Monday, December 28, 2009

Indiana Events - Day 2 & 3

Despite receiving the sad news about Packard yesterday, we have been trying to cheerfully celebrate Christmas with David's family here in Michigan City, Indiana. Day two in Indiana (yesterday) was our official "Indiana Christmas Day". Certainly, with David's mom still in a rehabilitation facility to recover from her stroke, we needed to change up some of our traditions in order to celebrate together as a family. David's sister, Carolyn, arranged to reserve a conference room at the home so that we could all congregate together. Carolyn is great at going over the top and therefore she went out of the way to beautifully decorate the room with tons of Christmas decorations. David's mom also had no idea that we were planning on coming to visit all at the same time so she was quite surprised when she was moved to the conference room. Present were David, Madeline and I, David's brother Ed, wife Lynn and their kids Brandon and Zachary, David's sister Carolyn, her husband Dan as well as Dan's daughters, their significant others and Dan's newest grandson, Dawson, who is only a few weeks old. We had a nice time together and David's mom was thrilled.

Later in the day, we headed back to David's parents house for dinner and more gifts. After dinner, Madeline busied herself with some of her new toys while several of the adults played a friendly game of Risk. I on the other hand never learned (nor ever cared to) play that game so I kept myself busy coloring a masterpiece in one of Madeline's new coloring activity books.

After a late night last night, David, Madeline and I slept in. We also went to see the new Disney princess movie, The Princess and the Frog. The movie touched on death and I later used it as an opener to prep for breaking the news about Packard to Madeline. Wish us luck....

After spending some time visiting David's mom, we met up again with David's dad, sister and brother-in-law for dinner. (David's brother already headed back to the Milwaukee area). We had a nice evening together and we are now back in our hotel room, all settled in for he night. Since we slept in late this morning, we did not make it o the pool today. Needless to say, we must rest up for a pool excursion tomorrow or Madeline will certainly have our heads.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Rest Peacefully Sweet Angel

Last night, our dear sweet kitty, Packard, passed away. For those of you that know me or have been following my blog, you know the saga of one of our cats, Packard. Yes, she is the one that we previously called "Franken-kitty" after her surgery in April to remove a large lump from her head. We were told by the vet at that time that she believed the growth was pretty aggressive. Packard rebounded nicely and we were able to enjoy her in our lives for another 8 months. However, Packard began losing weight. We knew that this was a grim sign that the cancer was taking its toll on Packard. We kept telling Pack, "Girl, you need to eat a donut!" Unfortunately, with three cats in the house, it was hard to determine exactly how much or little she was actually eating. We began feeding Packard some tuna to try to "bulk her up". Yet, with our travel to Indiana, we certainly couldn't just leave out tons of soft food and tuna because the other two piggy cats would've just eaten it all. We decided that the best option was to take Packard to be boarded in a "kitty condo" at the vets office. We knew that Packard would get all the special care that she needed and that she would be in good hands in case of an emergency. Yet, today, I was called by the vet's and told that Packard passed away during the night. Oh, the emotions that are going through me now......

The question now is, how are we going to break this news to Madeline? We knew that today wasn't an appropriate day as there were Christmas festivities still on tap for the day. We have time to tell her......the question is how?

But in the meantime, I regret not being able to say goodbye to Packard. Yet, now I spend some quiet moments remembering the feel of her fur and the sound of the loud rumble of her purr. I'll miss you Packard! I loved being your kitty-mama for the past 14 years. I love you.....you were a great kitty!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Back "Home" Again In Indiana

Okay, I was born and raised (and still live outside of) Buffalo, New York but I have been visiting Michigan City, Indiana (David's hometown) for 14 years now. So, in many ways, after visiting here so often, this sleepy town (located just an hour outside of Chicago) is like a second home to me.

Luckily, Madeline was a trooper in our 7hr (close to record time) marathon drive. Additionally, after our trip Mama-Dirtyfoot had kitchen duty to help coordinate dinner for the Indiana crew. Normally, David's mom would've been the one that was busy in the kitchen. Yet, with her still in a rehab facility while recuperating from her stroke, each of the siblings' families pulled together to coordinate a post holiday meal.

After a gut-buster dinner of turkey breast, ham, kielbasa, pierogi and various sides, the Indiana crew enjoyed some time together. Due the craziness of our travel and the travel of David's brother, Ed's, family we decided to postpone our Christmas gift exchange until earlier in the day tomorrow while we visit with David's mom.

Now, David and I are hangin' in our hotel room as Madeline is *zonked out* in the other room. She not only had a long say but also played very hard with her cousin, Zachary. I will try to offer more photos in my next post. Time to zonk out myself!!.....G'nite!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sooo Sooo Proud This Christmas (for many reasons)

Yes, I know, it has been *forever* since I posted, but 'tis the season for hectic days. In the midst of my busy preparations, I realized that I am proud of some of the gift giving choices this year. I will get to those below but first I MUST point out what I am most proud of - my little angel, Madeline. This photo is of her in costume for an in-class Christmas play that Pre-K performed for the parents during their Christmas party (the school, including Pre-K, had a much more formal Christmas concert earlier in the week). I have include a small video of the class play at the bottom of this post.

As for gift purchases I am proud of, first I would like to say that I am most proud of my family. Coming from a family of 6, we realized years ago that if we bought presents for everyone we would all go into the poor house. For years we have picked names and had a sibling to exchange with. We had a lot of fun with that but eventually, we came to realize that by the time you reach our age, if you need anything, you buy it for yourself and that we were sort just exchanging stuff. We considered stopping the gift exchange between siblings all together but we enjoyed sharing Christmas with each other (despite each of us residing in a different state). What we decided to do was keep the idea of picking names but have a strict guideline on price. In order to make this fun our strict price limit was purposely set low and certain rules were to be followed. Our price limit is $10....yep, that's right! I love this because I have more fun shopping for this gift than any other gift. I also feel that the fact that you must be creative really makes you think of the likes/dislikes of the person for which you are buying. Some of the rules for this are that you can gift items that are homemade, new, or used. Heck, if you find the perfect gift at a garage sale....more power to ya! The only leeway we give is that this $10 does not include shipping costs. So, if you find an item in a catalog or on eBay you do not have to work shipping costs into the equation. Also, in order for each of us to take advantage of after Christmas sales (if desired) we try to pick names early for the following year's exchange. I have so much fun with this and it brings back the joy of Christmas in my shopping experience. This year, my brother, Paul, sent me (yes I was told I had to open it when it arrived) Butt Rubb. It is supposedly the *best* BBQ in the Lexington, KY area. Paul sent me a container (that was frozen and over-nighted - thank god for our shipping rule) I plopped it in my freezer and am looking forward to trying it out when we get back from Indiana)

Secondly, speaking of after Christmas sales, I have no problem buying items and storing them for a year. Madeline's dance class brings in little goodies for each other on the last day of dance before Christmas. All those goofy little trinkets (that moms usually end up vacuuming up) tend to be *expensive*! And despite the fact that they are tiny gifts you still end up spending about $1 a kid! So last year, I took advantage of the clearance sale in Target's $1 bins. The items were 75% off! So, I ended up getting for each kid a Hello Kitty notepad (that they could use for drawing) and a pen set....for $0.50 a kid!

Lastly, I am so proud of the success of the new gift exchange idea that I suggested to David's work for their Christmas party. Again, back to what I previously said, at our age gift exchanges boil down to exchanging stuff. How many candles and page-a-day calendars can one use? This year, everyone at David's work picked a name to buy a gift for. The catch however, is that you had to buy a toy that represented the co-worker that you were buying for. This was hysterical especially since it was decided that the gifts were opened at random and everyone had to guess who that gift was meant to represent. There were tons of laughs....especially when a talkative male co-worker got a Miss Chatterbox doll! So what do all these grown-ups do with these toys? They were all collected at the end of the party and donated to Toys For Tots!

So, what am I trying to say? It's not about how much you spend!! It truly is the thought that counts. And what I love most about the season is getting together with friends and family. Sharing time with those you love during this season is what makes for a Merry Christmas. It is our time together that is what makes the memories we cherish always.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Message From Santa!

Thank you Karen (our Astrakhan, Russia friend) for giving us the "in" to be able to communicate with Santa. Through Karen's connection, Madeline received a video email from Santa! How lucky Madeline is to have such connections. It was obvious that Santa knew every thing there was to know about Madeline. He even had a picture of Madeline with her "stats" in his book! The picture above is of David and Madeline watching the video message from Santa. That smile on Madeline is 100% genuine. In order to see the video from Santa, CLICK HERE to see the link to the video. Thanks again, Karen!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Quiet Day In Indiana

Today was a quiet day in Indiana. We were not able to do much visiting of David's mom today as she is fighting a fever. They are not quite sure as to why the fever is not dropping and she will be taken from the rehab center to the hospital tomorrow for tests. Please continue to say prayers for her. As a result of this fever factor, visiting was limited and it was suggested that Madeline not visit. Luckily, however, David was able to spend a little bit of time with his mom during the day. When David visited his mom he brought some Christmas decorations that I purchased the day before to bring some holiday cheer into his mom's room.

Madeline and I pretty much hung out all day. I worked on wrapping some Christmas gifts that my mother-in-law purchased before she fell ill. Later in the afternoon, David helped occupy Madeline by working on an ornament craft kit that I had picked up (see photo). This kept Madeline busy and she was happy to make an ornament for the tree for Grandma. We hope all three of us will be able to visit tomorrow morning before we leave to go home. If all goes well, Madeline can place the ornament she made on the mini- Christmas tree in her grandma's room.

For dinner, Mama-Dirtyfoot made a gut-bustin' meal for David, Madeline, David's dad, sister and brother-in-law. I cooked up breaded pork chops, apple sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet & sour red cabbage and broccoli. It was nice to share another meal with the family and have time to visit with each other in the evening. The gut bustin' factor took hold of the guys. I couldn't resist snapping this picture. David and Dan dozed off on the couch as Carolyn and I were browsing through sales ads. Tooooo funny!

Tomorrow we are heading back home to Buffalo. But we plan to drive back to Indiana the day after Christmas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Update From Indiana

Greetings from Indiana. Yes, it has been quite a while since I posted a blog entry. Life has been a bit crazy. As previously posted, David's mom had a stroke on December 1st. David came home to Indiana last weekend. Yesterday, David, Madeline and I headed back to Indiana for more visiting time and to allow for David to assist in some family matters. David's mom knew that David was coming into town again yet the fact that Madeline and I were coming along were a surprise to her. Mom G. is no longer in the hospital. She has been moved to a rehabilitation facility and therefore Madeline was allowed to visit. (She wouldn't have been able to visit in the hospital) Although the stroke robbed Grandma of her speech, no words were needed to express the thrill of seeing Madeline. Madeline had a few questions about various medical equipment, but overall, things went smoothly. We only had one visit today because David's family had some matters to attend to in the morning and David's mom had a full day of visitors and needed some rest. We will be able to spend more time with her tomorrow.

In the evening, back at the Indiana homestead, I cooked dinner for the family. David's brother, Ed, had to head back to Milwaukee but we were able to share the evening with David's dad, sister Carolyn and brother-in-law Dan. Early in the afternoon, David put up his mom and dad's Christmas tree and after dinner we all pitched in to decorate the tree.

For obvious reasons (above) I have not posted in awhile. Aside from the news from Indiana, we have been busy trying to keep Christmas (and life in general) on track as best as possible. Since it has been a while since I posted, I thought I would share a couple more things. First, check out this picture!! Yes, that is a photo of all white! That is not an error.....that is all snow! David took this picture outside of his office on Thursday. Yep, whiteout conditions....this was the view (or lack of) down Main Street in Buffalo. He was trying to take a picture of a huge Shea's Buffalo (theatre) sign. The crazy thing is, that despite this type of weather condition at David's work, we only had a slight dusting of snow on the grass at our house. This evening, David spoke on the phone with his Uncle Charles, who lives in Austin, Texas. Uncle Charles was fussing about the "cold" weather in Austin (in the 40s). Ummmmm.....On Thursday, it was about 15 degrees in Buffalo with a wind chill factor below zero.....oh, and we still went in the hot tub - outside.

We are also trying to keep things as "normal" as possible for Madeline. Visits to Santa, Christmas shopping, school, dance lessons, and swim lessons. As time zooms by I am in utter amazement at how quickly Madeline is growing up. What progress she is making in her swim lessons. Check out the video below....
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Monday, December 7, 2009

She's A Very Freaky Girl

Yep, you know the old '80's song, "Super Freak". That's my girl! She is just *too much* and the scary part is that I see so much of myself in her. The problem with that is that I will have some sleepless nights when Madeline gets older.....if she has anything to do with it she'll be a party girl - Heaven help me!

Today, Madeline and I stopped out for lunch at Wendy's. Wendy's must've been piping in an 80's station as the music was one 80's hit after another. Leave it to me, a child of the 80's, to be dancing in my seat. Madeline, of course, picks up on that and starts seat dancing too. Next, she gets out of her seat and starts wiggling her little butt next to our table. Too darn cute! So, I decide to take out my cell phone to video some of this. Of course Madeline, the ham that she is, really starts to put on a show because she knew I was taping her. Thank God my phone only records for 30 seconds. If I left it up to Madeline she probably would've hopped on the counter and put on a show for the entire restaurant. Like I said, Heaven help me! The only other thing I have to say is that this child better take me as her date when she walks the red carpet for an award in Hollywood!
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What else is going on? First off, Madeline was given a choice tonight to either watch a little bit of a Santa movie before bed or watch a little bit of the hockey game. Can you believe she chose the hockey game?!??! Let's go Buffalo Sabres!

Also, Madeline can be such a heart melter! She obviously missed David very much while we were apart. She asked for a "Papa story" for the past two nights at bedtime....which she never does. (Let's just say that Papa isn't as imaginative or creative in his nighttime stories...just goes to show ya how much Maddie missed David) Yet, despite the Papa stories, Madeline called for Mama to come back upstairs to give her another hug and kiss. I had a hard time resisting that request so Madeline was showered with more Mama hugs and kisses. As I hugged her Madeline held on tight and told me, "I love you so much. I will dream about your soft hair." Awwwwwww!!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

While You Were Out

I am pretty much sure that my brother-in-law, Mike will not allow my sister, Margaret, and me to visit anymore. Ok....I'm not serious but the only reason that I would say that is because the sisters coaxed Marysia to go shopping to do some decor updates that she has been wanting to do.


Aside from the fact that the coaxing led to Marysia spending some bucks, the sisters did a great job keeping the expenses very low. Furthermore, the look of Marysia's living room, dining room, family room, kitchen AND foyer entrance is now totally different. Mike has been out of town while we've been here attending to some family matters back in Buffalo but when he comes home it will truly be like an episode of television's "While You Were Out".

All I know is that Marysia is thrilled with her purchases and the new feel to her home. Additionally, the three sisters had a blast completing this shopping mission. Me next....me next!!!








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Friday, December 4, 2009

Distracting My Mind

Upon hearing the news about David's mom, I was 100% ready to cancel my trip to my sister's house. I was ready to drop everything and head to Michigan City, Indiana, yet, David *insisted* that I follow through with travel plans to visit my sisters. Despite wanting to do nothing other than be in Indiana, David and I realized that I would be useless with Madeline in tow. So, like I said, David insisted that I go to my sister Marysia's house in the Baltimore area. My other sister, Margaret, who lives in Ohio, had also planned on meeting me in Baltimore. So....off we went. Madeline and I headed to the airport. Yes, I wanted to be in Indiana but knowing that I couldn't, this was a good distraction to keep my mind occupied so that I would feel less helpless.

First thing.....I pretty much was convinced that I would die in a plane crash on the way to Baltimore on Wednesday. The plane was *very close* to landing at the airport and then all of a sudden started ascending again, instead of landing. And the "re-takeoff" was not a straight upward motion but rather was on a bank (sideways). The pilot, after the fact, said that we were lined up too close for landing with the rain showers.......um, like they didn't know that when they lined us up?!?!? Yep, as my brother-in-law, Mike, said....I think the plane was ready to "rear-end" the one in front of us. Yep...NERVE RACKING!

Since Madeline and I have been here, we have done 3 straight days of shopping. We began the Christmas shopping routine, yet, got sidetracked to decor shopping for Marysia's house. Marysia feels completely guilty that we are not spending time Christmas shopping; however, due to everything going on, Christmas plans are sort of up in the air for us. Therefore, Margaret and I are pleased to help Marysia with the shopping needed to help redecorate her living room and dinging room. During our travels we've done shopping, a visit to Santa, lunches, coin operated rides, a dinner at Pizza Hut to have my nephew, Tommy, wait on us (his 1st job), and in the evening we three sisters got into our matching lounge wear that we bought while shopping and sipped LOTS of eggnog spiked with spiced rum (gotta love my hair-do in this pic) . Yet, despite enjoying time with my sisters and keeping busy with the activities that distracted me, we have been completely concerned and my heart has been in Indiana. Please continue to send along your prayers.....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Prayers Requested....

David and I got some bad news from Indiana late Tuesday night. David's mom had a stroke and is currently in the hospital. As with many stroke cases, it is too soon to tell how recovery will progress yet, at this time there is some paralysis and lack of speech. Being 500 miles away, there was a total sense of helplessness that both David and I were feeling. We both wanted nothing but to drop everything and rush immediately to Indiana. David was not able to head to Indiana until today.....in fact, he is probably visiting his mom for the first time as I type this. I wished I could be there too to support David and the family however David and I both realized that the situation wasn't condusive to a rambunctious 4-year old in tow. So, Mama-Dirtyfoot and Madeline sit, anxious, concerned and feeling helpless....waiting for telephone updated from David. Hug, kisses and prayers from you would be greatly appreciated.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hangin' In There

Yep, still alive. I know I haven't posted in a while but I just can't seem to have enough hours in a day to do *anything*. How is that possible??? I haven't done hardly any Christmas shopping, I am not even packed even though Madeline and I are leaving to visit my sister, Marysia, in the Baltimore area in just about 12 hours. My dining room wallpaper is still half stripped with no thought of finishing before the end of the year.

I just wanted to touch base for my daily blog readers to let you know that Mama-Dirtyfoot is still here. We are busy doing a whole lot of nothing yet things are hectic, hectic, hectic. And what do I do??? I take on more projects....but that's for another day.

Despite practically killing myself and my family over Thanksgiving (I left a burner to my stove on. The flame went out and the gas was flowing from I would have to guess 7pm - 10am before it was noticed), and dealing today with Madeline's teacher telling me that Madeline decided to try to get a laugh from her Pre-K schoolmates by showing them her butt, I am still alive and surprisingly still sane.

I will try to post during our visit to Marysia.....