Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve, 2010

As this year comes to a close, it has been an exciting day: severe weather, tornadoes, straight-line winds...  We were lucky in that all we got was the rain and thunder/lightening.  Still, the winds were bad enough that the back door blew open and Po decided to take himself for a very wet run.  The girls were first out the door after him, with Brie falling on the conrete and giving herself a lovely purple bruise on her knee.  The boys followed, but came back soaked, saying that they needed a car to head him off.  I got the keys and headed for the van, and parked next to the cemetary and the bridge over the creek after seeing him head that way along the edge of the creek...  I opened the van side door as the rain poured into it, and stood outside calling Po to me (while the girls were still running behind him).  He debated briefly going under the bridge, but decided to climb the embankment and jumped into the van on his own.  I slammed the door behind him, and heard the girls yelling for me not to leave without them.  We were all soaked to the skin by the time we were back in the van, and I had to stop in the cemetary to wipe off my glasses to see to drive: they were wet and fogged! The storms have now passed and I think we are out from under the Tornado warning (I think it expires at 3).  My poor mother was scared to death because she saw the reports on CNN and she called me a number of times to check on us.  We were fine through it all though.

Last night we had our Christmas celebration here.  As I was making sugar cookies I got my first gift: a Cuisanart Stand Mixer.  I was trying to stir in 5 cups of flour into the batter and grumbling about the challenge of it (my wrists tend to bother me with repetitive motion stuff); Eric told me to take a break and then gave me my mixer (Merry Christmas!).  He lucked out--didn't even need to wrap it! I used it to finish up my cookie dough and it is amazing! I am going to enjoy the heck out of this new appliance!  It came with a mixing blade, a dough hook, and a whisk.  Then, I made some macaroni and cheese from scratch (it was tasty, albeit a little dry cuz I baked it too long), and ham, with corn, and green beans for dinner, and the kids had dates/friends here for the party and meal.  We did our family gift exchange to much laughter and fun. The kids were satisfied with their gifts for the most part, although a few still need to complete their shopping for the family.  Baby Skye was awake for the gift opening, and she was enamored with the color and the noise, then went to sleep.  I had knit socks for Eric (in black, as he requested), which I worked on when he was NOT home, which he loved, and I also surprised him with a Mascoutah Dad long-sleeved tee-shirt to wear for Aurora's bowling matches. I had also bought him a bowling ball, but he knew about that as he ordered what he wanted for himself.  I picked it up but he still needs to have it drilled for himself. Between Eric's parents and my brother and his partner, Eric and I are set for some lovely evenings at the winery.  We could not be happier with that!  It is our getaway place, and we love it very much! 

Aurora was thrilled with her gifts, and even more so, thrilled to be celebrating Christmas here at home with us. She had a difficult time at her mom's this year, for many reasons, and she wanted to be home.  We got her a bowling ball for her big gift, and we also got her her letter jacket as her birthday gift, but she opened it so that she'd have something to open from us.  Brie's big gift from us was a Cricut personal cutter--used for scrap-booking, and she was thrilled.  She had borrowed Liisa's after the baptism for a week, and was sad to send it home.  When I found one on sale we bought it a few months ago and had it tucked away til now. Patrick didn't have a big gift per se, as he got a book set he wanted and some video games, and Rei got clothes from us.  Had to laugh that Rei and Patrick got the exact same t-shirt: one from us, the other from my nephew to Patrick.  It'll make laundry interesting.  Skye got some beautiful clothes from her relatives in Florida, as well as from her great grandparents and us.  She needed them as she is growing like a weed.

Our Christmas in Minneapolis the weekend before was fabulous, and it was so hard to come home from so brief a trip.  We drove up in challenging weather, and had a couple of near-misses on the slickery roads, but Eric is a wonderful driver and we arrived in one piece, albeit pretty tired.  Eric napped til the company arrived at my mom's and I entertained the baby and helped my mom ready for guests.  We had about 21 people there total for Christmas, and it was a traditional Heikkila Christmas.  Justin and Alexis helped me open Skye's gifts up there, and she again got lots of wonderful clothes, as well as a couple of toys. The gifts we brought were big hits, including the quilts I made for my nieces.  I am sorry to say I have no pictures as yet of the quilts because I finished them but didn't have time to photograph them, and my camera was not handy when the girls opened them.  They were well received though and will be much loved.  Memphis' has fairies on hers, 12 of them, and Maddie has wolves and northern MN animal silhouettes on hers.  There was much noise, commotion, laughter, and love present.  Christmas day Eric, Skye, and I went to Tony's house to see what my little kids got from Santa, then went to Liisa's to visit with her guests. Patrick and Rei had stayed at Liisa's overnight, and they ran the roads all Christmas day with Rei's friends.  We left my mom's on Sunday morning around 10, grabbed the boys from Liisa's about 10:30, and were headed south by 11.  We got home around 9:30 that night, again pretty worn out.

I finally gave in and took myself to the clinic on Tuesday to get my sinuses dealt with.  I didn't have an active infection but the tissues were so swollen they were acting infected.  I was put on mega-doses of prednisone to combat that, as well as a change in my allergy meds.  I am definitely starting to feel better.  This morning was the first one I didn't wake up sneezing my head off and blowing my nose.  I also got an order to get a doppler scan of my left calf because I have been having intermittant pain just below my knee for about 2 months now as well.  I figured it's time to get that addressed as well. 

So today, for new year's eve, all the kids are off doing their own things. Aurora has left to go out to dinner with her boyfriend and his family, then they are off to the hockey game later on.  Brie has left to go pick up her date for the evening, and they too are off to dinner later and then out for the evening.  By default, Eric and I will be keeping Skye. My guess is Patrick and Rei will also be off with their respective groups of friends too, and Eric and I will make it a quiet night.

We have had lots of changes again this year, but it has been a good year. We are continuing to move forward in meeting hopes and dreams, and while the process is slow, it is a process and we do see some progress.  Hopefully as this new year unfolds we will see increasing levels of maturity and growth in our young adults who live here at home, and our teens will successfully transition into their next facets of life.  I pray this will be the year I finish my degree program and that Eric finds joy in his career choices.  I am so very grateful for all the blessings we have been given, including my dear girlfriends who are never further away than a phone call.  I am also grateful for our families and the time we have been blessed to spend with them this year.  I hope that will be expanded over the coming year as well! 

Happy New Year to all, and may God bless us all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice 2010

I slept through the lunar eclipse, and I slept in til almost 8 this morning, but I have noticed that the day has been grey and gloomy.  I saw outside at 2:30 this afternoon and could have sworn it was closer to 5 p.m.  Eric and I went Christmas shopping yesterday and today, and we finished up about 5 tonight.  I still have some gifts to finish up, but I have a good start on them, and can send them when they are done.  The quilts will be done to bring north with me.  I finished machine quilting them tonight, and all that is left is to bind them and wash them (because Po peed on one of them, and they both were dragged on the floor at random times).  I feel like I am on track.  The concern now it the weather for travelling, and Eric is of the opinion right now that if we leave early enough in the morning, and give ourselves time to travel slowly, we should be fine.  I told him tonight that if we need to stay home I will be okay with that, albeit disappointed, but I don't want to jeopardize our safety either.

Rei has passed all his finals, while Aurora was exused from taking any.  Tomorrow is the first day of winter break.  Aurora will be leaving with her mother sometime around 3 tomorrow afternoon, and she is a bit perturbed that her mom won't be bringing her home until the 29th (we are doing our Christmas here on the 30th). She only gets 10 days total of vacation and her mom is claiming 7 of them...  My feeling is this is the last Christmas we need to deal with it, so lets try to get through it will as good grace as possible. Her mom had wanted to collect her today, but she had school functions to deal with (a basketball game she had to play at with the band) and she has bowling obligations tomorrow. 

Skye is doing wonderfully.  She is laughing spontaneously at lots of things, and she is so alert and "busy." She wants to be upright, she wants to be seeing everything that is going on, and she definitely has some preferences for certain people and things.  Rei and Jared have knit hats that have skull silhouettes and mohawks on them, and she cries really hard when she sees them, even though she normally adores Reimond. For some reason they scare her.  She also loves to watch TV.  Not that that is good or bad, but she likes seeing the color and movement.  She also likes to go shopping, and when we had her Christmas shopping with us yesterday she attracted lots of attention and smiled at everyone!  She is so easy to take places, other than being heavy to carry around in her car seat.  The stroller has been a god-send and we are giving it a workout!  It is so nice to use with the car seat in it for now (she hasn't been in it as much without the carseat because we are generally "going someplace" when we take it out), but she loves to be on the move!

Anyhow, that is what is new as of today...  Looking forward to Christmas, hopefully in MN with the family, and then again here in Mascoutah next week...  I will keep everyone posted!

Friday, December 17, 2010

At least there is sunshine for the moment!

Today is Friday, and I am soooo tired!  I have been up off and on since 3:30 this morning when the alarm went off, and have been up for the day since 7.  Brie and Eric both had to be off for work by 5/5:30, as both started at 6 this morning, and my sinuses decided to go nuts around 5:30, so I had to get up and take something to deal with that...  Grrr!  At least I have plenty of coffee!  Eric made me a pot this morning and put it in the hot pot for me, so I have fresh coffee without needing to wait on it.

The roads are more passable today, after our freezing drizzle of Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  The kids had another snow day on Thursday. Today was my first day out driving on them, and it was no worse than what I am used to up north.  The sidewalks and driveways are treachorous still, and I watched the neighbor boy wipe out on the neighbor's driveway as he was walking to the bus stop.  His mom ended up coming out and helping him up and collecting all his belongings, which scattered everywhere, then drove him to school.  He had landed flat on his back/backpack, so I asked her if he was ok (he was) as she was arriving home as I was getting ready to leave.  I drove the kids to school, and then had to take Patrick to work.  Aurora is actually off today as she (as a senior with decent grades) got exempted from finals.  I am not sure what her plans are for today.

Despite having the tree up, we are so unready for Christmas, it's ridiculous!  We have very few gifts ready for Minneapolis next weekend (weather permitting), although I do have both quilts just about done.  I also have some knitted gifts close to completion.  Eric and I are planning to do some shopping on Saturday as he only has an 8 hour work day then, and we will finish up things on Monday and Tuesday.  The plan right now is to leave for Minneapolis bright an early on Friday morning (like 5ish) so that we are up there sometime between 3 and 4; festivities at my mom's start around 6ish, so there will even be time for a nap! I'm really not sure how this year got away from me, because I have been sorta conscious of the days passing, but I just feel totally unprepared this year.

I am starting to hear Skye rustling in her crib, so I guess I need to go tend to her!  Here's to praying for good weather for next weekend and travelling!

Baby Skye

Here is a cute picture of Skye to brighten the morning!
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

A snowy Sunday without sun!

We have cold weather, snow falling, and icy roads around here, or as Liisa would say, "crisco covered roads."  Eric and I went to Brie's Company Christmas Party for drill and we saw around ten various vehicles in the ditch or the median on our way there, and a semi in the trees/ditch on the way home.  Brie had taken Skye with her earlier to the armory, then drove to the VFW where the party was being held, but she sent her home with us because the roads were so bad (we have a bigger vehicle).  Some people continued to drive like idiots, but most were respectful of the road conditions. 

I have been observing with entertainment all the comments from family back home over the snow they have received.  The official amount is just over 22 inches, although I have heard between 26-30 inches depending on the drifts.  The little CRX is totally buried right now, and Liis thinks it's gonna take about an hour to shovel it back out.  She posted the cutest video online (facebook) of her puppies playing in the snow last night.  I still need to call and check on my mom, but I am sure they are fine or I would have heard something.

Skye was so good at the party.  She was enamoured with watching all the people and the kids that were there, and she loved all the bright shiny things people were wearing. She was so tired though that her eyes were all heavy, and she fought sleep as hard as she could, finally collapsing on Eric's shoulder. She sat with Santa and I took her picture. Skye fussed for part of the ride home, then fell sound asleep in her car seat.

I haven't been blogging much of late because any free time I have has been taken up by working on Christmas gifts that I am making.  I have started free-motion quilting the first of the two quilts I made, and I am thrilled with how they are turning out. I am getting faster as I go along (the first block took an hour to do), and gaining confidence with each block I do.  In some regards, it's gonna be hard to part with them when they are finished!  They are both so fun!

Anyhow, that is what we are up to around here. We are hoping to get the tree going soon, and then have a quiet evening here at home.  No more driving around for us!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Isn't she sweet? We bought Skye the giraffe when Liisa and Jesse were in town for the baptism, and Skye adores it. She especially loves chewing on the antlers and the ears.
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just wanted to share a few pics Liisa sent me

Tony has received a promotion, to being a Staff Sgt. in the Army Reserves.  He had his Christmas Military Ball last night, and he took both his wife and his sister as his dates. They had a wonderful time, and I am so proud of my handsome son.

Andrea and Tony
Liisa, Tony, and Andrea

Tony and Liisa
 Don't they all look fantastic? I enjoyed Liisa's frequent updates during the dinner on facebook, as well as the pictures she sent me in text messages.  I have to admit, I adore technology for keeping me a part of my older children's lives. Otherwise I would feel like I am missing out on so many things! It also keeps me in contact with the rest of the familu.

As the holidays approach, I find myself feeling homesick more often. In talking to my mom, she said she missed me after thanksgiving because I always used to be her chauffer to take the Christmas Wreaths out to the cemetaries for my dad and grandpa, as well as to some graves of elderly family friends whom we adopted over the years. My nephew took her this year.

We have really chilly weather here this weekend, and it was 23 degrees when we left for travel league bowling this morning (just Rei and I). Reimond stated he was embarassed by me because, as always, I brought knitting with me. I saw another woman knitting too, and I walked over to her with mine, and we compared notes on taking our projects places. (She mentioned her kids give her grief as well).  I told her that since I don't bowl myself, I use it to be my "dedicated knitting time" as I support and cheer on family members and their teams. 

I am plugging away at the Christmas gifts I am making, and I am starting to see some progress. I have also been experimenting with recipies from "The Pioneer Woman", a blogger I follow who has now published a cookbook that I really want to get. (I am using her recipies published online). I made a to-die-for turkey potpie last night for dinner and it turned out amazingly well. Eric actually raved about it!

Sounds like my grandbaby is unhappy right now, and neither Mama nor Auntie Aurora are able to settle her.  Guess it's time for Grandma to check in on her and see what she needs...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Yes, it is definitely December!

Oh the weather outside is frightful!  We have cold similar to MN winters, but not the snow.  Our highs over the weekend will be in the low to mid 30's.  According to the weatherman, this is more indicative of mid January than early December...  So how do the kids dress for school? They layer hoodies.  Not winter jackets, not hats and gloves.  Just hoodies.  Brrrrrr!

Eric and I went and saw the latest Harry Potter movie last night.  I liked it--loved the scenery and it's truth to the story line, but it felt....disjointed.  Like reading a summary of the chapters rather than a flowing narrative. I am curious as to how they will finish the final chapters of this last tale.  I do love the story though, and it has been wonderful to see how the actors have followed the roles throughout the years.  Watching Harry and his friends grow up on the screen...  I will miss it when it is done, and may have to repurchase the movies to have a complete collection.  Eric and I have been trying to engage in some work and some play while he has been off work these past two weeks.  We have shampooed the carpets, we have done some organizing, and I got all the quilt blocks embroidered that I needed to finish.  Now all that is left is cutting out the sashing and setting squares, then sewing it together. The final step will be to quilt them, which I will also do on the machine. 

Skye *may* be coming down with her first cold.  She seemed like she was running a fever yesterday when we were at the bowling alley for Aurora's match, and she has slept a ton today--more so than is normal for her.  She also sounds sorta "snuffly" when she breathes.  She hasn't been terribly fussy though, and I have to laugh: I had her all day, then when Brie got home from work she asked if we would watch her longer so that she could go to a movie with a friend. Aurora has her right now, and when I went to check on her, Skye was sound asleep again in her lap. 

Today is my first real chance to be on the laptop these last couple of days.  Aurora was using it for school and it got taken downstairs.  I have been so busy with things that getting on the desktop ones seemed impractical. So I am trying to catch up on things today, including 74 emails to read.  I am pleased to announce that my program change was accepted, and now my MS will be in Clinical Psych and Child & Adolescent Development.  I am registered for the first subspecialty class for January, and I am very excited about it.  There will be three of us taking post HS classes in the household come January, and 2 in high school; Patrick will be the only non-student.

I am still fussing with the dregs of that cold from hell; it was a month yesterday that I started with it.  Now it's down to a nagging cough and an "allergy-type-head" in the morning--sneezing, runny nose, etc.  I have gone through two boxes of tissues and two boxes of pseudophed...

This is gonna be another busy weekend. Aurora has a bowling tournament this Saturday, Rei has youth bowling, and I am babysitting. Eric and Brie are working.  Sunday should (hopefully) be a bit tamer.  Anyhow, that is the news from this end of the week.  Here's to staying warm over these coming chilly days!