Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wow, what a wonderful few weeks!  I'm both sad the holidays are over and happy that things will resume as usual again.  Happy New year to all!  May this year be the best one yet!!

We had a beautiful, peaceful Christmas.  The big kids were really into santa this year (though I'm still torn about it).  The joy in their eyes was absolutely wonderful.  Ladybug got a dollhouse and GreenEyes got some monster trucks.

For Christmas Eve this year, I learned to truss a pork loin.  I brined a whole pork loin, filleted it, then stuffed it with a pesto-garlic mixture.  Then I roasted it atop a root vegetable medley.  Good stuff.   (Thanks to Guy Fieri.)

I also got two new lenses with my Zazzle/Cafepress earnings.  I can't stop taking photos of late, much to my family's chagrin.  I got a 35mm/1.8f and a 55-200mm/4.5f .  I really love the fixed lens.  It rocks my world.  It's been a year since I've had my DSLR and I've just started to get my sea legs so to speak with my camera in manual mode.

Below are a few shots without people in them. 

 (lots of noise though, next time I'd use my tripod and a long shutter speed)

I just love this pic of my little girl's tea party and one of her favorite friends, Miffy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tree House Update

Believe it or not, the pic below was taken in mid-October.  We've long since completed the tree house (phase I).  Sure, we still need to paint and add some accessories, but it's pretty much done.  I've just been plain ole lazy when it comes to posting about the project.

Nick putting on the roof.

 All the windows have been put in (well, except the cutsie arc window which is a bit of a story).

 The hatch was installed....

(sorry for the blown out photo... I'll replace this at some point)

.. and finally, the door and trim.  We've had it this stage for over a month though Nick just recently installed the actual door nob.  Not bad for an old recycled door, huh? 

Now... if only the kids would remember to shut the door...

and the kids would stop tracking mud in the house.

The kids use it just about everyday and they use it to gather and store all sorts of goodies for the bears.  They love to make stinky cakes (a concoction of mud, sticks and rocks) as well as acorns and pine cones.  The kids were out on it yesterday and believe it or not, they still didn't need jackets outside?!  It was a beautiful 60!!  We didn't think we'd be using it much this late into winter, but so far, so good and it is definitely paying for itself with play.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Tree Brownies

I'm so excited for tomorrow.  I'll be helping out at my daughter's preschool Christmas party.  I am in charge of drinks and dessert.   I went through a million different dessert ideas on Pinterest before I settled on this one.  These Christmas tree brownies seemed REALLY easy and yet super cute.

 GreenEyes decorating his own.  Notice the glob of sprinkles in the middle.

We had a good ole time today making them and eating a few of the extras.  This idea was so easy, I didn't even read the directions which was kind of dumb because getting them out of the pan would have been much easier if I used foil on the bottom like the directions said, lol.  It still worked out fine.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Airing of Grievances

It's almost 13 years now since my mom left the Earth.  The anniversary of her death is just days away.  She died on Dec. 8th, the day before my dad's birthday.  I can't believe it's been so long.  Thirteen years.  It was such a tough time for me (and still is) but I remember getting a bit of comfort from her side of the family.  My aunts and uncles assured me that they'd still be there for us and that they were just a few hours drive.  One of my aunt's, Aunt Bea, even went so far as to say she'd be a mother to me since my mother couldn't be around.  It really touched my heart that day.  It made the hurt a tinsy bit less though my heart was still pretty heavy.

I took Aunt Bea for her word.   I was in college and I was getting along good enough.  I'd call Aunt Bea occasionally and sometimes she'd call me.  But I was never really offered or extended an opportunity to spend any actual time with her.  It was a lot of, "maybe we'll get together some time" sort-of-stuff.  "No biggie, she must be busy," I thought.

Then, somewhere along the line my Aunt Bea had a falling out with her siblings.  My mother was the second of four children leaving behind a brother and two sisters.  The four of them were always in some sort of drama to be honest.  But this time my Aunt Bea ultimately disowned the remaining siblings.  She didn't want to have anything to do with that side of the family any more.  To this day, I have no idea why.  She didn't want to talk to her siblings anymore nor any of their children, a.k.a. my cousins.  But she was still OK to talk to my sister, brother and me, the children of her deceased sister.

I found my husband (then fiance) Nick and was elated to share the joy with her.  But she called me and told me that she didn't want to attend my wedding because doing so would be difficult for her with the other family members there.  I admit, it kinda hurt me.  But, I couldn't force her to attend and I couldn't make it better.

She asked in our phone conversations that I never, ever mention their names again.  Ever.  She didn't want any info relayed to them or vice-versa.  I honored that until the VT massacre happened.  You see, her son, was attending VT at the time (he was a freshman) and I was asked by my other cousin (then and still ex-communicated, cousin M) if I would e-mail Bea and ask if he was OK.  I did.  Then I forwarded the reply from Aunt Bea to cousin M.  But I made a huge mistake.  I accidentally hit reply-all and she saw that I had forwarded the info, i.e. that cousin D. was OK and accounted for, to my cousin M.  I may have also inserted that I thought it was silly that us cousins, having nothing to do with the generation's before squabbles, were forced to communicate this way.  In essence, I betrayed her trust by simply relaying to my cousin that her son was alive and well.

She wrote me that she didn't think it was "silly" and that I had no idea how awful the situation was and that she was cutting me off.   The VT shooting occurred in April 2007.  I haven't heard from her in almost 5 years now.  In the past, I've sent cards, called and left messages of apology with no return, announced the birth of my first two children, etc.  So much time has passed and I still have received nothing in return.   I have cried and cried.

I felt horrible.  I felt like dirt.  I made a mistake and I was not forgiven.

It was only a year ago around this time that I realized how empty her words were back when my mom died and how you can't lose something you never had.  She may not remember her promise to me the day of my mother's funeral 13 years ago, but I do.  I would have been better off if she had never made that promise and she'd just drifted away like I feared would happen when you lose an important link in the family.  Broken promises hurt.  What she did, and is still doing, is hurtful.

Last year, was the first year I didn't send her a Christmas card and I didn't send her a card announcing the birth of my third child either.  It was hard to do.  I'm surprised it so easy for her to cut me out when not sending a card is so hard for me.  But it was her choice to cut me out and it's also her loss.

I'm sure for whatever reason, she was hurt by these other family members, but to bring me into it and use it as an excuse to cut me out of her life is plain old wrong.  I deserve better than that.

Anyway, despite it all, I wish her well.  I pray for her health and happiness and all the good things of this life and the next.  I really do.

So, why am I airing this?  Because I have to get it off my heart and give it to God.  Sometimes you just have to let it out to feel better.