Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Slap of Reality

Sometimes, there is no way to hide it, fake it, or forget about it. Life just SUCKS!

I cried for the first time last night in a long time. I cried because of disappointment.

My dearest and I were FINALLY after years (like as many years as there have been wee ones around) so anyway after years we get invited to a New Years Eve event. A party!!! I was so excited. I RSVP'ed the day the invite arrived. (Minnesotans are notorious for not RSVPing ever. "I'll either make it or not, I'll know when I arrive") So, again, we got an invite.

I was on a mad search for a sitter - How hard could it be? I had a month and a half! I guess I underestimated the social life of 14 year olds! Ugggghhhhhh Really? What preteen or early teen needs to be going to a party on New Years Eve? What happened to sitting on your bed and listening to the top 100 count down for the year and then watching the ball drop enjoying the extra treats your parents picked up for you out of guilt?

Anyway - so search as we may, even trying girls who have never sat for us, still we had no luck. It wasn't until last night that I lost all hope of some miracle. No sitter, no go. I had a very hard time calling my sweet friend to send my regrets. I fought back tears long enough to make the call, and have to admit that I did the movie cry the rest of the way into town. (tears trickling, no sound, dabbing at the corner of my eyes, heavy breaths)

My husband commented that I should be happy to be around my family today. Yes, I suppose. But, as I told him, I am blessed to be with my family everyday. But it is friends that I miss.

So, here I am. Another New Year with no plans and no hope of any. I could sit back and count my blessings - the fact that I have a family to be with, and that I am alive to see yet another year come and go etc.... But, right now - I just want to say Sometimes Life Really Does Suck.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resolution #3

Resolution #3 Spend more intentional time with my beloved.

Amazing how we have time for everything else in the world except what matters. As mentioned in a former blog
(happy anniversary) we have things working against us. (Mostly available/good babysitters, and the cost of going out). Now I say this like going out is the only option. It isn't and I know that - however, staying at home is very distract able (ok, so I am distract able) between the things not done and the couch being a little too comfy for one of us (zzzzzzz.....) it does not work well.

However, I believe we need to make time together "intentional" We need to make sure we don't miss our plans like we wouldn't miss a business meeting. Have a plan and go with it.

1)So, first comes date ideas - always a toughy.

2)Then, increasing my list of potential babysitters. All of our sitters are getting to the age of being too busy.

3)Then of course finding plans/ ideas that don't cost an arm and a leg since the sitter will need to be paid with those!

There in lies the challenges behind resolution #3. But this is probably the most important resolution on my list - I would say one that is WELL WORTH THE CHALLENGE!

picture by A. Nelson - Our Vow Renewal (after 10 years) Summer of '08

Monday, December 29, 2008

Resolution #2

Have more adventure...
This resolution is the one I will most likely fail on. I will fail not do to my own lack of will, but, rather my own lack of opportunity. Much like carnival rides there is a must be this tall to ride sign on adventure. Between wee ones and the cost of outfitting myself, my better half and the wee ones deems it impossible...

So, go alone. Again, easier said then done. Time - not on my side.

A friend to go with, again - they face the same obstacles.

Let's pretend I could go....

I would like to:
(Click adventures to link to more info)
Snowshoe or Mt. Bike hut to hut in Ely
Cross Country Ski
Rock Climb at the North Shore (again)
Spend a week canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Boat into Voyagers National Park and stay at Kettle Falls Hotel
Explore the U.P. of Michigan
Spend a few days on a train

Let's go really crazy -
Spend a week hiking and biking around Moab
Make it to the top of a 14'er Mt. in Colorado
Snorkeling in Cozumel
Picnic at the Outer Banks - Seafood Boil?
See how green Ireland really is

Ok, enough... Maybe a few times a year I could stretch my set limits and strive for a bit of adventure. That could be possible.

One bag at a time.....

New Years Resolution #1 - Be more consistent with using my cloth bags.

We are trashing the earth one bag at a time.

Grab a cup of tea, buckle up, sit back, open your mind, (grab a tissue), and watch the video. If we don't realize what we are doing, we can' t change it. (click on the picture or on the link).

This video was originally brought to my attention on one of my favorite websites.
Dr. I went out and bought a dozen cloth bags - now if only there were someone handing them to me as I got out of the car!

(Thanks Jenn for the reminder - if you can change we all can ;)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

In The Days After His Birth

The Visit of the Magi

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?" We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.

When they saw the star they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2: 1-2, 10-12

More on the Magi - link

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Today is our 11th Anniversary!

Wow. Hmmmm. Our oldest wee one looked at our wedding pictures and said - "That's you? Wow, you were a LOT younger!" I guess so. There is a big difference between 35 and 24..... However-

In summary no other time in my life has gone by as quickly as the last 11 years.

We have moved from North Dakota, back to Minnesota, out to SW Colorado, back to Minnesota. We have built a house and improved that house. (sorta) We have been through several vehicles. We have had 5 children, lost one. We have spent more time apart then together building a life together. We have both been working on all areas from the foundation to the finishing touches. But, like a house. You are never done. Paint chips, a tree hits the roof - there is always maintenance to stay on top of, and improvements that you want to make. Any couple who thinks their relationship is perfect is being fooled (or lazy).... there is always work to do.

I love my hubby and have from our first date. (Maybe from the first time I saw him walk around the corner with his bright blue eyes) The longer we are together the more I love him. We do, like most young couples, get lost from each others. So much! Kids, work, work, work, kids, other responsibilities, and lack of available babysitters (never mind h0w much it cost to do anything these days, plus pay for the sitter!!!!)

But, for tonight, we will go to the movie and enjoy a couple of kid free hours together.

(I have been married long enough to know my other half will fall asleep either during or right after the movie. I will love the movie, and it will bother him that it is "not realalistic". I will stay up late, he will crawl into bed as soon as the sitter is home.)

He is --linear--, I am well, what, ~~I am not~~! Yet it works. Funny~~ --

Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Visitor

I felt generous on Christmas morn' and let this guy eat breakfast with us. He was the dinner (actually breakfast) show..

Too cute!

In Summary : Christmas

I am.....

I received this necklace from my sister in law for Christmas. I think it sums up my holiday.

Was Christmas perfect? Did it go off without a hitch? Of course not!

But, I was around family. We were warm, safe, and all had beds to lay our heads. There were more gifts then necessary - even if everyone of them wasn't "perfect". As always there was more food then we knew what to do with. We were even blessed to have extended family (grandpa and aunt and uncle) stop by to share the joy.

I think of those who were at shelters, without family, no gifts, little hope, and waiting in line for a hand out meal. Doing it without complaint.

I will take family quirks and screwed up schedules with a smile on my face and count my blessings. For we are all blessed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Update

So, an update.
I am back from a nights stay at the most expensive accommodations in town; our hospital. I suffered through a kidney stone. It has passed with the promise of more to follow.

Although I have made myself prescription free in the last year, and have successfully switched our house to "natural" I was first in line for the pain and nausea meds in the ER yesterday afternoon! There is a time and place, that is why prescriptions were made. However, I do still believe Americans abuse over the counter and Rx drugs....(that's a whole different blog!) I am thankful those Rx's were available yesterday. For now, I am feeling much better and am thrilled to be home and getting the preperations underway.

The stay did make me examine what was absolutely necessary (wrapping gifts) and what could be set aside (scrubbing down bathrooms etc) This did help me become more focused and I am truly enjoying myself this afternoon (vs the panic that had started setting in yesterday!)

I hope you all enjoy your holiday festivities. Enjoy each other - but remember - it won't be perfect - but it will be real!


What do you want?

Taken from the book A Year by the Sea; Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman

"What do you want? (She is asking about Christmas) We usually answer with some material object. Imagine if we said something like a better state of mind, or togetherness, or simply to be surrounded by laughter......

C.S. Lewis spoke of something he called "felt satisfaction," which he interpreted as " a quality of fullness .... an immediacy worth perpetuation." I try to imagine what that might be. Sitting here alone is satisfying enough, but the night would be far better if shared with another - with someone whose mood meets mine, who relishes moments, whose wonder remains untainted, who appreciates simple things and says so, who laughs much, indulges heartily, is spontaneous in spirit, is quick to embrace, and sees joy as duty!

Oh, dear, now I've gone too far. Who could ever be that way? Still just a few of these qualities would be enough. Isn't this what's missing...? I am astonished that my wants are attainable. What's more, they don't take money or power, just a little attitude change. So why isn't this within my grasp?

Aha, because grasping isn't the way - reaching perhaps, but not being overt about it. That's how I've failed in the past, wanting others to be a certain way and trying to push and cajole them in that direction. Good things seem just to happen along. The state of feeling satisfied occurs most often when I haven't sought it. If only I can break with fixed notions, I might see new possibilities in relationships. .....

..... I am in a frame of mind to wait and see rather than manipulate and direct. Living with nature has taught me the dignity of being without motive. "

Can we make it through this Christmas "without motive"? Can we be happy sharing our joy with those around us, not the things around us? Find pleasure in being where we are not in what we get or give?

What I know for sure is it has to start within us. We have to carry the feeling with us and share it with others. This is my personal challenge these next two days.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I am in so much pain right now! I don't even know if the peak of my contractions were this bad (ok, they were, but again, hard to remember) anyway I am off to the ER. Hope I don't pass out on my way! I do look good in hospital gowns and have stocked up quite the large amount of frequent flier miles at the hospital so it should be first class all the way. Now, if only I can be out of there in time to celebrate Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice 2008

My 7 year old reminded me today that it was The Winter Solstice. This of course marks the shortest day of the year. However, one could also say that today is the day with the most hours of darkness. Something we in Minnesota do not need....

Right now our wee ones get on the bus in the dark and they are only home for a short while before it is dark again. It has been too cold for the school to let them out at recess time to play (highs of -7). So, they spend all of their time in the dark or artificial light (and I wonder why they act like a bunch of caged animals) Workers are stuck in the same boat - to work in the dark and home in the dark, and if their office has no windows - another caged animal..... So basically right now I am living in a really bad zoo! I have taken to the hibernation method myself! Sleep through the winter as much as possible, only waking to fuel my body.
Right now it has been dark before 5 p.m. and it doesn't get fully light until almost 8 in the morning. No wonder our zone suffers from high numbers of us suffering from S.A.D.

Maybe we could look at it in this way, today, marks a change! (If we can pull our head out of the covers or out of our depressive fogs long enough to look at anything anyway....)

From here on out the darkness will become less and less. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and that light is the sun. More hours of sun!!!! How lovely it will be to sit down to supper in the light. .... oh the joy of sunshine.

I have added a set of artwork celebrating this day as others have before us.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The "Good" Bowl

Why do we save the good stuff for a special occasion? Trying to make supper preparation a little more special tonight I took out one of my "good" bowls.

As I was using it, I thought...why don't I use this bowl? Why save it? Who am I saving it for?

Same goes for fancy soap or a special necklace. If we save it for company or an evening out we are wasting many "special" moments in our ordinary days. I guess I worry I may ruin it. But, at least I enjoyed it before it got ruined.

I say this as I remember my aunt who was "saving" her crystal. She finally decided years and years later to take it out. From disuse (and cheap crystal) it had turned milky while in storage. Another example is when my grandmother died they had an estate sale. I came home with a huge basket of fancy soaps she had acquired over the years. Now here I was with them. What good did they do her? They sat in the cupboard collecting dust waiting for an occasion special enough to use them. Obviously, one never came.

So, take out the good bowl tonight, set the table with crystal, put the good soap in the holder, and treat YOURSELF and your FAMILY to the lit candles. Why save it for those moments that don't come.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quick! Don't Miss It!

For years things have been a whirlwind at Christmas time. Tonight was no different. I was scurrying, trying to make sure my wee ones didn't miss out on any wonderful Christmas memories. I first attended the Kindergarten Christmas sing along. Then rushed all the wee ones to their little "holiday store" (white elephant sale) at the pre-school so they could do their holiday shopping. It was the plan that after the store we would walk down the hall and see Santa.

As we were waiting for Santa I was talking to the kids and watching their anticipation. Then it hit me. I mean like a --smack me upside the head so hard I got dizzy -- kind of hit me. This (for those of you who are lost ---> "this" is the "it" that hit me) this was the last year that all four of the kids would believe in every aspect of Christmas. Our oldest is 9 this Christmas. When he is 10 some realities will set in (through his higher level thinking, and his classmates big mouths....) anyway things like Santa may not be as "magical" next year.

This is also the year I have been waiting for. Because I have been anticipating the year that wee one #4 would be 4 years old. That is this Christmas... he is 4! Wow, double slap up side the head!

Now I had to sit down. (Luckily there was a child size chair close!) My mind raced. Quick!!! Enjoy this!!! Don't miss it!!! I spoke with dad and told him to stop by and enjoy what would possibly be the last year to watch all four sit on Santa's lap. I took extra video and extra pictures, we even went out to eat ( we don't often torture servers or our pocketbook with four kids at a sit down restaurant, so the kids knew there was something special going on) We even planned a sleep over under the Christmas tree while watching Christmas shows (thank you DVR!) I passed off all the excitement as "our Christmas Party" (too much to explain mommy having an emotional break-down!)

Amazing, for four years or more now I have been saying - Quick! Holiday Season, get done! Let's get back to normal life! But, tonight I am thinking - let these next few days creep by. Let me stay patient, let me enjoy everything I can. Which probably means I am setting myself up for some let downs. But, hopefully not as big of a let down I think I would feel years from now if I let this year slip by.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mr. Short Term Memory Man

There used to be a skit on Saturday Night Live called Mr. Short Term Memory Man. This guy (Tom Hanks) could only remember the last few seconds of his life... it was hilarious (maybe because I was like 12 years old) anyway... I think American's suffer greatly from this short term memory syndrome!

I heard a blip on the news yesterday that the Prius car by Toyota has changed it's production plan here in the USA. The reporter said it was due to less demand now that gas prices have dropped to incredible lows.

Now, I appreciate the new low prices on gasoline. I especially appreciate it during the Holiday season. But, much like childbirth I remember the pain of high gas prices. You know, actually, I can not remember the actual physical pain of childbirth (and oh there WAS pain!) but I do remember the pain the true pain of filling my tank at almost $4 a gallon. OUCH! But, like childbirth, I guess we do forget because we keep driving excessively or, we decide not to buy that fuel efficient car.

Do we all really think gas prices will stay this low? Are we really Mr. Short Term Memory Man? Do we all forget that quickly?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What Inspires Me

A yard of fabric and an idea from a blog - What inspired me last night.

I dropped the oldest wee one off at his Tae Kwon Do class and had one hour to pick up the three items I forgot to pick up earlier at the grocery store. So, I decided to head downtown (I love our downtown) so, headed downtown for a little "visual therapy" I wanted to look at pretty things. I ended up as I usually do in the fabric section of Ben Franklin. I was thinking of a great flannel fabric to make some new pillowcases when this red and white floral vintage like fabric caught my eye. I had to have it, I kept going back and looking at it and feeling it. But, what would I do with it? I can't come home with a yard of fabric and no plan again!

But still, I had to make something with it. So, of course being from MN I would never do anything for myselves so I thought - teacher present. An apron. So it began. I didn't have a pattern so I had to wing it. I was inspired not only by the fabric but also from this great blog Modobject at Home . She made an apron out of a pillowcase. With that idea in mind I copied the shape of a pillowcase, added a little flair and loved the results. The tie on mine is quilt binding. I figured it would stand the test of time and it was easy to just slip on and sew. I found a recipe online for making a "tasty teacher" and included this in the pocket.

Here is what I ended up with. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Delight in the Simple Things

The Secret of Life
Faith Hill sings a song called The Secret of Life (click to see video) I heard this on the radio this morn' as I was preparing the wee one's lunches ("the grilled cheese at school are soggy mom"). I have heard the song many many times, but, today it stopped me and made me think - she is right. The secret of life is a good cup of coffee.... or anything else that simple.

We are always searching for happiness. Trying to buy happiness. Assuming others are happier. Knowing if we had a better car we would be happy etc. But, really, happiness can be found in a good book, your favorite sweatshirt, or treating yourself to a pastry from the bakery. The trick is to enjoy that moment - savor it. Do not take the little pleasures for granted. Stop searching for the big thing to make you happy and delight in the simple things.

Words to The Secret of Life:
Couple of guys sittin around drinkin
Down at the starlight bar
One of em says, you know Ive been thinking
Other one says, that wont get you too far
He says, this is your life, and welcome to it
Its just workin and drinkin and dreams
Ad on tv says just do it
Hell if I know what that means

The secret of life is a good cup of coffee
The secret of life is keep your eye on the ball
The secret of life is a beautiful woman
And marilyn stares down from the barroom wall

You and me, were just a couple of zeros
Just a couple of down-and-outs
But movie stars and football heroes
What have they got to be unhappy about?
So they turn to the bartender, sam, what do you think?
Whats the key that unlocks that door?
Sam dont say nothin, just wipes off the bar
And he pours them a couple more

cause the secret of life is in sams martinis
The secret of life is in marilyns eyes
The secret of life is in monday night football
Rolling stones records and moms apple pie

Sam looks up from his sunday paper
Says, boys, youre on the wrong track
The secret of life is there aint no secret
And you dont get your money back

The secret of life is gettin up early
The secret of life is stayin up late
The secret of life is try not to hurry
But dont wait
Dont wait

The secret of life is a good cup of coffee
The secret of life is keep your eye on the ball
The secret of life is to find the right woman
The secret of life is nothin at all
Oh, its nothin at all
The secret of life

Couple of guys sittin around drinkin
Down at the starlight bar
One of em says, you know Ive been thinking
Other one says, that wont get you too far
That wont get you too far

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Weather Advisory

I repeat, no travel is advised. Temperatures are dropping. Tomorrows high is projected to be -30. Winds will gust today up to 40 mph. Snowfalls will measure between 8-12". Please, again, do not travel. So... what do we do? We take off for home.

Let me start back where I left off. We were on our way to our first Christmas celebration, at the in-laws. I had my new found decision to relax and not kill myself to please under my belt. We were on our way. Once we arrived I had a good time, the best time we have had at the in-laws celebration in years. (Since we had kids really) It did help that the kids are getting bigger and aren't as demanding. We were worried about one thing though... the weather.

A snow storm was blowing in and it didn't sound good. We knew this when we drove the two hours to the party, but, decided to go anyway. The wind picked up and the snow started falling and blowing about 8 pm. As we tucked in for the night we wondered what the morn' would bring. By 9 am it wasn't looking good. But, being true Minnnesotans and having 4 wheel drive we decided to try for home anyway. Along the way we even took the time to celebrate at the cousin's house - I mean it was their first Christmas celebration and they had been preparing for quite awhile! The food was cooked... we had to go, right? It was quick but enjoyable.

I am glad we went. I am especially pleased with how well the weekend went. I feel like it was a great start to what I hope will be the best Christmas season in a long time.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Leave a message at the beep....

Hi, this is Jules. I am out of town for an in-laws Christmas. Be back at my desk on Monday. Beep...

Moon Shadows

Moon Shadows
Beauty found while wondering from window to window
Trying to sleep.
Full moon, new snow, beautiful inspiration for dreams...

photo taken out my south facing window

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I make jewlery or "Jules"

This is my latest creation.
I made it for my sister - in - law. It will be her Christmas gift.
Her favorite colors are cream and beige, so, this should be perfect.
I like it so much I may make one for myself!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Real vs Artificial

Real vs Artificial? I was asked this question in an e-mail last week. I know that the sender was referring to Christmas trees. The answer was easy. We always have a real tree, no question there. In fact, most year we have two trees... However, this week I have been thinking about that question differently.

Real vs Artificial what kind of Christmas do I want to have this year? The last few years feel like they have been artificial Christmases. It seems that I have just been going through the motions; making sure we were where we should be when we should be, with the gifts we should bring. I have been making sure the kids are dressed nicely and are behaving. I have been smiling and laughing at the right times and ignoring what would otherwise drive me over the edge on any other day. Gifts have been open, thank yous have been exchanged, and meals have been eaten. But, has any of it been real? Have I enjoyed any of it?

Now before you start thinking that I am a scrooge let me just point out that my husband and I favored the holiday so much we were married at Christmastime 11 years ago! I used to be so crazy about Christmas that I would start counting down the days right after my birthday in July! However, lately, things have not been the same.

So, why? Part of it I believe is that we now have 4 beautiful bright eyed children who ARE so excited for Christmas. Not that the children are a problem - the problem is that when you are the one that needs to make the season wonderful it loses some of it's wonder for you. I could compare it to cooking all day for Thanksgiving. By the time you eat the food you have worked so hard on you are no longer hungry. This is how Christmas has been for me.

Now what? Now, I try to make Christmas this year real. I want to really enjoy this holiday. My children are getting older and are requiring less hands on attention. So, I am trying to make a point to remember the real reason for the season. This is Christ's birthday - his day. Not Target's day (goodness knows they rake in enough this time of year!) I am going to follow my kid's lead. Enjoy the wonder through their eyes. This is a time for family, friends, and feeling warm and safe. A time of good food and good times. I am hoping to search out the meaningful times this year and enjoy them. I am not going to ignore conflict until it hurts but I am not going to seek it out either. I want this year to be different, I want this year to be real - not artificial.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Aimless Ramblings of a Crazy Friend

This blog was created for one and only one reason.
My friend tells me daily I should have my own blog.
So, this is for you Amy.
Enjoy the aimless ramblings of a crazy friend.
Photo by: A. Nelson