This is My "Real" Blog: December 2006

Angie's Blog!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

17 Years. . . .wow!

I still need to create a layout to go with this blog entry. . .but until I do, let me say that 17 years ago, I began the adventure of a lifetime with Mark. We were married in lovely University Park, Illinois, on Saturday, December 30, 1989. It was cold. There was ice. It was Chicago in December, ya'll.

It's hard to imagine that 17 years has gone by so quickly. But, when you start to add up the events that took place during those 17 years--factoring in joy and heartache--17 years seems to fly by.

Note: I know that Mark reads this, even though he professes to read very few blogs. Every once in a while, he'll surprise me with something that I know I haven't talked about anyplace but here. So, if you'll indulge me:

Mark, thank you for the most wonderful lifetime of love I could have imagined. When I think back to the days before I knew you, I just see emptiness. When I think of those first days/weeks/months that we knew each other, I was so sure that you were the one. Of course, you took a bit more time than me. But, you eventually came around to my way of thinking. . .and I am so glad you did.

You know,
love really is a circle. . . .

Thank you for two beautiful children. Thank you for loving and accepting us into your heart. Thank you for being a great dad, a terrific friend, and a gracious and loving husband. I could ask for no more--and wouldn't dream of it. I love you......Angie

Okay, thanks for allowing me that little indulgence.

To my family and friends--I pray that 2007 will be a blessed year for you. Thank you for blessing my life with your friendship.

And, to my newfound blog and digi-scrapping buddies. . .I am still in awe at these new friendships. Totally bizarre. Totally random. Totally blessed.

It's about time to get some munchies together for our official New Year's Eve Party here at home. We're staying in, and staying warm this year. Go Bears!

Before I sign out for the year (wow) here are a couple of Christmas layouts I have been able to accomplish with my spare time. Enjoy - and as always - thanks for looking!

Happy New Year!!!

Edited: Here's a layout I created while waiting for the ball to drop. It's Mom & Dad at Dollywood the other day. . . using Melany's newly created kit. I'm so proud of you, Melany!!!


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Couple Days Off

It felt really good to climb in the van this afternoon, and know that I don't have to go back to work for nearly four days.

I love my job. Really, I do. But we all have our limit. I've about reached mine, and the next four days are going to be very relaxing. Need to do a little scrapbooking. Need to do a little crocheting. Need to do a little reading. Need to do a little sleeping. . . . and I'm gonna get the chance.

Sooooooooo, if this means that I'm away from the blogosphere for awhile, I hope you'll understand.

It's kind of funny. I did, however, invite about 65 people to come by and visit via our Christmas letter. I realize it was a bit self-serving, but blogging gives me a way to keep people up on what our family's been up to. I'm just trying to share the love, people! If you notice a lack of daily updates, this is why!

Have an awesome week. Mark and I are celebrating our 17th anniversary (Saturday) by going away for a couple days. On Friday, we're meeting up with the kiddos and my parents for a grand day at Dollywood. Yes, it's Caroline's first visit to "the 'Wood" as we lovingly call it.

The weather is supposed to cooperate, and there will likely be many pictures of our day of fun. Until then, I pray you God's peace and blessings.
As my friend Melany says: "Ciao for niao!"

Monday, December 25, 2006

The People Eating in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light

My apologies to the prophet Isaiah. But, I can't think of a better way to retell our Christmas story. But, like that annoying episode of Seinfeld (wedding in India) I will work my way backwards. Buckle up, it's going to be bumpy!

Christmas Dinner was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at my parents' house. They only live about 6.2 miles from our house, so naturally I didn't start getting ready until 6 p.m.

Actually, that is not the reason, but I digress. I had made my swiss cashew lettuce salad. (WOW!) I had also made my green bean casserole, Hawaiian cheese ball, and a plate of cookies & fudge. However, I hadn't yet showered. After getting ready, we flew out the door at precisely 6:31 p.m.

About halfway to Mom's house, I saw this blue aura-ish thing in the sky. I noticed that everyone seemed to be away from home. No lights. I saw a more prounounced blue aura-ish thing a few hundred yards later. And even more noticeably, no house or street lights.

Sure enough, by the time we got to Mom & Dad's house, we decided that we were either in the midst of a chapter of Left Behind, or indeed, there was a power outage. It was a power outage.

Imagine 14 people gathered for Christmas dinner. No lights. No fans. No oven. No ice dispenser. Not a single luxury. No problem.

Candles and flashlights illuminated our evening meal. I joked that if people didn't like the salad, it was because of the power failure. (it was a new recipe)

However everything tasted wonderful. Caroline didn't seem to mind the distraction of being in the dark. She ate her applesauce, au gratin potatoes, ham, and cheerios with glee.

Sometime after everyone had gone through the line the first time, the lights came back on. There was this collective sigh. We left the candles lit--just in case. But, I think we were a little nostalgic for the gentler Christmas Dinner.

It was all very good. Lots of fun conversation, games being played, and crocheting lessons being imparted from my dear friend, Jane. I still don't know if I'm able to make the leap from granny squares to this beautiful pattern she attempted to teach me, but I will try. I also don't think that in Scattergories "Fried okra" counts as a vegetable starting with the letter "F" but that's just me.

All in all, it was a great Christmas. I think Dad said it best in his prayer before dinner. . . (loosely quoting here). "Father, thank you for friends and family. Friends that are like family, and family that is your best friend." Very cool.

Rather than stretch this entry out into an even longer saga by working back to yesterday's three Christmas Eve services, I'll end with this bulleted update, and give it more oomph later in the week. By "oomph" I mean I'll add pictures or digital layouts of the festivities. Here's the list:
  • Caroline totally gets exchanging gifts
  • Edison was blown away by a new TV
  • There's no such thing as too many Christmas Eve services
  • Not everyone will have a "Merry" Christmas, but we'll all have a "blessed" one.
  • I am one blessed girl

That, my friends, is a Christmas to remember!


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Another Sign that You're Living in the South....?

. . . you make sausage and grits casserole for a carry-in breakfast at church.

Actually, it appears to be quite yummy. Can't wait to taste it in the morning. Until then, I proceed with baking and wrapping.

Thus far, I've made:

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark
White Chocolate Snack Mix
White Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Crackers
Date Cookie (Hedgehogs)
White Chocolate/Dried Cherry Oatmeal Cookies
the aforementioned casserole
Gingerbread Men dough

. . . and quite a mess in my kitchen.

I guess I must really be dreaming of a white Christmas, because half of the things I've made include white chocolate. How funny.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

2 days and counting

I can't believe it's been a week since I've posted, but it's true. This has been an insanely busy week. And now, it's midnight on Friday night - the rain is falling in a steady rhythm on my roof - and I'm reminding myself that Christmas in the south does have its benefits.

1) When you do that last-minute shopping (which we all do, let's be honest) you don't have to make your way over that 3-day old snow in the parking lot. 3-day old snow, for my southern friends, is gray, full of salt and grime, and takes forever to melt!

2) If you are crazy enough to buy your kid a bike or scooter, they can actually ride the toy before Easter. I think we experienced one Christmas when I was growing up where the temperature was above 45 degrees.

3) If you are crafty enough to hide your child's gift in the garage, or under the house, or out in the car, it's not a trip out to the frigid minivan to pick up the booty.

4) For me, Christmas in the south means Christmas with my family. It means dinner at Aunt Mary & Uncle Jeff's house after the Christmas Eve (6 p.m) service on Sunday night.

It means that on Christmas morning, my mom and dad will come over for breakfast, and watch the kids open their presents. Dad will bring his own thermos of coffee--since he knows I don't have the wherewithall to make him Christmas Blend from Starbucks.

It means that after Mom & Dad go home, I'll make a green bean casserole and a new salad recipe that I'll take over to their house for dinner on Monday evening. And, the delicious pineapple cheeseball will be what we munch on all afternoon, while we play games, talk, or take naps.

.....yeah, Christmas in the south is pretty good.

Speaking of that cheeseball. . .here's my Christmas gift to you. Granted, it's not my recipe, but my friend Kathy, who shared it with me, loves it so much, they served it at her bridal shower and rehearsal dinner. It really rocks!

Pineapple Cheese Ball

2 8-oz blocks cream cheese
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple (in heavy syrup)
1/4 c. finely chopped green pepper
1 t. seasoned salt
chopped pecans
parsley flakes

Allow the cream cheese to soften to room temperature. Drain the pineapple as completely as possible. Mix cream cheese, pineapple, green pepper and seasoned salt together. You can use your hands or a good mixer.

Form into a ball. Roll in a mixture of finely chopped pecans and parsley flakes. Allow to "mellow" in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Overnight is best.

Serve with crackers. I've started using those Keebler Snack Sticks (Club crackers in a long thin shape) Very, very delicious!

I'll be making mine tomorrow. Enjoy. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

New Layout and a Church Party

I haven't accomplished much else, but I did get a new layout done of Caroline and Santa. I used the picture that I posted a few days ago. We actually received an even better picture, but we haven't scanned it yet. When that happens, there's bound to be another layout on the horizon.

Last night was my staff Christmas party. It was, let's say "interesting."

We always play some sort of game. Last night's choice was "Cranium." Great game. Remember, I work at a church. Very crucial fact. One of the cards pulled required a rival team to imitate someone, and get their team to name the famous person. Church party. Remember this. . . it was a Church party.

The famous person? Monica Lewinsky.

When I stopped laughing, crying, heaving, and hurting, the party resumed its high level of frivolity. It was a Church party.

Here's my layout! Happy Saturday. . . just nine more days, as Edison reminded me.

Oh, and yes, the team did get the answer right!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Series of Unfortunate Events

. . . or, at least that's what it feels like.

We arrived home from the hospital on Tuesday afternoon. Grandma had agreed to watch Caroline during the musical on Tuesday night, so we thought we had it made in the shade.

See my title....again.

When we arrived home, at half-past nine, Caroline was asleep on Grandma. Not in Grandma's, she was on Grandma. Sprawled between her arm and leg. Mom said that Caroline would wake up crying and coughing if she was placed on her tummy in her crib. So, Grandma did what any reasonable Grandma would do, and rocked her to sleep and kept her there.

After Mom left, we started to suspect that Caroline had a fever. Checked. Sure enough - 101.5 (ear thermometer) so, it was creeping up there. After giving a good dose of Motrin, she was back to sleep.

But, in the morning, the crankiness and fever had both returned. I called and moved her Pediatrician appointment up from 1 pm. to 10 a.m. I suspected RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus).

I was right.

So, three prescriptions and two hours later, and we were home. She was given two prescriptions to be taken with a nebulizer. Those aren't so bad. She does allright with them. The doctor also noticed a slight redness in her right ear, so we also have (yummy) amoxicillin.

She's doing allright--but the steroids and other breathing treatment medicine tend to "hype her" up. So, we've had less sleep than normal, but all in all, we'll survive.

While she took a brief nap today, I made two layouts. It had been a LONG time since I had been creative, so it felt good to get back to the computer. Here are the layouts. Thanks for looking!

This first layout uses a kit from Stacy Carlson entitled, "From a Prince to a King." I absolutely fell in love with it the minute I saw it. The word art is pillowgirl's "Sherbet Quote Pack." (both were freebies)

This next layout is going to be one of my favorites for a long, long time. The kit is a "duet" kit from Eva Kipler and Shelle Pukas. I just thought the colors were perfect to go with the colored lights on the tree.

As always, thanks for looking at my layouts. That's one of the advantages of digital scrapbooking - especially with friends and loved ones you don't get to see very often.

As our series of "unfortunate events" comes to a close (PLEASE!) and the next couple of weeks unfold before us, I pray that you'll enjoy the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and joys of the Christmas season like never before.

Now that the musical is behind us, we finally feel like we can take time to really enjoy getting ready to celebrate.

Now, I'm off to either wrap presents or bake cookies!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jiggity Jig

Yep, we're home.

So many things to do between now (3:18 p.m.) and tonight's final (yippee!) showing of "Four Tickets to Christmas."

But, I'll be back - with lots of pictures (I hope) from the production, stories, anecdotes about holiday preparations, and recipes.

Yes, friends. . .I'm channeling my inner-Martha.

Watch out!

Monday, December 11, 2006

She's a Crouper!

Yep, that's what the nurse called Caroline last night. . . a crouper.

We're back in the hospital. Last night, about 2 hours after she fell asleep, Caroline was up barking, coughing, and scaring the crud out of us. again. This time, however (cue super hero music) we were "Super Parents" and knew what to do. I got dressed, packed the diaper bag, and was headed to the hospital within 15 minutes. We only stopped briefly to pick up Grandma, then we were flying down the highway!

Mark is covering the afternoon shift, so I'm happy to be at home, if only for a couple hours. It was good to take a shower in MY bathroom, and it will be delicious to take a nap in MY bed. What they call a "pullout" bed is obscene. My back is still hurting from last night's (very brief) sleep.

So there's my post for today. Wish it was more witty. Wish I had some great anecdote to share. Sadly, it's just a update that we're camping out at East Tennessee Children's Hospital.

Thanks for praying for a speedy recovery. I will certainly keep you all posted.

OH. . .the musical was outstanding last night. Nearly a standing-room-only crowd. I'm pleased beyond words. But now, I have about 40 thank you cards to write. So, I must be going!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Crazy Days

If this is any indication. . I am typing this for the 2nd time. Oy.

Today, I may have just purchased the oddest assortment of products from Walgreens ever. Witness:

2 large red velvet holiday bows
Burt's Bee's lip gloss - shade: cocoa
Saline spray
2007 month-at-a-glance calendar (burgundy)
Stayfree maxi pads

Try. Top it.

Also, a quick update, and then I've got to get back to work. . . Caroline has been taken off of Prevacid! She will still see the GI doctor on occasion (2x a year) but I can live with that. As we waited for the doctor, we could hear her raving about Caroline's growth, weight, and appearance even before she came in the room. God is good.

Seriously. Good.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

If You are Diabetic. . . .

. . .this may NOT be the blog entry for you. I can promise you nothing shy of honey-dipped, sugar-coated, saccharin-free sweetness that will just ooze all over you.

. . but it's Caroline. Would you expect anything less?

By the way, I realize it's been (nearly) a week since I've added anything of substance to the old bloggie - but it's been a busy, busy week. This one will be much the same, with a few extra demands piled on top.

Along with three (3) rehearsals this week, Caroline has a visit to the GI doctor tomorrow morning. We are hoping to be released from care. She has had little, or no issues in the last 8 months. We are hoping that she'll give us the green light to begin weaning her off of Prevacid. It will make mornings so much easier -- especially for Mark.

Then, on Wednesday, we go to the dentist/orthodontist. It was just a matter of time before the inevitable happened. Edison will need braces. Even a blind man at 30 paces could tell you that. So, on Wednesday, we should know whether or not we need to refinance the house, and when to begin a diet of Mac & Cheese and Beans & Rice. I don't think it will be that bad, but you never know.

Okay, enough of the "woe is me" talk. . .here comes the fun stuff.

Saturday afternoon, we went to our Down syndrome group's Christmas party. Lots of fun for everyone. Lots of people. Lots of beautiful kids. I love DSAG events. So life-affirming for us. It's so good to have this community of families, parents, friends, children. . .it's just wonderful. We got to see families we haven't seen in a year or so. Their kids are growing--and as Caroline grows--I really hope that we'll establish some special friendships with them. Makes the future seem oh so bright.

Anyway, she got to meet Santa. We have taken her to see Santa every year, so far. The first year, we had our own PRIVATE Santa because she was still in crisis mode as far as cold & flu season. Just being 2 months out of surgery, we protected the heck out of her.

Last year, she "met" Santa, but didn't really look at him. This year. . .well, see what you think:

I think she enjoyed meeting the Man in Red. He was very sweet. Very gentle, and so patient with all the kids. Made for a great afternoon.

As you can see in this next picture, they also had a KinderMusic instructor who taught the kids for about 20 minutes. My girl was all over that.

Sunday, after church and a meeting, we finally got our Christmas tree assembled, decorated, and some of the decorations put around the house. I will post a couple tree pictures tonight, and other decorations later in the week.

Our big news this year was/is the switch from "white lights and cranberry garland" to "multi-colored lights/no garland." I'm still not sold on it, but it's growing on me.

Our trees have been very traditional - country-ish for the past 15 years. This year, however, the ornaments are more juvenile and the colors are brighter. I know, go figure.

But, it reflects the joy of the season just as well as my traditional white lights/cranberry garland tree, so I can't complain.

One tradition that has been passed down (or over) was the placing of the star on top of the tree. For years, Edison has been hoisted up to place the gold star (it's made of cardboard) on top of the tree. This year, however, Caroline was given the honor.

As you can see, she gave it all the pageantry and regal formality it deserved.

Okay, this really is the last "story" for this entry, but it's my favorite thus far.

Tonight, as we were getting Caroline geared down for bed, I decided it was time to make a change in the nightly repertoire of songs, and add a Christmas song. Not that "Four Little Ducks," and "This Little Light of Mine" don't convey the Christmas message. Yes, I also sing "Rocky Top" to her, but I won't even try to justify that one.

I opted for "Away in a Manger." Well, with Caroline, once she likes a song, it's on the Top 40 list for at least a week. Sometimes two.

"Away in a Manger" is going to be around for a while. Not only does she request it by saying "No. No. No. No." to every other alternative, but she tries to say "manger." I know, it's so sweet that my teeth are hurting. She also will repeat the following four words (in succession) after me. I'm going for a sentence, here.


The funny part is that she has somehow gotten in touch with her Inner-Fonzie, because her "Hay" has that "heeeeeeeyyyyyy!" quality that only Henry Winkler could produce.

There. Is that sweet enough for you?

Can I get a glass of water, please?