Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Shuffling Out Of 2014

Usually I'm  thinking that the old year slides out and the new year slips in.  This year I'm more into the "shuffling"  mode.

These have become my good buddies. But the real gems have been good friends and my wonderful family. Jack and the boys are always ready to help and encourage my shuffling . Each day brings improvements.  The physical therapists are pleased.  Me? Glad to move forward and thankful for the offers of help and meals sent...but most of all, the prayers offered.  Enjoy your celebration tonight.  Good bye 2014...It's been an interesting year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Bees Knees

Friday morning found me on on the other side of the operating table. I had bilateral total knee replacement. I've been having problems for a long time. I decided in the fall to finally take care of it.Everything went good and now it's the healing process. I'll be off work for 3 months. Once I start feeling better I'll be a bit stir crazy. Today however, I just want to go home and and try to move forward. Actually, I'm hoping to move at all!
Friday afternoon after surgery
The final project.
Going home in a few minutes.
Whew! Glad it's over! I much prefer doing the surgery instead of having the surgery!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 1946

My Father served in WWII from 1942 to 1945.  He married my Mom in February of 1946.   December 25th found them celebrating their first Christmas together.  They overcame obstacles and family upheavals to be married.  During the war my Dad had written many beautiful letters to Mom.  I'm hoping to get them from ink to computer one day so they can be preserved and shared with family.  This is a letter my Dad wrote to Mom on their first Christmas.  It shows his ability to write...but more importantly his love for Mom.  I hope everyone can have a love like this in their lifetime...and also a very Merry Christmas, 2014.
                               A LOVE LETTER TO MARY
Dearest Mary,
     I am going to try and write this before you get home today so I don't know exactly how much time I will have. Not enough I know to wish you the kind of Merry Christmas I would like, but perhaps enough time is mine in which to tell you that this is the best and happiest Christmas I have ever had.
     All the dreams of those dark days long ago, but which I still remember, have been fulfilled.  I can sit here now and look at our first Christmas tree and marvel that all this is mine.  There is no snow as in other years, but I never wished for snow.  I wanted you, a home, and all the little bits of laughter and joy, yes even the unhappiness that comes now and then in every home.  I wanted the chance to love and hold you and now I have every bit of that.  Do you ever feel so quiet and content that it seems the whole world has stopped?  I do.  There is a wonderful warmth that comes from the fact that I can see, feel, and even breathe the little things that are here, that are you.  There is nothing that man could want that is not mine today.   I feel as though all the Christmas carols that are sung and all God's blessings of this day are for us alone.  All the cold, unhappiness, and grief are outside.  We keep them locked out of our hearts for there is no room for anything but the love and peace we have found in doing what our hearts told us was right.
     I guess I'm doing a bum job of this, but I do want you to know that I love you and always will, and that this Christmas is just the first in what I know is going to be a long succession of happy ones.
     Merry Christmas Dearest, and know forever that you have brought the happiest year that I have ever known.  If the world should end tomorrow, I could feel that in loving you it has been worth while.
                                     Love always,

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

No Elf On This Shelf!

A few weeks ago Addy and Lexi came into the house and were looking around at the decorations with a funny look on their faces.  Addy piped up: "You don't have one of those creepy elves sitting around looking at us do you?  I assured her that there were no "Elves on the shelves" here at the Pines...just scary YaYa and PawPaw!  They were both relieved about that! Then last night I told them I had made an appointment to get them a manicure and an elf was going to do it! Addy got a panicked look on her face.  No not that Elf! This Elf:
Our good friends have a daughter who's a nail technician and she was giving holiday manicures all week dressed as an elf....After seeing her picture, Addy was excited! So after work I grabbed them and off we went to visit our nail polishing Elf!
Selections had to be made on what design and colors...Addy is very focused and serious in this step!
A hand and arm massage almost put her to sleep!
Red, with an ornament and jewels, was her choice.  Next it was Lexi's turn.
She went with a blue theme that included snowflakes and jewels!
Nice choice!
Lexi's finished design
Addy's finished design.  Tomorrow they have a Christmas Eve party at their Mom's and other Grandma's house, and now they can go looking festive! (Santa will be impressed I'm sure!)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Breaking Tradition

Many families have Christmas traditions.  Some gather together on Christmas Eve...some Christmas day.  Some gather when ever or where ever they can to accommodate schedules.  Growing up, Christmas day was when we opened gifts and celebrated. Of course church was another tradition.  Midnight mass was usually when we went when I was a teen...I really don't remember going on Christmas day. Hmm..I need to check with Mom on that one! As we grew up and had homes of our own, Christmas Eve was held at different homes each year. The last one I hosted when I lived in Chicago was in 1975.  Our first born son wasn't in a manger...but he was in the hospital NICU.  He was born premature a month before Christmas...exactly...and was still in the hospital.  My family gathered at our tiny apartment.  The same traditions were, food, and family.  I had to work the midnight shift at the hospital.  I didn't mind because that's the same hospital my baby was in and I could spend his first Christmas with him on my break.  I remember going in to see him and on his incubator was a tiny angel and the smallest pair of Christmas socks ever!  I still have those tiny socks....I doubt his 39yr old feet would fit them! Ha! Many things had changed by the next Christmas in 1976.  My Dad passed away that November and Jack graduated from Chiropractic college and we moved to Ohio.  We moved into his family's traditions.  We would gather together with is family on Christmas day to open gifts and enjoy family and food.  We would head down to the farm and gape at the ginormous tree they always had and enjoy Jack's Mom's delish food....many things that I now serve are recipes from those days.  I wish his Mom and Dad were still here to celebrate with us.  Now we host the gathering here at the Pines.  Tradition has us getting together on Christmas day also.  Except for this year.  We moved the celebration to today.  I'm having bilateral knee surgery on Friday and felt it would be better to do this today....and I'm glad we did.  It was a lovely day all around.  The weather was in the upper 30's...warm for us! The sun actually shown bright and it was great to see everyone.  We sure wish our son Craig and his family could be here, but living in Oregon makes it hard to be together for holidays.  The usual things we do on Christmas day were done today...this first day of Winter. (I think the first day is today!) The shortest day of the year, but it was long on love, laughter, fun, family, food and gifts.
The tree was ready with the gift part! (A little football before the gift opening didn't hurt!)
Jack in his favorite Christmas shirt!
Cameron giving Squeak a little head rub...Squeak looks like she's just tolerating it to be nice!
Summer claims her spot on the couch.
Anthony took the recliner!
Cameron....what a sweet kiddo!
Jordan..on the left..Phil on the right....snacking in the middle...oh wait, maybe it's Addy in the middle!
After the gifts were opened...I never got one shot of that..too busy playing Mrs. Claus!
Dinner was held in the dining room. 
With a little table for the littles in the group! I was really having trouble with my camera blurring the shots...or maybe it's just user error...I was a bit bummed by the results..sorry!
Dessert was amazing...calories don't happen on Christmas...just sayin.
Jack grabbed the little ones and took them for a ride around the pines...the fresh air and fun was just what was needed after dinner.  I hate to leave this with a blurry shot so here's a clearer pic.
Anthony riding shotgun and the little monsters hiding in the back are Addy and Cameron.  Poor Lexi was sick and had headed up to a nap after dinner. So tradition may have been broken this year, but the rest was as we remember it to be.  However you celebrate, I hope this Christmas finds you healthy and happy and remembering the gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and all the blessings that were had this year.  Enjoy this Christmas week!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Jingle and Mingle....Arends style!

It's hard to believe this weekend is over and we're back home.  Our family get togethers are always packed with good fun, good food, good people and many memories.   Before we left home, our tree needed to get decorated.  Thanks Addy and Lexi for lending a hand and doing a great job!
TA DA!  With the tree done and our bags packed....along with tons of stuff we  packed in the car...we headed out.  The weather  has been a weird warm.  That's OK with me because it makes the drive much easier and less stressful.  We've  had our fun of "dashing through the snow" in past years...I'll take this warm weather!  We're lucky to have Mom with us.  At 88 she's a marvel!
Isn't she cute?!  This year my niece Katie and  her family were hosting the "Jingle and Mingle" event.  They have a beautiful  home and plenty of room for all.
Pretty huh? Then the family began to appear.  Young and youngers!
My niece Amy and her little boy Parker.  (She's a mom of 3...all 3 and under!)
My brother Rick (with Jack) came from northern Wisconsin...he looks so much like my Dad!
Mom and Katie's Mother-in-law who's holding the youngest member...Amy's little guy Conner (7 months old).  Hmm...Mom the younger and Conner the youngest! Ha!
Of course Santa made an appearance for all the other "youngest" of us! His glasses were steamed up..he's used to the frigid North Pole, not the warmish Chicago.
My niece Katie with her little guy Mason giving Santa his gift of cookies.
It was then time for the adults to have the yearly "White Elephant" gift exchange.  Maybe you call it "Bad Santa" gift exchange.  No matter, it's always a hoot!  Somehow everyone gets that perfect, imperfect present.  Many times the same gifts get re-gifted each year.  Like this one:
These charming Christmoose shorts have made a few appearances on my blog over the years!  Along with the moose made out of socks wreath....enjoy Vicki and and George!
My Sister is eagerly digging into her cleaner and wipes and car freshners...(from yours truly!) She loved it!  It was very fun to see how perfect the gifts were for those who received them this year.  My brother's daughter is getting married next year and she opened the often passed around gift of a fertility goddess...given by my niece know, the one with 3 kids 3 and under! Amy was very happy to get that thing out of her house! I'm sure Betsy will be too! My sister-in-law who hates sock monkeys got the last gift left...a sock monkey mug...go figure!  So what did I get? Well, what every good non-drinking Mormon girl needs:
A bottle of wine and a dish to put cheese was re-gifted immediately! Ha! Time went quickly...dinner was delish and all the goodies were overwhelming...the company was fun and I even got to talk to my brother in Atlanta who couldn't make it out this year.  Hugs were given all around:
And soon it was time to go.  As I looked around the room I realized that all the little ones who used to scamper for Santa and eagerly await his arrival, are now the ones with kiddos who are continuing the tradition.  The younger members are hosting the event instead of Mom or one of us.  We miss those who couldn't make it.  None of my boys could this year but my Granddaughter Driana did..along with her boyfriend.  Makes me feel very old!  I'm grateful for this family and for the love and laughter and good times that have been the constant over the years.  It's good to have the important things stay the same!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Let the party begin!

We made it to the family "jingle and mingle" in Chicago. Sophie, my sister's dog is ready!
 The tree at Mom's is festive.
 Mom is festive too!
 These two crazy kids are excited to see everyone and gather all the blog worthy be continued..

Monday, December 8, 2014

Where Have I Been?

It's already December 8th...I haven't blogged in over a week! In fact, it was Thanksgiving.  This month is full, full, full.  Work is busy as it usually is this time of year.  Folks want those surgeries done before the end of the year for many reasons, but our hospital is facing some big changes in the next few weeks and that's pushing us to do more.  We'll be merging with some other health care company. We (the employees) don't know yet who (or is it whom?)  that will be.  We could even have our  hospital taken over and then closed.  Thanks to our country's health care reform, it will be the death of many small town hospitals.  (Don't get me started on that!)  You can imagine the stress we're facing and added to long work days and nights and weekends,  it's taking it's toll.  But it's also Christmas and that's suppose to be fun...right?  Well, I'm getting it done and that's where I've been....
Making these peanut butter cups..
And buckeyes!  I've made these for many years.  I learned how after moving to this buckeye state long ago!  However, I never saw a real buckeye nut until moving to the Pines..
These are the real deal from our tree...they're poison BTW...the nuts, not my candy!
Along with the sweets, comes the savory.  Yesterday I made a pot of homemade potato soup...perfect for the rainy, cold day we had.
Yum!  However, today was a beauty!  It was sunny and crisp this morning.
See the frost on the pool?
As I admired the sun I decided to snap a few pics.  Then I spied a little doggy doo-doo that must have been left by my sweet Eddy..or perhaps the neighbor's dog.  So with my camera around my neck, dressed in my bathrobe, wearing my hubby's giant shoes, I grabbed the nearest shovel...a snow shovel no less...and preceded to scoop.  The thought did cross my mind that if my neighbor next door happened to be out feeding chickens or whatever,  I would be a lovely sight indeed!  Oh well!  This day had blue skies...
The fire that heats our home sends up smoke signals into that beautiful sky.  After church I put together some chicken and decided to grill.  Hey, this was like a day in Florida!  Ok, maybe a day in Florida that was under a deep freeze! But perfect for grilling!
Love that smokey flavor!  So that's what I've been up well as decorating..
Hanging my greetings and doing my best to be:

Throw in some shopping and shipping and that about sums up this month so far...and it's only the first week!  A trip to Chicago is coming up and that always has blog worthy moments.  Can't wait! Oh, a special thanks to my son Jordan for putting our tree up so we can decorate it today.  He comes every Sunday to do his laundry and let Eddy run in the Creepy woods.  When I came home from church it was up....nice surprise! Thanks Jord!