Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You Capture - Holiday Magic (or Light)

Beth's You Capture subject this week is Holiday Magic (or Light). For a variety of reasons, I really didn't see myself participating but last night my newly arrived Nebraska daughter and I ventured out to look for some of that holiday magic - and light.

We found it here. Nothing says holiday magic like the words Magic of Christmas Land in holiday lights right?

Although I brushed up on shooting Christmas lights before we left, I still struggled out there. The place where we found most of our lights was right on the shore of Lake Michigan and it was windy. Although I used a tripod and got out of the car to capture each shot, the wind still added a lot of noise to my pictures.
We ventured on to one of our favorite neighborhoods and this welcoming scene caught our eye.

Then some close looks at the park-like area under the trees.

And a look from beneath the magical lights.

Finally we headed back to the park to wave good-bye to one of the residents:

Before we exited, I tried for an overview of his homeland. Technically it was not a great shot but it really did look a little magical to me.

For more Holiday Magic and Lights, visit Ishouldbefolding laundry. You might even find a little extra Christmas spirit!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Trey Cooper Through The Year

It seemed like we had been waiting for him for some time. There were a couple of different times earlier in the month when we were sure that our youngest was going to give birth to baby #3 at any moment. But as it turned out, we were just lucky to have him join us in time to be home for Christmas.

All the waiting turned out well though because he was such a beautiful robust baby.

And even though his mother had waited for him for so long, she didn't seem mad at him at all. In fact she seemed quite taken with him and very pleased with herself and him.

Trey was always an alert baby who liked to look at colorful objects around him from the time he was about a week old.

Here he is looking at one of his all-time favorite colorful objects:

He was a friendly baby that didn't seem to mind us taking endless pictures of him.

And he started smiling early and never quit:

He's always been an enthusiastic eater and is even willing to help feed himself if only given the chance.

And speaking of feeding himself, he makes his mom proud when he embraces sugary treats like donuts so happily. Like mother like son.

Although I try to have a wide variety of toys on hand for grandchildren of all ages, Trey likes more cerebral endeavors like paper handling (or eating).

He's a wonderful baby who is turning into a wonderful boy. At Thanksgiving he was suddenly standing around nonchalantly and reaching everything that caught his fancy.

He's changing everyday and I can't wait until they come to town in a few days to celebrate Christmas with us. In the meantime, Happy Birthday, Trey. I hope you and your family have a wonderful time celebrating your first birthday today.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Harry

Today I'm happier than ever that I'm retired and this post isn't about me at all. But the fact is that if I weren't retired, I couldn't pamper him and I wouldn't have presents for him, and his birthday would pass almost just like any other day because I would have been working and then so exhausted because of the weather and the season that when I got home, I would have been too tired to celebrate something so important to me.

Instead, this year he woke up to this. Then I made his all-time favorite breakfast. Then (and this is unheard of) he got a nap.

Him: I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.

Me: It's your birthday. Take a nap.

Him: I'd still be tired if it weren't my birthday.

Me: Yes, but after sleeping 'til eleven and only being up for two hours, you'd never get away with a nap if it weren't your birthday.

See? Pampered he is!

It all started 64 years ago. I know his mom was hoping he'd be born before Christmas and I think he was late. I know she had an OB appointment that day and had to take the bus to get there and back. And I think she'd just gotten home when she URGENTLY had to go back. They got there in time but without a moment to spare. And that's probably the most he's ever imposed on anybody in his whole life.

This is a good time to say thank you to his late mother and father. They raised a boy who turned into a beautiful, gentle, kind, and considerate man. And I was the lucky girl who stole him from them. Notice in the next picture that he's already helping me with everyday tasks.

Here we are in New Mexico expecting our first child.

As in every marriage, we've had our ups and downs. Years ago he borrowed a phrase from Steve Martin, "life is a roller coaster" and he's gently gotten us through some of our hardest times by reminding me that it's true. And, lucky him, he hasn't changed much over the years. This picture could have been taken 30 years ago or last year. If the date weren't on it, anyone would have a very hard time figuring out when it was taken.

And this picture shows him with a brand new grandchild. It doesn't matter which one it is because he had the same love and affection on his face with every one (even his great-grandchildren).

I have to include this representation because he does love his golf so much and he never loves it more than when he's with his favorite golf partners, his sons (and sometimes maybe a grandson).

We've done a lot of traveling over the years and always try to get a picture at one of the rest stops. He's a great traveler and one of the safest drivers you will ever know. I often thank God for that, especially when we're traveling in dicey conditions, and I think we've done them all: wind, torrential rain, blizzards, and glaze ice.

I have to include this one because it shows what a good sport he is. He has an amazing sense of humor and usually delivers his one liners in a quiet, understated way but he sure can make me laugh. And his letting me take this picture shows that he's not afraid to laugh at himself either.

I'm including this picture to show that he's selfless and helpful. The pond is kind of my baby but that doesn't mean he leaves it to me. He's great about helping with all the dirty work of cleaning and all the fish husbandry that goes with it.

Does it seem like this post is about a lot of people - his parents who did such a great job raising him, his children and grandchildren that he loves so much, and lucky me who gets to have been married to him for 42 years? That's because we're all part of his life and part of his birthday because he's so very, very loved and important to us.

So, yes, I'm saying Happy Birthday, Harry. But I'm also saying thank you for being such a blessing to this large, happy family that you've loved and cared for, for so many years.

Here's hoping for many, many more!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

You Capture - Outside

Beth gave us these instructions for this week, "Outside. Put your gloves on, grab your camera and take in this season while it’s still new".

Well, by the time the words were out of her keyboard, that was impossible because from the moment of the first freezing temperature and the first flake of snow, this season was old to me. And as our Midwest style with lake effect snow blizzard intensified, it got exponentially older.

But I did get outside just like she said. And I did almost lose my life (or at least my dignity) like I said here. And here is what Mother Nature provided me to photograph. What she didn't give me was enough light or the expertise to capture these drifts in a brighter mode.

We had days and days of dark and dreary. Finally yesterday it brightened up a little bit and I ventured out to the country.

I was trying to capture that magical evening sunlight but clouds swept in and took it away. Still I had to include this picture that says nothing but Winter.

For more, and undoubtedly brighter Outside pictures, visit Beth at Ishouldbefoldinglaundry and, if you dare to brave the elements, join in and post some pics of your own.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Hoedown Check-In: Week Four

It's been a rough week for me as far as fitness and weight loss are concerned. I'm very happy to report that I lost 1.4 pounds but I'm not sure I deserved it. Since I did lose it though I have to give most of the credit to the Weight Watchers new PointsPlus program. I have so enjoyed my clementines and bananas and grapes and those are the tools that get me through until the next meal.

I know I could have done even better but I was sick for a good part of the week and when I'm sick I delude myself into believing that tasty, fatty foods will comfort me.

Now my overall assessment is that I can eat a pretty fair amount of food as long as it's the right food. I snack on pretzels at night and still limit myself to one 100 calorie cake pack.

I'm stoked that because of this challenge, I'll go into the holiday week a little lighter than I would have. By now the gain would have started because the baking has started. I'll admit I overindulged on the first batch of cookies that I made but then I forced myself to reign in my temptation and mail far more cookies to Iraq than Iraq could probably eat in a month.

I wish I could say that I exercised more but with my sinus infection and bronchitis beginning, I've kind of had a setback exercise wise. I at least hope to do some shredding everyday this coming week and maybe even give the EA Sports Active 2 a try.

I think I'll set my sights on a drop into the next lower decade. If I can do that, I'll have a lot more holiday spirit than I do now - and I already feel pretty jolly. Ho Ho Ho

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Almost Made A Terrible Mistake

I almost made a terrible mistake today and it was really Beth's fault. Since her You Capture assignment was to 'get outside' I thought to run out and capture some interesting drifts. Now, all I had on at the time were my long pajamas and my bathrobe. But I couldn't take the time to dress because the moment might pass so I threw on some boots and headed outside.

After snapping enough pictures to get thoroughly cold, I headed back to the house. When I turned the handle and pulled on the storm door, I was quite shocked to find it locked. There's no logic there because I had just come out that door, it's not self locking, and there was nobody in the house. Then I remembered the other day when I purposely unlocked that storm door and went out the front door to retrieve the garbage bin. I planned to go out the front and come in the back. However, when I tried to come in, the storm door was locked. Once again I was bewildered but figured I must have just meant to unlock the storm door and somehow failed to do it.

Now, as I tugged on the door, I remembered what had happened the other day and I started to explore my options.

The front door was locked. I always lock it when Mr. Right leaves for work.

There was a key rock out there somewhere (that may or may not have a key in it) but in an effort to thwart thieves, I always let it mingle among the thousands of other rocks out there and I had no idea where it was. Plus everything was covered with about a foot of snow.

I didn't have a phone on me or a key. Even if I could seek shelter in the van, it was securely locked too. Seeking shelter in the van, if I could get in it, probably seems like a poor option since it was really cold outside but the poorest of options seemed good compared to the thought of walking around the neighborhood looking like I did and knocking on neighbors' doors where I would have to wait until....oh, midnight or so since Harry was working a double.

The last option was to try to break the storm door and I didn't think I'd be able to do that. I tried however by jerking and pulling on it and cursing at it and..... it opened.

Whew! Freezing to death and embarrassment averted. I think from now on I'll make it my business to get dressed before risking my life in the back yard.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Well, I've bravely soldiered through the past week of this miserable cold. All the while telling myself that, no matter what seems to be going on in my sinuses, I'm helping my immune system by getting through this without the assistance of antibiotics. No doctor for me.

Really, a lot of people don't know this (of course my kids do), but I'm almost a doctor myself. I may not have had any training besides motherhood, common sense and life experience but I've made a lot of accurate diagnoses and prescribed many methods that have led to cures. So I wasn't irresponsible with my illness. I completely trusted myself.

I should have been suspicious that there was more going on than I was equipped to deal with when my condition continued to deteriorate instead of improve.

Finally Wednesday, I felt like there was something going on in my throat and by Thursday I could barely croak and most people who heard me probably wished I wouldn't try.

Friday, I felt something unpleasant and heavy in my chest and I began to get a little nervous. I knew it was time to cry 'Uncle!' but, frankly, I felt so miserable that I didn't really want to go to the doctor if I could avoid it, so I prescribed myself more water and more sleep.

I went back to bed and when I woke up, I felt much, much worse. Now I knew something had to be done. I was just lucky to get into the doctor on such short notice and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have if I hadn't sounded so terrible croaking out my symptoms on the phone.

They set an appointment and I mustered the energy to go because I had no choice. Yep, good thing I went in. I had a sinus infection (that I had diagnosed correctly) and the beginning of bronchitis (and that's something that people my age should pay attention to).

So the doctor prescribed six little pills to be taken over the next six days. Hopefully they'll work miracles because I'm pretty sure I need one.

As I left the office though, I commented to the receptionist that I had felt so confident that I would fight this off myself and she sympathetically reminded me that as we get older, our bodies have a harder time with these things. Hmmmmm. I honestly hadn't thought of that.

It's funny that no matter how old I get, I see myself from the inside looking out and I forget about my age all the time. Other people see me from the outside looking in and they NEVER forget about my age.

I wonder what I could do about that.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

You Capture - Sweet

Beth's You Capture subject this week was sweet and to tell the truth, I've felt so lousy all week that I just couldn't think where I might find sweet to photograph.

Then I spied the first and only bloom on my slow and seldom blooming Christmas cactus. It looked like a sign to me. What's sweeter than a flower. So I tried to capture it.

I tried different angles and different lighting and I really never felt like I did it justice but I couldn't spend a lot of time on it because I had an important project to finish. A sweet project for my son in Iraq. Cookies. Here's the beginning of the dough - just two kinds of sugar and sweet butter.

Here's a batch ready for the oven.

And here's my double batch of Starlight Mint Surprise cookies ready to be packed up and shipped far away.

And do you know what the sweetest part of the whole project was? While I was baking these cookies for my firstborn Army son, he surprised me with a phone call from Iraq. And it just doesn't get any sweeter than that.

For more sweet photos (and maybe stories) go to Beth's Ishouldbefoldinglaundry.