Thursday, December 29, 2005

Christmas 2005

First, I did not get much sleep the week before Christmas. Tuesday night we had a water pipe burst in front of our building. They cordoned off the upper portion of the lot around 7pm, Monona Plumbing arrived around 8, and the backhoe about a half hour after that. The generator powering the floodlight wasn't bad, being a steady hum, but the "scrape scrape thud" of the backhoe all night meant Heather got VERY little sleep. Three hours, if that. The parking lot was a real mess the next morning.

When they plowed after the last snow storm, they piled it on top of the storm drain at the bottom of our sloping driveway, so all the water running down the drive from the broken pipe ran out into the frontage road, then down the hill to the intersection, which is bad enough without an inch or two of ice thrown into the mix. The parking lot is still pretty awful this week. On top of the ice and sludge from last Tuesday, we finally pushed above freezing, melting a lot of the snow and adding a new layer of ice. Weather forecast for tonight is mixed precipitation -- rain/sleet tonight changing over to snow, possibly dumping another 1-3 inches on us, and more of the same through Monday. I'd rather have the snow than freezing rain.

Second, as you all may remember, my BIL's brother had been battling cancer since early summer (he had been in remission about three years). In July they removed his stomach, and had hoped with chemo and radiation he might be around a few more years. Due to complications, he wasn't able to begin treatment as soon as they'd hoped, and just before Thanksgiving found that the cancer had spread to his liver. Tony passed away the Sunday before Christmas. He was only 31, and left behind a wife (Heather) and three children: Hailey (age 9, lives with her Mom in Michigan), Owen (3.5) and Myles (age 1 on Jan 28). So, Christmas was a little bittersweet on this end.

Mom and I went down to H & A's Christmas Eve and stayed over. That night was all right, just the five of us, so quiet and low key. The Bug opened her birthday presents from us, H and I made lasagna for dinner, and we frosted cookies and watched "It's a Wonderful Life." Their SIL conned us into going to the 11pm church service, which she lied about -- told us kids came in pajamas (okay, that bit was true) and there wasn't a "real" service, people just sang carols. Okay, so technically, there were three carols sung during the service -- but it WAS a real church service, complete with communion -- had to laugh there when 3-1/2 yr old Owen saw the communion wafers and loudly exclaimed, "It's just a cracker!" ggg....

Anyway, it was far too mellow a service for that time of night. We also enjoyed looking at Christmas lights and decorations to and from the church. Wish I could have taken pics as some of the houses were really done up. Would have emailed them to Bron, LOL. Got back home around 12:30am, and everyone went to bed. I was sleeping in the living room, and "A Christmas Story" was just coming on at 1am, so I turned off all the lights and left that on. Saw maybe half of it, the beginning and the end. Not that I don't know the middle by heart, LOL.

Morning came entirely too soon. We were all up around 7am. Heather's parents dropped off Santa presents for Owen and Myles before they got there for breakfast. A's dad and step-mom also joined us. A made pancakes, sausage and bacon for all before we adjourned to the living room for presents. Most of which were for the kids, of course. And yes, here were LOTS of pictures taken. I dropped off four rolls Monday morning, which should be in by now. Hope to pick them up tomorrow night or Saturday morning. I thought I'd try the CD this time, too, instead of getting doubles. Figured that way I wouldn't have to spend hours scanning, just pop in the disc, save the ones I want, and post them wherever.

Aaron and Heather both seemed to hold up pretty well, considering Tony's passing the week before. There was one gift from her MIL that had Heather a little teared up, but explaining what it was to Owen seemed to help her through the moment -- Aaron and Tony's step-mom gave the boys a set of those Willow Tree figurines, one was a father with son, and then there was an extra little boy to go with it. You can see more of their collection here.

It was soon time to pick up all the new toys and stuff, move furniture and start on the rest of the food (ham and turkey were already in the roasters) before the rest of A's relatives arrived, and let me tell you, they aren't the sharpest tools in the shed, if ya know what I mean. I've met A's grandma H. a few times, and she's really nice, but the rest of them... *shudders* I spent most of my time in the kitchen where I somehow ended up doing a great deal of the preparations. I know it's H's house and all, but it would have been nice for her to tell people what was what instead of leaving us to guess and then yelling when something didn't get done, or wasn't done the way *she* wanted it. Yes, I was this --><-- close to slugging her. As soon as the food was all ready, I dished up a plate for Mom and then one for myself, and except when The Bug was eating her birthday cake (her birthday is Dec 28), didn't set foot in there again. Thankfully, Heather (sister's SIL) volunteered for cleanup, though I was ready to dig my heels in and refuse to help if necessary.

After dinner Heidi brought out The Bug's birthday cake, though it was WAY too soon after eating in my opinion, and though people had a choice of cake or three kinds of pie, not many seemed to partake in it, still stuffed as we were. In fact, Mom and I took our cake to go. After dessert, the guys moved the tables and some of the folding chairs out of the living room so there was room for another round of presents. Felt rather conspicuous/uncomfortable during that, as they were all for that side of the family, but managed to find a chair near a light where I could quietly work on some ornaments I was finishing (sewing backs on and stuffing them with fiberfill). Was glad I brought some stuff along to work on. I'm still finishing the outlining of one last present, but should have that done before the Saturday night deadline. Was really glad when it was time to return home. Sunday afternoon was far too many people in too small a space for my liking. It might be better once they get the basement finished and can send kids down there to play. Of course, warm weather where you could send kids out to play might be even better. LOL

Would have liked to sleep in on Monday, but K and S wanted to hit the clearance sales. We were sorely disappointed as there didn't seem to be as many good deals as last year. A lot of stuff like linens and holiday dishware were really picked over, but we did manage to stock up on wrapping paper for next year. This is the first time in ages I've had to buy more Christmas paper. I've had the same few rolls in my closet forever, and am glad to finally need something new, and something other than red, which is what most of the remaining rolls were. So now I have a cute blue and white snowman paper, a green and gold paper, a yellow-green one with subtle holly pattern, and something kind of pink. In short, a much better mix.

Worked Tuesday, and Mom called me shortly after lunch to say she was going up to the ER. I guess her neck had been really sore, and was so bad she could hardly walk. They did a CAT scan and a couple other tests, and though they found nothing of concern that would cause extreme neck pain, they did discover a problem with her eye. Apparently she woke up Monday night and could hardly see out of it, but didn't bother to mention that to anyone until the ER team mentioned possibly having a cataract. She had to go in for more tests Wednesday after dialysis and this morning for blood work, and back in tomorrow. What they determined yesterday was that she had a mini stroke in her right eye, so now they're trying to find out what might have caused it, and decide a course of action. So much for a happy new year....

Saturday night is Christmas/NYE with friends at K's house. S and I have both delivered stuff to K's in advance this year, so there won't be as much to cram into the car as last year. I still have few things to go over with us, but it's much more manageable. Sucks that there aren't the usual round of bowl games and rose parade on New Year's Day this year. Just won't feel the same. Am glad I have Monday off, though, so I can hopefully sleep in before getting up to watch the Rose Parade and then the Badgers in the Capital One Bowl. I intend to do as little as possible that day! Hope everyone had a great Christmas, and has a fantastic NYE!

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