Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ho, Ho, Ho! Let it GO!


Better late then not at all!

I started this blog as a journal of Our Journey Through LIFE so why wouldn’t LIFE be the reason I don’t blog like I use too.

It was CRAZY!

It was LOUD!

But it is always GRAND with these kiddo’s!

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Not once, but twice I got to go see Frozen! I highly recommend it. And don’t be surprised if on the way home all you hear is…”Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold you back anymore. Let it go, let it go!”

I even had some help in bringing up the “GRAND” tree’s. (Though I never did get them up or decorated…boohoo!)

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I wasn’t as prepared for the week of Christmas as I had hoped. I wish I could say it had nothing to do with tumors, or catching a little bug, or dealing with grief, but it really did. I had hoped this year would be different but that wasn’t happening. However, what did happen was how it was handled! My kids really stepped up and created some new traditions or helped pull off the old ones. I learned I didn’t need to do it all myself anymore. I can depend on my family to come to the plate and dish up some great stuff. All I had to do was…are you ready for this…here it comes…”Let it Go! Let it Go!

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One thing I could never really “let go” of though is setting my table. If nothing else is done, this had to be! I really love how it came out this year. I used the same candy canes as last year just had to redo some of them. This year I unpacked and used my moms crystal and my MIL silverware. I paired my old Target dishes with my new Rachel Ray Hoot’s collection. Like I needed more dishes! Actually all I did was get the salad plates to add to what I already had. Maybe more will be added, or not, but I love that all 4 set’s of Christmas dishes can now be mixed and matched together. Win, Win!

I did however “Let it Go!” when it came to decorating all those Christmas tree’s. Usually I will decorate 13 tree’s: the main family tree, an angel tree, a collection of Hummel’s on a tree, one for each of my children, and seven “Grand’s”. Can you tell I love Christmas tree’s! With all the ornaments I have collected for almost 40 years now, I would need one really BIG tree for them all to fit. When I inherited my mom’s and MIL’s back in 2002, I decided to divide it up and bought 3 alpine fake trees for my kids, leaving the main tree for parents and grandparents. Then the “Grand’s” began to arrive and those three were turned into their families until their families grew but the size of the tree didn’t. So more alpine trees were bought. So there is the story of why I have so many tree’s. Actually I would love to find more of what I have but will have to keep my eyes open at garage sales since I haven’t seen them in years. I bought some a few years back and when we opened the box, they looked nothing like what I had but make them work. So I will keep looking.

But this year, I didn’t get them all up, or even all decorated. The Angel Tree was the only completed tree and it received a new Angel this year…(sorry, didn’t take any pictures of it this year)


I love this picture of my Uncle Joe when he was 2 years old. That was 1916! Yes he almost made it to 100. Dang I miss that man already! A year of first without him to come.

My main family tree did not get any ornaments but it still looked pretty…


The box sat next to the tree until Christmas Eve.



And I never even unpacked all the Hummel's. Nor did I get my greenery up on ledges. Nor did the Nutcrackers see the holidays. It was to warm for the snowmen to come out, LOL! And the Santa’s were just too busy to make the party. I did miss them but not the work it takes to get it all out. Maybe next year?

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The outside looked nice and I loved how my tree looked from the outside looking in.

Remember back at Thanksgiving I was told of how the schedule had changed. Well, that part of me that was thinking I might get surprised, was right! Unfortunately when the cat came out of the bag, I came out scratching! Be it everything I described earlier, but when I was asked to change the schedule for opening gifts, I refused to budge and shut the door. Now in my defense, I knew what I had in the way of gifts and what I had left to do, but adding another family I hadn’t completed shopping for threw a wrench in my pot. I know my son jumped through some hoops to be here and I was tickled pink for the surprise. However, I had a vision…and it was one of a disaster!

You see, I had nothing wrapped yet, and I mean nothing! Plus some of their stuff hadn’t arrived, but wasn’t worried knowing they wouldn’t be here till New Years.But now they were coming Christmas Eve! I hadn’t planned a Christmas Eve dinner this year, just church and our light tour. So after I calmed down, I was taken shopping to get these last minute gifts. While the man wrapped I tried to make heads and tales of what I had. By midnight we were done but I kept having that feeling I’s missing something. I double checked, counted, checked again and it was all there, so why did this feeling hover over me?

Christmas Eve began with a trip to the grocery store…not at all how I thought it would be, but roll with it right!

One thing I am not comfortable with is not being ready for an occasion and that feeling kept bugging me! I kept telling myself to “Let it GO!” but it was stronger then I was. Then it happened….


Everything was going great…the first gifts were a hit! Round two and three went off without a hitch. Round four however turned into a cry fest. Somehow a little girl didn’t have a 4th gift! Nor did a little boy. The older two understood what was going on and tried really hard to help, but how do you settle a 2 and 3 year olds disappointment…you get the gifts I had put back for Christmas Day so they would have something to open when the adults exchanged gifts. Problem solved. Tears dried. Fun continued on.

Until dinner that is! Things were going rather well. I hardly had to do anything since they all pitched in. But just before it was time to eat I noticed I didn’t have enough chairs around the table. I completely forgot to bring up the other 4 chairs from the guest house. So while they were all doing the dinner stuff, I went out to try and get them. Well, it was harder to do then I had thought it would be. This happens when I least expect it. Something I use to do with no problem, is now harder to manage. I have no strength in my arms anymore but have learned how to leverage things to accomplish some task. By the time I managed to get two of the four chairs up to the house, they were all sitting down eating. I couldn’t believe they had no idea where I was, what I was doing, but were making do with what seating they had. I apologized for my shortness but sometimes they just don’t know how hard it is to do certain things now. Maybe if I would tell them. Maybe if I would ask for help. Maybe I just need to “Let it GO!” more.

And that’s just what I did!

After dinner we all got ready for church. I loved how we filled a whole row.


I love that we got this one picture but sad we didn’t get their parents too. Be it the crazy’s, other’s waiting to do the same thing we were doing, but my kids didn’t jump in and no one offered to take it for us, so “Let it GO!”


A tradition after church is a drive around looking at lights on the way home. We start at the street that does The Night Before Christmas where 2 of the little's got to see the big guy…

They walked along with us and read the story with excitement.












On Candy Cane Lane, this little girl wanted us to sing to her…

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So we did! I love spending time at this friend house every Christmas Eve and this year I had most my family with me. One third had to head back home by this point and though they were missed for all the festivities, I did feel blessed they were here for the most important parts.

Our Journey Through LIFE had a very Christmas and hope you all did too! 

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Sentimental Journey Home

Yep…it was very cold when we woke!

Well actually when I woke…sleep quarters were quaint but once up, I’m up and I didn’t feel like climbing back into the cave. Seriously, they built the bed up off the floor in the basement and because the house is built on a hill it left the basement with some odd floor space. I think they utilized the space well.

So I went outside for a brief walk…


Guessing it’s under 20 degree’s out since everything is frozen solid. So I went back in and cuddled up on the couch, messed around with my journal and photos while I waited for the others to wake up. While the morning progressed slowly, I searched the internet for local events. I found a few Christmas Boutiques along our route to check out. After a few hours of conversation and a movie, it was time to hit the road.

Though I was a bit disappointed there was no snow where we were, as we drove down the hill, it stuck in other areas. (Camera battery was zapped by the cold since I forgot it in the car last night so I had to use my cell phone till I bought new batteries!)


Not bad pictures for a cell phone. In fact, most of the tree pictures taken along the route were done with it. Would you have known had I not said anything?

It’s not to far to our first Bizarre, Christmas Boutique, or Craft Fair depending on what you want to call them. It was at the Son’s of Italy. Just what I was looking for…unique crafty items! I found a new knit hat and a leather pouch for the grandson, and of course baked goodies!


Of the three I had jotted down, this was the only one worth mentioning. A bit disappointed with the other two. I think they paid more for advertising which probably raised the rates for the vendors or something because there were not many of them. Lot’s of information type places, which are nice to know about, but crafts booths bring in the buyers! I was looking for those out of the norm kind of crafty gifts so off we go!


We’ll drive till the sun goes down….


One last night on this Sentimental Journey Through LIFE!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ending of a Sentimental Journey


…But not the cold spell they are experiencing this week. But this was the first morning things were frozen over.


It would take me some time to get warmed up enough to hit the showers knowing at the end I will be cold again. Allowing time is the trick and it’s all about prepping for it. Towel hangs over the heat vent. Don’t turn on the exhaust fan until towel is wrapped around you. Then you turn on the vent and run, I mean go from the sauna bathroom right to under the covers in the bed till the chill wears off, again. I can honestly say I am not a fan of the cold! I can manage visits but could not live in it full time. Hmmm…then why are we looking at property in these areas? Because we hope to be snowbirds some day, 3/4 of our time in the desert and the other 1/4 somewhere cooler in the summer. We’ll be checking out a lot of places over the next few years until God tells us to walk through a certain door. Along the way we soak up all the sites in His glory, thanking him for where ever we are.

A trip like this seems to bring out many sentiments along the way.

Heading up valley to say our final good-byes takes us past and to places that bring them to the top of our hearts. The little town of Yountville is one. Our family plot is there. Conversation begins with memories of another time.


It’s not long before we arrive in St. Helena. I love this little town. Before we moved away I use to work up here. While I was in 4-H our bike club would ride up here often. Now I am back to embrace all those memoires, praise God for them and be thankful for the life with my uncle God gave me.

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We arrived rather early so we took a walk around looking for where my friend had been buried. Back in 1981, on Christmas Morning, while heading home to be with her daughter, she lost control of her car and hit a tree. Her and her dog died instantly. Her 10 year daughter would wake to not Santa but the police. That day really changed my life. And here I was, looking for her. Because of my grief back then I couldn’t remember where we were in the cemetery that day. I remember the little church on the grounds. I remembered walking out but for the life of me, I can not bring to memory which way we walked. SO we strolled around and came upon a grounds man and asked about records. Well this guy has been at this job a long time and gave great to direction to what might have been her but it wasn’t. He said we could go up to the office and inquire but others were arriving so we walked back.

As we approached the family, there was the normal chitter chatter going on but I could feel there was something more. As I walked closer my cousin approached me and for a brief moment my heart sunk. My aunt was taken to the hospital after the reception. What was thought to be a heart attack was heart break and they felt that in her best interest the keep her for observation. They assured us she was going to be fine but needed rest. I so wanted to go visit before we left for home after these services, but they felt visitors would be to much for her. I so agreed. But not a moment goes by that I am not thinking of her.

The service was lovely. Of course more stories and love was to be shared. Walking to the car with my sisters was a memory for the heart. I gave them their gifts and said our good-byes.

Let the journey to home begin….


Before we are to head home, we made arrangements to visit a friend that lived up in the Clear Lake area. That meant we had to go up and over the mountain. First you drive through Calistoga…but we are not tourist, for this is where my aunt and uncles life began. I vaguely remember their house before they moved around the corner later on, but the area, the trees, and of course the vineyards, which of course there are more of now, allow for topics of conversations. Back then….I remember when…Once we….Here we….

I love the drive up the mountain, and if it is Gods plan would not turn our back on a door opening up around there somewhere. I love the view….


Up and over we went and then out my window I saw…..


When was the last time you saw a working one of these. Yes it worked and for the life of me have no idea why I didn’t check out how much it cost. Might be worth noting just in case the cell doesn’t work! But I didn’t. Sorry!

Remember last years post where I had to cross a foot bridge because the creek was roaring…


Well I am happy to report that we were able to drive across this time…

Our day ended with a trip into town for dinner and the Christmas Light Parade. I LOVE a parade, and one with Christmas lights even more…

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When we got back to the car, this is what we found out….


Yep, snow is in the forecast for the night…Our Journey Through LIFE is rather cold right about now!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Still on Our Sentimental Journey…

A Catholic burial is a three day process, Rosary, Mass, Burial.

Today is the Mass for the man with a golden heart.


On our way to the church we came upon this truck. This the company we were with in the beginning of our Journey before we bought our own almost 20 years ago. Kind of iconic to see this on our way to a place I hadn’t been in a long time…Yes, there is a God, he puts signs in front of us all the time to help us in our direction…this was one…remembering where you came from, the love and support, and appreciate where it took you.

As I sat there in a church that I hadn’t been in since my Mom’s, then brother’s passing, (actually theirs were at a different church) a flood of memories came over me, as this was the church I was raised in, and even went to school at. The older nuns remembered me and blessed me. I always get the feeling these ladies knew exactly what I went through, and believe they prayed for me during it, and because of them and others, I overcame and conquered.

What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger….so true!

A Catholic Mass can last about an hour, but this one could have lasted so much longer and no hands on a clock mattered. The love this man had shared and the many lives he effected was never ending and I really wanted to hear more, feel more, love him even more! He was a part of my mom, and now they were together, embraced above us, watching over as we celebrate the life he had.
The reception after was so lovely. More stories and love was to be shared that afternoon. Son’s, daughter’s, grandchildren, great grandchildren, niece's, nephew’s, cousins, siblings all demonstrate a love that is genuine and forever. I have always felt at home with my moms side of the family and they have always helped me to understand so much. Without that side, fueling my faith, keeping God so close, my Journey Through LIFE would not have been the same.

Tomorrow we say our final good-bye’s.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sentimental Journey–continued…

Boy am I having a hard placing photo’s properly!
Besides, travel days are long and not always exciting. Then to go back and figure out my notes to put together something that makes sense, well let’s just say didn’t make sense to make any sense out of it!
Today is the rosary. I want to get a tree or something to decorate my moms gravesite. It will be a day of memories to be shared, experienced, and blessed with. It is very, very cold! It will make it difficult to hide what cold weather does to me but I came prepared.
Let the day begin!
(Now I know why this was put aside. Just reading and editing this is kind of difficult)
For the next few days to leave the house we are staying at, this is the driveway in and out. I will drive it just once and that was enough!
The BIL is building a spec home and this will be the view from the front yard.
2.5 million and this view could be yours! I can only dream of owning such a place. Unless I win the lottery, but chances are slim to none on that one.
Afterwards we took a beautiful poinsettia to my moms. Since the forecast for the next few day is freezing cold, thought it would hold up better. It looked nice and she always loved them anyways. Win, win!
Finally we made it to my Aunts house. As always she was her cheerful self. Always setting a strong example for those around her. All she wants to hear is about the family and enjoys hearing all the latest news. Many of my cousins would arrive and visit briefly as well. Soon it was time to leave so they and us can get ready for the rosary in a few hours.
The drive to the house was somber. Sharing her strength but knowing her heart, it was all I could do to keep it together. She has taught me well. By the time the rosary began, I felt I was right where I needed to be.
Something about going back to where you were raised, to be sitting in a church that held so many steps of Our Journey Through LIFE and to faith I have today.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sentimental Journey

The road is the only way we can travel nowadays. Flying flew out of our options back in 2008, I believe. It’s been so long I really can’t remember when or where I flew last. I do know that each flight left me exhausted and diminished quality, so we abandoned the airports for rental cars, so to not add miles to my old girl, and the RV.

I do not miss flying at all!

On the road, you see so much more. Sure flying gets you there quicker, but at what cost. And at 35,000 feet up you can’t say pull over, I want to spend some time here before continuing on.

I have learned how to take pictures going 70 miles an hour as well. I have learned to be patient for roadside assistance or while watching the better half fix the problem. Each trip I come up with some type of entertainment. For this trip, I picked a Christmas Tree.

Why you might ask?

I LOVE Christmas Trees!

FYI: I am up to 28 and counting for the house,(not all got up this year, boohoo!).

So a Christmas Tree to keep my spirits up for this sorrowful trip was needed.

Target had the perfect one! It uses that USB thingy so it can be plugged in. It was only 4 inches high and while at NASCAR last month, the cell pad thing we were given would work to hold it in place.

With car rented and loaded, we were on our way.


As much as we can, we love taking the back roads! We like taking this road up to the I-10W and all I can tell you without looking it up is it is SR-something. Most of it is along the Colorado River and though not shorter then the highways, it does have better scenery.

Once on the 10 we go around the LA area by way of Pasadena and the 210. Over the 19 years we have been making this trip, a new highway has been built that makes it so much easier.

Finally we are on the I-5N and coming up to the Grapevine. I must add, this is probably the worst part of the drive. The drivers are crazy or lazy. Either their zooming or snailing along. It’s only till the base of the Grapevine but clinching the hand rail is very common.

It doesn’t take long to get up and over the vine and heading down the other side. We decide to take the 99 virus's the 5 for more motel options.


We were not ready to stop when we came to Bakersfield so we continue on…



…to Fresno and make that are next target…


And the Best Western provided the perfect place to rest our heads and bodies. How can sitting in a car make a body tired? What a long day…though lots of conversation and memories shared I couldn’t wait to put my head on pillow.

It was looking gloomy when we stopped for the night, but when we woke and got on the road it was still with us. What we thought was just some heavy air turned out to be actual rain for the next few miles….


Further up the road the sun finally tried to come out. It had been a long time since we traveled the 99 and had no idea of the work being done. It never really became congested through it, at least not for long, and can imagine that once done, this route will be so much better.


The crossing over the Delta tell us we are almost there!


And with construction on Jamison Canyon Rd we take American Canyon…


After visiting with my brother and getting the rundown for the next couple days, we headed to were would spend the next few days.


And our view….


Stay tuned to the continuing saga of Our Sentimental Journey…


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