Sunday, December 26, 2010

The "eats" are coming out of my ears!

You know, I've never been a stickler for traditional breakfasts... I just figure that if something tastes good, and is basically good for you... it's all fair game - no matter what time of day you eat it.

Which is why I'm having an open faced hot turkey sandwich and green bean casserole for breakfast this morning.
With some antipasto and sesame crackers.
Okay, so maybe the last bit is a bit too much for breakfast, but I'm afraid that still haven't gotten out of the habit of cooking (or buying, for that matter) for a crowd.

It's a habit that comes in darn handy I guess, when you have a large family or lots of guests... but when you're basically on your own, with just a growing boy (and an extremely fussy eater at that) you can end up eating leftover Christmas dinner for a week - or throwing a lot out.
And that's something that just doesn't sit well with me.
I figure "waste not, want not".... even if the Boy turns his nose up at twice stuffed sweet potatoes with cranberries and walnuts at 9am.

When my kids were young, we always had "Pick 'n Pull" at least once or sometimes twice a week. Where for dinner, they would just go to the fridge, pick out whatever leftovers they wanted to eat, pull it out - re-heat - and eat.
Hence the "Pick 'n Pull".

It's something that works well if you have a large family and lots of holiday leftovers.

But when you don't really have enough family members on hand, eating large amounts and/or a variety of holiday leftovers - whether it's for breakfast, lunch or dinner - well... it can get pretty tiresome after a day or two.

This is my second day of turkey sandwiches for breakfast, and leftovers in general.... and so far, I've only managed to really finish off the olive dip.
And some chips.
Oh... and a box of Ferrero Rocher, if I'm gonna be totally honest.
But it was a small one, I swear.
And I only ate it because I was watching "The Bone Collector"on TV... and looking at Denzel Washington always makes me hungry.

You know what? I think I might throw some of this leftover stuff out in the yard - and give the animals and birds a late Christmas treat, eh?
Because quite frankly, I'm just about turkey and veggied out.

So for dinner tonight, it's gonna be corn flakes for me.
Maybe with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Because the food in the freezer needs to be pared down a bit, too, you know.
And I don't want the ice cream going to waste. ;)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

That's another one down...

I know that most of you are celebrating Christmas as I write this, but here in Oz, we're a day ahead of y'all and for us, Christmas is now a thing of the past.

I kind of have mixed feelings about it, because this was my last Christmas in Australia.... and although it was a good one in a lot of ways, in other ways, it was like I wasn't even fully present - if that makes any sense to you.

Probably not, since the workings of my heart and mind are an enigma to even myself at the best of times... and the things that I fully expected to dread seemed to go smoothly, and the things that are pretty much second-nature to me now, seemed to be odd and off-kilter to me.

Oh, don't get me wrong... it was a good Christmas.

I was blessed to be able to spend my grandsons "early Christmas" watching them open their gifts on web-cam, and I felt so blessed to be "there" with them - if only in a small way.
(they alternate between their parents houses, and this is Josh and Becs' way of ensuring a complete Christmas morning and a full day with their presents, before them going to their fathers' and the evil step-mothers house.)
So, I got to spend over 91 minutes watching the boys tear into their gifts, and listening to their squeals of delight... and their sharing their joy and excitement with their gifts with their Grummie and Grumpy ...
And it done this ol' heart good ... let me tell you!

Then later that day, (the day before Christmas Eve to you all in the N. hemisphere, but Christmas Eve itself, here in the S hemisphere...) the Old Guys daughter and her boyfriend showed up - thoroughly and completely making the Old Guys day! It was the first year since Skye was about 2 years old, that he's managed to spend any actual "Christmas" time with her - and he was simply walking on air!
After years of "not nice stuff" that we've all been through with her mother, it was truly a wonderful and blessed time for the Old Guy and Skye - and for all of us.

Then yesterday ( remember...Christmas Eve to y'all - but Christmas day for us here in Oz) was a joy as well, with the Boy opening his presents early, before heading over to spend the day with his mum, and then the Old Guy and I just sort of lazing around watching a video, (okay, snoring, if you really need to know) while waiting for the Boy to return - and for guests to arrive for a late-ish "Christmas dinner".

That went well too, and I thoroughly enjoyed it - although there was a bittersweet aspect to it as well, since it was my last Christmas - probably ever - with Jenn and her family.
We ate and talked... and then we nibbled and ate and talked some more... and after they left, I ended up going to bed sometime well after midnight - feeling full of joy and contentment.
And Christmas cake.

It was good.
I keep telling myself that anyway.
But mostly, I was left with the feeling that it somehow wasn't real - or complete.
It was kind of like having an intense craving for prime rib and all the fixin's... but ending up with a McDonald's' Happy Meal instead.
Yeah, your belly's full and you've had enough to eat, but it's only make-do and a stop-gap measure while waiting for the real thing.

Maybe that's just me....or maybe it's how we all feel after all the wind-up leading to the holidays... and the inevitable let-down of emotions afterwards.
I don't know.
All I know is that once The Boy heads off with his mum this morning, to spend some time with his grandma in Melbourne, I just want to cherish the quiet time - and catch up on reading blogs.

Oh... and maybe I'll eat some of this leftover Christmas cake too...
With a giant dollop of Brandy custard. ;)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

The true joys of the Christmas Season...

After some "not to be disclosed issues" with the Boy the other day, he was assigned the abhorrent (to him anyway) task of preparing dinner for us all.
Kind of like a punishment, so he could see what I go through ... and hopefully so that he would gain a little respect and understanding about what I do for him on a daily basis.
That was the plan anyway.

And I have to admit that he did a bang-up job of it... not burning anything, not swearing even once, or banging the pots and pans... and once it was all prepared and ready, of actually going to the extent of arranging the food artfully on the plate.... reminiscent of Master Chef Australia or one of the world's finest restaurants.
Which is nothing like how I do it.

Me, I'm more of a slopping it on the plate, and licking off the drips kinda gal...

Anyway... I was out in the patio, decorating for the Christmas dinner we'll be sharing with friends tomorrow, when I was called to the table...
Only to find the Old Guy and the Young Boy sitting expectantly with their meals in front of them - and actually waiting on me.

Like being patient and everything.
I no sooner sat down, than they each grabbed one of my hands, and then the Boy garbled out the fastest and most succinct "Grace" I've ever heard in my life... but hey, it was lovely that he even did it - ya know?

So in the middle of eating, (yummy Chicken Parmigiana and steamed fresh veggies - oh my!) Boy turns to me, and asks if we could go for a drive to look at the Christmas lights.
Ughhhh... I'm tired after working a 12 hour day, I have heaps of things to get accomplished before Christmas Eve, I'm still a bit miffed about the aforementioned "not to be disclosed issues", and the timing isn't the best in the world... but hey - it IS Christmas...

So I say yes.
We'll head out (*sigh*) as soon as it starts to get dark.

And then wonder of wonders, I start feeling excited about seeing the lights myself, (the Boy bouncing around and singing Christmas songs like he's 8 years old, really, really puts me in the mood) and we sit down and plan our route - so we're sure to catch the best lights.

And this is what we got :

Disclaimer. There are NOT my actual photos, but are a visual representation only. I was afraid of my camera flying out the window, so I resorted to web images which are far clearer than anything I could have taken at speeds of 60 km's or more an hour. And Christmas lights and decorations viewed from a speeding car leave a LOT to the imagination.
As you can see for yourselves.
And besides, I was too dizzy from the lights whipping past my eyes to focus on much of anything.

But it doesn't really matter, at all... because in the end, THIS is what it's all about!

Perhaps 2010 has been a hard year for you, and I think we all wonder if 2011 will be any better.
Whatever your situation, may you find hope in the One who came to live among us that first Christmas night.
May 2011 bring happiness and peace to you and your family - and to our world.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm still blue in the face...

Remember that post a few weeks back, when I asked you to pray that I get my little house, so that I could move back home... Home to where I belong?
Where my heart is?
This one... remember?

Well, thanks to one of you not praying quite hard enough, it didn't come to pass.
No... I'm joking.
So I take that back - it's not your fault at all.
None of yous'. It's actually the fault of some cashed up - 'we have more money than sense' - idiot from a local community.
Valley Springs to be exact.

Now if you're from Valley Springs - or happen to know someone who is - I apologise for the disparaging comment... knowing full well that not all Valley Springers are idiots.
Just some of 'em.
Or one in particular, anyway. No, make that two...

The day of the auction dawned full of hope and happiness... and with all our little ducks in a row..

Prayers said. Check

Laptop charged and waiting to communicate words of joy and congratulations with a "she's been holding her breath for so long that she's now turned a delightful shade of purple" Mama in Australia... Check.

Cashiers check made out to the maximum bid amount... which was approximately double what we figured that it needed it to be... Check.

Celebratory beverage on hand, waiting to be used to ermm... celebrate when the auction was done. Check.

So... with said little ducks all in a row, I spent a sleepless night tossing and turning, planning on being on the computer at 4am, well in advance of the 10am start of the bidding. (there's 5 hours difference between California and here, basically meaning that as I'm eating my breakfast, they're just sitting down to lunch there.)
The plan was that I would turn on old Bessie here at approximately 4:30, but because of the aforementioned sleepless night, I had been sitting here and eyeing the clock and saying "c'mon, c'mon, c'mon".... from about 3am onwards.
Planning things in my head.

Planning the new kitchen that I wanted installed, looking over all the photos of the house, and mentally re-landscaping the yard and garden, and choosing new posts for the porch - which would need to be replaced asap.

So I waited happily...
And waited...
And waited...

Only to receive the following message from my son's friend (and real estate agent) Donovan:

4 bidders, cutoff hit, 56,4. Sorry.


I didn't get it???
I didn't get it!
Oh sh**, oh sh**, oh sh**!

Then ensued some fast and furious messages back and forth:

Donovan: Wanna offer 65 to winner? From josh.

Me: can we do that?

Donovan: If you have money its time to offer it, yes we can if want. Yes or no?

Me: Yes! No! Yes! I mean No! That high?

Donovan: What do want to offer at max.

Me: Make it 60. Are they aware of the illegal septic that will need to be removed from the neighboring property immediately, or of the drug-using squatters that are currently in residence and trashing the place as we speak ... or the fact that a haz-mat cleaning team will need to be brought in because of the druggies?

Me again: Hello? Are you still there? Hello?? HELLO? Donovan? Josh? Where ARE you?? Talk to me! I'm going crazy here... what's going ON???

At this point, whimpering unashamedly, (as well as rather piteously) I decided that since I had left it all in the hands of God... maybe He knew better than I did.
After all, he knew what I was asking for, because dozens of people had been adding their prayers to mine... and this seemed like a pretty clear "no" on his part.
So I would just buck up immediately, take a deep breath, square my shoulders and realize that my dream wasn't necessarily what God had planned for me - and let it go.
HIS will...not my will be done.

Okay, so goodbye, sweet dream...

Goodbye, dreams of my son walking a mere 70 feet, to bring his mama a cup of coffee in the mornings...
Goodbye, dreams of my grandsons joyfully running down the driveway to spend time with their loving Grummie...
Goodbye, all thoughts of the beautiful walnut kitchen cabinets with white imitation-granite counter tops that were the exact configuration and layout that we needed... that Josh had found on craigslist for only $1,000.
Sob... sniff sniff...

And then I heard a "ping" !!!
Josh was on 'instant chat' on face book...

It seems that the agent who had bid for their client (the winning client - damn them) had never so much as looked at the house. And neither had the client so much as looked at the house - or property - bidding solely and wholly on the place as an investment property.
More fools them, eh?

Once they (the real estate agent and buyer) found out that there were humongous drawbacks - as well as expenses - associated with the property, it's been intimated that the client may not be as interested as they thought they were.
Unfortunately, they signed an agreement with the county prior to bidding, that meant that they were legally required to go through with the sale...
But they may very well offer the property to us for their buying price... plus the real estate agent fees involved.

They'll let us know this week.
You know..."may very well offer" doesn't sound entirely optimistic, but it's the best we can hope for at this point.

So I posted a status update on face book:
UPDATE! It's not over 'til the fat lady sings, so I may not have lost the property in Murphys after all !!! More later...

To which my son commented back: "she may be singin' within' the week, lets just hope we can afford the concert tickets"

So the wait continues...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rest In Peace, sweet Matthew

Friday afternoon, I got the call that I’ve been dreading for months now.

Matthew was back home from the hospital, but they had brought him home for the very last time... and the end was near.
I wanted to go see him that night, but due to work commitments, I didn’t get the chance.

So, I got up early Saturday morning and prepared myself for the sad task of going to say goodbye to a gorgeous little boy... a little boy who had captured my heart - and the hearts of everyone who knew him - from the very beginning...

Just as we were getting ready to leave, I got a call from Mary – Matthew's grandmother - who told me that Matthew had passed away peacefully, just after midnight the night before.

I never got the chance to say goodbye to him, but I know that he knew that my thoughts and my heart were with him... always.

Matthew Lizzul
February 25, 2002 – December 4, 2010

Rest in Peace, my darling boy.
Katie loves you... for always and forever

Please say a prayer for Matthews' Mother, Sue... his Grandmother Mary... and his sisters Emily and Caitlin.
I can't even imagine what they're going through right now, so please ask God to lift them up and give them peace...

When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
~Kahlil Gibran

(For those of you who don't know, Matty was one of my daycare children... and I was blessed to be able to take care of him on a respite arrangement - for several wonderful years - so that his mother could have a bit of a break a few times a week.
Sue's middle daughter Caitlin also has serious issues, (autism, epilepsy and a brain tumor) so this wonderful woman has certainly had her hands full - as does her older daughter Emily...
Emily, who has always been a rock, a helping hand, and a complete blessing to her mum.

Sue's one of those people who no matter how hard life is for her personally, she's always there for other people... and I can't begin to tell you how many times she reached out to me, when I was sick or feeling down.
I would call her and say I wouldn't be available today because of a migraine or whatever... and a few hours later, Sue would bring me flowers, or go out of her way to make me smile, or to cheer me up.

Sue trusted me to not only care for Matty, but Caitlin as well..., and I'll always be eternally grateful for the trust she's shown in me, and also for the joy that her entire family has brought me.)

God well and truly blessed me, when he brought this beautiful family into my life...


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