Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Traditions

It has been too long since I spent time writing in my blogs. But being New Year's Eve, I was thinking about past traditions while I was cooking for today. It dawned on me that I was making spaghetti which once was a tradition for my mom and I on New Year's Eve when I was young. This isn't the same recipe, but is still one of two home made recipes my mom used to make. That got me thinking about other New Year's traditions we had in our home. Then that led me back to the blog to write about them, and to ask you to tell me what your traditions were, or are. It should be an interesting run of comments (assuming I can still get's been so long since I have been here I don't even know if I have readers left!)

My mom's regular spaghetti recipe used to be my all time favorite food. I guess that is how it got started being a tradition to have it on New Year's Eve. We would watch whatever bowl parade was on and have our supper. Later when I was a teenager, the spaghetti changed to home made pizza. Believe it or not, back in those days, we didn't have the pizza restaurants to go to that they do now. In fact, I think Pizza Hut only came into the nearest city to us about the time I turned 18. And I thought it was horrible pizza! I still like home made best. Those nights we would invite two of my cousins I was close to over along with a couple of friends. We would watch tv and play cards. Usually rummy. And one of my cousins always seemed to get the Aces. It wasn't until a couple years after I was out of high school that he admitted to cheating. He handed me a pullover sweater he wore a lot and told me to look at how baggy the sleeves were. He said he wore it every New Year's Eve and when it was his turn to deal he would always make sure to drop some of the cards on the floor during the shuffle. Then he would pick up aces and stick them up his sleeve. We never did catch on. I guess we were just having too much fun.

My cousins were the ones who taught me how to make home made pizza...Chef BoyArDee of course. That first New Year's Eve together we all worked on the pizza together. The next year, they told me, "What do you think we taught you how to make it for?" and they left it to me while they continued playing cards with my mom! I pretended to be mad but I still made it and that became the tradition from then on until we grew up and went our separate ways.

New Year's Day, my mom kept an old family tradition that she said was passed down through the generations on the German side of the family. She would make us either spare ribs or pork roast with sauerkraut (sweetened with brown sugar) and potatoes roasted together in the oven. She said it was a German good luck meal to have pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day. I kept that tradition even when I moved out to go to college if I wasn't home for some reason. I stopped it when I married. My husband wouldn't eat pork and I was the only one who liked sauerkraut in my house. After I divorced I kept the tradition a few years, if I thought about it in time to have the ingredients from the store ahead of time. It's like today. I don't have what I need for it and since I made a huge pot of the spaghetti, I won't be making the German meal tomorrow.

Much of my family is Irish but I do not know if there are any Irish traditions for New Year's Eve or not. I sure would like to know though, so if you are Irish and reading this, please be sure to comment and tell me what kinds of traditions your family followed.

Another traditional thing we did in our family was to begin a brand new jigsaw puzzle on New Year's Day. Winter is long and jigsaw puzzles were good activities to keep working at through those long cold days and evenings. It was such fun that we always tried to find some new puzzle that would really be a challenge. Our most challenging puzzle back then was a picture of the fife and drum players from the Revolutionary War. The entire background is brown. The puzzle pieces, for those interested in jigsaw puzzles, were basically interlocking on three sides, were odd shaped for the most part, and many had sides that were almost straight enough to be border pieces. This made finding the actual border pieces really difficult. My uncle liked doing jigsaw puzzles in the winter and we often exchanged puzzles we had completed. While putting the puzzles together we would watch the old classic holiday movies that a fairly local tv channel that was for a time independent would show through the holiday week.

Over the years I have occasionally bought jigsaw puzzles to put together, but again, it wasn't something my husband and children were particularly interested in. They would help once in awhile but not for the time periods I enjoyed.

I really enjoyed the holiday season in those youth and teenage years. It was quiet, peaceful, and we had things that meant something to us. Creating family traditions and keeping the old ones were difficult after I got married. I just couldn't get the point across to my husband and children about how special those traditions could be. Now I am a grandma and creating traditions seems so much more important to me than ever before. And it is even more difficult because it is difficult to even get together for the holidays.

Okay, now it is your turn. Do you remember any special family traditions you shared in your childhood, or later in life? Do you spend time with family traditions now? How did your traditions originate? Please share your stories.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

On The Way...

A new blog is on the way to being created. It will deal with disabilities and learning to cope with all the changes and losses, and hopefully turn them in to positives. Hopefully it will be helpful to others going through this phase of life.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Newest Adventures

It has been too long since I was last here. Spring is finally here and with that the singing robins and sunshine that always perk up my spirits. Winter wasn't the best with my two seperate foot injuries, and stomach flu three times. But all that is in the past. Now new things are happening in my life that have brought a fresh kind of fun. First it is that I got involved in buying a few things on Ebay for the first time.
Ebay--Actually with Ebay, I first went there just out of curiousity to find out if anyone might be selling an old used double French horn and at what kind of prices. Well, I did find a few I was initially interested in with low prices. That is until the time got closer to the end of the auctions and the bids jumped way higher than I could afford. So I am still looking at that possibility, but it is seeming to be a long way down the road for now. Maybe it will be something I am going to have to save my pennies for.
Well, in the continued curiousity phase I was in, I decided to check out guitars and other musical instruments. My son and I have started teaching one of my grandkids how to read music and play a few things on my keyboard. So as well as looking for a guitar for myself, I was looking to see what kinds of instruments would be available for young children to learn on. HaHa! I was hooked in no time! Before the first week was over I had bid and won auctions for a mandolin and a travel/backpack guitar. I had other instruments on my watch list. This week I received a ukulele I won bid on. It is going to have to be returned however because one of the tuning pegs is not working properly and I don't think I am able to fix it. My grandson has tried the mandolin and it is just the perfect size for his little 5 year old hands. The ukulele will be a good size too, and I think, with its nylon strings, easier for the little grandkids to learn on. So, my plans at this point are to purchase four more ukuleles between now and Christmas for the four oldest grandkids to have their own to learn on. Thankfully, the ukuleles and mandolins are not too expensive for beginner styles on Ebay. In the meantime, I am taking my time to learn how to play the mandolin for myself. I have had guitar lessons in the distant past and need refresher lessons on that as well. I get my lessons for free from Isn't the internet fascinating? There are all kinds of musical instrument lessons on YouTube as well as across the web. Now the reason I picked mandolin was out of past interest in folk musical instruments as well as a lot of interest in Irish music. Well, on my first day with the mandolin, I broke two strings just tuning it. So that got put on hold while I waited on new strings to be ordered and to arrive. Since mandolin strings are not available anywhere in the town I live in, I ordered a few sets just to be prepared. I was always breaking my old guitar I wanted to be sure I had enough for the mandolin until I got used to it. So much for that adventure! Well, the new strings arrived and I got it tuned and started my lessons. That's going slowly for right now. So many other things going on at the same time.
The travel/backpack guitar is interesting to say the least. It doesn't look like a guitar at all really, but it sounds like one and plays like one. It is a lot smaller in width though and really works well in a more confined space such as my recliner. I probably should order some strings for that as well, but it is tuned and I haven't broken any strings yet. I do wish it was a classical guitar like my previous guitar was with nylon strings. They are much easier for me to play. But I will just have to get used to these rougher steel strings. Refresher lessons are also going slowly. Still more to tell...
The next items I got hooked on at Ebay were the children's books. I have wanted to restock my grandkids toy area with books and fill up one of the totes I have for the kids. It is pretty full now. I was able to find quite a few nice books and book sets for really decent prices including the shipping and handling. I also found some books from way back when this baby boomer was a child. I purchased one, but haven't been so lucky at the others. Their prices are just going out of my range. Anyone remember Uncle Wiggily? I got an old Uncle Wiggily's Adventures book from 1940--even before my time actually--in great condition. The grandkids won't get their hands on that one, but I will gladly read to them from it. But what is taking up most of my time right now is that I also found a 9 volume set of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and I just have to read them! My daughter also wants to read them so since she forgot to take them with her yesterday, I started reading them last night. Got one finished. I decided she can take one at a time and that way we can each read them simultaneously.
For now Ebay must wait. I have spent enough and have enough to keep me busy for quite awhile. Grandkids are having their spring/summer birthday parties again and I don't have the money right now to keep shopping on Ebay. It was fun while it lasted, and quite an adventure! But be sure I will be checking on the ukuleles for the kids for Christmas. They are going to love them! Their daddy plays guitar and he will be a good teacher for them. Now he will have to teach himself first.

Other adventures include finally getting to the doctor to have a good checkup. It has been awhile since I have had a really good checkup. I have some places on my skin that I need to see a dermatologist for. My doctor is referring me for that. Also, I am needing to choose a new cardiologist who is closer and in my state so my medical trips will be paid for. I hate changing doctors but that is what happens when you have to use Medicaid. Also, my family doctor has set me up for physical therapy to help me regain some of the mobility I have lost over the past few years since I got sick with the chronic a-fib. It is supposed to also help with getting rid of some of the excess weight. Blood tests, echo cardiograms, physical therapy, dermatologists, cardiologists, medications, medications, medications. Yes it is quite an adventure I am on these days!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is That What Happened?

I think I figured it out! You know the Richard Simmons sit down wheel chair exercise DVD I have? Well I was working out with it last week. Some of the foot and leg exercises I wasn't doing because of the chair I was sitting in and not having the room to move around like he and the others were. So I just did simple heel and toe lifts. Over and over and over again throughout the maybe 15 minutes I was working out. I know I wasn't working out hard or for very long because I was starting out slow. But, as I continue to put ice on my injured foot and ankle, and as the swelling and pain ease out because of the ice, there is one major pain that continues. That is in my Achilles heel tendon. It hurts! It snaps! And as the ankle and foot start warming up again, or as I put my foot back into the wonderful moon boot, all kinds of muscle spasms begin. And they almost all seem to originate from the back of my heel towards the outside back of my ankle which is where the core of all the pain has been from the beginning.

So, is that what happened? Do I have a work-out injury? Over simple heel and toe lifts that did not even hurt when I was doing them? Is this the result of being that badly (and sadly) out of shape? I just cannot believe that something that easy caused this much drama and pain. I have always been so strong and active, even if I couldn't do all the same things everyone else seemed to be able to do so easily. It really stinks to feel so weak right now. But through weakness, God shows His Strength. Without Him I could not hold up or keep trying to make everything work out. This is another of those times that I am learning what I can and cannot do. And also learning to accept and deal with my limitations. With each limitation comes a way of handling it in a new and different way.

Hey, Lord? Would it be okay if for awhile life just go on without all this extra drama and the tests? Thank You for being with me all the time anyway. Wouldn't be here without You.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Baby Steps For Valentine's Day

First of all, let me say I am sorry I have not been posting very much here lately. It's still hard to think about what to say but it is getting better. It's been 8 months since life was turned upside down for my daughter, her son, and the rest of us. There is some semblance of normalcy but that is all it is a new normal. Normal has changed. I did a lot of posting at but I am not posting there anymore. It helped to post the trivial stuff there just to keep me writing even though it wasn't of anything really important or blog-worthy.

There have been some change in my life since I last posted here. In the first week of November I ended up with at least one stress fracture in my right foot not far from my ankle. It put me out of contact with the outside world for a few weeks. Along with that, my car seems to be having its own issues which include a tire that needs replaced due to constantly leaking air, and possible transmission problems. If I find out the transmission needs replaced, the car is going bye-bye from my possession. So with the foot problem and the car problem, I haven't been out of the house more than 5 times all winter....until today!

For the past 2-4 days I have been having foot and ankle pain in my left foot and ankle. More in the ankle than in the foot, but it would spread whenever I got up to walk. Not wanting to end up where I was back in November, I thought about what worked back then. I got my crutches and I wrapped up my foot and tried my best to stay off of it as much as possible. It didn't work. It just kept getting worse until today I gave up the fight and had my son drive me to the ER. My Valentine's Day night out was at the hospital, and my gift (which was not given to me free by the way) was another moon boot...those big, bulky, heavy weight foam and velcro walking fracture boots. Now I have a matched set. I thought they came in rights and lefts so I didn't even bother trying the old one I got back in November or I could have saved the cost. But, with my feet the way they have been, I might end up needing both. Oh what a sight that would be!!! Oh, and the wonderful concoction for the romantic evening....not wine....not champaign....not the old strawberry daiquiri's I used to love. Nope. A large Sprite from MacDonald's to wash down a generic vicodin.

One thing this trip to the hospital got me besides the medication to take the edge of the pain off...the doctor has decided I need to get physical therapy on my feet and ankles to strengthen them. This is something I have had to do in the past due to a sprained ankle that never healed correctly. Oh these wonderful crooked legs and all the sprained ankles I have had over the years. But never have I ever had one that didn't get caused by being twisted and falling down. Thank God for that blessing. I don't know how I could handle falling down at this age and size and physical condition. You might have to check to see if I cracked the earth!

As much as I remember physical therapy hurts, I know it is something that I need and with it being ordered by the doctor, I can get it now and get it paid for. Oh yes, and that brings me to the other big change of the winter...I am now retired! Yes! I gave up on the call center job that was stressing me out so badly. With all the other stress I have to deal with daily, I just didn't need that in my life anymore. With the recent raise of the social security, it raised me up to the level I needed to be at to be able to meet my expenses without having the extra income. However, I do not expect to not have any other income at all. I am looking into various avenues, all of which would be of benefit to me, with the ability to control my own hours and income, rather than having the number of hours being dictated to me as a company minimum. There minimum was too much and put me in an income bracket that left me out of good medical care which, as you can see, is important to me.

Other baby steps over the winter have included getting busy again with getting active even though I don't get outside much. Keeping some kind of movement going whenever it crosses my mind, which can be quite often, is something good for me. The Richard Simmons DVD for wheel chair and sit down aerobics is back in the DVD player. It lay in its case sadly awaiting for me to get back to using the exercises. I was just too physically and mentally exhausted when I was working to do the program. Thinking about it, maybe I overdid some of the foot and leg movements and thereby brought on this current injury by that. I can see it happening. Well, it looks like the physical therapy I am going to be getting soon will take care of the leg and foot exercises. I am still going to keep working on the rest of it.

The other area of my life that is currently in the baby step phase is the organization of all my craft and sewing items as well as all the other stuff I have managed to gather together over the past few years since I had to start over again. Thanks to some storage items on sale at I now have just what I need to get things in order. Unfortunately, I have somehow boxed myself out of the area I need to reach....LOL. Ever hear of not mopping or not painting yourself into a corner? Well I have done the opposite. I have placed the items I am sorting through and the storage containers in the wrong location so that I cannot now get back to the area where I want them to be placed once they are filled! I have some thinking and rearranging to do.

So right when I am so excited about these two areas of attention--the increase in exercise, and the organizing of my home--I end up with this injury. I get so tired of having to wait to get something accomplished I want to work on. Hopefully, in a few days, with the help of the pain meds and the lovely boot (did I say lovely?) I will feel able to work on things while keeping both my feet firmly planted on the floor. It is hard to do these things while keeping a sore foot elevated. Thank God for this recliner. I don't know what I would do without it. Although I am focusing on ways to get myself out of it more often so that I am more active.

I am looking forward to the physical therapy. I am hoping that it will indeed strengthen my feet and ankles, and maybe even my leg muscles. I have lost so much over the past few years from being sick.

Like I have said before--just because something happens that looks bad, or feels bad, doesn't mean it is bad. It might be needed to lead to something better. I don't think I could have gotten the physical therapy without a doctor's order. And how would I have gotten the doctor's order? It took the second injury for the doctor to decide there is a problem that needs addressed. Oh, but does it have to hurt so much?????