Daily Affirmation

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

Giving The Finger

On Sunday afternoon (while my pot of chili was percolating) I decided it was time to make my spooky Halloween finger cookies.  I'd been given the recipe by my blogging friend Laraine, who promised me that they were easy to make.  And son of a biscuit - they were!
I don't know when I've had a large batch of cookies go together so easily.  The recipe called for red gel icing to hold the sliced almond fingernails on, but all I had on hand was green.  And I thought it gave the fingers a rather moldy, creepy look, so I'm satisfied.  And did I mention these were a snap to make?  They're definitely going to be a tradition at my house every year!  They're creepy, slightly disgusting looking, and delicious all at the same time.  I'm hooked.

I'm going to take some to a friend at church, and deliver another ghastly bunch to L's dad: his birthday is on Halloween, and these will be just the thing for him - a delicious snack of witchy fingers!  For the picture I put them in my Halloween sleigh.  You may wonder what a Halloween sleigh is.... One year I found a bunch of wooden sleighs on sale for a really good price.  I started painting, and painting, and painting.  And I got a little tired of painting Christmas designs, so this last year I did a Halloween one.  A Nightmare Before Christmas sleigh, if you will.  I even fashioned little pumpkins out of clay.  I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but it makes a perfect treat holder for candy or... fingers.  I think I have 1 or 2 more sleighs left, and I'll probably go back to Christmas scenes, but I really needed a break from snow, Santa, and angels, and this was fun to paint.

Saw this little Halloween preview from the Colorado branch of the family:

Princesses and butterflies and Woody (from Toy Story!) are always favorites.  I think Ronna is a pretty witch (judging from the tights) and Rex is a tired missionary (judging from the name tag).  Wish I could trick or treat with them this year!

And here's the gang in Massachusetts:

Katie and Mia are cats, Hayden is a tiger, and Zach is your friendly neighborhood psychiatrist (he'd just come from the hospital).  Hayden looks like she's ready to have a good sleep after running around after candy at the party.  I hope they actually get to trick or treat this year (you may remember that Halloween was cancelled last year while we were visiting after a huge ice storm) - but it looks like it might still be raining cats and dogs.

I've been watching Hurricane Sandy all day on TV.  I've texted Autumn and Tim in NYC and they're safe and buttoned up in their apartment.  It's their anniversary (or it was yesterday) and like their wedding day a year ago, they're having another go with wild weather.
Katie and her bunch are just beginning to feel the storm's effects.  School was cancelled, and when she tried to take the little girls to a movie today, everything had been shut down.  No one was taking any chances I guess.  Except Katie!

If you're on the east coast, stay warm and dry and SAFE.  Hopefully this will all blow through faster than expected and damage will be minimal (although we're seeing a fair amount of it already, sadly.)  

Happy Halloween to everyone.  I'm off to give people the fingers.   Mmwahahahahhaa....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Catch A Falling Star

This weekend was kind of special.  Many of you may have been aware that there was an Orionid meteor shower putting on a show in the night sky, with the best viewing time set for early Sunday morning between the hours of 1:00am and 5:00am.  Special events of the starry kind always get me excited.  I get it from my dad, who (as I've mentioned before) has an almost child-like curiosity about everything, and most especially events that have to do with solar or star displays.  Many times these occurrences are rare happenings, and such was the meteor display this weekend.  It won't happen again for several decades, which leaves the chance of my dad or me seeing it in the future virtually nil.

L casually mentioned that we should go out to the desert to see it, so I researched different locations that might be good viewing spots.  I got the idea of taking my dad with us, and couldn't shake it.  I just knew he'd want to go and see it.
As luck would have it (and I've been PRAYING for cooler weather, so I can only blame myself) the clouds and fog began to roll into Southern California at the end of the week.  Everywhere I looked from the coast to the mountains was going to be cloudy and overcast during the meteor shower.  We could have gone to Bakersfield, but that's really far, and really, no one wants to go to Bakersfield.  We could have gone to Baker out in the desert, but I couldn't think of a single place to stay there.  Or at least any place where I could sleep without imagining bugs skittering around in the dark.  Ugh.  Baker is a place where you stop for a potty break and maybe a drink while on your way to Las Vegas, but that's it.  No staying overnight.  Las Vegas looked like it would be clear, but again, you'd have to really go out far from those lights to see the ultimate display.  And it's a few hours' drive away - not good for my parents.
Finally, on the Weather Channel website I brought up Palm Desert, and during those early morning hours it was going to be "mostly clear."  It seemed like a good compromise so I called Dad up and asked if he'd like to go.  He sounded excited, yet a little hesitant.  What about his medications?  Would it make him feel worse to lose sleep?  And I understand.  When you're in the middle of chemotherapy, everything is a crap shoot.  He was nervous that he wouldn't be a good traveler, but I reminded him that I have medications I have to bring too, and that I don't like to have my life defined by illness.  I don't want to miss out on special events because I might not feel good.  And he would be with family who would understand all of those factors.  So he threw caution to the winds and got excited.
My mother was less than enthusiastic at first.  But she has a kindred soul in L, who hates all things having to do with morning, and who always takes care that we stay in a place that is clean and pleasant.  We ended up booking rooms at the Holiday Inn Express and they had free breakfast!  That sealed the deal for Dad.  That's another way in which I'm my father's daughter: we both love a good breakfast.  Bacon? Sausage? Eggs? Pancakes? Cinnamon rolls? Juice?  Yes please to all.
I quickly threw some Snickerdoodle dough together and baked them up for the trip (knowing my dad has a famous sweet tooth.  Oh yes...me too.)  They came over to the house at around 5:00 Saturday evening and off we went.  I kept scanning the skies on the way out to the desert and it was cloudy and stormy looking.  But as we drove around the San Jacinto mountains that surround Palm Springs/Palm Desert, the clouds dispersed.  And although it had been 90 degrees that day, the evening was cool and comfortable.  I had to laugh though - at home it was chilly and we all had sweaters on.  Everyone there was running around in shorts and sandals.  During the drive out, Dad kept commenting on how he was enjoying our little adventure and my heart was happy.
We checked in and met back in the lobby to grab a bite to eat.  There was a Panera Bread close by on Highway 111, so we set out and enjoyed sandwiches and salads.  If anyone ever goes there, please notice what a nice staff they have.  They treated my parents with such kind, friendly respect, and they should all be congratulated more than the little bit I gave them.
And then it was back to the hotel and off to bed.  We were going to get up at 3am and head out to a special spot up in the hills on highway 74 that L and I had scouted out.  Amazingly enough I was able to knock right out and didn't wake up until my iPhone alarm started playing the running brook sound, which is my alarm of choice.  Much less jarring than a loud blaring sound.  We met in the lobby and off we went.  I'm sure the desk manager on duty thought we were nuts, but then again, I'm sure they've seen everything.  My mom and L were a little groggy (OK, a lot groggy) but Dad and I were wide awake and ready to go.

This isn't fair.  Mom doesn't usually look like this.  (She will kill me for this picture)  

Normally (when it's not 3am) she looks like this:

See?  She's always been such a pretty mom.

Dad is a lot more chipper in the morning.  He was happy and ready to go.  You'll notice there are no 
early morning pictures of L and me.  You're welcome.

As we headed up into the hills away from city lights, the sky started to fill up with stars and I got excited.  We pulled out a couple of beach chairs we'd brought for Mom and Dad to sit in, made sure everyone was bundled up with enough coats and blankets, and turned our faces skyward.

I wish I could say that we saw hundreds of meteors.  If you were viewing in a clear sky away from city lights it was said you could see between 25 and 30 meteors an hour.  Here is what I was hoping to see:

I wish I could say we saw even several of them.  But we didn't .  We started to notice a fine layer of clouds here and there very high up, and it did affect the show.  It definitely needed more cowbell.
We sat there until 5am - 2 hours -  and all told we saw about 9 meteors.  Most were small, faint, and quick.  Two of them, however, were spectacular, streaking gloriously across the sky, and when they put on their show we got very excited.  When that happened it looked more like this picture, minus the trees. And the house lights.

All in all, it was still beautiful and amazing, and I feel lucky to have seen the ones that we did, considering city lights and the clouds.
But the real show was the family adventure we all had together.  Instead of staying home because it was easier than making an effort, we traveled from our home base, got up at an ungodly hour to sit in the cold darkness together, and sat for 2 hours looking at the stars, making our necks ache.  We laughed.  We talked.  L and my dad pointed out constellations to my mom and me.  We cheered at each meteor (although each person didn't see ALL of them) and at the best two of the night we were reminded of why we'd come.

It was amazing how many cars traveled by that lonely turnout during the hours of 3 and 5am.  A couple of them slowed down to see if we needed assistance, and then quickly sped on when they saw we were fine, just crazy people watching the stars.  I half expected the police to come check us out, but that never happened.  Luckily.  Finally at 5am we decided we'd had enough and we packed it up and started back to the hotel and sweet sleep.  As we drove down the winding road we saw a couple of other cars that were pulled over with their occupants watching the stars.  For some reason (because the show hadn't been all that I'd hoped), seeing other people doing what we'd done made me feel validated, less crazy.  There were other people who had indulged their imaginations as well, wanting to see a cosmic event.
Before we retired to our beds, Dad wanted to make sure we were all meeting for breakfast at 9:00.  I sleepily replied that I wasn't sure if I'd be there and that L most certainly wouldn't be - he is not a breakfast eater.  I could tell he was disappointed.  And wouldn't you know it - I woke up at 7:30, almost exactly when I usually do on a normal day.  I tossed and turned a bit.  I got up and took my meds, and then decided I might as well go down and have breakfast with Mom and Dad.  Bacon was sounding pretty good.
When I knocked on their door I think they were surprised to see me.  We had a good time eating and talking, and Dad was in good spirits talking about our little foray into the night.  Sometimes just breaking routine and doing something different sparks you up a bit.  I know it has that effect on me.  So even though we didn't see quite the beautiful display my imagination was hoping for, we made a memory.  We decided to go for it and take a chance.  And it was fun.  A special memory with my dad I won't ever forget.  Thanks Mom and Dad for being good sports, and once again indulging my whim.  And to my true companion L - thanks for realizing how important this little adventure with my Dad meant to me.  It was such a special time scanning the heavens and marveling at it's vastness.  We were small and insignificant, yet inspired to achieve great eternal heights all at the same time.  An ordinary weekend spontaneously transformed into a nocturnal adventure spent viewing nature's fireworks, (or in our case, nature's sparklers with a couple of spectacular fireworks slipped in for fun).  Filed away in memory as one of the best weekends ever.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's Still Too Hot...

Another week gone... but at least this week past I got some things accomplished.  I did finalize my trip to Austin.  I'm going for a quick weekend the week after Thanksgiving.  Not enough time to be sure, but I'm sure Scott and Ashley will be sick of me by then.  It was very expensive to fly there during Thanksgiving week, and since L decided he wouldn't go this time ( to save money) I didn't want to leave him alone on the holiday and made arrangements to go the following week.  It will be interesting as my plane arrives before they're off of work, and I leave on Monday while they're at work again.  I may be using all of that money I saved on cabs!  I am excited to go - I can't wait to see them, and I'm excited to see a little bit of Texas and (I'm ashamed to say) I'm excited to eat Texas food.  So that is one trip that's scheduled.

The next thing I'm trying to figure out is when to go visit my little chicks in New England.  I'm so sorry to have missed the gorgeous fall color that I'm determined to save my money to go next year at this time.  Katie has been busy making holiday plans for the little girls.  They've already got a ride on the Polar Express planned, and it's killing me not to be there.  That was one of my kids' favorite stories growing up, and I can only imagine how wonderful a train ride would be where waiters dance up the aisles with cups of hot chocolate for the children singing "Hot, hot - hot chocolate!"  And Santa brings each child their own silver bell to test their belief in Santa's magic.  Killing me to miss that.

It seems that the holidays have already taken on a life of their own.  I find myself perusing catalogs, dog-earing pages of items I think this one or that one would like.  Does anyone ever watch the Today Show on Wednesday mornings?  They have a segment called "Jills Steals and Deals" that I've become addicted to for the holidays.  Every week they feature about 4-5 different things that are at a major discount, and I've scored some smokin' deals for various people in the last couple of weeks.  It's kind of a rush, to tell you the truth.  I kind of see how people get addicted to the Home Shopping Network or QVC.  But I've kept my purchases under control, and it's been fun to get some shopping done early.

And then there's the shopping I've done for ME, my favorite grownup person to shop for (grand kiddies are still the best overall).  Up until last year, I had a wardrobe of work clothes.  Stuffy corporate things that I find I rarely wear anymore.  I had very few fun clothes, so that's what I've been quietly gathering via mail order.  I don't know why, but I just hate going to an actual mall.  It's akin to bathing suit shopping for me (which I also bought online this year).  I hate the parking, the crowds, the confusion and over abundance of Macy's and stores like it.  It's all too much, so I've gathered a few little stores where I know my size and I've just been ordering away.  This week alone I have a blouse, a sweater, and a coat wending their way to my doorstep.  And still I look, but in all fairness I needed some new duds.

Not that I'll be wearing any of those sweaters or coats anytime soon.  It's been 90 degrees every day this week.  With no A/C.  My cousin will be coming tomorrow to start the repair on it, but I'm not sure if he'll be able to finish it the same day or not.  He works so hard, and kind of fits us in after his long work day is done, so I appreciate every little thing he can do.  I will be very glad to see him tomorrow, and I'll be even more glad to see some fall weather.  Maybe next week?  Seriously, I think the temps are supposed to dip 20 degrees!  Fall in Southern California is just craziness and mayhem if you ask me.  While everyone else is wearing boots and jackets, we're still prancing around in summer shorts, and throwing longing looks at the boots in our closet.  But we don't have blizzards and hurricanes either, so I guess it all evens out.

Last weekend L and I made a trek down to Corona Del Mar to our favorite little hole in the wall Mexican food place, La Fogata.  Only it's really healthy Mexican food: black beans instead of refried, grilled salmon tacos, and nachos with grilled veggies.  We hadn't been there in quite awhile and so the food tasted particularly good.  It was just too hot to cook in our house.  On the way home we took a swing by the  beach as the sun was setting.  I love how the sun melts into the ocean, hot orange sun mirrored in the darkening water.  We watched until it slid completely from sight, and then we made our way home.  By then the hot day had cooled off and the house had some cooler air flowing through it.

And so the days flow into each other, each one not much different than the last.  Tonight after watching the presidential debate (ROMNEY...)   we took our bikes out and rode for an hour in the evening air to think about something other than the state of the union.  The temperature outside was much cooler than inside, and it felt good to have the almost cold air chill my skin a bit, and before it could get uncomfortably cold, my body had heated up from the exercise.  A few stars were out, the usual cats were out strolling about or laying on the still-warm asphalt of the street.  We rode by the dog walker who is out every evening with several dogs at the same time we ride.  We have a nodding smiling acquaintance now.  He first walks a few smaller dogs, and then some larger ones, and finally a lovely old English Setter, and I wonder if that one is his own dog.  I'll have to ask him some evening.

We always start out with me chattering away about everything that happened to me that day, and then I am quiet.  It forces L to carry the ball, and he eventually does, although he does not feel the need to talk as much as I do.  I tend to talk in paragraphs and chapters.  He communicates with a series of short comments and questions.  But he is a doer - much more so than I am.  But such is our partnership: I am the communicator and he is the doer.  I tend to talk about doing something, and I circle projects warily, thinking about them and talking about them before I finally plunge in.  L just jumps right in and gets it over with, but if there is a problem that involves a conversation he prefers that I handle it.  So we have a good partnership agreement going.  It allows us to do what we're good at, and depend on being backed up on the things we're not.  Of course I feel that I got the far better end of the deal, but I try to keep up my end of the bargain so he doesn't feel too cheated.  And so even though one day is pretty much like another I realize that they are mostly good days, so I can't complain.  But L should look out: Halloween is coming, and that is the one day I'm allowed to turn into a witch.  A good witch who likes her treats a little too much, but who still knows a few good tricks.  He likes that about me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cast A Magic Spell

There's been a cooling trend in the last few days.  Refreshingly crisp in the morning, heating up to a tolerable 80 degrees in the afternoon.  Good thing too because the A/C sounded it's death rattle on Sunday afternoon.  We had just come back from a 14 mile bike ride and were just settling in to watch the last session of our church conference from Salt Lake City.  As soon as it was over I heard a loud noise - kind of like a power tool.  At first I thought the lady next door was having some work done in her house again, but on a Sunday?  The noise sounded again and I opened a window to determine where it was coming from.  Seemed to be either our air conditioning unit or the neighbors... but hard to tell.  It sounded again, and this time I smelled smoke.  I yelled for L to turn off the air (in case it was us) and got ready to run next door to the neighbor's house (in case it was her).  L said the smokey smell was coming from ours... of course...
We called cousin Jeff, and he said he would come in the next couple of days.  Today was the day, and the sad news is that the condenser is toast (the loud noise I heard) and there's another part that burned up because of that (the smokey smell).  Additionally, we have a freon leak, which probably was the cause of the whole darn thing.  So YAY - we probably get to buy a whole new unit!  How awesome.  But I have to say a little thank you to the poor dead unit for holding on until the heat wave was over.  I can survive without A/C for a few days while we figure out what we need. 

 I was planning a trip to Texas over the Thanksgiving weekend.  With this sweet surprise, I'm not sure if that's still in the works.  We'll have to see what the damage is in a couple of days.  *pouty face*  I cheered myself up getting out the Halloween decorations.  Skeleton pirate, skull fence, and pumpkins that spell out "BOO."  

If I'm really nice to L, maybe he'll put up the spooky arch with the orange and purple lights.  It's a major pain, but it looks amazing at night.  This year, I've gone a little nuts inside too.  I decked out the living room mantle with black branches in a mercury glass vase, blinged up a little black pumpkin, and got an apothecary-ish looking glass container to hold my little skulls, with a large black crow to stand guard.  I love it.  Oh - and little spiders crawling everywhere.  Martha Stewart would be so proud.

I still have more plans: shredded cheesecloth evoking tattered drapes in a haunted house, and trying my hand at some spooky treats.  I saw fingers with almond fingernails made from one of two things: pretzel dough or shortbread cookie dough.  Pretzel dough is more trouble, but shortbread is fragile and hard to work with sometimes.  I saw that Williams Sonoma also made them from shortbread cookie dough.  Maybe I'll just buy them, and have them sent to my little goblins in other states.

I'd like to try them myself, though - just to say that I did.  They just scream... Halloween.

My sweet Lexi called me yesterday to ask if I'd make a donation to her school.  She had run 29 laps in the Mammoth Run to earn money.  29 LAPS!!  She's 6 years old and ran that many laps AND kept track of them as well.  Mema was mightily impressed.  She was asking for $10.  I sent $30.  I am so proud of her for having the desire to do service for her school and for carrying through.

Matthew flew off his bike and creamed his face.  Luckily he's fine.  No broken bones or teeth.  Mia likewise flew off her scooter while riding downhill and got a nasty bump on her forehead.  Again, no serious harm done, although she was upset because her forehead wasn't "plain" like everyone else's.  These children need to stop scaring Mema like this.  It's hard to see the pictures when I'm so far away from them.  But they're tough and will live to ride again.

I hope you're all enjoying some cooler weather.  I even ordered a sweater or two in honor of impending fall weather.  It's my favorite time of year, I think - even more than summer, I think.  Of course, in California there's not much of a difference, except in the evening when the air turns crisp and brisk in the fall.  If we're lucky we have some cool days, when sweaters and boots come out to play, but it's not unusual to have an 80 degree Christmas Day.  Whatever your days, enjoy them.  The holidays are coming, and I plan to enjoy them.  All of the kids are elsewhere out of state, so they will be very different for us this year.  We'll have to get creative, I suppose, and dream our  dreams of less expensive travel times after the holidays when we can fly off to our longed for destinations of Boston, Denver, Austin, NYC, Provo...

I'm feeling a bit better these days.  It's always a little bit cyclical.  Comes and goes.  The goal is for it to go as often as possible.  I've been taking care of myself, eating better, making sure I'm exercising - everything you're supposed to do, and it's working.  Yay...  Dad is having a tough time.  Week 4 of chemotherapy just passed and he's experiencing swelling and discomfort.  Loss of appetite.  He's discouraged, understandably so.  I want to help, but how?... what?  It's a helpless feeling for me, so I can only imagine how my mother is feeling.  The cost of everything is frightening to them.  It's horrifically expensive to take life saving measures.  But expensive though it is, I am grateful they have the opportunity to choose their method of treatment.  Choice is good, and my dad's doctor seems to be a good one, as well as a good human being.  I'm grateful for that as well.

October is a lovely month, so take it all in - the changing leaves, the brisk air, the hint of holiday in the air.  Buy chocolate for those little trick or treaters (and for yourself!)  It's a whole month of black and orange spooky fun.  Pet a black cat, and dance with a witch, a ghost, or even a princess in the light of a  full moon, drink hot chocolate, cast good magic spells over your favorite little people.  It's Halloween.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Need to Relax. In Austin and Boston.

Dear friends, I've been absent.  I've been preoccupied.  I've had a lot on my plate lately, and most of it isn't really blog worthy.  It's been life at it's busiest, and most hectic, and has included lots of frustrations and low points.  Nothing that each one of you hasn't experienced over and over again yourselves.  It's just hard to write when your mind is so preoccupied.
I saw my rheumatologist a couple of weeks ago.  I haven't been feeling all that well, and I thought that maybe a change in medications was due.  There was one seemingly ineffective med I was taking about 3 years ago.  I'd taken it for a couple of years and it didn't seem to do anything, and since it was a mild form of a chemotherapy drug I (being the amateur MD) decided to stop taking it.  No ill effects.  Not a one.  I was fairly symptom free for a long time.  And then I wasn't, and it's been harder and harder to manage lately.  At the time I stopped taking it, my doc didn't bat an eye - he just let me go off doing what I wanted to, but on this visit he suggested that maybe I should try taking it again, and that it would help the other medications to work better.   *sigh*  It's kind of a cumulative thing, so it's probably going to take awhile, and I've gone from swelling in my knee to such a sore neck it's hard to turn my head sometimes.  And my hands and wrists ache in the morning.  But it's incentive to fire up the laptop and start typing, as it really loosens them up!  That'll teach me to self diagnose...
My nephew got married this past weekend and my youngest brother and his family came from Utah for the occasion.  There was a pre-wedding dinner on Friday night, the wedding on Saturday, a reception Saturday night (which we didn't end up going to) and then another family gathering on Sunday.  It was all great, but it involved lots of dressing up and worrying what to wear, and wearing makeup every day.  It wore me out, I tell you.  But my nephew and his beautiful bride were lovely and happy and glowing. They were married in the LDS temple in Newport Beach, and after the ceremony it was a lazy walk across the large parking lot to the regular church next door where the In 'n Out truck came and served hamburgers and sodas to the hungry wedding group.  If you've never had In 'n Out hamburgers, you haven't lived, and it was just the thing on a hot September afternoon.  It was nice to sit with family and relax after the rush rush of the wedding.  The bride and groom drove away on a Vespa.  So cute.
My dad was having a tough time.  He's had 3 chemo sessions so far, and it's starting to have effects.  His lovely white hair is thinning, and the little that is still growing is growing in a little bit curly.  He looks tired, and his energy is lower.  My brother had to rush him to the doctor once on Friday with a minor emergency.  But he was a trooper and attended the Friday night party and the wedding.  When we came out of the temple after the ceremony and had to stand for a few pictures I thought I would die.  The temperature was in the 90s - full sun - and we were all very damp and shiny. I think that's what did my dad in.  He trooped across the way and had his hamburger and soda but didn't feel well after that and needed to go home and rest.  And drink about a gallon of water.  Both he and mom were a little worn out from the activity and the heat.

L and I headed home as well, only to discover that while we'd been down in Newport Beach celebrating out air conditioning had gone out.  Not good.  I called my cousin, who is our A/C guru, and he said he'd come over and check it out, which he did.  After about 3 hours.  But hey - it was a Saturday, and he works cheap, and I am NOT complaining.
He diagnosed the problem and said he would pick up the parts and bring them back on Monday evening.  That meant getting through a hot Sunday and even hotter Monday.  Yes, folks, Monday reached a high of 101 degrees, and there I sat in my hot little house working away.  All day.  No point in trying to fix my hair or put on makeup - it would have just slid right off my face.
L came home from work and wanted to heat up some leftover pizza in the oven and I almost started crying.  Jeff (my cousin) finally came (after a very long work day himself) at around 8:00.  I plied him with many Diet Cokes and within a few minutes our A/C sprang to life and cool air was circulating.  Heaven.
So that's it.  For some reason it doesn't sound so bad when it's written out, but lately I've just felt overwhelmed.  I'm worried about Dad.  I'm trying to reassure Mom, who is worried and scared.  I have an aunt who is having a tough time, and I've been working with her.  It's been frustrating as she doesn't want to admit she needs help, and is usually very cantankerous and stubborn.  I've made mental notes to myself to remember to be gracious when I'm old.  I have my own health issues that have flared up.  And I miss the kids.  Badly.  I broached the subject of a visit tonight to L.  He didn't say much, but I know he's mulling it over.  It's just very expensive to fly around the holidays, so there's no getting around that.  I'd like to visit Texas with L for Thanksgiving, and then fly to Boston by myself after the first of the year and see Katie and the girls.  If I go on my own we can do all of the fun girl things we love to do, and I won't have to worry that L is bored.  I think that getting back into routine, having the weather cool down (which it will by the end of the week) and maybe the possibility of visiting the kids will do wonders for me.  I just need to chill.  And then I need to see these two :

followed by some future plans with this sweet one and her crazy little naked sister (Hayden is fond of "air baths")

And then we'll start all over next year planning trips to Denver, New York, and Utah.  It never ends...

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