A crazy week… in many ways….

I thought by now I’d have my first book review posted for the year, but it sort of slipped to the back burner this week.  A week ago today, I was attending an mandatory meeting at work and got a call from Son #2.  Dear DIL was (unbeknownst to all) having premature labor!  At 24 weeks, we knew this was not a good thing… to say the least.  I truly believe it was God’s hand that allowed dear DIL to have an appointment last Friday morning with a high risk OB specialist MD who had come to their community from Seattle.  He noted immediately that she was in early labor and that action needed to be taken – now.  I can only imagine how frightening this must have been for both my son and DDIL.  She was quickly transferred to an ambulance and taken to a hospital in Seattle, where I can guarantee you, they know how to handle premature labor!  After many tests and examinations, as well as an IV with MagSulfate, her contractions slowed, her cervix closed, and the bag of water from baby “A” which had been bulging – disappeared back to where it belonged!  Oh, the prayers that were sent up for these precious babies!!  And the joy that God heard and answered our prayers!!   Looks like our little momma will be hangin’ out with the folks in the big-city hospital for another 5 weeks or thereabouts.  I know it will be boring, but I also know it’s the best place for her to just rest and gestate!  Here is a photo taken early this week… of course AT the hospital.

Another development this week was the announcement of our babies names!  Now we know we’ll soon be meeting (well, not TOO soon!) Jacob Thomas (“Jake”) and Katelyn Macy.  🙂  🙂  When the parents-to-be asked me for input on baby names, I pretty much refused to give any.  All I said was… “don’t pick anything too weird and please, whatever you do, don’t name your little girl Bertha”.  My granny was named Bertha, and I loved her dearly, but I can’t say I was too fond of her name.

Also, this week we had some perfectly HORRIBLE weather.  All the predictions for snow came true, plus more.  It was all bad enough to keep us from making our flight down to Palm Springs this week.  What a disappointment, but what can you do?  Wait for it to melt and reschedule, I guess.  That’s what we did today!  Here’s a huge shout-out to Allegiant Airlines for refunding our money for the flight we were completely unable to make!  We will be going down next week to put the finishing touches on the vacation rental home… and, it looks like we have our first serious renter lined up for several weeks in February.  YAHOO!

Be watching for an update next week from our sunny place in the California desert!

December is flying by!

I can hardly believe it is December 12 already.  This month is flying past and I am getting next to nothing done!   Last week (I think it was….) both hubby and I had nasty head colds and spent most of the time in the angle of repose on the sofa and loveseat respectively.  Thankfully it was only a cold, and NOT the Flu of any sort, seasonal or otherwise!  While we were “at rest” in front of the TV, we managed to watch two entire seasons of THE TUDORS, which we LOVED!  I could barely tear myself away from one episode after another… and will fully admit I was pretty sad to see the final episode of Season Two.  Ahhh well, Season Three will be out on DVD next week and our dear neighbors who so kindly loaned us One and Two, have said they’ll loan us Three as well!  Yay!

Next weekend we will have a houseful of guests!  David and Damian are coming from London on Friday.  The rest of John’s crew will be here Saturday night for our family Christmas celebration.  It really throws a kink into family get togethers when I have to work on Christmas Day, but we do what we have to do.  It looks as though we won’t be able to have Christmas with anyone from my side of the family this year, so our Christmas will be on Christmas Eve this year, and will probably be just the two of us.  That’s okay.

This year I have utilized the great services of Amazon.com for much (but not all) of my Christmas shopping.  Yes, I do like to shop, but certainly not several times a week, and certainly not in huge crowds… so I absolutely LOVE the convenience of shopping online.  I also love that I can pick something out and have the fine folks at Amazon do the packing and mailing!

Yesterday I finally started in on the Christmas cards — which I absolutely love to receive and normally enjoy writing as well.  I have done ZERO Christmas  baking but that will all change next week when I prepare for the visitors.

I’m also happy to announce that so far – we have had NO snow!  Last year was such a nightmare (living up here in this hilly community where they are absolutely TERRIBLE at plowing) and I hope all the snow will fall safely in the mountains and not on us this year!  Not holding my breath on that one…. in fact snow is predicted (in small quantities) for this weekend.

Does anybody love Susan Branch like I do?  I was reading through her tiny book “Christmas Joy” today and at the very end I read once again what is one of my very favorite sayings of all time.  Written inside a little heart is: “The love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay;  Love isn’t love till it’s given away“.   Let’s all share some Christmas Love with someone today! 🙂

A Gladys Taber Christmas?

A lot of folks have probably never heard of Gladys Taber.  I would have been one of that number, except for my friend and fellow blogger Debra from As I See It Now.  She introduced me (and others, I’m sure) to the retro world of Ms Taber.  Gladys wrote many books as well as a monthly column in Family Circle Magazine back in the 1950’s and early 60’s.  She lived a very quiet, simple, self-sustaining life in the countryside of Connecticut.  Looking back on her life in the country in mid-20th century New England, well, it’s something I privately long for.  Not the New England part particularly, but the quiet, self-sustaining, simple life in the country.   Her books are delightful descriptions of her life at Stillmeadow (the name she gave her home).  They usually follow the seasons telling all that she sees and does in that particular month or season.  I personally own three of her books – they are old and musty smelling – but that sort of adds to the entire experience of reading lines from so long ago.  This month I’ve perused her chapters on December and Christmas.  She speaks of the decorations, the way the nearby village celebrated Christ’s birth (oh my how times have changed, and NOT for the better), the food, the smells, the weather.  One of my favorite lines comes from “Stillmeadow Seasons” where she is discussing decorating her tree….    “For after all” she says, “no tree can be better decorated than with pure drifts of dazzling snow!”   This morning I looked out at the sun shining on the latest layer of newly fallen snow and snapped this picture.  I think it beautifully illustrates this gorgeous “decoration of nature”. 

decorated-by-nature

This time, a photo post

Today, photos instead of a lot of words!  We are currently living in a winter wonderland here in the great Northwest… we have had record setting low temps, and now quite a bit of snow.  Before the snow flew, I snapped this first picture.  Yes, taken on December 11th.

I call it the "Christmas Rose".  Yes this was BLOOMING in my yard on December 11th!

I call it the "Christmas Rose". Yes this was BLOOMING in my yard on December 11th!

Then we had the renegade Geranium!  Yup, till this past week our climate had lived up to it’s reputation – MILD. 

A geranium dares to bloom in December!

A geranium dares to bloom in December!

We’ve had some furry friends visiting the bird feeder on a regular basis.

A brown squirrel and a larger gray squirrel, having a snack

A brown squirrel and a larger gray squirrel, having a snack

Some fine feathered friends visit each morning, begging for peanuts!

One of many Stellar Jays who love our peanuts

One of many Stellar Jays who love our peanuts

I’ve been doing a bit of holiday baking too.  I tried out my new silicone “bundt” cake pan for the first time the other day.  I love it!  Here’s what I made…

Orange-Cranberry cake

Orange-Cranberry cake

I’m particularly fond of Starbucks Orange-Cranberry scones, and while this is not quite the same, it sure was good!

Orange-cranberry cake with orange glaze

Orange-cranberry cake with orange glaze

Next I made one of hubby’s all time favorites… and folks, this turned out good enough to win a blue ribbon at your local fair!  It’s unfortunately all gone already….  Thank you Martha Stewart for the fool-proof recipe!

Peanut Brittle! And isn't that the cutest plate EVER?! (thanks to dear DIL!)

Peanut Brittle! And isn't that the cutest plate EVER?! (thanks to dear DIL!)

Now for a couple snowy shots.  Oh how I love the way the holly berries turn red, right on time, just before Christmas.

Christmas Holly

Christmas Holly

 The snow has been falling nearly all day today.  Here is a view of our back deck.

A beautiful snowy day in the Northwest

A beautiful snowy day in the Northwest

Since I took the above picture, we’ve received another several inches of snow.  I am so thankful there is no where I need to be today, except right here at home!  🙂

Celtic Woman in the snow

For the longest time I had been looking forward to the Celtic Woman concert in Seattle – and last night was finally the night!  I think I have mentioned a time or two how much I enjoy Celtic (Irish) music.  When I hear it, it GRABS me and I honestly don’t know why.  Maybe there’s a drop or two of Irish blood in me, I’m really not sure – but OH HOW I love that music!  The concert was all I had hoped for and MORE!  What a fantastic surprise to find out that the “warm up” group for the Celtic gals was – The High Kings!  Woo HOO!  I recently discovered the High Kings – who are a new, all-male group of Irish singers, produced by the same people who put together Celtic Woman.  After listening to some of their stuff online (please click here to watch/listen), I downloaded their brand new CD and have been enjoying it for several weeks. 

After they performed, Celtic Woman did their thing for about 2 1/2 hours!  It was fantastic!  My only advice to them would be to sing more Irish songs and less American ones!  But then, that’s just my personal preference.  I’m particularly fond of the Irish fiddle and getting to see Mairead Nesbitt play that thing in person was such a thrill!!!!This girl is ultra-talented!  All in all, it was an enchanting evening! 

Getting home was another matter.  We drove through some of the most HORRIBLE blinding snow (what’s going on? SNOW in mid-APRIL??) I’ve ever encountered.  Thank God we chose to drive the 4-wheel-drive vehicle.  We have had a very nasty winter and the freak snowstorm yesterday just capped it off.  It’s still snowing today, but very lightly and it’s NOT sticking.  I am SO ready for summer that I can’t put it into words.  Seriously. 

December weather and other musings

winter-road.jpgGood grief, it’s been MUCH too long since I’ve made a blog entry.  I totally skipped over Thanksgiving, and here we are on the fast track towards Christmas!  Ok, time for updates.  Thanksgiving was my only holiday off work this year, and we were happy to share it with both son and daughter in law, as well as a large group of neighbors!  We did a potluck at our next door neighbor’s home, and it all turned out wonderful.  Family, friends, good food – a grand success. 

Last week, Hubby and I made a two night getaway to Las Vegas.  Got the airfare/hotel really cheap through one of those “cut-rate” airlines… “Allegiant Air”.  We had a lot of fun, saw two shows (my favorite thing in Las Vegas), donated a small amount of $$ to the Las Vegas economy, enjoyed a couple of two-for-one buffets, and then were more than ready to head home.  Yup, two days in Vegas is about all we can take.  It’s the perfect length of time to stay there, unless you have never been, and then you need a bit more time to see all the cool stuff.  Anyway, we arrived in the airport, all ready to head home…. but encountered a SIX HOUR DELAY!  I about went nuts.  When you arrive 3 hours early (and it’s a good thing we did, as the place was MOBBED, and the Allegiant Air desk took forever to check people in – due to a “new computer system” – which they need to get rid of, PRONTO!) and then get stuck sitting around for an additional 6 hours, NOT due to weather, but due to NOT HAVING A FLIGHT CREW there…. well, it was a REAL test of patience.  I think the moral of that story was… You get what you pay for.  We flew non stop, round trip to Vegas and had two nights hotel for approx $180 apiece.  Unbelievably cheap.  Again I say… “you get what you pay for”.  We arrived home about 2 am, totally exhausted.  And…. just to top it off, as we arrived, the snow was just beginning to fall.  Snow up here in the northwest corner of the state is a dreaded word.  We freak out when it snows, because it happens so rarely.  We got 6 inches overnight.  No big deal right?  Wrong.  Where we live (up on a hill), our “homeowners association” refuses to plow.  It is totally senseless.  One winter (2005) we were literally trapped in our home for a full week because NO VEHICLE could go either up or down the hills.  I remember thinking… “it’s a darn good thing that we don’t need an ambulance, or a refill of a necessary medication!”.   That year we had quite a bit more than 6 inches.  OH, did I mention that we purchased a 4WD vehicle from son and daughter in law over Thanksgiving?  Yup.  We wanted to be able to get in and out of here when the inevitable snow fell.     Well, the snow fell this time on Saturday.  Sunday morning rolled around and guess who needed to be at work at 7am?  Yes, me.  I put on my boots, brushed the snow off the new 4WD, and began to head down the hill, very slowly, very carefully, in 4WD-low.  Then I began to slide.  There was pretty much nothing I could do….  when it finally stopped, I was still in the road and decided, I would back up and go down a different hill.  Ha!  I did manage to back up a ways, but ended up like a total idiot in the yard of the people who happen to live at the top of the hill.  I called the hospital when I realized I was not going to be able to get out of the yard/driveway… and said, I was so sorry but I was stuck in snow and would not make it to work.  They were very understanding and didn’t read me the riot act for being such a dummy.  I got out of the car at 5am, and trudged on back up the hill to home.  Thank heavens I was wearing my boots.  About 2pm that afternoon, hubby was able to get the car out, as the RAIN had started and much of the snow had melted.

The next day (Monday) I was again scheduled to work.  We had a HORRIBLE storm over Sunday night into Monday (and all day Monday too).  I did make it to work, although the wind was so strong, I felt like I was going to be blown off the road numerous times, and the rain was pouring down in buckets.  There has been lots of very serious flooding in our state, but thank the Lord, it did not affect us here… on our hill.  I guess there are some advantages to being up high – as long as it’s not snowing!

Today Hubby and I went into town and got 4 new Mud & Snow tires put on the new vehicle.  Theoretically, it should be much safer to drive in the snow now….  I’m sure I’ll get another chance this winter to “try them out”! 

I love this time of year…. the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I also hate this time of year.  I feel like there is so much I need to do.  Today we did a bit of Christmas shopping – and it seems like we are just at the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Oh I did get some stuff ordered online, and honestly, online shopping is a Godsend!  This year it is our turn to host the annual neighborhood Christmas Party.  I love planning parties – I guess I just need to get a bit more organized so I won’t feel so darned stressed out.  I decided for one thing, to use already made appetizers from Trader Joe’s and Costco instead of making everything myself.  That will help!  And, I’ve purchased the “prizes” for the “Ugly Sweater” contest, as well as the “Christmas Karaoke” contest.  The “White Elephant” gift should be easy…. we have lots of stuff around here that I wouldn’t miss!  My problem is that I love to get people really nice things that I know they will really like – and sometimes I drive myself crazy, trying to find the “perfect” item.  I think I need to let that go — if I want to save my sanity. 

Wishing everyone a PEACEFUL Christmas season…. Calm and Bright.  🙂