Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What I learned from Christmas 2011

  Try not to blink...because if you do...the little boy in the overalls, waiting anxiously for Santa to arrive, is soon ....

A young man of 12, willing and able to help his family and the neighbors deal with the close to the foot of snow that arrived just days before Christmas.  

 When all else fails, caramel corn that tastes just like Grandma used to make is sure to bring about some holiday cheer....

However, Things given too much sugar are likely to prove to be less than cooperative when you try to take the traditional Christmas Eve-new pajamas photo...
 And while they decided they were too old to build gingerbread houses...they are not too old to build a lego set (Thanks Auntie Laura, it was a HUGE hit!)
 When I set my mind to it....I can indeed channel my inner Martha and put together a delicious feast worthy of the title "food porn".  (notice, veggies without company?  better call the doctor, she must be sick!)
 Just like when they were younger, playing with the packaging is half the fun
 Santa not only sees all, he apparently smelled all!  

 The hubby...can indeed smile (he's got this week off from work...)
14 is not too old for a pillow pet...especially if you finally find a moose one!

As we finish out the year, I recall the blessings of this year....good food, good times, good friends and of course,  good health.  No matter what sadness and challenges cross our path, may I always find the courage to REMEMBER all that is good in my life!  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

IKEA, the rest of the story...

It all started rather innocent...The Things were asking about new chairs for their video den.  I suggested we check out what they had at IKEA.
But first, we decided to grab a snack...

And, while I wasn't looking, I fear they over-indulged on Mountain Dew and Lingonberry  Soda.  For we hadn't gotten very far when younger Thing announced he needed to use the restroom.

As he ran towards the nearest (and maybe only) bathroom, he started to giggle "Man, those Swedes must have BIG bladders...I can't believe a store this big has only ONE bathroom?

Giddy Up, Crazy Child!
             And from there...we all got a case of the giggles.  I watched in wonder      and in delight as they entertained me with their silly and humorous ways.

Even I couldn't resist joining in the mayhem
Bucket Boys...

They were rather amused to find a doll that looked "just like us"....but of course, it couldn't stop there...they went on about "you didn't put us in pink striped onesies" did you?
Through the laughter of it all...I was reminded what the Christmas season should be about...spending time with those we love, those who make us laugh and those who are able to distract us, if just for a few hours from the worries of the day.  Thanks Boys!  You made my day!  

And sadly, we left IKEA empty the chairs were deemed "not right, Ma"...

Who needs Disney?

Friday, the Things were in r.a.r.e form as we visited IKEA. Not sure what it was, but the planets were all in alignment and all three of us were in sync with the sillies. I've tried to upload other photos but Blogger isn't wanting to play nice.

So instead, I shall share with you their grand finale....dancing and singing.
I suppose it was one of those "You had to be there..." but they really were wound up and crazy which just made me smile...for it was one of those days when all I could do was laugh it off.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

3 days to go

Day 28: Thankful that by nature, I am a morning person. I really enjoyed my long 5 day weekend. I found myself staying up late and (gasp) sleeping in. I worried that returning to work this morning would be challenge (or stating it bluntly, re-entry was really going to s*ck). But the truth is, I am mostly a morning person. So while I wasn't awake when the alarm went off at 5:20 a.m., after
my hot shower and cup of coffee, I was set to face the challenges of work.

Judy (holding Thing 2) with her daughter Barb. October 1999
Day 29: Today I am thankful for my health. Oh sure, I have the random aches and pains, the occasional headaches and I am carrying more weight than I should for my height. But overall, I am healthy as is my hubby and my kids. Not everyone is so fortunate....we wait patiently to
hear whether Judy's body is responding to the chemo she has been receiving. Yesterday she was due to have some studies that would give the doctors insight into her condition. I simply cannot imagine what that must be put your body through such challenges as chemo, to endure the testing process and then to wait for the phone to ring with the results.
Day 30: I'm thankful for online friends. While they aren't physically close enough to be a part of our every day lives, they are still as dear to me and precious as my neighborhood friends. Instead of gathering for coffee or joining in book club, we connect through comments on blogs, exchanges on message boards and emails that all offer those same words of encouragement, reassurance and thoughtful insight.

I have a quote that hangs in my craft room....Friends are the family you meet along the way. When my mom made that for me so many years ago, she surely didn't know about Internet friendships (as Al Gore hadn't invented the Internet yet)...but I am sure that she'd have to doesn't matter how the friendship starts...they really do play an important role in our lives.

Thank-you friends and family for joining me on this November journey of thankfulness....

Catching up continues

Day 25: Thanks, but I'll have to pass on the madness of Black Friday shopping. Instead, the boys asked to go see a movie. And there is where I found my daily gratitude: thankful that their taste in movies is maturing. They asked to go see Tower Heist with Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. It was a fun movie...and considerably less crowded than the Muppet Movie (which we'd all like to see as well, just not on opening weekend).

Day 26: Thankful for finishing the family Christmas letter. Yes, I isn't even December 1st, but I'm wired such that I can't start the Christmas shopping, decorating or baking until I write the letter. And sometimes the creative mojo just isn't flowing. But it was today and so we cranked it out, picked some pictures and now all I need to do is put it all together and mail them out in the next week or so.
Day 27: Thankful for a dedicated craft space. While it is hard to believe if you saw how much stuff I still have, I have been working on clearing through some of my crafting supplies. Recently, I reached the point where I decided I needed to reorganize the actual storage system and requested an early Christmas present. This is the Expedit bookshelf, sold at IKEA and very popular with scrapbook fanatics because of the square design that fits our over-sized books so nicely. I am in love with my reorganized space and am hopeful that the crafting mojo will really start to flow!

Wrapping up thankfulness...Day 23 and 24

Day 23...thankful for the gift of coffee club. This is a picture from earlier this year, but every Wednesday, we gather at the local coffee shop for good coffee and great conversation. Work gets in the way for some of us, but I know that the love and support of these women is just a quick phone call away.
Day 24: The big day of giving Thanks has arrived. And this year, I was thankful for our simple plans to celebrate. In years past, we've gathered with friends but this year would be different and we found ourselves home alone. There was a sense of calm and quiet that came with just being together as a family of 4. I'm sure next year I'll be up for playing hostess, but this was a treat to just be with my 3 guys.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful for...Day 21

Another quick one...thankful for ibuprofen. For a short week, it was a long day. Leaving me with a headache and a back ache. (I don't think I sat down for more than 5 minutes at a stretch today). And to go with those Advil...I'm thankful for the hot bath that is next on the to-do list.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thankful for...Day 20

I'm thankful for "the team effort" that the Things and the Hubby have been displaying here at The House of Chang. Earlier this Fall, I was feeling over-worked and under-appreciated on the domestic home front and had several meltdowns and temper tantrums. Not the ideal strategy to incorporate change, but my defense I was stressed.

Since then, things have been so much better at home. They all pitch in and the work gets done in half the time it took me to do solo. Today, we tackled a couple bigger projects: as we moved all the electronics out of the boys' bedrooms and finally bought Thing Two a real bed (he'd outgrown his twin bed, and initially thought a futon was the way to go, maximizing his floor space in his room. Yeah...those things are not very comfortable, are they?).

None of this would have been possible had we not all pitched in and worked together....thanks guys!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thankful for...Day 19

Today, the boys and I were reminded how fortunate we are to have the resources to put together a Thanksgiving meal. Thanks, Terri for letting our family help your church in making sure that 200+ families in need will also have the items they need to feast next week.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankful for...Day 18

Friday....and yes, some days, the gratitude is as simple as the day of the week.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful for...Day 17

Google...oh how did we manage without it?
Especially when your oldest child remembered his homework (yeah) but forgot his notes....and it's been way too long since I had to balance a chemistry equation.

type in a quick search and old mama brain has been refreshed...and we're back in homework checking business!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankful for...Day 16

Thing Two has been having some struggles adjusting to the challenges of middle school. Frustrating times here in the House of Chang as we sort through forgotten homework, assignments not turned in, distracted in class and other "growing pains" that come with transitioning to middle school. His one consistently happy place is Orchestra. Tonight, we enjoyed his first concert. I am thankful that even in the middle of rough times, he has found something school related that puts a smile on his face. It gives me hope...that soon the rest of school will involve more smiles, and less tears.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thankful for...Day 15

Today I am thankful for Stewie....he's cute, he's fun to ride and today...he was my only means of transportation. My car is in the shop, unsure when I'll have her back. So until then, it's Scooter and Me. I guess the bonus gratitude is that even if I didn't have Stewie, I'd be ok for a couple there is pretty much everything I need within walking distance. Work, grocery, fast food, even a frozen yogurt spot. Yep, we COULD manage for awhile without a car. What we can do vs. what we want to do...well...yeah, let's hope the car is fixed quickly.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankful for....Day 14

Not a day goes by at work, that I don't give thanks that my children are fortunate enough to have that soft place to land at the end of their day. where the parents love them, unconditionally, support them in their pursuits, providing rules and boundaries, forgive them when they falter.

I have come to appreciate that even out here in the 'burbs, that this is not a given. Too many kids are struggling, with parents either not available physically and emotionally.

I am thankful that both my hubby and I are present....and there for our kids. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankful for...Day 13

How I spent my Sunday: Going to church, having donuts for breakfast, catching up on shows that have been recorded, helping a reluctant child finish up some homework he really didn't want to do on his own, taking a nap, chatting with family, doing a load (or two-three-four) of laundry. There is so much to be enjoyed on a lazy Sunday (ok, for the record, while I don't enjoy laundry, it is a necessary chore)....and I am thankful that our family schedule is such that this is actually a rather typical way of spending Sundays.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thankful for...Day 12

Today, on my 16th wedding anniversary, I am thankful for the gift of marriage. This poem has been around for a long time....but the words ring true for Hubby and I. Not every day is perfect, we have our ups and downs, our ins and outs, but the trend is always in the upward direction. Hubby, Happy Anniversary....I hope you like the present I got you...(which in the bank...he said he wanted nothing, he gets nothing!).

Recipe For A Happy Marriage Poem

4 cups of Love 2 cups of Loyalty Dash of Faith 3 cups of Kindness 4 cups of Understanding 1 cup of Friendship 5 spoonfuls of Hope 1 barrel of Laughter Pinch of Forgiveness (no substitutions) Dash of Thoughtfulness (not optional)

Take love and loyalty and mix thoroughly with faith. Blend in kindness and understanding, add friendship and hope. Sprinkle

abundantly with laughter. Garnish with forgiveness and thoughtfulness. Bake with sunshine. Serve daily with generous helpings.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankful for...Day 11

Veteran's Day...2011....I've shared before my gratitude for military service. It really was the launching point for so many amazing things that have happened in my life...both personally and professionally. This year, our district placed a tremendous amount of emphasis on Veterans Day: from tribute cards to mail to vets, visiting active duty to lead the school in the pledge, to the
visual tributes I'm sharing in the post. So, while I will always remain thankful for having had the opportunity to serve my country, this year I am also thankful to work for an employer that continues to respect and recognize our nation's military.
*visiting military service members (parents of students), and school staff that are Vets. (missing are about 4 other staff)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thankful for....Day 10

Today, it is impossible to pick just one thing to be grateful for....
  1. I am thankful I got passed over for that elementary school nurse job I first applied for. Today, we had visiting elementary students on campus and a child was injured. No big deal, until I got the dad on the phone. The amount of parental telephonic hand-holding I had to do was more than I was up for.
  2. I am thankful for my school employing a full time psychologist. Because when a kid's schizophrenia is not in control, the situation gets ugly real quick. Thankful that Dr. D. was in the house and could handle the situation. Because psychiatric nursing? Uh, no thanks.
  3. I am thankful that I do not have to be any one's case manager. I can help and support but I am not the one left holding the case file. The things they have to get parents to understand without escalating the situation is never ending and requires negotiation skills that put my "people" skills to shame.
  4. I am thankful for TAKE OUT......because at the end of a chaotic day...the last thing I want to sort out is what to fix for dinner.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Thankful for...Day 9

As I sit here, watching the younger Thing work on his homework....I'm mighty thankful I only have two kids. Because right now, the thought of having to endure the adjustment to middle school for any more kids? Might just do me in!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Thankful for...Day 8

Today, work was quiet enough that I was able to take a lunch break. Those of us who work in health care can appreciate what a rare treat this is (right up there with regular opportunities to use the restroom)....that it deserves a shout-out of thanks!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Thankful For...Day 7

I had plans to keep today's thankful post simple and silly. But alas, that is not meant to be. I learned earlier today of the sudden passing of a long-time friend of my family. We do not know the details of George's sudden passing, but our hearts are heavy for the grief his family must be feeling.

So, this evening, I am giving thanks for the laughter and happy times spent with George and Carolyn.

It is impossible to say one name without the other. Really, they were THAT kind of couple. One minute, they were bickering and fussing at each other (I'm hearing his southern drawl, as he calls out her name, almost always starting with the phrase Sh*t, Carolyn, and a sigh and an eye roll....)....the next moment, there was that carefree flirting that comes from a couple truly in love with each other.

We were neighbors for only a couple years, but somehow they always managed to stay in touch, making time to see my parents. They flew out to take a joint vacation with my folks...where they rented an RV and drove to Canada. It would be the last time my mom was healthy enough to enjoy such a road trip. When my college graduation rolled around, they flew out to share in the celebrations. And when I was pregnant with Thing Two, again, they found a reason to come and visit.

These kind of family friends come along only a few times in our lucky we were to call them friends.

Rest in peace, Papa George....
Ready for the Road...Summer 1986
(if you look closely, you can see my mom in the driver's seat!)
May 1987...Commissioning
George, you are in good company now and then....
Aunt Jimmy and Grandma Irene

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Thankful for...Day 6

Today, I am thankful for BIRTHDAYS! Growing up, birthdays were a special time for us. My mom baked a cake and every cake contained a special figurine. It was always a great surprise to discover what would be the cake topper. After my mom passed away, birthdays became a bit more bittersweet. What's the point? Mom wasn't around to make that cake and share in the fun.

But then, I became a mom....and birthdays became fun again.
Thing One enjoying birthday cake at Hubby's 40th
I'd still say we're a rather low-key family when it comes to celebrations (HELLO? Half the time I don't have candles to put on the cake) .

There is one person out there who really knows how to have a birthday in style. My friend Judy. not just her birthday....but it is a mileSTONE birthday.

And while I knew I wanted to help her celebrate, I really struggled with how to make it fun, festive and still very every day is unique in the challenges she and her family will be facing. So, during my snow day, I sent off a quick email...asking a dozen friends or so to help me collect, and embellish fifty ROCKS. Because well....

The plan was to do a bit of a ding-dong ditch. We'd leave the basket (which actually grew to be a big box and then some) on her front porch...letting her know that we were all thinking of her on this special day.

But then her daughter called and said "The party is ON"....asking that we stop by for a brief hug, smile and slice of cake.
As you can see, she really did enjoy her basket of rocks. What started as a "Oh my, this might be a stupid idea" (as I said, I asked for people to find rocks in the middle of a blizzard), ended up being something I am so proud to have helped create. Through the years, Judy has shown us all how important it is to take time to find joy in the journey, spend time with our families, make crafts with our kids, and well...get a little messy. So many of us did that this weekend, all in honor of Judy.
So, yep, today....I am thankful for birthdays......and remember....more birthdays...less cancer

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Thankful for....Day 5

Today, I'm thankful for my digital camera. Remember, back in the day....when we used film...and you had taken some great pictures, but you had to wait until the roll was finished, turn the film in for developing and still we waited for the prints to be ready.

Sharing pictures? Oh my, what a challenge that posed: Did you order duplicates at time of order.....or have reprints made of the few pictures that turned out. Then you had to mail the pictures or wait until you saw the friend, hoping that you remember that you promised to share the pictures with them.

Yep, you bet I'm grateful for the digital age and how sharing pictures is such a quick, easy process.

so, why the rocks? You'll hear more about that later....but today, I had a blast laughing with friends while we painted rocks.
Hope you had a chance to spend some time today, with those that make you laugh and remind you that each day gives us so many things to be thankful for!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Thankful for....Day 3 and Day 4

Oh my, give me a bonus day off and my entire routine falls apart. What happened to yesterday? If you are local, you know this picture is NOT a recent picture. It is from a couple weeks ago. This week's view? Covered in white.

Which brings me to what I am thankful for....our gorgeous Colorado weather. It changes...sometimes dramatic changes occur in the course of a few hours. Wednesday I had a snow day. Yesterday afternoon? I was overheating in my coat.

I like the changes...and am thankful for them.

And what am I thankful for today, November 4th?

My friend Carol....she's the one in the middle. And yes, another "archived" picture. When her boys were both in school full time, she herself headed back to school and in May she graduated with her masters degree in Education. In August, she landed her first classroom gig. A pretty amazing feat given how tight the economy is and how most teacher openings have hundreds of applicants for just one vacancy.

I'm thankful for the years of friendship we have enjoyed. Through her, I have been reminded how important it is to stay focused on the end goal, to remain positive and matter how many obstacles get tossed in your path.

Carol, I know you are still in the overwhelmed state of being a first year teacher...but should you see this? HAPPY BIRTHDAY! So thankful to call you friend!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Thankful for...Day 1

November? Um, hello...what happened to October? How can it be November already?

Time to work on what has become my annual tradition....taking time each day in November to identify at least one thing I am thankful for.

Today, I am thankful for these cute little raptors. While I work at a high school, and most of the kids I see are teenagers, we are also fortunate enough to have an in-school day care program (for the children of staff). Yesterday, 18 little kids came trick-or-treating to my clinic. Luckily, we knew this in advance and had something better to offer than band aids and cough drops.

Halloween at the House of Chang is longer are the boys finding fun in dressing up, nor do I find myself packaging up treats to take to class parties. With my little raptors....well the fun of Halloween came to me!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Looking Up

Recently, my good friend Dodi reminded herself (and all of us friends on Facebook) that sometimes you just have to "look up".
But I have to confess, this Fall, it has been hard for me to consistently "look up". I've been feeling down. Watching my friend Judy and her family work through the realities of her diagnosis has been at times almost impossible to watch. My nurse brain has focused on the realities of her situation.
During the work week, I keep myself busy and distracted. It's easy to never knows when this might march past your door....

The days are usually so busy I don't have time to let my mind wander to the worries waiting at home. And when I do feel down, well kids like this one

, have a magical way of lifting my spirits.
It's the weekends that get long. But, now here we are in the middle of Fall Break. We're getting ready to experience our first big snow of the season (no pictures, it's still pitch dark outside). And I am reminding myself of Dodi's words of wisdom to look up...
This past weekend, I looked up and out from my scrapbook table and here is the view that greeted me...

Pretty special, don't you think?

Yesterday, I looked up and was greeted by these two people....

For 4 hours, Judy and I chatted....we talked about everything under the sun.

When I looked up, I saw my nurse brain worries melt away (not an easy task when I'm sitting in a great room filled with 20+ chemo chairs, all full on a Tuesday afternoon)....
When I looked up, I saw my friends....determined to take down this beast of a cancer that has invaded Judy's body.
If they can continue to look up and forward.....I too can also keep on trying!

Go Judy Go!