Monday, December 29, 2008

Reflections on celebrating Christmas without presents

Ryan and I decided to celebrate Christmas this year without presents as a way to save more money for adoption or invitro. It was perfect and fabulous! It was the absolute best December we have ever had. We weren't so busy shopping and trying to figure out what to buy for people. It was so enjoyable. We had time to spend together doing things together. We had extra time to help with the ward Christmas party. We volunteered as interpreters for a community event (see last week's post) I was able to help with a work service project. (see below) One thing that I noticed was that instead of being wrapped up in our own busy lives, we were able to see and help those around us more.

I'm not saying that Christmas without presents is for everyone nor is it something I think we would do every year, but we would definitely do it again. It helped us focus and remember more the reason for Christmas and remember the birth of Jesus Christ and focus on that rather than on Santa Claus and presents and "what I want for Christmas..."

I had so many people ask me if we were ready for Christmas and I enthusiastically answered yes every time. Several made the comment that "they just couldn't wait for it all to be over." What a sad feeling! Instead of enjoying the season, they were just hoping to get through it.

So about my work project. We received a grant to buy Christmas presents for our residents. So a group of about 8 of us went to Target and picked out Christmas presents for our residents. We had about $30 per resident. We could only buy personal items like clothing and blankets. We were buying for 175 residents. I had a list of 12 residents that had their sizes and what they needed. Target doesn't have an "old lady" section. We were trying to pick out clothes. Our residents are wearing some pretty trendy styles now. Because most of our residents need helping dressing we were looking for sweats/lounge pants/pants that stretch and shirts that are easy put put on. We pretty much cleaned out the sweat/lounge wear racks. They had some sweaters on clearance and I think that at least 1/2 the women all have the same sweater in different colors. There is one member of our ward that lives where I work and she was on my list. It was fun to pick out stuff for her. It took us about 3 hours to shop and 45 minutes to check out.

I worked on Christmas Day and it was actually a really fun day at work. Lots of families came in and it was a busy in the building. Everyone was in a good mood and very happy.

When I came home from work, Ryan had made Christmas dinner of yummy potatoes and ham. Then Ryan helped me stuff batting into the Christmas tree skirt I have been working on off and on for 7 years. I'm almost done, just need to sew up one side and then quilt it. We'll see how many more years it will take me to completely finish it. We took our Christmas picture with the tree skirt around the lamp in the front room.

On Saturday we took off to Colorado Springs to check out some places before the highly anticipated Beck Sisters Gala in March. In continuation of the Colorado Saturday weather, it was 42 on Friday, high of 29 on Saturday and back up to 53 on Sunday. It was bitter cold. We went to the Garden of the Gods and went on a short hike, then we hit Manitou Springs and tasted the different mineral springs. Amazing how different the water tastes at the different springs. Then we went down to Royal Gorge Bridge. that was so fun. Ryan loved the tram that took you across the canyon on a cable. He wouldn't let go of the rail. We saw there was free entrance to Seven Falls that night so we stopped at that. We both were so glad we didn't pay to go look at frozen water. It might be worth it in the summer or spring when you are not looking at frozen water.

It was a fun day and we got some good ideas for future trips.

Monday, December 22, 2008

What's next, pneumonia?

I finally started feeling better on Wednesday, although I think that my nausea may have something to do with the cold that I have now. I'm never sick so it really stinks getting food poisoning and a cold in the same week.

On Monday when Ryan got back to work he found out that everyone else from his group started training the previous Monday. They all did nothing for about 6 months but had to start back up on the week that Ryan was gone. So now he's a week behind and is scrambling to catch up so he doesn't get left behind.

In church a couple weeks ago they asked for volunteers to translate at some Christmas event that the school district was putting on. I volunteered Ryan and I to go help. We signed up for the morning shift on Saturday from 7:30 to 11:00. The event was being held at the county fairgrounds (which are here in Longmont). When we got there we found out that they were doing a gift give away for low income families. The way it worked was they had to live within the St. Vrain Valley School District which covers several cities in this area. Also they had to have paperwork for the children, something to indicate that the children existed and that they were 14 or younger. The volunteers were divided into 2 groups, one group was checking the people's paperwork and the other group escorted the families through tables and tables of donated presents where the parents got to pick one present per child.

Ryan and I were in the group that checked paperwork. We learned a new word. Birth Certificate in spanish is acta de nacimiento. 9 out of 10 people that we helped spoke little or no English. So I got to slaughter the spanish language for a few hours. It was crazy to see how many of the parents had IDs from Mexico. Most of the children had Colorado birth certificates that were requested long after the birth of the children. It was actually pretty fun but it was crazy to see how the people would wait in line for 2-3 hours for 1 present for each child. What was even crazier was as we pulled up to the fairgrounds we followed a steady stream of really nice cars into the parking lot. We thought that maybe the cars we were following were the cars of the volunteers. We realized that 24 of 25 cars were way nicer than ours but these people were the ones coming to get free gifts. Based on what we drove, maybe we should have been in line for a gift.

After listening to Jane Austen on our trips Ryan wanted to watch Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Only Ryan falls asleep within the first 5 minutes so I have watched the same parts of these movies over and over. On the days I am alone at work I have been listening to books on tape while I do mindless tasks (filing, sorting, ripping pads of papers apart) it has been so enjoyable. This week I'm alone for 4 days and I'm really looking forward to listening to some good books.

I spent some time working on the serger yesterday. I think I have it ready to use. I took it in to a shop here and showed them my stitching sample. They said it looked good, just needed to adjust some tension, but there was no need to have it serviced. I'm excited to start using it. Maybe this week I'll start a serger project.

I'm not sure how I can be deathly sick last week, vomiting everything up and then 4 days later get the worst cold known to mankind. Wonder what I'll come down this week.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My love affair with OJ has ended

I took Ryan to the airport on Monday afternoon so he could attend Grandma Jacobs funeral. I wish we could have worked it out for me to go as well. But with the wedding a day just wasn't going to work out. After dropping him off at the airport, I still managed to work 12 hours, Tuesday I worked 12 hours and Wednesday I worked a measly 4 hours before I start my drive. The drive to Utah by myself wasn't that bad. I listened to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility on tape the entire way. I ate a lot of grapes and 2 peanut butter sandwiches on the drive. Grapes are the greatest travel food. They are juicy enough to keep me from getting thirsty, but the juiciness isn't enough to have to make pit stops every couple hours.

Since Cresy was still recovering from her hospital stay, I got to take Abby for the day. She was the perfect baby for us on Thursday. Abby and I went into the airport to wait for Ryan. She already is a people watcher. She was so enthralled by everyone coming and going. After we got Ryan, we went to the library and she went straight to Ryan while I perused the books. Ryan and I went to lunch with Hansen and Moore (mission friends) at Cafe Rio. Abby sat in the highchair and ate her noodles and watched all the people. We must have been there for an hour and she never made a peep, she was way too involved with watching all those people. After lunch, we headed up to the church to help set up for Lara's reception.

The Ceremony was so good. And he didn't talk about the Boy Scouts like at ours.
I was on dress/train duty during pictures. That is my job at weddings. Ryan's job is the unofficial, candid photographer.

The kids

The Girls

Afterwords we went to the luncheon at a Mexican restaurant in Bountiful. I thought the food was pretty good. Little did I know what was in store for me.

The reception turned out fantastic. Madre borrowed a bunch of Christmas trees of different sizes and put them up with white lights. It looked like a winter wonderland. We served cheesecake and there were chocolate kisses on all the tables. The scrapbook pages turned out really well. Ryan took a bunch of pictures at the temple and then we had them printed up so I had actual wedding pictures to put on the scrapbook pages. Lara really wanted people to sign on scrapbook pages. And Madre gave Ryan an assignment to be in charge of background music. He made an excellent CD of music.

Just Lara and Jared stood in the line so my padres just got to talk with people. Madre loved that and as for my Padre, that is the most time I have ever seen him spend in a kitchen. He preferred dishing up cheesecake to talking to strangers.

Us kids were on damage control. We basically tried to keep the groom's nieces and nephews from tipping over all the trees, pulling off centerpieces/table clothes and opening all the presents. They did manage to put their fingers in a bunch of cheesecakes, we lost 10-15 pieces of cheesecake to their little fingers. I'm not quite sure what their parents were doing.

Cresy's in-laws were so kind to let us stay at their house with Kade and Trent as well. So Friday night after the reception I started not feeling well. I ate the food at the wedding breakfast and then didn't have anything else the rest of the night, well except for a glass or two of OJ. So about 11pm I really started not feeling well, but I thought I was just tired. We went to bed and I couldn't fall asleep. I took a bath and about 3am I made a mad dash to the bathroom. I had the runs! After almost passing out in the bathroom, I stumbled back to bed and woke Ryan up and told him I was really sick. I took the bathroom trash back into our room with us just in case.
(Keep in mind that I'm at my brother-in-law's parents house)

I laid in bed for several more hours and about 7am I dashed out of bed to vomit. But Trent was in the bathroom. I grabbed the trash can and proceeded to empty my stomach of any remaining food contents. I haven't barfed in like 8 years. Maybe since Ecuador. I just kept vomiting over and over until I had nothing left in my stomach and then I vomited again. (it was mostly OJ and rice). Trent helped me that morning. Thanks Trent. It's not every day you get to help your older sister clean up vomit. I'm not sure if/when I will ever have the desire to have OJ again. So sad...
And thanks to Cresy's wonderful mother-in-law who gave me pills for nausea, an some supplies to take with us on our drive.

We decided I was in no shape to continue with our plans for Saturday and Sunday. (Sorry Lindsay, we were really looking forward to seeing your family). We started our drive home on Saturday afternoon and I slept most of the the way. About 9pm we got to just past Laramie and the road was closed. We turned around went back to Laramie. We went to a motel and Ryan negotiated for a motel room. They were charging $65 and he got them to go down to $50 plus 2 full breakfast coupons. I managed to swallow some saltines and water, but nothing else. I slept pretty good that night.

The next morning Ryan ate both breakfasts and I just ate the toast. We made it home about 1pm. It was freezing cold here. On Sunday, the temperature never got above 0 degrees all day long! Monday, Denver set a record cold. 19 below 0! It was so cold! On the way home, Ryan listened to my other book on tape - Pride and Prejudice. I think he enjoyed it, he asked to watch the movie last night.

I got up on Monday to go to work, but I almost fell over in the shower. So for the first time in 4 years, I called in sick to work. I realized I had only eaten a piece of toast and a few saltines in 3 days!

So thanks for all your calls. I'm feeling much better. Today I went to work and actually stayed for 9 hours and ate 1/2 of a sandwich. I think I'm on the mend.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Snow shoveling lesson #1 - to the sides, not the end

This week seemed to go by so fast, but I didn't get anything done. Good thing I am ahead of my project schedule because I didn't work on a single one this week. I worked 55 hours this week, 11 hours days three days in a row and on Saturday. It was our annual Holiday Open House for the residents and families so I got to serve food to the residents and families. I went straight from there to the ward christmas party.

On Thursday we woke up to several inches of snow on the ground and it was still falling. I shoveled the driveway (two strips so I could back the car out) and left for work. I had to leave work at 3 to meet Ryan at home because our adoption worker was coming to do our home inspection. I went out to the car and the windows were iced over and there was several more inches of snow on the car. But I never put the new ice/snow scraper in the car after we bought it last week. So I was out there brushing the snow off the car with a rag we had and then I started scraping the windshield with a Barnes & Noble gift card. It took quite a while, but I finally made it home.

The home inpection went good. Before placement, we just have to install carbon monoxide dectors and buy a safety gate, oh ya and put child safety latches on the chemical cupboards. California you had to have them all that done just to be approved. Plus California wanted to know how many miles were on your windshelf wipers. Seriously, is that what makes you capable as an adoptive/foster parent?

After the inspection, I had to go back to work. Ryan went out to shovel the driveway. When we went out, our 7 year old neighbor Ty was out shoveling our driveway. (Madre and Trent you met him when he came to our house on Halloween). Ryan started shoveling the snow to the end of the driveway. I had to explain to him that you shovel to the sides so the car doesn't have to go over the pile of snow at the end of driveway. Ryan laughed and admitted he had never shoveled snow before. Ty said he would teach him how while I was gone.

I have to remember to pack Lara's wedding scrapbook pages. I worried and fretted over them enough.

I'm taking Ryan to the airport tomorrow so he can go home for the His Grandma Jacobs' funeral. Then Wednesday afternoon, I'll drive to Utah and pick him up from the airport in Salt Lake on Thursday morning. It will be a busy week. But it is always worth it to be together with la familia.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Life as we know it is over

For the past 8 years, I have spent the morning after Thanksgiving at Joann's. Even when I wasn't buying flannel for myself, Madre asks me to get a few yards so I still got to go and have the extreme thrill of getting that amazing deal on flannel. It's over and it will never be the same. It's like when your padres move out the house you grew up in, or sisters get married and bring a new boy into the family. Life will never be the same. happened to me and Joann's. Flannel is no longer $.99 a yard the morning after Thanksgiving. This year it was $1.49 a yard. It's an empty feeling knowing that it's over, the end of an era. Not quite the bargain it used to be.

I was ultra productive this week. Tuesday I set up my quilt frames! But we couldn't find quilting tacks anywhere. Ryan looked at W&#$^mart, Home Depot, Staples, etc, but couldn't find any even Joann's didn't sell any that we could find. I ended up using push pins (that hurts trying to push those in the wood). So I suffered through the pain and tied two quilts that night. The next night I tied 2 more quilts. And I finished another one on the weekend. Ryan was so excited to get the quilt frames out of the front room. In order to get them to fit, we moved the loveseat in the entryway so we couldn't use our front door or get out our coats or vacuum. One of the quilts was the scrap quilt that I made a few weeks ago. (the one where I threw out the scraps of fleece, but dug it back out of the trash because I just couldn't bear to throw out fabric). It actually has turned out to be one of the warmest quilts be have.

My 5 blankets in 3 days. 4 baby blankets and 1 for us!

I got up early on Thanksgiving and went to work at 6am. Ryan came in at 1pm and he had nursing home turkey dinner with me. The turkey was pretty good and the stuffing and green beans. They were out of potatoes and gravy, but we weren't complaining, it was free. This was also the start of our alternate holidays. Since Ryan will probably be working holidays for the next 10-20 years, this was just a test run for what it will be like for us.

That night we took a late night drive around town to check out the lines at the stores. Last year in California, the line at W*#$&mart was already around the store at 10pm. Best Buy was also bad as well as Target. Here in Longmont, there was no line at W&*%$mart, Target and Best Buy had a few people in line. So for the first time in years...i didn't go to any after thanksgiving sales on Friday. We did however go grocery shopping at W&*%$#mart Friday night and the store wasn't any busier than any other day. It was actually so nice.

We both spoke in church on Sunday. Our topic was service. Ryan gave a most excellent talk. As I was getting ready leave, Ryan noticed all this white stuff on my black dress. Turns out I put on deodorant and then smeared it on my dress as I was putting it on. Good thing I had back up outfit picked out.

It also snowed for the first time on Friday night. Not enough to stick, but the first snow. We went right to W&%*#mart and bought a snow scraper.

Now for the best part of my week. I was about to come home from work on Friday and Ryan called and told me he had 3 surprises for me. So when i got home, I was anxious to see what my surprises were. #1 - I had a letter from one of my high school friends that I haven't seen or talked to since our wedding reception. #2 - my new long johns underwear arrived so i could be toasty warm without doing laundry every day. #3 he wouldn't tell me. He just had me get in the car so we could go grocery shopping. But i didn't want to get in the car because someone had to shut the garage door. But he made me get in the car and as he pulled the car out, he hit a button and down came our garage door! Our free garage door opener he got off Craig's list, he had installed and got it working! I was so excited! We now had a working garage door opener! Now nobody can steal our prize possession ( our new workbench)!