at a local store to pick up the gift, made yet another stop and picked up another gift, and returned home in less than an hour. See Jack might have this gift-giving thing figured out. Perfectly acceptable store-bought gift, far lower stress level, helping the economy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

i survived

I'm breathing again. Calculus test complete. Well, unless you count that one problem that I started to work on and then got distracted by another problem and forgot to go back to finish it--AND I'M SURE I COULD HAVE FINISHED IT CORRECTLY!!!

Well. Maybe not. We'll never know. At least not until I retake the class next semester.


I'll just have to see how it all shakes out. I mean, obviously, if the teacher gives and I do mean gives me a B, I'll be done with my economics degree from SLCC. But if he gives me a D, which might still be generous, then will I be able to feel satisfaction with that grade or will I need, simply need to retake the class to improve that grade? And what if he gives me a C? Then what oh what will I do?

Yeh, I know. It's a sickness. Partly I don't want that D dragging down my 3.92. But partly, I kinda want to understand calculus a bit better. See, it's sick.


For now, I am getting ready for the holidays. I am free to wrap and shop and wrap some more and bake and all the rest--see the lights and sing the songs and soak in the happiness and joy.

Keeping my fingers crossed, kids.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

school girl update

I know you've been anxiously waiting for news about my last semester at SLCC. But, well, I've been busy:

--Shopping: not something I've typically even thought about since it isn't even mid-December yet, but I am all over the shopping and nearly done and ready to begin the wrapping;
--Creating: well, not actually creating much, but I have been looking at and fingering my bead assortment and I'm feeling a creative stirring in my soul that may blossom into jewelry at any moment;
--Worrying: about my kids because, hello, that's what I do;
--Enjoying: a lovely little dance recital by two adorable granddarlings last night followed by dinner at IHOP (or IPOP if you happen to be Janey, because I taught her it is called that)

My calculus final is on Monday. I think I mentioned my last test was two weeks ago and I got 35 out of 98, which was, anyway you figure it, the worst test score of my life. I had to do some really serious self-talk to convince myself I'm not really stupid at math.

I've been fretting a bit about the final. Because 1) I just totally failed a test for the first time ever, and 2) it's calculus, and 3) the professor told us during our last class that the final would be on eight sections instead of the previously announced four sections, and the combination of newly included sections makes this as close to a comprehensive final as is possible (mathematically speaking).

While I should probably be studying my brain into a coma, I've instead been fretting and stalling--which is why I had time for a haircut, several visits to the store, much online purchasing, and all of the rest of the dawdling and procrastinating I've been doing.

But just now, I've finally come up with an idea that gives me hope that I just might pass the final and with that, pass the class, maybe even earning (and I do mean earning) a C. (In case you need to know, a C is not average at all--it is hard to earn a C in math when numbers are not your native language.)

My plan is to redo all of the homework assignments for the eight sections that will be covered on the final. In yet another fit of procrastination, I checked the syllabus and noted that I will be completing 28 + 12 + 11 + 22 + 28 + 9 + 34 + 29 + 10 + 13 problems which = 196. One hundred ninety six calculus problems in the next two days (really in the next day because I'm working on Monday).

Now it should be clear why calculus is so hard. It's the stalling and cramming and reviewing before the big test and then the big brain freeze anyway. But I can do this, right?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

who is this guy?

Yesterday's post had a record four comments. I could hardly wait to see who had something to say about the pictures of my darlings or my near death by ceiling tile experience.

So who is this Steve Finnell guy inviting me to follow his blog? Christian with a view? Why does this feel like my computer is about to be hacked into and infected?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

just two things more

I was feeling a bit cranky earlier today when I got to work and decided I'd had enough of the cold office I sometimes work out of.

During the summer, I called the heating/air conditioning guys because there was no--none--not one bit--of a breeze through the office and I thought I might just die of heat stroke.

They came in, climbed up on their ladders and moved some of the ceiling tiles and looked inside the ceiling, declaring that the fans weren't working. Ya' think?

They said they'd put in a work order and get the nasty fans fixed and then they decided it would be good to leave one of the ceiling tiles pushed to one side to improve air flow in the room.

To that I say, whatever.

Today, I decided I'd had enough of that ceiling tile sitting there askew, allowing cold air to fall into the room on me. So I climbed up on a chair--no, not a rolly chair, I'm not stupid--just a regular chair, and then I started maneuvering that ceiling tile back into its place in the grid.

You know, installing ceiling tile looks so easy on TV on all of the home improvement shows and also looked so easy when the menfolk in my house installed those tiles in my basement ceiling. I mean, how hard could it be, right?

I slid it around and moved it around and after, geez, I don't know, three minutes, thought I had it just right. And then I turned around on that chair and realized the other end was still hung up on the wires that hold the grid up.

So I started sliding it and moving it and jiggling it and just as I thought I had it right on both ends--it fell.

On me, the chair, my rolly chair, my purse, my bookbag, the desk, and my salad and fork, causing the salad and fork to fly across my purse and bookbag and the desk, flinging my salad and its dressing everywhere, and covering everything with a layer of bits of ceiling tile as well as what must have been several years of ceiling tile dust and a fine powdery grit.

Two good things to report: I did not fall off of the chair, and the ceiling tile didn't break.

So I climbed back up onto that chair and I shoved that tile up into the grid and that's where I left it, somewhat askew, but I think I won that round, right?


Oh, the other thing--check out these girls who came for a visit last night:

yes, she's sitting on the counter watching TV and can't look at me...

These faces can cheer up a person.

what can you do really?

What can you do when you're just skipping or roller skating down the sidewalk, minding your own business and then next thing you know, you've hit that uneven patch and you go down faster than you thought possible?

Or when you're wrestling with your older brother while waiting in the car for your mom to come out of the store and without any warning the wind is somehow knocked out of you and you're left gasping for air?

Or when stuff happens that really isn't your business to tell the world, but this thing sucks and that things sucks and the only thing you can tell others is about how you failed, no, cosmically failed your calculus test, as in the worst test score of your educational life.

And the falling and gasping and failing were all in the same day.

What can you do really? Like, nothing. Except maybe study for the next test. And bandage up the scraped knee and wait for that fish out of water feeling to go away so you can begin to breath again. And hope for the best. Whatever that is.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

two pictures you should see

This one is from Stu's birthday. Jr took it.

When I decided to quit the drugs a month or so ago, my doctor suggested I up the exercise and spend time in the sunshine, which, if you live around here you'll know, is not easy in November and December. But this morning, when I went out on the deck with the dogs, it was sunny--shining through the fog from my dryer, but still gloriously mind, body, and soul-warming sunny.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

maybe a little manic

I am feeling so good right now. Like, physically, emotionally, schoolishly good. Not over the top, out of control good. Just right good.

For example.

Today, Jack and I paid a few bills together, went out for pancakes (or in this instance, banana bread and/or cinnamon roll french toast), and then stopped at the distant Kohl's where we picked up tights for the girls, one pair of jammies to replace a nightgown that was canceled in my online order, two tablecloths, and a pair of slippers. And I nearly got out of that store without buying another thing or two for the girls. I had $70 in Kohl's cash and I spent only $35. I think the receipt said I saved $205 or something like that. Even Jack was impressed.

And speaking of shopping and all that, in what has to be a new record for me, I have completed at least half of my Christmas shopping already. I'd probably be done, but Jack wants to participate in the process--Amazon, here we come--so we're still making final decisions, but seriously, it's only December 4, who would have thought?

After we got home, I sat down and worked through my labor econ final, after completing and submitting the final three assignments last night, which was after submitting two other assignments shortly after submitting and then revising and resubmitting a research paper for that class. What have I learned from all of my labor economics studies this semester? Probably I'm too old for school to pay off in economic terms. As interesting as it was, that class kinda took the fun out of school for me--the learning just to be learning part. It was a lot of effort and I expect I'll get an A, but it was one of those classes where I have a hard time believing that all of the kids put in as much effort as this old gal did, and I wonder how did I get to this age without knowing all of this stuff?

After the econ final and nearly forgotten remaining three discussion posts were submitted, I turned my attention to laundry and dishes and kitty litter boxes (mine, not my mom's), and bathroom cleaning and garbage removal and floor mopping. And we had some of the leftover bowtie lasagna that Jessie recommended on facebook earlier this week. It was easy and yummy, even on the second day.

And after all of that, Jr and Martha invited me to join them in some of the just dance antics in the basement. For at least an hour, we worked it. And I kicked some trash on several tunes I'd never heard before and did some moves that I will probably regret in another hour when I try to stand up to go to bed. But it felt so good to be moving and singing and laughing.

Tomorrow will be spent with calculus. While I have used that word with a certain amount of dread in past posts, calculus and I have become if not best friends, at least acquaintances. It occurred to me today that this whole math learning process is somewhat familiar. I remember as a child finding addition difficult, yet subtraction easy, and multiplication difficult but division easy. That's how this calculus thing is working out. The algebra classes have been difficult, but the calculus seems friendlier, once I figured out the algebra part. I keep thinking the teacher is going to spring some really complicated stuff on us, because there must be more to it, but for some reason, it isn't that bad right now. And the final is in ten days, so I am hopeful. Maybe not an A, but at least a C, which isn't too bad for a girl who wasn't born with numbers but has finally been introduced to them.

Friday, December 3, 2010

all about me part 2. please.

Tricked you, right? You thought I was going to add to my Christmas wish list.

But no. Not this post.

I just wanted to tell all of my many readers that I am feeling well. Like myself. With feelings.

I knew you'd want to know that and would be happy for me.

And, also, I wanted to say again that I really like my current masthead. Because I didn't get a rousing round of amen the last time I mentioned it. It's a great photo of a lovely view. And I'm proud of the font choice too. So that's all for now.

Well, except, can I get an amen?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

all about me. please.

This is a list of some things I'd like for Christmas this year:

New tights. Any colors but white. Yellow would be good. Or pale pink. Or more black. Or green. I don't have any green tights.

A gift certificate to Heart Beads.

My video camera back in my possession.

Either a replacement shredder/slicer blade for my food processor or a new food processor that has all of its feet and blades. (I know, my cooking friends probably would never think of owning or using a food processor, but there are times when I really like having one. I can't think of any of those times right this minute, but I know they exist.)

CDs for me to listen to in my car on my long drives--Pink Floyd (The Wall) or anything by REM, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Regina Spektor, Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, or countless other musicians that gift givers think I might enjoy.

Gift certificate from somebody who wants to help me hang pictures throughout the house.

Gift certificate from somebody who wants to make pancakes for me for breakfast. Or dinner. And wants to eat them with me.

That's good for starters.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

oh--i almost forgot

I called my mom last night and waited while she told me a couple of things and then I asked her why she didn't answer when I called or return my calls for nearly two weeks.

There was no sound for 30 seconds. Which is a really, really long silence in chatting-with-my-mom time.

Then she said she was upset that I hadn't come over to hang her curtains right then because obviously I wanted to see my granddaughters more than her and I hadn't gone over the next day so she thought that meant I didn't want to talk to her so she decided that she wasn't going to talk to me again until I came over to visit.

Which, you know, makes total sense, right? Because I.CAN.READ.MINDS. Right?

I pointed out that first, I didn't come over the next day because dad told me not to. Two times he told me not to. So I didn't.

And second, there isn't a contest between whether I love her or my granddaughters most. I love them all.

But she didn't know about dad telling me not to come over. So even though it seemed to me that she didn't want to see me or talk to me, she really did and that's why she stopped answering my calls and returning my messages. And she pointed out, that the one time when she did answer her cell phone and then immediately hung it up was because she was someplace where she just couldn't take my call right then, at the doctor or something, so she answered and hung it up so I'd know she couldn't talk right then.

I'd like to be able to admit that I didn't say, what? You couldn't take my call right then? You love the doctor more than me? Your conversation with him is more important than me?

But I can't say that I didn't ask about that because I did. And she said, of course the doctor isn't more important than you. But I did say that I was just giving her a hard time. I didn't think it was a question of who mattered most to her at that moment. It just wasn't a good time for her to take my call. And if she'd been speaking to me, she could have said that and then called me back later.

So. Just typing this post is making my stomach tie itself into knots. Probably means I shouldn't publish, but I thought you might want the update.

Totally not on the subject, but I just have to say that I l.o.v.e. my current masthead.

And back on the subject--mom called this morning and left a message that she'd thought of one other thing that had her upset with me. It was when I didn't stop at her house on the way home from the recent vacation to Ephraim to clean out her cat litter boxes but instead went home with Jack and then turned around and went over with Jr. After a vacation spent trying to get clear of the antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, just before the 2nd annual Halloween party with band and 50 or more friends of the drummer and Jr.

I apologized for being a bit short-tempered about having her tell me how to clean out a catbox (actually two catboxes) because, you know, I don't have three cats and two catboxes at my own house, and then explained that in addition to being in a very bad place emotionally and mentally that day/week/month, that I was also just a tiny bit stressed about the party that was going on at my house.

I didn't mention that the stress might have been because I wanted to be at the party instead of cleaning out catboxes RIGHT THAT MINUTE, but I did tell her that I was probably cranky because I didn't like it when I felt like I didn't have a choice about dropping everything to go do what she wanted right that minute.

And she said that she didn't expect me to drop everything and go do what she wanted right that minute--anytime in the next hour would have been okay.

I have a therapy session tomorrow. Carolyn better be totally proud of me.