Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An Ending and a Landing

I remember clearly praying once in the middle of a hectic, stressed out time in my life that when this news stint is up, I want a break and I want to be outside for it.

Be careful what you pray for.

When that news stint was up, I couldn't find another job in a newsroom immediately so I started work at a park district. At the time, I was really worried about money and pondering my purpose after focusing on being a news person for nearly 10 years.

I am easily adaptable, and I adapted quickly to working outdoors with history, nature, children, and the public. I loved that I could spot a bald eagle at work and take a walk in the middle of my workday. I didn't mind the variety of odd jobs, and influenced by the nature of the health conscientious people around me, I lost nearly 20 pounds over three months. I enjoyed the people I worked with, and still count them as my "Minnesota family."

But I remember too, when I realized I didn't want to do this forever. As the day's tour guide, I wore nice khakis and a pressed button down shirt for the day before learning that my schedule had been switched and I needed to go hoe corn. That day (combined with the inconsistent part-time paycheck) solidified my desire to return to my present career path. I'm glad I did, but I'm thankful for my down time and the opportunity to meet so many great people.
Through the following two summers and three winters, I've managed to still work Saturdays and holidays. I banked the now spare money to pay for my car and to pay down debt. I tried to keep up this pace after having the Jackboy, but it is not to be. Somewhere in the middle of the fun, it became no fun.

So...in an effort to cut back on my extracurriculars this year, I am making the move to volunteer status and I am very at peace with my decision. If anything, the move will cut back on my sewing...which I loathe with all of my being.

During December, Jack was a hit out at the site. I sewed Jack a double wool dress, which is proper attire for a 1800s little boy. Queen Pauline knitted him a wool hat, mittens, and booties. (I think she was appalled I had him out there in 3 pair of cotton socks!) One person told me a group of visitors came into her house and said "We've seen Santa and we've seen the reindeer. Now, where's the baby?"

My favorite moment had to be when an old lady stuck her face in Jack's and asked "Are you a little Angel?"To which he vehemently shook his head no.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow-nami 2010

"It's only the 5th worst snowstorm on Twin Cities record."

That's how the radio described this weekend's blizzard. It sounded like the guy was actually disappointed the snow didn't break a bigger record.

The snow was bad enough. It started flaking Friday afternoon.

Jack and I had to stop by the grocery store on our way home, and so did everyone else. When there's a snow event coming in the South, I completely expect everyone and their brother to be crammed in the grocery aisles picking up milk and bread. I haven't experienced that here.

Until now.

The place was a madhouse. When I couldn't find a parking space, I knew it would be bad. We could live without milk and bread during a snow event. We couldn't live without toilet paper. So, Jack and I trudged inside and bought much more than toilet paper. In my mind, I wanted to at least make the 25 minute+ check out line worthwhile.

People's fears were not unfounded. The snow started in earnest around midnight and kept falling until late Saturday. The weather crippled the state the way the meteorologists predicted. Shopping malls closed by noon. Events were canceled en masse. At one point, the county pulled all the snowplows off the road. Televisions and radios told people to stay home. One station said "we're not announcing events canceled anymore. If you had an event, it's canceled. Stay home." This was monumental because nothing is ever canceled here.

I had three events scheduled and all three were nixed. This self-proclaimed snow weekend was absolutely wonderful. I didn't leave my home until work Monday morning. Oh yeah, I would've enjoyed the busy holiday weekend with friends, but there's something comforting in basking the comfort of your messy home and working on Christmas crafts. I stayed in my pajamas all day Saturday and ordered stuff off the internet before moving the family to the kitchen to help with my cooking project for this holiday season.

By Sunday, the snow stopped, the sun came out, and the temperatures turned frigid. The high on Sunday was only a few degrees above zero. Dave bundled up for a multi-hour snow blowing and shoveling event. We cleaned the house and fixed dinner. Altogether, I thought the entire event was great...but I wasn't out in the cold. That happened Monday and Tuesday when my stories both made me spend ample time outside.

Thanksgiving with family

It's hard to get a baby to take a nap when you are home visiting family. Usually, we put Jack down for a nap and he might cry for 3-7 minutes, but then he's out. Families just can't let a baby cry for that long, and that's why Jack is staring out the window at the dog with Uncle. They stared until Jack and Uncle both fell asleep.

I flew home for Thanksgiving which was a birthday gift. It is truly amazing how much more often family wants to see you after you have a child.

Here's a picture of my immediate family, sans a few family members. We had Thanksgiving a few days later so everyone be there. Thirty-three people came to dinner and most were related or practically so. There wasn't a spoonful of chicken & dressing left.

Jack spent quality time with his cousin, Camryn, especially after she lost the bow.Her big, red bow was way too distracting and Jack wanted to eat it.

It was a short visit, but one that we spent mainly at home with family in warmer temperatures surrounded by food. We're headed back for Christmas, and hoping for more of both.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Breakfast with Santa

Jack had his first Santa encounter this past weekend at where else? the Country Club. While we aren't generally the country club set, I had access to this breakfast and I couldn't resist some one on one time with the guy in red without the pesky mall lines and screaming babies. And it was rather endearing when Jack showed up with only one shoe on. Yes, we aren't the country club set.

Jack seemed rather intrigued and curious about the guy in red. He didn't cry and he really didn't smile, he just thoughtfully looked this old dude over. When we got in the picture, Jack decided to test out his beard to see if it was really accurate. This not taking anything at face value really made his parents proud!

Jack did seem most intrigued by the jingle bells. When Santa gathered the children around for a few carols, Jack really perked up and showed off to the crowd.

After breakfast and Santa, we made an ornament for the tree. Jack seemed intent on tasting the ornament. Then, he got down in the floor and rolled around in the glitter. This probably isn't acceptable for the country club set, but after all he was the shoeless boy.

And one spoiler--one of these might very well be a Christmas card. I've been rather delinquent, so you might get this, folks!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Hanukkah, revamped

Hanukkah lasts over a week and the one rule is the food must be fried. That's why it's a holiday after my own southern, skillet-lovin' heart.
But it was a special holiday for Dave because it was the first time he got to light candles with his son. If you've ever been around Jack, you know he's attracted to lights like a moth to a flame. If I was better rested, I'd come up with a better, more interesting metaphor there, but that's all I got folks.
Even though Dave and I were so exhausted on Saturday night, we still managed to put together a calorie-laden Hanukkah spread with a considerable amount of gusto. Hopefully we get out of this exhausted baby-induced stupor to host friends next time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

First Hanukkah

Jack's first Hanukkah was a fairly mediocre one. Dave had to work, so we went to a restaurant and ordered latkes. Jack wiggled and wimpered, so we bounced and carried him around. He didn't quieten down any until Dave gave him a bite of latke, and then....he just wanted more!