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Monthly Archives: December 2013

No watering the weeds

This has been my best Christmas holiday in recent memory.

Why? On top of the laughter and the joy was something even sweeter: never getting sick.

Nope, for the past four years, I’ve made it to the finish line (Christmas morning) and then collapsed in a heap as the flu bug ravaged my body.

Oh, I had a humdinger of a cold 2 weeks ago.  And a cold sore the size of Kansas to accompany it.  Pretty. Yeah, not so much.

But I never – not once – not this year – got the flu.

No body aches while wrapping presents.

No fevers while cooking breakfasts.

No wishing for bed while entertaining a house-full.

Nothing.

And I think I might know why.

This year, I stopped doing much of what I’ve always done.

I didn’t sign us up for Holiday visits.

I put up 1/4 of the decorations, and even less than last year.

I mailed only a few Christmas cards and most were to elderly aunties. If you received one, you might be elderly. 🙂

I never made fudge and I barely baked.   Everyone plowed through the chocolate covered peanuts, though.

I wrapped quickly and with industrial-strength tape.  (Hubbs has since been renamed “He who was not amused.”  I laughed my face off as he tried to open gifts.  Still am. Not apologizing.)

Yes I’ve stayed up, but I’ve also read up, slept in, and slowed down.

I’ve paid attention to what matters most to me and I’ve kicked my inner lizard to the curb, surrounded myself with battery chargers and heeded my own advice.

I didn’t continue rituals just because I always had.

I didn’t allow time for relationships that aren’t healthy for me.

Instead, I cultivated joy and rest, peace and quiet, laughter and music and happiness.  I harvested love and romance and take out menus and days without schedules.  I stopped shoulding on myself.

I didn’t water the weeds.

How about you?  Can you resist “watering the weeds?”

sunflower me

Here comes 2014. Let’s ignore the weeds & embrace the flowers in our lives!

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Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Random Five Friday

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Christmas Eve, 2013

This was our tree Christmas Eve;  today it looks like it’s been strip-searched.  Still, I’ll leave it up for a few more days just to enjoy the lights.

Christmas has come and gone and, boy, did it go fast.  What I’ll treasure includes:

1. Looks.  The look on our Grandson’s face when we FINALLY got through to the Santa Tracker hotline Christmas Eve and he could ask the question he’d waited to ask, “Um, when exactly is Santa going to be in Michigan?” And their answer, “Well Santa has just crossed the international date line from the Arctic circle and is entering into Canada now, which you know borders the United States; our trackers estimate {{sounds of calculators, blips and bells}} him to arrive in Michigan in.. approximately 200 minutes.” The speed with which he launched himself to bed was incredible!

the grands readying for bed; Christmas Eve, 2013

the grands readying for bed; Christmas Eve, 2013

2.  Being together.  The boys, me and Hubbs, sitting by the fire and laughing but suddenly hearing small feet padding across the living room above and here came wee MJ, teary-eyed, “But Nana, we forgot to put out the Milk & cookies and Santa is going to be so very hungry after that long trip..”  And so we got cookies deployed and milk poured and off she went to fall asleep in my bed with the biggest smile on her face.

3.  Snow.  Big, fat, fluffy snowflakes swirling down from above.   All my peeps tucked into the nest and here came Christmas snow.  Magical.

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Christmas snow 🙂

4.  Sounds.  Hearing snores from her brother across the hall, I slipped into bed next to a wee one who woke and whispered, “Nana, I love you.”  And as her small hand grabbed mine I smiled and cried in the dark, thanking my lucky stars that these little people know, really know, how much they’re loved.

5. Morning. Waking up to an eyeball and a giggle, a million questions and  exclamations of, “He came! Pops (on the couch) wake up! Santa came! Look at our stockings! He ate the cookies! The milk is gone!” and racing through the house to wake everyone up and share the news.

Hand-made blankies from Nana

Hand-made blankies from Nana

To celebrate Jesus’ birthday with one big party and hearing: “Can I open this next?” “Thank you Uncle H for the gifts” “This one’s from me!” “Nana this is so much fun” “Thank you Daddy, I love you so much” “Thank you Pops” and lastly, “we miss Frankie, too.”

Presents and presents and presents

Presents and presents and presents

Mini-Mousing it

Mini-Mousing it

I think Frankie and others were with us; see the Orbs up the stairs?

I think Frankie and others were with us; see the Orbs up the stairs?

A big breakfast together, a bit of time to play and then came time for clothes & boots, jackets zipped and off to Mommy’s for round two.  A big winter’s nap for the rest of us and what lingered .. was love.

The Hooligans lurking in my kitchen .. waiting for French Toast and sausage, bacon and eggs, ham and juice and ... and ... and

My two Hooligans lurking in the kitchen .. waiting for French Toast and sausage, bacon and eggs, ham and juice and … and … and

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”
― Angela Schwindt

Care to share your Random 5 from Christmas 2013?

Categories: Beauty, Blogging, Faith, Family, Fun, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Musings on a Monday

Well, here we are.   The night before .. the night before Christmas.

All is calm, all is bright. OK, for the most part :).

Hubbs is happily on vacation already but I’m not until tomorrow afternoon; the boys will be finished with work mid-day, and the wee ones … well the wee ones are SPENDING THE NIGHT!

joyous grand-children, Christmas 2012;  an emjayandthem photo

joyous grand-children, Christmas 2012; an emjayandthem photo

And you need to know .. that right there – THAT– is my Christmas gift.

Don’t need a present. Don’t need the tree. Just need my peeps, here with me.

The wrapping’s done, the fridge is stocked.   Whatever we don’t have, well, we won’t be shocked.

We’re  gonna sniggle in and snuggle up, play cards and laugh, sing Christmas carols and say prayers and watch for red noses and roll — roll in the fact that we’re together – thankfully – again.  It’s been a tough year in many ways; a year of growth and a year of losses, too. But, more than anything, there’s gratitude.

Gratitude for the most precious of gifts:  a babe in a manger, bringing hope to the world.

Gratitude for family and comfort, traditions and joy.

And good friends who will be missed by all.

"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care and Frankie the fat dog was asleep in his lair .." Christmas 2012; an emjayandthem photo

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care and Frankie the old dog was asleep in his lair ..” Christmas 2012; an emjayandthem photo

Merry Christmas, friends.  – MJ

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Seasons, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

5 days

Till Christmas! And today, I gave myself an early Christmas present …a day off.

No driving, no sliding, no conferencing, no filing.

Whee!

As it turned out, schools in West MI closed today, 1″ of ice on the roads tends to slow everything – and everyone – down.

Kids are gleeful, as winter break comes early 🙂  How I remember those days!

So .. I spent the morning baking and cooking and putting together a few care packages.  One for my Father-in-Law, whom we’ll see tomorrow, a few more for friends, and the rest .. the rest for my crew here at home.

Here’s one of Hubbs’ favorites, chocolate covered peanut clusters:

"I could quit smoking before I could quit eating these" - Mr Hubbs

“I could quit smoking before I could quit eating these” – Mr Hubbs

Want to make some? Want to dazzle your cast & crew, too?

Here’s what you need: candiquick

  • 1 jar (16oz) of dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 package of “Candiquick” chocolate coating (see pic at right)
  • waxed or parchment paper

Directions:

Spread several sheets of waxed paper  on your kitchen counter (not on a wood table, as these will be hot at first).

Melt chocolate according to directions on package; ~ 1 min on high, stir, melt another 15 seconds or so then pour in peanuts and stir to coat.

Drop tablespoons of the chocolate-peanutty goodness onto the paper and allow to cool — about 1 1/2 hours.

Break into smaller pieces (or not) and cover — these can be frozen, they travel great (if they break apart, who cares?) and are a hit everywhere I take them! I store them in zip-lock bags in the freezer, hidden away from Hubbs.

What Christmas treats are you making this year? Have you treated yourself to something special, like a day off? 🙂

Categories: Blogging, Family, Home, Joy, Life, Men, Recipes, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments

The fight

“A fight is going on inside me,” said an old man to his son. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other wolf is good. he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

The same fight goes on inside you.”

The son thought about it for a minute and then asked, “Which wolf will win?”

The old man replied simply, “The one you feed.”
Native American proverb

Who are you feeding?wolf cubs napping

Categories: Animals, Family, Growth, Holidays, Home, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Proche, mais aucun cigare

“Blue Christmas” was never my favorite Elvis Christmas song (Silver Bells was), so I’m not especially partial to it. But there’s this young Canadian singer named David Thibault who comes close to sounding a bit like him.   In fact, il est vraiment très bon pas aussi mignon.  (translation: he’s really quite good.. just not as cute :).

*on a side note, I had to resurrect my French speaking skills recently when interacting with an official in Montreal. It was fun, but daunting, too.   In Canada, there are two national languages and children learn both in school.  I didn’t start French class till around grade 6, but nowadays, kids start much younger and many are fully bilingual. Neat, hey?

Passez une bonne journée, mes amis! (Have a wonderful day, friends!)

Proche, mais aucun cigare = Close, but no cigar 😉

Lawdy Lawdy Mizz Clawdy!

The real deal: Lawdy Lawdy Mizz Clawdy!

Categories: Fun, Holidays, Life, Men, music, Opinion, Personal, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Simple solutions

Sometimes .. the answers are so close we can’t even see them.

Sometimes … we just have to get out of the way.

Last week, I was wishing I had a niece or friend nearby who loved to wrap – I would have gladly paid anyone to do my wrapping!

Sunday, it hit me: I have a solution.  Why didn’t I think of it sooner?

Hubbs is a packaging engineer – he works all day with tape. T-a-p-e.  Carton sealing. Medical.  Perforated. Water activated.  By osmosis, I know more about tape than I’d realized.

So when I started down the wrapping path, I remembered this:

Ta-da!!  Done!

Industrial strength, carton-sealed, done!

OK, so they might not get their presents opened but hey, they’re wrapped!

“The cure for complicated is always simple.”
― Shannon L. Alder, Never or Forever

Had any “aha” moments lately?

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Family, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life Lessons, Rants, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 27 Comments

First friends

Growing up, I was lucky to have so many cousins.

I had fun cousins.  Older cousins, bigger cousins.

Girl cousins and boy cousins. Near and far cousins.

Cousins that I knew well, others not as much, but when we got together, we were a rowdy bunch.

We went sledding and skating, played “duck-duck-goose,” built forts, staged plays and played…. hard.

We could play anywhere – in basements, barns and bedrooms.

Our mothers kicked us outside so we kicked the can, played tag in the barnyard, ran around and came back breathless and red-faced to share the kids table, practice our choir songs, tease, laugh and cheer each other on.

So I get it.

I get it how a herd of kids at a family gathering – related through various branches of the same tree – can meet up again and immediately friendships are formed.

Hands are held.

Toys are shared.

Secrets are whispered.

Hugs are given and love is in the room.

Cousins Sam, Olivia, Ayden and Mylee; an emjayandthem(C) photo

Cousins Sam, Olivia, Ayden and Mylee; an emjayandthem(C) photo

At Christmas, cousins are the presents under the tree.”~ Karen Decourcey

Did you grow up with cousins? Do you remember the ‘kids table?’

related:  Thank you for being a friend

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Friendship, Fun, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Random Five Friday

It’s that day again!

We made it, peeps – whoop!

Here’s my Random Five on this first Friday in December …

1) The Tree’s up .. but there’s nothing on it.  Youngest boy asked, “Aren’t you even going to decorate it?” The horror in his voice was palpable.  Yep, it’s getting decorated, soon .. can’t tell you when because I don’t know myself. Hasn’t stopped me from turning on the lights and admiring it’s simple little self.  And considering stopping right there!

2) The fun filled-family Christmas party is this weekend. The one that Hubbs and I started years back, did to the max, and wore ourselves out on … we’ve stepped away from that part and now … we bring a dish and are guests.  Ahhh.    Read the story of my many manic moments at It doesn’t serve me anymore.

3) The shopping is done, the wrapping is not.  Hmm .. wonder if there’s a teenage girl in the neighborhood who’d like to wrap for me. I’d pay royally for someone else to do it. You?

4) It’s cold outside and, as predicted, that’s what folks are talking about today.  The weatherman has a gleam in his eye like a kid on Christmas morning.  Their lives must be so dull when it’s nice out.

5) When I think of Christmases past, I think of scenes like this:  all five of us, me in my red jammies, our tree twinkling in the background, and note the time of 1o:00pm?  We’d nicely gotten home from yet another Holiday get-together and were readying for bed.  Santa was on his way ….

The excitement in our faces is evident, the joy .. contagious.   That right there – those kind of moments – are the ones I aim to create for our boys & grands …

all of us:: an emjayandthem photo

all of us:: an emjayandthem photo

Care to share your Random Five with me? 🙂

Categories: Blogging, Faith, Family, Holidays, Home, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 20 Comments

Winterrr

It’s coming: winter.

Today … rain. Tomorrow … freezing rain. And Friday … snow.

We know it.

We live here.

It’s not news, people.

But .. when it comes … we find ourselves in familiar commentary with friends and neighbors, “Cold enough for ya?” “Holy Dinah, it’s cold out there!”

So … it’s funny, you know, the things that snow and cold does to people.

Some embrace it.

winter dogSome endure it.

unhappy cat

Some need others to help them through it.

malamute

And some just go it alone.

fox in winter

Which one are you?

*all Google images

Categories: Animals, Family, Friendship, Fun, Home, Relationships, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , | 23 Comments

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