Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions

It's time to make our New Year's Resolutions. We do it every year....is it peer pressure? Do we make them because everyone else makes them? And it's the talk around the water cooler? "What's your resolution this year....Huh? Huh? Huh????"
I've made them. We all have. And they're usually all the same and we usually break them before the week is up. If I WERE going to make resolutions, they would be the standard ones:
1. lose weight
2. get in shape
3. eat healthier
4. be more frugal
5. be more productive
6. watch less TV
etc, etc, etc.
I've made all those resolutions. And I've broken every single one of them. I'm an overweight, sugar-eating, lazy slug who loves to watch TV and spend every penny I make on useless junk. Does that make me a bad person??
I watched an interview on TV with a psychologist who was explaining why people break their resolutions so easily. It's because they bite off more than they can chew and don't make the resolution specific enough. So here is my very specific resolution:
I will not make any resolutions this year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A New Year

My my, four days without posting! My life must have been pretty boring the past few days if I've had nothing to blog about. We actually had a pretty nice and quiet weekend. We went out on Saturday night and saw the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button". It was a good movie. 2 hours and 50 minutes long and I didn't fall asleep! Or even want to! It was pretty interesting and very well-done. Kind of cool too, to see Brad Pitt as a very old man. We used the free tickets I won at my company Christmas party and then spent $15.50 on popcorn, a drink and an ice cream for Hubby. Isn't that ridiculous? We also watched the Patriots game on Sunday afternoon. An excellent game and they won, but their playoff chances were dictated by whether or not other teams won, and the other teams did not win. So even though the Pats had an 11-5 record, they are not in the playoffs. Phooey on that! And spring training for the Red Sox doesn't start for months! I've been trying to get my cross-stitch done. I think if I can make a commitment to take it out every single day, even if it's only for 15 minutes, I might get it done before March. I began working on it last March! I think a year on one cross-stitch will be a record for me. This is one I'm going to keep, so you'd think that would give me more incentive to finish it. I already have a plan of the next one I want to do and I refuse to even consider starting it until this one is finished. My kids got all together and gave Hubby and me a gift of a night out on New Year's Eve for our Christmas gift. Such thoughtful kids. We'll be going to Amesbury Playhouse for a dinner and a play, and then a DJ and dancing until midnight. It should be a fun time. Sadly, I can't even remember if we went out last New Year's Eve! Am I old or what?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas is Over

Wow, that was fast! Christmas is over in one big rush. I worked 1/2 day Christmas Eve and came home and cleaned and cooked and got ready for Hubby's kids to come over for dinner. I made ham and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and veggies. Hubby made some strawberry shortcake. We had a really nice visit and of course got to see our grandchild, Noah. We got him a "bumbo" seat and he really seemed to like it We were laughing over how his little legs just stuck straight out while he was sitting in his seat, so Uncle Kenny, who is over six feet tall, sat beside him just to see how much longer his legs would be:

Kenny and Noah compared grouch faces:
On Christmas morning, Hubby and I exchanged gifts for each other. Hubby got me a beautiful string of pearls and I got him a violin. We had a nice French Toast breakfast before we took off to visit the families. First we went to Westford to visit Hubby's family. They're gathering is extremely informal. Everyone kind of shows up whenever. We try to get together for 11 so we can be together for opening gifts but if someone's not there yet we go ahead without them and they get theirs later. Hubby's Aunt Arlene on the left and his Mom on the right: Wendy, Kenny and their cousin Amanda:
Pepere with Noah:
Memere with Noah (notice the string of pearls!): From Hubby's mom's house we went up to Danville, NH to visit with my family. My family is a bit bigger than his....about 25 people. They'd had a potluck dinner before we got there. When we got there it was just about time to open gifts. My mom's house is a bit more structured.....most of us get one gift. If you're an adult, you are in the gift swap. If you're a child, you get a gift from Grandma and Grandpa. However, if you are over 18 but still in school, you get TWO gifts, because you are in the swap and also get a gift from Grandma. (It's a loophole that the 18-22 year olds love!) So everyone gets their name called, they come and gift Grandma a kiss, sit on the floor in front of her (carefully facing the video camera so grandpa can get them on tape) and open their gift.
Some random snapshots of Christmas at my Mom and Dad's house.
My Auntie Izzy whom I've blogged about. Hard to believe she's 83!
My Dad manning the video camera. He's sporting his new short, short haircut. So THAT's where Nick got his "sticky-up hair"!
Jessica fingers Jamie, who gave her a "grow your own rubber ducky" as a joke gift:
My beautiful niece Samantha - hard to believe she's 19!
My very handsome son Nick:
My cutie pie niece Laura:
Emily trying to look like she's NOT in trouble:
She's delighted with the very soft kitty cat someone gave her:
My brother John acting goofy - or is it not an act??
Jamie and Jessica annoying each other:
Doug is happy with his gift of a six-pack of beer:

My very handsome nephew Ben - John's son - who is visiting here from Wisconsin.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Very Very Merry Christmas to all my Friends and Family and Loyal Blog Readers! Enjoy "Straight No Chaser".

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

200th blog!!

Here it is. My 200th blog. Who would have thought when I started this a year or so ago that I'd get to 200? It's been just as much fun as I thought it would be. I know I don't have a huge readership, but the friends and family who read it can keep up with what's going on in my life and get some pictures of my cute grandchildren into the bargain! What's happened since I began? My little Emily turned one year old, learned to sit up, walk and talk. She's become such a joy in my life. In addition, we've got a brand-new granchild, Noah - only 3 months old but already such a little person. It's so much fun to watch him grow. I've got a new job now. It's different, busy and fun. I like working in an office and being helpful to travelers. I do have to admit I miss working with kids though. My parents have gone through some trying times and come through with flying colors. They were strong throughout the whole thing - it was a blessing to be there for them and help them when they needed me. My son Nicholas welcomed a new person into his life. His girlfriend Kelly moved in with him just after Thanksgiving. The two of them are busy making a new home for themselves. My cousin Michael passed away. As a result, I'm welcoming my sweet Aunt Izzy into my life. It's been a blessing for me to get to know her better and do what I can to help her. It's difficult, because she's a stubborn old lady! Hubby and I have gone on a few new adventures.....Montreal, Sturbridge Village, Stockbridge MA. We've had such a wonderful time together. I've spent lots of time with friends. Going out to eat once a month, getting together for Christmas and visiting NYC together. It's appropriate that my 200th blog should fall at the end of the year. New Year's is a time for reflection, to look back on the year past and acknowledge the changes in your life, and to enjoy the memories of great times with family and friends. Looking forward to the New Year is even more exciting. Who knows what it will bring?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Party

Another snowstorm greeted us today. It was scheduled to start early afternoon but the first flakes started flying about 9am. We were planning to go to Doug and Kara's house for Christmas with my kids and I was worried it would be cancelled but everyone still wanted to go. We are hardy here in New England. This was the scene in the morning BEFORE we got 10" more of snow!
We all managed to make it to Doug's house for the party. Jamie brought stuff for Quesadillas. Kara made some very delicious potatoes. We brought some fruit salad and stuffed celery. Kara made a rum cake for dessert. We ate, we talked, we opened presents. Emily almost, but not quite, got the idea of opening gifts. I think she actually had more fun just ripping the paper. But once the gifts were open she liked the gifts.
She had fun playing with everyone, especially Aunt Jamie.

We had a really nice time. All the guys went outside later and shoveled and snow-blowed Doug's porch and walkways and driveway so we could get out. We drove home slowly but safely. The snow is supposed to stop sometime during the night. Here's our picture window after the snow drifted over the sill outside:

Good News/Bad News

The good news is: I was able to get my car out and get to work with relative ease on Saturday morning. Bad news: I had to go to work on Saturday morning. Good news: We were busier than I thought we'd be so it wasn't boring. Bad news: We had customers come in late and stay and stay so I didn't get out until 1:25 instead of 1. Good news: My parents came early so they could shower and fill up some buckets of water at our house to use in flushing their toilet. Bad news: Because I was late getting out of work my parents sat in front of our house for 15 minutes. Good news: We had a very nice, long visit. More good news: The stuffed pork roast recommended to me by Sylvie was delicious. Even more good news: When my parents got home they called to tell me their power was back on!!!! Bad news: The well that is shared by everyone in the mobile home park hasn't been turned back on yet and they're hoping when they do turn it on there won't be any frozen pipes. Good news: Today we are going to Doug's house for our Christmas party with my kids. Bad news: It's snowing again and they are predicting another 6-12". Good news: I am damn stubborn and will get to Doug's house come hell or high water....or high snow.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snowstorm

The update on my sister and my parents is that they still do not have power. It's been a week and a day since the ice storm. I can't believe they haven't been restored yet. They live in a mobile home park with dozens of other people....you'd think they'd get such a large group of people turned back on quickly. And my poor old Auntie Izzy went up to the house her son Michael owned before he passed away and the pipes froze. She had to call a plumber who will go up tomorrow and see what he can do. It's going to cost her a fortune.
Now to add insult to injury we are having a snowstorm which is predicted to dump 10-12" of snow on the area.
This is how it looks so far and we still have a good 6-8 hours before it's supposed to wind down. And another Nor'easter is scheduled for Sunday night. Parents are all going to have to home school pretty soon - the kids are missing so much. My sister is a teacher's aide and she was out all week. Plus last Friday. Plus possibly Monday if we get the storm they're predicting. Then they were scheduled to go to school Tuesday and be off for winter break!
Luckily for me I had a 1/2 day today so I zoomed out of work and did a few errands then a big grocery shopping. I was really scared to go to the grocery store because for some reason, people think they'll be snowed in for weeks and weeks and have to run out and shop for bread and milk and things to sustain themselves until they're plowed out. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. When I got in line there were three people ahead of me, but when I left the line was getting longer. When I left the supermarket it was just starting to snow. I got inside just in the nick of time.
The good news is I cleaned my whole house (okay...my condo is 660 square feet....but it was REALLY dirty!) and put a new zipper in Hubby's coat. So now my tree is up
My gifts are wrapped:

(How can that be 7 hours of wrapping???)

and my house is clean and ready for my parents to come to dinner tomorrow night. The bad news is...I have to work in the morning. I hope I can get my car out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Crunch

So it's getting down to the wire here. Only a few days left. This weekend will be a zoo, I'm sure, in my town of Salem, NH.....the shopping capitol of the world. I'm hoping to get out tomorrow afternoon to do some last-minute shopping and buy needed groceries for the weekend. Tonight is my Christmas party for work and I'm working until 5:30 - so today is shot. Tomorrow I sooooo have to clean my house. It's a mess.....and not very clean. My bathroom looks like a gas station rest room. And my parents are coming for dinner on Saturday night so I'd like it to look halfway decent. Tomorrow night we might be going out to see a friend's concert that was postponed because of the ice storm last week. However, they're predicting 6-12" of snow tomorrow, so it might be another Friday night at home.....hopefully this time with electricity. After working on Saturday morning I think we'll be going with Auntie Izzy to check on her son's house. Which means I'll have to have everything ready by Friday for my parents' visit on Saturday. And Sunday is our party with my children. We were having trouble finding the time to get together at the holidays because everyone has so many commitments. So a few years ago we started getting together the weekend before the holiday and it's worked out nicely. That get-together doesn't start until 3pm, so I'll have time on Sunday to do a few things.....like sleeping in! Okay, and maybe finishing up anything I don't get done on Friday afternoon. On the plus side, I did finish my wrapping last night.....about 7 hours altogether. Our living room looks so cool with a huge stack of gifts. The biggest one is for Hubby. I hope it's driving him crazy to find out what it is. It's an excellent gift.....I know he'll like it. I'm trying to relax and enjoy. I know I will when I'm all together with my family. In the meantime maybe I should get one of those......what are they called?? Lists?? .....that everyone is talking about.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NYC

So.....NYC. Now I can finally blog about my trip. Not that the power situation is any better than it was two days ago.....we still have thousands of people without power including my parents and my sister. But I have power......just like She-Ra - remember her? Or was it He-Man who said, "I have the power! Anyway, my trip to NYC. We went with my group of girlfriends who used to be Girl Scout leaders. Usually in December we take a trip to Boston to shop. This year we decided NYC would be more fun. I work for AAA and my friend Sylvie is my boss, so we knew they were having a bus trip to NYC. We got everyone signed up. We had to be at the bus in Haverhill at 6am. Sylvie picked me up at (cringe) 5:15 and the bus was rolling about ten past the hour. The ride in was good. It went by fast. 4 1/2 hours. The first half of the trip we chatted. After the rest stop they put in a movie and we just watched that for the last 2 hours. They dropped us off behind St. Patrick's Church, which is right behind Rockefeller Center. Four of our friends wanted to shop and Sylvie and I, her daughter Sarah and Sarah's mother-in-law Pat came with us to sight-see. We were also meeting up with Sylvie's sister, Diane who had driven in from RI. When we got to Rockefeller Center and it was mobbed as we'd expected. We found Diane, who had invited a friend and her friend's kids! FOUR teenagers! Things started falling apart right then. I wanted to go to the Top of the Rock and no one else wanted to go. We didn't. I managed to get close enough to see the ice-skaters on the Rockefeller rink. It was much smaller than I thought it would be. We took off to walk to Central Park. Just walking down the street was an eye-opener. I have never, ever seen so many people. When the lights would change there would be a huge surge and you had to run for your life to keep up. It was very difficult to keep our group of ten together. We saw lots of cool Christmas decorations along the way. Everything was beautiful. Central Park was nice. We saw the horse-drawn carriages, and the ice-rink there. I liked that one better...more open and a beautiful view of the city.We walked all the way up to 74th St. to see the "Dakota" which is the building where John Lennon was killed. Unfortunately, I took pictures of the wrong building! Across the street from the Dakota in Central Park is "Strawberry Fields" and "Imagine" which are dedicated to John Lennon . Strawberry Fields turned out to be a sign.....that's all. And the "Imagine" was just this brick thing on the ground. Kind of disappointing. As we continued on to find the subway that would take us to Times Square, we found a bakery that had cupcakes.....buy six get two free. We all got cupcakes and ate them right there. mmmmmmmm. We got on the subway with just a little trouble and got off at the right place. Times Square was just unbelievable. What you see on TV doesn't do it justice. It was big, busy....overwhelming. Everything was larger than life. And the people! The crowds! You were literally swept along the sidewalk. You couldn't stop if you wanted to gawk at anything. I took pictures on the fly. We walked and walked. We came to the Hershey store and literally could not get into it for all the people inside. Across the street was the M and M store......4 stories dedicated to M and M's. But the line to get in was around the block!! I got a pretzel and a pashmina at side-walk vendors. $3 for the pretzel and $5 for the pashmina! We finally went to Madam Toussad's Wax Museum. That was the best part of the day for me. The figures were right out where you could see and touch them and take pictures standing beside them. There were too many for me to take pics of everyone. But they had movie stars and sports figures and politicians. All of them looked remarkably like humans. The ones whose eyes were looking right at you freaked you out because you wondered if they were real but just standing really still and would jump out and scare you! The flash from the pictures reflects off the wax and gives them a shiny look but when you see them in real life the flesh looks real. We had reservations at a restaurant at 5, but were getting nervous about whether we'd have enough time to eat and get back to Rockefeller Center for 6:30 for the bus. They had originally said 7, so I thought dinner at 5 would give us plenty of time. So we went to the restaurant early to see if we could get in. The trouble was....the other four girls who had gone shopping were supposed to meet us for dinner and wouldn't be able to get there for our new earlier time. We called them and they said they'd find something on their own. I was very disappointed that we didn't get to all eat together. The restaurant was okay. It was a brewery and I don't drink beer. But they also made their own rootbeer which was delicious. We left the restaurant and decided we should take the subway back to Rockefeller Center and spend whatever time we had left over there so we'd be near where the bus was parked. We went to the subway and stood in a long line to buy passes. Then the passes weren't working right. Half of us were on one side of the turnstyle and half couldn't get through. After 1/2 hour we were in. In the wrong subway. We asked random people how to get to Rockefeller. They didn't know. Finally Sarah took the bull by the horns and went to ask someone who works there. He told us we were in the wrong station. We didn't want to pay another $20 for more passes so we got on and went the one stop we were able to go to get a little closer. When we got out of the subway we were still in Times Square!! Now it was getting late. So we decided to hoof it to Rockefeller. I think it was about 8 blocks. The rest of the group was power-walking, dodging people, going into the street to get around. I tried hard to keep up but at certain points I could no longer see my group. I was a little scared because I had no idea where to go if I lost them. I did have a cell phone ......though I doubt anyone would have heard their phone ringing. We made it back to the bus at 6:50. The bus left on schedule at 7. The ride home was long despite watching 2 complete movies. I was glad to get home, even though at that point there was still no power. Hubby was keeping the bed warm and we got our power back early Sunday morning.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Devastating Ice Storm

On Thursday night, New England was hit by a devastating ice storm. Hubby had a gig at the Java Room but when we left it was only raining. The gig went great - despite the wet weather the place was packed. Hubby played piano while his friend Betsi sang. They even got some kids up for a sing-along.We left around 9:30 and it was still raining. We had just gone to bed at about 11pm when we heard a loud boom and all the lights went out. Hubby happened to be looking out the window and said he saw a big flash. The transformer in front of our house had exploded. All the condos in our area were in darkness. All night long we heard the huge crack and then the sound of a falling branch and then the branch hitting the ground. I didn't get much sleep....I heard the branches falling every 2-5 minutes or so. All. night. long.
When we got up it looked like a hurricane or a tornado had come through. Surprisingly the roads were not icy so Hubby got ready and left for work. He barely had to scrape his car.
Ten minutes later my phone rang. Hubby was calling to say he'd driven by my workplace and there was no power. I called my boss, who said there was no power in four of the six district offices. That's when I finally started to realize how wide-spread this ice storm was.
My work was cancelled, along with most other people's. Hubby got to work to find it dark and locked and turned around to come home. He said there were huge branches down everywhere, including on the on-ramps to the highways. I called some relatives to see if they were okay. No one - except for those living in the "big cities" - had power.
We slept under extra covers on Friday night and were pretty comfortable. I was scheduled to go on a bus trip into NYC on Saturday (which I will post a blog about sometime in the future). I set my cell phone alarm for 4:45 and was picked up by my friend at 5:15. Hubby stayed behind and spent the day out and about. I called at 7pm when we left NYC and Hubby told me we still had no power.
Sleeping Saturday night was much colder. We added more covers - thank God Hubby is a heat machine! Sunday at 6am Hubby got up and saw the very welcome sight of a bucket truck fixing the transformer in front of our house. By 7:30 we had power. Never has heat, a hot cup of tea, or a hot shower felt so good!
My parents, sister and son Doug are still without power. Most other relatives have had it come back on. Today's Sunday paper's headline (I haven't had time to actually read the paper yet) says, "Black Christmas" - because there's a possibility that some places in New Hampshire will not get power back for two weeks! I dont' know how they're going to manage. My parents have a generator which will give them lights and heat but no water. My sister can go over to my parents' house. Doug and his family are staying with his in-laws. But they're all worried about their houses and their pipes freezing.
I can't fault the power companies for taking so long to get power restored in some places. My brother Steve is a lineman for the electric company in MA, and I know from past experience that he's probably been working since Thursday night on 18-hour-on, 6-hour-off shifts. Electric companies from surrounding states will come in to help - as my brother has done in the past when New York or even Canada has been hit by a storm such as this. They'll just do the best they can as fast as they can.
It's really too bad that something so pretty can be so devastating:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Babysitting Emily

More pictures and videos of our baby Emily. I hope you're not too tired of seeing her and hearing about her, are you?
Hubby had a half-day so came with me to babysit. DIL and Son have put up their Christmas tree. The ornaments are all non-breakable but Em was pretty good about it. She really couldn't resist the jingle bells on the snowmen though.
Emily has a game she plays with Pepere. Of course she has to play it every time she sees him now:

She also liked helping Pepere play guitar:

Memere and Emily played a game too. Check out the video:

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And Pepere calmed her down:

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