Tag Archive for holidays

Happy New Year from our House to Yours

From all of us at the Party House,

a very Happy New Year to you all. 

May 2013 be a wonderful year for you.

May all of your dreams come true.

May all of your wishes be fulfilled.

May your star shine bright,

May every happiness be yours.

Happy and Healthy 2013,  my friends.



Christmas Tree Follies from Years Past…..

So in Southern California we occasionally experience Santa Ana winds.  These can be very strong like they were this past week, with the winds up to 100 miles per hour. The winds are either very hot or cold.  Now if your asking yourself what this has to do with our Christmas tree  just keep reading.  This past week was a very, cold Santa Ana wind, but it reminded me that in December we always seem to have some kind of wind event.

Three or four years ago I decided we should get a live tree for Christmas.  Up until this point we had gotten a few live trees, bought an artificial tree, and this particular year (I think it was 2007) we opted for a live tree again.  Now, what you need to understand is that the Santa Ana winds are extremely, extremely dry.  There is not enough Chap Stick or lotion on the globe to keep a person from feeling dried out.

So, we headed out for a live tree, found a suitable specimen, and brought it home.  Travel Man graciously got it in the tree stand for me and brought it in the house.  He doesn’t really like to do the decorating, but he does like it when the finished product makes the house look all festive and merry.

Before the Winds Tree

So the tree got decorated with the usual lights and ornaments, and we proceeded with our merry, festive Christmas activities.  A few days later, here come the Santa Ana winds, dry yucky winds.  So our lovely, live tree starts to become a fire hazard.  After two or three days in the house Travel Man and I notice the tree feels like a kindling stick.  The tree cannot drink enough water to keep up with the dryness.

So, we made a bold decision.  We had to replace this tree.  We did not want to have such a fire hazard in the already too dry house.  So off we trudged to pick out a new live tree, and once we got to the store we decided to look at the artificial trees, and “just see what they had”.  You all know how those decisions go, you’re just going to look around, see what’s available, and have no intention of buying.  So after a few minutes of browsing the artificial trees I found “the one”.  It was a great tree, it came in the box pre-lit, all we had to do was assemble and decorate.  I was in for this decision.  It didn’t take much to convince Travel Man, and off we went with a new artificial tree for our Christmas celebration.

After the Winds Tree

After the Winds Tree at Night


 So, for all of you Southern California folks who long for the aroma of a real tree, just keep it simple and buy yourself a wreath. Our Christmas tree follies since 2007 have been fairly calm.  I’m just glad Travel Man took pictures of this event for history’s sake.  Happy decorating everyone!

Our Christmas Tree Revamp

Yes we have an artificial tree. Yes, I can put up my tree whenever I choose.  Provided I have someone here to help me get it out of the rafters (thanks boys!). My artificial tree has (had) white lights Pre-wired to the branches.  Lots of white lights.  It’s a really pretty tree even of you don’t put any other decorations on it.

It would normally look like this-


Last Christmas I was having some issues with the lights on the tree shorting out.  We bumbled along and made the lights work through the holiday time.  When the tree came out for its annual decorating this year Travel Man helped me check the lights as we were assembling the tree.  We figured out where there was a bad plug, got it repaired  and thought we were golden.  All of the lights were working, we were off to a good start.

Until……. the next morning.  The entire middle section of lights on the tree had shorted out-again!  Problem is once the tree is completely assembled , the branches are fluffed, and the tree is generally looking good it’s a total pain in the toukas to take it apart, and fix anything.

So, we made the executive decision to bypass the white lights all together.  The white lights were not going to co-operate, and I had no patience for them.  We were not going to take the tree apart, and we had two strings of colored lights to starts us off on the tree re-vamp.  That meant we only had to buy three more strings  to finish off all of the lights, and my budget could handle that expense.  The white lights  were unplugged and we put colored led lights on the tree, our collection of ornaments, and last but not least- the tinsel!  Yes that’s right we have tinsel on our tree.  I’m calling this our retro tree because the tinsel totally brings  back childhood memories for myself and Travel Man.

Of course ours kids are divided on the appearance of the tree.


  • What happened to the white lights?  We changed them up decided to do something different.
  • Tinsel?  Really who uses tinsel?  We do.  Another change to our traditional Christmas.

Grandson Evan tells me last night, “Grandma, I like the tree this way.  It’s really pretty.”  Melt my heart.  I’ll put colored lights and tinsel on the tree every year just for Evan!

I have to admit I’m a huge fan of the all white lights on the tree.  I think it’s because it reminds me of snowy winters in Illinois in a strange round about way.  But going retro with this tree has been fun.  Colorful, tinsselly fun.  Is tinsselly really a word?

So for Christmas 2012, the decorations are complete, and my annual tree revamp is done, and I am happy.  Maybe I’ll start doing a different theme for the tree every year.  All Santa’s on the tree, or all angels on the tree.  Maybe next year we’ll add garland, or the kids favorite garland –  colored strings of beads!!

What your favorite Christmas tree theme?  And was that a real tree or an artificial tree you put up?

This One’s for My Mom

I’ve been reminiscing all week about past Mother’s days, and memories growing up, and one memory keeps popping back into my head that I thought I should share.

Growing up in northern Illinois my Mom was a teacher for many years.  And for quite a few years she was busy going to night school to earn her Bachelor’s degree.  And I’ m sure she squeezed in time for our nightly activities too.

But this memory sticking out in my mind this week is kind of a funny one,  now that I think back on it.  After school we would all assemble back at home, except for my Dad.  He got home right about dinner time. My Mom would say to us , “I need a little nap, I’m just going to lay down for half an hour”, or whatever the time frame was.  Oh and she would also remind us that we were not to bother her unless there was some sort of emergency, or something to that effect.  I think my memory of this is from when I was 10 or 11, because at that time I remember thinking to myself , a nap before dinner, what is she thinking!! 

But, being the well versed Mom and Grandma that I am now I totally realize why she did this.  She needed her decompression time from her class, and re-energizing time for what ever activity was happening in the evening.  Hats off to you Mom, because you knew what you needed to do to take care of yourself.  Just another awesome Mom memory that eventually taught me this lesson (just last year actually); power naps are good, or should I say napping of any kind is good for you to re-charge your Momster battery. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

What your fondest memory or life lesson from your Mom?

When I Stopped Sweating the Small Stuff – Finale

2001 was unequivocally the most emotional and challenging year for my family.  I turned 40 in April of that year, and looking back it was such a tumultuous year.  By December of that year we were preparing for the holidays,  trying to get through the emotion of the year so far, and then our life path  was thrown on a whole new curve- Again!

Hilary at 3 yrs. old

  My daughter Hilary, was 14 in 2001.  Hilary was in high school, I was working full-time, Bryan was in 7th grade, and Naomi was staying at home with Zach during the day.  On this typical weekday we were all getting ready for school and work at the same time to get out the door by 7am.  Hilary was in my bedroom heading into the shower, brushing out her hair, and them bam!  She fell to the floor and was having a full-blown grand mal, epileptic seizure.  I was able to get her on her side, and screamed for Naomi to dial 911.  I was panicked.  It seemed like Hil’s seizure lasted for 10 minutes, everything just seemed to be going in slow motion, and I thought the seizure would never end.  I remember being so worried that she would choke before the paramedics could get there.

During this whole scene Bryan is in his bedroom with Zach keeping him calm, and Naomi is on the phone with 911 while we wait for the paramedics to arrive.  Finally the firemen and paramedics arrive, and wheel the huge gurney down our hallway to get Hilary into the ambulance.  By the time she left the house in the ambulance for the hospital Hilary was awake, but not very alert.  And to this day she does not remember much about that morning, except bits and pieces of the ambulance ride to the hospital.  One other note here, Hilary had a few episodes of not feeling good, and not remembering things prior to this first seizure that we witnessed.  We’re fairly certain she had at least one other seizure while getting ready to go out somewhere and no one heard her fall in the bathroom.

Now for a little history on Hilary’s medical condition.  When Hilary was four years old she was diagnosed with petit mal epilepsy.  This type of epilepsy causes a person to loss complete awareness of their surroundings, kind of like a black out without passing out and falling to the ground.  We used to call them “fade outs”.   Hilary was medicated with depakote, and this took care of the “fade outs”.  At age nine she was backed off of the medication at my request and under the direction of her doctor, and we did not observe any additional “fade outs”.  One of my most vivid memories of this time was taking Hilary to the neurologists office for an EEG when she was four years old.  She had the curliest hair in the west, and when they put the sticky stuff in her hair to attach the electrodes I thought, “Oh no how will we ever get that mop of curls clean?”  Also, I was 8.75 months pregnant at the time with Zach.

So why would Hilary have a grand mal seizure at age 14?  The doctors could not answer that question, except to say that her brain activity is in overdrive 24/7.  Hilary was in the ER for a good part of the morning, and she was released to go home and rest.  They put her on depakote right away, and the levels of the medication in her system would be monitored every three months or so.  I was so devastated, upset, and emotional I couldn’t see straight.  I never, ever expected Hilary’s epilepsy to return.  Another one of my kids with a chronic condition, and she will now be on medication forever.

How could all of this be happening to one family?  Why?

My family and friends were so very supportive during this time.  They helped to give me the strength to make it from one day to the next.  I remember many phone conversations with my sister just telling me to breathe.  Quite frankly I just wanted this year to end, and get on to 2002.  I was definitely looking forward to the New Year.

Hilary had great success with the depakote and only suffered one other seizure,in July of 2003.  The second seizure did not require a hospital visit.  We knew what to do to help Hilary, and thankfully we were all at home with her when this one happened.  Knowing what we know now, Hilary believes this second seizure was triggered by the amount of intense physical activity from her volleyball training program.  She can tell now when she needs to back off a little bit when she is working out.

Hilary’s main challenges with her epilepsy have been; getting her license (she had to have the doctors ok), and trying to remain “normal” even though her livelihood now depends on a daily medication.  She has had her fair share of ups and downs emotionally staying on her meds, and going to the doctor as directed.  It has taken a long time for her and Zach to commiserate with each other on what they go through on a daily basis to stay active and healthy.  I think they didn’t want to burden each other.  But as they are now both in their 20’s they are starting to realize they have their own little support network at home.

Zach’s 20th Birthday!

Finally 2001 was coming to a close.   I know for myself at the time I just needed to keep looking forward, that’s how I stayed positive.  Of course there was some reflection on what we had gone through.   But by the end of December we were all doing ok.  Zach was getting the medical attention he needed.  Hilary was on her meds, and doing fine.   Emotionally we were all still suffering, but we just took one day at a time, and I had to be the cheerleader for the kids.  They needed positives everyday, otherwise how would they learn to survive.  That is probably the single, biggest lesson that the kids learned.

Zach & Hilly-Time to Party!

In life there are always, always obstacles thrown in your path.  How you choose to deal with those obstacles is what ultimately determines your survival.  You can choose the “poor me” route, or you can choose the “what’s the one thing I can do today” route, and forge ahead each and every day.  I, as you can probably tell, chose the latter.  I have always been a positive, upbeat person.  I would rather focus on the road that lies ahead of me, and not be looking back over my shoulder for the “what ifs”.  I’m so pleased to have finally shared the story of our 2001 Life Curves.  It is my hope and dream that our story will help other families push through any obstacles thrown in their path, and just forge on through for survival.

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