Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hey, hey, hey, goo-ood bye!

Goodbye, 2008! Hello, 2009!

Happy New Year to you and yours from me and mine!

(Our annual picture from atop the ferris wheel at Edaville Railroad)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Feels like forever

Has it really been only a week or so since I last posted? It feels like ages ago. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

I'll write a "real" post later this week, but here are the highlights of my holidays:
  • I got to spend Christmas Eve afternoon wrapping presents, watching "White Christmas," and munching on homemade chocolate chip cookies.
  • R waking up on Christmas morning and being more concerned with proof that Santa is real than with opening his presents. ("There are CRUMBS on the cookie plate, Mommy!!! But where did Santa get the purple marker to write back to me?") I'm not big on the whole Santa thing, but R was so cute about it that I went along with it. :-)
  • Taking a walk around the neighborhood on Christmas afternoon to deliver cards to our neighbors and because it was so amazingly warm outside!
  • Going to visit my dad the day after Christmas for a Swedish food extravaganza.
  • Taking R to Edaville Railroad on Friday night for amusement park rides, a holiday lights train ride, and hot cider. It's becoming a tradition for us, and we had so much fun. This year we stayed for the fireworks, which were quite good!
  • And...(I almost forgot this one!) my sister Ericka got married! Yay!
This week I've been home with R. We're having a nice time together - building and playing with all his new Lego sets, baking banana bread, going to the Museum of Science and to the playground, decorating a gingerbread train, and just being silly. It's been so nice having time away from work and worry.

More details and pictures to come soon!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Festivus Eve

With all the stuff going on in our lives right now, plus the general blahs/blues I'm seeing in nearly everyone I know, I've been looking forward to Festivus tomorrow. A is particularly excited for "The Airing of Grievances." ;-)

Seriously, I can't think of anyone amongst our friends and family who is excited for Christmas. Even my best friend, who usually decorates every inch of her house with Christmas decorations and has an annual tree-trimming bash, didn't even buy a tree this year. When I emailed my friend today to tell her that A was at that moment on our roof in sub-freezing temperatures chipping away at the ice dams to stop the stream of water that was making its way down the inside of our kitchen, she replied that "2008 just keeps getting suckier and suckier." Between the deaths and layoffs and sickness that are plaguing our circle of friends and family, that makes sense. But it's funny - until recently, I didn't think of 2008 as being so bad. After all, it was the year of my friend's babies being born, of my big family vacation in St. Augustine, of our new bathroom, of electing Barack Obama, and of R being even more fun and sweet and silly. I have so much to be thankful for and happy about!

So I'm desperately trying to stay excited about Christmas for R. Last week when we had an unusually warm day (in the 60s!), we took R to the lights display at the Stone Zoo, which is just a few towns over from us. We've been taking him every year, but usually we end up going on the coldest night in December and freezing our buns off. This year, we took advantage of the balmy weather - and so did nearly every other family in the Boston area. But it was really fun and the lights were beautiful, and R had a blast going on the rides with A. Plus, we actually got to see some of the animals! Usually, it's so cold, they're hiding or sleeping or hibernating. (I had no idea that porcupines could climb!)

Just a little section of the lights display

I thought this peacock was really cool

R and A ready for some spinning on the teacups

R on the kiddie car ride

This past weekend, it snowed and snowed and snowed. For three days. Day 1 was fun. R got out of school early - a couple of hours before the storm started - and my office was closed, so A and I worked from home. R and I went out to shovel and throw snow at each other and to jump into snowbanks face first (guess who did that!). And, R discovered that sliding down a snow-covered slide makes you go twice as fast as normal. When we were soaked through, we came inside for hot cocoa. Then we made our own pizzas and watched a Christmas video. It was wonderful! Day 2 was okay. We had lots of errands to run, but the roads weren't too bad yet, and we had fun Christmas shopping together. A and I shoveled and shoveled and shoveled, and I hurt my back. On Day 3, we started getting stir crazy. The snow and wind picked up, and it seemed too messy to go outside. We hemmed and hawed for hours about whether we should venture out to our friends' house for dinner so we could see them before Christmas. All their other guests bailed, but I think we really needed to get out of the house, so A shoveled out the car, I packed it full of emergency-in-case-we-get-stuck supplies, and we headed out. It was pretty treacherous and we almost didn't make it up one key hill, but it was worth the trip. We had a great dinner with our friends and we had fun playing with the babies.

The snow finally stopped last night and the temps dropped, and our house is now encased in ice. A had to knock off the giant icicles (we call them "deathsicles") from the front of the house to keep our mailman from being impaled. We braved the messy, icy roads to go to the post office and mail our family's packages. Note to family: They're going to be late. I'm sorry! :-( Then, the water started coming down the kitchen walls. A was not happy about getting up on a ladder today, especially when he needed to be working. And, then he came down with a fever. Sigh. (Please keep A in your prayers. He's having a hard time staying positive and today was no help with that.)

I have just one more full day of work (unless A needs me to stay home tomorrow and be with R while he recuperates). R's school decided to close for the week between Christmas and New Year's this year, so I have nearly 10 days off - woohoo! On Christmas Eve, we're hoping to keep up our tradition of going to Edaville Railroad with a bunch of our friends, although it's supposed to rain so we may have to bail. On Christmas Day, we'll be home. R wants to put his gingerbread train together and A wants to make a big pancake breakfast. I'm going to make my mom's famous crab fondue to snack on, we're going to roast a chicken for dinner, and I picked up a princess cake from IKEA to have for Christmas dessert. I think it'll be a nice, relaxing day.

I hope all of you will have a wonderful Christmas, too. And, here's to better things in 2009!

I must be signing off now. It's my turn for the Feats of Strength. :-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Trying to keep things in perspective

I've been having a rough time the last week. A decided to take the contract position at work because it actually meant more money for us, plus we have some time to figure things out. And, there is still a chance his contract could be extended. The only real change for him is that he isn't earning vacation time anymore. He still gets his other benefits (401k, FSA, etc.). So, compared to what so many other people are facing now, we have nothing to complain about.

So I don't know why I'm having such a hard time. I've been depressed, bitter, angry, and completely stressed out and overwhelmed. Part of it is that I actually have to prove to some people in the company that A and some of my other team members are essential to the company. So, not only do we have to do all the work that we were already slated to do before the layoffs, but we have to do even more to wow management. In six weeks. With less help. And no money in the budget. The pressure of that is getting to me. People's jobs are in my hands! You'd think that that challenge would energize me and get me motivated to do my absolute best, but all I've really wanted to do is crawl into a hole. Or win the lottery and never have to worry about work again. LOL.

And, I think I'm sad that some of the plans and dreams I was looking forward to in 2009 most likely won't be possible now. I'm also scared because the last time that I was the main source of income in our family (when R was a baby), I got very resentful of A (because he was the one who "got" to stay home with R) and our marriage almost fell apart. Things are very different now, but it still worries me.

But yesterday at church, we finished up a series on the book of Job. It was a really moving sermon and service and helped me so much, although I had to bolt out of there after the service and bite my lip to keep from crying before I made it out the door. I felt like such a giant weenie at the end for being so down about things. I don't know why God puts up with me, but I'm sure glad he does.

The rest of my Sunday, I felt lighter and happier and relaxed, and that was wonderful. One of R's friends came over and we all made and decorated cookies together. A made his amazing caramels (Hear that, family? They'll soon be on their way to you! If A can keep me from eating them all...). And, later, R and I spent quite a long time playing "What's different in the room?" (where we take turns hiding something or moving something around in the living room and then the other person has to figure it out) and Keep It Up with the balloon R got on Saturday at a birthday party.

Then, before dinner, I let R play a resounding game of "Jump Off the Chair to Catch the Balloon in Mid-Air." When you have a small house and an energetic four-year-old stuck inside in wintertime, you get creative and very lenient.

How could anyone stay depressed when this little guy is around? :-)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy pictures

The day after the layoffs at work was pretty bad. I think that's when it hit everyone that we still have to do all our work, but with less help. I was in a super crabby mood until I got to come home early to see my boys and to go to R's school's holiday party. Afterwards, we finished setting up my Christmas village under the Christmas tree. So, in the continued spirit of focusing on the happy things in our life, here are some happy pictures.

This is the face that has made all the crummy stuff from this week all better.

R's drawings of alien spaceships attacking

Fun with the magnifying glass!

My "It's a Wonderful Life" Christmas village, part 1

Part 2

R's class performing at his school's holiday party. That's R in the back row all the way on the right.

R waited patiently for almost an hour to sit on Santa's lap at the party. I've never seen him sit still for so long. His teachers all commented on it the next day.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Counting my blessings

Today is a hard day. My company had to lay off about one-third of our employees, including A, although he has been offered a contract position so he could stay on through January. We're not sure yet what he's going to do (take the severance package now or take the contract position with no severance). A and I knew this was coming as of early last week, so we had some warning, but it's still crummy.

I feel badly that all of this clouded my visit with my mom, but I am so grateful that she was with us while we were struggling with the knowledge of it this past weekend. She prayed with me and she occupied R while A and I were a bit stressed out. And, we did some nice Christmasy things together - decorating the tree, going out for coffee and cocoa, Christmas shopping for R, and the best part: she and I went to see the Handel & Haydn Society's performance of "The Messiah" at Boston Symphony Hall. That was AMAZING.

So this is a hard time for my little family, but it could be SO much worse and I'm so thankful that it's not. We're going to be okay financially for quite awhile (as long as my job is still intact). This is when A and I being frugal savers comes in handy. And, we both know how to live simply. I actually get a little excited about the challenge of finding more places in our budget to save money.

I am sad that this is all happening to us and to our friends at work just before Christmas. Somehow that makes it worse. Last night, when I pulled out all my decorations and ornaments, I really wanted to just forget it all and send it all back down to the basement. But we needed to do it for R. He's still excited about Christmas and I want him to have that magical time that he should have. I don't mean all the gifts. I just mean the tree and the lights and the special cookies and opening Advent calendar windows and singing Christmas carols and staying up late to watch "Frosty" and "Rudolph" and "The Grinch."

Well, that's the story. If you could say a little prayer for us, that would be great. But mostly, I'm so thankful that we're being spared real hardship - at least for now.

God bless all of you today!