Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

As 2008 comes to a close, I want to wish you all the very best of everything this world has to offer in 2009. I've been so blessed in my life to have such wonderful children, who have all given me so much happiness and love - not to mention the 3 gorgeous (and genius) grandchildren I've gotten out of the deal. I have an amazing husband, who understands me completely, and who just lets me go - never trying to rein me in. He is wise enough to know that it makes me want to be with him forever all the more, and to try very hard to be my best self. We have a good life, complete with so many luxuries we sometimes take for granted.
In 2009 I'd like to be able to give more of myself, and think less about "duty" and "work." Enjoy family and friends (and especially time with my beloved grandmother), and all the blessings attached. Make sure I bestow blessings myself along the way, think more about my husband's comfort, and ensure that I miss as little as possible in my grandchildren's young lives.

How about you? What are you hoping & wishing for, dreaming of, in 2009? What are your goals, and what are your plans to achieve them? I'd love to hear. I'm always hoping for some new inspiration, some novel idea or approach to one of my sticky problems. Some things never change, but I'm hoping to change some things for the better in the coming year. Come out a little shinier, glowier, and hopeful on the other end. May you all do the same. Be happy, love each other, love yourselves.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Cuteness

Did everyone have a good Christmas with family and friends? We did. This was the first year since I was 12 that I didn't spend Christmas Eve with my parents and brothers. It was hard to make the break, but c'mon... I'm 55 and a grandmother of 3. It was time. And I'm so glad we did. Rex & Ronna and their two kids, Lexi and Matthew, were at our house on Christmas Eve, along with our in-house son, Scott. Because there weren't hordes of uncles, aunts, and cousins there, we had the chance to bond and play with Lexi & Matthew, and have some fun with them. We let Lexi open one of her gifts that evening: the doggy sleeping bag (see pictures). That alone made the whole evening worthwhile. As she was pulling it out of the box, she kept saying "So cute, so cute! Oh...soft... so cute!" Then she wanted her new "sweeping bag" all spread out so she could kick back and watch "The Polar Express"in comfort. We enjoyed a nice dinner together, and then had peppermint hot chocolate (made with real dark and milk chocolate - so yummy!), and Christmas cookies. LaMar carried Lexi outside to search the sky for Santa, but no luck. Matthew was his charming, happy self - what a good little boy!

On Christmas morning, the same bunch came back, along with my parents, and we all enjoyed breakfast: a frittata, and cinnamon bun ebelskiver (Swedish pancakes). There were many trips back to the stove for seconds, and everyone finally got their fill. Then present time. As always, it was over in a flash (all that shopping and planning - over with in a blink!) But when the dust settled, everyone was happy: Lexi was pulling her new rolling backpack (easier to come see me now!) and lunchbox all over, Matthew was playing with his new Leapfrog playtable, and the adults all hunkered down to visit and enjoy their various gifts. In the afternoon we all had fun making our own panini sandwiches on my new panini grill! (Gift to myself!) After everyone had gone on their way, the rain came pouring down, the house was quiet, and it was so nice to just relax and enjoy the peace of it all: Christmas lights glowing, fireplace burning, the sound of rain on the roof, and just L and I home to enjoy it all while we savored the day's memories.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Grandma Chronicles: Home for Christmas

My grandma got herself sprung from the care facility in which she'd been imprisoned for the last week and a half. I've never seen anyone so happy to get home to her own little bed. She worked and worked in physical therapy to get her motor skills improved, and then...the physical therapist turned his back on her for a second, and she fell. So once again, Grandma is battered and bruised, but still smiling: she got her wish granted to come home.
I went today with my parents to see her and take the Christmas gifts for her and my aunt. Grandma's gift was all about the lotion, and staying hydrated. I got her lavender body lotion, a balm stick for extra dry areas, Burt's Bees lip balm, lavender mint bath/shower gel (organic and with colloidal oatmeal to keep her skin soft!) a boo-boo stick (a wintergreen smelling balm stick that is supposed to heal boo-boos and sore muscles - smells amazing!) AND - last, but not least - Burt's Bees Ageless Night Cream. I applied the cream to her poor little dried out face, and I think it took 10 years off in 30 seconds. Well, even if not, she loved how it felt - she kept touching her face because her skin felt so soft. I'm telling you, a girl can never have too much moisturizer. If your skin is hydrated, and your lips unchapped, you can then summon the courage to do battle with life's challenges.
After a thorough moisturizing, Grandma got up and ate a tuna sandwich (prepared by me!), drank some Sunny D with her new sippy cup (no more messy spills as she works to gain muscle control!), and then ate a See's chocolate. Life was good for a bit. I'm in awe of the fight that 97 year old girl still has in her.
Tomorrow a caregiver arrives fora couple of days of round the clock care, while paperwork is being processed to get her physical therapy and home care organized and started. Thank goodness my aunt will FINALLY be able to take a big nap, and let someone else take over for awhile. Things are looking up a little bit for The Girls. May they each be able to "sleep in heavenly peace" now that Grandma is back home, and out of the woods.

Santa Claus Has Come to Town

Guess who I saw getting a pedicure??

SANTA CLAUS!!!


Guess he gets aching, calloused feet, ingrown toenails, and a yen for a foot massage like the rest of us. He seemed like a jolly old elf in spite of it all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chocolate Therapy, Workin' the Camera, and *Stormwatch*

We went to see my grandma this past weekend. She is doing pretty well, but still it was hard to see her in the nursing home. She'd been working hard in physical therapy, and had practiced raising her left arm over and over and over until she could raise it as high as the top of her head. She can kick a beach ball with her left foot, and while doing some eliptical excercises with her arms, her hand slipped off and she clocked the physical therapist on the chin. Take that!
As predicted, she works so hard, and is so much fun that people want to help her even more. I brought her some See's candy (soft centers, no nuts) to *stimulate* her appetite. She had that box ripped open and a chocolate stuffed in her mouth so fast it was a blur. As we were leaving my brother joked that maybe he'd sneak a piece of chocolate out of her drawer. She pointed her bony finger at him and croaked "I'm keeping an eye on you..." She's still quick and funny. And determined to get outta there and go home. It was so good to see her laugh and make jokes. Once, she even caught sight of herself in the mirror and tried to fix her hair. She's still alive.

Sunday afternoon L and I had a photo shoot for our Christmas cards. It was a little pitiful: two stiff photophobic people trying to appear spontaneous and lively for our Christmas cards. Somehow we managed to get a good image after taking 54 shots. I was exhausted, and my hair went a little limp in the process, but I think you'd agree that we were able to appear like fun *festive* people. I'd include the picture of choice here, but its on L's Mac, and I'm here at work. Working on my blog...

On a different note, Southern California is have a torrential downpour. I woke up at 2 or 3am to the sound of pounding rain. I love that, but driving to work was a little hairy. My little car gets a little slippy slidey when there's lots of water because it's so low to the ground. I felt it hydroplane briefly a couple of times. Yikes! But I do love to be inside and watch/hear the rain coming down. If there were thunder and lightning it would be perfect. Even more perfect would be a power outage. Translate that to *Time To Go Home.* But the best thing of all is to watch the local LA news, because they get so excited whenever we have any kind of weather. And tonight they'll for sure be on *STORMWATCH.* Good times. I'm sure other parts of the country find our panic about a sprinkly rain, or even an occasional downpour ridicuous, but hey - a little rain is all we ever get. Until the Big One, anyway. Then maybe you'll all have a little respect.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Girls Need Some Prayers

I 've been busy this past week frantically trying to finish all the Christmas shopping (online of course!) I've almost gotten it done, and packages have started to arrive - so exciting and satisfactory! But in the midst of all the excitement was something that brought me right back down to earth and reminded me of what is really important here: FAMILY.

My sweet grandmother (yes, the one who can eat like a farmhand) had a stroke last week. (I hope it wasn't brought on by the carb-loaded-heavy-on-the-cream-artery-choking Thanksgiving dinner I served her...) She's in a short term care facility trying to rehabilitate. Translate that to she's trying her best to improve so she can go home. But the food has been miserable, and her spirits have sunk a little bit. My poor aunt is struggling with the day to day of it all pretty much by herself, as they live quite a distance from the rest of us. I'm worried about her as well - she won't stop and care for herself. These two ladies (The Girls, as we affectionately call them) are quite extraordinary, and are the family's treasure. There's nothing they haven't done, or wouldn't do, for any of us, and the thought of losing either one is nothing short of SAD. I try not to selfishly wish longer life for my grandma - she's 97, and almost everyone she loves best (my grandpa, all but 2 siblings, her parents, countless friends) have all passed on. Surely, the reunion on the other side, when it comes, will be completely joyful. I'll try to remember that. But in the meantime, I pray for just a little more time with her - for me, for my children, for everyone who knows her. And I pray for my sweet, completely amazing aunt to have the strength to care for her. And to know that she is loved and treasured every bit as much as Grandma. You hear me, Margie? *Every*Bit*As*Much*

Happy Birthday to the Best Mom Ever! (and many, many, many more)

Yesterday was Mom's birthday. True to form, I never even thought of taking any pictures so I'll just include one of her here that I particularly like. (Actually, both pics in this post are the same vintage, from Katie's wedding day 4 years ago) We all gathered for dinner at Gulliver's, across from John Wayne Airport for the celebration. When L and I walked in, the first thing I saw was my brother Matt sitting at the table... huh??? He lives in Indiana! What a great surprise - he and Greta and Ari all flew here to give Mom a birthday surprise. It was so good to see them, and 2 1/2 year old Ari walked around the table several times handing out Tic Tacs. She had the minty aroma of TicTacs floating about her - so cute and good smelling.
Mom was so happy to see them, and my Dad had kept it a complete secret - from her, and all of us. I didn't know he was such a good secret keeper... My dad did his now famous bit of going around the table and talking about all of the great things everyone had accomplished over the year. I've always hated that. Either I haven't done anything great, or my very ordinary "accomplishments" are put out there like they're extraordinary, and everyone knows (me most of all) that they're not - and this was a very low achieving year for me ... auugghhh... It's embarrassing, but for some reason, Dad just loves to hold forth, so you just let him roll while cringing inside. I think it was supposed to reflect back on Mom for being such a great mom - so hopefully it did just that, even though it was all about everyone else. Dad's a funny one... But Happy Birthday Mom! You still have the most beautiful complexion, and I hope very hard that those good genes got passed on to little me. I know you don't like getting older, but you're doing it very well. And I'm right behind you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. - Bobby, age 7

Lately I'm having trouble concentrating on work or really, anything other than these two things:
1. Food, calories, carb count, etc. etc. (Because I'm trying to eliminate sugar... hahahahahaha!!! Who am I trying to kid??) Actually, I'd love to eliminate sugar, as sugar is not only fattening, but its inflammatory, and I have RA, which is all about inflammation, and my Pasty Doctor (so named because she is pallid of complexion) gives me many many lectures on the evils of sugar. Alas, I can't seem to conquer that mountain entirely. SO - I'm trying to greatly reduce sugar, and delicious carbs so that I can hopefully not be so embarrassed in January when we visit Puerto Rico to see Katie, Zach & Mia, and spend glorious amounts of time on the beach. I can remember when I could drop ten pounds without even thinking about it. Getting older plays some mean tricks on you. Not being able to lose five pounds is one of them. (Never mind the other 25 pounds...)

AND - (which brings me to little Bobby's quote of the day, above)

2. Christmas Shopping List I'm having a hard time getting a cohesive list together! I decide on a gift for someone, and either the item is out of stock, or (more often) just as I'm finalizing that decision, a new, better idea comes along, and off I go chasing it like a butterfly. I can't seem to get down to business and actually get anything done! What is wrong with me?? I realize it's only December 3rd, but I'm starting to get sweaty palms over the whole thing. I'm in Christmas brain freeze mode. Usually, I have everything all planned out by now, but this year is a little different, for some reason. I am in the habit of getting all in a lather over Christmas perfection, but I am being more ridiculous than usual. What is Christmas perfection, anyway? I just want to hug my kids, and laugh with them over Christmas breakfast (the ones that will be here, anyway...), and have some fun with the grandchildren, Lexi and Matthew (Mia will have to wait until January!) And when all the excitement is over, and all have gone home, I want to snuggle with L, in front of the fireplace with the room quiet and dark, except for the Christmas tree lights. Kind of bask in the glow of the day. Heaven.

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