Sunday, December 25, 2011

Surprise!

So, Chewy did the almost impossible and was able to surprise me with a Birthday Dinner last night.

We went to a Japanese Steakhouse (which is our tradition on Christmas Eve) for a birthday dinner. I was thinking it was a bit early (3 p.m.) for a dinner, but that was when he had it scheduled. Little did I know it was so that everyone could coordinate to be there! I was surprised to see family and friends there to greet us!

A great time was had by all!

Everyone awaiting the food!

Fire!!

I love Willow's reaction to the fire...

Willow just being cute...

Getting sake poured down my throat was not exactly what I thought I would be doing that night...


And then....my friend Ana surprised me with a PERFECT Cake for me!!

Yay, Zombie Cake!!

With chocolate hands and worms and eyeballs!!

I LIKE IT!


Willow was also impressed!

Michael wanted a hand!

Willow eating an eyeball!

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Photo from HERE. (Hmmm...I will have to look into this for next year!)

MERRY CHRISTMAS to Everyone from our house to yours!!!




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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pre-School Gift

What I love about getting gifts from Preschool....

I love that especially in Pre-school, the care givers know how important the little trinkets are, especially with their photo on them! It is so nice to have this keepsake, with the date, her picture--and those cute little hands!


Willow is off Pre-school until Wednesday. Right now we are having yet another viewing of Rudolph (her favorite x-mas character/story so far)--so appropriate, considering the frame above. Before then, we played a "Hello Kitty" Matching Game that Ana gave her as a present last night. (We liked playing it a lot!)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Let the Latkes Begin!

Our first night of Hanukkah Latke Dinner was postponed by one day because of Michael's holiday concert at school.

So, tonight, the second night of Hanukkah, we had some friends over and had a great time making latkes and enjoying the Hanukkah lights. Ana came by with a couple of her furry pals.  Willow enjoyed playing with Rykka and Jule, German Shepards that she has known all her life.  Our friends Paul and John rounded out our table.

We had apples and caramel dipping sauce, LATKES, pot roast and vegetable medley. Some jellied filled pastries and gelt finished the meal. It was fun, especially when Ana took over the latke making part--she did a great job!  (Meanwhile, I left a plastic spatula in hot oil--and fried a spatula to death!)

After dinner, we had a game of Driedal.  Michael won (which is only fair, as the children usually get all the Gelt anyways!)

Willow has a sweet tooth like you would never believe.  As soon as she got home she wanted chocolate from the advent calendar.  After she was diverted, she was fine--until she saw those Gelts!  She had a little fit about having them before the game had started...but in the end, she did indeed get two of them.

Everyone had tons of latkes and plenty of fun!

I am so glad we do this tradition, it is so much fun to share in the holiday spirit.





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Monday, December 19, 2011

Angel Chimes - Updated


I remember them very well. My Grammie would bring them out during the holidays and as I got older, she would let me help her set them up and light them. Each and every time they were lit, I would be entranced with the spinning angels and the bell chimes. I loved watching the patterns of the metal and light on the ceiling, dancing light. And then, when it was time for birthday cake--she would switch the angels out with dancing clowns with a horse on top.

I remember them and yet I have no idea why I haven't bought any until now. You would think I would have wanted to have this tradition as soon as I had my own family. But somehow I think it was HER tradition for so long...that I could not bring myself to make them mine.

This year, I felt the need for them.  I bought a cheap set--I have no idea if they will last this season.  At least they come with the clowns, so I hope to bring them out for birthdays, just as she did.

This evening, we had them burning while we ate dinner.  And Willow noticed the patterns of metal and light spinning on the ceiling.  The children sat eating their dinner and watching the patterns and listening to the chimes.

Later, after they had jostled each other for the honor of blowing out the candles, after they left the room to watch a Christmas cartoon...my husband and I re-lit the candles.  And I watched the angels spin.

UPDATED: For those interested in getting your own angel chimes, I found this cheap set at on-line at Miles Kimballs (Ama.zon also has them). My Grammie's set was quite well made, not sure where she got it from. The chimes are a Swedish tradition.




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Sunday, December 18, 2011

20 Questions - Christmas Style

20(ish) Questions - Christmas Style
I am stealing sharing this from from Kristen...feel free to also steal share


1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?  I prefer wrapping paper, although I am not the best wrapper.  Bags are good for big presents though.

2. Real tree or Artificial?  Artificial.  I can have it around longer, I have a Black Thumb and I don't need more chaos in my life.  So, the nice hinged tree unfolds and I am happy.


3. When do you put up the tree?  Per my family's tradition, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Originally, when I was a girl, this was a practical choice.  Now, it is the tradition.


4. When do you take the tree down? Per family tradition, on New Year's Day.

5. Do you like eggnog? I am the only one in our family that does.  I LOVE it, and especially like making french toast with it.  Yum!

6. Favorite gift received as a child?  Kinda hard to pick one...I remember the Barbie Townhouse, the Barbie convertible, the race track...and numerous bikes!

7. Do you have a nativity scene? Nope.


8. Hardest person to buy for?  My mom.


9. Easiest person to buy for? The kids.  It is hard for me to not overbuy for them.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Email sounds so tacky...does anyone really do that?  Snail mail!


11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I don't really have one.  I have had some that I was not as thrilled with when I received them...and then later on found them very useful.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? That is a toughie!  I love the George C. Scott "A Christmas Carol" and I also love "Its a Wonderful Life" and "White Christmas".

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Generally in September/October.


14. Ever recycled a Christmas present? Yep.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Grammie's fudge; candies; homemade goodies; chocolate covered cherries; pumpkin pie, turkey.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Was going to do clear lights this year for a change, but son would not have any of that!  So, colored and blinking it is!

 17. Favorite Christmas song? I love a lot of songs during Christmas...it is hard for me to come up with just one...I like the traditional ones I grew up hearing, but I also like these songs because they share a universal message of peace and love that I especially find joyful.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? When we were younger we did travel to Michigan to see our family; but with our children it is more practical (and fair for them) to stay at home.  We always welcome others to visit us!


19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, as should you.  But do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all?!  Rudolph is a BIG hit with Willow.

 20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Santa Hat!  Although Willow seems to want a star.  I suppose we could find a Star of David?

 21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Because of my birthday, we open presents on Christmas Eve; Christmas Morning is for Santa presents and Christmas day is for Birthday cake with dinner!

  22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? I get annoyed when the music and the decorations start in the beginning of November.

  23. Favorite ornament, theme, or color? I don't have a theme, per say, although Snowmen are a close proximity of a theme.  We also have a lot of personal ornaments that mean more to us than whether or not they fit a theme.

  24. What do you want for Christmas this year?  Well, officially, for my birthday, I want a new digital camera.  But for Christmas--I just would like a promise that the new year will be better than the old...



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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Five More Days; Ten More Days...

It seems that the older I get, the quicker the seasons seem to go...the faster the holidays approach and then they are gone.

I was surprised with Halloween and then totally lost track of time with Thanksgiving.

And now, as the kids opened their chocolate Advent calendars today...the rhyme mentioned that there are only ten more days until Christmas.

There are only five more days until the start of Hanukkah.

I have all the presents and the decorations, I have listened to many a holiday song...haven't gotten to viewing all our favorite movies/shows but we are working on them. (Yesterday, Michael and I watched the MST3K Santa Claus--it was hillarious as ever--picture me laughing and then coughing and then laughing some more)

But I still don't feel ready for the holidays! Maybe part of that is because I don't have all the food items yet...maybe. Or maybe it just has been sneaking up to me again. I always think I have more time than I do.

Ah, well. The season is upon us...really really.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

General Chaos--with Sore Throated Goodness!

It started Wednesday night. I thought it was a cold. Seemed to get better. Although almost called off a babysitter on Thursday because I was still feeling kinda "eh". Sore throat on and off this weekend. ALMOST went to the doctors on Friday, but thought I was feeling better...and now it is Sunday night and I am still with sore throat. So, I guess tomorrow I will be going to the doctor's office. I assume I have strep. Ugh.

The weekend was a bit off because when I am the sick one, all organization and planning goes to hell. But things still needed to be done. The kids needed to be out of house on Friday evening for daddy to do some work. So, off we went on a planned outing to see the holiday lights at the zoo. It was really fun to go to the zoo, see the animals, see the lights, etc. Willow especially had a great time seeing the little holiday displays.

Saturday I plunged into things that needed to be done and a lunch that I already had planned with a friend. And Chewy took the kids to one of their favorite places--Chuck E. Cheese!

Today, I just was not up for much, so we stuck close to home. We watched a holiday movie in the morning, went to a nursery and saw all their Christmas Trees on display.

Then in the evening...Willow went to her first child friend Birthday party! It was at a local bouncy place and they had pizza and cake (DIEGO!! So, Willow was thrilled) She would not stop talking about the party and her friends from Preschool who were there. I think she is ready for a full fledged party this April (probably at Chuck E. Cheese)!

While she was at the party with Chewy, Michael and I went to the store to buy his holiday gifts for people. He was a bit hyper tonight, so getting him to stay focused in the toy section was hard. And he at first chose to find the most annoying and loud toys possible for Willow--luckily they were not in the budget I had allowed him. He ended up buying something really nice for her--and it came by accident. He had already picked out something for her and we were in the checkout. And he saw these tall Robot toys. And he pointed out that that was what he really would like to buy her, but "too bad she is not a boy". We looked at it further, and I really think she will like it--so, I said "hey, why not?" and he agreed. So, she is getting a robot toy from her brother for Christmas. (Robots seemed to be a theme--he bought someone else Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots).

(He hasn't bought my gift yet--he wants it to be a surprise--but I did point out to him some DVDs that are coming out soon that I wouldn't mind getting...)

The evening ended with Michael getting to bounce along with his sister, and the family getting to have some birthday pizza and cake for dinner. Then home and watching an episode of Buffy. Getting the kids to bed was a toughie tonight.

So, this weekend was busy and yet not as busy as it could be. I am sick, but felt like I wasn't as sick as I could be (until now).

Oh, and while I was out shopping with Michael--I got a nice Peppermint Hot Chocolate for my throat--and that wasn't too bad at all.





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Friday, December 09, 2011

Ice Skating

I loved Roller Skating when I was a kid. Skating and biking and then biking and skating. I loved being on wheels.

I have never done Ice Skating. But, being a good New Englander, I have given my kids opportunities to learn it.

This was Willow's second lesson. We shall see if she is interested enough to do the seven week course (if she is, I will have to buy her some used skates).





She was not as confident as she was last week. And she found that if she fell, she could then slide along on her legs and crawl (now that this week she had snowpants on).

I asked her afterwards if she wanted to do it again...and I got a tepid response. Luckily, classes do not restart until after Christmas...so I will gauge her enthusiasm later this month before signing up.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Voices

Searching for another CD, I found it. I knew it was there somewhere, a thoughtful gift that I thoughtfully put away.

There was dust on it. And I suddenly felt like I needed to hear it. I had forgotten what time of year it was recorded. Christmas messages for someone in a foreign land.

I initially took it out and played it in the car as a novelty for the kids--for my son who would appreciate it. There are other tracks on the CD that I knew would interest him more. Some old college audio projects, his mother interviewing his father for a project. (Now I listen and realize where I made mistakes and how I could have done it so much better. Lessons learned from time and experience.)

Later, I keep the CD in the car. And as I drive alone I replay the first few tracks. The tracks that were not meant for me. I was not yet born. Although I was mentioned and thought of. I listen to voices and realize what I have lost. What I have found.

I listen to a woman I did not know at all. And one I knew well, but had almost forgotten how she pronounced certain words, for some reason her pronouncing "chicken" sticks with me as only she would say it. She is stilted on this recording and I can tell she is uncomfortable talking into a microphone. And yet, I listen with my eyes closed as I sit in the drive way. She is so much younger in this recording and I am trying to reconcile her voice on the recording to the voice I was so familiar with. It is a short time on this recording. It is not enough. And yet it is.


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Monday, December 05, 2011

Grammie's Fudge


He couldn't read my Grammie's cursive handwriting...




One of my favorite parts--opening the evaporated milk. McDonald's bag from Breakfast--we had a sleepover and the kids wanted it. Muppets Christmas album with John Denver on in the background.


We are all still in our pajamas...lazy Sunday morning.


And the rest is YUM!


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Saturday, December 03, 2011

Birthday Cake!

Michael, Willow and I went to Kirsten and Lorelei's Birthday Party today.

My nieces enjoyed their cake as only one year olds can. It was fun and a bit bittersweet to see them playing with their cake. I was remembering as I videotaped them how not too long ago I was capturing my own daughter on her first birthday.

And then. I was brought back to reality.



And the need for me to go get her some water.

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Piglet: How do you spell love?
Pooh: You don’t spell it, you feel it.


"It's so much more friendly with two." -- Winnie the Pooh

The more it snows (Tiddely pom),
The more it goes (Tiddely pom),
The more it goes (Tiddely pom),
On snowing. And nobody knows (Tiddely pom),
How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),
How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),
Are growing.


-- Winnie the Pooh


Happy 1st Birthday to my nieces, Lorelei and Kirsten!




It has been amazing to watch you two grow and to see my brother and sister-in-law grow into the role of parents. That first year is tough for all...but you guys have made it and now the real fun of being a family begins!

Every story and picture, every new milestone...reminds me how quickly it goes and how wonderful it is to be a part of your life. Thank you for being my nieces!

Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday for your party!



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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

30 Posts in 30 Days - Day 30

In the first novel and radio series, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything from the supercomputer, Deep Thought, specially built for this purpose. It takes Deep Thought 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42. The Ultimate Question itself is unknown. -- Wikipedia re The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


I will be 42 in less than a month.


I thought I would know more than I do at this age. But the longer I live, the more I have learned that the ultimate answer is not necessarily 42. I think it would take me 7 1/2 million years to really understand how the universe works.


Right now I am in a kind of limbo in my life, mainly because of my job (or lack thereof) situation.


Yet another prospect has told me that I "set the bar high" that I was "exceptional" but I was their second choice.


Unfortunately, in my head I had already started the "hope" game. Where I was already strategically figuring out the next steps to be had after getting this job. I was so confident that I had nailed this one. And it was a nearly perfect fit, logistically, financially and career-wise.


I feel proud of how I have been handling this lay off and the job hunt. But I am weary. And my choices in life and career can be laid bare to me at such a time.


At this time of year, with the holidays, with getting another year older...it often becomes a reflective time. Usually the hectic schedule of the holidays and work keep me from being overly melancholy.


Don't get me wrong, part of me is happy that I am going to have this time of year off with my children and family.


But part of me wants the normalcy of routine (not to mention the accomplishment and money) of a job. My job doesn't define me. But it does make me feel more like a contributing member of our family.


Despite the limbo, despite the weariness, I am looking positively at the coming year. Hopefulness will return to me as I look at more prospects in the coming year.


So. 42. Let's see where you take me.



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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 Posts in 30 Days - Day 29



I have decided to once again participate in November. To read more about NaBloPoMo please click HERE.


I love hearing about other people's traditions during this Holiday Season. Not only is it interesting, but it gives me ideas for new traditions for our family. A tradition that I find very nice is new pjs for Christmas, where on Christmas Eve children (or the whole family) receive new pajamas. I like the fact it is something practical and also something that can make your Christmas morning photos more fun. I did this last year for the first time and both kids loved it. (In fact, the pjs I got Michael is one of his favorites).

This year I went overboard (there was a sale) and I not only bought special pjs for the kids for Christmas Eve, but also new pajamas for now...

Modeling her Holiday Pjs.








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Monday, November 28, 2011

Perfect Moment Monday - A visit with Santa



On the 4th Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join. The next Perfect Moment Monday event will be on December 26.

To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

Follow Write Mind Open Heart.

Between the Sunday night before and the Sunday night after, write up your own Perfect Moment.

Use LinkyTools on her website to enter your name (or your site/blog name) and the URL of your Perfect Moment.

Visit the Perfect Moments of others and let the writers know you were there with some comment currency.




Despite the fact that I am all into the Santa part of Christmas, I have never been one for the photo with Santa tradition. I just found it too forced or too annoying for me to stand in line for my child to be "processed". I am sure that it is not that way everywhere, but my limited experiences had shown me that it was more often than not, an experience I could easily do without. Michael did not seem to have the need to visit Santa (a letter and a special trip to a mailbox did fine--as well as one year a letter FROM Santa at the North Pole). I haven't regretted or missed that tradition in the least.

But, yesterday we were at The Enchanted Village and after the exhibit, Willow saw Santa was receiving children. She almost ran up to him right to him (she would have, if I hadn't held her back). And the line was short. And I decided, why not? This Santa impressed me. He took time with each child. One child in front of us had brought a letter for him which he then took the time to read and talk to her about it. No feeling of rushing and a lot of cuddle and warmth. Each child was someone, not someone to be photographed and off. So...my children saw Santa (who welcomed a reluctant Michael onto his lap with a "hey, pal, come up right here" as if he understood a 13 year old big brother).





The Enchanted Village will definitely be a new tradition...and Santa, well, it may be a tradition that Willow would like to have too.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 27 - I guess I cannot escape it...

the Holiday Season is upon us! And I am finally starting to get some Holiday spirit along with that. I have most of my shopping already done (hey, Black Friday--I scoff at you in September)!

Yesterday we watched Rudolph and Heat Miser (aka Year Without A Santa Claus) and then went into the the town center for the big Holiday festival that is held annually. This year we were pleasantly attired and were quite warm. Last year we were freezing ourselves silly.

This year we did the hay ride around the town square, and watched the ice sculptures being made (quickly or else they were going to melt) and had some clam chowder from the Cub Scouts and fried dough from the Lion's Club. Willow and Michael feed llamas, goats and sheep at the petting farm. Oh and a glimpse of Santa Claus (Willow wanted to gate crash instead of standing in a long line).

A girl said "Hi Michael!" and Michael silently skulked away saying that he hated her. And Chewy noted that that silent "Angel like broody thing" is working for the boy (it really seems to, this happens a lot in public places--girls saying hi to him, I mean).

We also got to see the town square decorations and lights.

Speaking of decorations, here are some pictures of ours:


One of our Hanukkah decorations. (Starts December 20th this year)

Snowmen.

Santa, of course--and Chewy's head--yeah, he has hit Santa and his reindeer a lot already.


Part of the tree--we are very eclectic with our ornaments, especially with special ones. And, of course, I have lost control of making it look "right" cuz I let the children put them on. (Oh my the fights to put on the garlands on...and Willow kept putting decorations on...and then off...and then on...and then playing with them...and Michael "correcting" her choices of putting things places...and then exclaiming he was TIRED and were we done yet....but I digress...)

Another picture of the tree. Santa hat as a topper.

Now the fun part of having the decorations and the tree--trying to keep the cats (KIF!) and Willow from destroying them! (And this is why some of our decorations stay in the box this year!)




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Friday, November 25, 2011

30 Posts in 30 Days - Day 25



I have decided to once again participate in November. To read more about NaBloPoMo please click HERE.


Because we have a lot planned this weekend, we are putting our decorations up today. Our tradition is usually for the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but a day earlier is not a biggie.

The weird thing of it is...well, usually I am all hyper about getting the decorations up and getting going on it first thing. And well, I came home from Thanksgiving dinner at our friend's house...and promptly saw my T-day dinner in a bucket (ahem).

So, slow start to the day. I think I am fine (at 50%) but considering the most we are doing is going to the Muppets movie...I am fine.

Started off late on the decorating. And then some friends of Michael's came by. And then they wanted to go off to the park. And since we want to encourage Michael's social skills/connections as often as possible...off he went.

So that left me and Willow and reluctant Chewy. Willow and I have dug into one of the boxes and have done some discovering and re-discovering. It is so amazing to watch her look at each decoration and our wealth of holiday books. So I slowed it down so I could watch her enjoy. And I had semi-forgotten all the new things I had bought at the end of the season last year (doesn't it seem like I was just putting these things away!?).

So, it is 1 p.m. and we haven't gotten the tree up yet. Michael is out somewhere, Willow is looking at holiday books. Chewy is taking a nap. And while I hate the fact that there are boxes and a disassembled tree on my living room floor right now (I hate clutter, even though my life seems to perpetuate it)...I am fine with that.

Let the holidays come slowly this year.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turkey Day Reflections

This year has been full of ups and downs. Low points and high points. I wish I could say the turbulence has settled down, but it has not.

Sometimes I like the roller coaster. But sometimes I would like things to just be like they are on Thanksgiving weekend.

We all are relaxed, we are all together. And, except for a couple of sniffles (me), we are all healthy. We have each other.

I am thankful that we are at ease with each other. That my children have had the benefit of having me at home with them these past few months. That we have friends to celebrate the holidays. That I have on-line friends who help me through the day, and lift me up when I am down.

That we have a home. That we have cuddly pets.

That we have we.

That I have you.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 23



This day before Thanksgiving is a bit unusual for us. Normally, we would both be at work, Michael would have a half day and then go to after school program, Willow at her daycare. She is the only one having a normal before T-Day day.

I will be having a job interview this morning; Chewy has decided to take a day off--which is good, considering the hours he has been working since September!

Chewy will pick up Michael after school. And I will meet up with them after my interview. And we will pick up Willow last of all, later in the afternoon. We don't have to travel far for our Thanksgiving get together, so this evening is our own. I think we will spend it relaxing and low key.

We have a big, long weekend of plans and today is the calmest (well, for some--I am nervous/anxious about the job interview).


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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Changes

Change is something we struggle with in our household. Michael likes schedules and I am an organizer and I do not like things that screw schedules up.

But change seems to be all around us.

The doctor that diagnosed Michael has moved us on to a psychiatrist for monitoring of his medications. Yesterday, his long time behavioral therapist called to tell me that she is being moved onto adult patients only. Which means that tomorrow is our last appointment with her. We will have to consult the psychiatrist as to what therapist he would recommend...at least that person should be closer to home.

And of course there is the issue with after school care for him. Which may have to be dealt with sooner rather than later--as I may be getting the ultimate change, a new job.

So, the next few weeks, months are going to be tough for all of us. But the one I worry about the most is Michael because he has had many many changes to deal with recently.

I hope that we can transition smoothly to whatever changes are in store.

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Ripple Effects 2

"Do you ever feel dead inside?"  -- this is what she said to a teacher in the hallway.  Promptly got a call from a counselor.  For...