Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year 2013

Last December 31st I did a post called New Beginnings and how I chose listen as my New Years Word.  Very prophetic as I've ended up doing of lot of inner listening and soul searching this year.  It's been a really tough year financially, as I'm sure it is for many people in this day and age.  It's been hard emotionally because we lost 2 of Louie's brothers last month.  I really feel like nothing we planned on is working out as we planned.  Doors keep slamming shut and I've finding very few windows open.  It's frustrating and I'm tired.

But we had some highlights too - Chablis graduated from college with honors and I'm really proud of her for that.  Tony's blog is thriving and he's doing good in school.   I've been reviewing more books and outdoor equipment on my blog and I really enjoy doing that.  I learned to crochet and surprised myself because I like it so much.  I made some new friends through blogging who have come to mean a great deal to me - people I would never had met if it wasn't for blogging and for that I am so thankful.  

And to borrow from last's years post - "But then I stop to think and I hold fast to the thought that "Life is all about the journey and not the destination."  And I remember that I have what God wants me to have, I am exactly where He wants me to be and I am exactly who I am supposed to be.    Maybe part of my problem is that I'm not realizing that I already do the most important things I can be doing - Have faith in God and raise good kids.  We are blessed - My husband and I run a business, I married the love of my life and I have a great family.  We are all healthy.  Why am I always looking for more?"  So here I stand one year later and so much is different and yet so much is the same.    I keep reminding myself that God's plan is best and to "Let go and let God."  And so, that's this years word, or words rather - "Trust God."

I'd like to wish all my blogger friends a very blessed and Happy New Year.  Thank you for your comments, friendship and support.  Hug the ones you love because in the end, that's really all that matters.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas!

Remember, Jesus is the reason for the Season.  Have a blessed holiday!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Preparations

I have to tell you, it was difficult getting into the Christmas spirit this year, but we're trying.  I'd really like to thank everyone out there for being so supportive with messages and cards.  It was so appreciated.  I never realized how much a kind word can change the outlook in a persons day.  I'm sorry to say that I didn't even start my Christmas cards this year, so please forgive me.  Honestly, we've been spending a lot of time together as a family and I've been hugging my kids a lot.

A big time saver for me this year was shopping on line.  I despise crowds and long lines anyway, so for me, it's totally worth it to price compare on line and then click and ship.  I was surprised at how many items I was able to get shipped for free by googling for online coupons for the different stores.  I saved a bunch that way.  If you don't do that already, check it out.  Wow!

We put the tree up on the first Sunday of December, like we always do.  Now that my kids are older, I just wrap most of the presents as I buy them and stick them under the tree.

The stockings were hung by the chimney on the book case with care and almost immediately the Christmas Elf starts filling them each day with little trinkets.   I'll tell ya, my kids get a bigger kick out of checking their stockings every morning than they do about almost anything else.  It's the most favored tradition in our family and one that I'm glad I started when they were little.  Almost every night the elf visits and leaves a small gift in one or two of the stockings.  The kids would always get up quickly on December mornings to see who got a gift.  They were allowed to remove it from the stocking, squeeze and shake it and even guess what it might be.  So much fun for such a simple thing!

How many different varieties of cookies do you make for Christmas?  We're whipping up about 14 different kinds this year.  We usually start around the 1st of December and make a batch per day until we're done, but with all the turmoil around here this year, we got a really late start.  As of right now, we only have 2 batches left to make, so I don't think we did bad at all.  Here's Chablis with the recipe scrapbook I made for her last year.  She's been adding new recipes all year and this year she really learned how to cook.  I'm quite proud of her!

Lucky always has to lay right in the middle of the kitchen whenever we bake.

Petey sits and hopes for a crumb or two to hit the floor....

Tony likes to help make and smell the cookies, but he sticks to his apples, thank you very much....

5 days until Christmas and we're back on track.  Most of the food for Christmas dinner has been purchased, house cleaning started, baking almost done, tree and stockings up and most of the gifts wrapped.  Christmas music is constantly playing in the background.  Hugs and kisses all around.

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Year of Crochet

Last March I decided that I wanted to teach myself how to crochet.  You can go back and take a look at my initial post about learning here.

Since then, I've been attempting to read patterns and I've made quite a few items for myself or as gifts to others.  Here's a sample of what I've done so far....

Baby beanie....

Hat and cowl set for a friends daughter....

Hat for my nephew....

 Hat for another friend's daughter.......

Toddler beanie.....It's a Christmas present... Shhhhhhh....

Brainwaves beanie for Tony.....  He loves this one!

Poncho and matching hat for me.....

Matching hat and cowl for a good friend.....

Another beanie for Tony....

Cat hat for a friends son who has cancer.....  He told me he will keep it forever.  How cute was that??

Pillow for my chair....

Beanie for Chablis.  I love the sparkly yarn....

Baby blanket.....

Stuffed dragon for the little boy next door....

Leg warmers for Chablis.....

My crochet bag for when we go out of town.....

Definitely one of my favorite things to make is the cowl.  I got the pattern from Aesthetic Nest, which is a blog I follow.  You can see her free pattern here.

The very cool looking Brainwaves beanie is from Liz over at Playin' Hooky Designs.  I love her patterns because she makes the coolest looking things.  And get this - she gives away the Brainwave Beanie pattern for free!!

I've also made quite a few headbands and I'm working on granny squares for a blanket, as well as just a multi-colored blanket, which is going to take me quite some time to finish.  I know my stuff isn't perfect, but I'm happy with my progress and I like to keep my hands busy, so this has become a nice past time for me.  If you're a crocheter, let me know!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Remembering Bobby

This has been one hell of an autumn....  Last month Louie's brother Chuckie passed away.  This past weekend, his brother Bobby also passed away.  If that's not a one-two punch, then I don't know what the heck is.

I have such conflicting emotions on the passing of both of them and here's why.  Both were diabetics who had a really hard time keeping their diabetes in check.  Both spent several days each week on dialysis   One had heart problems and the other has had multiple broken bones over the past 2 years.  Each of them suffered physically each and every day.  To tell you the truth, their quality of life sucked the past few years. I know in my heart that now they are in a better place.  I truly believe they have left this world and are sitting in the arms of the Lord, free of the pain that this physical world inflicts.  But that doesn't make it any easier to let them go.

This is one of my favorite pictures of 4 of the brothers taken quite a few years ago when we were deer hunting.  That's Bobby kneeling in front, holding Tony.

My sister in law and I spent half an hour on FB the other night, reminiscing and laughing about Bobby and the crazy stuff he did.  Bob had the best smile and the greatest laugh.   He loved to bet on the harness races. His favorite driver was named Jim Curran and he thought ole' Curran was the best driver in the world.  He never stopped talking about the damn guy.  So one Christmas I got a publicity photo of Jim Curran and stuck it in a photo frame and wrapped it up for Bobby.  When he opened that gift, he fell on the floor laughing his ass off - and that's what I loved so much about him, his sense of humor.  I'm so glad we have a movie of that, because it's one of my favorite memories of him.  

I grew up with 2 sisters and had no brothers of my own.  Louie's brothers welcomed me with open arms and I grew quite close to all of them.  Did they piss me off sometimes?  Yes.  Did they drive me crazy with the stupid shit they did?  Yes.  Did I yell at them in frustration when they did things they knew better than to do?  Yes. Did they make me laugh?  Yes.  Were they always there for me if I needed them?  Yes.  Did they truly love my kids?  Yes.  Because that's what's great about having brothers!

I am heart broken for the loss of 2 of my dearest friends, so closely together.  Both were men whom I loved in spite of their faults and because they were who they were.  Bobby's two greatest gifts to me were his sense of humor and his smile.  I will miss you Bobby.  I'll bet on Curran the next time I'm at the track.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fort Sheridan Re-Visited

Last week we had a nice day, so we scooted back to Fort Sheridan to finish up a couple of caches that we didn't get to find the last time we were up there.

We had a DNF on Anti Aircraft Gun  when we previously had way too much muggle traffic, so we couldn't search.  This time there was no one around and we had more time to investigate the many possibilities.  I was convinced the cache was hidden in one spot, but I was clearly wrong.  Louie felt it was in another spot and after continued prodding, I grudgingly looked, and damn if he wasn't right!  It was cleverly hidden someplace on this gun.

I really liked the next cache location, Red Hawk Eyes, because it's a huge nest, with a hawk and giant eggs for kids to climb all over.  Well, maybe a few adults like to climb on it as well, but I'm not saying who...  Louie definitely had his geosenses going that day, because he found the super tiny cache at this location....

The next cache was hidden someplace near this overhead cable system.  Again, Louie quickly found the cache...

I always enjoy geocaching near Lake Michigan.  Here we had to climb down a huge wooden staircase to get to the shoreline trail for the next set of caches.....

After finding a few caches, we explored the beach and then headed back up the stairs.....

We ended up finding 7 geocaches that morning, stopped for a little phooning and called it a day!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thank You Secret Santa!

I have the best friends!  I did a post last week about My Favorite Christmas music, and I was saying how I can no longer listen to my ancient cassette version of Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas album with "All I Want for Christmas is You!"

Imagine my surprise when I received a package in the mail today from my "Secret Santa" who sent me a new  cd version of the album...

I did find out that the special Secret Santa was my Sanibel Shelling Sistah, Moira.  OMG - try to repeat THAT sentence 3 times real fast!  We got to meet last year when we found out we actually live less than an hour away from each other.

So Moira, thank you for such a thoughtful gift.  I'll think of you every time I listen to it, which by the way, is right now.  It's already loaded into my i-tunes library and blasting from the speakers.  Love it!!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Steve Harvey and Me

A couple of weeks ago Louie and I got the opportunity to do something fun - we were on the Steve Harvey Show!  We're big fans of Steve and we Tivo his talk show every day and then sit and watch it while we're eating dinner.

We saw one episode where Steve was giving a woman some advice about how to do something special for her man.  I got a big kick out of his answer and decided to apply it to our upcoming anniversary.  I wrote to the show and told them what I did and they ended up contacting me, asking if we'd like to be on the show.  Of course!!  Were they kidding me??  They did not have to ask me twice.

The day of the taping we got dressed up and headed for downtown Chicago where the show is filmed.  Here we are before we left and you probably don't even recognize me in nice clothes, as opposed to my usual "hiking in the woods, bag lady" look....

The Steve Harvey Show is taped at the NBC Studios....

Inside the lobby was a long line of people waiting to get their audience show tickets.  I felt like a big shot because we got to by-pass the line, go to Security and one of the Producers came downstairs to get us.  She took us upstairs to our own, private Green Room.  Check this out - our name was on the door and everything!  (I swiped the name tag when we left)

Everyone we met who worked at the show was so nice and did whatever they could to make us feel welcome.  They brought in a tray of food with all kinds of sandwiches and snacks, as well as a bucket of iced water bottles and soda.  We settled in and watched them start taping the show on the big screen TV on the wall.  Here's Louie acting like he's a newscaster.  Isn't he handsome?

After awhile they took us to "Make-up." Louie got some quick powder on his face and then they fixed my hair and did my face.  It was really fun to sit and talk to the hairdresser and make up artist and get to see them in action.  They even took my jacket and steam pressed it.  I have to tell you, I could get used to that kind of treatment and I was really enjoying myself.  Louie had walked out into the hallway and got to meet Judge Mathis, who was just finishing up his show taping down the hall.  By that time Louie was really beginning to enjoy himself.

After hair and make up we went back to the Green Room and the sound guy came in and mic'ed us.  "I'm ready for my close up!"

Our Producer came and got us and we went and took our seats in the audience and got ready to film the next segment.  The atmosphere in the studio was lively and fun.  They were blasting music and staffers dance around, clap, and get the audience all excited.

Then they filmed our segment and I couldn't believe how quickly it happened.  The audience gave us a big round of applause and we got a few laughs and even got Steve to crack up.  And then we were done.  Oh my gosh, it went by so quickly and I loved it.  I should have stayed in theater, because I realized how much I enjoyed being in the spotlight and hearing the applause.

I got this off the Steve Harvey Website advertising next weeks upcoming shows:

Steve helps a young woman get off the sugar daddy gravy train with advice on how to get independent and start earning real money for herself. Then, our three “Diet Wars” participants are back and ready to reveal their results. Between the Paleo Diet, a Plant-Based Diet and the DEM system, which one helped them shed the most pounds? And which one could work for you? Also, Steve helps a budding entrepreneur break the news to his bosses that he’s walking out the door to strike out on his own! And, a woman who took Steve’s advice on what to get her man for their anniversary is here to share the very revealing results!

Our segment is the one about the anniversary couple.  It's seriously less than 5 minutes long and I'm expecting it to be the last segment when they do the "Just One More Thing" part, unless they changed it and stuck it in someplace else.  So if you want a good laugh and would like to see me on TV being a nut, then tune in.  It's going to air Tuesday, December 4th on NBC and you'll have to check your local listings for air times.   

All I can say is that I had the time of my life.  It was great to meet Steve Harvey in person and everyone involved with his show is just top notch.  It was a once in a lifetime experience!

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