Thursday, December 31, 2015


Everyone knows the countdown...when zero hits it's the new year.  Out with the old. A chance to begin slate, new decisions, new resolutions (if you make them), new posts to journal the events in bloggers lives.  Contemplating what I would post for this very last one of 2015 I took a minute to look back at my year.  It's a learning time when looking back.  I learn what worked and what didn't.  I learned to appreciate the everyday.  I learned that I was stronger than I thought and also not as strong as I would like to be.  I got a new pair of knees this year. (technically, it was the end of 2014..but I digress!)  I learned how to navigate with them.  Walking became easier and I was able to do a few things that I had to put off because of arthritis.  I didn't work for the first 3 months of this year.  That was a big first for me. I hadn't taken that much time off since I had my last kiddo 31yrs ago! What I learned was that I actually liked not working!  It was a heads up that when I retire sometime in 3 or 4 years I won't be bored,  miss the day to day grind, and driving in the dead of night on call will be a thing of the past forever!  I've started to think about how I want to live in that future time.  Do I want to live at the Pines or perhaps move to a smaller place.  Of course it's not just my decision.  Jack has a say in all this too!  He's my steady rock and best friend  and love of my life.  So I will make 2016 a year of renewal.  I want to renew my health first and foremost.  I want to get in better shape...old age ain't for wimps or softies!  My job has always been a stressful place but I've learned so much there.  I work with strong, amazing women.  Technology has improved the way that we work in healthcare and it also makes us crazy at times!  But I'm toning it down there.  I don't want to be on any committees or be a clinician in any of the specialties.  I still want to mentor newbies and help teach where needed.  I just don't want all the extras anymore.  I feel I have nothing to prove. I will do the best job I can, but have started my mental countdown to retirement.  Does that sound like giving up?   I hope not!  I truly don't want to be that "working retired person" who's just taking up space in the workplace!  Surgery is too busy a spot for that!  My other focus will be our home.  We have projects that we need to finish and new ones to start.  Getting this place in tip top shape will help if the decision to move becomes a reality.  I've contemplated not blogging anymore.  It's been on my mind that my posts are getting repetitive.  I don't vary much in activities but I like to journal my family times and all the growth that happens there.  I started my blog in 2008.   My intention then was for family who lived far from us could keep up on what's happening here.  Facebook has taken the place of blogging for most of my family members and I even throw a few posts up on the site now and then.  What makes the decision not to blog difficult are all the great folks I've met in blogland!  I feel like I have some great friends here.  I would miss that!  So I would still visit even if I don't blog.  I also enjoy publishing my blog at the end of the year.  It's fun to see the books on the shelf and taking them down and looking at them with family from time to time.   So the jury is still out I guess!  I do know that this is my 75th post for 2015.....2016 is just a few hours away.  I don't know if I'll make it to midnight.  Jack and I already toasted this year out since I'm on call tonight and tomorrow and I already have a surgery scheduled for early in the morning.  The patient is 99 years old.  That's a lot of new year celebrations and I'm sorry this one...perhaps her last...will be spent in a hospital.  So no complaining here..just counting down....Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Every year the Christmas holiday comes in a bit differently.  When the kids were little it was always a hectic time of gifts that had to be hidden...usually Jack stored them at the office so no peeking was involved! Santa visits, church and school programs and packages mailed in and out.  Christmas cards had pictures of the kids so relatives far away could see how they had grown and we didn't go to Chicago back then because they always celebrated on Christmas Eve and it just wasn't going to work with our crew.  Then the boys got older and were involved in basketball that made it impossible to leave town because of practices and games...a big deal in high school!  Now the Santa visits were replaced with school activities and dances and girlfriends and all the hoopla that teens have in their lives.  The boys grew up and now have families of their own.  We always celebrated Christmas day with Jack's parents at the farm.  His Mom passed away in February of 2000, and his Dad in February of 2001.  Now the family gathers with us and we have carried on the tradition like they did it.  His Mom always had a scented mixture on the stove that was cinnamon and spices so when you walked in it sure smelled like Christmas.  The first year we lived here I remember my oldest son walking in and saying how it smelled just like Grandma's on Christmas...yep, I steeped the spices then and still do.  Some things don't change I guess.  The one thing that does change are the ages of the players.  Time flies and kids grow up way too fast...although it seemed forever when they were young!  I capture what seems to be the same things every year...the faces, the food, the gifts, the smiles...but I know in years from now, perhaps when someone else is hosting this special day, they will look back and wonder where the time went and remark on how young they were and hopefully they won't forget to have that special cinnamon smell and perhaps say that it reminds them of YaYa and PawPaw's at Christmas...and hopefully it will still be the most wonderful time of the year.
Christmas Eve had the sun shining and air a balmy 60de!
Chubbs and I took a nice hike in the woods.  I  hope he's not licking his lips because of a deer poop snack!
Usually these guys are put away before the first snow but since we haven't had any snow they are dressed for the holiday instead!
The gang starts to assemble this afternoon....Jackie is holding his daughter's new dog. His name is Happy and he and Chubbs got along just great.
Phil found his seat.  Comfy?
Tree was ready!
Family gathered..
Gifts opened and examined before dinner.
Ham anyone?
Belly up to the island for some grubb.
Cousins being silly at the kiddo table. Cameron and Lexi.
Adults being silly at the big folk table!  After eating. the kids played inside and out. The weather was really nice today too so it was fun to watch them play with new toys and ride around the pines on the Gator.  But soon it was time for them to head home or to other spots to celebrate with other relatives.  Last good-byes for the day.
Jackie and Evelyn.
Summer with her new pal, Happy.
Summer with her sweet boyfriend we just love..Brett.
Evelyn's daughter Megan just chillin' .
Jordan minus Eddy....Eddy our granddog had to stay home because our Grandson Cameron is allergic to him.  Thankfully Chubbs doesn't shed so we're good there.
Anthony is smiling because he's officially taller than YaYa!  Much taller! He still has a way to go before topping PawPaw however.  The day was fun and I can't believe another year has come and gone.  Tomorrow I can sing "Happy Birthday" to my year old and all's well! Yep, this gal is hanging up her Christmas apron and thinking it was the most wonderful time of the year.
Merry Christmas from the Pines to one and all!

Monday, December 21, 2015

It's Tradition

Every December we pack our bags, load up the car, and take the 51/2hr drive to Chicago for our Arends family annual Christmas gathering.  Leaving town on the weekend before Christmas is a challenge with so many final things to do for the holiday here at home.  What I discovered however, if I do take this time, I'm blessed beyond measure. I get to see siblings that I only visit with a few times a year.  I catch up on all the news and see the young nieces and nephews as they grow.  I spend quality time with my Mom....time that won't always be there.  My sister and I laugh and talk about life, the good and the bad things that happen to everyone.  But mostly we laugh!  Two of my brothers weren't able to be here and we missed them.  My niece, Katie, and her hubbie Blake hosted again this year.  It was my nephew's turn but he and his wife just had a baby in early December.  The scene is pretty much the same each year....good food, lots of kiddos, Santa, presents, white elephant gifts...those are silly things that you might have stored in a closet or attic that you really don't we wrap them up pretty and have fun with them!  If you've brought a white elephant gift you pick a number and when it's your turn you pick from the pile.  You can steal someone else's gift if you want.  We really have a good time with this game and it costs nothing.  Pictures are taken and of course the food is always fabulous.  This year we had the party early...brunch...because my great-niece was in a production of the Nutcracker ballet and their family had to be there in the afternoon.   Here are the pics...similar to last year and the years before...but as we age and families grow or loved ones pass on, it's a tradition that helps keep the family together.  As the song says..."I'll be home for Christmas. You can count on me"....It's tradition!
Our beautiful matriarch! Mom!
Decorations are lovely.
My sis preparing a dessert.
The newest member of the family...Adelena with her Daddy, nephew.
Cousins...they are your first best friend!  Ellie and Alexis
The boy cousins...Drew and Mason.
The older cousins...this reminded me of when I was young and would connect with one of my cousins away from the group and just sit and talk and have a good time!
All the kiddos gathered together to wait for Santa...and here he is! Santa is actually my niece Katie's partner....she's a detective and he has come in his Santa suit for the last few years. 
So fun!
After Santa heads back to the North Pole the family gathers for the white elephant game...
Perhaps you might get a giant sock monkey.
Or a super ugly sweater!  So fun!
No, Mom didn't win this in the game...she is holding her great-granddaughter for the first sweet!  Time flew by this weekend.  We left in the rain this morning and thankfully had a smooth ride home.  Chubbs came too and did great.  He met his cousin too.
My sister's dog, Sophie.
They got along great outdoors...indoors however, proved to be a challenge. Sophie isn't used to sharing her space with another dog.  Chubbs could care less and does well with other dogs but after a little scuffle, we kept them separated indoors...all was good then!
Chubbs blended into my Mom's living room area rug...they were perfectly matched!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Some Weeks Are Killers

This week has been so tiring! I think I  took a bit more on than I could chew...or bake!  I signed on to help with a bake sale at church and getting all that done along with working, taking call, having our church youth group over on Sunday after a church Christmas social on Saturday was way over my limit.  Did I mention that Jack and I head out to Chicago tomorrow for our Christmas with my Mom and family?  There's things to do to get ready for that too!  What was the frosting on this sugar cookie week?  Chubbs got really sick on Sunday night.  So sick we thought he wouldn't make it.  I had to stay home with him on Monday until I could get him to the vet.  We were bracing ourselves for the worst.  We didn't know if he had a stroke, seizure, or what.  He wasn't able to walk as his back legs would hardly hold him up.  After looking at his blood work the Vet thought he could possibly have a tumor on his spleen because Chubbs was so anemic.  He also has an enlarged heart and an old fracture on his hip.  Then throw in an infection...he was a sick little guy.   Looking at the x-rays we were able to rule out any tumors so he was put on an antibiotic, pain meds and a wing and a prayer!  Thankfully he's made a full recovery and back to his old self.  We are so happy that we can take him with us for the weekend and he can meet our family.  
He's got his Christmas scarf on and is ready to rock!  One last thing I almost forgot.  Guess who has poison ivy?  Me!  That nasty black walnut tree had it's last laugh on me alright.  I stupidly picked up a few branches forgetting about the vines twisted around them...poison ivy vines.  I'm usually not too reactive to poison ivy but this time I've got it on my face, arms and chest...just shoot me....or atleast pass the calamine lotion please!  HOHOHO...dang tree.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

I Can't Believe I Did This!

In all my 62 years of life I never thought I would be doing this in December.
Yep, I mowed the grass one more time....I know I'm wearing a heavy jacket, but the temps were just starting to cool off after hitting 65 degrees on Friday.  And today it was almost mid December in Northern Ohio...who'd of thunk it?   I guess there's a first time for everything!  We also had a large black walnut tree cut down.
It's hard to tell from this pic, but it's a biggie and after years of mowing those nasty nuts all over the place, or raking them to the creek, or slipping on them in yard, I was very happy to see it go.  Of course it doesn't hurt to have someone come and cut it down and then pay us for the walnut is good wood!  I'm liking that!
Finally, here's a snowman cake I made for our Church Christmas social tonight.  Looks like that's the closest thing I'm going to get for a white Christmas!  I'm liking that too!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Feeling Foggy

I realized that it's been over a week since I've posted.  What have I been doing?  Just the everyday stuff that keeps me busy...mostly work and church things.  I've tried to get out and visit my blog buddies and so many are getting ready for Christmas and having fun adventures.  I feel a bit foggy in that department.  But I'm really foggy in the weather department! This morning I took Chubbs out around 6am and the smell of wood smoke was heavy in the air.  I also thought it was very smoking looking in the yard.  I almost thought there was a fire someplace close.  I knew it wasn't us but I wandered over near the neighbors while Chubbs was doing his business so I could make sure they weren't on fire.  It was then I realized it was just a really foggy morning.  Very foggy.  I looked at the weather report and it said it would clear out and be sunny later on.  Well, it's after 10pm and it never got sunny!  This evening around 5pm I took this shot:
The fog was creeping down from the Creepy Woods. It actually looks brighter in this pic that it really was.  Jack was out on Gator and stopped to pick me up.
I jumped in the driver's seat to practice my driving skills....I suck at driving this thing by the way...I don't know why I find it hard to drive smoothly.  Heck, I learned to drive a car in Chicago for goodness sake!  Well, if you have a kidney stone you need shook out of you,  just jump in the back!  If you look in the background you can see how it does look like smoke on the horizon.  Trust me, it's just fog. We even have something called a "fog freeze" warning out for tonight.  I'm not sure what that is, but I'm willing to bet sometime tonight or early in the morning I'll find out when I walk the dog!
Speaking of the dog....Chubbs has a good buddy! I think he's decided to stay.
Yep,  I can't imagine him leaving anytime soon! He still hasn't met Eddy.  We've been trying to do a meet and greet at a neutral location but the weather hasn't cooperated.  It's either been raining, spitting snowflakes, or too foggy...we do want them to be able to actually see each other! 

Friday, November 27, 2015

So Very Thankful

This week has been a blur of work, cooking, new dog, and of course family fun! I love Thanksgiving and sharing time with those I love the most.  I took no food pics this year but we did do a few things a little differently.  We cooked the turkey on Wednesday and then had it carved and in a roaster so my oven was freed up for the side dishes we all love.  Great idea Jack..that's how I'll do it from now on! I had most of the food prepared early so all that needed to be done was a few items.  We also ate a little later so my Granddaughter could be here after working.
It was nice to spend time with her and her boyfriend Matt.  She works at a nursing home and will start nursing school next year.
Wednesday was my son Jack's 40th birthday!  I can't believe it!  We had already given him his gift back in October.  We flew him out to Oregon to spend time with Craig and his family.  Jack didn't want a party, especially a surprise one, so that's what he chose to do instead.  I made one of my famous candy bar cards and he loved that!  Happy Birthday Jackie!  One of our traditions is to have a pumpkin shoot out.  Great way to dispose of those Halloween gourds!  We used to use a bow and arrow but my bow was broke so guns were the order of the day.  The guys enjoyed that more I think.
Getting set up.
I didn't know you keep your handguns in a Bath and Body Works bag....hmmmm
Change pumpkins....
Pumpkin pie anyone?   One of the changes around here had to do with our new four pawed friend...Chubbs....still haven't changed his name...probably won't!  He had to go for a little trim.  First the before pic:
First day at the Pines...
Sitting a little taller now! He's such a sweetie and so well behaved!  We love this little dude!
He seems to be finding his place here.  But Chubbs wasn't the only thing that got trimmed....our trees that line the road had grown so much that the neighbors had complained they were blocking the view from their driveway.  So we had the township come and trim...
Oh boy...Well, I hope everyone on our road is happy!  I also hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I'm so grateful for all my blessings!
How about that full "mourning moon" this week?